1. Citi ThankYou Points has a transfer bonus to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles through July 20. Asia Miles are useful for several reasons, generally the biggest of which is early access to oneworld partner award space.
  2. The Chase Ink Preferred card has an online offer for 120,000 Ultimate Rewards after $8,000 spend in three months.

    Despite conventional wisdom, you can get multiple Ink Preferred cards in a year. My preferred cadence is quarterly. (Thanks to kevzho)
  3. Enterprise Car Rental has a status match for just about any airline, hotel, or rental car loyalty program, with status lasting through the end of February 2026. Enterprise status is unique compared to most rental car programs in that it offers confirmed upgrades at booking to elites.
  4. Giftcards.com is showing 2x or 3x on most airline portals as of this writing. This is especially useful for two reasons: (1) It’s a good way to hit shopping portal bonuses, and (2) it’s a good way to hit AA Executive Platinum status.

    These are Pathward gift cards.

Happy Tuesday friends!

A churner shows off his Enterprise elite status.

Bank account and brokerage bonuses have been a staple of the churning diet since before churning was called churning. In the era of ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy), sign-up bonuses of $200-$300 for moving $25,000 in funds to a bank for 90 days used to be no-brainer deals because if you had the cash uninvested anyway, you were earning an average of 0.10% interest in a savings account. Since America loves math, we can show in a simplified calculation that your nominal opportunity cost was barely enough for a Starbucks latte:

Opportunity Cost in ZIRP era (Savings): $6.15
$25,000 * 0.10% * 90 days / 365 days ≈ $2.46 (Why 365? Since APR, is, err per A)

Fast forward to our post-ZIRP dystopian present in which you can easily earn 5.00% or more in an FDIC insured account, and that bank bonus on a checking account that pays effectively zero has a very different opportunity cost

Opportunity Cost in the Facebook Meta Threads era (Savings): $308.20
$25,000 * 5.00% * 90 days / 365 days ≈ $308.20

What’s my point here? Obviously run the numbers before diving into a new bank account. But, you can also memorize a quick statistic for whether or not a bank account bonus is worth your time: You should earn somewhere around $50 for each 30 days that you tie up $10,000, or a high-yield savings account beats it.

Note: I know that the “but actually” people out there are going to point out that you’d earn a few cents more at most bank accounts because of compounding and monthly payouts, and that 5% of $10,000 for 30 days is more like $41 dollars. Let’s just say “you’re not wrong” and leave it at that.

A churner dresses up as a number, preparing to run.

  1. Rakuten’s In-Store card linked program has new offers for may:

    – Lowes: 3% cash back or 3x Membership Rewards
    – Food Lion: 1% cash back or 1x Membership Rewards

    Neither offer lists a maximum transaction size, and both offers have to be re-added to your card an hour after use. Both expire in 75 days, and both stack well with the current typhoon of Citi Shop Your Way Rewards spend bonuses. (Thanks to Doug)
  2. AirFrance / KLM FlyingBlue has released its May promo rewards. US cities include:

    – Los Angeles
    – Austin
    – Minneapolis

    There’s good availability in economy for 15,000 miles each way out of all of these cities, and there’s some spotty business class availability from Minneapolis for 50,000 miles this summer. Unfortunately for everyone involved, summer is about the only time that Minneapolis has better weather than much of Europe.
  3. Chase’s increased Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonuses became available in branch on Sunday, and they’re available online now too:

    Sapphire Preferred: 75,000 bonus points after $4,000 spend in 3 months
    Sapphire Reserve: 75,000 bonus points after $4,000 spend in 3 months

    Neither is available via referral yet, but I’d wait a week or two if timing isn’t critical because they’ll likely soon be available for a referral bonus too. You could get both with a Modified Double Dip, but I’d strongly prefer pairing a Sapphire Reserve with an Ink Preferred for more net points and better cash-out options.

Have a nice weekend friends!

The other Chase MDD: MEAB Double Dip.

