Reddit Churning: Lessons Learned On Travel Hacking And Credit Cards Rewards
Are you looking for travel hacking tips and advice on credit card rewards? Look no further than the Reddit churning subs. These online communities are dedicated to finding ways to travel more for less and maximize value when it comes to credit cards, rewards programs and other benefits.
There are amazing blogs, podcasts, Facebook groups and other online communities all focused on travel hacking and credit cards. However, the most effective resource I’ve found when it comes to finding knowledge on these topics is Reddit.
Yes, Reddit (…Reddit personal finance subs can help you take control of your money and life in a number of ways).
Reddit has provided myself and tens of thousands of other members the opportunity to travel in the most cost-effective (or enjoyable) manner. The knowledge shared in the different Reddit subs for those looking to take advantage of credit cards, rewards platforms and loyalty programs is next level.
It’s amazing what value those 3.3” x 2.1” credit cards can deliver if you follow the advice of random Reddit members.
What Have Credit Card Rewards & Travel Hacking Helped Me Achieve?
I’ve always been drawn to wanderlust and getting out to see the world. At 19, I set out on a three month backpacking adventure around Europe. Since then I’ve continued to try to conquer more of the globe to experience new culture, food, people, beaches, history and so on.
Some of my travel hacking wins include:
- 4 free nights at a downtown Manhattan hotel
- 2 free nights at a Paris hotel
- 2 free nights at a Montreal hotel
- 4 roundtrip flights from Toronto to Vancouver
- 2 roundtrip flights from Toronto to Montreal
- 2 roundtrip flights from Toronto to New York
- 2 roundtrip flights from Toronto to Paris
- 2 roundtrip flights from Toronto to Lima
- 1 round trip flight from Toronto to Puerto Vallarta
Plus dozens of other upgrades, lounge passes, free checked bags, hotel benefits and special offers.
I’ve gotten over ten thousands of dollars in value over the last 5 years from credit card rewards. All of the above examples were either free or deeply discounted and a large part of that was learned by staying connected to Reddit churning and travel hacking subs.
What Is Credit Card Churning?
You’ve likely heard of or used a travel rewards credit card and signed up for loyalty programs from different hotels, airlines and so on. Those are the key tools when it comes to churning. Churning just puts them on a holy pedestal.
The definition of churning in the /r/churning sub is:
Churning is the practice of signing up for credit cards that offer large signup bonuses in the form of miles, points, or straight cash back for the purpose of obtaining the bonus before cancelling the card. Churning has broadly come to mean simply maximizing credit card and travel rewards.
So essentially, you’re looking to accrue as many rewards points and travel miles as you can in a timely, cost-effective fashion. The strategy is to use legit and legal ways to do that more effectively by turning over credit cards.
Personally, I describe my churning mindset as it’s the best opportunity to see this amazing world at a discounted price (or even free) while also enjoying other great benefits along the way.
Before Starting To Churn Credit Cards & Travel Hack
Don’t let the chase for rewards and miles work against you and get you into any financial trouble. The world of churning will impact your credit score as you apply for and use credit cards to achieve your travel goals.
Therefore the basic rules before churning cards are:
- A vow to not carry a balance – the benefits of earning rewards and points is washed away if you’re paying interest on outstanding balances.
- A system to pay off your balances with automation – set reminders to pay before due dates, set up instant payments on due dates, etc. – don’t let human error cost you.
- Have a good credit score, like 750+ – opening each new credit card can drop your credit score a few points. If you’re planning a major purchase, like a house, in the near future it’s best not to open a handful of new cards beforehand. You want that mortgage lending interest rates as low as possible, a higher credit score will help that.
Good news is you can check your credit score for free and continue to monitor your financial standing during your travel hacking journey.
Get Your Credit Score And Credit Report For Free
Borrowell – Free Credit Score For Canadians
Borrowell gives you free access to your credit score and credit reports – there’s no catch or hard pull on your credit. It’s a great tool to stay on top of your credit score, which in turn will affect your overall financial health and credit opportunities available to you as you move forward.
Borrowell is simple, secure and free. It takes 2 minutes to register your account and from there, you’ll be able to monitor and track any monthly changes in your credit score and report.
