Delta SkyMiles are famously sucky in terms of overall value; for example, it’ll cost you 120,000 miles in business class each way between the US and Japan using SkyMiles (vs. say, 60,000 miles on Alaska). I don’t talk about SkyMiles much for that very reason, nor do I think you should hoard them. However, for domestic and short haul international travel they’re worth a floor of 1.127 cents per mile, and sometimes more when there are award sales. Delta lets you buy essentially any domestic or short haul international ticket with miles, so you’re not really fighting award availability in those cases either.

Take the above, and consider that currently it’s possible to get a Delta Reserve American Express card with a 125,000 mile bonus using this link (I stripped away any affiliate information so it’s completely clean, no one is going to get a commission with it.) Note: The link is subject to the American Express random number generator, so you may have to go incognito, try a different browser, and/or connect to a VPN. In my experiments, I was able to see it in Safari Private mode on the first try, and it didn’t come up in Brave’s Incognito mode in the first try. You can also try searching Google, Baidu, Bing, and Yahoo for “delta credit card” and clicking on a few of the resulting links.

Where am I going with all of this? The Delta Reserve card has a $550 annual fee, and you’ll earn 125,000 miles as a sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spend. That means you’re spending $550 for 125,000 miles * 1.16 cents per mile, or a total of $1,408 in Delta tickets for $550 out of pocket, which works out to a 61% discount on travel on Delta. As JustinV loves to say, America loves math.

Keep in mind that American Express has a 5-ish credit card limit (and a 10-ish charge card limit). Hint: The “ish” comes into play due to shenanigans.

Talking about skirting card limits.

Bank of America credit cards are really underrated in the travel hacking space, which is one of the myriad reasons the Cash Rewards family of cards was awarded the coveted Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Heroes award. Why you should look into them:

  • The business card portfolio is churnable
  • They have offers like American Express and Chase for statement credits at certain merchants
  • You can get great uplift on the Personal or Business Cash Rewards (5.25% back)
  • They combine hard pulls in the same calendar day, so you can apply for a card, get approved, then apply for another without a new hard pull
  • They’re great MS targets
  • They send targeted spend offers somewhat regularly

On that last note, check your email inbox for spend offers from Bank of America. (I’d search my email program for from:bankofamerica.com in:anywhere and look at the last couple of days worth of messages. Thanks to ukinny for the updated query which will also catch messages that wound up in spam.) People are seeing various offers including:

  • 2% cash back on Alaska Airlines family of cards, up to $150 total cash back
  • 1% additional cash back on the Cash Rewards family of cards, up to $150 total cash back
  • 3% additional cash back on home improvement spend on the Cash Rewards family of cards, up to $75 total cash back

Remember that the cash rewards cards can have multipliers up to 1.75 with the Preferred Rewards program, which could mean up to 10.5% back (3% additional + 3% base) * 1.75. That’s bananas.

A group of people at a party holding up drinks for a toast, except all of the drinks have been replaced with various Bank of America credit cards
Bank of America credit card party! (With inspiration from Danny of the Alchemy podcast on the Milenomics Podcast Network.)

1. Capital One has added a few airline transfer partners and made a few others 1:1 transfer partners. I’m still not sold on the program as being uniquely different or valuable, but I know some of you like them. Here’s a nice, no-nonsense summary. I think Turkish, Avianca, and Asia Miles are the useful Capital One partners.

2. Alaska Airlines is offering 500 bonus miles for spending $100 with a store after clicking through their shopping portal. The bonus is too small and the fees are too high for me to do anything with GiftCards.com on this one, but if you’re going to buy something anyway… 🤷‍♀️

3. Meijer stores are offering $7.50 off of $50 in Happy Gift Cards. As usual, I’d buy the Happy Treats which functions as a Visa at GameStop, and buy Steam gift cards for resale. Do you have multiple Meijer MPerks accounts yet? I don’t, because I’m pretty sure the closest Meijer to me is at least 1,000 miles away.

