You’ve probably figured out by now that I typically do two types of posts: First a deal and shenanigan recap post, and second, a philosophy and wisdom type of post. Sometimes it can be a bit slow for the first type when there’s not much is going on, but that’s definitely not the case today though. Buckle up!

  1. Do this now: Check for a targeted 5,000 – 7,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus for booking a hotel and flight of over $105 through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. In theory this is limited to Ultimate Rewards earning or transferrable cards. (Thanks to DansDeals)
  2. Southwest has retooled its elite status program to be more generous, following in JetBlue’s footsteps, and running squarely against Delta’s footsteps (Side note, with airlines is footsteps the wrong analogy? Maybe it should be skid marks, contrails, jetways, speed-tape, or gremlins?) The changes:

    – You can book with a combination of cash and points
    – Credit card Tier Qualifying Points (TQP) bonus spend requirements are cut in half
    – A-List Preferred status members will get two free drunks drinks per flight segment starting November 6
    – Segment requirements for A-List and A-List Preferred statuses have dropped to 20, and 40, respectively)

    They still haven’t brought back the lounge seats though. (Thanks to Southwest king-pin Brian M)
  3. The Citi AA Advantage Business Select card has a 75,000 mile sign-up bonus for $6,000 spend in six months, and the annual fee is waived for the first year. This is effectively the best deal we’ve ever seen for this card, and it’s been years since we’ve heard from Toby.

    Note that there’s also a $100 targeted referral bonus from Citi. (Thanks to DDG)
  4. Citi ThankYou Points has a 25% transfer bonus to Avianca LifeMiles through November 4. A few sweet spots:

    – US to and from Africa in economy
    – United short haul US economy and business class
    – Mispriced awards to and from Europe from multiple Eastern US cities

    There are other great values in this program too, always be probing.
  5. American Express has new card linked offers:

    – $15 off of $150 at Home Depot (they sell gift cards)
    – 5x on Amazon purchases
    – $40 off of $200 or more with Frontier Airlines
    – $75 off of $300 or more with Delta Air Lines
    – $150 off of $750 or more at Four Seasons resorts
    – $150 off of $750 or more at Hiltons in Mexico

    Gamers gonna game. (Thanks to Rich)
  6. Citi has added “Leading Hotels of the World” as a transfer partner for ThankYou Points. The transfer ratio is 1:5 but redemptions require a relatively low number of points, so for back-of-the-envelope math just assume that you’re going to get 1.6 cents per ThankYou point.

    You can find a list of properties here.

Have a nice Tuesday friends!

Today’s post as a Disney attraction. Just like the Disney version, you end up in hell.

  1. T-Mobile is switching accounts on older, less expensive plans to more expensive plans, which affects cell phone churners disproprtionatly. It is possible to opt-out but you’ve got to call customer service and tell them that you want to do so.

    T-Mobile’s official statement on the matter is: We are not raising the price of any of our plans; we are moving you to a newer plan with more benefits at a different cost. I wish this was MEAB parody but it’s not, it’s real. Welcome to dystopian late-stage capitalism double-speak town.
  2. Breeze has a promotion for 40% off paid airfare promo code MIXITUP for round-trip travel booked by today with travel dates extending through September of next year. And since we have news about Breeze, it’s time once again to play Breeze route bingo. Today’s dart-board route [drum roll]:

    ISP (Islap, Long Island) to CHS (Charlston, SC)

    If you had ISP-CHS on your bingo card, be sure to approach the desk for your grand prize (40% off of round-trip Breeze flights booked today.)
  3. JetBlue is revamping their status program starting January 4. There is one significant change from my perspective, and that is that Mint Upgrade certificates can be used at any time, not just within 48 hours of travel. This makes the status match for Delta Elites even more valuable. (Thanks to VFTW)
  4. If you hold a Barclays Wyndham card, check your email for a targeted offer for 1,000 bonus Wyndham points after three digital wallet payments by November 30. (Thanks to scdawn)
  5. Do this now (if you have high level Marriott status): Register for 500 bonus United Miles for stays at Marriott properties and 750 bonus Bonvoy points when flying United.

Tonight’s dinner in your dystopian late-stage capitalism double-speak town.

  1. JetBlue has an above-average status match promotion for Delta elite members running through October 31 that closely mirrors Alaska’s status match from Monday. If you hold a JetBlue credit card you’ll be automatically matched for status through 2024, otherwise you’ll have a status challenge.

