Author Topic: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??  (Read 5465 times)

kitkat

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Hi All. Excited to get started churning thanks to this discussion about the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card. I fly quite a lot out of obligation to family and friends, and would like to be able to do some more fun travel for myself without breaking the bank!

For the last couple of years, I've been getting a measly 1% cash back on a Capital One card (that I've had for ~5 years) and enjoying the benefits of being a United MileagePlus cardmember, as I live in their hub city of SFO. Next month I will cancel my United card and up my travel game. Current credit score is >800, so will be watching that closely.

The Plan...

  • Sept 2016-Dec 2016: Chase Sapphire Reserve
    Spend: $4k in 3 months
    Perks: >104k UR points, $150 travel credit (2x$300 minus $450 fee), Global Entry registration waived, etc.
    Annual Fee: $450
    Notes: Doing this first as it is a new card/offer and I don't want to miss my chance. Drawback is that I will want to cancel the card Sept 2017 and may not have used all my points by then. Will have to weigh whether or not the add'l $150 fee ($450-300 travel credit) will be worth keeping it for year two.

  • Dec 2016-Mar 2017: Chase Sapphire Preferred
    Spend: $4k in 3 months
    Perks: >59k UR points (5k for AU)
    Annual Fee: $95
    Notes: $4k in back to back 3-month periods may be hard. Will see how CSR spend goes before I commit to this. I don't know if there are any good arguments for doing this card sooner rather than later...

  • Mar 2017-May 2017: Delta Platinum
    Spend: $1k in 3 months, should take me less than 2
    Perks: >36k Delta Skymiles, one domestic RT companion pass
    Annual Fee: $195
    Notes: I am going to have status with Delta next year (after doing a status match from United), so my thinking is that I should try to go all-out and use Delta for all of my 2017 travel. SO and I want to do a trip to South Africa, and Delta+partners have good service there from the US. Will almost certainly cancel this one before paying the second year's AF.

  • May 2017-June 2017: Chase Freedom
    Spend: $500 in 3 months, should only take 1
    Perks: $150 cash
    Annual Fee: None
    Notes: I want to open this up as a safety net in case I ever need a place to freely "store" my UR points if CSP and/or CSR need to be cancelled before all points are used. Please someone let me know if I am off base on this!

  • June 2017-Aug 2017: Fidelity Visa
    Spend: $1k in 3 months, should only take 2
    Perks: $100 cash
    Annual Fee: None
    Notes: I want to get this card going as a good everyday spend -- it's an easy 2% cash back -- between churns. My Roth and 457b are set up through Fidelity, so I don't mind the fact that I have to deposit the money into there. Citi DoubleCash is another option for this.

I know I'm probably planning too far ahead here, especially since I don't know much about my 2017 travel plans (this year I had 4 out-of-state weddings, so I knew where all I would be flying way in advance!). Buy hey, its fun! Longer term, I would think either repeat the Chase churn with my SO for 2018 travel, or do the Southwest 2 cards to get the companion pass. We love southwest and SO has actually had their card for a couple of years.

Should I try to space these out more so that by the time 2 years passes from the CSR/CSP I won't be over the 5/24 rule?? Or just go for the gold now since who knows what all rules and bonuses will change by then?

In general, what do you pros think??

Catbert

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2016, 04:08:41 PM »
A few random thoughts:

Don't get the Delta card until you get a 50K mile offer.  After I signed up for their frequent flier program I occasionally got a 50K offer - until it was time to take it.  Since it is American Express, which has a one and done rule, you don't want to waste your once on less than the best offer.

With regard to the Sapphire Reserve card you get a $300 travel credit per calendar year.  Be sure you charge at least $300 of travel charges before the end of your December cycle (which is end before Dec 31st).  Then in 2017 you get another $300.  If you keep the card a second year you don't get a third $300.  If you cancel either Sapphire cards you can transfer retaining UR points to another UR earning card or one of their partners.