  1. Do this now: Register for Best Western’s promotion for a free night voucher after two nights stayed in the US, Canada, or the Carribean before May 5. The free night voucher is valid through August 25.

    If you haven’t stayed in a Best Western in a a while, you’re really not missing anything, but there’s still a good arbitrage opportunity here. A quick search of Best Westerns in Lubbock shows plenty of $45-$55 nights, and after two of those you’ll earn a certificate that could be used at $500+ a night Best Western Properties in a place where people actually want to visit. Pro-tip: you don’t actually have to sleep in the $45 / night hotel.
  2. Two airline portal shave a promotion for bonus miles after cumulative spend through February 12:

    AA eShopping has 500 bonus miles after $200 or more in cumulative spend
    United MileagePlus shopping has 500 bonus miles after $150 or more in cumulative spend

    In totally random news giftcards.com is back on AA eShopping and on MileagePlus Shopping, albeit at 1x as of this writing.
  3. There’s a new, relatively low bonus no-lifetime language (NLL) American Express Business Gold link with 70,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 in spend.

    Normally this would still be worthwhile thanks to call-in offers for adding up to 99 employees, but those aren’t available on the Business Gold card while they’re updating systems with the increased annual fee. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. The Target RedCard debit card has a $50 sign-up bonus through May 4, which is enough time to churn this at least once. (Lately you’ve got to wait about eight weeks in-between closing and reopening one of these for auto-approval.)

    The double redemption, once online and once in-store, is now dead, but there continues to be no credit impact for churning the debit card.

In other random news, attorneys are still attorneys.

  1. Kroger stores are running a 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards through Tuesday, February 13.

    The resale market for both fuel points and gift cards is traditionally soft in the first couple of months in a new year, and we’ve settled into that funk in 2024 too. I do expect the funk to evaporate in the next month or so, but right now the game will probably involve longer inventory hold times.
  2. Bilt figured out how to effectively get credit card sites to write a feature post about the Bilt card and program at least monthly with their cringe-worthy “rent day” promotions. I do my best to abstain from the chicanery, but sometimes there’s still something genuinely valuable like today’s tiered Aeroplan transfer bonus:

    – Blue: 75% transfer bonus (1,000 points to 1,750 miles)
    – Silver: 100% transfer bonus (1,000 points to 2,000 miles)
    – Gold: 125% transfer bonus (1,000 points to 2,250 miles)
    – Platinum: 150% transfer bonus (1,000 points to 2,500 miles)

    Aeroplan is one of the best transfer programs for Star Alliance awards because it they’ve got good technology and low-friction booking, though they still have cancelation fees on their lowest awards and their prices are occasionally more expensive than other Star Alliance programs. I’ll be transferring most of my Bilt points to Aeroplan, but don’t do something just because I’m doing it.
  3. The Barclays Hawaiian Airlines Business card has a heightened sign-up bonus, and the $99 annual fee is not waived for the first year:

    – 60,000 miles after $2,000 spend in 90 days
    – 10,000 miles for adding an employee card and making a purchase in 90 days

    This card has plenty of other features, but frankly probably none of them are worth using or holding past year one. (Thanks to C-MontgomeryChurns)
  4. Today may be the last day for adding employee cards with spending bonuses online to several American Express cards; they were set expire on February 2 according to the terms and conditions but one of them has already died:

    – Business Platinum: Spend $4,000 get 15,000 Membership Rewards, limit five
    – Business Gold: Spend $4,000 get 15,000 Membership Rewards, limit five
    – Blue Business Plus: Spend $4,000 get 15,000 Membership Rewards, limit five

    Hopefully new offers replace these, but you know what they say about hopes. Also, could you tell me what they say about hopes? Because I don’t actually know. Anyway, if you have spend capacity to meet these bonuses I’d order the cards right now.

If the gift card and resale market in January and February were a food, it’d be week old ketchup on ramen.

