If you are new to credit card churning, it can be tempting to start opening cards without a plan. However, different credit card issuers have different rules. With a little research, you’ll learn that you want to open Chase cards first due to their 5/24 rule. But how many Chase cards can you open and how quickly? What cards should you open after you’re done with Chase? Here is my long term strategy for opening credit cards for those who are brand new to churning. You don’t need to follow this to a T, but rather use it as a guide for what to open next.
Step 1: Start with a Mix of Chase and Business Cards from Other Banks
As I mentioned above, Chase has a few key rules to keep in mind:
- 5/24 rule: You will not be approved for Chase credit cards if you applied for five or more credit cards from ANY bank in the past two years. Essentially, you will only be able to open 5 Chase personal cards within your first two years of churning. You also have to be under 5/24 in order to open a Chase business card. Once it’s open, it will not count towards your 5 cards in 24 months. Business cards from other banks will also not impact your 5/24 counts.
- Limits one approvals: You can only apply for two Chase personal credit cards every 30 days. For business cards, the rule is one card every 30 days.
- Limits on cards in the same family: You can only have on Chase Sapphire card (Preferred or Reserve) and one Southwest personal card (Plus, Premier, or Priority) at a time.
Over your first two years, I recommend slowly opening 5 Chase personal cards, 3-5 Chase business cards, and business cards from other banks. Start with the Chase business card you want the most. I recommend the Southwest business card if you are targeting a Companion Pass. Otherwise, start with Chase Ink Preferred since it has the highest sign-up bonus.
About a month later, open the personal card you want the most. This will likely be Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, depending on how you feel about the annual fee. However, you may choose to open a Chase Southwest card if you are trying to earn the Companion Pass.
Next, open a business card from another bank. This will allow you to back off of Chase for a bit. I recommend opening churnable business cards like Bank of America Alaska Airlines or any of the Barclays cards. Over the next two years, keep repeating this pattern making sure to space out Chase applications.
Here’s an example of the first 2 years of churning from my husband’s accounts.
|Chase Ink Preferred
|Chase Sapphire Preferred
|Chase Southwest Plus
|Chase Southwest Premier Business
|American Express SPG Business
|Marriotts Premier Personal
|Amex Delta Gold Business
|Chase Ink Unlimited
|Amex Green Business
|Chase Ink Cash
|Amex Hilton Business
|Amex Blue for Business Plus
|Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select
|Chase World of Hyatt
|Chase United Explorer Business
|Chase United Explorer
He will be under 5/24 again in September. We plan to open the Chase Ink Preferred for a second time. He got the bonus the first time on 9/20/2019 so we will wait until after that to open the card. Since this will not count against his 5/24 status, he will open one more Chase personal card before moving on.
Step 2: Open Churnable Personal Cards
This is similar to the recommendation above about opening Bank of America Alaska Airlines and Barclays business cards. You may choose to open the personal versions of these cards as well.
Bank of America has its own set of rules to keep in mind. Most importantly for churning Alaska Airlines cards, you can only get the personal Alaska Airlines card if you did not have the card open in the prior 24 months. The business card is exempt from this rule. Basically, you have to churn this card slowly so open it early to start the clock.
Barclays is sensitive to the number of new cards opened in the past 6 months. I recommend applying for one or two Barclays cards every 6 months.
Step 3: Throw in Some Citi and Amex Cards
Citi is strict on the number of inquiries. For cards other than the American Airlines cards, you can only get a bonus from a certain “family” of cards once every two years. For example, if you got the bonus from the Citi Premier card, you shouldn’t apply for the Citi Prestige until it’s been two years since you received the Premier bonus. Bonuses on the American Airlines cards are only available to you every 48 months.
Lastly, American Express cards are a nice filler when you’ve exhausted other options. They’re easy to get approved for, but you can only have 5 at a time. Also, you can only earn the sign-up bonus once per lifetime so hold out for the best offer possible.
Step 4: Continue Churning Cards from Step 1 and 2 While Repeating Step 3
Here’s where the ball is really in your court. If you’ve enjoyed earning Alaska Airlines miles, you may choose to continue churning these cards. If you like earning Amex points, maybe you focus on opening cards like Amex Platinum or Gold. As you’re going through these steps, you should be spending points and miles too. See what sources need to be replenished and give some thought to future travel plans when opening cards.
This is a basic framework about how I go about churning credit cards. What I described above can be repeated for years as there are always new cards to open. You will need to vary your plans based on what rewards programs you prefer. Be sure to prioritize cards if you have a specific award redemption in mind. At the end of the day, as long as you’re earning some sort of sign-up bonus, you’ll be coming out ahead.
Things to keep in mind:
- Make use of the pattern in Step 1. Draw it out as long as you feel comfortable, but keep in mind that Chase has been known to shut down accounts if you open cards too quickly.
- Focus on opening churnable cards early and make a pattern of closing and re-opening them when possible.
- If you have a specific redemption in mind, prioritize opening cards to earn the points and miles needed for that instead.