The Awkwardness of Selling Credit Cards to Family and Friends

Quite a title, no? In my posts I’m pretty much upfront that this blog is in part a “for-profit business” which survives via sales of credit cards. I know, it’s very icky and inappropriate for a site that supposedly caters to families.

But, I’m a lot more shy when it comes to dealing with family and friends IRL. In fact, I rarely even mention this blog and usually people come to me for credit card advice. Sometimes, it can be quite ironic.

So, we became friends with this couple and knew them for about few months. Well, just the other day, the wife and I were talking and she said she loves getting new credit cards in order to collect points. Huh? Then she mentioned that she has just  applied for Capital One Venture Rewards Visa and will get $400 out of the bonus. She goes on telling me how lucrative this hobby is.

Yeah, I know a thing or two about The Hobby (with a “The”). I asked her where she applied for the card (Venture Rewards pays me commission, BTW). She said she just googled it, found some random blog and used the link there. Nope, it wasn’t mine. Where is that stock photo image of the guy grabbing his head and screaming?

To Chile in business class… maybe

So, when one of our friends recently asked me for credit card advice, I was very upfront that I do indeed make commission on some offers and he can use my link if he wants to, no pressure. Ahh, why pretend? I told him if he doesn’t apply through my site, he is dead to me.

As always, I asked how much monthly spending he can comfortably handle. His response: he currently puts $2,300 on credit cards each month. Perfect. The reason he wanted to apply for a sign-up bonus (or two) was so he can collect enough miles for a potential trip to Chile in December. He was also hoping to fly in business class, if at all possible. So, let me share my recommendations  as well as reasoning behind them.

Behold the emperor of all cards!

Friends, I’ve discovered this amazing product! I haven’t seen anyone mention it and can’t figure out why. The sign-up bonus is amazing, first annual fee is waived and  the points are flexible. Are you ready?




Mind. Blown.

asian man

Sorry, Cheapblackdad, I need to cater to my Asian readers now and again. Is it me, or is this guy a couple of miles short of an award redemption?

So, why did I recommend it? Well, first, the offer is very lucrative (read more on it as well as other cards I will mention in my post). Second, he can easily handle the requirements because he only has to spend $1,333 per month in order to collect the bonus, way below what he currently puts on credit cards. Third: he only applied for two cards in the last two years and has a solid history with Chase.

But the main reason is this: Ultimate Rewards points are flexible. This trip to Chile may not happen and he doesn’t have a whole lot of wiggle room on dates. It costs 55,000 miles to fly one-way in business class to Chile via United program. Ultimate Rewards transfer instantly 1:1 and he can use them on Copa airline, Star Alliance member.

There is a potentially better option: redeeming through Singapore Krisflyer program, also Chase Ultimate Rewards partner and Star Alliance member. Transfer does take a day to go through, though. It costs 50,000 miles for one-way business ticket if you go that route. If the redemption happens to be on United flights, there are no fuel surcharges. I searched on Google but couldn’t find any information on Copa. It doesn’t appear they add on any fuel surcharges, but I’m not 100% sure. Still, it probably would be worth it to pay a few hundred dollars extra to fly in business class.

So, the bonus from CSP would potentially take care of one-way business  ticket to Chile. If this plan doesn’t work out, he can always use points for revenue economy flight on any airline and get 1.25 cents per UR point. If the trip to Chile falls through, he can just  transfer points to Southwest, Avios or  pocket $550 in cash. Our friend applied and got approved. Yes, he did use my affiliate link.

Going for Gold

But what about a return flight in business class?  I wanted to see if he can get a 50,000 points’ offer on Amex Premier Rewards Gold. It comes with $1,000 in 3 months minimum spending requirement, which is extremely reasonable. Membership Rewards points transfer to Singapore 1:1 (and many other airline programs), so this bonus could potentially book him his return flight. You can also use it for paid flights and get 1 cent per point in value.

There are several ways to pull up this offer. First, I asked him to check CardMatch tool (my affiliate link), but it didn’t come up there. Ok, how about trying this non-affiliate link in several browsers? Voila! Unfortunately, American Express denied his application.

So, what now? I told him he should  take a look at Citi Thank You Premier or Citi Prestige cards. However, my advice was to wait a month or two before applying. I could tell the idea of having to spend $7,000 in 90 days made him very uncomfortable. The reason I recommended those cards was once again because the points are flexible and they transfer to Singapore program. A bonus from either Premier or Prestige would be enough for a one-way business award ticket or he could use the points for revenue flights.

Bottom line

None of what you see here is earth-shattering advice, but rather a list of the usual suspects. I’ve always said that this hobby doesn’t have to be complicated. If you are responsible with credit, just two sign-up bonuses can potentially take you to Chile and back in business class. How can you beat that?

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Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at

6 thoughts on “The Awkwardness of Selling Credit Cards to Family and Friends

  1. What annoys me about family and friends is when they ask for advice but don’t follow it. Then they complain they don’t have the points or $$$ they need to go anywhere.


  2. Holly, I can definitely relate. It’s funny, with this guy, we kept talking about him applying for these cards for about a month. He was totally on-board but couldn’t commit to the time to make a phone call. I kept telling him that if he wants to have the points for Chile trip, he needs to APPLY. Those bonuses will not magically appear, some effort is required. Finally, I just called him myself and we got it done. He is a close friend, so I can get away with it. And he was so happy! Worst case scenario: he will have $550 out of it.


  3. I think people fail to realize the amount of advance planning and flexibility required to use miles/points. Sometimes I get a ridiculous inquiry like “Hey, I know you go to all these cool places for free on miles/points. I want to go to X on Y specific dates two months from now for free. And I’d like to fly first/business class if possible. How do I do that?” OK, it is not impossible for someone who is a professional MSer or spends very high amounts on credit cards each month. But I don’t have friends/family like that. So then I tell them how they might strategically prepare for that vacation next year or 6 months from now or whatever. Then typically the eyes glaze over and it’s like, “Oh. Sounds risky/complicated. Well, I guess I’ll just drive to Destin/Sanibel/whatever like I usually do.” And that’s OK, I guess…if everybody was doing it, the number of schemes to get points/miles would likely be reduced.


    • @Erik Yup, you nailed it! People have misconceptions when it comes to this hobby. Sure, it’s very lucrative, but certain amount of knowledge as well as work are still required. Flying 5 in business class over Christmas for free (with 2 months’ notice) isn’t going to happen.
      But you are right, if everyone was doing it, this hobby would die in no time. To some extent, it’s already happening. A lot of the tricks have gone mainstream and media got ahold of them. Banks aren’t stupid and pay attention to blogs. That said, I definitely don’t subscribe to paranoid view of things. All hot deals eventually die. I would rather a few families learned about these tricks now, so they could afford to travel with their kids. Some opportunities will most likely be there in the long run, like IHG promotions and such. Of course, my blog isn’t a huge threat to The Hobby anyway since it’s quite small.


  4. When I’m smart, I don’t bother. Travel deals aren’t going anywhere though. Most people don’t want to travel. I’ve spent a lot of time researching this stuff because I do. I will travel regardless, but it helps me up my game.


    • @Jo It’s true that travel deals and promos will still be around even if credit card churning is dead. Though I doubt it will ever completely go away. It will just get harder and harder to get the same cards repeatedly. And yes, I agree, most people don’t care about travel. That’s why flexible points like UR currency are best for beginners. I think it motivates people to get out and explore because they can leverage points for outsized value.


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