The Siren Call Of Churning

Every few months, I jump in waist-deep into the world of credit card bonuses. It’s a hobby of mine and a decently lucrative one at that.

From about a year before I bought our condo about a year after when we refinanced, I signed up for no credit cards at all. I absconded from the delicious travel rewards and fancy free hotel rooms in favor for a 3.25% rate 30-year fixed.

But since? Oh, since, I’ve been like a mad woman. According to my master spreadsheet I’ve applied to 26 credit cards in the past year. Of those applications, I’ve been declined for 11. I estimate the value I’ve gotten or will get from the sign up bonuses for these cards to be around $5,750, mostly in the form of free flights, cash back, and gift cards.

Yet, despite all this activity, my credit score is still 780+.

I am not an extreme churner, relatively speaking. I don’t get into manufactured spending. I don’t get my fiancé to sign up for bonuses with me. I don’t hawk referral codes on my blog for $25 bonuses.

But I do apply for a lot of cards. Enough that it is starting to get difficult to find cards to continue getting sign up bonuses for. I’m way above the 5/24 rule at Chase and pretty sure I’m perma-denied at Capital One. Plus after the Experian breach I froze all my credit reports, which makes the paperwork of it all a pretty big hassle (with a $5 thawing fee to boot).

And so, in my most recent bout of sign-ups, I only signed up for credit cards which met the following constraints:

  1. Have not had before (guaranteed to qualify for bonus if accepted)
  2. Only pulls Experian credit report (which I temporarily thawed)
  3. At least 20% bonus on minimum spend
  4. High spend preferred

Here’s what I came up with:


Note that the minimum spend for this round is $12k. You’ll know from my monthly roundups that I don’t spend anywhere near $4k/month on my card. But I have a big $10k spend coming up in December, which I’ll detail further in a later post. And so, adding churning on top allows me to best capitalize on my already-planned spending.

I’m saving up most of the hotel and airfare points to be used on my travel to my brother’s graduation, typical family visiting, and a pre-wedding honeymoon with fiancé to Northern Europe in 2018. With just a few hours work I’ll be able to knock off ~$5k I’d otherwise have to spend next year.

Do you churn credit cards? Any fun travel coming up?