One of the misconceptions many people have about credit card offers is that a person can only get an offer for a specific card one time. While this is sometimes true, the reality is that in a surprising number of cases, it is false. Often, a bonus can be earned repeatedly after a very short wait. This page summarizes bonuses that can be earned repeatedly on the same card. This is what is conventionally known in the game as “churnability.” I attempt to keep this page as up to date as possible. Please notify me if you think an update needs to be made.
Before I lay out the details, keep in mind that some of these “maneuvers” are for experts only. Remember in Karate Kid when Daniel-son wants to learn the Crane Kick? Well, churning the same card is a bit like that. You need to have spent a bit of time “sanding the deck” and “painting the house” before you try churning the cards described below. You should have a good understanding of your travel goals, how these cards fit into them, and how you might explain to a credit card company your application activities. As with many things, YMMV and that is certainly true with the information listed below.
Generally, the T&Cs for Amex cards indicate that a bonus can only be earned once; no churning. Although, if the bonus you received when you apply for a card is less than the current offer, applying for the current offer will allow you to pick up the incremental difference. Some people report that Amex has a very long memory of which bonuses a person has earned. However, others report that the bonus can be received every two years. That is, the two-year clock starts ticking at the time of the previous application. It doesn’t matter when the card is cancelled, as long as it has been cancelled. The Amex system needs enough time to forget you got a bonus, not that you had the card. This is definitely a case where YMMV. It is worthwhile to note that a bonus can be earned for both the Personal and Business versions of a card. In addition, a bonus can be earned on different variations of a card in the same program. So, even if you’ve received the promotional bonus for the Gold Delta Skymiles card, you should be able to get the full bonus for the Platinum Delta or Delta Reserve cards.
Bank of America
BoA is pretty good about allowing people to churn their cards. Perhaps it is because the annual fee is rarely waived. Many of the BoA cards can be churned as frequently as every 90 days. Some details as follows:
- Alaska Airlines – A person can earn the bonus for this card every 90 days. You don’t even need to cancel the existing card to get a new one. Simply fill out the application and leave the field for your MileagePlan number blank. A new number will be assigned. Yes, this means you may end up with multiple accounts, but you should be able to combine the accounts. The hassle is certainly worth the benefit. (First data point and Gary’s outdated, but interesting, data point.)
- Hawaiian Airlines – Like the Alaska Airlines Card, this is also churnable every 90 days. It’s not clear to me if you need to cancel your existing card before applying for a new one, but I recommend doing so. (Data point.) The clock starts ticking at the time of the application.
- US Airways - The bonus for the US Airways card can be picked up after 90 days have passed. (First data point, second data point and a conflicting data point.) Also remember that the bonus can be earned for the different versions of the card (Premier and World) and for the Personal and Business cards. Reports aren’t consistent over the question of whether an existing card needs to be cancelled. The clock starts ticking at the time of the application.
Like the Amex cards, generally, the T&Cs for Chase cards indicate that a bonus can only be earned once. However, Chase doesn’t have a memory like Amex. Three years is commonly cited as the proper window of time between credit card applications to get approved for the same card and earn the bonus. The clock starts ticking at the time of the application, not card cancellation. My only experience with this is getting the bonus for the Marriott card about 5 or 6 years ago (when it was 30,000 points) and again last fall (when I picked up the bump to 70,000 points). The good news with Chase is that there are so many available cards, and variations of different cards, that an individual isn’t likely to run out of Chase options too quickly.
Citi has a couple of cards that are churnable, each with very different churning properties.
- American Airlines – The AA cards are perhaps the best known offer in the card-churning world. Once churnable every 3 months, Citi now requires a 12 to 18-month window between bonuses. I’d stick with 18 months to be safe. The clock starts ticking at the time of the previous application.
- Hilton – There are currently two Citi Hilton offers available: a 40,000 point offer and a 50,000 point offer. It seems that, Citi views these as two different cards, both of which can be approved at the same time (use the two browser trick). In addition, approval for these cards only requires a 3-month window. (First data point and second data point.) The clock starts ticking at the time of the previous application.
I’m sure there are several offers that I have missed. Also, the circumstances surrounding the churnability of these cards is likely to change over time. Please let me know if you think any of the information contained herein needs to be updated.
As always, if you are planning to apply for a card for which I have a link, I always appreciate your support!
Thanks and happy churning!
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