1. If you have a Chase Freedom Flex (and really you should, 3x at drugstores like CVS is one of the best ways to earn to Ultimate Rewards), I’d suggest that you take advantage of the new offer for $1,500 in spend at 5x in the category you spend the most on, out of: travel, dining, home improvement stores, grocery stores (except Target and Walmart), drugstores, gas stations, select live entertainment (lol), select streaming services, and fitness clubs. You’re automatically registered as long as you activated your Q4 5x categories.

If any of these overlap with your Freedom Flex’s Q4 bonus categories (PayPal and Walmart), you’ll earn 9x instead of 5x. My current churning life regret is that I only have one Freedom Flex card.

2.There’s a relatively new targeted spend offer on the landing page on the Ultimate Rewards portal for Ink Preferred cards. The offer is 50,000 bonus points for each $50,000 in spend up to $250,000. You can find the terms here. If you can MS in advertising or shipping categories, you’ll end up at 4x with this offer. (Thanks to Danny)

3. The Chase Sapphire Preferred 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points offer with first year’s annual fee waived and a $50 credit at grocery stores is still alive in-branch. My business banker said that they haven’t heard that it’ll be pulled yet, so it could stick around for at least a couple of more weeks. I still prefer the churnable Chase Ink cards to the Sapphire Preferred for almost everyone though.

Ok, but where are Chase’s Tuesday Tacos? Here, duh.

1. Staples has $200 fee free Mastercards up to five per transaction this week, and this time it’s for real — they pinky-promised and said no take-backs, so I think we’re good. The promotion runs between yesterday and Saturday. Note: There are recent reports that Payce has paid 5% on gift card purchases at Staples, though it can be spotty and it’s definitely not supposed to work that way so don’t write Payce support if it didn’t track for you.

These cards are Metabanks and they’re becoming more difficult to directly cash out, but it’s still possible. Some of the low hanging fruit is at regional grocery stores, but from home options also exist.

2. Office Depot / OfficeMax has $15 off of $300 in Visa gift cards back through Saturday. Remember to link your cards with Dosh for extra cash back, which will make this deal about a $14 money maker each time with the everywhere cards which, despite their name, do not work everywhere that Visa is taken (they do work in many places which matter for us though).

3. Meijer Mperks is has a current offer for $5 off of a future purchase when buying $50 in gift cards, up to 10 times per Mperks account between now and October 23. In case you’re not mathematically inclined, a single $500 gift card will earn you $50, or 10% back.

This one excludes some Visas and Mastercards, but you can buy BestBuy, Home Depot, or Apple gift cards which all have a high resale rate.

4. The personal JetBlue card has an offer for Mosaic status lasting until the end of 2022 after spending $15,000 (Svetlana wrote in to correct the spend, I had incorrectly written $10,000 before). If you fly JetBlue a lot, Mosaic status may be worth getting. If you’re flying it only two or three times a year, then this isn’t worth your time — the real benefit to Mosaic is free “upgrades” to Even More Space and I guess a mini-bottle of awful wine.

If JetBlue Mosaic status got you wine from Valais, we’d be in a totally different ballgame and spending $10,000 for status might be worth it. Alas, it doesn’t. Enjoy your swill wine and blue corn chips instead, cause that’s what you’ll get.

Today, let’s start with a bit of followup and then jump into a few points to keep your eyes on.

On Monday we talked about how Chase might be blocking PayPal Key+Freedom transactions for certain MS channels. Plenty of data points have come in since then, and there’s also been a material change in a particular MS channel too. As of now, it seems that PayPal is actually the culprit for blocking transactions and it’s very targeted and specific. Louses!

Onto the normal post:

1. Login to American Express, then check this link for an authorized user offer for American Express Business Platinum cards. This offer is for 20,000 points when adding an employee card and spending $4,000, up to five times. This is different than the 1.9 Million point offer for 99 users that you can get from calling in; and because it’s a different offer you can be taking advantage of both (though remember you’re limited to 99 employee cards total).

Remember, employee cards don’t need a date of birth or SSN when creating them, they come already activated, and they stay that way for 60 days without providing additional information. (Thanks to Parts_Unknown for the link)

2. Simon Volume has a gift card promotion code GO50SEP21 for half of of fees through October 8. These are great for boosting balances on your Citi cards, especially the Double Cash.

3. If you hold any variety of the American Express Bonvoy card, register this link for a targeted 10x spend on PayPal purchases up to 50,000 points for $5,000 in spend. I was targeted, and believe it or not I will be taking advantage of this because 50,000 points is good for a night or two at an airport hotel when I need a place to stay while transiting.

I hear your head snapping: “Wait, MEAB? You have a Marriott Bonvoy Amex?”

Yes, I famously hate Marriott and yes, I do have the card. It’s the weird $95 annual fee personal card that was converted from the Starwood SPG card when Marriott bought Starwood, and is currently only available by converting another higher annual-fee Marriott. I’ve kept this card despite my hatred of Marriott because:

  • I’ve gotten a 60,000 Bonvoy points retention offer on the card each year that I’ve had it
  • It’s currently giving me $10 in dining credits every month, easily cashed out at Amazon Meals on Fluz
  • It gives me a 35,000 point annual free night certificate every year

If they would stop giving me retention offers on the card I’d get rid of it — but, here we are. AmEx is feeding me exactly what I hate and I apparently keep asking for more.

