5x and 35% Double Dip Shutdown

Bad news to report, looks like they closed the loophole where you can earn both 5x points (With Personal Platinum) on top of getting 35% of points (With Business Platinum) back when paying with points and choosing your Personal Platinum card on check out. In times past you would get 5x on the initial charge (charged as AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL – CHICAGO, IL) to your airline of choice on the Personal Platinum:

However it charges a new charge of “PwP AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL – CHICAGO, IL” which no longer triggers 5x despite choosing the AmEx Personal Platinum. The charge details show no bonus earn, not even sure if it gets 1x points.

I reported on this double dip in the past, but it seems like they were aware of the issue and made a new charge category to limit earning 5x on this on top of the 35%. This method was very lucrative. For example a $1,000 flight would cost 100,000 MR initially, but you would earn 5,000 MR bonus on the charge as well as a refund of 35,000 MR after a month. The overall cost of this $1,000 flight would have been 60,000 MR or 1.6 cents per point.

This by all means is not a deal breaker! You will still get 1.5 cents per point with the 35% points bonus when using an AmEx Business Platinum. Please use my links: here, here, here, here, or here if you are at all interested. I currently have 3 Business Platinum cards per points pool in order to get 35% on Delta, American Airlines, and United to ensure booking flexibility. I also have reports where you can get a single $200 gift card on American Airlines (if you had it a previous year) and then switch to United in January after reimbursement of the $200 gift card. Then next year swap with the other card to always ensure $200 x 2 for American Airlines Gift Cards but also diversify your 35%.

For example for my three cards in 2018 I have Biz Plat A as United, Biz Plat B as American Airlines, and Biz Plat C as Delta Airlines. In January of 2019 I bought 4 x $50 gift cards with C. I then swapped Card A to American Airlines and bought a $200 AA gift card. I bought an $200 AA gift card with Biz Plat B. I then was reimbursed for it and swapped Plat B to United so that I could earn 35% points back on all three. Then repeat the swap for 2020. The summary is here:

AmEx Biz Plat201820192020
Card AUnitedAmericanUnited
Card BAmericanUnitedAmerican
Card CDeltaDeltaDelta

To get multiple Biz Plat cards you need to get Green Biz and Gold Biz and then upgrade right after you get the bonus. No need to wait one year.


2019 Gift Card Round Up

Happy to report both a O-3 LT and myself were reimbursed for a single $200 with AmEx Personal Platinum and a single $250 using the AmEx Hilton Aspire Card.

Share your data points if you got it! I updated my churning guide as well. Also happy to report the $50 in person Saks is coming back fully reimbursed, even for a gift card:

Additionally I was able to get cash back using Ebates on buying the gift card:


Ameriprise Gold To Platinum Upgrade Thwarted

It has been a year and I just tried to upgrade my Ameriprise Gold to another Ameriprise Platinum both online and calling the number on the back. In the end I was told I had to call my financial advisor at 800-297-2012 to initiate the upgrade, mainly because I had gotten the Ameriprise Platinum and the first year was “free”. The truth of the matter is, I was never able to get an advisor to take my money! Nor did I ever get any of their insurance products via my Costco membership. It looks like until I do I am stuck with the gold card!

Be warned!


Delta Gift Card Shutdown?

Thank you to reader ArmyGrunt07 who reports:

Just executed my 2019 Delta gift card purchases on my AMEX PRG and it is now showing up as one total combined charge (Rather than two $50 charges like) and instead of the description reading “Delta Airlines – Atlanta” I’m now getting “Delta CSTAR GFTCRD.” Looks like they made some unfortunate changes in the new year. Thankfully i switched my Platinums to American Airlines to take advantage of the larger gift cards that I’m now hoping will still work out fine.

I verified that they used a desktop computer and the delta.com website, it appears like the servicer they use for the App is now handling the web transactions. This means the charges are no longer valid for reimbursement.

So I have always been cautious in the new year and take it slow. I charged $200 for American Airlines and have yet to be reimbursed myself. Any one out there willing to share their experiences?


