I love credit cards so much! v2.0 (see first page for add'l details)

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Saving Money on Disney Vacations since 2006
Sep 6, 2014

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are new, It is highly recommended that you read the first 5 stickied comments before jumping in here!

Welcome to the "I Love Credit Cards" Thread!!

This is a continuation from our Original Thread which generated over 2million views and 70k comments!!

If you are NEW to this thread, please read the first few comments on this page to find out a little bit about us. However, after that don't try to read through every page. If you want to get a feel for us maybe peruse the last 25-50 pages. This thread moves very fast and information may become outdated :)

What is this thread?

  • A positive and drama free place to discuss credit card rewards with fellow DISers
  • A community of contributors who want to help others travel for free (or at very discounted rates)
  • A group of people who are unified in our goal to maximize returns on our purchases but diverse in our goals on what to do with those points
  • We have experts in numerous rewards programs frequenting the thread each day including: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi Thank You Points and virtually every major frequent flyer and hotel rewards program.
  • See comment 2 for how to properly ask for advice. Depending on what your travel goals (or financial goals) are, we can assist in creating a customized strategy to generate THOUSANDS of dollars in free travel or cash on your everyday purchases!
What isn't this thread?
  • This is NOT A place to discuss strategies to pay-down credit card debt, take advantage of balance transfer or 0% interest offers, or anything else related to credit card debt.
  • It is HIGHLY recommended to avoid the "churning" game if you currently have or are susceptible to credit card debt. The cards we will advocate for may have exorbitant interest rates and fees. This does not bother us because we DON'T pay interest EVER and the benefits of the cards outweigh any fees.
  • There are numerous places on the DIS where qualified and helpful people will give you advice on CC debt, this just isn't one of them :)
  • Even if you are a "credit card debt avoider" please be aware of your spending habits. Some of the cards we will advocate will require spending a large amount in the first 90 days, do not allow this to affect your spending patterns. Free travel is only truly free if you earn it from your regular everyday spend!
Also - a huge shout-out to @FairestOfThemAll37 for creating the original thread. I'm sure she never envisioned in July of 2016 that this simply titled thread would become one of the most prolific in DISboards history!

Additional Note:
We are like a family here. Some of us have been on the original thread since the beginning and many have been around for well over a year. We know each other's families, travel styles and preferences. The discussion will move fast and furious and you may be lost at first. If you ask for advice, don't worry, we will eventually see it and help you! If you don't get a response ask again. And if you see us having fun with each other or making jokes, know that it is ALL out of love!!
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How do I ask for Advice?
Well...you go to the comment box and ask...:rotfl2:

Ok - so seriously, there are numerous things that the experts here would need to know to provide qualified and helpful advice.

1) First off, we are going to want you to list ALL credit cards you were approved for in the last 24 months. This would include all personal cards, store cards, business cards (but not things such as auto loans or mortgages). If you have a spouse (aka Player 2) please also list their cards if they are participating in this as well.

The format you should use to do that is as follows:
MM/YY - ISSUER Card Name
  • MM = Month (add a 0 before single digit months to make it look even more uniform)
  • YY = Year
  • Card Name = The Full Card Name (including business or personal if applicable)

11/17 - AMEX Business Gold Rewards
01/18 - CHASE Marriott Personal
04/18 - CHASE Ink Preferred
09/18 - CITI AAdvantage Business
11/18 - CHASE Southwest Business
01/19 - CHASE Southwest Plus​

