Things I’m Meh About: Credit Card Churning

I have a confession to make: I’ve only applied for one new credit card in the past 9 months. Last year, I got 11 new credit cards for nearly 500k miles and points and 4 free nights at hotels. This year, I’ve only gotten the Citi Executive AAdvantage card once for 100k miles.

I’m not sure exactly why I haven’t been more active in applying for credit cards, as they’re one of the easiest ways to accumulate lots of points. Part of it is due to not having particular uses in mind for the points. A lot of my previous credit card churns were very targeted to specific trips that I was planning (e.g. getting a Chase Hyatt card to use at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, getting the Hawaiian Airlines cards to transfer to Hilton for the Conrad Koh Samui when that was still a good deal), but I currently have relatively healthy miles balances on Alaska, US Airways, and American, so I don’t really need more airline miles (although I guess I’m no longer diversified with the US/AA merger), and I don’t care that much about nice hotels.

Miles and points are only useful if you use them (I guess there is some benefit to having a stash for emergency trips), so I don’t really see that much of a point in accumulating miles from credit cards just for the sake of it. And while credit card sign-up bonuses are a really great deal, they’re not completely free: even if there’s no annual fee for the first year, you’re paying with a credit score check, and meeting minimum spending requirements takes a non-trivial amount of cognitive overhead for me since I don’t really spend that much money naturally. There’s also the fact that banks seem to be increasingly clamping down on the actual churning part (i.e. getting the sign-up bonus for the same credit card multiple times), which makes me think that I should save future apps for when I really have a need for them. (On the flip side, a lot of cards are much more churnable than people think, and part of this misconception is due to the credit card salesmen aka points/miles bloggers perpetuating false information on behalf of the banks).

Just goes to show that I must be a pretty bad miles/point blogger.

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10 thoughts on “Things I’m Meh About: Credit Card Churning

  1. tripswithtykes

    Not having a specific travel goal right now is making me meh as well. I feel like I’m just accumulating points with no real target of using them. Just got my husband the SPG Amex and Chase Sapphire since he hasn’t had them yet and those points are flexible. But I’ve gotten most of the flexible point cards myself, and don’t really know where to turn next. USAir just because it’s going away? Alaska because my mileage balance there is low? Definitely not inspired at the moment.

    Reply
    1. EfficientAsianMan Post author

      Yep. I’ve already gotten the US Airways card twice, so I might try to get it again before it goes away. The Alaska card seems to be infinitely churnable, so by not applying for one every 3 months it seems like you’re leaving miles on the table, but in that case, you’re still paying something for the miles since the first year annual fee isn’t waived. But yeah, even though I know I could use the Alaska miles for Emirates first class or something, I’m still not that enthused.

      Reply
  2. duaimei

    Thank you very much for writing this! I’m doing my own research to start churning. I’m not very comfortable with changing my own spending habits to try to get more points. It definitely helps if/when you have a goal.

    I’ve read that credit card companies generally keep you in the database for 2 years, but I’ve also seen reports of people getting the same card and getting the rewards in a much time frame.

    Reply
    1. EfficientAsianMan Post author

      It definitely varies by the bank. Some, like Bank of America, allow you to get the credit card over and over again (this might be changing?). Others are supposedly much more strict (but perhaps less strict than most points/miles bloggers would lead you to believe).

      Reply
  3. Shannon

    I think this makes you so different from the rest of more main stream bloggers. Those bloggers are too intertwined with major banks and are too pushy to promote some specific credit cards to earn commissions. Having said that, if that will compensate your precious time to write, please go ahead. Just to consider not to overdo it. Sometimes less is more.
    Question: How churnable is Alaska miles credit card from Bank Of America? I already have one since last year and want to get more to accumulate enough miles to fly Cathay Pacific to South Africa. Do I need to get a different flavor Alaska miles credit card or I can apply for the same exact card? Is there is any thread on Frequent Flyer?

    Reply

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