With the end of the month approaching really quickly, it’s time for me (and I hope you) to do the following:

  1. Make sure you’ve spent any American Express credits in Uber Eats or Uber by Sunday evening. Watch out for combining accounts that have stored Uber Cash and American Express Uber credits though.
  2. Make sure you’ve spent any $10 American Express Personal Gold dining credits. The easiest way IMO is to buy something for pickup for $10ish at a local coffee shop on GrubHub.
  3. If you have an American Express co-branded personal card (Marriott, Delta, Hilton), make sure you’ve attached the dining offer to your card and spend it. The easiest way to do this from home seems to be to buy an exact value DoorDash or Uber Eats gift card on Fluz, which will code correctly as a restaurant on the co-brands. Find a Fluz referral from a friend to make their day if you don’t have an account already.
  4. Spend any American Express co-branded business card wireless credits. I prepay my cell phone bill with this one, and after last year’s Master Value Injection I’ve racked up a big credit. Just make sure you’ve added the offer to your American Express card first.
  5. Check for any credit cards that have had annual fees post in February and call them for a retention offer. I suggest saying something like: “I’m thinking of closing this card because of its high annual fee and I’m not using the benefits right now, but before I decide what to do I was wondering if there are any retention offers or spend bonuses.” I don’t think it works with other banks, but with AmEx you can do this over chat rather than the phone.

    Note: Don’t skip this one! Stu emailed me earlier this week to say that he got a total of $1,250 in retention offers after making just a few calls. Be cool, be like Stu!
  6. Cancel any cell phone burner accounts that you’re done with (and that you didn’t use a virtual account number that expires on).
A picture of 10 different liquor bottles laid on the ground, all empty.
Time to clean up after all of the “food” you bought with your dining credits.

1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt Bonus Journeys Q2, 2021. There’s lots of meaningless fluff content out there about this one, but just register for it and be done. Don’t let it sway your hotel stay patterns because it’s not that valuable, but it runs through June 15th so you’ve got time to hit it if you were already staying in Hyatts:

  • 2,000 points per two nights, or 2,500 for World of Hyatt card holders
  • Category 1-4 certificate after staying ten nights

2. Southwest’s book the cheapest fare and change to any other flights at no charge between the same city-pairs is back for, let’s say “smarch” through “Mapril”. The exact dates aren’t known, but it looks like the current iteration doesn’t have the usual ±30 day restrictions. So a cheap flight booked in late Smarch can be switched to an early fall flight this time around. For a bit more on the procedure, see Spring Break, Southwest Style. April 21 is a known working date, by the way.

3.Watch for fee-free Staples Visa gift cards Sunday February 28 – Saturday March 6. Use an ink for 5x, and have a backup liquidation other than Walmart in store money orders. Hint: There are still a few ways to liquidate these with Walmart.

An image of the continental US with a temperature gradient ranging in temperatures from -10 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Also, it sucks to spell fahrenheit.
Lousy Smarch weather.

1. Check your AmEx offers for $100 off of $500 at Dell. You can earn spend, portal cash back, Dell rewards, and a few percent profit by buying XBox Gift Cards for resale and selling them on a reputable exchange. With XBox, the lower denominations sell more quickly.

2. Check here to see if you’re targeted for 1,000 free miles from Star Alliance member Aegean Airlines. You’ll have to click the present icon to redeem once you’ve logged in.

Michael Jordan sitting in an empty stadium pointing his index and middle finger at his eyes, staring at something with a determined look.
One deal for each eye.

T-Mobile has been offering a high interest checking account for a while, but to most people it became a lot less valuable last week after they announced that you’ll have to make 10 debit card transactions a month to earn 4.00% APR starting in April 2021. (Before, there was a $200 / month direct deposit requirements to earn the high rate but that’s going away.)

In my opinion this is a great change because people like you and me can automate 10 monthly debit card transactions in about 45 seconds with debbit, but most people won’t know how or won’t care to do so. When there are fewer people taking advantage of a deal like this, it tends to stick around for much longer and also tends to increase in benefits and payout over time, which means our 45 second investment will probably pay-off for at least a few years. (If you haven’t set debbit up yet, it might be more like 20 minutes on this round.)

Vitals:

  • Be a T-Mobile customer (this can be a hard pill for some of you, but I travel-hacked my way into 3 unlimited everything lines at Sprint for $10 per month each about a year ago via a now defunct deal, and then T-Mobile bought Sprint and kept my rate).
  • Enroll your T-Mobile bank account in T-Mobile rewards
  • Earn 4.00% on balances of up to $3,000 per month
  • Earn 1.00% after that

I’m going to deposit $3,100 and configure debbit to pay XFinity between $0.01 and $0.10 randomly per month, 10 times. That will earn $90.00+ per year and I’ll never have to think about it.

My philosophy: When a deal becomes more onerous, it’s much more likely to be rewarding and to stick around long-term. You can often automate away the onerous requirements too, so don’t be afraid to spend a little time getting your automation in order. For further reading on high interest bank accounts and other methods of automating, see one of my favorite travel hacking posts by the Free-quent Flyer.

