Whenever I ask for resources that people wish existed on Twitter, I get the same answer “what credit cards are churnable”. I’ve tried to put a list together several times but have been overwhelmed or got involved in other projects. Thankfully I’ve finally bite the bullet and below is a list of the major credit card issuers and if it’s possible to churn their credit cards.
What Does ‘Churnable’ Mean?
In this context churnable means that it’s possible to get the sign up bonuses repeatedly. For the purposes of this article, we will consider a credit card churnable if it’s possible to get the bonus more than once. Where possible we will outline how many times it’s possible to get each bonus and what the restrictions are.
First, a few disclaimers/things you should be aware of:
- Make sure you ask yourself these questions before applying for ANY credit card.
- Your milage may vary, just because something worked for myself or others doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for you. There is always a risk that your bonus won’t post, only you can decide if that risk is worth it.
- Just because you can get a bonus twice or three times or five times doesn’t mean you’ll continue to get it. Use common sense, applying for the same cards over and over is eventually going to lead to denials.
- It might be more difficult to get approved for cards you’ve already held. This article doesn’t look at this at all. But let’s imagine you already hold a card then apply for another one, you’re not instantly approved and you need to call the reconsideration line. How can you explain your need for a second card? I usually state it’s because I want to keep certain expenses separated, but this doesn’t always work. This is also the case for cards you’ve previously held, be ready for questions such as “I noticed you’ve had this card before but cancelled it, why did you cancel it and why do you want it again?” often followed by “I see you’ve signed up for a lot of new cards recently”
- Typically you need to close the existing card before being eligible to get the bonus again. We’ve done our best to indicate when this is and isn’t necessary below, if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments.
Major Card Issuers
As of May 1st, 2014 it’s only possible to get each credit card bonus once per lifetime on personal cards. If there is a sign up bonus that is higher than the bonus you received then you can apply again and receive the incremental difference (e.g if you originally sign up for a card and it has a bonus of 40k points and then cancel your account, if the bonus suddenly jumps to 100k points you’d receive 60k points which is the incremental difference).
As of February 25th, 2016 it’s also only possible to get each credit card bonus once per lifetime. Not sure if the same incremental difference applies to business cards as well.
Even if you didn’t get the bonus the first time (e.g. you missed the spend requirement) you still won’t get the bonus the second time around.
All that being said, sometimes targeted offers do not include the once per lifetime language, in that case you can get the sign up bonus again.
Bank of America
All Bank of American cards are churnable and there isn’t any minimum waiting period. It’s worth remembering that recently Alaska Airlines has been shutting down some accounts for this practice and Bank of America is seemingly making it more difficult to get applications approved. It’s possible to sign up for both the business and personal cards on the same day. While this data is only for the Alaska co-branded cards, I imagine it’s applicable to all BofA cards – although I’m not sure why you’d want to repeatedly sign up for their other bonuses.
Also remember that you can downgrade your BofA cards to the BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards card and you can earn $100-$120 per year.
BofA is weary of extending too much credit to an individual, this means they might not give you a higher credit limit if you repeatedly sign up. The only problem with this is that if they give you a credit limit under $5,000 they won’t give you a Visa signature card, instead they’ll give you the Visa platinum. The problem with this is that the platinum card usually comes with a sign up bonus of 4,000 miles and the signature comes with a bonus of 25,000+ miles.
All Barclays cards are churnable. The general consensus is that it’s best to wait a minimum of six months in between applications and that it’s better not to call the reconsideration line. There doesn’t seem to be a hard limit of how many times you can earn each sign up bonus, as long as you’re approved for the card you’ll get the associated bonus. If you already have the card, you need to close it before re-applying otherwise you will be automatically denied.
The Barclay Arrival+ cards have also now been confirmed to be churnable. To improve your chances of being approved with Barclaycard, it’s always a good idea to try and put as much spend on existing cards as possible before applying, as they want to see you using current cards before extending you additional credit.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is the fact that when you apply for a credit card from Capital One they pull from all three credit bureaus. Because of this and the generally low sign up bonuses people generally do not try to churn these cards, so there are very few data points.
It is possible to churn Capital One credit cards, and so long as you’re approved for the card you should get the bonus. (Data points: 1, 2, 3.) You can even have two of the same card concurrently and get the bonus on both; you don’t have to cancel it to get it again.
However, Capital One won’t process more than one application per six months. Personal and business combine for this limit, apparently.
There are a couple of different rules when it comes to Chase.
