Manufactured spend, churning, and travel hacking are often hidden behind a veil of coded words and language, and whether or not that’s necessary is a subject for another time. Often the coding isn’t direct words, but rather what isn’t being said. That is, sometimes to find the weiner hiding between two sides of a hot-dug bun (your welcome Chad), we need to read between the lines.

Yesterday, an almost perfect, chef’s kiss example of reading between the lines graced churners. And, as if that weren’t enough, it came from a prior chruning gamer turned gamee. (In case the post is deleted, I’ve archived an image for future generations):

I’ve never seen a more perfect and succinct object lesson. I mean, this is college textbook, honorary PhD, commemorative gold-leaf plaque level, but I digress.

There are at least two sides to explore this post from:

  • If you know exactly what this post is talking about: Try and view it through the lens of someone who doesn’t, and ask questions like, “what sticks out about this post?” and “What might help you recognize posts like this in the future when you might not know it’s talking about?” The better you answer those questions, the more effective you’ll be in the future.
  • If you don’t know what this is about: There are a few weird things about this post. To help with what those might be, some friendly redditors ask questions and make probably incorrect assumptions based on those questions. Do their answers make sense? What happens if you explore a little, do those explorations line up with those answers? Also, what do twitter X users have to say? Finally, who is this guy?

Good luck, and happy Tuesday! Also, sorry not sorry for another “so-cryptic-that-no-one-can-understand” MEAB post.

PS: I like Richard, he’s a decent guy and I don’t think he deserves the bad rap he gets. We need to separate the gaffe from the human on this one.

A churner consults the MEAB decoder book, unsuccessfully.

  1. AirFrance and KLM’s FlyingBlue program has a paid status match for Silver status at $99 or for Gold status at $299 available to US and Mexico residents. Both will get you free checked bags on SkyTeam flights including Delta and the ability to choose Comfort+ seats close to departure. Gold will also get you into SkyTeam lounges, but only when flying on international itineraries.

    Two notes: (1) You may already get Silver or Gold status through Bilt for free, and (2) the main SkyTeam lounge that most of us use is the Delta SkyClub, which is easily accessible with American Express Platinum or Delta Reserve cards even on domestic itineraries.
  2. Meijer stores have 50,000 bonus points with the purchase of $500 in most third party gift cards, limit one per mPerks account.

    Like its big brother Kroger, Meijer excluded Amazon from its points promotion. Also like its big brother Kroger, you can have more than one loyalty account assuming you can invent a way to have multiple email addresses.
  3. More cards have been targeted for offers like Friday’s American Express Business Gold spend bonuses of 15,000 Membership Rewards per employee after $4,000 spend on no-fee expense cards, up to 99 times. We’ve now seen the offer on:

    – Business Gold cards
    – Blue Business Plus cards

    It’s probably out there on Blue Business Cash and Green cards too, always be probing.

Happy Monday!

Kroger and Meijer hang at a family reunion.

  1. American Express increased its phone-in offers for adding employee cards to its Business Gold accounts, though it’s rather targeted. Current versions of the offer:

    – Spend $4,000, get 5,000 Membership Rewards for new $0 fee Expense employee cards
    – Spend $4,000, get 7,000 Membership Rewards for new $0 fee Expense cards
    – Spend $4,000, get 15,000 Membership Rewards for new $0 fee Expense cards
    – Spend $4,000, get 15,000 Membership Rewards for new $95 fee Gold cards

    Each of these work for up to 99 employee cards per main account, and so far we’ve only seen the 15,000 Membership Rewards with $0 fee cards on the Business Gold. Note that accounts can only have 99 employee cards through the life of the account, unless the employee cards are cancelled, the main account expires, and a new card is issued.
  2. Staples has fee-free $200 Mastercard Visa gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction. You can pair this with the above deal if you’ve got a friendly store.

    These are Pathward gift cards.
  3. Either Sunday or Monday is the final day for Bilt Rewards transfers to AA’s AAdvantage miles, depending what expiration means to Bilt’s technical team. I’d suggest transferring anything you’d like now and let programers argue about “<” vs “≤” elsewhere. (Thanks to e1tm)
  4. A link surfaced for an American Express Business Gold no-lifetime language (NLL) with 150,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 spend in three months, and a bonus 5,000 Membership Rewards after adding an employee card and having them spend $1,000 too.