A male tennis player holding up a thumb and two index fingers while screaming
A “tennis tuesday triple”, because today I like alliterations.

In case Friday’s 150,000 Membership Rewards offer wasn’t enough for you, there’s another offer for the American Express Business Gold out there: 90,000 Membership Rewards for $10,000 spend in three months. Between Friday’s offer and today’s, that’s 240,000 points — with the Schwab Platinum Card you could cash that out today for $3,000, and then invest it in Dogecoin for a 5,000% return. (Don’t buy Dogecoin please, I was kidding. I definitely would not do this.) Here’s how to get it:

If you don’t see the 90,000 points offer, try a different browser or a different search engine (baidu, duckduckgo, bing).

Final hint: One bonus per lifetime language doesn’t always mean what it should with AmEx. I have three personal platinums and three business platinums that have earned sign up bonuses in the last year.

The AmEx double-take. (No, I don’t understand either.)

1. There’s an offer floating around for 150,000 Membership Rewards with the American Express Business Platinum card after $15,000 in spend in three months. This card also has the 5x Office Supplies, Advertising, Gas, Shipping, and Wireless credits already attached, so it works even if you’ve already saved those offers to other cards. I was able to get it by:

If that doesn’t work for you, try another browser, a different search engine (baidu, duckduckgo, bing), and definitely try a desktop browser and not a mobile browser. Each will give seemingly random offers between 100,000 and 150,000 Membership Rewards.

I applied and was approved instantly.

2. Check this link for a targeted offer of 1,000 AA miles for each Hyatt night through July 31, register by June 30. This deal is amazing and unfortunately I wasn’t targeted. You might be though! Update: Thanks to Vince for pointing out the correct promotion date.

3. Southwest devalued their points from 78 points per dollar to 83 points per dollar. Just for that, I’m going to drop a few links in true Robert Dwyer tit-for-tat spirit: You should have this auto-checkin script for Southwest flights in your tool belt, and also this Southwest price drop bot. Both will require a small bit of technical prowess, but if you can write an Excel formula you’ve probably got enough.

Three is the magic number.

Introduction

I’ve avoided writing about the United Quest credit card for a while because honestly the card annoys me (see below), and United really annoys me (also see below). That said, it can be a decent deal for the first year if you’re going to redeem for United flights, and there’s now a mostly public offer for 100,000 miles after $10,000 in spend. You can also use a referral link or get a referral from a Chase United card holder. (I’d chose TravelBloggerBuzz’s link, but you could get a link from another blogger you trust too, just not me. I don’t personally push referral links, that’s not why I’m in this.)

Why Quest Sucks

Rather than going over the positives of the card like everyone else, let me address the negatives, especially as compared to the mid-tier American Express Personal Gold card:

  • Quest’s spend bonus categories are weak for a card with a mid-tier annual fee ($250). I get bigger and better bonuses and bonus categories at the same price point with the American Express Personal Gold (e.g. 4x vs 2x at restaurants, 4x vs 1x at grocery, 3x on all airlines vs 3x on only United)
  • Quest’s annual “credits” are 5,000 miles after you take an award flight on United, twice a year. The Personal Gold gives $120 in Uber/Uber Eats credits and $120 in GrubHub/ShakeShack credits a year whether or not you redeem miles
  • Quest doesn’t give you two United Club passes, unlike its cheaper sibling, the MileagePlus Explorer card
  • Quest opens up “XN” fare bucket award availability, but so does the $95 annual fee MileagePlus Explorer card, as does the no annual-fee MileagePlus Gateway card
  • A modified double dip is a much better deal than the Quest if you’re under 5/24, and you can still turn those miles into United MileagePlus miles — you’ll also get 3x on all travel with a Sapphire, not just on United like with the Quest card. The American Express Personal Gold doesn’t care about 5/24 at all and also gives 3x
  • For a whopping $72,000 in annual spend, Quest will give you 3,000 PQP — uh, ok. For those of you fortunately not sucked into United Elite speak, a PQP is part of obtaining elite status, and 3,000 PQP is what you earn by spending approximately $3,300 on airfare. Trust me, your $72,000 in spend in the right places can earn you $3,000 in actual cash. Wouldn’t you rather have that than stupid PQP? I would
  • Quest gives you exactly one currency, MileagePlus miles. The Personal Gold gives you membership rewards, which you can transfer to less sucky airlines or cash out at a decent rate

