In addition to the Citi ThankYou Point 25% transfer bonus for AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue running through May 20, there are a couple of new bonuses that popped up on the radar over the weekend. Let’s go over them with a few sweet-spot hints (Editors note: I literally wrote suite-spot on the first draft. I wish I was intentionally that witty, but I’m not so I fixed the wording):

  1. American Express Membership Rewards has a 15% transfer bonus to Avianca LifeMiles (note that you have to login to see the offer). Hacks and sweet-spots:

    – Award chart anomalies, like JFK-Lisbon in business class for 35,000 miles or JFK-Zurich in coach for 16,500 miles (you can find these in other major North American cities too)
    – Flying to or from Europe in business class and taking a coach leg onto the end to lower the price
    – Economy flights to or from the Caribbean for 12,500 miles each way
    – Short haul domestic US economy for 7,500 miles each way
  2. Chase Ultimate Rewards has a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Hacks and sweet-spots:

    – ANA First Class to or from Japan for 55,000 to 60,000 miles each way
    – ANA Business Class to or from Japan for 45,000 to 47,500 miles each way
    – Delta One (Business Class) to or from Europe for 47,500 – 50,000 miles each way

Before transferring preemptively you should probably make sure that the awards you’re after have availability; getting award space is tough right now unless you’re willing to book in September or beyond, or if you’re willing to make Lubbock, TX your final destination.

The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club transfer bonus appears on radar.

Bank of America helps us wrap up the week with a twosome:

  1. BoA has a $500 sign-up bonus for a new business checking account funded with $20,000 and kept in the account for 90 days, though you can hack it by putting $20,000 there on day 30 and keeping it in place for days 31-90. To be eligible, you can’t have had a Bank of America business checking account within the last year.

    The effective APR on this deal is 10% if your money is held for 90 days, or 15% if you hack the bonus, so still probably worth your time.
  2. BoA also has a nice offer on the AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue credit card. The current offer is 70,000 FlyingBlue points, a $100 statement credit, and 100 FlyingBlue XP (elite credits) after spending $2,000 in 90 days. There’s a $89 annual fee on the card.

    To see the offer do a dummy points or cash booking, though apparently not everyone can make the offer appear with a cash booking. Besides the miles, this sign-up bonus is useful for getting you half way to FlyingBlue Gold status which lets you book Air France La Premiere award tickets. Even better, open one now and second one in a few months to get the whole way to FlyingBlue Gold. (UPDATE: Vicky via MEAB slack let me know that you technically need 280 XP for Gold because your XP resets upon attaining Silver, and unfortunately the sign-up bonus XP points don’t stack. The anniversary XP bonuses do stack however.)

Have a nice weekend!

Pictured: Three AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue elites

“United/Delta/Southwest/Alaska/Breeze/Whatever Air cancelled my flight from RNOLBB, what does the airline owe me?” This question pops up on Flyertalk, reddit, Quora, and other random internet forums all the time, and the responses are often mostly wrong. If a carrier cancels your US domestic flight, you’re entitled to exactly one thing only by US DOT rules:

  • A full refund to your original form of payment

What about a hotel if I’m not rebooked until the next day? What about meals? What about booking me a new ticket on another airline? What if they rebook me on another flight number with the same departure time and the same arrival time as my canceled flight, on the same airline? What if I lost a multi-million dollar deal because I wasn’t there? What if I got divorced because I missed my flight?

Every single one of these questions has the same answer, and it was above: You’re entitled to a full refund to your original form of payment, and absolutely nothing else (this can be advantageous if you’re trying to turn a flight credit into a refund). Of course you may be able to sweet talk an airline customer service representative into plenty of other options but there’s no obligation for them to do anything but refund to your original form of payment.

If you’re ever stuck dealing with this you’ll probably find that quite a few customer service agents either don’t know the DOT rules, or they’ve been trained to never offer a refund and only give one when a customer pushes and knows their rights, so prepare for frustration if a refund is what you’re after.

Of course, cancelled flights on an international itinerary can give you more rights than you’ve got the in US, especially if your itinerary includes a stop in the European Union, so double-check the rules for any countries included in your itinerary too.

