Deja Vu All Over Again and Credit Card Stock Picking…

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Another month, another churn.

The Dividend family completed another seven Card churn last week (this time in my wife’s name.)

And the results are in, so why not do a bit of a review?

Below are seven cards that we applied for.

If the cards look familiar its because they are identical to the “highroller Churn,” that I concocted for my friend months ago.

We were looking for a big bang in terms of miles and weren’t afraid to drop a little cash in order to get it.  (Flying a family of 5 to Japan every year takes miles and lots of them)

Below you will find the seven cards that we applied for along with hyperlinks to the application pages for them. (Feel free to play along should you so choose.)

Chase Southwest Business Card

and

Chase Southwest Personal Card   

(Note this offer is dead since I applied, so no link.  Sad, but it should come back in the coming months.)  Also the Ink card has a limited time 60,000 Ultimate Rewards point bonus right now, so feel free to work that in, in place of the SWA business card.)

Bonus: 50,000 Southwest rapid rewards miles on each.

Annual fee: $99 not waived. (X 2 cards)

Spending requirements: $2000 on each within three months.

(With an additional $6000 worth of spending on either of these two cards we will become eligible for our second the Southwest companion pass, the blue ribbon prize of the miles game. which essentially kicks up the value of the 100,000 bonus miles to 200,000 miles.  For more on the companion pass see here.

Result: approved for both after reconsideration calls. We moved some credit line over from her united personal card to close the deal on the personal card.

Citi Executive Advantage World Elite Mastercard From American Airlines

Bonus: 100,000 Aadvantage miles plus the $200 statement credit.

Bonus bonus: access to all American Airlines admirals clubs and some partner clubs for The cardholder and a guest.

Fee: $450 annual fee not waved. (Though this is essentially a $250 annual fee given the above statement credit)

Spending requirement: $10,000 in three months!

Result: Approved after a reconsideration call.

Citi Aadvantage Visa Business Card from American Airlines

Bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles.

Fee: Waived the first year.

Spending requirement: $3000 in three months.

Result: Approved after reconsideration call.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card

and

Starwood Preferred Guest Personal Card

Bonus: 25,000 Starwood preferred Guest points (X 2) +10,000 Starwood points for referring her from my account!  (And I would be obviously be happy to do the same for you if you wish to contribute more Starpoints to our account, just leave a comment and I’ll email you an invite)

Fee: waived the first year.

Spending requirement: $5000 in six months (X 2)

Result: Approved after reconsideration call for business card. Instant approval for personal card.

Barclays Usair Mastercard. (I applied for this card first, to avoid being rejected.)

Bonus: 40,000 US Air miles after first purchase.

AnnualFee: $89, not waived.

Result: rejected, Again! Sad, but true.

So all in all we are looking at a haul of 310,000 Southwest, American, and Starwood miles.

With the companion pass our effective miles will be boosted another hundred thousand miles for a grand total of 410,000 miles, from which we will get conservatively $6000 worth of value.

For this we will have to pay $540 in annual fees.

And of course we will have to “spend” $27,000 in six months.

Which shouldn’t be too hard.  (Honestly…)

$10,000 a month can be spent on mortgage, bills, etc., via Bluebird and Visa gift cards.

$1000 a month can be spent for free with Amazon payments.

And I will probably spend $5-$10,000 a month “investing” in stocks with loyal3. (I may make some money with this and I may lose some money. )

That’s an easy $60,000 per 3 months in spending, without really depleting our bank account beyond the yearly fees and costs of gift card purchasing..

Speaking of loyal3, I already completed my first $2500 invested in Berkshire Hathaway last week. I cashed it out after four days having made $50 (of which 25 will go to the taxman if I don’t accrue some capital losses later on this year. )

This is a lovely technique for meeting minimum spending requirements for credit card bonuses. In my gut I suspect it’s a little bit too lovely. There’s no way it can last. So I will partake in this while the getting is good.

Even if the Loyal3 angle proves fleeting, it’s been interesting reading up on individual stock investing and stock valuation. I learned 3 main Lessons from that reading which I would be happy to share with you.

1. There are no great values to be had in the loyal3 portfolio. I haven’t found one stock that’s trading below 100% of its intrinsic value by my calculations.

Because of this, I Have no interest in buying and holding any of these stocks.

2. I’m glad I’m a passive index fund investor. Buying the whole haystack is easier than reading the tea leaves when it comes to individual stock selection. That passive index fund investing is statistically more profitable is a nice little bonus.

3. I’ve developed a strange screening criteria for Loyal3 purchases.  Since I don’t really want to own any of these stocks, I’ve decided to focus on a strategy of buying and selling stocks with lower beta (because I’d like to avoid big gains and losses as much as possible), and no dividend yield (because I’d like to avoid paying taxes unnecessarily). And if possible I’ll try to avoid companies with significant debt (as they may be more vulnerable to rapid devaluation should the market suddenly turn bearish.) The stocks that I have decided to focus on are for “invesment” are :

Berkshire Hathaway, Electronic Arts, and Monster Beverage Corporation.

