Final Results of My Three Card Churn – Close to $2,000 in Value!

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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.

U.S. Bank FlexPerks:

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.

Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines Visa:

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.

Churn totals:

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. 

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Comments

  1. This month took the INK bisiiness, and the (50k) the Starwood (30k). I use the sapphire dominantly, along with freedom for 5x offers. I am not a churner but do look to offers and cull the not so good cards. I had the mileageplus and OnePass cards but now gone (did not find them comet active against sapphire).

  2. I just did my second churn and picked up the SPG Business, Chase United and two 50K Citi AA cards. I’m pretty pleased and, like you, want to keep the number of apps conservative. I’m laying low on new apps until the New Year.

  3. just a word of warning on the US Bank Flexperks – I applied and was approved (9k credit line), but then when it arrived in the mail it was the lesser non-signature card, with only 1/2 point per dollar spend and no special categories (and no $25 flight reimbursement either).

    I called to ask what had happened and was reassured that I was still eligible for the Olympics bonus, but that everyone is defaulted to the “best” card they qualify for, no matter what they were originally applying for. I have a 790 credit score and few applications this year, but it’s okay. I won’t be able to score the 40,000 points (since it would take so much spend to get there), but I’ll keep my fingers crossed I get the bonus after the $2.5k spend and file the card away to never use again.

  4. @Nicole, I am in the same boat as you. I received the low end version of the card with only 5,000 flexperks bonus. I looked at the credit line they gave me and it was a measly $1,500, the lowest of all my credit cards. I ended up cancelling the card and shredding it before I ever activated the card. Thanks for nothing US Bank!

  5. Mommy Points, How long will you hold the Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines Visa or the Bank of American Virgin Atlantic card before you cancel them? And after you cancel how long will you wait til you reapply?

  6. i applied for the BofA Hawaiian card recently too. It took around 2-3 weeks for it to arrive – definitely the slowest I’ve ever experienced from any credit card churn.

  7. Regarding the US Bank Flexperks card, it only gives you the 2x bonus in the category that you spend the most in that month. In other words if gives you 2x in gas OR groceries OR travel but not all three. It makes the most sense to only use the card for one category as anything else just gives you 1x point.

  8. To those who got the lesser version of the Flexpoints card, I agree the tactic of switching cards is a bad one.I was lucky this time, but it’s happened to me before. They should either just turn you down or come back with the option, “You don’t qualify for Card A, but we’d be glad to send you card B,” rather than just make the switch. I’ll bet some just don’t realize what happens and go ahead and put spend on the lesser card, which may be one of their motives.

  9. On the Flexperks don’t forget the 3x for charitable contributions. Many people will be making such contributions in the coming months – if you do it with this card the $2,500 spend would net you 7,500 points and get you to the 40,000 mark right away with the Olympic bonus.

  10. I’ve had the BofA Hawaiian card for three months – having gone through two billing cycles meeting spend requirements and still have not received any points. On the otherhand the same card from Bank of Hawaii’s points posted before the billing cycle even ended. Numerous calls to BofA and Hawaiian rewards center and still no progress. There’s a mix up with an additional Hawaiian Airlines membership number given to me, but that number isn’t even valid – only seven digits instead of nine. Getting these 35,000 points is turning into a full time job. BofA has horrible customer service and the rewards center for HA seems to have issues understanding how to help. It’s all very frustrating. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  11. @Levy Flight, I agree that unless you need the benefits from the CO/UA cards that the Sapphire Pref is much better to have and use.
    @Dan G, sounds like a good second churn to me!
    @Nicole, I have read about that happening and it is unfortunate – especially if some don’t end up getting the bonus they applied for! I’m glad this isn’t a bank that we deal with very frequently in the rewards arena.
    @Grant, that really stinks! This bank is a risk to include in a churn for sure.
    @PerryPlatypus, I am very conservative with cards so my answer is by no means the quickest that it could probably be done (I have read you can get a new one every three months even if the old one is still open). My plan is likely to get the Virgin Atlantic card in six months (two churns from now). I’ll prob dump the current Hawaiian card a few months after that and then get it and the Bank of Hawaii version a few months after that.

