Well friends, the day is unfortunately here: As of tonight at 11:59PM Eastern (or perhaps even earlier), you can no longer cash-out American Express Membership Rewards at 1.25 cents each with the Schwab Platinum card. That makes it a great time to remind you about the often forgotten no-annual fee Morgan Stanley Card from American Express which I first learned about from the mostly defunct Windbag Miles, and then forgot about completely until the Schwab cash-out changes were confirmed. As of today now, it’s officially a member of the Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Heroes club.

Let’s talk about this card:

  • It earns Membership Rewards
  • It bonuses at 2x on department stores, restaurants, car rentals, and airfare
  • It has no annual fee
  • You can transfer to airline partners
  • You can cash out Membership Rewards to your Morgan Stanley account at one cent per point

The last bullet is the kicker, though the others are noteworthy too. This card may now be the best option for converting Membership Rewards to cash in an above-the-board sort of way. Yes, the Schwab Platinum gives you an extra 10% uplift on cash-out, but you also have to have a Schwab Platinum card and pay its $695 annual fee, which I guess you can offset slightly with Clear and a stupid gym membership.

Running the numbers quickly by moving the decimal, you’d have to cash-out more than 695,000 points with the Schwab Platinum at 1.1 cents per point to offset the annual fee of the Platinum card versus just cashing out at 1.0 cents per per point with the no fee Morgan Stanley Card; if you’re cashing out any number less than that over the period of a year, you should really be using the Morgan Stanley card and not the Schwab Platinum. As a really, really small incentive for getting the card, you’ll get 10,000 Membership Rewards as a sign up bonus after spending $1,000 within three months, and I’m guessing you’ve never gotten that signup bonus before. Right? It’s not exactly been high on my list.

As promised, the Morgan Stanley Card is no where to be found on my top credit cards list, but it will be in my wallet soon anyway.

A few of items to watch for this weekend:

1. Ready for another week of treadmill running with $200 Mastercard Gift Cards? Staples has your back with another fee free offer, limit five per transaction. I like it, but I don’t like it as much as the Office Depot/OfficeMax version which ends tomorrow because that one starts out as negative cost and gets even better with Dosh. The Staples one is “just” at-cost spend.

Related side note: Another card linked program, Ibotta, has worked with Staples online purchases in the past but seems to have died for anything useful (thanks to SideshowBob233).

2. The Citi Shop Your Way Mastercard has sent new targeted offers for the second half of August. I got one for $50 off of $750 in spend with the subject “Matthew, open now to unlock your special limited time offer! 🌟“, and there are reports of other offers for 15x on utility payments, which are honestly among the easiest categories of payments for manufacturing spend. Never heard of this card? That’s probably because as far as I know it doesn’t pay anyone a commission so you won’t find much written in the usual places.

Incidentally, the Citi Shop Your Way Mastercard is one of the next Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Hero cards thanks to its gameablity, monthly spending bonus offers that stack, and no-annual fee. This card is smoking hot.

Sam from Milenomics reminded me that the best sign-up bonus for this card is in-store at Sears and includes a free two-liter bottle of soda 🤣 in addition to the regular $40 bonus.

3. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that your Hyatt status was extended to Feb, 2023. Here’s to hoping it sticks for those of you that got it!

The smoke you’ll be dealing with today, probably a coming from the smoking hot Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card.

Bank of America credit cards are really underrated in the travel hacking space, which is one of the myriad reasons the Cash Rewards family of cards was awarded the coveted Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Heroes award. Why you should look into them:

  • The business card portfolio is churnable
  • They have offers like American Express and Chase for statement credits at certain merchants
  • You can get great uplift on the Personal or Business Cash Rewards (5.25% back)
  • They combine hard pulls in the same calendar day, so you can apply for a card, get approved, then apply for another without a new hard pull
  • They’re great MS targets
  • They send targeted spend offers somewhat regularly

