Update: the state of play changed drastically in 2013 and continues in 2014. Barclays tightened up considerably for people with existing cards. There are still reports of first-time Barclays applicants getting multiple cards, however those with existing accounts by nearly all reports are having significant difficulty adding even one card. I have not been approved for a Barclays card since this application spree. Barclays credit analysts consistently cite (1) too many applications with Barclays, (2) more than enough credit already extended on existing cards, (3) too many new accounts with other banks, and (4) not high enough usage of existing Barclays cards. Even though I have consistently put about $500/month on each card these have been cited as insufficient because of not enough everyday spend. Closing accounts or offers to move credit rarely makes a difference. As always, your miles may vary.
I got 4 auto-approved before the 5th went pending. My buddy got 5 and gave up.
Barclays gets little love except for the US Airways personal card, which has a great offer (now expired) of 40,000 miles first purchase, and 10,000 bonus each anniversary for keeping the card. The card has discounted awards on US Airways and other decent benefits.
Their other cards are not known for big sign-up bonuses or great benefits, though I have argued that their Priceline Rewards Visa with no annual fee and 2% cash back across the board is the best no-hassle cash back card on the market (offer expired). If you do not want to spend your days circling stores for Vanilla Reloads or juggling category bonuses, this may be the card for you. They offer a number of confusing offers, the best includes 5x on Priceline Name Your Own Price transactions, and just recently it become available via the affiliates for that offer, my link here.
In July I did my first Barclays applications, auto-approved for US Air, but rejected for Priceline. Reconsideration was firm that I needed approximately 6 months with them before they would approve additional cards. A friend had the same experience.
Close enough to 6 months, and plenty of spend on the card due to a subsequent offer of 15,000 bonus miles for $750 spend in each of 3 months (this offer typically appears 1-2 months after receiving the card), I decided it was time to try for that coveted William Shatner image card.
My friend did the same, we both have 700+ scores on all 3 bureaus and plenty of history with other card companies. His history is much longer than mine.
- Choice Hotels
- US Airways personal (my 2nd)
- Virgin America
- Best Western
The first 4 were all auto-approved, interestingly, each has a higher credit limit than the prior. At Best Western, which I did not really want, just doing as an experiment, I got a review pending notice.
My friend did 5, all auto-approved and stopped for lack of interest in the others:
- US Air personal (his 2nd)
- Virgin America
- Choice Hotels
- Wyndham Hotels (no-fee version)
He had the same escalating credit limit experience.
The credit pulls all merged into one on our credit reports.
Why did I choose these 5?
Priceline: I spend a lot on Priceline Name Your Own Price hotel and car reservations (my affiliate link).
Choice Hotels: the 32k bonus, which does require a 1-night stay in lieu of minimum spend, could be useful in Europe or Australia. According to the Choice Privileges, their points “expire on December 31, two years after the year in which they were deposited into your account unless forfeited or canceled earlier due to membership inactivity or otherwise in accordance to these rules and regulations.” So, I will get the points in January and have effectively 3 years to use them. The offer is publicly available from the Choice Privileges homepage, or click here (affiliate link).
US Airways personal: great card for reasons listed above, best offer described above (now expired).
Virgin America: I want to go to American Samoa, see Online Travel Review. Current best offer is 20,000 after first purchase, that offer is available through affiliates (now expired, card no longer issued by Barclaycard) though Online Travel Review did the work so certainly consider giving him your click.
Best Western: nothing good about the card, the sign-up bonus is puny and benefits are measly. About the only thing the sign-up bonus will pay for a H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) membership. I checked some of their Australia properties and the ones I saw never have any award rooms available, while it is rare to find a room in the US that the sign-up bonus will cover even one night. The public, non-affiliate link is here.
There are lots of little quirks about Barclays, for instance some offers not available for Iowa residents (see here for some detail), most cards have multiple versions and you may only be approved for a lesser version, but readers know that I love the obscure in my travels and life, so Barclays is a fun topic for me.
Readers, what are your Barclays experiences? I am not encouraging others to try to max cards with them because taking on credit is a big responsibility, but if you have stories to tell, please share them! I am curious if anyone has gotten more than 5 in one shot.