Chase Ritz Carlton Card Still Churnable and 5/24 Exempt

I just got approved for my second round of the Ritz-Carlton Card. I had the card previously (June 2015) and last week I downgraded it to a Marriott Premier Rewards Card with a $85 annual fee. I was on the hook for the $450 annual fee because I got the card after I joined (No SCRA waiver), but before September 2017 which would of given me MLA coverage. When I downgraded my card I was 80 days from my renewal date. I was surprised to receive a residual pro-rated annual fee credit of $98.75 remaining of the $450 annual fee I was charged back in July 2017.

If we take $450 a year and divide it out to 365 days for the year we are paying $1.23 a day for this thing! The prorated refund corresponds to the 80 days I had left of my annual fee from the day I downgraded the card (15 April 2018) till the renewal anniversary date of 04 July 2018. However the The real joke is on them because I some how was locked into the original $395 annual fee even when they jacked it up in Aug of 2016.

This refund covers more than the $85 annual fee for the converted Marriott product, and come July 2018 I should be getting the annual free night upon renewal. I originally applied for the product in branch but was denied because the product change for the existing product did not show in their system. I was told by my CPC agent to apply again in a few days.

I applied today and got the same dreaded message:

I called my CPC agent and they had me call 1-888-270-2127 to plead my case, and I got approved! They explained to me that they would not extend any more credit and I had to come up with $10,000 minimum for the new card. All I had to do was move $5k from IHG and $5k from Hyatt.

Just like that I got a Marriott Card despite being 27 new cards in a 24 month period, as well as a MLA waived Ritz card. This means $300 a year for flight credits, $100 off Visa air discount, and two nights at the Georgetown Ritz for my Wife’s birthday!

Now to just slow it down before I get into the dreaded Chase review, I feel like Icarus with wings made of Credit Cards.



How Should I Come off a 24 Month Credit Application Fast?

I am coming off a 48 hour fast, and man is it rough. My stomach is all jacked up because I didn’t plan and follow a reintroduction to solid food protocol. I just went to town at the buffet after not eating for two days and that was a big mistake. I should have done some much better planning on my part.

Planning is also key for breaking our Churning fast. We decided that I would be the only one in the family to be always ineligible for 5/24 Chase Cards, and my wife would not get any new cards for 24 months. I am planning on hitting every new Card the day it comes out, and I won’t add my wife as an AU to bump her out of 5/24.

Here is where she stands right now:

  1. Chase Cards:
    1. Marriott Rewards Premier (Bonus 24 July 2015) Must pay $85 annual fee
    2. World of Hyatt (Bonus 03 Aug 2017) Must pay $75 fee
    3. British Airways Avios (Opened 08 Oct 2017) MLA Waived
    4. Ritz-Carlton Rewards (Bonus 10 Dec 2017) MLA Waived
  2. AmEx Cards (All Fee Waived):
    1. Amex EveryDay® Preferred (Opened 26 May 2015)
    2. Starwood Preferred Guest Personal (Opened 28 Sep 2017)
    3. Delta Platnum (Opened 17 Nov 2016)
    4. Hilton Honors Ascend Card (Opened as Surpass 28 Sept 2017)

When we look at her Credit Karma report today (18 April 2018) we see the last 5 cards as:

She should be below 5/24 at this schedule:

Card Age (In Mo) Drop Off Month
Chase 9 Jul-19
Chase 9 Jul-19
AmEx 7 Sep-19
Chase 6 Oct-19
Chase 4 Dec-19

In my previous posts I suggested product changing (PC) the AmEx Hilton Ascend (Previously Surpass) to The Hilton Aspire and then I suggested PC the Personal AmEx SPG to the new AmEx SPG Luxury Card in August 2018. I also suggested to PC the old Marriott Rewards Premier card to the new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus after 03 May 2018. This, I admit, is all pretty shitty advice, since I would be giving up the lucrative sign up bonus for all of these products! The reader comments made me realize my folly. Reader Tigris23 writes:

Just curious…why would you PC her SPG to the Lux but NOT apply for the Lux instead and get the potential new sign up bonus (which mostly likely Amex will do as the Lux is a new product)?