January WeBull Standings

Woah! What a wild ride it has been, I have been getting reports back from our WeBull challenge. The standings are currently:

  1. DerpReporter: $1,000,172.17
  2. Julia’s College Fund: $1,000,000 (no trades)
  3. Jouster: $992,459.15
  4. mjv305: $965,700
  5. Credible: $898,954.08
  6. Magoo: $885,229.71
  7. HeimTime: $860,206.23

Please email me your screen shots so I can post them on the site and so you can remain eligible for the fabulous prizes. Please use this link if you are interested in a free share for yourself.

Previous Results: Dec 2018 , Nov 2018


14% Cash Back On Saks Double Dip (Maybe only 10%)

Happy New Year! With the AmEx $50 Saks credit reset for 2019, I am planning on the ultimate cash back stack by getting Ebates cash back twice (use link here). I will earn 4% on the in-store gift card purchase (or not according to the offer language), and 10% again online with spending the gift cards at Saks Off 5th (and now Saks 5th)!

Update: The language in the Ebates page says no gift cards, however I just got 7 emails saying that my in store gift card purchases worked. The terms are this:

4.0% In-Store Cash Back was 2.0%:
Earn Cash Back when you shop with your linked card at all participating Saks Fifth Avenue stores. Maximum Cash Back per qualifying transaction is $100.00. Offer not valid at Saks OFF FIFTH stores. Debit card purchases must be processed as credit in order to be eligible for Cash Back. When using your debit card, do not enter your PIN. Only US-issued payment cards are eligible to enroll and earn Cash Back. Offer not valid for gift card purchases. In-Store offers not valid for online purchases and may not be combined with other Ebates rewards. US stores only. Offer not valid at locations in US territories. Offer may be displayed on multiple websites but is redeemable only once per qualifying transaction. If you link to the same offer on more than one site, your qualifying transaction will only be eligible for rewards or benefits associated with the offer through the most recently linked site. A linked offer is good for 24 hours after initial redemption. After such time the offer must be re-linked prior to your next purchase. A linked offer that has not been redeemed will automatically expire 45 days after it is linked or on the date the offer itself ends, whichever is sooner. Cash Back earned will be paid with your next eligible Ebates Big Fat Check!

I bought a single $350 gift card in the Men’s department at Chicago’s Saks Fifth Ave split over 7 AMEx Platinum Cards. I was met with a little hesitation as one of the managers said you could only do 4 cards per any transaction. I had the another salesman in his $20,000 Kiton Custom suit do 5 cards and kept on encouraging him to do all 7 towards a single gift card. No problem at all, I signed 7 slips for 7 cards at $50 a card. and walked out with a single $350 gift card and 7 of these emails:

ArmyGrunt07 says:

Last year on Black Friday the E-bates cashback return was 15% for online purchases from Sak’s. I used my gift cards for the majority of a $500 purchase and received the E-bates return on the entire purchase amount, regardless of the use of gift cards. I’ll be saving mine and hoping they offer a similar bonus this November.

Currently Ebates is offering 4% in person, and 10% online at Off 5th and Saks 5th:

You just need to sign up for Ebates (please use my link), then add the Saks offer to each card here, and then add your AmEx Platinum cards to Ebates to use in store. Then add the AmEx cards and buy gift cards in person at Saks for 4%. Then use Ebates again for 10% online at Off 5th using the gift cards:

Data points have shown that you can split a $300 gift card over 6 AmEx personal platinum cards at the Saks store (not off 5th). Reader Dave on 26 Dec 2018 says:

The Vegas Saks was more than helpful and happy to split a $300 gift card across 6 plats at the general office. All 6 reimbursed today.

