April 16, 2012
I’ve been getting lots of requests lately to help people plan credit card churns. I actually enjoy doing this, but I was finding it frustrating that I didn’t have all of the credit card bonus information I needed in one place. So, I’ve spent much of the past 3 days compiling the best info I could find and putting it into a form that I hope will make life easier.
You can find the results on this page: Best credit card offers. Soon, this page will appear on a new menu on my site so that it will be easy to find. You’ll see that I’ve arranged the offers by bank with just the minimal information that is needed for planning a churn:
- Card name & sign-up link
- Bonus amount
- Minimum spend requirements
- Annual fee
- Notes (typically listing top card benefits)
Here’s an example of a couple of rows of data:
First Yr Fee (ongoing)
Frequent Miler Notes
Chase Sapphire Preferred℠ MasterCard
|40K||$3K in 3 months||Free ($95)||
2X travel and dining. 7% annual dividend. No foreign transaction fee.
Chase Ink℠ Classic Business
|25K||$5K in 3 months||Free||
5X office supplies, phone, and cable; 2X gas and lodging
I will do my best over time to keep this page up to date. Please alert me if you discover any missing data or inaccuracies.
When I plan a credit card churn, I generally start with Chase. Chase has the vast majority of great offers so I think that a good churn strategy starts with a good Chase strategy. Chase doesn’t like to approve multiple cards at once, but they will approve a personal and a business card at once. Under certain circumstances, I think it makes sense to do one of each. In general, though, I like to spread out the applications roughly like this: apply for a personal card; wait three months; apply for a business card; wait 3 months; apply for personal card; etc. Cards and opportunities will come and go so the particulars will change, but currently the table lists 4 business cards and 11 personal cards. This means that you can cycle like this for more than two years before moving entirely to personal card signups. For an example of how to sign-up for a business card, see my recent post How to sign-up for the Ink Bold.
After picking a Chase card for each churn, I’ll look next for the best available Amex offer. Lately the best of these have been targeted offers so I think it makes sense to plan just one non-targeted Amex sign-up. This way, if a targeted offer shows up there’s still room to add another Amex. The trend I’m seeing is that Amex business cards seem to have the best targeted offers. So, if you’re going without a targeted offer, it may make sense to start with a personal card (to free up room for the hoped-for targeted business card offer).
Citi doesn’t have as many great offers as Chase or Amex, but there are a few gems. I would generally go for just one at a time except when doing the two browser trick to get 100K AA miles. Some people suggest that it is necessary to wait 6 months between Citi applications. I don’t know the validity of that, but just to be safe I would apply for cards from other banks (see below) every other churn.
I have all of the other banks lumped into a single chart. Sure, you could do one of each depending on how aggressive you want to be with signups. I’m fairly conservative about credit card churning, though, and don’t like to do more than 3 or 4 cards at a time total so I’d tend to pick just one from this group for each churn.
Experienced credit card churners look carefully at which credit bureaus are used for the “hard pulls” that happen when applying for cards. The idea is to try to spread out the pulls so that you never have too many hitting a single bureau. You can read more about that approach here. To me, this is like flossing: it’s one of those things I should do, but I don’t (actually I do floss every night, but the analogy works better if you pretend that I don’t).
My real life approach is simply to limit the total number of applications to 3 or 4 every three months, spread the applications across banks, and hope for the best. I know many people do 6 to 8 cards every 3 months. In those cases, I think that paying close attention to the credit bureau pulls is essential.
- What do you think about the Best credit card offers page? Will it help you with your credit card churns? Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
- What do you think about the ideas I laid out for churn planning? Do they make sense? Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
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