Credit Card Rewards: What I’m Working On

remodel sinkGood morning, Club Thrifty enthusiasts!  A lot of you have emailed to ask where in the hell I’ve been.  Welp, since you asked, I’ve just been busy getting our new house ready to move into.  Greg and I have painted the whole friggin’ thing over the past few weeks, as well as done a bunch of the prep work for the professionals who are currently installing our new floors and plumbing.

countertopsOh yeah, we got our new countertops in last week and I’m pretty much in love with them.  They don’t look exactly like the ones I picked out, but I really like them so I’m not going to complain.  I ended up going with the cheapest granite that I could find for a cost of about $40 per foot installed.  Now we’re just waiting on our backsplash to come in at the tile store.  Once it arrives on Wednesday, our tile guy is going to install the tile and grout it just in time for us to move in on Saturday.

Credit Card Rewards

Even though most experts suggest that you don’t sign up for any new credit cards within a year of applying for a mortgage, we decided to move unexpectedly and pretty much ignored that rule.  Fortunately, we didn’t have any problems getting a mortgage despite the fact that we have so many open cards and so many recent ones.

Anyways, once we got an accepted offer on our future home and calculated the costs for our remodel, I signed us up for a few choice cards in order to take advantage of our higher-than-average spending.  Since I mentioned that a few weeks ago, many of you have asked which cards I chose.  Here is a basic rundown:

  • American Express Business Gold Rewards Card- Since I alternate applications between myself, Greg, and our business, I kept that in mind when signing up for new cards.  And since Club Thrifty LLC was next in line, I signed up for a business card first.  I initially applied for the Chase Ink Plus card but as Suze Orman often says, I was “denied, denied, denied” because I had redeemed my points for free flights from my Chase Ink Bold card only a few weeks earlier.  Booooo!  Anyway, this isn’t a great card or a great bonus but it seemed like the best thing to do considering the offers that were available at the time.  The deal was this: I had to spend $5,000 in three months to get 30,000 Amex rewards points good for $300 in gift cards or flights. (I plan to transfer my points to either my Starwood Preferred guest account or to British Airways frequent flier miles, not sure yet)
  • Chase Hyatt Credit Card- This card needed to be churned anyways as part of our travel plans to Europe this fall. All I had to do was spend $1,000 in three months to earn two nights at any Hyatt hotel in the world.
  • Citi Aadvantage World MasterCard- I churned this card to earn 50,000 American Airlines miles.  All I had to do was spend $3,000 within a three month timeframe, which was easy to do in the midst of remodeling our home.  We’ll use these miles for our trip to Europe this fall, or to Fincon in September.  Again, I’m not sure yet.
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card- Greg and I both signed up for this one on the tail end of our remodeling efforts.  Lucky for us, it was just in time.  The deal is this: spend $2,000 within three months and earn 50,000 rapid rewards points or two round-trip domestic flights.  The points can also be redeemed for merchandise or $500 in gift cards.   Woot!  We just finished up with one of these cards and moved onto the next.  Fortunately, our spending should be back to normal now since our home remodel is finished and paid for.

In a regular month, our monthly spend is limited to:

  • $500 for groceries
  • $200 for gas/miscellaneous
  • $394 for health insurance

That’s a total of $1,094.  In the next few weeks, I need to figure out which card to churn next but I’m leaning toward another Citi AAdvantage card for Greg so that he can also earn 50,000 American Airlines miles.  We’ll see.

What card do you think we should sign up for next?  Which cards are you currently working on?

About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. Great breakdown, Holly. I’m just getting started in credit card churning – actually on my first card haha. I’m churning the Barclaycard world arrival mastercard, and once I finish that up I’ll have my wife sign up and we’ll work on getting her $1k charged. Then I’ll be going with the Frontier Airlines card so I can grab the two domestic flights.

  2. No churning for me right now. Glad to hear the house work is coming along!

  3. Thanks for the info! I’m also just getting started on cc churning with the Barclaycard. Looking forward to some great travel rewards!

  4. Wow you are a credit card churning pro! It’s great that you have home renovations to incur so many expenses and can rack up the rewards. How difficult is it to manage and track all the credit cards and rewards?

