1 Million in 1 Year: How I Earned 1 Million Miles & Points From Credit Card Bonuses in 2011

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Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

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 [I currently earn a referral for only 2 out of the 16 cards mentioned in this post – The American Express SPG card and the Citi Thank You Premier card which  Emily and I both applied for.  As always, we are very grateful to the readers who apply for those cards using the links on the blog!]

When CNN Travel interviewed me in November 2011, I had earned only~900,000 miles and points for the year.

But I ended 2011 with over 1 million miles and points from credit card sign-up bonuses, and my credit score is still above 730.

That’s worth $10,241 if you assume a very conservative value of 1.5 cents per SPG point,  1 cent per airline mile, & 0.6 cents per Hilton and Priority Club hotel point.

Credit Card Churn

Daraius & Emily at the Holiday Inn Phi Phi, Thailand

Much more importantly, Emily and I have had terrific memories thanks to miles and points such as traveling to India in First Class, having a weekend proposal in London, visiting Brazil during Carnival, surprise birthday getaways, flying to see our families more often, and taking our parents on trips they otherwise wouldn’t have gone on.

I valued my Capital One Venture Reward points at $1,800 because I redeemed them for $1,800 in Hyatt certificates.  And I valued 110,000 Southwest Airlines points at 1.66 cents each which is the fixed rate to purchase “wanna get away” fares.

Churn Credit Cards - 2011

My 2011 Credit Card Bonus Haul

The retail value of the trips which I will take using these miles and points is much more than $10,241.  But I wouldn’t pay the retail value for those trips, so I don’t value the miles and points at retail value.

I had to complete minimum spending of $25,000 to earn the full sign-on bonus for most of these cards, and paid annual fees of $676.  I’m not a big spender, but managed to complete the minimum spending by using the 40+ ways to complete minimum spending requirements.

But if I had spent $25,676 ($25,000 in minimum spending + $676 in annual fees) on a 2% cash back card (my opportunity cost or my next best option), I would have earned only $514 ($25,676 X 2%).

Now you know why I spend so much time collecting miles and points!

I’m unlikely to earn that many miles & points in 2012, but I’m confident that I’ll easily earn a few hundred thousand miles and points to have Big Travel with Small Money.

The 2011 highlights for me were:

  • Earning 275,000 American Airline miles (that’s 11 free tickets within the US or 2 business class tickets to almost anywhere in the world) from 4 Citi American Airline cards and earning lifetime Gold elite status on American Airlines for earning over 1 million miles
  • Earning a Companion Pass on Southwest Airlines which will let Emily travel with me for free for the rest of 2012 and will let us have $3,666 worth of free travel
  • Having a credit score over 730 which will let me continue to earn miles and points from credit card sign-up bonuses

Why you shouldn’t do this

I don’t recommend applying for credit cards if you’ve got a big loan coming up, in which case it is prudent to get the best interest rate on your loan before applying for credit cards. I suggest no credit card applications in the 2 years before you get a big loan.

If you’ve got a short credit history or no credit history, you’re better off building your credit history and demonstrating your credit worthiness by making small purchases and paying them off in full before applying for more credit cards.

There’s also no point applying for miles and points credit cards if you can’t pay off your credit card balances in FULL each month.  The interest rates on all the cards below are very high, and will negate most of the miles and points you’ve earned.

You’ll never get ahead paying interest on credit cards, so don’t do it!

My strategy

I apply for credit cards in batches throughout the year (3 to 4 month intervals), and occasionally apply for cards outside those batches if there is a great limited time deal.

As I wrote last Monday:

In general, I apply for credit cards from different banks so that I don’t have credit inquiries (which usually happens every time you apply for credit) hitting only 1 credit bureau.

I want to limit the number of inquiries on each of the credit bureaus, because banks don’t like seeing too many inquiries (especially in the last 6 to 12 months) on your credit report.

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the 3 main credit bureaus in the US.  Banks will usually request a copy of your credit report from at least 1 (sometimes more) of these credit bureaus.  The exact credit bureau used depends on where you live and which bank you’ve applied for credit from.

