The Three Offers I Picked for My Credit Card Churn (and why I picked them)

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On Friday last week I applied for three rewards-earning credit cards.  Many in the miles and points world refer to this as a “churn”.  The definition of “churn” can mean applying for the same card over and over, or it can mean applying for rewards earning credit cards in batches even if you have never had them before.  In this case my definition of churn is the latter.

First, I looked at my credit scores and points balances to determine what my travel goals were for the next 18-24 months.  I like to apply with a specific redemption in mind.  Sometimes plans change and that isn’t what the points are used for, but it helps me prioritize which offers to go for.  Given my goals, I then reviewed which offers were out right now, including giving special preference to those that are short-term offers that might not be around when it is time for me to potentially get new cards in about three months.  I identified that I needed to build up SPG points and Hilton points.  I would have liked to add some more Ultimate Reward points to my collection, but I decided to go conservative with Chase and not use them on this round of applications.  I selected three cards from three different banks, other than Chase.  One was a business card and two were personal cards.  Here are the cards I selected and why I selected them:

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Amex:

This offer was for 30,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points after spending $5,000 on the card in the first six months.  The $65 annual fee is waived the first year.  The temporarily increased offer (from 25K points) is only available until September 4th, and historically it is an offer that has only come around 1-2 times per year, so I wanted to get in on the additional points while they were available.  Not only do I need the sign-up bonus points, but I also like the 2 stay credits/5 nights toward elite SPG status that come with the card. I have written extensively about this offer and how to maximize the points either for hotel stays or flights, so I won’t go into detail again here.

Status: Pending

I called American Express to try to get the application pushed through and was told that I would be receiving a letter detailing some documentation they need from me before they can approve the application.  I was told that they would likely require a letter from our bank on letterhead that verifies our business address.  I was told that they are also likely to request a completed T-4506 which is an IRS form that is a “Request for Transcript of Tax Return”.  I’m less than thrilled about that, but it is a reasonable request before they extend me more credit.  Not all parts of this “hobby” are enjoyable.  Getting rewards-earning credit cards is very lucrative, but it isn’t always super simple.   It will be interesting to see what comes of this application since my business income for 2011 is very small. I’m willing to play the game for the points and do whatever I reasonably can to get the application approved.  I’ll wait and see what the official letter asks for before I actually go around collecting letters and filling out forms.

Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines Visa:

This offer is for 35,000 Hawaiian Airlines Miles after spending $1,000 on the card in four months.  The $79 annual fee is not waived the first year.  I applied for this card as I wanted build my HHonors points toward a future redemption.  There are tons of cards out there that can earn Hilton points, but I selected this one as it is from a bank I don’t use as frequently for credit cards, and you can get the card on a regular basis….  This card awards 35,000 Hawaiian miles, which could be useful as Hawaiian miles, but they can also be converted 1:2 to Hilton points, which is the option I am planning to implement.  This can also be done with the Bank of American Virgin Atlantic card that comes up to 50,000 miles when you sign up that can be converted to 100,000 Hilton HHonors points.

70,000 Hilton points is a decent start on a stash of points that I will possibly use at either Waikoloa Beach Resort (50,000 points per night) or the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (also 50,000 points per night).  Before I redeem my Hilton points for a big drip I hope to get the Hilton Amex so that I have access to AXON awards.  I’ll go into more details on that in a later post, but it will allow me to book 4 nights at a Category 5, 6, or 7 hotel for a reduced number of points.  For a Category 7 Hotel, like the ones I mentioned above, that means instead of 200,000 points for four nights, it would be just 145,000 points for four nights.  That is a huge savings!

I don’t think that Hilton HHonors points are very valuable for “everyday” hotel stays (for example, some Hampton Inns in Houston are 30K points per night – no thanks), but there are some fancy schmancy places where they can come in quite handy.  As my husband and I plan our “five year anniversary trip” (aka honeymoon that we never really took), we have our eye set on some pretty great spots.  I do also plan to get other cards that provide Hilton points (including a virtually identical offer from the Bank of Hawaii) over the next year or so as I build my stash of points, but this one worked for this churn.

Status: Instant Approval


U.S. Bank FlexPerks:

This offer was tied to how well the US did at the Olympics and will award 33,150 FlexPerks points after spending $2,500 in five months to get the points.  The $49 annual fee is waived the first year.  This is a limited time offer available until August 31st.  I will be using these points to obtain airlines tickets as the points are most valuable when redeemed in that manner.  33,150 FlexPerks are worth a little more than a $600 airline ticket.  However, the best play with these points is to spend the $2,500 required in a bonus category such as travel or groceries (or to purchase gift cards sold at grocery stores).  That way you are earning double points for those purchases.  That will bring a total of 38,150 just by meeting the spending requirement.  Then you just have to earn another 1,850 points (ie another $925 in spending in a bonus category) to hit a threshold of 40,000 points.  You can read a very detailed and helpful post from Hack My Trip on how to maximize the bonus and related spending.

