New To Military Churning Best Practices 2019

Updated 26 Feb 2019 to incorporate recent data points of Citibank waiving all new applications for Prestige, Premier, AAdvantage Executive due to MLA compliance.

BLUF: If you are a credit card virgin, and are in the military you need to apply for cards in sequence to take full advantage of various bank rules. Establish a credit history with a Discover Card for one whole year. Then start with Chase, then US Bank, then AmEx, do some Citibank in there as well, based of how strict these respective banks are screening for new applications. Take it slow and try to hit the spend bonuses organically. Use Manufactured Spending only in a pinch, and make sure you keep track of the deadlines involved. Focus on high fee cards that are waived for military with renewable annual benefits.

Those service members that do not have any credit history should start here.

Rules of the game:

  1. You need a credit history to get the high annual fee cards (with big benefits), great intro video here (ask sebby).
  2. Always keep cards open that you had before you joined the military, let the banks know and most will waive annual fees for card you had before joining. You can product change these card to higher product and get away from paying the annual fees. For example I had the United Explorer Card before I joined and got the fee waiver. I then upgraded this card to the $450 annual fee United Club card and continued to get the fee waiver. Several people have moved their Chase Freedom from High School to a second CSR!
  3. There are only two players in this game, suckers and maximizers. Suckers are making minimum payments on their cards and thereby fund the credit card companies by paying 15%-19% APR. Maximizers cost the Banks money by not carrying a balance (therefore no interest) and taking full advantage of recurring benefits on each one of their cards. You are one missed payment away from turning from a Maximizer to a Sucker, and we are all subject to the same greed and FOMO that attracts us to use credit cards. If you lose control and become a sucker, time to quit the game!
  4. In general credit card companies make some money on processing fees from retailers, but the bulk of its revenue is on balance carrying suckers. AmEx just loves new accounts as it shows to the shareholders the improving health of a company. Wells Fargo took this too far and made up fake accounts, while AmEx entices you to open multiple accounts. Chase hates new accounts and have been shutting down churners left and right.
  5. You can open cards, close cards, and you can product change cards. Opening cards come with a credit pull and a new account, product change keeps a card alive as a higher or lower product. Closing an account kills the card and shortens your overall credit age. You must wait a year of having a personal card before any changes can be made due to the 2009 Credit CARD act. No wait is needed to product change a business credit card.
  6. Credit score is determined by account age, credit pulls, and utilization. Use credit Karma to keep track. Never over-utilize a card (over 10% of available credit) or it will tank your credit score. You can pre-pay a balance before the statement closes to get utilization down for the credit report.
  7. For all intents and purposes the only useful banks that waive any annual fees for active duty AFTER they join are: Chase (Per MLA after Sept 2017), AmEx (SCRA for Reservist and AD), and US Bank (Post Sept 2017 MLA). Capitol One waives, but I have no experience in their products. As of 2019 Citibank now has been waiving for new accounts per the MLA. Citi has always waived for cards obtained before joining the military.
  8. AmEx will let you have only 5 Credit cards (biz and personal totaled together), but infinite charge cards (Green, Gold, Platinum)
  9. AmEx and Chase will not let you get the same product twice, but will let you product change to another card of an existing product held. For example You can get a Platinum and then a Green, and then upgrade the Green to Platinum. You can move a Slate, Chase Freedom, and Chase Freedom Unlimited to another Chase Sapphire Reserve.
  10. AmEx business cards do not get reported to a credit history thereby a strategy to staying under 5/24.
  11. Chase will look at 24 months of your credit history to determine approvals of new accounts. For most of their cards, any more than 5 cards (at any bank) opened or added as authorized user in a 24 month period means instant denial. This is the “5/24 rule” and it applies to every chase card as of Nov 2018.
  12. Chase will not waive business card fees for military, but it might be worth it for some UR points on Ink products.
  13. American Express WILL waive annual fees for business cards for military, worth hitting business versions of card to double dip points. However these business credit cards count against your 5 card max.
  14. The best credit card offers are not presented on this site, you need to seek out the best offers on your own. The referral links are here to support the site and you can use them as you wish.
  15. You can apply for a business card as a sole proprietorship in yourself, just use your SSN as the tax ID number.
  16. Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards are worth 1.5 cents per point minimum, don’t waste them on gift cards or statement credits for less than 1.5 cents per point!
  17. If you ever get an AmEx card bonus, you can never get it again for the same product (7 year drop off de facto). You can get the card again if you don’t have it still, but no bonus will be given
  18. Must wait 24 months between receiving Chase Bonuses, and 48 months for Sapphire products. The bonus post date counts, not when the card was opened.
  19. Memorize earn categories by checking merchant codes here. Use the right card for the right transactions to max out earning.
  20. Closing an AmEx card in less than one year from earning the bonus may cause the points to be clawed back.
  21. Take it slow AmEx: Max 1 credit card approval per 5 days and 2 in 90 days, but no known limit for charge cards
  22. Take it even slower for Chase: Usual max 2 new cards per month (but rule seems to vary)
  23. Citi only allows up to one personal credit card application in any eight-day period. Up to one business credit card application in any 90-day period. But overall only two Citi credit card applications in any 60-day period, which could be two personal cards or one personal and one business card. It is best to wait 65 days to make sure the first application drops off.
  24. If you try to apply for two Chase cards in a short period of time (2 days) then you will certainly get a manual review.
  25. U.S. Bank monitors the purchasing of gift cards to make spend and will shut you down
  26. U.S. Bank will not issue you a new card if you had gotten too many in a short amount of time
  27. Bust Out Fraud is tracked with a different score, your behavior as a churner (eg: buying only gift cards) may get you shut down!
  28. Adding your spouse as an authorized user will count against their 5/24 count. I just give my wife my card to use and no one has ever stopped her.

