The travel blogosphere is an interesting place: Where else can you find a bunch of people with similar interests talking about discount diapers, free Chik-Fil-A sandwiches, overflowing lavatories, first class lounges with Porsche transfers to your aircraft, and ViaSat internet all in the same regime? Nowhere else, that’s where.

At MEAB I try and focus on things that I think will make a meaningful difference in most readers’ lives. I personally value my time at well above $100 per hour, and I assume that you do as well, that means that I draw a line about which things I’ll post and which I won’t. If something doesn’t feel like it crosses that threshold, or if it’s a stretch to call it travel related, you won’t find it here. Instead you’ll only find (I hope):

  • Things that make you money
  • Things that make you miles
  • Things that maximize your money or miles, specifically related to travel
  • Things that make you laugh, but only in direct relation to the previous points

There’s a threshold for when something is interesting, and 500 points for taking a 10 minute survey is really, really below the value that I place on my own time, and by extension your time.

What’s the point? If you’re wondering why I’m not talking about a particular hotel promotion or a bank bonus that you find on other major sites, it’s probably because I think it doesn’t meet the $100 per hour imaginary line, or that it’s not directly relevant to making money or miles. If I miss something that clearly does cross that threshold, please let me know!

A visual representation of the line.

  1. Several shopping portals have Father’s Day spend promotions, most of which are new:

    Alaska MileagePlan: 500 bonus miles after $200+ spend through June 14
    United MileagePlus: 1,000 bonus miles after $400+ spend through June 16
    AA AAdvantage: 500 bonus miles after $200+ spend through June 17
    Southwest Rapid Rewards: 1,000 bonus miles after $100+ spend through June 18

    You can hit them all with, but be careful with back-to-back orders for the same product type because they’ll require a urine sample for order verification, then deny you anyway; instead space them out by 24 hours.
  2. Southwest has two promotions:

    Discounted fares on some flights booked by Wednesday for travel between August 6 and December 18 using promo code BDAY, but on the mobile app only. In my searches, discounted fares were found on most days, but often only on early morning or late night flights
    A daily sweepstakes through Sunday for bonus miles, it’s probably barely worth your time because there are about 129,000 total winners over the week so the probability of winning is measurable without too many decimal points

    Side note: Southwest is going to try and make noise on major blogs for the entire week; if you’re looking for a drinking game, throw one back each time you find a Southwest article with more than 1,000 words that doesn’t really manage to say anything new.

Happy Tuesday!

A portion of the fraud team’s checklist.

  1. US Bank Double Cash Back days runs Wednesday through Friday on both its cash back portal and card linked offers. You can get to both on most personal cards by:

    – Logging in to US Bank
    – Clicking on your credit card from the dashboard
    – Clicking “Go to rewards & benefits”
    – Clicking “Rewards center”, which may be hidden behind “…”
    – Click “Shop now” for the portal or “See my cash-back deals” for card linked offers

    You can also try this link, but it’s very ymmv. Also because it’s US Bank and the computer is a mainframe operated by a drinking bird, the card linked offers may lead to a blank page especially for Altitude Reserve cards.
  2. American Express Offers has a card linked offer for $100 off of $400 or more in front desk gift card purchases purchases at the Unbound Collection by September 15. Gamers that can’t get to a front desk for a gift card purchase often find ways to make this work anyway.

    There’s also an offer for $75 off of $350 or more at Avis or Budget.
  3. The Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, and other grocery chains’ Just4U rewards program had a great stack this weekend, and most of it is still working for a very good stack for another week and change:

    $15 off of $75 in select gift cards including PlayStation Store through June 18
    – 10x points on PlayStation Store through June 18
    – 4x points on all gift card purchases Saturday and Sunday

    These deals all conspired to award 12x points plus $15 in groceries with a purchase $75 or more in PlayStation Store gift cards, because the weekend promotion is over the same deal will now will earn 10x points + $15 in groceries. PlayStation cards should fetch at least 81% in resale value for bulk buyers, so if your buyer is paying less, look for another one.

    Why is this on MEAB, a site whose mission silently includes never talking about discount groceries or electronics? Well: (1) manufactured spend, (2) this is a backdoor to buying Alaska miles.

US Bank’s rewards portal technical operator in action.

Very few companies have a monolithic technology stack. That means you’ll often find different behavior with:

  • Mobile apps versus a website
  • Older terminal hardware versus newer hardware
  • Android apps versus iOS apps
  • Version 1.0 versus version 1.1

Ok cool. How about a few specific examples?

  • FlyingBlue will show different pricing and availability on AirFrance’s site than KLM’s
  • Turkish Airlines fails to ticket some itineraries on desktop, but they’re easily bookable in the app
  • Older Walmart terminals behave differently than newer terminals
  • Some Kroger registers auto-drain cards, others won’t
  • Old school bill payment platforms charge different fees based on what you use to start a payment

Ok, cool again. Now why should you care?

  • Different technologies get different results, which leads to conflicting data points. Not all conflicts are easily explained by different technology stacks, but a surprising number are
  • Fees, funding methods, and functionality often differ. Can’t get that payment to go through on the desktop? Maybe hit up the mobile app. Mobile app doesn’t work? How about the prior version?

Good luck, and have a nice weekend!

Even shoes have different technology stacks.

  1. has 10% off of $100 Visa eGift cards using promo code SUPERDAD or SUPERDAD10, limit three per order. Too bad science hasn’t yet figured out a way to decode what these codes could mean and why they surfaced this week.