Here’s a post which explains how to find out which credit bureau a bank may use.

Many credit cards require you to complete a certain minimum amount of spending before receiving the sign-up bonus.  I am careful to see that I can complete the minimum spending and use the 40+ ways to complete minimum spending requirements.

My Credit Score

[I get a referral if you sign up for a free Credit Sesame score.  Emily and I have used Credit Sesame for years and are very grateful to readers who sign-up using our link!]

Both my free credit scores from Credit Sesame (Experian) and  Credit Karma (TransUnion) are still above 700.

Credit Sesame and Credit Karma are not the official FICO scores which lenders use, but are proxies of your real credit score.

Credit Sesame

My credit score of 735 is roughly the same where it was 6 months ago.  I can’t see more than 6 months historic data on Credit Sesame.

Churn Credit Cards - Credit Sesame

My Jan 2012 Credit Sesame Score is 735

Credit Karma

My score dropped 32 points from 766 points in Jan 2011 to 734 points in Jan 2012.  But since my score is above 700, I still get approved for credit cards.

Churn Credit Cards - Credit Karma

My Jan 2012 Credit Sesame Score is 734

January 2011 – 75,000 miles

1.   Citi AAdvantage Business card.   I applied for 2 Citi personal American Airline cards (Visa and American Express), but was denied because it wasn’t 18+ months since my last successful Citi American Airlines card approval.

However, I was approved for the Citi American Airlines business card for 75,000 miles!  Business cards are a great way to double up on the miles you earn, and I’ve written previously how you may qualify for a business credit card and how to fill out the application.

Business credit cards don’t have the same consumer protections as personal cards, so do your own research before applying for them.

February 2011 – 34,000 miles

2.   Barclays US Air card.   I applied for the Barclay’s US Air card because Barclay’s pulled my credit report from TransUnion.  MyTransUnion credit report doesn’t see much activity (i.e. most banks don’t pull my TransUnion credit report when evaluating my credit) so this was a great way to get more miles and points.

The current offer for the US Air card is 40,000 miles and is better than the version which I applied for.  I got 25,000 miles as the sign-up bonus and 9,000 miles for making a 0% interest balance transfer for a $100 fee.

March 2011 App-0-Rama – 215,000 miles and points

3.   Capital One Venture Rewards.   I applied for both the business and personal Capital One Venture card which had a promotion where they would match your existing miles with other airlines with Capital One’s Venture Rewards miles.  So if you had, say, 100,000 miles in your Delta account, you would get 100,000 Venture Reward miles. You also got a 10,000 sign-up bonus for a total of 110,000 Venture Reward miles.

I remember applying and getting approved for the personal version late at night while in Brazil and then excitedly explaining to Emily what I had done.  But she just went back to sleep.

I redeemed slightly over 100,000 Capital One Venture miles for $1,800 in Hyatt gift certificates which I just used to pay for 2 rooms for 3 nights each at the Grand Hyatt in Bangkok.

But I wasn’t approved for the business version of the card and I couldn’t convince the reconsideration department to approve my application.

 4.   Chase Priority Club Visa.  I signed up via a targeted offer for 80,000 (versus the regular 60,000) Priority Club points.  If you’re wondering how to get the targeted offer, sign-up for Priority Club email and you should soon get an invitation for the 80,000 point offer.

I also got credit towards Priority Club’s “Crack the Case” promotion which was an extremely lucrative promotion.

This is one of the few cards for which I gladly pay the $49 annual fee.  That’s because I get a free night certificate every year (starting 1 year after you receive the card) which can be used at ANY Priority Club hotel including the expensive InterContinentals and Crowne Plazas.

5.   Chase Continental Business MasterCard.   Continental and United are merging so I could get the bonus on the Continental business card for only a limited time.  I earned only 25,000 miles for this application, and I wonder if I should have waited for a more lucrative offer.

I had to call the Chase reconsideration line to get approved for the business card (800-453-9719), but I was able to get it approved without much trouble.

