It was a strange Black Friday weekend in 2021– we saw shakeups in the BestBuy resale market, Kroger shopping rewards market, and a lack of major deals from big-box retailers; hopefully everything clears up for Cyber Monday, but I’m not holding my breath. I’ll recap everything in a day or two after all the dust settles, but in the mean time here are a few things to look at:

1. If you have an American Express Hilton card, check here for a targeted free night certificate after $8,000 in spend by February 28, 2022. I even got this offer on my fee-free Hilton card.

2. There’s a new no-lifetime language (NLL) offer for the American Business Express Gold card. The sign-up bonus is 90,000 points after spending $10,000 in three months. Unfortunately the offer isn’t available for me, but that’s unsurprising since I currently have eleven American Express charge cards and the limit is typically ten. I also have five American Express credit cards and haven’t been able to bust through that limit. (Thanks to tehflip449, and thanks to BlueCat for pointing out that this one is a Business Gold card)

Side note: I’ve been debating internally about whether the Personal Gold is another candidate for an Unsung Hero card. It’s certainly my favorite American Express charge card and I’d keep 15 of them if I could, but isn’t exactly unsung. Story developing

3.The Point debit card has a new variation on its Streak offers, and it’s even more annoying than it’s been in the past. This one requires $200 in total spend and that you use the card at least once a day for seven days before December 24, after which you’ll get $30 back. Still worth it? Yes, provided that you’ve got automation. I bought a $200 gift card for resale at Whole Foods to take advantage of the 10x bonus and then I set up debbit to make a $1.xx charge at Amazon for the next six days. There’s a debbit sample configuration for another Point Streak deal here.

As usual, make sure you use a referral if you sign up for Point because the referral bonus of $100 is better than the publicly available offer. Reader Mark was the first to let me know that the referrer’s bonus is now also $100 and no longer one fifth of a crappy suitcase.

4. Check this link for 30% back on up to $50 at Amazon for using at least one Membership Rewards point during checkout. Thanks to reader Dean for the link.

5. Meijer has $10 off in $150 or more of Mastercard gift cards with a limit of one per MPerks account. This is a decent deal if you’re already near a Meijer, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for this (unlike their Homerun deal).

6. You can cash out your Citi ThankYou Points at 1.125 cents per point today only by buying Apple gift cards at a 20% discount with ThankYou points and selling at 90% (or more) of face value. (Thanks to nutella)

Happy Monday!

Everything on sale for Black Friday at BestBuy.

Citi ThankYou points have long been the most average of bank transferrable currencies, with American Express’s Membership Rewards and Chase’s Ultimate Rewards being a tier or two above and Capital One being below. Citi has done a lot to up its game in the last 30 days, and it’s really due to two changes:

  • They made the transfer ratio from ThankYou Points to Choice Hotel Points 2:1 about a month ago, and while many of Choice’s brands are complete and utter dumpster fires, that’s not always the case. Many hotels in the Choice Ascend collection are rather nice, and occasionally you can book into a suite for the same redemption price as a normal room. Side note — I stayed at one over the weekend and got about 2.05 cents per ThankYou point versus the cash rate, which is in Hyatt territory for value per point. This worked especially well because I was in a smaller city that didn’t have any real Hyatt options but did have an Ascend hotel.
  • Yesterday, they added Wyndam as a 1:1 transfer partner. At first blush, that’s a big meh, but at second blush there’s a lot of value to be had here, thanks to the Wyndham relationship with Vacasa. (Vacasa is basically just another version of airbnb.) With Vacasa, the nightly rate is 15,000 points per bedroom in the unit, regardless of location or cash price. With strategic booking, Citi ThankYou Points can be used at a value of 2-4 cents per point on Vacasa properties. The bad news though? You have to book these over the phone.

Between the two new options you can find your way to getting 2-4 cents per point in value out of the ThankYou program, which means I’m much more interested in earning those points. Does this mean I like them more than Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards? No, I don’t — but I’m getting closer, and I no longer think of a ThankYou point as being roughly equivalent to a penny. Good show Citi, and your move, hotel transferless Capital One.

Now, let’s all say goodbye to calling Citi for a mortgage payment cash-out for a bank that mysteriously has the same name that you do.

Pictured: ThankYou Points September 2021 (left), and November 2021 (right).
As good as my steel cut oats breakfast bowl? No, but getting better.

A couple of deals from last week are back with a tweak:

1. Meijer is back with another promotion worth scaling up: $10 off of $150 or more in Visa gift cards. Both variable and fixed value gift cards are included, so your lowest fee option is to buy a single variable $150 card.

This isn’t as lucrative as Friday’s 10% back on gift cards and you probably won’t find anyone booking a last minute ticket to Meijer land for this deal, but if you’re already in the right area it can still be very lucrative.

