The Ultimate Spreadsheet To Track Credit Card Churning

For those like me that love to collect credit card rewards and  travel everywhere for free, keeping track can become difficult and cumbersome. Among the bonus requirements, reward structures, annual fees, and application deadlines, there are many things to pay attention to. At any given time, I have about 15-20 active credit cards for just myself. Each year, I will open 5-10 new cards and subsequently also cancel 5-10 credit cards since I do not want to pay the annual fee. This practice is called “churning” and can become stressful and difficult to manage. I’ve created a spreadsheet in Excel that will solve all your problems! This post is part of my comprehensive guide to travel hacking and credit cards which explains everything you ever needed to know about how to use credit cards to maximize traveling. 

 

Why use a spreadsheet to track Credit Cards?


Unless you have a legitimate business, most of us don’t have enough regular day to day spend to acquire any meaningful amount of bonuses.

Even with a lucrative card like the Chase Sapphire where you earn 3x on dining and travel, to get $1,000 worth of rewards, you’d have to spend $25,000. That’s a lot of money for the average person. However, the sign on bonus is a cool 100,000 points which is worth $1,500. The requirement to get these points is to spend only $4,000 within 3 months. A much better return on your money! Of course the Sapphire Reserve has a ton of other benefits as well but for the most part, I sign up for a credit card and will usually discard after I’ve collected the bonus.

The above example is just 1 credit card. I’m always applying for new credit cards to get the bonus and therefore, my spreadsheet tracks everything from credit limits, credit score impact variables, time to next annual fee, and more.

Read Also:  Is It Safe To Travel To South Africa?

 

Credit Card Rewards and churning Excel spreadsheet


The spreadsheet I created focuses specifically on credit card bonuses and churning. As I’ve written before, it’s not about spending money on the credit card, as much as it is about pocketing the sign on bonuses. credit card churning and rewards tracking spreadsheet

It’s simple, yet effective. It will help you avoid paying excessive annual fees, remind you when your bonus period expires, and track canceled cards. There’s numerous columns in this spreadsheet that captures everything you need to know about the card you just signed up for. To download it, click the button below!

Download Credit Card Spreadsheet

The spreadsheet is in Google Sheets because if I update it in the future, it will be easy to access. It’s easy to download it and use with Microsoft Excel as well.

To download offline, click the red button above, then click file > download as > Microsoft Excel

 

Using the Credit Card churning spreadsheet


As someone that works with spreadsheets regularly, I’ve included some functionality like conditional formatting and formulas that an Excel novice might not understand. I will explain everything necessary for those wanting to get the full use out of the spreadsheet. For the most part, anyone with any excel experience should just follow my inventory and copy/delete rows accordingly to populate your inventory accordingly.

  • Bank: The credit card provider
  • Card Name: The name of the credit card
  • Type: Whether it is a personal or business card. Business cards do not affect your personal credit report
  • Card Type: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover etc.
  • Opened: Date card was first opened
  • Credit Limit: Credit limit you were approved for. This factors heavily into your total credit limit.
  • Inquiry?: Credit inquiries stay on your credit report for two years. This affects your credit score, and business cards are not included
    • Uses the Opened Column
  • Age: How long you’ve had the credit card for and factors into your credit score’s average age of credit calculation
    • Uses the Opened Column
  • Annual Fee: The annual fee associated with the credit card. Put $0 if there is no fee
  • First year waived?: Many cards waive their first year’s fee but some do not (Chase Sapphire Reserve, Delta AMEX Platinum, Chase Hyatt etc.)
  • Next fee date: Uses formulas to calculate when your next fee date is
    • Uses the Opened and Annual Fee column
  • Days until next fee date: Uses formulas to calculate how many days are left until your next fee
    • Uses the Next fee date and Annual Fee columns
  • Rewards Name: Name of the card’s rewards network
  • Bonus: Sign-on bonus of the card you applied for
  • Minimum Spend: How much you must spend to get the bonus above
  • Time Frame: How long you have to spend the minimum amount required (in days)
  • Estimated Value: This is just an estimated rewards amount I calculated based on how I would use the rewards. Feel free to change
  • Days Until Bonus Expires: Uses formulas to computer how many days are left for you to hit your minimum spend
    • Uses the bonus and time frame columns
  • Bonus Received: When you received your bonus. There is conditional formatting here that will turn the cell green when you input a date.
  • Current Rewards Balance: Your current rewards balance of the credit card
  • Rewards Detail: Details of the rewards structure (excluding the bonus)
  • Best way to redeem: The most ideal way of using the rewards earned.
  • Keep card past 1y: For the credit card churners, this column is a placeholder for you to decide if you want to keep the card after 1y. This is based on whether you think an annual card is worth keeping.
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Do NOT edit the cells in gray so to preserve the formula integrity. 