On that last note, check your email inbox for spend offers from Bank of America. (I’d search my email program for from:bankofamerica.com in:anywhere and look at the last couple of days worth of messages. Thanks to ukinny for the updated query which will also catch messages that wound up in spam.) People are seeing various offers including:

  • 2% cash back on Alaska Airlines family of cards, up to $150 total cash back
  • 1% additional cash back on the Cash Rewards family of cards, up to $150 total cash back
  • 3% additional cash back on home improvement spend on the Cash Rewards family of cards, up to $75 total cash back

Remember that the cash rewards cards can have multipliers up to 1.75 with the Preferred Rewards program, which could mean up to 10.5% back (3% additional + 3% base) * 1.75. That’s bananas.

A group of people at a party holding up drinks for a toast, except all of the drinks have been replaced with various Bank of America credit cards
Bank of America credit card party! (With inspiration from Danny of the Alchemy podcast on the Milenomics Podcast Network.)

1. One of the Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Heroes has a great offer floating around: The Bank of America Business Cash Rewards MasterCard has a $750 cash back after $5,000 in spend, no annual fee offer. It’s not just worth the sign up bonus, the card is a great ongoing one too. As a reminder, it ears 3% on several methods of online MS shenanigans and you can bump that to 5.25% back by parking some cash, brokerage accounts, or retirement accounts at BoA.

Another bonus hint: BoA Business credit card applications credit inquiries are combined when you apply for multiple on the same day. If you’re instantly approved, maybe lob in another BoA business app too. Just don’t go the same card. An excellent choice is this Alaska Business Card with 40,000 miles and $200 cash back after spending $2,000.

2. Delta sent me an offer for 2,500 Skymiles for changing an already booked flight via the website or mobile app. Thanks Delta, I’d love to do that, but literally every single itinerary I’ve booked says I need to contact Reservations to make the change. Thanks.

Hopefully, you’ll have more luck than I do. The T&C language says that you have to be targeted to get the bonus, but there are reports that it will work for anyone as long as your ticket was booked prior to March 2, 2021.

They left off the real reason I can’t change: Delta IT sucks.

Look, I’m not here to push credit cards on you. When I’m recommending a card though, know two things: 1) I’m not getting a kickback, so that leaves me fiscally unbiased, and 2) if I’m bringing it up, it’s probably a good deal.

If you happen to have one of the excellent no-annual fee Bank of America Cash Rewards cards, either the personal or business, you might be surprised about what codes as 3% when you choose “Online Services” or “Business Services” as your bonus category. (Or kick that 3% up to 5.25% with preferred rewards for holding a balance at BoA in bank, brokerage, or retirement accounts.) For now, let’s say that several popular online or in-app money transfer or bill payment services will count. Get out there and try a few things!

Bet you thought I was going to write about the Rose Gold AmEx, right?

Hot savings

It’s rare to see anyone talk about the Rakuten Visa, likely because it doesn’t pay bloggers a commission for pushing it on you. If you don’t have this card though, seriously consider getting it. Here’s why:

  • It earns Membership Rewards (if you do it right when you create your account)
  • It has no annual fee
  • It pays +3x for purchases when you start at the Rakuten shopping portal, above whatever the portal is paying
  • It’s from Synchrony bank, so it’s not taking up a Chase, AmEx, or Citi card slot

There is an asterisk or two to consider (giftcardmall.com and giftcards.com are excluded from the bonus 3x), but in general this card is a powerhouse for online spend. For example, yesterday the Rakuten portal was paying 10x for purchases at Sam’s Club. With the Rakuten card awarding an additional 3x by clicking through the portal, you were earning 13x for Sams. (And there were plenty of gift card deals at Sams that could be resold at or above cost, not including the insane MR earnings.)

If you don’t have a Rakuten account, get a referral from a friend. If you don’t have a friend with a Rakuten account, maybe use George’s at TravelBloggerBuzz. (He’s someone I respect and he won’t lead you astray.)

Buy.com logo
Buy.com was easy to pronounce and to remember, then Rakuten bought them and changed the name. Why? Really, why?