1. Do this now: Register for Southwest’s latest promotion for double tier points, and for award flights to count toward A-List and A-List Preferred status through November 20. As usual, you’ll still be flying Southwest so there’s that.
  2. Apparently not content to go more than two days without a fuel points promotion, Kroger has a new 4x fuel points bonus both in-store and online for Happy, Choice, and Giving Good cards through October 4:

    Online portal
    In-store coupon

    Most Krogers now carry physical St. Jude’s Giving Good cards which can be converted online to BestBuy, and there are also multiple options for converting to Home Depot. Fuel points resale rates have crept back up which can make these deals break-even or better before credit card rewards.
  3. Staples has fee free Visa $200 gift cards, limit 8 per transaction, starting Sunday and running through Saturday, October 1. Don’t forget to try for back-to-back transactions and to link your cards to obscure card-linked programs like Payce.

    These are Metabank cards, so have a liquidation plan in place before you buy a bunch of gift cards that turn into an unwieldy stack on your desk.
  4. Some American Express accounts have been producing Personal Platinum referral links with a sign-up bonus of 150,000 Membership Rewards after $6,000 spend in six months for several weeks. Reportedly more people are now targeted, so it’s worth checking again.

    The referrer will also get between 15,000 and 30,000 Membership Rewards on card approval, making this the best personal AmEx Platinum bonus that I’m aware of (unless you can take advantage of 10x points on $25,000 in restaurant spend and a 125,000 Membership Rewards bonus with the Resy Platinum card).

Reflecting on life after flying enough Southwest Award tickets to earn A-List Preferred.

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.

  1. LATAM has a no-fee status match program running through October 31 for status through March 2023. The principle benefit for a US based flyer is access to Delta SkyClub lounges when flying Delta, even on domestic on international flights for Platinum, Black, and Black Signature elites (UPDATE: Thanks to VFTW for the correction on lounge access). They’ve provided a status match table and a FAQ too. (Thanks to Kathy at Will Run for Miles)
  2. Xfinity Mobile has a bring your own device $200 Visa gift card sign-up bonus when you port in a line and keep service for 90 days. It’s even more interesting because there’s a limit of $2,000 in gift cards or 10 lines per account, and there’s a “By the Gig” plan that costs $15+taxes per month regardless of the number of phones on the plan, just don’t use your data and your bill will be tiny. A few notes:

    – If you don’t have an Xfinity Mobile account there’s a $10 setup fee
    – You have to have Xfinity cable or internet to be eligible
    – Go through a shopping portal, ideally once per line

    Now, if only there were a way to get cheap phone numbers to port in, like I don’t know, say a $1 line from Boost or Ting. (Thanks to Derthsidious via MEAB slack)
  3. Check your Chase offers and Bank of America deals 10% back on Alaska Airlines airfare up to a total of $45 back. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. Southwest has a fare sale running through Friday for travel from September 6 to February 15 of next year, but it excludes major holiday dates and is only for Tuesday or Wednesday travel. The real utility here is that Southwest’s schedule changes haven’t rolled out for November and later.

Xfinity Mobile’s dedicated cell towers help make sure that you’re not using any cell data.

Follow-Up

Last month we discussed getting an upgrade for each elite and +1 as part of a big group on Delta and it generated a few common questions:

  • Q: Why would you split off an elite and a single companion?
    A: The most common case is parents up front, kids in the back
  • Q: What are upgrades like with a companion, all-or-nothing?
    A: Ymmv. Before the day of departure, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. On the day of departure you’ll both be upgraded if space is available. If there’s only one seat, then some gate agents will call you up and ask what you want to do, and some will just upgrade the elite only. If the outcome matters to you, I’d let the gate agent know ahead of time what you want to happen

Related Hack

There’s a related hack that we didn’t discuss: On Delta, Platinum and Diamond medallions are eligible for an at-booking upgrade to Comfort+ for the elite and a single companion. What if you want to get a whole group into Comfort+ though? Easy in-principle, slightly annoying in-practice:

  1. Book a ticket for the elite and a single companion
  2. Select the companion’s seat in Comfort+ after booking
  3. Call or chat with Delta to cancel the elite’s ticket only, leaving the companion in place
  4. Start over for each companion in your group

The caveats from the prior post apply here too: Schedule changes and IROPS could leave a mess for you to clean up, and aircraft swaps might cause lost seat assignments. The flip-side is Delta is the friendliest US airline for patching up stuff like that, so #slay I guess?

Have fun out there!

Getting everyone in Comfort+ doesn’t get you out of this gate mess though.

There was a Monday post here, but it was removed after several asks from interested parties (the concern was about repercussions from a dead deal). We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

Foreward: I apologize in advance for what’s coming. It kind of just happened in the first paragraph and then, well, you’ll see shortly.

1. Delta Platinum and Diamond medallions should make sure they’ve selected their Choice Benefits for the 2021 medallion year by the end of the day. (Confusingly, 2021 medallion year Choice Benefits are for status earned in 2020.) Tonight at midnight these choices turn into a pumpkin.

