My 2 Year Roadmap

I made a excel file 2 year timeline for this article. Check it out if you want to figure out your own situation.

Four factors have made me reassess my churn game:

  1. Excess awards inventory without increase in time off results in possible expirations of benefits before utilization
  2. Chase and AmEx are getting tired of my shit
  3. Need to study for the GRE to get into specialty
  4. Need to stagger who holds a clean 5/24 slate for future MLA waived Chase Products
  5. Must hold on to my anchor card to keep credit history old (my dear old BCP)

My churn game has become weak, I got so side tracked with Avios and initial bonuses, that I lost sight of what is important. If we are to do this correctly we need to have an end point where we hold on to high reward products while enjoying the fee waivers. We need to be more selective on what future cards to get. Each card that we hold on to should:

  1. Pay dividends in the form of Annual statement credits
  2. Pay dividends in the form of free hotel nights
  3. Give travel benefits such as lounge access
  4. Have an annual fee waiver for AD Military

The current Chase products that have annual perks are:

  1. Chase Sapphire Reserve: $300 Travel Credit
  2. Chase United Club Card: Star Alliance and United Lounge Access
  3. Chase United Explorer Card: 2 free United Club Passes for friends
  4. Chase Marriott Plus Card: 1 free night 35,000 points
  5. Chase Marriott Card: 1 Free night cat 1-4
  6. Chase IHG Card: 1 free night
  7. Chase Hyatt Card: 1 free night
  8. Chase Ritz-Carlton Card: $300 flight bonus

The current (and future) AmEx products:

  1. AmEx Delta Reserve: First Class Companion Pass
  2. AmEx Delta Platinum: Coach Companion Pass
  3. AmEx Hilton Aspire: $250 Resort Credit, $250 Flight Credit, Free night
  4. AmEx Hilton Ascend: Upgrade to another Aspire
  5. AmEx SPG Luxury Card: $300 Hotel Credit, Free night
  6. AmEx SPG Business Card: Free Night
  7. AmEx SPG Personal Card: Free Night
  8. AmEx Platinum Biz: $200 Flights, 10 GoGo
  9. AmEx Platinum Personal: $200 Flights, $200 Uber, Boingo WiFi

Other Cards Issuers that have perks are:

  1. US Bank Altitude card: $325 travel credit and Andre Harper Subscription
  2. Bank of America Alaska Airlines: $99 annual companion pass
  3. Citibank AAdvantage Executive: 10 memberships to Admirals Club (No MLA Waiver)

A note regarding Chase Business cards is they will not be waived per the MLA, so other than the huge signing bonus they do not fit with the model of sustainable rewards dividend payouts. If you are new to churning it may be worth going in branch and applying for your own Ink Preferred or us my brother’s referral link here.

My poor impulse control is quite real, so I sat down and calculated out my moves for the next two years. I first went into all of my AmEx accounts and checked when each product was opened. This way I could check to see when I could product change the card from the lower product to the higher product:

Credit Card Product Month Year
Blue Cash Preferred® 1 2006
Gold Delta SkyMiles® (closed) 10 2014
Amex EveryDay® Preferred (wife) 5 2015
SPG Personal (closed) 7 2015
SPG Personal (wife) 9 2015
Hilton Honors Ascend Card (closed, was surpass) 4 2016
Reserve Delta SkyMiles® 7 2016
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® (Wife) 11 2016
Starwood Business Card 10 2017
Hilton Honors Ascend Card (wife) 11 2017
Hilton Honors Aspire Card 2 2018
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® 3 2018

I did the same with my AmEx Credit accounts:

Charge Card Product Month Year
Platinum Card® 6 2014
Business Gold Card® (Now Plat) 8 2014
Platinum Card® (Wife) 10 2014
Mercedes-Benz Platinum Card® 9 2015
Mercedes-Benz Platinum Card® (Wife) 11 2015
Premier Rewards Gold Card (Now Pt) 7 2016
Premier Rewards Gold Card (Now Pt)(Wife) 7 2016
Business Platinum Card® DerpReport 12 2016
Schwab Platinum Card® 2 2017
Schwab Platinum Card® (Wife) 3 2017
Morgan Stanley Platinum Card 4 2017
Morgan Stanley Platinum Card (Wife) 4 2017
Business Platinum Card® DerpReport 6 2017
Green Card 10 2017
Ameriprise Platinum Card® 10 2017
Ameriprise Gold Card® 3 2018

Then I looked at my Chase accounts and came up with this road map:

Month Year
Me: Drop Delta Reserve for SPG Lux 8 2018
Me: Upgrade SPG Biz to SPG Lux (or drop & Change) 10 2018
Me: Product Change Green to Pt 10 2018
Me: Product Change Gold to Pt 10 2018
Me: Product Change Delta Plat to Reserve 3 2019
Wife: First Card Drops From 5/24 7 2019
Wife: Apply For United Club Card 7 2019
Wife: Second Card Drops From 5/24 7 2019
Wife: Apply For CSR 7 2019
Wife: Third Card Drops From 5/24 9 2019
Wife: Apply For 2nd Chase Hyatt Card 9 2019
Wife: Fourth Card Drops From 5/24 10 2019
Wife: Apply For Marriott 10 2019
Wife: Fifth Card Drops From 5/24 12 2019
Wife: Apply for Freedom 12 2019
Wife: Drop Everyday Prefered for SPG Lux 4/5 1 2020
Wife: Upgrade SPG Personal to SPG Lux 4/5 2 2020
Wife: Apply For Hilton Aspire 5/5 3 2020
Wife: Upgrade Ascend to Hilton Aspire 5/5 4 2020
Wife: Drop Delta Platnium for Reserve 5 2020

