“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” plays a big part in the soft-skills needed to unlock huge velocity in manufactured spend, but it can also blind us. Today, I’d like to offer a corollary:

You tend to forget about the quiet wheels.

– Some lunatic who goes by MEAB. How do you even pronounce that?

The Squeaky Ones

Monday, Tuesday, and yesterday brought waves of PayPal shutdowns in the community, and just about every forum loosely related to manufactured spend is talking about it. We’re seeing shutdowns of:

  • Main accounts with big volume
  • Secondary accounts that share targets with shutdown main accounts
  • Secondary accounts that share names with shutdown main accounts
  • Newly created secondary accounts with even moderate volume

If you were affected, that sucks and I’m sorry. But on the flip side, what use is PayPal in 2024 for things other than manufactured spend anyway? I mean really, literally what use is it? Yes they own Venmo, but a PayPal shutdown doesn’t equal a Venmo shutdown.

The Not Squeaky Ones

There are plenty of users that aren’t shut down with PayPal yet, but that’s hard to see because they’re not jumping up and down in chat rooms and forums saying “I’m not shutdown, what do I do next?” because there’s no urgency. So, we end up hearing from a much larger proportion of squeaky wheels than silent ones.

We could leave it there, but a logical question then becomes:

What are the non-squeaky wheels doing, and what lessons can we learn from them about not being shutdown? There are a lot of answers to that question, and they probably hover around volume, dodging the ban hammer, the types of targets they choose, how often they use those targets, and the volume sent to those targets.

Bonus: Repercussions

One of my P2’s favorite manufactured spend jokes is to call the app that shouldn’t be named the floosie app (she calls all of its users floosies too, naturally). I know nothing about the current financial state of our collective floosie overlords, but I do know that mass PayPal shutdowns kill a popular liquidation channel for its users, and that means that they’re going to see a big drop-off in daily volume and probably daily profit in their ledger. Will it matter? I have no idea, but I’d suggest that now’s a good time to evaluate your risk profile for your floosie shenanigans.

Double Bonus: Brian M Brings us Back to Reality

Brian M, possibly the most cited contributor here, let me know that Southwest is opening its schedule for travel between October 3 and November 2 this morning. Booking early is a statistically better than average way to get the lowest fare possible on popular travel days with Southwest, though of course ymmv.

Next up: What about donut wheels?

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. has 10% off of $100 Mastercard gift cards with promo code MERRYMC10 or MERRYMC, limit three per order. As usual, try and go through a portal but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t track when you use the code. Fun fact: You’re also limited to $2,000 in e-gift cards per 48 rolling hours, even though the terms and conditions suggest the limit is only 24 hours.

    It’s a good thing you can create new email addresses though, amirite?
  2. Rakuten has a card linked offer for 2.5x Membership Rewards or 2.5% cash back on in store purchases through December 31 at Safeway and Albertsons stores. Gift cards are excluded from the promotion, but a little obscuration goes a long way.

    You’ve got to re-add this offer an hour after using it each time.
  3. Yesterday we talked about a couple of AmEx offers for spending $300 on Delta gift cards, and later in the day Delta launched a promotion for a free $20 Starbucks gift card with a $300 Delta gift card. So, obviously stack those. (Thanks to GCG)
  4. Bilt is sending targeted email to some cardholders for 1,000 bonus points per retailer for using your card for a single purchase at AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint (???), Comcast, Spectrum, Netflix, Hulu, and Xfinity, limit 5,000 total bonus points. Look for the subject: “Earn 5K bonus points this month”.

Your fourth easiest gig.

There’s a lot going on today, remember to focus on the bigger stuff and ignore the smaller stuff:

  1. H-E-B grocery stores have a $20 H-E-B gift card with the purchase of a $100 gift card in several travel related and bulk resale brands through tomorrow night, limit one per account. Your best options for resale is Home Depot, and Airbnb for travel.