It’s a funny collection of stocks, but as best as I can tell it suits my purposes for short-term investments.

Which is to say, you should probably not copy my investment style in this arena because these do not really represent investments to me at all. Furthermore I admit that I lack any credibility when it comes to stockpicking, and frankly don’t even really believe in it for most investors. For me this really is all about the credit card spending.

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27 Responses to “Deja Vu All Over Again and Credit Card Stock Picking…”

  1. glo May 7, 2014 at 4:56 am #

    Hi Alex,

    Congratulations on the haul. A couple of questions. which cards do you intend to keep after one year? Any thoughts on that? Second I have never applied for a business card before but what should one expect in reconsideration calls? I have read some details in other blogs as well but if you have any suggestions or insights that will help.

    It is always refreshing to read your blogs especially on government and politics…! I just want democratic party to stop calling from anonymous numbers :)

    Keep them coming.

    Regards

    • Robert May 7, 2014 at 5:06 am #

      Same for Republicans!

    • Miles Dividend M.D. May 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Glo,

      Thanks for your questions.

      I will will probably cancel all of these next year unless the annual fee is waived. The main card that pays for itself is the INK card because of the 5X ponts on internet, phone, cable.

      Here’s a post I wrote about reconsideration calls:

      http://www.milesdividendmd.com/these-are-not-the-droids-you-are-looking-for-you-can-go-about-your-business/

      And here’s one I wrote about applying for business cards,

      http://www.milesdividendmd.com/its-business-time/

      I think you’ll find that it’s very easy to get approved for business cards.

      Alexi

      PS I didn’t understand the reference to the Democratic Party and block phone numbers. But it sounds funny!

      • Matt June 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

        Alex,

        I am assuming based on the annual fee that you applied for the Southwest premier card. Assuming you plan to cancel in a year, would the plus card not be better for $30 less in fees?

        • Miles Dividend M.D. June 16, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

          Matt:

          Thanks for the question.

          You are correct. At the time of this churn the premier card was the only one that offered the 50,000 miles bonus.

          If you have your choice of both, The plus card is definitely the way to go.(This in fact is what I have in my name for both business and personal SWA cards. )

          Alexi.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. May 7, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

      I sent a referral for the personal card Robert. For some reason I could not send the referral from my business card…

      I’ll work on it..

      AZ

      • Robert May 7, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

        Alexi, I still haven’t received your email. Did it bounce back or anything? Please double-check that you spelled the email address correctly. Thanks.

        • Miles Dividend M.D. May 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

          Robert,

          I copied and pasted your address. Perhaps it is in your spam folder? If not I can resend it, no problem.

          Alexi

          • Robert May 8, 2014 at 5:37 am #

            That’s odd. I don’t use a spam folder. And I haven’t received it. Please try again and let me know.

          • Miles Dividend M.D. May 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

            Robert I resent it just now… at the plasta…..address.

            Alexi

          • Robert May 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

            this is frustrating! I am not getting your email for some reason. Can you accept the connection request I sent on LinkedIn and then maybe we can use InMail. Or I can send you a different email address there. I’m leaving town tomorrow morning w/o my computer, back Sunday night, so don’t worry if you don’t hear from me. I would like to get you the 10k points! That is a pretty generous referral bonus!

          • Miles Dividend M.D. May 8, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

            Robert, just sent you an email from my personal account.

            Alexi

  2. Robert May 7, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    Alexi, I sent you a LinkedIn connect request a few minutes ago. I’d be happy to get a referral from you and let you earn 10k points on Starwood. I was just studying that deal yesterday, in fact! Or, if you can see my hidden email from registering here, you can send it there instead. I just don’t want to post it publicly.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. May 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      Robert,

      Thank you kindly.

      I will send you the referral links tonight from my computer.

      I can see your email from the comments.

      Alexi

  3. glo May 7, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    Hi Alexi,

    Thanks to your posts I have been able to complete my first major reward haul

    3 ( 2+ 1 for wife) citi exec cards ( 300k) Yes I was able to get both approved after a call
    1 Arrival card ( 40k)
    1 Chase preferred ( 50K)
    1 United explorer card ( 50K )

    Appreciate all the insight and detailed analysis of churns and credit score impacts which helped me take the plunge.

    You may want to look at the second city exec 100K as well.

    Now it’s time to focus on cards for my wife. I have always been setup to automatically pay all by bills which I still do but now every time I notice the payment transaction on mint it brings a smile…. sweet

    Time to start looking for tickets to Australia in December: )

    You probably already know but I used the barclay rewards boost portal to buy AMEX gift cards with no fee ( shipping only) and you can use other cards for 3% cash back from topcashback.com before Mothers day.

    Thanks

    • Miles Dividend M.D. May 7, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      Glo,

      Nice Haul!

      WHen did you apply for the 2 citi execs? I thought that this loophole had been closed in the last month. If not I will hit it! That’s a ton of miles.

