Plastiq, a once favorite bill-payment service for manufactured spenders, has slowly gotten worse over the years with a gradual but pronounced death. Some of the ways:

Earlier this year they announced that they’re going public via the $480 million dollar Colonnade Acquisition Corp SPAC. I can only assume that they’re trying to emulate other SPACs like BODY, which went public and managed turn $10 in net asset value per share into a current price $0.70 in just a little over a year. EDITORS NOTE: I know sometimes we say silly things at MEAB and “Colonnade” sure looks like a silly thing, but it’s the SPAC’s real name. Really.

So, what are they up to now? Well, another kind of “nothing good”, I assure you. In order to drive away price sensitive customers that use the service because it’s a bit cheaper than others, they’re raising processing fees to 2.9%, the par for the industry. Obviously they’re doing this so that they can compete on features alone and lose customers that way, except faster than before.

Is there still room for Plastiq in a manufactured spender’s toolbox? I guess so, but barely. I’d take this as a good opportunity to find alternatives that are less cruddy and more functional.

Happy Wednesday!

I’ll be honest: It was hard not to make today’s picture about Colonnade, but since it’s Plastiq it had to be a louse. I don’t make the rules friends.

  1. Bank of America has increased sign-up bonuses in their mobile app:

    – Business Travel Rewards: 50,000 points after $3,000 spend
    – Platinum Plus: $300 after $3,000 spend
    – Customized Cash: $500 after $3,000 spend
    – Unlimited Cash: $500 after $3,000 spend

    Most of these come in both Visa or Mastercard flavors, and definitely don’t forget about Bank of America shenanigans if and when you apply. (Thanks to cardhelp2)

  2. If you have Hyatt Explorist or Globalist status, you can register for a targeted four months of AA status, provided you link your accounts by December 12 and register by December 28 on your AAdvantage profile’s promotions page. You’ll get:

    – Explorist members: AAdvantage Platinum (equivalent to most airlines’ Gold / 50k status)
    – Globalist members: AAdvantage Platinum Pro (equivalent to most airlines’ Platinum / 75k status)

    To maintain the status for the next elite year, Explorists need to earn 25,000 points and Globalists need to earn 42,000 points within the four month window. Both can earn Executive Platinum status by earning 67,000 points in those months. Likely the easiest non-shenanigan way to earn loyalty points is 3x at and buy with an AA credit card for another 1x.

    Of course there are always shenanigany ways to earn Loyalty Points for probers.

  3. Do this now: Register for Best Western’s bonus 10,000 points per stay for all stays through February 5 booked by December 4. Sorry if you end up at a Best Western though.
  4. United has coach award flight deals to Europe, Asia, and Australia for 30% off if you hold elite status, a Chase United card, or both. Book by December 2 for travel between January 9, 2023 and March 21, 2023.

“Man prepares for shenanigans” – In real-life sepia.

  1. Meijer has $10 off of $150 or more in Mastercard gift cards through Saturday. You have to clip a digital coupon, and you may need multiple MPerks accounts to scale. If you’re even remotely near a Meijer it’s probably worth your time to work this one into your rotation.
  2. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are their own kind of special for a manufactured spender. There’s a lot going on but it’s hard to find anything useful in the normal channels because deals are lost in the noise of vacuum cleaner sales, PS5 snipe hunting, letters from your local shop letting you know that they’ve slashed prices by upwards of 3%, and by the extreme desire to search your inbox for “is:unread” followed by a mass delete. For today only, slickdeals is probably the best place to keep a focused eye (normally they’re too slow to pay much attention to for our kind of deals), specifically with one of the following links:

    General Cyber Monday deals
    Visa gift cards
    Mastercard gift cards
    Airline sales
    Stephen’s Black Friday Gift Card deals (Ok, so this isn’t slickdeals but it is just as good)

    One thing to watch out for is that slickdeals runs its own shopping portal and the rates typically aren’t as good as you can find elsewhere, always check

  3. has multiple new codes for 5% off of Virtual Visas through Thursday: BFVIP, BFVISA5, CMVISA5, and BFVISA. You can get $2,000 in virtual cards every 48 hours per account, and remember to go through a portal too. In case you’re on the fence. The break-even point not including portal bonuses and credit card rewards is 2.74%, so it’s easy to make this work in your favor.
  4. The American Express Business Platinum card’s public offer is now occasionally 170,000 Membership Rewards with $15,000 in spend. As usual with the AmEx random number generator, if you don’t see the offer then try:

