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Why don’t I write more about credit card ‘churning’?

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I had an email from a reader recently who asked me about how easy it was to ‘churn’ various credit cards, ie cancel them and then reapply, picking up another sign-up bonus.

He suggested that I write a specific article about it. I said that I wasn’t keen. However, I then had second thoughts and decided to write a Head for Points post to explain WHY I didn’t want to write a specific post about card churning.

The main problem with writing about churning is that, apart from American Express and Lloyds, the card firms generally do not publish their policies.

American Express is very clear. For the Gold and Platinum cards, you can have the sign-up bonus as long as you have not “hold or have held any Membership Rewards enrolled American Express Card in the past six months.” For the BA cards, bonuses “are not available if you currently hold or have held any other British Airways American Express Cards in the past 6 months”. Easy.

Lloyds is also very clear, in a very bad way. For the Avios Duo cards, “Customers will only be eligible for one joining bonus from Avios. In the event that a customer re-applies for the Premier Duo Avios Credit Card Account or upgrades from a Lloyds TSB Duo Avios Credit Card Account, Lloyds TSB may process an application and issue the Premier Duo Cards but Avios will not award a further bonus offer.” You need to pick the offer you accept very carefully, because you won’t get another shot unless you apply via your partner.

Barclays, issuer of the Hilton and Priority Club cards, has no stated policy. MBNA in general also does not make any statements about this.

How do Barclays and MBNA react to churning?

There are good reasons why I don’t write about churning MBNA and Barclays cards – I simply don’t know the answer.

MBNA can be very flexible when they want. I just got the American Airlines card, for example, despite having a ludicrously high credit limit on my MBNA BMI MasterCard. This is almost certainly due to the fact that I am a heavy BMI card user over many years and MBNA doesn’t want to annoy me. It is difficult to imagine anyone who got an MBNA card two months ago with a £20,000 limit would be able to get another MBNA card today with a £10,000 limit.

Recent comments on Head for Points by readers suggests that MBNA is starting to get tougher on multiple bonuses. There have been reports of readers denied the bonus on the Miles & More and American Airlines cards because they once had them many moons ago. It is not clear if this is now policy or just certain readers getting unlucky.

I have also had the Hilton card in the past, and my wife currently has the Priority Club card. This take me to a key point – I am not a heavy churner myself. What I tend to do is apply myself one year, my wife the next year, and then myself the next year. This leaves a 2 year gap between applications in the same name, which is not exactly pushing the boat out.

I also don’t like to encourage aggressive card churning via Head for Points.  I treat miles and points as a long-term game. I want to keep all of the card companies on my side for many years to come, so I don’t want to push my luck with any of them. No sign-up bonus is so big that it is worth getting secretly blacklisted by the issuing company, as you will only end up worse off over the long term.

There is, frankly, no point in trying to set a British record for churning the maximum number of credit cards within a year. Pace yourself! It will pay off in the long run.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% for 3 months if you apply by 31st March) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (29)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Roger says:

    The Aqua 3% offer is no longer available for new applicants.

    Beware of putting your account in credit before you travel as it’s not allowed. The way round this is to pay off your spend as you go using Faster Payments from your bank account. This allows more spend than your limit, though does require monitoring. (Faster Payments are more or less instant though won’t show for a couple of days. Debit card payments can also be made but take longer to show.)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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