You can see that I got a whole lot of shit to do. After that my wife could apply for her own US Bank Altitude card for another $325 annual few credit under MLA waiver. I should also consider dropping the non MLA waived Chase cards like the multiple Marriott Cards that my not be useful in the future. Each move I will have these AmEx Cards:

Month Year My AmEx Holding Wife AmEx Holding
8 2018 SPG Lux, SPG Biz, Delta Plat, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
10 2018 2x SPG Lux, Delta Plat, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
10 2018 2x SPG Lux, Delta Plat, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
10 2018 2x SPG Lux, Delta Plat, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
3 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
7 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
7 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
7 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
7 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
9 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
9 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
10 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
10 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
12 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
12 2019 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire Everyday, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
1 2020 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire SPG Lux, Delta Pt, SPG Per, Ascend
2 2020 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire 2x SPG Lux, Delta Pt, Ascend
3 2020 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire 2x SPG Lux, Delta Pt, Ascend, Aspire
4 2020 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire 2x SPG Lux, 2x Aspire, Delta Plat
5 2020 2x SPG Lux, Delta Reserve, Blue, Aspire 2x SPG Lux, 2x Aspire, Delta Reserve

Then we would reset on the 5/24 on different dates. My wife will have to wait till May of 2022 and I get to start my Chase churn on March 2021. That is so far into the future I can only guess what will come, perhaps SPG/Marriott/Ritz-Carlton/Hyatt/Hilton will finally have a singe points system!

If all goes well, then in May of 2020 I will have these annual perks over all my cards:

Flight Credit Hotel Credit Travel Credit Uber Free Companion GoGo WiFi Free Room
13x Per Plat $2,600 $2,600
3x Biz Plat $600 30
2x Ritz $600
2x CSR $600
4x SPG Lux $1,200 4
2x Hyatt 2
5x Marriott 5
2x Delta Res 2
1x Alaska 1
1x Altitude $325
3x Aspire $750 $750 3
1x IHG 1
 Sub tot: $4,550 $1,950 $925 $2,600 3 30 15
Total $10,025

So annually we are looking at $10,025 in benefits, 3 companion passes, and 15 free hotel nights. This should cover my travel for the rest of my time on AD. Any suggestions? Comment below!


Chase Private Client: Useless For Churners

BLUF: There is no longer any special consideration from having a CPC relationship. We are all subject to 5/24, even rich assholes with $250,000+ in managed assets.

I just got a stern phone call from one of the CPC vice presidents. He told me to cut out the churning and the use of his staff to assist in banking issues. He gave me a phone number to use for banking questions like some filthy casual non-CPC patron. This was not part of the deal as CPC was sold to me to be like the Ritz-Carlton of banking (Ironically a Chase Product).

If any of you guys were on the fence about trying to get better consideration from Chase by dropping a quarter million dollars into one of their managed accounts, forget it! When I first looked into CPC the junior staff promised me the world of unfettered access to Chase and ALL of their banking services (including consumer credit). This has proven to just be a sales pitch and has not materialized over the last 6 months when it came down to brass tacks.

In reality my CPC relationship failed to get me a J.P. Morgan Chase Reserve card, a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, Ritz-Carlton card. They refused to even submit my application for the Reserve Card, and reminded me that I was CPC and not Chase Private Banking needing $10 million for access. On top of that, they seem very clueless of what consumer cards are even offered, and what features there were of each one. The entire time they wanted to concentrate on total portfolio domination, and distract me from their consumer products. There is a clear separation between J.P. Morgan and the Chase Credit side with what seems to be constant infighting and confusion from their many groups.

So there is no magical TSA-precheck for Chase Bank! I remind you all that Chase doesn’t have a lock down on the rich asshole management market. There are plenty of churning opportunities with Merrill Lynch EDGE, Citi Priority, and HSBC Private Bank.

Any CPC out there that can attest to a different experience?


Forgiven Fed Loan Will Count as Income!?

I just got off the phone with fedloan which currently services my REPAYE loan. I am about half way through my 120 on time income based payments, and I just need to verify my employment and income. The CSR was very nice and had done 13 years in the Army. He warned me that when I make my last REPAYE payment and apply for the PSLF (Public Loan Forgiveness) a 1099-E and 1099-C will be issued in the year you make the last payment. This means I will be on the hook for paying taxes on the amount forgiven. This amount forgiven will be treated as income on top of regular income. This article here confirms our grim suspicion, but the FAQ here says that it is not the case.

I am not sure who to believe here, but if you got your loans forgiven or know some one that has after 10 years in the service, please comment below regarding the process and if you got hit with a 1099-C for cancelation of debt.




The Optimized AmEx 5 CREDIT Card Setup

Note: there is no limit of how many CHARGE cards (Plat, PRG, Green) you can have, the limit is 5 is on CREDIT cards only.

It may be advantageous to stop getting new AmEx cards and spend time taking advantage of the annual perks such as credits, upgrades and free nights for every card in your 5 credit card slot. I propose an end stage churn plan where we hold on to 5 AmEx credit cards on top of your charge cards for the remainder of our active duty careers, then downgrade them when the annual fee hits after we get out.

