1. Reader Yun let me know that there’s a neat hack for new Point.app debit card accounts. If you use someone’s referral code at this link, the annual fee drops to $0 for the first year and $49 for the second year. What’s currently unclear is whether you’ll get the $100 sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 when you use the link. My guess is yes, but that’s just a guess.

If you need a referral code, ask a friend and make their day because they’ll likely get a referral bonus. If that’s not a good option for you, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll share Yun’s (he’s given me permission).

2. I got a no lifetime language (NLL) offer via email for the Business Platinum card from American Express, with 150,000 Membership Rewards after $15,000 in spend within the first three months. The link in my inbox seems to skirt the 10 charge card limit — hopefully the link works for you too. To check, login to American Express and then click here.

I’m back up to 11 charge cards with American Express now with 9 of them being Platinums, huzzah I guess?

3. Marriott Bonvoy has enlisted American Express’s help to #bonvoy you. How? I’m glad you asked. They’re sending around targeted offers for card holders that give you a pitiful 1,000 points if you add an authorized user to your Bonvoy Card and spend $1,000 on the authorized user card in six months. You can see if you’re targeted at this link.

This is a terrible offer by the way; 1,000 Bonvoy points are worth at best $5, which is approximately the price of a cookie at a Marriott Courtyard.

The cookies on this plate are literally worth more than 1,000 #bonvoy points. Given the deliberately ominous arrangement, I calculate a 41.4% chance that this #bonvoy elite welcome gift will make you sick.
(Thanks to D C Domer for the picture from his recent trip)

Target runs a deal like $50 off of $50 when opening a new Target Redcard every few months. The latest of these deals started Saturday and runs through October 1. The promotion applies to opening either a debit Redcard or for a credit card Redcard, both of which have merit (and not just because they’ll both give you 5% off of everything at Target).

Debit

Why sign up for the debit card?

  • There’s no hard pull on your credit
  • You can close it as soon as you get the $50 off coupon
  • After closing the card, wait 48 hours and you can sign up for another one with the same info to get another coupon

Over the period of this promotion, you’ll almost certainly be able to open/close twice, and perhaps three times. So, think of this as $100-$150 in Target stuff every few months with no credit pull.

Credit

What about the credit card? Well, $50 is a really crappy bonus for signing up for a credit card for sure, especially one that only works at Target. But, this card has a great feature: You may be able to pay off your balance in store. (Target is pretty accepting of different payment methods — remember the American Express for Target prepaid card before it was discontinued? I do)

There’s another reason to get the credit version of the Target RedCard: It’s a prerequisite for getting the Target Mastercard which, unlike the RedCard, works at stores other than Target.

Good luck, and a special thanks to Larry for consulting with me on this post.

An image of the old American Express For Target prepaid debit card.
This card still lives today (in spirit).

Well friends, the day is unfortunately here: As of tonight at 11:59PM Eastern (or perhaps even earlier), you can no longer cash-out American Express Membership Rewards at 1.25 cents each with the Schwab Platinum card. That makes it a great time to remind you about the often forgotten no-annual fee Morgan Stanley Card from American Express which I first learned about from the mostly defunct Windbag Miles, and then forgot about completely until the Schwab cash-out changes were confirmed. As of today now, it’s officially a member of the Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Heroes club.

Let’s talk about this card:

  • It earns Membership Rewards
  • It bonuses at 2x on department stores, restaurants, car rentals, and airfare
  • It has no annual fee
  • You can transfer to airline partners
  • You can cash out Membership Rewards to your Morgan Stanley account at one cent per point

The last bullet is the kicker, though the others are noteworthy too. This card may now be the best option for converting Membership Rewards to cash in an above-the-board sort of way. Yes, the Schwab Platinum gives you an extra 10% uplift on cash-out, but you also have to have a Schwab Platinum card and pay its $695 annual fee, which I guess you can offset slightly with Clear and a stupid gym membership.

