1. Most major outlets are talking about how Bank of America’s Alaska personal card has increased its sign-up bonus to 70,000 miles after $3,000 spend in 90 days. But what they’re not talking about (almost certainly just an oversight) is that you can get the same bonus plus a $100 statement credit via an offer during a dummy revenue flight booking at Alaska’s website.

    Both are the rebooted version of the card with a higher annual fee of $95, 2x at gas, and a 10% bonus if you hold a deposit account at Bank of America.
  2. Chase’s $900 personal banking sign-up bonus is now publicly available. It requires:

    – A direct deposit into a new checking account
    – $15,000 deposited into a new savings account
    – Maintain $15,000 balance for 90 days

    If you don’t see the offer, try visiting in private mode / incognito. Of course if there are shenanigans afoot with your Chase credit cards, you should probably skip this deal. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. Do this now: Register for Choice Hotel’s Q1 promotion, 2x points on paid stays over $40 per night for stays through March 6.
  4. The Alaska MileagePlan shopping portal has a spend bonus running through January 27, for both online and in-store purchases which should make it easy to manufacture. The bonuses:

    – 400 bonus miles for spending $150
    – 1,200 bonus miles for spending $300

    Currently the best online options are probably Dell or Saks for liquidating American Express Platinum credits, and the best in-store option is GameStop (just be sure to link your cards to the Alaska portal before heading in-store).

One of the two ways to earn at GameStop (and this one doesn’t look so great).

Introduction

Manufactured spend typically does strange things to your perception of dollar values. Let’s illustrate through some made-up internal monologues with corresponding made up numbers that you may encounter along your journey to mastery:

[Newbie]: $3,000 over three months for a sign-up bonus? *Overwhelmed* That’s a lot!

[Intermediate]: $15,000 for a Business Platinum over three months? Shouldn’t be an issue

[Advanced]: $50,000 for a Capital One Business card sign-up bonus? I can do that this week

[Whale]: $100,000 a day, every day for a month? 🤏

Basically as you advance, bigger numbers don’t look so big; a $35,000 ACH into your bank account looks like just another boring Wednesday.

The Deep Freeze

Of course it’s all fun and games when profits go up and point balances explode, but something tends to happen to people that operate somewhere in the advanced – whale spectrum:

  • Shutdowns
  • Account freezes
  • KYC calls

When one of these events happens, you may find your $35,000 ACH held for up to six months, and your perception of the dollar amount will probably come crashing back to reality, like Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne mission.

The Takeaway

Alright, let’s get to the concrete, actionable content for the day:

Make sure you’ve got a plan in place for if and when your exploits come to a screeching halt, and don’t ever put yourself into a position where a freeze of accounts at a particular bank or issuer will ruin you financially. Some common insurance policies for big spenders: Untapped HELOCs, margin loans at brokerages, balance transfer checks, manufactured float, and cash reserves.

Happy Wednesday!

Elizabeth Holmes says “🤏”, and she turned out ok, right?

  1. Today is the last day for 2022 Q4 estimated taxes. The best service to use with a credit card from a fee perspective is payUSAtax at 1.85%. If you have issues with checkout, you can use PayPal from the payUSAtax website to get around them.

    You’re allowed to use each payment processor twice per form per taxpayer, and I used this on two different cards to hit minimum spend for sign-up bonuses.
  2. CashApp has a card linked boost for 8% off of samsclub.com orders, up to $20 cash back per day. You can do this every day for the next two weeks, and stack with a shopping portal too. CashApp supports loads with a debit card so a little experimenting there may give you yet another boost. Favorite options:

    Visa gift cards
    Mastercard gift cards
    Disney gift cards

    Sam’s doesn’t sell Tesla gift cards, but those are already discounted by more than 8% with a different kind of boost. CashApp referrals earn both the referral and the referee $5, so make sure to reach out to a friend for a referral if you don’t already have the app.
  3. Chase and BankAmeriDeals both have targeted card-linked offers for 5% back up to $60 at United 10% back up to $45 at Alaska, and you don’t even need to break the correlation to get these to work with refunds. (Thanks to DoC)

The Sam’s Club Tesla vehicle charging system.

