Cautionary Tale: New Churners War Story from Latest App-O-Rama

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churners war story

Churners War Story from the “Front Lines”

As I really hope all time readers know, Miles to Memories is not here to sell you credit cards. We do have indirect affiliate links that require several clicks and searches and using those links helps to support the site, but I would never want anyone to get a card that they don’t need/want.

In this hobby we are bombarded by credit card deals along with features and benefits. This is the best travel card and that is the best card for everyday spend. Take a look at this limited time offer and don’t miss out on that fantastic deal. I write about a lot of this stuff too. The truth is it can be exciting. I am genuinely excited by it personally.

What I think we don’t cover enough as bloggers is the difficulties that can arise in this hobby. From fraud encountered when manufacturing spend to the time suck that this hobby can have. For newcomers, it can be hard to see the whole picture. Do I think it is all worth it in the end? Yes, for me it is, but that doesn’t mean that it is all roses.

One Reader’s Story

Today I want to share the story of a reader who recently decided to go big with an app-o-rama. He has been emailing with me back and forth for the past couple of months and I have provided advice when asked, although he has done plenty of research for himself. With that said, he had never done a large application round and I don’t think was fully prepared for what was going to happen, despite all of the research.

This reader has great credit scores and no history of churning. He stumbled upon miles/points earlier this year and picked up a few cards piecemeal. Then he began planning this “app-o-rama”. After initially emailing me about it, I did mention I thought his plan was too aggressive. With that said, he had taken the time to investigate and felt ready.

Application Day

So application day came and he went for it. One after the other he applied for the cards that he had set out to get. One by one the applications went to pending and two were even instantly denied. Why? Well the main reason is probably lack of a relationship with the banks.

Since I am not trying to give out any personal information, I won’t tell you which banks and/or cards he applied for, but in the end he was able to get approved for 80% of the cards. Here is how he did it paraphrasing his own words:

  • For several banks he refused to take no for an answer and called back as many as five times to get an approval.
  • He was able to answer any questions specifically relating to his credit.
  • He had extensive notes about the features/benefits of the cards he was calling about and used them on the phone calls to sell the agents as to why he wanted them.
  • He spent time building rapport with the customer service agents on the phone.

To paint a fuller picture, he also mentioned feeling “defeated” and felt like this was a “battle”. Sometimes we forget just how personal all of this is. I am really glad he mostly had success, but there were a lot of lessons learned the hard way.

Data Points on Two Banks

While I want to leave specifics out for the most part, this reader did run into two issues that I think reinforce what we have learned lately. He tried to get multiple apps approved with BofA and ran into their new stricter policy of not approving more than 1 application. Frequent Miler mentioned this the other day as well.

He was also able to get both a Freedom and Sapphire Preferred card due to his lack of churning history. With that said, it took multiple phone calls to get the second card approved, but it does seem that there is still some wiggle room with Chase personal approvals, although I don’t believe that applies to churners.

Takeaways

Thankfully this reader seems to have learned a lot and has decided he will wait quite awhile before trying a huge application round again. That is the best course of action in my opinion. After having done this for a long time I have learned that banks are so much easier to deal with once you have established a track record with them.

Be prepared for a lot of work and emotion. Talking credit and finances with a complete stranger is exhausting and highly personal. You are going to have to defend yourself at every turn and it will feel as if you are under attack or in “battle” as my reader put it.

As I once wrote, slow & steady doesn’t make you a loser. You don’t have to apply for credit cards in huge batches. Do what you are comfortable with. This is real life. Real money. Real credit. There is a lot to understand here and a lot that can go wrong. The worst thing anyone can do is get in over their head. (For the record I don’t feel this reader has done that.)

If you are denied for a card then don’t give up. There is of course calling back like this reader has done and I have even mentioned how you can take reconsideration a step further if calling in fails. If they have already run your credit, you may want to pursue it as far as possible, but of course it takes time.

Finally, speaking of time and how “free” all of this is, I’ll quote this reader directly, “Nothing is FREE. And time is just so DAMN EXPENSIVE.” Very true and something everyone should consider when calculating their true cost in this hobby. It makes sense on so many levels for me, but that may not be the case for everyone.

Conclusion

I think our reader is happy with his decisions in the end, although he wasn’t prepared for the amount of time and energy it would take to get approvals. Thankfully he is now going to be building a relationship with these banks, which should make it easier in the future as long as he doesn’t try to do too much too fast. Thanks to him for letting me share his story.


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29 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Shawn.

    Great story. Thank you so much for sharing this because that really helps puts things into perspective and KEEPS IT REAL! Really useful commentary too. Good info man.

    Sounds like it was total “WAOR” out there for him. Good luck to him and to everyone in this game.

    Does anyone call this process “World of PointCraft”?? I think thats what we should call it.

