THIS PAGE CONTAINS REFERRAL LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
It’s that time again – time to see how my credit card churning experiment is going! If you want to see the previous posts, here they are:
- Travel Hacking? Credit Card Churning? Let’s Do This!
- Credit Card Churning Experiment Month One
- Credit Card Churning Experiment Month Two
- Miles and Miles and Miles: Credit Card Churning Experiment Month Three
- Q&A: Credit Card Fee Waivers and Churning Plans
I’m about 1.5 months into my 3 months minimum spend period for the American Express (AMEX) Platinum card. However, I’m ~60% done with my minimum spend amount ($5000 in 3 months) because I put almost all expenses for my early November trip to Disney World on this card. Disney World is expensive, so it really helped me move forward on that goal. Once I complete the minimum spend, I will earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards points. Those can be transferred to airline and hotel partners for free flights and hotel stays. FREE TRAVEL! Yes, I am doing an internal happy dance right now. It’d be external except I’m on a plane and I think the guy next to me might find that annoying.
Want to earn your own bonus miles and points? All of the links to credit cards contained within this post are referral links. If you use them, you get the same sign-up bonus I do as long as you complete the minimum spend in time. I get a bonus for each qualified referral. I’m using those bonuses to help offset the costs of this blog, so your support is greatly appreciated! See the bottom of this post for more details.
You can go to last month’s update to read all about the amazing benefits of the AMEX Platinum. If you are in the military, seriously – check it out.
How I’m liking the AMEX Platinum
I am still super excited about this card and will continue recommending it to any military member who uses credit responsibly. The benefits make travelling so much nicer. For instance, when I was coming back from Orlando my flight was one of the first ones out in the morning. Since I would have had to leave the hotel at 3am (literally!) and my event the night before ended after midnight, it didn’t make sense to get a hotel. I instead decided go straight from the event to the airport and sleep on a couch there.
In retrospect, this was not the brightest idea. I probably should have bitten the bullet and taken one of the much more expensive flights that left later in the day. But, I did what I did. And because I had the AMEX Platinum, I was able to get into the The Club lounge at the airport when they opened at 5am. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and grabbed a nice breakfast in peace, for free, because I have the AMEX Platinum. Nice. If only the lounge was open all night…oh well.
Oh, and I also had a 2.5 hour layover in Houston today. Houston has one of AMEX’s Centurion lounges, which means I spent that layover enjoying a comfy couch, two plugs all to myself, and this:
Pretty nice, wouldn’t you say? Certainly makes that free annual fee (for military members) worth it.
The only problem? Despite having the card for 1.5 months and already going through my first statement cycle, all points are still pending on the AMEX. None of what I’ve earned so far (a couple possible referral bonuses plus all of my normal points) have posted. Le sigh. That means the December update should be very exciting, though!
What I still need to do with my AMEX Platinum before the end of 2017:
- Complete the minimum spend
- Use my airline credit to get United gift certificates. Those are based on calendar year, not the anniversary of opening the card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
I’m also still using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card occasionally for any business that doesn’t accept AMEX. So far that mostly means Costco, but it also was important when I went to buy sunglasses at a mall kiosk in Orlando after mine snapped in half. The kiosk didn’t take AMEX, despite the kiosk worker repeatedly saying they do.
Side note: the broken sunglasses was the first pair I’ve managed to not lose within a few months. I’ve had them for something like three years! Guess how I snapped them? Stepped on them? Nope. Tug of war with my buddy’s kids? Nay. One of the temples broke in half. The temple is the bar that attaches the face part to the over-ear part. It didn’t catch on anything, it just basically fell apart in my hands. It was weird.
Because of my continued use of this card, I’ve continued to accumulate Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You’ll see my new earnings in my report at the bottom of the post.
And, new this month, I’ve actually been using my oldest credit card (a Discover Card) because they are offering 5% cash back at Amazon and Target from October to December. Since I’m already confident I will meet the minimum spend on my AMEX Platinum by the end of the three months, I’m not too concerned with putting some expenses on this card. And 5% cash back is money! (literally)
My Next Card
I’m not quite ready yet to apply for my next credit card, but I’m going to spend the next month deciding what to get. Here are the cards on my radar and why I’m considering them.
If I get two Chase Southwest cards, the bonus from those plus the spending I have to do to get the bonus will get me close to 110,000 Southwest miles. When you earn 110,000 Southwest miles in one calendar year, Southwest also awards you a Companion Pass.
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the greatest travel hacks out there – if you fly Southwest and you fly regularly with another person. The pass allows you to get one free ticket when you buy one for yourself. Insane, right? If you typically fly with another person, that’s a great deal.
Even better, Southwest awards you the Companion Pass for the remainder of the year you earned it in, plus the whole following calendar year. So if I earn the Pass by the end of March 2018, for instance, I would be able to use it until December 2019. Phenomenal!
Here’s the problem. I don’t currently have another person that I fly with. I’m single, I don’t have any children, my family is across the country, and I don’t normally travel with any of my local friends. So I’m not sure earning the Pass in early 2018 is the best idea. It might be better to wait until 2019 when I’m more likely to live near some of my travel buddies. On the other hand, this is a deal through Chase and I need to get these cards before I open too many credit cards – I have to stay under Chase’s 5/24 rule. So…gotta think more on this one.