Do you understand Chase's 5/24 rule?  With your plan you will be dead in the water with Chase in 2018.  Not necessarily a bad thing; however, if there are other Chase cards you want you might put off getting the Fidelity Amex.   Maybe the IHG card or Southwest Airlines if either of those fit your plans.

If you are really new, you might try looking at www.frugaltravelguy.com and/or www.thepointsguy.com
I'm pretty sure that both have beginner guides.

kitkat

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2016, 04:25:15 PM »
A few random thoughts:

Don't get the Delta card until you get a 50K mile offer.  After I signed up for their frequent flier program I occasionally got a 50K offer - until it was time to take it.  Since it is American Express, which has a one and done rule, you don't want to waste your once on less than the best offer.

With regard to the Sapphire Reserve card you get a $300 travel credit per calendar year.  Be sure you charge at least $300 of travel charges before the end of your December cycle (which is end before Dec 31st).  Then in 2017 you get another $300.  If you keep the card a second year you don't get a third $300.  If you cancel either Sapphire cards you can transfer retaining UR points to another UR earning card or one of their partners.

Do you understand Chase's 5/24 rule?  With your plan you will be dead in the water with Chase in 2018.  Not necessarily a bad thing; however, if there are other Chase cards you want you might put off getting the Fidelity Amex.   Maybe the IHG card or Southwest Airlines if either of those fit your plans.

If you are really new, you might try looking at www.frugaltravelguy.com and/or www.thepointsguy.com
I'm pretty sure that both have beginner guides.

Thanks! I hadn't seen the 50k on the Delta card so that is good to note.

By the 3rd $300, I meant that if I pay the $450 fee in Sept 2017, I'll get another $300 at the beginning of 2018. Is that correct?

I do understand the rule (no more than 5 cards in the previous 24 months), but you are right that I was totally not applying it correctly. By that logic, I would want to apply for all the cards as soon as possible (aka the schedule I outlined here) so that the 24-month period they apply to would end as closely to the CSR and CSP as possible (since those bonuses, as of right now, can be received every 2 years).

I also wasn't thinking about the fact that SW cards are through Chase as well. I may hold off until early 2018 for cards 3 and 4, in that case, so I can do SW instead and get the Companion pass for 2018-2019 travel. Was hoping to have a 2% cash back card in the meantime, though...

Thanks again for your input.

Catbert

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2016, 04:43:36 PM »
You're right you would get a $300 bonus in 2018 (your third bonus and second year with the card).  Sorry I wasn't thinking about it.

One "technique" for a couple is:

Year 1: person A gets 5 cards, person B gets 0
Year 2: person A gets 0 cards, person B gets 5

There can be variations of this theme by mixing in non-Chase cards or doing two cards at once.  With current Chase, Am Ex and Citi rules (each different), the rule I've made for myself is to never take an average bonus.



mxt0133

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2016, 05:28:38 PM »
What airline has the most flight for the airport closest to you?  I would prioritize my rewards cards towards those that earn miles directly or transfer to that airline first. 

Also it would help if know your travel plans ahead so you can optimize which cards to apply for, after all the Chase cards are done.  Basically the Chase cards are very valuable, UR points, United, SW, Marriot, ect.  and then once you have done the 5 cards, you can start working on American airlines, Amex cards, Barclays, and Capital one travel rewards. 

kitkat

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2016, 06:12:00 PM »
What airline has the most flight for the airport closest to you?  I would prioritize my rewards cards towards those that earn miles directly or transfer to that airline first. 

Also it would help if know your travel plans ahead so you can optimize which cards to apply for, after all the Chase cards are done.  Basically the Chase cards are very valuable, UR points, United, SW, Marriot, ect.  and then once you have done the 5 cards, you can start working on American airlines, Amex cards, Barclays, and Capital one travel rewards.

I'm in Oakland, so Oakland airport, which is great for Southwest and not much else (Hawaiian?), then SFO, which is good for everything and is also United Hub.

