Watch for a barrage of promotions over the holiday weekend, especially for the gift card resale markets. In the mean time, there are a few interesting promotions to kick off the weekend:

  1. Starting today and running through July 15, the OnJuno debit card has 10% cash back on spend of up to $1,000 provided that’ve set your spending source to USDC. Effectively any manufactured spend should work to meet this promotion.
  2. Many Hilton free night certificates are expiring today thanks to past COVID extension policies. Some customer service representatives will extend these for you, and I have multiple reports of successful reinstatement and extension of the certificates if you call the day of expiration and ask to use them.

    You may have to try a couple of different times to get a representative who knows how to extend though, and you shouldn’t sleep on this if you’re affected because it’s not likely to work after today.
  3. Yun was the first to let me know that the Upgrade rewards debit card has a new referral bonus program of $100 for the referrer and referred after three debit card transactions within 60 days. Upgrade’s debit card pays:

    – 2% at drug stores, gas, subscriptions, restaurants, and utilities
    – 1% everywhere else (including PIN transactions)

    Nearside’s 2.2% cash back debit card is currently more interesting, but at the end of 2022 their rewards rate will also be 1% so it may be worth grabbing a $100 sign-up bonus from Upgrade in anticipation of that if you’re in the rewards debit game.
  4. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, a MEAB Unsung Hero, has a new targeted offer for 15% back in statement credits on gas, grocery, and restaurant spend up to $90 for each month between July and September. (I got and maximized the same offer for April through June too.)

    Check your inbox for email with the subject: “[NAME], activate your limited-time statement credits offer now”

Finally, I’m going to be like a normal blogger for a second and vent about something that none of you care about and isn’t related to the site’s mission — sorry in advance: The Crown City Classic is a 7.4 mile race for July 4 (7/4), and it’s something that P2 and I have participated in for years. This year though, they moved it to July 2 because reasons, and we didn’t figure that out until a week ago after our travel was already booked. Why do I bring it up? Always double check dates for events that you’re traveling to. I wish I had.

Have a nice holiday weekend!

The Crown City Classic race organizers trying to figure out exactly when 7/4 is.

Today we’re going off the beaten path:

  1. I haven’t written about the Albert debit card prior to today because I genuinely didn’t think that it was going to work out for anyone involved, but it turns out that my spidey-sense was wrong on this one. There are now multiple reports of $500 referral bonuses being paid to both the referrer and referred, and Miles notes via MEAB slack that Albert has CashApp-like boosts for 10-20% back at major retailers that are paying out too.

    The sign-up bonus is only available by referrals — so if you know someone with a $500 referral than it’s probably worth your time to go for it. The terms for the $500 bonus are three consecutive months with $200 in direct deposits (I scheduled these) and three months of $100 in spend on the debit card too (I scheduled these too with a bill pay service). The best public bonus I know of is currently $150.
  2. Virgin Atlantic has announced that Gold Elite members can book any flight for double the saver level at least 60 days in advance, up to eight segments per year. There’s a very specific traveler that this will work well for: If you’ve got a fixed vacation schedule, for example because you’re a teacher or have kids in school, you can still book relatively low cost awards even during peak travel times when normal award space might be non-existent.

    Fortunately Virgin Atlantic status is easy to get (eventually) with the Bank of America Virgin Atlantic credit card because spending $5,000 per month for 12 months on the card will earn you enough tier points for Gold Elite status. But, spending more than $5,000 per month on a single card doesn’t get you tier points any faster so you’re looking at a year to turn this into reality without flying. If you apply for this card I’d suggest getting a few Alaska Airlines cards and some Business Cash Rewards cards at the same time.

    Bank of America IT is rooted in the 1970s, so my hunch is that if you hold multiple Virgin Atlantic cards you’d be able to get the monthly tier point spend limit on each card, but I have no data points to support or reject that hypothesis. UPDATE: Reader Miles has experience with multiple Virgin Atlantic cards and confirms that two cards will allow earning tier points at twice the rate, and you can stack the companion and upgrade certificate from each card too.

