No more 5 card rule for AmEx?

UPDATE: Looks like they were not counting the Hilton Citi card that became the Hilton AmEx.

I thought I was being proactive when I closed my SPG Biz card to get under the 5 card limit for the new SPG Luxury Card coming out on the 23rd. Today I found out that move might have not have been necessary. Dang it, there goes my annual free night at a 35k points property!

On the upside, this will be big if this is more than a fluke! I am planning on getting another SPG card after getting the lux to upgrade to another SPG card! Infinite Hilton Aspire cards and infinite Delta Reserves to the moon!

More to come,


SPG Luxury Opens Aug 23, Apply Before the 26 Aug Rules Apply

Here are the three dates that are important for the SPG & Marriott Merger:

This means you can get the 125k Marriott point bonus with $5k spend despite having the Ritz card, if you get the SPG Lux card between the days of 23 and 26 Aug 2018!

This is great news for me, and here is my new plan:

  • Close my SPG Biz Card ASAP to open up a slot (I have Delta Plat & Reserve, Blue Cash Preferred, and HHonors)
  • Apply for SPG Lux on 23 Aug
  • Make the $5k spend in 90 days for 125k Marriott
  • Upgrade My Wife’s SPG personal since she would be ineleigible for the bonus (i’m keeping her under 5/24)
  • Enjoy $600 in hotel credits as well as 2 free nights at a 50k hotel (Ritz Chicago) every year over two cards.

If you are in a situation where you have the Ritz card or any of these rules:

Then you only got three days to get the SPG Lux between 23 and 26 Aug to get the bonus before these draconian anti-churn rules take place!



Using The First Class Delta Companion Pass From Amex SkyMiles Reserve

Every year on my card anniversary (when my waived annual fee should have been charged), my AmEx Delta Reserve and Platinum card give me a companion pass each, which I can use for a free RT ticket when I buy a ticket (essentially fly for 50% off). These 2 tickets do not have to be for yourself, and you can buy a pair of tickets for any two people to fly anywhere CONUS that Delta has a route, connecting flights included.

The one added benefit from the Delta Reserve card is you can use the companion pass for a pair of first class tickets vice the Platinum SkyMiles card only does it for Main Cabin (bitch normie class). So if you fly a lot of delta, you should get every delta card in this order (note this will take up 4 of your 5 slots):

  1. Delta Reserve (40K Public Offer Currently) <– Use my link here if you want to support the site
  2. Delta Platinum (70K Public Offer Currently) <–Use these links if you want to support the site
  3. Delta Gold (60K Public Offer Currently) <– Davey’s Link
  4. Delta Blue (10K Public Offer Currently)<– your link here, just post it below if you want to me host

Then after one year you should upgrade each and every one that is not a Reserve card, to the reserve card, space it out by 3 months and get the SCRA waive to make an annual companion pass machine with 4 companion passes from 4 Reserve cards a year:

Booking is easy, the cert will show up in your Delta account wallet after one year of membership:

Select it and use the booking engine to select a flight:

Note that these prices are for two tickets, I can fly ORD to SEA RT for $144.20 Main, $188.20 Comfort+, or $348.20 First per person. You end up on the hook for tax for your companion:

And the strangest thing is you must use an AmEx card to pay for the flight, no Visa, no gift cards or credits. I chose my personal AmEx Platinum to get 5x points on the $724.80 for 3,624 MR points worth $45.30 as a Schwab brokerage deposit or $54.36 in airfare. This can be seen as 7.5% cash-back so we are looking at $669.64 for this flight.

Two tickets RT to Seattle from Chicago would run you about $724.80 which is $181.20 a segment. If we run the numbers for basic bitch economy we end up with a total of $316.80 for two round trip tickets costing $79.20 a segment. The $102 premium per segment over the 4 hour flight would mean you are paying about $25.50 an hour per person for this first class service.

Looking at it from a redemption standpoint, we could have used 88,000 skymiles and $22.40 for the same pair of tickets instead of $724.80 making these sky pesos worth 8/10th of a cent each in this case.

What exactly does Delta First Class buy you anyways? I used my companion pass from last year to fly ORD to SLC in Delta First, and I have to say the experience feels like what coach was in 1988; wider recliner sized seats, free booze, real food, and friendly service without a beverage cart.