The time to have a map is before you enter the woods. We need to redefine our game here since we have such very little space and time to optimize our position with AmEx. The rules we know for sure are:

  1. You can only have credit 5 cards in aggregate with AmEx (Personal or Business)
  2. AmEx continues to waive fee for military for cards before, during, and for the remainder of term after leaving AD
  3. You cannot ever get a bonus for any card again if you have the product or if you had it before (7 year limit)
  4. Excessive utilization and inquiries may get you shut down
  5. Product changes are allowed after one year, but only within product families (Personal to Personal, SPG to SPG, etc…)
  6. Closing a card will not affect your overall account age, but you should not close your oldest card

Keeping these rules in mind we can formulate a plan that may take upwards to 3+ years to achieve. Here is the basic strategy:

  1. If you are at 5 AmEx Credit (Not Charge) Cards you need to choose one to close to open a new card. I would pick one that is not able to be upgraded or downgraded to your end goals (eg: Blue Cash, Everyday Preferred)
  2. Apply first for these cards with high annual rewards (Annual fee of $450 waived for military)
    1. Delta Reserve Referral Link
    2. Hilton Aspire Referral Link
    3. SPG Luxury Referral Link (Coming after 01 Aug 2018)
  3. Meet spend for that respective high tier product for initial bonus
  4. Apply for the lower product of the same family (eg: SPG, Hilton, Delta) and get the bonus
    1. Delta Gold Referral Link
    2. Delta Platinum Referral Link
    3. Another Delta Platinum Link
    4. Hilton Ascend Referral Link
    5. Hilton
    6. SPG
  5. Product change that lower product in a year to the highest level
    1. SPG to SPG Luxury
    2. Delta Gold to Delta Reserve
    3. Delta Platinum to Delta Reserve
    4. Hilton to Hilton Aspire
    5. Hilton Ascend to Hilton Aspire
  6. Repeat with next product or with existing lower products

An ideal end game would be holding on to these 5 cards:

  1. Delta Reserve: Annual First Class Companion TIcket
  2. SPG Luxury: $300 in hotel credits, 50k free night
  3. Hilton Aspire: $250 Hilton Resort Credit, $250 Airline Credit
  4. Another Delta, SPG, Hilton card upgraded from lesser card
  5. Another Delta, SPG, Hilton card upgraded from lesser card

I suggest diversifying the 5 cards over 3 different co-brands depending on your travel history. Personally I find the hotel credit for Hilton Resorts to be useful and with three Hilton Aspire cards we are looking at $750 worth of AA gift cards as well as $750 used for room rates at Hilton Resorts. This would also give you three free weekend nights per year.

For SPG we are just guessing how profitable 50k worth of a hotel stay will be. However if we did 3 SPG Luxury cards we are looking at $900 on top of the three free nights. $900 would buy a lot of spa services and dinners when staying at the many Marriott/SPG properties around the world.

If you fly a lot of Delta then 3 First Class companion passes would be worth it for three Delta Reserve cards. Since I am based out of Chicago this would be pretty useless since the Delta flights are limited. I will now go into examples of how to use these annual perks:

Hilton Aspire Annual Perks

According to the terms, the $250 credit covers any direct charges from a Hilton Resort. This includes the room rate as well as any incidentals such as “charges made at restaurants, spas, and other establishments within the hotel property”. The credit resets on your anniversary date and NOT 01 January of the next year. Here is an example bill:

Even though we expect to only get the $10.75 reimbursed for the gift shop incidental, the entire charge including the room rate was reimbursed on the AmEx side. It was even confirmed in an AmEx official tweet:

There could not really be a way to separate the room charges from incidentals. As long as you charged all food and expenses to the room it should all be reimbursed after checking out. This means pre paid room rates may not code correctly and thus not reimbursed form the credit. Make sure you pay at the end of the stay to get the credit. Here the entire stay was credited from the $250 credit:

The $250 has been used by many readers for two $100 and a single $50 American Airlines gift card. You must select an airline like you do for the amex Plat card before doing so. This resets every 01 January unlike the hotel credit.

Then upon opening the Aspire card and on every annual renewal you will get an email for a free weekend night (with these places excluded):

Weekend night certificate is valid for one (1) weekend night standard accommodation, double occupancy, subject to availability, at properties in the Hilton portfolio NOT INCLUDING:

All Inclusive Properties:
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Central Pacific -Costa Rica
Hilton Bodrum Turkbuku Resort & Spa
Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort & Spa
Hilton Hurghada Long Beach Resort
Hilton Marsa Alam Nubian Resort
Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort
Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa
Hilton Sharks Bay Resort
Jewel Dunn’s River Resort & Spa Ocho Rios, Curio Collection by Hilton
Jewel Paradise Cove Runaway Bay, Curio Collection by Hilton

Distinctive Properties:
Conrad Koh Samui Residences
Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk
Kingston Plantation Condos
Hilton Surfers Paradise Residences
Ocean 22 by Hilton Grand Vacations
Royale Palms Condominiums
Elara by Hilton Grand Vacations
Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations
The Hilton Club – New York
Hilton Grand Vacation at Craigendarroch Suites
Hilton Grand Vacations at McAlpin-Ocean Plaza
Hilton Grand Vacations on Paradise (Convention Center)
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at Hilton Hawaiian Village
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at SeaWorld
Hilton Grand Vacations at Tuscany Village
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at the Flamingo
Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on the Boulevard
Las Palmeras by Hilton Grand Vacations
Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations
Kings Land by Hilton Grand Vacations
Kohala Suites by Hilton Grand Vacations
Parc Soleil by Hilton Grand Vacations
Park City Hilton Grand Vacations
Sunrise Lodge by Hilton Grand Vacations
The District by Hilton Club
Valdoro Mountain Lodge
West 57th Street by Hilton Club
Ho’olei at Grand Wailea
Las Casitas, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Waldorf Astoria Jeddah – Qasr Al Sharq

All Hampton by Hilton™ hotels in the People’s Republic of China

Overall the Hilton Surpass can get you a free one night stay, free airfare and $250 in amenities each year.

Delta Reserve Card

The Delta Companion Fare appears only for renewal of the card and its good for only a single trip. It will appear in your Delta Wallet on the website when you log in with your sky miles number and is only good for one year:

When you book the flight it auto applies the discount to your companion:

You do have to pay the taxes for your companion, This ORD to SLC flight is about the same price as 2 coach tickets ($748.80) which would of been half price if I used the companion pass for coach. You must use an AmEx branded card to pay for the taxes and trip, I chose my AmEx Personal (NOT BIZ) Platinum to get 5x points on top of this.