I wish I did know more about my travel for this! I have no plans set in stone, but could imagine the year looking something like this:

- 3 trips to Houston (where my family is), Southwest and United are historically good for these
- 1 or 2 other Texas trips (Austin, Houston, or Dallas)
- South Africa in the fall (this is the big one! but from what I've seen all the major alliances have reasonable deals, hard to predict what will be best at the exact time we want to go)
- 1 trip somewhere tropical? Hawaii or Mexico...
- 2-3 other domestic trips (Denver, Portland, Chicago... who knows...)

I travel a lot :) and often unexpectedly! This year I've done 3x Houston (all weddings), Mexico, Boston, NYC, and have Charleston (for work), Seattle, and at least one more Houston planned. The year before there was Denver, Portland x2, San Diego, Houston idk how many times, Austin, Dallas, Vancouver, Melbourne.. wow it sounds crazy now that I'm writing it all out.

My United card is almost 2 years old, so maybe I should just re-do that instead of Delta or Fidelity. I'm starting to understand now that I should probably do my first 5 as Chase, since other banks don't have the 5/24 rule. At that point I can either decide to just keep charging forward (Delta, Fidelity, on and on) and forget about doing Chase again for a while, or slow things down so that in ~2-2.5 years I will have Chase opportunities again.

kitkat

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2016, 08:10:06 PM »
Okay, after thinking this over, I have a new plan.

Old plan: was trying to delay getting the SW companion pass until early 2018, as my 2017 travel should focus on Delta because I will have ~status~ with them and want to fly them as often as possible (probably terrible logic...)

The flaw in this plan is that I was not considering the TWO YEARS of coverage I will get from the companion pass. This means if I earn it in Jan/Feb of 2017, it will last until end of 2018. At this point I personally will be eligible again for the cards, along with my SO.

New plan: Seems like a no-brainer to go ahead and get the SW pass now, instead of only getting 3 Chase cards and waiting until early 2018 to get the companion pass. So, this means I will
(1) get CSR, because it is an awesome new deal and need to wait until EOY to get SW anyways spend 4k during Sept, Oct, Nov.
(2) get SW Premier card, spend 2k Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar
(3) get SW Plus card, spend 2k Jan, Feb, Mar
** need to figure out how to get remaining 6k here for companion pass **
(4) get CSP
(5) could get Chase freedom, or could just wait until CSP fee is up in a year and downgrade? Then it wouldn't count against 5/24, right?? My only point of getting the freedom was to have a place to keep UR points when I want to cancel the AF cards. But now I'm realizing I could probably just downgrade.. this leaves slot 5 open for something else fun! United?

bacchi

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2016, 08:44:27 PM »
The Chase Marriott can be combined with the Chase Marriott Business (not under 5/24, per DoC) for one of their Flight and Hotel packages.

http://www.marriott.com/rewards/usepoints/morepack.mi

That'll give you the miles to fly there and the lodging when you're there.

Revelry

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2016, 06:29:27 AM »
I focus on cash-back so can't offer direct advice on travel, but here are my thoughts.

Don't sign up for the Freedom or Fidelity Visa if you plan on keeping the CSR long-term.  Wait until the CSP is a year old then downgrade to Freedom Unlimited (you keep the points when you downgrade so don't worry about having a safety net ready).  1.5 UR everywhere x the 1.5 redemption level of the CSR makes the CFU earn at a 2.25 (edit: cent per dollar spend) rate.  Though everyone likes to talk about getting such greater value from transferring to UR partners.
If you don't plan on keeping the CSR long-term then down-grade that to the CFU and perhaps keep the CSP for transfer to UR partners.  Do you have any kind of side-hustle that would count as a business and apply for the Ink+?  It can also transfer UR to partners and I think it's a much better card than the CSP.

If you have the CSR or CSP you'll be earning 1 UR/dollar which can transfer to United 1:1.  Therefore no need to keep paying the additional AF on your United card for the same earning rate.  Since you're just getting started and it's one of your older cards try to downgrade it to the no-AF version.  It's not available for signup directly but I've read it exists, just have to call and request the product change.

If you can get better SW flights than Delta flights from Oakland to your expected destinations then the Companion Pass should be great.  Just don't count on these deals to stick around indefinitely. 
« Last Edit: August 26, 2016, 11:50:00 AM by Revelry »

Rubic

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2016, 07:37:39 AM »
You've got a good plan and great responses from other posters.  I agree
that you should hold off on the Delta until you're offered a 50K bonus,
which is pretty easy, but more on that below.

I wouldn't waste a hard pull on a $100 cash bonus for the Fidelity
VISA.  Alternative strategy: Get the Citi AAdvantage Platinum with
50K AA miles, then product change to Citi DoubleCash when the annual
fee hits.  Only do this after you've maxed out your Chase cards for
the next 24 months.

Similarly, just downgrade the CSR to a Chase Freedom when the AF
comes up.  There's no point in wasting one of your 5/24 apps for
a $150 cash bonus.

Do you have any current Amex cards?  If not, you may wait around
for the 75K MR bonus (or even more rarely, the 100K bonus) on
the Platinum card.  Then before you close it, get the Amex
EveryDay card (25K-35K MR bonus) so you can keep your MR points
on a non-AF card.  So now you've got your MR points which can
be transfered to Delta at anytime, then get your Delta card which
is pretty easy to obtain.

Rubic

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2016, 07:52:48 AM »
Further suggestions:
  • Start a Google Doc spreadsheet to track: app date, fee date, min spend, cancel date, etc.
  • If you don't already have a mint.com account, start one and add all your cards to it.  You'll be alerted when your statement is due and any fees that show up.
  • Similarly, I like to check in with my creditkarma.com account on a weekly basis.
  • I like to keep my utilization below 20% on any card.  So if I'm meeting a $5K min spend on a card with a $20K limit, I'll pay of part of the balance before the statement date, then the remaining balance afterward.  Obviously you'll never actually carry a balance on the card. ;-)

MrGville

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2016, 09:17:47 AM »
One comment regarding the Delta card.  Definitely wait for a higher bonus offer.  I've seen the 50k frequently.  My girlfriend got the Gold Delta Amex earlier this summer and got a 60k bonus...(enough for some round trip international tickets)

kitkat

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2016, 09:34:52 AM »
Thanks so much everyone! Good notes about downgrading vs wasting apps on the no fee cards. Will also wait for 50k Delta bonus (if I decide to get that card) and consider the Citi card that can downgrade to double cash as opposed to Fidelity! Also a good note about letting utilization get too high. I have 4k spend on CSR, but that is over 3 months, so I should be fine.. but with the work trip I will keep an eye on September's balance. Good thing I have some cash to cover until I get reimbursed!

1. Get CSR -- got approved last night! Yay! $23k limit, hopefully will get in the mail next week. Spend $4k, and already made appt to get TSA Pre Check! (Looking into global entry, but seems way more complicated and harder to get an appt)
2. Cancel Chase United before AF hits -- will try and call for downgrade, but if not an option not worried about canceling as I have a couple of other old cards and am an AU on a card that is 15-20 years old
3. Once its looking like my CSR spend will be met (likely very early due to work trip), SO will get CSR (we're planning on helping each other with spend if needed). So he will probably be working on this spend Oct/Nov-Jan.
3. Get SW Card #1 end of Dec, spend $2k
4. Get SW Card #2 as soon as SW1 spend is close to met, spend $2k
5. Get CSP, spend $4k
6. Get a final 5th Chase card (will look into Marriott) OR move on to AA/Delta/something else
7. CSR 1 year anniv -- decide whether to keep for $150 ($450-300 travel credit) or downgrade to Freedom ultd. This will probably depend on how much of my UR points I have remaining and the loss of redeeming at 1.25x on CSP vs 1.5 on CSR. But if I'm keeping one CSP or CSR either way, I need to remember that I'll also have a CSP AF of $95. So really its only a $55 difference.