Then I realized I was doing a Charlie Day after taking brain pills here. Just because I have this blog with its 7-8 subscribers (tops), doesn’t mean I am any sort of expert here. You, the readers, actually have a lot better ideas and datapoints. I appreciate the constructive comments that you all share on each post and hope they continue.

The name of the game is to get the sign up bonus then double dip with the product change (after getting the initial bonus). Reader Dan writes about doing this for his Surpass (turned Ascend):

hey, just fyi   i was able to reopen a basic hilton card a week after closing it, once i realized i closed an opportunity for a second aspire.  it actually worked out perfectly, i just chatted with them online, they approved the reopen, sent me a new card, then after receiving it i chatted again and they upgraded to aspire  with original military benefits intact. so as of now i have 2 aspires and my wife has 1.     i read online somewhere that you might be able to reopen an account up to 30-60 days after closing it

On top of being a pretty marginal investor, I realize now that I am not the best product changer either. In this post I am asking the group:

“What should I do when my wife becomes eligible for 5/24 Chase Cards?”

I very boldly suggested this list of 5 Chase cards:

  1. CSR for the $300 travel credit
  2. United Club Card for Star Alliance Lounge Access
  3. Chase Freedom for the 5x Categories
  4. Marriott Plus Card for the free 35k night
  5. Southwest card for the companion fare

Reader Tigris suggests:

Personally if I have a clean slate, I would go for CSR (50k), CIP (100k), CIC (50k), Freedom/Freedom Unlimited (15k. depending on ur spending habit), & SW or Marriott.  That’s at least 227k UR pts after meeting spending requirements.

What makes this decision complicated is I want to take advantage of the 2 month delay in reporting of new AmEx cards to a credit bureau. Redditor Sir Theta says in this post:

Barclays reports by approximately the next business day.American Express reports on your second statement close. The remainder of the major US issuers (Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and US Bank, and Wells Fargo) report on your first statement close. edit: Wells Fargo reports soon after you are approved (a few business days). See u/payyoutuesday‘s comment below:

I was approved for a Wells Fargo Propel World card this month, and the new account was reported to the credit bureaus 5 days (TU, EQ) and 6 days (EX) later. I have not yet had a statement close.

On top of that, Chase sometimes allows two cards to be approved same day when you are 4/24, and Business AmEx cards don’t report to a credit bureau at all! If we want to truly utilize these loopholes we can have more cards if I wait till she hits 3/24 in July of 2019.

Starting that month she would Get the CSR and United card. When she drops back down to 4/24 again in September, she will hit up the Freedom. Come October 4/24 would be reached again and she can then get one of the Ink cards or the Marriott Plus card (then upgrading the existing Marriott to a plus). Then when she is 4/24 again in December she will hit the Southwest and the other Ink or Freedom card on the same day to cram in the last slot.

Month: Apply For:
Jul-19 CSR
Jul-19 United
Sep-19 Freedom
Oct-19 Ink or Marriott
Dec-19 Ink or Southwest & Other Freedom

Concurrently in November She can apply for the AmEx Hilton Aspire Card and the new SPG Lux card and they would not be reported till January. I think I am going to drop off the AmEx Everyday Card When these bonuses hit for the new card, she can now PC her existing SPG and Hilton cards to their highest levels. What she will be left with is this:

  1. Chase Cards:
    1. CSR (Open After July 2019) MLA Waived
    2. United Club Credit Card (Open After July 2019) MLA Waived
    3. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (PC from regular Marriott) Must pay $95 annual fee
    4. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (Open in October 2019) MLA Waived
    5. World of Hyatt (Keep open or close?) Must pay $75 fee
    6. British Airways Avios (Keep Forever?) MLA Waived
    7. Ritz-Carlton Rewards (Keep Forever?) MLA Waived
    8. Freedom (Open in September) Already Free
    9. Ink (Open with another card in December 2019) Not MLA Waived
    10. Southwest (Open with another card in December 2019)n MLA Waived
  2. AmEx Cards (All Fee Waived, (must drop ERP)):
    1. Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury (Open Dec 2019)
    2. Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury (PC from SPG)
    3. Delta Reserve (Open by closing existing Delta Platinum)
    4. Hilton Honors Aspire Card (Opened as Surpass then PC)
    5. Hilton Honors Ascend Card (Open Dec 2019)