The check in experience was meh at ORD because of the undermanned SkyPriority counter, and the TSA line was shorter but much slower than the Pre-check line. You already get the luggage and this priority line for military. I got into the lounge with just my boarding pass because it was linked to my SkyMiles number which had my Reserve card on file. A guest would have cost me $28, but my wife got in with her AmEx Platinum card. They had Chicago style hot dogs instead of mac and cheese. At the gate you get to board early, but military in and out of uniform get to board even earlier. There really is no benefit from check in to gate between first class and military members.

Once seated on the plane and while at the gate you get a drink served in plastic, and in the air you get one of those hot towels to freshen up as well as another drink with dinner, and an after dinner drink. The dinner was pretty decent on my flight:

Pesto Chicken salad

some sort of meat ball and salad.

However, the biggest benefit of first is the attentive staff that can make any drink that you want and not waiting to get off the damn plane when you get there. With the extra time not waiting in the back of the plane you can visit the SkyClub one more time on arrival so you wont have th face the indignity of waiting with normies at the baggage carousel. This trip I went to the Sky Club at SLC and they had Dom for 12,500 sky miles worth 2 cents a mile.

This price of $250 is consistent with the price you find at a restaurant, but Costco has bottles for about $133 and Binny’s we are looking at $160:

Naturally I had to order as a datapoint for the blog. I asked if I could take it out of th elounge and they siad they didnt care what I did with it, but it had to be open in the bar per their liquor license. They gave me an iPad and using my full name and Sky Miles number it deducted the 12,500 Skymiles from my account. I left a cash tip, but you can tip with points on the iPad. They sent a manager over and they had a big to do about opening it and asking what we were celebrating.

We had our two glasses and they were good, but not $250 good. I poured the rest into a water bottle. And we took the empty bottle with us. By the time we got to the bag claim our luggage was already there.

In summary if you want to have dinner in a flying restaurant at $25 an hour then fist class with the companion pass is perfect for you. I certainly can take it or leave it for myself, but first class is like Dom Perigion, it is there to impress someone else in my book. Probably going to use the companion pass to send my in-laws somewhere and I won’t tell them how i did it.


Existing SPG Card Holders: Check Your Anniversary Date

It’s a bummer that SPG and AmEx is restricting the sign up bonus for their new SPG Luxury Card for any existing user of their Chase Marriott, Chase Ritz or AmEx SPG Cards according to this chart:

The bonus is not small potatoes either, it is rumored to be 75k for the personal and business SPG products and 125k fo the SPG Lux according to DoC, and the release date has been push back to after 18 August 2018 as well! The only saving grace is the fact that we are all going to get the conus night for our existing SPG cards according to this email received today:

Annual Free Night Award: Card Members whose Card account anniversary dates are on or after August 1 will be eligible to receive their annual Free Night Award (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.

I went ahead and checked my existing SPG personal account and it was opened on September of 2015. If I can upgrade the SPG card to the Luxury on 18 Aug 2018, then I can get $300 Marriott Cash, and a 50k free night without a hard pull on my credit. This would also save me from my route to 0/24 in 2019!

Now on the Chase Marriott Side, here are my dates of opening:

  1. My card opened June 2015 (As Ritz)
  2. Wife’s card opened July 2015
  3. Mom’s card opened Dec 2016

Since I held back from upgrading to the Marriott Premier plus, I am eligible to get the bonus on the SPG Biz card for my wife (since she never had the card before). On the back side since it has been 24 months since my mom’s last Marriott card bonus, she can close her Marriott card and get the bonus for the Marriott Premier Plus after she opens her own SPG cards from AmEx. This has become a very intracate game of chess with two banks!

On a side note, all of this drama has incentivized me to consider trying to get back to 0/24 myself.

I made it an entire quarter without getting a new card! If I can make it to January of 2020 I should be prime to get a Chase card such as my own CSR, then wait a month to get my own Southwest, then Marriott Premier Plus (closing out my Marriott Premier in the process), Freedom, and another Southwest card for the companion pass. More ideas found here (keep in mind no MLA waivers for business cards).

How are you guys going ot manage these new SPG Marriott Chase AmEx rules? Comment below!

