You’ve got a lot of in-person MS options this week:

  • Office Depot OfficeMax is offering $15 back on $300 or more in Visa Gift cards in store, limit one per transaction. Make sure you can liquidate these before you buy, there are plenty of ways but Walmart Money Centers mostly aren’t one of those ways. This is 5x with an Ink Cash or an American Express Business Platinum with the +4x office supplies offer.
  • Staples is offering $200 Visa Gift cards with a discounted fee of $1.95 per card, as we learned Friday. As with the above, use a 5x card if you’ve got one and have a liquidation plan.
  • Meijer is offering $5 off of each $50 in gift cards you buy up to $500 in gift cards with some exclusions after you add the offer to your rewards account. I’d personally buy Happy Treats gift cards and use them at GameStop to buy Steam gift cards for resell at a profit. Make sure you use one of the many cards that bonuses at a grocery store to purchase this one.
  • Meijer is also offering $10 off of $150 in Mastercard gift cards after you add the offer to your rewards account. Use a card that bonuses at grocery like American Express’s Personal Gold, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve (the Sapphire Reserve gives 3x at groceries up to $1,000 per month for now).
  • Stop and Shop, Martins, and Giant are offering 3x fuel points on Mastercard gift card purchases. Mastercard gift cards are usually easier to liquidate from home, so they’re my preference over Visa in general. Use a card that bonuses at grocery for this one too.

And finally, a friendly reminder and warning: Double check all gift cards that you pick up in store for any signs whatsoever of tampering. Sometimes scammers will steal, modify, reseal, and replace the cards to drain them after you activate them. I usually pull cards from the back of the rack on the assumption that they’re less likely to be stolen, and I give each card a good, hard look. I also try and buy gift cards that have barcode numbers in sequence when possible (say, the last 4 digits of the activation code are 3666, 3667, and 3668 when I’m buying three Home Depot cards). If the card supports it, I try and match the ID on the packaging with the ID on the card itself.

A picture of a woman dressed in a black turtle-neck with black jeans, a black beanie, and a black eye covering carrying black bags with white $ signs and money falling out of the bags.
Pictured: gift card scammer. How do the grocery stores not notice this person walking around?

1. Staples is offering another sale on its Visa Gift Cards starting on Sunday, but this time the deal isn’t nearly as great as it typically is. You can purchase $200 Visa Gift Cards for a $1.95 fee. It’s still a mostly good deal with an AmEx Business Platinum 5x or Chase Ink 5x, mostly. Honestly, it’s better than a pile of rocks.

2. The Southwest free change window is back between May 9 and June 5. Book the cheapest fare between your preferred cities somewhere within that date-range, then change it to ±30 days for the actual flights you want for no additional fees.

3. I’m sure you’ve heard it elsewhere already, but American Express Centurion Lounges are disallowing guest access to guests on February 1, 2023 unless you spend $75,000 on your American Express Platinum card. As Windbag Miles says, look into the Morgan Stanley Platinum which gives a free Authorized User Platinum card also with lounge access benefits. Little known fact, a decent balance at Morgan Stanley for Platinum card holders gives an annual credit to offset the annual fee on this card.

4. Today is the last day for the Citi Premier card’s 25% uplift in point values on travel redemptions (1.25 cents per point today vs 1.00 cents per point starting tomorrow), so lock any bookings in now before it’s too late. Hint: Disney park tickets are a decent way to lock in the 25% uplift for a long while.

Rocks from a rock-slide covering a canyon road.
A nice leisurely weekend drive to Staples.

1. You can earn Star Alliance Gold Elite status, which will get you lounge access and free checked bags when flying on Star Alliance Partners like United by transferring miles to SingaporeKris Flyer from bank points (Chase, AmEx, Capital One, Brex, and Citi are all partners). Gold status requires a transfer of 250,000 miles, so this is only a good option if you’re already booking tickets with Singapore and plan on using the miles. Don’t forget that KrisFlyer miles expire after three years regardless of account activity. Louses!

