It has not been a good year so far for card churners – whether you apply for a lot of cards or even just a few. With Chase pretty much defining card churners as anyone who has opened 5 or more accounts (with any issuers) in the last 2 years and Amex deciding that getting any card once is enough, it has been tough. Here are some new strategies for bonuses in a post Chase 5/24 world.
New Strategies For Bonuses In A Post Chase 5/24 World
Obviously, this will not cover everyone’s card preferences but will hopefully serve to help with some ideas and give some direction in certain areas.
1. You May Not Have Opened As Many As You Think = Hold
While it might seem like you have opened up a lot of cards in the last 2 years, you may be surprised! I was checking mine and my wife’s reports and found that my wife has only opened 4 cards in the last two years! I was quite surprised by that since it seemed like we had more than that (of course, I have 19 so maybe that is why it felt like more!).
If you find that you have opened less than 5 cards in the least 2 years across all the issuers – hold! Do not apply for any new cards until after the 5/24 policy moves across all of Chase’s cards (sometime in April). The reason for that is that Chase may just start offering some better bonuses on their mainstream cards to encourage the people they want (aka, not churners) to sign up. Obviously, it is a market they are trying to hit harder by excluding those of us who have a lot of new accounts. Equally obvious is that the bonuses on all of their cards have been pretty much the same for quite some time. Watch for better bonus offers and sit tight for now!
2. Be More Selective
The credit card bonus landscape has changed significantly this year. We have seen Citi shut down accounts of some customers, we have seen a wide-spread closure of Bluebird/Serve cards which many of us used to hit minimum spending for bonuses, we have seen Amex extend their once-per-lifetime bonus to business cards, and now the roll-out of Chase’s 5/24 rule across all of their cards.
If you are like me and many others, you are done with Amex bonuses now (because you have had them all), you will not be able to get any Chase cards at all (because your new accounts is in the double digits, or at least more that 5), and you likely just got some new Citi cards thanks to nice bonuses on the AA cards and the Premier and Prestige cards (and Citi does not let you get the same card if you opened/closed that card in the last 18 months). What does that leave us with?
Of course, we can get Alaska Airline cards, thanks to how lenient Bank of America is. We can also try our hands at Barclaycard cards (especially with JetBlue opening there sometime this month) but they have not been that friendly to churners for a while. There are other cards but none of them are really exciting.
So, this is a good time to pull back and be more selective in your applications. Do not just throw cards in with application rounds just because you didn’t grab one from that particular bank. While it was always a good idea to have some great diversity across programs, consider what your travel plans are for the next months-year and try to only get cards that will help with those goals.
Chase will be open to all of us again in 24 months – if we have kept our new accounts under 5. Being more selective may just make that happen. Don’t jump at everything but rather consider how it fits in with your points/miles goals.
3. Concentrate On Referrals
This is a great time to start getting your friends and family involved (if you have not already). With Chase, American Express, and Bank of America offering referral bonuses to customers who have people sign up for new accounts through their referral links, you can really rack up the miles and points by just helping those around you get in one the good offers.
With limits of 50,000 miles/points per year and under, it could be easy to max those out and get the equivalent of a new card bonus – but by only getting a few people to sign-up for cards.
4. Focus On Spending Bonuses/Categories
If you are not getting as many new cards, you have extra spending now that you don’t have to focus on minimum spending for bonuses. That means you can direct that spending towards things like spending bonuses (Chase offers 10K bonus miles on their United MileagePlus Explorer card for spending $25K in a calendar year) or elite bonuses (hotel cards offer elite nights/credits or outright status by spending and airlines offer similar).
You could also target bonus categories more for your point earning. If you have previously just used whatever card was on you for spending, take some extra time to see what cards you already have may offer better bonuses when you shop. I know we normally do that but it is also easy to get lazy if we are someplace where we do not normally shop.
Also, don’t forget your retention offers! If you call in to cancel/downgrade a credit card, see what offers may be available to you. They almost always require a spending amount of some kind so target your spending there as well
5. Shopping Portals
I talk about shopping portals a lot and hopefully, you are already using them. But, try to do more of your shopping online and really watch for great portal hikes on bonuses. I did this a couple of times and was able to pull in 45,000 AA miles by buying a few things to resell (and breaking even). It was not that hard and only involved a few items so it is something to pay attention to.
Of course, it is a bad thing for those of us who love getting credit card bonuses to deal with these new churning realities. But, there are always still ways to accumulate miles and points and hopefully, these 5 strategies can help you develop a plan for going forward.
What are some of your plans for dealing with the clamp down on card churners?