Endless La Labo Santal 33 @ The Chicago Park Hyatt

My wife got the Chase Hyatt card a year ago and it was times up for using the two free nights that it came with. I HAD to settle for the Park Hyatt overlooking the Chicago Water Tower since I used all of my leave days up for the year. The room was just alright, but the pool was awesome, and I used the in room iPad and ordered a shit ton of La Labo Santal 33.

In the end nothing could compare to the Tokyo Park Hyatt, but what can you do? Take advantage of Japanese location of American hotel brands if you are ever stationed over there! Use my Hyatt link if you want to get your own MLA waived Hyatt card.


AmEx Plat $50 Saks Bonus: Gift Cards Work When Bought In Person

I got the datapoint I was looking for regarding reimbursement for $50 Gift cards under the new Saks 5th Ave Deal with Personal Platinum:

  1. I added the Saks Deal to my AmEx Personal Platinum (referral link here)
  2. I then linked my card to Ebates for 4% cashback
  3. I then bought a $50 gift card in store and had the charge reimburse two days later

Next step is to hit up the rest of the cards and merge all these $50 cards together into a giant gift card, but I will have to do this in January as I tapped out the other 12 cards on stupid crap.


Churning Restrictions Come to AmEx SPG Cards

BLUF: If you have the Chase Ritz Card, you wont get the BONUS for the SPG Lux. You can get the card, but no bonus!

I was all ready to get my SPG Luxury Card this coming Wednesday 01 Aug 2018 only to be hit by this news posted on view from the wing.

Turns out AmEx and Chase will be sharing their lists of current card holders and bonus dates with each other in determining who will get a bonus or who will not. Since both my wife and I just got the Ritz Card, and we have no intention of ever giving it up, we will never ever be eligible for the SPG Luxury Bonus (which might be really crappy anyways). However it still benefits me in getting the card since it would give me a free 50k night and $300 credit per year.

This new rule is great for all you Starriott Virgins out there that don’t have any of the Chase products or previous SPG product. The bonus restrictions extend to the basic bitch Marriott Cards as well:

The new restriction has relieved me of the burden of getting a new card just for the bonus. I am going to simply product change my wife’s SPG personal card to the new SPG Luxury card so she can achieve 4/24 in July of 2019. 

In the mean time I am going to sit on the sidelines and watch ya’ll churn. Fee free to share any datapoints of these sweet cards everyone has out there!


Two’s a Crowd: Ritz Card Replaced by SPG Lux


You Will NEVER See This Again

In the end there can only be one! As of today you cannot apply for the Ritz Card from Chase. As I reported in my previous post, Chase and AmEx agreed to split up the duty of the new SPGMarriottRitzCarlton (Stariott Rewards) points system by having Chase offer all the normie basic bitch card (Marriott Premier Plus) and AmEx would only offer the high end product (SPG Luxury card). I am still not sure about the end game of the SPG Biz and Personal SPG cards, it could have the same fate as the Ritz by 18 August 2018 when the merger is complete.

I guess Chase was true to their word by killing off the chance to apply for the Ritz Card today. I am planning on AmEx doing the same since they got rid of the referral bonuses for all their SPG products months ago. We should have seen this coming after giving the Ritz Card new perks to existing card holders to make it equable to the SPG Luxury. Not sure if you are able to product change a Marriott Card to a Ritz card, which would be awesome.

So good for you readers out there that got the Ritz card before today’s shutdown! Bonus points for those that saw this coming and downgraded their non MLA covered card to a Marriott card, and gotten a new Ritz card covered under MLA. That is the gift you get for being a reader and a doer. Always taking action as these offers don’t last very long!

I am still hopeful for a back door upgrade from the Marriott, but honestly don’t have FOMO on this one because the two cards are exactly the same. Both the New SPG Lux and Ritz earn 6x Marriott, 3x dining, 3x airlines, 2x everything else. Both get $300 (Ritz on flight amenities, vice SPG on Marriott hotels), both cards also get one free 50k night every year. The only plus is the Ritz is solid metal, comes with 3 club level upgrades, both have PriorityPass but the Ritz has unlimited guests, and Ritz also has the benefit of $100 off any pair of domestic tickets with Visa Flight Discount.

