Cyber Monday fared better than Black Friday for MS opportunities, and it looks like it’s going to continue into today and possibly tomorrow. Stay on top of reselling group messages!

In the mean time:

1. There’s a new PayPal offer for $50 back on $250 in spend at BestBuy when you check-out with PayPal. As usual, I’d recommend buying a BestBuy gift card for liquidation but with a special caveat: BestBuy will ban rewards accounts when a gift card purchased under that account is later used for a purchase flagged as a reseller. To protect yourself, don’t login to your BestBuy account and checkout as a guest if you’re going to buy a gift card for resale. UPDATE: The deal is now $25 back, not $50. Thanks to @BlueCat

2. Alaska Airlines has a good Cyber Monday sale for Tuesday and Delta does too. JetBlue has their own version, and they’re offering $50 off of one-way trips so you may want to replace existing round-trip bookings with two one-ways. Southwest didn’t want to be left out so they’ve got one too, but theirs runs through Thursday. (I don’t think the “Monday” in Cyber Monday means what the airlines think it means.)

With Southwest in particular, it’s a good time to book your Spring Break travel because they’ll likely change the schedule anyway and let you switch to any other flight ± 2 weeks from the original booking when that happens.

3. Office Depot/OfficeMax has $15 off of $300 or more in Mastercard gift card purchases between now and Saturday. Don’t forget to link your cards to Dosh for an extra $10 cash-back.

4. The web framework behind my favorite travel tool, ITA Matrix, is deprecated and going to have to be yanked by Google one day soon. Fortunately for all of us, a dedicated team of Google travel hackers are building a replacement with a modern web framework and they’re making good progress. You can find it here:

ITA Matrix Beta

At this point it’s less buggy than the primary interface for some of my searches, though others just spin. I’d consider it a rapidly improving work in progress. Now we just need book with matrix to be updated too.

An image of a November calendar with 35 days.
The calendar used by airlines for Cyber Monday.

It was a strange Black Friday weekend in 2021– we saw shakeups in the BestBuy resale market, Kroger shopping rewards market, and a lack of major deals from big-box retailers; hopefully everything clears up for Cyber Monday, but I’m not holding my breath. I’ll recap everything in a day or two after all the dust settles, but in the mean time here are a few things to look at:

1. If you have an American Express Hilton card, check here for a targeted free night certificate after $8,000 in spend by February 28, 2022. I even got this offer on my fee-free Hilton card.

2. There’s a new no-lifetime language (NLL) offer for the American Business Express Gold card. The sign-up bonus is 90,000 points after spending $10,000 in three months. Unfortunately the offer isn’t available for me, but that’s unsurprising since I currently have eleven American Express charge cards and the limit is typically ten. I also have five American Express credit cards and haven’t been able to bust through that limit. (Thanks to tehflip449, and thanks to BlueCat for pointing out that this one is a Business Gold card)

Side note: I’ve been debating internally about whether the Personal Gold is another candidate for an Unsung Hero card. It’s certainly my favorite American Express charge card and I’d keep 15 of them if I could, but isn’t exactly unsung. Story developing

3.The Point debit card has a new variation on its Streak offers, and it’s even more annoying than it’s been in the past. This one requires $200 in total spend and that you use the card at least once a day for seven days before December 24, after which you’ll get $30 back. Still worth it? Yes, provided that you’ve got automation. I bought a $200 gift card for resale at Whole Foods to take advantage of the 10x bonus and then I set up debbit to make a $1.xx charge at Amazon for the next six days. There’s a debbit sample configuration for another Point Streak deal here.

As usual, make sure you use a referral if you sign up for Point because the referral bonus of $100 is better than the publicly available offer. Reader Mark was the first to let me know that the referrer’s bonus is now also $100 and no longer one fifth of a crappy suitcase.

4. Check this link for 30% back on up to $50 at Amazon for using at least one Membership Rewards point during checkout. Thanks to reader Dean for the link.

5. Meijer has $10 off in $150 or more of Mastercard gift cards with a limit of one per MPerks account. This is a decent deal if you’re already near a Meijer, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for this (unlike their Homerun deal).

6. You can cash out your Citi ThankYou Points at 1.125 cents per point today only by buying Apple gift cards at a 20% discount with ThankYou points and selling at 90% (or more) of face value. (Thanks to nutella)

Happy Monday!

Everything on sale for Black Friday at BestBuy.

Your email inbox, WhatsApp, Slack, and Telegram are about to kersplode over the next three days. (If that’s not true yet and you want to take advantage of tens of thousands in manufactured spend, see Monday’s post.) There’s going to be so much going on that it’ll be impossible to follow everything, so let’s talk weekend ground rules today.

