For those that are new to the points game, a “credit card churn” used to mean signing up for the same card over and over again, but the accepted definition now is this: the process of applying for multiple credit cards in the same day in order to minimize the impact on your total credit score and maximize the points you earn from sign-up bonuses.
I’ve mentioned in several of my previous posts that smart use of your credit can allow you to travel to world in style…with minimal cash outlay. A credit card churn is the one thing that can allow you to to get most or all the points you need for an amazing trip, all at once.
But first, a couple of quick explanations before I detail my cards and experience applying.
The reason a credit card churn minimizes the affect on your credit score is simply that the banks, those companies you’re trying to get your credit card from, report credit scores only ONCE per day. Meaning that if I apply for a credit card at 10am and another at 2pm, the credit check from 2pm will not know that I applied for credit at 10am. In essence, both credit checks should yield the same exact credit report and scores.
For this reason, there have been many, many, many people that apply for anywhere between 2 and 6 cards in a single day…and get approved for all of them. The prerequisite, of course, is having an outstanding credit score (as determined by those who check your credit) and responsible use of your current credit cards.
Personally, I just finished refinancing my mortgage before my churn, which brings up an important point. If you expect to buy a home and take out a mortgage or plan to refinance, it is recommended that you limit credit card signups in the 6 months leading up to the start of the mortgage process. And I can attest to the reason for this.
Luckily, my credit score was 740+, and 740 was the minimum needed to get the best rates from my lender (my 3 scores were 742, 744, 761 for what it’s worth). During the underwriting process, as the lender was asking me for all kinds of financial information like my taxes and paychecks and other items, I was also asked about a credit card that I’d opened and a credit line increase I requested in the last 6 months. They wanted a signed and dated letter from me explaining why I applied for each. It was pretty simple, but I can see how having 3+ new credit cards leading up to a new mortgage might cause some issues.
My loan funded on Friday 8/31, and I was eager to apply for new credit cards now that that process was over because I had been waiting for a long while to get that over with. My plan was to set aside some time on Labor Day to make it happen.
Here are the cards I was considering (in no particular order) based on the best offers currently available:
- Citi AAdvantage Visa and Citi AAdvantage American Express Cards using the two browser trick (50K points each after $3K each in 4 months; 100K total)
- Chase Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards (50K points after $10K in 3 months)
- Starwood Preferred Guest Personal (limited time 30K after $5K in 6 months)
- Chase United MileagePlus Explorer (50K after $1K in 3 months)
- Barclay’s US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard (40K after first purchase, 10K every anniversary)
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card (2 free weekend nights anywhere and automatic Hilton Gold status after $2.5K in 3 months)
This was my thought process:
- I know I want 3+ cards
- I know I want the SPG Amex card for sure since I currently have elite status with them
- I can probably only apply for one personal Chase card and maybe a business card as well (see Chase section here for further explanation)
- My best bet would be to spread out among several banks
- I value United Airlines miles and Star Alliance in general
- I NEED to be able to hit the spending requirements, otherwise it will all be for naught
With that in mind, I decided on my cards, the order, and my general plan of attack. I would first apply for the Chase MileagePlus Explorer card, move on to the SPG Amex card, and assuming everything is going well, try for the Barclays US Airways card. And if all three of the above yielded approvals, I’d go for the gold with the Chase Ink Bold business card (which I knew wouldn’t give me instant approval based on almost everyone’s documented experience).
Here’s how it actually went down:
- Chase United MileagePlus Explorer – APPROVED with a $6K limit
- SPG Amex – APPROVED ($14.4K limit)
- Barclay’s US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard – APPROVED with a $3K limit
- Chase Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards – PENDING
Success! Well, almost. I knew I’d get the dreaded “Pending” from the Chase Ink Bold because Chase likes to be very thorough with their business applications. I knew I’d have to call the reconsideration line, and after a few questions, I was APPROVED with a $5K limit!
Now, I covered A LOT in this post and I already feel like it’s too long, which probably means I should have split this up into multiple sections. I’ll be sure to make two follow up posts to cover the following:
- Why I picked the cards that I picked (i.e. my detailed thought process)
- The Chase reconsideration line (this is kinda important), and why I wanted the Ink Bold card so badly
With the bonuses I’ll earn, I will be able to travel nearly anywhere in the world in business class or better and stay there several nights…essentially for free!