July 2011 App-0-Rama – 340,000 miles and points

I wrote a more detailed report in my earlier post on my July App-O-Rama.

6 & 7.   Citi AAdvantage Visa & AMEX.  I applied for the Citi Visa and American Express using the 2-browser trick and was approved for both & earned another 150,000 miles.

In my opinion, this was the best credit card deal available of all time and was the number one deal on the “Hot Deals” tab.  I know that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is mesmerizing to some, but I’ll take 150,000 American Airline miles over 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points any day!

The current version where you could get up to 100,000 American Airlines miles, 4 lounge passes, and $300 in statement credits (after 2 purchases from American Airlines) by using the 2-browser trick is again, in my opinion, the BEST current credit card offer and is listed as #1 on the Hot Deals tab even though it doesn’t pay me a referral.

8.   American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG).   I applied for this card with a 30,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $4,500 within 3 months  via a referral on MilePoint (which was later open to everyone).

The current offer is for 25,000 points after spending $5,000 within 6 months which is still a very good deal.  The 30,000 point offer has surfaced in June/July in 2010 and 2011, so you may want to hold off until then for an extra 5,000 points.

9.   Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier  I paid the $99 fee and earned 50,000 points or $833 worth of US travel after the 1st purchase.  Even better, the points counted towards the 110,000 points needed to earn a Companion Pass (where you can designate a Companion to fly with you for free).  But I don’t know how much longer the points from the sign-up bonus will count towards the Companion Pass.

10.   Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines.  I paid the $79 fee and earned 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles after spending $1,000 within 4 months.  I immediately transferred these miles to Hilton hotel points at a 1:2 ratio and ended up earning 70,000 Hilton points.

Hilton points are not worth as much as an air mile, but I’m always short on hotel points.

Warning:  Bank of America may issue you a lower platinum card if you don’t qualify for the Signature card, which offers only 10,000 miles!  You can’t select which version you’ll get, so be careful.

11.   Bank of America Alaska Airlines card.  I paid the $75 fee and earned 40,000 Alaska Airline miles.  Alaska Airline miles are quite valuable because they can be redeemed on lots of different airlines.

November 2011 App-0-Rama – 320,000 miles and points

I wrote a more detailed report in my earlier post on my November App-O-Rama.

12.   Chase Southwest Airlines Plus Business Card I paid the $69 fee and earned 50,000 Rapid Rewards points which also counted towards the Southwest Companion Pass.  I earned a Companion Pass and Emily and I will have up to $3,666 worth of Big Travel with Small Money!

13.  Bank of America Virgin Atlantic AMEX.  I paid the $90 fee and earned 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles after spending $2,500 within 3 months and for adding 2 authorized users.

I transferred Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton hotel points in a 1:2 ratio and ended up with 100,000 Hilton points.

14.  Bank of Hawaiian Airlines Visa.  I paid the $79 fee and earned 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles after spending $1,000 within 4 months.

I transferred Hawaiian Airline miles to Hilton hotel points in a 1:2 ratio and ended up with 70,000 Hilton points.

Warning:  Bank of America may issue you a lower platinum card, if you don’t qualify for the Signature card, and that  card offers only 10,000 miles!  You can’t select which version you’ll get, so be careful.

15.  Citi AAdvantage Business card.  I was also eventually approved (more on that later) for the Citi business AAdvantage Visa with a 50,000 point sign up bonus, 2 lounge passes, and a $150 statement credit for any American Airlines purchase after spending $3,000 within 4 months.

This is a great deal and is much better than other versions of the card which offer 30,000 to 40,000 miles, but for a lower minimum spending of $750.

16.   Citi Thank You Premier card.  I was eventually approved for the Citi Thank You Premier card and will redeem the 50,000 point bonus for $665 in airfare within the US. 

This is a great card to use for coach trips within the US since there are no restrictions or capacity controls on the ticket you can buy.

But this only adds up to 984,000 miles & points!