To start, what’s your time worth? I know it’s variable at any given point, but what about this weekend, the Super Bowl of manufactured spend? For me it’s at least $400 or 40,000 points per hour for manual things (versus what I’ve automated away). Given that, I have a cutoff for whether or not I focus on a deal as it rushes through my phone — is the deal going to pay out at $400 per hour? If not, something else will. Move on.


Deal Time
Do it?
Buying an e-gift card for resale
(e.g., Kroger online offers 20% off of Groupon)
1 minute
Yes, if I get at least $200 in spend
Buying a Happy gift card to swap to something else for resale 5 minutes
No, move on, swapping the gift card and the accounting takes too long
Buying a console for resale
(e.g., Gamestop has a PS5 in sock)
30 minutes
Yes, if I can make at least $200
Going to a store to buy gift cards for resale
(e.g., $115 in Target GC for $100)
30 minutes or more
Yes, but only if I can do twenty of them back-to-back at self check-out
Buying money orders with gift cards 20 minutes
No, everything is super-busy right now and you can do this the rest of the year
Buying something for a buyer’s group 10 minutes
Only if it’s a high ticket item for big credit card spend or pays a decent commission
Using FinTechs for bill payment and other shenanigans 5 minutes
Only if I’m getting four figure spend or higher

I’m sure on December 28th I’ll revisit this table and laugh, and by February 4th I’ll revisit it and cry while I remember how good it used to be and with the knowledge that I’m valuing my February time at roughly the same as a Taco Bell cheerios-infused enchiritaco. (Ok, I made menu item that up, but 50/50 it actually exists knowing Taco Bell.)

For the second ground rule: Your time is precious, and it’s ok to walk away from everything and spend time with your friends/family. That time can absolutely be worth more than $400 per hour.

Happy long weekend!

The Taco Bell meal in question.

1. Apparently several Chase credit cards are being approved regardless of 5/24 status (all links are affiliate-free). Reported cards that are currently ignoring 5/24:

I’m currently on a half-hearted mission to drop below 5/24 (which is a year away best case), but man I’m tempted to make that drop below 5/24 even longer with a Southwest Premier card and its 100,000 Rapid Rewards points bonus. Story developing. (DPs: 1, 2, 3, DoC)

2. The Point debit card is giving 10x at Whole Foods and 10x at Costco through Sunday, up to $500 spend each. Obviously both stores sell gift cards, so there’s that. As usual with this super-weird debit card, use a referral if you sign-up because the referral bonus of $100 is bigger than the regular, publicly available bonus.

3. United has targeted more people with this round of MilePlay, and this time I actually got an offer. Check yours at this link. Mine was “book two trips of at least $300 each and get a bonus 2,700 miles” — strong pass, I like flying on CRJ-200s a whole lot less than I like 2,700 miles, and I’d honestly pay $300 to not fly on a United CRJ-200. Hopefully your offer is quite a bit better.

4. There’s a great $500 bonus offer at the Tastyworks online brokerage after transferring $10,000 in and ostensibly waiting 90 days. Early reports suggested that the bonus posts in one to three days, and I can confirm the same for me (two business days, surprise!) If ten minutes of time is worth $500 for you, I’d suggest you jump on it while it’s still around.

5. Stockpile’s Thanksgiving surprise is that they’re allowing gift card purchases with a credit card, fee-free. If you run into limits, I bet you can find more email addresses and/or IP addresses, right? I knew you could.

It’s too bad this isn’t like black Friday from two years ago, when you could buy $10,000 per day in gift cards fee free, and the maximum value was $5,000 and not $500.

Thanksgiving Surprise from Nana. Yummy, I guess?


A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a family member that went something like this:

  • MEAB (in jest): Do you want to write a guest post for my blog?
  • Family member: What kind of blog is it?
  • MEAB: A travel hacking blog.
  • Family member: Ok.
  • MEAB (falls to the ground, floored): ….

Well, my family member came through without any further prompting, and it’s oddly appropriate for today, the busiest travel day of the year. Please enjoy and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow:

Top Things to NEVER Say in an Airport

  1. I have a bomb in my bag.
  2. I don’t have a bomb in my bag.
  3. I will not say whether or not I have a bomb in my bag.
  4. Please check my bag to see if it has a bomb in it.
  5. Bomb
  6. I was the one who shot and killed John F. Kennedy.
  7. There is a fire in the theatre, run! (loudly)
  8. My life insurance is banking on me dying on this plane.
  9. My enemies are banking on me dying on this plane.
  10. Please arrest me.
  11. Please don’t arrest me for what you find in my bag.
  12. I am being watched and followed the entire time I am here.
  13. I will refuse to answer all questions you ask me.
  14. I am here for revenge.
  15. I am not mentally fit to be flying an airplane.
  16. Many of my friends consider my political views particularly extreme.
  17. I am aware about my past wrongdoing where I accidentally alluded to there being a bomb in my bag.
  18. How far will this flight take me from the White House?
  19. Will this plane fly over the Pentagon?
  20. You will help me get out of this place.
  21. Do those detectors look for bombs?
The luxury of Thanksgiving 2021 travel.

