Million Mile Madness: The big churn story


Update: Club Carlson business card was approved!

438,000 525,000 points earned. 562,000 475,000 left to go.

Background: Million Mile Madness is the fun and foolish quest to earn a million points in one month. Throughout March, I’ll do everything I can to earn as many points as I can while keeping within my ethical boundaries. I don’t expect that a million points will have been credited to my account by March 31st: points often take quite a while to get credited. Instead, I’ll track all of the points that I expect, and I’ll declare victory if the expected total is over a million. To keep things challenging, I will try to keep my net costs below $1,000.

All points earned and expenses incurred will be tracked via this Google Docs spreadsheet.

See all Million Mile Madness posts (in reverse order), by clicking here.

The story of the churn

On Friday I signed up for 11 credit cards in the hopes of earning over half a million points through signup bonuses.  I systematically went through my list of planned applications and signed up for the cards one bank at a time.  I started with what I thought would be the hardest approvals, and then moved up the list from there, in this order: Barclaycard, US Bank, Amex, Citi, and then Chase.  Once I was done with all of the applications, only two had been automatically approved.  So, I called each bank in turn.  My mistake was that I should have called Barclaycard before proceeding to the next applications.  I’ll get to that momentarily…


I started by calling Chase’s business reconsideration line about two Ink Plus cards I had applied for.  The analyst told me that one of the two had been automatically denied as a duplicate application.  I explained that it was for a separate business, and she was able to reopen the application.  She asked many questions about my businesses and eventually moved some credit from a personal card.  The call took about an hour, but the result was that both cards were approved!  I asked that the cards be rushed to me.  They agreed.

Next, I called Chase’s personal card reconsideration line about the United MileagePlus card I had signed up for.  The analyst said “I see you are applying for a lot of cards today. You have six inquiries already”.  I agreed that that was true and told her that I didn’t need additional credit.  I said that I would be happy to cancel an existing card or move credit from one.  She suggested moving credit from my British Airways card.  I agreed, and she approved my application.  I then asked to talk with customer service so as to confirm the sign-up bonus.  Yep, 50K bonus plus 5K bonus for adding a registered user. $1K spend requirement.  Sweet.  I asked for the card to be rushed to me.  Agreed.

American Express

I signed up for both the Premier Rewards Gold card and the Platinum Mercedes card.  The Premier Rewards Gold card had been approved automatically, so I just needed to call about the Platinum card.  Apparently this card is handled by a different department than most because I was shuffled around a bit, but once I found the right person to talk to I was approved instantly.  There was no mention of any other inquiries.  They happily agreed to rush the card to me.


This was interesting.  I had applied for both the American Airlines business card and the personal ThankYou Preferred card.  I asked first about the AA card, which was quickly approved without fuss.  For the personal card, though, I was told that they cannot approve two cards in one day.  Huh?  This is apparently a new Citibank rule as of a week or so ago.  Anyway, she said to call back in a day or two.  I called back on Sunday and was approved.  They also confirmed the 6K bonus and 5X points on certain purchases.  Sweet!  Citi never mentioned other inquiries.


I applied for both the personal and business US Airways cards.  I already had a personal US Airways card, so this one would be my second active one.  And, the personal card was automatically approved.  The business card, though, was pending when I called on Friday.  They told me that they saw that I had 8 inquiries in one day and that that was a risk factor.  They also mentioned that I didn’t have much history with them.  The application was denied.  I called again later and asked to speak to a supervisor, but all conversations resulted the same way: no dice.  Its possible that had I called immediately after applying for just the Barclaycard cards I could have gotten this one approved, but I don’t know that for sure.

US Bank

I applied for both the personal and business versions of the Club Carlson cards.  I called US Bank and asked if I could get an instant decision over the phone.  No luck.  I was told that the process is automatic and there was nothing that could be done other than to wait for a decision.  On Saturday I received an email saying I was approved for the personal card!  As of Sunday, I still hadn’t heard about the business card so I called.  An automated system said that I was approved!  I was skeptical, though, that the system might have been reporting my personal card approval so I tried speaking with a person.  Unfortunately the application status department isn’t open on the weekends.  So, I’m still waiting to hear for certain about this one!  Until I hear for certain, I’ll continue to consider it “pending”.

Result Summary

I applied for 11 cards and was approved for 9.  One is still pending. One was denied. Here are the detailed results:



Spend Req

First Yr Fee (ongoing)


Barclaycard US Airways 35K First Use Free ($89) Approved instantly.
Barclaycard US Airways business 25K First Use $79 Denied. Initially pending. I called twice and spoke to supervisor. No luck. Too many recent inquiries.
US Bank Club Carlson Personal 85K $2500 $75 Approved. I received an email approval on Saturday.
US Bank Club Carlson Business 85K $2500 $60 Pending. Automated system says that it is approved, but I’m not sure whether it is referring to this card or the personal one.
American Express Platinum Mercedes 50K $1000 $475 Approved after calling (initially pending). Will recoup $400 in airline fees in 2013 and early 2014, so net cost is $75.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold 50K $1K Free ($175) Approved instantly
Citi AA business 50K $3K Free ($85) Approved after calling (initially pending). Card include $150 statement credit after first use with AA.
Citi ThankYou Preferred 6K $300 Free Approved. I had to call over the weekend as they were not able to approve two cards in one day (seems to be a new rule)
Chase Ink Plus 50K $5K Free ($95) Approved after calling. Had to move some credit from another card.
Chase Ink Plus 50K $5K Free ($95) Approved after calling. Initially this was denied as a duplicate application. Told agent that I have 2 different businesses (which is true).
Chase United MileagePlus 55K $1K Free ($95) Approved after calling. Had to move some credit from another card.


