Thoughts on my credit card churn…

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about churning credit cards. For a refresher, see my post on credit cards and churning, which I wrote a few months ago. Credit cards are one of the easiest ways to get free travel in Canada, since issuers just hand out tens of thousands of points for applications as welcome bonuses, hoping to attract you as a customer.

Credit Score

Credit Score

What is Credit Card Churning?

A simple definition of a credit card churn is that you are applying for multiple credit cards on one day. While the credit inquiries you get to your credit account do reduce your score by a few points, in the long term, having more credit actually increases your score because it reduces your utilization ratio.

Your credit score is determined by several factors, including average age of accounts, credit utilization ratio, and payment history, among other factors. You used to be able to obtain your credit score for free with Equifax up until March 31st, although it seems the website that gave you free access still seems to be up.

Potential Credit Cards Candidates

In this post, I’ll list out a few of the cards I want to get. I for the most part only get one card per issuer, because this will reduce the probability of a denial.

American Express Gold Business Rewards Card

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This card, although not a personal charge card, is the single most lucrative card in Canada because it offers 40,000 American Express rewards points as a welcome bonus, with a waived first year annual fee. No other credit card currently offers the same value. For more information, I detailed the offer in this post.

These points are convertible to Aeroplan or Avios. After completing the $5,000 minimum spend, you’ll have enough points for a one-way business class award ticket with Aeroplan to Europe Zone 1. One-way business class starts at $1,5000 apiece, so it’s a magnificent deal. The public offer is only 30,000 points, so my link offers an additional 10,000 points for signing up.

The question I get most from readers is whether you can get a small business credit card, and how to fulfill the fairly high $5,000 minimum spend. I’m not a financial expert, but it does not seem that there are any special requirements for the card, other than your business name and other related financial details. A few readers I know have already applied for the card getting approved on the basis of their personal income and financials.

It should be fairly easy to meet the minimum spend just by moving some of your expenses forward. For example, you could prepay your insurance and telecom bills or buy gift cards in advance for automobile and retail expenses. Breaking it down, you only need $1667 of spending per month to meet the minimum spend, which in my opinion is very reasonable.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

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The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is also worth considering, with a first year fee waiver and a 25,000 Aeroplan points welcome bonus after $1,000 of minimum spending within three moths. Again, the public link is worse than the best available signup offer since it does not offer the annual fee waiver.

I wasn’t eligible the last time they had the fee waiver back in November, so I simply haven’t gotten to applying. The offer is supposed to expire May 8th, although I’ve heard that the offer will be extended to late August (although I’m not 100% sure about that). This is quite good for topping up your Aeroplan balance if you’re running low. See my post about the offer for more details and a breakdown of benefits.

TD First Class Visa Infinite

a credit card with a plane flying in the sky

This is the other card TD is offering an improved offer on, with a 40,000 points signup bonus and waived first year annual fee. I wrote about this offer two months ago. These are TD’s own rewards points, so are only worth $200, but is a good choice if you already have a TD Aeroplan card, since you can’t hold two TD Aeroplan Visas at once.

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express

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This is the other American Express Card I am considering, with a 20,000 SPG points signup bonus. While it seems low, these are one of the most valuable points in the miles and points game because they are so flexible. 20,000 points will get you several nights at a lower tier property, and one night at a luxury Category 6 hotel like the W Paris or St. Regis Singapore.

These points also transfer at a 1:1.25 ratio (in 20,000 point increments) to Alaska or American, which have one of the lowest redemption levels for international first class. Thus, these points in my opinion are great for if you want to top up your airline balances for a First Class redemption on carriers like Emirates or Cathay Pacific.

Chase Marriott Rewards Card

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This card offers a 50,000 points signup offer through the link above, which will get you at least a night at most Marriotts and some Ritz-Carlton properties. While each Marriott points is not very valuable, I would get the card because Chase Canada is the only issuer offering Canadian Dollar denominated credit cards with no foreign exchange fee, which is especially valuable if you’re travelling a lot.