  1. Chase Offers has an offer for 15% back at most Hyatt property brands for up to $323 in spend through the end of the month. It even works at the Hyatt Place Lubbock, sorry.
  2. Do this now: Register for 5x bonus miles up to 50,000 miles total on flights to and from London LHR, Amsterdam AMS, or Paris CDG airports. It’s a great offer of sort, but United found away to “put the Lubbock” into this offer as it is wont to do:

    – Only valid for economy flights
    – Not valid for basic economy
    – Not valid for travel on non-United operated flights

    Travel must complete by December 13. (Thanks to FM)
  3. DoC notes that as of Monday, Chase business bankers have increased bonuses available to targeted clients:

    – Ink Premier: 150,000 Ultimate Rewards after $10,000 spend in three months
    – Ink Business Unlimited: $1,200 cash back after $6,000 spend in three months

    Note that in two player mode with a 40,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus, you can still do better on the Ink Business Unlimited from home. Also, note that I haven’t been able to independently confirm that these offers exist, even in Lubbock.
  4. Southwest has a deep-discount fare sale for flights departing before 8:00 AM or after 7:00 PM local time for travel between November 7 and March 6 booked by tomorrow night. They’ve Lubbocked it up a bit too:

    – Several blackout days around the holidays
    – Not valid for flights on Fridays and Sundays, the two busiest travel days

    It’s worth re-pricing any existing reservations assuming you like to depart when the Sun’s not up.

United will include this shirt in its next MileagePlay promotion, obviously.

There was an isolated group of shutdowns on a relatively lucrative play yesterday, the details don’t matter much for the sake of today’s post but the mechanics matter a lot. The gist is that there was a rash of\ shutdowns that all could be explained as guilt by association, and we saw non-shutdowns where there was no clear association. (Yes, we’re dealing with another obtuse MEAB post, sorry.)

There’s a natural dichotomy in miles and points where one side tugs toward sharing and scaling as a group, and another side pulls at isolation and keeping something in your own pocket. Of course sharing is key for scale and trust is paramount to sharing; but when a bank can link you and someone else on the internet, you’ve got a decent shot at becoming collateral damage when the ban-hammer drops.

The takeaway? Isolate your financial transactions to maximize a play’s longevity (to the extent that such a thing is possible), but trust and share details in your inner circle as long as a bank can’t link you.

Have a nice weekend!

That’s one way to maintain plausible deniability.

Introduction

There are multiple grey markets for frequent flyer miles and bank points, and just like any other market, you’ll find that different items have different prices (shocker, I know).

Obviously you can use this to your advantage in myriad ways, but let’s talk about what I’d call the travel hacker equivalent of the bull call spread in the derivates market:

The Goal

Let’s say you need to book an AA flight with 7,500 British Airways Avios and you’ve got Ultimate Rewards points ready to go. Of course you could transfer Ultimate Rewards to Avios directly, but that’s not always the best option.

Running the Spread

To illustrate, let’s assume a few spot prices for miles:

  • Ultimate Rewards: 1.27 cents per point
  • ThankYou Points: 1.15 cents per point
  • Membership Rewards: 1.18 cents per point

With those prices in mind, here’s the play:

  • Sell 7,500 Ultimate Rewards at 1.27 cents per point (earn: $95.25)
  • Buy 7,500 Membership Rewards at 1.18 cents per point (pay: $88.50)
  • Transfer the Membership Rewards to British Airways and keep the spread ($6.75)

Is this with your time and the risk for earning enough to buy a decked out Starbucks latte? Almost certainly not. But if you’re talking the number of points needed for La Premier tickets for a couple or JAL F tickets for a family instead of a measly 7,500 Avios, the difference can be significant and may be enough to move the needle.

Caveats

There are potential pitfalls here: banks don’t want you buying and selling points, markets aren’t always fully liquid, and you have counterparty risk. You’re all adults though right? Just make sure those risks are priced-in should you decide to run the spread.

Happy Wednesday!

A guide to a modestly priced Starbucks latte, pre-inflation.