1. Southwest has a sale through tomorrow evening for 20% off of award bookings using promo code SAVE20NOW for travel through May 24.

    I won the battle by saving approximately 20,000 points on existing bookings, but I lost the war because I’ll still be flying Southwest. (Thanks to Brian M via MEAB slack)
  2. Stephen at FM shares an open secret in the hobby for several years about how to get out of the American Express penalty box for referrals (but unfortunately not other penalty boxes): “Lose” your card, AmEx will issue a new one with a new account number, and referrals will work.

    What’s not stated though is that this only lasts for a month or two, then the replacement card ends back in the referral penalty box.
  3. Wells Fargo has a $525 new savings account bonus with simple requirements for new savings account holders:

    Generate a referral code at this link
    – Open a new savings account with a banker with an opening deposit of at least $25
    – Bring $25,000 in new money in 30 days, maintain that balance for 90 days

    Strangely they presented this offer to me during a normal account login, though I’m not eligible because I’ve already got a savings account at the bank.
  4. Chase Offers has a card linked offer for 10% back up to $40 for tickets that cost at least $50. Southwest is one of the easiest airlines for breaking the correlation.
  5. The Chase IHG Premier card’s heightened 175,000 point public bonus is now showing for everyone through the public link. The annual fee of $99 isn’t waived the first year, and the bonus requires $3,000 spend in three months.

    I’m normally not big on this card, but getting the sign-up bonus and cancelling after a year probably makes sense with this offer.

Southwest’s exclusive new pop-up lounge. Free use for delayed evening passengers from LBB.

  1. Meijer has a promotion for a $15 Meijer gift card with a $100 or more purchase of a Choice or One4All gift card, some of which can be easily converted to higher value cards like Home Depot online, or you can do even better in-store. This one is limit one per MPerks account.
  2. American Express has an offer for $30 off of $110 in cell phone payments up to two times. This is great and all, but with a few players that each have upwards of double digits of Business Platinum cards (with $10 monthly cell phone credits each) it may be a garbage offer.
  3. Plastiq is again processing payments after their funds with Silicon Valley Bank became available. They however haven’t gotten back together with Colon-Aide Colonnade.
  4. There are multiple reports that Chase Ink Cash and Ink Unlimited cards aren’t currently subject to 5/24 rules for most applicants, so if you don’t mind a hard pull (and in general you probably shouldn’t), consider going for another Ink card.

    There’s no hard-coded limit on the number of Ink cards an individual can have, and there’s no lifetime language on bonuses with Ink cards either, don’t be afraid to experiment a little.

A text message exchange with Chase’s 5/24 guard bot.

No doubt you’ve heard from dozens or hundreds of sources about Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, and while it looks like all deposits will be available and accessible, we can still learn something here.

First, let’s talk about some of the relevant ripple effects that we’ve seen over the weekend:

Next, we can project a bit about what will happen in our game based on these datapoints:

  • Bank bonuses will become more important from a risk avoidance perspective for high net-worth individuals and businesses in case the next failure doesn’t have assets to cover beyond FDIC limits and the Fed’s new emergency fund doesn’t come through
  • Banks will be more willing to offer bonuses in the short to medium term to win new high net-worth customers
  • Credit card companies sign-up bonuses will probably go down because banks will want to increase their banking bottom line in the short term
  • Big banks will offer more credit card incentives for deposit holders to keep them locked into the ecosystem (like BoA’s Premium Rewards program) – JPMC is a notable exception to this though
  • FinTechs will be less rewarding as competition lags and the need to diversify banking partner risk increases
  • Businesses and characters that need loans to continue may find themselves in a rough spot because long term financing prospects look hard and expensive

Blah, blah, blah, how about something immediately actionable poindexter MEAB? Fine, let’s get back to basics: Office Depot/OfficeMax has $15 back on $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards through Saturday. These are Metabank Pathward gift cards, so as always, have a liquidation plan in place (unlike Silicon Valley Bank, amirite?)