Our journey to find today’s obscure news.

Fall promotions are finally ramping-up, starting with the following:

  1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt’s new Q3 promotion for 20% back on award stays at Hyatt Independent Collection hotels between July 5 and September 5, up to 30,000 points back.
  2. Kroger is running another promotion for 4x fuel points on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards through July 12.

    Major fuel points buyers have been largely silent on capacity for this round, partially because it’s the end of the month (and points expire the month after they’re earned) and partially because the market has become saturated. I expect that on Friday we’ll see additional buying capacity but not at the volume that we’ve seen in the past. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  3. PayPal has another credit card variant, and this time it’s issued by WebBank instead of Synchrony so there are likely shenanigans ready to play. This card is a 2% cash back everywhere Mastercard with no annual fee, so a rival to the Citi Double Cash, only if you get shutdown here you might lose PayPal too.
  4. Check each of your personal Chase credit cards at chase.com/mybonus for additional spending bonuses on grocery, gas, and home improvement. Offers have been reported for:

    – An additional 5x on up to $1,500 in spend (Hyatt, Marriott, United, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Southwest cards)
    – An additional 7x on up to $1,500 in spend (IHG)
    – An additional 10x on up to $1,500 in spend at Starbucks(Sapphire Preferred, Freedom Flex)

    Eligibility starts on July 1 and runs through September 30, and it stacks with other bonused spend. (credit here)

Happy Wednesday!

Leaked: Kroger’s future promotion, brought to you by the same team that delivered 4x fuel points for effectively three months straight.

I heard more feedback from yesterday’s last bullet point about the dangers of opening a checking account with American Express than I’ve heard on any single topic in the past, which I guess means Larry won the churning prize? The tone of the feedback was all over the place like a Nine-Inch-Nails jazz fusion concert put on by a collaboration between N’Sync and Taylor Swift, so I think more discussion is in order.

The General Rule

Holding deposit accounts at banks with valuable credit cards typically can’t do you much good, but it can do you plenty of harm. This is especially true at Chase, Citibank, and Capital One, and probably other banks whose first letter starts with a “C” (if correlation equals causation). At these banks, there are dozens of reports of shutdowns on the credit card side of the business after investigations started on the banking side.

Why might banking get involved and look at your account?

  • Lots of transactions
  • A SAR form filled out by an employee
  • An insufficient or returned funds transaction
  • Too many phone calls
  • A deposit from a new source
  • Too many ACH pulls from the account

But, there are less obvious reasons that you can get eyes on your gaming, even if you haven’t made a single transaction in your bank account. These are the insidious ones:

  • Escheat and unclaimed property laws
  • Routine Know Your Customer checks
  • A fraud alert from a credit card charge that triggers an internal system
  • A general audit
  • The results of a periodic soft-credit pull (Chase is especially notorious for this)
  • In response to an inquiry from the IRS, regulator, or law enforcement

Deposit fraud investigators are typically quicker to shutdown and more easily triggered than their credit card counterparts. I believe this is principally because deposit accounts are by-in-large a necessary cost-center at a bank, while credit accounts are largely a profit-center. Of course regulation and federal funds requirements also play into this too.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are times when deposit accounts can still make sense. For example, Bank of America deposit accounts help a churner because:

U.S. Bank deposit accounts can also make sense because:

PenFed deposit accounts can make sense because:

And, you may find that to get a great credit card at a local credit union you may first have to hold a deposit account. In that case though, a shutdown is rarely catastrophic.

ELI5

In case you’d like an ELI5: Holding deposit accounts at popular churning banks is probably bad, but sometimes it can help you churn enough to make the risk worth the rewards.

Pictured: What the sound of N’Sync and Taylor Swift riffing on jazz inspired by NiN looks like.

