The subject line of this news piece isn’t hype. It’s real and real easy to do. Let me show you what I found out within just a few minutes of research.
First found out about this money saving advice from an article in Early To Rise (www.earlytorise.com). Their article explained how a staff writer and her friend both flew first class to Costa Rica for virtually free using this technique. All they paid was a few dollars in taxes, less than $100. The idea of two first class tickets to an exotic destination was enough to intrigue me!
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The technique they used was called credit card churning. Credit card companies have significantly increased their rewards and bonus programs to attract new users over the past few years. The most common bonus offered is free airline miles.
Here’s how it works. Credit Card Company A sends out an offer for 25,000 free airline miles with one particular airline. Any consumer who signs up for the card, gets approved and completes the minimum spending requirements earns the free miles. The trick is to pay off the card and then promptly close it. Then wait one to two months and signs up for a similar offer from the same or competing credit card company and repeats the process. Continually opening and closing credit cards to earn airline miles is known as credit card churning.
This process allows one to build up several hundred thousand airline miles a year simply by applying, canceling and then reapplying for applicable credit card offers.
This is a money saving technique to consider if you are a frequent flyer. Even more casual travelers can benefit from this too. There are, however, some people who should NOT try credit card churning.
If you have a credit score that is fair to poor you shouldn’t try this technique. Every time you apply for a credit card you credit score takes a hit. Every person is affected differently but in general each credit inquiry will drop your score a few points. This isn’t a problem for folks with already high credit scores, but if you already have a less than ideal score the slight ding to your credit score might be enough to cause you problems should you need to fill out a rental application, apply for a mortgage, a car loan, a job or anything else where your credit score is a determining factor.
Of course if you are able to handle credit, by that I mean paying off your balance each month, have a good credit score and don’t intend to apply for a mortgage or car loan in the near future, you should be fine.
If you don’t know your credit score get that information before trying out this technique. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to request a free credit report.
To maximize the amount of miles you can earn, apply for both personal and business versions of credit cards. Anyone can open a business credit card, even if they don’t own a business. Where the application asks for your business name, write in your own name. In the box where it asks what type of business you own, put down sole proprietorship. When it asks for your tax ID number, write in your social security number. Credit card companies do not care if you actually own a business or not, they simply want as many customers as they can get.
Again I want to stress this technique is only for those that can handle credit. If you see $10,000 credit limits as opportunities to go out and spend that much then you are one of those people who can’t handle credit. An important part of this money saving technique is to pay off your balance and cancel the card. You’ll severely hinder your ability to get new credit cards and hurt your credit score if you maintain a high balance on any of the cards you opened.
Watch out for credit card offers that have an annual fee. Business cards often have annual fees so read the terms and conditions before signing up. In fact you will find most of these offers contain annual fees. Look for the ones that waive it for the first year. Once it comes due cancel the card. Then reapply for it a few months later.
You’ll also need to redeem these airline miles before the annual fee hits. You don’t want to have to pay that fee so you’ll want to cancel the card before the time period expires. But you will probably lose the miles if you don’t redeem them before you cancel the card. So you must be planning to fly somewhere within a year, the typical time allotment before the annual fee hits your card.
You will also find that each offer requires a minimum spending amount before the company will issue the free miles. Spend only the necessary amount on these cards, pay off the balance, earn the free miles and then promptly cancel the card. Keep a written record of what cards you sign up for, how much you’ve spent on them and when the annual fee comes due. I recommend you set up an excel spreadsheet to help you keep track of open and closed accounts.
Providing you with a list of credit cards this money saving technique will work for is a bit tricky as offers expire and start up all the time. Creditcardguide.com compiled a list of credit cards that offer airline miles. I picked out a few, but read the entire list here.
Continental Airlines One Pass Plus card. Earn 25,000 bonus miles, enough for a round trip ticket. $85 annual fee waived for the first year.
Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Earn 25,000 bonus points, enough for a free flight. $95 annual fee waived for the first year.
Miles by Discover card. Earn 12,000 bonus miles. No annual fee.
British Airways Visa Signature card. Earn 100,000 British Airway miles. $95 annual fee.
United Mileage Plus Signature Visa. Earn 25,000 bonus miles; 30,000 miles is necessary for a round trip ticket. $60 annual fee waived for the first year.
-I haven’t tried this money saving technique myself yet. And since I don’t have any vacations planned thus far this year… I didn’t want to wait to tell you about this since the summer travel season is quickly approaching.
In truth there are many strings attached to credit card churning, annual fees, minimum spending requirements, high interest rates, etc. This money saving technique is not for everyone. Only people with good credit habits and the ability to travel within the year. Your credit score is one of your most important assets. Ruining it to get a couple thousand free airline miles is not worth it. Read over all terms and conditions before applying for any new credit cards.
I personally haven’t tried this money saving technique out myself. Plus I don’t have any plans to fly or travel this year so I would have had to have waited over a year to tell you about this idea. I didn’t think it was prudent of me to wait that long especially since the summer travel season is approaching and my faithful readers might benefit. If you do try this technique out please leave a comment on the blog and let me know how well it worked for you.
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