10 Months and $5,306. Everything You Need To Know About Credit Card Churning

My Credit Score Is Fine, and Other Unfounded Concerns

What, Me Worry

Before I send you blindly into the night with the mission to open up a pile of credit cards, I should probably address the nagging concerns that you have. To identify what those concerns are, I’ll defer to WiseBread’s list of reasons  of why you shouldn’t do this.

You Can End Up Paying Interest for Your Rewards

Yes, you can, if you’re stupid. But, you are not. You are smart. If you spend as you normally would and pay the entire balance when it’s due, then you will not pay a dime of interest or late fees. It is as simple as that. Your behavior with credit card usage should not change simply because you are changing the card that you’re using more often.

You Can End Up Paying a Lot of Annual Fees

Once again, yes, if you’re stupid. Sometimes, the annual fee is worth paying. However, it usually isn’t. In those cases when it’s not, then you cancel the card prior to the renewal (and annual fee) date.

Your Credit Score Will Take a Hit 

It will? Your credit score is made up of five factors:

Your Credit Score Breakdown

Even though I know the breakdown, I have no idea how credit card churning impacts all those algorithms. I can make some guesses. The positives: your credit usage % will drop, your payment history will stay the same or improve, your credit mix will improve. The negatives: your credit will get pulled more often and your average credit history will decrease. But, rather than prognosticate, look at my score over the past year or so.

My Credit Score History
Yikes, What the heck happened in January? For the record, I didn’t start churning until February.

I removed the number axis; I’m not quite comfortable enough showing my exact score quite yet. However, I will tell you that from when I started churning (first application was in February), my score has increased by eight points.

A credit card is a simple and easy way of overdrawing money from the bank and using it for personal reasons, but for big expenses

A Lot of Points Might Go to Waste

This is a legitimate concern, but is easily avoided by doing two things: 1.) Staying organized enough to know when points might expire, and 2.) actually using the points you accrue. Once again, points are a little like the digestive tract–you only notice it when it’s being used. That’s why we have been actively using points: a trip to Minnesota; a train to Atlanta for Thanksgiving; a couple hotels and flights for loved ones; a night in Nashville; a trip to Miami; a trip to SeaWorld. Even with all of that in only a few months, our points balance continues to climb. Rest assured, nothing is expiring over here.

There Are New Rules Designed to Curb Churning

Yep. However, there are tons of these offers. What’s more, if you cancel, you can usually re-up after a waiting period (18-36 months, on average). I’m not exactly sure how this will play out over many years. However, in the Credit Card Churning forums at FlyerTalk, there are tons of veterans in this space, and I’ve yet to hear of any horror stories. What’s more, in ten years, I expect I’ll have enough money to not need to do this. In fact, I have enough money right now to not need to do this (after all, that was my reality before this year). However, I shall continue until a reason not to presents itself.

What Are You Going to Do With All Those Cards?

Well, you cut them up, and then cancel them. Easy Peasy.

In Conclusion

The first ten months of this has been an overwhelming success. Over $530 bucks a month in cash and travel, all while my credit score has gone up. It’s actually a relatively fun hobby, so even the couple hours per month I spend in spreadsheets and on the phone doesn’t much feel like a hassle. Plus, it makes me feel good to take my family places while simultaneously scratching my frugality itch.

When it comes to side hustles, they are not created equal. Some require a lot of work with little reward (cough, blogging, cough). Others, though, like credit card churning, reward you with hundreds per month while doing nothing but a little paperwork.

If you have any questions, please contact me or drop a comment below. And, if you found this entertaining enough to share with your friends, you can do that, too!

Thanks so much for reading Retire29!




    • Hi Steve,
      Yah, it does take a little bit of time. I would estimate two hours a month (few minutes here, few minutes there). But, it really isn’t too bad. It’s actually a bit of a hobby now. It’s fun to look around at rewards programs and offers to see what would be fun vacations.


  1. I think the time commitment for the rewards gained is very low. It has a high return for the hours I spend on it.

    Also, I have opened 6-7 cards in my name and about the same for my wife in the last year. My score has always been between 790 and 820 during that time (usually over 800). Hers has actually gone up by about 15-20 points in the last year.

    One other thing to note is to get the Chase Ultimate Reward cards early on as they have made it harder to get them once you have opened a bunch of cards from anywhere. This does not apply to the other Chase cards like Southwest, IHG, Marriott, etc.
    Vawt recently posted…Obsessing Over Travel Reward PointsMy Profile

    • Vawt,
      Great insight on Chase. The only card I’ve been rejected for is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I should have gotten that one right away, but instead got a few other Chase cards (IHG, Southwest, Marriot) first. I’ll have to wait a few months and cancel some of those other cards before I reapply.

      Luckily, there are lots of other fish in the sea.

      And totally agree on the time commitment. I would guess around 10 hours of total time spent for this $5,600 in awards.


  2. Great post, thank you! Can you share more on how you hit the spending quota(s) for the bonus points? Lots of manufactured spending avenues are going away so hitting the spending limits without high transaction fees (or spending just to spend) seems more difficult?

    • Yah, manufactured spending like AmEx Bluebird are basically gone. To hit these high spending amounts, we’re very diligent to put everything on a card. This includes tuition for school and all commuting expenses (both of which are reimbursed by my job).


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