If you’re new to travel rewards (aka travel hacking) or credit card churning, then the Reddit Churning (r/churning) forum is a great resource.
While it’s possible to find information on travel hacking in numerous places, whether those are blogs, podcasts or social media pages, r/churning is one of the best resources around because it’s so comprehensive.
If you need a refresher course on how to use Reddit, check out Reddit Personal Finance: The Missing Guide from last week.
Before heading into Reddit churning, let’s explore what travel hacking is:
What is Credit Card Churning / Travel Hacking?
Credit card churning is the process of using credit card sign up rewards to accrue either airline miles, credit card points, or cashback that you can then use on lodging, flights, or other travel accommodations, essentially allowing you to travel for free or with heavy discounts.
By opening multiple credit cards, you can accrue enough miles/points to travel the world for “free”. As you open different cards, you can use strategies to open and close credit card accounts (i.e the “churn”) to maximize points and rewards.
Whether you’re going on a yearly vacation or a spur of the moment getaway, travel hacking is one of the best ways to keep your travel costs low.
Why Use r/churning to Learn About Travel Hacking?
But with so many great sources at your disposal, you may ask why you should use Reddit to learn about travel hacking?
The main reason is that the information it contains is so extensive.
Whether you want to know the basics of churning, like the difference between points and miles, to more advanced info, such as which credit card you should get, r/churning has likely already answered your questions hundreds of times.
Before you just go posting in threads, though, you’ll want to go over some basic information.
Getting Started on Reddit Churning (r/churning)
Like most subs on Reddit, the about page is where you’re going to find all the pertinent starter information.
Required Reading Before Posting
Think of this section as your intro to travel hacking.
Between the Wiki and the glossary, there is a ton of information here, and the community suggests reading these pages before you do any sort of posting:
- Rules of the Sub
- Search past comments and posts
- Using and Posting Referrals
Pretty much anything you want to know about travel hacking has been posted in this section. Specifically, the wiki will be able to guide you through most of the basics of credit card churning, while the glossary will have definitions for any terms you may be unfamiliar with (5/24 anyone?).
After you’ve gone through these sections, you should be familiar enough with the material to move onto some of the basics of travel hacking, such as the difference between points and miles.
This section explains some of the basics of travel hacking, but with a little more specificity.
- Miles vs Points
- Why you should not churn
- Credit Card Decision Flowchart
- Beginner’s Chase Guide for Under 5/24
- AmEx MR | Chase UR | Citi TY | Marriott
Reddit also recommends reading this section before posting of any kind.
There are also a number of other popular threads that are updated daily, called “recurring threads”.
These threads allow posters to ask questions, comment on other’s posts and upvote or downvote the best and worst replies.
You can use these threads to ask questions specific to your situation and to get advice from other members.
- Daily Question
- Daily Discussion
- Anything Goes
- What Card Should I Get/Use?
- Manufactured Spending
- Trip Report/Storytime
- Bank Account Bonus
- Data Points Central
- Frustration Friday
Use these threads when you can’t find the necessary info in either the Wiki or from other posts.
This should be enough to familiarize yourself with most of the concepts of travel hacking.
With those out of the way, you can start to explore the mainboard a little and branch out to other links.
While there are thousands and thousands of helpful posts in the r/churning sub, we feel like it can be narrowed down to a handful of posts.
Here are three of the most popular links in the r/churning sub.
3 Best Resources on r/churning
Credit Card Decision Flowchart
This is like the holy grail for people who are just starting their travel hacking journeys.
This credit card decision flowchart plots out what credit cards you should open and in which order so you can maximize your overall churning benefits, depending on the type of rewards you’re looking for.
It’s super detailed and there’s a lot of information, so it can get confusing if you’re new to churning. Make sure you read the wiki and the glossary before checking this section out.
Southwest Companion Pass Sub
This sub contains a step by step walkthrough on how to obtain a Southwest companion pass.
For those not in the know, the Southwest companion pass is a coveted item for travelers (and churners), as it’s basically a buy one-get one free ticket that lasts for the current year and the year after it’s been purchased. That means you can get two years of companion tickets for free, depending on when you sign up. It even works when you redeem reward miles!
For more information on the Southwest Companion Pass, check out this thread here.
(*Side note, a reader mentioned to me this information is a bit dated. So, if you’re interested in the latest data, I know Dr. McFrugal has an updated post explaining this further.)
Current & Recent Credit Card Signup Bonuses
This is a handy Google spreadsheet that shows all recent and current credit card sign up bonuses for many major banks and credit card companies, like American Express, Citibank, Chase and more.
It also lists out other helpful data, such as:
- Days to meet the minimum spend
- Listed annual fee
- Current offers/bonuses, + their minimum spend amount
- if you can get the annual fee waived the first year
This post is essential if you’re trying to find the best bonus for the card you want.
Additional Reddit Churning Related Resources
While the travel hacking sub is pretty comprehensive, depending on your location or needs, there are some additional subs that couldn’t hurt to check out that are tangentially related to credit card churning:
This is a community dedicated to discussing anything related to redeeming airline points and miles, and the best way to do so.
This community of almost 500,000 is dedicated to helping those who want to plan a trip on a shoestring budget.
From Reddit: “Whether you want to cheaply travel to a destination you already have in mind, or brainstorm your next frugal vacation, we hope this website will help you plan an affordable and amazing vacation.”
For our neighbors to the north, this 16,000 member sub helps Canadian travelers figure out the best way to travel for free, including tips, tricks and more.
From Reddit: “Although we don’t have the same gamut of credit card opportunities as our neighbors to the south, there’s still a wealth of bonuses available for the taking. From one-time welcome bonuses to referrals points, to real churning, this is the place to discuss Canadian banks and credit cards.”
Despite the myriad of sources out there on travel hacking, if you’re a total noob, you should definitely start with Reddit.
Not only does it provide a great overview of travel hacking in general, the fact that there are literally thousands and thousands of active members that post new tips, tricks and hacks every single day means that there is always more to learn and new strategies to try.
Being able to get direct answers to your questions doesn’t hurt either.
If you’ve been bitten by the frugal travel bug, head on over to r/churning to get your fix!
Readers, do you use Reddit churning to learn about credit card churning / travel hacking? Or, do you prefer blogs?