We tend to focus quite a lot on Chase, Bank of America, American Express, Citi, and Capital One because they offer good products for manufactured spenders and churners, and because their products are available to most any US Citizen.

That said, there are more than 4,500 banks and more than 4,700 credit unions in the US, and we spend nearly all our time talking about fewer than 10 of them in total partially because 97% of these institutions primarily serve only small geographies. It’s a mistake to ignore other banks and credit unions though, because they have financial products too, and some of them are just as generous as those you’ll find at the big usual suspects.

To up your game, consider spending time strolling around your local banks and credit unions (they’re usually one district over from the hammock district), and look into their:

  • Credit cards with rewards or cash back
  • CDs that may be funded in various ways
  • Bank accounts that may offer a sign-up bonus, rewards, or a money order target
  • Loans that you can find in various payment systems
  • Teen spending products
  • Business banking offerings

As far as I’m concerned, who cares if Holy Trinity Baptist CU shuts me down when I’m trying something with MoneyGram and their credit card that I’d never dare try with a Chase card?

Have a nice weekend!

Even Lubbock Telco FCU has better offers than AmEx at times (Thanks to Reader Ben for the photo)

  1. Albertsons, Safeway, and Vons stores have a promotion for $10 off of a future purchase good for seven days with a $50 purchase in several third party gift card brands through October 10. Lowe’s is the best one for resale rates, currently averaging somewhere around 89%.

    It’s possible that this is a regional only deal so double check your ads, though I suspect it’ll work everywhere. (Thanks to GCG)
  2. Shoprite stores have $10 in grocery credits $150 or more in Mastercards through Saturday, limit one per account. The credit is valid starting Saturday and running for a week, and recent reports suggest Shoprite stores putting $7.95 fee cards on the rack, because of course they are. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. Do this now: Sign-up for the waitlist for the future TAP Portugal American Express card. Getting on the waitlist means you’ll get a bigger bonus if you decide to apply for it when it launches, but doesn’t obligate you to anything.
  4. Do this now: Check chase.com/mybonus for targeted offer of 5x-10x on spend on grocery, utilities, fitness, internet, and/or phone services on your personal co-branded cards.
  5. In a move that should surprise no-one, Delta devalued partner awards to and from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central, and South America. Award prices for business class have risen by approximately 40%, and economy prices have risen more modestly by approximately 15%. When asked to comment on this change, Delta again used a single word response: “Budgeting”, but this time they played the wah-wah trombones while speaking.

    As of this devaluation, the rule of thumb for non-expert travel hackers is that Delta SkyMiles are mostly only good for US economy awards. There is slight value to be had outside of that paradigm, but it diminishes regularly.

Delta’s PR team discussing the most recent award ticket redemptions.

  1. JetBlue has an above-average status match promotion for Delta elite members running through October 31 that closely mirrors Alaska’s status match from Monday. If you hold a JetBlue credit card you’ll be automatically matched for status through 2024, otherwise you’ll have a status challenge.

    This one is better than average because you’ll get tier benefits with the match for things like New York helicopter transfers, Mint upgrade certificates, and gifted TrueBlue points. If you’re a Delta Diamond or Platinum and have future travel on a route that features Mint, this is easily worth a few thousand dollars.
  2. Chase Offers has a card linked offer for 10% back at Kimpton Hotels, up to $860 in spend through November 15. There are multiple ways to play this one, and not all of them are shooting straight. (Thanks to duideh)
  3. Bank of America’s Alaska personal card currently has a public sign-up bonus of 62,000 miles, but there are two better non-affiliate link offers:

    70,000 MileagePlan miles after $3,000 spend in 90 days via a google referral
    65,000 MileagePlan miles after $3,000 spend in 90 days via in-flight offer

    Update: Note that the 70,000 miles offer may require you to switch IPs to pull it up, and may even be geographically targeted at the West Coast. That’s what VPNs are for, right? While you’re at it, don’t forget to clown around with Bank of America. (Thanks to Welcome Offer via MEAB slack)
  4. Do this now: Register for Accor Hotel’s Q4 promotion for:

    – 500 bonus points after one stay
    – 2,500 bonus points after a second stay
    – 3,000 bonus points after a third stay

    Book by October 17 for stays between October 10 and December 20. Sorry folks, there aren’t any Accor Hotels in Lubbock, TX.