    PointCraft or MileCraft…

  2. Glad to see the tightening of standards for applications. Churners beware, your game is being curtailed, you will actually have to pay your annual fee from now on with respect to a number of credit cards.

    What the blogger leaves unsaid, is that the object of this story likely did not have 4 or 5 outstanding credit cards in the past 2 years so as to qualify for both new Chase cards, and even then he was given the 3rd degree on the second card. The fact of no prior history of mass credit card approvals, as well as a good Fico score allowed him under the tent.

    Even so, with the above said, an 80% success rate is hardly something to brag about.

    Sure, we can read between the lines that the outright approvals were for AMEX and Citicards. Of course, AMEX are now once per lifetime bonuses and who knows what is in store for Citi in the future.

    The gravy train is thankfully coming to an end.

    Horrors that you will actually have to use your credit card for your needs or else MS to earn points — the days of big repeated bonuses are thankfully coming to an end for this “hobby.” Your words, not mine – I view the latter as just pure unadulterated greed.

    Flame away.

    • Based on your comments, I guess you dont approve of churners? Trying to understand your point here or why. I guess its greedy so its wrong, hence, you are thankful that the gravy train is slowing down?

      Since you posted here, you must read blogs and so you must be somewhat part of the World of PointCraft. Therefore, I am curious how you play that separates you from this Wall Street greed.

      Also, I am pretty sure nobody was bragging about the 80% success rate, nor was the author trying to hide any reasons for Chase CC approvals. He clearly mentions this.

      And your comment about Amex and Citi. Dont know what you mean. Approvals or you mean denials? The post mentioned 2 denials.

      Anyway, enjoy your week.

      • Agree with your sentiments. Cassandra apparently enjoys trolling blogs which have no use to her. I don’t understand why one feels the need to go out of their way to do such things. To each their own though. We’re all entitled to our opinion, for better or worse.

    • Why do you blame the churners and not all the scumbag bloggers selling credit cards day and night and making millions preying on the newbies?

      • A pox on both their houses. Anyway, greed motivated the former to follow the latter.

        As to the rest of the comments, I like to read these blogs because they also mention good deals to be had, they are not exclusively concerning churning and the like. I don’t approve of MS but it is permissible for now, so those who do it are not violating any rules. Same for churning, I’m just glad that the banks are wising up to this as it cheapens the value of the points I amass through credit card spend. So, if one wanted a reason why I am against these things, there you have it.

        I didn’t expect to get a warm reception here and you guys have not let me down.

        Please continue.

        • Thanks, I will continue. 🙂

          Permissable for now? I can’t help but get the impression your purview of how MS, economics and human psychology and their connectedness is lacking.

          Please note, this is not a personal attack. It is my and several others opinion that MS will never go away; Opportunities come and go and will take shape in different forms.

          As economic cycles hit peaks and valleys you can rest assured banks will be more or less generous with opportunities. This is the nature of the beast and capitalism.

          Human behavior also plays a huge role. In general, banks have enough data to quantify opportunities and capitalize on that percentage of customers who will become profitable in the long run.

          While MS can have an impact on banks strategies, it’s important to keep in mind not all changes are prpbably due exclusively to MS’ers. The Barclays arrival+ card change for example actually benefits MS’ers and hurts others. We (not you of course) can now, with 100% certainty, get the card for only the first year. If they wanted to deter MS they should’ve reduced the sign up bonus and given more incentive to keep the card long term.

          There is so much more to this but I’m not at liberty to dig deeper in explanation as I have my little one now walking all over the place. But rest assured that MS isn’t going anywhere.

          • Good points.

            I believe both sides of the table can always have valid points on this subject and I dont think there will ever be a clear winner between For/Against MS.
            Its all about MSing responsibly, staying DL when possible and watch out for the community and not be dick to everyone.

            Trust me, I know the new Chase rules suck. Devaluations suck. And I can also easily hate on bloggers and churners and MSers too who “break” the system and close up good deals for everyone. I mean look at how quickly some deals die and I am still bitter about the axe on REDBird CC load!! Not to mention stupid incompetent people keep breaking the Walmart MoneyCenter machine when they try to load over $2k in 10 min! Like dude! Respect your comrades man!

            But there will always be Axis and Allies in this game and we just gotta support the awesome honest ones who help those in need. Thats why I really like this post that details out a real experience of a reader so that others know the true story.

            Of course, theres always splash damage and innocent wives and children get killed in the crossfire. Its part of war. It sux.
            With the crazy expansion of the internet within the last 15 years, its almost impossible to keep anything a secret. Deals get shut down at a fast rate.
            Hotels get smart. Banks get smart. Airlines get smart. etc etc etc.