Notice I didn’t open any AmEx Business cards because they would take up the precious credit card slots that are limited to only 5. I want to pack as many $450 annual fee credit cards in there. If this whole thing works out then we should get these perks paying dividends every year:

  1. Chase Cards:
    1. CSR: $300 Travel Credit
    2. United Club Credit Card: Star Alliance Lounge access
    3. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus: 35k award night for $95 annual fee
    4. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus: Free 35k award per MLA Waived
    5. World of Hyatt: $75 Cat 1-4 award night
    6. British Airways Avios: Keep points alive
    7. Ritz-Carlton Rewards: $100 flight Benefit, $300 Travel Credit
    8. Freedom: 5x categories to transfer UR
    9. Ink: (Not MLA Waived)
    10. Southwest: (Points Earning)
  2. AmEx Cards (All Fee Waived, (must drop ERP)):
    1. 2x Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury: $600 Marriott credits
    2. Delta Reserve: FIrst Class Companion Pass
    3. 2x Hilton Honors Aspire Card: $500 flight credit, $500 Hilton Credit

Any suggestions on my plan? Please comment below!


Of The Best Laid Churns of Chase and Men…

BLUF: Downgrades of Chase products take 24 to 48 hours to take effect. I got too eager for the 2nd Ritz card that I was denied in branch because it showed I still had it. An O-3 reader got approved online today despite being over 5/24. The Ritz card is still a good non 5/24 restricted churn with MLA fee waivers.

I downgraded via phone last night around 10 pm on the phone, and when I logged into the Chase site it did not show the Ritz Card, but rather the Marriott Card. My plan was to go in branch today and get the Ritz card before it gets shut down or if it becomes 5/24 restricted. I called the next morning and made an appointment so get the new card.

My CPC banker had become a valuable resource into the practice of approvals at Chase bank. I stopped in and they looked at my account for some pre-application vetting. Nowhere on her computer did it say I had the Ritz-Card. We prepared a plan to shift credit from my unused accounts such as my IHG and United Club Card.

I also verified that I had gotten the first Ritz card bonus over 3 years ago meeting the no bonus within 24 months rule that I ran into with the British Airways Card. I also verified that I do not have the card currently.

She called in the credit department and and they recommended I apply on my own laptop and  call the bank back if there was any problems. Sure enough I applied and got this message:

Despite all of my preparation, I just got denied in branch as a CPC! We called in and sure enough they gave me the reason is their system still had my original Ritz card as being active, she explained the shift takes 24 to 48 hours. The credit department also assured the application didn’t even go past pulling credit.

So I am going to try to apply in about two days. On the flip side, one of the O-3s here went right online and got this message:

So there you go! If you downgrade anything, just wait a few days to make sure it doesn’t show as active when you apply for the product again.


AmEx SPG Lux Upgrade Strategy

There are a lot of changes coming to the existing AmEx and Chase SPG/Marriott Cards and this chart from TPG sums it up pretty well:

User Orange Party Lamp suggests the strategy that I should of done for the Surpass to Aspire transition:

My plan is to apply for Amex card and then PC current SPG to the luxury SPG for another $300 and a free night

This was such a brilliant strategy because I am working on my 5/24 for my wife who has a SPG personal card. She can very quickly product change her SPG card when the SPG Luxury card is offered in 01 August 2018. I will then close out my AmEx Delta Reserve Card and open a SPG Luxury Card thereby giving our family $600 statement credit at Marriott/SPG Hotels for the year.

Edit: Better yet, as suggested by Tigris23, I Should just wait till she gets her own SPG Lux, then do the PC after I hit all the Chase cards in end of 2019! This ways she can get the sign on bonus as well as do the upgrade. I am thinking I should do the same with the Hilton Aspire card from the Surpass!

