First, a rhetorical question and micro-rant about travel bloggers: I get that United updating their policies to allow you to buy two drinks at a time could be considered news, and I get that you’ve always got to feed the content monster, but do we really need 16 different articles about it in a single weekend? Is this really what we’re here to do? Don’t answer (remember, rhetorical).

Now, a few items that probably won’t have 16 redundant articles, or if they do they’ll lack a key bit of detail:

  1. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card, an Unsung Hero and the 1987-1988 Larry Bird of credit cards, is sending out new offers for August, September, and October. So far we’ve seen 10% back on Utilities up to $50 or $70 back once per month, but I expect other offers are floating around too. For me, this came both via email and USPS.

    Yes, this will stack with outstanding online spend offers on the card provided you pay your utility online as card not present. (Thanks to Fish and birt via MEAB slack)
  2. Meijer MPerks has 50,000 points with $500 in third party gift card purchases excluding Amazon, limit one per account and you must clip the coupon. This is effectively 10% off of third party gift cards, or more if you can use it all for fuel rewards. (Thanks to GCG, Fish, and RabbMD)

    This deal isn’t quite Memorial Day weekend 2022 when we saw 10% off at the register though, but we’re still approaching the point that traveling to Meijer land could be in the cards (sorry, bad pun).
  3. Office Depot/OfficeMax, also known as the retailer with second stupidest name next to I Love Ugly clothing, has $15 off of $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards through Saturday. As usual:

    – Try for multiple transactions
    – Link your cards to Dosh

    These are Pathward gift cards so have a liquidation plan in place.
  4. Sam’s Club online has $500 airbnb e-gift cards for $459.98, limit two per account. Occasionally you can find airbnb gift cards at 15%-18% off, but only for small, annoying denominations so I consider this a win.

Happy Monday!

MEAB shirt of the day.

  1. United has a new round of targeted MileagePlay promotions, check yours and rebook any flights as necessary since pre-existing bookings won’t count. These typically range between awful and decent, with a moderate bias toward the former.

    I beat the Poisson distribution on this one though, and got a decent offer for 5x bonus miles for booking and flying a single trip through September 20, minimum $100. That one will actually move the needle on a booking for me, so bravo United.
  2. On Tuesday August 1 you’ll be able to transfer Bilt points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles with rather sizable bonuses of between 75% and 150% depending on your status level with the program, which is based on the number of points earned in a calendar year.

    Normally I wouldn’t speculatively transfer miles to any airline that I wasn’t flying on a dozen times a year or more, but I could see my way into doing so with this permission given the high transfer bonuses. Things to keep in mind:

    – Virgin Atlantic is due for a devaluation after they tried and failed in 2021
    – Virgin Atlantic has fees for cancelling and redepositing award tickets ($41-$50)
    – Flying business class on ANA or Delta are the typical sweet spots
    – You’ve often got to call customer service to book award tickets

    So with those caveats, I’d look at what you might book in the next 2-3 months and transfer over enough miles to cover just those bookings, but you do you.
  3. Do this now (if you have a Marriott co-branded credit card): Register for 10,000 bonus points after $7,000 or more in spend through September 30.

Have a nice weekend!

Top: US Airline on-time performance distribution
Bottom: Spirit Airlines on-time performance distribution

  1. Delta has a SkyMiles award sale for flights to and from the US booked by tomorrow night:

    – Mexico and the Caribbean: 11,000 miles round-trip
    – Asia and the Pacific: 70,000 miles round-trip

    Both of these are economy prices, and only the first is competitive relative to other programs. For Diamonds with global upgrade certificates, Premium Select fares are also pricing lower than typical, but still too high relative to other mileage programs.
  2. You can now book flights on Taipei based Starlux Airlines with Alaska MileagePlan miles. Flights are decently priced (or “collapsed economy cheap” compared to Delta, see above):

    – 20,000 miles each way to Asia in Coach
    – 40,000 miles each way to Asia in Premium Economy
    – 60,000 miles each way to Asia in Business

    (Thanks to DDG)
  3. Aeroplan now lets you change an itinerary online. I think you’re in exactly one of two-camps about this news:

    – Boring (If you’ve never called Aeroplan’s call center)
    – Fan-freaking-tastic (If you have called Aeroplan’s call center)

    Currently it only works with bookings that don’t involve vouchers or credits, but my assumption is that’s the majority of your Aeroplan bookings.

Delta’s inspiration for SkyMiles premium cabin bookings.

  1. American Express has new offers for 20,000 Membership Rewards after $4,000 in spend in six months for new employee cards, limit five per account for Business Golds and Business Platinums at last year’s generic links:

    Business Gold
    Business Platinum

    The POID on these is K4IY:9976, and the offer has been alive for several weeks (first discovered by reader Jon via MEAB slack), but just hit mainstream yesterday. It’s also been out long enough that American Express customer service confirmed that the offers are properly attached.
  2. Southwest has an airfare sale for flights to, from, and within California through the end of day today using promo code 29OFF. The sale:

    – $29 fares one-way with requisite asterisks within California
    – 29% off of fares on flights to or from California, also with asterisks

    Travel is valid between August 15 and February 14, 2024 for the continental US, and there’s some availability early next year for Hawaii too. For bonus points, do some schedule research and parlay this sale into Thanksgiving travel.
  3. JetBlue has $25 off of one-way flights and $50 off of round-trip flights using promo code FALLTRAVEL booked by this evening for travel between September 6 and November 15. Of course this one has a few asterisks too, because capitalism.
  4. Yes, earlier this week we reported that Kroger would have a 4x fuel points promotion on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That wasn’t incorrect, but Kroger is laughing up at us from hell by having an overlapping 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards between today and August 8.

