When I wrote yesterday's post, I wasn't planning to make this a series! But ever since a US Bank representative told me it was possible to request a product change from a Club Carlson Business Rewards card to the Business Edge Cash Rewards card, I've been pondering the possibilities that would open up.
I haven't requested a product change yet (in anticipation of the June 1, 2015, change to the free domestic award night bonus) but there are some strong theoretical advantages to working regular US Bank product changes into your game.
Examples of strategic product changes
A good example of integrating product changes into a strategy is offered by Chase, with their personal Sapphire Preferred and Freedom cards and business Ink Plus and Cash cards. After receiving a signup bonus on the premium, $95-annual-fee card you can request a product change to the free version, wait a suitable amount of time, and apply again. With this method you can accumulate a stable of Freedom and Ink Cash cards, allowing you to increase bonused spend as a proportion of your total manufactured spend.
Does US Bank offer similar opportunities?
As I explained in an update shortly after yesterday's post went live, the US Bank representative I spoke to offered me a product change from the Club Carlson Business Rewards card to the Business Edge Cash Rewards card, which offers 3% cash back at gas stations (redeemable in $25 increments) and an annual 25% bonus on all cash back earned, for a maximum of $250 in bonus cash back.
While gas station manufactured spend isn't available to everyone, or in every part of the country, that theoretical 3.75% cash back is extremely competitive with the $95-annual-fee Citi ThankYou Premier card — but with no annual fee.
If a product change were also possible from the personal Club Carlson Premier Rewards card, you could request a product change to either the Cash+ or Flexperks Travel Rewards card. Two Flexperks Travel Rewards card would let you earn double Flexpoints at both gas stations and grocery stores each month (and both annual fees would be waivable if you spend $24,000 per cardmember year).
Beyond that, additional Cash+ cards would let you earn 5% cash back on up to $2,000 in charitable spending per quarter, per card.
Why start with Club Carlson?
After June 1, 2015, Club Carlson credit cards will no longer offer the last night free on award stays of two or more nights.
But starting June 1, 2015, they will offer a free domestic award night each cardmember year you spend $10,000 or more on the card, and there's no reason to believe their extremely generous signup bonuses will change: up to 85,000 for both the Business Rewards card and Premier Rewards cards after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days of card membership.
There's no small business credit card offered by US Bank with a similarly generous signup bonus. On the personal side, the Flexperks Travel Rewards card has long offered 20,000 Flexpoints as a signup bonus, worth up to $400 in paid airfare. That's a strong candidate as well, depending entirely on your own air travel and hotel needs.
But most importantly, on June 1, 2015, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards and Business Rewards card will begin to offer a free domestic award night after spending $10,000 on each card each cardmember year. In other words, the signup bonus will change from 85,000 Gold Points after spending $2,500 to 85,000 Gold Points plus a free domestic award night after spending $10,000 (of course, you'll continue to earn 5 Gold Points per dollar spent as well). In my mind that slightly edges out the Flexpoint signup bonus.
So, is it possible?
There are a lot of moving parts to this scheme, any one of which would bring down the whole:
- My representative might have been wrong: product changes from Club Carlson cards to proprietary rewards cards may not be allowed.
- It may not be possible to receive Club Carlson signup bonuses more than once. I was able to receive a Flexperks Travel Rewards signup bonus twice in extremely short order in 2012, but that may have been a temporary glitch or a bug that has since been fixed.
- US Bank representatives may balk at allowing you to request a product change to a credit card product you already have.
On the business side, I'll be trying this in June or July, after I spend $10,000 on my Business Rewards card and my free domestic reward night posts to my Club Carlson account. I don't have a burning need for additional personal cards from US Bank, but if this technique works on the business side, I'll be more confident that it will work on the personal side as well.
If any readers decide to try it out, be sure to share your results in the comments!