The $189 Clear credit has rapidly diminishing returns for those of us with more than a handful of Platinum cards, especially after P1, P2, and Pn have memberships. So, what are we to do after everyone already has it?

There’s a good option, and even without Platinum cards it could be interesting if you’ve got the current American Express offer for a statement credit of 50% for up to $189 at Clear on another card:

So, we can effectively trade a $189 Clear credit for 10,000-15,000 United MileagePlus miles, which is probably worth at least $400 according to out of touch some loonies on the interwebs (but in all seriousness, miles are worth zero until you spend them, and you’re not going to get more than 1.6 cents per MileagePlus mile worth of value as a loose rule when you do spend them.)

How do we scale? Just sign-up multiple times, but based on experience from past deals:

  • You are limited to one promotion per MileagePlus account, but surely you control more than one of those, right?
  • You don’t have to sign up with real info other than a valid MileagePlus number and matching name
  • You don’t have to go to the airport to finish registration despite the terms and conditions stating otherwise

What about that AmEx offer? In that case, you’re trading $94.50 for 10,000-15,000 MileagePlus miles (and an extra $94.50 worth of rewards from AmEx spend). That’s probably still a decent deal.

Good luck!

Travel blogger valuation of a cup of lemonade.

Rhetorical random thought: Why is a college quad called a quad? If you know don’t tell me, I’m currently living in ignorant bliss on the matter and wish to keep it that way.

  1. If you have an American Express EveryDay card, check your account dashboard for a targeted upgrade offer to the EveryDay Preferred card with a 40,000 Membership Rewards bonus. You’ll have an annual fee of $95 to pay in exchange for those 40,000 points.

    For a level two churner, I’d also ask for a retention offer from AmEx the day after upgrading the card since you’re going to have to keep it open for a year anyway to stay out of the penalty box.
  2. Check your inbox for targeted spend bonuses from Discover, offering an extra 2% on spend through July 31 for up to $2,000 in spend (of course I’d only knock this out stacked with Q2 and Q3 5x spend).
  3. Giant, Stop & Shop, and Martin’s stores have 10x points on Apple gift cards through tomorrow, up to $2,000 in spend per loyalty account. Resale rates are in the 92% range right now, so this is a nice way to gin up some bonused grocery spend at above break even. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  4. Kroger has a 4x fuel points sale running Friday through Monday on third party gift cards. Unfortunately for resellers there’s been effectively some form of 4x, 6x, or 12x running all month which has depressed rates, likely through the middle of June.
  5. Graduate Hotels (a boutique hotelier with unique properties scattered across the US and Europe) is running an award sale today starting at 12 PM Eastern for hotel rooms at $30 per night, plus taxes for stays through July 31. The sale runs for 30 hours, but my guess is that the truly great options will sell out long before that. (Thanks to FM)

For some reason Washington University didn’t contact me before naming this “the quad”. I guess it is more catchy than “the polygons” though.

Introduction

This weekend’s thunderstorms in Maryland and DC wreaked havoc on travelers all over the US, primarily because canceled flights led to lack of crew and aircraft downstream. With US carriers seeing load factors above 90%, recovery times are long and last-minute fares are sky-high to boot. When events like this happen though, it’s an opportunity for travel hackers to get (relatively) inexpensive last-minute fares provided that the weather can somehow work its way into your travel plans.

Booking Into a Waiver

Let’s say on Saturday I decided that I wanted to fly from BOS to MCO on Sunday or Monday because reasons. Unfortunately, last-minute airfares were north of $500 one-way for a desirable, direct flight, and because mileage rates are often directly tied to fares in the US market, mileage redemption values were terrible too.

But, there’s a way out. It starts with checking for travel waivers with the major airlines, and then trying to shoehorn a bad, cheap itinerary into what you actually want. To pull the stunt off:

  • Check airline travel waiver pages (AA, Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United)
  • Find airports that have waivers
  • Book the cheapest, worst flight possible that passes through a waiver airport (see forced routings for how to find these airfares)
  • Change your flight under the travel waiver to the flight you actually want without paying any difference in fare

Circling back to our BOS to MCO flight, a 5:15 AM BOS to BWI flight on Southwest with a 6 hour layover connecting to another flight to MCO was a tad over $200, and BWI was one of the airports covered by Southwest’s travel waiver. So, one could book the cheap cruddy BWI connecting flight after the waiver is issued, then immediately switch to the direct flight that leaves hours later for no extra fee.

