Is It a Good Idea to Open Multiple Credit Cards for the Rewards?
Do you ever sign up for a credit card just to receive the reward? Among credit card reward enthusiasts, the strategy of applying for numerous cards in order to earn multiple sign-up bonuses is called credit card churning. But is this a good practice, and can it affect your credit score?
This post originally appeared on Credit.com.
How Credit Card Churning Works
Credit card issuers know that many people can be persuaded to apply for a new card when there is a valuable incentive
The Challenges of Credit Card Churning
Churning credit cards is not simple, but it is within the capabilities of credit card users who are organized and have a firm control of their personal finances. The first challenge is to find the credit cards with the most valuable sign-up bonuses, apply for them and be approved. To do so, you must have excellent credit and carry little, if any debt.
The next challenge is to keep track of the terms and conditions of each card in order to fulfill them and qualify for the sign-up bonuses. Most credit cards will require that cardholders complete a minimum spending amount within a limited period before receiving the sign-up bonus. For example, the Sapphire Preferred card from Chase currently offers new applicants 40,000 bonus points in the Ultimate Rewards program after they spend $3,000 on their card within the first three months from account opening.
Finally, some card issuers have cracked down on churners by limiting the number of times that a cardholder can receive the same sign-up bonus. For instance, many American Express cards include in their offers this statement: "If we identify you as currently having an American Express Card account, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer." One of the challenges of churning is figuring out these restrictions and working around them.
The Risks of Credit Card Churning
Needless to say, those who have credit card debt
Cardholders without credit card debt still run the risk of making unnecessary purchases in order to meet the minimum spending requirements earn credit card rewards. It doesn't take a cynic to conclude that card issuers are counting on customers increasing their expenditures to earn rewards.
Another risk is that cardholders can damage their credit scores or fail to qualify for a mortgage. Applying for multiple new credit card accounts will add inquiries to your credit report. This will frequently result in small, temporary drop in credit scores for each inquiry; however, the larger amount of credit granted and the increased credit history often benefits churners in the long run. Nevertheless, it would be unwise to apply for many new credit cards in the months leading up to an important loan application such as a mortgage.
If you want to see how credit inquiries are impacting your scores, you can check two of them for free on Credit.com.
Should You Do It?
Some may argue that it is wrong take advantage of credit card issuers by signing up for a credit card just to earn rewards. Proponents of churning counter that the banks choose to make and promote these generous offers, and they are free to curtail or restrict the offers. Furthermore, many churners feel like they are giving the banks a chance to earn their business, and that they may continue to use the best cards, even after the sign-up bonus has been earned. When banks turn a churner into a long-term customer, it is a win-win.
Note: It's important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
What is Credit Card Churning? | Credit.com
Jason Steele has worked as a computer systems administrator, a commercial pilot, and a contributor to several of the top personal finance sites as an expert on credit cards and travel. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in History.
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