An excerpt from the Silicon Valley Bank rate hedging playbook.

AmEx’s New Deal

In Q4 2020, Q4 2021, and Q4 2022, American Express had special spend bonuses for cardholders that referred someone to a new card, seemingly a new annual tradition. Now, a new variant has surfaced and this one is tailor made for manufactured spenders as referrers with an increased sign-up bonus and reduced spending requirements for the referred. The deal:

A bonus 5x or 5% cash back on grocery transactions for up to $25,000 in spend for 90 days for the referrer, and a heightened bonus for the referred:

  • Platinum: 150,000 Membership Rewards after $6,000 in spend and a $200 statement credit
  • Gold: 90,000 Membership Rewards after $4,000 in spend and a $200 statement credit
  • Blue Cash Preferred: $300 statement credit after $3,000 in purchases and another $100 statement credit

To find the referrals, check the account dashboard for your cards, or check the referral landing site. Note that as of this writing not everyone has these referral offers available, though based on past behavior they’ll probably roll out to everyone in the next couple of days.

Obviously you should prefer to refer from a personal Gold card that still has 4x spend capacity at grocery stores, because 4x+5x = 9x, so on $25,000 in spend you’ll earn 225,000 Membership Rewards.

Tricking It with Shenanigans

Ok, but what if the referred account member is in the AmEx penalty box or the new card application displays a popup warning that the application isn’t eligible for a bonus? Or, what if you don’t actually want another Platinum card to worry about? Who cares! It’s still easy to take advantage of the referral bonus because:

  • You can safely close an AmEx card before a year is up if you didn’t get a bonus
  • You can get your annual fee refunded if you close a new card in the first 30 days
  • As long as the referred gets a new card, the referrer is eligible for a referral bonus

So, do the following with no known negative effects on P1 or P2:

  1. P1 generates a referral for P2
  2. P2 applies for a new card and is approved
  3. [the sound of crickets]
  4. P2 closes the card after a week or so, and the annual fee is refunded
  5. P1 gets +5x spend at groceries for up to $25,000

Good luck friends!

I asked Stable Diffusion to imagine “credit cards, crickets, and shenanigans at a grocery store”, and well, there are indeed shenanigans here.

  1. Wyndham’s promotion, “5 Weeks of Incredible Deals”, is currently on week two. This week’s deal is a $100 property credit for stays three nights or longer booked by June 1 for stays through the end of the year. It doesn’t look like you need to register for this deal.

    I can’t be the only that’s confused by a week of incredible deals that lasts through June 1, right? They’re running on Citi calendars over there I guess.
  2. Kroger has a new 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards through March 21. These can be profitable plays even before credit card rewards with the right buyers. Make sure to clip the digital coupon first, and scale carefully with good burner account hygiene.
  3. Southwest is opening up its flight schedule through November 4 sometime today. This covers travel through fall break, so lock up some speculative travel and hope that there’s a schedule change between now and Autumn.

An snapshot from the Wyndham mainframe’s calendaring software.

Let me share a random thought, apropos of nothing as they say: if you’re seeing the walls fall around you inside a particular, err, closed community maybe consider reading into it a bit?

With that out of the way:

  1. Virgin Atlantic increased the price of International First awards on ANA by approximately 40%. I expected this would happen sooner than it did, but it was inevitable after Virgin Atlantic announced that they joined SkyTeam in September finished the integration a few days ago.

    Currently business class flights are pricing similar to before, but expect that to change soon.
  2. JetBlue has a fare sale for its newly launched JFK-CDG Paris route with decent fares for economy and Mint (effectively a higher end business class, lie-flat product):

    – Economy: $479 round-trip
    – Mint: $1,899 round trip

    These fares are valid for travel between September 10 and December 13, require a Saturday stay-over and have to be booked by tomorrow evening.
  3. J. Pow at the Federal Reserve messaged that more aggressive interest rates hikes are on the horizon. If you’re playing games with CDs this is probably relevant to you; double check that interest rate hikes won’t outpace the gains from your shenanigans and act accordingly. As usual though, remember that I’m not a CPA or an attorney, and you probably shouldn’t take my advice about anything, ever.
  4. Do this now: Register for 6,000 bonus miles on some paid Air Canada tickets between the US and Canada booked by March 15 and flown by December 15. Yes, you probably won’t end up using this one, but what if Justin Trudeau calls you to the capital for an emergency meeting about Tim Hortons?

