1. Wyndham points can now be redeemed for all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, Central-America, and Mexico. Resort prices are either 15,000 or 30,000 points per night for two guests.

    Don’t forget that the Wyndham Business Earner Barclays card earns 8x and gives a 10% rebate on points bookings, which makes this a very solid deal. (Thanks to DoC)
  2. TheGiftCardShop.com has fee-free Visa gift cards with promo code GRAD2024, though you’ll still pay for shipping, and it seems to work for up to $10,000 in purchases per order too.

    These are Incomm gift cards. Incomm cards have sporadic liquidation issues in recent history which can largely be summed as: (1) sometimes full value transactions are blocked, and (2) usually you can’t do more than three back-to-back transactions with the same type of card.

Have a nice Wednesday!

This week’s blog posts.

  1. Office Depot / OfficeMax stores have $15 off of $300 or more in Visa gift cards through Saturday. For best results:

    – Try for multiple transactions back-to-back
    – Try and get even multiples of $300 for better discount stacking
    – Link your cards to Dosh

    In theory these are limit 10 per transaction. These are Pathward gift cards.
  2. Giftcards.com has 10% off of $100 virtual Visa gift cards using promo code SUMMER10. The code only applies to three per order, but multiple orders work fine because rules only matter sometimes.

    These are Pathward gift cards too. (Thanks to SPX)
  3. Bank of America has a small business checking account bonus of $1,000 for bringing $30,000 in new funds within 30 days of opening the account and keeping an average balance of $30,000 or more between days 31 and 90. Depending on how well you play timing, it’s an effective APR of between 13.5% and 20.3%. The account must by open by July 31.

    You can also register for a fast track to Preferred Rewards through the same funds and promotion, which frankly is a better deal than it probably sounds. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. The Citi Strata Premier card has a meaningful update: It now includes travel insurance for luggage, delays, and common carrier cancellations and interruptions. Just like everything Strata related, Citi botched the rollout though. This time, they posted the terms and conditions and a FAQ, but then pulled them a bit later. I did read through them while they were up, and the summary for trip delay insurance is (was?): UPDATE: Benefits guide here

    – Trips must be paid in full with the card for revenue tickets for coverage
    – Taxes and fees must be paid in full with the card for award tickets for coverage
    – Round-trips required, one-way bookings may not count [needs to be re-verified]
    – Trip delay insurance requires a 6 hour delay
    – Maximum $500 per incident

    The Sapphire Reserve and US bank Altitude Reserve have better travel insurance than the Strata Premier, especially because you only need a partial payment with those cards for eligible coverage, and one-way trips are covered too as long as you’re away from your home city.
  5. Finally, personal American Express Platinum cards have changed the criteria for at least some authorized user bonuses, requiring that the authorized user card be a Platinum version which has an additional annual fee. That is, the free version of the authorized user cards don’t count for a bonus.

    We haven’t seen this on other cards or business cards yet. (Thanks to Xero Clarity)

Happy Tuesday!

Another rule that only matters sometimes.


It’s been a couple of weeks since we talked about thinking about the velocity of money as an APR. As a quick reminder, when you make a spread for moving money around, you can think of the profit in terms of simple APR as:

APR = spread * banking_days / settlement_time

In the example from last time, a spread of 0.65% gave an effective simple APR of 54.6%.

Making it More Complex and Accurate

But, when you’re earning a spread, you’ve got that spread to invest after it’s paid out too which makes simple APR tell an under-optimistic story: Basically, if you earn $650 for moving $100,000, next time you’ll have $100,650 to move, so you’ll earn a bigger payout if you reinvest your earnings. Assuming you’re paid on some frequency we’ll call payout_frequency, we’ve got effectively a compounding APR (APRc) formula that tells a more complete story (editor’s note: if the formula isn’t rendering properly, check the web site here):

{APR}_C = \left(1 + \frac{{spread} \times {banking\_days}}{payout\_frequency \times {settlement\_time}}\right)^{payout\_frequency} - 1

As my super annoying physics and math professors used to say in college, the derivation of that formula is left as an exercise to the reader. Of course it’s not super annoying when I do it, it’s cute right? Right?

Putting that all together with the numbers from last time, spread = 0.65%, banking days = 252, settlement time = 3 (avoid kiting), and payout_frequency = 12 (monthly), we get a compound APR of 70.6%. If you find a spread that pays out every time you move money, payout_frequency becomes 252 and, you’ll net even more with an effective APRc of 72.5%.


A small spread can look unappealing and make your brain flash a 🤏 emoji, but a small number compounded together a bunch of times can still turn into a big number. Obviously if you can do better than 0.65% on your spread of profit – fees (which you often can), then things look even better.

Happy Monday friends!

MEAB in a few decades; just like present MEAB, except older.

