Churnable Cards

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.

 

Amex

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.

 

Barclays

  • US Airways - The bonus for the US Airways card can be picked up after 90 days have passed. (First data pointsecond 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.

 

Chase

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

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.

 

Others?

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!


Did you enjoy this post? Why not share it with a friend?
 

15 Responses to Churnable Cards

  1. Cheaplee says:

    Great layout via card issuer! Thanks. One suggestion: I would add any annual fees (and whether it’s waived), just so others know. -Lee

  2. Lee says:

    Great post! I have a question about churning the US airways card though. Last week I applied and approved instantly for the Platinum version. I called and asked for an upgrade to the Premier and CS told once the card was issued nothing they can do. BUT he went on and suggested me applying again if I truly want a Premier version of it. I am hesitating. ..been thinking that if I resubmit I have to talk to the credit analyst. What am I supposed to say to pass it? Any recommendations? Thanks a lot!

    • I would wait 90+ days before reapplying. I don’t recall the difference in benefits between the Premier and Platinum cards, but familiarize yourself with those benefits and be prepared to explain why the benefits on the Premier are significantly more valuable to you. This is usually the best approach towards getting approved when credit score and income are not the issue.

  3. Brad Warnick says:

    New to the game. Thx for all the time and effort you have put into all this. I just tried the 2 browser trick last night (2am ET Sun 4/22/12) to get the Citi AAdvantagge Platinum Select Visa Signature and Select Am Ex. Both gave 50K bonus & $150 in Stmt credits. I have 803 credit score and only 2 open current credit cards (Bank of Am and FIA). Nothing opened recently at all. On both I got Step 3 Approval Status Application Rec’d but “further processing is required…will contact within 1 wk via email”. I immediately called the Citi App Status (2 toll free #s) and Credit Dept (1 toll free) but they are closed due to wknd. What do I do?…wait for them to contact me via email?…or call them on Mon? I tried calling them 12pmET on Sun just in case they were open but still got same message. Also, I noticed right after I applied on Citi website they had stmt that site would undergo updates on 4/22 somewhere between 12am-5am (of course that is when I tried applying). I clicked on a few other Citi card offers then to apply and all of them said Site was down for maint and try again later. So I’m thinking my approval just got jammed up in system maint and wknd off-duty hours. What do you think?

    Also, when applying using the 2 browser trick, am I supposed to use all the same exact application info (ie email, income, phone numbers, etc)?…or do I need to change some of that so the applications don’t cause a glitch?…how does Citi not know I’ve got 2 exact apps since they seem to link via by SSN? And is it ok to use the same frequent flier # on each app?…I’m thinking yes b/c I want points on same acct but again it links both apps since they are exactly the same.

    • Brad – This is a puzzler. I’ve never run into a systems maintenance issue and any advice I have falls into the classification of guesswork and hunches.

      With regards to the info used in the applications, you should include the same info (including FF#). I suppose you could use different email and phone numbers, but I don’t think this will have any bearing on whether Citi’s computers identify an application as a duplicate. Even though the data in the application is the same, Citi should treat the applications separately since they will be linked to two different credit card products. I’m not a techie, but as I understand it, the use of two browsers is intended to avoid a processing error by which the second app remains associated with details of the first app and is treated as a duplicate. I suspect Citi has received both applications and is treating them separately. It does sound like your applications are just subject to a system bottleneck.

      If I was in this situation, I would wait to see what the email/letter responses turn out to be. If one application was cancelled because it was treated as a duplicate, it is probably too late to resubmit. If your app is denied for another reason, you will have a few weeks to seek reconsideration. There is also the possibility that attracting the attention of a CSR may have an adverse effect. They may (incorrectly) determine that you have submitted duplicate apps and cancel one of them. I find Citi reps to be far less accommodating or reasonable than Amex or Chase.

      I hope this helps. Good luck!

  4. Chris says:

    If Brad Warnick still reads this I’m curious to hear what happened. update?

    Thanks!

    • Brad says:

      I forgot to come back an answer in all the excitement. I gave it a few days and couldn’t take waiting so I called in to check on my status. I was pleased to find out that I had been approved for each card. I made 2 separate calls and checked on only 1 card for each call wanting to make sure I didn’t create any more attention. A few days later, both cards showed up in the mail and before activating I called in to verify what bonuses I would be receiving. Sure enough I was getting the bonuses (50K miles and $150 stmt credit) with each card after $1500 spend in 4 months. So in the end everything worked just like it should. Thx for the lessons.

  5. Felix says:

    the US Airways card is highly churnable. I got instantly approved for the first one and applied for a second one 5 weeks later. Got a decision pending and called recon line. Stated my reasons and got approved for a 2nd without cancelling the other. 80,000 miles thank you every much. (and additional 20K after first year anniversary)
    I know a guy who got 4 of them within 15 months. YMMV but a lot of times it depends on the rep you get to speak to on the recon line. If you are not getting anywhere with your current rep there is nothing wrong with hanging up and trying again to get someone else on the line.

  6. I received the Continential card (12/2011) with 50k miles that was converted to a United card, I received the United (seperate application) card with 50K miles but did have to call to reverse an initial denial (2/2012). I applied (4/2012) for & was denied the British Air card, didn’t bother to call. My credit score is 800 so I should be fine if I applied eslewhere but Chase gives out the best sign up rewards so I’m in their stable for the time being.
    Question – is churning staying within the partners (United) brand or the issuers (Chase) brand?
    Question – has enough time elasped to reapply for the Chase-BA card, or maybe even the shappire card?
    Question – should I just take my ball elsewhere? AMX-SPG card?
    I did also receive (4/2012) a USAir card with 60K miles (40k sign up, 10k on every anniversary & 10k on $25k spend). Sounds like, by your article, I can reapply but I probably won’t do that based on another article claiming low redemption/availability.
    thanks for any and all input!

  7. Vince says:

    The icing on the cake for meeting the spending requirements is to purchase something that is in high demand and turn and sell it on eBay. I recently applied for Hawaii Airlines Visa, purchased an Amazon gift card for $500 and an Apple Store gift card for $500. Met my $1000 spending requirement, sold both on eBay for a few bucks under face value, paid the credit card with the proceeds. I received 35000 miles and am flying to Hawaii for the $79 annual fee, plus the small eBay fees for selling the items.

  8. BigTex says:

    Fantastic post! Thank you!! Just got my second pair of Citi AAdvantage cards (now hold a total of 4). I plan to churn them again in 18 months but I’m wondering…do you have to cancel 2 of the 4 in order to get another pair? Surely Citi won’t let you have 6 AAdvantage cards, or will they?

    Enjoyed carving Malibu Canyon on my bike a few years ago…great pics!

  9. Ed Flickinger says:

    B of A and Choice Hotels robbed my account of 54,000 points 4 years ago. I had purposely paid and stayed at Choice Hotels many times to earn points.

    It is true that I earned Choice Hotel points from the credit card from a couple of credit card churns prior to earning many points from hotel stays. If it was a mistake on their part, they should not have punished me for when I paid for more hotel nights.

    I have tried in the past to contact both Choice Hotels and B of A with no resolution on this issue. What do you suggest?

    Thanks, Ed

  10. flyeron says:

    TMOATP:

    So if I have an active AA card but it has been open for many years, can I get another one (obviously 18+ mo past app) or do I need to close the active first? Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>