1. Chase’s increased Ink Unlimited and Ink Cash offers are supposed to expire tomorrow at 9AM Eastern. There are still mixed reports of these offers bypassing 5/24, though it’s definitely not universal and very much is a ymmv situation.

    Don’t forget to use a referral from another player or a friend, especially now that the referral bonus is 40,000 Ultimate Rewards for the referrer.
  2. Meijer stores have $10 off of $150 or more in Visa gift cards, limit one per MPerks account through Saturday. If only there were a way to have more than one MPerks account, right?

    Meijer carries both Metabank Pathward and Sunrise gift cards, so you’ve got options on the liquidation front from home and in-store. If you can liquidate at volume, these sales can even be worthwhile even if you have to travel to Meijer land. (Thanks to GCG)
  3. Citizen’s Bank has a $500 sign-up bonus for:

    – Opening a new Business Advisor Checking Account by tomorrow
    – Depositing $5,000 by April 30 in a single deposit
    – Maintaining at least a $5,000 balance through June 30
    – Having five transactions in May or June (debit card, deposits, etc.)

    You’ll want to maintain a $10,000 balance though in order to avoid a $25 monthly fee. (Thanks to Peek)

One of the strange road signs found in Meijer land.

  1. If you’re part of a private fitness group that’s currently exploding and you’re still inside the blast zone, I’d like to offer a few unsolicited suggestions: first, archive everything and export your chat histories to a safe place in case you need them in the future. Second, double check on exposure and potential fallout with gift card brokers, buyers groups, and anyone else with whom you exchange big chunks of money.

    I have no personal exposure but I sincerely hope everyone who does is made whole. (Perhaps we’ll see a MEAB mini-rant in the future on what happened here.)
  2. Giftcards.com has a promotion for 5% off of Visa egift cards using promo code POTOFGOLD or SHAMROCK, though reportedly the latter isn’t working. The best portal offer as of this writing is Capital One Shopping at 3x, but double check other portals before buying. There’s a limit of $1,500 per order for the promo code, and a limit of $2,000 in egift cards per rolling 48 hours.

    These are Metabank Pathward gift cards, so have a liquidation plan in place. (Thanks to MattyB via MEAB slack and to H)
  3. The Amtrak Preferred credit card has an increased sign-up bonus of 40,000 points after $1,000 in spend, good for a bit over $1,000 worth of train tickets. This card has a $99 fee and earns 2x on dining, travel, transit, and rideshare.

    If you don’t live in the Eastern US between about Virginia and New Jersey though, it’s probably not worth your time because the US and trains mix about like scotch and tomato sauce.

The HBFC recovery drink: layered shots of scotch and tomato juice.

  1. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, the Adam Driver of credit cards and the original MEAB Unsung Hero, has sent new rounds of targeted spending bonuses through both email and USPS. Offers reported:

    – $50 back on $750 or more in online spend through April 14 (Ben)
    – 100,000 bonus points on $750 or more in online spend through April 14 (Me)
    – 90,000 bonus points on $300 or more in travel spend once a month for 10 months (FlashStash)
    – $60 back on six or more transactions of $50 per month once a month for three months (FlashStash)

    Clearly the Shop Your Way Rewards program isn’t worried about a run on the bank, probably because that already happened to them years ago with Sears and they’re still around.
  2. Do this now: Activate Q2 5% cash back categories for various cards:

    Chase Freedom: Lowes, Whole Foods, and Amazon, all of which sell gift cards
    Discover: Restaurants and wholesale clubs, the latter of which sells gift cards
    Citi Dividend: Drug stores and grocery stores, both of which sell gift cards
    US Bank Cash+: You choose, I cheat and use utilities, but electronics and department stores are good choices for the gift card inclined

    Remember there are multiple gift card plays including cashing out Visa and Mastercard gift cards or selling third party gift cards to brokers.
  3. Kroger online has 5% off of Visa and Mastercard gift cards through March 27 using promo code MADNESS23. These will earn fuel points too, but won’t code as grocery unfortunately.

I guess it’s time for the Membership Rewards program to learn something from SYWR? Nah, bad idea.

  1. Southwest has a sale through tomorrow evening for 20% off of award bookings using promo code SAVE20NOW for travel through May 24.

    I won the battle by saving approximately 20,000 points on existing bookings, but I lost the war because I’ll still be flying Southwest. (Thanks to Brian M via MEAB slack)
  2. Stephen at FM shares an open secret in the hobby for several years about how to get out of the American Express penalty box for referrals (but unfortunately not other penalty boxes): “Lose” your card, AmEx will issue a new one with a new account number, and referrals will work.

    What’s not stated though is that this only lasts for a month or two, then the replacement card ends back in the referral penalty box.
  3. Wells Fargo has a $525 new savings account bonus with simple requirements for new savings account holders:

    Generate a referral code at this link
    – Open a new savings account with a banker with an opening deposit of at least $25
    – Bring $25,000 in new money in 30 days, maintain that balance for 90 days

    Strangely they presented this offer to me during a normal account login, though I’m not eligible because I’ve already got a savings account at the bank.
  4. Chase Offers has a card linked offer for 10% back up to $40 for tickets that cost at least $50. Southwest is one of the easiest airlines for breaking the correlation.
  5. The Chase IHG Premier card’s heightened 175,000 point public bonus is now showing for everyone through the public link. The annual fee of $99 isn’t waived the first year, and the bonus requires $3,000 spend in three months.

    I’m normally not big on this card, but getting the sign-up bonus and cancelling after a year probably makes sense with this offer.

