Seriously, This Is Why You Don’t Churn Cards Before You Buy a House (Or Condo…Or Co-op)

If you’ve read any advice about churning credit cards, you’ve probably tripped across someone telling you that you should not churn cards for the year or two before you plan on buying a house. It’s sound advice, though I know lots of people don’t bother following it, especially when there’s hysteria around an extra 10,000 points for a sign up.

Here’s a real-world example of why this is great advice:

I’m on the board of my co-op building, and at last night’s board meeting we were reviewing the finances of someone who was refinancing in our building. When going through the person’s application we were looking at their credit report, and on the report it says, “the number of inquiries on the consumer’s credit file has adversely affected the credit score.”

I know that my own credit report contains that language (probably because of the dozen-plus cards I’ve applied for over the past year), and that it’s simply stating that I’ve been dinged some points because of the number of inquiries (it doesn’t mention the increase in score from having open, unused credit).

A couple of board members brought this up as a concern, questioning why so many cards have been opened, and why the credit bureau called it out.

If you’re a churner, you have an easy-enough explanation for that, but if you have a board that’s quick to make a decision, you may not even get a chance to explain yourself. Hence – if you’re going to buy a house within the next 2 years, please do not churn cards.

(Or to paraphrase Arrested Development: And that is why you never churn credit cards when you’re going to buy a house).


  1. or if you live in NYC, you don’t gotta worry about this cuz nothing in this damn city is affordable to buy anyway.

  2. Just make sure your credit score is high enough, don’t go crazy on applying, and you’ll be fine for normal home purchase. I’m closing on a home in a couple weeks and my wife and I were able to obtain the lowest interest rate available. We do small churns, usually 2 cards about 2 times a year and the random couple applications. So that is 5-6 cards per person per year. For co-ops, I don’t know as those aren’t familar to me and I’ve heard boards can be strict. Anyways, point is, don’t be greedy and you’ll usually be fine.

  3. So did you argue to the board in favor of giving the person a shot since they may simply be a miles and points enthusiast?

  4. That’s pretty interesting, never had a chance to look at someone else’s credit report. I’m sure they would think I am drowning in debt if they saw mine. Wish there was a way to see which credit cards they applied for, so at least you can tell if they are a savvy traveler or someone who likes to get store branded cards.
    “(Or to paraphrase Arrested Development: And that is why you never churn credit cards when you’re going to buy a house).” – totally lost on me :(

  5. Interesting stuff. So, was a final decision made? Did the application get approved or rejected?

    There was a guest post on Travel-Summary a while back where a guy talked about his experience applying for a new mortgage:

    “Guest Post – Refinancing While Churning Credit Cards: 10 Lessons Learned”

  6. I see that notation on our CoOp applications all the time and it isn’t from churning. Never has been a problem with our group.