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Reader JP sends in the following question:
Hi Lucky, I recently started reading your blog and am new to the credit card game. I have a good credit score (>750), do not plan on taking out a loan/mortgage anytime soon, and have not signed up for a new card in years. I am wondering which cards you would recommend for a first time churn?
Without knowing which card(s) JP currently has, I think there are a few obvious picks, both in terms of the best sign-up bonuses as well as the best benefits for actual everyday spend.
In general I advocate signing up for as many cards as you can on the same day, since the inquiries from the same day won’t yet be reflected on your credit score, maximizing your chances of being approved for each card. Furthermore, often times applying for multiple cards on the same day will result in fewer inquiries, assuming certain cards report to the same credit agency. That being said, you should limit the number of cards you sign up for at once based on the minimum spend requirements. In other words, if you sign up for five cards at once and they require $15,000 worth of spending within a few months, only you can know if that’s something you can accomplish. Of course there are ways to “generate” spend, like Amazon Payments (pay up to $1,000 per month by credit card without fees) and Paypal (there’s a fee, though when you’re trying to reach a minimum spend requirement I find the cost to be worthwhile).
With that out of the way, I’d sign up for the following cards (in order of preference):
This one’s the absolute no brainer, and anyone that voluntarily doesn’t have the card is borderline nuts, in my opinion. 😉
Not only does it have an amazing sign-up bonus with no annual fee the first year, but the earning potential on the card is amazing as well, between double points on dining and travel, and no foreign transaction fees.
Chase will only typically approve you for one personal card at a time, though you can usually pick up one personal and one business card in the same cycle. So between this card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred you’re looking at 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points, enough for a business class ticket to Europe. The card also has no annual fee the first year and a very nice sign-up bonus.
Between the two personal cards and one business card it’s possible to pick up 150,000 American miles at once, more enough for a first class ticket to Asia, Australia, or Europe.
4. Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express: 25,000 points after spending $2,000 within three months and/or The Platinum Card® from American Express: 40,000 points after spending $3,000 within three months
American Express doesn’t set a formal limit to the number of cards you can get approved for at once, but since the Premier Rewards Gold card and Platinum card are both charge cards, I suggest getting just one at a time to diversify a bit. Which card is better for you comes down to what you’re looking for. The Platinum card comes with access to airline lounges (over 600 worldwide), Global Entry fee waiver ($100 value), and $200 per year airline fee credit (you can get this for two years with just one annual fee, meaning this benefit is worth up to $400). That being said, the annual fee is $450 and not waived the first year.
At the same time they’re offering a 25,000 point sign-up bonus on the Premier Rewards Gold card when spending $2,000 on the card within three months. The card’s annual fee is waived the first year, and the earning potential on this card is amazing. You earn triple points on airfare and double points on gas and groceries.
5. Starwood American Express Personal: 25,000 points after spending $5,000 within six months and/or Starwood American Express Business: 25,000 points after spending $5,000 within six months (post with card benefits)
Both the Starwood business and personal credit cards come with 10,000 points after the first purchase, and an additional 15,000 points after spending $5,000 within six months. There aren’t many cards with as much flexibility as the Starwood American Express, and it was actually my first ever “real” credit card.
The main reason I mention these cards is because they’re not issued by American Express, Chase, or Citi, and therefore are worth considering since they won’t prevent you from acquiring another card. The Alaska credit card is one of the few cards that’s still churnable (meaning you can earn the bonus multiple times), while the US Airways credit card is always useful since you can buy the remaining US Airways miles through one of the “buy miles” promotions they’re always running.
Anyway, those are my top picks for someone just getting started. Did I leave out any important ones?