1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt promotion for 1,000 bonus points per night up to 10,000 bonus points at Dream Hotels in New York, Nashville, South Beach, and Los Angeles for stays between July 6 and September 15.

    This marks the first time that I’ve ever seen Nashville in the same city lineup as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Nice job Nashville marketing team I guesss?
  2. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card, now a MEAB Unsung Hero for nearly 2 1/2 years, has a new round of targeted promotions, so far seen only via USPS. This round is 15% back as a statement credit on up to $1,200 in spend at gas, grocery, and restaurants each month for the months of July, August, and September. I Expect that more of these offers will go out via email over the weekend. (Thanks to birt)
  3. The Apple Credit Card has a targeted promotion worth $200 per day in cash back through July 25. You get:

    – 10% back promotion on up to $1,000 in spend at Walgreens and Uber (and less interesting stores like Ace, Exxon Mobile, Nike, T-Mobile, and Panera)
    – 10% back on up to $1,000 in spend at other stores

    If you max this promotion you’ll get $200 * 26 days, or $5,200 for the math challenged. Level two players can earn even more on the payment side. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. GC Galore notes that BestBuy online now sells Amazon electronic gift cards which is useful for leveraging card linked offers from Chase, Bank of America, and American Express.

Why visit New York, Miami, or Los Angeles when Nashville has this tourist attraction?

  1. United has 10% off of paid flights in the continental United States booked by July 24 using promo code TAKEOFF10 for travel from July 24 through September 26. This is a (widely) targeted promotion that will work one time if targeted for up to nine passengers on a single reservation, round-trip or one-way.
  2. Do this now: Link your Bilt and Lyft accounts in the Rent Day tab in the Bilt mobile app. You’ll earn a $10 Lyft credit if you don’t hold a Bilt credit card and $20 if you do. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. Smart & Final grocery stores have a promotion for a $10 off your next purchase when you buy a $50 Choice gift card through July 11. Choice cards can be converted to high resale value cards easily from home.

    Usually you can’t use the $10 off coupons directly for another gift card purchase, but if you have a friendly cashier you may get away with it. (Thanks to GCG)
  4. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion running through July 11 for third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards.

    Kroger has taken a page from office supply stores and decided to run a gift card promotion more often than not running one, and that means that in the last two weeks and next two weeks we’ll have had exactly four days without a promotion. #slay

Grocery clerk Jimmy shows us what it means to slay, Kroger style.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has been the unpredictable crazy uncle of airports since the middle of 2020. From a passenger’s perspective, the worst effect has been long security lines, as long has six hours last fall and often dabbling well into the one-two hour range. Currently security at Schiphol has regularized at 10-20 minutes on average most days, but at peak times you could still be waiting much longer than an hour.

Schiphol introduced a free virtual security queue program in April though, and so far it’s effectively a way to have no-line security experience. To use it:

  1. Three days before your flight, schedule a 15 minute arrival window at this site for your or for your group
  2. Save the QR code emailed to you
  3. Get your airline boarding pass
  4. Go straight to the “Time Slots” line at security during your time reservation ±15 minutes
  5. Show your QR code to the attendant

I used it twice in the last week, and both times the “Time Slots” security line was completely empty. There was also a separate baggage scanner and imaging device for people with reserved time slots, and there were no other passengers funneling into the separate scanner and imaging device.

A few caveats:

  • All slot times were open three days before my flight
  • No slot times were open the day of my flight
  • In theory you can change your time, but in practice it seems that you won’t be able to do it same day because the slots will be gone

Now instead of worrying about missing your flights in Europe, you can worry about US ATC shortages, severe weather cancellations, and ground holds due to smoke. Huzzah!

Your next battles: Southwest, LGA airport, and smoke from wildfires (in that order).


I’m not a financial advisor and I’m definitely not your financial advisor, but I get questions almost every week about my investment strategies for reasons known only to Betty Badluck. My best advice: seek a low cost total market index fund and HODL. Of course this isn’t that kind of blog though, but there is a travel hacking angle here so: Hey, how you doin? Let’s chat!

My Strategy

My investments fit a simple allocation strategy, and I rebalance my portfolio every three or so months to make sure that the allocation stays proportional:

  • 45% VTI
  • 45% VEU
  • 10% MEAB special

What’s the MEAB special? It’s stocks that I pick individually for some particular reason, but proportionally allocated in a way such that a catastrophically bad pick won’t be able able to wipe out the majority of my holdings. Historically that 10% generally outperforms the rest, but I attribute that to luck moreso than skill and don’t expect that it’ll continue that way.

The Travel Hacking Angle

There’s always a travel hacking angle, right? Well, as frequent flyer hackers we get an inside view into the operations, rise, and fall of airlines in both a specific and general sense. For me, that means that I have an insider view into how an airline performs that goes above and beyond the information in a 10-Q, and if I’m going to be choosing an airline to hold in the 10% MEAB special, that information may or may not give me an edge.

To be clear: investing in airlines is a tough business and I don’t recommend it, but if you do it, augment the public filings with information you’ve got from your inside view.

Finally, to answer the question that exactly none of you asked: When I invest in the airline industry I short one airline stock and long another airline stock to try and earn based on relative performance while avoiding losses from general industry crapluence. Sometimes it works too, probably just like sometimes a broken analog clock is right.

MEAB’s investment skill.

  1. Giftcards.com’s promotion that was originally 5% back and set to expire on June 17 has risen from the dead. The current zombie variant is 10% back on up to $1,500 in $100 Visa gift cards with promo code SUMMER or YAYSUMMER through tomorrow evening.