2) Secondly we'll want to know a little bit about you. Specifically - what you spend, and what you want to earn!
  • What amount of spend would you put on a card monthly (i.e. groceries, gas, insurance, cable, cell phone, other expenses)?
  • Do you currently payoff your CCs in full every month or do you carry any balances/pay any interest?
  • What airport(s) do you typically fly out of?
  • Do you have a preference of Frequent Flyer program?
  • Does SOUTHWEST service your airport?
  • Do you have a Hotel Rewards program preference?
  • Do you currently have any travel points in any program? (if so, which programs and how much)
  • What at your specific goals for churning credit cards? (i.e. Disney World Trip, Cruise, European Trip, Cash Back to pay-off a mortgage or student loans, etc. - you can have multiple goals too!)
  • Who does your travel party consist of? (Spouse, Kids (& ages), other relatives/friends)
You DO NOT need to list all of this (or really any of this) info above to ask for advice...just know that the MORE you share, the BETTER the advice we'll be able to provide.
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So you want to apply for a card... STOP. WAIT. PAUSE!!!

Please, Please, Please take a moment and introduce yourself on the thread here. Simply say "hi, I'm new here and thinking about getting the XYZ card."

In this game, there numerous rules, guidelines and loopholes that you want to be aware of BEFORE pulling the trigger on an application. We CANNOT undo your mistakes. And mistakes can cost you THOUSANDS of dollars in points opportunities. (Not points...we're talking actually $1,000's of real money!!)

So take a breath, say hi, and let us help you avoid making any fatal errors with your first application.
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Care to see our top Secrets???
Did you seriously think it would be that easy???...you gotta read the thread to learn about those!!!

Some other related threads that may be of interest:
IF you are struggling to keep up with the pace of the thread - we are trying something new:
  • Check out our "news" post on Reddit that keeps track of the major newsworthy events discussed on the thread: - This could also be helpful if you are away for a few days and can't get caught up!
  • Reddit also has a lot of other great information on it - just ask for details on how to access things like Trip tips, Advanced strategies, etc.
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GLOSSARY - we will use many abbreviations and acronyms. Refer to this list to help understand the most common ones. IF you have any questions though, just ask! We are all super nice (we also will typically try to spell these out in our initial comments to a newer person)
  • 0/30 = To apply for a Chase Business card you want to have no applications in the last 30 days
  • x/24 = The number of cards opened within the last 24 months - A common measurement for churning activity
  • A+ = Barclays Arrival Plus Card
  • AA = American Airlines
  • AF = Annual Fee The yearly fee associated with premium credit cards.
  • AMEX = American Express (aka Amex or AmEx)
  • AU = Authorized User - A secondary user of a credit card account.
  • BBP = AMEX Blue Business Plus Card (aka BB+)
  • BoA = Bank of America (aka BOA or BofA)
  • BGR = AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card (aka BRG)
  • CF = Chase Freedom Card
  • CFU = Chase Freedom Unlimited Card
  • CIC = Chase Ink Cash Card
  • CIP = Chase Ink Preferred Card
  • CIU = Chase Ink Unlimited Card
  • CL = Credit Limit - the credit limit assigned to your card
  • CPP = Cents Per Point - the monetary value of a reward redemption
  • CSP = Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • CSR = Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
  • DD = Double Dip - can be used in many different ways, most notably a strategy that no longer works (applying for 2 Chase cards on the same day)
  • DoC = Doctor of Credit blog - a very reputable blog we often quote
  • DP = Data Point - A piece of information that proves that a strategy is working (or not) or a rule is being applied in a certain way
  • GC = Gift Card - Any gift card. Usually used in conjunction with a store name or issuer (i.e. Visa, MasterCard, American Express)
  • HH = Hilton Honors Reward Program
  • HUCA = Hang Up and Call Again - A tactic advocated when you encounter an unfriendly/unhelpful/uninformed phone agent.
  • MCGC = MasterCard Gift Card
  • MO = Money Order - sometimes used with certain strategies
  • MPE = Chase MileagePlus Explorer Card
  • MPX = United MileagePlus App where you can purchase GCs to other stores and earn UA miles and CC points
  • MR = American Express Membership Rewards Program
  • MS = Manufactured Spending (ask for additional explanation)
  • MSR = Minimum Spending Requirement - The minimum required amount that must be spent on a credit card in order to qualify for the sign up bonus
  • P1 & P2 = Player 1, Player 2 - Referring to spouses and other family members that are also participating in the churning game
  • PC = Product Change - converting your card to a different product as allowed by the bank (many times to avoid an annual fee or access different benefits)
  • r/churning = Reddit's churning group where a lot of our info comes from. (Not necessarily a friendly place like here)
  • RAT = American Express Rewards Abuse Team who reviews AMEX signup bonuses and may deny your points at their discretion
  • SM = A Secure Message sent through a bank's secure portal
  • SPG = Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Program (now a part of Marriott)
  • SUB = SignUp Bonus...used by some less refined folks (JK JK!!)
  • SW = Southwest Airlines
  • TPG = The Points Guy blog - NOT a favorite around these parts but sometimes quoted
  • TYP = Citi Thank You Points Rewards Program
  • UA = United Airlines
  • UR = Chase Ultimate Rewards Program
  • VGC = Visa Gift Card(s)
  • YMMV = Your Mileage (Miles) May Vary - i.e. results may vary.
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Cause this will be on the first page :rotfl2:

Sticky #2 for the dictator's rules :rotfl:

Sticky #3 back up for @Lain 's spreadsheet :laughing: (not really but :rotfl2:)

Sticky #4 All the stuff we can't tell you that's hidden in the thread so it will remain blank

Sticky #5 the 2019 South Fayette Lions schedule and record for when @SouthFayetteFan 's sig gets too long :rotfl2:
Yeah...you nailed Sticky#2 & actually #4 as well to be honest hahaha! I also REALLY like the Sticky #5 idea!!
WooHoo! We got a new thread. Many thanks :worship: to our benevolent dictator :P
Ok OK...So I'll address this one on the first page too...

Who am I and why am I qualified to create this thread: Well DUH, I'm @SouthFayetteFan - the famous churner! Ok seriously, I'm just a guy, who cares WAY too much about credit cards and LOVES this community of fellow churners! Anybody could've created this thread, it just happens to be me, so basically...I'm not special :)

Feel free to call me the benevolent dictator if you wish though...I will consider it a term of endearment!
Ok OK...So I'll address this one on the first page too...

Who am I and why am I qualified to create this thread: Well DUH, I'm @SouthFayetteFan - the famous churner! Ok seriously, I'm just a guy, who cares WAY too much about credit cards and LOVES this community of fellow churners! Anybody could've created this thread, it just happens to be me, so basically...I'm not special :)

Feel free to call me the benevolent dictator if you wish though...I will consider it a term of endearment!

Oh no, you are 'the special' and you are absolutely the one to create this thread. No one else could have done it, oh, benevolent dictator!
Oh no, you are 'the special' and you are absolutely the one to create this thread. No one else could have done it, oh, benevolent dictator!
WOW...I am the special!!
Ok OK...So I'll address this one on the first page too...

Who am I and why am I qualified to create this thread: Well DUH, I'm @SouthFayetteFan - the famous churner! Ok seriously, I'm just a guy, who cares WAY too much about credit cards and LOVES this community of fellow churners! Anybody could've created this thread, it just happens to be me, so basically...I'm not special :)

Feel free to call me the benevolent dictator if you wish though...I will consider it a term of endearment!

It was meant as a term of endearment from the Queen of the Annual Fees. :D
In that case I would like to be referred to as the "Most High King of Spreadsheets and Benevolent Dictator of all things Churning!"

Fine. Then I'll take "Queen of Annual Fees and Mistress of Ridiculous Redemptions."

I'm going to go ahead and quote the conversation starter from @GlamMistress here for continued discussion along with my reply over here. I think it's a good topic especially in light of OMAAT's blog article.

