1. Chase Pay Yourself Back categories for Q2 for the Sapphire Reserve are:

    – Wholesale clubs
    – Pet supply
    – Gas stations
    – Annual fee

    We lost grocery stores, but gas stations and wholesale clubs both typically sell gift cards.
  2. The Alaska MileagePlan shopping portal has an offer for $500 bonus miles after $100 spend by April 8.

    Giftcards.com remains available through the shopping portal, and there are still ways to liquidate these both online and in person.
  3. Do this now: Check for targeted Q2 spending offers on Chase cards for 5x on up to $1,000 spend at grocery, gas, and home improvement stores, all of which sell gift cards. Cards with less valuable currencies like the IHG card have slightly higher multipliers like 8x.
  4. If you have a Chase United card, check for a targeted Rewards Your Way spend bonus. Reported offers include your choice of bonus PQP or 24,000-36,000 miles for $10,000-$20,000 in spend. (Thanks to BrianInMD)
  5. The Barclays Aviator Red AA card has an increased referral sign-up bonus of 70,000 miles for the referred after a single purchase, and another 10,000 miles for the referrer. The $99 annual fee is not waived for the first year.

Yes friends, there was no April Fool’s Day fake post yesterday because at MEAB, every day is fool’s day (?).

The American Express’s shutdowns from about a month ago rocked the community. Even though the total number of shutdowns was barely above the single digits, for about six hours, chat rooms, slacks, and forums lit up with discussion, data point sharing, and an impending sense of malaise. I was taxiing for takeoff for a week long international trip right when the news broke. Fortunately (?), I was able to stay connected with inflight WiFi to follow the drama in real time, and I was able to share in the myriad “what if” planning sessions that inevitably followed.

One of those “what if” scenarios was “what if I’m out of town with only one or two cards and I get shutdown?” There’s a simple mitigation:

Always carry cards from multiple issuers when traveling.

If I had been shutdown (I wasn’t), and if I only carried by American Express cards with me (I don’t), I’d have been in a rough spot. When I travel internationally, I carry a card from Chase, a card from Citi, a card from American Express, a card from US Bank, and a card from a local credit union. Some of those cards stay in my suitcase and some in my wallet. If and when I’m shutdown, I’ll be sad, but I’ll still be able to pay for things while I figure out next steps.

Special thanks to CF Frost for suggesting an article on this topic.

Occasionally adult advice from an occasional adult.

EDITORS NOTE: In 2024, I’ve introduced Guest Post Saturdays. If you’re interested in contributing, please reach out! Today’s guest post from community member George, who excels at automation, charity, and is an expert at bridging gaps. Donations for the 501(c)(3) non-profit Girls on Fire can be made online.

One thing I like to do in my free time, when I’m not working at my 9-5, churning, MSing, writing and sharing automation scripts for MSing, or going on trips because of churning and MSing, is mentoring student robotics teams. 

Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this, and it’s probably not where you think.

You may or may not be familiar with FIRST, which is a global robotics community preparing young people for the future. My favorite thing about it isn’t the robots or the coding or the competitions but how diverse the program attempts to be in what it teaches. They say they are “more than robots,” and that’s definitely true. 

One concept I particularly have learned to love is coopertition, which fosters innovation by promoting unqualified kindness and respect in the face of intense competition. I have been inspired by watching teams help each other during competitions and by helping other teams myself. Imagine Duke helping Carolina in the middle of the Final 4. Anyway, if you want to learn more, get in touch.

Now, here’s where I’m going: we should be more like these kids. We should cooperate.

Yes, there are reasons to be secretive in this game. It’s possible that if you give too much away, your plays will die out. However, have we run out of plays yet? Don’t new ones pop up all the time?

I’m not recommending radical transparency, but I do think we should share more. Certainly the more private and insular the group, especially if they are paid groups, the more information there is being shared. However, what credit unions were good for PPBP or what banks take credit card funding are still the kind of thing people often hold close to the vest. And again, yes, one just stopped allowing $15,000 in credit card funding pretty quickly after offering it, and that was probably our fault. But was that going to last forever without us? At least one person reports they were told that it was offered because of us.

Personally, I’ve found that at the right time and in the right venue, revealing sensitive information has come back to me positively multiple times over. Indeed, isn’t that the usual thinking when it comes to charity? Maybe you believe sometimes what you receive in return is some kind of “karma,” but sometimes, you get a new play from the person you helped.

Here’s what I recommend: next time you see someone, maybe someone new, asking for help…. help them. Oh, and if it isn’t obvious, this doesn’t just relate to churning.

Establish trust, then maybe give them a tidbit you wouldn’t share publicly. Even if they share it later, the chances aren’t so high that it will get out into the DOC comments or Reddit or wherever and ruin it, and if nothing else, you will have done a good deed. You may even get something better in return.