  5. Pretty interesting stuff. I haven’t churned, but it’s something I see a bunch of folks do with apparently decent returns.

  6. I decided to start churning the Arrival World card and I plan on having my wife do it. Even though we are going to apply for a mortgage, I have a high enough score that it won’t matter if it drops a few points.

  7. It’s great that you’re able to take advantage of the higher spending with the remodeling. I only have my Chase freedom card since my spending isn’t really enough to bother with churning. Maybe I should into some of the lower limit cards. The granite countertop you got is really nice!

  8. Good stuff, Holly! We’re currently churning a Chase Mariott card (70,000 points + a free night at a 1-4 category hotel) and a Club Carlson card (85,000 points, I think). Those two will likely take us a few months, and then we’ll double up on another Carlson card for a trip this summer. It’s a bit to keep track of, but worth it in the end, I think.

    • The Club Carlson card is one that is on my short list.

      • The Club Carlson card is amazing if you really take advantage of the last night free with rewards bookings. If you alternating two-night stays at one of their Category 1 hotels with your spouse, you can literally stay for 56 nights in a row for free!!

        I have a post about this coming up soon and I think you’ll like it Holly!

  9. I like the granite counter top. I have a similar style in my kitchen. I’ve been thinking of churning the Barclays Card but still have to see if that’s the best one for me.

  10. I just finished with the Chase Freedom card ($200 bonus) and the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard ($400 bonus)! My expenses are normally high enough that most minimum spends are easy to reach, but this month was even easier because I had a few transactions for the closets that didn’t take American Express. I’ve actually been continuing to use the Barclaycard for any transactions that don’t take American Express because it’s possibly better than my regular 1% card and I might as well get the most out of it for the year I have it! I’ll probably also use the Chase Freedom for places where it gets 5%. Otherwise, I’m not that interested in churning, but those two were so easy…

  11. I’ve never churned, but damn if these posts aren’t making me want to! I actually JUST opened my second credit card, a Discover It card, which I’m already pretty much loving. That FICO score each month is pretty clutch. The Citi card sounds intriguing…I love anything that helps with travel.

  12. We plan on signing up for a few cards soon. Since we have the wedding soon, we can put a lot of things on the credit cards and rack up a good amount on bonuses and points.

  13. I haven’t gotten into card churning yet, but after reading more and more posts like this, I just may change my mind. In particular, I’m looking at the AMEX delta card. It’s got some pretty great mile bonuses for flights, which are hard to beat. Do you have that one?

  14. Ooh, I love the counter tops! For the vendors that allowed for cc’s, we used a card with travel rewards to help pay for the honeymoon – I would have never learned about it without perusing PF sites!

  15. Holly,

    This all sounds like a good plan!

    If you’re able to use Southwest flights, have you considered trying for the companion pass? One of you would have to open up one of the other two Southwest cards (Premier or Busienss) and earn 110,000 points in 2014.

    Let’s look at your accounts: You’d get 100,000 from the two bonuses and 4,000 from your minimum spends. You’d have to put $6,000 more on the card, but you’d come out with 110,000 points AND a Companion Pass good until 12/31/2015 (so the sooner you can get those 110k the better) which means that any Southwest flight you take with either points or cash you get to take your designated companion free!

    At 70 points per $1 post-devaluation the 110k are worth $1,571 and you double that with the companion pass, so it is worth over $3,100 to you!

    That is the best reward around…

    Shoot me an email if you want more details!

    • Hey Brad,

      I know about the companion pass but I don’t think I need any more flights this year. Our flights are already covered for this year.
      Maybe next year.

  16. Holly, you are my churning hero. I love this! I thought I was doing good with my little Capital One rewards, but this is amazing. Next time I have major expenses in my life, I’m definitely gonna do some churning.

  17. Love the new countertops and I can’t wait to the “after” pictures. And I bet you can’t wait until the remodeling and move is OVER! While remodeling isn’t fun at least you got any side benefit with being able to churn more credit cards for all your trips!