    This one is better than average because you’ll get tier benefits with the match for things like New York helicopter transfers, Mint upgrade certificates, and gifted TrueBlue points. If you’re a Delta Diamond or Platinum and have future travel on a route that features Mint, this is easily worth a few thousand dollars.
  2. Chase Offers has a card linked offer for 10% back at Kimpton Hotels, up to $860 in spend through November 15. There are multiple ways to play this one, and not all of them are shooting straight. (Thanks to duideh)
  3. Bank of America’s Alaska personal card currently has a public sign-up bonus of 62,000 miles, but there are two better non-affiliate link offers:

    70,000 MileagePlan miles after $3,000 spend in 90 days via a google referral
    65,000 MileagePlan miles after $3,000 spend in 90 days via in-flight offer

    Update: Note that the 70,000 miles offer may require you to switch IPs to pull it up, and may even be geographically targeted at the West Coast. That’s what VPNs are for, right? While you’re at it, don’t forget to clown around with Bank of America. (Thanks to Welcome Offer via MEAB slack)
  4. Do this now: Register for Accor Hotel’s Q4 promotion for:

    – 500 bonus points after one stay
    – 2,500 bonus points after a second stay
    – 3,000 bonus points after a third stay

    Book by October 17 for stays between October 10 and December 20. Sorry folks, there aren’t any Accor Hotels in Lubbock, TX.

Happy Wednesday!

Plotting the relative value of status matches, you know, for science.

It’s been an information dense week, and today is no exception – sorry friends. We’ll collectively both try harder and do better next week.

  1. If you hold Hyatt elite status and have linked your Hyatt and AA accounts, check your American Airlines profile for a targeted AA status match promotion, or alternatively look for an email from AA. The Loyalty Points required to maintain status after a promotional period are:

    – 25,000 Loyalty Points for Platinum (equivalent to Gold on other airlines)
    – 42,000 Loyalty Points for Platinum Pro (equivalent to Platinum on other airlines)
    – 67,000 Loyalty Points for Executive Platinum (top tier regular status)

    Brian M shares a note of caution: The earning period for Loyalty Points is split up into three phases each with earning targets, and if you don’t earn enough for a higher tier in an earlier phase it won’t matter what you earn in later phase. Each phase is four calendar months, and starts when you activate the promotion. Why three phases? Budgeting.
  2. One of the loopholes for Delta status that we discussed yesterday was discount partner business class flights. In the most Delta move ever, Delta has announced that they’re cutting the MQM earning on Aeromexico discount business class tickets starting on January 1.

    When asked for commentary about why the earnings charts were changed, Delta simply said “budgeting”. (Thanks to EyeOfTheFlyer)
  3. Staples has a promotion for $200 fee-free Visa gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction.

    By the way, I’m told these can help with budgeting.
  4. Giant, Stop & Shop, and Martins grocery stores have 2x points on Vanilla Visa gift cards through Thursday of next week, which effectively makes the gift cards negative cost provided you use the points for gas or groceries.
  5. Do this now: Register for Chase’s Freedom and Freedom Flex Q4 5x categories on up to $1,500 in spend at:

    – PayPal
    – Wholesale Clubs
    – Select charities (probably the same as the Pay Yourself Back eligible charities)

    While you’re at it, you’ve got roughly two weeks left to knock out your Q3 Chase 5x spend at gas stations, electric vehicle charging, or select entertainment.

Have a nice weekend!

This week’s MEAB posts, but as a burger.

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.

American Express’s Rewards Abuse Team (RAT) is a lot an economic recession – they show up every few years and chip away at your game, piece by piece. And just like a potential recession in the American Economy, they’ve decided that 2023 is a great year for a resurgence after taking a multi-year hiatus. Hooray I guess?

Here’s what they’re up to now:


Clawbacks of Membership Rewards points started in earnest in June, and continue to happen weekly on Tuesday nights or Wednesday mornings. When clawbacks happen:

  • They clawback obvious manufactured spend at several merchants
  • They focus on cards that had a statement close in the prior week
  • They don’t usually get everything, just a few targeted charges
  • You’ll get an email letting you know that they’ve removed points from your account, and they’ll probably reference the wrong card because of course they do
  • The Membership Rewards team can tell you exactly which transactions caused the clawbacks

We haven’t seen clawbacks on co-branded cards yet, and for the most part not on sign-up bonuses either. Currently it appears that AmEx is guessing about what you’re buying and not getting any actual transaction data and as a result you can throw them off with a little creativity.

Blocking Earnings at Retailers

Some retailers like are no longer earning points for purchases, and spend isn’t counting toward sign-up bonuses either. That said, this is an improvement from late 2022 when these stores were showing up as cash advances.

Tightening Application Rules

Some Platinum cards famously side-skirted certain limits. With last week’s Platinum changes, most or all of those angles seem to have dried up. That said, remember that American Express almost never pulls a credit report for existing account holders so I don’t see a downside to trying a few things if you’re so inclined.

Tightening Financial Review Stanards

If you were involved in a fitness club that took an unfortunate turn of events and you had significant chargebacks on your account, you’ve probably been sent into something that’s like financial review purgatory. In this version of hell your account is suspended, 30 days later the suspension is lifted (probably by an automated process), and then a day later you’re suspended again (also probably by an automated process). I can’t imagine it’ll last forever but so far I’m sure it feels like it. (Side note, never forget The Sneak Attack Strike Back, but with American Express it’ll probably take at least a year’s closure for a financial review to drop off of your accounts.)

Everything Changes

Everything’s always changing in churning and manufactured spend, and this is no different. To thrive, be nimble and adjust to the new landscape.

Have a nice weekend!

The Rewards Abuse Team’s official office mug.