Yes, that’s right.  But I got an extra 😉 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles from Bank of America after completing the minimum spending requirement for the AMEX Virgin Atlantic card which I will convert into 50,000 Hilton points.  I wouldn’t count on this happening to everyone though, but I’m not complaining!

And the 100,000 Southwest points ($1,666 worth of flights) which I earned from the Chase credit cards are actually worth 200,000 Southwest points ($3,332 worth of flights) because Emily will fly for free with me in 2012 (assuming I redeem 100,000 Southwest points during the validity of my Companion Pass).

Bottom Line:  Emily and I (& our family and friends) will have lots of Big Travel with Small Money for years to come with the miles and points I earned from my 2011 App-o-Ramas!

However, it is important to take care of your credit score and to not apply for too many credit cards at once.  And don’t apply for credit cards if you have a big loan or can’t pay off your credit card balance.

If used correctly, your credit worthiness (credit score) could unlock lots of Big Travel with Small Money!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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78 responses to “1 Million in 1 Year: How I Earned 1 Million Miles & Points From Credit Card Bonuses in 2011

  1. Wow! This post is very helpful! Thanks!

  2. You forgot to mention that the Citi AA Business card is churnable.

  3. What a recap! I loved reading how you earned $10,241 in value. I always value miles/points conservatively (based on how I redeem them) so it’s quite remarkable to see $10K+ even at low valuations!

    Now you have the fun task of deciding how to spend those miles and points 🙂

  4. Amazing summary! Your website is wonderful because you write with such clarity and detail. It has definitely changed my outlook on life and how to enjoy it.
    Question for you – based on this year alone, you’d have 5 accounts with Citi and 4 with Chase. You’ll accrue a ton of accounts as you continue applying, especially with the strategy of reducing credit lines on old cards to open new ones.
    How many accounts do you think is reasonable to have open for Citi, and for Chase? That is, before it affects your ability to apply for new cards, and you start closing accounts outright.

  5. Thanks for the write up! I am excited to apply for a few more cards real soon. I have the Chase Sapphire and Bold Ink which I acquired in the last several months. Think I will start on some Citi cards. Was sorta holding out for some large sign up bonuses but not sure if they are gonna have anything bigger than 50,000 each. Aiming for Citi AAdvantage Visa, Amex and then the Thank you Premier. All of these X 2 (me and hubby).

  6. Hi Daraius,

    can you comment on the details of the capital one venture card? I don’t see an offer for 110K miles anywhere. is this promotion expired?

  7. A million is a nice and very appropriate number for you, Mr. MMS! Congrats!

  8. I see you applied for the Citi AAdvantage Business card in January and then again in November; did you close/cancel that first one before applying for the second? Can you let us know what reconsideration process you went through in November? Thanks!

  9. Maury-
    Not so sure that CitiAA Biz card is still churnable. Starting a few months ago many of us on the CitiAA FT thread started getting approval up until the last step for a biz churn and then getting rejected for some reason. Upon calling we were told it was because we previously had an AA biz card. My attempted churn was about 6 months. No word what the churn time for that is now.

  10. Hey D,

    I’m new to this, but it’s been great so far…how sustainable are these points runs for the long-term. I mean after we initially sign up; we aren’t eligible for 3-4 years before we can churn again right?

  11. What criteria do you think determines if you qualify for the signature versions of the 2 HA cards? Or is it a gamble (creditsesame is at 777)?

    Also, does the 2 browser trick work for only the 2 Citi AA cards or could you mix and match Citi cards, i.e., apply for Citi AAdvantage AMEX and Citi Thank You Premier card on the same day for 1 inquiry.

    Btw, excellent post and congrats on your 1 mil+ haul.

  12. Would love to see a post on your Brazil Carnival experience as we are going there in a couple of weeks for it!

  13. Do you have a post, link or chart that list expiration time frame for either hotel or airline miles/awards if credit card is not used or when a room is not booked.

  14. It was my first year doing credit cards and I earned 500,000. Hope to get 1 million soon, once my credit history is a little better.

