I don’t like churning credit cards.

In general, I don’t like like doing things right up until a deadline. I like finishing things as early in advance as possible.

I’m also not a keep things super simple person. I tend to make things more complicated than other people might, but I like that game. So the game of finding the best rewards credit cards for my level of spending is pretty fun. So is researching new credit cards that could be cool. But actually implementing that? Apparently I don’t like that very much. I don’t like watching the numbers to see if I’ve finally spent enough to get the sign-up bonus for a new credit card or waiting a long time to be able to actually redeem new rewards.

Churning the Barclaycard World Arrival card was pretty easy because I used it to pay for a trip and that one expense was over the $1,000 minimum spend. Similar story with the Chase Freedom card except it took two purchases (some medical bills and the painters).

But the Chase Sapphire Preferred? As much as the card is pretty cool looking and the Ultimate Rewards are kind of cool, the whole thing is way too complicated for me to really enjoy implementing. It was/is a $3,000 minimum spend in 3 months and that’s cutting it pretty tight with my normal spending. I think I should be done with it by the end of this month. I finally made myself a spreadsheet to project when I would have hit the $3,000 minimum spend and it should happen in the next 3 weeks.

I don’t really mind having 1-3 credit cards in my wallet and thinking about which one to use, especially since it’s not that complicated to figure out which one to use in a particular case, but the wondering when I’ll hit the minimum spend on a card is way too much for me. The fun part is in finding the cards and doing the math on them, not actually going through the daily spending with them. That’s just life.

So here’s what my plan looks like now:

  1. Finish up the $3,000 spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
  2. Don’t churn any more credit cards in the future unless I can project with certainty that I can very easily meet the minimum spend for a card in 1-1.5 months.
  3. Go back to using the Amazon.com visa for those purchases (doesn’t need to go in my wallet – just auto-pay) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for online shopping through the Ultimate Rewards mall. Use the Chase Freedom visa for restaurants this quarter. Use the Barclaycard Arrival card for all purchases until I can redeem the miles I have left against a travel purchase ($253 more in spending).
  4. Once I’ve redeemed all the miles I have left on my Barclaycard account, use my Fidelity American Express for everything again, except where they don’t take American Express, use one of my other cards, doesn’t really matter which. I’ll set my electricity bill to auto-pay on my credit union visa though to keep that active.
  5. Downgrade the Barclaycard before the annual fee hits to keep the free FICO score feature. Close the Chase Sapphire Preferred card once I redeem the 60k+ points for a flight this year.

Sometimes I make plans and then don’t do a very good job of sticking to them because there are way too many possible plans that seem way more exciting than the ‘boring’ plan I had. This has been one of those times. I’m honestly surprised that I have stuck with the mortgage pay-off for so long and not switched to investing instead. (Well I did try that a couple months and then went back to the mortgage.)


12 thoughts on “I don’t like churning credit cards.

  1. Haha I can totally see why you think that way. At least you’re smart enough to recognize it. Even though I churn a lot of cards, I definitely have more fun researching which cards to do/figuring out if I’ll be able to spend enough money/looking at new ways to manufacture spend/etc.

    I get really impatient when it comes time to actually spending the money :) Usually I do 3-5 cards at a time so it will take a few months but once those points post it’s all worth it for me at least…

    • Yep, I’m impatient when it comes time to actually spending the money and that’s really not good. So I’m done with churning after this one, unless I have something planned and know I can hit the minimum spend in under 5 transactions.

      • That would probably earn a lot more money than the actual credit card rewards! I actually have only paid one Ting bill in the year and a bit since I switched to them because of my affiliate link post. Sure, it’s only a $20-40/month benefit, but still pretty cool!

  2. If it still works (haven’t used it in a year) you can put up to 1K a month through Amazon Payments if you have a trusted family member or friend to do this with (you send them money using amazon payments, they send you cash or check). This makes for a good fallback for credit card deals. Have visa 2% no fee (legacy) which can’t really be beat, so I basically set a $400 sign up bonus value floor to get a new credit card. Rarely willing to consider more than 3K 3 month minimum spend.

    • Yep, I think I would consider going for a sign-up bonus again if I knew that I could spend the money more easily, e.g. when the annual insurance bill comes due or something similar.

  3. Like others above, I feel comfortable just having one 1.5% return card. Life for me just isn’t worth the churning that Leigh has realized. CapitalOne has many cards giving 1.5% that sends checks, applies rewards to the monthly bill, and other hand functions with their cards. And no foreign exchange fees for the traveler bug you get.

    • Simple does seem to be best! My Fidelity Amex doesn’t seem to actually have foreign transaction fees from what I’ve seen, but the fee disclosures did say it was 1%. So there’s no point in me using my 1% no foreign transaction fee visa when I travel! I do keep both in my wallet just in case Amex isn’t accepted where I’m going.

  4. Check out Loyal3. You can buy $2500 of Berkshire Hathaway (and a few handfuls of other stocks) and sell the shares a couple days later. I did that in late February to hit minimum spending on 1 of my cards….so then I used it for a couple more cards.

    I even got a $40 shot term cap gain out of it, but I could just as easily have lost a few hundred….and in fact did lose a few hundred on the ones I did in March, but I also hit $700 of signup bonus and on my way to 50,000 American miles, soooo….

  5. I think I’m the same as you. I like the idea of trying to “game the system”, but the implementation would drive me batty. Unless the bonus was SUPER awesome, I think I’d stick with my current card. That being said, I don’t use credit cards any more (I don’t trust myself with them again just yet).

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