    Giftcards.com remains absent from airline portals, but it’s still available via Rakuten and the Capital One Shopping. The Capital One mobile app almost always has the highest rate. These are Pathward gift cards.
  2. Kroger.com has $10 off of $150 or more in Visa and Mastercard gift cards with promo code JUNE2023 through Wednesday evening, but unfortunately the limit is one per account. You will earn fuel points which adds another $10 off or so if you can use the points.

    These are US Bank gift cards.
  3. There are a few offers that combine for a great deal at Staples this week:

    Fee free $200 Visa gift cards through Saturday, limit eight per transaction
    – A Chase offer for 10% back at Staples up to $220 in spend through July 10

    These are Pathward gift cards. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. The Capital One Venture card has a 100,000 points (effectively $1,000) after $5,000 in spend in three months. Note that you’ll be automatically denied for this card if you have a Venture X personal card, but the jury is still out on the business Venture X.
  5. Meijer MPerks has a promotion for 50,000 MPerks points with the purchase of $250 or more in many third party gift cards (but especially Apple), limit 50,000 points per account.

    Scale this one with multiple MPerks accounts.

The moment the giftcards.com SUMMER deal came back from the dead.

I’ve received nearly a half dozen reports of clawbacks of American Express Membership Rewards regular spend, +5x referral bonus, and sign-up bonus on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’ve seen corroborating data-points publicly and privately too. This isn’t happening silently, but rather those affected are notified by email with the message:

After careful review, we noticed activity that indicated these points may have been earned or used in a way that doesn’t meet the terms and conditions of the Membership Rewards program or of the promotional offer under which you earned the points.

Based on conversations with AmEx customer service reps, American Express has tagged certain purchases as gift card purchases and reversed the points earned and the some of the bonuses awarded based on that spend, since the AmEx terms and conditions exclude “cash equivalents” from earning. We’ve seen clawbacks on the following types of purchases:

  • Some Speedway purchases that are a near multiples of $505.95, but not all
  • Some Walmart purchases that are a near multiple of $504.90, but not all
  • Some giftcards.com purchases, but not all
  • Some grocery in-person gift card purchases (various chains), but not all

Clawbacks have happened on (at least) Business Gold cards, Business Platinum cards, Blue Business Plus cards, and Personal Gold cards. Other than earning Membership Rewards, bonus categories and card types probably don’t play a factor in whatever’s happening.

There’s some less-bad news too though:

  • It seems that clawbacks have only happened on some cards, even if multiple cards could have been affected
  • It seems that clawbacks are happening specifically on cards in the sign-up bonus period or in a +5x referral period
  • All clawbacks seem to be for late-May or June spend
  • So far it looks like American Express is only targeted cardholders that closed a card in the last month or so (even if it wasn’t the same card)

If you’re working on a sign-up bonus in the near future, I’d try an avoid spending in suspiciously obvious amounts at big-named retailers which seems to help, and be careful about when you close any AmEx card. Good luck!

(Thanks to Tyler, D73, SideShowBob233, Brooke, and Brandon for collaborating with me on this post)

Pictured: AmEx.

1. PSA: You’ve essentially got today and tomorrow to spend your first half 2023 American Express Dell and Saks credits because neither posts charges before items ship, and shipping delays are common with both. In the case of Saks, I believe it’s just because they’re a legacy company that’s still working on its digital supply chain chops. For Dell it can only be because so clearly and obviously they hate their customers.

To juice the Dell side, Rakuten currently has 10x earning at Dell and 2x at Saks.

2. Tap Air Portugal has a 15% transfer bonus added to incoming Capital One mile transfers through June 30. Sweet spots for US travelers:

– The Caribbean, Central America, and South America in business
– Europe in economy
– Open jaws within a region (regions are big in this program)

This program can also be a reasonable way to have open jaw award tickets purely in North America on United metal, provided that you can find United availability. (Thanks to FM)

3. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards running Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Resale markets continue to be strong even after running the same promotion for the last two full weeks ending on Tuesday.

Happy Thursday!

Kroger’s newest third party gift card product, ripe for resale.


There are multiple grey markets for frequent flyer miles and bank points, and just like any other market, you’ll find that different items have different prices (shocker, I know).

Obviously you can use this to your advantage in myriad ways, but let’s talk about what I’d call the travel hacker equivalent of the bull call spread in the derivates market:

The Goal

Let’s say you need to book an AA flight with 7,500 British Airways Avios and you’ve got Ultimate Rewards points ready to go. Of course you could transfer Ultimate Rewards to Avios directly, but that’s not always the best option.

Running the Spread

To illustrate, let’s assume a few spot prices for miles:

  • Ultimate Rewards: 1.27 cents per point
  • ThankYou Points: 1.15 cents per point
  • Membership Rewards: 1.18 cents per point

With those prices in mind, here’s the play:

  • Sell 7,500 Ultimate Rewards at 1.27 cents per point (earn: $95.25)
  • Buy 7,500 Membership Rewards at 1.18 cents per point (pay: $88.50)
  • Transfer the Membership Rewards to British Airways and keep the spread ($6.75)

Is this with your time and the risk for earning enough to buy a decked out Starbucks latte? Almost certainly not. But if you’re talking the number of points needed for La Premier tickets for a couple or JAL F tickets for a family instead of a measly 7,500 Avios, the difference can be significant and may be enough to move the needle.


There are potential pitfalls here: banks don’t want you buying and selling points, markets aren’t always fully liquid, and you have counterparty risk. You’re all adults though right? Just make sure those risks are priced-in should you decide to run the spread.

Happy Wednesday!

A guide to a modestly priced Starbucks latte, pre-inflation.