An introductory post by former newbie Wei, how he started in the hobby, his successes and mistakes & how cool it is to travel for free! I introduced Wei to our hobby only after I made sure he can handle it! And I am proud to say he has come a very long way. This will appeal to aspiring newbies and hope they learn from it!
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Hello, everyone, I am Wei. I am your coffee shop goer, student, biochemist trying to get into software development. I got into this hobby by ways of coincidence meeting George at the Starbucks we frequently work at. He’s always been a calm looking guy, and it was after years of knowing him that he started telling me about his travel blog.
At the time, around the middle to end of 2014, I didn’t realize the implications of his blog. I also didn’t have any clue in the power of credit card churning as well as the freedom it could give me. At first, of course, the first thing that came to mind about his blog was that it desperately needed a better design! Occasionally we talked about how his blog was doing, but never in depth into the whole credit card thing. However, he gave me the first advice, which was to be patient and focus on establishing a credit history and then keep growing my credit score. So that is when I started seriously looking into it.
At the time, I had no credit history and no credit score! George’s advice was to get a secured credit card at Bank of America that required a $400 security deposit to grow my credit. After about 10 months, I applied for the Chase Freedom card. When they told me that I can get $100 back for spending $500, I was shocked! Wait…..free money? This was also the start of my churning hobby, more like me learning how to walk rather than crawl, and some mistakes were made.
It was nice to have someone yelling at me for my first mistake (and more mistakes to come) when I told George that I applied for the Barclay card. I applied for the free version, rather than the Barclay Arrival Plus version. I got the regular 1k spending version which I believe had a $300 credit towards a flight. I also learned that credit card companies can have a lot of rules in giving out miles too. By getting the Barclay Arrival and not the Arrival Plus card, I missed out on a huge signing bonus and my ability to apply for more Barclay cards in the near future was impacted. George still gives me grief about this!
The first mistake was a valuable lesson for sure. This was also the time that I started to read some of his blog recommendations such as MileNerd, TravelisFree, and Doctor of Credit. Even though I wasn’t exposed to this hobby for long, I already know through Reddit how bad The Points Guy is.
This is also a good time to talk about the dangers as well as the risks involved in this hobby. It is a hobby that requires outstanding organizational skills, as well as strict finance control as well. For example, over the course of 1.5 years, my credit limit went from $400 to $60,000! I have 2 charge cards too (Amex Platinum and Amex Gold Premiere). Charge cards mean you don’t have a credit limit since they require you to pay off the balance every month. Below is a spreadsheet with my credit card history, you can click to enlarge it.
Due to the inherent risk in damaging your credit score and your life, here are some requirements I think would be a great way to see who is apt to do this well:
Requirements for Hobby:
⦁ At least 720 credit score.
⦁ Good credit cards require high credit scores, it shows that you’re willing to the play the game.
⦁ Currently have no credit card debt.
⦁ If you have credit card debt, focus on paying it off first!
⦁ No credit card balance. Ever! If this ever happens, George will hunt me down and kick my ass!
⦁ Don’t mind investing an hour every other day in keeping up with a few blogs.
⦁ Realize that some offers are fast and will end fast. For example, the AMEX Platinum 100k offer I got was only available for 8 hours.
⦁ Let me reiterate: ALWAYS PAY OFF THE FULL MONTHLY BALANCE EVERY MONTH. If you carry any balance, this hobby is not for you. George drilled this into my brain!
⦁ No home purchase coming up in the next six months or so.
⦁ You are meticulously organized with your finances. You just have to be!
⦁ You’re going to be messing with more than 5 credit cards (I’m currently at 13 as of Aug 23, 2016). If you don’t have an excel sheet of when card payments are due, or when annual payments are due, you’ll be lost and get charged out of the wazoo.
⦁ How to pay for minimum spending for the signing bonus. I am lucky that I have 2 family restaurants that I tell to put things on my card. Each opening bonus will require at least 3k to 4k of minimum spending on the card so you will need to figure out how to complete each one. If you are not spending that much or do not have the time to look into it…get a cash back card instead.