  12. @RT, interesting. Glad I’m not the only one!
    @Brian W, you are absolutely right. Clarified that point in the post. Groceries here we come!
    @BobChi, I totally agree. Glad you got the better version!
    @Kim, that totally stinks! Normally I would say Twitter, but I’m not sure how active they are on Twitter. Phone calls, formal letters, and maybe a visit to a local branch would be would I would try. Not sure if all of this info is still up to date, but you can try this: http://consumerist.com/2008/10/reach-bank-of-america-executive-customer-relations.html

  13. I similarly just did (my very first) three card churn. I got the Chase Marriott Premier card with 70,000 point sign-up bonus, USBank FlexPerks visa signature card with 33,150 points (I also plan to aim for 40,000 points with spending), and Chase United Explorer card with 65,000 points. Thanks for all of the advice! I’ve never had an American Express card and I am still thinking about applying for the AMEX SPG 30,000 point card by September 4th.

    • @AMC, sounds like a great churn! If you can meet the spending requirement, then the SPG card before 9/4 is a good decision. If history is correct it will be a while before it returns (assuming it does). Do you have a trip planned with your new points?

  14. No trips planned yet, but I’m getting excited to start thinking about some! I’m sitting on a lot of points that I’ve had for a long time. I might pull the trigger on getting the SPG card. I can definitely hit the minimum spending requirement. Is AMEX conservative with approvals? I have excellent credit. I’ve been extended huge credit limits on these three most recent cards, so I’m not sure if that would impact the AMEX approval. If I do apply for the card, I’m happy to use your link.

  15. I love this quote!

    “It’s important to keep the semi-reluctant spouse’s credit card assignments as simple as possible in order to achieve maximum cooperation”

    I give my wife a card and say buy a coffee with this then give it back to me then I will give you your next card. Then give her then next card monitor the spending and once minimums are met take that back and move on. She thinks I’m crazy until we are flying free and staying at the Park Hyatt!

  16. Hi, thanks for the blog. I have applied for but have not yet received approval on FlexPerks (I should – I too am a conservative churner and my credit is strong). Can you point me to the 3x charitable contributions? My ultimate plan is to convert FlexPerks to Cash+ so I can get 5% on charitable, but the 3x charitable will definitely change my planned spending for the $2500 minimum spend. Thanks.

  17. @AMC, I have not found Amex to be very conservative with approvals. Sounds like you have good credit, so should be fine for an Amex approval. Have fun planning your trips! How exciting. 😉
    @Mark, ha ha. We are crazy, but the rewards are crazy! 😉
    @Soriso, from what I can tell online it seems like they may have an online site where if you go through there to donate to their specified charities then you are guaranteed to get 3x. It seems like if you don’t go through the portal you may still get 3x, but it isn’t guaranteed 100%. I’ll have to see how it works IRL when I get my card. Would love to hear from anyone who has first hand knowledge though!

    • @AMC, glad you got an instant approval! Thanks for your support and keep me posted on how you plan to use your points! 😉

  18. Hi Mommypoints,
    I was planning to apply for the spg personal card before the 9/4 deadline. However, I just received an offer thru snail mail today for the amex Plat Business card with 100k MR points after $10k spend in 6 months. I’m a very conservative cc person. I only have one AmEx card and no credit inquiries in 2012. What are the chances that amex would approve me for both two cards at the same time? Please advise. (I am planning to use your spg link)

  19. @Linda, I also got the targeted offer for the Amex Business Platinum but only for 50k MR Points. For me it was a no brainer to go with the SPG Business because I did not have to pay the $450 Plat fee and in my own case the SPG Points are more versatile to use. Do you have an idea what program you would transfer your MR points too? That might be a big difference for you. If you are stockpiling Avios then your 100,000 MR points may actually be worth 140k to 150k or more down the road when they offer the transfer bonuses. If you can afford the min spend and decide to apply for both just make sure you do them the same day so it will generate only one hard inquiry but as always YMMV. I hope next time Amex sends me the 100k offer! Very jealous of you 🙂

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