More to come on the SPG Lux card when it arrives. For now lets concentrate on these two card programs. I currently have the Hilton Aspire, Blue Cash, Delta Reserve, Delta Platinum, and SPG Business. I am planning on dropping the Delta reserve in Aug for the SPG Reserve, then upgrading The Delta Platinum into a new Reserve.

I am hesitant in dropping my blue cash because I have had it for 14 years now and I get pretty good value from the 6% cash-back. Some how in the end I want 2 SPG Lux and 2 Hilton Aspire with a single Delta Reserve upgraded from Delta Platinum as my final set up:

Free Flights Free Nights Hotel Credits Flight Credits
Delta Reserve 1
2x SPG Lux 2 $600
2x Hilton Aspire 2 $500 $500
Total 1 4 $1,100 $500

This should give me one Delta flight companion and American Airline flights worth up to $500 every year for free while on active duty. I should also get 4 hotel nights with $1,100 in spa and food credits. I would then repeat this set up and double it with my AD wife! Not bad for having a plan. Best of luck, and be prepared with a roadmap.


Keep Eye on Your Bust Out Fraud Score

BLUF: There is another score out there know as the Bust-Out Score, and churning credit cards has the same behavior as bust-out fraudsters. If we don’t take it easy on new accounts we are very likely going to have our Chase or AmEx accounts frozen and reviewed.

A year and a half ago, I wrote disparaging articles about Chase and their 5/24 rule, but today I write about why 5/24 may have been incorporated into practice and is needed to keep the bad eggs out. The war is not on churning, but rather on “Bust-Out” fraudsters. It is sad that Bust-Out fraud and how our hobby pretty much hit the same red flags that Experian wrote about in their white paper found here. I kind of understand why Chase has been so stingy for new credit on top of using financial reviews on churners, but I am kind of thankful that their due diligence is mostly accurate in separating fraudsters from churners.

What is bust-out fraud?

All charts from the Experian white paper “Bust-out fraud: Knowing what to look for can safeguard the bottom line”

The end goal of bust out fraud is to max out every line of credit and disappear, then sell off all there ill gotten goods for cash. This includes writing bad checks to pay off credit lines for utilize a credit card over 100%! The fraudster starts with building good credit and slowly opens many accounts and increasing their credit lines. Then one day they just go fucking crazy and disappear sticking the card issuer with unpaid debt. Then they sell the goods and live there lives on their own private islands in the Caribbean (or not). The white paper sums it up real nice here:

Bust-out fraud, also known as sleeper fraud, is primarily a first-party fraud scheme. It occurs when a consumer applies for and uses credit under his or her own name, or uses a synthetic identity, to make transactions. The fraudster makes on-time payments to maintain a good account standing, with the intent of bouncing a final payment and abandoning the account.

During the process, the fraudster builds up a history of good behavior with timely payments and low utilization. Over time, he or she obtains additional lines of credit and requests higher credit limits. Eventually, the fraudster uses all available credit and stops making payments. Overpayments with bad checks are often made in the final stage of the bust-out, temporarily inflating the credit limit and causing losses greater than the account credit limit.

This is troubling because many of us are in the early stages of busting-out. We all do have these under utilized gigantic credit limits with perfect on time payments. If I look at my stats I am surprised that they even give me any more cards at all. Here is what the card companies are looking for:

  1. Bankcard inquiries increase steadily over time, starting at an average of two inquiries approximately 15 months before the bust-out. About three months before bust-out, inquiries increase, peaking at about seven.
  2. Bankcard accounts increase steadily over time. Fifteen months prior to bust-out, the fraudster holds an average of seven cards. Three months before bust-out, that number increases to an average of 10 bankcards.
  3. Credit utilization remains steady until three months prior to the fraud, at which time it increases significantly.
  4. No delinquencies occur until the point of bust-out, and then, like credit utilization, they increase dramatically.

So my record at Chase must be setting off some flags out there. I would like to think that my physical presence at a Chase brach on a monthly basis, along with military status helps assuage this fear of busting-out. Also I have had a card with them since 2011 and in the last 7 years I haven’t done anything as bad as a single late payment. The end stages of the fraud look like this:

  • Account is 90 days or more delinquent
  • Balance is close to or over the credit limit (70 percent or above)
  • Payment has been returned, i.e., a bad or nonsufficient-fund check was submitted
  • The account holder cannot be reached using the address or phone number provided
  • The same condition exists in more than one account either at one or multiple institutions

Other things like account age, new accounts opened, and debt profile are similar for fraudsters and churners alike:

  • The oldest card average age in a bust-out profile is 98 months (8.2 years)
  • The fraudster has opened 2.9 cards vs. 1.1 cards in a 12 month period
  • 64% of bust-out fraudsters’ profiles are made up of bankcards, vs. 51% in the typical population

The 5/24 rule is a good way for Chase to prevent Bust-Out fraudsters and Churners alike as 5 new accounts in 2 years according to Experian is the first red flag of 2.90 new accounts in a 12 month period. Now I can’t seem to explain why these cards seem to be exempt from the rule.

The last striking similarity to our hobby is the amount of total inquiries in a year. The report states:

bust-out fraudsters have almost five times as many inquiries as the good accounts, with 5.23 bankcard inquiries compared with only 1.07 in good accounts. This information shows that the bust-out fraudsters actively apply for credit cards.