The fastest way to earn the points is through the sign up bonuses. Some will cancel and churn their cards if they have no use for them beyond the sign up bonus. Some will keep the cards if the value of benefits and points earning negate the fee. I started this hobby in 2012 and my credit score was in the high 600's and low 700's back then. I apply for and cancel between 5 - 8 cards per year and my score has not dipped below 800 for a few years. It goes up and down between 805 - 840. So yes, it does affect your credit but not negatively. You always take a small hit with a new application but that falls off within a year and the new line of credit lowers your credit utilization percentage which in turn raises your credit score. I would advise against cancelling older cards especially if they are no fee cards. Closing older cards will affect your average age of credit negatively.

Earning points beyond the sign up bonus of a new card involves maximizing spending categories. This is where you can earn more points by spending in a specific category depending on the card. For example, your CSP card earns 2 UR points per $ on dining and travel. You should always use that card when paying for anything in those categories. I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve which earns 3 UR points in the same categories and those UR points are worth .015 in the Chase UR portal. One of my strategies is to also use my Chase Freedom no fee card which has rotating quarterly spending categories that earn 5x UR points up to $1500 in spending. On their own, those Freedom point cannot be transferred to airlines and hotels and they are only worth .01 for a statement credit. So, I transfer those 7500 UR points that I earned on my Freedom card to my CSR account and they are worth more and I can use them to transfer directly to airlines.

This hobby has allowed me to mitigate my travel expenses and I definitely travel a lot more now. Of the regular posters here, I'm in the "use miles to get lie flat seats in first class on international flights" camp. There is absolutely no way I could possibly travel as much as I do and in first class flights if I did not use multiple cards and maximize spending categories and utilize shopping portals. DH and I go through a lot of points every year. I'll give you a list of our vacations over 2017 and how many miles or points we needed to secure our flights:

January - Adventures by Disney Winter in Wyoming trip (United first class 200,000 miles)
February - London for the weekend to see Harry Potter & the Cursed Child play (British Airways first class 400,000 miles, 100,000 Club Carlson points for hotel stay)
March - Aulani in Hawaii in first class (American Airlines 74k miles, 90k Citi Thank You points)
June/July - Scotland for a long weekend to see the Fairy Pools "slumming" it in business (British Airways 250,000 miles)
July - San Francisco to see Hamilton first class (American Airlines gift cards from purchases that triggered annual airline credit on credit cards and 35,000 Amex membership rewards points, 24k SPG points to stay at Westin)
August - Adventure by Disney Italy trip (British Airways 200,000 miles and earned travel together ticket with credit card)
November - flew to Iceland in first class (Delta paid with 380,000 UR points, stayed at Hilton forgot how many points but got a point free night too due to length of stay)

So that is over 1.7 million points and miles that DH and I blew through just this past year. We are in 2 player mode when it comes to applications and bonus category earnings but it takes multiple cards to maximize the bonus categories, give us options and maintain 2 - 3 million points and miles. Hope this helps @1GoldenSun


Sort of inspired by a new post from Lucky on One Mile At A Time. He posted about the zillion cards he uses each month. The question is this:

Are we spreading ourselves thin and actually hurting our earning potential by fanning out over many cards and currencies? Would it be better to give up, say, a 1 or 2 point premium per dollar and just focus on one thing, like MR or UR? In the long run, if all our spend is in one bucket, do we come out with more for less fees?

The best way to earn is by getting outsized bonuses. But what happens when there are no good bonuses left or every card issuer has made it so hard to get a good pot of miles on initial signup? Does a simple 1 (or 2) card strategy work best?

Lucky's post - https://onemileatatime.com/credit-card-bonus-categories/

Ok, I'm back to give my thoughts and perspective on this conversation starter which I think discussing would provide value and perspective to those of us who've been at this game a long time and to the newer folks for consideration down the line. I'm quoting my post from 2017 that was in response to another person who didn't see the value of holding multiple cards beyond meeting the spending bonus. While that post is over a year old, it still holds true. For me, having options is still the name of the game. I've always been an advocate of diversifying my portfolio. I think it was just a few weeks ago that I was on here kicking and screaming in my head over Chase's craptastic Expedia platform :badpc: that would not display flights to book with URs in first or business. So, I went ahead and booked them with Amex MRs on their glitchy but less frustrating travel platform. Then, when I decided to come in early for the Japan ABD and go to Tokyo to check out the robot restaurant, I thought I'd like to stay at the Park Hyatt that I've heard so much about. Little did I know it's over $1500 per night! Fortunately, the same room and nights were available on points so I used 60,000 UR points that instantly transferred to Hyatt and booked my stay.