            But anthonyjh21 is right. Large financial institutions such as JPM Chase are not just looking to kill churners. There are many other factors at play so dont just think its all about the World of PointsCraft game. Thats part of the reason for sure, but specifically for JPM Chase, they were just fined $136 million for illegal debt collection practices on CC crap. That was only the recent one. It was raped up the butt from previous years as well.

            http://trib.in/1eHf4Oi

            So what does this mean? It means they cant just hand out credit cards to any dildo and increase their credit risk exposure and default collections. Again, we are talking about losers here and not responsible readers like you, but there will always be collateral damage and civilians get killed all the time.

            THIS IS SPARTA!!

    • I was only a manner of time before the churning train was slowed down by the banks. With big data and large profits they can afford to target bonuses to the most profitable customers. An churners don’t fit into this category.

      It is now actually going to take some work, effort, and a little $$ to play this game. The banks actually want people to spend $$ to get those points, imagine that.

      The loss of free churning and the ability to amass huge amounts of points that way is a classic Tragedy of the Commons…

          • Holy threadcrap Batman!

            Good detective work. Would give your post a like if possible. If it’s the same person (at this point the evidence suggests it is) it’s probably wise to starve him/her of attention and hope it moves on to another bridge to hide under.

            I’m all for having hot button discussions as I’d hope to learn new things. You can tell though when someone isn’t interested in such (Colin on DoC) at which point it’s a waste of everyone’s time. I really hope it’s not the same person.

          • wow… heated debate over there on the exact same Chase churning topic.. haha..

            I guess the World of PointsCraft is pretty small. Sounds like the “Call me Caitlyn Jenner” switch up w/ dual identities! Almost had us fooled.

            Either way, its always nice to have strong discussion. Gets IQ flowing.

            btw Cassy or Colin.. a/s/l ? jk..

          • Ah, my parents would be amused at this as we are of Greek origin. Thanks for pointing this out to me, it is nice that I am not the sole voice of moderation on these forums! I hope he was not scared off by his reception, though!

  3. I started this hobby a year ago and have taken a moderate approach I apply for a new card every other month. My husband does the same in opposite months. We have yet to be denied and do not have to resort to ms to meet spending requirements. We were able to get 14 nights in Italy and two business class tickets for a few hundred bucks in annual fees and taxes. It is a trip we would have likely put off for years due to the large expense. For us it has not taken much time or effort. We just have to be a bit organized. So thanks to all for the information shared 🙂

  4. IMHO, Wofford article, “Up in the Air”, on Lucky in Rolling Stones (1239/1240) paints the community as a joke. Really don’t need about Ben’s bf and getting lucky from a crew member. Deals take work and sometime luck; but Wofford portraits the ‘One Mile at a Time’ blogger as a flim-flam man.

    • Hey Kevin. Thanks for sharing man.

      I had no idea this just broke loose a few days back. Wow. Talk about polarized debate on FlyerTalk.

      I have to agree with you. We really dont need any more public articles on our game. Theres just no need. Nobody wins. Ben is big dawg already. He doesnt need an article written about him. I mean, do you see drug dealers doing interviews with DEA saying “oh ya, my hobby… I love it.. its the way of life.. this is what I do..” NO.

      Not saying we are drug dealers, but the Banks know about us, Airlines know, Hotels know, everyone knows and they dont like it. So why be interviewed? Hes not doing anyone favors by being written about.

      While no specific deal was “outed” within the article, the game was outed (no pun intended since hes gay). I mean everyone knows already that this game exists. I mean cmon, MEGA-DO? Ya. Thats a beacon. But again, dont need articles to attract more attention and ultimately attract the attention of the industry leadership to go “hm.. this is becoming a bigger problem.. lets all go 100% revenue rewards only..”

      • Curiously, none of the blogs seem to be touching this one. I think the article kind of makes Ben appear like a lonely boy-man who drinks and flies but never actually comes down to earth. I was made more aware of how he goes places but never actually sees anything, in strong contrast to, say, The Points Guy or Drew from TiF. There is a kind of desperation about him that is not exactly unique (any of us can have this), but somehow this is highlighted by his not yet quite had to face it yet. Over the years, I had read many blogs, and generally I have evolved as to who I valued and those I did not. I’ve struggled to put my dislike of OMAAT into words. I think now I see that it is principally because Ben has always seemed “foppish,” if I may use a quaint word here: privileged, intelligent, but vapid and insubstantial. The kickstarter campaign to get people to pay for him to fly and review First Class probably was the thing that really pushed that impression over the edge.

  5. Nice story. Sometimes I feel like this stuff is a battle as well, so I’m glad to see that sentiment is out there. I enjoy it though, and even when I get denied a card once in a while, there’s still a lesson in that. I tend to be relatively conservative with my apps, about 3-4 cards every 4 months. It’s fun but can be a drag when you encounter an ignorant and surly Target or Walmart employee.

    But it’s all worth it when you get to go on trips and make memories which you otherwise would not have been able to.

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