Edit: Regarding closing accounts, totally forgot, but this will describe credit utilization ratio better than I can.
I've seen people do it different ways. Some people will keep a card if they like the perks enough and if it's a card where a bonus is given again (I want to say there was a high-annual fee AmEx card that did that), but most will close it and restart later. The people over at a travel forum that I frequent have made churning into an art.
When looking at the cards, you have to pay attention to the issuing bank. Each bank will only give you so much credit and churners take advantage of that numbers game. For example, they will do an app-o-rama, applying for a Chase Southwest, Citibank American Airlines, and a third airlines card that isn't issued by Chase or Citibank, all at the same time. Look at Calipso's list. He has several cards issued by the same bank and his credit limit totals per bank are about the same range. I'm guessing he did several app-o-ramas at different times.
Sorry to keep referring to you, Calipso lol. And, I was only slamming you for posting your actual amounts, as it's like discussing your salary with co-workers, socially inappropriate. But, I now see your point at needing data to prove your point. Also, kudos that you've dug your credit rating out of the hole. It was probably not easy and required diligence and self-control.
Hey, now. No hard feelings.
One negative on my Experian report had me held down for 7 years. Discover wouldn't touch me. Amex wouldn't touch me. Even if people don't get into the credit card churning game, it's so much more benefitial to have excellent credit than to have just one flaw on there.
I maxed out my credit at 18-21. Did stupid crap. Paid for it for years.
I only listed my limits/income as proof that credit is to be used as an asset. I know better than anyone.....credit does not equal actual money. I would much rather have $100k in cash in the bank than $1,000,000 in available credit.
I pull my credit report daily with USAA's daily puller and I use creditkarma just to see if anything changed on TU. After years of neglect and destoying my credit, I'm diligent about keeping it flawless. All bills are paid on time right after closing (if I didn't pay them in full) because I don't ever want to take a chance on a 30-day late appearing on my reports.
I stand by my original recommendation for the OP though. Chase Freedom. Easy card to get for beginners. $100 statement credit for spending $500. Good 5% bonus catagories. When someone pairs the Chase Sapphire Preferred with the Freedom....you can transfer your UR points over to airlines that Chase is partnered with.
The funny thing is that a good majority of people who do the credit card churning are actually people who do make a decent income and those with advanced degrees, business people and high-income professionals. It isn't a small-time thing at all like game flipping or mediocre churning to get a few plane tickets or an upgrade to first class here and there. These people spend tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of a couple of months in order to get hundreds of thousands of miles (some try for the million mark) because of the minimum purchasing requirements for their selected cards. So, their credit limits and accompanying bonuses are way beyond those of people like Calipso. And, most importantly, they know how to do it without significantly affecting their FICO.
I'm not saying that churning is right, but it is intriguing and shouldn't be dismissed like a Slickdeals/games hoarder or classed at that level. You see it as crap and they would probably view our video game forum as crap.
You've be quite surprised at what some people on Flyertalk, MyFico Forums and various boards do for work. They just like playing the system and flying for free and staying at good hotel rooms.
I have to laugh though. Someone trying to put down people who churn credit cards or flip games or stuff for extra profit.....yet he posts on a forum dedicated for being a cheap mofo to get vidya games.
Compared to the dedicated churners on Flyertalk, I am barely on the radar for churning. My points are laughable compared to the people who fly first class all over the world on bonuses and point promotions. I fly across the US for free and will continue to do so for several years.