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I posted previously about the planning process for my most recent credit card churn, and then again about the cards I actually selected. I do this roughly every three months to quickly amass large numbers of points and miles to use for (almost) free travel. I know this concept sounds scary at first (and it isn’t for everyone), but my credit score is still over 800 after doing this for a couple years. It came out in the comments section of the second post about my recent churn that I had actually applied for a different Bank of America card than I had originally planned. This was the danger of churning while home with a two year old. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t run with scissors in your hand. And don’t apply for credit cards and play puzzles, while reading a book, while watching “Go Diego Go”, while supervising a toddler. Bad, bad idea. I don’t do the first two, but I did the third and it cost me a bit.
I’m not overly upset since I still like the card I got, and can get the other later (possibly more than once….), but it was a bit of a misfire. Pre-school has safely started back up for the fall, so my next churn should be a little less chaotic. Anyway, here are results of this churn.
Starwood Preferred Guest Business Amex:
As I have mentioned before, I went for this one for many reasons, but mainly I pulled the trigger now since the 30,000 point sign-up bonus is ending on September 4th. The sign-up bonus is typically 25,000 points, but those extra 5K are quite valuable to me, so it made sense to get this card now. At first Amex told me over the phone that they were going to need additional documentation such as a letter from my bank and a T-4506 (which is an IRS form that is a “Request for Transcript of Tax Return”). They said they would likely be sending a letter requesting that info. I was about to go on vacation, so I told them that was fine and I would just wait to get the official letter before gathering any documentation.
Well, surprise surprise. A couple days later instead of receiving a letter requesting that info, I received an email and a phone call congratulating me on my approved application! That was much more welcome than a request for a T-4506. This is my second business card with American Express. The other is a Business Gold Rewards account I have had since February 2012. I don’t have any current plans to obtain another Amex this year, so hopefully I will be able to get another pretty easy approval from them in early 2013.
The card was delivered very quickly via UPS and now I just need to make one purchase on the card to get the first 10,000 points, and then spend $5,000 on the card in the next six months to get the additional 20,000 points.
I hesitated on this one for a while as I waited to see if other credit card churners could get an approval from this relatively conservative bank. They don’t seem to like to see a large number of inquiries. While I am a pretty conservative credit card churner, I still have more inquiries on my report than the average bear, so I didn’t want to apply for this one only to be shot down. However, once I saw some approvals trickle in on Flyertalk I pulled the trigger (though I now see some are actually getting a downgraded card). After about three business days I was approved for the card without any additional documentation or information required. Hurray! I have received some initial forms and paperwork from them, but have not yet received the physical card. I expect it to arrive in the next day or two.
To get the 33,150 bonus points you have to spend $2,500 on the card in the first five months. My real goal with this card is to get to 40,000 bonus points so that I can redeem the points for two $400 airline tickets. To do that I am going to use this card for grocery purchases as much as possible since they pay at 2x points. You get 2x for every $1 spent on gas, grocery or airline purchases – whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle. If I spent all $2,500 required in those categories (remember, grocery stores sell gift cards to other stores) then I would just need to earn an additional 1,850 points to hit the 40,000 point threshold. Just with our regular monthly grocery bills I can likely come close to getting that done in five months. It’s possible I will put airfare on there if I have a month with a bunch of airfare purchases (at least until Q4 when the Freedom card 5x bonuses include hotel and airlines), as well as with getting some gift cards from the grocery store. With Christmas coming in a few months, I’m sure I can easily utilize a ton of Amazon gift cards from the grocery store that will be purchased with this card for presents. I also have some charitable donations planned for later in the year, so earning 3x for those donations could also help me get to 40K quickly.
This was my “oops” moment as I really meant to apply for the Bank of American Virgin Atlantic card. Both of them have the ability to transfer miles 1:2 to the Hilton HHonors program, which is precisely what I wanted to do with my points. The Hawaiian Airlines card comes with a 35,000 mile sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 on the card in the first four months and a $79 annual fee. The Virgin Atlantic Card requires $2,500 in spending to get the full 50,000 point bonus and it comes with a $90 annual fee. Even with the increased annual fee and spending requirement, I would have rather received 100,000 HHonors points than 70,000 HHonors points, but it’s not the end of the world since I can just pick it up later. Lesson learned on churning while very distracted.
I received an instant approval on this card, but it has still not arrived in the mail about a week and a half later. It is displaying in my Bank of America online banking center, so I imagine it will arrive any day now. I plan to have my husband just use this card for his daily spending until we hit the $1,000 requirement. I can’t imagine it will take more than a few weeks with the number of expenses we seem to have these days! It’s important to keep the semi-reluctant spouse’s credit card assignments as simple as possible in order to achieve maximum cooperation. I’ll likely switch him to the SPG card after the minimum is achieved on the Hawaiian card.
Overall I received three approvals for three applications with no additional follow-up required on my end. Two of the three approvals did take a couple days to come in, but I’m thrilled to have had such an easy go-round on this churn. I now have to spend $8,500 on the cards within the next six months to get the sign-up bonuses. That comes to an average of $1417 per month, which is very doable for my family. I’m sure we will hit the targets much quicker than that with Black Friday and the holiday shopping season coming up. We do need to keep in mind that some of the cards have deadlines starting at four months, so we have to prioritize spending on those cards.
Once we hit the spending requirements we will have bonuses of 70,000 Hilton HHonors points, 30,000 SPG points, and $600 toward airline tickets (actually $800 as we are going to spend a bit more on the card to hit that target) as a reward for our efforts. That doesn’t count the points we will be earning from hitting the spending requirements. Given our redemption plans for those points, I can safely say that this churn is worth close to $2,000 for my family. Not bad considering we only owe one annual fee of $79 the first year on these three new cards.
Churning cards is work, but very well-paying work considering that my family will get so much value in future travel from just these three cards. What cards have you recently obtained and/or plan to obtain in the near future?
Disclosure: Some of the links to cards in this post are my affiliate links and I will receive a commission for approved applications using those links. I only post the best links that I am aware of. As always, thanks for your support.