As I explained in My Introduction to Churning, signing up for credit cards can save you tons of money on travel and other expenses, but it doesn’t come without some risk. All of the risks can be avoided by planning ahead, staying organized, and not over-extending yourself, but if churning is brand new for you, this probably all sounds overwhelming. In this multi-part series, I will go into more detail about how to decide whether or not churning is for you, how to find a good offer to apply for, how to stay organized, and how to plan for the long term.
Getting Started With Churning Series
- Part 1: Maybe You Shouldn’t
- Part 2: Reasons You Should
- Part 3: Getting Organized
- Part 4: Making a Plan
- Part 5: Finding the Best Offer(s)
- Part 6: Planning For the Long Term
Part 5: Finding the Best Offers
Once you’ve decided what kind of card to sign up for and have some kind of goal in mind for redeeming the points you will earn, the next step is to find the best offer to sign up for. Finding the right credit card can be tricky because the available cards along with their signup bonuses are constantly changing. At least for the time being, I don’t plan on maintaining a page on this blog with all of the best credit card deals, but fear not, I will walk you through the ways that I find the best deals that should be easy for you to replicate. By checking for your pre-approved offers (and possibly signing up to receive more), browsing a few popular churning blogs, and diving into the FlyerTalk forums, you can be sure you won’t miss any great offers.
Check For Pre-Approved Offers
An easy way to check for credit card offers is to visit CardMatch at creditcards.com/cardmatch. After filling in your name, address, and the last 4 digits of your social security number, CardMatch will show you several pre-approved offers that match your credit profile. This check will not effect your credit score as noted on the site. If you are hesitant to type part of your social security number into this site, feel free to just put in any 4 numbers along with your valid address and the system doesn’t seem to have any trouble still showing you offers.
- Pre-approval does NOT guarantee that you will actually be accepted for the card once you fill out the application, but generally does mean your chances are good.
- ALWAYS check for better offers than the ones shown on CardMatch, because some cards have better offers than CardMatch will offer you.
- American Express is known to give very good offers through CardMatch if you don’t currently have an open account with them. Their Platinum, Gold Rewards, and Blue Cash cards are especially known for this.
Check A Few Popular Blogs
There are many blogs out there based around miles/points, travel, and churning, but always be cautious before giving any individual blog 100% of your trust. The reason I say this is that many high profile bloggers get paid by the credit card companies to promote certain cards and don’t always provide unbiased information. A lot of them are very transparent about being credit card affiliates though and will tell you about the best offers regardless of whether or not they are getting paid. Regardless of who you choose to trust, I highly recommend checking multiple blogs to look for better offers because each one will have different ones listed. Personally, I have no problem with blogs making money off of credit card links as long as they disclose their affiliation. In fact, I would encourage you to click through a blog that you like to help support them, but only if it’s the best offer available for that particular card.
Here are a few examples of blogs that keep up to date lists of credit card offers:
- Frequent Miler’s Best Credit Card Offers
- Million Mile Secrets’ Hot Deals
- The Points Guy’s Hot Deals
- Doctor of Credit’s Master List of Signup Bonuses (Not necessarily kept up to date, but a great resource for finding what the best deal in the past has been for almost every card)
Check The FlyerTalk Forum
The FlyerTalk forum contains some of the most in depth discussions into everything related to travel loyalty programs and credit cards, but because it is a forum, navigating around the pages can be difficult. The credit card offers thread is often my first stop when deciding what card to sign up for next. While the list doesn’t include all offers, it usually contains the very best offers at any given time and the links are kept very up to date.
Check it out here: FlyerTalk Special Credit Card Offers Master Thread
Try the Crowd-Sourced Google Doc
This google doc contains almost every rewards credit card and lists the current offers with links alongside what the best offers for each card have been in the past. Originally created by WellTraveledMile, the subreddit /r/churning now maintains it to keep the links current with the latest offers.
Check it out here: /r/churning CC offers, etc… Selected Crowd Sourced Data
Try to Get Targeted For More Pre-Approved Offers
You might currently receive credit card offers in the mail or have in the past and toss them out without much thought. Now that you know about all the benefits of credit cards and signup bonuses, it’s time to start paying attention to them. Even though a lot of the offers aren’t worth it, certain pre-approved offers that come in the mail are sometimes the best offers ever offered for particular cards. Several of the cards I have signed up for have come from great mail offers, but be sure to check online for a better offer first! Sometimes the mail offers are actually worse than the public offers available online.
If you don’t mind filtering through a little extra mail or email for a chance a awesome credit card offers, I highly suggest you do some or all of the following to get targeted more often:
- Opt-In for prescreened offers here: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/
- This is a joint effort from several credit bureaus to allow customer to Opt-Out of offers, but they also let you do the opposite and make sure you are Opted-In. Selecting Opt-In will also cancel any previous Opt-Outs you may have done in the past.
- Check your credit card website(s).
- If you currently have a credit card, log into your account and go to settings. There may be an option to allow yourself to receive targeted mail and email offers, so make sure that it’s selected. American Express, Chase, and Citi have this option, but several others probably do to.
- Sign up for loyalty programs.
- Since many credit cards are tied directly to loyalty programs, simply joining the loyalty program will increase your chances of being targeted with credit card offers.
Don’t Be Afraid To Use Google
If you have a particular credit card in mind, but can’t find a good offer for it, try Google. Simply searching for the card’s name and “signup bonus” or “credit card offer” may return the information you need. Searching for the card’s name followed by the number of points/miles you expect may also be useful (for example, “Chase Ink Plus 70000”). Even if you aren’t able to find a valid link to apply for the offer, you should be able to find out when that offer was most recently available.
Whether you are set on a particular card and are trying to find the best offer, or you are browsing around for the “best” offers to sign up for next, the different methods above should help you find what you’re looking for. Once you find the offer you want, apply and see how it goes. Also be sure to check out Part 6: Planning For the Long Term.