I currently hold the Business SPG card which will give me the free 35,000 free night every year, but I am not sure if they would let me Product Change that one to another SPG Lux card since it is a personal card and not business. AmEx is probably on to my plan because they pulled my ability to refer the SPG personal card. However the referral links still works for the Personal Marriott and Business SPG.

Referral link here and here.


SPG Biz link here.

On the Chase side I downgraded my Ritz to a Marriott to get the free 35k free night every year. I was not able to get the SCRA $450 annual fee waiver because I got the card after I joined. I also didn’t get the MLA waiver because I got the card before Sept 2017. However it has been 24 months since I got the bonus, and I was able to downgrade it making it a product I don’t own. I will apply for the Ritz card today and now I will hopefully have both products. I did this loophole as a way to bypass 5/24 and I suggest those that have the Ritz (and are on the hook for the annual fee) to do the same. In the future I want to bank on a possible Marriott Premier to Plus conversion that may be lucrative.

If you get that annual fee waived Ritz, this may not be for you! Just keep it as is like Andy.

If you got the current SPG cards from AmEx, do not close them! Hold on to them to upgrade to the SPG Lux card in the future to double dip the product like may people have done with their Hilton Surpass to Aspire cards!


Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card & Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card

The SPG-Marriott-Ritz-Carlton point system merger details have been announced (officially) and articles about it can be found here and found here. Great TPG article on the AmEx Cards and the Chase Cards involved.

BLUF: On 01 August 2018 these changes will take place: New AmEx card prime for churning and paying dividends in the form of $300 hotel statement credits, and AmEx Platinum Holders still get breakfast for free at Marriott until end of 2019. The new Chase card will be offered 03 May 2018 and has a 100k Marriott points for $5k spend.

Pretty much they are going to convert all your SPG to Marriott Points at 1 to 3 points each. Then they have a single rewards chart with redemption that vary by demand:

No announcements on what hotels will be what category yet. Earning points are going to be expanded to both the room rate and incidentals, with each brand earning at a different rate:

  • $1 at Marriott brands, including Ritz-Carlton = 10 points
  • $1 at At Element, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites = 5 points
  • $1 at Bulgari Hotels & Resorts = 0 points

Two new cards have been verified to be released as predicted. AmEx has a premium $450 card and Chase Has added a Plus to there existing Marriott Card:

  1. Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card (Coming Aug 2018)
    • six points per dollar spent at participating hotels
    • three points per dollar spent on airfare and at U.S. restaurants
    • two points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
    • $300 annually in statement credits for on-property purchases
    • free night award up to 50,000 points
    • automatic Gold elite status
    • Global Entry, and Priority Pass Select membership
    • $450 annual fee (hoping AmEx fee waivers continue)
  2. Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card (Coming 03 May 2018)
    • six Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at participating hotels
    • two points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
    • an anniversary free-night certificate for any property up to 35,000 points
    • Guaranteed Silver Elite Status
    • $95 annual fee (MLA Waiver?) prob 5/24 restricted (boo)
    • 100,000-point new cardmember sign-up offer after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days
    • Maybe a bonus to upgrade existing Marriott Card to Plus card

The elite tiers have changed, but since I don’t really earn any status with a single hotel brand I really could care less:

What really matters is Greg from Frequent Miler asked the real question to the VP of Marriott Rewards, Bob Behrens:

Q: What level status will my Amex Platinum card give me in the new program?

A: Gold status.  However, if a member has Marriott Gold status before August 1, they will have Platinum status on August 1.  [So, if Bob was right about this, Amex Platinum cardholders will continue to get free breakfast until the elite year resets in 2019 as long as they use the card to get SPG Gold status AND link their Marriott & SPG accounts before August 1]

So going forward I think I am just going to stick with booking Hilton for the free breakfast after I lose Platnium status after 2019. In anticipation for the merger I went ahead an downgraded My Ritz-Carlton card via Chase Secure Messaging and got this response:

Hello Derp Report,

Thank you for contacting J.P. Morgan about The
Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card ending in XXXX. I will
be happy to review your inquiry for a product change.