The American Express Bonvoy $95 annual fee card if it were a meal.

Brevity is back baby!

1. Citi does everything in a uniquely Citi way (wait for it). After they watched American Express and Chase knock Card linked offers out of the park, they finally decided to implement their own version in late 2020. For the most part those offers have been lame, but that’s changing. Login at this link, and check your Citi offers for the following:

  • $50 off of $200 at Best Buy
  • 30% off of Uber, up to four times at $10 back per use
  • 1.5% back at GiftCards.com (Citi excludes “gift card” purchases from GiftCards.com in the T&C, but I’m almost certain that won’t be enforced — what else are you going to buy there? Go ahead and look, I’ll wait)
  • $50 off of $200 at various IHG brands (I see Holiday Inn, Even Hotels, and Hotel Indigo on my Premier)

2. Reader K wrote in to let me know that PayPal Key and their Freedom Flex were working splendidly together at Costco.com this weekend, which means yesterday’s post is partially incorrect. I’ve had more data points pouring in and that’s led to mixed results; some reporting success in various manufactured spend channels and others failing. I think this is a YMMV situation, and hopefully you’re lucky and PPK+Freedom (Flex) just works for you. It didn’t for me unfortunately.

3. Meijer has $10 back for purchasing $150 or more in Mastercard gift cards this week. You can also get $10 back for $50 in Happy gift cards at the same link. Spin up those Mperks accounts, and don’t forget to clip those offers!

Card linked offers with the big three credit card issuers.

We’re all over the map with today’s post, sorry friends. It’s just going to be a hot-mess and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

1. Are you ready for a bunch of fee free $200 Visa Gift Cards again? Well, Staples has got your back. Between Sunday and the following Saturday they’re fee free, limit five per transaction. Make sure you have a plan for liquidation before buying a bunch. EDIT 9/26/2021: Katie let me know that the ad is wrong, it’s actually Mastercard Gift Cards in this sale.

Related followup: Safeway, like Walmart and Kroger, does indeed have a $99 per transaction debit card limit on these cards. So if worst comes to worst, I guess you could buy a couple of money orders to get rid of a card, but ewww David.

2. Yun wrote in to let me know that by chatting with Point debit card support, he was able to get the $99 annual fee refunded on multiple accounts and keep the card open after their walk-back of an offer for a $0 annual fee. I’d suggest that if you signed up for the rewards card with the first year fee free and were still charged $99, you chat with their support online and try and get it refunded. I’d try a few times if it doesn’t work out the first time.

Related followup: I opened a spite Point debit card and I think you should also. Talk about burying the lead on this one too — Point has a new streak for $30 back after using the card once per day for five days, as long as the total works out to at least $200 in spend before October 3. It’s a debit card so getting your spend going is easier than in quite a few other cases, and now that I have a spite card I can get the streak an extra time.

3. I had a several people send questions, notes, and clarifications about American Express upgrade offers. To sum it up:

  • On the personal card side (like the business card side), opening a new card or upgrading an existing card will almost never result in a hard credit pull. However on the personal side a new card will always result in a new account on your credit card which matters if you’re trying to be under 5/24.
  • The “almost” in the above statement comes from what American Express sees when they do a periodic soft credit card pull (which doesn’t show up on your credit report). If something on that soft pull looks very different than before, they may do a hard inquiry for a new application.
  • On business card upgrades you don’t need to wait 12 months before getting an upgrade; the reason you have to wait that long on the personal side is due to legislation in the CARD act.
  • The downgrade/upgrade game is alive and well for some of you, don’t discount the play.
  • There are multiple reports that upgrades have been seen on more than one business card, check them all, and just because you’ve upgraded one doesn’t mean there’s not another offer right behind it.
  • You almost certainly don’t need worry about the presence of lifetime language restrictions in an upgrade offer. I’m not aware of any reports of that condition being enforced, and I’ve seen hundreds data-points that say the conditions don’t matter (including my own).
  • If you get a popup during application for a new card or during upgrade that says your’e not eligible for a sign-up bonus, believe it. There was a brief period where that wasn’t true, but unfortunately that period has passed.

4. Check here for a spend offer on your United credit card. I got 500 bonus miles for spending $500 on my card, which is worth about $7.50 best case, gee thanks. I guess I could use that $7.50 to buy myself a gourmet, marine-life shaped croissant.

5. I finally decided to start using Venmo for in-store payments this week, and my first purchase was a large one at CVS in a different state than where I live. That resulted in my Venmo account being locked and a few annoying email threads with Venmo support. Don’t be like me, try a little harder.

It’s been a long winded week on this site, hmm 🤔.

My prize from the grab-bag? A croissant croisshark. You knew this picture was coming even before you saw it, right?