Of course plenty of credit cards offer trip interruption insurance provided you paid for the flight with that card (Chase Sapphire cards, American Express Platinum cards, Citi Prestige, etc.). Don’t grab one of these cards just for the insurance though, consider it an ancillary benefit if you already hold one.

Update: Justmeha reminded me that the Citi Prestige card no longer has trip interruption insurance.

Making the most of being stuck in a hotel gym, waiting for a new flight.

As you’ve no doubt heard or experienced, you need a negative antigen COVID test taken no earlier than the calendar day before your flight to board a flight to the USA. In my recent travels I’ve seen people paying $200-$400 for a rapid test at the airport, or about half that for a test at their hotel. You don’t need to do that, and even better you don’t need to have a technician in a sterile room in a foreign country give you a brain tickle to get your test either.

There are two cheap, convenient options that I’ve used, both of which require essentially swirling a q-tip around the lowest part of your nose five times on your own schedule in the comfort of your own room while a proctor watches on your phone or webcam:

  1. FlowFlex tests ($9.99 at CVS, or possibly free from USPS if you’re lucky) with AZOVA proctoring ($20, can be scheduled ahead of time in 8 minute increments) UPDATE: Dr. Jay notes that other over the counter tests are eligible for AZOVA proctoring too, the list of tests is here.
  2. eMed BinaxNOW tests ($150 for a six pack, and it includes proctoring that can’t currently be scheduled ahead of time, but waits to complete a test are minimal)

With both of these, you’ll either use a laptop or a mobile phone application to make a video call to a proctor. The proctor will walk you through performing the test while watching via your webcam, you’ll wait 15 minutes for the test to complete, and then you’ll either take a picture or reconnect to a proctor to read the COVID result.

When you’re done, both services will email you a certified PDF of your test results suitable for getting into the US. In my experience a digital copy of the PDF is all I’ve ever needed, but if you have access to a printer it can’t hurt to have a physical backup I suppose, especially for airlines that haven’t yet figured out how to issue a mobile boarding pass.

One final note, the eMed BinaxNOW test packaging is rather unfortunately large: It’s about the size of a bulky journal. The FlowFlex packaging is much smaller though, about the size of a cell phone external battery. I typically pack two of them in my luggage before I leave the US with the extra one as a backup, though so far I haven’t ever needed the second.

Good luck!

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

  1. The undisputed and strangest goat of the Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Heroes, the Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card, has a higher sign-up bonus than I’ve ever seen at $225 back after $1,500 in spend. A few notes:

    – You can hold multiple Citi SYWR Mastercards
    – The approval rules for this Citi card are different than other Citi cards
    – The normal Citi limits don’t apply (8/65, 24 month rule, etc)

    I’m likely going to delay dropping below 5/24 by a few more months to get another one of these cards. (Maybe I shouldn’t even be trying to get below 5/24, but here we are.)
  2. CashApp has a 10% back boost for online purchases at Sam’s Club on up to $200 per day for today and tomorrow, and currently Sam’s club is 2x or 3x via the Rakuten portal. This is a good way to get discount Visas, Mastercards, or Disney gift cards. (Thanks to SideShowBob233 for the pointer)
  3. Chase has a $750 sign-up bonus for new business checking account customers after depositing $20,000 for 60 days and making 5 transactions (like 5 Amazon loads of $0.50 each with my business debit card). EDIT: Thanks to RabbMD for correcting the number of transactions required. More notes:

    – You can’t have received a new business checking account bonus from Chase in the last 24 months
    – The business can’t have had a Chase checking account in the last 90 days
    – The account needs to be open for six months (but the $20,000 need only be there for 60 days)

    The effective APR for this offer is 22.5%, so probably worth your time. (Thanks to DoC)

The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard if it were a playground.

  1. United’s sometimes awful, sometimes decent, usually better than a kick-in-the-head program MileagePlay has a new round of offers. You can check yours here. Current offers are valid through July 30. Offers seen this round:

    – Book and fly two one-way flights or one round-trip, earn 2,500 bonus miles
    – Book and fly five trips, earn 9,000 bonus miles
    – Book a single trip costing at least $175, earn 3,800 bonus miles

    If you have existing United flights (sorry), it’s worth checking to see if they can be rebooked at a reasonable cost in order to meet your offer.
  2. It’s a good time to liquidate your American Express Personal Platinum Saks credits, or your Business Platinum Dell credits because both are at 15x on Rakuten today:

    Saks 15x
    Dell Technologies 15x (Dell Technologies routes you to dell.com and tracks just like the regular shop)

    What should you buy at Saks? My goto is a gift card for resale whenever I’m near an actual Saks store. Failing that, uh, I guess you can buy a crappy metal detector that will probably only be able to detect tears of frustration. Failing that, here’s a search for everything under $50 at Saks.