Derp, our records show that you can change this card to a
Marriott Premier. We cannot do it by email, but if you
will please call us at the number on the back of your
card, we will be happy to take care of it for you.

We appreciate your business and thank you for choosing The
Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card from J.P. Morgan. If you
have any additional questions or concerns, you may send us
a secure message or contact us at the number below.
Representatives are available to assist you.

Thank you,


Customer Service Specialist

Account is owned by Chase Bank USA, N.A., a subsidiary of
JPMorgan Chase & Co and may be serviced by its affiliates.

The number on the back of the card is 1-855-896-2222, and I was able to get the card downgraded from the $450 Ritz card to an $85 Marriott Premier Card. I was also told that on the renewal date of June 2018 I would get my free category 1-8 hotel room as well! What an unforeseen bonus right there.

So why would I downgrade to a product that is going to be replaced? I consider this move a backdoor rollover because I was able to get the Ritz Card under 5/24, so I can bypass the 5/24 restriction on Marriott, then I plan on upgrading this to the new Plus card if a bonus is offered. TPG reports:

Product changes from an existing Marriott card to the Plus will not be eligible for the 100,000-point bonus, though Chase suggests that an upgrade incentive may be available.

I would not have been able to get the Marriott Premier Rewards or the Plus because of my 25/24 status. This way I can continue to reap the free night benefit which is well worth the $85 annual fee.

I am going to wait a few days and then apply for a new MLA waived Ritz Card at my Chase Private Client Branch. I hope to make the spend and then get the two free tier 1-4 Ritz nights before the card goes away entirely. There was a rumor the Ritz card will become the CSR (another card that I would be ineligible for due to the 5/24 rule), because the Fairmont card became the CSP with the equitable $95 annual fee. However TPG reports have killed that rumor:

Ritz-Carlton cardholders will be able to keep their current cards with no change to perks or earning rates

If I ever get under 5/24 I could apply for the Plus Product for the 100k sign on bonus instead of upgrading, but that is unlikely to happen. TPG has also listed out the fate of the SPG Business cards, i’m sad to see that they axed the Sheraton free breakfast benefit going forward of Aug 2018. There was also mention that going forward, the Ritz Card as well as the Business Marriott would be subject to 5/24 restriction hopefully only after 03 May 2018. So I better get cracking on that application! TPG writes:

Additionally, the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card will still be available for new sign-ups for the time being, though the new Plus card will replace the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card on May 3. All new sign-ups will be subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Does that mean I already missed the boat on a MLA waived Ritz Card? My reading of that paragraph suggests that only the personal and business Marriott cards are subject to 5/24. I guess I will find out tomorrow in person at Chase when I apply for my new Ritz Card!

On the flip side the existing AmEx SPG cards will now come with an annual free night worth up to 35,000 points. This is good incentive for me to keep both the Business and Personal Versions of the SPG card. But this puts me in the pickle of the 5 credit card limit, and I will need to decide on what card to kill next: Blue, Delta Reserve, Delta Platinum, Business SPG, or Hilton Aspire. It would make the most sense to kill the Blue card to make room for 3 $450 annual fee waived cards, but I have had that account for over 12 years! Second thought is to kill the Delta Reserve card since it is redundant to the Platinum Delta. I guess I have till august to decide on that one.



United Lounge Access Restrictions

I wrote about the new restrictions on the United Lounge access here in a previous post. I am sad to report some new datapoints coming from our dear readers. My AD wife went to the ORD lounge on 15 Apr 2018 with only TAD orders in had, but was turned away. SHe was told she needed “R&R Orders”. Usually she would have access as one of my guests as I am a United Club Card holder, but on this day I was not traveling with her. She has United Premier Gold Status which only gets you Star Alliance Lounge access when flying overseas. We used this perk a lot when flying ANA on domestic flights in Japan.