Buying gift cards through giftcards.com is a favorite past time for manufactured spenders, especially because it’s an easy way to hit portal spending bonuses. Things have been going swimmingly for me with the site since portal terms and conditions were updated in November 2022 to allow for cash-back on up to $2,000 per order, rather than the prior $2,000 in aggregate per month; or at least they had been going swimmingly until April 11.

On April 12, orders stopped tracking across all portals for a majority of manufactured spenders that used the site regularly. For others though, everything continued to track and the difference wasn’t clear. As far as I can tell, two things happened on that day:

  • Giftcards.com implemented new anti-bot measures, usually manifesting as a puzzle slider
  • They built an internal “cash-back ban list” and put big users on it

Since I pretend to be a scientist, I spent a few weeks trying to decide what exactly had been banned by placing dozens of orders through different portals, each changing some combination of personal information, technology, and credit cards. The result was they seem to have banned users by:

  • device (cookies and browser fingerprint)
  • ip

Changing one of these things wasn’t sufficient to fix tracking, but changing both of them was. So, if you’re having issues with order tracking on giftcards.com, find your way to a new IP and device profile. Your email accounts, name, addresses, and other personal information doesn’t seem to matter.

Happy weekend friends!

Next up: How to ensure that 21 pounds of onions for $7 will post correctly at Meijer.

  1. Do this now: Link your Hilton account to Bilt Rewards to earn 1,000 Bilt Hilton points. Bilt points can can transfer 1:1 to Hyatt or AA (or to Hilton if you like terrible redemption values).
  2. We’ll see at least three dozen articles in the next couple of weeks about the Citi Strata Premier, and they’ll all boil down to a few salient points:

    – The old Premier goes away today for new applications
    – Strata Premier applications start on May 16 with a 75,000 ThankYou Point bonus
    – The bonus won’t be available if you had a Premier bonus in the last four years, and yes, you can still double dip
    – The new card is almost exactly the same as the old card, except for the addition of 3x at EV charging and 10x earning on hotels, cars, and entertainment booked through the slightly inflated price CitiTravel.com portal

    If anything else important comes up, you’ll see it here. Otherwise, skip all the upcoming articles and go probing instead.
  3. American Express has new spend offers for Platinum cards:

    – Delta: $40 back on $180+ booked through AmEx travel through July 5
    – JetBlue: $50 back on $200+ through August 6
    – Hilton: $40 back on $180+ through July 31
    – Hertz: $40 back on $150+ through June 30
    – Dell: $50 back on $250+ through September 30
    – Oceana Cruises: 10x on up to $4,000 spend through July 8

    The Delta one is gameable using the same methods for airline incidental credits and that’s only somewhat interesting, but JetBlue and Hilton are more easily played. I have no direct experience with Oceania Crusies, but there’s an angle with most.
  4. The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select personal Mastercard has a new 75,000 AAdvantage Miles sign-up bonus after $3,500 in spend within four months. This one is better than normal because the $99 annual fee is waived for the first year.

    Warning: This may be someone’s affiliate link. I’ve found it in multiple places that have affiliate relationships, I can’t get it to appear without leaving all of the URL parameters in place, and I can’t find it via Google search, Citi’s page, or AA’s page, so there may be a hidden commission paid to someone with this link. I can say for certain that I’ll earn exactly as much with this link as with every other link on the blog: $0.

Preparing for the upcoming deluge of Citi Strata blog posts.

Finally our long-lasting struggle as a species is over: It’s not raining tacos anymore, but instead it’s raining Avios, or at least drizzling them.

New Cards

Two new cards issued by Cardless entered the market yesterday. Taken at face value they barely qualify for /r/mildlyinteresting content, but since when do we take anything at face value around here?

Cardless Privilege Club Infinite

This is an all time high (and all time low) sign-up bonus (affiliate link free application):

  • 25,000 Avios after one transaction
  • 25,000 Avios after spending $5,000 in 90 days
  • 10,000 Avios if you apply by June 4
  • 150 Qpoints toward status
  • $499 annual fee

Ongoing spend:

  • 5x on Qatar
  • 3x on “restaurant spends” (yes, that’s the term they use)
  • 1x elsewhere

Cardless Privilege Club Signature

This is also an all time high (and all time low) sign-up bonus (affiliate link free application):

  • 20,000 Avios after one transaction
  • 20,000 Avois after spending $3,000 in 90 days
  • 10,000 Avios if you apply by June 4
  • $99 annual fee

Ongoing spend:

  • 4x on Qatar
  • 2x on “restaurant spends” (yes, they kept it the same the second time)
  • 1x elsewhere

Bonuses on Old Cards

Other Avios cards that aren’t issued by Cardless are joining the party too: Chase’s Avios cards have sign-up bonuses of 85,000 Avios after $5,000 spend in three months. All of these have had better offers in the 100,000 to 130,000 points range the past and will probably have better offers in the future though, so I see little to no reason to pay any attention.