  1. Meijer has $50 off of a future purchase on a $500 third party gift card, limit one per MPerks account (or you can ration this down as $5 for every $50 in gift cards purchased). Noteworthy brand exclusions include Apple and Amazon, but BestBuy, Home Depot, and Nike are all included in the promotion.
  2. Staples has $200 Mastercard gift cards available for no-fee, limit five per transaction through Saturday. These are Metabank gift cards, so have a liquidation plan in place. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  3. The Target $40 online + $40 in-store RedCard sign-up bonus is back. If you’re not sure why this is interesting, see Target RedCard Hacks.

    Current datapoints suggest between 7 and 14 days are required between churning these cards. (Thanks to sb18 via MEAB slack)
  4. Simon.com has 50% off of Visa and Mastercard gift card purchase fees with promo code JUN22HOT50. These are also Metabanks. Side note: if Metabanks were in a race with other gift cards, they’d come in third out of three in their age group.
  5. Reader/maestro Larry often says something like: “Never hold a deposit account at a bank that has credit cards that you care about.” Something innocuous on the deposit account side of the business involving know your customer regulations, loss prevention, or fraud concerns can often lead to eyes on your credit card portfolio, and eyes on your credit card portfolio are rarely a good thing.

    With the above in mind, I’d suggest giving a moment of thought to the following item that everyone seems to be talking about: The new American Express Business checking account that has a relatively measly 20,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus after a few hoops and allows Platinum card holders to cash-out Membership Rewards at one cent per point.

    You can probably guess that I don’t think you should go for it. American Express cards are too valuable to risk holding a deposit account with their banking division, and Platinum card holders (and others) can always cash-out at a penny per point even without this checking account.

Metabank gift cards are kind of a big deal, third place (out of three) in the 14-17 year old age division.

  1. As reported by some weirdo on the internet known for being apocryphal yet this time with a trustworthy source (DC Domer via MEAB slack), the glitch affecting Membership Rewards cash outs and partner transfers was resolved yesterday afternoon. 🎉 
  2. Southwest has run its first major schedule change for flights from early September through early November, though the number of impacted flights is smaller than is typical which could mean there will be another round of changes, or it could mean Southwest is changing the way it rolls out schedule updates.

    If you have flights booked in that window, now is a good time to see if you’re affected and rebook if the updates don’t work for you. Southwest allows you to change to any other flight between the same city pairs ± two weeks when a schedule change affects your itinerary. (Thanks to Brian M via MEAB slack)
  3. Do this now: Register for Q3 spending categories on major 5%/5x rotating category cards:

    Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex: Gas, car rentals, movies, and some entertainment (Disney parks included)
    Citi Dividend: Gas and home improvement
    Discover IT: PayPal and Restaurants
    US Bank Cash+: Utilities and electronic stores are probably best
    Bank of America Cash Rewards: Gas and online shopping are probably best

    Expect ideas on manufactured spend for these categories soon.
  4. American Express has been sending out new Pay-over-Time 20,000 or 30,000 point offers every week for over a month. Not everyone that’s eligible receives an email or mailer because American Express, but fortunately it’s easy to check via these links:

    Link 1
    Link 2
    Link 3
    Link 4
    Link 5
    Link 6

    It doesn’t take a super-hacker to see the patterns in those links, so I suppose it’s really easy to look for alternate links that aren’t yet known. (Thanks to DoC, reddit, and my inbox for these links)
  5. Kroger has a 4x fuel points sale on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards running from today through Sunday. Unfortunately the fuel points resale market prices continues to drop, and this sale won’t help it recover. I think we’ll see depressed fuel points and gift card prices through at least mid-July as a result

    There’s also widespread reporting that Kroger has started to shutdown accounts that were created with the anonaddy.com service, so I guess be careful and remember that only you can prevent wildfires.

It may seem like the US Forest Service is being literal, but in reality they’re referring to Kroger burner accounts.

Phone In Offers

The glory days of adding up to 99 American Express employee cards are in the rear view mirror and at this point every known call in offer has been nerfed. There are still bonuses to be had, but instead of a maximum of 1,980,000 Membership Rewards or $19,800 in statement credits, the best offers are now topped out at 495,000 Membership Rewards or at $4,950 in credits.