GET YOUR FREE CREDIT SCORE FROM BORROWELL
Credit Sesame – Free Credit Score For Americans
No catch or hard pulls on your credit just a great tool to stay on top of your financial health and monitor your credit as you progress through your financial journey. Plus Credit Sesame members get free identity theft protection (up to $50,000 insured).
GET YOUR FREE CREDIT SCORE FROM CREDIT SESAME
What Reddit Churning And Travel Hacking Communities Help You Maximize Rewards And Travel More, For Less?
With that definition and general strategy in mind around churning, let’s quickly explore the Reddit communities available to help your journey.
First off, head over to Reddit and sign up for a free account. This will allow you to subscribe to the different communities and eventually start to participate in discussions, share tips and highlight your own travel hacking successes.
The core Reddit churning subs are:
The American /r/churning sub focused on discussing the nitty-gritty of “churning” credit cards to profit from sign-up offers. It’s currently at over 163,000 members and counting.
The Canadian counterpart is the /r/churningcanada sub. The mission is the same as the American community but of course the offers, deals and credit cards differ. It currently sits at 9,200 members (smaller in size but the same level of amazing value is shared).
The /r/awardtravel is a community to discuss the best practices for redeeming (burning) the airline, hotel and rewards points you’ve accumulated.
/r/Shoestring is a community to discuss frugal travelling, last-minute travel deals, cheap destinations, and cheap means of travel. While not entirely rooted in rewards points and credit cards, the concept of cost-effective travel is still within the theme of churning.
Now that we’ve got some of the core subs listed, let’s review 6 of the lessons I’ve learned from the Reddit churning and travel hacking communities. These lessons are applicable to most looking to dive into the world of credit cards and rewards.
Want to review more on travel hacking? Check out Travel Hacking 101: 70+ Tips & Tools.
Reddit Churning Lesson 1: Do Your Research First (AKA Lurk, Search And Read)
As with any new passion or hobby, you’ll likely want to dive right in. That might include starting new threads on these different subs, messaging members and trying to get fully engaged in the community.
Hold your horses, Reddit is a finicky place and that’s VERY present with it comes to churning subs. They don’t take too kind to people coming in and asking the basic questions that have been asked 1,000 times.
So the first thing you’re going to want to do is lurk, search and read.
Thankfully, all the key information has been packaged up into a nicely organized resources:
These cover all the common questions, evergreen information and key details anyone needs on churning. The Wikis touch on all the popular credit cards, rewards programs, systems and so on. They house knowledge from experts who’ve mastered the game and earned millions of reward miles and points. They’re also evolving and changing as the churning game shifts too.
Outside of the Wikis you should spend some time browsing the Daily and Weekly Threads, searching questions you might have and just lurking (sitting back reading).
Reddit Churning Lesson 2: You Need A Goal For Your Credit Card Churning
Similar to wanting to dive in head first to the Reddit churning communities, the excitement of travel hacking can have you ready to spring at every credit card offer. The thought of all those rewards points stacking up in your accounts can be tantalizing.
You need to determine what your goal for credit card churning is.
Is there a specific destination you want to visit? Are you just trying to stack rewards to spring ad-hoc on a great vacation with your significant other? Do you want the ultimate luxury staycation to celebrate an anniversary? Are you hoping to travel around the world on miles like some of those headlines?
That goal will inform your strategy and keep you focused on churning the right cards. The shotgun approach without a strategy can lead you into trouble.
A lack of strategy and focus might cause you to:
- Fall short on the minimum spend requirements to get welcome bonuses
- Overspend in order to try and reach minimum spend requirements
- Pay interest on overdue balances from overspending
- Mess up future opportunities to maximize rewards by not following systems
- End up with points and miles that don’t complement one another
If you’ve read the Wiki, various guides and browsed the subs, you’re likely aware of some of the strategies and best practices. Terms like Chase 5/24, Compassion Pass, AMEX Train in Canada and other phrases should sound familiar.
Some of the subs have pulled together resources to help guide you on specific programs:
Only you know where you want to travel and what you want to do. But the Reddit Churning community can help inspire you and get you there the most effective way.