 

What do the other worksheets do?

The main sheet is named “Current Inventory” which is your active inventory of credit cards. I also added a few more worksheets.

Potential Cards:
Anything I plan on getting in the foreseeable future. All fields are the same as the ones in the main sheet.

Canceled Cards:
It’s important to track canceled cards. Not only will this be a good gauge for my credit score, but many credit card bonuses reset after 24 months. That means, I will know when in the future, I can re-apply for the same card and get the bonus again.

Reward Balances:
A way for me to track the points and dollar value of all my points and miles within all the different reward programs

Credit Score:
Straight forward. Track your credit score by using the credit score tools that every bank now provides for free.

Allcards:
A list of all active credit cards out there courtesy of the wonderful people at Reddit.

 

Track your Chase 5/24 status


To track your Chase 5/24 status and whether you are under the forever problematic Chase rule, simply change the date in cell B1 to a date in the future until the “Total Inquiries for Chase 5/24” cell in column G turns green. 

 

I hope this helps you out as you work your way to endless rewards and free travel! If you have any questions about the spreadsheet, please leave a comment below!

For those looking to maximize travel rewards by opening multiple accounts, keeping organized with a spreadsheet is imperative. This spreadsheet I made will accurately track all your cards and rewards in detail to get free travel. #spreadsheet #googlesheets #creditcards #traveltips #travelhacking #freeflights #churning
Showing 27 comments
  • Geoff
    Reply

    Johnny,

    For the Chase 5/24 Rule calculation, I see that you are counting Inquiries and not Issued Cards. What’s the rationale for that? Here’s the common definition I find on many sites: “Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.” It says nothing about inquiries.

    I’d like to find out if you have heard this comment from others and would consider changing the calculation to the commonly-accepted definition.

    Thanks again, Geoff

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi again Geoff, good observation there. You are correct. Inquiries do not affect your chase 5/24 status, only opened personal accounts. The formula i’ve instilled int he spreadsheet actually calculates this correctly so no worries there. I just used the word inquiries without really considering the verbiage. I’ve changed it to accounts! Thanks.

  • Geoff
    Reply

    Johnny,

    Wonderful tool, great work! My question: Is there any interaction between the separate workbook tabs that would get screwed up if I added a new Current Inventory tab for my wife’s cards? Or should I copy the workbook and maintain one for her and one for me?

    Thanks!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Geoff! There is no problem to copy worksheets to use for your wife as far as formulas go. Alternatively, you can just insert a column at the beginning to denote you or wife if you want to keep everything in one current inventory sheet. You could of course duplicate the workbooks and maintain separate files for the two of you guys as well. I have the GF maintain her own workbook completely separate. Whatever you find the easiest!

  • Puja
    Reply

    Hi! I appreciate your attention to details, planning, and photography. You and I would get along. 🙂

    Question: Did you use these chase points for your two week trip to Peru/Bolivia? I am planning an almost identical trip but trying to use my miles from Chase cards to help fund the vacation. If you have any tips to share, I’d appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Puja! Yes, since 2015, I’ve prettty much used only points and miles to cover all my flight expenditures for all my travels. The odd Ryanair or Airasia flight that costs under $50, I will pay out of pocket just because.