    It may be worth a quick trip if you’re not already in H-E-B land if you’re confident in your ability to scale. It is possible to mint thousands of dollars quickly. (Thanks to GCG)
  2. Alaska has a paid and award ticket sale through Wednesday night. I’m seeing transcontinental flights, Hawaiian flights, and some international flights pricing at 7,500 miles each way in economy, short haul flights are showing at 4,000 miles each way in economy.

    The sale is for travel booked 21 days in advance for travel through March 9, and there are a few blackout dates in late February.
  3. The IHG mobile app has 20% off of paid hotel stays booked by tomorrow night for nights through April 30, 2024, and 15% off of points and cash stays for nights in January and February 2024.
  4. Amazon has holiday weekend shopping promotions for using a single bank point:

    American Express 40% or 50% off
    Chase Ultimate Reward 50% off
    Discover 50% off
    US Bank 50% off

    Of course you should combine these with buyers groups or gift card reselling activity when possible. If you’re not targeted for one of them, remove those cards from your profile, add them back, then wait a day and check again.
  5. Citi ThankYou Points are redeemable toward Apple e-gift cards today only with a 25% bonus (or 20% discount per Citi because they’re bad at marketing). The resale rate for Apple gift cards is well above a 20% discount making this a nice way to cash out ThankYou Points at above regular rates.
  6. has 6% off of $100 Visa e-gift cards through tomorrow night with promo codes CYBER6, CYBERVISA, or VISACYBER, limit three per purchase. The limit makes it hard to get to $2,000 per rolling 48 hours but if you’re looking for cancels this is a low cost way to get there.

    These may be worth your time for American Express cards in particular, but only if you have a low cost liquidation channel, since portals are no longer tracking when a promo code is used. (Thanks to TeddyH)

The internet standard measurement of a banana for scale really isn’t big enough on cyber Monday. Instead, use comically oversized carrot for scale to filter through the madness.

  1. Staples has fee free $200 Visa gift cards in store through Saturday, limit eight per transaction. This stacks nicely with the American Express Business Gold $20 monthly office supply credit.

    These are Pathward gift cards, so have a liquidation plan in place. If your liquidation plan includes major nationwide retailers, there’s a $480 per six minute per store velocity limit.
  2. There’s a, umm let’s say “targeted”, Bank of America promotion for 5% off of ebay purchases of up to $1,000 with promo code TAKE5BOFA through December 31. The coupon has a limit of 10 uses, and presumably the limit is per ebay account. Notably you don’t need to use a Bank of America credit card to be eligible.

    The promo code isn’t working with the most obvious plays like gold bars, but you’re enterprising people right? Sometimes it makes sense to be on both sides of a transaction, just calculate the spread first. This may stack with portal cash back too. (Thanks to DAMU)
  3. It’s been just three days since we discussed the time value of points and how devaluations are one of several factors that erode the future value of loyalty currencies. Southwest decided that Veterans Day was the perfect time to illustrate the principle, announcing that points would be worth 4% less starting on January 1, 2024.

    As usual, head-on bookings with the Chase Sapphire Reserve continue to be more valuable for redemption than transferring points to Southwest and booking that way (1.5 cents plus mileage earning vs about 1.35 cents and no mileage earning), that is unless the risk premium for free cancelations and redeposits on points bookings and not dealing with flight credits is worth more than 0.15 cents per point to you.
  4. Meijer MPerks has 15,000 in points back on Choice, Happy, and One4All gift cards of $100 or more, limit one per MPerks account. Fortunately for Meijer, it’s not possible for a single person to have multiple email accounts, and therefore multiple MPerks accounts. (Thanks to GCG)
  5. There’s a targeted American Express offer for $175 back on $1,000 or more in cumulative spend with Cathay Pacific by December 31. It’s an interesting choice on AmEx’s part to make this one cumulative, almost inviting gamers to game. (Thanks to TeddyH)

Happy Monday!

An NFT sold on ebay showing the relative value Ultimate Rewards Southwest bookings compared to Rapid Rewards bookings. Limit one NFT per MPerks account.