Alaska Airlines Mastercard

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As I mentioned earlier, Alaska points are valuable for international first class redemptions. The Alaska Airlines Mastercard offers a 25,000 point signup bonus, as well as a companion fare. While not a lot, I know that you may be able to get multiple Alaska Mastercards at the same time. This is probably one of the cards that are easiest to be churned, as it is issued by MBNA. The companion fare is quite useful for two people travelling on a cheap cash fare, since your second ticket is only $121 regardless of the price of the first.

What credit cards will you be getting in your next churn?

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  1. Enjoying reading your blog as my wife and I moved to Ontario from the U.S. two years ago so a lot of your info is useful to useful to us.

    What card do you recommend that has no foreign transaction fees? Any other cards besides Chase Marriott? We spend thousands a year in foreign money and can’t tell you how much we are paying in foreign fees, probably well in the hundreds or so.


    • It depends where you’re spending it. If in the US (and you already have USD) just go down south and get a USD$ debit banking account. Unfortunately, you don’t that many options other from getting more Chase cards.

    • Wife and I have Canadian credit cards and mostly use them since we have Canadian money now. We have AMEX Premier Gold card and BMO MasterCard Airmiles card and both charge foreign fees.

  2. Correct me if i’m wrong, but I thought that “churning” was applying for the _same_ card over and over again, not applying for many cards on the same day, which is an “app-o-rama.”

  3. We have 2 Canadian cards now (AMEX Premier Gold and BMO MasterCard Airmiles) and both charge foreign fees. We have Canadian income now so we mostly use Canadian cards.

  4. Wife and I have Canadian credit cards and mostly use them since we have Canadian money now. We have AMEX Premier Gold card and BMO MasterCard Airmiles card and both charge foreign fees.

  5. Thanks for the great post. So, how many in one day is “multiple”, and is it important to do it the same day ? Do we cancel on the “three month cycle” , as many as we were approved for, I just assume no one needs “many” cards at any given time. And should we both, as in husband and wife, do a application in each name, or 1 application per/family/per card ?

    thanks again !

    • It’s important to do the same day, preferably within a few hours. You don’t cancel on the three month cycle – that’s when you get more cards. You cancel before the annual fee comes up, or keep it as long as you feel there’s value. You and your husband can each apply separately.

  6. Hi there, thanks for the great post! Can you re-churn amex cards? ie if you got the bonus, and cancelled the card, can you reapply and get the bonus again? A card such as the AMEX AeroplanPlus Gold Card.

    • Yes, although there are some restrictions depending on the card. For example, with the TD Aeroplan Visa, you cannot have held the product in the past 6 months. You should check the terms and conditions of the application to confirm.

  7. Just thought I would ask if you have noticed any changes to the Alaska Airlines credit card since MBNA became part of TD. You mention that it was one of the easiest cards to churn, and I know that was true when it was still with MBNA. I had even heard (and done it myself) that you could hold two Alaska Airlines cards at the same time.

    I have had an Alaska MC since 2008 and at that time I managed to negotiate an annual fee waiver so I kept the card. I had applied for an additional Alaska MC back in 2011 and was immediately approved online, and cancelled it a year later, and haven’t applied for another one since. I recently submitted an online application recently and it wasn’t approved right away and was listed as pending. After 2 weeks without hearing anything, I decided to call in to ask what was going on.

    The rep mentioned that he saw on my repod a number of Amex cards which I opened and then closed (I churn the Amex Gold Rewards card as well), and asked why I was applying for so much credit. I’m certain he was looking at the Transunion report as I believe Amex pulls Transunion as well. He was reluctant to issue me more credit, especially after he saw that I already had an existing MBNA card. Finally he agreed to approve the new application, but it was definitely more difficult than I thought it would be.