    After 60-90 days, you’ll likely see yourself targeted for phone-in offers like those above too. (Thanks to DDG)

Have a nice weekend!

Exclusive photo of Bilt Rewards design tiger-team meeting.

  1. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion on third-party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards on Friday. Amazon gift cards are still excluded. We’ve had a 4x promotion in all but four days of June, which leads me to believe that Kroger is specifically targeting people with short term memory loss; it’s the only logical explanation.

    The fuel points resale market is currently saturated, and the gift card resale market remains depressed because Pepper Rewards is still dumping inventory on the market — in case you were wondering.
  2. Chase Offers has 10%-15% back at Hyatt House properties on at least $100 spend up to $40 cash back through July 31, and a similar offer for Hyatt Place properties for up to $38 cash back. Gamers gonna game.
  3. Do this now: Search your email for a targeted Q3 bonus from IHG and click the registration button. A good search string is something like:

    subject:”Invite Only” in:anywhere after:2024/06/15 from:ihg

    Outlook users should modify as necessary, but they’re used to that, right? (Thanks to FM)

Happy Thursday friends!

The IT guy’s mug tries to be funny.

The Game

Major US and European airlines will usually tinker with published schedules until about two months prior to departure, and most also let you switch to another flight or get a free refund when the schedule changes or a flight is cancelled. That leads to a game, especially when you can cancel tickets for little to no penalty if your game doesn’t work:

When you’re booking travel far out and your preferred date and time costs too much, book a flight that will likely have a schedule change so that you can switch to the expensive, ideal flight instead.

The Mechanics

How do you know which flights are most likely to have a schedule change? Look at both current flights and historical flights on a site like FlightRadar24 or FlightAware to see what an airline usually flies, then look for flights in the future with different schedules. Alternatively, take a look at what they’re selling in the near future and extrapolate.

For example, let’s say you want to fly from Salt Lake City, UT to Boise, ID on a Sunday. Currently, scheduled non-stop flights on Delta for Sundays in July leave at:

  • 8:06 AM
  • 11:00 AM
  • 3:45 PM
  • 10:50 PM

In Spring of 2025, the schedule looks almost the same:

  • 8:45 AM
  • 11:00 AM
  • 3:35 PM
  • 5:54 PM
  • 11:00 PM

But, the schedule has a smoking gun – that 5:54 PM flight doesn’t currently exist, and it probably won’t exist by the time Spring 2025 rolls around (#RemindMeOfThisPostIn2025). When that flight is inevitably cancelled, you’ll be able to switch to another day, a different flight on the same day, or if you’ve really got rizz, perhaps even switch to a different airport.

What Could go Wrong?

There are of course caveats:

  • Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results
  • Holidays mess up schedules
  • Football games and major concerts lead to one-off flights
  • Lubbock only has once daily frequencies

The best news is that you can probably play this game with three or four airlines at minimum, so you’ve got multiple shots at getting your way.

Good luck and happy Wednesday!

Honorary travel hacking shirt awarded only to those that can turn an SLC-BOI schedule change into an LAX-HNL flight.

  1. Citi ThankYou Points has a transfer bonus to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles through July 20. Asia Miles are useful for several reasons, generally the biggest of which is early access to oneworld partner award space.
  2. The Chase Ink Preferred card has an online offer for 120,000 Ultimate Rewards after $8,000 spend in three months.

    Despite conventional wisdom, you can get multiple Ink Preferred cards in a year. My preferred cadence is quarterly. (Thanks to kevzho)
  3. Enterprise Car Rental has a status match for just about any airline, hotel, or rental car loyalty program, with status lasting through the end of February 2026. Enterprise status is unique compared to most rental car programs in that it offers confirmed upgrades at booking to elites.
  4. Giftcards.com is showing 2x or 3x on most airline portals as of this writing. This is especially useful for two reasons: (1) It’s a good way to hit shopping portal bonuses, and (2) it’s a good way to hit AA Executive Platinum status.

    These are Pathward gift cards.

Happy Tuesday friends!

A churner shows off his Enterprise elite status.

