1. Staples has a promotion for fee-free $200 Mastercard gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight cards per transaction.

    These are Metabank Pathward gift cards, so have a liquidation plan before you’ve got a stack of them taller than an ostrich sitting on your desk.
  2. The Chase IHG Rewards Premier credit card’s public sign-up bonus was just upped to 175,000 IHG points after $3,000 in spend in 90 days, but unfortunately the heightened bonus doesn’t show up with referral links; if you’re in the market for this card, I’d wait a few days to see referral links get the same increased offer (they probably will), then generate a link from P2’s account or from a friend’s account.

    The highest offer we’ve seen in the past for this card was 140,000 bonus points and a free night certificate, but I’d take the all points version anytime.
  3. Kroger.com has $10 off of $150 or more in Visa and Mastercard gift cards purchased online with promo code JAN2023. These earn 2x fuel points too, and unlike several recent Kroger promotions this one worked flawless for me on the first try.
  4. Some Bilt news:

    – On February 1, there will be a 100% transfer bonus to Hawaiian miles
    – You can access a stripped-down, not-all-airlines version of Point.me through the Bilt mobile app on the “Travel” tab using the “Transfer Partners” search mode
    – It’s been kept relatively quiet in the churning-sphere for unknown reasons, but Bilt credit cards have had widespread fraudulent charges posting, so double check your account
  5. Alliant Credit Union has a $400 new account bonus for opening a checking, savings, and certificate account with at least $100 deposited in each and $10,000 in funds combined between the three through April 30. This credit union used to have a compelling credit card offering, though they’ve nerfed the program a bit and it’s moved from compelling to interesting.

Have a nice weekend!

The news-dump-mobile was spotted in the wild running on discounted fuel from Kroger purchased with a hacked Bilt card.

  1. The American Express Business Green card’s public sign-up bonus no longer includes a waived first year’s annual fee as of yesterday. Parts_Unknown_ notes that referral links still include a waived annual fee for the first year, and indeed that’s how it’s working for me. There are two ways to squirrel this away in case you might want a Business Green in the next several months:

    – Generate an email referral link from your AmEx Dashboard today, then save it for the future
    – Apply for the card now (especially if you’re not eligible) by referral link, then reconsider after a denial within 60 days

    The Business Green is the Kieran Culkin of credit cards (for those playing at home).
  2. Do this now: Register for IHG’s Q1 promotion, 2,000 bonus points for every two nights stayed between February 9 and April 14.
  3. Do this now: Register for targeted Marriott Q1 promotions. Links we’ve seen so far:

    2,000 bonus points per night and double elite night credits for stays February 7 though April 23
    2,000 bonus points after one stay that includes a Friday or Saturday, and 3,000 after a second

    You may have better luck if you login to your Marriott account first, and if neither link works check the “Promotions” tab in your Marriott account. (Thanks to VFTW)
  4. Simon online has a code for 35% off of purchase fees for Visa and Mastercard gift cards. These are Metabank Pathward gift cards, generally speaking.

The Courtyard Lubbock’s beautiful three hole golf course could earn you an extra 2,000 Bonvoy points, which should cover the cost of a golf tee.

  1. Kroger has a 4x fuel points sale on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards running through January 24. What about Monday, you ask? Currently datapoints don’t look great, but always be probing. (Thanks to GCG)
  2. Chase’s Air Canada Aeroplan card will have Pay Yourself Back starting tomorrow at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, and the capacity is in theory unlimited through the end of this year (it drops to 50,000 points per year next year). I wouldn’t normally bother writing about this because meh, but this time is different because *checks notes* this card isn’t the only mechanism for getting Aeroplan miles.

    Next year the cash-out limit is small enough that this is a 2023 only special as far as I’m concerned.
  3. The main American Express Business Gold no-lifetime language (NLL) offer has targeted more accounts. The bonus is 90,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 in spend in three months and another 10,000 Membership Rewards after adding an employee card and spending $1,000 in three months.
  4. Do this now: Register for Radisson Rewards America’s Q1 promotion, 5,000 bonus points on every stay through March 20.

A cheeseburger that’s as appetizing as changing a stay to a Raddison for an extra 5,000 points.