Happy Wednesday!

Plotting the relative value of status matches, you know, for science.

I had a different post planned for today, but a late night news item worth your time made me switch it up. As a result, we’re missing lots of the normal MEAB color, so sorry not sorry I guess. Let’s go:

  1. I’ve got it on good authority that Southwest’s Tuesday promotion for its Week of Wow is almost certainly a sale of ~50% off of bases fares on both paid and award travel, and it’s the kind of sale where you can use the website to change to your existing flight to capture the discount. Update: It’s out. Use promo code WOW50.

    This will likely have restrictions around the holidays and to certain destinations, but it’s worth double checking anyway. (Thanks to the WN Maestro, Brian M)
  2. Office Depot and OfficeMax stores have $15 back on $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards through Saturday in stores. You may find even better results by stacking more in a single transaction. Always be probing. (Thanks to FM)
  3. American Express has a gamable offer for $200 off of $1,000 or more at Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR hotels in Mexico, the US, Anguilla, and French Polynesia. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. Breeze airways has a bonus $50 in points and 25% off of of base fares over $150 for travel through January 31, 2024 booked by Thursday using promo code SOEXTRA.

    I don’t see any specific blackout dates called out in the terms, so you may get lucky with this one on Holiday or Christmas travel. Remember though that Breeze flys almost exclusively strange routes, like today’s dartboard line from Hartford, CT to Bradenton, FL.

Happy Tuesday!

Life reaching out to MEAB right before bed. Yes, it was creepy thanks for asking.

  1. Alaska Airlines has a status challenge running through October 31 for Delta elites, or a status match for Delta elites that also hold a Bank of America Alaska card. Successful status challenges and matches last through the end of the 2024.

    Alaska has 100k MVP top-tier status matching for for Delta elites that have already earned Platinum or Diamond status for next year, something not normally available by match. Matched 100k MVPs won’t get AA SWUs though.
  2. Meijer MPerks has $10 off of $150 or more in Visa gift cards through Saturday, limit one per account and you must clip the digital coupon. Fortunately, it’s still possible to [checks notes] have multiple email addresses in order to [checks notes] create more MPerks accounts.

    Meijer sells both Pathward and Sunrise Visa gift cards. (Thanks to GCG)
  3. There was a no-notice devaluation of short and medium haul flights on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airways booked with Avios, followed (probably) by a mocking of Avios members by senior management. The updated award chart:

Flight distanceEconomy (Old)Economy (New)Business (Old)Business (New)
1 – 650 miles7,5009,750 (+2,250)16,00020,800 (+4,800)
651 – 1150 miles10,00012,000 (+2,000)25,00030,000 (+5,000)
1,151 – 2000 miles11,00014,300 (+2,300)25,00032,500 (+7,500)
2001 – 3000 miles13,00015,600 (+2,600)38,75046,500 (+7,750)
#bonvoyed, Avois style

Pictured: Avios management mocking accountholders after devaluation.

September 22 is apparently National Elephant Appreciation day, and to celebrate banks went wild with credit card news. Let’s dive in!