MEAB Commentary

Remember, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, and Capital One miles all transfer to at least one Avios partner, and Avios miles can mostly be transferred freely between all partners at Avios.com. That means that each of the sign-up bonuses mentioned above should be compared with an average sign-up bonus for flexible currency cards, like the Ink Preferred or Venture X Business card. That generally makes the Avios cards a bad deal.

There is a specific use case that changes everything though, especially if you have a way to manufacture “restaurant spends” with the Cardless Infinite card. Qatar’s status Qpoints are earned based on non-promotional Avios earning, not based on total spend. So, $500 in “restaurant spends” on the Infinite card will earn you 1,500 Avios and 2 QP, which means you can earn Gold status with 450 QP from spend and 150 QP from the sign-up bonus, all for only $112,500 in restaurant spends. UPDATE: I’m not sure how I missed it, but the Infinite card gives you Gold status in the first year without any need for restaurant spends. Thanks to Eric for letting me know.

Qatar Gold status will earn you oneworld Sapphire, which will get you access to AA lounges including Flagship lounges even on domestic flights, and it’ll get you into much nicer oneworld alliance member lounges too. You can also retain status with 270 QP in subsequent years, so you’ll only need $67,500 in restaurant spends to renew.

Good luck, and happy Wednesday friends!

The Qatar status program visualized (from /r/mildlyinteresting)

  1. In a move that no-one, ever, in the history of the Universe could have seen coming: Office Depot / OfficeMax stores have $15 off of $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards in-store through Saturday. To maximize:

    – Link your credit cards to Dosh
    – Try for multiple transactions
    – Even multiples of $300 typically work very well

    These are Pathward gift cards.
  2. The Chase Freedom Flex no-annual fee card has a targeted sign-up bonus for 10x at grocery stores on up to $12,000 spend in the first year, which for the math challenged makes this effectively a 120,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus on a no-annual fee card.

    Unfortunately, just like its little brother American Express’s applications, Chase might make you jump through a few hoops to get the offer to show; the easiest consistent way for me was to visit https://creditcards.chase.com/ in an incognito browser.
  3. Incomm sites have fee free gift card promotions running for orders over $50:

    VanillaGift.com: No-fee Visa gift cards
    TheGiftCardShop.com: No-fee Visa or Mastercards with promo MOM2024
    MasterCardGiftCard.com: No-fee Mastercards with promo code MOMSDAY2024

    These are Vanilla / Incomm gift cards.
  4. Meijer MPerks has $10 off of $150 or more in Visa gift cards running through Saturday, though it’s limit one per MPerks account.

    Meijer sells both Pathward and Sunrise gift cards.
  5. Several airline shopping portals have Mother’s Day promotions:

    AA: 2,000 bonus miles after $800+ in spend
    Alaska: 1,000 bonus miles after $400+ in spend
    Southwest: 1,000 bonus miles after $200+ in spend
    United: 2,500 bonus miles after $400+ in spend

    Giftcards.com appears on all of these portals, but it’s had spotty tracking issues for the last three weeks so ymmv.
  6. The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve 75,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 spend in three months bonus offers are now, as we predicted twice last week, available with referral links. It’s finally time to do a MEAB double dip for those who celebrate.

    As usual, use the referral link for P2 or from a churning friend to make their day. (Thanks to DoC)

MEAB double dip day demands MEAB quality referral gift wrapping.

Let’s say you’re trying to get home to Los Angeles from Munich in a premium cabin, and the cheapest award flight:

  • MUC-FRA-LAX: 155,000 United MileagePlus miles

One of the simplest easy ways to access much more business and first class international award inventory and save miles in the process is to book a positioning flight, where you fly to another airport on one ticket and then start your award travel itinerary. For example, you might find:

  • MUC-AMS: 4,500 Virgin Atlantic points
  • AMS-LAX: 60,000 FlyingBlue points

At the surface level, 60,000+4,500 points for the second itinerary is much less than 155,000 miles for the first itinerary. But as you dig deeper, the second one has its own set of issues that might mean the savings isn’t worth it because you’re on two separate itineraries, which means:

  • You’re on your own if you misconnect
  • You can’t check your bags all the way from Munich to LAX
  • Schedule changes on one airline might torpedo your whole trip
  • There’s probably not opportunity to route around weather events

Any of those things could mean you lose out on that 60,000 point redemption, and you’ll end up trying to find a last minute ticket to LAX that costs quite a bit more.

The wisdom? Sometimes it’s cheaper to spend 155,000 points than it is to spend 64,500 points, but sometimes it’s not.

MEAB math.