1. Do this now: Register for Wyndham’s new promo, 7,500 bonus points for two nights stayed through May 13. You can earn the bonus up to a whopping two times, for a total of *checks supercomputer* 15,000 bonus points. (Thanks to FM)
  2. Putting a nice bow on one of the worst Februaries on record for devaluations, shutdowns, and general #bonvoyness, ANA is devaluing its award chart for tickets booked on or after April 18.

    For better or worse, this is inevitable as the paid price of tickets increases with inflation and with spend based mileage earning, so eventually the mileage program will necessarily bow to inflation too. You can plan for that though.
  3. Bilt has a new benefit: FlyingBlue Gold status for Bilt Platinum members who activate a status match, which requires 10,000 points transferred to FlyingBlue during the activation. This will be a recurring Bilt yearly benefit, at least until they decide that its not.

    The main benefits of FlyingBlue Gold are lounge access on international SkyTeam airline tickets like Delta, and for free checked bags on the same airlines. You no longer get access to book La Premier awards with Gold status though, so the value is marginal at best.
  4. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion on sports betting gift cards through March 19, which as far as I’m aware is a new type of fuel points promotion.

    Sports books provide a good outlet for manufactured spend volume in states that allow it, but it comes with a big set of gotchas too. Typical plays involve mainline arbitrage across multiple sites and playing through all funds at least once. (Thanks to GCG)

MEAB running super-computer simulations for maximizing point earning.

Today’s news items dropped into a nice list neatly, a little too neatly for comfort frankly:

  1. Southwest has an award and paid flight sale with promo code SPLASH through tomorrow night for travel from March 19 to May 22. There are a few blackout dates, but my existing bookings had a roughly 50% rate of being included in the fare sale.

    What everyone seems to forget to mention when these fare sales drop is that you’re still flying Southwest and the discount better be big as a result. This is extra acute to me with six flights in the last 30 days on Southwest.
  2. Hyatt has announced its annual award chart recategorization.

    You have through March 26 to book at the old rates. If you book a property that goes down in price after March 26, your points will probably be automatically refunded.
  3. American Express Membership Rewards has a targeted15% transfer bonus to Avianca Lifemiles through March 15. Sweet spots:

    – Star Alliance business or first class from the US to Europe and Africa
    – Short haul domestic first class
    – Flights to and from the Caribbean in cattle class Southwest class economy

    This transfer bonus is mid at best unless you were going to book something anyway.
  4. American Express offers has two new sort-of gamable offers:

    – $200 statement credit on $1,000+ at about three dozen properties through May 15
    – $100 back on $500+ in Alaska flights booked through AmexTravel.com through May 26

    Gaming on the first one is typical, on the second probably is only really doable by refunding the right type of your fare to an Alaska wallet.
  5. The Motley Fool has an increased AA eShopping portal sign-up bonus of 6,700 miles for a $99 subscription, bigger than what it was on January 17 too. An American Express Offers $50 off of $99 is still around through May 15 too.

    Combined, the two promotions mean you’re buying 6,700 AA miles at for a net cost of $49, or 0.73 cents per mile. It’s untested as far as I know, but you probably can’t do this again on the same AA eShopping account as the one used in January. (Special thanks to David)

The laundry equivalent of today’s news items coming neatly packaged out of the box.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The feedback I’ve gotten for guest post Saturday has been resoundingly positive. I’ve got a few posts left to publish, but I’m running low. If you’re interested in a guest post, please reach out!

  1. Office Depot / OfficeMax stores have $15 off of $300 or more in Visa gift cards through Saturday, and this one has a limit of 10. As usual:

    – Link your credit cards to Dosh
    – Try for multiple transactions, back-to-back
    – Try for scale in a single transaction, it usually works out
    – Don’t forget about your monthly American Express Business Gold credits

    These are Pathward gift cards which often have a $480 per five minute transaction limit for liquidation at popular in-person liquidation spots.
  2. Citi ThankYou Points has a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic through March 16. These miles are generally best used on Delta or ANA metal.
  3. The new American Express Delta card Resy credits turn out to be relatively easy to game in most big cities: buying anything at a restaurant listed on Resy whether or not your make a reservation, including gift cards, will trigger the monthly credit according to dozens of data points.

    More good news too: Some hotels eligible for Delta Stays credits now offer sanitized rooms!

Happy Monday!

It’s technically even possible to find a hotel that’s completely covered by the Delta Stay credit and includes a sanitized room.

  1. Delta introduced a new status challenge that gives you 90 days of status and lets you keep it through January 2026 completely with credit card spend. You can match up to Platinum, and that’s the only level on here that’s worth while in my opinion, specifically for Platinum Choice Benefits and Comfort+ seats at booking.