Since their rewards system is tiered, 40,000 points are much more valuable to me than 38,150 points.  With 40,000 points I can get two airline tickets that cost under $400 (or one that costs up to $800).  What is great about these tickets is that they will be mileage-earning tickets.  I’m not 100% sure how I will use these points yet, but they may help with positioning Little C and myself to the West Coast for our flight to Hawaii!  The trick will be to use them for airline tickets that cost as close to $400 as possible in order to maximize the value of the sign-up bonus.

Status: Pending

I called to check the application status at US Bank today (1-800-947-1444) and was told that they would likely be getting to my application and getting an answer to me by Wednesday.  That is the fourth business day from when I applied.  I was actually very hesitant to apply for this card since they really don’t seem to like to approve customers with very many inquiries on their credit report.  Since I am a fairly conservative churner, I did apply for this once I started to see some approvals on this Flyertalk thread, but I knew it was somewhat of a risk.  My fingers remained crossed on this one.

If you have a credit card churn coming up, I recommend going through some of the same steps I did in evaluating which offers to go for now, and which ones to shelve until a later date.  I’ll keep you posted on how these applications turn out.


Disclosure:  I do receive a commission for the SPG Business Amex.  The other cards mentioned are not my affiliate links – they are just the best available offers out there.  As always, thanks for your support. 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. Once you get the US Bank card, don’t forget the free 1,000 points that are available for visiting, registering your email, and uploading a photo of your travels (after redeeming FlexPerks for a trip). Must be completed by 9/30/12.

    There is also a Business version of the FlexPerks card, but call in to request the best offer.

  2. Are you also applying for the B of A card because you have the option to use them to hop from island to island in Hawaii?

  3. Hawaiian charges 7500 for inter island flights, not great when you can get them for 5K on UA and AA. UA let’s you book online now. AA charges per leg, and a phone fee, but it could be better than Hawaiian miles. Keep an eye out for bonus offers from BofA. I got 2500 for an authorized user and $15 for using it to pay a utility bill.
    And have you really looked into the Hilton Waikoloa? It’s a pretty isolated mega resort. Most everything is a drive away, including any beach. They only have a manmade lagoon. To me it’s just very un-Hawaiian. Essentially Disneyland (they have a monorail). That could be what you’re looking for, but IMO a waste of a trip to Hawaii. Rooms are regularly ~$200/night, so not an amazing value.

  4. why’d you pick the HA caard of the Virgin card? Both BOA, Virgin provides more points.

    Also, I agree with Tim. My wife and I are currently looking at Hawaii and Maldives/French Polynesia. I won’t be using my HHonors pts anywhere in HI (Waikoloa looks like the best redemption, but the Hyatt and SPG properties are better redemptions for us). that just means it will free up extra HHonors pts for villas- maybe 8 nights instead of 4!

  5. Flexperks members can transfer between accounts, so you want independant Mr. Mommy Points and Mrs. Mommy Points cards each receiving the sign on offer. US Bank, the living legacy of my 1980’s employer, is a fairly conservative organization credit-wise.

    However, I have to tip my hat to the institution that first introduced me to arbitrage, structuring and gaming systems as well as remote banking, ATM systems, and the mechanics of householding accounts to detect money laundering or to cross sell products.

  6. That’s too much work for the SPG Biz card. I applied when the offer was 25,000 SPG points and the rep didn’t ask me for any info on the call. Instead he offered to send the card via UPS next day air. I was also able to get approved for the flex perks card after calling the status application phone number after a few days. I was surprised to be approved with a few recent credit applications. I might look into their biz card offering soon.

  7. I would look at the Embassy Suites on Waikiki, so much more to do. The trip to Pearl Harbor is something you will never forget.

  8. Interesting. I just did a four card churn late last week. Went with:

    ~SPG Business Amex – instant approval (actually got an offer the next day to upgrade by Business Gold AmEx to Platinum for an additional 25,000 points that I assume was driven by this application).

    ~US Flexperks – pending — still haven’t gotten a response, should definitely call and follow up. I haven’t churned in about 6-9 months, so I was hoping I’d be OK re: inquiries.

    ~Citi Hilton Visa (my first Citi card) – approved with an OK credit limit.

    ~Barclay’s US Air Card – pending — still haven’t got a determination.

  9. Applied last night for the Amex Business Card and got pending status. They called me this morning and told me I was approved. No questions except I was asked to verify my identity.