Make note that you must go in person to only Saks Fifth Avenue as every datapoint shows that the online gift cards do not get reimbursed. Nor does buying anything at an Off 5th in person. Note that AmEx gets reports online on what exactly you buy online, spooky:

Here is the conversion, with a physical gift card in hand (bought at a real Saks Fifth Avenue only), you can then go back to Ebates and link to Off 5th and get 10% off even using gift cards from Saks 5th:

With my 14 AmEx Personal Platinums, I should get $56 on buying the gift cards, and then $140 to spend said gift cards on $1,400 worth of useless Bougie-Bitch shit! I got my eye on this Gucci watch (with $100 to spare):

Yes, you too can get paid $196 to be a marketer of a Veblen good. I got my multiple Platinums with the following cards, and with upgrading the gold and green after a year (please use the referral links to support the site). All cards have annual fees waived for AD via SCRA:

Damn I feel like a vapid millennial influencer now! Getting paid to wear free flashy shit. Happy New Year! (Note that Saks Fifth now offers 10% as well)


AmEx and The French Laundry Breakup

You know it used to be mad love 

I sent my most senior correspondent out to Napa to dine at the French Laundry this Christmas weekend only to find that there was no special amenity for her. I had booked months ago with the AmEx concierge, If you can recall, I was able to get free wine and a truffles when I went last year.

I reached out to the concierge and they had this to say:

– The French Laundry – 
Unfortunately we have recently ended our partnership with this restaurant, however that does not mean we can no longer assist with your dining requests. I would recommend for the best chance at success to place your request with us ahead of a given booking schedule, which is approximately on a quarterly basis. For example: January 1st,will release for March 1st through April 30th. In our typical experience, it takes about 10 minutes for a given period to fully sell-out once the books open, and prime-time weekends always go the fastest. We still to collect advance booking attempt requests from our valued Cardmembers, but please note that we are now limited only to the publicly available TOCKTIX page. Unfortunately we have no further provisional access to tables at this restaurant, and once the books have opened for a given date, we can only add our Cardmembers to the TOCKTIX wait-list, which will contact them directly with an offer if there were an opportunity. As a reminder, The French Laundry pre-charges all reservations at the time of booking, for the full menu price of $315 per person, and are all final sale and cannot be refunded, which do make cancellation opportunities rare. 

Oh well, I got my eye set on Atelier Crenn anyways, which just received a third Michelin Star. They are also located in the Bay Area. The AmEx concierge had this to say:

We do have an established partnership with chef Dominique Crenn and her fabulous restaurants, and we are more than happy to leverage this to our advantage for you, however there are limitations to this as well. Atelier Crenn opens their books to reservations on the first date of the month, 2 months prior (for example, all dates in March of 2019 will become available on January 1). Atelier Crenn is also booking on TOCKTIX, involving a pre-charge of the full menu price starting at $335 per person, and cannot be cancelled or refunded once booked. Once the books are open and a given date appears to be booked, we often have additional access for parties of 2 only, at the 8:00 PM time mark, although these are limited and not guaranteed. 

How times have changed! I always found the AmEx relationship with The French Laundry to be one of the most valuable Platinum membership perk. I am glad to see that they added Dominique Crenn to their Global Dining showcase! Is this a sign of appealing to a more contemporary crowd? Looking forward to checking out this relationship soon. Please use this link if you have not gotten your free for military AmEx Platinum.


Saks Fifth Avenue 2019 Strategy

The Saks 5th Ave credits on all of my personal platinum cards will reset on 01 January 2019. If we break it down by taxonomy we have the following eligible cards:

I squandered the first round of bonuses back in July of 2018 on multiple $50 gift wrapped gift boxed (for free) orders online, stacked with EBATES, and shipped for free via shop runner. Now that I have a proven datapoint $50 gift cards work in person , as well as another from my O-6 friend in Hawaii who got a $200 gift card split over 4 Plat cards still resulting in reimbursement.

I am planning on buying $50 physical gift cards over 13 visits between Jan to June and then 14 July to Dec. Then over all of 2019 I should have 27 little gift boxes with 27 little Saks 5th bags all worth $1,350:

Now I have been given direction on the online chat that you can use infinite gift cards in person to spend on a single transaction. You are also able to use up to 9 gift cards online. Better yet you can combine gift cards in store to spend online! The best part of the physical gift card strategy is the ability to use the cards at OFF 5th, both in person and online. Your dollar would go much further there.

