1. There’s a new offer for turning your American Express Platinum and Business Platinum Clear credits into a $75 Uber voucher. In the past you’ve only needed a new email address to get these to work even if you already have Clear, and I assume this time is no different.
  2. Meijer has a promotion for $50 off of $500 in many third party gift card purchases. This is the less lucrative version of this offer versus a straight discount, but still generally very lucrative. Notable exclusions are Apple and Amazon, and worthwhile inclusions are BestBuy and Home Depot. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  3. There are multiple reports in the MEAB slack and elsewhere that Mastercards from MyPrepaidCenter have been fraudulently drained since late last week, likely from a site-hack based on the data-points and given that the site was offline for much of yesterday. If you have any of those cards, I’d suggest you drain them as soon as possible, or at minimum double check the balances. If you have cards that were compromised you should be able to dispute the charges and get your original balance back, but it’ll probably be a slog.
  4. Check your email for a targeted offer from Discover bank for $100 or $150 bonus for brining either $10,000 or $15,000 in deposits into the bank by the end of September, and maintaining an average balance of at least that much through the end of November. The terms and conditions are here. (Thanks to 5 via MEAB slack)

A scammer liquidating a gift card.

Kroger fuel points are an integral part of the bulk gift card reselling market, perhaps more-so in 2022 than any other year. They’ve boosted that bulk market even further by running nearly non-stop 4x fuel points promotions on third party gift cards, including one that started on Wednesday and runs through Tuesday, September 20.

As we discussed in August though, something is rotten in the state of Denmark Kroger: The company is actively targeting suspected fuel points resellers and has seemingly shut down more accounts in the last couple of months than in the entire prior history of the program. It’s gotten so bad that I know of a single individual that had fuel points accounts worth over $10,000 frozen without recourse.

Without further ado, here’s a Q&A session that I held with my alter-ego to address questions that have been swirling around various groups and chat forums:

Q: What’s the trigger for an account that’s shutdown?
A: Datapoints are literally all over the place, and as of now we don’t really have a great idea.

Q: What does a shutdown look like?
A: At the pump when trying to redeem points, you see the message: “Invalid Loyalty ID”

Q: Can my fuel points account be unfrozen?
A: So far, I’ve not heard of a single success story or workaround

Q: How widespread is the shutdown risk?
A: It seems to be a minority of fuel points reseller accounts that are affected, but there’s a big “but”

Q: What’s the big “but”?
A: I’m so glad you asked. Even though it’s a minority of accounts that are shutdown, when a one of reseller’s accounts is shutdown, often so are a bunch of other accounts held by the same reseller

Q: How can I protect myself going forward?
A: I’d say three things:

Q: Should I cut the fuel points game out?
A: I don’t think so, just be careful and follow my usual manufactured spend advice: never have more outstanding than you’re willing to lose if everything goes wrong

Have a nice weekend friends!

Just be careful, and you too can still be the Kroger fuel points GOAT.

Introduction

A conversation I overheard yesterday at a local coffee shop:

No-one: …
Absolutely no-one: …
Kroger: Hey I’ve got a fresh idea, how about 4x fuel points gift cards this weekend?
Third party gift sellers: [facepalm]

In a move that could only surprise someone with advanced dementia, Kroger is indeed having another 4x fuel points sale on third party gift cards between Friday and Sunday. In case you’re keeping track, we’ve had fewer than a dozen days since June without a 4x fuel points sale, and as a result the gift card resale market is depressed, like Tony Soprano season 2 depressed.

A Rocky Year

Fuel points either partially or completely offset the loss taken from selling bulk gift cards and are therefore a huge part of the bulk gift card market toolkit. In prior years Kroger fuel points were the easiest grocery point to deal with by far. But this year, Kroger has started to throw wrenches into the works:

It looks as though Kroger isn’t happy with its fuel points program and is actively taking steps to change how it works. In the meantime, bulk buyers and bulk sellers are being cautious and volume has plummeted, presumably until the dust as settled and we have a better idea about what’s working and what’s not.

What Seems Safe?

So far I haven’t heard any reports of accounts with fewer than 20,000 fuel points being targeted, so 20,000 may be a soft capacity on accounts for the near-term future. It also seems likely that account age is part of Kroger’s silent blocking algorithm, so your long-term personal account is probably safe.

Here’s the bright-side I guess: Buying an Amazon gift card at Kroger will definitely earn you a few fuel points for your own use, and that discount beats fake discount Amazon gift cards sold directly by Amazon.

