By accident this is the fourth Quad in a row. Inception? Irony? Incompetence? I’m not sure.

  1. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, an Unsung Hero, has started sending its next round of targeted offers. As of this writing we’ve seen:

    – 5% back on all spend up to $100 back per month for September, October, November and December (a total of $400 back)
    – $60 back after four $75 or larger purchases per month for September, October, and November (a total of $180 back)

    I expect that we’ll see a few other variants over the weekend too. (Thanks to BB_Pcola and Jacob M)
  2. DDG reports that the American Express Business Platinum 190,000 Membership Rewards sign up bonus after $15,000 in spend in three months is available by phone, and also includes a bonus 10,000 Membership Rewards for adding an employee card and spending $1,000 in the same timeframe.

    To check, dial American Express’s Small Business team at (855) 531-3491 and ask about different offers available, and note that they may not give you the best offer on the first try so keep asking if there are other offers available until you’ve exhausted the list.
  3. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion running over Labor Day weekend on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards.

    Secondary markets continue to be running overdrive partially due to the time of year, but also partially due to new end-users entering the market. If you’re working with one, make sure they’re assuming liability for closed accounts within a business day.
  4. Safeway, Albertsons, and Vons family Just4U stores have 6x points on Google Play gift cards through Tuesday. The travel angle is that Just4U rewards can be exchanged for Alaska Airlines miles with some trickery.

    The best redemption is 7 rewards for 1,200 MilagePlan miles, which works out to $116.66 in Google Play cards. You can scale this to an extent, but as a friendly reminder of how strange, weird, and purposefully obtuse this program can be, you’re limited to 22 rewards (2,200 Just4U points) converted to 3,500 MileagePlan miles per week.

The Just4U program workflow, illustrated.

  1. Do this now: Register for Best Western’s fall promotion for 5,000 bonus points per stay through November 20. Unfortunately it seems like you’ve got to book by September 4th though, which is the second most Bonvoy thing Best Western has ever done.
  2. Do this now: Register for Marriott’s fall promotion for 1,500 bonus points per stay through November 22. You’ll also earn 3,000 extra points for each three Marriott brands you stay at over the same period, but that’s clearly just for masochists.
  3. Simon mall in store has $2 off of purchase fees on the Appreciation Series of cards through September 10. These are the best variety of the Simon lot. (Thanks to Derthsidious via MEAB slack)
  4. A little birdie with big hair told me about some churnable Hilton links:

    Hilton Personal 80,000 Honors points after $1,000 spend in three months (NLL)
    Hilton Surpass 130,000 Honors points after $2,000 spend in three months (NLL)
    Hilton Business 130,000 Honors points after $3,000 spend in three months (churnable)

    These typically still fall under the American Express five or six credit card per accountholder limit though.

Happy Wednesday!

Best Western hotels only average a fire about once a month, so that’s a low probability downside for a 5,000 point upside.

  1. Southwest has a new Companion Pass promotion, registration required. To qualify, book a round-trip or two one-way flights by tomorrow night and travel by September 30. After flying, you’ll earn a companion pass valid between January 8 and March 8, 2024. It’s been a while since we’ve shared the obligatory bad news: Your reward for flying Southwest is more Southwest.

    (Thanks to Brian M for breaking the news and for the direct link)
  2. American Express offers has an offer for $300 back on $2,000 or more in airfare at British Airways for flights originating in the US through November 11. Gamable? Yes. (Thanks to FM)
  3. Chase Ultimate Rewards has a 30% transfer bonus to British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus Avios through September 22.

    Now that Qatar is part of the Avios program, this effectively means a 30% transfer bonus there too by transfering through one of the other airlines first. Presumably you’ll be able to do the same in early 2024 with Finnair too. (Thanks to TheGreatCollie)
  4. United is targeting Chase co-brand cardholders for 2,500 bonus MileagePlus miles for adding an authorized user card. As far as I can tell it’s only applicable to personal cards, but it’s easy to check business cards too. You can check to see if you’re targeted here. (Thanks to hic2482w)

The inflight entertainment on your Southwest flight with your companion: Differently sized overhead storage bins.

In no particular order:

  1. Office Depot/OfficeMax stores have $15 off of $300 or more in Mastercard gift card purchases. Sometimes these scale differently than you’d expect. Don’t forget to link your cards to Dosh while you’re at it and check for Chase Offers too.

    These are Metabank Pathward gift cards.
  2. Capital One has increased sign-up bonuses on two of its no-annual fee business cards:

    $750: Spark Cash Select after $6,000 in spend in three months
    50,000 miles: Spark Miles Select after $4,500 in spend in three months

    Both are weak earners for ongoing spend with 1.5% cash back or 1.5 miles per dollar respectively, and both will be reported to your personal credit report even though they’re business cards. (Thanks to HelpMeBuildCredit)
  3. American Express has been showing offers on your Account Dashboard to upgrade Business Gold and Business Green cards to a Business Platinum. So far we’ve seen:

    – 180,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 spend in six months
    – 140,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 spend in six months

    DDG dug up a generic link for the 140,000 variant that’s worth a shot, but we haven’t seen a 180,000 generic link yet. If the link doesn’t work and you’ve got multiple cards under the same login, you may want to move that card to its own login and try again.
  4. Do this now: Register for 3x Hyatt points at Hyatt Vacation Club stays through November 21.

