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How to Develop a Credit Card Churning Strategy

Elizabeth Aldrich

No idea what churning is? Start here.

Now, if you’ve read my other articles, you’ll remember I mentioned the importance of doing research on credit card churning before jumping in blindly. After getting an understanding of what churning is and if it’s right for you , the next step in your research is to develop a churning strategy. Which cards should you apply for, and when?

The answer is, as always: it depends.

What are your goals?

The first step in choosing cards is to figure out what your churning goals are. Yes, they need to be a little more specific than “I want free stuff”.

What are you trying to achieve with your rewards? Most people churn for travel and vacation rewards, so that’s what we’ll focus on. Where do you want to travel? Do you want to fly first-class, or is coach sufficient? Do you need hotel points or do you plan on traveling to places where you can stay with friends and family?

Set up clear goals for yourself. If you’ve got a trip planned in the next 6-12 months that you haven’t yet booked, a perfect first churning goal is to try and get the flights and hotels for that trip free. If it’s a domestic trip with you and a partner for less than a week, this is totally doable with a moderate or even slow churning strategy. Bigger trips are feasible with a more aggressive churning strategy, but that’s not always advisable for beginners.

About the author

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and “digital nomad” specializing in small business, entrepreneurship, career advice, real estate, travel, arts, and culture. She’s written for outlets as varied as Rawckus Music and Arts Magazine, Itcher Entertainment, Sweden Tips, Houzz, Hometalk, JobHero, Tico Times, and Eugene Weekly. Thanks to a three-year stint in a travel job, a knack for mining great deals, and credit card churning, she has not paid for a single flight since 2012, despite her constant travels. You can find her on Twitter @LizzieAldrich or her website,

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