Barclay’s (grueling) reconsideration and (yes!) approval

Last year, my daughter Bird and I took a trip to New York, just the two of us. It was truly one of the best things we’ve ever done together, and we talk about some part of that trip almost every day. Being able to pay for the trip using points and miles was what made it possible; if we had paid cash, we would have spent thousands of dollars, which definitely isn’t in our family budget (we don’t have a line item for “luxury vacations with kids”).

We had such a fantastic time that we are planning to repeat the trip this year. While last year we just grabbed seats in coach on United, this time I wanted to find a cost-effective way to upgrade. I don’t have HUGE points balances in my accounts, plus there are four people in my family, so most of the time we are totally fine with economy flights: we just can’t justify spending the extra points to jet around in First Class.

Strike while the iron is hot.

When I saw the recent sign-up bonus increase (50,000 miles, up from 20,000 miles) on the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard®, I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to convert a sign-up bonus into a very valuable points redemption.

This is because it costs 35,000 Lufthansa miles for one round-trip flight within the continental US or Canada in First Class on United. So the 50,000 mile bonus would get us one and a half First Class flights. 

This is a fantastic deal, especially because if I used United miles, it would cost 50,000 miles instead of 35,000.

The way the bonus works is that you earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase, then you earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

I wrote about this offer earlier this week, so if you would like to read more details, you can read them here. Note that this Lufthansa offer seems to resurface every few months; it hasn’t been on my radar before now, because I didn’t have an immediate use for it. I Since I prefer to write about offers that I have experience with and would actually do (or have done) myself, I haven’t written about this card before now. Sorry if that is somehow upsetting to you (a commenter on my previous post was all bent out of shape about this).

I got the dreaded “application pending” screen.

I applied for the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard®, with a healthy dose of optimism. I have two Barclay’s cards already – the US Airways card and the Barclaycard Arrival – but my last application was several months ago, and I’ve put a decent amount of regular spend on each card.

However, I did not get immediately approved. Instead I got the dreaded “application pending” screen.

Ugh.

I hate making reconsideration calls. So, I put it off for a couple of days. I just couldn’t face it. But finally this morning I girded my loins (isn’t that the weirdest expression ever?), and picked up the phone. (Tip: call 866.408.4064 – this is a direct line).

It was worse than I thought it would be. While the rep was incredibly nice, he GRILLED me for FIFTEEN MINUTES. He asked detailed questions about my job, the reasons why I wanted this particular card, and my spending habits. Since I had done my homework before the call, I had answers at the ready for all of his questions, but by the end of the conversation, I was kind of sweaty and I could have used a shot of whiskey.

But it was worth it.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 11.25.51 AM

 

Notes from the call.

When the rep asked me why I wanted this particular card, I mentioned that because of the recent US Airways merger, I wasn’t too sure about my US Airways card moving forward. This turned out to be a great strategy, because he got a little flustered as he tried to explain why the US Airways card wasn’t going to disappear or change. (I just let him talk!)

The rep mentioned that my steady spending on the cards (as well as my payment history and zero balances) were all positive factors in his decision to approve this card for me.

Once I was approved, the rep told me that I had a certain amount of credit with Barclay’s, and that I could move credit around on my open cards (just like Chase).

How I’m planning to use this sign-up bonus.

Since Bird and I will be flying from San Francisco to JFK, we will be able to experience United’s Premium Service product, which features full 180-degree flat-bed seats. So exciting!

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 11.44.46 AMWe’ll be able to get one and a half-flights from the bonus, then I will either use 20,000 Krisflyer miles or 25,000 United miles for the remaining flight.

And we’ll definitely stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue again, because it was amazing.

andaz room

Our room at the Andaz 5th Avenue (see the library in the background!)

nyc library

The view from our room at the Andaz 5th Avenue.

Anyone else planning on applying for this card while the sign-up bonus is at 50,000 miles? Where are you planning to go?

 

Comments

  1. How was the shot of whiskey? 😉

  2. JustSaying says:

    Good for you…..we just got his and her Avianca cards but had to wait in “pending approval” hell for 5 days………I am traumatized by the experience and now have a twitch as a result……Bye bye One World…..hello Star Alliance………..

  3. Robert says:

    Did they ask about your spending on your other Barclaycards? I got the US Airways card about 4 months ago and have hardly used it… I’m guessing I should use it for a while before applying for anything else with them.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Robert – Yes, that was what they were most interested in. I would definitely use it regularly before you apply for another card.

  4. For some reason we are fine with throwing our weight around with Chase. After all we have a lot of money in their bank, and they almost always approve us immediately. If not, we are fine with making our case on the reconsideration line.

    But when husband was denied for the new Barclay (we wanted to use it to go to Hawaii) we just crumbled and whimpered. I guess we have a touch of guilt at playing the miles and points game and didn’t feel we could stand up to the grilling.

    Mean old Barclay’s. 🙁

    • Points Pixie says:

      Anne – In my experience the calls aren’t usually so tough. This one was especially challenging, but since I am a good customer it worked out 🙂

  5. If you use Krisflyer miles to book United, do you avoid the close in booking fee of $75 for departures less than 21days from booking?

    • Points Pixie says:

      David – Hmmm. I have no idea, actually. This would be a good question for the Krisflyer team!

  6. This is why it’s always worth putting a bit of consistent spend through Barclays, so many people end up getting denied because they hit the minimum spend and then never use the card again.

  7. As usual Pixie, great post and info. Thank you!
    Yes William – completely agree. I rotate my Barclay’s card into the mix once every few months for incidentals. My application just went straight through!

  8. Kathy (Will Run For Miles) says:

    when are you going to be in NYC?

  9. PatMike says:

    “but by the end of the conversation, I was kind of sweaty and I could have used a shot of whiskey”
    Perfect description!
    Your post reminded me that I have to call Barclays. Wish me luck!

  10. PatMike says:

    @Anne I too once had a lot of money in the bank at Chase. Trust me, It doesn’t mean much if they want to shut you down.

  11. Would Lufthansa or US Airways be a better bet for Hawaii flights to and from the mainland?

  12. Sorry, I just realized it’s Lufthansa! I just did some more research. Should have searched before I asked. Thanks!

  13. Larry Abramson says:

    Got the 10-30 day screen and called Reconsideration. I expected a big grilling (see above), but I was just asked a few questions about my business, which I simply answered truthfully. The polite, cooperative representative complimented me on my payment record, and explained that I had four other Barclay cards. I volunteered to move some of the credit lines to this card, which he cheerfully and efficiently did. Such a nice guy. Got approved, and card coming in a week. Good luck, everyone.

Speak Your Mind

*