Confession time: It may surprise you to find out that I regularly travel. Shocker, right? In February I was visiting Phoenix, AZ for an extended weekend trip. If this were a normal travel blog maybe I’d embellish the post with information about the Hyatt™ Hotels® I stayed at, the National Car™ Executive Aisle® selection, and the new PHX™ SkyTrain® to the Rental Car Center©, but none of that is germane to today’s topic: Chase Sapphire Reserve’s primary rental car collision insurance. (Oops, did I need an ® there too?)

The Crash

I rented with National, and the Executive Aisle had a new Audi S4 sedan with about 400 miles on the odometer. I took that car Thursday night for an extended weekend rental.

On Saturday afternoon, I was driving in the left lane a straight road with two lanes going in each direction and a middle turn lane (here’s the Google Street View for the visual learners out there). There was a strip mall on the right side and a stopped, beat-up Nissan Altima waiting to turn left at the parking lot exit (wanting to go the opposite direction as me). Inexplicably, the Nissan accelerated out of the strip mall as I was passing by, slamming into the right side of my car and causing it to spin about 270 degrees into a screeching halt.

Immediately thereafter, I swore, looked for a spot to move the car, then drove out of the middle of the road into an empty lot a few feet away. The Nissan driver followed me.

The Damage

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the accident. I was by myself, and the other car had five passengers. The Audi on the other hand looked pretty rough – the passenger doors were banged in, the rear axel was bent or broken, the rear tire was flat and the rear rim was bent. It’s frankly impressive that I was able to get the thing out of the middle of the road under its own power.

The Nissan’s front bumper was dragging on the ground and the front panels were pretty bent, but it was drivable.

The Immediate Aftermath

I got out of my car and the Nissan driver offered a few hundred in cash to forget the whole thing 😂, I declined and called the police. After about an hour the police came, cited the other driver for driving with an expired license and failure to yield, and wished me good luck.

After calling the police, I called National’s emergency roadside assistance line (which by the way, is probably the best customer service line I’ve dealt with in the last decade), and gave them a rundown of what happened. National was great, they:

  • Sent a link to my phone for a free Uber ride to the airport to get a new car
  • Offered to call and coordinate with family and emergency services
  • Arranged for a new car at the airport
  • Scheduled a tow truck to come take the Audi

Tip for the future: You don’t need to wait for the towing company to come, or at least I didn’t have to. You can just leave the keys in the center console and never look at the car again as long as it’s not causing a public safety hazard.

I got to the airport, grabbed a new car, and drove back to my hotel to deal with insurance.


I called the other driver’s insurance to file a claim, and I filed an initial accident report and uploaded pictures at, the handler for Chase’s rental car insurance. I also ordered a copy of the police report from the Phoenix police department to send to eclaimsline. (Which was perhaps the biggest ordeal of the whole process, Phoenix is weird! But, I digress.)

That was it for about a month, until National’s “Damage Recovery Unit” sent me a repair estimate for the car via email and USPS. The estimate was approximately $16,000, well under the Sapphire Reserve’s $75,000 limit. I uploaded that document to eclaimsline too.

After two more months and a phone call to check status, I got an email from eclaimsline saying that my claim was approved, a check was sent to National, and I didn’t need to take any further action. About two weeks after that, National sent me a letter via email and USPS saying that they consider the matter settled and closed.

Other Notes

  • I was concerned that National wouldn’t let me rent any more cars with the outstanding damage, but that wasn’t an issue. Between the accident and the resolution I had a half dozen National rentals that went smoothly.
  • As far as I can tell based on a call with the other driver’s insurance, eclaimsline never tried to get the other insurance to pay for the damage to the Audi. They just covered it themselves.
  • I’m not here to sell you credit cards, but I will say that I’ll be happy to pay the annual fee to keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve in my wallet for its rental insurance. Of course, if you do it right in concert with a Freedom you may have a negative annual fee so that also helps.

Happy Tuesday friends!

A replica of my police report from the Phoenix police department.

  1. Chase has three new bonuses for opening a business checking account by August 3, bringing new money into the account within 30 days, and maintaining it there for 60. The tiers:

    – $300 for $2,000 in deposits
    – $500 for $15,000 in deposits
    – $750 for $30,000 in deposits

    If you’re playing games with Chase cards, I very much suggest skipping these offers, but they can be a good option for less active players. Sometimes the codes can be sold after you can no longer sign up for them for what it’s worth.
  2. AA is selling status through targeted personal offers:

    – Gold for between $350 and $1,000
    – Platinum for between $1,000 and $1,800

    They’ll also sell you the status for miles at the exchange rate of $0.01 per mile. Since no one asked for my opinion, I’m going to, err, share it anyway: These prices range somewhere between meh and lol, or extrapolating geographically somewhere between Amarillo and Lubbock. (Thanks to VFTW)
  3. Delta has a SkyMiles sale for 34,000 miles each way in Delta One to and from Bogota, Columbia. When booking double check that you’re not getting a standard domestic first class seat, unless you’re a masochist of course.

Have a nice weekend!

Pictured: AA’s premium status shop somewhere between Amarillo and Lubbock.