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.

  1. Alaska is working with major card linked offer programs for flight discounts:

    Chase Offers, 5-15% back with a max of $450 in spend through September 30
    BofA BankAmeriDeals, 10% with a max of $450 in spend through September 30
    American Express Offers, $60 back on $300 or more in spend through December 17
    – Citi Offers: [sound of crickets]

    These are all easily convertible to Alaska Wallet funded by buying a non-basic economy ticket and canceling more than 24 hours after booking. They’re all also gameable in less obvious ways too. (Thanks to scdawn)
  2. Citi ThankYou Points has an outsized 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic through October 14. The best use of these points tends to be for business class to and from Europe, and for first class to and from Japan.
  3. Do this now: Register for Best Western’s Q4 promotion for 5,000 bonus points after each two nights stayed until November 20, with a maximum of 20,000 bonus points.

    Best Western ran another version of this promotion with the same stay window at the end of August, but that one had to be booked by Labor Day. There’s no such booking restriction this time.
  4. I don’t normally do “ZOMG this is your last chance, the deal is dying now and you have to act quick or lose out forever!” posts, but today is probably the last day of Kroger 4x fuel points for at least a month, so you have to act quick or lose out forever (or until late October, whichever comes first).

The Citi Offers team has the answer to important life questions like this.

  1. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, an Unsung Hero, has sent out targeted mid-month offers via email for online spend through October 14, and these will stack with other offers too. We’ve seen:

    – $50 back on $750 or more
    – $30 back on $400 or more
    – 200,000 Shop Your Way Points on $600 or more
    – 7,000 ThankYou Points on $600 or more

    (Thanks to 5, David, JEB, and BB_Pcola)
  2. Capital One has a 15% mileage transfer bonus to Avianca LifeMiles through the end of September.

    – US to and from South America in business class for 50,000 points
    – East coast to Lisbon in business class for 35,000 miles
    – East cost to Zurich in economy for 16,500 miles
    – To and from Europe in business class while tacking a coach leg onto the end
    – Economy flights to or from the Caribbean for 12,500 miles each way
    – Short haul domestic US economy for 7,500 miles each way

    In related news, I haven’t been able to find one of the 37 blog posts in the last week about how Membership Rewards transfers to LifeMiles aren’t working. Has anyone else been able to find one of these?
  3. AirFrance/KLM’s FlyingBlue program has an unannounced promotional sale for business class flights to and from the New York area to Europe for 41,250 miles each way. (Thanks to FM)
  4. Do this now (if you hold a Citi Dividend card): Register for 5% back in Q4 at grocery stores. The spend window started on September 15 which is obviously not yet part of Q4 in the real world, but completely fits the calendar in the Citi magical fairy world.
  5. Meijer has 50,000 MPerks points with a $500 third party gift card purchase through September, limit one per MPerks account. Amazon cards are excluded, but other popular brands for resale like Apple and BestBuy are eligible for the promotion. (Thanks to GCG)

Where Citi creates its calendar rules.

It’s been an information dense week, and today is no exception – sorry friends. We’ll collectively both try harder and do better next week.

  1. If you hold Hyatt elite status and have linked your Hyatt and AA accounts, check your American Airlines profile for a targeted AA status match promotion, or alternatively look for an email from AA. The Loyalty Points required to maintain status after a promotional period are:

    – 25,000 Loyalty Points for Platinum (equivalent to Gold on other airlines)
    – 42,000 Loyalty Points for Platinum Pro (equivalent to Platinum on other airlines)
    – 67,000 Loyalty Points for Executive Platinum (top tier regular status)

    Brian M shares a note of caution: The earning period for Loyalty Points is split up into three phases each with earning targets, and if you don’t earn enough for a higher tier in an earlier phase it won’t matter what you earn in later phase. Each phase is four calendar months, and starts when you activate the promotion. Why three phases? Budgeting.
  2. One of the loopholes for Delta status that we discussed yesterday was discount partner business class flights. In the most Delta move ever, Delta has announced that they’re cutting the MQM earning on Aeromexico discount business class tickets starting on January 1.

    When asked for commentary about why the earnings charts were changed, Delta simply said “budgeting”. (Thanks to EyeOfTheFlyer)
  3. Staples has a promotion for $200 fee-free Visa gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction.

    By the way, I’m told these can help with budgeting.
  4. Giant, Stop & Shop, and Martins grocery stores have 2x points on Vanilla Visa gift cards through Thursday of next week, which effectively makes the gift cards negative cost provided you use the points for gas or groceries.
  5. Do this now: Register for Chase’s Freedom and Freedom Flex Q4 5x categories on up to $1,500 in spend at:

    – PayPal
    – Wholesale Clubs
    – Select charities (probably the same as the Pay Yourself Back eligible charities)

    While you’re at it, you’ve got roughly two weeks left to knock out your Q3 Chase 5x spend at gas stations, electric vehicle charging, or select entertainment.