It would be nice to have both, but honestly it’s no big deal since you were not enticed to get the Ritz in the first place.

Now for those that thought churning and this site were a waste of time, add this most recent closure to the 0% APR on a $10k loan with the Gold Lux Card I reported 3 years ago. Who needs free $1,000 anyways? You are always bragging on how great your Facebook and Bitcoin are doing:

Who needs free hotel stays and money and flight and hotel credits when you have a yacht, amirite?


Chase Southwest Priority Card = MLA AF Waiver

One savvy new LT who is under 5/24 applied for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card the day it came out, and she got her MLA waiver letter today:

The card is worth applying for as it currently comes with 65k points with $15k spend. These points are worth $650 in Southwest flights. On top of that you get $75 a year flight credit, 7.5k Southwest miles and the $149 annual fee is waived for military. Another no brainer card like the Ritz, United Club, Marriott Premier Plus, Sapphire Reserve, and IHG cards.

So if you were wondering, the MLA has been generously interpreted from the good folks at Chase even for their new Southwest card!

Since I fly out of STL or MDW maybe 4 times a year tops, I would have taken full advantage of the 4 free upgrades per year when you charge the priority boarding bought at check in. Unfortunately I am at 27/24 right now and I could never get the card.


AmEx $50 Reimbursement for Saks Gift Card Datapoint & Possible Strategy

UPDATE: On 27 July 2018 I got reimbursed for a $50 gift card I bought in person on 25 July 2018 in store. I also got 4% back by linking the card to my Ebates account:

Reader ArmyGrunt07 asks:

Has anyone tested if the gift cards are actually ineligible or if they are “ineligible” like the airline gift cards are but still get credited back? Also, from what I’ve seen so far, the minimum gift card available online from Saks is $150 but a credit back under this program would still effectively be a 33% discount on a future $150 purchase…

The same question has been asked on other sites about applying the same loophole that we have enjoyed with $50 Delta Gift Cards, $200 Southwest Gift Cards, and $100 American Airlines Gift cards to the $50 Saks benefit. If you are not aware AmEx is explicit in their terms saying that Gift Cards are not covered for their annual $200 airline benefit for the AmEx Platinum. However when we buy gift cards, done in the right amounts (4x$50 for Delta, 2x$100 for American, or a single $200 Southwest) the charges have been consistently reimbursed due to the lack of unique coding between airline fees and a gift card. I could not find an adequate datapoint out there for Saks 5th and the new $50 credit, so I went ahead and sent my brother to an actual brick and mortar Saks Fifth Avenue location to buy a $50 gift card as my AU.

Note that online you can only buy a $150 gift card as the smallest denomination.

In store you can buy any amount and they wrap it up really nicely. I also got him to ask the cashier if a single purchase can be split over multiple cards. They said yes to that, so technically you could buy a $200 item directly and split it over 4 AmEx Platinum cards to capture 4x $50 credit.

The charge has shown up on my account as pending. It’s too soon to tell if a gift card has been reported to AmEx, or if I get reimbursed at all. Keep checking this article for a result either way. If I get $50 back then it might be feasible to buy 13 $50 gift cards in January, and then another 13 cards in July for a whopping $1,300 in gift cards to buy these cool boots for my Type III NWUs (pretty sure not authorized… yet):

I asked the online CSR in a chat regarding the max number of gift cards that can be used in a single transaction, and if we could reload a gift card multiple times at $50 a pop:

There you have it, you can only use 9 gift cards and they can’t be reloaded. However the idea came up regarding combining cards and here is what they said:

Here is the plan, if the gift card gets reimbursed then we might just have to buy $50 card and combine it to a mother card in store. We do this multiple times twice a year till I have a $2,600 over two years and buy myself something nice like this:

Honestly that is a lot of work and I think I’m just going to buy little small crappy things online at $50 a pop to be sent for free via shop runner. Regarding food, my brother said he didn’t see any candy or smaller food items for sale. He did say the store was huge and there very well could have been a candy section. More to come on that. If you have not gotten the AMEx Platinum, there are 100k MR offers out there, but you can use my link here to get 60k with $5k spend in 90 days and toss some points my way. Keep in mind the $550 annual fee is waived for AD and Reserve Military members.