Spouse and Dependent Fee Waivers

Per the terms of the MLA, spouses and dependent children (up to age 23 if in full time school) are covered under the MLA. This means Chase and Citi will waive annual fees for Military and these dependents. Keep in mind the minimum age of a primary card holder is 18. AmEx is waiving for spouses on a state by state basis, Illinois spouses appear to have the waiver. A spouse of a captain in Florida was denied her waiver. No data points exist on the dependents of military members for AmEx yet, but please post below.

Credit History Must Be Established

Chase is very conservative on giving out credit. You will get rejected even for a Chase Freedom if no personal credit history exists. Just being an authorized user is not enough. Per Ask Sebby, you should use this sequence to establish a credit history:

  1. Secure Credit Card from Discover (No AF) for 12 months to establish credit history.
  2. Freedom or Freedom Unlimited, $500 limit, prepay it mid cycle to keep utilization low.

Best Sequence (Chase First) pick 5 of these card (All are 5/24 restricted) (try to maximize annual fee waiver):

  1. Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50k UR on $3k in 90 days ($450 annual Fee Waived)
    1. Do it for the $300 Travel Credit Per Year (spend on airline tickets)
    2. Priority Pass lounge access with 2 guests
    3. Best use is UR Points transfer to United, Southwest and Hyatt
    4. UR Points can be used to book tickets at 1.5 cents per point
    5. Earn 3 points per dollar on dining and travel
    6. Can only apply for one Sapphire Card (Reserve, Preferred, or Plain). If you already haveo ne, the application will be denied.
    7. Must wait 48 months from earning bonus to get another Sapphire Product
    8. Can upgrade a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited to the CSR
    9. Can upgrade Slate to CSR (best for low to no credit history members)
  2. United Club Card: 50k MP on $3k in 90 days ($450 annual Fee Waived)
    1. Gets you into United Clubs and Star Alliance Lounges worldwide
    2. Comes in a huge box
    3. Can get all versions of card (Club, Explorer, Travel Bank, and Business Versions)
  3. United Explorer Card: 40k MP on $2k in 90 days ($95 annual fee waived)
    1. 2 United Club Passes to give away
    2. Can get all versions of card (Club, Explorer, Travel Bank, and Business Versions)
  4. Southwest Priority Card:  ($149 annual fee waived)
    1. 7.5k RR points each year
    2. 4 priority boardings
    3. $75 card year credit on Southwest flights
    4. Can only have one Southwest card
  5. Southwest Premier Card: 40k RR on $1k in 90 days ($99 annual fee waived)
    1. 6k RR points each year
    2. Can only have one Southwest card
  6. Southwest Plus Card Earn Companion Pass and 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening ($69 annual fee waived)
    1. 3k RR points each year
    2. 2x on Southwest spend
    3. Can only have one Southwest card
  7. Chase Freedom $150 (15k UR) bonus with $500 spend in 90 days (Free)
    1. Rotating 5x categories that you can transfer as UR to Chase Sapphire Reserve
    2. Upgrade to another CSR in one year (Some Reports of Shutdown)
  8. Chase Freedom Unlimited $150 (15k UR) bonus with $500 spend in 90 days (Free)
    1. 1.5 UR per dollar to transfer Chase Sapphire Reserve
    2. Upgrade to another CSR in one year (Some Reports of Shutdown)
  9. Chase Marriott Premier Plus (Bonvoy Boundless) 3 FREE NIGHTS (35k max) with $3k spend in 90 days ($95 annual fee) (LINK HERE)(2nd Link)(Link 3)
    1. Please read this article regarding the rules of applying for any Marriott/SPG Card if you already have one
    2. Free annual night worth 35k points
    3. Will make you ineligible for the AmEx SPG Lux (Bonvoy Brilliant) bonus for 24 months
    4. Upgrade to Ritz-Carlton Card in 1 year
      1. One free 50K night per year
      2. $100 off a pair of round trip domestic tickets.
      3. $100 hotel credit with any two night stay at RItz
      4. 3 Club Level Upgrades per year (Rack Rate)
      5. $300 Airline Fee Credit per year
  10. Chase Slate 
    1. No benefits at all (for us), but can be upgraded to CSR
  11. Hyatt Card 25k on $3k spend, in 90 days then 25k on another $6k in 180 days ($95 waived)(Link Here)(2nd link)
    1. Free annual night Category 1-4
    2. 4x points on Hyatt Spend and Exhale Locations
    3. 2x on gym memberships
    4. Instant Discoverist Status (2 pm Checkout)
  12. Chase IHG Card 80k on $2k spend in 90 days ($89 AF Waived)(Link Here)(Link 2)
    1. Free annual night worth up to 40k points
  13. Chase Ink Business Preferred $95 a year (No AF Waiver) (Link Here)
    1. 80k UR on $5k spend
    2. 3x UR on Travel, Shipping purchases, internet, cable

Now that you are over 5 new cards in a 24 month period you will be automatically denied for any Chase cards in the future. If you have a player 2 (AD or Civilian spouse) you can have them apply for Chase cards in order for player 1 to get back under 5/24. The MLA generally applies for AD spouses, and I have not seen a datapoint fail this Chase MLA annual fee waiver for a spouse (yet).

