Churning miles the old fashioned way

On Tuesday, I earned 240K miles the old fashioned way: credit card churning. 

I love dreaming up creative new ways to earning points and miles other than signing up for credit cards.  For some examples, please see “How I earned over 1 million points and miles in 6 months”.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I’m against credit card churning!  It is still one of the best perpetual point machines out there.  It’s been a while since I’ve signed up for any cards, so I finally decided it was time… 

Choosing cards

I started with my “Best credit card offers” page.  My approach is to simply pick one or two cards from each table on that page: Chase, Amex, Citi, and Other.   Usually, if I want two cards from one bank I would pick one personal card and one business card (yes you can get business cards even if you don’t have a business).  With Citibank, though, you can get two personal cards at once (and I did so).  Here’s what I chose from each section:

Chase: British Airways Visa

This was, by far, the toughest decision to make.  Chase has so many great offers and so many great cards that I really just want them all!  The decision came down to two things: 1) July 18th is the last day to get in on the publicly available British Airways 100K offer; and 2) I’ll be in Europe next month and again in November so I’d really like to have a smart-chip card. 

I applied online and received a pending decision, so I called the reconsideration line.  The agent wanted to move credit from my other Chase cards in order to setup a credit line for this one.  He was very accommodating: based on my suggestions, he moved bits of credit from 3 different cards in order to setup a $15K line on the BA card.  Result: SUCCESS!  50K BA points after first purchase and another 50K after $20K spend.

American Express: None

I already have both personal and business SPG cards and Delta cards.  And, I have the Amex Business Platinum card.  At some point I’ll get the Premier Rewards Gold and the Hilton Surpass, but I’m not in a hurry to get either (I’m flush with MR and Hilton points right now).  Instead, I’ll wait to see if Amex sends me any more great targeted offers.

Citi: Aadvantage Two Browser Trick

When booking award flights, I tend to look mostly to United and Delta because I have ready access to miles in both programs.  Sometimes, though, the best availability is through American Airlines and their One World partners.  Sadly I have only 13000 AA miles (queue the sad violins).  Luckily there’s an easy way to get lots of AA miles quickly: the famous two browser trick.  There are two 50K AA bonus offers available from Citibank, but you’re only supposed to be able to get one of them.  With the two-browser trick, you can apply for both at the same time (in two separate browsers) and qualify for the 50K bonus for each card. 

I did the two browser trick using Chrome and Firefox.  I wasn’t instantly approved, but one browser popped up a chat window and the other gave me a number to call.  So, I chatted in an on-screen window while I talked on the phone and answered the same simple questions in each.  Result: SUCCESS!  100K AA miles are mine once I spend $3K on each card in 4 months.

Other: Barclay’s US Airways MasterCard

This one was an easy choice.  The card offers a 40K sign-up bonus after first purchase, 10K bonus miles each anniversary, $99 companion passes, and more.  I don’t currently have many US Airways miles to build from, but I’m hoping the Grand Slam promotion comes back this fall.  This card will provide an easy Grand Slam “hit” and the sign-up bonus will give me a great start towards racking up valuable US Airways miles. 

When I applied, I received instant approval (yay!).  Result: SUCCESS!  40k US Airways miles are mine after first purchase!

Totals

I was approved for all 4 cards.  Once I meet the minimum spend requirements, I’ll earn 240K miles.  That’s a respectable 60K per card average. 

Have you churned lately?  How did you do?

Terminology

It used to be the case that the term “credit card churning” referred to signing up for the same cards over and over and receiving the sign-up bonus each time.  This has become more and more difficult to pull off as banks have learned how to stop that practice.  Many people now use the term “credit card churning” to refer to the act of signing up for a bunch of (mostly different) cards every 3 months or so.  It is the latter definition that I use in this post.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

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67 Comments on "Churning miles the old fashioned way"

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Mike H
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Regarding the BA card, I’m considering going with the faux booking version to dodge the spend, I’m a light weight. However BA doesn’t even barely connect out of my home port of BWI. I read the card is as good for AA bookings however. I’m due a churn this week. For Chase it’s BA,Hyatt or Freedom. What say you? I hold Ink, Sapphire Pref and SWA.
Best, Mike

mommypoints
Guest

Congrats on a great churn!

FrequentMiler
Guest
Mike H: all 3 are great choices. If your goal is to earn more for daily spend, then the Freedom card (combined with a Chase checking account) is a great option. If you need more free hotel nights then Hyatt is great. With BA there are great values for short non stop flights on partner airlines. From BWI you can use BA miles on AA to get to Chicago, JFK, Dallas, or Miami all very cheaply (but only when the lowest level awards are available). From Miami you can get to multiple places in south America on AA or LAN.… Read more »
Dave
Guest

I know for most people this would seem like a counter-intuitive question, as they like to keep “junk mail” far away…but is there a way to get your name on the list for targeted credit card offers? I NEVER receive any, but as far as I know, I’ve never opted out of any lists or know of any reason I wouldn’t receive some/any of these mailings.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dave: A while ago a reader who goes by “Kroozer” wrote the following:

You can OPT IN again to the junk mail offers by going to https://www.optoutprescreen.com/. This is an official joint venture between the major credit bureaus.