How to not get shut down

There are things that do define the churner from the fraudster. For one, the ownership of a house is a major sign you are not going to go fucking crazy and bust-out. The report says:

As we mentioned, bust-out fraudsters tend to have fewer nonbankcard financial relationships. For example, they have, on average, 0.5 real property trades (mortgages, home improvement, mobile homes and second mortgages) compared with 1.7 and 0.83 trades observed in good accounts and in the national average, respectively. This finding is in line with the common belief that bust-out fraudsters do not typically own properties. At the same time, however, this figure also implies that we should not expect them to have absolutely no property loans.

The next is to join a credit union like Navy Fed. The report says:

Bust-out fraudsters also tend to have fewer credit union relationships, as illustrated in the chart below. With only 0.3 credit union trades, they have three times fewer than that of good accounts.

Also the things that fraudsters and manufactured spenders buy may be alarming to the card issuer. Since the bust-out plan is to max out all the credit and cash out, they buy items than can easily be converted to cash. Unfortunatly these are the same things that MSers do to hit those bonuses:

  • frequent convenience checks
  • frequent cash advances
  • multiple payments within one billing period from different accounts
  • purchases from high-risk, high-value merchants
  • unusual purchase amounts (e.g., $1,000 at a dry cleaner)

Another article by AmEx can be found here, and it lists out other questionable items:

  • orders containing many of the same items
  • orders of a “hot” product (i.e., highly desirable goods for resale)
  • customer is purchasing large quantities of high-priced goods without regard to color, size, product feature, or price

Bust-Out Score

There seems to be another score that is kept internally by the card company known as the Experian® Bust Out Score used in detecting these high-risk bust-out triggers prompting investigators to conduct a manual account review. If you see a credit report pulled by Chase unrelated to a new card or mortgage opened then you might be under review. The report states:

In addition to evaluating transaction and payment activities, the investigators also may pull the account holders’ credit reports to assess activities with other creditors. In other words, credit data typically is retrieved during investigation but is not used as the leading indicator of bust-out.

Often the combination of new accounts, increased utilization, as well as multiple frequent credit inquiries cause this score to rise and prompt a manual review. For example this theoretical case below shows how a bust-out score of 861 prompted an early review and saved the company $64,700 in potential bust-out fraud.

Something as simple as a 10% utilization increased to 70% will prompt this review because Chase would save the most money by shutting you down before you got to a point of busting out. Simply contacting the bank is already reassuring to them as that is an activity that fraudsters do not do. Make sure your address is up to date and letters don’t get returned or forwarded.


We are all on thin ice as churners! Our hobby has put us on the radar of the big banks due to our multiple accounts and our frequent credit inquiries. Try not to give them an excuse to shut you down by over utilizing cards or buying cash equivalents like bitcoin or gift cards. Take it easy, and don’t apply for every product out there!

Ya’ll have been warned, show it down out there. I personally am going to hold out on new applications until 01 Aug 2018 for the SPG Luxury Card. This should give a good 4 month rest and let my Bust-Out score drop.


Chase Ritz-Carlton Card Still Churnable and 5/24 Exempt

I just got approved for my second round of the Ritz-Carlton Card. I had the card previously (June 2015) and last week I downgraded it to a Marriott Premier Rewards Card with a $85 annual fee. I was on the hook for the $450 annual fee because I got the card after I joined (No SCRA waiver), but before September 2017 which would of given me MLA coverage. When I downgraded my card I was 80 days from my renewal date. I was surprised to receive a residual pro-rated annual fee credit of $98.75 remaining of the $450 annual fee I was charged back in July 2017.

If we take $450 a year and divide it out to 365 days for the year we are paying $1.23 a day for this thing! The prorated refund corresponds to the 80 days I had left of my annual fee from the day I downgraded the card (15 April 2018) till the renewal anniversary date of 04 July 2018. However the The real joke is on them because I some how was locked into the original $395 annual fee even when they jacked it up in Aug of 2016.

This refund covers more than the $85 annual fee for the converted Marriott product, and come July 2018 I should be getting the annual free night upon renewal. I originally applied for the product in branch but was denied because the product change for the existing product did not show in their system. I was told by my CPC agent to apply again in a few days.

I applied today and got the same dreaded message:

I called my CPC agent and they had me call 1-888-270-2127 to plead my case, and then I got approved! They explained to me that they would not extend any more credit and I had to come up with $10,000 minimum for the new card. All I had to do was move $5k from IHG and $5k from Hyatt.

Just like that I got a Marriott Card despite being 27 new cards in a 24 month period, as well as a MLA waived Ritz card. This means $300 a year for flight credits, $100 off Visa air discount, and two nights at the Georgetown Ritz for my Wife’s birthday!

Now to just slow it down before I get into the dreaded Chase review, I feel like Icarus with wings made of Credit Cards, but many have fallen flying too close to the sun as reported by FM.

(Edit): Here is where my credit limits stand with Chase:

Chase Card Opened Limit
United Club Jul-13 $5,000
Marriott Jul-15 $7,500
Hyatt Aug-15 $2,000
Amazon Jun-17 $9,000
IHG Jul-17 $1,500
Iberia Apr-18 $32,700
Ink + May-15 $26,500
CSP Closed $0
Britsh Air Closed $0
Total: $84,200

To answer the questions in the comments I made the above chart. I don’t think there is a limit on number of cards per se, but certainly a ceiling to total credit issued. Too many accounts opened too quick, or too much spend will get your accounts frozen and/or shut down as reported by many sources. My CPC agent said that a limit of nearly $60k is above average for an Individual at Chase, not sure what the average is for a business. They are placing these account reviews and low limits to prevent bust-out fraud.

I hope that helps



How Should I Come off a 24 Month Credit Application Fast?

I am coming off a 48 hour fast, and man is it rough. My stomach is all jacked up because I didn’t plan and follow a reintroduction to solid food protocol. I just went to town at the buffet after not eating for two days and that was a big mistake. I should have done some much better planning on my part.