Happy Monday!

Sorry guys, I checked and there isn’t a Hyatt Vacation Club in Lubbock, even post “clap back”. Also, commas, am I right?

American Express’s Rewards Abuse Team (RAT) is a lot an economic recession – they show up every few years and chip away at your game, piece by piece. And just like a potential recession in the American Economy, they’ve decided that 2023 is a great year for a resurgence after taking a multi-year hiatus. Hooray I guess?

Here’s what they’re up to now:


Clawbacks of Membership Rewards points started in earnest in June, and continue to happen weekly on Tuesday nights or Wednesday mornings. When clawbacks happen:

  • They clawback obvious manufactured spend at several merchants
  • They focus on cards that had a statement close in the prior week
  • They don’t usually get everything, just a few targeted charges
  • You’ll get an email letting you know that they’ve removed points from your account, and they’ll probably reference the wrong card because of course they do
  • The Membership Rewards team can tell you exactly which transactions caused the clawbacks

We haven’t seen clawbacks on co-branded cards yet, and for the most part not on sign-up bonuses either. Currently it appears that AmEx is guessing about what you’re buying and not getting any actual transaction data and as a result you can throw them off with a little creativity.

Blocking Earnings at Retailers

Some retailers like are no longer earning points for purchases, and spend isn’t counting toward sign-up bonuses either. That said, this is an improvement from late 2022 when these stores were showing up as cash advances.

Tightening Application Rules

Some Platinum cards famously side-skirted certain limits. With last week’s Platinum changes, most or all of those angles seem to have dried up. That said, remember that American Express almost never pulls a credit report for existing account holders so I don’t see a downside to trying a few things if you’re so inclined.

Tightening Financial Review Stanards

If you were involved in a fitness club that took an unfortunate turn of events and you had significant chargebacks on your account, you’ve probably been sent into something that’s like financial review purgatory. In this version of hell your account is suspended, 30 days later the suspension is lifted (probably by an automated process), and then a day later you’re suspended again (also probably by an automated process). I can’t imagine it’ll last forever but so far I’m sure it feels like it. (Side note, never forget The Sneak Attack Strike Back, but with American Express it’ll probably take at least a year’s closure for a financial review to drop off of your accounts.)

Everything Changes

Everything’s always changing in churning and manufactured spend, and this is no different. To thrive, be nimble and adjust to the new landscape.

Have a nice weekend!

The Rewards Abuse Team’s official office mug.

  1. Kroger has an in-store 4x fuel points promotion running this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on fixed value Visa and Mastercards and third party gift cards. This year’s frequent sales have spiked the secondary markets and they show no signs of slowing, apparently like “the artificial turf movement” (I know what you’re thinking, but no, I didn’t make that up.)

    If you’re not sure why you should care, The Daily Churn released a good podcast on the subject last week.
  2. Wells Fargo has a churnable checking bonus that doesn’t require that you hold funds in an a near-zero interest earning account to earn. For the bonus, you can’t have a current Wells Fargo checking account or one in the past 12 months, and you’ve got to:

    Open a new Everyday Checking account by October 12
    – Direct deposit (or “direct deposit”) $1,000 within 90 days

    There is a $10 monthly service fee that’s easily avoided with $500 per month in electronic deposits. There’s no reason that you can’t just electronic withdraw back the next day too, so just schedule some back-to-back ACHs at an existing bank once you set up your account. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. Do this now: Register for Accor’s Q4’s autumn promotion for 4x points on stays through November 26, provided you book by October 15. These hotels are a great option in expensive cities in Europe even without a promotion, and the points have a high value equivalent roughly to the value of a Hyatt point.

From Kroger fuel points to artificial turf to death, talk about escalation.

  1. has a sale for 10% off of $100 Visa egift cards using one of the promo codes EOSSUMMER, EOS10OFF, EOSSAVE, or VISA10OFF. The limit per order was six based on my experiments, but you can place multiple orders provided you stay under’s $2,000 in electronic gift cards per rolling 48 hours.

    Reader irieriley shared related good news: has returned to airline shopping portals. While it’s not currently showing on, you can find it directly at AA (3x), United (2x), Alaska (2x), Southwest (2x), and Delta’s (2x) portals.
  2. Barclays is sending targeted spending bonuses on the personal AAdvantage Aviator cards, with 1,000 bonus miles per month for $2,000 spend per month, for both August and September. The promo was actually weirder than that, but the rest of it requires time travel back to July to complete, so we’ll just ignore that. (Thanks to Justmeha)
  3. Breeze Airways has 30% off of fares booked by tomorrow evening with promo code YOUDOYOU for travel from September 5 through December 19, excluding two weeks around Thanksgiving.