Waiting for a Chase Ink card application to stop spinning already.

  1. An update to the PSA about Google Pay and US Bank Altitude Reserve 3x mobile wallet earning: I heard from a few readers that Google Pay works for them at 3x, and Nick at FM said the same. At this point I think the criteria for whether or not it works is a combination of whether you’re on mobile or desktop, and when your Google Pay wallet was created, which probably dictates which technology stack it uses.

    I’ve also heard from several readers that Apple Pay doesn’t earn 3x for them either, but removing the card from your wallet and then re-adding it fixes the issue. What a mess!
  2. Starlux Airlines opened its schedule for travel between Seattle and Taipei, and business class is currently bookable for 75,000 Alaska miles. Award availability is currently better than average. Flights start on August 16.
  3. The American Express Hilton Business card was enhanced to a lower overall value proposition. The highlights:

    – Increased annual fee to $195 after July 1
    – No more free night certificates at $15,000 spend or $60,000 spend after July 1
    – Quarterly $60 Hilton credit
    – Base earning goes from 3x to 5x immediately
    – Bonus 6x categories are gone after July 1

    I usually have 2-3 of these in my rotation at any time, specifically for the free night certificate spending. Post this change, I’ll have between zero and 0 of these. #bonvoyed
  4. Priority Pass cards issued by Chase are losing access to restaurants on July 1. If you value this benefit, chat with Cookie Monster about your business card needs or become a Bank of America Elite.
  5. RobinHood is the new cool kid on the block with a co-branded card issued by Coastal Community Bank. It has no sign-up bonus and an effective annual fee of $60 because you’ll need a RobinHood Gold membership and that’s the current 12 month cost. The card earns 3% cash back everywhere and obviously will be huge in the right hands, which hopefully includes a lot of you.

    When a new product comes out there’s always a trade-off between hitting it as hard as possible in a short time on the assumption that it’ll be cut quickly, and being moderate to take advantage of the product over years because the long-term value will be huge. This one almost certainly falls into the former category.
  6. Staples has fee free $200 Visa gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction.

    These are Pathward gift cards. (Thanks to GCG)

Have a nice weekend!

A black cat walking under a ladder near your wallet is another potential fix for US Bank 3x earning.

If you follow churning blogs or forums, you’ve no doubt seen that US Bank has double cash back rewards running through Saturday. But, I think based on the content out there, most of the major content creators haven’t actually used it, so let’s add some practical notes:

  1. There are multiple aspects of the double cash back promotion. Not only are card-linked offers doubled for the next three days (which is the only thing I’ve seen written), but the US Bank shopping portal’s earnings are also doubled for the next three days.
  2. It can be really hard to find US Bank rewards landing pages. So, I’ve linked to both variations, just make sure you login to your US Bank account first before trying these links:

    US Bank rewards hub (login to your US bank account first)
    US Bank card linked offers page (login to your US Bank account first)
    US Bank shopping portal (login to your US Bank account first)

    Did you even know US Bank had a shopping portal, and that it earns points on point earning cards? Did you know that Lubbock is considered the one of the world’s capitals for burrowing owls? Did you know that owls can even burrow in the ground? (Wow, we’re off track today, my bad)
  3. The card linked offers are their own kind of special:

    – You have to add card-linked versions of the offer during the promotion or they won’t double
    – They work for any personal card on your account, and maybe for any business card too
    – Grocery stores occasionally show up
    – Gaming works like Chase Offers or BankAmeriDeals
    – The card-linked portal often just shows a spinner, and when that happens, try later (I don’t have a better solution, but if you do, please let me know)

This promotion is actually much more lucrative than you’d probably think. Always be probing, and good luck!

Mr. burrowing owl is shocked that content creators aren’t always experts when they write on a topic.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has now released on-time data for all months in 2023, which means I get to play data geek, specifically with an eye toward positioning flights and how much time to build in to connections to have a great chance of everything working out, at least as long as this year is like data from 2023.

Marketing Carrier Arrival Stats

First, let’s look look at the 90th and 95th percentile for arrival delays by marketing carrier (or, in other words, how many minutes past scheduled arrival captures 90% or 95% of all carrier arrivals)? Note that this includes regional jets operated by partner airlines like SkyWest, Endeavor, and United Express.

Marketing Carrier90th Percentile Arrival Delay
95th Percentile Arrival Delay
American Airlines5183
Alaska Airlines3153
2023 Arrival statistics by marketing carrier.

I’m most surprised by JetBlue here, given that to have a 95% chance of arriving in time for your connection, you need to pad your connection time by nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes. On the other hand, I wrote this on a JetBlue flight that was delayed by about 3 ½ hours, so I guess confirmed? Well played JetBlue.

