1. Today is the last day that the American Express Business Gold card has a $295 annual fee. If you’ve been slacking on a product change or a new application and that slacking extends past tonight, it’ll cost you an extra $80. A few notes:

    – If you’re going to apply head on, don’t forget that you can probably get a much better offer by trying several browsers and connecting to a Dallas VPN
    – If you can’t find a better offer through a VPN, at least use a referral link
    – If you triple dipped Business Platinum cards in December 2022, a downgrade might be a better option than closing the card given the current lack of no-lifetime language (NLL) links
    – American Express’s calendar day ends before midnight Eastern, but after midnight UTC, because reasons

    The Business Gold card also has an unadvertised spending bonus (of sort) via phone in employee offers or via online employee offers, and now has $240 in annual office supply credits.
  2. Southwest has 50% off of flights to and from Denver or Colorado Springs booked by tomorrow night with promo code SAVENOW for travel between February 20 and May 22.

    As is typical with targeted promo codes and Southwest, there are a bunch of excluded days and routes, most of which correspond to the days that normies working with school schedules want to travel.
  3. Do this now: Register for Best Western’s Q1 promo for 5,000 bonus points per stay for up to 10 stays through May 5.

    Look, I’m not planning on staying in a Best Western either, but sometimes it’s the best option and in case that happens the promo will already be attached to your account.

Have a nice Wednesday!

You shouldn’t could combine the second and third items at the Best Western Movie Manor (pictured).

  1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt’s promotion for 1,000 bonus Etihad Guest miles with every stay starting Thursday and running through March 31. This doesn’t affect other Hyatt partner earning.

    Personally I’m always able to find a use for Etihad miles, but I’ll grant that I can also be extra, so ymmv.
  2. Do this now: Register for Marriott’s Q1 promotion for 1,000 bonus points and double elite nights for every paid night between February 13 and April 29.
  3. PSA for Delta Platinum and Diamond elites: You’ve only got until tomorrow night to select your 2023 Elite Choice benefits before they vanish forever, much like the lasting value in the Delta Co-Branded credit card partnership.
  4. Alaska has 30% off of economy fares booked by tomorrow night for travel between February 8 and March 13 with promo code THANKYOU30, but only on certain days depending on the origin and destination. This sale seems to be one of the ways Alaska is saying “thanks for putting up with doors flying off of our aircraft”; we’ll do a lot for 30% right?

    They’re also awarding 2x elite qualifying miles (EQMs) for Alaska ticketed flights on Alaska metal through February, and targeting some with 3x too.
  5. There are a few new card linked offers for airfare:

    Chase Offers: 5%, 10%, or 15% back on up to $450 in airfare with Alaska through February 15
    BankAmeriDeals: 10% back on up to $450 in airfare with Alaska through February 15
    American Express Offers: $50 off of $200 or more in airfare with Delta through April 30

    Both of these can be turned into travel credits by booking non-basic economy fares and canceling directly with the airline after 24 hours, or you can play even bigger games if you prefer.
  6. One of the bookmarks in the unpublished Hitchhikers Guide to Churning includes chase.com/mybonus, which is useful for checking for quarterly spending offers on all of your Chase cards. A new type of general purpose link surfaced over the weekend too:


    This link shows upgrade offers for converting a Chase card to a more premium Chase card in the same family, similar to how an ordinary beer might be upgraded to a Pan Galactic Bonvoy Blaster, but with effects on your financial health rather than on your sobriety. (Thanks to reddit_user_2016)

Happy Tuesday friends!

A degenerate redditor reads the scoffs at the unpublished Hitchikers Guide to Churning manuscript.


An important aspect of offsetting an annual fee on premium American Express cards is creative use of credits like:

  • $400 annual Dell Credits (Business Platinum)
  • $200 annual airline incidental credits (all Platinums)
  • $10/$15/$35 monthly Uber credits (personal Golds and Platinums)

The calculus for me on the on an annual fee’s effective credit offset involves a discount factor representing what the credit is actually worth based on whether I can resell something, whether I’d actually spend that money either way, and how much work I have to put in to liquidate the credit. It also involves the credit face value, and considerations like a double or triple dip.

Let’s walk through a concrete example with the Business Platinum card, assuming we opened it in late November or early December. For a single year’s annual fee, the main credits are:

  • -$695 annual fee (no discount) = -$695
  • +$800 Dell credits (25% discount) = +$600
  • +$600 Airline incidental credit (20% discount) = +$480
  • Net: -$695+$600+$480 = $385

Ignoring things like Adobe, Indeed, and Clear credits, which are harder to game, the card’s fees are net positive.


Two news items came up over the last week that conspire to change this calculus:

  1. Dell, Adobe, and Indeed credits now show an end date of 12/31/2024
  2. AmEx announced a refresh of 40 products globally next year in Friday’s earnings call

Combining the two and reading the between the lines, I think it’s safe to say that the likelihood of Dell, Adobe, and Indeed going away in 2025 is at least 2/3. Updating the above math for a triple dip in December 2024 to subtract 2/3 of the Dell credits in 2025 and beyond (given that it’s likely going away) gives a net annual fee of -$695 + $200 + $400 * (1/3) + $480 = +$118. So, the value from those credits with today’s lens has fallen, though remains positive.


