THIS PAGE CONTAINS REFERRAL LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
Hello again. It’s the Wednesday of the third full week of the month. If you’ve been following along for awhile, you know that’s when I check in on the progress of my credit card churning experiment.
I’m trying to introduce a new topic each time to keep these things fresh, so this time I’ll be talking about the points posting process for the AMEX Platinum in addition to doing my normal report. Spoiler alert: it’s not easy to understand.
If you want to see the previous posts in this series, 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
- Where Are My Points? Credit Card Churning Experiment: Month Four
I’m now 2.5 months into my 3 months minimum spend period for the American Express (AMEX) Platinum card (referral link). I opened this card in early October and in order to earn the sign-up bonus, I need to spend $5000 in 3 months. The sign-up bonus is a hefty 60,000 points, which is more than two round trip economy domestic trips. Even better, I could get a round trip economy ticket to Europe to see my friends in England with those points!
So far I’ve spent 91% of the minimum spend required to receive the sign-up bonus for this card. I think I’m going to just squeak in over the minimum spend – I was worried for a bit but luckily (I suppose) most of my large expenses occur at the end of the year. I should end up spending right about $5100 before my 3 months is up.
The biggest news for this card over the last month is that several of you awesome readers have used my referral link to get your own AMEX Platinum! THANK YOU!! I hope you are all enjoying your AMEX too.
(Want to earn your own bonus 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 October’s update to read all about the amazing benefits of the AMEX Platinum. If you are in the military, seriously – check it out. If you aren’t in the military…still check it out, the benefits might be worth the cost.
The AMEX Platinum Points Posting Process
As I described in my November update, the process for the rewards points to post to my account seems to take longer than with other cards. I’ve talked to a bunch people about the AMEX Platinum and the reports were mixed on how long it took them to receive points. Some said points posted immediately while others said they posted after the bill was paid. Two told me their points posted after the bill was paid, but not until after they had completed the minimum spend period. That’s three months!
For me, it appears to vary based on how the points were earned:
- Points for regular spending appear approximately 15 days after the bill is paid (I only have one data point so far though)
- Points for bonus spending (such as double points for shopping at a particular merchant) appear immediately
- Referral points appear several weeks after the person applied – usually. In one case, the referral points appeared immediately. I don’t know what the difference was.
This strange timeline for posting points makes it more difficult to track point accumulation than with other cards, but given the amazing benefits I’m willing to shrug it off as an annoyance.
After discovering this, I thought to myself “uhhh….that can’t be right. I must be missing something.” So I researched it. Guess what? The Points Guy also says the AMEX process is, well, convoluted.
As you can see, the Point Summary screen makes it look like all I’ve done is shop at Whole Foods and get referrals. That isn’t reflecting reality at all but because of how they post points, that’s what it looks like. Hopefully after a few more months I can start to make sense of this and see some patterns.
American Express Platinum Review (ongoing)
I am maintaining my position that any responsible credit user who is in the military, or married to the military, should get this card. There are so many benefits and considering the annual fee is waived for military members in active status, it’s just a smart idea. That is of course assuming you want a credit card and will use it responsibly.
The one thing I’m not doing very well is taking advantage of some of the benefits. Whenever I travel I am using the lounges (I’m especially grateful for this benefit considering I have an upcoming flight with a FIVE HOUR layover) but I’m not doing much else. I need to get better at that.
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.
- Review the revolving benefit offers and sign up for those that make sense
Chase Sapphire Preferred
I’m also still using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card occasionally for any business that doesn’t accept AMEX. In my life that generally means Costco, which is where I do the bulk of my shopping. I spent $253 there in November which accounted for nearly all of the 285 points I earned on this card over the last month.
Discover Card is offering 5% cash back at Amazon and Target from October to December, so I used that to order several things I bought on Black Friday. Don’t worry, most of them were things I needed to buy anyway (I’m not down with Black Friday haters). I spent about $320 which will turn into $16 of cash back.