No guarantee this will get you the desired targeted offers. Also note that banks or companies of which you are an existing customer and not bound by your OPT OUT preferences, they can always send you marketing offers of their other services.

Steve
Guest
My wife’s aor last month was the BA 100k card, Delta Platinum AMEX Biz (35k+10k mqm), and Chase Ink Bold 50k (used your link, thanks!). So that’ll be 185k points/miles NOTE: the BA card received was not chip+pin – you need to call and make a special request for it. You may want to do that now so it gets to you before you travel to Europe. I’m also planning an aor prior to July 18th BA deadline to get: Chase BA 100k, Citi TY Premier 50k (assuming the 50k offer is still around), AMEX mercedes Platinum 50k, Barclay’s NFL… Read more »
FrequentMiler
Guest

Steve: Sounds like a good plan! I have a question about your chip and pin comment: my understanding is that the BA card comes automatically with a chip & signature (not pin). Are you saying that your wife initially didn’t get a chip at all or that you were able to upgrade to an actual chip and pin (from the chip and signature)?

chris
Guest

so you just cancel the card and sign up again at some point in the future? what is the typical amount of time you wait in between sign ups?

FrequentMiler
Guest

chris: some cards are worth keeping even with the annual fee because of the perks they provide (like the US Airways card which gives 10K miles each year — the $85 annual fee is like buying miles for .85 cents each which is really good). If a card isn’t worth keeping, I wait until the annual fee comes due and then call to cancel. often you’ll be offered a good incentive to keep the card another year. Otherwise I would go ahead and cancel.

Phil
Guest
I blogged about my latest app-o-rama here: http://milesabound.com/my-latest-credit-card-app-o-rama/. I ended up netting 410k points once minimum spend was reached. And shortly after I jumped on the Amex Biz Gold 75k one-day offer, boosting it up to 485k. Prior to that my last was just under 3 months prior and netted me around 250k points IIRC. I think I used your Ink Bold link on that one. I learned a lot on this round… was able to get two personal Chase cards in one round with a bit of coercion, that Amex seems to limit you to four *credit* cards (biz… Read more »
FrequentMiler
Guest

Phil: Nice haul! Yes, I agree that my churn is quite modest. I’ve made a deliberate decision to go slow and steady with credit card sign-ups — four new cards at a time is about all I can handle mentally. Especially now that I keep acquiring new prepaid cards too 🙂 (I finally got the Mio card…)

Joe
Guest

When I apply for cc’s I’m more interested in buying gift cards or exchanging my miles for cash. It might be a popular post to talk about what you can do with the miles beyond using them for airline miles. For example, the British Airways card offers a lot of miles but what if I have no plans to fly for a while? What else can I do with the miles?

Thanks for all that you do. Your blog is a revelation–I look forward to reading it every morning.

FrequentMiler
Guest
Joe: Thanks! That is a good suggestion. Of course as “Frequent Miler” I’m personally more interested in using points and miles for flights and lodging, but I know lot’s of people who prefer cash as you do. I think you’ll find it hard to get much cash / gift card value from BA miles. Southwest points offer good gift card options (at 1 penny per point value). Most banks have programs that will let you cash out directly. My favorite of those is Chase’s Ultimate Rewards since they can be used either for cash or for transfers to airline and… Read more »
Mariana
Guest

I don’t have a regularly scheduled application process but mostly jump to offers. My last credit card application was April (chase freedom). We recently refinanced (May-June) and I have 3 credit pulls from it and the freedom application. I’d like to apply to a bunch of Hilton credit cards soon. Will the 3 pulls in the last 3 months be a problem? I know it depends on the credit bureau so I should find that out and see where the new credit cards will be getting info from…

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mariana: multiple pulls from a refinance shouldn’t hurt you. You should be fine to do new apps as long as you have a strong credit score.

Steve
Guest

Sorry, didn’t mean to say chip+pin, just chip.
this FT post is exactly what happened with my wife’s card
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/18892362-post861.html

Initially, no chip at all- just a plain ol regular BA VISA card. We had to secure message them to ask for the chip card.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Steve: how bizarre! As you know, they specifically advertise the chip.