2. Check the dashboard of your American Express Green and Gold personal cards for an upgrade offer of 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $6,000 in six months and +5x points for up to $15,000 in spend at supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants. In case you do math like a pumpkin, that means 1x+5x, or 6x. (Thanks to bewhoaleavemealone)

3. Kroger.com has $10 off of $150 in Visa and Mastercard gift cards using code JAN2022 now through Wednesday. Unlike the physical US Bank cards that Kroger sells in store, these are Metabanks and are processed by Blackhawk Network, so liquidation is a bit tougher; you may have to resort to buying pumpkins for resale.

4. Kroger stores are running a 4x fuel points sale on gift cards starting Wednesday and running through February 8. Bulk gift card resale markets still look like a rotting pumpkin though, so while normally a 4x fuel points sale like this would depress the market value of Kroger fuel points, I don’t expect that to happen this time.

potato
Be glad these aren’t pumpkins.

What started out as a slow weekend turned into a landslide:

1. In September there was a backdoor way to turn an American Express Clear credit into $100 in United TravelBank credit through a promotion for a new Clear account. The offer is now back, and it’s still a way to turn a Clear statement credit into a quick TravelBank hundo. The caveats:

  • The $100 TravelBank credit expires after six months
  • You have to fly United or United Express to pay for airfare with TravelBank funds
  • TravelBank funds can’t be used to pay for therapy or liquor, even on a United flight

Last time you didn’t actually need to complete enrollment at an airport for the $100 credit to show up in your account, likely it’ll be no different this time.

2. Check your Chase Offers for 10% or 15% back up to $37 for charges at a Hyatt property from now through Valentine’s day.

3. The demise of the Citi Premier 80,000 points bonus has been greatly overstated. You can still find it at this link, and don’t forget that you can get this bonus multiple times as long as you space your applications out by more than 8 days and you hit the bonus spending threshold after all of your applications are in.

4. Since around Christmas time reports have surfaced that the American Express Blue Business Plus card has been eligible for the 1.9 Million Membership Rewards offer for adding employee cards (20,000 points per employee card that meets the minimum threshold spend, up to 99 employees). To see if you’re eligible, you’ll have to call American Express and ask if there are any offers for adding employees to your card.

The Blue Business Plus variant of this offer is better than the Business Platinum variant though, because the threshold for earning 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards is $2,000 in spend versus the $4,000 spend requirement on the Business Platinum. If you maximize this deal it becomes a 12x everywhere offer for up to $50,000 in spend and 11x everywhere for the remaining $49,000 in spend, wowza.

5. The Free-quent Flyer has an excellent post on how to match your Hyatt status to MGM Resorts MLife gold status, and the instructions clock in at seven words. I admire the brevity.

Pictured: The weekend news dump.

I heard from quite a few of you this week and I appreciated your insightful questions and discussion. Thanks to all of you.

Now let’s sail into the weekend with a few items:

1. We’re far enough into 2021 to have good data-points on what’s working with American Express airline incidental credits and you can expect a writeup on that next week, but after a few positive reports we’ve gotten new reports yesterday that United TravelBank errors when you manually enter your credit card information.

It might seem like that avenue stopped working, but it didn’t. You can still purchase those United “incidentals” as long as you pay with a credit card that was saved to your MileagePlus profile.

2. You can get Star Alliance Gold status through February of 2024 by combining a promotion that started in April of last year with Singapore’s newly announced “loyalty measures”, and no, I didn’t make that term up. To do so, you’ll need to transfer 250,000 Chase, Capital One, Citi, or American Express points to Singapore (watch out for expiration of those miles after three years though).

This is very useful if you fly United domestically regularly because it gives you access to United Clubs while you have a same-day United flight, so you can drink yourself numb on cheap whiskey to reduce the pain of travel on your upcoming ERJ-145 or CRJ-200 United flight.

3. We had a nice three weeks without thinking about those pesky $200 MetaBank gift cards, right? Well, party’s over man. Staples is having a fee-free sale starting on Sunday running through the following Saturday for $200 Visa gift cards, limit five per transaction. To maximize:

  • Use a card that bonuses at office supply stores (duh)
  • Try for multiple transactions back-to-back, five per transaction

Unfortunately the Rakuten in-store card linked program for cash back at Staples is no longer around.

4. Related to the above? Maybe a little. The final payment date for Q4 2021 estimated taxes is Tuesday, and there are three major payment processors that accept debit cards. The IRS limit is technically two payments per quarter, but in practice they accept two payments per processor for each quarter at a cost somewhere around $2.50 each for using a Metabank debit card (EDIT: Thanks to Gary at VFTW for the correction on IRS limits):

Overpaying the IRS and getting it back as a refund was a nice manufactured spend technique in the before times, but now due to staffing shortages and tax code changes realize that refunds are now taking six months or more (though you do earn a 3.2% interest rate from the IRS while waiting for your refund).

Happy weekend!

The United ERJ-145 makes this cabin feel spacious and luxurious, but you won’t be focused on comfort after drinking the United Club’s “premium” Dewar’s Scotch.