Planning is also key for breaking our Churning fast. We decided that I would be the only one in the family to be always ineligible for 5/24 Chase Cards, and my wife would not get any new cards for 24 months. I am planning on hitting every new Card the day it comes out, and I won’t add my wife as an AU to bump her out of 5/24.

Here is where she stands right now:

  1. Chase Cards:
    1. Marriott Rewards Premier (Bonus 24 July 2015) Must pay $85 annual fee
    2. World of Hyatt (Bonus 03 Aug 2017) Must pay $75 fee
    3. British Airways Avios (Opened 08 Oct 2017) MLA Waived
    4. Ritz-Carlton Rewards (Bonus 10 Dec 2017) MLA Waived
  2. AmEx Cards (All Fee Waived):
    1. Amex EveryDay® Preferred (Opened 26 May 2015)
    2. Starwood Preferred Guest Personal (Opened 28 Sep 2017)
    3. Delta Platnum (Opened 17 Nov 2016)
    4. Hilton Honors Ascend Card (Opened as Surpass 28 Sept 2017)

When we look at her Credit Karma report today (18 April 2018) we see the last 5 cards as:

She should be below 5/24 at this schedule:

Card Age (In Mo) Drop Off Month
Chase 9 Jul-19
Chase 9 Jul-19
AmEx 7 Sep-19
Chase 6 Oct-19
Chase 4 Dec-19

In my previous posts I suggested product changing (PC) the AmEx Hilton Ascend (Previously Surpass) to The Hilton Aspire and then I suggested PC the Personal AmEx SPG to the new AmEx SPG Luxury Card in August 2018. I also suggested to PC the old Marriott Rewards Premier card to the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus after 03 May 2018. This, I admit, is all pretty shitty advice, since I would be giving up the lucrative sign up bonus for all of these products! The reader comments made me realize my folly. Reader Tigris23 writes:

Just curious…why would you PC her SPG to the Lux but NOT apply for the Lux instead and get the potential new sign up bonus (which mostly likely Amex will do as the Lux is a new product)?

Then I realized I was doing a Charlie Day after taking brain pills here. Just because I have this blog with its 7-8 subscribers (tops), doesn’t mean I am any sort of expert here. You, the readers, actually have a lot better ideas and datapoints. I appreciate the constructive comments that you all share on each post and hope they continue.

The name of the game is to get the sign up bonus then double dip with the product change (after getting the initial bonus). Reader Dan writes about doing this for his Surpass (turned Ascend):

hey, just fyi   i was able to reopen a basic hilton card a week after closing it, once i realized i closed an opportunity for a second aspire.  it actually worked out perfectly, i just chatted with them online, they approved the reopen, sent me a new card, then after receiving it i chatted again and they upgraded to aspire  with original military benefits intact. so as of now i have 2 aspires and my wife has 1.     i read online somewhere that you might be able to reopen an account up to 30-60 days after closing it

On top of being a pretty marginal investor, I realize now that I am not the best product changer either. In this post I am asking the group:

“What should I do when my wife becomes eligible for 5/24 Chase Cards?”

I very boldly suggested this list of 5 Chase cards:

  1. CSR for the $300 travel credit
  2. United Club Card for Star Alliance Lounge Access
  3. Chase Freedom for the 5x Categories
  4. Marriott Plus Card for the free 35k night
  5. Southwest card for the companion fare

Reader Tigris suggests:

Personally if I have a clean slate, I would go for CSR (50k), CIP (100k), CIC (50k), Freedom/Freedom Unlimited (15k. depending on ur spending habit), & SW or Marriott.  That’s at least 227k UR pts after meeting spending requirements.

What makes this decision complicated is I want to take advantage of the 2 month delay in reporting of new AmEx cards to a credit bureau. Redditor Sir Theta says in this post:

Barclays reports by approximately the next business day.American Express reports on your second statement close. The remainder of the major US issuers (Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and US Bank, and Wells Fargo) report on your first statement close. edit: Wells Fargo reports soon after you are approved (a few business days). See u/payyoutuesday‘s comment below:

I was approved for a Wells Fargo Propel World card this month, and the new account was reported to the credit bureaus 5 days (TU, EQ) and 6 days (EX) later. I have not yet had a statement close.

On top of that, Chase sometimes allows two cards to be approved same day when you are 4/24, and Business AmEx cards don’t report to a credit bureau at all! If we want to truly utilize these loopholes we can have more cards if I wait till she hits 3/24 in July of 2019.

Starting that month she would Get the CSR and United card. When she drops back down to 4/24 again in September, she will hit up the Freedom. Come October 4/24 would be reached again and she can then get one of the Ink cards or the Marriott Plus card (then upgrading the existing Marriott to a plus). Then when she is 4/24 again in December she will hit the Southwest and the other Ink or Freedom card on the same day to cram in the last slot.

Month: Apply For:
Jul-19 CSR
Jul-19 United
Sep-19 Freedom
Oct-19 Ink or Marriott
Dec-19 Ink or Southwest & Other Freedom

Concurrently in November She can apply for the AmEx Hilton Aspire Card and the new SPG Lux card and they would not be reported till January. I think I am going to drop off the AmEx Everyday Card When these bonuses hit for the new card, she can now PC her existing SPG and Hilton cards to their highest levels. What she will be left with is this:

  1. Chase Cards:
    1. CSR (Open After July 2019) MLA Waived
    2. United Club Credit Card (Open After July 2019) MLA Waived
    3. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (PC from regular Marriott) Must pay $95 annual fee
    4. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (Open in October 2019) MLA Waived
    5. World of Hyatt (Keep open or close?) Must pay $75 fee
    6. British Airways Avios (Keep Forever?) MLA Waived
    7. Ritz-Carlton Rewards (Keep Forever?) MLA Waived
    8. Freedom (Open in September) Already Free
    9. Ink (Open with another card in December 2019) Not MLA Waived
    10. Southwest (Open with another card in December 2019)n MLA Waived
  2. AmEx Cards (All Fee Waived, (must drop ERP)):
    1. Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury (Open Dec 2019)
    2. Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury (PC from SPG)
    3. Delta Reserve (Open by closing existing Delta Platinum)
    4. Hilton Honors Aspire Card (Opened as Surpass then PC)
    5. Hilton Honors Ascend Card (Open Dec 2019)