The Past

In recent history, American Express had interesting Q4 referral bonuses released in October that stacked with regular year-round referral bonuses:

  • 2020: +3x on all purchases, uncapped
  • 2021: +4x on all purchases on $25,000 in spend
  • 2022: +4x on transit and travel on $20,000 in spend

There’s a definite trend and it’s clearly headed in the wrong direction. Which brings us to now: The current October 2023 Q4 referral bonus is +0x on all spend, uncapped.

That is, American Express seems to have decided it was too generous on the last versions and hasn’t yet released a Q4 promo for referrals, and probably won’t at this point.

The New Hotness

Rather than a referral bonus, American Express’s October 2023 surprise is a new set of offers for adding employee cards by phone to a primary business account. We’ve seen two variants, and both variants have been seen on the Blue Business Plus, the Business Green, the Business Gold, and the Business Platinum:

  • 7,000 Membership Rewards on $4,000 spend in six months per employee card
  • 15,000 Membership Rewards on $4,000 spend in six months per employee card

Each of these is good for up to 99 employee cards, which if maximized turns into 1.485 million Membership Rewards in addition to the base rewards earned for $396,000 in spend.

It’s likely that the Plum card has the offer too, but the Venn diagram intersection of churners and Plum cards is about the same as the Venn diagram of satisfied customers and the Baymont Wyndham in Lubbock: virtually non-existent.

Happy Monday friends!

Say what you will, but at least the Baymont Wyndham offers a choice of room scent.

  1. The American Express’s Business Gold card has had an extremely rare public 150,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus for several days. I haven’t mentioned it before today because people have wasted literally hours trying to get it to appear with very limited success, and I think your time is worth something. But we now have a new efficient method make it appear:

    Visit this link in a private or incognito window
    – Verify that you see an offer for a Business Platinum card at 170,000 Membership Rewards (and reload if you don’t)
    – Click the Hamburger Menu (☰) icon
    – Click “Most Popular Cards”
    – Click “American Express Business Gold Card”

    This link has lifetime language, but that doesn’t matter. Instead remember that if you don’t get a pop-up during application telling you that you’re ineligible for a bonus, you’ll get the sign-up bonus regardless of the language. (Thanks to irieriley via MEAB slack and C-MontgomeryChurns)
  2. PayPal has an offer for 1.5% cash back at This stacks with existing shopping portals and card linked programs too. (Thanks to Zp via MEAB slack)
  3. Clear has a promotion for a $75 Uber voucher with a new membership using promo code CLAIMUBER75 through October 24, and it may surprise you to learn that American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cards have an annual Clear credit. If only there were someway to have multiple email addresses 🤔.

    This promotion requires that you don’t opt out of Clear’s promotional emails until your Uber voucher is delivered, and lately Uber has (sometimes) blocked multiple Clear vouchers on the same account. Just make sure to turn off auto-renew after creating your account. (Thanks to MsTuffy)
  4. While we’re talking about being surprised, it may also surprise you to learn that Staples has a promotion starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday for fee-free $200 Visa gift cards, limit eight per transaction.

    Don’t forget that the American Express Business Gold card now has a monthly $20 credit at office supply stores. (Thanks to DoC)
  5. The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a Discover-esque sign-up bonus for 3x Ultimate Rewards everywhere within the first 12 months of holding the card. The card has no-annual fee, and unfortunately isn’t a Freedom Flex Mastercard for extra shenanigans, but that’ll do donkey, that’ll do. This bonus isn’t available by referral but could be in a few weeks, so if you’re in two-player mode I’d wait to see how that pans out.
  6. American Express Offers has a new offer for $40 back on $200 or more in airfare at JetBlue. Now if only there were a way to book a non-basic economy flight and refund it to a travel bank, or maybe even something more sinister. Alas, here we are.

Because you haven’t had enough surprises today, apparently “surprise burgers” are a thing. 2023, amirite?

  1. Bank of America has an annual promotion called “More Rewards Day” on a single day when all of your Bank of America cards earn an additional 2% cash back or 2x points on spend. It’s back again for 2023, and it’s scheduled for November 9.