    If you’re playing this game with AmExes, just watch out for certain purchases to avoid points clawbacks; remember it’s them, hi, they’re they problem it’s them.

The cable industry learned their asterisk game from the airlines.

  1. Alaska and American’s shopping portals now have spending bonuses to match United and Southwest’s:

    – Alaska: 1,200 bonus miles for $600 or more in spend through August 14
    – AA: 2,000 bonus miles for $700 in or more in spend through August 13

    For AA Loyalty Point hunters, remember that portal bonuses don’t become Loyalty Points but regular spend does, often even when it shouldn’t.
  2. Alaska Airlines has a great promotion for flights between Kona, Hawaii and the continental US with promo code KONABOGO: Buy one, get one free tickets booked by this evening for travel between August 13 and October 31. There are day-of-week requirements but they’re not too onerous. Given Alaska’s route map, this should be extra exciting for best coasters west coasters.

    Word on the street is that the BOGO isn’t actually coding properly in the buyer’s favor, don’t be afraid to experiment.
  3. Alaska also has a 10% off flights to and from other Hawaiian cities using the same promo code, KONABOGO.
  4. American Express Offers has new Delta airfare statement credits:

    – $75 off of $250 or more
    – $150 off of $500 or more

    The absolute simplest way to game these is to book a non-basic economy flight, wait more than 24 hours, then cancel it. You’ll have a flight credit valid for a year, effectively locking the offer in for later. That concludes offer gaming 101. Now, study for 201 and 202.
  5. Everyone seems to be really excited that American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings can now be changed. I guess it’s not unexciting, but personally I think that the true hack this could unlock won’t actually work. Go ahead AmEx, prove me wrong.
  6. In theory American Express has targeted more people at last year’s link for the Personal Gold card with 100,000 Membership Rewards after $4,000 in spend in three months; I haven’t been able to independently confirm this one though. (Thanks to DoC)

Happy Tuesday!

American Express is out there playing 1D chess to outwit our puny 2D chess playing, FHR booking brains.

  1. Staples has a fee-free promotion on $200 Visa gift cards running through Saturday, limit eight per transaction. On a related note, there have been rumblings that Staples has been rolling out $500 variable load gift cards for the last month or two, and it seems like they may have finished that rollout. Those aren’t fee-free, but they are another option.

    These are Metabank Pathward gift cards so have a liquidation plan in place before you buy too many.
  2. Kroger will have a (probably) final summer weekend 4x fuel points promotion Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards.
  3. Costco is selling $500 Alaska Airlines gift cards for $449.99, limit five per member. (Thanks to GCG)
  4. Airfrance and KLM’s FlyingBlue program now allows stopovers on award tickets for no additional charge, either one-way or round-trip, which is an amazing opportunity for travel hackers, especially if you’re able to talk your way into multiple stopovers on a single itinerary, which may or may not be permitted. The quick overview:

    – The length of the stop-over can be between 24 hours and 365 days
    – Different airlines can be combined on a single itinerary

    You currently can’t book these online, so you’ve got to call FlyingBlue directly. In my experience FlyingBlue representatives are some of the most competent out there despite their reputation, the main downside is a typical 10-30 minute wait to talk to one, even as an elite. (Thanks to FM)
  5. PSA: American Express’s sign-up bonus system has been having teething issues for a little over a month. Previously sign-up bonuses on most cards would post within two business days of hitting minimum spend, but recently it’s taken between 7 and 10 days. When it does post, it’ll be back-dated to the day after hitting spend, so it can be hard to track if you’re not watching carefully.

    With AmEx, it’s like a middle-school breakup – it’s not you, it’s them.

Happy Monday!

A text message exchange extracted from American Express’s phone in 7th grade.

There was an isolated group of shutdowns on a relatively lucrative play yesterday, the details don’t matter much for the sake of today’s post but the mechanics matter a lot. The gist is that there was a rash of\ shutdowns that all could be explained as guilt by association, and we saw non-shutdowns where there was no clear association. (Yes, we’re dealing with another obtuse MEAB post, sorry.)

There’s a natural dichotomy in miles and points where one side tugs toward sharing and scaling as a group, and another side pulls at isolation and keeping something in your own pocket. Of course sharing is key for scale and trust is paramount to sharing; but when a bank can link you and someone else on the internet, you’ve got a decent shot at becoming collateral damage when the ban-hammer drops.

The takeaway? Isolate your financial transactions to maximize a play’s longevity (to the extent that such a thing is possible), but trust and share details in your inner circle as long as a bank can’t link you.

Have a nice weekend!

That’s one way to maintain plausible deniability.

Editor’s note: Oopsie on yesterday’s grammar 🤦‍♀️. The good news is that I’ve fixed it and now there’s no google-indexable evidence. Take that robot overlords!

Today’s quick hits:

  1. Kroger is running an in-store 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards for the second weekend in a row, valid Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

    Fuel points and gift card resale markets continue to climb with more supply bringing new demand from the sidelines back into the game. (Thanks to GCG)
  2. Chase Offers has an offer for 10% back on up to either $500 or $750 spend at Marriott Hotels through July 31. Yes, it’s easily gameable.
  3. American Express offers has two airfare offers:

    – 17,500 Membership Rewards after $1,000 or more in spend at ITA Airways
    – $250 back with $1,250 or more in spend at Qantas Airways

    Both are gameable, but might be a little bit of work.

Happy Thursday!

MEAB switches from blogging to street painting with stupendous results.