One Year of Credit Card Churning

How I earned $3240 in one year with Credit Card Signup Bonuses

Credit card… churning? It is a phrase I heard for the first time in 2015 after searching around on google for credit cards with signup bonuses. It is a practice, usually by frequent travelers, of opening credit cards just for the signup bonus and then canceling them and moving to another.

I love traveling and that is how I got the idea in the first place. Although I had some cash back cards like the Capital One Quick-Silver, it wasn’t until opening a hotel branded credit card during a checkout process that I formed the idea of opening as many as I could.

You don’t have to be a high-earner

You only need decent credit (700+ish).

As I began researching the cards that I would open, I ran across many websites promoting the activity. Though it seemed sites like The Points Guy mostly spoke to business travelers or high-spenders, as a single man, I considered it a total failure in my budget to spend more than $1,000/month.

My goal was to add vacations to my life without spending a dime extra and that is what I set out to do. In my first year, I managed $3240 in travel credits via credit cards, with which I’ve mostly taken vacations to Asian destinations using points to pay for the high-priced tickets.

Chase Freedom Card

Chase Freedom card is a good start

Pay Everything with Credit Cards

Stop using cash. It’s a pain to manage and you end up with all these little bits of worthless metal everywhere. Many bills, like mobile phone bills, can be paid with credit cards without a fee and all groceries and retail items can be purchased without fees.

Continue to use your bank account where a fee would be charged (mortgage and rent being the main ones), that 3% fee eats into your profits.

The credit cards I chose were easy to manage and most did not have outlandish spend requirements. The largest spend requirement was the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with a $4000 spend, but which provided $550 in signup bonus with highly flexible points. I timed the opening of that card with a vacation I had already planned which took care of a good chunk of the spending requirement.

Credit Card Churning bad habits

Form a strategy in opening your credit cards based on your current spending, and keep in mind that once you start using credit cards for all your expenses, it becomes easy to overspend. While spending a little more is ok so long as you don’t spend more than the bonuses you receive, it’s far better to not spend more at all and simply receive bonus dollars $$.

Be careful of other common Credit Card Churning Pitfalls.

What a year of Credit Card Churning might look like

Keeping a similar spreadsheet will greatly reduce your chances for missing the spend deadline or not canceling a card before the annual fee.

Spend deadline Annual fee Spend required Bonus $ add. $
Total Rewards 9/30/2016 12/30/2015 $750.00 none 60
Mileage Plus 9/30/2016 12/30/2015  $1,000.00 350 10
Chase Sapphire 3/31/2016 12/31/2016 $4,000.00 550 100
Citi Thankyou Preferred 3/31/2016 none  $1,500.00 200 15
boa travel 5/31/2016 none  $1,000.00 200 40
Citi Hilton 7/15/2016 none  $2,000.00 375 50
Amex Hilton 7/30/2016 none  $1,000.00 375 25
Amex Delta 9/25/2016 6/25/2017  $2,000.00 550 20
Barclays Choice 10/15/2016 none  $1,000.00 200 20


Some of these cards like the Amex Delta and Hilton cards were opened due to a limited time signup bonus. This might be a consideration before running around opening every card you can, sometimes waiting will be better.

Some of the other cards such as the Total Rewards and Choice cards are specific hotel chains that may not be valuable to you due to the lesser signup bonus and limited flexibility. Most travel chains offer branded credit cards with signup bonuses, so make sure to open the ones most valuable to you.


Good luck in your Travels!

New Zealand's Cathedral Cove

New Zealand’s Cathedral Cove

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