I alluded to some of the weekend train-wreckage that was happening in private groups on Monday, but now that the situation is public and many in the community are affected, I think we should go over a few points:

  • A semi-well known /r/churning Redditor, JonLuca, allegedly examined Chase’s source code last summer and manufactured or found links that bypassed Chase’s backend business intelligence rules (it’s unclear to me what is meant by “source code”, perhaps just looking at the HTML/JavaScript at chase.com, or perhaps something else).
  • This weekend in private groups there was a discussion about leaking the JonLuca hacked no-lifetime-language, pre-approved Chase business credit card links to the greater community as an attempt to shield a few heavy hitters from potential shutdown by overwhelming Chase’s fraud team with sheer numbers, allowing them to blend into the noise.
  • After a long discussion, the links were shared in several private groups, then at a semi-public event, and finally on Reddit. To be clear, I think the motivations were different for each case, and disclaimers ranged from none at all to very cautionary/”this might get you shutdown”. Certainly not all actors were malicious but some probably were and the cat jumped way out of the bag.
  • Yesterday, a wave of Chase shutdowns came and according to several other private groups, they keep coming. There are mixed data points, but it seems like if you used at least three of those links, or perhaps just two, you’ve been shutdown or you shouldn’t be surprised if you get shutdown over the next couple of days.

In the end, I think a fair number of shutdowns happened to people who probably weren’t going into the links with their eyes wide open or with full information, and that sucks. This game can be very caveat emptor and you should always be slightly weary.

Where do I stand in all of this? I didn’t use the links or share the links because I didn’t think they were safe, so I’m fine and I hope you’re right there with me. What’s the difference between these links and the American Express links I shared yesterday? The main difference is that the American Express links are low risk to me because they are semi-public, they don’t bypass any American Express backend eligibility checks, and they’re widely targeted.

My advice for you: Don’t use backdoor applications that bypass eligibility checks unless they’re public links you can find at the bank’s website, or if the links are widely targeted. Definitely never, ever use links that were hacked out of an examination of a bank’s source code, whether or not that source code was public. If you don’t know where a link came from, research it, ask around (feel free to ask me if you don’t know who else to ask), and do some diligence. Stay safe out there!

A stuffed cat emerging from a bag.
A freeze frame capture of the actual moment the cat jumped out of the bag.

A new set of bonus offers for American Express Personal and Business Platinum cards started floating around on June 16, via email and regular mail. The best versions of these offers are for 20,000 Membership Rewards points for adding an authorized user or employee card and spending $2,000 with the authorized user’s card. For both the personal and business platinum, there are no-fee versions of the extra cards, so don’t think you need to pay $175 to get an employee Platinum card or something. This weekend, there were some new developments that are worth mentioning:

  • A link surfaced for the Personal Platinum card’s version of this bonus with 20,000 points for each added Authorized User (log in to americanexpress.com first, then click this link to see if you’re eligible).
  • It’s been reported on Reddit and confirmed by several people (including me) that you can call in and probably get the Business Platinum version of the offer even if you didn’t get email or snail mail about it. If you call, just be nice and say something like: “I’m wondering if there are any bonus offers for adding employee cards to my business charge cards.” Remember, employee cards at American Express are special — you can activate them without a social security number and they’ll stay open for 60 days.

If you go for either of these deals (I would and did). Perhaps ask yourself “How can I scale this?

A picture of a woman laying on a curb using a slice of pizza as a pillow.
Go home AmEx, you’re drunk.

What a weekend eh? There was a lot that happened on the underground MS scene that honestly made me feel like I was watching a train-wreck happening in slow motion. I don’t have any direct information to share from that, but the action item for you is to remember that blogs are always going to be a good source of semi-public information and hints for bigger bonanzas, but the best information will be found in small, private groups. I’d suggest looking for a few of them to up your game if you’re craving more.

On that happy note, let’s follow up on a few items and talk about the Schwab devaluation, and maybe offer a bonanza hint along the way:

1. A lot of you had your Brex 100,000 points offer post on Friday or Saturday. Personally, I had the bonus post on one company’s account but not the other. In case yours didn’t post either, give it a few more days. If that doesn’t work, forward the emails that the PayPal sales rep you spoke with to [email protected] from your email address on file with Brex. It may be a (small) battle, but it’s one you’ll almost certainly win.

2. In case you haven’t read my affiliate link free post on cashing Membership Rewards yet (spoiler alert, none of you have because it’s still being written, slowly, over the course of the last several months), the Schwab Platinum card is the easiest reliable high-value Membership Rewards conversion to cash that currently exists. The redemption value is 1.25 cents per point which is great, but it’s even better because it’s a tax-free way to generate income, or in theory a way to increase your Roth IRA contributions beyond the normal limit without paying taxes or penalties. (I’m not a financial advisor, never take my advice, maybe about anything.)