⦁ You like to travel and want to go places.
Places my miles and points have allowed me to visit so far:
⦁ Detroit to San Francisco – March 2015, paid using Barclay Arrival Card, my first score, it was exciting!
⦁ Detroit to Houston – June 2015, $200 dollars paid using Chase Sapphire Preferred cashback.
⦁ Detroit to Dallas – Christmas 2015, $200, round trip using Chase Sapphire Preferred cashback.
⦁ Detroit to Tokyo – March 2016, 70K United miles (5K Ultimate Rewards from Sapphire Preferred transfer to United and 65K United miles from United Explorer card)
⦁ Detroit to Atlanta – March 2016, $300, Chase Ultimate Rewards points from Chase Sapphire Preferred.
⦁ Detroit to Baltimore – May 2016, 7k Chase Ultimate Rewards points from Chase Sapphire Preferred.
⦁ Detroit to New Orleans – June, 12K Chase Ultimate Rewards points from Chase Sapphire Preferred and $50 cash.
⦁ Detroit to Barcelona – August 2016, 60k American Airline Miles
⦁ Detroit to Austin – Late August 2016, 25k United Airline Miles
⦁ Detroit to Beijing – Christmas 2016, 80k Amex Points
George has been beating me up how I should transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards and AMEX Membership Rewards points out to the airlines and then book award trips. It took a while to sink in and now I get it. But to me, at the time, I was so excited not paying for any of them so in my mind they were free! Still, I am amazed how much I have come along and so much more there is to know. George told me this can be addictive…and it sure is! Now excuse me I need to go to a Chase branch to see if I am pre-approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card!
I really loved my most recent trip to Spain!
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First writing from Jordan
Second writing from Nebraska.
Nick @ Personal Finance Digest says
Third writing from war-torn Charlotte.
Is this world being turned upside down? Soon the Police will say ” Screw It, let the criminals do what they want” and I wouldn’t blame them. Support your local Police and thank one today for the job they do for us while put their lives on the line.
Which local police shall we support, Ramsey?
The few who seem to have an itchy trigger finger around certain darker-skinned humans, or the vast majority who keep their famous “Blue Line” intact by aiding and abetting those few?
Do you think there would be any differences if young pretty female unarmed Caucasians were being killed by police regularly?
I hate to burst that bubble but black people arent the most killed by cops http://killedbypolice.net/
Absolutely correct. Most blacks are are not killed by the Police, they are killed by other blacks.
What’s wrong with you? Don’t you know logic has no place in the new PC world order? ;-D
I didn’t mention color, I said criminals
@DiffPaul in the last couple of years, I recall 2 seperate incidents where a young white kid (unarmed) was shot/killed here in the predominately white middle class suburbs of SW PDX. Police were threatened and those boys were shot. No riots or marches, just remorse…………………………..
Imagine yourself as a Police office working in Chicago, it would be worse than when I was in Vietnam.
I support the Police and realize they’re job is thankless and VERY dangerous.
(reply to post below)
Ramsey, it is possible to support good police and at the same time DEMAND that bad police get punished properly. Police have murdered/manslaughtered too many citizens regardless of skin color. You say the job is “VERY dangerous”? Educate yourself, historically police are much, much safer from death/injury these days.
It’s not binary, one isn’t either pro-cop/anti-Black or anti-cop/pro-Black. People who can only think in binary, Black/White terms…well, I haven’t got much time for people whose thought process is so facile.
You sound like a dick
Walking back to hotel from nearby restaurant where some robo advisor blew mega bucks to wine and dine conf attendees…I hope I can find my hotel and then my room after too much wine!
Race is like abortion…way too difficult to talk about.
I have my monthly pump post scheduled, just no time to do a Buzz post or go over my notes from the Titan session…Sorry. When I go to Iran this blog will likely be done #sosad
Not learning much here but meeting people finally after knowing them virtually for a long time or seeing collagues after some time too…which is always great.