Reddit Churning Lesson 3: Ask The Right Questions To Build Knowledge And Maximize Rewards Value
If you’re looking for specific advice (not the basics that is covered in the Wikis, FAQs or been asked 1,000 times), there’s no better help than throwing that question out.
Chances are someone on these different subs has already been in that exact situation.
Whether it’s departing from your local airport, trying to maximize miles to get to a certain destination, how to get your family along for the ride, little hacks of transferring between different rewards programs and so on, there is someone who can help. If you’ve done your due diligence by researching on your own first and following prop churning sub rules, people will be more than happy to help.
These fellow Churners have cashed in millions of miles and love flexing their travel hacking muscles. You’ve earned these rewards and now make best use of them by relying on the expertise of others.
Reddit Churning Lesson 4: Build A Rewards Tracking System
Similar to having a strategy and focus to maximize rewards, you need somewhere to track everything. If you’re going to have multiple cards open and working towards stacking rewards, housing all that in one place is a big help.
This is yet another lesson I learned from the Reddit Churning community as members share their own trackers and emplore new users to do so.
There is a free platform called AwardWallet that can do the basic points balance tracking for you. It syncs to your different rewards programs and tracks those totals along with expiry dates or other relevant information.
However, that only really covers rewards points and not all the other minutiae that you should be monitoring. I’ve built my own basic Google Sheet that uses the following fields for tracking the credit cards I’ve signed up for or will be in the near future.
What kind of details should you want to be tracking?
- Credit card name and provider
- Sign up date and annual fee renewal date
- Minimum spend requirements and status
- Use card for (ex. groceries, bills, travel, etc.)
- Points balance
- Intended use for points
- Key perks (insurance, lounge passes, checked bags, etc.)
This will help ensure you’re making all the necessary moves and staying on top of your offers. From hitting your minimum spends to cancelling or product transfering cards before the annual fees come back around, it’s all there.
Build your own Google Sheet in a matter of minutes and start tracking today.
Reddit Churning Lesson 5: Check The Reddit Churning Subs Often
One of the biggest benefits of Reddit churning and travel hacking communities is the timeliness members share the latest information. As soon as new cards, exclusive offers and special deals go live from different providers or financial institutions, they hit the subs immediately.
Some of these offers are time sensitive or capped to “X” number of redemptions. They also might be targeted to specific individuals and you can arm yourself with that information to reach out direct to the provider to try to get the same offer.
Taking quick action can be critical.
Whether it’s a special bonus offer through a credit card provider’s online shopping portal, credit statement for spending at a certain merchant or any other unique and valuable offer, hopping on those ASAP might be the difference of getting it or not.
Download the Reddit App and also add the churning subs to your desktop bookmarks tab.
Reddit Churning Lesson 6: Enjoy The Benefits Of Churning Credit Cards
It’s fun to watch the numbers stack in your different credit card and travel rewards accounts. With every new sign up bonus or special offer that total just climbs and climbs. The imagination wanders as you envision all the possibilities these points could unlock.
However, as other Reddit churners have shared, that imagination and quest to stack higher can often leave you holding points forever.
The point for many (if not all) looking to churn credit cards and maximize rewards points is to get out and explore the world. These sign up bonuses, special offers, exclusive discounts and other benefits give you the amazing opportunity to travel a discount (or free) or in a more luxurious manner.
…so get out there and do it!
This connects back to having a goal and focus for your churning efforts. You started this with a vision in mind and the whole point of these points and rewards is to accomplish those goals.
Travel Rewards Credit Cards In Canada
If you’re looking for a great travel rewards card to start your travel hacking efforts or just an everyday card to keep in your wallet, here are some of the best. Use the lessons you’ve learned after diving into the Reddit churning world to help you get the most value.
Whether it’s American Express, Scotiabank or one of the other providers, you can save big money on travel and see the world for less. These are 4 of the highest rated and top all-around introductory cards in Canada.
