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.

Are you sick of all the running around that’s been caused by the great MS opportunities this year? I am, sorta, but man it’s so worth it. Here’s some more to get you running around:

  • Staples is offering fee free $200 Mastercards starting Sunday and running through April 3. Limit 5 per day (or, more likely per transaction). As always, remember that Visa isn’t the same as Mastercard, though with Metabank GCs they’re not all that different. Thanks to reddit user kawnipi.
  • Check this link for a possible American Express 20,000 Membership Rewards targeted Pay-Over-Time bonus. I personally would leave it on until the next annual fee posts, though it may not be necessary. Remember to turn it off eventually though so that you can get this bonus in the future.
  • There is an upgrade offer floating around for Delta Gold and Delta Platinum American Express cards for the Delta Reserve, check the American Express mobile app or watch for it via email. This one offers $300 plus 60,000 redeemable miles after spending $4,000 in six months. I’d take that offer, but sadly I’m not targeted, probably because I “upgraded” my Delta Reserve to a Delta Platinum last week using another offer. Thanks to Chris for noting that it’s available in app.

Happy weekend, watch out for the spring breakers! If you’re a spring breaker, I mean all the other spring breakers, not you. You’re like a firework.

A fireworks store on fire.
Spring breakers showing the store who’s boss.

A couple of things:

1. Chase has a few mildly interesting spending bonuses from April – June for up to $1,500 total spend. On this round, pay extra attention to your offer. Some give you 5x on all spend, some only on grocery and restaurants, some include gas stations and drugstores, etc. Another variant is 1x-1.5x bonus on $3,000 or $6,000 in spend. Honestly, Chase has gotten AmEx weird this time — go home Chase, you’re drunk! Eligible cards include: United, Starbucks, Hyatt, IHG, Disney, Marriott, and British Airways; but check any other co-brands you have with Chase too. Use this link to see your offer and enroll.

2. Did you know that downgrading your AmEx card will prorate the annual fee? Yeah, you probably knew, just don’t do it in the first year after opening or after a retention offer to avoid a potential bonus clawback. Here’s something related that you may not know: Downgrading an AmEx with an attached offer retains the offer on the card, even after downgrade. For example, if you’ve attached the monthly $20 dining credit to your expensive Hilton Aspire card, you can downgrade to the no annual fee Hilton HHonors card, get the prorated refund, and keep the monthly $20 dining credit. Boom goes the dynamite!

Brian Collins tells us about a nifty AmEx trick.

1. Office Depot OfficeMax is offering 25% back in rewards on Happy Gift Cards, limit $25 back per account. In case you’re a Happy GC newb like I used to be, these cards are basically Visa debit cards that work only at certain stores, and there are multiple varieties that work at a different set of places. An example: Buy a $100 “Happy Treats” gift card which can be at GameStop and at a few other places, then go to GameStop and buy two $50 Steam cards with the Happy card. The Steam cards resell at 90-93%, so you can really come out ahead if you can make good use of OD/OM rewards and have more than one account. Often you can liquidate the Happy cards online too, no need to make an in-person trip in many cases.

If you don’t yet have a liquidation channel for manufactured spend gift cards, several good options include SCO GC and TheCardBay. Shane at SCO GC announced this weekend that they’re onboarding more gift card resellers focused on MS, so email him at [email protected] with the subject “JOIN” to sign up if you need another outlet.

2. Danny points out that there’s a really, really great $1,500 sign-up bonus for the no-annual fee “AmaZing Business” Visa Card, provided you live in Colorado or in California. Too bad the scope is so limited on this one. Side note: what name is worse than Office Depot OfficeMax? The answer is clearly AmaZing Business. Why the capital Z in the middle friends? WHY?

3. I had a request from reader Jeff for email subscriptions to daily blog posts, because for some reason it seems that a few of you think it’s a good idea to give me a direct line into your inbox. In case that description resembles you, you can sign up on the Email Subscriptions page.

A weird ice cream sundae that looks like an animated character -- M&Ms for eyes and nose, licorice for a mouth, and bananas with raspberries for arms and an extra banana sprouting out of the top of its head.
This abomination is apparently the Sponge Bob embodiment of a triple. I can’t say I understand, but I can say definitively that it’s scary.

If you have an American Express Personal Gold or Green card that’s been around since at least last year, you’re likely to see an upgrade offer to the Personal Platinum worth either 25,000 Membership Rewards or 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $2,000 after logging in to your account and scrolling down to the offers section. On the face of it, “meh 25,000 points for a high annual fee card, so what?” Here’s what: This upgraded card inherits the Unicorn AmEx Platinum Card’s 10x up to $15,000 spend in the first 6 months at Gas and Grocery after upgrade. I was able to see it on one of my AmEx Golds, even though I already have a few Personal Platinum cards.

If you don’t see it, detach your Gold or Green card from your login at this link and create a new login with just that card. It’ll almost certainly appear under your new login.

While the American Express Personal Gold card is my favorite AmEx card, I couldn’t turn down this upgrade from one of my Gold cards. I’ll spend through the 10x to earn 150,000 MR, earn the $200 airline credit and the $30 / month PayPal credit through June, earn the upgrade bonus, then I’ll downgrade it back to a Gold card. No harm, no foul.

A picture of a soccer player in a red jersey shrugging.
With this AmEx upgrade/downgrade, I’m calling “no harm, no foul”.

1. One of the Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Heroes has a great offer floating around: The Bank of America Business Cash Rewards MasterCard has a $750 cash back after $5,000 in spend, no annual fee offer. It’s not just worth the sign up bonus, the card is a great ongoing one too. As a reminder, it ears 3% on several methods of online MS shenanigans and you can bump that to 5.25% back by parking some cash, brokerage accounts, or retirement accounts at BoA.

Another bonus hint: BoA Business credit card applications credit inquiries are combined when you apply for multiple on the same day. If you’re instantly approved, maybe lob in another BoA business app too. Just don’t go the same card. An excellent choice is this Alaska Business Card with 40,000 miles and $200 cash back after spending $2,000.

2. Delta sent me an offer for 2,500 Skymiles for changing an already booked flight via the website or mobile app. Thanks Delta, I’d love to do that, but literally every single itinerary I’ve booked says I need to contact Reservations to make the change. Thanks.

Hopefully, you’ll have more luck than I do. The T&C language says that you have to be targeted to get the bonus, but there are reports that it will work for anyone as long as your ticket was booked prior to March 2, 2021.

They left off the real reason I can’t change: Delta IT sucks.