Here are the totals by application status (as of Sunday evening):


Bonus Total

Required Spend Total

First Year fees


Approved (9) 431K $18,800 $550 I expect to get $550 in statement credits to more than offset first year fees
Pending (1) 85K $2,500 $60 May be approved already?
Denied (1) 25K $0 $79

Links to all of the offers I applied for can be found on my Best Credit Card Offers page.  Reconsideration numbers can be found in this Million Mile Secrets post.

Churn Planning

If you have questions about why I chose the cards I did, please see the corresponding posts:

Reader Participation

If you’re brave and/or crazy enough to want to play along with this game, first consider the risks: if you’re not careful you could spiral into debt, damage your credit score, get targeted for a financial review, have credit card accounts closed against your will, etc. Please only do this if you understand the risks and how to avoid them.

If you still want to play along, here’s what to do:  Open this Google docs spreadsheet.  Go to the tab labeled “How to participate”. Follow the directions shown there.

I will setup my spreadsheet to automatically show the summary information from each of your spreadsheets. Make sure not to include any personal identifiable information in the spreadsheet since it will be viewable to anyone who cares to look. If you have questions about the process, or about filling out your copy of the spreadsheet, email me and I’ll add the question and answer to the Q&A tab of my spreadsheet.

Learn about Million Mile Madness:

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[…] the exact same thing (three Chase cards and two business cards, each from a different business) and all three were approved after recon calls. So, it seemed at least possible that it would work this time. It […]

[…] credit card churn. Its slightly more than pedestrian, but perhaps not as crazy as some others (re: Frequent Miler) have done in the past. But I don’t think the number of cards is as important as the […]

[…] Million Mile Madness: The big churn story […]

[…] Million Mile Madness: The big churn story […]


Donna: I usually use CreditSesame and CreditKarma to monitor my credit scores and to alert me to changes. Both services are free.

weevinweaver: Keep reading my blog 🙂 There are plenty of ways to increase spend and get your money back.

cyclotron: No, I ultimately decided not to go for the other Barclays cards simply because I thought 11 cards at once was as aggressive as I was willing to go. It was probably the right decision since they only approved me for one of the two cards I applied for.


Did you apply for other Barclays cards such as the NFL and World Arrival card? In your ‘Credit card planning: Barclays’ you had mentioned you will apply for those too.
If you did not apply for those then what made you change your mind?


This is freakin awesome! You da man
I am new into the underground travel hacking world. Its so exciting. I recently applied for 4 credit cards and got approved for all of them. My problem is the required spending amounts. After doing more research I will be able to pull it off, but its a lot of work. It will def be worth it in the long run when I am traveling for free drinking wine in first class on the way to some exotic location. Ohh Yaaa!


Hello – I think you wrote a blog about how you monitor your credit (exactly which services you use from which vendors/websites etc when, which you pay for etc). Dizzying array of offerings on credit stuff is hard for my brain to sift through and i keep trying. LOL. Could you link me to that if I am remembering it correctly?

[…] can read about the cards I applied for in this post: “Million Mile Madness: The big churn story.”  Keep in mind that I do not recommend this as a credit card churning strategy.  I […]


Finally, I just got my first US Bank card! Though, I applied for it on March 8, so it looks like it takes them quite a period of time to process it, not to mention the fact that my version is for 65K points ONLY with $1.5 minimum spending requirement. What a joke. Of course the business version was rejected due to “numerous historic applications using ssn”. Another joke! What else was I supposed to use: my US or foreign driver license number 🙂

ps. 8 card applications = 8 pulls.


Yuhao: I think I had 6 recent pulls or thereabouts.


Just curious how many hard pulls you had in the year prior to applying for the 11 cards? Congrats on getting the Club Carlson cards. You have my envy. They cited too many inquiries as reason for denying me (I had 5 in past year).

Thanh P.

FM, I applied for the Citi AA Amex and Citi Thank You Preferred through your link on the same day. Got approved for Citi Amex but as expected, got a denial for TU Preferred. I called the recon line twice already and they said they couldn’t do anything. They didn’t seem to even know how to “reopen” applications and insisted that wasn’t possible. What number did you call? I used 800-695-5171. Also what did you tell them? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!


Thanh P.: I think that’s the same number I called. I wish I could give you advice here, but I don’t think I did anything special. I guess I just got very lucky and got someone both nice and knowledgeable. I called on Sunday after my Friday churn.

[…] Million Mile Madness: The big churn story […]

[…] Million Mile Madness: The big churn story […]