Citibank Next

Citi has a strict limit of 2 cards in a 60 day period on top of just one card in an eight day window. If you applied for one card on 01 January 2019 and then another on 09 January 2019 you would be free and clear for another application (waiting a conservative 65 days for good measure) on 07 March 2019, and then 8 days after that. You would then hit a pair of applications again in May, July, Sept, Nov. But keep in mind there are only a few Citi Cards worth getting.

  1. Citi Prestige 50K ThankYou Rewards points after $4K spend in 3 months
    1. 5X airfare, dining, and travel agencies
    2. 3X hotels and cruise line
    3. 1X everywhere else
    4. $250 travel rebate per calendar year
    5. Citi Proprietary Lounges;
    6. 4th night free hotel benefit (twice a year)
  2. Citi Premier
    1.  3X travel and gas
    2. 2X dining and entertainment
    3. Upgrade to another Prestige after one year
  3. Citi® Expedia®+ Voyager Card

    1.  $100 annual air travel fee credit
  4. Citi AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard®

    1. AA Admirals Club Lounge Membership for Primary
    2. Can add 10 AUs that will get AA lounge access on own

The Little Known US Bank Altitude Card Next:

  1. Must establish a relationship with US Bank, check for bank bonuses here.
  2. US Bank Altitude Card 50k points for $4.5k spend in 90 days ($450 annual fee)
    1. 3x points on Apple Pay
    2. Each point worth 1.5 cents in travel
    3. $325 annual credit for travel (includes plane tickets)
    4. Will get denied if too many CC applications at other banks (eg: 2 AmEx in 1 mo, 3 total in 6 mo)
    5. Shut downs due to too many gift card purchases

AmEx has always been good for us. They are the main reason that I will never be under 5/24!

AmEx for Infinite Bonuses (No Limit on Charge Cards). 

  1. AmEx Platinum 60k MR points on $5k spend in 90 days ($550 annual fee waived) Referral Links: 1,2,3,4,5.
    1. $200 a year on Uber @ $15 a month with an extra $20 in December (Use on Uber Eats @ end of month)
    2. $200 annually on American Airlines, Delta Airlines, or Southwest Airlines gift cards (2x $100, 4x $50, 1x $200)
    3. $100 on Saks 5th Ave gift cards bought in person (2X $50 Jan to June, then $50 July to Aug)
    4. 5x points on airline tickets from the airline
    5. Free Airport Lounge Access: Airspace, Centurion, Escape, Delta Sky Club (Flying On Delta), Priority Pass
    6. Non airport lounges: Theme Parks and Las Vegas & NYC Convention Centers
    7. Hilton Gold Status
  2. Charles Schwab AmEx Platinum 60k MR points on $5k spend in 90 days ($550 annual fee waived)
    1. Same as above but different product
    2. Must have Schwab account, use code “refer” for $100 bonus on $1000 deposit
    3. Use Schwab for Roth IRA ($5,500 max per year)
    4. Transfer Membership Rewards Points for 1.25 cents per point (better than gift cards)
  3. Morgan Stanley AmEx Platinum 60k MR points on $5k spend in 90 days ($550 annual fee waived)
    1. Must have Morgan Stanley account ($5,000 minimum)
    2. Can transfer MR to $$$ this way as well but only at 1 cent per point (not worth it)
    3. Same benefits as above
  4. Ameriprise Platinum No Bonus ($550 annual fee waived)
    1. Do not need Ameriprise account
    2. Same benefits as personal Platinum
  5. AmEx Business Platinum 50k MR on $10k spend and an extra 25k MR on another $10k in first 90 days ($450 AF waived)
    1. Referral Links: 1,2,3,4,5.6
    2. $200 Airline Credit American Airlines, Delta Airlines, or Southwest Airlines gift cards (2x $100, 4x $50, 1x $200)
    3. 35% points back on Points booking (Makes MR points worth 1.5 cents on travel)
    4. 10 GoGo in flight WiFi passes
    5. 1.5 MR on $5,000+ purchases
    6. $200 Dell credit each year
    7. One year of WeWork Platinum Global Access
  6. AmEx (Rose) Gold 40k MR on $2k spend in 90 days (Referral Link Here)
    1. $100 airline credit to be spent like AmEx Platinum credit (AA, Delta, Southwest Gift Cards)
    2. $120 for dining ($10 a month) (GrubHub, CheeseCake Factory, and more)
    3. 4x Points on Dining and Groceries
    4. 3x on Airfare
    5. Upgrade to another Platinum in 1 year
  7. AmEx Green Card 15k MR for $1k spend in 90 days (referral link here) ($95 AF Waived)
    1. Upgrade to another Platinum in one year
  8. AmEx Business Gold 50K MR on $5k spend in 90 days (referral link here)
    1. 4x points on two of your highest spends:
      1. Airfare purchased directly from airlines
      2. U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
      3. U.S. purchases at gas stations
      4. U.S. purchases for shipping
      5. U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
      6. Dining in the United States
    2. 2x on the remaining categories
    3. Upgrade to Business Plat anytime after bonus is earned