    Don’t forget that Rakuten accounts can earn Membership Rewards points instead of cash back, just make sure your account is created correctly before shopping.

The aftermath of trying to use a crappy metal detector from Saks. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Kroger’s current 4x promotion on third party gift cards combined with the following gives you quite a bit of opportunity over the weekend:

  1. Lowe’s has a free $15 store gift card offer with each $200 Mastercard purchased through May 11. A few notes on this deal:

    – The resale rate on $15 Lowe’s gift cards is approximately 87%
    – The capacity on this is effectively unlimited if you get a friendly store
    – The deal terms say “limit 2 per email address”, but in the past that’s never been an actual limit. If it turns out to be an issue, use the gmail plus or dot syntax

    These cards are Metabank issued gift cards so make sure you have a way to liquidate those. (Thanks to GC Galore).
  2. Staples has fee free $200 Visa gift cards starting Sunday and running through Saturday of next week, limit five per customer (per transaction in practice). As usual, they’re Metabank issued gift cards so make sure you have a way to liquidate those.
  3. Simon has 55% off of all purchase fees through tomorrow evening with code 22CINCO55, including the $1,000 Visa variety. Blah, blah, Metabank, blah blah though.
  4. The Point debit card has 5x on up to $1,000 spend between now and Sunday at Walmart and up to $1,000 spend Whole Foods, both of which sell gift cards and potentially other interesting manufactured spend things.

    If you want the Point debit card, use a referral for a bigger sign-up bonus than the public offer. Note that referral bonuses currently vary from person to person, so ask around for one in the $100-$200 range; I wouldn’t consider one below $100 as the card now carries a $99 fee.
  5. American Express is targeting more accounts this week for 20,000 Membership Rewards after turning on pay-over-time. Unlike past iterations of this offer with a specific link and embedded offer code, this one is showing up on the regular pay-over-time landing page for your default (starred) card. If your default card isn’t showing an offer, switch another charge to be default and check the landing page again. (Thanks to Justmeha for helping me clarify the language)

Have a nice weekend!

Visiting the Lowe’s clearance section to find Mother’s Day gifts after buying Mastercards.

First, a few newsworthy items:

  1. Am let me know about a Chase Ink Cash offer for 5,000 bonus UR for $5,000 spend, up to three times. It’s available on other business cards too, check yours at chase.com/mybonus. Offers seen:

    – 5,000 Ultimate Rewards after $5,000 spend, 3x on Ink cards
    – 5,000 Rapid Rewards after $5,000 spend, 3x on Southwest business cards
    – 5,000 MileagePlus miles after $5,000 spend, 3x on United business cards
  2. The Target Redcard $40 in-store +$40 online sign-up bonus is back through May 28. Currently data-points suggest you can churn this card as long as you wait ten business days between closing and opening, and there are other RedCard hacks too that make the credit card version worth while.
  3. Do this now: Register for IHG’s 2-4x points promotion for stays through August 31. You’ll earn:

    – 2x points on nights 2 through 5
    – 3x points on nights 6 through 14
    – 4x points on nights 15 and beyond
  4. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion for third party gift cards through May 19. Just make sure you clip the digital coupon first. Note that Harris Teeter (the CRJ-200 of Kroger’s fleet), has now moved to the same software system used by other affiliates.

And second, Delta SkyClub access rules are changing on June 1:

  • Access at your origin airport is allowed only within three hours of departure
  • Access at a connecting airport is allowed anytime
  • Access on arrival is no longer allowed

I don’t think this changes much about the value proposition of credit cards that give you SkyClub access, but there’s a chance that this may turn into a statement credit as compensation in the future just like when the American Express Platinum card lost AA lounge access.

If Kroger was United Airlines, Harris Teeter would the United Express CRJ-200.