Happy selling!

Misunderstanding how Kroger fuel points work.

Fall promotions are finally ramping-up, starting with the following:

  1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt’s new Q3 promotion for 20% back on award stays at Hyatt Independent Collection hotels between July 5 and September 5, up to 30,000 points back.
  2. Kroger is running another promotion for 4x fuel points on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards through July 12.

    Major fuel points buyers have been largely silent on capacity for this round, partially because it’s the end of the month (and points expire the month after they’re earned) and partially because the market has become saturated. I expect that on Friday we’ll see additional buying capacity but not at the volume that we’ve seen in the past. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  3. PayPal has another credit card variant, and this time it’s issued by WebBank instead of Synchrony so there are likely shenanigans ready to play. This card is a 2% cash back everywhere Mastercard with no annual fee, so a rival to the Citi Double Cash, only if you get shutdown here you might lose PayPal too.
  4. Check each of your personal Chase credit cards at chase.com/mybonus for additional spending bonuses on grocery, gas, and home improvement. Offers have been reported for:

    – An additional 5x on up to $1,500 in spend (Hyatt, Marriott, United, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Southwest cards)
    – An additional 7x on up to $1,500 in spend (IHG)
    – An additional 10x on up to $1,500 in spend at Starbucks(Sapphire Preferred, Freedom Flex)

    Eligibility starts on July 1 and runs through September 30, and it stacks with other bonused spend. (credit here)

Happy Wednesday!

Leaked: Kroger’s future promotion, brought to you by the same team that delivered 4x fuel points for effectively three months straight.

  1. As reported by some weirdo on the internet known for being apocryphal yet this time with a trustworthy source (DC Domer via MEAB slack), the glitch affecting Membership Rewards cash outs and partner transfers was resolved yesterday afternoon. 🎉 
  2. Southwest has run its first major schedule change for flights from early September through early November, though the number of impacted flights is smaller than is typical which could mean there will be another round of changes, or it could mean Southwest is changing the way it rolls out schedule updates.

    If you have flights booked in that window, now is a good time to see if you’re affected and rebook if the updates don’t work for you. Southwest allows you to change to any other flight between the same city pairs ± two weeks when a schedule change affects your itinerary. (Thanks to Brian M via MEAB slack)
  3. Do this now: Register for Q3 spending categories on major 5%/5x rotating category cards:

    Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex: Gas, car rentals, movies, and some entertainment (Disney parks included)
    Citi Dividend: Gas and home improvement
    Discover IT: PayPal and Restaurants
    US Bank Cash+: Utilities and electronic stores are probably best
    Bank of America Cash Rewards: Gas and online shopping are probably best

    Expect ideas on manufactured spend for these categories soon.
  4. American Express has been sending out new Pay-over-Time 20,000 or 30,000 point offers every week for over a month. Not everyone that’s eligible receives an email or mailer because American Express, but fortunately it’s easy to check via these links:

    Link 1
    Link 2
    Link 3
    Link 4
    Link 5
    Link 6

    It doesn’t take a super-hacker to see the patterns in those links, so I suppose it’s really easy to look for alternate links that aren’t yet known. (Thanks to DoC, reddit, and my inbox for these links)
  5. Kroger has a 4x fuel points sale on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards running from today through Sunday. Unfortunately the fuel points resale market prices continues to drop, and this sale won’t help it recover. I think we’ll see depressed fuel points and gift card prices through at least mid-July as a result

    There’s also widespread reporting that Kroger has started to shutdown accounts that were created with the anonaddy.com service, so I guess be careful and remember that only you can prevent wildfires.

It may seem like the US Forest Service is being literal, but in reality they’re referring to Kroger burner accounts.

Rhetorical random thought: Why is a college quad called a quad? If you know don’t tell me, I’m currently living in ignorant bliss on the matter and wish to keep it that way.

  1. If you have an American Express EveryDay card, check your account dashboard for a targeted upgrade offer to the EveryDay Preferred card with a 40,000 Membership Rewards bonus. You’ll have an annual fee of $95 to pay in exchange for those 40,000 points.