Yogi Berra famously said “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” He’s right, and I think my crystal ball is at least as opaque as average so, yeah. Nonetheless, I’m going to predict with broad strokes based on the previous news items:

  • Credits that don’t have an analog on other premium credit cards from Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, Citi, or US Bank are going to get the axe for 2025
  • Credits that are almost certainly paid for by a retailer that don’t lead to additional purchases will be refreshed away, like Saks, for 2025
  • Credits that bring new incremental revenue to a retailer will stick around, like Uber and Equinox
  • We’re going to see more monthly or quarterly credits, and fewer annual or semi-annual credits

Will the cards still be worth it? It depends on what kind of AmEx user you are: If the annual credits represent a significant source of value for premium cards, you’re in a tougher spot. If they don’t because you’re taking advantage of category bonuses, employee cards, offers, and other games, then it’s annoying but not a game changer.

Good luck!

2025’s refreshed American Express Green card monthly coupon credit.

EDITORS NOTE: In 2024, I’m going to try and have a guest post on SaturdaysToday’s guest post is from the strong analytical mind of MattD (maybe the D stands for doppelgänger? Probably not).

Alaska plans to introduce their new award chart in March. Since joining OneWorld this was expected to happen as Alaska tries to become a global airline without any routes leaving the Americas. 

Still, I have been keen on earning Alaska miles when an opportunity or safe way presents itself. I looked back on previous Alaska award bookings and all but one were flights to Asia. I will show below why I’m still earning Alaska miles and for this example, I chose Bangkok, Thailand as my comparison point. 

Below in Table 1, we will examine the old price of routes along with the new pricing with percentage increase. At first glance, the numbers look gnarly and all hope should be abandoned.

Table 1: Old Alaska Award Chart vs New with Percent Difference for a Business Class Flight to Bangkok

AirlineOld PriceNew Price
Cathay50,00085,000 (+70%)85,000 (+70%)85,000 (+70%)85,000 (+70%)
Hainan50,00085,000 (+70%)
JAL60,00085,000 (42%)85,000 (42%)85,000 (42%)85,000 (42%)85,000 (42%)
Emirates105,000130,000 (24%)130,000 (24%)130,000 (24%)130,000 (24%)85,000 (-19%)
Singapore100,00085,000 (-15%)85,000 (-15%)13,0000 (30%)13,0000 (30%)13,0000 (30%)

Alaska’s old award chart can still be viewed here:


40,000 was used as the old standard credit card sign-up bonus and 65,000 was used as the new standard credit card sign-up bonus, which is a 62.5% increase in miles earned.

Obviously, the Cathay sweet spot is dead and will rest in its forever home with 100,000 Emirates First Class. 

Alaska awards are only getting more expensive if the miles are earned from flying/organic credit card spend. But, the inflation in Alaska credit card bonuses since 2020 means most of these routes increased less than 10%. In fact many have become cheaper if you’ve earned your miles from well-timed sign up bonuses. Table 2 shows the old and new award chart looking at how many sign up bonuses it would take to buy a business class ticket to Bangkok. 

Table 2: Alaska Sign Up Bonuses Needed for a Business Class Ticket

AirlineOld PriceNew Price

Color coded to show which award increased vs decreased measured in sign up bonuses

While the new award chart has closed some sweet spots, new ones have opened up, like flying a beach towel in business class can now be had for 50,000 miles or 80% of a sign up bonus. 

This won’t last forever as Alaska will keep devaluing enhancing their program faster than the credit card bonus increases. In the meantime though I will keep earning and burning Alaska miles.

– MattD

80% of a sign-up bonus visualized.

  1. The Chase United Business MileagePlus card has a heightened sign-up bonus of 100,000 MileagePlus miles after $5,000 spend in three months. The $99 annual-fee isn’t waived, and neither is the surly service that you’ll get onboard either.

    This probably isn’t the best option to hold on to after year one, but I do like holding at least one United card at a for expanded award availability (XN acccess).
  2. The Chase United Club Business card also has a heightened sign-up bonus of 75,000 MileagePlus Miles and 1,000 Premier Qualifying Points after $5,000 spend in three months. The $450 annual-fee isn’t waived, and the card also gets you access to unlimited crackers, cheese cubes, and Coors Light when visiting a United Club.

    I’d hold this card if I were regularly flying United out of an airport with a United Club for XN access and club access, but fortunately for all of us I’m not currently doing that; if I was you’d have suffer through me whining about United a lot more than you already do.
  3. Kroger.com has $10 off of $150 or more in physical Visa and Mastercard gift cards through January 31 with promo code NEWYEAR2024. A few notes:

    – The activation fee recently increased to $6.95 on the $100 cards
    – You’ll be earning 2x fuel points
    – You won’t earn a grocery category bonus
    – These are US Bank cards

    You’ll pay shipping too, but the cheapest option is ~ $0.50.
  4. Staples has fee free $200 Mastercard gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction.

