A new world for longtime credit card churners

Mean Credit Card

If you’ve been following the mile and point community for a while, you’ve probably seen a few disturbing trends.

First we had American Express limit sign on bonuses to once in a lifetime. Then we had Chase’s latest developments, roughly called 5/24 rule.

The fact is, churning credit cards is¬†becoming more difficult. Don’t get me wrong, there are some banks–cough: Citi–that are still happy to give plenty of miles out as sign-ons, and even retention offers, but even Citi has 18 month terms. But the fact remains: Credit Card issuers are realizing that our community exists (my assertion, not fact), and responding in such a way that entices long-term holders that spend “early and often” to reference a well known Chicago politician.

The result is, that more and more folks are realizing that as they accrue significant miles from credit cards, and moreso, accumulate higher and higher credit limits from various banks, it becomes harder to get more credit.

Stefan of Rapid Travel Chai posed the question back in July, as to whether he should decrease his available credit with Citi to get more. Matt implies a similar question when he shares 4 things he does that others likely do differently.

If there’s one thing that those links say to me, it is that those of us who have been in the mile and point game for a while, are facing a new reality. It used to be, that you could apply for new credit cards, whether it was 8, 60, or 91 days apart, but you could still get the sign on bonuses. That world is changing, to an extent.

The message is becoming clear: If you’re a churner, we (banks) don’t see you as our core customer. I don’t think that the banks are saying that they don’t want us (manufactured spenders), but they are starting to be more sensitive to those folks that apply for cards for the sign-up bonuses and then ditch the cards–in some cases, without even paying annual fees that may not have been waived.

Is this the end of the game? I would argue: certainly not. It’s just like any other game, the rules change, perhaps the goal posts have been moved, but any good athlete (or so I hear, since I’m anything but) figures out a way to ultimately make it to the goal posts, even if it is a moving target.


This is not the end of the world. However, I think it hits home the fact that you have to see the forest through the trees. If you’re new to the game, then this is just a word of warning. If you’ve been in the game for a while and have yet to encounter topping out on your credit card limits, then you’ve been lucky. What can you do in the future? I don’t have a crystal ball, but if I were to offer, I would say: Find a balance between canceling credit cards and downgrading credit cards. If you don’t see a particular card adding value, get rid of it, because holding on to that credit card might be the difference between being approved or not, the next time you churn.


One thought on “A new world for longtime credit card churners

  1. Pingback: My Week in Points: Fall Is Here, Things Heat Up

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