    For a level two churner, I’d also ask for a retention offer from AmEx the day after upgrading the card since you’re going to have to keep it open for a year anyway to stay out of the penalty box.
  2. Check your inbox for targeted spend bonuses from Discover, offering an extra 2% on spend through July 31 for up to $2,000 in spend (of course I’d only knock this out stacked with Q2 and Q3 5x spend).
  3. Giant, Stop & Shop, and Martin’s stores have 10x points on Apple gift cards through tomorrow, up to $2,000 in spend per loyalty account. Resale rates are in the 92% range right now, so this is a nice way to gin up some bonused grocery spend at above break even. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  4. Kroger has a 4x fuel points sale running Friday through Monday on third party gift cards. Unfortunately for resellers there’s been effectively some form of 4x, 6x, or 12x running all month which has depressed rates, likely through the middle of June.
  5. Graduate Hotels (a boutique hotelier with unique properties scattered across the US and Europe) is running an award sale today starting at 12 PM Eastern for hotel rooms at $30 per night, plus taxes for stays through July 31. The sale runs for 30 hours, but my guess is that the truly great options will sell out long before that. (Thanks to FM)

For some reason Washington University didn’t contact me before naming this “the quad”. I guess it is more catchy than “the polygons” though.

Unfortunately Plastiq continues to be running many real debit cards and several “debit” cards at the higher 2.85% credit card fee. If you have a real debit card that’s running at the credit card fee, I’d consider asking Plastiq to fix it in the hopes that everything else is also fixed.

Here are a few things to keep on your radar today:

  1. Do this now: Hyatt credit card holders should register for 20% back in points for award nights at Hyatt’s Thompson Hotel collection for stays starting April 1 and running through June 5.
  2. If you want the new third generation iPhone SE for churning and resale, or just to have, there’s a good deal at Visible right now. (Additionally, cell phone churners should look for a targeted offer from Visible for a $25 Amazon gift card on top of the normal $20 off of a monthly payment for both the referrer and the referred in their email inbox.)


    + $5 first month payment (use a referral link, ideally one of your own)
    + $25 second month payment (join any Party Pay party)
    + $25 third month payment (thanks to Austin for nothing the third month is required for the Mastercard)
    + $429 for the iPhone SE 3
    – $200 for a Mastercard gift card
    – $30 using a shopping portal

    = $254 net cost (or $209 if you refer yourself and get the Amazon gift card)

    Visible will automatically unlock the phone in 60 days, and the resale value will likely be around $400. In the mean time, you can use the phone number for all sorts of St. Patrick’s day hijinks, or maybe non St. Patrick’s day hijinks in a pinch.
  3. Check your Chase credit card offers for 10% back at Hyatt for up to $250 in spend.

Happy Thursday!

Make sure you’re sporting these babies for your St. Patrick’s day related hijinks.

Before we dive in today, a cautionary note: Plastiq has started charging higher fees for some payment types. If Plastiq is part of your arsenal, make sure you’re double-checking what’s being charged before you submit.

Now, let’s talk about a few happier topics to jump into the middle of the week:

  1. Hyatt is having a “private sale” which is open to the “public”, yay marketing. They’re advertising it as 25% off of paid rates at “more than” 975 hotels, which to me means 976 hotels (again, yay marketing). To see the rates, use promo code PRIVATE, book by March 22, and stay in April or May.

    Despite the snark there are a few good options so it’s worth checking any paid bookings you’ve got to see if you can lock in a lower rate. (Thanks to iheartpoints via the MEAB Slack)
  2. Do this now: Register for Choice Hotels’ newest bonus offer for between 5,000 and 8,000 points after two stays by May 8. Despite my warranted misgivings about Econolodge there is value to be had in the Choice Hotels program, largely with stays in the Ascent Collection booked on points from Citi ThankYou Point transfers.
  3. Coin season 2022 is starting tomorrow at the US Mint with the 2022 American Eagle Gold Proof Four-Coin Set (22EF). Right now the cost of the coin will be somewhere around $5,000, and commissions are likely to be in the $300 to $400 range. The play is to order a coin-set to your house and resell it to a dealer for more than it cost; typically you lock the price and commitment in before you order.

    These are good manufactured spend opportunities, especially because you’re being paid approximately a small credit card bonus sized commission for your trouble. I’m not specifically endorsing any buyer, but the following are reputable and you may want to onboard with them today if you want to take part tomorrow:

    – Amit’s Coin Buying Group (email or WhatsApp)
    – Boxy’s Resale Group (Discord, paid group, but the trial lasts through the coin sale)
    – DCB’s Buying Group (email or WhatsApp)
    – Vinh’s Coin Buying Group (Web)

Good luck out there!

Plastiq.