With the recent news that the Chase Sapphire card would slash its huge signup offer of 100,000 points, the debate over whether it’s a good idea to sign up for a credit card just for the signup bonus has been renewed.
Many people have engaged in this practice – known as credit card churning ¬– for a long time, particularly when credit cards were offering such huge signup bonuses, as Chase Sapphire was. Their bonus was worth about $1,500 in travel credits. Other cards offer signup bonuses worth several hundred dollars’ worth of gift cards, a round trip airline ticket, or a weekend in a luxury hotel.
But if you sign up for a credit card with these benefits, you are also likely paying an annual fee. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a hefty $450 yearly fee. That’s the same as the fee for the American Express Platinum card, another coveted credit card for elites. To get these cards, you need to have impeccable credit, a high income, and the willingness to pony up an annual fee. For some, it’s not worth it. Others don’t mind, as long as they collect their bonus rewards.
How many is too many?
One thing to think about is whether you will, realistically, use those credit cards you’re signing up for. Some of the cards don’t fork over the bonus until you spend a certain amount of money – charged to the card, naturally – in the first three months you have the card. Often, this adds up to about $3,000 in spending per card. That’s a lot to charge to your credit card, so be sure you’re able to pay it all off when it’s due, and not keep it as revolving debt.
Another thing to consider is that applying for too much new credit can adversely affect your credit score. So even if your credit is excellent, you don’t want to apply for several new credit cards in the space of a month, or even a few months. Be sure to leave enough time between applications so you don’t damage your credit.