1. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, the Ben Mendelsohn of credit cards, has been sending out a new spending bonus for August, September, and October for travel purchases. Offers we’ve seen:

    – 20x points up to 7,000 points each month
    – 15% back up to $60
    – 10% back up to $90

    Check your email and USPS mail to see if you’re targeted. (Thanks to BB_Pcola and Birt via MEAB slack)
  2. Meijer MPerks, the Bruce Willis of loyalty programs, is running a promotion through August 13 for $100 in grocery credits back on a $500 third party gift card purchase, excluding certain brands. Scale this with multiple MPerks accounts. (Thanks to Larry via MEAB slack)
  3. Office Depot/OfficeMax’s promotion for $15 back on the purchase of $300 or more in Visa gift cards is running for a second week, expiring Saturday. Remember:

    – Link each credit card you may use to a Dosh account for 2% back up to $10 per day
    – Try for multiple back-to-back transactions
    – Consider buying the Everyday variety of Visas for a smaller liquidation fee

    These cards are issued by Metabank, the Robert Van Winkle of banks.
  4. The Morgan Stanley Platinum American Express card, the John Hodgman of Platinum cards, has a not well publicized annual fee waiver for holding $25,000 in cash at Morgan Stanley. With one year CD rates creeping above 2.8% for much of the nation, the fee-waver is eclipsed by interest earning potential. Of course there are tax consequences to consider. (Thanks to BruceFan77)

Today’s post brought to you by MEAB, the early 90s Gwen Stefani of travel blogs.

As July closes, let’s chat about the current state of the bulk gift card markets in light of the effectively endless 4x promotions that Kroger’s run this summer. First, what’s been driving the markets?

Catalysts

The noteworthy events for bulk gift card reselling in the recent past are:

  • Bulk buyers overbought fuel points in July
  • Fuel points capacity for August is probably going to be muted by the July over-supply
  • BestBuy has started to run sales that resellers are interested in, reviving the market that’s been dead since January
  • Bulk buyers had shifted to selling Apple goods overseas
  • For most of Q1 and the start of Q2, Home Depot had the most buyer demand
  • Many gift card resellers still have 6x or 11x capacity from AmEx 99 employee offers and can thus make lower card and fuel points rates profitable

Where We Are

Based on that, you can probably guess where the markets have gone, but let’s write it out for posterity (or something):

  • Fuel points rates have dropped between 25% and 33% this month
  • BestBuy rates have been slowly climbing from approximately 92% to 94%
  • Apple rates have been holding at between 93% and 94%
  • Home Depot rates have fallen to around 92%

Other standbys like Marshalls, Nike, Foot Locker, and Neiman Marcus rates have stayed relatively constant, I think because buyers tend to focus less on these brands.

The Future

In Q3 of last year, BestBuy rates crept up to 97% for bulk resale which made most Kroger 4x events quite profitable. Assuming BestBuy starts discounting its inventory for back-to-school sales, or because there may be a recession, I expect rates to climb to the same ball-park as they did last year. When that happens, shifting buyer interest will cause HomeDepot and Apple rates to creep up even higher too.

Finally, big earnings from AmEx 99 employee card offers will largely be exhausted, which will remove many buyers from the market and probably also push up rates.

Crystal Ball: Efficacy

How likely are my predictions to come true? That’s a great question, I’m so glad you asked. Based on my past performance and in the spirit of Brian Fantana, “50% of the time, I’m right every time”.

Pictured: My predictions workspace.

A couple of notes for today:

  1. Check your Chase card offers for 15% back on Hyatt House and Hyatt Place properties, up to a strangely specific $38 cash back. If you like to think about card linked offers in terms of spend, thats an also strangely specific number: $253. (Thanks to joremero)
  2. The CapitalOnTap Business Mastercard now has options for gift card redemptions with rewards points, and currently all gift cards are discounted at 2% off of face value. It’s still got a $750 sign-up bonus and is reportably churnable with multiple EINs, and supports online debit card payments to boot.

Have a nice Thursday!

A strangely specific window view from a strangely specific Hyatt Place in Lubbock, TX.

Churning and manufactured spend opportunities go away all the time; just this month we’ve seen:

That list isn’t comprehensive either, other deals have been lost in July too. Fortunately July has also brought a hand-full of old deals back from the dead, including some hinted at just yesterday, the week before, or a few weeks ago. What’s the lesson here? Deals often don’t stay dead. When it’s time to get out there and probe, spend a bit of time looking for deals that want to attack Brad Pitt. They’re out there, and they’re often very fruitful.

A Walmart employee prepares to attack Brad Pitt.

A thought to start your Tuesday: Sometimes this hobby is slow, but based on my experience it’s definitely not slow right now. If it feels slow to you, use the time to get out there and start probing. Keep building your network too; fellow churners and manufactured spenders probably have a few tools that you haven’t used yet. Anyhooldes:

  1. The Point debit card refunded annual fees on a pro-rated basis and announced the existing version of the card would be shutdown on September 23. They also announced that existing members will get a free year of PointCard Titan when it launches later this year. A few action items:

    – If you have a Point card, cash-out your balance sooner rather than later
    – If you don’t have a Point card, I’d try and get one now in case the free year of Titan is worthwhile [Update: Point seems to have pulled the application link]

    I earned over $10,000 in cash back with the Point card, most in the first half of 2021 after launch. I also got quite a bit of no-fee manufactured spend in the first half of 2021. Based on those two experiences I’m hopeful that the new Titan card will present a few nice opportunities. (Thanks to Nathan via MEAB slack)
  2. Alaska and AA’s shopping portals have a spend bonus like last week’s Southwest and United portal bonuses:

    Alaska: 1,200 bonus miles after $600 in spend
    AA: 2,000 bonus miles after $600 in spend

    A manufactured spending hall of fame payment processor is still running some giftcards.com cards in a favorable way.
  3. Clear is running a $75 Uber credit promotion for new accounts. If you still have an unused American Express Platinum $189 Clear credit or two, sign up for an account with new information to cash-out that credit. So far, none of the Clear promotions like this have needed a complete enrollment at the airport in order to pay out.

