A case for (and how-to accomplish) rapid churning

I should start by saying that my churning game doesn’t run nearly as long or deep as Derp’s, or probably most of the readers. I got my first “adult” credit card in 2006, my second in 2013 (AMEX Platinum), but didn’t start churning until January of this year (2019). In 8 short months I have amassed the following horde:
– 4 AMEX Charge cards (2 x plat, 1 rose gold, 1 green)
– 4 AMEX Credit cards (all 3 Hilton cards, 1 Bonvoy Brilliant
– 4 AMEX Biz cards (3 x plat (2 upgraded from Green & Gold), 1 Green after upgrading previous card)
– 3 Chase cards (1 CSR, 1 Freedom & 1 Freedom Unlimited to be upgraded to CSRs in one year)
– 1 Citi Prestige
– 3 x P2 cards (Rose Gold, Biz Plat, Hilton Surpass)

All of this has been done without any manufactured spending (other than paying taxes, which isn’t necessarily considered MS). The rest of this article assumes you have read the Beginner’s Guide to Churning and/or the Optimum Perpetual Wallet Holdings, and that you have some basic background knowledge of the reason we’re doing all of this.

Conventional wisdom for churning says that “Slow & Steady wins the race”. It certainly is easier & more sustainable long-term, but with the right mindset, tracking (spreadsheet), and referral partners you can crank up your wallet size and points balance in less than a year, all while setting yourself up to have some sweet travel credits waiting for you in less than 2 full years of churning.
I am by no means advocating irresponsible spending… follow Derp’s rules of churning, one of the first few is ALWAYS PAY YOUR BALANCES IN FULL! I have a 2xweekly rule, every Wednesday and Sunday I login to my accounts and pay every single balance in full. If you can’t do this, slooooow down. I’m not rich, and run a single income family with 3 kids… if I can do it, so can you.

My rapid churning SOP:
– First and foremost, enjoy the fact that you won’t be paying annual fees for any of this; otherwise, you’d have to be insane to pay for all of these cards.
– Keep a rotating 3-4 card active welcome bonus chasing stack, application dates/approvals separated by roughly a month each. Sometimes more, sometimes less for both amount of cards and time difference between stacks. Once you meet a welcome bonus or you’re about to meet one, apply for your next card (keep in mind Derp’s rules of thumb for starting with Chase until 5/24, then moving on to US Bank and AMEX). Take advantage of the easy cards (Biz Green, Regular Green) that you can meet minimum spend on without much effort.
– Spreadsheet tracking each and every card with the following info: Card name, approval date, sign-up bonus, achieve-by date (always 10 days prior to actual 3 or 4-month deadline to ensure it is reached). Each row/card status highlighted in Green (sign up bonus achieved), Yellow (not yet achieved), or Red (missed… should never happen!)
– Meet low amount sign-up bonuses as quickly as possible (ex: Hilton Honors card, $1k in 3 months) to focus your big-spending items on larger card bonus requirements (ex: Biz Plat, $10k in 3 months).
– Pay taxes in large chunks (preferably do at least one $5k payment on a Biz Plat to get 50% bonus MR points). I only pay taxes as a finisher for welcome bonuses if the deadline is getting close, or with the first Biz Plat I got to get the high spend welcome bonus. You can do this from the IRS website, or just google “Pay taxes with credit card”.
– Keep an eye on your credit score. Mine has fluctuated up to 30 points following heavy application periods (mostly at the beginning with 3x Chase cards and my push on Hilton cards rapidly), but always returns to normal a month or two later.
– Follow up advice for “healing” your credit score after a dip: AMEX Biz and/or charge cards are your friend and don’t have major impact on your score. After you max out your Chase 5/24 and get rolling on Citi and/or your pile of 5 AMEX credit cards, take a break and work on Biz cards only for a couple months.

Those are the basics to getting a healthy stack working for you in less than a year. If you have a P2, you can have a larger & better high-end card portfolio before you start slumming it with AMEX Green cards & regular Hilton cards. As I said, year two you should be able to start enjoying some of the fruits of your “labor” (travel credits, points, free hotel nights), and you’ll spend much of year two upgrading the lower-tier cards that you phased into your collection during your first portfolio building year. By the end of year two, you can easily have several AMEX Platinums, 3-6 Biz Plats, 3 CSRs, 2+ Citi Prestige cards, and multiple $450 annual fee-waived AMEX credit cards that give you whatever you desire (airline credits/companion passes, Hilton/Marriott free nights & hotel $$ credits).