    These are Pathward gift cards, and have a limit of $2,000 in purchases in a rolling 24 hour period for both the virtual and physical varieties.
  2. The Alaska Airlines MileagePlan shopping portal has 500 bonus miles on $200 or more in cumulative spend through June 14. will work as long as it normally tracks for you, but likely won’t work in conjunction with the 10% off Visa offer.
  3. If you’re into fintechs for floosies, the new no-annual fee Wells Fargo Attune World Mastercard’s 4% back in several categories including gyms might be enticing, definitely more so than its $100 sign-up bonus.
  4. A periodic refrain in churning is that grocery stores are bad at coding promos and this week brought another example. Always be probing.

Science hasn’t figured out why this surfaced this week either.

  1. Kroger in store has a 4x fuel points on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards promotion starting today and running until Tuesday, June 18. Fuel points demand remains high, and will likely push higher and higher until the end of September.

    Pepper Rewards is still expected to grind its promotional rates to a halt before the end of this promotion, which means gift card resale rates will likely go up before June 18 because economics 101.
  2. Two Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards have increased sign-up bonuses:

    – Plus: 85,000 Rapid Rewards after $3,000 spend
    – Priority: 85,000 Rapid Rewards after $3,000 spend

    I purposefully didn’t link to either because the same offer is available via referral, so use a P2 or a friend’s referral and make someone’s day with 20,000 extra Rapid Rewards points.
  3. Office Depot / OfficeMax stores have $15 off of $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards running through Saturday. Buying even multiples of $300 in a single transaction often gives you a better bang for your buck.

    These are Pathward gift cards.
  4. American Express offers has a new offer for a $150 statement credit with $750 or more at Omni Hotels by September 30. (Thanks to DDG)

Happy Wednesday!

The moment before Pepper rewards grinds to a halt, allegedly.

  1. American Express Offers has a targeted card linked offer for a $800 statement credit after spending $35,000 up to three times. This obviously pairs well with hitting spend on 99 employee card phone-in offers. (Thanks to SideShowBob233)
  2. Chase Offers and BankAmeriDeals have a new offer for 10% back on Alaska Airlines airfare of $50 or more booked by June 12, max $45 cash back. 

    The most above board way to game this is to book a non-basic economy airfare, wait 24 hours, and refund it to your Alaska wallet, but gamers gonna game.
  3. Discover has 15% off of gift card redemptions with cash-back balance through the end of June. In general Discover IT’s 5% cash back is worth more than 5% with games as laid out here, and the gameing is even better with Uber.
  4. AirFrance and KLM’s FlyingBlue June Promo awards just dropped exactly like movie theater stock this week. US to Europe promo award flight cities have economy awards starting at 15,000 points to and from:

    – Boston
    – Washington DC
    – Houston
    – New York (JFK)
    – Phoenix
    – Seattle

    I’m also seeing sporadic availability for business class redemptions to Europe at 50,000 miles from Phoenix and Seattle, the two cities on the list that I checked.
  5. Avianca LifeMiles has a 15% incoming transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards points through June 30. The terms give them 24 hours to post the bonus miles, but they’ve been coming more quickly in practice.

    LifeMiles still has great sweet spots for Business Class flights from the US to Europe for certain city pairs, and for general weirdness on most routings. One of my personal favorites is to throw an economy flight that I’m not planning on taking onto the end of a business class ticket to reduce the cost of the redemption.
  6. The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card currently has a targeted relatively mediocre bonus of 70,000 MileagePlus miles after $3,000 spend in three months, but the first year’s annual fee is waived in the current iteration of the offer. You may need to go through a United booking flow or try different browsers to see the offer. The all-time high for this card was 100,000 miles.

    Why bring it up? If you think you might want it, either wait until this is available via referral which will likely be in the next week, or wait until the next time 100,000 mile rolls around unless you have a specific need for this card (like for XN availability). Don’t jump yet just because lots of bloggers are talking about it.
  7. Emirates reduced the cost of many of its economy award redemptions. The catch? You’re still flying economy.

By popular request, BankAmeriGuy makes another appearance to celebrate today’s Alaska BankAmeriDeal.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you missed Saturday’s social engineering guest post by dawnzerly because my mailer chose the wrong post to send, you can find and read it here. Ok, I guess even if you didn’t miss it you can still find and read it there.

  1. Do this now: Register for Choice Hotels’ Summer promotion for a top up of up to 8,000 bonus points after a two night stay between today and August 5. Yes, the landing page headline says $50 gift card, but no, that’s not actually what you’ll get. (Thanks to Dave for the updated link)
  2. E*Trade, the Taco Bell of brokerages, has a tiered brokerage bonus of up to $5,000 that can be satisfied by ACATS of an existing brokerage account without selling existing stock. You need to open a new E*Trade brokerage account and ACATS transfer or fund within 60 days, then hold it there for another 60, and use promo code REWARD24 when opening the account. Be sure to close existing E*TRADE accounts first for a bigger bonus.

    You’ve got to hold the funds at E*Trade for six months, but then you can ACATS back out to your preferred broker. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. American Express has a targeted employee card online for 5,000 Membership Rewards after $2,000 spend for up to five employees at this link. The blogosphere seems to have collectively forgot about it and assumes this link is new, which is at best a half truth. The POID is K4IY:9880.

    I bring it up here because you can only get the offer five times per business card, and if you’ve you’ve had another five cards that already bonused with this POID or with any POID that starts with K4IY like this one from March, you won’t get this bonus.
  4. While we’re on the topic of American Express employee cards, phone-in offers for adding up to 99 employee cards are still available on both co-brand cards and Membership Rewards earning cards. Most of them are some form of:

    – Spend $1,000 get 5,000 points
    – Spend $2,000 get 5,000 points
    – Spend $2,000 get $50 statement credit

    These still work for up to 99 employees per account, and are a nice power-up if you’re spending to hit status on Delta, Marriott, or Hilton cards anyway. What’s the catch? You have to pick up the phone and make a call, sorry.

Happy Monday!

An E*Trade brokerage account, but as food.