  1. Reader Jim encouraged me to find a way to score credit cards with a single number on an arbitrary scale for quick comparison, and I decided to try it with yesterday’s dump-truck load of new credit card offers. Let’s see how it goes, on a scale of 0 to 37:
  2. An American Express Personal Gold authorized user offer for 5,000 Membership Rewards after adding a user and spending $2,000 has resurfaced from the dead with the same POID as before (K41C:9994). You can usually earn a bonus once per POID per primary card. (Thanks to Parts_Unknown-)
  3. American Express has a targeted no-lifetime language (NLL) Blue Business Plus 75,000 Membership Rewards offer with $15,000 spend in 12 months and no annual fee. If you get an error after logging in, that means you’re not targeted. [Rating: 21/37] (Thanks to George)
  4. Newly issued Truist credit cards are printed and mailed, but don’t work. Make sure you’re always carrying at least a single backup from a second bank, and also make sure Truist is only used for shenanigans, never for anythig critical. [Rating: -2/37]

Have a nice weekend!

Pictured: September 22.

  1. I usually avoid predicting anything other than general trends, but I made the mistake on Tuesday of predicting that Kroger wouldn’t have another 4x fuel points promotion until late October. Well, the Kroger overloads pointed at me and laughed because of course they did. So:

    Kroger is having 4x fuel points promotion on Happy and Choice gift cards through October 3, and these cards can be converted to other brands like BestBuy or Home Depot. (Thanks to GCG)
  2. Office Depot / OfficeMax has $15 off of $100 Uber gift cards in-store through Saturday, limit two per transaction. As usual, link your cards with Dosh and look for Chase offers before buying. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. Bank of America has a $1,000 business checking bonus through December 31 with promo code SSPCIS. To qualify, you’ll need to deposit $30,000 in new funds within 30 days and keep at least that balance until 91 days after opening. This is in theory a targeted offer, but it’s available online and that’s been good enough for past variants.

    If you keep $30,000 in funds tied up for 90 days, you’re earning an effective APR of 13.3%. If you’re not part of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards, this is a nice jumpstart into the program too, which can turn a card like the Business Advantage Unlimited Rewards card into a 2.625% everywhere card after you get Platinum Honors status.
  4. In the wake of yesterday’s post about compromised online accounts leading to gift card losses, multiple readers suggested getting a hardware key like a Yubikey or Titan Security Key to further lock down your accounts.

    I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve had one of these sitting on my desk for over a year but never set it up. That changed yesterday though #betterlatethannever.

The unofficial MEAB shirt of the day.


I’ve been slowly collecting images of compromised gift cards found at stores for over a year for a future gift card scam spotting post, and while those attacks vary, they’re all basically some form of tampering with a physical gift card, its package, or its barcode. You’ll find them in the wild as compromised Visas, Mastercards, Apple cards, BestBuy cards, or just about anything else. (Side note: If you have example pictures of that type of scam and wouldn’t mind if I include them in the post whenever I write it, I’d appreciate an email. I promise I’ll write it before the heat death of the universe or you’ll get double your money back.)

The New Scam

Over the weekend there was a new type of gift card scam (albeit an old type of network security scam) to hit the community: a hacked email inbox. This matters for two reasons:

  • Many gift card buyers and resellers keep all their card numbers in a shared Google Sheet, accessible with your Google account
  • Physical Happy gift cards are redeemed online and a link for later retrieval is sent to your email

If a hacker gets control of your email, they’ve probably got access to your gift cards too.

Staying Safe

Not to sound like a network security prognosticon (yes, I made that term up), but there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from a similar attack:

  • Always use two-factor authentication on your network accounts
  • Get rid of any dormant accounts that may have access to sensitive information
  • Double check your sharing settings on sheets or documents with sensitive information
  • Prefer Google Authenticator instead of SMS messages for two-factor authentication
  • Archive and remove old information from your documents and sheets

Finally, if you find yourself in a similar situation, do a few things immediately:

  • Change your passwords
  • Call the card issuers and report fraud (the good news is you still probably have all the card numbers too)
  • Reach out to others in the community who can offer level headed advice after the dust settles

If this happened to you, or happens to you in the future, I’m sorry, that sucks. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, consider making the above steps part of your regular housekeeping.

Good luck!

Prognostico: The network security prognosticon.