Chase Ink Business Preferred
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card offers a baller signup bonus – 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points. Plus, it has some interesting benefits, like earning 3 points per $1 spent on travel and communication (internet, cellphone, etc). That signup bonus is very tempting.
American Express is coming out with some new Hilton Cards with some very tempting benefits. The main one I’m looking at is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card. It comes with a large annual fee (waived for military) but also some huge benefits. The most interesting benefits to me are a $250 airline incidental credit, a $250 Hilton resort credit, and Hilton Diamond status. However, if anything stops me from getting this card it will be the Chase 5/24 rule. I want to make sure I am maximizing the best Chase cards before getting too many non-Chase cards.
Cards I won’t be getting anytime soon
Chase Sapphire Reserve
I’ve been encouraged by multiple people to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, especially now that Chase is waiving the annual fee for military members (only if you open the card after September 20th, 2017). I’m not going to do that yet, though. Why not? Easy – Chase recently changed their rules and will only allow you to earn the Sapphire bonus once every two years. Since I earned it on the Chase Sapphire Preferred in later September, I won’t be eligible for it again until late 2019. And since I already get a lot of the benefits offered on the Sapphire Reserve from the AMEX Platinum, I’m not in any hurry to get it. I can wait.
Any card with a low signup bonus
There are tons of cards out there with bonuses worth $200 or less (either in cash or miles/points). I won’t be getting any of those until I’ve exhausted my Chase 5/24 allowance. It simply doesn’t make sense to do so, considering Chase has so many cards with much higher bonuses.
Month Four Experience
I haven’t used any more points since my last update.
My Month Four Results!!
Everything here is based on my statement date, which happens to be the 17th of each month. You can expect my monthly updates to happen about week three of every month.
- Ultimate Rewards: 65,292
- United: 545
- Delta: 2,915
- Southwest: 1,637
- AMEX: 0
Starting Points/Miles as of October 23rd: 70,389
- Ultimate Rewards: 411
- United: 0
- Delta: 0
- Southwest: 0
- AMEX: 0 (because they haven’t posted yet)
Points/Miles Earned In Month Four: 411 (would be so much more with those AMEX points!)
- Ultimate Rewards: 0
- United: 0
- Delta: 0
- Southwest: 0
- AMEX: 0
Points/Miles Spent in Month Four: 0
New Point/Mile Totals:
- Ultimate Rewards: 65,703
- United: 545
- Delta: 2,915
- Southwest: 1,637
- AMEX: 0
Total Points/Miles as of November 21st: 70,800
My Credit Score
Credit scores may drop – or rise – if you start churning. I have no major purchases planned, no need to take out a loan anytime soon, and a high starting score. If you plan to take out a loan soon or are concerned about your score dropping, credit card churning might not be for you.
Between July and October, my credit score went down by 2 points on USAA. When I checked this week, it was down another 2 points, so 4 points total since July.
Looking at Discover’s Credit Scorecard, between July and October my credit score fell 14 points. My new score for November hasn’t posted yet (annoying, since it’s supposed to happen on the 17th). The drop is no big deal to me, since I’m not opening a loan anytime soon and it’s high enough to not matter much. But I’ll keep an eye on it. Most reports I read about card churning said scores only went down in the single digits, so this was more than I expected.
My Experian Score 8 from AMEX was first baselined in October. That score refreshes on the first of the month, and as of November 1st it hadn’t changed since the baseline in October.
Things are chugging right along. I’ve already earned 50,000 points through one signup bonus and I’m about to earn another 60,000 through a second signup bonus. That’s 110,000 points in less than 6 months, without any of the referral bonuses or the points I’ve earned from spending. At a 1.5 cent per point value (what I hope to get) that’s $1,650 in free travel, plus all the card benefits.
Why didn’t I do this sooner?
I started the experiment in July with 52,472 points across four rewards programs. I’m on track to finish the year with about 132,000 points, plus I’ve purchased two sets of roundtrip plane tickets. That number may be much higher – I have a couple referral bonuses pending so we’ll see how that plays out.
Card churning is awesome. I know that sounds trite but I’m literally amazed each month how well this is working out. Let’s hope it keeps working!
As I said before, if you sign up for a credit card via my referral links, I receive referral bonuses. In turn, you receive the same signup bonus I got on the cards. That’s 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points on the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you spend $4,000 in three months, and 60,000 Membership Rewards points on the AMEX Platinum if you spend $5,000 in three months.
You don’t have to sign up via the referral to receive the bonus, but if you sign up through my link you are helping support this blog. If you use the referral link, great! Thank you very much! If not, I completely understand. No hard feelings.
Make sure you will be able to meet the minimum spend requirements before you sign up. That’s the whole point, right? Well, except maybe for the AMEX Platinum if you are military. That one might be worth getting even without the bonus.
NOTE: Please do NOT use the referral links or start churning cards if you don’t plan to pay off your balance in full every month. I’ve been through the pain of having credit card debt, not paying off my bill each month, and even a couple late payments. That’s not something I recommend for anyone. Besides, the rewards are only a good deal if you pay off your balance in full each month. If you don’t, the interest you are paying will outweigh the rewards. Use credit wisely!