5 Card Limit on AmEx Credit Cards (Pick 5) including Business and Personal Cards. 

  1. Hilton Aspire Card 150k HHonors on $4k in 90 days ($450 AF Waived) Referral Link Here
    1. $250 on American Airlines, Delta Airlines, or Southwest Airlines gift cards (1x $250, 5x $50, 1x $250 respectively)
    2. $250 on Hiltons Resort Credits (Hilton RESORTS only)
    3. Free Weekend Night every year including first year (Any Hilton but these)
    4. Diamond Status
    5. Can have all 3 Hilton cards
  2. Hilton Ascend Card 150k HHonors on $3k spend in 90 days ($95 Yearly Fee Waived) Referral Link Here
    1. Upgrade to another Hilton Aspire in 1 year to repeat benefits
  3. Hilton Honors Card 100k HHonors for $1k spend in 90 days (free) (referral link here)
    1. Upgrade to another Hilton Aspire in 1 year to repeat benefits
  4. SPG Luxury Card (Bonvoy Brilliant) 100k Marriott on $3k spend in 90 days ($450 annual fee waived) (referral link here) (and here)
    1. $300 for SPG and Marriott hotel incidentals per year
    2. Up to a 50k free night per year (after first year)
    3. Can’t get bonus if you had the Marriott Card in 24 months
  5. Personal Delta Reserve 70K Sky Miles, 5k MQM $5k spend in 90 days ($450 AF Waived) (Referral Link Here)
    1. First Class Delta Companion Pass Every Year
    2. Can have all three Delta Cards
  6. Business Delta Reserve 40K Sky Miles, 10K MQM on $3k spend in 90 days ($450 AF Waived) (Referral Link Here)
    1. First Class Delta Companion Pass Every Year
    2. Can have all three Delta Cards
  7. Delta Platinum 75K Sky Miles, 5k MQM, $100 credit on $3k spend in 90 days ($195 AF Waived) (Referral Link Here) (and Here)
    1. Main Cabin Delta Companion Pass Every Year
    2. Upgrade after 1 year to another Delta Reserve for another First Class Companion
  8.  Delta Gold 60K Sky Miles, $50 credit on $2k spend in 90 days ($95 AF Waived) (Referral Link Here)
    1. Upgrade after 1 year to another Delta Reserve for another First Class Companion
  9. Delta Blue 10k Sky Miles for $500 spend in 90 days (Referral Here)
    1. Upgrade after 1 year to another Delta Reserve for another First Class Companion
  10. AmEx Everyday Preferred 20K MR on $1k spend in 90 days ($95 fee waived) (Referral Link Here)
    1. 50% bonus on 30+ uses per month
    2. 3x MR Super Market
    3. 2x Gas

Manufactured Spending

Use plastiq to top off organically spent money for rent and other expenses. Use my referral code – 674873 – or download the app here. Gift card buying and reselling is risky because it will trigger account reviews. Gold coin and bitcoin should be avoided.

Model Card Hands

Hotel Maximizer:

  1. CSR ($300 for travel)
  2. Freedom Upgraded to CSR ($300 for travel)
  3. Freedom Unlimited upgraded to CSR ($300 for travel)
  4. Slate upgraded to CSR ($300 for travel)
  5. Bonvoy Boundless (Marriott Premier Plus) (35k Free Night)
    1. Upgrade to Ritz for $300 travel credit and 50K free night
  6. Citi Prestige (5th free night)
  7. Citi Premier to upgrade to another prestige
  8. US Bank Altitude ($325 for travel)
  9. Hilton Aspire ($250 Hotel Credit, $250 Flight Credit, Free Night)
  10. Hilton Aspire (Upgraded from Hilton Ascend)
  11. Hilton Aspire (Upgraded from Hilton Honors)
  12. SPG Lux Now Bonvoy Brillant ($300 Credit, 50k free night)
  13. SPG Lux from Personal SPG (Bonvoy Brilliant ends 12 Feb 2019)

Airline Maximizer:

  1. CSR ($300 for travel)
  2. Freedom Upgraded to CSR ($300 for travel)
  3. Freedom Unlimited upgraded to CSR ($300 for travel)
  4. United Club (United Club Lounge Access for you and 2 guests)
  5. Southwest Priority ($75 credit, 7.5 RR)
  6. Citi Prestige ($250 travel credit)
  7. US Bank Altitude ($325 for travel)
  8. Hilton Aspire ($250 Hotel Credit, $250 Flight Credit, Free Night)
  9. Hilton Aspire (Upgraded from Hilton Ascend)
  10. Hilton Aspire (Upgraded from Hilton No Fee)
  11. Delta Reserve (First Class Companion)
  12. Delta Reserve (Upgraded from Delta Platinum)
  13. AmEx Platinum ($200 for airline gift cards)
  14. AmEx Platinum (Upgrade from Green)
  15. AmEx Platinum (Upgrade from Gold)
  16. AmEx Charles Schwab Platinum ($200 for airline gift cards)
  17. AmEx Morgan Stanley Platinum ($200 for airline gift cards)
  18. AmEx Ameriprise Platinum (Upgraded From Ameriprise Gold)
  19. AmEx Business Platinum ($200 for airline gift cards)
  20. AmEx Business Platinum (Upgraded from Biz Gold)

Balanced Travel Approach:

  1. CSR ($300 for travel)
  2. Freedom Upgraded to CSR ($300 for travel)
  3. Freedom Unlimited upgraded to CSR ($300 for travel)
  4. United Club (United Club Lounge Access for you and 2 guests)
  5. Hyatt (Free night)
  6. US Bank Altitude ($325 for travel)
  7. Hilton Aspire ($250 Hotel Credit, $250 Flight Credit, Free Night)
  8. Hilton Aspire (Upgraded from Hilton Ascend)
  9. Hilton Aspire (Upgraded from Hilton No Fee)
  10. Delta Reserve (First Class Companion)
  11. SPG Lux (Bonvoy Brillant) ($300 Credit, 50k free night)
  12. AmEx Platinum ($200 for airline gift cards)
  13. AmEx Platinum (Upgrade from Green)
  14. AmEx Platinum (Upgrade from Gold)
  15. AmEx Charles Schwab Platinum ($200 for airline gift cards)
  16. AmEx Morgan Stanley Platinum ($200 for airline gift cards)
  17. AmEx Ameriprise Platinum (Upgraded From Ameriprise Gold)
  18. AmEx Business Platinum ($200 for airline gift cards)
  19. AmEx Business Platinum (Upgraded from Biz Gold)

Downgrade Strategy

Upon exit from active duty keep in mind these downgrade routes to avoid the annual fee when it hits. A letter from Chase and AmEx will come to give you ample time to make changes before the annual fee hits. Then stagger the closures over months to not have them clustered together. AmEx appears to do an audit every April with DFAS to see who is still in the military. You can sometimes have an entire year before the annual fee hits.

Joining the reserves will keep the AmEx SCRA waivers alive, not sure about Chase. Having your spouse go AD would get your Chase cards waived.

  1. AmEx Platnum to Green ($95 annual fee) then close after MR Points are exhausted (Dump to Charles Schwab at 1.25 cents per MR point)
  2. AmEx Biz Plat to Gold then close ($175) (possible plumb card)
  3. Morgan Stanley Platinum to Morgan Stanley Credit (Free) (Rumored)
  4. Schwab Platinum to Schwab credit (Free) (Rumored)
  5. SPG Lux (Bonvoy Brillant) to Regular SPG (Boundless) ($95)
  6. Delta Reserve to Delta Blue (Free)
  7. AmEx Blue Cash Preferred to Everyday Cash (free)
  8. AmEx Blue Preferred to Blue (free)
  9. Chase Sapphire Reserve to regular Sapphire (free) or Freedom (Free)
  10. United Club to United Travel Bank (Free)
  11. AmEx Ameriprise Platinum to Gold ($160)
  12. Southwest Priority to Plus ($69)
  13. Hilton Aspire to Basic Hilton Honors (Free)

Note: this is a work in progress, updated 26 Feb 2019 21:11 PST

90 thoughts on “New To Military Churning Best Practices 2019

  1. Christian says:

    great list. I get asked by newbies a lot which card they should get. I’ll start referring them to this post (and then they’ll probably still have a million questions. ).

    Also, good to know that AMEX waives fees for reservists. Do they have to do an active duty stint of more than xdays? (30,45,90?) .

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      My reservist dental friends all are getting their waivers for AmEx as DFAS reports them as being just a reservist without any specification of how many days they are active.

  2. Alex says:

    I don’t know if you covered it, but Amex has 2/90 rule? Can only be approved for 2 Amex credit cards within 90 days, so not including charge cards. So if I had approved for 2 credit cards last month, I should be able to be approved for the Platinum card?

  3. ArmyGrunt07 says:

    I recently opened an AMEX PRG and Green card to product change in one year. I did the first step of the application for a AMEX Delta Gold and Platinum but when i saw the message that i’m not eligible for either sign up bonuses from having them previously, i cancelled the appliation. About 4 weeks later i attempted to apply for the Charles Schwab Platinum but was rejected for applying for too many cards. Any idea if the two cancelled AMEX Delta cards counted for the 2 credit card apps in 90 days? (they show up in the card application history as “cancelled” just like the rejected recent attempt for the Charles Schwab Platinum). I have $1,000 in a fund, received the $100 bonus, but am not using their Roth IRA listed in this post.

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      Thank you for the datapoints! It took 7 years for my AmEx green to be forgotten by AmEx, but keep in mind they know if you had a product before simpily because they keep pretty good records (I assume you just closed the card). Maybe by attempting to get the product again it triggered something!