    Last year it was very lucrative for some and frustrating for others because it was effectively capped only by your credit lines, but sometimes Bank of America’s fraud algorithms ran rampant like a rabid bunny with a Napoleon complex. As a result, Bank of America has limited rewards to $2,500 in purchases per personal card or corporate account this year.

    Now’s a good time to apply for Bank of America cards so that you’ve got them in-hand to hit minimum spend for November 9.
  2. Plastiq has a storied past with churners. Once upon a time it was one of the easiest platforms for no-cost or low-cost debit liquidation, but that slowly eroded into crapulence and then bankruptcy. Some highlights:

    A great way to have scheduled tiny transactions in June 2021
    Plastiq: The Zigening in March 2022
    When IT and Promotions Fail Together in August 2022
    Plastiq: A Slow Requiem in November 2022
    Plastiq declares bankruptcy in May 2023

    They were acquired by Priority Technology Holdings in bankruptcy, and a few weeks ago a judge approved the new company’s bankruptcy exit plan.

    Plastiq’s background helps frame the news that they shared: Plastiq will be accepting American Express cards for payments starting in a few weeks. Knowing Plastiq, it’s not going to be implemented properly. Always be probing.
  3. American Express Offers has an offer for $200 back on $2,000 in spend through November 21, up to two times. So far it’s been seen on both the personal and the business Amazon cards, but likely exists on other cards too. (Thanks to Ragerz78)
  4. Chase Offers and BankAmeriDeals have an offer for 10% back on IHG purchases of $100 or more, up to $31 cash back through November 15. Yes, you can capture these without staying at a Holiday Inn Express. (Thanks to DoC)

Happy Wednesday!

Bank of America’s fraud algorithms personified.

The reaction to yesterday’s budgeting post was next-level. Thanks to everyone who wrote in! Today’s post is a biggie, so buckle up:

  1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt’s Bonus Journeys promotion for 3,000 bonus points for each three qualifying nights up to seven times, valid for nights between October 6 and November 30.

    If you have a Chase Hyatt credit card, there’s an additional 1,000 bonus points for every three nights at certain properties with the same promotion, but the properties are mostly outside of the US.
  2. Do this now: Register for Marriott’s Go Your Way promotion for 1,500 bonus Bonvoy points for every three paid nights between September 12 and December 6.
  3. Do this now: Register for Choice’s More Destinations, More Adventures promotion for 8,000 bonus points for every two paid stays completed by November 6.
  4. Southwest’s next schedule extension for travel between April 9 and June 3, 2024 happens tomorrow, and covers both some spring break travel and Memorial Day weekend. (Thanks to the legendary Brian M, who keeps a closer tab on Southwest than Herb Kelleher did)
  5. The Capital One VentureX Business 150,000 points sign-up bonus after $30,000 spend in three months is now available online. The $395 annual fee is not waived the first year but does include an easily redeemable $300 travel credit.

    For the math challenged, you’ll earn 7x on $30,000 in spend which is hard to beat for big spenders. (Thanks to DDG)
  6. Southwest’s Rapid Rewards shopping portal has 2,000 bonus points when spending $400 in cumulative purchases through September 18. Fortunately, as a collective society we once again we know how to easily earn these kinds of bonuses.

    With the fees you’ll pay for two $250 egift cards, you’ll be effectively buying 3,000 Rapid Rewards points at 0.396 cents per point, minus whatever value you’ll earn for spending $500 on your credit card. Of course there’s a Citi Merchant offer for 3% back that gives even more upside. (Thanks to FM)
  7. There’s a new fast-track to Hyatt Globalist status for higher level AA elites. Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum elites will earn Globalist(-lite) with 20 nights within 90 days of registration, and you must register by November 12.

    With a little grit, or dare I say, true grit, you can earn Globalist(-lite) in exchange for 70,000 Ultimate Rewards utilizing this promotion.

Happy Wednesday!

An avid churner navigates today’s post from the comfort of home.