      As for Peru and Bolivia, I would look into fly into Lima and out of La Paz. I would start by searching for a multi leg flight, and then search for two one way flights and see what makes more sense. Normally, I will check first the cost of the flight in dolalrs, and then I will go to the various airlines and see what the cost is in miles. Avianca is the major airline there so I would see how much the flight there is in miles on United, and compare it to the dollar value to see which is more worth it. For example, when I was looking at flights back from La Paz to new York, I found that the one way dollar fare was about $700 (which is a lot!!!). I then searched for United award flights and saw it was 20,000 miles and $75 in fees which is a much better deal. I then transferred 20000 UR points from Chase to united miles, and booked the flight. Hope that helps!

  • Brian
    Reply

    Thanks for the very comprehensive spreadsheet Johnny! One thing I would add to mine is the points expiration date since some of the airline/hotel points have expiration dates and they are hard to track! I’m currently using awardwallet but they’re not the most user-friendly. I randomly discovered your blog when I was looking for credit card tracking spreadsheets and I will definitely be reading more of your articles. I’m also based out of NYC so if you host any reader meetups in the future, I’ll definitely be down!

    P.S. I tried to post this comment to the spreadsheet article but it says comments are closed…

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Brian! Thanks for pointing out that the comments were closed. I’ve since reopened them and moved your comment (WordPress has a mind of its own sometimes). As for the credit card spreadsheet, I liek your idea! I have edited teh spreadsheet since and added a coumn for that. For the most part, I’m pretty proactive abotu managing my points so this never happens but I totally can relate to it.

      Also, it’s great you live in NYC too! I have some friends that have been bugging me about meeting up for a travel hacking session for some time now. If you’d like to come, and have some friends that would too as well, I think I could make it happen! Let me know. Thanks!

  • Kav
    Reply

    What a great spreadsheet – one that has saved me so much work! I love it and thanks so much for sharing it!

    Still trying to get my head around it, so may ask questions in the near future.

    One question for now – what are the CheckingSaving Bonuses, RewardBalances and TPG worksheet for?

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks for the nice words Kav! Great questions as well.

      The Checking/Savings Bonuses are the checking and savings account bonuses I’ve signed up for. Like Credit Cards which offer great sign on bonuses, many banks across the USA incentivize people to open accounts by offering free cash. As you can see, I’ve done plenty of those accounts.

      Reward Balances: This is to track the points/miles I have across all my reward programs. The TPG worksheet is ThePointsGuy’s valuations of how much each program’s points are worth. This is my very rough way to estimate how much my credit card rewards are worth.

      Hope that helps!

  • Paul Newman
    Reply

    Johnny Great Info! I am a married 62 year old veterinary surgeon with excellent credit and FICO score. Recently forced to semi retire from multiple back surgeries and living full time in RV. We want to be able to fly from wherever we are in USA back to Nashville as work comes up. Then back to our rig. Two Quick questions:
    1. What is the difference to creditors of FICO score versus Credit Scores from the three agencies. I use Credit Karma for Credit scores and Bank Of America offers free FICO. I also check actual report at AnnualFreeCreditReport or Equifax if something fishy. Any other free sources that do not affect your credit report?
    2. When I try to download your spreadsheet for CC tracking on my IPhone 8 it just opens the non-editable sheet without the option to download to MS Excel which is on my phone as well. Please advise.

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Paul, I’ll admit I’m not an expert with the rating agencies but I so know that the scores you get from credit karma and Whay you’d get from a credit card provider are the same. For example, credit karma has your transunionn and equifax score. Chase largely uses transunion when they pill your credit score for decision making so they will have a service that tells you your transunion score. All the same stuff. They scores should be very close in number.

