Introduction

A conversation I overheard yesterday at a local coffee shop:

No-one: …
Absolutely no-one: …
Kroger: Hey I’ve got a fresh idea, how about 4x fuel points gift cards this weekend?
Third party gift sellers: [facepalm]

In a move that could only surprise someone with advanced dementia, Kroger is indeed having another 4x fuel points sale on third party gift cards between Friday and Sunday. In case you’re keeping track, we’ve had fewer than a dozen days since June without a 4x fuel points sale, and as a result the gift card resale market is depressed, like Tony Soprano season 2 depressed.

A Rocky Year

Fuel points either partially or completely offset the loss taken from selling bulk gift cards and are therefore a huge part of the bulk gift card market toolkit. In prior years Kroger fuel points were the easiest grocery point to deal with by far. But this year, Kroger has started to throw wrenches into the works:

It looks as though Kroger isn’t happy with its fuel points program and is actively taking steps to change how it works. In the meantime, bulk buyers and bulk sellers are being cautious and volume has plummeted, presumably until the dust as settled and we have a better idea about what’s working and what’s not.

What Seems Safe?

So far I haven’t heard any reports of accounts with fewer than 20,000 fuel points being targeted, so 20,000 may be a soft capacity on accounts for the near-term future. It also seems likely that account age is part of Kroger’s silent blocking algorithm, so your long-term personal account is probably safe.

Here’s the bright-side I guess: Buying an Amazon gift card at Kroger will definitely earn you a few fuel points for your own use, and that discount beats fake discount Amazon gift cards sold directly by Amazon.

Happy selling!

Misunderstanding how Kroger fuel points work.

  1. American Express has a new phone-in-only offer of 20,000 Membership Rewards for adding an authorized user card to a personal Platinum and spending $2,000. This beats the current best online offer that I know of, which is generally 10,000 Membership Rewards for $2,000 in spend, but may be higher for specific accounts.

    To see if you’re targeted, call the number on the back of your Platinum card and say something like “Are there any offers for adding authorized user cards to my account?” because apparently we’re just supposed to know that’s a thing. (Thanks to JayJayHI2000)
  2. Southwest has a fare sale for 40% off of domestic airfare to and from many cities in California using promo code SAVE40. You have to book by this evening and travel between August 23 and February 15 of next year, and of course several holidays are blocked out. The included airports are BUR, FAT, LAX, LGB, OAK, ONT, PSP, SAN, SBA, SFO, SJC, SMF, and SNA.

    Based on discussion in the MEAB slack, eligibility on different flights varies, and some travel represents a true 40% discount, while other cities seem to have inflated fares that are cancelled out by the sale. (Thanks to Brian M)
  3. The Capital One pre-approval tool has a 100,000 miles offer on the Capital One Venture card with $10,000 spend in three months which beats the regular offer by 25,000 miles. Personally though I’d stick with the 250,000 mile Capital One Spark Travel Elite if you can find your way in through a small business banker, and that one won’t affect your 5/24 status either.

If the Spark Travel Elite is an [insert your favorite dinner here], then the Venture is this.

Follow-Up

Last month we discussed getting an upgrade for each elite and +1 as part of a big group on Delta and it generated a few common questions:

  • Q: Why would you split off an elite and a single companion?
    A: The most common case is parents up front, kids in the back
  • Q: What are upgrades like with a companion, all-or-nothing?
    A: Ymmv. Before the day of departure, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. On the day of departure you’ll both be upgraded if space is available. If there’s only one seat, then some gate agents will call you up and ask what you want to do, and some will just upgrade the elite only. If the outcome matters to you, I’d let the gate agent know ahead of time what you want to happen

Related Hack

There’s a related hack that we didn’t discuss: On Delta, Platinum and Diamond medallions are eligible for an at-booking upgrade to Comfort+ for the elite and a single companion. What if you want to get a whole group into Comfort+ though? Easy in-principle, slightly annoying in-practice:

  1. Book a ticket for the elite and a single companion
  2. Select the companion’s seat in Comfort+ after booking
  3. Call or chat with Delta to cancel the elite’s ticket only, leaving the companion in place
  4. Start over for each companion in your group

The caveats from the prior post apply here too: Schedule changes and IROPS could leave a mess for you to clean up, and aircraft swaps might cause lost seat assignments. The flip-side is Delta is the friendliest US airline for patching up stuff like that, so #slay I guess?

