At face value, the no-annual fee Discover IT card gives 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spend in rotating categories every quarter, which works out to $75 cash back up to four times a year. It’s a boring card, and believe me I understand that sometimes it’s hard to get excited about pure cash-back plays.

That said, you’ve been able to do better than 5% cash back since July 2019 with the IT card. How? Discover gives you a 25% uplift when redeeming for Nike gift cards, and small (< $100) Nike gift cards have a high resale value at approximately 91% of face value. The math:

5% * 125% * 91% = 5.687%

America loves math, right? Don’t stress it too hard, but remember that the Discover IT card is really a ~5.7% cash back card in rotating categories with the Nike uplift. (Thanks to GC Galore’s post for reminding me to do a writeup like this)

A picture of a dog with about 8 helium balloons attached to its body.
Real-life reenactment of a the Nike 5.687% boost.

On Thursday I posted about a Bank of America trick or two. The post generated more questions than I thought, so let’s talk about how Bank of America credit card applications work (maybe not officially, but this is how it works in practice):

  • Bank of America will only make one hard credit pull a day regardless of the number of applications made
  • Personal cards will show up on your credit report once opened, business cards will not
  • You can be approved for multiple versions of the same Business card on the same day, just use multiple businesses with multiple EINs
  • Some business cards have a Visa and a Mastercard variant, and each is a separate product
  • Having $5,000+ in a personal Bank of America checking account will help make business applications sail through the automated approval system
  • As long as the credit line on a newly approved business card is greater than $5,000, you’ll likely be approved for another business card so just keep going
  • Existing business credit cards don’t affect your ability to earn bonuses or to be approved for a new application with the same card

Last week’s post also laid out a quick plan for maximizing BoA credit card applications and I followed it over the weekend. Here’s what I applied for

Spoiler alert, I was approved for every one of them.

Despite playing the game for over 10 years, I’ve somehow never had a personal Alaska Visa. If I had, I’d make sure it’d been a few years since I applied or perhaps picked a different personal card. At the time of applying, I had one Business Cash Mastercard and one business Alaska Visa open, and I had closed a second business Alaska Visa the day before to up my chances for the shenani-go-round. (Why yes, I did just make that word up, why do you ask?)

What’s the takeaway? Go big with Bank of America credit card applications.

A tee shirt that says "Go big or go home" with a drawing of a tricycle in the center.
Bank of America may be the tricycle of big-banks, but it’ll take you places.

Bank of America is a strange bank, and the Alaska Airlines card is even stranger. Often, you can find about twelve variations of the sign-up bonus for the personal card by looking in different places, like in-flight, at the gate, at the check-in counter, online, or by calling and asking. There’s a new variation which as far as I can tell is the best offer they’ve come up with that’s publicly available over the internet (you’ll currently find it by searching Google for “alaska airlines visa” and clicking the sponsored link, which probably costs BoA about $4 per click) Update: Thanks to Gary from VFTW who wrote in to share a better public offer than the google search method. Links and text below have been updated to include the better offer.

As usual, I’m not here to push credit cards on you but I am here to help you maximize them if and when you apply. To that end, here’s the current offer from the above Google search:

Note that BoA personal cards have anti-churning language that’s not present on the business cards, and the personal cards have the 2/3/4 rule, which basically boils down to you can only get two BoA personal cards every two months, three personal cards every 12 months, and four personal cards every 24 months.

By itself, the card is mildly interesting, but because it’s BoA and it pairs well with BoA business cards, it can become intriguing:

  • BoA is a great target for CheckFreePay, and historically they’ve been extremely liberal on getting payments from the service
  • BoA will only make one hard pull of your credit a day regardless of the number of applications
  • BoA will let you open “a few” business cards back-to-back, even following a personal card application

So if you want Alaska miles (like to use 70,000 miles to Japan in JAL First or 60,000 miles to Japan in JAL Business class), I’d suggest the following steps:

  1. Sign up for a personal Alaska card
  2. Sign up for a business Alaska card
  3. Sign up for a MilesEarnAndBurn’s Unsung Hero BoA Business Rewards card (here’s a link for a $750 sign up bonus, no annual fee)
  4. Repeat steps (2) and/or (3) while you’re still getting decent sized credit lines

In the end, you’ll have one hard pull, one new account on your credit report (the personal card), hopefully a handful of new business cards, and a few great targets for CheckFreePay and other shenanigans.