1. Hertz is extending elite status through June 2022, but only if you opt-in via a link they sent via email. In case you can’t find that message or it never made it, you can make your own opt-in link by replacing XXXXXXXX with your Hertz loyalty number and pasting it into a web-browser:

(Note for the tech-geeks out there: Yes, this URL’s query string doesn’t make sense, but that’s how Hertz sent it and it does work. Hertz generally has the dubious distinction of “Worse IT than Citi”, so at least it’s on-brand.)

2. Serve cards can again be loaded with debit cards fee-free at Family Dollar and Dollar General. I don’t really get involved with this one because there’s a limit of $500 per store per day and I’m nowhere near any of them. But it is a decent way to unload BlackHawk gift cards in a fee-free manner. Bonus: You can also pick-up some candy hearts from Valentine’s 2021 in case you’ve been missing them.

3. Most of the people that I chat with assume that the Rakuten’s only use is as shopping portal rebate, and while that’s partially true, there’s another play that’s been largely under the radar for several years: Rakuten’s in-store card linked program. Over the past several years there have been a handful of useful plays, but most of them dried up in early 2021.

Fast forward to late 2021 though and it looks like we might be returning to the good times, as Rakuten has added Staples as a partner for in-store purchases at 2.5%. It’s probably worth spending five minutes to link all of your Chase Ink cards to your Rakuten wallet. (Thanks to jerseyguy195 on reddit)

Update: Reader Tom wrote in to offer a warning that you could be shutdown as he was a few years ago if you push too much gift card volume through. YMMV.

4. Simon has 55% off of purchase fees for bulk Visa and Mastercard bulk gift card purchases using code NOV21JOY55. I guess for some of you it’ll pair well with item 2. Remember that American Express cards don’t earn points and purchases don’t count toward minimum spend at Simon.

Happy Tuesday!

Pick one of these beauties up while you’re reloading!

If you’re in the third party gift card resale game, online/retail arbitrage game (reselling stuff), and the buyers’ group game (buying stuff for someone else and getting paid for it), this week is likely to be one of the best for the entire year and today’s post will be a garbage-post for you — sorry.

If you’re not fully in one or more of these worlds though, this post is for you. I’d consider onboarding with the following platforms today to take advantage of the myriad Black Friday and Cyber Monday opportunities. (Note: I’m not endorsing any of these platforms, but they all are considered reputable within the community as a whole, YMMV.)

Gift Card Reselling

Buyer’s Clubs

Online/Retail Arbitrage

  • Pioneer ULTD (this costs $30 per month, though @boxy will give you a day or two to ask questions before paying)
  • Vinh’s Slack (this costs $60 per month)

Good luck this week, and don’t sleep on this. With a bit of scale and hard work you could be looking at tens-of-thousands of dollars in manufactured spend time over the next several days.

The impact of today’s post: Either you’re holding bags full of money, or you’re holding the post in a plastic bag. There’s no middle ground.

American Express launches us into the weekend with some great Friday news:

1. If you were shutdown by American Express for the Adam debacle, you’ve got a good shot at getting your cards reinstated by calling the number on the back of your card and asking for reinstatement. A few details:

  • Accounts reinstated on or after November 1st have all remained open as far as I can tell (versus those reinstated before that date which were quickly closed)
  • American Express will charge you $25 per card reinstated
  • Offers remain attached to your reinstated accounts
  • YMMV on whether your points and cash-back are auto-reinstated
  • Not everyone is eligible for reinstatement

If I were shutdown and wanted to reopen cards with American Express, I’d be very selective about which cards to reopen. I may not want to reopen a card that was sitting in a sock-drawer and only open because of a sign-up bonus or retention offer, for example.

2. There are a few links for adding employee cards to your small business Green, Gold, or Platinum card, and while the offers vary, generally it looks something like 20,000 Membership Rewards for adding a new employee card and spending $4,000 in six months. You can do this with up to five employees for a total of 100,000 Membership Rewards points. You can check your offer here:

A few notes:

  • You may be able to earn 100,000 points for each business card in your portfolio, just split them off into their own login
  • Sometimes it’s helpful to have employees with names like yours, right junior?
  • You don’t actually have to provide a SSN or date of birth for an employee card, and they arrive in the mail pre-activated, in the same way that Spirit’s seats are pre-reclined
  • Always choose the no-annual fee green employee card, the offer will still work
Watch for Spirit’s newest two innovations in a post-“pre-reclined” world. First: punishment class (the middle rows), and second: lie-flatish small-business class.