    These are Pathward gift cards, so have a liquidation plan in place, in-store limits are $480 every six minutes, unless you get lucky and your store cycles through merchant accounts.
  5. The Chase Marriott Boundless Visa card has a heightened sign-up bonus for five free night certificates for up to 50,000 points per night after $5,000 in spend in three months, and the $99 annual fee is not waived for the first year. The certificates expire one year after issue.

    Given Bonvoy’s hyper-inflated currency, 50,000 points may not get you a night at your favorite hotel, so double check that you won’t need to burn these in Lubbock because everything else is priced out of your range. No really, the Courtyard Lubbock is 39,000 points.
  6. Giant Food and Martin’s stores are running a 10x points promotion on Apple gift cards through February 1, limit $2,000 in spend per account. (Thanks to GCG)
  7. Some American Express accounts have a targeted upgrade from a Business Gold to a Business Platinum with 120,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 spend in three months. To see if you’re targeted, look for a popup on the dashboard. (Thanks to joremero)

With hip styling like this, who wouldn’t want to burn 39,000 Bonvoy points at the Courtyard Lubbock?

  1. Delta introduced a new status challenge that gives you 90 days of status and lets you keep it through January 2026 completely with credit card spend. You can match up to Platinum, and that’s the only level on here that’s worth while in my opinion, specifically for Platinum Choice Benefits and Comfort+ seats at booking.

    Assuming you challenge to Platinum, you’ll need to earn $3,750 MQD to retain it through January 2026. Since we’re us around here, that probably means $37,500 of manufactured spend in the next 90 days on a Delta Reserve card. Yes, if you know what you’re doing that can be knocked out in a single day.
  2. H-E-B stores have $10 H-E-B gift cards free with the purchase of $50 or more in Vanilla Visa gift cards with a digital coupon, limit one per account.

    Liquidation of these cards is currently rather constrained for in-person channels, often you’re limited to three at a time per store, per random time unit. (Thanks to GCG)
  3. Barclays has a 30% transfer bonus for JAL Mileage Bank, the San Francisco 49ers of mileage programs given its ability to scoop up business and first class awards and upset the competition. The bonus runs through February 15, and won’t post until after the promotion completes.

    The transfer ratio is normally 11,500 Arrival points to 5,000 JAL miles, which works out to be a 23:10 ratio (a number obviously chosen because Barclays hates its customers). With a 30% bonus, that becomes a much more standard 23:13 ratio.

Ratios visualized.

  1. Do this now: Register for IHG’s Q1 targeted bonus points promotion. Variations:

    – 2x points on every stay
    – 2,000 bonus points for every two nights
    – 8,000 bonus points for every four nights

    Some IHG hotels are great, like the Intercontinental brand. Others, are, well, beds. (Thanks to FM)
  2. The American Airlines credit cards page has an interesting offer for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card:

    – $400 statement credit after meeting $1,500 spend in three months
    – 30,000 AA miles after meeting $1,500 spend in three months
    – Waived annual fee the first year

    If you’re AA miles poor I’d wait for a higher mileage offer. If you’re not AA miles poor, this is a nice zero cost offer. (Thanks to coole106)
  3. Capital One has increased sign-up bonuses online for the Venture X Business mileage card, and for the Spark Cash Plus card. The bonuses are tiered:

    – 150,000 miles or $1,500 cash back after $20,000 spend in three months
    – 150,000 additional miles or $1,500 additional cash back after $100,000 spend in six months

    With the base earning of 2x or 2% cash back on these cards, you’re earning 5x total for $100,000 spend in any category, which is frankly a great multiplier provided you’ll hit the spend.
  4. There’s an even better version of the above two offers, but it’s only available through a business relationship manager:

    – 400,000 miles after $250,000 spend in six months
    – $4,000 cash back after $250,000 spend in six months

    With a base earning of 2x or 2% on these, you’ll earn 3.6x total for $250,000 spend in any category. If you’re a heavy hitter, this is almost certainly a better offer. (Thanks to JR)

Happy Wednesday!

An empty AA account, but as a hot pocket.

One of the tenets of common sense that transcends travel hacking, miles and points, and churning is “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is“. To an untrained eye, it’s good advice and will probably keep you out of a tight spot.

If however you’re skilled in a particular field, the general advice can fall flat on its face and hold you back. In travel hacking and churning, there are currently and there have been plenty of examples that you’d miss out on if you thought they were too good to be true, like:

– Earning 24% back when buying Visa gift cards at home
– Earning tens of millions of Delta SkyMiles for buying money orders with a real bank debit card
– Getting enough cash to buy a new Subaru for adding employees to your account
Paying a credit card’s bill with another credit card
– Flying to Europe in business class for 15,000 miles
– Buying airline miles at or below 0.5 cents a piece, in seemingly unlimited quantities
– Getting millions of AA miles with rapid card churning without paying annual fees

So, don’t let the idea of too good to be true prevent you from running a few tests when you’re a subject matter expert, instead, protect yourself and always be probing. Also, try not to visibly wince like I do when someone says “if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is”, it’s bad form.

Frat boy Chad said that Flamin’ Hot Cheeto cheeseburgers were too good to be true, and this, err, exists.