Reader Mike writes:

Two more data points: recent layovers in Narita and Chicago. I was traveling TDY, but was taking leave in conjunction. Thankfully, I had my NSIPS leave chit printed out. They only let me in thanks to the leave chits, and even then scrutinized the dates. The agent in Narita told me she has to turn away a lot of military members who only have TDY papers.

Another reader states:

Maybe I missed it on your site, or it was inferred from the post, but for anyone wondering, TDY Orders alone will not work. I was just denied United Club entry at IAD since I was not on “Leave or RnR” orders. I presented my TDY orders and ID and was told my only option was to take my uniform out of my bag, go change, and then they could let me in! No thanks, I’ll keep the OPSEC.

There you have it! If you are under 5/24 I think it is a good time to seriously consider the United Club Credit Card for you or your spouse. They should waive the annual fee per the MLA, but I have no datapoint on this particular product. I happen to have had the United Explorer Card before I joined the military and had the thing waived under the SCRA. The United lounge is decent and the free boozes and red bulls are usually worth the visit. Or you could just fly United when you are on leave, and stick with American Airlines or Delta when flying on TAD.

Luckily my wife has $175 left on her AmEx Platinum for United Airlines and could get drinks and snacks on the plane. It is mid-April and still the registry is shut down. I’m not sure what early 2018 means, I guess it means when it stops snowing.

Be prepared with Leave orders or United Club membership if you want to get in the United Club lounge!


Front Running the Marriott & SPG Merger (Details Monday 16 April)

Lots of details (or wild speculation) out there regarding the August 2018 merger of SPG and Marriott points systems. Now many of you have both the Chase Marriott Products as well as the AmEx SPG products. The two major banks have reached an agreement where Chase would serve the basic bitch cards and AmEx would take the baller cards. This may mean those with the Chase Ritz card may be converted into a CSR much like how the Fairmont card got turned into the CSP. This is a good way to bypass the 5/24 rule for those way over. Also some AmEx SPG (Personal and Business versions) card holders may have their products become Chase cards. This will hopefully free up AmEx cards since we are all restricted to 5 Credit Cards with AmEx.

The downside is if we had the cards are older than Sept 2017 from AmEx, we may not get the MLA fee waiver from Chase once converted. Now if we open new AmEx cards after Sept 2017 we can anticipate the conversion to Chase cards and get the MLA protection as well as bypass 5/24. Apply for the AmEx SPG now to front run the conversion to Marriott and then the free night and MLA waiver.

This is again all speculation, here is what we know for sure, on Monday 16 April 2018 you can go here and get the details right from the source. In the meantime I would consider getting some cards in anticipation for the merger. Here are my referral links and the current perks of each card:

The Chase Marriott Premier Rewards Card

Referral link here and here.

This card offer right now gives you 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You get a free night Cat (1-5) and the $85 annual fee is waived for military on new accounts per the MLA. If you had the bonus within 24 months before or if you currently have the card, they won’t approve you. If you had 5 new cards at any bank in the last 24 months, you won’t get approved (5/24 restriction).

The AmEx SPG Personal Card

Referral link here.

This card offers the exact same points value as the Marriott product since 1 SPG = 3 Marriott. You get 75k Marriott or 25,000 SPG after $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. I hope this becomes another Marriott card so you can get a free night Cat (1-5) and the $95 annual fee is waived for military on new accounts per the MLA or because it is AmEx. If you had the SPG card bonus ever in the past you won’t get it again (although they forget after 7 years), but if you have 5 (including business) CREDIT cards now (charge cards like Platnum don’t count) then you won’t get approved.

The Business Version of Chase Marriott

The strategy is to get cards with free nights that don’t charge an annual fee. Reports are that Business Cards with Chase don’t get MLA protections. This then makes the business version of the Chase Marriott Card less appealing, but it appears to not be 5/24 restricted. If you have the card, please share a link below and I can host it for other readers.

The Business Version of AmEx SPG

I have the business version of the SPG card which has the additional benefit of lounge access at the Sheraton with the same features of the personal version listed above. Note that the spend is $5,000 instead of $3,000. The referral link can be found here. It will be interesting to see if the fee waiver will extend to the possible Chase version of the card under the MLA.