Yes, this image is a repeat but I’m too proud of it to not bring it back for this article. Thanks again to Danny for the inspiration for the picture.

In a move straight out of American Express’s playbook, Chase stole the show in the last 24 hours:

1. The travel hacking blogosphere blew up yesterday with article heads like:

ZOMG!!!! Aeroplan Transfers have come to Chase and they’re launching a MIND-BLOWING Aeroplan credit card soon too!!!1!!“.

It’s true, you can now transfer your Chase points to Aeroplan which is mildly useful and somewhat complimentary to Star Alliance awards with Chase’s transfers to United, especially when 1) used for domestic United flights and for 2) flights with a stop-over. Just make sure you run the numbers on both United and Aeroplan before deciding where to transfer your miles for an award. You’d never transfer miles without a particular award booking in-mind, right?

It’s also true that an Aeroplan credit card is coming to Chase, and at some point it may be something you want to include in your portfolio for the sign-up bonus. Toward that end, register here for a bonus 10,000 points on top of the normal sign-up offer at launch, in case you end up going for it. Just promise me you won’t buy into the hype, ok?

2. The referral bonus for Southwest cards has increased to 20,000 points per referral with a cap of 100,000 points earned from referrals per calendar year. Never refer yourself, but by all means refer a Player 2.

3. Check your Chase Southwest cards for a spending bonus of 1,000 Rapid Rewards points for spending $1,000 at restaurants, home improvement stores, and drug stores before October 31. (Thanks to DoC, though the link in his article doesn’t seem to be correct as of this writing.)

A picture of a drawing pad with a child's drawing of a girl on one side and practice words on the other.
The American Express playbook.

Lots of targeted offers came in this weekend, I have no idea what makes the last weekend in July special but apparently it’s big. Check your accounts for all of the following:

1. Discover sent me an email offering $10 off of $50 at HomeDepot.com. Watch for an email with the subject: “Don’t miss out on $10 back”

2. Dean let me know that Discover is emailing another offer for $25 back for adding an Authorized User and making a single purchase (any size). The subject on this one is “This $25 cash back could be yours”

3. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard (a future MilesEarnAndBurn Unsung Hero card) has been sending out spend offers for 15x bonus ThankYou Points or 10% cash back on utilities purchases, up to $50 total cash back. I didn’t get this one, but my Shop Your Way Rewards boosts seem to come near middle of the month (thanks to Sam at Milenomics for pointing that there are different bonus schedules for this card.)

Apropos of nothing, Plastiq is a good way to pay utilities with a credit card, especially if you sign up for a new account with a fee-free promotional credit.

4. Co-branded Chase Business cards are seeing new targeted spend offers for 5x at Home Improvement stores or for Shipping charges, up to $10,000 in spend. This deal was seen on the Ink cards in early July, but the new round seems to be targeting all business co-branded cards, like the Southwest Business card or the United Business card. Check for eligibility at: https://chase.com/mybonus.

5. Bitmo had quite the run of targeted offers for gift cards this weekend and hopefully carrying into today. Check your activity feed for the offers, or check this tag at GC Galore to preview what we’ve been seeing. Bitmo is a great platform for gift card resellers because it uses PayPal for credit card processing, and there’s almost always a card that’s giving 5x or statement credits at PayPal (like the Discover IT card in Q3).

If you’re new to Bitmo and want to sign up for an account, use a referral because the referral bonus is usually bigger than the regular bonus (4,500 points). As always, try and find a friend to refer you, but if you can’t find one you can use my link, which I’m adding only because it’s almost certainly a bigger offer for you if you use it but please double check during signup that you’re getting at least 4,500 points: *

6. My PenFed PathFinder Rewards Visa has a targeted offer for 5x at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for the month of August. This one is actually exciting because there’s “no limit” to the number of points I can earn (hah, we’ll see) and last I checked BB&B sold Visa Gift Cards, though maybe that changed in the last year. Look for an email with the subject: “Earn 5x Points at Bed Bath & Beyond!”

Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of these show up from American Express today.

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.