Phuck…where is.my door key?
What a thoughtful reply. I like it when people show their true colors, thanks for the insight.
REV. Sharpton says
DP look at this…..he had a gun
Yes, SOME of these police shootings MAY be justified. But there’s a huge hole in your info if you think ALL of them are.
Do you work harder at trying to justify all police shootings or at trying to understand why there would be outrage over the large number of them?
First, the SPG Amex offer gets worse, boo!
In a few hours, I will be attending the session with the Titans, you won’t believe what happens next!
Having fun at the conference, always nice to finally meet people in real life.
No meaningful upgrade at the San Diego Sheraton Marina. Wifi appears to be fixed. Never felt the love by SPG, so good riddance tomorrow, looking forward to seeing Marriott’s picture in the lobby from now on lol.
WTF is going in Charlotte!
I may live blog the award travel session today but probably won’t. But I WILL be taking notes and doing separate post, hopefully soon.
Tonight going to a party sponsored by Trade Kings…should be accompanied by lots of booze. Of course my groupies will protect me from fans showing their adoration…bwahahahaha
Say HEY to my old pal and favorite pancake expert and cut, paste and bullshit artisan, Gary for me!!!……………………………………………………………………………..just kidding, of course. Ask them if they have enough money for themselves yet, and are they a tiny bit remorseful for destroying this gig for the rest of us, while they continue to line their pockets with gold. I guess it’s just the American Way. Greed.
Conversely, I see Clark Howard is there. KISS HIM for me…..luv this guy…….he seems legit to me, actually cares about others and is honest. Now he, I would trust and vote for President.
Party in the Presidential Suite with Gary
Damn it…I tried hard for ANY upgrade here…and all I got was a higher room floor!
Met them all…Not remorseful whatsoever….It’s a business for them, big business, selling never stops…Personally, I have no issues. We won’t be having Thanksgiving dinner anytime soon by the way. I write about blogs and blogger buzz…and I keep it educational, entertaining and rarely inspiring lol.
And I speak my mind.
I am busy here meeting people, learning some stuff and eating/drinking away.
Thanks for the nice comments about Wei. I made sure he was up for it and took a LONG time to get him going!
Titans don’t give a shit about that, they’ll sell to any human who can get one! Sitting at the back, near Howie, taking notes thinking all along ‘Amazing marketing skills’ wow…it’s like a different level, bubble actually….living in a bubble…wow, time for another drink.
Clark is awesome, a really good guy in a sea of greed man!
Nice post by Wei. He’s fortunate to have such a good mentor!
Agreed XD didn’t expect so many free travels from helping a person with their website!
Nice post, Wei. I’m gonna bookmark it and forward it to people thinking about participating in this little hobby!
That is the best praise I can receive, however an preapproval from Chase would be so much nicer.
Okay, I preapprove you for the Chase Slate (no signup bonus, no cash back).
Just like Barclay Arrive (no Plus) card!!!
Way late from London.
another one popped on the terminal today
Omg, TPG’s quotes…think I am going to be sick…
5 mins to Titans 🙂
Mental Note: Must find time to burn SPG points asap!!!!
Is That a CSR in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Glad to See Me? says
“I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and virtually nothing gives me more pleasure when I pay and the cashier notices how gorgeous that card is,” says Sean McQuay, the credit card expert at NerdWallet,
The card is made from rock hard, heavy duty boner material.
Who will use CSP when you can have CSR?
Help, save me from all the BS in the session!
Wear a HazMat suit and you should be able to survive.
I survived…barely 🙂
Thanks boss, and everyone else in this comment thread : ) !
Thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment!
133 million Americans carry balances on their credit cards.
Titans don’t give a shit!
It’s about responsibility, or we are all angry on da internet…blah blah blah….oops, meant to say sell,sell,sell.
Nice post Wei!! Great job!!