Running the numbers quickly by moving the decimal, you’d have to cash-out more than 695,000 points with the Schwab Platinum at 1.1 cents per point to offset the annual fee of the Platinum card versus just cashing out at 1.0 cents per per point with the no fee Morgan Stanley Card; if you’re cashing out any number less than that over the period of a year, you should really be using the Morgan Stanley card and not the Schwab Platinum. As a really, really small incentive for getting the card, you’ll get 10,000 Membership Rewards as a sign up bonus after spending $1,000 within three months, and I’m guessing you’ve never gotten that signup bonus before. Right? It’s not exactly been high on my list.

As promised, the Morgan Stanley Card is no where to be found on my top credit cards list, but it will be in my wallet soon anyway.

1. Register here for a $50 promo code off of any AA flight booking when booking with a Mastercard for travel before March 15, 2022. There’s a catch though, the code comes six to eight weeks after your first booking for a second booking. So, it’s really a buy-one, get-one for $50 off offer. I bet you can game it with a refundable fare, but at this point no one has been able to try.

2. Check here for a targeted offer for 135,000 points for upgrading from an American Express Gold or Green card to a Platinum card. Yes, this may even work with the NLL Business Gold card that you may have opened on Thursday. (Thanks to DDG)

3. An interesting promotion has come from Avis, which has happened in the past (checks notes) approximately zero times. Register at that link, then rent an intermediate car from Avis twice for at least two days and you’ll earn a free rental day. Also, don’t forget to register for Avis Preferred status if you have an American Express Platinum card. It’s an even stronger flex if your Platinum card was from item 2.

William Banks Jr doing the Tuesday Triple (jump).

A few of items to watch for this weekend:

1. Ready for another week of treadmill running with $200 Mastercard Gift Cards? Staples has your back with another fee free offer, limit five per transaction. I like it, but I don’t like it as much as the Office Depot/OfficeMax version which ends tomorrow because that one starts out as negative cost and gets even better with Dosh. The Staples one is “just” at-cost spend.

Related side note: Another card linked program, Ibotta, has worked with Staples online purchases in the past but seems to have died for anything useful (thanks to SideshowBob233).

2. The Citi Shop Your Way Mastercard has sent new targeted offers for the second half of August. I got one for $50 off of $750 in spend with the subject “Matthew, open now to unlock your special limited time offer! 🌟“, and there are reports of other offers for 15x on utility payments, which are honestly among the easiest categories of payments for manufacturing spend. Never heard of this card? That’s probably because as far as I know it doesn’t pay anyone a commission so you won’t find much written in the usual places.

Incidentally, the Citi Shop Your Way Mastercard is one of the next Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Hero cards thanks to its gameablity, monthly spending bonus offers that stack, and no-annual fee. This card is smoking hot.

Sam from Milenomics reminded me that the best sign-up bonus for this card is in-store at Sears and includes a free two-liter bottle of soda 🤣 in addition to the regular $40 bonus.

3. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that your Hyatt status was extended to Feb, 2023. Here’s to hoping it sticks for those of you that got it!

The smoke you’ll be dealing with today, probably a coming from the smoking hot Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card.

We’ve got a good news/bad news situation today:

1. Bad news: Up until as recently as last month, if you could find an offer for a Chase credit card with a fixed APR listed in the Terms and Conditions, that offer would bypass the Chase 5/24 rules. That’s no longer the case according to a trustworthy source (former Reddit /r/churning moderator AndySol1983).

2. Good news: A new link for an American Express Business Gold card with no lifetime language and a 90,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus after spending $10,000 in three months has surfaced. Yes, we got one of these on Tuesday, but this one is a different offer and thus another chance for you to get the card in case you weren’t targeted with Tuesday’s version. (Thanks to sticky__ricky on Reddit)

Don’t forget, those Business Gold cards often get upgrade offers for 80,000 Membership Rewards or more for converting them to a Business Platinum.