  1. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card has been sending out new targeted spending offers, and yes, they stack with other offers also sent this month. The spend bonuses apply to online purchases made through February 14. We’ve seen:

    – $30 statement credit after spending $500 or more
    – 7,500 ThankYou Points after spending $750 or more (Thanks to Santosh)
    – 150,000 Shop Your Way Points after spending $1,000 or more (Thanks to Zach)
  2. US Mobile, a Verizon MVNO, has a phone number port-in deal for 100 free days of cell service including 15GB of data per month. This is a great place to park a burner number or to bring a new one online, or more than one if you want to go MEAB style. To unlock the full 100 days, turn on auto-pay but make sure to shut it off before 100 days is up.
  3. Do this now (if you hold a Chase United credit card): Register for a targeted spending bonus for up to $1,500 in spend on:

    – 4x on United purchases
    – 4x on hotel stays
    – 2x on travel

    The bonus runs through February 28. (Thanks to hanibals20)
  4. OfficeDepot / Office Max has a deal for $15 back on $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards running through Saturday. Don’t forget to link your cards to Dosh, and try and get multiple transactions through at the same time. There’s also a Chase card linked offer for another $10 back.

    These are Metabank cards which don’t work everywhere for liquidation, so make sure you have an outlet before you go ham. (Thanks to DoC)

Pictured: Buying a stack of Metabank gift cards without a liquidation plan.

There’s been recent discussion on both reddit and MEAB slack about American Express no-lifetime language (NLL) links, but information is scattered and not always consistent. So, let’s discuss:

Generic No-Lifetime Language Links

There are a few different flavors of no-lifetime language (NLL) business links out there. First, the generic versions which are always around and were last discussed here in April of last year:

The generic links are worth checking periodically, sometimes not a single one will work for a given account one day, and then all of them work the next day; American Express’s targeting changes quickly. It’s easy to pick out a generic link because the full URL is readable, something like:

https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/campaigns/small-business/bundles/business-gold-employee-card/

I consider generic NLL links as completely safe for any account because they’re targeted, and American Express will prevent the application from processing if you’re not targeted.

Offer Code Specific No-Lifetime Language Links

Other times we’ll see offer code specific no-lifetime language (NLL) business links out there, such as the 250,000 Membership Rewards link that was hidden in this post. Those links look like:

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/card-application/apply/business-platinum-charge-card/61303-9-0/#/

The main distinguishing factor is the number at the end of the URL, an offer or marketing code. These links fall on a range from safe to scary.

It can be tricky to tell where a given link lies on that spectrum, but the scariest ones are “post-targeted” links, meaning that the link bypasses the targeting check part of an application workflow. You can typically tell if a link is post-targeted because the application flow doesn’t have anywhere for the popup to appear, it’s a single page with a submit application link at the end that doesn’t even need you to login.

Clawbacks and Shutdowns

What does unsafe mean when you’re using a link? It means one of two things:

I’m unaware of any shutdowns from using generic NLL links, ever. I am aware of of shutdowns for using offer code specific post-targeted NLL links, but the last confirmed data point is a couple of years old, which seems to mean that American Express cares less about post-targeted links than they used to for some unknown reason.

Going Plaid

This wouldn’t be MEAB if we didn’t discuss the possibility of a bit of shenanigan-like behavior, so let’s dive in friends: If you stumble upon an offer code specific NLL and you’re targeted for a generic NLL at the same time, you can probably be approved for both on the same day. Additionally, if you stumble upon a few different offer code specific links, you can probably be approved for both of those on the same day too. Always be probing!

American Express going plaid.

  1. Kroger has a 4x fuel points sale on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards running through January 24. What about Monday, you ask? Currently datapoints don’t look great, but always be probing. (Thanks to GCG)
  2. Chase’s Air Canada Aeroplan card will have Pay Yourself Back starting tomorrow at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, and the capacity is in theory unlimited through the end of this year (it drops to 50,000 points per year next year). I wouldn’t normally bother writing about this because meh, but this time is different because *checks notes* this card isn’t the only mechanism for getting Aeroplan miles.