Have a nice weekend!

This week’s MEAB posts, but as a burger.

  1. Delta’s rumored SkyClub changes have been announced. The summary is that if you get credit card access, you’ll get a limited number of SkyClub visits unless you spend $75,000 on that card within the calendar year. Additional changes:

    – Basic Economy tickets don’t qualify for credit card lounge access
    – Delta Platinum and Delta Business Platinum cards can no longer co-pay for access
    – Delta Reserve and Delta Business Reserve cards will only get 10 visits per year
    – American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cards will only get (probably) six visits per year

    On the other hand, I’d estimate that your average churner has or churns through at least six Platinum or Business Platinums a year, which probably means 6*6 = 36 visits per year without any extra spend required.
  2. Delta’s Medallion Elite qualifying changes for status year 2025 have also been announced. Unlike AA’s Loyalty Points, the only Delta currency here is MQDs (medallion qualifying dollars). You’ll earn one MQD for:

    – Each dollar spent on base airfare, car rentals, hotel stays, or vacations booked through Delta
    – 10 dollars spent on a Delta Reserve or Business Reserve card
    – 20 dollars spent on a Delta Platinum or Business Platinum card.

    To manufactured spend your way status with the newly announced thresholds, that means you’ll have to spend on Delta cards:

    – Silver: 7,000 MQDs ($70,000 spend on Reserve, $140,000 spend on Platinum)
    – Gold: 12,000 MQDs ($120,000 spend on Reserve, $240,000 spend on Platinum)
    – Platinum: 18,000 MQDs ($180,000 spend on Reserve, $360,000 spend on Platinum)
    – Diamond: 35,000 MQDs ($350,000 spend on Reserve, $700,000 spend on Platinum 🤡)

    Yes, this is still gameable either with discount partner Business Class paid flights or with American Express 99 employee card offers)
  3. There are a few new, interesting card linked merchant offers:

    Chase Offers has for 10% back on Southwest flights, up to $40 cash back
    AmEx Offers has 3,000 or 6,000 Membership Rewards with a $300 Delta gift card purchase
    AA’s SimplyMiles has 230-460 bonus miles with a Kroger purchase $50 or more 🤏

    Each of these should be gameable.

Happy Thursday!

The guy who’s manufacturing $700,000 spend on his SkyMiles Platinum card.

The reaction to yesterday’s budgeting post was next-level. Thanks to everyone who wrote in! Today’s post is a biggie, so buckle up:

  1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt’s Bonus Journeys promotion for 3,000 bonus points for each three qualifying nights up to seven times, valid for nights between October 6 and November 30.

    If you have a Chase Hyatt credit card, there’s an additional 1,000 bonus points for every three nights at certain properties with the same promotion, but the properties are mostly outside of the US.
  2. Do this now: Register for Marriott’s Go Your Way promotion for 1,500 bonus Bonvoy points for every three paid nights between September 12 and December 6.
  3. Do this now: Register for Choice’s More Destinations, More Adventures promotion for 8,000 bonus points for every two paid stays completed by November 6.
  4. Southwest’s next schedule extension for travel between April 9 and June 3, 2024 happens tomorrow, and covers both some spring break travel and Memorial Day weekend. (Thanks to the legendary Brian M, who keeps a closer tab on Southwest than Herb Kelleher did)
  5. The Capital One VentureX Business 150,000 points sign-up bonus after $30,000 spend in three months is now available online. The $395 annual fee is not waived the first year but does include an easily redeemable $300 travel credit.

    For the math challenged, you’ll earn 7x on $30,000 in spend which is hard to beat for big spenders. (Thanks to DDG)
  6. Southwest’s Rapid Rewards shopping portal has 2,000 bonus points when spending $400 in cumulative purchases through September 18. Fortunately, as a collective society we once again we know how to easily earn these kinds of bonuses.

    With the fees you’ll pay for two $250 egift cards, you’ll be effectively buying 3,000 Rapid Rewards points at 0.396 cents per point, minus whatever value you’ll earn for spending $500 on your credit card. Of course there’s a Citi Merchant offer for 3% back that gives even more upside. (Thanks to FM)
  7. There’s a new fast-track to Hyatt Globalist status for higher level AA elites. Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum elites will earn Globalist(-lite) with 20 nights within 90 days of registration, and you must register by November 12.

    With a little grit, or dare I say, true grit, you can earn Globalist(-lite) in exchange for 70,000 Ultimate Rewards utilizing this promotion.

Happy Wednesday!

An avid churner navigates today’s post from the comfort of home.