  15. My wife and I are California residents. My wife is a stay-at- home-mom, working just a few hours a week. Up until October 2011, she had no problem getting credit cards using Household Income on applications; she has not attempted any applications since the new law requiring Individual Income be reported. Since California is a community property state, can she continue to use our household income in the field for Individual Income?

    • @Lisa – Glad you found it useful!

      @Maury – I applied for and was approved for 1 Citi business card in Jan and cancelled that was approved for another in December, so the Citi business card could be churnable. But I don’t have another data point. I’ll write a separate post on my experience.

      @New Girl in the Air – It was quite impactful when I totaled it up and made me feel less guilty for spending so much time collecting miles and points. Now, where should I go?!

      @Allen – Thanks for your kind words! For Chase, I usually keep accounts open and if I’m denied I call the reconsideration line and either move credit lines or offer up cards to close. With Citi, it is harder, because Citi’s telephone reconsideration is not very helpful and you have to write in to get issues addressed. I’ve got 3 personal and 1 Citi business card, but I’ll cancel a personal card or two before my next Citi applications. Of course, the exact number of open account which may impact your application will vary from person to person because of variables in your credit history, income etc.

      @Kathy – Thanks! I’d get the 2 Citi AA cards 1st and after 65 days get the Thank You Premier and the Citi Business card. If you apply for all 3 at the same time, you’ll get denied for the 3rd card.

      @Charles – The Capital One Venture promotion ended last Spring (but is rumored to return this year). Check out the link in the main post for more info. That’s just a rumor – I don’t have any inside information!

      @Mommy Points – Ha! You know, I didn’t even think of that when I was writing the post!

      @CatJo – I cancelled the 1st Citi business card before applying for the 2nd one. I’ll write about my reconsideration experience in a separate post, but I had to write in twice to get approved!

      @tassojunior – Thanks for sharing. I suspect the churn time has increased, but if only we could find out exactly how long to wait!

      @C – To be clear – I don’t think 1 million miles and points in 1 year is sustainable. But it should be easy to find new offerings and card types to generate a few hundred thousand miles and points in a year. Here’s a post on churn timlines.

      @arjun – I really don’t know! I’m guessing lower income, shorter credit history, and a riskier profile. The 2 browser trick works with the Citi AA and Hilton cards. I haven’t read a report of it working with the 2 Citi Thank You Premier cards. I wouldn’t mix and match the AA AMEX with the TY Premier, b/c then you won’t be able to get the AA Visa for 18+ months. Much better to get 2 AA cards 1st and then move on to a different card.

      @Lauren – It was great! Very crowded, very friendly, very colorful. I’m not sure I can get to a post on Carnival in a few weeks, but have a great time! Don’t forget to carry a raincoat with you b/c it rained when we were in the sambadrome.

      @Kevin – I don’t have a chart, but it is fairly easy to keep miles and points active by either dining out, buying something from the associated online shopping mall, taking part in a promotion etc.

      @AK – There’s no rush. Take your time.

      @pianodude – I really don’t know. Sorry!

      @danny – I’m rarely able to charge big expenses at work to my personal card. $25K a year is ~$2K a month, which should be possible for many folks. Especially if you pay your rent or mortgage via credit card. I do agree that the minimum spending is an important factor in determining how many miles you can earn.

  16. thanks for posting the minimum spend along with the miles. i feel like reading a bunch of these travel blogs, that many of you bloggers can use spending as part of work which makes it difficult for the rest of us to match that kind of free points. anyway, seeing that it takes around 25k in spend to get 1million miles really puts it into perspective for myself and how many miles i can hope to get in one year. because i think for amateurs it’s not how many miles can you possibly get in a year, it’s how many minimum spends can one meet.

  17. I agree, the 2 AA cards should take priority over the TY Premiere cards but I already got the AA Visa back in Nov; however, I was rejected for the AA AMEX at the same time so I was thinking about trying for the AA Amex again as well as the TY Premiere.

  18. Credit Scores.

    So I just started using Credit Sesame and love the score it gives me. A lot closer to my score I get from American Express Credit Secure. The score I get from credit karma is 50-80 points lower. It looks like yours are inline. Not sure if anyone else has the problem.