      As for your iPhone, Im not sure about thay since I don’t use one. Perhaps download the Google sheets app and see if that helps. Otherwise you should be editing this on a computer anyway because editing spreadsheets on a phone is a huge pain. Thanks!

  • Jeffrey Myers
    Reply

    What a great spreadsheet. I love it! … saved a ton or work.

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Jeff! Glad you like it and happy churning!

  • Steve
    Reply

    Johnny, thanks so much for creating such a useful tool and sharing it. This is my first year of collecting credit card bonuses and after a year I am starting to get overwhelmed since between my wife and I we have opened 12 cards this year. I was just getting ready to start creating a spreadsheet but decided to google to see if anyone had a template and found yours as the first result – it looks so comprehensive so I am looking no further! Blessings & Happy Travels!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      12 cards already! I like it. Best part of being married is there’s 2 sign on bonuses per card 🙂

      Also, glad you like the spreadsheet. Let me know if you have any questions on it!

  • Joe
    Reply

    Hi Johnny, thanks for the blog and the spreadsheet! I’m 23 and just getting into card churning and building my credit, currently have five cards, most recently both Chase Freedom cards. Due to necessary one-time expenses I’m going to be able to hit the minimum spend for both to collect the bonuses. My question is, since I will have little use for the Freedom Unlimited after collecting the bonus (I have the Citi Double Cash card), should I cancel it or product change it to a Slate after about six months? The main reason Im thinking of product changing it is to age the account and not have a <1 year closed account stuck on my report for however long until it falls off. If I product change it, can I apply for another Freedom Unlimited in 2 years and collect the bonus again (with the original F.U., now Slate still open), or do I have to cancel it in order to do this?

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hey Joe, good to hear about your new endeavor!

      If you product change to Slate, you should be able to re-acquire the Freedom unlimited bonuses after 2 years. Personally, I wouldn’t bother product changing your non-fee cards. If you really want the Slate card for their 0%APR intro, then just apply for that card as a new card. The bonuses for the Freedom and the Freedom Unlimited aren’t that great to begin with so waiting 2 years just to get the Freedom unlimit’s sign on bonus again seems less fruitful than it’s worth. I also wouldn’t cancel the cards altogether because no fee cards are great to build up your average age of credit which is a key component of your score. If anything, I would wait until you can get the Chase Sapphire Reserve card because that’s where the real rewards start accumulating!

  • Jacob
    Reply

    Thanks for the spreadsheet! Great work. One question: My sheet says I have 4 inquiries for Chase 5/24, but I’ve only applied for 2 credit cards in the last year and all my other fields are empty. And when I clear out all the cells, it still has a 2 listed even when I have no data in the worksheet. Just curious. Thanks!

    • Jacob
      Reply

      Nevermind. I figured it out.. I didn’t clear out the cancelled cards. Sorry

      • Johnny

        Glad you figured it out! Happy credit card tracking 🙂

  • James
    Reply

    I was just working on something like this for myself but really like the one you have! For the Chase 5/24 piece of this spreadsheet, are you factoring in cards you’ve closed as well as the ones you currently hav eopened?

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi James, yes it definitely does. It counts the number of personal cards from the “canceled cards” tab that was opened in the last 2 years.

  • Jeff
    Reply

    Johnny, where on Reddit do you get the list of active credit cards? Is it regularly updated?

  • Evan
    Reply

    Nice sheet, I’m starting to use it. I fixed the formula for calculation of days until next annual fee so it takes into account the day of year. For cell K4 it should be the following: =IF(I4=0,””,IF(DATE(YEAR($B$1),MONTH(E4),DAY(E4))<$B$1,DATE(YEAR($B$1)+1,MONTH(E4),DAY(E4)),DATE(YEAR($B$1),MONTH(E4),DAY(E4))))

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Evan, thanks for the comment. I don’t think the days of the year matter because the formula is just saying if you opened the card this year, the annual fee will hit next year and if you didn’t open the card this year (meaning you opened it years past), the annual fee will hit this year regardless.

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