Have fun out there!

Getting everyone in Comfort+ doesn’t get you out of this gate mess though.

Let’s jump right into it this week:

  1. American Express has another no-lifetime language (NLL) 170,000 Membership Rewards after $15,000 spend in three months Business Platinum link. This seems to be without a pop-up for just about everyone provided that you’re under 10 AmEx charge cards. There’s mixed success of getting multiple using this link and distinct businesses too.
  2. Target’s RedCard sign-up bonus of $80 ($40 online and $40 in-store) for a debit or credit card is back, and remains churnable provided that you wait 10 business days between closing an account and opening a new one. But, this is interesting for other reasons beyond the sign up bonus that justify going for the credit card version too.
  3. IHG has a flash sale and/or broken-IT issue that’s causing many award stays to price at half of their normal cost. Rough pricing:

    – Kimpton: 45,000 points
    – Regent / InterContinental: 35,000-45,000 points
    – Indigo: 30,000 points
    – Crowne Plaza: 25,000 points
    – Holiday Inn / Holiday Inn Express: – 20,000 points

    You can easily buy points at 0.5 cents per point through this evening, and with a few hoops you can always buy them near this price-point with dummy bookings. Now all that’s left to debate is whether there’s such a thing as a Holiday Inn Express that’s worth $100 in points per night. (Thanks to strayersong via VFTW)

You knew this was coming, right? With the IHG sale, you can experience the bright and spacious Holiday Inn Express Lubbock South for only 20,000 points (regular nightly rate: $92)

  1. The Alaska Airlines Business card has an increased 70,000 mile sign-up bonus, made really interesting because there’s no hard-coded limit on the number of these that you can open in a day or on the total number you can have, and Bank of America business cards lack any real churning restrictions.
  2. Staples is again offering fee-free Visa $200 gift cards Sunday through the following Saturday, limit five per transaction. If your Staples doesn’t seem to have any stock:

    – Ask an employee to open the rack and grab new ones
    – Look for another rack behind the customer service desk
    – Look for another rack in the back of the store

    These are Metabanks, so have a liquidation plan. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  3. If you need to cancel a Marriott booking made with a certificate, it:

    – May or may not error out
    – May or may not return your certificate

    There’s a workaround that will reliably allow you to cancel and return your certificate:

    Visit your reservation confirmation
    – Click “Change”
    – Select the same room type and same dates
    – Choose points when the system asks how you want to pay

    After you’ve done all that, the certificate will be reliably returned and you’ll be able to cancel your reservation, which makes this ever so slightly better than Citi IT.

Candid shot of Marriott’s development staff during reservation management coding sessions.

Introduction

We talked about Bank of America shenanigans about a year ago, and US Bank shenanigans about six months ago. As a result I think many of you have card anniversaries and half-anniversaries to consider and it’s probably worth a re-read of both. That said, today we’re going to do the same for Barclays because they’ve just increased sign-up bonuses on three of their main four co-brand cards:

  • Wyndham Earner Business: 65,000 points after spending $2,000 in 60 days and another 10,000 points after a single purchase on an employee card (Update: corrected bonus from 60,000 to 65,000 points. Thanks to Miles)
  • JetBlue Business: 70,000 points after spending $2,000 in 90 days and another 10,000 points after a single purchase on an employee card
  • Hawaiian Business: 80,000 points after spending $2,000 in 90 days

If you live in New England or Florida, the JetBlue card is a great option. If you live near a Speedway, the Wyndham card is a stand out. If you like churning satire, the Hawaiian card can’t be beat.