    Assuming you challenge to Platinum, you’ll need to earn $3,750 MQD to retain it through January 2026. Since we’re us around here, that probably means $37,500 of manufactured spend in the next 90 days on a Delta Reserve card. Yes, if you know what you’re doing that can be knocked out in a single day.
  2. H-E-B stores have $10 H-E-B gift cards free with the purchase of $50 or more in Vanilla Visa gift cards with a digital coupon, limit one per account.

    Liquidation of these cards is currently rather constrained for in-person channels, often you’re limited to three at a time per store, per random time unit. (Thanks to GCG)
  3. Barclays has a 30% transfer bonus for JAL Mileage Bank, the San Francisco 49ers of mileage programs given its ability to scoop up business and first class awards and upset the competition. The bonus runs through February 15, and won’t post until after the promotion completes.

    The transfer ratio is normally 11,500 Arrival points to 5,000 JAL miles, which works out to be a 23:10 ratio (a number obviously chosen because Barclays hates its customers). With a 30% bonus, that becomes a much more standard 23:13 ratio.

Ratios visualized.

Editor’s note: I have a few straggler guest posts ready to go and a few more on the way, so for January and perhaps beyond we’ll be doing guest post Saturdays, making this a six day a week blog, or a 20% increase in content. Hooray for progress science math Stanley cups guest authors!.

  1. Do this now: Check for targeted spending bonuses on your Chase cards, both co-brand and first party. Offers reported:

    – 10x points at grocery, gas, and Amazon for up to $1,000 in spend
    – 5x points at grocery, gas, and Amazon for up to $1,000 in spend
    – 10,000 bonus points on $110 or more in hotel bookings in 2024
    – $35 back on HBO Max after $99 in cumulative spend through September 🤡🤡🤡

    It’s best practice with these to use a new incognito tab for each card in your portfolio. (Thanks to TIP)
  2. Alaska has a paid and award flight sale, and it’s one of the better ones in recent memory. I’m seeing:

    – Short-haul to medium-haul domestic: 4,500 miles
    – Long haul domestic: 9,000-10,000 miles
    – Hawaii: 9,000 miles
    – Mexico: 9,000-10,000 miles

    Book by tomorrow night. The sale seems to cover travel through the end of March, but I can’t find that written anywhere so look around.
  3. Southwest also has a paid and award flight sale running through tomorrow night, but it’s not a heavy-hitter sale like Alaska, but more of a lightweight 90 pound hot-dog leg kind of sale. This one is valid for travel between January 26 and May 22.

    For those keeping track at home, I repriced six upcoming flights all booked in the last week. Two were significantly cheaper, two were the same price, and two were slightly more expensive.
  4. Kroger is running a 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visas and Mastercards Friday through Sunday, and brokers are lining up with fresh inventory like Starbucks shoppers lining up for pink Stanley cups I expect rates to be strong.

    Side note: I was today years old when I learned what a Stanley cup was, hockey jokes aside.

Happy Thursday!

Southwest’s award sale in humanoid-food form.

  1. Rakuten In-Store has 1% cash back or 1x Membership Rewards at Food Lion stores, apparently valid for 75 days. An hour after making an in-store transaction, you have to re-add the offer to continue earning. Food Lion of course sells items other than food and lions despite its name.
  2. Yesterday we discussed the Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard‘s targeted monthly for the entirety of 2024. I wasn’t targeted then, but yesterday I got my own targeted offer via email and so did others. The offers are all good once per month each month of 2024, and are for cumulative spend at restaurants, groceries, and gas. We’ve seen:

    – $200 back per month on $2,000+ in spend, up to 12x
    – $150 back per month on $1,500+ in spend, up to 12x
    – $100 back per month on $1,000+ in spend, up to 12x
    – 20,000 ThankYou Points on $2,000+ in spend, up to 12x
    – 15,000 ThankYou Points on $1,500+ in spend, up to 12x

    For those of you who can’t math, the best version of this offer is worth $2,400, and that stacks with other category and spend bonuses throughout the year. There’s a reason that this card is the best Unsung Hero. (Thanks to Doug, FlashStash, Brooke, jeff2486, and Tom)
  3. AirFrance / KLM’s FlyingBlue program, the Technotronic of frequent flyer programs, has released its January promo award cities for discounted economy and business class point redemptions.

    Unfortunately, like the band Technotronic, there aren’t any US cities on this month’s tour. Montreal, Ottowa, and Toronto are included though, so there are still options for those of you in the Northeast (for flights, not a Technotronic concert. Sorry).
  4. American Express Offers has a card linked offer for $60 back on $300 or more at National Car Rental.

