Credit Card churning has changed from a few years ago and it continuously evolves as new products com along and old ones fade out. Some might say that it gotten harder, but in my opinion it still very worthwhile, even for me, living in NYC, where it might be one of the most challenging locations.
If you are not familiar with the term, or new to this hobby, churning means applying for several credit cards around the same time, usually within the same day. You can churn credit cards for cash back, miles, and points. You can earn enough bonuses for a few free vacations every year but also add a few thousands to your bank account.
How to Churn Credit Cards
It all starts with your credit score. Before you get into all this, find out what your score is, because a low credit score will make churning just impossible or at best, not worthwhile. All of the best credit cards for our hobby will require an Excellent credit.
If you don’t already know your credit score, then you can get a free Credit Report from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Each one of them will give you a free report every year, so basically you can receive e free credit report every four months. There’s also some credit cards that provide a free FICO score, but that comes after applying for one. Credit Sesame will also provide a free score and credit monitoring, but there’s many more websites that will offer the same services. Just make sure to never pay to see your FICO score.
What is a good FICO credit score?
A good score for credit card churning would be anything over 750. Again this is not an exact science, so if your score is 730 or even 720, you might still want to give it a try and start out slow. If you have a 780 score or above, then it will be much easier for you. But the score alone won’t guarantee that you will be approved for every credit card. You need a solid credit history as well.
Will too many Credit Card applications will lower your score?
The simple answer is, YES. But the reason that we apply for a few credit cards on the same day, is that this way your FICO score takes a much smaller hit. Also, once you start adding a few credit cards with high limits, your score will start to pick up. Make sure to always keep your oldest credit cards, even if you don’t use them, because they will increase you average age of your accounts. A big round of credit card applications shouldn’t lower your score by more than 20 points.
Applying for credit cards
Always do your research before applying. Check out the best deals for cash back, miles and points and do your calculations to see which cards give you the best returns. Also make sure to add up all the minimum spending requirements to see if you will be able to fulfill those requirements within the time limit.
Don’t do too many applications with one bank and again, do all these the applications within the same day, since these will all be hard pulls. Start will the most enticing offers and leave the lesser bonuses for last. Don’t do additional cards for the same account, but instead apply separately for family members, if they have good credit.
Even if an application is denied, don’t give up right away. You already have taken a small hit to your credit score, so call them up and talk to a rep about reconsideration.
You can repeat this 2-3 times a year, after you have collected all your bonuses.
Be organized. Always pay in full
One of our readers, Ellen, also mentioned two great points, which as so basic but yet so important to our hobby. You have to be very organized from the beginning. Sign up for an online finance manager such as Mint.com (not affiliated, just the one I use), to keep track of balances, due dates, rates etc. Also keep track of how many cards you have, when you opened them and so on. Also, pay your credit cards in full each month. With a high rate and a large balance, the interest charges will cancel out your CB/Miles/Points.
Hopefully this will help you with your credit card churning, but if you have any other tricks up your sleeve that weren’t mentioned here, please leave a comment below. Nobody is perfect at this and we all learn new things every day.