Airplane in the sky

I’ve been involved with credit card churning for over two years now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. While it can be frustrating to lose out on points and miles, or low hanging fruit as I like to call it, each mistake you make will show you what to look out for in the future. Luckily no major mistakes were made this year, but here are a few situations where I lost out on a decent amount of points/miles.

Signing up for an offer too early

After a year of intense churning, I was starting to run out of sign-up bonuses that I actually needed. While I think it’s okay to stockpile some miles for travel within the next few years, it’s always best to wait until the sign-up bonus increases.

For example, I opened both the AAdvantage Aviator Red and the JetBlue Plus cards from Barclaycard with no real plan in mind. Both had a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles. A few months later, both offers increased to 60,000 miles. Unfortunately for me, it was too far out for Barclays to match the offers. While I had no way of knowing the bonus would increase, I had no use for these miles (still haven’t used them…) so it would have benefited me to wait until a special offer came around.

Because of this mistake, I missed on 20,000 American Airlines miles and 20,000 JetBlue points.

Missing out on referral points

Referral bonuses are the epitome of low hanging fruit, so it’s extremely frustrating when a friend signs up for a card and doesn’t use your link! On two occasions this year, I offered advice about the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards, only to have the person sign-up for the card before I even had the chance to send my referral link.

I also referred someone to Chase Freedom but accidentally gave them a referral link that earned me 5,000 Chase points instead of 10,000.

As a result, I lost out on 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Jumping on a deal too soon

This one isn’t too bad, but I signed up for the Economist to earn 1,110 Alaska Airlines miles on a Sunday night. The next morning, the offer had jumped to 2,200 miles! I was aware that new deals come out on Mondays, yet I jumped the gun and signed up Sunday night.

This is one where it’s hard to know what to do, but still a painful loss of 1,100 Alaska Airlines miles.

Not opening a new credit card for big purchases

This one can be tricky since a purchase might come up before you have time to open a new card. I’m guilty of this twice this year. I bought my wedding dress and made the first payment for my wedding venue without opening new cards. The wedding venue payment alone could have knocked off a few sign-up bonus spending requirements!

My fiancé took this to a new level by making a $600 purchase on a local federal credit union card that earned NO POINTS OR MILES. You’d think he’d have learned by now…

It’s hard to say how much I lost out on, but I definitely could have completed four or five sign-up bonuses with the above purchases alone.

Final Thoughts

The points and miles hobby certainly comes with a learning curve, but it’s impossible not to make mistakes even after doing it for a while. Hopefully, my errors from 2017 will help you avoid them yourself in 2018!

What points and miles mistakes did you make in 2017?

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