I'm a bit of a miles and points nut, and I figure if I'm going to spend money anyway, I might as well get points for spending. This is my main reason for wanting to build credit history - to get good credit card offers.
I moved from Canada last year to start my career, and unfortunately that also meant started building credit from scratch. I couldn't get credit anywhere, and finally how to get approved for something - I got an American Express card issued in Canada. After about a month, I called American Express USA and used the "Global Transfer Desk" option and got them to approve an Amex card last September. Around the same time, I decided to open a secured loan with Citibank simply so that I could build credit. This was actually a pain - initially, they denied my $500 loan secured with a $500 CD! After much back and forth and paperwork, they opened the loan but I'd have to secure the $500 loan with a $550 CD.
Things have gotten better since then. In January, Capital One sent me an offer for a "Platinum" card, which I accepted. The credit line was $500, but I only wanted it to build credit.
In April and May, I applied for and was instantly approved for three credit cards: two Amex cards, and one Chase card. Another Chase card was declined, reason being that I had limited history so they would not give me another credit line.
I also applied for about three other cards in the last two months for which I've been declined - BoA, Citi, and Barclays.
So now my question is, I really want to have premium credit cards with BoA, Citibank and Barclays in the future (for their sometimes nice signup bonuses). I understand that if I get a low limit or secured Citi card, it will help me with getting approved for a better credit card with them, but it will also lower my average age of accounts (currently 8 months, but should increase once the two Amex cards appear on my report since Amex reports only the opening date of your first account).
In order to get a "premium" card with these three banks, should I apply for a low limit card from them first, or should I just wait for my credit history to mature? Generally, if they've denied me for insufficient history in the past, how much history (I assume they mean average age of accounts) do they usually look for to get approved?