Notice I didn’t open any AmEx Business cards because they would take up the precious credit card slots that are limited to only 5. I want to pack as many $450 annual fee credit cards in there. If this whole thing works out then we should get these perks paying dividends every year:

  1. Chase Cards:
    1. CSR: $300 Travel Credit
    2. United Club Credit Card: Star Alliance Lounge access
    3. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus: 35k award night for $95 annual fee
    4. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus: Free 35k award per MLA Waived
    5. World of Hyatt: $75 Cat 1-4 award night
    6. British Airways Avios: Keep points alive
    7. Ritz-Carlton Rewards: $100 flight Benefit, $300 Travel Credit
    8. Freedom: 5x categories to transfer UR
    9. Ink: (Not MLA Waived)
    10. Southwest: (Points Earning)
  2. AmEx Cards (All Fee Waived, (must drop ERP)):
    1. 2x Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury: $600 Marriott credits
    2. Delta Reserve: FIrst Class Companion Pass
    3. 2x Hilton Honors Aspire Card: $500 flight credit, $500 Hilton Credit

Any suggestions on my plan? Please comment below!


Of The Best Laid Churns of Chase and Men…

BLUF: Downgrades of Chase products take 24 to 48 hours to take effect. I got too eager for the 2nd Ritz card that I was denied in branch because it showed I still had it. An O-3 reader got approved online today despite being over 5/24. The Ritz card is still a good non 5/24 restricted churn with MLA fee waivers.

I downgraded via phone last night around 10 pm on the phone, and when I logged into the Chase site it did not show the Ritz Card, but rather the Marriott Card. My plan was to go in branch today and get the Ritz card before it gets shut down or if it becomes 5/24 restricted. I called the next morning and made an appointment so get the new card.

My CPC banker had become a valuable resource into the practice of approvals at Chase bank. I stopped in and they looked at my account for some pre-application vetting. Nowhere on her computer did it say I had the Ritz-Card. We prepared a plan to shift credit from my unused accounts such as my IHG and United Club Card.

I also verified that I had gotten the first Ritz card bonus over 3 years ago meeting the no bonus within 24 months rule that I ran into with the British Airways Card. I also verified that I do not have the card currently.

She called in the credit department and and they recommended I apply on my own laptop and  call the bank back if there was any problems. Sure enough I applied and got this message:

Despite all of my preparation, I just got denied in branch as a CPC! We called in and sure enough they gave me the reason is their system still had my original Ritz card as being active, she explained the shift takes 24 to 48 hours. The credit department also assured the application didn’t even go past pulling credit.

So I am going to try to apply in about two days. On the flip side, one of the O-3s here went right online and got this message:

So there you go! If you downgrade anything, just wait a few days to make sure it doesn’t show as active when you apply for the product again.


AmEx SPG Lux Upgrade Strategy

There are a lot of changes coming to the existing AmEx and Chase SPG/Marriott Cards and this chart from TPG sums it up pretty well:

User Orange Party Lamp suggests the strategy that I should of done for the Surpass to Aspire transition:

My plan is to apply for Amex card and then PC current SPG to the luxury SPG for another $300 and a free night

This was such a brilliant strategy because I am working on my 5/24 for my wife who has a SPG personal card. She can very quickly product change her SPG card when the SPG Luxury card is offered in 01 August 2018. I will then close out my AmEx Delta Reserve Card and open a SPG Luxury Card thereby giving our family $600 statement credit at Marriott/SPG Hotels for the year.

Edit: Better yet, as suggested by Tigris23, I Should just wait till she gets her own SPG Lux, then do the PC after I hit all the Chase cards in end of 2019! This ways she can get the sign on bonus as well as do the upgrade. I am thinking I should do the same with the Hilton Aspire card from the Surpass!

I currently hold the Business SPG card which will give me the free 35,000 free night every year, but I am not sure if they would let me Product Change that one to another SPG Lux card since it is a personal card and not business. AmEx is probably on to my plan because they pulled my ability to refer the SPG personal card. However the referral links still works for the Personal Marriott and Business SPG.

Referral link here and here.


SPG Biz link here.

On the Chase side I downgraded my Ritz to a Marriott to get the free 35k free night every year. I was not able to get the SCRA $450 annual fee waiver because I got the card after I joined. I also didn’t get the MLA waiver because I got the card before Sept 2017. However it has been 24 months since I got the bonus, and I was able to downgrade it making it a product I don’t own. I will apply for the Ritz card today and now I will hopefully have both products. I did this loophole as a way to bypass 5/24 and I suggest those that have the Ritz (and are on the hook for the annual fee) to do the same. In the future I want to bank on a possible Marriott Premier to Plus conversion that may be lucrative.

If you get that annual fee waived Ritz, this may not be for you! Just keep it as is like Andy.

If you got the current SPG cards from AmEx, do not close them! Hold on to them to upgrade to the SPG Lux card in the future to double dip the product like may people have done with their Hilton Surpass to Aspire cards!


Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card & Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card

The SPG-Marriott-Ritz-Carlton point system merger details have been announced (officially) and articles about it can be found here and found here. Great TPG article on the AmEx Cards and the Chase Cards involved.