      AmEx has been rolling out their war on churning as aggressively as Chase, and it looks like the 90 day rule did kick in because it had been less than 3 months from the delta card applications to get a denial for the schwab charge card. However recent data points have suggested that Charge cards are exempt from such rules. In all cases I would call in and ask why a card was rejected. From DoC: You’re limited to one approved credit card every 5 day rolling period and two approved credit cards every 90 rolling period. Note that this only applies to credit cards and not their charge cards.

      Sounds like your experience is unexpected and new. This might be a sign of things to come!

      Think about investing the $1,000 into their many non commission funds that rival Vanguard

  4. Nick Thompson says:

    This is a fantastic write up. I didn’t realize the Amex Plat upgrade trick. Between the wife and I, that’s going to be a lot of points and money in the bank!

    Thanks!

  5. DallasBest says:

    Derp,

    Something to look at for manufactured spending. I’ve set my withholding to the maximum and have been paying taxes via online websites to help hit manufactured spending. Fee runs about 1.9%, but is much better than Plastiq.

    • BubbleheadBee says:

      Dallas,

      No need to have your withholding increased, just pre-pay (over-pay) your taxes a week or so before you file. Then include the over-payment amount in your tax forms and you will be refunded the amount (assuming you don’t owe). This works even if you normally get a federal tax return every year. Be aware that sometimes the IRS may take a while to get you your return, so make sure you can cover any possible payments while you wait.

  6. DallasBest says:

    Derp,

    Great write up, but I would add paying taxes as another manufactured spend. Got the idea from the wealthyaccountant, but I’ve set my withholding to the maximum and then just make payments via a 1040-ES on pay1040.com. Fee runs about 1.9%, but that is cheaper than Plastiq.

  7. Navy UMO says:

    Derp,

    Great post, I enjoy the new layout of the site. DP for AMEX Spouse fee waivers: I have residence in CA and my wife has received annual fee waivers on all her credit cards (Plat, Aspire, PRG).

  8. Marcus says:

    Derp,

    I had the CSR when the 100K bonus came out but closed it a year later to not pay the annual fee again. At the pace I am applying for AMEX cards I will never be under 5/24 to get the CSR again. However, I do have a Chase Freedom (since Dec 16) that can be product changed to a CSR. Do you know if I prouct change to the CSR if I would be able to have the annual fee waived? From what I understand, Chase only waves fees on cards opened after Sep 2017 and I don’t know if this card would show as still be opened in Dec 16…

    It would be an interesting way for military members to get the card if over 5/24. I obviously wouldn’t get the bonus but I would at least get the $300 credit every year.

  9. uiucderp2011 says:

    They won’t waive the fee but it would be worth doing just to have the 3x earn. The $300 credit would off set the $450 annual fee. Do you have a player 2 that could get the card?

    • Marcus says:

      I don’t usually spend time looking at what categories are the most efficient since almost all my spending goes to new cards. So the CSR would basically be $150 extra per year. Not worth it for me unless it was free. And nope, I don’t have a player 2.

      • uiucderp2011 says:

        Well if you got the freedom before you joined you would have the SCRA coverage and would be elligible for the fee waiver if you upgraded to a CSR. When did you join?

  10. Anonymous says:

    When you request SCRA for Amex, do you have to it for every single new card, or does Amex already list you as a “covered borrower” from your credit report?

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      Yes I do it for every new card. I have been charged before, but after applying it they waived the fee.

      • Taylor says:

        I haven’t had this issue. After applying for SCRA last year on wife’s Amex PRG, I never saw a fee on my Platinum or Hilton Aspire cards applied for this summer.

      • Marcus says:

        I upgraded my PRG to a Plat and then 2 weeks late I was charged a $195 membership fee. I submitted my SCRA benefits again and then a week later I was charged $504.16 for another membership fee and reimbursed $178.75. I waited another 2 weeks until I received a notification that my SCRA benefit went through and then I was reimbursed $699.16. This was the most trouble I have gone through and oddly enough I am still up $178.75 from the ordeal. I transferred the positive balance to my Green card.

  11. Marcus says:

    I’ve also been charged the annual fee after product changing my card and then had to submit for SCRA benefits again.

  12. Josh says:

    You mention that you can technically have plenty of Platinum cards, correct? (get first one Vanilla Platinum, then PRG and Green), then upgrade both after a year for 3 total vanilla Platinums? Can you reapply for new PRG and Green Cards, then subsequently upgrade those, and rinse and repeat (but not get shut down).

    I also have the Ameriprise Platinum, and just now got the Ameriprise Gold Card. I should assume that can be upgraded for double Ameriprise Platinums?

    Finally, Morgan Stanley has a normal card, lower than the Stanley Platinum Card. (https://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/cardmember-agreements/morgan-stanley-credit-card.html) I should assume that this is also upgradeable?

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      I am in the same situation with my Ameriprise gold, I am going to upgrade in February 2019 and I will let you know how it goes!

      • Caleb says:

        Derp,
        Any update on the Ameriprise Gold upgrade yet?

