Why Credit Card Churning can be so valuable. And why Chase is starting to crack down on those who do so.

If you are like us, you are the kind of people who have hobbies, and if you want to know what ours is, it’s credit card churning. Credit card churning is the ‘art’ of applying for and receiving multiple credit card approvals for their hefty sign-up bonuses for the purpose of earning miles and points towards upcoming personal, business or family vacations and trips. (See this great article for best methods of churning cards for annual vacation getaways… http://www.iheartbudgets.net/2013/01/churning-credit-cards-for-travel-and-hotel-rewards/).

Say for example credit card X offers you an initial signup bonus of 50,000 airline miles when you spend $2,000 within three months, and credit card Y offers you 30,000 hotel points when you spend $1,000 within the first three months, a churner would sign up for the first card, spend the necessary money to earn the bonus miles, put aside or cancel that first credit card, and then move on to the next card with the hotel points bonus offer.

Some background; many financial institutions and banks offer credit cards that come with significant signup bonuses. They do so in order to encourage the public to use their credit card and thereby generate ongoing revenue due to its continuous usage. Churning credit cards is the method of using credit cards specifically for the signup bonuses and once those bonuses are earned, moving on to the next offer and bonus, and essentially discarding the card for later use.

Credit card churning is so popular that there are a number of educational forums, blogs and even a Frequent Traveler University that are geared towards helping people understand how to churn credit cards towards specific travel goals. We attended one in Washington DC last year, and can personally tell you there was close to a thousand people in attendance at the two-day vent.

In fact, during this past year alone, due to churning habits, we have flown to Florida on more than 20 occasions and each time did not have to pay out of pocket for flights and hotel stays, using the miles and points generated to cover the cost of the trips. And in addition to covering the cost of these Florida trips this past year, we traveled to Las Vegas, and flew as well to Los Angeles, Toronto, Hong Kong and other exotic locations, and did not pay out of pocket for our airfare and hotel stays.

The banks are pretty lenient when it comes to allowing consumers to apply for multiple credit cards and don’t restrict the bonus offers on the continuous usage of the credit card. However, very recently, Chase bank has decided to do otherwise.

Less than two weeks ago, Chase issued a new approval policy, and you’d be surprised to learn their policy revision does not address one’s credit score, debt-to-income ratio or length of credit history. Chase’s policy change dealt specifically with consumers who had opened five or more credit card accounts across all banks (not just Chase credit cards!) over the past two years, stating, anyone who applied for multiple cards during this team period would be denied for specific Chase credit cards, namely Chase cards that qualify for Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

A popular blogger with more than twenty thousand followers verified this new policy with a Chase representative who stated, “If you’ve opened 5 or more new credit card accounts with any bank over the past 24 months you will NOT be approved for a Chase branded card. 

So it looks like for the time being, consumers like us will no longer be allowed to churn, earn and burn Chase Ultimate Reward credit card offers. The cards included in this new policy are:

We expected Chase to start cracking down on bonus offer freebies, as Chase is known for their strict financial policies, and individuals and business have reported having their personal and business bank accounts shut down due to internal regulating policies that Chase representatives ultimately never discloses. So it’s no secret that Chase is taking the lead in restricting consumers from opening cards purely for the sake of earning credit card bonuses, which ultimately cost Chase money.

We guess the $25 billion bailout of taxpayer funds during the financial crisis and the approximately $3.1 billion returned to shareholders in the first quarter of 2015 wasn’t and isn’t enough money for executives and shareholders at the financial behemoth.

The good news is that as of yet, Chase hasn’t restricted the policy to co-branded credit cards, which are cards with specific mileage or point programs, that are backed by Chase Bank. So for the time being, this policy change does NOT seem to apply to other Chase cards, including:

  • Chase British Airways
  • Chase Fairmont
  • Chase Hyatt
  • Chase IHG
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier (Personal)
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier (Business)
  • Chase Ritz-Carlton
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier (Personal)
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier (Business)
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer (Personal)
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer (Business)
  • Chase United Club

But it’s not far fetched to say that Chase (and others) will eventually look to eliminate all churning opportunities that don’t benefit in their exclusive financial gain. When and if that happens, I’ll be looking for a new hobby. But I highly doubt the one I find to replace credit card churning will come close to being as lucrative….

Stay tuned for our next article where we show you how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass!