2015 Mid-Year Churning Report Card

Having recently passed the half-way mark in the year, it’s a good time to look back and see what’s happened so far this year.  My fiance and I started signing up for credit cards just under a year ago to start earning hundreds of thousands of miles and points to start traveling the world for little to no out of pocket cost.  By putting our everyday spending towards credit card signup bonuses we’re able to take several vacations a year without hindering our goal of reaching financial independence by 40.  One of the keys to churning successfully is organization and I like data, so it’s easy for me to look back over the past 6 months and see exactly what we signed up for, what we earned, and how we’ve redeemed them so far.  I’m going to lump in the bank bonuses we’ve gotten so far this year as well and share the results with you.

12 New Credit Cards (and 1 Denial)

Becky and I signed up for 12 new credit cards so far this year which were all instantly approved except for the business card applications I detailed in this post: My First Business Credit Card: The Third Time’s a Charm.  I was denied for the Chase Ink Plus, but accepted for a Bank of America Alaska Airlines Business card after calling recon.  I’ll list the cards out below and the signup offer we got on each.

  • Amex Hilton HHonors Card (No Annual Fee) – 50,000 Hilton points and $50 after $750 in spend
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred (Annual Fee waived) – 45,000 UR points after $4,000 in spend and adding an authorized user
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card ($95 Annual Fee) – 2 free weekend nights at any Hilton after $2,500 in spend
  • Amex Blue Cash Preferred ($75 Annual Fee) – $150 after $1,000 in spend
  • Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard (Annual Fee waived) – 50,000 AA miles after $3,000 in spend
  • BoA Alaska Airlines Business Visa ($75 Annual Fee) – 25,000 AS miles after first purchase
  • 2x BoA Alaska Airlines Personal Visa ($75 Annual Fee) – 25,000 AS miles after first purchase and $100 after $1,000 in spend
  • 2x Citi Thank You Premier Card (Annual Fee waived) – 50,000 TYP after $3,000 in spend
  • Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Personal Card (Annual Fee waived) – 25,000 Starwood points after $3,000 in spend
  • Chase Hyatt Card (Annual Fee waived) – 2 free nights at any Hyatt and $50 after $1,000 in spend

Total Spent on Annual Fees

  • $395

Total Earned From Signup Bonuses

  • $450 cash
  • 45,000 Chase UR points
  • 50,000 Hilton Points and 2 free weekend nights at any Hilton
  • 50,000 American Airline miles
  • 75,000 Alaska Airline miles
  • 100,000 Citi Thank You Points
  • 25,000 Starwood points
  • 2 free nights at any Hyatt

5 Bank Bonuses

Becky and I also opened 5 bank accounts this year in order to get cash bonuses.  Almost all of these were found on Doctor of Credit’s bank bonus page and I did a detailed post on the Santander bonus that allows you to earn $20 every single month.  While we have to pay taxes on the bonuses, we’ve found it to be worth the effort to get some extra money every couple of months.  The Santander one for example is on complete auto-pilot at this point and I get $20 a month for running part of my paycheck through the new account each month.  Anyway, here’s the list of bank bonuses that earned us a total of $890 in the first half of 2015.

  • Chase Total Checking Account – $300 for a direct deposit
  • Chase Total Checking Account – $200 for a direct deposit (should have held out for the $300 bonus…)
  • Key Bank Hassle Free Checking Account – $250 for a direct deposit
  • Bank of America Business Checking Account – $100 for a deposit
  • Santander extra20 Checking Account – $20/month for a direct deposit and bill pay each month

The Fun Part – Redemptions

All of the miles earning would be pretty pointless if we weren’t using them to get free travel, so below I will list the redemptions we’ve taken so far in the first half of the year and the ones we’ve already booked for the future.  The first half of the year has been very light for miles and point redemptions because we either found better cash deals or couldn’t use our points for the trip (a cruise).  On the other hand, we’ve already booked several trips for the second half of the year that we’re looking forward to!

Used in the First Half of the Year

  • $650 Arrival+ Miles redeemed towards paid flights

Booked for the Second Half of the Year

  • 6 Nights in New York
    • 50,000 United miles redeemed for two-round trip tickets to New York
    • 70,000 IHG points redeemed for two hotel nights at the Times Square Staybridge Suites in New York
    • 2 free Hilton weekend nights redeemed for two hotel nights at the Conrad in New York
    • 2 free IHG nights redeemed for the Times Square Intercontinental in New York (Details here)
  • 2 Nights in Las Vegas for Tough Mudder
    • 16,917 Southwest points (with Companion Pass) for two round-trip tickets to Vegas
    • 7,000 SPG Points for 1 night at The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa
    • 27,908 Citi TY Points for 1 night at the Venetian
  • Trip to See Family in Chicago
    • 30,659 Southwest points (with Companion Pass) for two round-trip tickets to Chicago
  • Flying my brother out to Seattle for PAX
    • 25,000 Delta miles (8,000 transferred from Amex MR) for 1 round-trip to Seattle
  • Trip home for the holidays
    • 28,241 Southwest points (with Companion Pass) for two-roundtrip tickets

 Summary

We’re off to a great start in our great 2015 churning adventure with 12 new credit cards, over 300,000 in points, and almost $1,000 in cash.  Not only that, but we’ve started burning through the many points we’ve earned so far and have already spent over 250,000 points towards trips in the second half of the year.  Balancing the earning and burning is a challenge, but one where everybody wins with free travel.  I look forward to planning and booking some bigger and better trips moving forward where we’ll probably incorporate some higher classes of flights and international destinations.  We don’t plan to stop getting new credit cards for amazing signup bonuses as long as the banks keep approving us and bank bonuses are a great way to add a little cash to our bottom line.  Hopefully your churning has been as successful as ours as we all head into the second half of the year.


4 thoughts on “2015 Mid-Year Churning Report Card

  1. I also started about a year ago. I enjoy reading your blogs as they pertain to gift card selling and MS as an overall complimentary strategy.

    I’m currently a bulk seller now with three sites and I’ve been able to build a solid foundation for MS with a credit card portfolio that suits our needs. As I get further into MS and reselling, the level of detail and organization becomes imperative. While I consider myself an organized and disciplind person, (I think you have to be in this game to succeed) I do find myself needing better record keeping.

    I had posted a comment on a different blog post of yours that didn’t get answered (never received email notification). I was hoping to see what your current excel document looks like for monitoring all gift card sales. You posted in a comment to someone else which rows and columns you use, however some of them were confusing. An example transaction would be awesome. Also, an overall record keeping of your overall MS would be pretty cool to see as well 🙂

    Have a great 4th of July!

    1. I did respond to your question here: http://moneymetagame.com/churning/my-latest-get-rich-slow-scheme-gift-card-arbitrage/

      In order to receive comment notifications, you have to accept the email sent by the blog verifying you allow them to be sent. Hopefully the response above answers your question or at least clarifies some of the columns I mentioned. I may clean up my excel sheet at some point and share it as a google doc, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      Thanks for reading and have a great 4th yourself!

  2. Ha, I see it now. I definitely got the email notification on this reply. I’m guessing I must’ve not subscribed to that specific blog post. That’s the only thing I can think of b/c I subscribe to other blogs in the same fashion and haven’t had issues.

    I’ll definitely read them in more detail tomorrow. Enjoying the day with the wife and our little one (12mo) and I want to read your comment and the excel document (based on your columns) in full focus and I can’t right now.

    Thanks for your response btw.

  3. Whoa, that’s a nice haul for half a year! Lucky that your fiance can join in on the fun, my girlfriend isn’t quite there yet but I sign up for enough cards to cover the majority of our travel. You have some fun travels ahead, it’s nice to see that you are putting your points to good use. Sounds fun!

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