        • uiucderp2011 says:

          I tried again online, but they are making me call it in. They killed the Ameriprise gold, but they are now offering 60k MR for $5k spend! This offer is perfect since we get the $495 waiver right off the bat for SCRA!

  13. Alex says:

    When you say that you can technically have unlimited Platinum cards, (have vanilla Amex), you mean upgrade PRG and Green to Vanilla after a year? So, you can technically repeat this constantly?

    Also, I have the Ameriprise Platinum card, and just got the Ameriprise Gold Card. Once I upgrade Gold, I would still be able to have the 2 Ameriprise Platinum cards?

    Finally, there is a “Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express”, is that also upgradable to Stanley Platinum (after you have also received it?)

    • Marcus says:

      I don’t know if there are any data points on people upgrading a PRG, then getting another PRG, and then upgrading it. I don’t think I want to be the first to try it but it seems like it could be possible.

      I’m also doing the same thing with the Ameriprise PRG. I just got it this month so I will convert it in September next year.

      I doubt the Morgan Stanley Credit Card could be upgraded to the Stanley Platinum since it doesn’t earn MR points. This would make me believe it’s not in the same family of cards and therefore couldn’t be upgraded.

      • uiucderp2011 says:

        Agreed, never doubled dipped hitting the same product twice for inital application. I am sure it would be fodder for a shutdown. There are plenty of choices out there for now, but who know when I am a 20 year terminal commander!

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      I think I spoke to AmEx CSR regarding that the MS along with the CS credit cards are the only ones that you can PC to the Platinum. Not sure about double dipping, but I don’t see why not. Please post any DP right here!

  14. […] love from his YouTube or site for my personal approach found here, but always interesting to get a perspective from a non-military member. He describes the 5/24 like […]

  15. […] some good points that I commented on in my feature of his blog post here. I am going to update my guide found here to reflect these two new […]

  16. Matt Kelly says:

    Thanks for all of your guidance!

    This is all fantastic. One of the AEGD residents came out here to Japan and has gotten me started, but I goofed up a bit. Any advice for having taken things too fast with Chase? Got CSR and Freedom, but then got denied Chase Sapphire Preferred because I missed that bullet in your guide…

    Should I wait until a month has passed from my CSR application, and then call the reconsideration line? Thanks for your help!

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      You can never get more that one sapphire product. Even if you close it you got to wait 48 months before getting another CSR or CSP or plain Sapphire. You just upgrade the freedom to CSR then do that over and over again!

      • Matthew Kelly says:

        Got it! I’ll keep on at it. Thanks for all of your help!

      • uiucderp2011 says:

        Not sure, I have been shut out of chase for two years now. I have a few readers out there that have done the double dip without hard pulls or shut downs.

  17. Dave says:

    Derp,

    I would like to upgrade my CSP to CSR. I already have an existing CSR. Do you know if Chase will hard pull for this or get me on their radar for shutdown? Do you know what the upgrade process is like?

  18. Jorge says:

    I found this site too late! 🙁 Made the mistake of adding my spouse as authorized user for CSR, Freedom, Amex Platinum (Schwab) and added myself as authorized user for my wife’s Freedom Unlimited. So, we’re 4/24; only one slot left with Chase. I’m thinking of opening a CSR for my wife (will she get sign up bonus? https://thepointsguy.com/2016/01/authorized-users-sign-up-bonuses/) and for my last slot, not sure if I want to go with the United Club…still undecided on my last slot with Chase. After maxing out 5/24, thinking of the vanilla amex plat before the end of the calendar year to get $200 travel credit.

    Ideas?

    Need to do more reading around here. Thanks for all this info!

    -Jorge

  19. […] like I will have to update my guide here and my old Ameriprise article here. Please also use my catch all referral pages here, here, here, […]

  20. […] of all of the recent restrictions from Chase and AmEx, I decided to update my gigantic churning guide here. Please also use my catch all referral pages here, here, here, here, here and here for any of your […]

  21. Doug says:

    Derp,

    I just wanted to confirm that as it stands now, we can get multiple CSRs via upgrades? I have a CSP and CFU and would like to upgrade next year.

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      thats where it stands! Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Slate, CS, and CSP can all be upgraded to CSR. The date of the original account is what they base the SCRA or MLA waiver on. So if you had the card before your join date or after October 2017 then the card fee should be waived.

      • Andres says:

        No, that is not the case. Chase only allows one Sapphire product per member. They will see that you already have a CSR and sent the upgrade.

        • Andres says:

          Meant to say deny* the upgrade.

          • uiucderp2011 says:

            Hmm mixed data points here, I’ve had people here successfully upgrade a freedom to CSR even with existing CSR. Any other readers out there with success or deny stories?

          • David says:

            I was able to change my SCRA Qualified CF to CSR without losing my SCRA benefits. So, now I have 2 CSR cards.

            My original CSR does not have SCRA benefits despite multiple requests. I got the original CSR before the MLA but after becoming active duty.

      • Dan says:

        Derp,

        Any new reports on folks getting multiple CSRs? Every person I’ve talked with has said you can only have one sapphire card. Wondering if you could do two upgrades back to back in a two day period…perhaps that would slip through the cracks..

