By now, I think you all know how I feel about the American Express Platinum changes, but in case you don’t the short overview is: “great for sign-up bonuses, awful for ongoing value.” Along with that mantra, there are a few things you should know about the American Express Platinum cards and maybe it’s time for you to consider going for a few of them for the sign-up bonuses or for the spend bonuses:

  • The Personal Platinum card has a 125,000 points offer with another 15x at restaurants or small businesses up to $25,000 in spend. I’d definitely use the AmEx Shop Small lookup tool to explore how to take advantage of this. Obviously if you can buy gift cards at a local “small business” grocery store you can easily make this a multiple thousand dollar card after maxing out your 15x capacity.
  • The Business Platinum card has a generic 150,000 points targeted offer that shows up sometimes in your “offers” section of the card. Login to American Express first, then click the link so you don’t have to hunt for the offer, it’ll tell you if you’re targeted or not.
  • The Brokerage Platinum cards from Morgan Stanley and Schwab both offer 100,000 Membership Rewards and 10x at restaurants and small businesses up to $25,000 in spend, in case you’re not eligible for the 15x offer you may still be eligible for one of these.
  • If none of those work for you, referring a friend or a P2 to a Platinum card will get you 5x at restaurants and small businesses up to $25,000 in spend, so there’s still a way to maximize the shop small ecosystem.

Now, how do you know if you’re eligible? Try and apply, and before submitting your final application you may get a pop-up window telling you that you may not be eligible because you’ve already had or you have the card. Or, you may get a pop-up telling you that due to your past relationship with American Express, you’re not eligible for the card. Here’s the thing though: If you get the first type of pop-up, you may still be eligible for the bonus. I’m not suggesting that you should do this, but recently people have been getting their bonuses despite getting the first type of pop-up during application (definitely only the first type). If you’re gutsy and you want that 5x/10x/15x shop small spend really badly like me, you may consider it worth the risk to try anyway.

Unrelated: Yesterday my table showing cost per points for portal bonuses didn’t take shipping into account. I’ve updated that so please take another look, and thanks again to Miles for letting me know. The punchline is that Southwest miles can be had for 0.777 cents per mile, United for 0.639 cents per mile, and Alaska for 0.816 cents per mile. I’m a buyer for Southwest and Alaska at those prices, I have too many United miles though to care.

A framed blackboard displaying the words "Small Business".
If I put one of these signs up by the register, will it count?

Two roundups in a row? What can I say, it’s that kind of weak I guess. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger, or something.

1. AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue has a widely targeted 30% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards. This, combined with the Flying Blue promo rewards can really turn into some great business class redemptions to Europe. Look for an email with the subject “Convert your American Express Membership Rewards® points now to earn 30% more Miles!” The one in my inbox had a link, but the link just takes you to the American Express page to transfer Membership Rewards to Flying Blue so I won’t post it here.

I’ve gotten great value out of the program in the past, and I will be taking advantage of this offer to a small extent, especially because transferred miles will now extend mileage expiration for other transferred miles.

2. This week’s fee free $200 Visa Gift Card sale expires at Staples tomorrow night, but don’t worry, another one starts on Sunday, but this time with fee free $200 Mastercard Gift Cards, limit 5 per customer or per transaction, depending on how your store rolls. I’m going to pass on this one because the stack of gift cards on my desk is growing uncomfortably large right now, especially considering that the closest Staples translates into 25 minutes in the car each way for me.

Side note that you didn’t ask about and don’t really care about either: I miss the OfficeDepot/Office Max sales quite a bit because there’s one of those about 5 minutes away on foot from my house.

3. American Express has another round of 20,000 Membership Rewards Authorized User bonuses going out for the Personal Platinum card. Use this link to see if you’re targeted. (thanks to Fryes)

4. Kroger has another 4x Fuel Points promotion running today through Sunday, and the BestBuy market is hot with the release of pre-orders for the Nintendo Switch OLED version. It’s going to be a productive weekend, especially if Kroger’s IT starts awarding 6x again.

Have a great weekend, and if you have ideas on cashing out some stupid Equinox credits, hit me up!

Frankly, I just don’t see the appeal of the Nintendo Switch, but when BestBuy gift card demand soars, roll with it.

1. Register here for your MileagePlay bonus offer from United. My offer was for 7,900 bonus miles for booking a premium seat fare that costs at least $350 in the next 78 days. Meh, I guess I won’t be getting 7,900 more miles from United this time. I do have about $1,800 in TravelBank credit for unloading my American Express Platinum airline reimbursements, but I’m not going to blow $350+ of it just for the punishment of flying in a United domestic “first class” seat, prolly on a CRJ-700 with a broken tray table.