    – Incognito
    – Mobile versus desktop
    – A different browser
    – Search for “American Express Business Platinum” with several search engines and click the first non-sponsored link
    – A VPN to another part of the US

    This offer does have lifetime language, but we all know the popup is more important than the language, right? (Thanks to DoC)

  5. Check the following airline promo pages for Cyber Monday sales and rebook existing travel when it makes sense:

    United Airlines flight promos
    Delta Air Lines flight promos
    Southwest Airlines cyber monday promos
    Alaska Airlines cyber monday sale
    American Airlines travel deals

    I’ll update the above links as it makes sense throughout the day.

  6. Check the Fluz mobile app for upcoming parties and RVSP or join any interesting ones. For our purposes, the most interesting is probably 30% off today for Uber Eats gift cards, which of course work for Uber rides.

MEAB’s coping mechanism between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

We’ve been beating around the bush about fraud alerts somewhat repeatedly over the years, but it’s time to explictly call out a principle you should always be following:

Clear fraud alerts as fast as you possibly can.

– MEAB, prolly

Why? There are multiple reasons, but they all boil down to unwanted poking around on your credit card and deposit accounts by someone who’s job is to manage risk and shutdown accounts that feel risky. For specific examples, see:

When you get a fraud alert, clearing it quickly (hopefully) means no one ever looks at your accounts. Side note: If you have to talk to a person and can’t clear an alert in an automated way, you may have better luck with foreign call center customer service representatives who don’t understand exactly what is and how a bunch of purchases there may raise eyebrows.

Have a nice weekend!

Happy [Rebecca] Black Friday!

  1. PayPal has a 4% cashback deal for six more days at Safeway with apparently no transaction size limit. Even better, according to brykupono at reddit, you can cycle the deal repeatedly for up to an hour by re-adding the offer to your account after each transaction.

    To trigger the deal you’ll have to checkout with a PayPal QR code from your mobile app which is interesting for other reasons too, like for hitting Chase Freedom Q4 bonus categories or for other less obvious games.

  2. has fee free physical and virtual gift cards with promo code cyberdeals22. These cards are usually easy to liquidate, but watch out when purchasing because lately they’ve been charging as a cash advance on American Express cards.
  3. Nearside, the King George III of banks, accidentally announced on Monday via email that part of their business operations were shutting down in the near future. They quickly followed up with an “oops, sorry, ignore that message”, then yesterday sent a message saying essentially “actually guys, sorry, lol, mah bad, we’re dying on December 23 for Christmas, lmfao”. I guess unlimited 2.2% cashback on debit transactions may not be a sound business decision, but what do I know anyway?

    If you have money at Nearside, I’d transfer it out sooner rather than later (I did the moment the first message came in, I didn’t need to wait for the rest of the drama to play out).

  4. Dell is 15x and Saks Fifth Avenue is 10x at Rakuten’s shopping portal for the holiday, so it’s a good time to liquidate American Express Platinum and Business Platinum credits. Even better, SideShowBob233 notes that Drop has 100 points per dollar or 10% back at Dell, and it stacks with portals too. If my math is correct that brings Dell prices down to about par with other retailers, except you still get the frustration of Dell’s order system for no extra charge.

Nearside wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving. No, wait, go away! Just kidding, Happy Thanksgiving.

  1. has a promotional code (BFVIP) that in theory gives you $5 off of a $100 virtual Visa gift card, but in practice gives 5% off of $250 virtual Visa gift cards on up to $1,500 per order because reasons. The promotion runs through tomorrow evening.

    Since virtual gift cards at have a $2,000 per rolling 48 hour limit, I’d get $1,500 in one order and then another $500 immediately after. Don’t forget to use a portal.

  2. It probably should go without saying, but if you hold any serious cash at a crypto based FinTech companies it may be time to reconsider whether the manufactured spend bang is worth the increasing risk of loss, especially because Coinbase, a favorite FinTech of Christmas past, may become the next casualty. Tread lightly! (Thanks to George via MEAB slack)
  3. EDITOR’s NOTE: I wouldn’t normally write about a deal for a warehouse club because it’s not directly about travel, miles, points, or shenanigans, but this one is different because Sam’s Club is often a great vendor for a manufactured spender given its propensity for gift card deals and portal games.