The airline transfer partners that Chase and Amex have both hold value for me. Therefore, I am happy to earn in both currencies. There is no way I could accumulate the number of points I do with just one card. In 2017 we blew through 1.7 million points and miles. Below are our 2018 points and miles spending we did and we blew through another million and then some. For 2019 travel I will very likely surpass 2 million.

March - DC to see cherry blossoms (2 nights at The Willard free IHG night certs)(AA first - 58,842 Amex MR after 50% rebate with Amex biz Plat)
April - Dapper Days at DLR (Delta first class 153,000 Sky Pesos)
May/June - Adventures by Disney China (Singapore Suites - 500,000 KrisFlyer miles transferred from 400,000 SPG points)
July - New York to see Harry Potter Play (2 nights at Hilton Times Square with free night certs from Aspire) (AA first class paid with various AA GCs from airline credits on various cards)
September - Hawaii (AA first class 89,812 MR after 50% rebate with Amex biz Plat)
September - DC to see Hamilton (2 nights at The Wilard free IHG night certs)(AA first paid with various AA GCs from airline credits on various cards)
December/Jan - Antarctica (AA business/first - 505,000 AA miles)

January - NYC for Mickey True Original Exhibition (2 nights at Residence Inn Central Park with Marriott free night certs)(AA economy 24,362 Amex MR after 35% rebate with Amex biz Plat)

March - Dubai and Maldives (4 nights at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa 240k Marriott points)(3 nights Conrad Rangali over-water bungalows 285k Hilton points and hopefully replacing 95k with a free night cert)(1 night Dubai Int'l airport hotel 12,888 UR points)(Emirates first class 300k Alaska miles via Marriott Flight/Night packages)(AA first flight to position for Emirates flight 68,775 Amex MR after 35% rebate with Amex biz Plat)(United flights in first to get back home from Emirates flight 72,696 Amex MR after 35% rebate with Amex biz Plat)

May - New Orleans (7 nights, but only staying 4 from Marriott nights and flights package 270,000 Marriott points)(AA flights in first paid with various AA GCs from airline credits on various cards)

June/July - Scotland (BA first class 125,000 Avios and Travel Together ticket)(2 nights Radisson Blu 140,000 Club Carlson points)(1 night at Holiday Inn Inverness 30,000 IHG points)(1 night at Hilton free night cert)

August - NYC Hamilton (haven't booked flight or hotel since I don;t know if we are going for 2 or 3 nights yet)

September/October - Adventures by Disney Japan (ANA first class with 240k Virgin Atlantic miles from Amex MR w/30% bonus transfer so 185k Amex MR)(AA first to position at IAD for ANA flight 60,347 Amex MR after 35% rebate with Amex biz Plat)(1 night at Westin Dulles using free night cert from Marriott)(JAL business using 110K AA miles with 10% back benefit in case my return ANA dates don;t come through)(2 nights Park Hyatt Tokyo 60,000 UR points transferred to Hyatt)

Writing this has caused me to mourn the 50% back we used to get with the Amex business Platinum card again :sad: But, I think it does illustrate how one or two cards will never be able to earn and replace the number of points we go through each year. The bonus categories boost the earning potential. I also have cards that bring me value that surpass the AF even though they may not necessarily be cards that I use for spend. I'd say my two main currencies are UR and MR with regards to spend. It does take some card shuffling to maximize each spending category but for me it is worth it.
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