Mike
Guest

Please show me where the two 50K Citi cards are. I can’t find them on the Cit website.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mike: You won’t find it on the Citi website. Both offers have technically expired, but are still available if you have the links. Worse, you have to take a leap of faith because when you apply there is nothing on the screen about 50K miles. When I talked/chatted with the reps, though, they both confirmed the 50K mile bonus. Read this FlyerTalk thread for more info: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1262549-citi-aa-100-off-50k-companion-cert-plus-other-offers-they-appear.html

Mike
Guest

Can you be more specific on where to look in the above thread. They are very old posts. Is this a new offer from Citi?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mike: read the first post. It is kept up to date.

Evan
Guest

Speaking of chip and pin has there been any recent word about Chase adding them to the sapphire preferred?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Evan: I think Brian (thepointsguy) recently said that yes that’s happening soon, but I have no idea what soon means…

Evan
Guest

FM: Thanks. I must have missed his post the other day.

JoC
Guest

Why is it, that, unlike other bloggers, you dont put any active links and ask people to apply using your links so that you can earn commision. May be you’re more subtle than others?

I love all your posts.

FrequentMiler
Guest

JoC: Thanks! You can read about why I don’t post links here: http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2011/12/27/the-referral-backpedal/

Steve: Thanks! I see that you can buy those with a credit card. Can they be used for ATM withdrawals?

Steve
Guest

For those that are traveling, you can purchase travelex chip and PIN with no fees.

Crash
Guest
For the cards outside of the US Airways (or others that you keep and pay the annual fee), I assume you just close the card/account prior to annual fee, unless you obtain a retention “bonus” for it. If you are constantly signing up for cards and closing them down with the same banks, it would seem that the banks are going to note it and decrease the number of approvals for you over time (more reconsideration line calls). Is this correct? Or is this the “beauty” of it all, the fact that they continue to let you churn them out… Read more »
FrequentMiler
Guest

Crash: Credit card companies don’t like it if you cancel immediately after getting the sign-up bonus (that’s why I wait a year before canceling), but aside from that, the banks do let you keep signing up for new ones. Most banks have stopped allowing the same card to get a signup bonus over and over, but there are some exceptions.

Evan
Guest

On a totally unrelated note it looks like Staples FAR is back starting this Sunday!! It appears modest but lets hope things ramp in the coming weeks.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Evan: Great!

pianodude
Guest
I was approved for 6 cards back in May; my wife was just approved for 6 cards this week. We both got the Citi AA duo, Amex Hilton, Chase Fairmont and Barclays USAir. I also got the Chase Ink Bold; my wife got the Chase BA. I have received the Hilton 50K points, Fairmont free night certs, USAir 40K miles and Bold 50K UR points. I’m waiting for statements to close on the Citi AA duo. I still have a USAir card from a year ago; I had the Citi AA duo back in 2010. My wife had the Citi… Read more »
Mike
Guest

What is the Citi AA Duo?

pianodude
Guest

@Mike — the Citi AA duo is applying for both the Citi AA Amex and Visa using the 2-browser method. The two card links for 50K miles and a $100 credit after an AA purchase are available on Flyertalk.

Mike
Guest

I still don’t see the link.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mike: Here is the text from the FlyerTalk post. Click on Amex in one browser and click on Visa in the other:

2. $100 statement credit for the first eligible AA purchase made within 12 months of cardmembership, 50k AA miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 4 months, 1 Companion Certificate after you become a cardmember. Fare classes are H, V, M, L, K, W, G, S, N, Q, or O per this post

Links:

AMEX
VISA


Terms & Conditions

Mike
Guest

Thanks!

I can’t do the Visa since I just signed up for a Citi Visa in June and only got 30K AA miles.

Grant Thomas
Guest

I just read this post: http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm?topic=83998

and applied for the GlobeTrek Visa card here: http://www.andrewsfcu.org/page.php?page=553

It is a true Chip-and-PIN card unlike the Chase cards.

Max
Guest

What’s the AA links you clicked? I applied two using links from FT, both pending, with no chat windows or phone number to call.

guest
Guest

Any way you can inform how many inquires you have in last 2 years? How many Experian?
Thanks

Steve
Guest

I haven’t purchased a travelex chip+pin yet. I just know of them, so I’m not sure what you can do with them.

pianodude
Guest

@Max — I had immediate approval on my Citi apps, but my wife called a number that showed on her Pending Approval page. I’m not positive, but it may have been 866-606-2787.

Max
Guest

@pianodude. Thank you! Could you and @FrequentMiler guide me the link? I can telly family to apply through that. A live chat was also amazing!

Dave
Guest
@Grant Thomas-I do believe that card has a 3% foreign transaction fee with it. I remember reading something about that before but could not find it on the website. @FM-I too am wondering why you did not go for the easier BA card through the BA booking trick? I tried to sign up for the dou AA cards and was denied for the visa, even after calling. They told me I had too many recent apps. I lucked out and got a contact from Million Miler. Sent an email to the contact and got a call the next day and… Read more »
FrequentMiler
Guest

Max: The first post of the FlyerTalk thread I referenced has the links to the AA cards.

