How to Spend Amex Points in Okinawa

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I had my 4th AD referral for the year this weekend for AmEx Platinum. This means 7,500 points for me and 40,000 points for them (after $3k spend). For those who use my links, thank you!, and for those who don’t but got the idea from me or my blog, you are robbing me (or any AmEx member really) of points, and should feel really ashamed that you just threw out $75 (at least) to whomever could of sent you a referral.

So if you get the inkling to go platinum, hit me up, I’ll buy you dinner! The reason for the generosity is because AmEx points are valuable to get off Okitraz for nearly free! The trick is to use British Airways Avios Miles to book on Japan airlines.

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$10 Credit from AmEx


Looks like AmEx is trying to compete with google wallet for securing online transactions. Now when you go to:,,,,,,,,,, or,

you can check out by logging into your amex account and selecting what card you want to use. They are having a promotion now till 9/7/15 where you will get $10 per site per AmEx log in. For example My brother, wife, mother and I all have separate login accounts for the same account, each will earn $10 per vender, per log in, and you don’t even have to spend $10.

The only site that has free shipping as well as things below $10 is Newegg. I ended up buying a toy and then pay on AMEX checkout for $3.49. A few days later they will give me a statement credit of $10 effectively paying me $6.51 to buy this toy.

I did this with my wife’s login, and I did it before with my login and got myself a cat5 cable. This is what showed up on my statement a week later:

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So Amex paid me $3 to get a Cat5 cable. Please comment on what stuff you got for free using this method.


Churn and Burn


So the past year has been all about accumulation of points. Now its time to use them up! I’m traveling with the family and this is what I have booked so far:

Hotel Location Points Cash Equivilent Point Value Source
Sheridan HK 36,000 $941.76 $0.0262 SPG
Grand Hyatt Taiwan 42,000 $762.00 $0.0181 Ultimate Rewards
Hyatt Reg HK 30,000 $616.00 $0.0205 Ultimate Rewards

You can already see that the use of Ultimate Reward points yields almost twice the value as if I had simply used points for cash back. However the use of SPG points is worse if I had transferred 1000 AmEx Member points for 333 SPG points. Whats nice with SPG is you can book now and convert to points later. I plan on using the SPG AmEx card to get the initial offer and earn on referral for the points. Not sure what to do with AmEx points now.


USAA AmEx Card Vs. Blue Cash Preferred


I have been getting a lot of questions about the new advertising campaign for the USAA AmEx Card so I thought I would put together a quick compare with the other AmEx cash back products I use:

Blue Cash Pref USAA EveryDay Pref
Groceries 6% 5%Commisary, 2% off base 4.5 pts
Gas 3% 5% 3 pts
Base Exch 1% 5% 1 pts
Yr Limit $6,000 $3,000 $6,000
Annual Fee $95 waived for mil Free $95 waived for mil

The email says this:

usaa terms

Well this is tough, I think if you shop a lot on base you get more out of the USAA, but if you spend more than $3,000 a year then the Amex Blue Cash Preferred will give you more cash back up to $6k.

However I personally value points more than cash back, so I put up the Everyday Preferred points assuming you meet the 30 transactions per week. Assuming you are getting 2 cents per point you could potentially get 9% on groceries and 6% on gas in the form of hotel stays or airplane tickets with the Everyday Preferred.

Hope that clarifies your options.


SPG will waive Foreign Transaction Fee Starting Aug 11, 2015



What kept me from getting the SPG card is the 2.7% foreign transaction fee. I just got off the phone with amex and the confirmed that starting Aug 11, 2015 they will waive such foreign transaction fees. Include free Boingo preferred wireless (already had with Amex Pt) and SPG wireless in room access (already get for Gold Status from Amex Platinum). The annual fee goes from $65 to $95 (but who cares since amex waives AF for military).

Oh also AMEX has a nice link for the military on the bottom of their new site:

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Typhoons and Star Alliance Silver

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I must being doing something right because an O-6 select reader of the derpreport called me and asked for travel advice (I’m a lowly O-3). This senior officer has met all the requirements for United Silver Premier Status. He has flown the 25,000 PQM needed for silver , he lives overseas so his PQD is waived, but he is short 2 United segments out of the four. He doesn’t have any more trips on United for the year.

So what are his options?

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Lounge Access with United Gold Without Flying United




Kobe lounge is not yours, don’t be fooled by the AmEx Logo, its for Domestic Japanese AmEx cardholders.

First off, you can only get into the Naha or Tokyo ANA lounge with Star Alliance Gold. Your orders or Military ID will be met with some befuddled looks. Additionally the Japanese domestic lounges that take AMEX Platinum (Hana Lounge in Naha) are only for Japanese Platinum Card Holders with an annual 130,000 yen ($1000) membership. Also I have had no luck getting into a United lounge outside of the USA using orders and a military ID alone. However if you get United Gold Premier Status you can get Star Alliance Gold and therefore entry into the ANA lounges and EVA lounges and any Star Alliance member lounges while traveling internationally.



Biggest gripe this year for United Mileage Plus is the spending requirement for premier status (PQD:Premier Qualifying Dollars). You must spend $3000 on United to get Silver Primer Status even if you have the miles (PQM) and segments (PQS). Additionally United needs you to fly 4 segments on United Metal. So even if you have the miles, dollars or segments you wont get status unless you fly four United segments. The only non-USA routes that are United in this part of the world are from Tokyo to Guam, Singapore, and Seoul. However Today I found the loophole that will give you United Primer Status flying ANA or EVA or any other Star Alliance Partner alone!

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