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card

I will miss this card when it is gone or converted! The $100 flight benefit pays for itself, the $300 flight waiver works for AA gift cards, and the one time 2 free nights at the Ritz (Tier 1-4) have been awesome for us. Good chance this will become the AmEx Product either as the same thing or as another hotel brand. My wild speculation is it will become the St Regis card, but who knows. There is no referral link to host here, but I plan on downgrading my current Ritz card I pay $450 a year to a non-fee waived Marriott Card for the annual free night. Then I will apply for another Ritz card since it has been over 24 months since my bonus for another 2 free nights!

Other Marriott Cards

There are some products you can’t even get from Chase. A summary can be found here. I have no experience with any of them, but they are downgrade targets.


Monday we find out what will happen to these 5 credit cards:

Time to get them if you want to bypass 5/24!


The Cost Of Analysis Paralysis In BRS

Those lucky few that just joined the military in 2017 get to have instant 5% matching in their TSP if they Opt-in between 01 January 2018 and 31 Dec 2018. Otherwise you would have to wait 2 years before becoming fully vested! This is not the case those suckers that joined after 31 Dec 2017 only get 1% automatic match after 60 days and then 4% additional match after 2 years! If you are planning on never doing 20 years in the military then this is a no brainer to have opted into BRS in January 2018. The chart below is from the DFAS handout found here.

For those new O-3s that are still on the fence, I made a handy guide that shows how much money you have thrown away in match today, and what is worth after 30 years of compounding at the 2% with G Fund:

Base Pay Match Lost 30 yr @ 2%
$0.00 $0.00
Feb $4,143.90 $207.20 $375.31
Mar $4,143.90 $414.39 $750.61
Apr $4,143.90 $621.59 $1,125.92
May $4,143.90 $828.78 $1,501.22
Jun $4,143.90 $1,035.98 $1,876.53
Jul $4,143.90 $1,243.17 $2,251.83
Aug $4,143.90 $1,450.37 $2,627.14
Sep $4,143.90 $1,657.56 $3,002.44
Oct $4,143.90 $1,864.76 $3,377.75
Nov $4,143.90 $2,071.95 $3,753.05
Dec $4,143.90 $2,279.15 $4,128.36

Now for those that have been in 8 or more years and are a O-4, but recently married some one that is about to hit their 20 in AD. Then it might be worth switching over for some free money in your last few years of Active duty if you are planning on getting out and not hitting 20 on your own:

Base Pay Match Lost 30 yr @ 2%
$0.00 $0.00
Feb $6,601.20 $330.06 $597.86
Mar $6,601.20 $660.12 $1,195.72
Apr $6,601.20 $990.18 $1,793.57
May $6,601.20 $1,320.24 $2,391.43
Jun $6,601.20 $1,650.30 $2,989.29
Jul $6,601.20 $1,980.36 $3,587.15
Aug $6,601.20 $2,310.42 $4,185.01
Sep $6,601.20 $2,640.48 $4,782.86
Oct $6,601.20 $2,970.54 $5,380.72
Nov $6,601.20 $3,300.60 $5,978.58
Dec $6,601.20 $3,630.66 $6,576.44

For the rest of us here is what our LES shows since Feb 2018:

Since I opted in January 2018 the match did not show up until my February 2018 LES. The AGCY-AUTO is 1% and the AGC-MATCH is 4% of my O-4 base pay just like Chart 2-1 of the DFAS guide promised. I hope that more people take this BRS thing seriously, and not wait till December 2018 to realize how much money that screwed themselves out of.


Booking Co-Pilot Seat With Points

I love XKCD and I came across this comic long ago:

Turns out you can actually get a commercial flight where the co-pilot seat is an option for passengers. On some Cape Air flights the seat next to the pilot is open for passenger use (Video Here). This of course does not give you legal control of the plane like in the comic.

I was looking at a flight from ORD to DEC and was suprised to see that Air Choice One no longer services that route. They had lost the EAS route to Cape Air. Of course the big wigs at ADM wanted SkyWest with their CRJ-200 jet planes, but let’s face it that was not going to happen for awhile. For General Aviation Plane geeks like myself, I was happy to see a change to another company.