BLUF: On 01 August 2018 these changes will take place: New AmEx card prime for churning and paying dividends in the form of $300 hotel statement credits, and AmEx Platinum Holders still get breakfast for free at Marriott until end of 2019. The new Chase card will be offered 03 May 2018 and has a 100k Marriott points for $5k spend.

Pretty much they are going to convert all your SPG to Marriott Points at 1 to 3 points each. Then they have a single rewards chart with redemption that vary by demand:

No announcements on what hotels will be what category yet. Earning points are going to be expanded to both the room rate and incidentals, with each brand earning at a different rate:

  • $1 at Marriott brands, including Ritz-Carlton = 10 points
  • $1 at At Element, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites = 5 points
  • $1 at Bulgari Hotels & Resorts = 0 points

Two new cards have been verified to be released as predicted. AmEx has a premium $450 card and Chase Has added a Plus to there existing Marriott Card:

  1. Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card (Coming Aug 2018)
    • six points per dollar spent at participating hotels
    • three points per dollar spent on airfare and at U.S. restaurants
    • two points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
    • $300 annually in statement credits for on-property purchases
    • free night award up to 50,000 points
    • automatic Gold elite status
    • Global Entry, and Priority Pass Select membership
    • $450 annual fee (hoping AmEx fee waivers continue)
  2. Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card (Coming 03 May 2018)
    • six Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at participating hotels
    • two points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
    • an anniversary free-night certificate for any property up to 35,000 points
    • Guaranteed Silver Elite Status
    • $95 annual fee (MLA Waiver?) prob 5/24 restricted (boo)
    • 100,000-point new cardmember sign-up offer after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days
    • Maybe a bonus to upgrade existing Marriott Card to Plus card

The elite tiers have changed, but since I don’t really earn any status with a single hotel brand I really could care less:

What really matters is Greg from Frequent Miler asked the real question to the VP of Marriott Rewards, Bob Behrens:

Q: What level status will my Amex Platinum card give me in the new program?

A: Gold status.  However, if a member has Marriott Gold status before August 1, they will have Platinum status on August 1.  [So, if Bob was right about this, Amex Platinum cardholders will continue to get free breakfast until the elite year resets in 2019 as long as they use the card to get SPG Gold status AND link their Marriott & SPG accounts before August 1]

So going forward I think I am just going to stick with booking Hilton for the free breakfast after I lose Platnium status after 2019. In anticipation for the merger I went ahead an downgraded My Ritz-Carlton card via Chase Secure Messaging and got this response:

Hello Derp Report,

Thank you for contacting J.P. Morgan about The
Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card ending in XXXX. I will
be happy to review your inquiry for a product change.

Derp, our records show that you can change this card to a
Marriott Premier. We cannot do it by email, but if you
will please call us at the number on the back of your
card, we will be happy to take care of it for you.

We appreciate your business and thank you for choosing The
Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card from J.P. Morgan. If you
have any additional questions or concerns, you may send us
a secure message or contact us at the number below.
Representatives are available to assist you.

Thank you,


Customer Service Specialist

Account is owned by Chase Bank USA, N.A., a subsidiary of
JPMorgan Chase & Co and may be serviced by its affiliates.

The number on the back of the card is 1-855-896-2222, and I was able to get the card downgraded from the $450 Ritz card to an $85 Marriott Premier Card. I was also told that on the renewal date of June 2018 I would get my free category 1-8 hotel room as well! What an unforeseen bonus right there.

So why would I downgrade to a product that is going to be replaced? I consider this move a backdoor rollover because I was able to get the Ritz Card under 5/24, so I can bypass the 5/24 restriction on Marriott, then I plan on upgrading this to the new Plus card if a bonus is offered. TPG reports:

Product changes from an existing Marriott card to the Plus will not be eligible for the 100,000-point bonus, though Chase suggests that an upgrade incentive may be available.

I would not have been able to get the Marriott Premier Rewards or the Plus because of my 25/24 status. This way I can continue to reap the free night benefit which is well worth the $85 annual fee.

I am going to wait a few days and then apply for a new MLA waived Ritz Card at my Chase Private Client Branch. I hope to make the spend and then get the two free tier 1-4 Ritz nights before the card goes away entirely. There was a rumor the Ritz card will become the CSR (another card that I would be ineligible for due to the 5/24 rule), because the Fairmont card became the CSP with the equitable $95 annual fee. However TPG reports have killed that rumor:

Ritz-Carlton cardholders will be able to keep their current cards with no change to perks or earning rates

If I ever get under 5/24 I could apply for the Plus Product for the 100k sign on bonus instead of upgrading, but that is unlikely to happen. TPG has also listed out the fate of the SPG Business cards, i’m sad to see that they axed the Sheraton free breakfast benefit going forward of Aug 2018. There was also mention that going forward, the Ritz Card as well as the Business Marriott would be subject to 5/24 restriction hopefully only after 03 May 2018. So I better get cracking on that application! TPG writes:

Additionally, the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card will still be available for new sign-ups for the time being, though the new Plus card will replace the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card on May 3. All new sign-ups will be subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Does that mean I already missed the boat on a MLA waived Ritz Card? My reading of that paragraph suggests that only the personal and business Marriott cards are subject to 5/24. I guess I will find out tomorrow in person at Chase when I apply for my new Ritz Card!

On the flip side the existing AmEx SPG cards will now come with an annual free night worth up to 35,000 points. This is good incentive for me to keep both the Business and Personal Versions of the SPG card. But this puts me in the pickle of the 5 credit card limit, and I will need to decide on what card to kill next: Blue, Delta Reserve, Delta Platinum, Business SPG, or Hilton Aspire. It would make the most sense to kill the Blue card to make room for 3 $450 annual fee waived cards, but I have had that account for over 12 years! Second thought is to kill the Delta Reserve card since it is redundant to the Platinum Delta. I guess I have till august to decide on that one.