I really debated whether I should make this confession, because I fear I will lose all credibility. But this is an honest blog, so here it goes. I am really, really disorganized. People like myself should not be playing this game, period. But somehow I managed not to get burned yet.
The first thing you will see mentioned in blogs , when you start credit card churning game is to create a spreadsheet. I don’t do any of that. I just apply for cards and keep track of them in my head.
Yes, I said it. There is no excuse, I’m just lazy. Well, sometimes I do write down the dates on a piece of paper (I know, I know). But I never look at them. Miraculously I have gotten all of my bonuses so far.
In part, its because I don’t sign up for more than a few cards at a time. Another, I have a fairly decent memory. Though I did have a couple of late payments over the years, but managed to get the bank to waive the fees.
Fortunately it didn’t go on my credit report, since I caught it within 30 days. Oh, and I also don’t balance my checkbook (gasp!) . I just keep track of everything in my head, but have not had an overdraft fee yet. This comes from a person, who got on to her clients about not keeping their tax documents organized. 🙂 Hypocrite I am indeed.
To be fair, I do log into my accounts regularly and do my best to keep track of revolving circus of credit cards. And I set all of my accounts on Autopay, which I highly recommend. Of course, you have to make sure, your checking account can handle it.
That being said, don’t be like me! You have to stay organized. Create that spreadsheet! Also, here are some other things you need to be aware of before you start applying for anything. None of the sites pay me any commission currently:
1) Mint.com An excellent, free site to keep track of your credit cards as well as checking, savings accounts and CD’s. I use it myself and really like it. Its essential to check your credit cards occasionally, especially if you have 30 of them, like I do. I just found out that someone bought a space heater with my dormant Citi AAdvantage card, so had to file a dispute. Poor guy (or girl), he/she just wanted to stay warm.
2) Sign up for Creditkarma account as well as Creditsesame. The first one tracks Transunion credit agency and the second one Experian. I will say, that I found Creditkarma to be more accurate. But both are good (and free) tools to estimate your credit score and see changes in your credit history.
I recommend, you don’t apply for any cards if your score is not around 750 on both. That way you have a good buffer in case of an unexpected dip. See my post on how churning affects a younger person LINK
3) Once a year you are allowed to access your credit report for free from all 3 credit agencies. LINK
4) Sign up for Awardwallet account to keep track of your miles and points balances.
5) Check my “Beginner’s guide” page for some additional tips.
6) Last but not least, if you haven’t done so already, check out this series on MMS blog about dangers of this hobby. LINK This is a must. Honestly, signing up for credit cards is like playing with fire. You have to be very careful or you will get burned. So, if you have problems paying your bills in full now, leave my blog immediately! Come back when you get it under control.
I’m off to create that spreadsheet, the color coded version.
Photo credit goes to treymorgan.net
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.