  10. 2 Bank of America and 2 Bank of Hawaiian Cards i obtained in one day.. I did the 2 browser trick and realized after it was both of the Bank Of America cards! I didn’t get instant approval one of them.I called in 4 days later and they it was approved and its on its way! Haha so that day i just decided to do 2 Bank of Hawaiian ones too.. Pending on both! I told myself Ill call in 4 days.. but before I could call they called me on the 3rd day and asked If i meant to apply for two, I said i needed both to divide spending personal and business and they approved me for that too! 140,000 Hawaiian Points:D

  11. Just a few quick notes:
    -I agree the SPG process for me is a royal pain. I was hoping for a smoother ride, but you win some you lose some.
    -I don’t plan to use the Hawaiian Miles to island hop. I actually had planned to do the
    -I have looked at the Hilton resort in Hawaii – I am hoping to use my points in Maldives (or similar), but I don’t think Hawaii would be terrible in the event we don’t make it to one of our first choice destinations (though rates are often low enough that paid nights could possibly make more sense)
    -Truthfully, the Virgin card was the one I planned to go for. It’s actually the one I wrote about as I planned my churn, but as I had my kid home and was doing 12 things at once as I did my churn I had a brain fart and went for the wrong card. I was thinking Hilton transfer and just picked the wrong card. Not a huge deal since I will end up with both, but it is a lesson in don’t try to do too many things at once.

  12. @Steve Agreed, if youre after the HH points, which it sounds like MP is, definitely better to apply for the VA card and not the hawaiian card since theyte issued by the same bank…

    Based on what the AMEX rep. told u, sounds like u are being FR’ed due to too many cards opened in too short of a timeframe based on your credit profile. They will freeze all your existing accounts within 72 hours IME, and if you dont comply with the 4506T request they will close all your existing CC’s. However, as long as you send in the 4506T and your prior year’s 1040 income matches what you put on the app. for annual income then you shouldnt have a problem and will likely get the new card, this is what happened to me. If there is a descrepancy though, then they may still close out your existing accounts. FWIW, for me, it was my 3rd AMEX CC app w/in 12 months that triggered the FR and 4506T request. Best of luck in getting the new CC approved….

  13. Also, if youre looking to redeem at cat. 7 Hilton properties (Maldives, etc.), then the new Citi HH reserve card woild be great for your next churn as the free nights have no category restrictions and youll also get automatic gold status….

    • @Jeff, it is on my list for a future churn for sure. Great offer.
      @James, I have one active biz and one active personal with Amex.

  14. .
    Curious as to why you did not apply for BoA and BoH Hawaiian Air cards as they generally only pull once and the spend is only $1000 each. The $79 annual fee is a bit of a bummer but you mentioned planning to get the other later anyway so why not now?
    Also, if you want to build HHonors points, wouldn’t it be cheaper to get a pair of Citi HHonor 50,000 point cards at once with no annual fee and $1500 spend each? Still only one credit pull.
    @Jeff: FWIW, my wife and I each got 4 AmEx cards in less than 2 months last year with no FR and only a slight hassle to get my wife’s third card. Then she got another a few months later.

    • @Ike, I will do all that in time. I didn’t really care which HHonors offers I started with since I will be making the rounds. I am a conservative churner, so 3 is already about the max for me. I didn’t want to do more than that right now. (Plus I had the darn Virgin offer in my head so wasn’t in the mindset for the 2 Hawaiians – again, don’t chase a kid while applying for cards). However, for those looking to maximize quickly and potentially combine pulls that is a very good strategy.

  15. I recently chose Hawaiian over Virgin for the reason that I only need 70K to top off an AXON reward and I didn’t want the additional spend that the Virgin card required (AOR included SPG, AAx2) and I have about a month left of TYP @ 5X. Like MP, I am sure I’ll get the other cards eventually.

  16. I applied BoA and BoH Hawaiian cards same day (last year), it was still 2 credit pulls from BoA and FIA card services (owned by BoA) respectively.

    Similarly 2 Chase cards on same day showed up as Chase Bank NA and First USA NA counting as 2 separate inquiries. On top, they pulled from both Experion and Transunion.

    Citi personal and business cards also show different bank names, counting as 2 separate inquiries.

    Only had success with AMEX where 2 card applications in 1 sitting combined the credit pull into 1 inquiry, even for 1 personal and 1 business card.

  17. im pretty new with the churning thing, ive had the shapphire, untied, BA, spg personal and biz for a few months now. how do i churn them? i close them down and then just re apply?

  18. So classic having a brain fart doing buisness while tracking the little one! You are brilliant at this but first and foremost a mommy! Thanks for all your insights and suggestions. It was a pleasure meeting you at the FFU in NJ!

  19. Do hotel stays count under bonus spend category for Flexperks. Flexperks website only mentions gas, airline and grocery? Any thoughts or experiences?

  20. Hmmm…. I also got the FlexPerks through the Olympic Bonus, with plans to quickly convert to CashPlus. My first statement closed today and they didn’t give me the “Olympic” credit – so I just got the normal bonus. Now I need to decide if I protest or if I just quietly request converstion. I did have plans for airline tickets though…

    On the positive note, I got 3x for all my charitable spending. Once I covnert to CashPlus, I am excited to find out if my church daycare will get 5% cash back.

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