Operating Carrier Arrival Stats

Now, let’s look at the same thing for major airlines flying mainline aircraft, excluding any regional jets, since often we’re able to avoid regional jets for positioning flights or connections and historically they don’t perform as well:

Marketing Carrier90th Percentile Arrival Delay
95th Percentile Arrival Delay
2023 Arrival statistics by operating carrier, major airlines.

Note that AA’s operation has worse (!) performance when its regional partner airlines are excluded from the statistics and we only consider mainline flights. I had to go triple check this data because wow, that sucks AA.

What about data for the regionals only, when they’re operating on behalf of one of the majors?

Marketing Carrier90th Percentile Arrival Delay
95th Percentile Arrival Delay
Air Wisconsin61114
2023 Arrival statistics by operating carrier, regional airlines operating for another carrier.

My mental model for regional jet carriers is usually: avoid GoJet and Mesa, SkyWest is most likely to get you there. The data proves that’s only somewhat correct for 2023 though.

Major Hub Arrival Statistics

Ok, but what about a given hub? We all know that some function better than others, so let’s look at arrival delays at the top 15 airports by total number of commercial flights, plus one bonus airport.

Airport90th Percentile Arrival Delay
95th Percentile Arrival Delay
2023 Arrival statistics by airport, ordered by total number of air carrier flights in 2023.

So I guess avoid positioning flights to Orlando, Boston, or JFK if you can help it.

Also for fun, these are the worst airports for delays:

Airport90th Percentile Arrival Delay
95th Percentile Arrival Delay
2023 Arrival statistics by airport, ordered by biggest 95th percentile arrival delays.

So, don’t expect to fly to Provo, UT in any timely fashion. Maybe the late arrivals explain why Provo, part of what’s affectionally called “Happy Valley”, is the number one spot in the nation for anti-depressant prescriptions per capita.

By Season

We can dissect this data in a million different ways, but we know winter storms make things worse and summer thunderstorms don’t help either. So let’s look at when you’re most likely to be delayed, by month.

So, build extra time in for positioning flights in June and July.

What about breaking this down by day of the week?

The takeaway here is probably that the day of week doesn’t matter much, unless it’s Tuesday.


If you’re interested in seeing the raw CSV data (which ended up in an SQL database), let me know, I’m happy to share. Otherwise, good luck on those award flights!

MEAB today, prolly.

First, a warning about Google Wallet, renamed to Android Pay, renamed to Google Pay, which split into Google Wallet and Google Pay, and then was all renamed to Google Wallet once again (I wish I was kidding about all of this, but I’m not):

Since around December, Google Wallet purchases aren’t earning 3x points on the US Bank Altitude Reserve card. They’ll probably fix it retroactively at some point, but for now stick to Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, both of which have been much less schizophrenic about their names and still earn 3x.

  1. Southwest has a promotional companion pass offer valid through August 5 and October 2 provided you register and book two one-ways or one round-trip flight by tomorrow night, and then fly those flights by May 22. The qualifying flights need to be paid flights, and they have to be booked after registration.

    The bad news is that you’ll be flying Southwest, but the good news is it might be half priced Southwest this fall.
  2. Do this now: Register for double elite rental credits on weekend rentals with National for rentals between April 4 and June 9. If you maximize this promotion, they’ll also throw in a few empty bottles of no-name soda underneath the passenger seat of the rental car. (Thanks to FM)
  3. Do this now: Register for Wyndham’s 10 bonus elite qualifying nights with a single stay in the next 90 days. This is a targeted promotion in theory, but in practice likely works for everyone.
  4. American Express offers has an offer for $180 of of $1,200 or more in airfare booked by June 23. If you’re playing games on this one, know that you’ll probably have to call British Airways to cancel and refund.

Happy Tuesday!

Extreme couponers can parlay National’s free empty soda bottles into chiz stick.

  1. Preferred Hotels brand properties are now bookable via Choice Points at a special link. There are some great redemptions here, and a dare say that some of them are competitive with Hyatt or Hilton redemptions, especially given that Citi ThankYou Points are transferrable to Choice at a 2:1 ratio for Premier card holders.
  2. American Express has new employee card offers for 5,000 Membership Rewards after $2,000 spend for up to five employees:

    Business Gold
    Business Green

    The POID is K4IY:9897. Note that Blue Business Plus cards may also be eligible, but that’s unconfirmed. If you try, I’d suggest chatting with AmEx after three business days to see if a spend offer is attached before spending. (Thanks to MicroChurn)
  3. Do this now: Register for double Hyatt elite qualifying nights at Dream hotels for stays through June 10.
  4. Norwegian carrier Play has 25% off of fares to Berlin, Dublin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Paris, London, and Norway booked by tomorrow night for travel between April 2024 and February 2025, excluding July and December.

    Play is a low cost airline, so you’re going to have to fly economy and suck it up, buttercup to take advantage of this one.

Play Airlines headquarters’ official welcome sign.