My Next Card
I’m planning to apply for my next card on/about the first of January. I am still deciding which one to get. Here are the cards on my radar and why I’m considering them.
Chase Ink Business Preferred
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card is very tempting because it offers a large 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). However, it requires spending $5000 in the first 3 months, like the AMEX Platinum. January through May tend to be low spend months for me (little travel, not much shopping) so I’m not confident I’ll be able to complete that minimum spend in time. I’ll look over my spending lately to make sure but this might get delayed until later.
Chase’s Southwest cards (they offer three) come with the ability to earn one of the greatest travel hacks available – the Southwest Companion Pass. The pass allows you to get one free ticket when you buy one for yourself. However, there are a few reasons I’m considering delaying this card.
One, I’d like to earn the 110,000 miles necessary for the Pass through sign-up bonuses rather than spending. Right now the Southwest Premier Business Card has a 60,000 mile bonus for spending $3000 in 3 months. That means I need to get another 47,000 points (110,000 miles – 60,000 bonus – 3000 for spending = 47,000). The bonus for each of the other cards is “only” 40,000 for spending $1000 in 3 months, so that only gets me 41,000 miles. I’d need to spend another $6000 to earn the Pass. Not ideal.
Sometimes, though, they raise the bonus to 50,000 miles for the two lesser cards. If I can get a 60,000 bonus for one and 50,000 for the other, there’s my 110,000 miles! Free Companion Pass, yes please.
So…maybe I get that in January, maybe I don’t. TBD.
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. This card is debuting in January 2018. 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.
Month Five Experience
I haven’t used any points since my last update.
My Month Five 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: 65,703
- United: 545
- Delta: 2,915
- Southwest: 1,637
- AMEX: 0
Total Points/Miles as of November 21st: 70,800
- Ultimate Rewards: 285
- United: 0
- Delta: 0
- Southwest: 0
- AMEX: 55,842 (thank you to everybody that used my referral link!!)
Points/Miles Earned In Month Five: 56,127 (WHOA)
- Ultimate Rewards: 0
- United: 0
- Delta: 0
- Southwest: 0
- AMEX: 0
Points/Miles Spent in Month Five: 0
New Point/Mile Totals:
- Ultimate Rewards: 65,988
- United: 545
- Delta: 2,915
- Southwest: 1,637
- AMEX: 55,842
Total Points/Miles as of December 19th: 126,927
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 November, my credit score went down by 4 points on USAA. When I checked this week, it was down another 5 points, so 9 points total since July. While this probably seems related to the credit card churning, in reality it’s because I had my credit pulled by the apartment building I just moved into. Did I mention I was moving? Yeah.
Also work’s been crazy. Now my messed up posting schedule lately should make more sense, lol.
Looking at Discover’s Credit Scorecard, between July and November my credit score fell 14 points. That was a bigger drop than I’d expected based on what I’d read about card churning. However, this is the third month in a row where it has held steady, so unless it falls further I’m not worried.
My Experian Score 8 from AMEX was first baselined in October. It hadn’t changed since then.
While the thought of all of these travel points has me excited to start booking trips, this month I’m feeling a bit burnt out on the process. I just don’t feel like picking another card right now. Hopefully that’s a combination of moving and work being all crazy right now and I reset after the holidays. Heck, maybe some Christmas travel will bring back the excitement!
I started the experiment in July with 52,472 points across four rewards programs. I’m on track to finish the year with about 187,000 points, plus I’ve purchased two sets of roundtrip plane tickets. A huge portion of that 187,000 points is, again, those of you who have used my referral links so thank you. I can’t get anymore AMEX referral points in 2017 but if you want to get the AMEX Platinum, feel free to wait until after January 1st! Hahaha
If you don’t want to wait but still want to help somebody out with a referral let me know. I’d be happy to share the referral love with one of the people that got a card through my link, so I will share their links with you too! Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll hook you/them up.
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!