Credit Card Churning 101

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Credit Card Churning 101

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[8/23/16 – This post has been updated to reflect recent changes by multiple banks] 

What’s churning?

Churning is the process by which one opens and closes cards (sometimes the same ones, or different) to earn a sign-up bonus multiple times, on multiple cards. To fully reap the benefits, review the rules for each bank and card issuer below.

Please note that these rules can change without notice. As soon as I am aware of any changes, I will make them here.

American Express

American Express can be generous with approvals, but you must know the rules before applying:

  • Business and personal credit pulls will be merged;
  • Personal cards are once in a lifetime; this means you can only get this card ONCE. Be sure to sign-up for the personal card offer.
  • Business cards are now once in a lifetime. This means you can only get this card ONCE. Be sure to sign up for the highest business card offer.

Associated links: Finding Hidden AMEX Sign-Up Offers, Churning Update: AMEX Pins the Nail on the Coffin

Bank of America

  • It is possible to open and receive the bonus on the same card product on the same day.
  • Personal and business inquires will be separate, but multiples of personal or business will be merged.
  • There is no specified amount of time to wait between opening new cards with Bank of America, but after your first two cards they may want to see activity on the card before approving you for a new one.
  • Sometimes you will be approved for less than $5,000 in credit on one of their cards; if that’s the case, you will earn an inferior bonus. Be sure to call and see if they can increase your limit to $5,000 to earn the full bonus. 

Barclays

It is very difficult to be approved for multiple products in the same day from Barclays, but:

  • It is possible to receive the same product (and bonus) multiple times within a few days, or months from each other.
  • There is no rhyme or reason why some people are able to have multiples of the same product, but others cannot.
  • The general rule of thumb is that if you’re not auto approved, it is very hard to call Barclays and receive an approval. (Always call either way, but just putting that out there!).
  • Barclays likes to see activity on your current cards before approving you for new ones;
  • Having excessive credit with Barclays will decrease your chances of being automatically approved for new products. 

Chase

Chase used to be the most “churner-friendly” bank, but as king’s of the rewards cards arena, they’ve tightened up. It used to be possible to open up three cards in one day from Chase and now it’s significantly more difficult.

  • Because Chase will merge personal card applications if done on the same day, it is still possible to open up two cards in the same day; business cards are a separate pull, but it is also possible to open up two business cards in the same day.
  • Chase has instituted a rule known as 5/24, whereby those who have opened up 5 of ANY card (other banks, not just Chase) within 24 months are typically unable to be approved for the Slate, Freedom, or Sapphire Preferred cards. These cards are Chases’ own product; whereas the United and Southwest cards are co-branded cards. Co-branded cards fall outside of the 5/24 rule.
  • The 5/24 Rule has been expanded to all co-branded credit cards except: British Airways, IHG, Hyatt, Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Business, AARP, Disney and Amazon.
  • Sometimes Chase will let you close a card to open a new one;
  • Chase will sometimes let you shift card from Card A to open your new card, Card B.
  • Chase typically likes to see anywhere between 30-90 days between multiple applications.
  • You can downgrade your cards without a hard pull to a no-fee version of the card.\

Associated links: Chase, So You Can’t, Strategies Before Chase Drops the Ax

Citi

Citi has some complicated timing rules for applying. You can only apply for one card of any kind, per day, and they have rules for how many cards you can apply for over a period of time. Remember, denials count as applications.

All old Citi churning rules are superseded by this one, overarching rule:

New, as of August 28, 2016

If you have opened or closed a Citi credit card in one family, you are not eligible to receive the bonus on another Citi card in the same family for another 24 months.

Practically, this means you cannot earn the bonus for multiple American Airlines products from Citi within two years of each other. You can only get 1 American Airlines, 1 ThankYou point earning card and 1 Hilton card every 24 months. The Citi AAdvantage Business card is exempt from this – for now.

Old Citi Churning Rules – Also in affect

  • No more than 1 Citi card, of any kind, per week;
  • No more than 2 Citi cards, of any kind in a 65 day period;
  • No more than 1 Citi business card in a 90 day period;

Other rules to be mindful of:

  • You can downgrade to no-fee cards at Citi after having the card for 12 months (into the 13th).
  • During the application process, Citi will sometimes automatically approve you and move credit over from another card of yours.
  • Many Citi cards have a restriction that if you can only receive the bonus on their cards every 18 months, from opening or closing. So be mindful of the dates of closing and opening for your cards.
  • Moving credit over to close a card may result in a hard pull.
  • It is possible to have multiple card products open at the same time.

Associated links: Citi Churning News


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