Roughly a year ago, I decided to give churning credit cards a try. If you’re not familiar, churning is the process of signing up for credit card offers, primarily for their potentially lucrative sign up bonuses and doing it over and over again. There are entire sites and forums dedicated to it, so there was a lot to learn.
In total, I ended up signing up for 6 separate credit cards, earning roughly 300,000 points/miles from the bonuses alone. With those points, I’ve been able to take 3 domestic trips already (with 2 people each time) and I was able to book our upcoming honeymoon to Italy, as well as some other trips, with points left to spare. I’ll also soon have a Southwest Companion Pass, which I’m pretty excited about.
It’s been a fun and also slightly annoying process, so I wanted to put together a quick post with my thoughts.
Keeping track isn’t hard, but it is annoying
In total, I have 9 credit cards currently open, which sounds like an enormous pain to manage, but it actually hasn’t been too bad. Everything is set to automatically pay the balance in full every month, and I use Personal Capital to keep track of all of the transactions in one place. I also am only ever using one card at a time, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.
While it isn’t difficult to manage, it can be annoying. Instead of one or two credit card payments a month, I have 9 to keep track of, all on different dates, which can make it difficult to know when money is being transferred. A lot of the cards also have an annual fee, which I need to stay on top of, so I’m not accidentally paying for another year, when I don’t need it any more. Creating a Trello board and adding reminders has helped me keep everything in one place.
There’s also the drudgery of switching over monthly bills every time I get a new credit card. In order to meet minimum spend requirements, I try to move as many bills as possible to a new card, which requires logging into every subscription or utility site and updating my billing info. Again, nothing that’s difficult, it just takes time.
I should’ve planned out my travel a bit more
When I first started signing up for credit cards, I didn’t have a specific goal in mind—I just started with US Airways/American Airlines cards, because Philadelphia, my home airport, is a pretty big hub for them. However, it turns out that a lot of my travel recently has been Southwest, and I would’ve been better off focusing on them, rather than AA. Instead, I now have around 100k AA points sitting in my account that I don’t really have a plan for, and I’ve been using Southwest points constantly.
Rather than just stockpiling points just because I could, I should’ve sat down and looked at where I was planning to travel and what it would take to get me there.
It’s hard to beat flying for free
Okay, maybe not completely free, when you factor in the time and annual fees I’ve paid, but being able to book a ski trip on a whim with points is really great. Southwest, in particular, has been amazing for redeeming miles—they fly to a lot of places out of Philadelphia, and it’s very easy to find and book flights. Also, I should be getting a Companion Pass in the next month or so, which will allow my fiancée to fly everywhere I do, completely free. Amazing.
Worrying about credit score is overrated
A lot of people will tell you that signing up for credit cards is horrible for your credit score, but I really haven’t seen much of an effect. Your mileage of course may vary, but I still have roughly the same score as I had before, maybe even higher. Now, if I were planning on taking out a large loan any time soon (like a mortgage), I’d definitely need to worry about this more, but for now, it’s not an issue.
I’m probably going to slow down for a while
As I mentioned, I’m currently working on getting a Southwest Companion Pass, which I should have in the next month, but after that, I’m going to stop signing up for new cards for a bit. It’s just too much of a pain to bounce between different cards, and I should have plenty of points and miles to cover my travel for the next year or so. I’ll just stick to my trusty Chase Sapphire Preferred card and cancel (or downgrade) the rest.
That being said, I really want to fly international business or first class sometime, and that’ll require earning more miles, so I’ll probably be diving back in soon.