Cape Air has an even smaller plane than the Cessna Caravan that I took last time. The Cessna 402c has two piston engines, and because of it’s tiny size there is no requirement for cockpit doors or even any restriction of needing more than one pilot. On top of being able to fly in row 1 seat B next to the pilot, I was able to book this adventure for 1.5 cents per US Bank Altitude Card Points! I just went to their portal and found the flight for 3,933 points. The flight is normally $59:

The booking engine then uses Hahn Air of Germany to book the flight at 1.5 cents per point:

Now I earned the points by getting 3 points for every Apple Pay transaction I ever made. For this flight, the 3,933 points came from $1,311 in Apple Pay spend. Now if you get the card it comes with 50,000 points and they have been good at waiving the $400 annual fee for military. I get noting for the referral, but you must have an existing relationship with US Bank to get the card. I outlined my experience here in my first month of use.

I will let you know how it is from the flight deck!


7.96% Return on Derp Report Portfolio

As promised I cashed out exactly one year after investing $12,275 and 202,000 Membership rewards points as well as receiving the $200 bonus in my Charles Schwab Derp Report Portfolio. Keep in mind I took out the free $200 new account bonus from the cost, and then I considered the 202,000 at the 1.25 cent valuation I got for it in using the AmEx Schwab transfer. The numbers are kind of bleak:

Ticker Quantity Price Bought Price Sold Dividends Gain/Loss Fees Net Profit
PUTW 100 $28.33 $28.11 $102.41 -$22.00 $0.06 $80.35
SCHE 200 $24.20 $28.20 $129.26 $800.00 $0.13 $929.13
PCY 200 $28.79 $27.87 $247.14 -$184.00 $0.13 $63.01
SGOL 13 $119.46 $127.50 $0.00 $104.55 $0.04 $104.51
Totals $478.81 $698.55 $0.36 $1,177.00
% ROI 7.96% Total Invested $14,783.95 Total Returns $1,177.00

You can see if I had just put it all into SPY (S&P 500) or VTI (Total Market Index) I would of greatly outperformed myself in the same period:

Even worse is the fact that I could of used the 202,000 MR points for $4,040 in flights since I had the AmEx business Platinum card at the time which was offering a 50% points back when used to book on the airline of choice. In the end the $200 bonus was not even worth it to tie up $12,275 for a year. I did get $200 in Uber credit (one year) and then another $400 for AA Gift cards ($200 in 2017 and another $200 in 2018) from my new AmEx Schwab Platinum

At the 6 month mark I was getting exactly the same return as you can see the dividends and year end capitol gains made up for the devaluation of share prices! I never did sell at 6 months, because I decided to wait one year in order to capture the long term capitol gains tax treatment. So this is a rare event where a blogger shows proof that they suck at this whole investing thing and should just stick with filling teeth.

My wife on the other hand deposited $1,000 and got $100 in Schwab bonus and spent 40,000 MR points to buy 70 shares of DSUM at $22 a share costing her $1,540. If she was to sell today she would get $1,703.80 at $24.34 a share.

Too bad the market is closed for Good Friday! If we include her $163.80 in dividend as well as subtract her $100 bonus we get $218.92 in profit at a cost of $1,440 for a sweet 15% return!

Her single ETF portfolio had outperformed me and Morgan Stanley! She had picked it because of its very cute name for the Hong Kong Breakfast of Dim Sum as the RMB bonds are traded off shore in Hong Kong.

Meb Faber’s 99th podcast touched on this subject about how investing time is more important that investing money. At my current age I should be investing time in family, working out, and working on the next step in my education. This will allow me to improve myself and increase earning potential. It takes a shit ton of work to beat the index, and I should of done the set it and forget it thing with Vanguard indexing.

I should just not seek alpha (excess returns above indexing) because it takes so much time, and just be happy with beta (expected returns on the index). The time it took to make less money than SPY or VTI, I could of studied for the GRE and gotten into residency. I hope that is a better investment in the future!