Dave: Normally I probably would have done the BA booking trick, but I have a lot of spend coming up in which I’ll be able to hit the $20K requirement and I have a potential use for the points that I’ll get sooner that way. Normally, I agree that the booking trick is a better way to go.

Steve
Guest

and if you happen to hit 30k spending, you’ll get the BA companion pass, which is quite valuable.

Steve
Guest

If you just signed up for the VISA in june, you might not get the VISA today either.

Mike
Guest

And probably won’t get the Amex either.

Steve
Guest

That’s what I meant to say Mike. Thanks!

Mike
Guest

Just wondering why I only got 30k instead of 50k.

Ringer
Guest
Just did my 2nd AOR this month, a reasonable 4 cards. Got 2xCiti Premier 50k(one Visa, on MC), BOA Alaska and Chase United Explorer 55+10k. I didn’t throw an Amex in the mix either, I did 6 cards from Jan-Feb so I wanted to cool my heels a bit. With this AOR I’m at 400k+ miles and points for the year–not a bad start for a noob. I went with those cards because I like that I only have to worry about spend for the Citi Premiers(one Visa and MC)because the United card is on first spend and the Alaska… Read more »
Steve
Guest

Virgin Atlanta 65k offer is live now (15k after 1 year anniversary tho)

Victor
Guest

@Steve: Where can you see the 65k (50+15) offer? Virgins cite is only showing 20+15, and I haven’t seen any of the bloggers promo links promote the 65k version.

robin
Guest
my last apps were in mid april 2012 for chase IB, chase united & citi AA visa biz. i already have chase SP and freedom. canceled 2 amex cards last month= premier reward & gold biz due to annual fee and I only have the amex simply cash card. Might I get approved from an amex card from amex? my wife applied in april 2012 for chase PC card, boa virgin atlantic, citi thank you & citi AA visa biz card. too early or time for her to apply for IB and something from amex? we both have the personal… Read more »
russell
Guest
For travel in Europe you really don’t need chip and pin (or even chip and signature. It is helpful, but all you need to do at any point of payment is just tell the person yours is a signature card. (even the little portable hand units they use widely actually have a swipe and sign option). The except is automated machines, such as in the London underground. French toll booths however work fine. A 2 week tour (France, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium) in June for me was a pretty good test. I paid for virtually everything with a… Read more »
Steve
Guest
FrequentMiler
Guest

robin: Make sure your previous applications were more than 90 days ago and you should be fine as long as you have a good credit score and history

russell: You’re probably right, but it’s a definite nice to have

Steve: Thanks! Where did you find that link?

Victor
Guest

@Steve: Thanks for the link! Hoping that offer holds out until my next AOR in October!

Steve
Guest

I read about it in a forum 🙂 I try to stay on top of these things. The citi TY premier 50k bonus dropped to 25k today, so I’m trying to find a good replacement for it.

robin
Guest

i wish there was a trick to remove some of the hard inquiries cos even if everything is right with very high school, too many inquiries destroys any chance

Mow
Guest

Signed up with US Airways, via your link.
Looking forward for the Grandslam.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mow: Thanks! Sadly (for me) the US Airways links don’t mean any money for me, but it is definitely a great card. I try to publish the best links I can find regardless of whether I get anything out of it.

Dc
Guest
Hi, I did the citi 2 browser trick wasn’t instantly approve for the visa card. I chatted in the window chat box and was approved for the visa. While On the other browser I finished applying for the mx and I thought I was instantly approved, I received my citi visa card this past Monday, but I still haven’t received my mx citi. I havent’t called yet…but do you think I’m pretty much out of luck for getting the mx with the 50k points? I seriously thought I was approved for the mx, so I didn’t really do a follow… Read more »
FrequentMiler
Guest

DC: it can’t hurt to call them to get the status of your application. As long as your application was submitted successfully, you should still qualify for the Amex 50k.

dc
Guest

Got a letter in the mail saturday 6/14 from citi mx stating that I was approved for the citi mx. It should be arriving in 7-10 business days. I hope I still get the points since my citi visa arrived last monday 6/9 and I have used it to make purchase.- Thanks for you replied.

sil
Guest

Did a quasi churn this past 3 weeks. 2 Citi HH and Amex HH in late June. Beginning of July, the B of A virgin Atlantic HH and then yesterday the Priority Club 80k card.

All instant approval except for Chase which I had to call in. Would it have been better if I applied for all 5 the same day?

FrequentMiler
Guest

sil: It is generally considered better to do all of the apps in one day (or 1 week), but since you were approved for all of them it clearly didn’t really matter in your case.