For what it’s worth, United and AA are probably the best airlines for this hack because they offer punitive red-eye connecting to another red-eye with a 20 hour layover saver awards pretty much year round, but go with whatever fits your travel needs.

Gotchas

Airlines are typically very permissive with waiver related changes, but sometimes waivers have specific exclusions like requiring that you booked the ticket directly with the airline and not through a travel agent, so double check the fine print.

Good luck out there!

The bad news is that this might be the only seat left on that BOS-MCO flight with boarding position C-60.

First, a note: if you’re playing the Kroger gift card resale game, always make sure you clip any coupon that could be, even remotely, related to what you’re buying.

And with that out of the way, let’s dive into the week with a few above-average offers and a below-average offer to balance it out.

  1. Forums lit up over the weekend with news of the Capital On Tap business credit card increasing the sign-up bonus to $750 for $7,500 in spend.This is interesting because:

    – Capital On Tap isn’t performing a hard-pull on your credit
    – The card doesn’t report to credit bureaus
    – Credit lines are typically large
    – They support payments with debit cards from their payment portal

    There are a few downsides too: This is only available by a TPG affiliate link and reportedly it’s tough to get approved without a corporation, LLC, or other registered entity.
  2. Bank of America has been emailing targeted, uncapped bonus spend offers through December 31 for:

    – +2% bonus cash back on Customized Cash Visa
    – +2x miles on the Alaska Airlines Visa
    – +2x miles on the Travel Rewards Visa
    – +2x miles on the Amtrack Visa

    Check your email for any messages from Bank of America from the weekend, especially in your spam folders. I wasn’t targeted sadly, so I’m going to have to live vicariously through you on this one.
  3. Jim was the first to let me know that OfficeDepot / Office Max has a $15 instant discount on $300 or more in Metabank Visa gift cards through Saturday. To maximize:

    – Buy the “Everywhere” cards which have a lower fee and are typically easier to liquidate
    – Link your credit cards to Dosh
    – Try and run multiple transactions back to back
  4. Meijer MPerks has a $5 Meijer gift card with the purchase of $500 in Happy Gift cards through May 28, but you have to clip the coupon first. (Thanks to GC Galore)

    Normally I wouldn’t write about a $5 back deal but it gives an opening to talk about a Happy Gift Card that’s now available in both physical and digital form (EDIT: Thanks to yehuda for the corrected link): The St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital Happy card, which can be swapped to BestBuy. This is great from a velocity, resale, and anti-fraud perspective.

The outline for this post.

We’re all over the place today:

  1. There’s a new option to cash out orphaned ANA miles. You can now convert them to Amazon gift cards at 0.83 cents per point. The value isn’t great, but if you’ve got miles sitting there from a COVID cancelled-trip with no prospects for burning them soon this could be a good way to temporarily exit the program. (Thanks to T C)
  2. There have been many reports over the last two days that more people are targeted for a 20,000 Membership Rewards bonus for turning on Pay-over-Time on AmEx charge cards. To check each of your cards, you’ll have to set the card to be the default, then check the landing page.
  3. Staples has fee free $200 Mastercard gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit five per transaction. Coincidentally (or is it?), this deal starts the day after the Office Depot/OfficeMax variant ends.

    These cards are Metabank issued so have a liquidation plan in place other than buying a money order at Walmart, Kroger, or Safeway. How are other national retailers treating you though?
  4. The onJuno banking and rewards debit card, a favorite for some of you, is now paying a 3% annual bonus on Bitcoin and Ethereum crypto holdings. I guess that bonus helps offset some of BTC’s 36.6% loss over the last 365 days? (Too soon?)

Have a nice weekend!

In fairness, this car probably also depreciated 36.6% in the last 365 days.

  1. Kroger and Harris Teeter are running another 4x fuel points bonus through Friday-Sunday on all third party gift cards, and through Tuesday with Happy gift cards. Unfortunately the fuel points resale market is rather weak right now after a series of tumultuous software updates at the fuel pumps and another two week long 4x sale that concluded a few days ago. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  2. Radisson Rewards has 30% off of “premium” hotel rooms in North America booked today in the Raddison mobile app for ios or android for stays through June 30. Premium hotel rooms are often just a few dollars more than a base room, so I think it’s still a deal even if you’re a base room person. UPDATE: Now live
  3. Do this now: Register for Wyndham’s current promotion, 7,500 bonus points after two stays through September 6.
  4. American Express is sending out physical mailers via USPS for two great sign-up bonuses:

    – 250,000 Membership Rewards for a new Business Platinum after $30,000 in spend in six months
    – 180,000 Membership Rewards for a new Business Gold after $20,000 in spend in six months

    If you get ahold of one of these, keep in mind that American Express doesn’t care who applies for the card as long as the applicant’s address matches the mailer’s address.