2. If you have an American Express Marriott Bonvoy card, register here for 6x on several spend categories, up to $1,666 spend per category:

  • US Gas Stations (am I the only one who finds the “US” restriction strange?)
  • Airline tickets booked directly with the carrier
  • Car rentals
  • Transit (Uber Eats should count accidentally as I read it)

Out of all of those, I’d be only mildly interested in the Gas Stations because 3 x $500 Visa Gift Cards at 7-11 or Speedway would be easy and quick. That said, I was #bonvoyed and told I was not eligible when I tried to register.

3. Login to American Express, then try the following links for huge sign-up offers that are frankly really big, but you have to be targeted to be eligible (when I clicked apply on each, I wasn’t targeted which isn’t a surprise given my eleven American Express charge cards (thanks to DoC and DDG):

4. Check your non-Platinum flavored American Express cards for an offer for $179 off of Clear Membership. Watch out though, the hack for two Clear memberships for the price of one it won’t work out for the AmEx offer but does still work for the Platinum. (thanks to jerseyguy195)

5. If your Kroger fuel points account was locked in the 4x shenanigans, visit the Kroger website and print out an image of your loyalty barcode — you’ll be able to scan that at the pump and bypass the lock.

A depiction of my last United tray table geometry in First Class, though mine was worse than pictured.

1. Bookmark this link for accessing your American Express offers. This link is magical because you can see more than 100 offers per card, and offers show up here that didn’t show up elsewhere. (Thanks to DoC)

2. Yun let me know that the Visible deal is even better now: you now get a month for $5 when you sign up with a referral link, so you can now get $30 cash back, a $100 Mastercard, and a burner cell phone number for a total cost of $30 out of pocket when using a Visible Party. Don’t forget to use a virtual account number and follow these tips for a smoother deal.

3. I’m still toying with various options on the American Express Platinum entertainment credit, but this one may interest some of you: Get a free Echo Dot when you sign up for Sirius/XM for three months at $15 per month, which will be completely wiped away by the lame entertainment credit. I’d scale this with different email addresses as needed, other than I don’t want an Echo Dot. (Thanks to Fryes)

4. The Point debit card has a new offer for 5x at Amazon which is certainly ok but not the 10x that they had a couple of weeks ago, though still useful. This one runs through August 8 and is good for up to $1,000 in spend. I’ll probably just reload my Amazon balance on this round. They’ve also got 5x at Whole Foods, though at that level it’s definitely not worth a separate trip for me. There’s also 5x at Costco, which is worth thinking about, but just barely.

If you don’t have the Point card and you want one, make sure you sign up for it through a referral for a bonus. As far as I know the $250 referral bonus ended last Friday but hopefully I’m wrong and just don’t have that offer within my inner circle. As always, I’d rather you find a friend and use their referral, but if you don’t have another good option feel free to reach out to me for the $100 version.

Shia Labeouf holding a set of rings wearing a purple Unicorn shirt.
The conjuring of the American Express Offers magic link.

If you’ve read any credit card churning forum or blog in the last 24 hours, you’ve almost certainly heard about the Citi Premier 80,000 point bonus. It’s elevated and fine on the face of it, but nothing to go bananas over so don’t needlessly get sucked in to the hype machine. If you’re going to go for it though, don’t forget that you can get multiple ThankYou Point card sign up bonuses back-to-back even though it seems like you can’t on the face of it. The Citi Terms and Conditions are tricky, but the following points are relevant:

  • You aren’t eligible for the bonus if you’ve received a bonus in the last 24 months
  • You aren’t eligible for the bonus if you’ve closed a ThankYou Points card in the last 24 months

Do you see the wiggle room between those two bullets? It’s there, and it works. The trick is that you can apply for multiple Citi cards, (the Premier and the Prestige, for example), just don’t hit the spend threshold for the bonus points on any of the cards until after you’ve been approved for all of them. Then, you can hit the spend threshold on each and get the bonus on each.

Side note: Astute readers will note that I mentioned the Citi Prestige, which is apparently discontinued for new account holders. But, don’t believe everything you’ve read on the internet, you can still apply for it through a Zombie link! (Thanks to David for the link.)

So, if you’re eligible and you think the deal is good at 80,000 points, why not shoot for 210,000 points for two Premiers and a Prestige? Or if you’re gutsy, 260,000 points for two Premiers or two Prestiges? Or some other combo, potentially including other cards? Just keep in mind that Citi will auto-deny your application if you have more than one approval every eight days, but there’s always reconsideration (or, just wait eight days between applications). Thanks to Cari for the clarification.