    Breeze is Dave Neeleman’s latest airline which attempts to answer the question: “What if you started an airline with service from Vero Beach, FL to Providence, RI and tried to make money doing it?”
  4. Southwest is having a fare sale through tomorrow evening for flights that are at least 30 days away, with two black-out dates around Thanksgiving and two black-out weeks around Christmas.

    I repriced all of my already booked award travel and without exception, all of the fares were cheaper with the current sale and averaged about 25% off of my previous points cost, so double check existing bookings.

Happy Wednesday!

Pictured: The festivities surrounding the return of to airline shopping portals.

Confession time: It may surprise you to find out that I regularly travel. Shocker, right? In February I was visiting Phoenix, AZ for an extended weekend trip. If this were a normal travel blog maybe I’d embellish the post with information about the Hyatt™ Hotels® I stayed at, the National Car™ Executive Aisle® selection, and the new PHX™ SkyTrain® to the Rental Car Center©, but none of that is germane to today’s topic: Chase Sapphire Reserve’s primary rental car collision insurance. (Oops, did I need an ® there too?)

The Crash

I rented with National, and the Executive Aisle had a new Audi S4 sedan with about 400 miles on the odometer. I took that car Thursday night for an extended weekend rental.

On Saturday afternoon, I was driving in the left lane a straight road with two lanes going in each direction and a middle turn lane (here’s the Google Street View for the visual learners out there). There was a strip mall on the right side and a stopped, beat-up Nissan Altima waiting to turn left at the parking lot exit (wanting to go the opposite direction as me). Inexplicably, the Nissan accelerated out of the strip mall as I was passing by, slamming into the right side of my car and causing it to spin about 270 degrees into a screeching halt.

Immediately thereafter, I swore, looked for a spot to move the car, then drove out of the middle of the road into an empty lot a few feet away. The Nissan driver followed me.

The Damage

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the accident. I was by myself, and the other car had five passengers. The Audi on the other hand looked pretty rough – the passenger doors were banged in, the rear axel was bent or broken, the rear tire was flat and the rear rim was bent. It’s frankly impressive that I was able to get the thing out of the middle of the road under its own power.

The Nissan’s front bumper was dragging on the ground and the front panels were pretty bent, but it was drivable.

The Immediate Aftermath

I got out of my car and the Nissan driver offered a few hundred in cash to forget the whole thing 😂, I declined and called the police. After about an hour the police came, cited the other driver for driving with an expired license and failure to yield, and wished me good luck.

After calling the police, I called National’s emergency roadside assistance line (which by the way, is probably the best customer service line I’ve dealt with in the last decade), and gave them a rundown of what happened. National was great, they:

  • Sent a link to my phone for a free Uber ride to the airport to get a new car
  • Offered to call and coordinate with family and emergency services
  • Arranged for a new car at the airport
  • Scheduled a tow truck to come take the Audi

Tip for the future: You don’t need to wait for the towing company to come, or at least I didn’t have to. You can just leave the keys in the center console and never look at the car again as long as it’s not causing a public safety hazard.

I got to the airport, grabbed a new car, and drove back to my hotel to deal with insurance.


I called the other driver’s insurance to file a claim, and I filed an initial accident report and uploaded pictures at, the handler for Chase’s rental car insurance. I also ordered a copy of the police report from the Phoenix police department to send to eclaimsline. (Which was perhaps the biggest ordeal of the whole process, Phoenix is weird! But, I digress.)

That was it for about a month, until National’s “Damage Recovery Unit” sent me a repair estimate for the car via email and USPS. The estimate was approximately $16,000, well under the Sapphire Reserve’s $75,000 limit. I uploaded that document to eclaimsline too.

After two more months and a phone call to check status, I got an email from eclaimsline saying that my claim was approved, a check was sent to National, and I didn’t need to take any further action. About two weeks after that, National sent me a letter via email and USPS saying that they consider the matter settled and closed.

Other Notes

  • I was concerned that National wouldn’t let me rent any more cars with the outstanding damage, but that wasn’t an issue. Between the accident and the resolution I had a half dozen National rentals that went smoothly.
  • As far as I can tell based on a call with the other driver’s insurance, eclaimsline never tried to get the other insurance to pay for the damage to the Audi. They just covered it themselves.
  • I’m not here to sell you credit cards, but I will say that I’ll be happy to pay the annual fee to keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve in my wallet for its rental insurance. Of course, if you do it right in concert with a Freedom you may have a negative annual fee so that also helps.

Happy Tuesday friends!

A replica of my police report from the Phoenix police department.