  19. @Darrell, Credit Sesame is based off your Experian report while Credit Karma is based off TransUnion. These result in two different scores. Usually the end result is relatively similar, but my scores are pretty different due to a discrepancy on one of my reports, so you might want to pull up your credit reports and make sure that isn’t causing such a large difference in your scores.

  20. @Darrell-
    New Girl in the Air is right that you should check your credit report. I pay for Costco’s Identity Guard at $7.95 a month and I’ve noticed that the credit report I pay for and the credit report lenders pull is one in the same. However, for s**t’s and giggles I used Credit Sesame (through your link D & E) this morning and low and behold they had me at a score that was 20 points HIGHER than what my actual FICO score is. Granted, Experian is always my highest score amongst the 3 agencies regardless. My actual score is good and in the same ballpark, but I would pull a paid for credit report just to get the big picture and so you don’t have any surprises along the way. If you just want a ballpark figure and you don’t want to pay a one time or monthly fee then Credit Sesame is an option. And don’t use freecreditscore.com because I have seen first hand how their scores are inaccurate!

  21. That’s whats up! I’m right there with you. If you factor in bonus transfers from AMEX MR, and other things like referring AMEX cards, 10k Authorized users, etc.. I went way over 1.3 Million last year!

    • @arjun – I see. You’re likely to get denied for the AMEX again, but you could try for the biz card or see if you can get approved for 2 Thank You cards or 2 Hilton cards.

      @Darrell – Credit Sesame and Credit Karma are not your *real* credit score. Also, Credit Sesame is an Experian proxy and Credit Karma is a TransUnion proxy. New Girl in the Air and Corrine’s comments are spot on!

      @New Girl in the Air – Thanks for helping out. I pull my credit reports whenever I get initially declined and count the number of inquiries on it.

      @Corinne – Thanks for the detailed comment and for using our link! Many thanks. 🙂 I don’t want to pay for my credit score, but I just may have to do that just to see how different it is from my proxy score.

      @Travel and Credit – Congrats on your haul! I stayed away from the AMEX cards last year, so perhaps I’ll give them a try this year! 🙂

  22. Yeah I read about how brutal it was for you to finally get your SPG approved. Cheers to hoping that means a green light for solid AMEX offers for you this year.

  23. Did you check out the Le Meridirn in Koa lak in Thailand? An amazingly beautiful property for only 7k points per night.

  24. Hi Darius

    I just wanted to clarify. You were able to get 16 cards in one year or is this a combination of both Emily and yourself?


  25. Any suggestions for obtaining points for free or discounted hotels in central Europe? I have Chase Sapphire and AmEx SPG cards.
    I have 17K SPG points, 39K Hilton, 1K Hyatt, 5K Marriot and 64K Chase Sapphire Points. Not much compared to the 800K pts I have on Airlines.

    Would it be worth getting the AmexPlat? Hilton? Some other cards? Wait until something better comes along?


  26. Congrats on a great 2011!

    I currently own the Citi AA MasterCard. This is my oldest card (7 Years) and has a very high credit limit. I am thinking of calling Citi and seeing if they can transfer this limit to a card that doesn’t have an annual fee with the possibility of getting a new Citi AA MC. I applied for the Citi AA Amex on 7/17 and was approved w/ a 1K limit.

    Do you think I could apply for the Visa and MC via the 2 browser trick if I get Citi to move my line? I do realize that the MC bonus isn’t as good as the Visa unless you know of an offer that is better than 30K.

    I dislike having my oldest card be the Citi AA MC as I would like to churn it every 18-24 months. Do you know of any other options to get this credit line moved to another card with no annual fee? Are there any risks by moving this line if possible?

    Thanks in advance!

  27. Great post. This is why I read you daily.

  28. Hi,

    I’m curious about two things:

    1) Aren’t you afraid that some banks will read your blog and blacklist you?
    2) How long are you keeping the cards open?
    2.1) Roughly, how many cards do you currently have open?