If at any point I'm getting overwhelmed or having problems with spend, I will definitely pause on all of this. I already am hyper-organized with my budgeting and saving, so I've got a "Credit Card" tab added to my spreadsheet that should help me keep everything straight. I also have an old Capital One card that gives me access to my credit score, but will look into credit karma if needed!

norabird

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2016, 10:26:32 AM »
I might add on Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards only because Chase is very strict with allowing churners so if you want those bonuses ever, do it at the start of your churning life.

slappy

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2016, 11:03:11 AM »
Thanks so much everyone! Good notes about downgrading vs wasting apps on the no fee cards. Will also wait for 50k Delta bonus (if I decide to get that card) and consider the Citi card that can downgrade to double cash as opposed to Fidelity! Also a good note about letting utilization get too high. I have 4k spend on CSR, but that is over 3 months, so I should be fine.. but with the work trip I will keep an eye on September's balance. Good thing I have some cash to cover until I get reimbursed!

1. Get CSR -- got approved last night! Yay! $23k limit, hopefully will get in the mail next week. Spend $4k, and already made appt to get TSA Pre Check! (Looking into global entry, but seems way more complicated and harder to get an appt)
2. Cancel Chase United before AF hits -- will try and call for downgrade, but if not an option not worried about canceling as I have a couple of other old cards and am an AU on a card that is 15-20 years old
3. Once its looking like my CSR spend will be met (likely very early due to work trip), SO will get CSR (we're planning on helping each other with spend if needed). So he will probably be working on this spend Oct/Nov-Jan.
3. Get SW Card #1 end of Dec, spend $2k
4. Get SW Card #2 as soon as SW1 spend is close to met, spend $2k
5. Get CSP, spend $4k
6. Get a final 5th Chase card (will look into Marriott) OR move on to AA/Delta/something else
7. CSR 1 year anniv -- decide whether to keep for $150 ($450-300 travel credit) or downgrade to Freedom ultd. This will probably depend on how much of my UR points I have remaining and the loss of redeeming at 1.25x on CSP vs 1.5 on CSR. But if I'm keeping one CSP or CSR either way, I need to remember that I'll also have a CSP AF of $95. So really its only a $55 difference.


If at any point I'm getting overwhelmed or having problems with spend, I will definitely pause on all of this. I already am hyper-organized with my budgeting and saving, so I've got a "Credit Card" tab added to my spreadsheet that should help me keep everything straight. I also have an old Capital One card that gives me access to my credit score, but will look into credit karma if needed!

It seems like most credit cards are giving you access to the credit score these days. My Discover card does and my I believe my Chase card does as well. 

Rubic

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2016, 11:56:55 AM »
...
3. Get SW Card #1 end of Dec, spend $2k
4. Get SW Card #2 as soon as SW1 spend is close to met, spend $2k
5. Get CSP, spend $4k

I would probably apply for the CSP before getting the Southwest cards,
since CSP is harder to get and may be even more difficult if you've
applied for 3 Chase cards and canceled one (United) within a few
months.  CSP provides UR points which can be spent on Southwest
flights.

Quote
I also have an old Capital One card that gives me access to my credit score, but will look into credit karma if needed!

CreditKarma.com is free and reports both TransUnion and Experian.
Capital One just reports TransUnion.

Red Beard

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Re: Newbie CC Churner -- How does my plan for the next year look??
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2016, 08:02:20 AM »
I was a similar "status" conundrum you are in with Delta. We chose to go the Southwest Companion pass route which has turned into easily the most lucrative churn we have done to date. Between the points we got and he ability to apply the companion pass to reward flights as well, over the past two years I estimate we have saved between $4000-$5000 on domestic flights.