Earlier this year, in a bout of petulant frustration, I wrote about how annoyed I was that Bank of America denied my application for an Alaska Visa. The reason for the denial was a one-two punch of “too many recent inquiries” and “not enough business with Bank of America.” It was a bummer since the Alaska Visa is one of the last truly churnable cards, and my overall investment in Bank of America is low enough that I don’t care if they shut me down for opening/closing too many cards. I wasn’t so much unhappy that I couldn’t open this specific BofA card as I was disappointed that it seemed like the overall ride had come to an end. The annual fee on my last remaining Alaska card is due in a couple weeks, and I had planned to close it and in doing so close out my relationship with BofA. I don’t use the companion fare, and the earning rate doesn't much matter when I can’t reliably build up my Alaska balance through multiple sign-up bonuses anymore. However, there was a wrinkle today when I saw that some people were being targeted for 40,000-point sign-up bonuses. I wasn't targeted myself (at least via email), but I happened to be poking around in my Alaska account doing some award searches when I saw an ad for the card with the 40k bonus. Since I didn't get the offer that was emailed out, I don’t know if my account was targeted, or if this was just a lucky find on the Alaska site.
Who knows why I bothered to apply — it has been around eight months since my last rejection, and I have continued to sign up for new cards in the meantime, so it didn’t seem any more likely that I’d get approved this time around. The 40k was calling to me, though, and having long given up caring about my credit score (since other factors on my credit report seem to matter so much more than the actual score), I pulled a Risky Business and sent in the application. (By which I mean that I said “what the fuck,” not that I put on my sunglasses and danced around in my underwear, although I did do that.)
I assumed it would go to pending and eventually be rejected, but in a shocking twist of fate, I was instantly approved, and for a higher total credit line than I’ve had in the past. Yay! It’s easy to read too much into why I would have been rejected before and approved now. It could just be luck of the draw, or that BofA’s lending conditions are generally looser now than they were at the beginning of the year. Maybe their tighter rules were cutting down the number of new sign-ups, so they made some tweaks of the sort that would allow me to slither my way back in.
Still, for the collective good, I thought I’d put this little chart together showing my recent application history across the two BofA Alaska apps. It would sure help to be able to put some sort of quantifiable figure on the “too many recent inquiries” rejection line to help guide future applications. Even more so now, considering that my plan to open two or three of these cards per year just had some new life breathed into it. (As an aside, while I love the 40,000-point bonus, I’m at least slightly nostalgic for the days when you could get 25,000 points after your first purchase on the card. I’m knee deep in minimum spends right now, so I’m going to have to do some work to finish all of them by their deadlines.)
As you can see, my situation wasn't all that different this time, with the exception of having no BofA cards opened in the last 6 months (or 12 months, for that matter). It's only if you look at the 12 month period when a discrepancy emerges, but even then, five new cards in 12 months is still a lot for most banks. I don't really think it's possible to draw any firm conclusions from this single data point, especially since BofA also doesn't seem to care anymore that I still don't have any other business with them besides credit cards.
In the end, I'm not going to question it too much... it's great that I got the bonus today, and maybe I'll get another one in 6-9 months, or maybe I'll get rejected again. In today's climate you gotta take what you can get. Anyone else get the 40k bonus today?
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