2. If you have United Club passes that were expiring between April 1 and August 31, they’ve been extended to September 30. The new expiration is already showing in my United mobile app.

3. Southwest is offering a 10% rebate on Wanna Get Away fares booked today, or higher rebates for more expensive fare types. If you want to further goose this deal, perhaps book the cheapest fare between your city pairs for mid-May to early-June in anticipation of the next Southwest free change window?

4. The Cranky flyer outlines how you can essentially pay the difference between a refundable and non-refundable fare on United after you’ve already booked and get a refund for the initial fare way after the fact. You have to book through a travel agent though, and it’ll have to be a competent agent too.

No, not a fuel dump. Also, this isn’t what I mean when I say fuel dump.

In this hobby, seasoned hackers often poke fun at questions like “Should I get the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred?” with the joking answer: “BOTH!” We usually don’t mean it, but sometimes we do. (Say what, Mr. Double Speak?) Well, under certain circumstances, it is possible to get both even though it’s technically not allowed by Chase (and thus you won’t see most bloggers, who are typically parters with Chase, talk about it).

Since the sign up bonuses for both cards are at four year highs now is actually a good time to get “BOTH!” for some people, just don’t forget to re-evaulate their usefulness the moment your second year’s annual fee comes due and don’t let anyone sell you on the value of the cards other than the points, pay yourself back, and travel credits. People who might want to get both:

  • You have an existing relationship with Chase
  • You’re under 5/24
  • You haven’t received a bonus on either card in the last 48 months
  • You will use the sign up bonus, either with Pay-Yourself-Back or travel

The bonuses, because that’s very important, are 80,000 Ultimate Rewards + $50 after spending $4,000 for the Preferred, and 60,000 Ultimate Rewards for spending $4,000 for the Reserve. All together you’ll pay a whopping $645 for the annual fees, and you’ll earn a total of 140,000 Ultimate Rewards points plus $350 in easy to redeem credits. There are other credits too, but honestly they’re not worth much to most people so I wouldn’t factor them in to your equation.

To get both, you’ll do the “Modified Double Dip” (MDD), which is documented by Reddit’s /r/churning. In short:

I wish I could do this, but I can’t because I’m lol/24. If you’re not, consider the above, and right now the sign up bonuses for the Sapphire cards are available via referral, so ask an existing card holder for a referral link and they’ll earn 15,000 Ultimate Rewards for your successful approval. They’ll probably buy you a nice drink too, or maybe pay for a month of your Peleton?

Finally, since it’s probably hard to find, here’s the number for Chase reconsideration: 888-270-2127

The text "The More You Know" in a blue diagonal print with a rainbow and a yellow star trail underneeth.
Don’t count out the MDD.

I’m mad at AA and myself: AA’s AAdvantage program is celebrating a forty year anniversary and they’ve schemed to get people like me to write about it by apparently giving away millions of miles, AAdmiral’s Club passes, and upgrades. Basically you go to this site, click all of the big blue buttons to earn spins, then you go spin the globe a few times to “win”.

I did it, and I “won”:

  • “15% Off; one (1) HD SimpliCam Camera and one (1) month of professional monitoring with SimpliSafe”
  • 40 AA miles

Wow, talk about lackluster. In the end, I’d say I lost and AA “won”. I’ll stick to stock market gambling in the future. Why am I writing about this then? Because I want one of you to win (without quotes) to help vindicate my sense of being bamboozled as a pawn in AA’s long game.

Yes, sometimes I’m a degenerate gambler in the stock market, but only with a small amounts of money. Most still goes into low cost index funds. Wait, is this blog about investing?

The Gift Card reselling market usually sucks during the first couple of months of a year, prolly because consumers are detoxing with a hangover from holiday shopping and aren’t sick of their new toys (yet). The hangover is ending now though and the gift card secondary markets are really starting to pick up. A few of my observations for April:

  • Consignment sale holding time has shortened considerably, with the turn-around time dropping to one to three weeks for big retail brands (exceptions: Home Depot, Target)
  • Appetite in private markets for volume gift card sales is soaring, kinda like PLBY stock
  • BestBuy gift card resale rates are creeping back up (I’ve seen 1-2% higher in the last couple of weeks, and break even deals when grocery rewards are included)
  • Capacity for immediate/non-consignment sales in gift card clubs is growing

Retailers are also starting to offer big discounts for Easter, and usually this trend just continues to pick up steam until mid-Summer.