Now I just need AmEx to honor this, uhh, totally legit offer.

There’s a lot going on with new speculative products that we’ll discuss soon, but for now let’s talk about some active offers:

  1. The PayPal Mastercard is now generally available for new applications. The current sign-up bonus is $100 after spending $500, but this isn’t a card you get for the sign-up bonus. Instead you get it because:

    – It’s 3% cash-back everywhere you pay with PayPal or Venmo (some MS-friendly stores take both)
    – It’s a Synchrony card
    – It’s a Mastercard

    The card gets 2% cash-back everywhere else, which is fine I guess.
  2. You can currently earn 1,500 points transferrable to either AA or Hyatt by downloading the Bilt Rewards app for ios or android and linking your frequent flyer accounts. You’ll earn:

    – 100 points for linking each of your non-Hyatt loyalty partners, ten in total, though you may want to wait for increased earnings on other programs before linking immediately
    – 500 points for linking your Hyatt account before May 27

    Note that the minimum to transfer is 2,000 points. I’d love to get the Bilt card to moon my account🚀 , but I’m sure I’d be shutdown for manufactured spend before the card even arrived in my mailbox, setting a new world record. Also, blah blah blah getting below 5/24 blah blah blah. (Thanks to VFTW)
  3. OfficeMax/Office Depot has $15 back on $300 or more in Mastercard gift card purchases, bringing your net cost below face-value even without rewards or other shenanigans. To maximize the deal:

    – Link each of your Ink or other office supply bonused cards to a Dosh account
    – Try and get multiple transactions in a single trip

    These are Metabank gift cards, so make sure you’ve got a liquidation channel. They do exist nationwide but you’ve got to look.

Happy Wednesday friends!

The world record setting rewards balance plot.

Some of our favorite banks like Chase and AmEx allow you convert one credit card to another within the same card family (like converting a Delta Reserve to a Delta Gold) at any time. Other banks are a little more zany and will let you do just about anything as long as you talk to the right person, like Bank of America which will let you convert a Virgin Atlantic Mastercard to a Customized Cash Rewards Visa.

Let’s discuss some of the reasons a churner may want to do this:

Annual Fees

All of the banks mentioned above will prorate your annual fee when you convert a card to another card. You may want to do this if:

  • You forget to close a card within the annual fee refund grace period, and you don’t want the card anymore. So, you downgrade to a no-annual fee version for a prorated refund (and maybe then close the card after that posts)
  • You used all the yearly credits for a card, like the Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit, so you downgrade as soon as your credits post for a pro-rated refund
  • You don’t want to reset the average age of the accounts on your credit report, but you don’t want to pay a particular annual fee any more either

Of course for next level gaming, you can downgrade an annual fee card with travel credits and simultaneously upgrade another no-annual fee to the card with travel credits and double-dip for the same net annual fee, but that may ultimately be a risky move.

Getting Upgrade Offers

American Express in particular has card upgrade bonuses all the time, sometimes as quickly as an hour after downgrading a card. For example, last year I downgraded a Business Platinum to a Business Gold, and then upgraded it to a Business Platinum for 90,000 Membership Rewards the next day.

Bypassing Card Limits

Some banks have card limits preventing you from holding more than one of a particular card, and maybe you’d really like to have two of them. Card conversion is often a workaround. For example, what if the Chase Freedom Flex’s application terms & conditions limit you to one card? Easy, convert another Ultimate Rewards earning card to a Freedom Flex and you’ll bypass the limit.

Caveats

American Express rules for downgrading cards are perhaps better understood than any other major banks’ internal rules, however the advice there is likely good for keeping your accounts in good standing at any bank:

  • Keep a card open for a minimum of 12 months after opening
  • Never downgrade a card to a lower annual fee within 12 months of opening or upgrading

Good luck!

Converting the Amazon Prime credit card to trash.