      It’s funny how the miles game makes paying bills fun isn’t it?

      Better than free money is a beautiful thing, and I am sure that you saw the recent development that you could by Visa gift cards on line from Staples. That’s a nice deal, especially if you have an Ink card.

      See this excellent treatment.

      http://boardingarea.com/frequentmiler/2014/04/28/best-ways-to-buy-200-visa-gift-cards/

      ALexi

      • glo May 8, 2014 at 8:03 am #

        Thanks Alexi,

        I applied last Saturday and received the card yesterday. It is worth a try. No questions were asked and I had to redistribute some credit …

        I have not checked the staples deal .. I will do that tonight…

        A little responsibility, discipline to pay your bills on time combined with some elementary math go a long way…. :)

        Thanks Again!!

  4. Keith May 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    I’m new here, but read a bunch already. I still think I’m missing a bit on timeline stuff. Say I were to get my first wave of cards. I know my rewards, how much I need to spend and how soon it needs to be done. I get that I lose a few dollars buying gift cards and converting to bluebird or evolve and maybe on annual fees. But once I meet the spending requirements and get my rewards, how do you cancel the cards and keep the rewards? How do you reapply later in the next churn if you just cancelled cards with that company a few months ago?

    • Miles Dividend M.D. May 8, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

      Keith, I usually just cancel or downgrade the cards 10 months after approval.

      If the points or miles go to an airline or hotel group you get to keep them even if you cancel the card. If the points are in a bank’s currency (like Ultimate rewards/membership rewards, etc.) you must transfer them to another card from the same bank, or to a partner airline/hotel, prior to canceling.

      Hope that helps,

      Alexi

      • Keith May 8, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

        That does help a lot. Thanks.

      • Keith May 9, 2014 at 3:42 am #

        Came up with a few more questions. You are waiting about 10 months to downgrade or cancel, but when do you do the follow on churn? Before you downgrade/cancel so that you can transfer points if need be? Otherwise it seems like you can only do about one churn per year, but you say that you are getting in three or four.

  5. Elana May 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    I am new and getting ready to make my first churn! I feel like I have read most of this site( if not all) and researched some cards. I’m following some of Keith’s questions here. How harsh does it effect your credit to cancel the card? I’m getting that you cancel your cards b/f one year but why wait 10 months if you have already used your points up?Thanks!
    Elana

    • Miles Dividend M.D. May 21, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

      Elana,

      I’m glad you found the site.

      In terms of credit score, check out this post:

      http://www.milesdividendmd.com/whats-the-score/

      (The short answer is that your score should not be affected much in the long term.)

      I keep my cards open for a while. Conventional wisdom says that this is a better practice and makes it less likely that subsequent applications will be turned down. I’ve never tested this so I have no idea if it’s true.

      Make sure to get the Chase ink before June 1 when the bonus will go back down to 50,000 points from 60,000.

      Alexi

  6. Elana May 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    One more question. I know you say Chase is more difficult to churn. Do most credit cards only offer these deals to FIRST time customers? Obviously no,t b/c you do it every year. But is it usually a 12 month wait?

    • Miles Dividend M.D. May 21, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

      When I say Chase cards are not “Churnable” this does not mean that you can’t get multiple Chase cards.

      This means that you cannot get multiple copies of the same Chase card (i.e. you cannot get 2 desperate Chase Sapphire preferred.)

      In contrast, rumor has it that the hundred thousand mile American executive card is “Churnable” in that you can get multiple copies of it.

      Alexi

  7. David S. July 29, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Mr. Zemsky:

    I am at a weird point in the miles game where I have not been before and need your advice. I joined the game last year because I knew I had 3 domestic trips this year (2014) and 1 international trip happening in 2015. Partly through the advice of your blog, I have taken care of the hotels and flights through CC sign ups for all of this year and am set for getting hotels and flights to China through URs and MileagePlus next year (I have not finalized those plans, yet). So, suddenly my plans for 2 years are mainly complete and I am in no immediate need to get a CC for its sign up bonus. So, should I stop getting CCs for the time being (until incredible offers come about) or keep signing up for them regardless? I focus mainly on United, Southwest and AA for airlines, URs through 5 Chase cards for rewards and have the Barclays Arrival. I could get the Capital One Venture Rewards for incidentals and the US Airways under the guise that they will add to my AA miles next year when the airlines combine, but Is it worth it? Thank you, Sir.

    David S.

  8. Miles Dividend M.D. July 30, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    David,

    I am of the school that says (assuming you do not let your miles expire) you can never have too many miles.

    I find that having multiple currencies with high balances makes it much easier to book last minute trips for my family of five.

    Also, having beefy account balances opens up the opportunities to treat you and your family to business class or first class experiences, if this appeals to you.

    One factor in this is that I actually enjoy the process of manufactured spending, churning. This is particularly true now that I don’t have to go to Walmart. But then I’m a freak.

    Do you already own the companion pass? If not that would be a worthwhile goal I would think.

    AZ

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