  1. Do this now: Register for Q3 credit card bonus categories, for spend between July 1 and September 30:

    Discover IT: 5% back at Walmart and grocery stores, up to $1,500 spend
    Citi Dividend: 5x on gas, up to $6,000 spend annually
    US Bank Cash+: Select 5% and 2% categories, up to $2,000 spend on 5%
    Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex: 5x on gas, EV charging, live entertainment, and movie theaters, up to $1,500

    Q3 is full of soft-balls for hitting spend, both for online floosie spenders and for in-person spenders. Take the Speedway to Walmart Neighborhood Market for the quickest route on the latter.
  2. Chase Ultimate Rewards has a 20% transfer bonus to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program through July 31. This is a good bonus if you’re booking Star Alliance awards, but like a seasoned manufactured spender views deals worth less than $100, it feels a bit 🤏 compared to the recent Bilt 150% transfer bonus.
  3. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card, alternatively named the “5% of a lawyer’s annual salary in bonuses” card, sent mid-month spending bonuses on Saturday. We’ve seen:

    – 200,000 points after $750 in online spend
    – $50 statement credit after $750 in online spend
    – $70 statement credit after $1,000 in online spend

    For the first time since last June, I didn’t receive a mid-month spend bonus, so I’m officially declaring a nationwide state of June-gloom. (Thanks to MS Ninja, birt, and Adam)
  4. Most American Express Delta cards have increased sign-up bonuses that are at a relatively local maxima, but the bonus is still not amazing compared to historical versions so they haven’t shown up here. However, one card bucks the trend:

    The American Express Delta Gold has a $500 statement credit and 40,000 SkyMiles after $3,000 spend in three months, and the annual fee is waived for the first year offer that shows up during on the checkout page of a (dummy) flight booking. In this case, it’s probably an all-time best bonus, but unfortunately it’s not available via referrals and I doubt it’ll show up there too. (Thanks to AbjectRaise)
  5. The Barclays AAdvantage Aviator card has a 70,000 AA mile bonus after making a single purchase and paying the $99 annual fee payment in the first 90 days.

    There’s also a targeted 60,000 miles + 10,000 miles for the referred and an additional 10,000 miles for the referrer offer floating around for those operating in Mario+Luigi (two player) mode. (Thanks to DDG)

MEAB pouts.

  1. Two incomm sites have fee-free gift cards on orders over $50 through Sunday:

    Mastercardgiftcard.com with promo code DADSDAY2024
    Vanillagift.com with promo code VGDADS24

    Both sites have limits of $10,000 per rolling 24 hours, and both don’t award points on American Express cards.
  2. Bank of America sent targeted mailers via USPS and email for +3x rewards for some of its Business cards, including Customized Cash Rewards cards and Business Unlimited varieties. After registering you’ll earn a bonus 3x on all spend in addition to normal earning in July, August, and September. Because Bank of America is Bank of America, the offer has no limit, and Preferred Rewards earning still applies to regular spending.

    I don’t want to sound hyperbolic (at least sometimes I guess), but this deal has the potential to be the 2024 deal of the year. I’ll personally be transferring as much credit line from other cards to my targeted card as possible.
  3. TheGiftCardShop.com has 10% off of multiple brand cards, including those that work at Lowe’s, with promo code DAD2024 through June 16. It’s limit one per account, but let’s just say some people have a few more than one account. This site also won’t currently award points on American Express cards.
  4. American Express’s generic personal Platinum upgrade link for Green and Gold cards is showing a heightened bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards after $2,000 spend in six months. Why would you do this instead of getting a new sign-up bonus? Because you can stack it with retention offers and additional card spend bonuses.

    Because of the CARD act, you’ll need to have the card opened for a year before you’re eligible for the upgrade, though it’s widely targeted to cards that are older than that. (Thanks to Justin O)
  5. American Express referrals have increased bonuses for the referrer of up 45,000 Membership Rewards on some accounts.

    Always use another player or a friend’s referral link when you’re applying for a new American Express, unless of course some other non-referral 15x shenanigan is afoot.
  6. Staples has fee free Mastercard gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction.

    These are Pathward gift cards.
  7. Clear Plus has a sign-up bonus for a $100 rebate Choice card through the end of June using promo code TRAVELREWARD100. This is a great way to cash out American Express Platinum and Business Platinum $189 Clear credits, and beats the semi-regular Uber $75 voucher sign-up bonus too.

    You do have multiple email addresses and an unlimited supply of birthdays, right?

Bank of America’s executive corporate retreat tee-shirt, 2024.