Happy Wednesday!

KLM’s answer to Eva’s Hello Kitty 777, the Technotronic livery, now flies twice weekly to Belgium.

NOTE: I’ll be going on a blogging vacation between Monday and December 31, during which there will be at least some guest posts. I’ve already gotten a few queued up from readers smarter than me, and I’m soliciting for more to complete the holiday. Posts should be non-sponsored, non-promotional, non-political, and at least travel hacking or churning adjacent. Please reach out to me if you’re interested, it’ll be the third easiest gig you’ve ever gotten!


Between 2011 and 2013, it was possible to earn miles for any Amazon purchase through the US Airways and Hawaiian shopping portals. In 2011 I was relatively new to the game and I made a common mistake: I had earned a chunk of US Airways miles through promotions and a credit card bonus, so I decided that I’d earn Hawaiian miles instead whenever I shopped at Amazon, even though had exactly no clear use case. I was sure that at some point I’d use them, just like Southwest CEO Bob Jordan is (incorrectly) sure that Southwest will never have a holiday meltdown again.

Piles of Miles

Now, please join me in 2023 and let’s peek at my current Hawaiian Airlines balance, keeping in mind that I’ve redeemed exactly as many Hawaiian miles as the number of good menu items at Chik-Fil-A, or the number of times that Southwest CEO Bob Jordan has correctly predicted the meltdown future [drumroll]:

Zero (0)

By 2013 I’d earned 40,000 Hawaiian miles through the Amazon shopping portal, but eventually they expired – partially because I was inexperienced and partially because I didn’t ever have a redemption plan in mind. This is a common mistake, especially when you’re stating out. In the last couple of weeks for example, I’ve heard from churners who:

  • Have mid-six figures of IHG points and have never stayed in an IHG hotel
  • Signed up for two Southwest credit cards without even having a Rapid Rewards number
  • Lost 500,000 ThankYou Points after a Citi shutdown, never having used a single point

Obviously some of these are more catastrophic than others, but they all illustrate a common theme: A point isn’t worth anything if it’s never redeemed, and if you have no loose plan, there’s a good chance you’ll never redeem.

MEAB, Get to the Point!

Before you earn any loyalty currency, have at least a rough idea of how you’ll use that currency. Otherwise, you’re almost certainly better off earning cash because at least that doesn’t expire and can be used effectively anywhere, for any travel, as long as your airline isn’t melting down.

Happy Holidays friends!

The easiest gig you’ve ever gotten.

NOTE: I’ll be going on a blogging vacation between December 18 and 31, during which there may or may not be any posts. But, we’ll ring in the new year on January 1, 2024 with the 2023 version of Travel Hacking as Told by GIFs though, so no need to be up in arms. What’s this “may”, you ask? I’m soliciting for guest posts and I’ll use those during the regularly scheduled newsletter. They should be non-sponsored, non-promotional, non-political, and at least travel hacking or churning adjacent. Please reach out to me if you’re interested, it’ll be the third easiest gig you’ve ever gotten!

  1. Chase has a 20% transfer bonus from Ultimate Rewards to Aeroplan through January 15, 2024. The rate is almost high enough for me to do some speculative transfers, even though it’s generally a bad idea to do so because points devalue over time.
  2. Virgin Atlantic is devaluing award redemptions on Delta metal tomorrow for travel in 2024 or later. The not bad:

    – European rates remain the same
    – Flights shorter than 500 miles remain the same

    The bad:

    – Domestic economy flight costs increase up to 45%
    – Domestic economy flights between 501 miles and 3,000 miles in length increase up to 56%

    Speculatively transferring points to programs with outsized value is relatively more dangerous than to programs that have a value at or below the mean, which I guess means that I shouldn’t speculatively transfer to Aeroplan. How’s that for a flip-flop in a single page? (Thanks to Thrifty Traveller)
  3. One of my guiding principles is that knowledge for knowledge’s sake is a useful pursuit. In churning, knowledge from how internal systems work can often be applied in the future to something else. To that end, TDD at DoC shares a method for modifying the lower 75,000 points Capital One Venture X referral link to be a higher 95,000 points offer for the referred.

    I very much think this is instantiation of the technique is a bad idea and you shouldn’t apply it, principally because you’re bypassing the bank’s internal business logic by rewriting targeted referral codes to make the bonus higher than intended. Why share then? The same technique could be useful in the future for other aspects of the hobby that won’t be violating banks’ business logic.

Pictured: MEAB on Wednesday.