Let’s discuss recent changes in how major credit card churning banks operate today. I believe some of them are indicative of major banks’ views about current state of the economy their outlook for the near future, but I’ll leave it to you to decide which items apply.

  1. Bank of America has been reducing credit lines on existing consumer and business credit cards in a haphazard fashion, whether or not the cards have activity tied to them. They’ve also been notifying people inconsistently about these reductions, some receiving paper letters, some receiving emails, and some receiving no notification.

    I’d suggest checking your existing card portfolio and if you’ve been affected, a call to customer service asking them to reverse the reduction may work.
  2. American Express seems to have undergone a “credit profile reset” last week. The symptoms that lead to that conclusion:

    – Some that have never had call-in offers for employee cards now have them
    – Some that have been ineligible for referral bonuses are no longer ineligible
    – Some that haven’t had access to AmEx Offers now have access
    – There was a single report of being approved for AmEx cards after being locked out for years

    I have no idea if this is temporary or permanent, so I’d take advantage quickly if one of these scenarios maps to you. Always be probing.
  3. There’s been confusion about how banks combine credit pulls:

    – US Bank inquiries will be combined the next business day after pulls
    – Barclays will only combine business inquires with other business inquiries, and personal inquiries with other personal inquiries
    – Bank of America will often not re-pull credit for up to 30 days, but if it does pull multiple times on the same day, it’ll be combined the next business day
  4. US Bank, the most ghetto of all major churning banks, has a few changes:

    – They’ve reduced the overall value of their mid-tier Altitude Connect card
    – Opening a brokerage account used to be a backdoor into US Bank accounts when you weren’t in their footprint. In the last six months or so, there’s been only mixed success with that method, but apparently opening a CD is a workaround

    US Bank remains a great sleeper bank for churning, don’t sleep on that sleeper!

Have a nice weekend!

A churner enjoying a lie-flat trip hears about US Bank cards.

  1. Do this now: Register for Wyndham’s new promo, 7,500 bonus points for two nights stayed through May 13. You can earn the bonus up to a whopping two times, for a total of *checks supercomputer* 15,000 bonus points. (Thanks to FM)
  2. Putting a nice bow on one of the worst Februaries on record for devaluations, shutdowns, and general #bonvoyness, ANA is devaluing its award chart for tickets booked on or after April 18.

    For better or worse, this is inevitable as the paid price of tickets increases with inflation and with spend based mileage earning, so eventually the mileage program will necessarily bow to inflation too. You can plan for that though.
  3. Bilt has a new benefit: FlyingBlue Gold status for Bilt Platinum members who activate a status match, which requires 10,000 points transferred to FlyingBlue during the activation. This will be a recurring Bilt yearly benefit, at least until they decide that its not.

    The main benefits of FlyingBlue Gold are lounge access on international SkyTeam airline tickets like Delta, and for free checked bags on the same airlines. You no longer get access to book La Premier awards with Gold status though, so the value is marginal at best.
  4. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion on sports betting gift cards through March 19, which as far as I’m aware is a new type of fuel points promotion.

    Sports books provide a good outlet for manufactured spend volume in states that allow it, but it comes with a big set of gotchas too. Typical plays involve mainline arbitrage across multiple sites and playing through all funds at least once. (Thanks to GCG)

MEAB running super-computer simulations for maximizing point earning.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The feedback I’ve gotten for guest post Saturday has been resoundingly positive. I’ve got a few posts left to publish, but I’m running low. If you’re interested in a guest post, please reach out!

  1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt’s Bonus Journeys promotion for 3,000 bonus points for every three nights stayed between March 1 and April 30. There’s an additional 1,000 points for some international properties available if you hold a Hyatt credit card too.
  2. Do this now (if you hold Delta status): Choose what to do with your rollover MQMs in the new program.

    I extended my Diamond status through the end of the decade which seems like an insane option to offer, but no complaints. It’s rather niche and limited scope, but this approaches deal of the year territory for people with lots of rolled over MQMs.
  3. The FBNO Amtrak Preferred Mastercard has increased its sign-up bonus to 40,000 points after $2,000 spend in three months, and the $99 annual fee is not waived the first year. Points are worth between 2.5 and 2.9 cents each roughly.

    If you ride Amtrak regularly this a great card, otherwise skip it.
  4. In case you’re wondering how Alaska is doing since the Boeing door plug incident: They’re running another deep discount award ticket sale through tonight:

    – Short haul: 4,000 miles
    – Medium haul: 7,500 miles (including Hawaii and Mexico)
    – Transcontinental: 10,000 miles

    The covered dates are for travel between March 12 and May 22, which obviously overlaps spring break, but also Lubbock, TX’s favorite holiday: Pig in a Blanket Day on April 24.

Happy Thursday!

The official Pig in a Blanket Day pace car.

  1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt’s promotion for 1,000 bonus Etihad Guest miles with every stay starting Thursday and running through March 31. This doesn’t affect other Hyatt partner earning.

    Personally I’m always able to find a use for Etihad miles, but I’ll grant that I can also be extra, so ymmv.
  2. Do this now: Register for Marriott’s Q1 promotion for 1,000 bonus points and double elite nights for every paid night between February 13 and April 29.
  3. PSA for Delta Platinum and Diamond elites: You’ve only got until tomorrow night to select your 2023 Elite Choice benefits before they vanish forever, much like the lasting value in the Delta Co-Branded credit card partnership.
  4. Alaska has 30% off of economy fares booked by tomorrow night for travel between February 8 and March 13 with promo code THANKYOU30, but only on certain days depending on the origin and destination. This sale seems to be one of the ways Alaska is saying “thanks for putting up with doors flying off of our aircraft”; we’ll do a lot for 30% right?