  18. Bummer that you were denied. I just got a the United Airlines card and we signed up Jim for an Ink Bold using our rental property business. It doesn’t have a tax ID, but we used his SSN. We just called it Parr Rental Properties and had to give info about our rental income and expenses and how much we planned to spend on the card. I bet that would work for you guys too if you haven’t used that as a business card application. Awesome countertops by the way!

  19. Thanks for the list! We just finished up our Barclay cards, so I’ve itching to start another one. Probably should talk to the wife before I do, though :) Have you tried Amazon Payments at all in your churning adventures?

    • I have never done Amazon payments before but I have read where others have. Our spending is usually enough to earn decent rewards without doing the extra stuff.

  20. I’m working on the SPG Amex card, following one of Holly’s plans… My husband will sign up next, then we’ll churn the Barclay card, and have ourselves a free trip! Holly- do you and Greg ever travel with the girls? We usually leave our 4 year old home, but we’re thinking about bringing him on the next trip now that’s his schedule is less restrictive.

    • Hi Ali!

      Our kids are only 2 and 4 so we usually just take them to Florida each year. When they get older, I’ll have to churn more to get double the travel!

  21. I’m working on the Chase Sapphire card because it transfer points to my airline. I’m going with the Barclay next when we hit our spending threshold.

  22. Credit Card churn is something I’ll have to try for 2014.

    Nice countertops…was that $40 per linear foot or sq foot?

    • linear! And it included the undermount sink, the special fancy edge, and all of the hold drilling for stuff. I am happy with them and glad it’s over with.

  23. Don’t forget that if one individual gets both the personal and business SW card, you have a good shot at getting the companion pass. If you get it now, you’ll have it for all of 2014 and all of 2015.

    Did you call the reconsideration line on the Ink Plus?

    We just got 100k point off in the mail from AMEX….

  24. Did you call the chase reconsideration hotline number? They almost alway approve people when they do that. You may have had to just transfer some of your available limit from the Bold Card. You will find the longer you churn the more often you have to call the reconsideration line.

    • I did at the time and they told me to call back because they were in a snow emergency. I kind’ve forgot after that….so thanks for reminding me. I just called them again-and guess what-they’re having a snow emergency again! I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Call them, I swear. They told me to call back tomorrow.

    • Called the hotline again today and they approved me but only for a card with a 5K limit which is fine. Woot!

  25. I think I only spend enough money to churn one credit card at a time. Of course I could always implement the gift card trick and spend $3,000 on Amazon to be redeemed at a later date. Right now I’m working on the Barclay Arrival Master Card

  26. I want to do either the AA or the United card. I’m wondering what will happen with the AA card after the merger with US Air so I may do the United Card first.

    Part of my problem with trying other airline cards is I’m really attached to Delta and my Platinum Skymiles card. They’ve been with me since the beginning and I always get my money back in annual fee (through a free companion voucher plus the free checked bags) so it’s hard for me to “cheat” on Delta with another airline. But I know there are places I fly where Delta isn’t the cheapest so I need to branch out.

  27. We just got the Capital One Venture Reward Card – double miles per dollar spent. It is our first experience with a rewards card and we like it… I’m wondering why we didn’t get one earlier (probably just lazy)! Someday I could see us getting more cards to take advantage of signup bonuses, etc, but that is all we’ve got working right now.

  28. Thank you! The wife and I are planning a European trip, so this is very helpful! I get offers for these kinds of cards in the mail all the time, but I am now going to start taking advantage of them.

  29. I need to get more into this credit card churning game. It looks like everyone is doing really well with it.

  30. I haven’t gotten into the CC churning yet, but I’m considering the The British Airways Visa Signature card. Spend $2000 in 3 months and get 50,000 Avios. Brad did a great write up about how to get 2 free tickets (Boston to Dublin) that really caught my eye. Love your new counter tops!

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Trackbacks

  1. […] when she wrote about credit card churning not too long ago. She’s currently churning the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card, […]

  2. […] may be more lenient in offering the card to you with less than perfect credit. For example, the Gold Card from American Express, a prestigious card with valuable rewards, had over 40% of its holders on Credit Karma with scores […]

  3. […] I wrote about a month or two ago, our trip to Jamaica was mostly paid for with credit card rewards.  The $400 I’ve budgeted for the […]

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