18 Dec

News Alert: Credit Card Companies Are Making It Rain


It’s no secret that people who struggle with credit card debt are making executives and shareholders rich. For some reason, these credit card companies are also using these profits to give away free money to people who sign up for certain credit cards. All you need is a good credit rating and the ability (read: willingness) to spend $4000 on the card in a period of three months.

Amanda and I currently fall in this category, and we’ve now done credit card “churning” with four separate credit cards. Our current process: Sign up, spend $4000 in three months, get about $1,050 worth of points, cancel card, repeat.

Churning is old news on the internet. Almost as old as people comparing Biff Tannen to Donald Trump (hint: the creator of the Biff Tannen character actually based him on Trump!!)


Initially, Amanda and I were suspicious of churning. If it was so easy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it? There must be some trick, where if you make one mistake you’ll somehow get royally screwed with credit card fees or something. Our reality has been that, nope, it’s pretty much as simple as spending $4000 in three months.

The best U.S. deal at the moment appears to be Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, which basically gives you $1050 (plus some other benefits like $300 cash-back on travel expenses, TSA Global Entry passes, airport lounge passes, etc.) Technically you get $1500 worth of travel points, but you have to pay an annual card fee of $450, so that kinda makes it $1050.

The main downside is that these cards are not straight-up cash back. You are given points that are best used for travel. You can use them to buy gift cards for sites like Amazon, but the “exchange rate” is not as good as using them for travel.

7th Avenue in Calgary, Alberta

The overall message is that if you sign up for this, you may be more likely to book air travel, which as we all know exacerbates climate change. But I don’t think that’s a concern anymore because if you really dig into the data and read the latest IPCC Assessment Report, it’s obvious that deep down it’s all just a Chinese hoax!

For these reasons, we’re back up in Canada for the holidays and all for the low price of $4.20 USD!

Snowshoeing to Chester Lake in Kananaskis, Alberta

So folks, if you’re interested in occasionally flying to cool places around the world with awesome free travel points, you should check out this useful Chase Sapphire Reserve wiki on the “churning” subreddit:


In the meantime, relax and enjoy the holidays!

P.S. we’re not getting any kick-backs from Chase or anyone else for writing this article. Just some good ol’ internet community sharing sharing sharing.


  • Norm

    Oh how I wish I could sign up for the Chase Reserve card. My wife and I have been churning travel cards for five years, and have earned four million miles and points doing it. But a new Chase rule means they will only approve you if you’ve been approved for fewer than five cards, from any bank, in the past 24 months. So since we’ve had so many cards, we can’t get any new Chase cards.

    I’m contemplating ending applications for a while for either my wife or I, and then making that person the designated Chase card applier in the household so we can take advantage of their cards again, but we’re still earning enough miles and points from other sign-ups that I don’t know if it’d be worth it.

    • Travis

      haha, nice work Norm! I think the folks on r/churning call it the “5/25 Rule”. Moving forward, I’m not sure if Amanda and I will continue to spend enough to money to make the Chase $4000 in 3 months work, but if we do – hypothetically we could juggle cards every 3 months and still not blow the 5/25 Rule (no more than 5 card applications in a 25 month period per person). Will have to wait and see!

  • OK I can get behind some sharing! Please share how you spend $4000 in three months on a credit card! 🙂

    The best I could manage is somewhere around $2000 without buying a bunch of unnecessary crap. Even if I prepaid all my utility and internet bills with a credit card PLUS bought a bunch of gift cards, that might only get me to $3000.

    So please share how you do that on your budget.

    • Travis

      Good question Mr. Tako – the answer is: we’re been doing home renovations! For example, the deck we’re building (currently 98% done) cost us around $4000. So if your spending is below $4000 over three months, definitely don’t do the Chase card! btw, our next post will probably be a complete financial breakdown for the year, if you’re curious for more detail.

      • Aha! Building a deck or other home renovations would do it! Thanks Travis.

        There’s some delicious irony there too — Purchasing home improvements only to be given travel rewards. You’ll be traveling and won’t be home to appreciate those home improvements.

    • Freedom35

      If you want to make the minimum spending, and can’t do it with your normal spending, you need to look into “manufactured spending” .. it’s the next step after churning. The rabbit hole goes deep 😉

  • Jay

    Works for me. Between my wife and myself we cycle through quite a few. Generally I am able to get around 20% of what I spend back. After a while it becomes a little bit of a hastle as the best rewards have been exhausted. Amex and Chase will limit the numbers of offers and cards you can obtain. We have gotten quite a few gift cards, hotels, flights, and a good deal of outright cash back.

    • Travis

      Jay! Yeah, Amanda and I were a bit late getting into the game, but we’re pleased that this Chase Sapphire Reserve deal seems to be one of the best ones ever offered – I’m glad we didn’t miss out on the party!

  • We’re doing a pair of Chase Sapphire Reserves very soon. But dreading finding a way to spend $8000 in 3 months. Maybe I’ll stagger the sign ups by a few months so we can have six months to make the min spend. Unfortunately we’ve spent a ton in the past few months that would have met the CSR min spend, but whaddya gonna do when good deals pop up and you’re subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule?

  • NickFIRE2014

    Love the pictures of my old play ground. We lived in Calgary, Alberta for about 11 years, then I decided to step away from work once we became financial independent at age 36. The wages in Calgary were very lucrative so even though I didn’t stumble upon books like Early Retirement Extreme until about year 7 of my work career, we were still able to save up a nice nest egg. We plan on moving to Canmore, Alberta in June of 2017, so if you are ever in the area, feel free to reach out, who knows, we have even have an extra bedroom. keep up the good work with the blog, love the post. limetelenet@gmail.com

    • Amanda

      Love Canmore! Yes, Travis & I both made money for several years in the booming Calgary market of the mid-2000’s. It’s a great city, but ultimately the weather drove us away. Now we’ve been spoiled with a handful of years in California and… we may be ruined forever. Thanks for reading!