    Next year the cash-out limit is small enough that this is a 2023 only special as far as I’m concerned.
  3. The main American Express Business Gold no-lifetime language (NLL) offer has targeted more accounts. The bonus is 90,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 in spend in three months and another 10,000 Membership Rewards after adding an employee card and spending $1,000 in three months.
  4. Do this now: Register for Radisson Rewards America’s Q1 promotion, 5,000 bonus points on every stay through March 20.

A cheeseburger that’s as appetizing as changing a stay to a Raddison for an extra 5,000 points.

  1. Dell has been fulfilling previously canceled orders in the last 24 hours without a corresponding new credit card charge. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, and the pattern based on prior instances seems to be:

    – Deliver a product (digital or physical) without a cleared charge on the credit card
    [crickets for about six months]
    – Invoices from Dell with threats of legal action and collections

    If you were notified by email that an order shipped or was fulfilled that you didn’t expect, your best best is to open a case with Dell and either ask for a refund or ask to pay for the item to save yourself heartache and misplaced AmEx credits too.
  2. American Express has a no-lifetime language Business Platinum 150,000 Membership Rewards offer after $15,000 in spend and another 10,000 Membership Rewards after adding an employee card and spending $1,000, all within three months. This link isn’t new, but the expiration of the offer was updated and there are multiple reports that it appeared recently indicating that there’s a new targeted campaign. (Thanks to SideShowBob233)
  3. The infamous payment processor that we love to hate stopped taking certain gift cards at a reduced processing fee yesterday, so be careful with your buys. They do work elsewhere though, so always be probing.

But how will SideShowBob233 meet minimum spend on that Business Platinum now?

  1. Hyatt has released targeted Q1 offers, though they’re not actually showing for everyone that’s targeted (if you care, you can view page source on your account and see the ones that you’re targeted for — search for promotionCode). The actual links to test:

    Category 1-4 certificate after two nights
    Category 1-4 certificate after three nights

    Suite upgrade award after five nights, and another after another five
    Suite upgrade award after ten qualifying nights, and another after another ten

    3x points for every two night stay, max 30,000 points
    3x points for every qualifying three night stay, max 30,000 points
    2x points for every qualifying two night stay, max 30,000 points
    2x points for every qualifying three night stay, max 30,000 points

    2,000 bonus points every two nights, max 20,000 points
    3,000 bonus points every three nights, max 15,000 points
    5,000 bonus points every five nights, max 25,000 points
    10,000 bonus points every ten nights, max 30,000 points

    These offers are also randomly appearing as popups on the same page, so it may be worth logging in a few times over the next couple of days to click the registration link in the popup should it appear if you don’t want to manually try each of the above links.
  2. There’s a shopping portal bonus at United and American’s shopping portals for spend through January 19:

    1,000 bonus miles at United after $300 in spend
    1,000 AA bonus miles after $400 in spend through

    Unfortunately giftcards.com is still absent from both, though you can still reach Dell and Rakuten to cash out American Express credits. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. IHG has an award sale for 20% off of stays between one and three nights through March 10 for Chase IHG cardholders, and reportedly for everyone else in a day or two. (Thanks to FM)
  4. The Bank of America Alaska personal card is making changes which are by in large great for a manufactured spender. The relevant changes:

    – Annual fee goes from $75 to $95
    – 2x on gas, transit, and rideshare
    – 10% rewards boost for holding a deposit account, priority boarding
    – Free checked bag benefit only available if the card was used to purchase the Alaska ticket

    There are similar changes for the business card, except that the 2x categories are gas, transit, rideshare, and shipping, and the 10% bonus requires a business account. As for the business annual fee it seems to be the saying, but alask-ya later. (Update: the business annual fee is increasing too. Thanks to SideShowBob233)

    For more, see Travel Codex and reddit.

MEAB today 🤦‍♀️