I know Americans don’t have any basis to throw shade at another country’s cuisine, and especially not at Tim Hortons when we’ve got Dunkin’ Donuts, but Canada: You ok up there?

  1. American Express is sending out no-lifetime language (NLL) links with a new targeted campaign, and they’re adding another bonus on top of the 30,000 Membership Rewards bonus for signing up for a business checking account at the same time. Check for an email from AmEx or a popup when you login to your dashboard, or try the generic NLL links:

    Business Gold:
    + 90,000 after $10,000 in spend in three months
    + 5,000 after adding an employee card and spending $1,000 in three months
    + 40,000 when opening a business account and maintaining a $5,000 balance and making five transactions
    Business Platinum:
    + 150,000 after $15,000 in spend in three months
    + 5,000 after adding an employee card and spending $1,000 in three months
    + 50,000 when opening a business account and maintaining a $5,000 balance and making five transactions

    Thanks to Russ for setting me straight on the mechanics of this offer.
  2. The AA shopping portal has a promotion for 500 bonus miles after $200 or more in cumulative spend through March 13. Giftcards.com is still absent from the airline portals, leaving several of you wandering down a street crowing “Buhler? Buhler!”.

    Take the lack of giftcards.com on AA’s portal as an opportunity to explore other potential sources of miles and loyalty points though, always be probing.
  3. Chase’s Ink Unlimited and Cash cards have a 40,000 Ultimate Rewards referral bonus, and Chase’s annual referral earning limit limit has increased to 200,000 Ultimate Rewards per account.

    Make sure this referral is P1 to P2 or similar if you’re doing it — the sign-up bonus for the referee is 15,000 points lower than than the best public offer, but the two of you together will still come out ahead by 25,000 points with the referral. (Thanks to FM).
  4. Southwest has new targeted more accounts for its status earning promotions, look for email from Southwest with the subject “[Name], wanna get status faster?” or check your account page. To qualify, flights must be booked and flown between March 1 and May 31. The offers I got:

    – 2x tier qualifying points on all paid flights
    – 1 segment per flight, 10% of redemption cost in tier qualifying points on award tickets
    – 3,000 tier qualifying points for every $5,000 in credit card spend

    Note that we talked about this on Thursday of last week, but back then neither I nor P2 was targeted for any of these and now we both are, so it looks like Southwest has increased the eligible audience.

A random sampling of people newly targeted for Southwest’s elite status promotion.

  1. Brian M shares via MEAB slack that Chase has a website for anniversary gifts for Southwest credit card holders. Gifts include tier qualifying points, companion pass qualifying points, and bonus Rapid Rewards points. My gift for four years? Nada.
  2. Giftcards.com has 6% cash back on Visa and Mastercard gift cards through the Capital One Shopping mobile app, which is available whether or not you have a Capital One card.

    It’s only 3% on the desktop site though, and still absent from airline shopping portals.
  3. Target’s RedCard has a new $40 online + $40 in-store sign-up bonus through April 8, and yes, a $80 SUB is sometimes actually interesting because reasons, though new POS terminals have made it less so.

    Churning these used to only require waiting three business days between closing an account and opening a new one, but lately it seems to be 10-15 business days.
  4. Chase Offers has two new offers for Quill.com running through mid-April. Quill is mostly interesting for its $300 Visa Gift cards and occasional success with weird portals. The offers:

    – 10% back up to $250 in spend
    – 20% back up to $250 in spend

    The bad news? The gift cards are Metabanks Pathwards.

My anniversary gift from Chase for holding a Southwest credit card.