2. Point has extended several offers, with these you can earn 5,000 points each every month:

  • Costco: 5x (mostly useful for personal shopping)
  • Amazon: 5x (buy BestBuy cards for resale)
  • BestBuy: 5x (buy BestBuy cards for resale)
  • Whole Foods: 5x (buy BestBuy cards for resale or Visa gift cards)

Just like Meijer, the Point deals this week aren’t quite as lucrative as last week’s, but at least the last three are probably worth your time. As usual, get a referral for the Point card because the sign-up bonus is $100 instead of $10.

3. Some Kroger affiliate stores are earning more fuel points on third party gift cards than they should, so make sure you’re always probing. (I had access to 3x fuel points on third party gift cards all weekend, and I’ve seen an unconfirmed report of both 4x and 8x being awarded at other affiliates.)

I’ll leave you with some Monday motivation instead of the usual snark (but don’t worry, it’ll be back tomorrow): I had multiple readers write in over the weekend about various successes from probing new fin-techs, traveling to new areas for MS, and finding loopholes in credit card sign-up bonuses. There’s always something out there to be discovered, don’t be afraid to branch out!

Not all tweaks are better, just ask this once great silicon wafer.

1. Reader Mark wrote in to let me know that the Target RedCard deal is back, this time worth $80 for each cycle (you get one coupon for $40 off of in-store purchases, and another coupon for $40 off of online purchases). Remember, you can churn this deal. I believe currently you have to wait 48-72 hours between closing a RedCard and opening a new one, which is different than how it worked over the summer.

2. The Point debit card currently has an offer for 15x at Nike.com (or 30x if you’ve gotten your new Point card in the mail), for up to $50 total in cash back. Nike is also currently 5x at the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and 10% cash back at RebatesMe, and historically physical gift cards have always tracked with portals.

Nike resale rates are around 91% right now, so for buying a $340 card the deal will be worth:

  • With RebatesMe, $53.40
    • $50 back from Point
    • $34 back from RebatesMe
    • -$30.60 resale loss
  • With Chase UR, $19.40 + 1,700 Ultimate Rewards
    • $50 back from Point
    • -$30.60 resale loss
    • 1,700 Ultimate Rewards from Chase

Not bad for probably 4 minutes worth of your time. You can check the current shopping portal rates at cashbackmonitor, and as always, if you sign up for Point use a referral because the referral bonus is $100 while the public offer is $10. Get a referral from a friend, or reach out to me in a pinch.

MS Hint: These are just a couple of debit cards that could be part of your churning toolbelt. Get out there and find a few others, there are some crazy and valuable options.

I mistyped a search at Google with”churning curds” and got this. I call it serendipity.

I got a few questions about cashing out Membership Rewards on the heels of yesterday’s post, so now is as good a time as any to talk about the current ways to cash out Those points. Some are above board and some are, shall we say, a titch less so. First, the obviously allowed and supported options:

  • With the American Express Schwab Platinum card, you can cash-out at 1.1 cents per point
  • With the Morgan Stanley Platinum card, you can cash out account for 1.0 cents per point
  • With the Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Hero no annual fee Morgan Stanley card, you can also cash out for 1.0 cents per point
  • Without any special card, you can always redeem directly for a statement credit at 0.6 cents per point using Pay with Points. This is a terrible deal, though, don’t do it

And now, the travel hacker ways:

  • Book refundable travel through American Express Travel and pay with Membership Rewards, then cancel the itinerary and it will be refunded as a statement credit at 1.00 cents per point (Hint: with the Business Platinum’s 35% rebate and a long time, like crossing over the boundary of a year, sometimes you can do better but you may end up angering AmEx)
  • A variation on the above: Book a ticket with American Express Travel and pay with Membership Rewards, but don’t buy a refundable ticket; instead by a ticket that can be canceled to an airline’s wallet or as an e-credit/travel voucher and use that credit sometime in the future for airfare that you’d normally pay for with cash (generally non basic-economy tickets fall into this category in the COVID-era travel world, but be sure to double check with your airline of choice). For rules on airline travel vouchers and wallets, see this post at Milenomics

Finally, the ways that are almost certain to get you in trouble eventually (Let me reiterate — these are bad ideas and will almost certainly cause you problems or catch up to you, don’t do them without understanding how risky they could be):

  • Sell travel to your friends and family, then book the itineraries with them using your Membership Rewards
  • Sell your Membership Rewards to a points broker, you’ll earn 1.3 to 1.5 cents per point

Happy hacking!

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I’m starting to feel like I was scammed when I sold Jimmy 8,000 Membership Rewards and got this.