Wednesday Wisdom: What to Do Next with Big News


A favorite past time for miles and points hackers is often to think about how to exploit an edge that might form when something big happens. It makes for a great thought experiment, but generally that’s all it is for a long time. Let’s illustrate with one item in particular.

This Week’s Hotness

Mainstream news crossed paths with miles and points news this week, and you’ve no doubt already heard that Capital One has inked a deal to buy Discover. I’ve got the same general thoughts and questions that a lot of you probably have, like:

  • If you’re shutdown with Capital One, would holding a Discover card or a Discover Business card get you back in?
  • Wait, Discover has a Business card?
  • Will the DoJ even let this happen? They successfully prevented JetBlue and Spirit from merging, which would have created the fifth largest airline in the US. Discover is already the fourth largest processing network, and four is bigger than five, so uhh, yeah.
  • Discover owns its own processing network like American Express, which means that if Capital One completes its purchase, it will be in effectively direct control of its interchange fees. Will that mean more rewards for us?
  • What would a hotdog with a donut bun taste like?
  • What will happen to Diner’s Club cards that run on the Discover network, and incidentally remain a great alternate way to earn points transferrable to Alaska?

These are all great questions, but they’re also all completely nebulous at best, and nearly impossible to predict at worst.

Back to the Question

Coming full circle, how do we exploit an edge with big news like this? The answer is, frankly we have no concrete idea about what to do in the early days and weeks of a major change, just like we have no idea about what a donut-hotdog might taste like before we make it. It’s still fun to think and theorize, but in the end, sitting and waiting until we have more data is actually the play.

Also, I lied, we do know how a donut hot dog would taste ahead of time.


Yes, this all applies to AA’s ambiguous loyalty points earning changes too.

Yes, these are actually a thing.

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