        • uiucderp2011 says:

          There are three people that were able to upgrade their freedom cards to another CSR after one year for a second and third CSR. This was months ago. Not sure if it has been shut down. What are your data points? Are you sure that these other people applied for a new CSR directly?

  22. Jayson says:

    Derp,

    Any card recommendations or order of preference if you’re stationed in Japan. I have two more years in Japan and want to take advantage of any useful resources. Thank you in advance!

  23. Troy says:

    Derp,

    I just want to thank you for the amazing post!

  24. […] Share your data points if you got it! I updated my churning guide as well. […]

  25. Schmeeb says:

    Derp,

    Are you able to close your Morgan Stanley or Charles Schwab accounts after getting the platinum or do you risk closer. Same question for US Bank and the Altitude Reserve…would be nice to consolidate accounts but haven’t been able to find any DP on anyone doing this on FT or Reddit.

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      If you close either MS or CS they will send a nasty letter and close your platinum card. One O-4 here at Great Lakes had not happen, so its best to keep them open!

      • Dan says:

        Interesting. Did your friend have that happen to both accounts or just the CS or MS? Both my MS accounts have been closed for several months (previously unfunded) and the MS platinum cards remain open.

  26. Lauren says:

    Hello, does plastiq still work to pay rent and such? I thought they put a stop to that?

  27. Frank says:

    Hi Derp,
    DoctorofCredit link says two Chase Products in one month, but I also read somewhere that it was one Chase product per 3 months, which timeline would you suggest?

    If 2 Chase/month is valid, then when would you suggest for the next card application?

    Thank you so much!

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      It’s been so long since I have applied for any chase cards due to the 5/24 expansion. Keep in mind some people apply for two chase cards in one day to have just a single hard pull on credit. You can always apply in branch as well but that is always a pain in the ass. I would suggest one new pair of Chase every 3 months because of the risk of shut down, and the fact you may over extend yourself and not get a bonus because you committed to too much spend in a 90 day period. I personally do one Chase card every 3 months and not poke the bear, but I am at 27 cards in a 24 month period.

      -Derp

  28. Lauren says:

    Hi. Do you have different online log-ins for all of your AMEX platinum accounts or do you have them all under one log-in?

    I have one personal platinum and I’m about to upgrade my green Amex and gold AmEx to platinum cards. Will I be able to have them all stay on my current online login or should I split them up?

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      It wont let you upgrade the green if it sees there is another plat on there, just orphan all your cards that need to be upgraded.

      • Bill says:

        How do you orphan them? Does this let you combine MR points under one location? Could you put all your AMEX MR under your schwab account and transfer them to be schwab money at 1.25x?

        • uiucderp2011 says:

          Under account management you can drop an account, then re-add it as a new account. The points will pool either way, and you can points exit with Schwab

          • Bill says:

            Fantastic, thanks! Another question… what do you personally do to keep all your cards straight? Do you walk around with 20 pieces of metal/plastic at all times or just keep your current “hot use” cards and file the rest at home in some organized fashion?

          • uiucderp2011 says:

            Apple Wallet and my Samsung gear 3 hold my US Bank altitude card. I have a separate wallet that has all of my personal platniums to use at saks. In my wallet I only have the USAA Limitless for 2.5% every where, CSP for use at dining and travel, AmEx gold for groceries, my Citi Cost co for gas, and my ATM card.

            in a separate travel wallet I have my passport with my AA Executive for Admirals Lounge, my Marine Memorials club for club access, my Priority pass for lounges, One amex biz platinum for OPEN lounges, Delta lounges, and centurion lounges. My United Club card for united and star alliance lounges, and then I have my ritz carlton card for in flight food.

            the rest are in a drawer at home

  29. Tony says:

    I closed my CSR in Jun 2016. If not caring about the bonus, will I be able to open another CSR before the 48 month

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      I don’t think they would even let you get the card without bonus until 4 years after getting the initial bonus. THis anti-churn culture is quite real. I will need some datapoints to show this. Please let me know if you try to get a new CSR less than 48 months from the first one.

  30. Miguel says:

    Thanks so much for this! We’ve had amex plats for a while now and are about to start playing this game. We are a little hesitant about steps 2 (shwab) and 3 (Morgan) and would like to skip to steps 4 (Ameriprise) and 5 (business) since we don’t have to have any funds locked up in additional retirement/investment accounts. Any downside to this? Can we come back to steps 2 and 3 after we get our feet wet?

    • uiucderp2011 says:

      Well here’s the deal if you look back there used to be a Fidelity AmEx Platinum as well as a Mercedes-Benz Platinum. These products have gone away as partnerships change over time and all the current holders were converted to AmEx Platinum “Vanilla”. The only downside to waiting is the FOMO in not getting the card when it was offered.

  31. Caleb says:

    New data points from this week: Feb 2019

    I got US Bank Altitude card Feb 1 and a week later received the MLA benefits letter saying ALL fees would be waived.

    Feb 6 Charles Schwab Amex Platinum: purchased single $200 American gift card, reimbursed Feb 9

  32. jmacjjs says:

    FYI, Your Amex Bonvoy referrals aren’t working.

  33. TheSubmariner says:

    So, for clarification, does Amex waive the AF for business credit cards or charge cards?

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