Barclays credit cards 101, and how many can you get at once, 4, 5 or more?

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.

I did:

  • Priceline
  • 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
  • Priceline
  • 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.

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Comments

  1. Ok, I am not following on the US Air no fee 40,000 card. The above link goes to a June 2011 FlyerTalk page that pertains only to Chairman’s members of the USAir program. Is there a link for anyone for this promotion?

  2. I hadn’t realized you could get so many Barclays cards at once. They aren’t big fans of having too many recently opened cards, so I haven’t tried lately.

    The best Barclays card, IMHO, is the Travelocity Amex card.

    The killer feature of this card is that each Aauthorized User gets their own card number (unilke virtually every other non-Amex issued Amex) and you can add as many as you want without fear of a Financial Review. This makes it easy to clean up on Amex’s twitter promotions and Small Business Saturday.

    The reward program is pretty good too. Its 2% back on everything and 4% back on a category of your choice like Groceries when you redeem on Travelocity in $400 increments. Its not hard to turn those redemptions into cash too.

    I did a short review here (site is still under construction): http://www.infrequentflyermiles.com/p/travelocitycom-points.html

  3. All I have to say is that I am thoroughly impressed by this exploit. I never even would have thought of going to five from on issuer simultaneously.

  4. Great post! I didn’t realize all of these merge into 1 inquiry. Also, for me, Barclays only hits TransUnion credit report, which is great, as Chase, Citi and Amex all hit Experian.

    How come you didn’t try the NFL card? I believe you can get a sign up bonus of about $400 in cash, or at least that was the case in early October.

    Has anyone tried applying for 5 U.S. Airways cards one after another, instead of 5 different cards? I’d love to hear if that works, maybe I’ll just have to try it one day.

  5. My FICO score is well above 700, and Citi, Chase, and AMEX have consistently given me credit … and, yet I have been denied the U.S. Airways cards at least three times in the past two years!!!

  6. @Kalboz – it does seem the hardest card with Barclays is the first, maybe try a different card, a no-fee one that might have some marginal benefit, get a 6-month record with that, and try again?

  7. @An Infrequent Flyer – I did consider the Travelocity Amex, and that will be great for many people. For me, I knew I wouldn’t get around to the twitter sync and Small Business Saturday promotions, like this year Small Business Saturday I was on a flight and not going to try to orchestrate online charges that day. Maybe in 6 months I will get a new Barclays batch and give it a whirl. Thanks for sharing the site and the review.

  8. @ Rapid Travel Chai – How long did you guys wait in between applying for your 2nd US Airways personal cards to get approved again?

  9. We have RT flight booked to PPG (from HNL) in May, but we did these on Hawaiian and AA miles. Will go read up via the link you provided now.

  10. The NFL card is absolutely the second-best Barclays card, if not the best. Not only have they often offered a $400 credit with a limited initial spending requirement, but a few months later they usually offer another $200 credit if you spend $500 per month for 3 months.

  11. I applied for the NFL card using a link from Dan’s Deals about three weeks ago. I got a letter from Barclay’s two weeks later telling me in essence, the link was dead, so no card for me.

  12. so you did not do any special tricks to apply for five cards in one day? You did it serially? One card then the next then the next and they all went through!? Am I missing something here?

  13. @SgFm – good to know on the NFL offer, sorry it didn’t work for you.

    @john – Yes, serially, both my and my friend, no multiple browsers or anything, no simultaneous submissions, did it over the course of about 2 hours as I went about my day.

  14. Chai,

    any ideas on churning barclays cards? how long you would need to wait and if you can have multiple of the same card?

  15. I personally have never had more than one Barclays card at a time. Kalbotz- They are a weird issuer. I have 750-790 credit and got turned down for US Air last AOR. But I have some money charges on the Travelocity card. Their service sucks but they had some sign up bonuses and if you care good transfer balance programs.