Scotiabank Gold American Express ($150 Welcome Bonus)
- 15,000 Scotia Reward points ($150) after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
- Earn 4x points on every $1 spent on groceries, gas, dining and entertainment
- Earn 1x points on every other $1 spent
- Extensive travel insurance and coverage
- Access to Scotia Rewards Travel Service and a 24/7 Concierge
- Discounted Priority Pass membership to gain lounge access at 600+ airports
- Special offers through American Express Invites and Scotia Rewards Travel Advantage
SIGN UP FOR THE SCOTIABANK GOLD TODAY
Check out a full Scotiabank Gold American Express review to learn more about this card.
American Express Cobalt Card (30,000 Point Bonus In Year 1)
- 30,000 bonus MR-S points in the first 12 months (2,500 monthly when you spend over $500 that month)
- 5x MR-S points on food and drinks, including groceries, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and food delivery
- 2x MR-S points on travel and transit, including airfare, hotels, taxi, Uber and gas
- 1x MR-S points on any other purchases
- $10 monthly fee (totals to $120 annual)
- Free supplementary cards
- 19.99% APR
REGISTER FOR THE AMERICAN EXPRESS COBALT
Want to get all the details on the card? Read more here: American Express Cobalt review.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite ($300 Welcome Bonus)
- $139 annual fee
- 30,000 Scotia Rewards welcome bonus points (must spend $1,000 in first 3 months)
- 2x points on every $1 spent at grocery stores, restaurants, entertainment and daily transit
- 1x points on every $1 spent elsewhere
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free Priority Pass membership (with 6 free lounge passes)
- Free supplementary card
- Flexible travel redemption on the Scotia Rewards portal or Apply Points To Travel Directly
- Extensive insurance coverage
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SCOTIABANK PASSPORT VISA INFINITE
Check out a full Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card review to get all the detail on this great rewards card.
American Express Gold Card (25,000 Point Welcome Bonus)
- 25,000 Welcome Bonus of Membership Reward Points after spending $1,500 in first 3 months
- Earn 2x points for every $1 spent on grocery, travel, gas and pharmacy
- Earn 1x points for every $1 spent elsewhere
- Transfer points 1:1 to Aeroplan plus other partner networks
- 1 free additional Golds Reward Card ($50 value)
- Extensive travel insurance and purchase protection package
- Access to American Express Fixed Points Travel Program
SIGN UP FOR THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPRESS GOLD CARD
Want to learn more about the AMEX Gold? Check out this full American Express Gold Card review.
Conclusion: Reddit Churning – So Much Value Shared On Rewards And Credit Cards
These are only 6 of the 100 lessons I’ve learned from the Reddit churning and travel hacking communities. The ability to travel more for less with my girlfriend and family has been so much more effective thanks to the value of these communities.
The best part is that new lessons, fresh deals and great tips or tricks keep popping up.
Just to remind you one more time, those Reddit churning subs are:
The American /r/churning sub focused on discussing the nitty-gritty of “churning” credit cards to profit from sign-up offers.
The Canadian counterpart is the /r/churningcanada sub. The mission is the same as the American community but of course the offers, deals and credit cards differ.
The /r/awardtravel is a community to discuss the best practices for redeeming (burning) the airline, hotel and rewards points you’ve accumulated.
/r/Shoestring is a community to discuss frugal travelling, last-minute travel deals, cheap destinations, and cheap means of travel.
As you explore the Reddit subs and build your foundation of knowledge, you’ll unlock more and more value. No matter if you want to travel to the exotic beaches aboard or explore areas closer to home, Reddit churning communities will help make that a reality.
Start big, start small…just start.
Are you a credit card churner? Have you had any big wins or trips?
What other lessons have you learned on travel hacking and rewards?
Let me know in the comments below.
Here are some other posts to help you travel more for less or take control of your money and life.
- American Express Cobalt Review: The (GREAT) AMEX Cobalt In Canada
- Travel Hacking 101: 70+ Resources For Americans And Canadians To Travel More For Less
- American Express Gold Rewards Card Canada Review: The Amex Gold Is One Of Best For Canadians
- Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card Review: Great Travel Rewards Credit Card In Canada ($300 Bonus)
- Credit Card Benefits And Perks – Understanding The Value Out Of Your Card
- Scotiabank Gold American Express Card Review: Great Rewards Credit Card For Canadians