Three things to keep your Thursday flying high:

1. SideshowBob233 let me know that has an offer for 10x at Whole Foods, up to $500 in spend through June 13. Some Whole Foods stores carry Visa and Mastercard gift cards, and all carry Amazon gift cards. Either way, that’s an easy win if you happen to be near a Whole Foods.

Note: If you don’t yet have Point, find a referral link to sign up because the sign-up bonus without a referral is $10, but you’ll earn either $100 or $250 for you and the referrer if you sign up with a referral. (It used to be $100, but it now shows as $250 in my app, and some apps don’t currently have an offer. Try and find a friend’s referral first, but if your friend doesn’t have the $250 offer you can reach out to me.)

2. Greg at the Frequent Miler shares a sign-up link for an American Express Business Gold card with a 90,000 Membership Rewards bonus after spending $10,000. This link is unique because it doesn’t contain lifetime language, so you can get the bonus even if you’ve already had or currently have the card. I would absolutely sign up for this other than I’m at eleven American Express charge cards (and there’s a ten charge card limit, or so people say). If it’s still around in a month though I’ll be able to close an existing charge card and go for it.

3. Southwest is having a fare sale with flights starting at $49 each way through today. They’ll also likely be extending their schedule today, so book your fall flights now. Even better, book the cheapest fare within two weeks of your desired flight day, then when for the Southwest free change window to open up and switch to the flights you really want at no extra charge.

Your high flying $49 Southwest flight’s takeoff roll.

This week is bound to be a little slow after the Memorial Day frenzy, but there are still deals coming, keep your heads up:

1. Brex has a 25% transfer bonus for Avianca LifeMiles running through July 2, 2021. The LifeMiles award chart has some sweet spots, and it’s a currency that’s been extremely hackable and currently still is mostly hackable. The current award chart has relatively decent prices to Europe at 63,000 miles for Business class or 87,000 miles in International First class, with lots of availability through Star Alliance partners. AwardWallet has a nice tabular LifeMiles Partner Award Chart, and region definition to help you strategize.

Hint: A lot of the value in LifeMiles comes from their definition of a region.

2. AA has a portal shopping bonus of 1,000 miles for installing their browser extension toolbar and spending $25 at a supported merchant between now and Friday. I’d do this in a separate browser and disable the extension instead of uninstalling it so they don’t get notification that it was removed. (Alternatively, you can disconnect from the internet and uninstall for the same effect.)

If you have normal shopping, do that. Otherwise, I’d just buy an ebay $25 gift card at and sell at 90%, which will earn you 1,000 AA miles for a cost of $2.50. At that rate I’d buy a million AA miles, seriously.

A picture of four basketball players all looking up.
Keeping our heads up for deals falling from the sky.

In this hobby we’re really good at moving money around from bank a, to credit card b, to debit card c, then maybe back to bank a. We’re also good at parking money in accounts for a $750 bonus at Bank of the West or a $600 bonus at HSBC. If you’re like me, that means large sums of money are occasionally sitting in bank accounts, partially as a cushion for lax record keeping in order to avoid overdrafts in case you forget about a pending ACH or charge, and partially as a holding pen for sign-up bonuses or other perks. (And let’s not talk about the stack of gift cards waiting to be liquidated on my desk on any given day.)

When you’re letting money sit you’re subject to the opportunity cost of what that cash could earn if you didn’t leave it parked in some rando bank account. That money could instead be invested in high interest checking accounts (3-5% APR can be had with just a little bit of effort and some scheduled Plastiq $1.00 payments or with Debbit), maybe in US Treasury bills, perhaps you could be putting your money into buying Playstation 5s or graphics cards for resale, or you could be actively or passively investing in the stock market. All of those things will (hopefully) earn you money, and it’s quite likely that you’ll earn more money in those vehicles than the almost nil interest rate your bank probably pays. You’ll potentially earn more than you’re getting with sign-up bonuses too.

MilesEarnAndBurn Case Study: I’m a 90% passive index fund investor (VTI and VEU if you must know) with the other 10% being my own active stock picking based on fundamental market value and a very small smidge of speculation. I’m often right enough about my active stock picks that my 10% allocation grows to be 12% or 14%, so I rebalance back to the 90/10 split and keep going. What does that tell me? If I had a smaller cushion in my bank accounts and better record keeping about money flowing around, I’d have more money for investing, which will almost certainly outperform my stupid 0.005% APR checking account returns in the long run. I’m costing myself real money with my current strategies. I can and will do better.

Takeaway: Pease take a few minutes this weekend to think about your cash, how it sits and how it flows, and whether you’re using it in a way that you’re happy with. Don’t discount that there’s inherent value in simplicity too, if it’s just easier to let an extra $10,000 sit at a bank account to avoid the mental load of more strenuous record keeping, so be it. To be sure, I’m not suggesting any one particular investment vehicle or investment strategy — do what works for you, but please make sure what you’re doing is intentional.

A picture of quite a few US Dollar bills frozen in a large cube of ice.
A representation of how I’ve failed my bank account.

1. Avianca LifeMiles has a 15% transfer bonus when transferring from American Express Membership Rewards between now and May 31, 2021. The LifeMiles award chart has some sweet spots, and it’s a currency that you can game; in fact this was perhaps the most gameable airline mileage program after US Airways ceased to exist, though some of the best loop-holes have since closed. The current award chart has relatively decent prices to Europe at 63,000 miles for Business class or 87,000 miles in International First class, with lots of availability through Star Alliance partners. AwardWallet has a nice tabular LifeMiles Partner Award Chart, and Region Definition.