    Sam’s Club has a holiday promotion for $50 back on your first in-store purchase with a $50 membership, making a new account fee free with promo code 27Y9X. Unfortunately though gift cards are excluded from the first purchase $50 back. If you sign-up, try and use a portal because it may track (usually with portals and stuff like this, the weirder the better).

  4. Bilt cardholders earn double rewards between Friday and December 1. I’d typically say go nuts on this deal like Sam Bankman-Fried did with corporate FTX funds, but with this card you’ll probably get the axe for too much MS if you do. So instead, maybe just go at the speed that Sam Bankman-Fried runs to keep your account alive.
  5. A new pre-targeted no-lifetime language American Express Business Platinum link has surfaced with a sign-up bonus of 150,000 Membership Rewards after $15,000 in spend within three months and another 10,000 Membership Rewards for adding an employee card and spending $1,000, also within three months.

    If you get one, don’t forget about the triple dip. (Thanks to TwelveBall)

The reason SBF was running away.

If you were a programmer at a bank and you had to code a bonus category for a particular vendor, say like earning 32x Membership Rewards points on flights to Mars booked through Deep Discount Mars Trips, how would you do it? You’ve got a few decent options for how you might award a bonus based on:

  • A particular merchant account and payment processor
  • A particular merchant category code (MCC)
  • A specific merchant name, like “DEEP DISCOUNT MARS TRIPS LLC”

Of course you don’t have to pick just one of those, good banks and good programmers will do two or all three. Of course, there are some FinTechs out there that take the easy way out and do the bare minimum, for example, searching for “MARS” in a charge’s name and awarding 32x if the letters are found in the charge description. When that happens you’ll earn 32x at:

  • Marsha’s Grab and Go
  • Cactus and Marshes LLC
  • The Marshmallow and Vacuum Emporium

Often the FinTech programmer figures out that they’ve made a mistake and will fix the bonus award by implementing a blocklist instead of fixing it the right way, so the logic is: Award 32x if “mars” is in the charge description, but not if the description is “The Marshmallow and Vacuum Emporium”. Because of course they do.

Well, in the cat-and-mouse game with FinTechs, there are often ways to name-mangle your merchant description to side-skirt blocklists, for example by paying with a service like PayPal which will prepend PAYPAL MARK* to the front of your charge description, leading to 32x again.

It should probably go without saying, but let’s say it anyway: bonus street cred if you use one FinTech product to mask the charge for another FinTech. Happy hunting!

The Marshmallow and Vacuum Emporium, ripe for earning 32x.

  1. Check your Chase Offers and Bank Of America Deals for 15% back at US Hyatt properties through December 10, up to $37.95 back.
  2. Do this now: Register for an Enterprise Car Rental elite status extension through February 2024 with any car rented in 2022 (even cars rented earlier in the year before registration). You’ll also get double points through January 21, 2023.
  3. Office Depot/OfficeMax has $100 gift cards on sale for $95.95 after activation fee, limit two per account. These are Metabanks and won’t get special office supply coding when buying online because they’re fulfilled by GiftCardMall. As a no extra fee bonus though, you get to solve some annoying cartoon captchas during redemption.
  4. Wyndham’s shopping portal is offering triple points through December 29. According to the language on the site, the 3x is already baked in to the displayed rate, so don’t expect to earn more than you see. (Thanks to FM)
  5. Staples has physical $25 Uber gift cards for sale at a 20% discount and it seems that no-one is enforcing any quantity limits during purchase so go nuts.
  6. American Express has a 15% transfer bonus to Avianca LifeMiles running through December 7 in addition to last week’s 25% transfer bonus to FlyingBlue. Sweet spots with the program generally involved geographically challenged routing rules, but their award chart is in general good for many redemptions.
  7. Xbox gift cards are back in stock at Dell, so liquidate second half 2022 American Express Business Platinum while you can. To avoid burning a Dell account, keep the number of transactions involving a gift card to five per year per account.
  8., a community driven mainstay for close-in Star Alliance award alerts, now searches AA award space too. (Thanks to levelniner)

GiftCardMall’s devious captcha system. At least we can eliminate the pineapple I guess?