    Thank you

  29. @Lauren-I am so excited for you!! Brazil was awesome! I will be emailing you shortly with some tips and a detailed trip report if you’d like to review it. Let me know if you have any further questions after receiving it. Have a great rest of the week! 🙂

  30. Hey there! Amazing Post!

    Quick Question, Where can i read up about getting those American Airlines miles via CitiBank, i got hte offer once of 75,000 Consumer, how can i get it again, and more of different ways?
    Thanks a Million!
    It’s a Rundtrip ticket to Aussie from the states! 🙂

    • @rich (arizona) – Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Hyatt and Marriott (the transfer to Priority Club is not a good value). The AMEX Plat won’t get you hotel stays since Membership Rewards points aren’t transferable to many hotels. Perhaps consider the Virgin Atlantic for 50K miles convertable to 100K HIlton points or the 2 35K Bank of American Hawaiian Airlines cards convertable to 70K Hilton each. Get the AMEX Hilton and you’ll have access to discounted award nights as well!

      @Jay – Thanks! I believe that you can get new personal Citi AA cards even if you have an existing version as long as it is 18+ months since your last approval from Citi for the AA cards. If you were approved for the Citi AMEX in July 2011, you are unlikely to get approved again until 18 months. I also wouldn’t close my oldest card, but would try to get it converted to a different card as long as the account history was maintained.

      @cdrunner – Glad you stop by!

      @Tom – Good questions. I suspect that I am a profitable customer for those banks, and I don’t advocate cancelling your card immediately after getting the bonus. I have about 16 open cards now.

      @Heshy – You most likely won’t get approved for another Citi AA personal card until it is 18+ months since your last approval. You could get the business card for 50K miles in the meantime, though.

  31. That’s a great, thorough post about credit card sign up bonuses. I’ve linked this article from my blog, hoping some people will read it and be inspired to do more credit cards!

  32. Great post Daraius! Congrats on making it over 1mil!

  33. I think your links for the Bank of Hawaii and Bank of America Hawaiian airlines are the same. You might want to change them to reflect the correct links. 😉

  34. can you offer some insight as to how churning a business card can affect your credit score? this seems to always be skipped over by every blogger.

  35. I love it!! Well done! I’d love to read a follow up post of the cards you closed this year and why. My husband and I just started doing the Miles ‘thing’ a few months ago. We’re a bit nervous with so many open cards (only about 4-5 each), but I can see that isn’t many compared to you. – love reading your posts!

  36. Congrats Daraius. Because of bloggers like you, I was able to go from being a completely newbie in March to getting my first card in June and then ending up with over 500k at the end of December. Now, I’m ready to take on a whole year of credit card signups!

    Quick question: I got denied the Citi/AA Biz card because of “too many recent inquiries” and then turned down again when I asked them to reconsider. They pulled my credit a second time for the reconsideration. Is there any hope in me asking them to reconsider a third time, or will it end up with them costing me yet another precious pull?

    • @oneeyejack – Thanks for letting me know. Links are now fixed!

      @dan – I believe that the credit inquiry will affect your personal score, but the actual credit line is on a separate credit report. This means that your score is dinged in the short term for the credit inquiry, but also that you don’t get the benefit of a lower credit utilization ratio since the new line is not on your personal credit report. That said, I haven’t noticed much of an impact on my credit score. Please email me if you have any more questions!

      @Melissa – Thanks! Here’s an earlier post on when I cancel my cards. If you’re just starting off, I’d suggest going slowly until you get more comfortable. I used to apply for much fewer cards when I just started out.

      @Extra Pack of Peanuts
      – Congrats to you too on your new blog. Good job! I was approved on my second reconsideration attempt. I’ll have a post on that soon. My experience with Citi is that they will reconsider if you have a good reason to get them to change their mind. But they are much harder than Chase or Bank of America. It may cost you another pull, so you’ll have to decide if it is worth it or not.

  37. I was trying to use the SPG link on your website for a personal card but it looks to me like the 25,000 bonus is dead for personal cards and only available in the business card… bummer. Hasn’t the SPG 25,000 bonus been a long term consistent offer? Is there a landing page out there that I’m missing?