We’re in a good news/bad news situation with the card now: As of September 1, the cash-out will drop from 1.25 cents per point to 1.1 cents per point; but the good news is: 1) if you have the card you’ve got time to cash out, and 2) if you don’t, it’s another sign-up bonus for you (60,000 Membership Rewards). When I first signed up for the card I cashed out 1 million Membership Rewards points the day it arrived in the mail, so there’s no real waiting period to speak of. To be eligible to open it, you have to be a Schwab customer but all that takes is a free brokerage account and $10 so the bar is quite low, almost as low as AA closing accounts and canceling tickets on the day of travel for churners.

FYI – there are other loopholes for cash-out that will pay at a higher rate with the Business Platinum card, but they’re either slightly sketch or not completely reliable.

3. Staples has fee free $200 Mastercards between now and Saturday evening, limit 5 per person (or, probably limit 5 per transaction.) There are absolutely still ways to liquidate these Metabank Mastercards for a low cost, but they are slowly being zapped like mosquitos in front of a bug zapper (sorry, it’s Monday, my metaphors are weak and you can see them coming from a mile away, like my alma mater calling me to “see how it’s going” which really means “give us a donation”.)

Nah, this image isn’t the Bonanza hint.

Friends, we’ve finally reached the goalpost: American Express’s monthly PayPal credits are going away after June, so you can take that one off your laundry list. With that in mind, let’s talk about the things to wrap up as June and Q2 draw to an end:

1. Spend any American Express credits in Uber Eats or Uber by Wednesday night.

2. Check for any annual fees that posted this and call the bank for a retention offer. I suggest saying: “I’m thinking of closing this card given its high annual fee, but before I decide what to do I was wondering if there are any retention offers or spend bonuses.” Hopefully you can’t add this much longer, but it’s still kosher to say: “COVID has made it really hard to use the benefits, I wish it would end soon”.

American Express specific note: If you accept a retention offer, plan on keeping that card for 12-13 months to avoid getting popups that deny credit card bonuses going forward.

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 that you’ve spent it by Wednesday night. The easiest way to do this from home is to buy an exact value DoorDash gift card on Fluz. Amazon Meals is another decent option. As always, find a Fluz referral from a friend to make their day if you don’t have an account already, they’ll earn something and so will you.

4. Spend any American Express co-branded business card wireless credits by Wednesday, but make sure you’ve added the offer to your cards first. I prepay my cell phone bill with this one, and at this point I’m prepaying into 2022.

5. Make sure you’ve spent any $10 American Express Personal Gold dining credits. My go to is the local coffee shop; a couple of lattes and a pastry jump just north of $10 on GrubHub. I know ShakeShack works for a lot of you, but honestly I’m just not a big burger guy.

6. Cancel any cell phone burner accounts that you’re done with (and for which you didn’t use a virtual credit card number that already expired).

7. Spend your AmEx Personal Platinum $30 PayPal credits. The easiest way to get these out under the wire is with PayPal Digital Gifts which has been paying the credit even though the T&C says that it shouldn’t. If you’re set up as a gift card reseller, you can alternatively buy gift cards for resale on Fluz or eBay gift cards on Slide. This is the last month you have to worry about this one 🎉🎉.

8. Finish off any Q2 5x bonused spend. Check the current Q2 categories your strategies, and don’t forget that you can now get $500 Visa gift cards at Sam’s Club.

9. Make sure you’ve spent any American Express Personal Platinum Sak’s $50 credits. Usually the items have to ship before the charge posts, so use your free ShopRunner benefit to make that quick. Don’t forget to go through a portal.

10. Cash out any remaining American Express Business Platinum Dell $100 credits. I like to buy and resell Xbox gift cards. The XBOX10 promo card is still working on this one too. Make sure you go through a portal.

The party scene as American Express Platinum $30 credits draw to a close.

I bet you thought you wouldn’t have to read about another Prime Day post here for a long time. Guess what? You’re right. Instead, these three items made the cut:

1. You know how I feel about the Sapphire Preferred credit card, but it just redeemed itself in my eyes with a new offer: You can get the 100,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus with the annual fee waived for the first year and a $50 statement credit at grocery stores if you go into a Chase branch. According to Doctor of Credit’s rumors, this should last through the end of June. I would absolutely go for this right now were I not lol/24.

2. Plastiq is a shenanigan rich target, though they’ve closed most of the really lucrative holes. That said, opportunities do exist and I’d suggest you experiment and see what happens. Now Visa Savings Edge is offering an incentive for you to play: 1% off of Plastiq fees for your first $2,500 in spend. You don’t need to use a Visa Savings Edge card with Plastiq, just sign up through their link.

How many email addresses do you have by the way? No reason, just curious.

