Let’s get a little meta today:
1. In manufactured spend, usually deals don’t outright die. If they do die, they usually come back in a subtlety different way, like Season 6 Buffy. In just the last couple of weeks we’ve seen several examples:
- Safeway gave rewards on certain Visa and Mastercard gift cards between mid-December and yesterday, and it’s been an on-again off-again relationship over the year prior
- Some Metabank / BlackHawk gift cards can be liquidated nearly everywhere, and some can’t
- US Bank gift cards stopped working at Walmart money centers and other stores over the last couple of weeks, but are once again sailing through
- A payment anonymizer product started working just about everywhere after failing in all of the same places for a year
In fact, most of my best plays have been taking advantage of a deal after it died, or at least after everyone said it did (and some time passed). Always be probing.
2. Emirates devalued their business class awards without warning yesterday. Any time your points currencies are parked outside of a flexible bank ecosystem like Ultimate Rewards, ThankYou Points, or Membership Rewards, they’re subject to unannounced devaluations that can make US dollar inflation look extremely tame in comparison.
At this point, the only time I’m directly acquiring airline miles other than by flying on a paid ticket are:
- Credit card sign-up bonuses
- As a byproduct of spending for status
- Shopping portals
The devaluation risk of collecting them through any other method is too high for me. Because banks are subject to banking regulations and enforcement action from the Federal Reserve, FDIC, New York state, and potentially the SEC (to name a few), the likelihood of an overnight devaluation by 35% is small, and if it were to happen we’d likely see changes previewed months in advance.
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