    They’re also awarding 2x elite qualifying miles (EQMs) for Alaska ticketed flights on Alaska metal through February, and targeting some with 3x too.
  5. There are a few new card linked offers for airfare:

    Chase Offers: 5%, 10%, or 15% back on up to $450 in airfare with Alaska through February 15
    BankAmeriDeals: 10% back on up to $450 in airfare with Alaska through February 15
    American Express Offers: $50 off of $200 or more in airfare with Delta through April 30

    Both of these can be turned into travel credits by booking non-basic economy fares and canceling directly with the airline after 24 hours, or you can play even bigger games if you prefer.
  6. One of the bookmarks in the unpublished Hitchhikers Guide to Churning includes chase.com/mybonus, which is useful for checking for quarterly spending offers on all of your Chase cards. A new type of general purpose link surfaced over the weekend too:


    This link shows upgrade offers for converting a Chase card to a more premium Chase card in the same family, similar to how an ordinary beer might be upgraded to a Pan Galactic Bonvoy Blaster, but with effects on your financial health rather than on your sobriety. (Thanks to reddit_user_2016)

Happy Tuesday friends!

A degenerate redditor reads the scoffs at the unpublished Hitchikers Guide to Churning manuscript.

  1. Delta introduced a new status challenge that gives you 90 days of status and lets you keep it through January 2026 completely with credit card spend. You can match up to Platinum, and that’s the only level on here that’s worth while in my opinion, specifically for Platinum Choice Benefits and Comfort+ seats at booking.

    Assuming you challenge to Platinum, you’ll need to earn $3,750 MQD to retain it through January 2026. Since we’re us around here, that probably means $37,500 of manufactured spend in the next 90 days on a Delta Reserve card. Yes, if you know what you’re doing that can be knocked out in a single day.
  2. H-E-B stores have $10 H-E-B gift cards free with the purchase of $50 or more in Vanilla Visa gift cards with a digital coupon, limit one per account.

    Liquidation of these cards is currently rather constrained for in-person channels, often you’re limited to three at a time per store, per random time unit. (Thanks to GCG)
  3. Barclays has a 30% transfer bonus for JAL Mileage Bank, the San Francisco 49ers of mileage programs given its ability to scoop up business and first class awards and upset the competition. The bonus runs through February 15, and won’t post until after the promotion completes.

    The transfer ratio is normally 11,500 Arrival points to 5,000 JAL miles, which works out to be a 23:10 ratio (a number obviously chosen because Barclays hates its customers). With a 30% bonus, that becomes a much more standard 23:13 ratio.

Ratios visualized.

  1. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards running through Tuesday, January 24. The market for fuel points remains strong, but as is typical, the market for gift cards to go along with those fuel points is relatively weak.

    For gift card beginners: An easy way to dip your toes into the water is to buy a single $250 gift card (like Amazon or something else you’ll probably use). You’ll earn 1,000 fuel points worth $1 per gallon at Kroger and Shell gas stations, up to 35 gallons total.

    For non-beginners: It’s go time.
  2. Hyatt has a corporate status challenge for the third year in a row, and in theory this one allows for registration throughout the entirety of 2024; many large corporations are eligible, so if you’ve got a way to get an email address at a major corporation then you can probably register. The challenge:

    – Earn Explorist for 90 days
    – Keep Explorist through February 2026 with 10 nights
    – Earn Globalist through February 2026 with 20 nights

    The now defunct, defacto way to manufacture this status was mobile check-ins at MGM’s Excalibur (or is it Exaliburist? I forget). After a status match, you’d effectively be buying elite nights at $20 each, and could complete a Globalist challenge for about $400. Now it’s a bit harder but there are always angles. (Thanks go Guilane2)
  3. Apparently in an effort to rejuvenate spending on Delta cards after the October elite program massacre, American Express has new sign-up bonus level retention offers for existing card holders:

    – Delta Platinum: 70,000 miles on $2,000 spend
    – Delta Platinum: $1,200 on $4,000 spend
    – Delta Reserve: 90,000 miles on $3,000 spend

    To check retention offers, call or chat with AmEx and say something like: “I’m considering closing this card due to [reasons, like budgeting], but before I decide what to do, I’m wondering if there are any retention offers available?” If they give you an offer, always ask if there’s another offer available before accepting, often there is and it’s better than the first. (Thanks to royalic)
  4. Stop & Shop, Martins, and Giant Food stores have 2x points on Vanilla Visa gift cards running through Thursday of next week. Note that Vanilla Visas have been rocky for the last couple of weeks, and you may find that some liquidation channels have a three swipe limit before the cards start declining for a while. (Thanks to GCG)

Have a nice weekend and watch for tomorrow’s guest post from SideShowBob233!

Unfortunately, we also no longer have access to Excalibur’s elite member welcome amenities.

Editor’s note: I have a few straggler guest posts ready to go and a few more on the way, so for January and perhaps beyond we’ll be doing guest post Saturdays, making this a six day a week blog, or a 20% increase in content. Hooray for progress science math Stanley cups guest authors!.

  1. Hilton Honors has a promotion for free Silver status through April 29, and you’ll earn Gold status if you stay eight times through the same date. Gold status lasts through March 2026. Silver status gets you fifth night free on award stays, and not much else really.

    Don’t forget that most of you probably have Gold or Diamond from a Hilton card, or are eligible for instant Gold status by holding an AmEx Platinum.
  2. Staples has a promotion for fee free $200 Visa gift cards starting on Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction.
  3. Dell.com is 9x for accessories on the AA eShopping portal as of this writing, which is a nice way to top off any Loyalty Point gaps between now and the end of the current elite year in conjunction with American Express Business Platinum credits. For those keeping score at home, the end of the loyalty year is obviously February 29, duh.

Have a nice weekend friends!

The AA elite calendar.

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.