- Most cards fall under the Chase 5/24 rule. This means you won’t be approved if you have more than five new accounts (and not just new accounts from Chase, but all card issuers) within the past 24 months. This rule doesn’t apply to all cards, you can view the cards that this does apply to here and the cards it doesn’t apply to here. It’s also possible to bypass this rule, more details on that here. The most popular way to bypass this is by getting a pre-approved offer in branch, we have a good F.A.Q on that here.
- If a card changes significantly, then it’s considered a new product and you can get the sign up bonus again. For example, when Chase Ink cards switched from being processed by Mastercard to being processed by Visa it was possible to get the sign up bonus again.
- If it’s been more than 24 months since you’ve received a sign up bonus for a card then you’re eligible for the sign up bonus again. You also need to not have the card currently open as well. For example, if you received the sign up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred 26 months ago and still hold the card, you can’t apply for another and still get the bonus. If you cancel then apply (assuming you’re approved) you will get the bonus.
- All Sapphire cards are considered one card product, and you have to wait 24 months between getting the bonus on any Sapphire product. Further, you can only have one Sapphire card.
When it comes to the third point, this is clearly stated in the “offer details” of the majority of Chase’s cards. You should be looking for the following language (emphasis mine):
This new cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this consumer credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months.
If you can’t find the above on an application page (make sure you hit the small “offer details” link first) then Google is your friend. Type in this command:
- Site:chase.com <card name> previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months
Then just make sure the sign up bonus and other details are the same. I don’t think you’ll have any issues even if the above isn’t on the offer you want to apply for, but better safe than sorry.
If you had the card without a signup bonus, you should be able to signup again within 24 months and get the bonus, provided you don’t currently hold the card.
Citi cards used to be highly churnable, the screws are currently being tightened but there are still some opportunities out there. Before we outline those there are a few rules that are important to remember:
- Maximum of one Citi personal application per eight day period
- No more than two applications per 65 day period
- No more than one business application per 95 day period
In addition to this, you’re only eligible for the sign up bonus if you haven’t opened or closed a card within that brand/family in the last 24 months. More information can be found here.
The sign up bonuses on the Discover it card are usually lackluster (highest of $150) so there isn’t a whole heap of appeal in churning. The main draw card would be to double the $1,500 in spend you could earn 5% cash back on in rotating categories every quarter. At the moment this is a little bit more interesting because of the Discover double cash promotion, it’s possible to have a maximum of two Discover credit cards and your first card must be opened for twelve months before you can open a second card.
U.S bank can be a stickler when it comes to applications, to make your life easier we’d recommend freezing your IDA & ARS credit reports before applying for any cards with them. Update: Well Traveled Mile as able to get the bonus a second time. As was this comment.
- Club Carlson: Most people opt to keep the Club Carlson cards as the annual fee is never waived for the first year and it comes with a 40,000 point annual bonus, I’m unsure if it’s possible to churn this card but I wouldn’t recommend it anyway as you’re basically just getting a 40,000 point sign up bonus (because if you kept the card you’d get 40,000 points anyway for the same annual fee).
- FlexPerks: There are two versions of this card, one is an AmEx the other is a Visa card, both have the same fees and benefits (although only the Visa seems to be offered when there is an Olympic promo running)
Wells Fargo cards contain the following language:
- If you opened a Wells Fargo credit card within the last 16 months, you will not qualify for the introductory rate(s), fees and bonus offers.
Smaller Card Issuers
- These cards are not churnable. In fact if you’ve been approved for one of the Avianca cards before then they will not approve you for another one (even if it’s the Vuela you’re applying for instead of the Vida card). One positive is no credit inquiry is done as they don’t let you proceed with the application.
City National Bank
- Bonus Points offer is limited to City National Bank clients and colleagues who do not currently have, and have not had within the 24 months prior to the date of application, a City National Bank Visa personal credit card account (this comes directly from an e-mail they sent announcing the offer).
According to this comment, it’s possible to get the sign up bonus on the Virgin American cards more than once. The reader had held the cards for more than one year, then cancelled them and reapplied after one month and got the bonus again. That means these cards are churnable.
I’d personally not recommend churning cards until you’ve already hit up the best offers at least once first. Whenever you apply for a card the second time, it’s best to assume that you probably won’t get a second time and be surprised when you do. I’m sure there are some inaccuracies in this post, feel free to add your data points in the comments below and I’ll update the post accordingly.
If there is a card issuer that I missed that you’d like more information on, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to add information regarding those cards. You might also find the following posts particularly useful:
- Downgrade rules and the best options for each card issuer
- How to check for pre-approved/targeted offers for each card issuer