If you don’t have any gift card reseller relationships, there are a few good exchanges out there. Stick with something reputable, good volume, and a good reputation in the community. There are a couple of gift card sellers that I have gotten to know personally and that I trust with bigger volume. That said, always keep your outstanding float in gift cards no higher than the dollar amount you’d be willing to lose if everything went wrong, and spread out your reselling amongst as many reputable sources as you can so if one fails, your whole portfolio isn’t gone. (c.f., The Plastic Merchant, which went bankrupt in 2019 and left resellers holding the bag)

MS note: In the right circles, you can easily do $30-60k of gift card reselling per week after you’ve developed relationships and moved into inner circles, so don’t ignore this technique. Do start out with something really small and slowly ramp over time though, so if you make newbie mistakes they don’t cost you much. As always — don’t push this beyond the amount you’d be willing to lose if something goes wrong. It can happen and has happened.

The worst part of gift card reselling: having a bunch of plastic cards floating around that you can’t get rid of (“just in case”), but serve no useful purpose.

Time to sail into the weekend. While you’re floating away, check the following:

1. Southwest has opened their travel bookings for most fall and some early winter travel through November 5. Now is a great time to lock in your fall travel if it involves any destinations served by Southwest. I’d recommend you book with Rapid Rewards points if at all possible because you can always redeposit or change Rapid Rewards bookings with no fee, so you can easily get the points back when the price drops or when your plans change. If you need a Rapid Rewards top-off, don’t forget that Southwest is a Chase transfer partner. Also, don’t forget that there’s no undoing that Chase to Southwest transfer.

2. Chase has targeted more co-brand cards for Q2 spend offers. Check your Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, United, AARP, Starbucks, and Disney cards (or any other co-brands you have with Chase) for a Q2 spend bonus here. If you don’t see any offer or get a strange error, reportedly incognito mode in your browser can help get you a bonus.

3. Since our favorite Vanilla Gift Card promotion code FLASH2020 has now died (more like SUNK2020, amirite?), I’m again interested in gift card purchases. If you are too, use promo code APR21SAVE50 at Simon to save 50% on fees when purchasing Visa or Mastercard gift cards. Don’t use an AmEx though, you won’t earn points and the Simon transaction won’t count toward minimum spend.

A sailboat with a wave taller than its mast towering, about to hit the boat.
It’s smooth sailing from here, just don’t look starboard-side.

It’s follow-up time:

1. Pavel wrote to let me know that if you’ve gotten attached to one of your burner phone numbers and want to keep it for a while, there’s a great deal at eBay for RedTalk mobile. You’ll be able to port in your number and have service for a year for a total of $30. Porting to Google Voice would cost less, but for most cell phone burner purposes Google Voice is a non-starter because they detect and prevent direct VOIP phone number use.

2. BlueCat previously let us know about the Chase Private Client Arts and Culture Program as a strong benefit that comes with Chase Private Client, but it sounds like that program is ending. That means the principle value of Private Client is once again a debit card that says “Private Client”.

3. Delta extended flexible travel bookings through April 30, so yesterday’s Housekeeping item about locking in bookings while the flexible window is open is still an option on Delta. You’ve got time to plan — things that you may want to book while you’ve got flexible cancellation: Summer vacation, Fall Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas travel.

4. AmEx sent another round of Membership Rewards for adding authorized users to your card. Look for an email with the subject “NAME, you’re about to miss out on 20,000 Membership Rewards® points. Add Card Members now.” Mine came on a Personal Platinum card and requires $2,000 spend within six months for the bonus. You can try this link, it doesn’t seem to be specific to me.