Gift cards are a hot topic for a few different reasons right now. We’ll start with the positive news and descend into the depths from there:

1. Simon has a new promotion code for 55% off of Mastercard and Visa fees at their volume site: SEP21EA55. This is one of the best offers they’ve had in recent years. These Metabank cards aren’t working for purchases of money orders at the big three purveyors (with limited exceptions): Walmart, Kroger, and Safeway. They still work at many mid-size and small-size regional grocery chains though, and for certain uses at Target. You can also use bill payment services and maybe a FinTech platform or two to cash them out.

Don’t forget that American Express doesn’t award points and doesn’t count Simon purchases toward minimum spend.

2. Dean let me know that the card linked program Dosh has a boosted offer for 4% back on purchases at Office Depot / OfficeMax, though the maximum daily award is still $10 per account. If you buy a single $200 Visa or Mastercard with a $6.95 purchase fee, you’ll be ahead $1.05 after Dosh cash back. You’ll do even better with one of the “Everywhere” Visas and their lower purchase fees of $4.95. (Watch out though, the Everywhere cards don’t work everywhere. The probably should be called “some of everywhere” cards.)

To scale this deal I have one Dosh account for each of my Ink cards, each linked to a different phone number. Do note that there is a report or two on reddit that a Dosh account was locked from transfers due to suspected fraud. So far I’m not affected but going forward I’d buy a pack of paper clips or something with your gift card so the numbers don’t come out as exactly $204.95.

3. There’s a lot going on in the gift card buyers market right now. It’s too early to tell if you should be concerned or not (I think currently you shouldn’t be, but I just turned my gift card buyer radar-gain up to an eleven). With that in mind I think it’s worth reiterating my general advice: Diversify your pool of gift card buyers so that you spread out any risk, and never sell more in gift cards to a single buyer than you’d be willing to lose if the worst case scenario ever occurred again. I’m happy to do $30,000 or more in volume per week when selling gift cards, but I’m most certainly not happy to have $30,000 floated to a single buyer. My favorite buyers pay-out in 3 or so business days which helps me do high volume with less float, and my least favorite take quite a bit longer.

To add to the above advice: There were signs that things were going pear shaped months before the last time the worst case scenario happened, and smart gift card resellers should take those signs as a lesson going forward.

Inception: An image of a gift card illustrating when gift card reselling goes pear shaped.

1. Reader Yun let me know that there’s a neat hack for new Point.app debit card accounts. If you use someone’s referral code at this link, the annual fee drops to $0 for the first year and $49 for the second year. What’s currently unclear is whether you’ll get the $100 sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 when you use the link. My guess is yes, but that’s just a guess.

If you need a referral code, ask a friend and make their day because they’ll likely get a referral bonus. If that’s not a good option for you, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll share Yun’s (he’s given me permission).

2. I got a no lifetime language (NLL) offer via email for the Business Platinum card from American Express, with 150,000 Membership Rewards after $15,000 in spend within the first three months. The link in my inbox seems to skirt the 10 charge card limit — hopefully the link works for you too. To check, login to American Express and then click here.

I’m back up to 11 charge cards with American Express now with 9 of them being Platinums, huzzah I guess?

3. Marriott Bonvoy has enlisted American Express’s help to #bonvoy you. How? I’m glad you asked. They’re sending around targeted offers for card holders that give you a pitiful 1,000 points if you add an authorized user to your Bonvoy Card and spend $1,000 on the authorized user card in six months. You can see if you’re targeted at this link.

This is a terrible offer by the way; 1,000 Bonvoy points are worth at best $5, which is approximately the price of a cookie at a Marriott Courtyard.

The cookies on this plate are literally worth more than 1,000 #bonvoy points. Given the deliberately ominous arrangement, I calculate a 41.4% chance that this #bonvoy elite welcome gift will make you sick.
(Thanks to D C Domer for the picture from his recent trip)

1. Southwest has a new Companion Pass promotion(*) that’s very easy to attain: You have to purchase a paid round-trip or two one-way flights by tomorrow and travel by November 18. Register just in case you book something and qualify (yes, you have to book by tomorrow so I admit the likelihood of a booking you don’t know about coming up in the next day is small).

The companion pass will be valid from January 6, 2022 through February 28, 2022. And, you can change the companion three times over that period, which is a great way to scale this to multiple free tickets for multiple companions if it suits your travel style.

2. My Xfinity rewards program $100 Visa Gift Card showed up in the mail today. It’s issued by Metabank and has a 424030 BIN. Unfortunately that BIN is one of the harder to work with, but liquidation is still easily possible. Now, let me say something I think I’ve never said before and I’ll never say again: Thanks Xfinity!

3. There’s a widely targeted offer for 3x spend at grocery, drug stores, and restaurants for Barclay’s JetBlue cards for up to $1,000 spend. Look for an email with the subject “Fly off with 3X additional points on everyday purchases this fall.” Combine with two $500 BestBuy gift cards at Kroger for a nice win.

The top-tier elite Southwest experience summed up in a single picture.

* Unfortunately, you do have to fly on Southwest. However as I always say, they do get you where you’re going.