    Remember, if you don’t cash-out every one of those Clear credits, the terrorists win. (Thanks to FM)
  4. According to DoC, more people have been targeted for an American Express Business Gold or Green upgrade offer to the Business Platinum for 140,000 Membership Rewards after spending $10,000 in three months. To see if you’re targeted, login to AmEx, set a Business Green or Gold card as your default card, then click ‘Request an Upgrade’ at this link.
  5. In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, starting tomorrow and running through Tuesday, August 9th, Kroger is having another 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards.

A probing tool recommended by my network (In retrospect, I should have been more specific).

First, a quick tip: If you’re having issues with AmEx SafeKey, try another browser. With that out of the way, it’s an interesting Monday:

  1. Office Depot/Office Max has an offer for $15 back on $300 or more in Visa gift card purchases through Saturday. The drill:

    – Register your credit cards with Dosh, one Dosh account per card for 2% back up to $10 per day
    – Try for multiple transactions back-to-back to maximize your time
    – The “Everywhere” variety of cards doesn’t actually work everywhere, but they’re cheaper and they work at some of Everywhere
    – Combine with a targeted Chase offer for 10% back

    These are Metabanks so have a liquidation strategy, and do note that while Metabank liquidation channels have gotten better lately, that’s largely a Mastercard phenomenon. (Thanks to XscapeVelocity)
  2. Meijer MPerks has a $50 future store credit back on $500 in third party gift cards running through August 13. The deal excludes a few major gift card resale brands like Apple and Amazon, but does work on others like Nike, Home Depot, Adidas, Best Buy, and Disney, several of which currently have bulk resale rates well above 90%. Scale this one with multiple MPerks accounts. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  3. Capital One has confirmed to me that the Business Spark Travel Elite credit card won’t report on credit reports, so it won’t affect Chase 5/24 status.

Nailing that Monday triple.

Before we jump in today: If you’re traveling through Amsterdam or London in the next three weeks or so, I’d suggest you call your airline and get rebooked on another route. With that out of the way, there are a few things to keep on your radar for the weekend:

  1. If you want to play with fire, Chase is offering a $600 sign-up bonus for opening a checking and savings account, depositing $15,000 for 90 days, and setting up direct deposit that’s bigger than an unspecified “micro-deposit” size (I’d set up at least $500 per month to be safe). The offer runs through October 19.

    To qualify, you can’t have had an existing checking and savings account for the last 90 days. I wouldn’t do this with P1, but maybe for P3, or for P2 if you keep their manufactured spend profile low.
  2. Southwest opened its schedule through March 8, 2023 yesterday, and currently we haven’t seen any schedule change sweeps past October 20 so you can still game the holiday season and potentially early spring break travel. (Thanks to Brian M via MEAB slack)
  3. Do this now: Register for double Hyatt points at MGM properties through October 15. (Thanks to FM)
  4. The Paceline credit card seems to be good for up to around $10,000 in cash back before a shutdown. I guessed initially that I’d be shutdown almost instantly if I got the card, but I think I was wrong and I’ll be grabbing it soon.
  5. Giant Eagle stores have 3x or 5x perks points for multiples of $50 of One4All gift cards through August 3, which makes this effectively a 6-10% or so rebate on gas depending on your car’s tank size. The best way to liquidate these until tomorrow is buying fee-free Mastercard gift cards at Staples. (Thanks to GC Galore)

A Heathrow spy’s photo studying Amsterdam’s solution to baggage handling labor shortages.

The greater manufactured spend and churning collective has been slowly twirling toward a land of confusion with American Express application rules, especially related to no-lifetime language (NLL) applications. Let’s clear it all up: Lifetime language and a popup during a new credit card application aren’t the same thing, and they don’t matter in the same ways.

(No-)Lifetime Language

Lifetime language with American Express cards means that the application’s terms and conditions say something like the following, usually in bold, usually as the very first sentence:

“Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card or previous versions of [CARD] from American Express”

No-lifetime language (NLL) means there’s no such language in the terms and conditions.

Practically speaking, this language doesn’t actually matter to a churner because unless you need to arbitrate with or sue American Express, the terms and conditions don’t affect whether or not you get a sign-up bonus. What does matter then?

The Popup

If you’re not eligible for a sign-up bonus, American Express will tell you before you submit your final application. You’ll see a popup that says:

Name, based on [reasons], you are not eligible to receive the welcome offer. We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?”

If you get that popup, you’re not going to get the bonus whether or not the card has NLL. If you don’t get the popup, you are going to get the bonus whether or not the card has NLL provided you hit the spend requirements.

Why You Should Care

Since lifetime language doesn’t matter unless you want to sue or arbitrate with AmEx, why do we talk about it so much? A couple of reasons:

  • No-lifetime language offers are less likely to give a popup
  • No-lifetime language offers will often let you get multiple accounts for the same card

So, don’t be afraid to lob in an application for a juicy American Express sign-up bonus because you’ve already had the card and it’s not NLL. If you don’t get a popup, the bonus is in the bag.

Pictured: The bonus in the bag.