3. Here’s a nifty hack that may save you some real money on insurance, or maybe it just earns you 500 Membership Rewards points while wasting your time. Apparently at Rakuten you can get 500 Membership Rewards (or $5 cash back) for getting an insurance quote, and it’s repeatable once per quarter. This doesn’t pass my threshold for something worthy of spending my time on, but I like it in principle and some of you might want to do it it practice. Thanks to stillwaters23 for the tip.

An image of a physicist operating a blue laser with safety goggles in a lab
Probing for opportunities at Plastiq.

Agile.Travel, a strong contributor to the travel hacking community, has done quite a bit of legwork on the rarely discussed Morgan Stanley American Express Platinum. This card is interesting because:

  • You get a free Platinum authorized user card, which gives the AU access to lounges and Priority Pass just like the primary card holder gets (other American Express Platinums charge $175)
  • It’s a different product than other American Express Platinum cards, so you can get it regardless of what other flavors of the Platinum you have or have had, so it’s potentially a new sign-up bonus
  • It typically offers 50,000 Membership Rewards as a retention bonus after the annual fee hits
  • You can get a $550 annual fee offset credit from Morgan Stanley with a bit of legwork, making the card effectively fee free even before retention bonuses

To get the card, you need to be a Morgan Stanley client, which normally requires quite a bit of capital, but a few years ago Windbag Miles discovered that a $5,000 Morgan Stanley Access account is enough to be eligible. Agile.Travel’s discovery is that some of what’s documented about getting the $550 annual fee credit is wrong (in some places you’ll read that you can only get the credit once, and in other places you’ll read that you have to jump through some of the hoops before opening the card, both of which are incorrect.)

You can get the annual fee waiver every year, and you don’t have to do it before getting the Morgan Stanley Platinum. To get the waiver:

  • Open a Morgan Stanley Cash Plus Platinum account
  • Hold $25,000 in the Cash Plus account
  • “Direct Deposit” $5,000 a month into the account (more likely, set up a monthly recurring ACH transfer of $5,000 from another account, then a day later back out to an external account)

The annual fee credit of $550 is effectively a 2.2% APR on $25,000. Assuming you maximize the Platinum credits, lounge access, and get a retention bonus, you’ve got a compelling argument to hold on to the card long-term which honestly is really rare for a Platinum. Note also that the card will cash out Membership Rewards at 1 cent each, but if cashing out is your game look for the Schwab Platinum which will get you 1.25 cents per point.

Wow, talk about brevity challenged today, eh? I guess that means I’m witless.

A cartoon drawing of William Shakespeare's head with the quote "Brevity is the soul of wit."
Shakespeare I’m not.

1. The Point debit card has a new offer for 10x at Amazon, up to $500 in spend. Last time they ran this deal my +9x posted three days after the purchase, then another +2x posted to my account the day after that, probably because they always give 3x at Amazon and their system wasn’t coded to not do that with the 10x offer. Hopefully it happens again. Thanks to SideshowBob233 for the heads up.

If you don’t have Point already, find a referral for $250 or $100 because the non-referral sign-up bonus is a measly $10. I’d rather you get a referral from a friend because I’m not here to monetize you, but you can reach out to me if you can’t find someone that has it because I am here to help you. (My link is the $250 variety).

2. Prime Day, which really should be called “operation kersplode the entire internet with posts about trinkets for 2% off at Amazon Day”, has made a bunch of other retailers go into full-blown sale mode, which has pushed up BestBuy gift card demand like it was Q4. Yesterday I saw rates get as high as 96% with essentially an unlimited capacity, and I expect that today will be the same. If your gift card buyer isn’t within 1% of that number or so, I’d say it’s time to find a new gift card buyer.

I’ve had a few of you ask me how a 96% resale rate is worth your time, and the answer is: 1) grocery store rewards, 2), grocery store reward shenanigans, and 3) grocery store credit card bonuses. When you put the first two items together, that 96% can turn into 100-103%, and the third item should be at least 4x Membership Rewards or 5x Ultimate Rewards, but of course there are better spend bonuses beyond that like 10x with the American Express Platinum card. Also, another answer is sometimes the rate is 97-99%.

A tee shirt on a purple background that says:

ONLY $29.79!!
was: $29.99
Amazon Prime day official company swag.

Yeah yeah, it’s Prime day, hooray and stuff. But seriously, if you’re going to buy something, use one of these codes for a discount, or just buy a Best Buy gift card and resell for a quick profit:

With all of these deals, make sure you’re only using a single point, otherwise the redemption value is bad. Let me offer two pieces of Simpons’ wisdom for your shopping: “Buy more and save!” and “Extended warranty? How could I lose??”

Amazon choose its boxes and carriers carefully when sending me Best Buy gift cards.