  16. I did first AOR 3 months ago for my wife and myself. We did inlcuded the NFK card. First Barclays card for both and both instant approval. My Credit Karma was about 740 and 780 gor my wife. Just now did next AOR and i had to call for approval for US Airways card but my wife instant approval. Credit karma for me 714 and 750 gor my wife.

  17. Nice! Did my EOY AOR today. Applied for 3, and used your affiliate link for the Priceline one. Applied for Priceline, NFL(no more $400, but there is a $200 offer available currently), and US Airways personal(my 2nd).

  18. got choice card then airtran personal and business pre merger…they cancelled my Choice card without notice for being inactive for 6 months!!!! I then cancelled my airtran cards in retaliation (plus we got Southwest cards and companion pass and the merger still hasnt combined the FF programs)…I was able to get the $400 NFL card before it disappeared, it is my only Barkleycard now.

  19. @Dave L – it is great info for me and others that Barclays is really serious about the 6-month activity item, I have set up quarterly calendar reminders to exercise my cards.

  20. I used your link today and applied and got approval immediately on the Priceline Barclays card. That is a good 2% card. I also applied for the US Airways card and got a deferred on that. I applied for business and personal on that one so maybe I pushed my luck. Both deferred. I mentioned previously I have the Travelocity card. That card had a zero balance when I applied for these. That might be a decent strategy with Barclays.

  21. Lo & behold … they did finally send my first Barclays MC card for US Airways after a call to their reconsideration line. Thank you RTC! :)

  22. Regarding the Priceline Card you stated, “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.”

    How does the Priceline card substitute for Vanilla reloads?

    Thanks.

  23. @Kent C – sorry for not being clear, I meant that only as an aside that the Priceline card’s 2% cash back may be suitable for the person who does not want to bother with multiple cards and such things as chasing around for Vanilla Reloads.

  24. Does it has to be 6 months exactly? I applied for US Air card in Sept and it’s now only 5 months and I want a couple more Barclays cards.

  25. @Matt – the six months is anecdotal, I don’t have evidence that it is a hard rule, as always, YMMV. Personally, I would just wait till the 6 months unless there were some great offers, though worst-case you burn some credit pulls, hard to know what is best, the public reports on Barclays are too limited. Let us know if you try.

  26. Hi, thanks for all your great ideas :) I am new to this and still do not get it.. YOu applied to Barclay US Air card, same card, same day 5 times? one after the other? I tried it with them too ( same day, same card applied twice) and I was denied the second time, they said “you applied duplicate for this card”.. did I do soemthing wrong or just no luck? thanks a lot!!
    Anat

  27. @Anat – I did 5 totally different cards, though 1 was a 2nd US Air, my prior US Air was 6 months ago. A reader did try 2 US Air at the same time and also got rejected for duplicate.

  28. Hey, how does Barclays treat it when you apply for the personal AND business version of the same card? Most issuers (eg Chase) treat Personal Card A and Business Card A as different products. Based on your experience with them, how do you think Barclays would view that?

    I got the Barclays USAir personal MC 4 months ago. In another 2 months, I’m planning to get a different Barclays personal MC, but ideally I’d like to also get a Barclays USAir Business MC on the same day. Any advice?

  29. Reading this, it does not sound like you cancelled the first US Airways personal card. So you received a bonus for the first and then six months later a bonus for the second? Wow. Can you confirm I understand correctly? Thanks.

  30. @RTC Thanks for the confirmation. I am in the midst of my own spend $750/month for three months offer but when I am done I will try again!

  31. Hmm tried to replicate, and 3 apps all went to pending. Must not be my day. Thanks anyway for the good info

  32. I have had my first US Air with them for 6 months, but I barely used it. That was their decision point on the recon call. I’ll have to amp up my usage of the 1 card and then try again in a few months.

  33. @Titan Limousine – most recent experience I can verify is last month tried for 2 for my wife and rejected for both after pending for a few days and she was not willing to try calling reconsideration. The US Air would have been her 2nd and that was specifically rejected because she already has one open. I might still try cards as long as they are auto-approved but best at this point to assume that if multiple go to pending that they may be rejected.

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