3. Good news: Southwest is having a fare sale for tickets booked today for travel at least 21 days from now. The dates cover Thanksgiving travel, so check existing Thanksgiving bookings or look at making them now if you don’t have them locked in.

4. Bad news: The rolling Southwest free change window misfeature seems to have been fixed by their IT department. It seems that the widespread, “book the cheapest fare you can and then switch to the schedule you want” tricks are no longer for this world. For the gory details, see this Flyertalk thread and read posts on and after August 3.

A cup of Southwest Airlines: they’ll get you where you need to go (good), but you have to fly Southwest to get there (bad).

1. Check here for an American Express Business Platinum offer for 160,000 Membership Rewards points. You get 150,000 for spending $15,000 in three months, and another 10,000 for adding an employee card and spending $1,000 on that card. As of this writing, the offer is currently a “no-lifetime language (NLL)” card, meaning that having other Business Platinum cards in the past or present shouldn’t disqualify you from this offer. Tips: Employee cards come pre-activated for 60 days even without providing an SSN. Also, American Express is happy to give you employee cards as Your Name I, Your Name II, Your Name III, etc.

I’m still at my charge card limit with American Express so I can’t currently go for this, but I would if I could in a heartbeat.

2. Check here for an American Express Business Gold offer for 90,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 in three months. This one is also a NLL card.

I’d also go for this if I could just like the one above, especially because Business Gold cards often get a targeted upgrade offer to a Business Platinum for up to 85,000 additional Membership Rewards points.

3. Finally, there’s an offer for $30 back from Turo after spending $150 on many American Express cards. (Turo is like airbnb, but for cars.)

I’ve rented a Turo car before when regular car rental prices were sky-high and it turned out ok. I had to wait in the airport parking lot for 15 minutes for the owner to arrive, I got a different car than I booked (though materially similar), the guy renting to me was slightly sketchy, and the radio would play a strange female voice whenever a notification came in on my phone, but I saved $300 or so and in the end it was fine. Based on that singular experience I’d rather rent with a real, non-Fox rental car company but with the current carpocalpyse Turo may still be the best option.

My Turo rental car. Flames weren’t in the listing, but were provided to me at no additional charge.

Office Depot OfficeMax (I literally never remember which parts of that store name are supposed to have a space and which aren’t) has another negative cost manufactured spend opportunity available: $15 back on a purchase of $300 or more in Mastercard Gift Cards. For the best bang for your buck:

  1. Link your credit card(s) to Dosh in the mobile app before heading to the store. You’ll get an extra 2% back, up to $10 per day
  2. Buy two $200 Mastercard gift cards
  3. Get two more $200 Mastercard gift cards, and go to step (2) with another transaction (if you’ve got a friendly cashier)
  4. Log in to Dosh a few hours after the transaction to claim your cash back

You’ll spend $398.90 per transaction for $400.00 in gift cards and you’ll get another $7.97 cash back from Dosh.

One of the frequent questions I get lately is “How can you liquidate these from home?” I’ve got a few answers that I’m glad to share publicly, and a few that are more fragile so I won’t share them here. I will however drop the generic tip that I encourage you to explore around — opportunities do exist. Start looking for payment processors and bill payment platforms because that’s where pay dirt usually lies. In the mean time though, you can liquidate from home via:

  • Bravo payment app: see the defunct Middle Aged Miles blog for more. Side note: do some great internet sleuthing and app hacking if you want better than 2.9% rates, but it’s fraught with peril and you should probably never take my advice about anything
  • Paying estimated taxes quarterly, two per payment processor (PayUSATax, PayTax1040, ACI Payments)
  • Micro-lending on Kiva
  • Reloading your Amazon balance
  • Pay your utility bills, most accept “debit” card payments

Good luck out there!

With this many major players involved in payment processing you’re bound to find loopholes. Let’s not forget that there are many, many more minor players too.