An image of the T-Mobile CEO with a pink "T" tee shirt and a sport jacket wearing a clown nose.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere is literally asking us to treat his company like a clown. This picture is not doctored and is very real.

There are some really strange bank offers floating around out there, and at least two of them are probably worth your time (I’ll let you guess which ones):

1. Update: Katie points out that S&T requires that you have an address in OH, PA, or an Armed Forces address to open the initial account if you don’t already have a relationship with S&T. S&T Bank is offering a $300 rebate on $500 spend, as long as you have $50 in your account for six months. The play: Open a Simple Checking Solution no-fee account, fund the account with $550, then make a single $500 purchase (like a $500 money order including fees with an actual bank account debit card), disable bill-pay to avoid any fees, and set a reminder in your phone to cancel the account in 6 months and one day.

Hint: The last step should be treated as optional and possibly even discouraged. I like having lots of bank accounts open, especially at banks I’ve never heard of and that I wouldn’t lose sleep over if I were shutdown. You might be surprised at all the different ways you can make “deposits” appear via MS into random bank accounts like this one.

2. Check here to see if you’re eligible for 10,000 Membership Rewards points for enrolling in Pay-Over-Time. (Afterword, unenroll to potentially get this in the future, but I’d suggest you wait until your next annual fee posts before you turn Pay-Over-Time off as a safety measure. That may also be overly cautious though.)

3. Did you know that Chase has a dining portal at dining.chase.com for Freedom, Sapphire, and Ink card members? Apparently Chase thinks the first thing we’ll think of when we’re hungry is: “Gee, I wonder how my bank’s website can help me get food!” The cities are limited and the restaurant selection is also limited, but you’ll earn 10x ultimate rewards you order through Chase dining, up to $500 total spend through June 30, 2021.

A picture of a kitten with big, droopy eyes and a sagging mouth that makes it look sad.
“Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is sad that you didn’t think of his bank when you were ordering takeout yesterday” as a cat.

Ok, BHN gift cards are having problems at Walmart, many of you have been shutdown by AmEx BlueBird or have maxed it out, RedBird doesn’t exist, and Serve is, well, weird. There’s another option that loads at Walmart registers too that you may not know about. It’s not a secret, but it’s also rarely mentioned for some reason.

My advice: You should get a GoBank prepaid card and add it to your tool bucket — that’s where you keep your cards right? No? Now I’m the weird one?

Painting of my little pony eating purple candies off of a prepaid card cupcake.
GoBank is another sweet treat that you didn’t know you could get.

1. Remember how we discussed that you should turn off American Express’s Pay-Over-Time feature, because reportedly having it on can use up one of your five total credit card slots with AmEx, and you won’t get bonuses for enabling it if it’s already on? There’s a new rub:

The American Express Green card seems to be counted as a charge card according to multiple threads in private forums and this thread at Reddit. So, if you want five AmEx credit cards, either ditch that Green or upgrade it to a Gold which isn’t counted as a credit card, but rather a charge card. I personally wouldn’t mind having another 3-4 Gold cards, they’re no-brainer value cards for me.

2. It’s time to liquidate your AmEx Business Platinum Dell credits, just make sure you’ve enrolled for the benefit at the American Express website’s “Benefits” tab before you buy. The vitals:

  • Dell Home is 10x at Rakuten as of this writing, though Rakuten punked me twice on Monday, so who knows how long it’ll stick around
  • You can use the code GAME10 for 10% off of Xbox gift cards (the smaller the denomination, the faster it sells if you’re selling yourself, or liquidate with trusted gift card outlet immediately for 80-82%)
  • You’ll earn 3% in Dell rewards on this purchase to use in the second half of the year for liquidating more AmEx credits
  • American Express is really good at quick statement credits from Dell, and Business Platinum cards earn $100 Jan-Jun, and another $100 Jul-Dec each year

From my internal monologue: How did this week turn into an American Express / Rakuten week?

A picture of a comic brain with a thought bubble that contains "..." on a pink background.
Internal monologue loading.

It feels like everyone is talking about deals on Simon Mall $1,000 gift cards right now (40% off of prepaid Visa fees with promo FS21FEB40). Yeah, they’re good at stores that aren’t Walmart, they’re high denomination, and you can buy a bunch at once easily. There’s a big problem with them though: They don’t earn points when purchased with American Express cards because AmEx blocked earning on Simon purchases.

If you’re trying to put spend on an AmEx and get something out of it, use Vanilla Gift Cards with the promo code FLASH2020, which amazingly is still working. You’ll earn spend when you go this route, and the fees are almost non-existent. They still work at most grocery chains too, just like BlackHawk gift cards.

Bonus hint: Simon business volume accounts are better than personal ones, but that has nothing to do with AmEx.

A man passed out on a tan couch wearing a Mario costume.
A guy dressed up like Mario dreaming of earning Membership Rewards through manufactured spend.