2. Make sure that you’ve added a Membership Rewards earning credit card to your Amazon account, then check here for a widely targeted offer of between 20 and 40% off at Amazon when using at least one membership rewards point. I would buy a BestBuy gift card, use exactly one point at checkout, and resell instantly for 96% (or higher with a consignment sale). Correction, I wouldn’t do that, I did do that.

A picture of a king chess piece laying down on a chess board, with lots of opposing chess pieces tying it down with string.
Avianca LifeMiles trying to hold down loop-holes.

Do this now: Open the Uber app, and link your Marriott #Bonvoyed account to your Uber account by going into Settings, then scroll down to “Marriott Bonvoy”.

Look, I don’t love Uber or Marriott, but you can now earn Bonvoy points for spending American Express Uber credits or regular Uber / Uber Eats stuff, as long as the total cost is over $25. Bonvoy points are still useful for converting into many different types of airline miles, and I guess they have a few hotels that you can stay in.

Let’s goose this deal though, because if you have a qualifying purchase by May 31, 2021 you’ll earn an additional 2,000 Bonvoy points:

  • Open Uber, then #Bonvoy them by linking your account
  • Open Uber Eats, then add the promo code 50OFFPICKUP to your account, that’ll earn you 50% off of a pickup order up to $10, but you have to use it by tomorrow night
  • Order a dinner for you and your family or friends that totals at least $35, or $25 after pickup — ideally you use your burner account which you use to store your AmEx Uber Credits
  • Earn $10 off of your pickup and 2,050 #Bonvoyed points

Food recommendation: Go for the local authentic Ethiopian joint if you’ve got one; Ethiopian food is top-notch and I’m guessing a lot of you haven’t had it though I’d love to be wrong. Be adventurous!

Not what I meant by adventurous food, reddit.

1. American Airlines has reduced mileage awards for AA credit card holders back on the table. These are actually a great deal and worth a look, especially because in most cases you can cancel and redeposit the miles with no fees if your trip doesn’t work out. Steps:

2. Southwest is having a nice fare sale with quite a few $50 fares out there. Remember that if the cash fare is cheap with Southwest, so is the mileage cost, and with mileage awards you can cancel and redeposit at any time for no fee. If you book something cheap in early June, you’ll almost certainly be able to change it to any other flight ±30 days in a week or two when the next free schedule change window opens. What a time to be alive!

Final note: The AA 40th contest is still going — lots of people are winning 4,000 mile awards recently. For best results, spin the globe as early as possible after 12:00 AM Eastern time. Since it’s a new week, you can get a bunch of new buttons by logging in and clicking all the blue buttons.

A woman in a riding outfit (flannel shirt, pants, tall socks, boots, and a black riding cap) on top of a cow jumping over a post.
Flying Southwest compared to flying other legacy carriers is a bit like riding a cow instead of riding a horse.

1. Staples is offering another sale on its Visa Gift Cards starting on Sunday, but this time the deal isn’t nearly as great as it typically is. You can purchase $200 Visa Gift Cards for a $1.95 fee. It’s still a mostly good deal with an AmEx Business Platinum 5x or Chase Ink 5x, mostly. Honestly, it’s better than a pile of rocks.

2. The Southwest free change window is back between May 9 and June 5. Book the cheapest fare between your preferred cities somewhere within that date-range, then change it to ±30 days for the actual flights you want for no additional fees.

3. I’m sure you’ve heard it elsewhere already, but American Express Centurion Lounges are disallowing guest access to guests on February 1, 2023 unless you spend $75,000 on your American Express Platinum card. As Windbag Miles says, look into the Morgan Stanley Platinum which gives a free Authorized User Platinum card also with lounge access benefits. Little known fact, a decent balance at Morgan Stanley for Platinum card holders gives an annual credit to offset the annual fee on this card.

4. Today is the last day for the Citi Premier card’s 25% uplift in point values on travel redemptions (1.25 cents per point today vs 1.00 cents per point starting tomorrow), so lock any bookings in now before it’s too late. Hint: Disney park tickets are a decent way to lock in the 25% uplift for a long while.

Rocks from a rock-slide covering a canyon road.
A nice leisurely weekend drive to Staples.

1. You can earn Star Alliance Gold Elite status, which will get you lounge access and free checked bags when flying on Star Alliance Partners like United by transferring miles to SingaporeKris Flyer from bank points (Chase, AmEx, Capital One, Brex, and Citi are all partners). Gold status requires a transfer of 250,000 miles, so this is only a good option if you’re already booking tickets with Singapore and plan on using the miles. Don’t forget that KrisFlyer miles expire after three years regardless of account activity. Louses!

2. If you have United Club passes that were expiring between April 1 and August 31, they’ve been extended to September 30. The new expiration is already showing in my United mobile app.

3. Southwest is offering a 10% rebate on Wanna Get Away fares booked today, or higher rebates for more expensive fare types. If you want to further goose this deal, perhaps book the cheapest fare between your city pairs for mid-May to early-June in anticipation of the next Southwest free change window?

4. The Cranky flyer outlines how you can essentially pay the difference between a refundable and non-refundable fare on United after you’ve already booked and get a refund for the initial fare way after the fact. You have to book through a travel agent though, and it’ll have to be a competent agent too.

No, not a fuel dump. Also, this isn’t what I mean when I say fuel dump.