Why United Sucks

Look, I get that some of you like United, and that’s ok, it’s definitely not all bad. United will usually get you where you’re trying to go, you might get a stroopwaffle, and they do offer many loopholes to those in the know (example: I once used same day changes every day to extend a trip by a week). I also get that some of you live in Houston or Newark and you’re a hub captive, and that’s also ok. But United:

  • Flies more cramped regional jets with gate checked bags than any other major domestic carrier, though this may have changed due to COVID (if you’re lucky enough to get the CRJ550, the cramped part doesn’t apply)
  • Often flies regional jets routinely between large cities with 3+ hours of blocked time, that’s a long, long time on a regional jet between two major business hubs like Atlanta and Denver
  • Often flies worn-out 737s or A319s on non RJ segments, and believe me when I say worn-out — some of these planes haven’t seen any love with respect to passenger comfort in a decade
  • Has Scott Kirby running the show, and Scott is famous for pinching every penny possible to ensure that you’re not getting any more than absolutely necessary
  • Offers dynamic pricing for award tickets, and many times charges more just because they can, though to be fair so do the other major domestic US airlines at this point
  • Often overbooks landing slots at crowded airports, leading to massive system delays
  • Still flies business class seats without direct aisle access

So, do you really want to get 100,000 miles and subject yourself to all of that with no other option? Honestly, I don’t unless it’s a last resort. But maybe if you’ve got a use for those 100,000 miles and don’t want to do the Modified Double Dip for some reason, this is still ok.

A pie chart with 29% filled with "CRJ-200" and 82% filled with "CRJ-700". Yes, that's over 100%.
My empirical measurements of United’s domestic fleet.

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.

Are these posts trashposts? When I’m writing them, it sure feels like recycled content which usually isn’t my style. On the other hand, you should be doing all of these things and so should I. Writing this post made me do a couple of them and capture credits that would have otherwise expired. Fortune favors the meticulous I guess.

1. Make sure you’ve spent any American Express credits in Uber Eats or Uber by tonight. Watch out for combining accounts that have stored Uber Cash and American Express Uber credits.

2. Check for any credit cards that have had annual fees post and call the issuer for a retention offer. I suggest saying something like: “I’m thinking of closing this card given its high annual fee, but before I decide what to do I was wondering if there are any retention offers or spend bonuses.” Caveat: If you take a retention offer from American Express, plan on keeping that card for 12-13 months. Good retention offers are well worth it.

3. If you have an American Express co-branded personal card (Marriott, Delta, Hilton), make sure you’ve attached the dining offer to your card and spend it. The easiest way to do this from home seems to be to buy an exact value DoorDash gift card on Fluz, which will should code correctly as grocery. Amazon Meals is another decent option. As always, find a Fluz referral from a friend to make their day if you don’t have an account already.

4. Spend any American Express co-branded business card wireless credits. I prepay my cell phone bill with this one and all of the credits over last year and this year mean that my bill will be $0 after the credits are applied for a long, long time.

5. Make sure you’ve spent any $10 American Express Personal Gold dining credits. The easiest way IMO is to buy something for pickup for $10ish at a local coffee shop on GrubHub, but a combo meal at a ShakeShack is a good option for many of you.

6. Cancel any cell phone burner accounts that you’re done with (and that you didn’t use a virtual account number that expires on).

7. Spend those AmEx Personal Platinum $30 PayPal credits. They’re taking a while to post, but they do post. The easiest way to get these out under the wire is with PayPal Digital Gifts which has been paying the credit even though the T&C says that it shouldn’t.

A picture of someone pouring a bottle of beer into a sock puppet.
Feeding trashposts into WordPress.