    So, it seems to be much harder to churn the Alaska MC now that MBNA has been sold to TD. Or maybe it was because I had applied for a second card while having one already. Do you have any thoughts?

    • When I spoke with a TD contact, they said that they maintained different approval processes for MBNA even though it was sold to TD. I think perhaps it has to do with the AMEX pulls. Sometimes you’ll just have to take a breather for a few months before going for more.

    • I had the exact same concerns, because I’ve had no issues at all applying for MBNA cards (and holding several at a time) in the past. BUT – I recently applied for a TD card for the first time, and was shocked that I was declined because I have an impeccable credit rating. The reason for the decline was because I have a ‘high debt ratio’ (which is incidentally complete BS, since I have a very high household income, and pay off the 3-4 cards I use each month, while the other 4-5 have zero balances and are unused). When I asked on FlyerTalk about the decline, the consensus was that the adjudicator determined the high debt ratio simply from the amount of revolving credit I had (which IS a lot). BUT other FlyerTalk members noted that revolving credit needs to have balances carried (which mine do not) to be used to calculate your debt ratio.

      My theory is that the adjudicator took one look at all the credit cards I am holding and declined it because of that. From what I’ve read online, not only is the TD application process a nightmare, getting your Aeroplan sign-up points from them is also a disaster, too. In light of my own experience with TD, and others I’ve read online, I’d avoid TD like the plague. It’s a wasted pull…and then a complete headache after that!

      After this bad experience with TD, I was concerned that the new MBNA application process wouldn’t be ‘instant’ and based on credit rating alone, as it had been in the past. It sounds like their approvals use their old system, which I hope is true…I should find out really soon when I apply for the Alaska card again…

  8. @Dale There is a second Chase card in Canada with no foreign transaction fees, the Visa card. This has the advantage over the Marriott card of having no fee. It also gives you 1% back – not much, so I primarily use it out of the country.

    But I actually wanted to ask about churning Amex cards, so my question is like Ryan’s. I was under the impression you could only get a card’s bonus once in your lifetime. Is that true in Canada or is that just in the US?

  9. @Dale – we just maintain both US and Cdn credit cards even though we only earn Cdn money now. Cheaper to exchange money to USD to pay off the US CC bills. Plus we get so many miles through US credit card churns. Helps that we have a friend in the US to use as a mailing address.

    We have barely dipped our toes into CCs here in Canada. (although the Marriott promo was great!)

  10. Wondering when I can apply for the Alaska card again — opened October and closed March most recently, no spend on the card, have had it several times in the past . Would you think that six months is sufficient?

    Same question and similar timing for Marriott.

    May delay them as I am churning multiple Amex even more aggressively , and the sign up bonuses are more attractive. And I had to get a couple of additional cards in the last few months as well.

    Also, do,you still have some off the public grid for discussing stuff that is too hot for the light of day?

    • Yes, I’d think that’s enough. Marriott I’d wait a bit longer before reapplying. Unfortunately, my private group is closed for additional members at this point. I’ll let you know if slots open.

  11. Don’t forget that cashback sites like GCR also offer incentives for credit cards.
    Example: right now, they still have the First Year Free on the TD Aeroplan Infinite, plus an additional $60 cashback for signing up (not to mention the free 25,000 miles after spending $1,000)

  12. Thanks for the info. I’m totally new to this so it’s a great help! Question: do you cancel a card once the initial one-year annual fee waiver has expired?

  13. I want to earn more Alaska miles. I just canceled Alaska MBAN MC. How long later I can apply this card again to rewarded welcome bonus miles again? Also I though churning is cancel the credit card and apply again to receive the welcome bonus again. You said apply multiple cards at the same day. Does that mean write multiple MBNA Alaska MC applications on the same day under my name and MBNA will issue me multiple Alaska MC to my name and offer the equal quantity of welcome bonus miles? (ex. apply 3 Alaska MBNA same day under one name. I will get 3 MC with 75,000 Alaska miles?). THANKN YOU

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