First, here are the current statement credit offers:

  • Hilton Business card: $50 in statement credits for spending $1,000 per employee
  • Marriott Business card: $50 in statement credits for spending $1,000 per employee
  • Lowe’s Business card: $50 in statement credits for spending $1,000 per employee

And, there are points offers for cards too:

  • Delta Platinum or Reserve Business card: 5,000 SkyMiles for spending $1,000 per employee
  • Blue Business Plus: 5,000 Membership Rewards for spending $2,000 per employee
  • Business Green: 5,000 Membership Rewards for spending $2,000 per employee
  • Business Gold: 5,000 Membership Rewards for spending $2,000 per employee
  • Business Platinum: 5,000 Membership Rewards for spending $2,000 per employee

Of course these bonuses stack with normal category spend bonuses, so the normal 4x earning at gas stations on the Business Gold card while spending up to $2,000 at with an employee card will net 6.5 Membership Rewards per dollar.

To get these offers, you have to call the number on the back of your card, speak to a customer service representative, then ask if there are offers for adding employee cards to your account.

Online Offers

There were public links for 20,000 Membership Rewards after $4,000 in spend on an employee card with a limit of five cards to the Business Green, Business Gold, and Business Platinum last fall. The offer terms list an expiration of March 30, 2022. But, terms aren’t always enforced, right?

There are multiple private reports and now a public report sharing that online offers for adding up to five employee cards on the Business Platinum or Business Gold card continue to work, even if you added the employees after March 30 and also met the spend after March 30. So, if you want to take a (relatively safe) gamble, you can try your luck at these links:

Good luck!

Looking at past American Express employee call in offers in the rear view mirror.

Points earning at American Express is exceeding plaid speed. Here’s what we know so far:

The Offers

Sometimes things are available at only when you know to call in and ask about them as we learned with the 99 employee card offers. This time it’s business card sign-up bonuses though, and they’re big:

  • 180,000 Membership Rewards for a Business Gold card with $20,000 spend in six months
  • 250,000 Membership Rewards for a Business Platinum card with with $30,000 spend in six months

Both may also offer 10,000 additional points for adding an employee card and spending $1,000 in six months. To see if you’re eligible, call (855) 531-3491 and navigate your way through the phone tree to reach a customer service representative, then ask about the offer you’re interested in. You’ll have to specifically mention the 180,000 or 250,000 Membership Rewards bonus as appropriate. (Thanks to FM for background)

Notes

What we know about the offers:

  • They don’t seem to have lifetime language
  • You may not be eligible for a bonus even if the rep sees the offer
  • You’ll get a popup before submitting the final application if you’re not eligible
  • You probably have to specifically call out the bonus to get the representative to acknowledge the offer

Hacking the Offers

We can always level up our game a notch, right? Here are a few ways:

  • You can be approved for both of these on the same day, so don’t be afraid to try for both
  • You can quadruple dip the $200 Dell Business Platinum credit with a single annual fee, getting it for Jan-Jun 2022, Jul-Dec 2022, Jan-Jun 2023, and Jul-Dec 2023 (annual fees can be refunded up to 30 days after posting)
  • After a couple of weeks, you’ll probably be eligible for a call in offer for adding employee cards, each with a 5,000 Membership Rewards bonus for $2,000 in spend up to 99 employee cards or 495,000 additional Membership Rewards in total
  • Bonus categories and offers stack, so if you can manufacture spend in shipping or gas with employee cards you can earn 6.5x Membership Rewards per dollar
  • You can probably get a retention offer after 2-3 months, but then you’re locked in for another 12 months and another annual fee if you want to stay out of the penalty box

No word yet on whether these cards bypass the 11 or 12 charge card limit, but you can bet I’m going to try.

This guy closed his American Express Business Gold card three months after a retention offer. Don’t be like him.