    • @Mike – Thanks for using the link on the blog! I checked the link in this post, the SPG advertisement below the post, and the banner ad on the side of the blog and it links to a 25K offer for the personal card – 10K points after 1st purchase and additional 15K points after spending $5K within 6 months. Perhaps a different browser or deleting cookies may help? What offer are your seeing?

  38. It seems that it was my specific computer effecting which offer to which I was directed. The offer that I was seeing when clicking on the side bar advertisement seemed to only mention the 10,000 point bonus but nothing about the additional 15,000 for $5000 in 6 months. When I clicked the side bar advertisement on my ipad, it went through perfectly to the 25,000 point offer. I will delete the cookies.

  39. You mentioned that you’ve applied for a few Business Cards. I’m assuming you are applying as a sole proprietor. I’d be curious about the Credit Score impact of applying for Business Cards. It seems that the credit pull occurs on the personal credit report, but the Business Card itself never shows up on one’s private report. Do Credit Card companies only look at one’s personal Credit profile, or also at the business profile associated with that SSN? Is there any way to pull one’s business credit profile?

    Maybe that’s a good topic for a new blog post.

  40. Darius,

    When you applied & got approved for some many cards, in 2011, did you wait 6-12 months, before you cancelled each card?

    With so many credit cards & credit lines opened, especially with you applying every couple of months, why wouldn’t each new card company have a problem with that many cards in a person’s name or business?

    Thankyou for all your tips.

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  43. Darius,

    This is an awesome post! I only did 1/4 of what you have achieved in 2009 and still enjoyed travel till last year. I’m sure you will keep enjoying the miles and points and earning more in 2012. Keep up the good work!

    • @Sean – You can set up a business profile for your business, but that takes time. The business card counts as an inquiry on your personal report, but since the line isn’t reported it doesn’t affect your credit age and utilization ratios.

      @james– I would call the reconsideration line and shift credit around or cancel cards to get approved for new ones. I usually waited about 9 months before cancelling a card.

      @Mark – Thanks! I never thought I’d have more than enough miles and points, but not enough vacation days to use them!

  44. I am anxiously hoping that capital one does a similar match for 100 k like last year so both me and my wife can get it-

    2 questions when I look at their site now I do not see a venture business just 2 personal ventures – one for 1.25 and one for 2 miles per transaction- were both personal ventures eligible last year and if so do tou think the same AA statement would work for both applications. (I assume the business venture is now the sparks?)

  45. Any chance you could update your yearly graphic to include the dates you applied for these cards? I believe that would be valuable information as well…help us plan our spacing between banks, etc.

    Thanks, Darius! 🙂

    • @Gabriel – I could update the graphic over the weekend, but the month in which I applied is in the main post. In general, I try to leave at least 3 months between churns and usually do them around every 4 months.

  46. to get to 1M miles, can I also exchange points to mile? Currently I got an offer from US Airways Dividend Miles to convert hotel points to div miles to get 50% more miles. I currently have about 100K Marriott points & have no urgent need for any additional div miles, should I convert just to get the extra miles? What are the pros and cons?

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  48. A bit off subject b/c I can’t find a blog, but if one were to use your pts to redeem hotel rooms, do you pay taxes? I’m getting different answers and was just curious.

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  53. Hi Darius,

    Were you able to find out if the B of A cards are churnable?


  54. Thanks! I’ll be trying them 🙂

    You’ve a great blog

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  56. Does Emily sign up for all these cards too? Or do you share the cards listed?

    This website is great! Thanks for the help.

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  59. Daraius,

    When you were compiling this table, how did you go about creating your “conservative value of sign-on bonus” for each card or each program in which the miles are in?

    Also, how would value something like a sign-on bonus of two free Hilton nights at any Hilton?

    • @Andrew – I was using about 1 cent per mile for most miles and 1.5 cents per mile for SPG points. Each night could be worth $250 – more or less depending on where you redeem and how much you normally pay for hotels.

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