We’ve talked about Point.app on this blog more times than I’m comfortable with (I don’t think a single topic should get too much coverage), but given their propensity to transfer money from Venture Capitalists’ funds to your wallet via their app, it’s been a regular topic despite that discomfort.

What never made it onto this site, or any other public site that I know of, is that for a brief, amazing, short window, Point let you fund your account with any credit card with no fees, and you could then withdraw your cash via ACH or through other easy manufactured spend right away, given that it’s a debit card. The limits were high too at $10,000 per month, all fee free from Point. There was a rub though: while American Express cards didn’t cash advance, some Mastercards and Visas did.

How did it work? In April, they added an option to fund your account with Apple Pay, an option which still exists today with new restrictions. When that feature showed up in the app, they had language to the effect of “Instantly transfer up to $2,500 per day using a debit or credit card from an existing bank — for no fee.” They weren’t even trying to hide it!

With the help of a fellow hooligan, we tested several small loads with different credit cards and found which ones charged a cash advance for loading. Looking at the charge on American Express’s activity view showed that they were using Stripe to process payments, which is an interesting datapoint to keep in your pocket for looking at similar deals. After that, I maxed out the monthly limit and waited for the month roll-over for even more spend. Then sometime in June, credit card charges stopped working and eventually the language in the app was updated to remove “credit card” from the Apple Pay description.

Lessons to learn from this:

  • New financial technology companies and their cards often allow shenanigans because they haven’t thought about blocking them
  • Shenanigans don’t always work right away, sometimes a new feature enables them
  • Explore each funding opportunity available in a FinTech platform
  • Make a small test payment to see if something causes a cash advance when you find something that works
  • Use the information on your credit card’s activity view for your test payment to discern the likelihood of charges working on other cards, and cash advances aren’t always the cards that you expect
  • Go big before it dies, provided you don’t care if you’re eventually shutdown (I didn’t care with Point, though I wasn’t ever shut down)
  • Keep track of which payment processors are used to discern patterns for future plays

I can definitively say that there are other FinTech companies out there right now that let you fund with a credit card. Get out there and explore, and when you see a new product consider getting it to see what it can do.

Be like Dora, go explore!

PayPal has a targeted deal running for 10% back from Target. As you saw yesterday, the Point rewards debit card has a 10x offer running at Target now too. An obvious question: Can these deals combine for 20% off? The answer is probably, though nothing is guaranteed until the data-points start rolling in. So, here’s how I’d play this:

  • Verify that you’ve got the PayPal Target deal (search for “Target” at this link)
  • Save the offer to your PayPal account
  • Add your Point debit card to your PayPal Wallet
  • Use cashbackmonitor.com to find a smaller, unknown portal (unfortunately it’s slim pickings right now)
  • Add one of the following to your cart:
    • A $500 gift card (Disney, Home Depot, and Apple gift cards are your best bet for resale)
    • Groceries and home goods that you’d buy anyway
    • Game consoles for resale if you can find them
  • Checkout with PayPal, using your Point debit card as payment

Ok, easy enough. We likely just got 20-21% off based on whether or not the portal tracks. (Hint: smaller portals still occasionally track on things like gift cards at many stores even when the big ones don’t).

I’ve kinda buried the lead here though: with these two deals stacking, you can get 20-21% off of Disney park tickets (via a Disney gift card). That’s honestly almost unheard of and if Disney is in your future in the next couple of years, I’d hit this one. If you open multiple PayPal accounts, a personal plus one for each of your “multiple businesses”, you can scale this deal even more; but after the first $500 it’ll turn into a 10-11% back offer because you’ll use up your Point spend capacity. Of course you will be able to get some credit card rewards in place of Point.

As always, if you don’t have the Point debit card and want to get it, make sure you use a referral link for a higher sign-up bonus. (The best that I know of is currently $100 after spending $1,000.) I’d rather you use a friend’s referral link, but if you don’t know anyone who has one feel free to reach out to me and I’ll share mine.

Targeting Target: Just one step away from this nonsense.

Let’s roll with the punches today:

1. It seems that GoBank will no longer be the new blue(bird) as of October 31; they’ve sent an email to multiple cardholders indicating that the product would be shutting down. I haven’t seen one yet for my account, but I do believe the reports are credible. Unfortunately the replacement Go2Bank card so far doesn’t seem to be amazing.

Hint: Allow me to be Alec Baldwin with the phrase: “Always be probing.” You should always be probing reloadable debit cards on sale at Walmart. The fact this this one died doesn’t mean that there aren’t other alive options.

2. There are also multiple reports that American Express has clawed back the 4x bonus points from a prior offer this spring for referring a friend to a new card. Some reports suggest that this is true even when AmEx didn’t have L3 charge data (showing what you purchased). It’s unclear why the AmEx RAT team chose this promotion as their flex, but so far I wouldn’t stress about it too much with respect to other MS activities on AmEx cards. I genuinely don’t think it will lead to any further shutdowns.