When my friend bought the $200 over 4 cards he got some pushback. He was able to eventually get someone that would do it, I say it’s not worth the hassle since you can combine and redeem gift cards later. For those that don’t find themselves by a Saks and like to push the envelope, you can attempt to buy a $400 gift card split over 8 cards. Move to another register and repeat till you have exhausted all your cards. Then combine them into a single massive gift card!

I hate to draw that much attention to myself and rather get 27 gift cards over 365 days! Plus imagine misplacing a $1,350 gift card. That would hurt!


One Last Churn for 2018

Well, it was too tempting to pass up on the possibility of $200 a year of Dell Credit for each AmEx Biz Plat so I went ahead and got another AmEx Gold Business with full intention to upgrade to another Plat by February 2019.

I had a Biz Gold back in my Okinawa days of 2015, but for another company. That card has since been upgraded to another Biz Platinum. I was given the offer to order to earn 50,000 MR points with $5k spend in 3 months and no-pop up indicating that I would not be eligible for the offer because I had the product before. I hope this works out since there have been some reports of bonus denials even with the lack of pop up.

I also double dipped the churn by having my wife send me her Schwab AmEx Platinum referral link to earn $100 on the successful application. From this link I was able to choose any card from AmEx that is currently offering a bonus. This has been pretty lucrative for the year:

These referrals from the Ameriprise Gold and Plat as well as Schwab Platinum have changed the name of the referral game. Each card can earn up to $550 a year for 6 referrals at $100 each. Chase should take notice, because this is what will get the most reach out there!

Overall I went for another business card because in 6 months my wife will be off her 24 month credit card fast to start hitting chase hard again. AmEx Business Cards do not show on any credit report and therefore are under the radar of Chase!

I don’t think I can hit the $5k spend in the one week left of the year once I get the card in the mail. If I had done this right, I could have hit the $200 airline credit twice in two months if I could upgrade to another biz plat before end of December!

Please use this link here if you want to get an AmEx Biz Gold card.


Use Your CC Bonuses Before The End Of The Year

Gentle reminder that these bonuses reset every calendar year, so it’s best use them in the upcoming weeks before the year is over:

  1. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card:
    1. $75 annual credit on Southwest flights
  2. Ritz-Carlton Credit Card: 
    1. $300 on Airline fees (good for $100 AA Gift Cards (YMMV))
  3. AmEx Personal Platinum: (My Link Here)
    1. Uber @ $15 a month with an extra $20 in December (Use on Uber Eats @ end of month
    2. $200 annually on Airlines:
      1. American Airlines (single $200 gift card) or
      2. Delta Airlines (4x $50 cards online at delta.com only) or
      3. Southwest Airlines gift card (single $200 gift card)
    3. $50 on Saks 5th Ave gift cards bought in person only (2X: $50 Jan to June, then $50 July to Aug)
  4. AmEx Business Platinum: (My Link Here)
    1. $200 annually on Airlines:
      1. American Airlines (single $200 gift card) or
      2. Delta Airlines (4x $50 cards online on delta.com only) or
      3. Southwest Airlines gift card (single $200 gift card)
    2. 10 GoGo in flight WiFi passes
    3. $200 for Dell computer (Starts Feb 2019)
  5. AmEx (Rose) Gold (Referral Link Here)
    1. $100 airline credit to be spent like AmEx Platinum credit (AA, Delta, Southwest Gift Cards)
    2. $120 for dining ($10 a month) (GrubHub, CheeseCake Factory, and more)
  6. Hilton Aspire Card: (Referral Link Here)
    1. $250 on American Airlines, Delta Airlines, or Southwest Airlines gift cards (Delta: 5x $50, AA and SW: Single $250)

This is an incomplete list, please post below if I forgot something. If you got the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card , please share your link. I did not include stuff that expires on the anniversary year of card membership (eg: $300 travel on CSR).