Stay tuned for not-so-distant future articles about ways to EASILY maximize points earned while achieving welcome bonuses to multiply your point-folio in whatever your cards of choice are.

Maximizing ROI from Hilton through the holidays

As Labor Day approaches, both the elevated Hilton welcome bonus offers I previously reported on and their current “Go More, Get More” promotions are coming to an end. I was glad to hear that several of you were able to sneak in at least one Surpass card to take advantage. Hilton has a new stay-with-us promotion titled “Power Up”. Regular Hilton Honors members will receive double points for every stay between September 9th, 2019 and January 5th, 2020.

Most of us have the benefit of not being regular HH members with the help of our annual fee Hilton Honors credit card (or multiple cards). Through the Power Up promotion, you’ll receive triple points on every Hilton stay.

Fine print is your friend

The FAQ gives a couple example breakdowns, but long story short you will earn 40x HH points for every dollar spent through the promotion alone. Those of us with Aspire cards will earn an additional 14x HH points for every dollar charged to your card (Surpass 12x, plain Hilton card 7x). If you’re charging your rooms during this promotion to your Surpass to meet your $4k minimum spend in 4 months, you’ll earn a total of an insane 52x points for every dollar you spend (54x with your Aspire).

This is on top of your Diamond benefits that you’ll enjoy at each Hilton property with your annual fee-waived Aspire card. I’m wrapping up my Go More, Get More promotion period this weekend on this 4-day weekend journey with the family (Hilton Hotels for 3 nights, Marriott hotel to finish off $300 annual credit for 4th night):

Hilton hotels in Europe have (for me) been historically solid with automatic upgrading to executive-level rooms or suites. The Hilton Florence Metropole (average price of 80 euros/night on all 3 stays for a King room) has done this on 3 separate occasions for me. Can’t beat unlimited liquor, wine, beer, and food for several hours on the top floor executive lounge of the hotel for less than a hundred bucks while racking up major points!

Let me know in the comments how you plan to take advantage of the new Hilton promotion, and don’t forget to register prior to September 9th under “My Offers” on your Hilton account.

All-time High Hilton Welcome Bonus Offers expiring 8/28

Good afternoon from Europe Derp Report readers! Excited to be on the team and providing you all with what I hope will be valuable information.

Recently the AMEX Hilton Ascend card was reverted back to its old name: Hilton Surpass. With this roll back came a welcome offer with the card that can be supremely valuable:

Welcome bonus offer

The 130k points would be solid by itself, but the free weekend night is the icing on the cake (and of course we are exempt from the $95 annual fee). This eliminates the one year Aspire upgrade wait for those of us racking up 2, 3, or even 4 Hilton cards. On top of this, you have an extra month added to the typical 3 month offer meet timeline! This kind of extra time can be key for the military churners who live overseas and have to wait 2-4 weeks for their cards to arrive in the mail. I’ve found over the last 8 months that I usually only have 2-2.5 months to meet minimum spend times due to the slow mail receipt out here. More on how I overcome the odds to track progress and meet spend on 2-3 overlapping card timelines in a future article.

In addition to the Surpass card, the AMEX Hilton Business card has the same welcome offer with the same timeline for minimum spend. The plain AMEX Hilton Honors card has an elevated welcome offer of 90k points for $2k spend in 3 months. Remember these all expire in less than a week on 8/28, so choose wisely! Even if you have zero AMEX Hilton cards, it would be wise to snag the Surpass now prior to the Aspire just due to this appetizing welcome offer.

Snag yourself an extra free night to use on amazing properties whether you’re stateside or Europe. I’m personally racking up three of the free nights this year (one with the Aspire, two from Surpass – one mine, one my wife’s) to use at this gem:

Remember your weekend nights work for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. If you want to do a week-long getaway, you’d be wise to start on a Friday or Saturday night, use 2 or 3 weekend night certificates and book the remaining 5 days with points (buy 4 nights with points, get the 5th free).

If you decide to go with any Hilton card, be sure to use derp’s referral links on the Beginner’s Churning Guide or Optimal Perpetual Wallet Holdings pages.

Good luck!
– wedstuntpuller