  1. Hyatt has released targeted Q1 offers, though they’re not actually showing for everyone that’s targeted (if you care, you can view page source on your account and see the ones that you’re targeted for — search for promotionCode). The actual links to test:

    Category 1-4 certificate after two nights
    Category 1-4 certificate after three nights

    Suite upgrade award after five nights, and another after another five
    Suite upgrade award after ten qualifying nights, and another after another ten

    3x points for every two night stay, max 30,000 points
    3x points for every qualifying three night stay, max 30,000 points
    2x points for every qualifying two night stay, max 30,000 points
    2x points for every qualifying three night stay, max 30,000 points

    2,000 bonus points every two nights, max 20,000 points
    3,000 bonus points every three nights, max 15,000 points
    5,000 bonus points every five nights, max 25,000 points
    10,000 bonus points every ten nights, max 30,000 points

    These offers are also randomly appearing as popups on the same page, so it may be worth logging in a few times over the next couple of days to click the registration link in the popup should it appear if you don’t want to manually try each of the above links.
  2. There’s a shopping portal bonus at United and American’s shopping portals for spend through January 19:

    1,000 bonus miles at United after $300 in spend
    1,000 AA bonus miles after $400 in spend through

    Unfortunately giftcards.com is still absent from both, though you can still reach Dell and Rakuten to cash out American Express credits. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. IHG has an award sale for 20% off of stays between one and three nights through March 10 for Chase IHG cardholders, and reportedly for everyone else in a day or two. (Thanks to FM)
  4. The Bank of America Alaska personal card is making changes which are by in large great for a manufactured spender. The relevant changes:

    – Annual fee goes from $75 to $95
    – 2x on gas, transit, and rideshare
    – 10% rewards boost for holding a deposit account, priority boarding
    – Free checked bag benefit only available if the card was used to purchase the Alaska ticket

    There are similar changes for the business card, except that the 2x categories are gas, transit, rideshare, and shipping, and the 10% bonus requires a business account. As for the business annual fee it seems to be the saying, but alask-ya later. (Update: the business annual fee is increasing too. Thanks to SideShowBob233)

    For more, see Travel Codex and reddit.

MEAB today 🤦‍♀️

Newly launched rewards programs often haven’t thought about gamers, and as a result you earn outsized rewards on things like open loop gift cards, cash back, postage stamps, or other normally excluded items during the program’s early life. Typically these are added to an internal blocklist one-by-one until the program’s balance sheet approaches the Nash equilibrium and then designers and accountants move on to other things.

The blocklist approach often fails later in a mature rewards program though, because: SKUs change, new products are introduced, or entire software systems are replaced. These failures mean a deviation from the Nash equilibrium and an opportunity for gamers. For a real-world example, see yesterday’s GCG easter-egg laden post. Also note that our favorite infamous, parody-inducing payment processor is processing these products at a reduced fee.

The quick takeaway: Watch for the next 4x grocery rewards event and go probe!

The worlds lamest dual.

  1. SideShowBob233 was the first to let me know that American Express is sending out new targeted links on its no annual fee business cards:

    Blue Business Plus: 50,000 Membership Rewards after $15,000 spend in 12 months plus 10,000 additional Membership Rewards for adding an employee card and spending $1,000 in 12 months
    Blue Business Cash: $500 statement credit after $15,000 spend in 12 months plus an additional $100 statement credit for adding an employee card and spending $1,000 in 12 months

    Each of these is effectively a 2x everywhere card for the first $50,000 in spend each calendar year.
  2. Juno, formerly known as OnJuno, is known for a few things: (1) high interest rates even on dollar backed crypto like USDC, (2) big cash back boosts on its debit card, and (3) schizophrenia. Since yesterday they’ve been sounding an alarm that their crypto holdings partner may be “bad news bears”, a high-finance technical term. If you’re holding crypto at Juno, their recommendation is to get it out and I think that’s prudent advice.