Southwest’s exclusive new pop-up lounge. Free use for delayed evening passengers from LBB.

  1. Meijer has a promotion for a $15 Meijer gift card with a $100 or more purchase of a Choice or One4All gift card, some of which can be easily converted to higher value cards like Home Depot online, or you can do even better in-store. This one is limit one per MPerks account.
  2. American Express has an offer for $30 off of $110 in cell phone payments up to two times. This is great and all, but with a few players that each have upwards of double digits of Business Platinum cards (with $10 monthly cell phone credits each) it may be a garbage offer.
  3. Plastiq is again processing payments after their funds with Silicon Valley Bank became available. They however haven’t gotten back together with Colon-Aide Colonnade.
  4. There are multiple reports that Chase Ink Cash and Ink Unlimited cards aren’t currently subject to 5/24 rules for most applicants, so if you don’t mind a hard pull (and in general you probably shouldn’t), consider going for another Ink card.

    There’s no hard-coded limit on the number of Ink cards an individual can have, and there’s no lifetime language on bonuses with Ink cards either, don’t be afraid to experiment a little.

A text message exchange with Chase’s 5/24 guard bot.

No doubt you’ve heard from dozens or hundreds of sources about Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, and while it looks like all deposits will be available and accessible, we can still learn something here.

First, let’s talk about some of the relevant ripple effects that we’ve seen over the weekend:

Next, we can project a bit about what will happen in our game based on these datapoints:

  • Bank bonuses will become more important from a risk avoidance perspective for high net-worth individuals and businesses in case the next failure doesn’t have assets to cover beyond FDIC limits and the Fed’s new emergency fund doesn’t come through
  • Banks will be more willing to offer bonuses in the short to medium term to win new high net-worth customers
  • Credit card companies sign-up bonuses will probably go down because banks will want to increase their banking bottom line in the short term
  • Big banks will offer more credit card incentives for deposit holders to keep them locked into the ecosystem (like BoA’s Premium Rewards program) – JPMC is a notable exception to this though
  • FinTechs will be less rewarding as competition lags and the need to diversify banking partner risk increases
  • Businesses and characters that need loans to continue may find themselves in a rough spot because long term financing prospects look hard and expensive

Blah, blah, blah, how about something immediately actionable poindexter MEAB? Fine, let’s get back to basics: Office Depot/OfficeMax has $15 back on $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards through Saturday. These are Metabank Pathward gift cards, so as always, have a liquidation plan in place (unlike Silicon Valley Bank, amirite?)

An excerpt from the Silicon Valley Bank rate hedging playbook.

AmEx’s New Deal

In Q4 2020, Q4 2021, and Q4 2022, American Express had special spend bonuses for cardholders that referred someone to a new card, seemingly a new annual tradition. Now, a new variant has surfaced and this one is tailor made for manufactured spenders as referrers with an increased sign-up bonus and reduced spending requirements for the referred. The deal:

A bonus 5x or 5% cash back on grocery transactions for up to $25,000 in spend for 90 days for the referrer, and a heightened bonus for the referred:

  • Platinum: 150,000 Membership Rewards after $6,000 in spend and a $200 statement credit
  • Gold: 90,000 Membership Rewards after $4,000 in spend and a $200 statement credit
  • Blue Cash Preferred: $300 statement credit after $3,000 in purchases and another $100 statement credit

To find the referrals, check the account dashboard for your cards, or check the referral landing site. Note that as of this writing not everyone has these referral offers available, though based on past behavior they’ll probably roll out to everyone in the next couple of days.

Obviously you should prefer to refer from a personal Gold card that still has 4x spend capacity at grocery stores, because 4x+5x = 9x, so on $25,000 in spend you’ll earn 225,000 Membership Rewards.

Tricking It with Shenanigans

Ok, but what if the referred account member is in the AmEx penalty box or the new card application displays a popup warning that the application isn’t eligible for a bonus? Or, what if you don’t actually want another Platinum card to worry about? Who cares! It’s still easy to take advantage of the referral bonus because:

  • You can safely close an AmEx card before a year is up if you didn’t get a bonus
  • You can get your annual fee refunded if you close a new card in the first 30 days
  • As long as the referred gets a new card, the referrer is eligible for a referral bonus

So, do the following with no known negative effects on P1 or P2:

  1. P1 generates a referral for P2
  2. P2 applies for a new card and is approved
  3. [the sound of crickets]
  4. P2 closes the card after a week or so, and the annual fee is refunded
  5. P1 gets +5x spend at groceries for up to $25,000

Good luck friends!

I asked Stable Diffusion to imagine “credit cards, crickets, and shenanigans at a grocery store”, and well, there are indeed shenanigans here.

  1. Wyndham’s promotion, “5 Weeks of Incredible Deals”, is currently on week two. This week’s deal is a $100 property credit for stays three nights or longer booked by June 1 for stays through the end of the year. It doesn’t look like you need to register for this deal.

    I can’t be the only that’s confused by a week of incredible deals that lasts through June 1, right? They’re running on Citi calendars over there I guess.
  2. Kroger has a new 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards through March 21. These can be profitable plays even before credit card rewards with the right buyers. Make sure to clip the digital coupon first, and scale carefully with good burner account hygiene.
  3. Southwest is opening up its flight schedule through November 4 sometime today. This covers travel through fall break, so lock up some speculative travel and hope that there’s a schedule change between now and Autumn.

An snapshot from the Wyndham mainframe’s calendaring software.