3. Cash.app reloads stopped counting for T-Mobile Money’s monthly ten transaction limit, which unlocks 4% APR on balances of up to $3,000. (Personally, I like the HMBradley deal for 3% APR up to $100,000 a lot better, especially if you’re good at manufacturing very small direct deposits.)

Channel Alec Baldwin and roll with the punches.

On Thursday I posted about a Bank of America trick or two. The post generated more questions than I thought, so let’s talk about how Bank of America credit card applications work (maybe not officially, but this is how it works in practice):

  • Bank of America will only make one hard credit pull a day regardless of the number of applications made
  • Personal cards will show up on your credit report once opened, business cards will not
  • You can be approved for multiple versions of the same Business card on the same day, just use multiple businesses with multiple EINs
  • Some business cards have a Visa and a Mastercard variant, and each is a separate product
  • Having $5,000+ in a personal Bank of America checking account will help make business applications sail through the automated approval system
  • As long as the credit line on a newly approved business card is greater than $5,000, you’ll likely be approved for another business card so just keep going
  • Existing business credit cards don’t affect your ability to earn bonuses or to be approved for a new application with the same card

Last week’s post also laid out a quick plan for maximizing BoA credit card applications and I followed it over the weekend. Here’s what I applied for

Spoiler alert, I was approved for every one of them.

Despite playing the game for over 10 years, I’ve somehow never had a personal Alaska Visa. If I had, I’d make sure it’d been a few years since I applied or perhaps picked a different personal card. At the time of applying, I had one Business Cash Mastercard and one business Alaska Visa open, and I had closed a second business Alaska Visa the day before to up my chances for the shenani-go-round. (Why yes, I did just make that word up, why do you ask?)

What’s the takeaway? Go big with Bank of America credit card applications.

A tee shirt that says "Go big or go home" with a drawing of a tricycle in the center.
Bank of America may be the tricycle of big-banks, but it’ll take you places.

It’s shaping up to be a great weekend for getting out there and ginning-up some spend. Alternatively, if you’re like me you’ve burnt out on manufactured spend after a week and a half of Kroger’s 4x Fuel Points promotion it’s a good weekend for chillin’. You decide:

1. Staples is selling fee free Visa Gift Cards again starting on Sunday and running through a week from Saturday, limit 5 per customer (or per transaction in most cases). Just make sure you have a liquidation method before you load up on these.

2. Simon Mall online is having a flash sale for 50% off of Visa gift card fees using promo code FSAUG50 through this evening. These are an interesting way to meet minimum spend for second tier banks (definitely not for American Express, you won’t earn points and the spend won’t count toward a sign up bonus). If by some miracle you have one of the card numbers for yesterday’s Bank of America shenanigans handy this could be a great way to run up a balance for payment shenanigans on those cards.

In case you’re not aware, you can get $1,000 face value Visa gift cards with your name printed on the front online at Simon. Frequent Miler has a good writeup here with the basics. As with the Staples, make sure you’ve got a path toward liquidation of these gift cards before going big.

3. Is your Brex cash card sitting idle? I’d understand if so, mine certainly was for quite a while. That’s changed though — I wanted to drop a reminder for those who might have ride-share like expenses, real or otherwise: Brex has been faithfully awarding 8x on ride-sharing services for me.

Brex has a new sign-up bonus of 80,000 miles (or $800 if you’d rather cash out) with $9,000 spend within a short 30 days. It has no credit check but does require a real business. Note that this link randomly seems to offer 7x on ride-sharing services. (Thanks to Rapid Travel Chai for the link)

4. M1 Finance has released their upcoming credit card’s rewards structure, and there are a few doozies for manufactured spend in there. You can see the full list here.

How I’ll be rolling this weekend.

Bank of America is a strange bank, and the Alaska Airlines card is even stranger. Often, you can find about twelve variations of the sign-up bonus for the personal card by looking in different places, like in-flight, at the gate, at the check-in counter, online, or by calling and asking. There’s a new variation which as far as I can tell is the best offer they’ve come up with that’s publicly available over the internet (you’ll currently find it by searching Google for “alaska airlines visa” and clicking the sponsored link, which probably costs BoA about $4 per click) Update: Thanks to Gary from VFTW who wrote in to share a better public offer than the google search method. Links and text below have been updated to include the better offer.

As usual, I’m not here to push credit cards on you but I am here to help you maximize them if and when you apply. To that end, here’s the current offer from the above Google search:

Note that BoA personal cards have anti-churning language that’s not present on the business cards, and the personal cards have the 2/3/4 rule, which basically boils down to you can only get two BoA personal cards every two months, three personal cards every 12 months, and four personal cards every 24 months.

By itself, the card is mildly interesting, but because it’s BoA and it pairs well with BoA business cards, it can become intriguing:

  • BoA is a great target for CheckFreePay, and historically they’ve been extremely liberal on getting payments from the service
  • BoA will only make one hard pull of your credit a day regardless of the number of applications
  • BoA will let you open “a few” business cards back-to-back, even following a personal card application

So if you want Alaska miles (like to use 70,000 miles to Japan in JAL First or 60,000 miles to Japan in JAL Business class), I’d suggest the following steps:

  1. Sign up for a personal Alaska card
  2. Sign up for a business Alaska card
  3. Sign up for a MilesEarnAndBurn’s Unsung Hero BoA Business Rewards card (here’s a link for a $750 sign up bonus, no annual fee)
  4. Repeat steps (2) and/or (3) while you’re still getting decent sized credit lines

In the end, you’ll have one hard pull, one new account on your credit report (the personal card), hopefully a handful of new business cards, and a few great targets for CheckFreePay and other shenanigans.