    In theory their US cash deposit accounts are unaffected because they’re held at Evolve Bank and they’re FDIC insured, but you may want to consider whether those accounts may also be problematic. Side note: I had a professor that used the term problematic at least a dozen times during each lecture, and I still shudder whenever I see it.
  3. Look for email with the subject “A message from Southwest CEO Bob Jordan” and be sure to search your spam folders too. That email has a link for adding 25,000 Rapid Rewards points to your account. (Thanks to Brian M)

    Reports are that people who booked a flight during the meltdown but cancelled it and never flew are also getting emails, and some who had flights largely unaffected are also getting the emails.
  4. Chase has new targeted Q1 bonuses on cards in both its cobrand and Chase branded portfolio. The easiest way to check is to visit chase.com/mybonus and input each of your cards (or build automation to do that periodically if you’re so inclined). Most of the offers are 5x or 5% back on up to $1,500 in spend in gas, grocery, and internet purchases starting on January 15. Some lower point value cards like Marriott and IHG are giving 7x on the same categories.
  5. Visible has a bring your own device (BYOD) promotion for unlimited service including tethering at $15 per month for a year using promo code 15OFF12. You’ll also earn a portal bonus as long as you maintain service for 60 days. Currently TopCashBack is the best at $63, but AA loyalty point hunters may like portal instead.

    Since I haven’t said it for a while, remember that cell phone burners should probably be part of your travel hacking strategy.
A teddy bear holding a heart with the text "We've Held Your $1.1M"

A bad news bear. Also, apologies in advance if this image is problematic.

  1. Giftcards.com continues to award 5% off of virtual Visa gift cards with the promo code CYBERSAVE. It’s supposed to end today but often these keep going well beyond their stated expiration (and just as often they expire well before their stated expiration, because reasons). Make sure you bounce through a shopping portal first, and you may be luckier than you realize if your order is canceled.
  2. The Aegean Airlines free miles game has been kicking around since Friday, but it’s become quite a bit more interesting in the last 24 hours: many new accounts are seeing high mileage awards in the 20,000 miles or above range. Why is this useful? Two reasons:

    – 25,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip economy flight on United Airlines or Air Canada between any two North American cities
    – 90,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip business class flight on United Airlines or Air Canada between North America and Europe
  3. Reader H wrote in to let me know that American Express gift cards are fee-free using promo code HOLIDAY2022 (including gift cards well into the 5 figure range). There are two uses for this that I see:

    – Shift minimum spend
    – In conjunction with AmEx offers at amexgiftcards.com
  4. A new Kroger 4x fuel points promotion starts today (in theory), and presumably includes online gift card purchases too. They’re also selling several travel gift cards at a net discount, and you’ll earn at least 2x and possibly 4x fuel rewards on these purchases:

    – Uber: Buy a $200 gift card and get a bonus $25 Kroger gift card
    – Delta: Buy a $100 gift card and get a bonus $10 Kroger gift card
    – Airbnb: Buy a $200 gift card and get a bonus $25 Kroger gift card

    If you buy all three of these and use approximately 15 gallons when you fill your car, the fuel points are worth about $30. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  5. According to Doctor of Credit, Office Depot/OfficeMax stores have a promotion for $15 off of $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards. If this promotion is like other recent variants you may even be able to do better than $15.

A manufactured spender readies for the holiday grind on a United flight to Lubbock, TX booked with Aegean miles.

  1. Do this now: Register for Hilton’s Q1 promo for 1,000 bonus points per stay and double points on all spend associated with a folio including room fees for stays through April 30, 2023.
  2. Staples has a fee free $200 Visa gift card promotion running Sunday through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction. These are Metabanks so have a liquidation plan before you load up; there are plays out there, both online and in person.
  3. Apparently Turkish Airline’s promotion for 30% off of economy and business class awards for travel through May 2023 excluding U.S. Cities isn’t actually excluding U.S. Cities because programming is hard, so book quickly if you have any United or other Star Alliance travel planned before it’s fixed. UPDATE: DDG provides an example of SEA-FCO pricing at 30% off, but CitizenKane notes via MEAB slack that there’s a separate promo for SEA and maybe there’s no actual bug here. (Thanks to DDG)
  4. Reader Mark wrote in to let me know that Bitmo, which is continuing it’s slow death spiral via rocket launch into the ocean, is issuing gift cards for redeemed points if you email support and wait for a few weeks for them to come through. I’d still stay away from their new company HungryFriend (in this instance I think they’re the hungry friend).
  5. American Express has a 30% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic miles through December 29. Award sweet spots:

    – Business class on Delta to Europe
    – Business class and first class to Japan on ANA

    Unfortunately there’s no current transfer bonus to Virgin Galactic, but if there were maybe Bitmo would have had a better shot.

Have a nice weekend!

The rocket Bitmo used to launch its company to the moon; spoiler alert, it missed.