PS: There are other Citi hacks, just “look into history to learn more” as the muppets say.

A rube goldberg style complex chain-reaction machine
The delicate inner workings of the credit card hype machine

I’m on vacation and have been since Friday afternoon, and I’m punch drunk on California beach vibes so I went experimental today. Without further ado, here’s my review of the new American Express Platinum card changes, in haiku form.

Huge annual fee
is unjustifiable
find another card

Clear reimbursement
could save 55 minutes per year
if you are lucky

Equinox credit
useful in almost no cities
use YouTube instead

One lifetime bonus?
terms and conditions are lies
bonus will come

New York Times is saved
by entertainment credit
otherwise no-one pays

Fine Hotels and Resorts
credit does not earn you status
better than nothing

Air incidentals
credit was hard to abuse
but was worth real cash

Lounge access is great
until you realize that
many cards grant it

Will not renew
personal cards will be golds
business cards will cease

Vacation vibe vibes.

I’m sure you’ve heard all about the new American Express Platinum changes ad-nauseam, but in case you haven’t there’s a nice overview here (short version: higher annual fee, more stupid benefits). Once we know a little more about what works for hacking the value out of the benefits I’ll make sure you’re all up to speed.

In the mean time though, I want to offer a piece of advice that will hopefully up your game: When it comes to the Terms & Conditions in credit card offers, shopping portals, spend bonuses, or anything else we deal with in travel hacking: Trust but verify. Here’s a concrete example for us to work with: The new, higher annual fee, stupified additional credit American Express Platinum card. If you read the Terms and Conditions for the card, you’ll see the following sentence at the beginning in big bold letters, slapping you in the face:

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card or previous versions of the Platinum Card.

That’s pretty easy to understand — if you’ve had a Platinum card, you’re not eligible for another bonus. Ultimately if you absolutely, positively must have this sign up bonus or you don’t want the card, you should probably trust what the terms say because that’s the legal framework that you’ll be working under if something goes wrong. However, (you knew there was a “however” coming, right?) that statement is verifiably not actually how sign up bonuses have been working in practice. Despite what the T&C says, you’ll get the bonus with American Express unless they give you a popup during the application that says: “… you are not eligible to receive the welcome offer. We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?” The flip side is true, you may be eligible for a bonus according to the T&C, but you may still get the popup and you definitely won’t receive the bonus in that case.

So much of what we do in this hobby is reliant on the Terms and Conditions, and certainly if you ever go to mediation or court with a company, the Terms and Conditions will be hard to walk away from. That said, a lot of what we do in this hobby is to hide in the noise, and sometimes the noise is simply just overzealous T&C that doesn’t actually govern what happens in practice.

So, know what’s in the Terms and Conditions, but verify within in the community to see if they’re actually enforced. If you don’t, you’ll be missing out on a fair number of hiding “in the noise” opportunities.

Happy holiday weekend, don’t blow up your face with a firework.

Yes friends, even the firework’s Terms and Conditions “do not hold in hand” term isn’t enforced.

After a heavy week of posts, it’s time for a return to normalcy. (Yes I mean the pre-COVID kind. No, I don’t actually have a way to get us there, but thanks for believing in me.) So, let’s jump in with a quadruple:

1. Check your inbox for a targeted free $100 from Delta to use by August 31. To search for it, I’d use the query: “in:anywhere from:delta subject:100“. I didn’t get it, but maybe they’ll like you more than they like me.

2. Kroger has a digital coupon for 4x fuel points on gift cards starting yesterday and running through July 13. Expect to see a lot of Marshall’s, Nike, Best Buy, and Home Depot demand from gift card resellers over the next two weeks. The two put together can easily make this a money maker deal before the credit card rewards, and a gonzo deal after them.

3. For your manufactured spending needs (except American Express), Simon has a code for 44% off of fees for purchasing Visa and Mastercard gift cards with the code: FS44JUN

4. Apparently this has been around for a while but it’s new to me: Create a dummy award booking with Delta and during the checkout process you may find an offer for a Delta Personal Gold card with 70k bonus miles, a 20k miles rebate, and no annual fee in the first year. I’d take that offer if I could. Just close it after when the annual fee hits after 12 months, or better yet get an upgrade or retention offer on the card for a juicier win.

A picture of a human leg muscle group, with arrows pointing at the quadriceps muscles. The muscles are labeled as: Delta $100, Kroger 4x, Simon 44%, and Delta Gold 90k.
Presented without additional commentary.