Yes, this image is a repeat but I’m too proud of it to not bring it back for this article. Thanks again to Danny for the inspiration for the picture.

I didn’t understand what Happy Cards were or how they worked for a few years and I missed out on plenty of deals as a result. Don’t miss out like me. They’re an obtuse product on the surface, but it’s all actually quite easy. There are two flavors:

Flavors

Physical Happy Cards

These cards are made of genuine, bona fide electrified, six-car monorail plastic, just like non-premium credit cards, debit cards, or most other gift cards. These are the less desirable version for a gift card reseller because you have to go through a third party store (i.e. GameStop) with the Happy card to buy a gift card that you can actually sell. Often you can shop online at that third party store rather than making a trip to a brick and mortar location though. My favorite use case for the physical flavor is to use a “Happy Treats” card at gamestop.com to purchase an electronic Steam gift card, which has resale rates of 90-93%. Often you can buy Happy Treats cards at a 20-25% discount.

An interesting side note: these gift cards are really just Visa gift cards that are hard coded to work only at certain merchants. As a result, there were loopholes that let you cash them out in the past. Happy has since plugged all the holes that I’ve seen discussed in private groups, but there may still be more.

Electronic Happy Cards

These cards are really just an email with a digital code. You use the digital code at happycards.com to exchange it for a store gift card, which is also electronic and directly resellable. These are great because after a few clicks, your deal is complete and you can move on, no physical cards or trips to the store to worry about. I always prefer this flavor to the physical because it literally takes about two minutes and you’re done.

Types

There are dozens of types of Happy cards, for example: “Happy Treats”, “Happy Mom”, “Happy Dad”, “Happy You”, etc. The only difference between all of the types is where they can be used. For example, Happy Treats can be used at Regal, GameStop, Cold Stone, Yankee Candle, Ulta, and Sally. You’ll also find that the same stores will appear on multiple types of Happy Cards: GameStop shows up on Happy Treats, Happy You, Happy Dad, Happy Grad, and probably others.

Fin

There are great deals to be had on Happy cards throughout the year, especially around major holidays (like I don’t know, maybe Labor Day for example?) Watch for them — they’ll almost always turn into credit card spend, profit, and sometimes portal cash back.

A genuine, bona fide, electrified six-car monorail.

By now, I think you all know how I feel about the American Express Platinum changes, but in case you don’t the short overview is: “great for sign-up bonuses, awful for ongoing value.” Along with that mantra, there are a few things you should know about the American Express Platinum cards and maybe it’s time for you to consider going for a few of them for the sign-up bonuses or for the spend bonuses:

  • The Personal Platinum card has a 125,000 points offer with another 15x at restaurants or small businesses up to $25,000 in spend. I’d definitely use the AmEx Shop Small lookup tool to explore how to take advantage of this. Obviously if you can buy gift cards at a local “small business” grocery store you can easily make this a multiple thousand dollar card after maxing out your 15x capacity.
  • The Business Platinum card has a generic 150,000 points targeted offer that shows up sometimes in your “offers” section of the card. Login to American Express first, then click the link so you don’t have to hunt for the offer, it’ll tell you if you’re targeted or not.
  • The Brokerage Platinum cards from Morgan Stanley and Schwab both offer 100,000 Membership Rewards and 10x at restaurants and small businesses up to $25,000 in spend, in case you’re not eligible for the 15x offer you may still be eligible for one of these.
  • If none of those work for you, referring a friend or a P2 to a Platinum card will get you 5x at restaurants and small businesses up to $25,000 in spend, so there’s still a way to maximize the shop small ecosystem.

Now, how do you know if you’re eligible? Try and apply, and before submitting your final application you may get a pop-up window telling you that you may not be eligible because you’ve already had or you have the card. Or, you may get a pop-up telling you that due to your past relationship with American Express, you’re not eligible for the card. Here’s the thing though: If you get the first type of pop-up, you may still be eligible for the bonus. I’m not suggesting that you should do this, but recently people have been getting their bonuses despite getting the first type of pop-up during application (definitely only the first type). If you’re gutsy and you want that 5x/10x/15x shop small spend really badly like me, you may consider it worth the risk to try anyway.

Unrelated: Yesterday my table showing cost per points for portal bonuses didn’t take shipping into account. I’ve updated that so please take another look, and thanks again to Miles for letting me know. The punchline is that Southwest miles can be had for 0.777 cents per mile, United for 0.639 cents per mile, and Alaska for 0.816 cents per mile. I’m a buyer for Southwest and Alaska at those prices, I have too many United miles though to care.

A framed blackboard displaying the words "Small Business".
If I put one of these signs up by the register, will it count?