Rules

Barclays doesn’t have as many loopholes as legacy banks, but there are some. Here’s what you should know:

  • Barclays will combine hard pulls in the same day
  • Barclays will approve up to three credit cards in the same day
  • Barclays business cards won’t appear on a credit report
  • Barclays’ reconsideration department will work with you more than most banks will
  • Barclays won’t let you have multiple versions of the same card

To contact Barclays reconsideration, dial (866) 408-4064 for business cards or (866) 408-4064 for personal cards. When you call, a simple “I was hoping that you’d take another look at my application and help me find away to get approved. I’m happy to provide any additional information you may need!” may be enough to negotiate your way into an approval after you’re denied.

How I’m Playing It

I don’t need more JetBlue points and I really don’t need more Hawaiian points, but Vacasa redemptions via Wyndham are hard to beat. So even though the AA Business co-brand card offer isn’t at a relative high, I’ll be pairing it with the Wyndham card application for a combined hard-pull without messing with my quest to drop below 5/24.

Good luck!

Barclays reconsideration staff is much friendlier than it looks.

  1. Oxygen is offering $100 and an iPad to new business accounts for companies shutdown by Brex, but reports are that you should open a support case and forward your shutdown email immediately after approval to ensure you get the bonus. The requirements:

    – Deposit $10,000 within 30 days
    – Make 5 debit card transactions within 60 days
    – Have no prior Oxygen business account
    – Open a support case (MEAB’s requirement)

    You’ll likely have to apply by mobile app too, but do your best to follow the promo link to get to the mobile app. Also, watch out for some terrible grammar when applying before it hits you in the face. (Thanks to SideShowBob233, and thanks to Nuhertz for noting a typo in the bonus)
  2. Two new links for American Express Business Gold cards have surfaced, and in classic AmEx style the bonuses show differently based on: your browser, whether or not you’re incognito, the IP address you’re coming from, the quantity of protein in your lunch, and your operating system. So, vary those up if you’re not seeing the expected bonus:

    130,000 Membership Rewards after $20,000 spend in three months
    110,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 spend in three months

    Note that both have lifetime language, but that doesn’t matter. Unlike the recent 250,000 Membership Rewards Business Platinum link that’s been floating around, these aren’t post-targeted links and thus should be completely safe. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. JetBlue has $25 off of one-way non-stop trips and $50 off of round-trips booked by this evening with promo code FALLSALE, but Mint and transatlantic fares are excluded.
  4. There are a few August transfer bonuses:

    – CapitalOne 20% transfer bonus to FlyingBlue
    – CapitalOne 20% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios
    – American Express 20% transfer bonus to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

I’m not the grammar police, but this sign (also designed by Oxygen) doesn’t mean what they think it means.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes we resemble extreme couponers, and today is a perfect illustration:

  1. GiftCardGranny has 2% off of the total cost of “Build a Card” Visa and Mastercard gift cards with promo code SUMMER2022, good through all of August. For eGift cards, the total cost is $496.95. For physical cards, the total cost is $499.94 for a single card, slightly lower cost when scaled. (Thanks to charmingwaves)
  2. The Capital One shopping portal, available to cardholders and non-cardholders alike has been targeting some for 6% back at GiftCards.com. Now it’s available both on the app and the website and the increased payout is much more widely targeted. Obviously this stacks well with back-to-school portal bonuses, but only up to $2,000 per month in spend.
  3. Sam’s Club is again paying portals for gift card purchases in August. Sam’s sells interesting gift cards like Vanilla Visas, and will stack well with current portal spend bonuses, like Capital One shopping at 10%. Fortunately Sam’s Club gift card purchases don’t currently have a $2,000 per month total spend limit. (Thanks to GC Galore)

Even Delta buys from Sam’s Club at a discount, though I see they bought the upgraded HD model.