The MPX Loophole: Everything is coded as travel for AmEx

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The Mileage Plus Explorer App is more relevant than ever now that AmEx Platnum give out 5x MR points on airlines. Many have reported on reddit regarding getting 5x Membership Reward points for everything from Panera Bread to shoes at Nordstrom Rack.

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If you haven’t figured out the fine art of credit card merchant coding then you haven’t embraced the full world of churning. For example the Chase Ink card gives out 5x points for office supply stores like OfficeMax or Staples. Why not go to Staples, buy Amazon gift cards with Ink, and then use the gift card to buy toilet paper? The transaction is made at Staples, gets coded as office supply, and then you use the gift card at Amazon. The same thing can be done with MPX linked to AmEx Platinum, (but does not work for you CSR jerks). You can use your AmEx with MPX to fulfill the annual travel credit reimbursement of $200. I have no personal Data points myself if it works, however people here (amex) reported it working, so YMMV. I used the Gold MasterCard from barclaus and it was not coded as an airline. So I know for sure that this trick does not work for the Luxury Card for its $200 a year travel reinbursement, nor does the gift registry trick.

The MPX app its quite easy to use:

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Step 1: Consume, I found a nice pair of Italian loafers at Nordstrom Rack. Just open the app and find the deal for the store, in this case 2 United Miles per $1 plus 25% bonus.

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Step 2: When you go check out the cashier will give you the total. Enter this total and pick the credit card you want to use.

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Step 3: The app will create a gift card the exact amount of the total. The cashier will scan this barcode and the MPX app will charge on the selected card. You then mark as redeemed to keep track of the cards used.

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Step 4: Enjoy the loafers and the points. If you put it on you AmEx Platinum then you get 5x points on top of your United Miles from MPX. If you also selected United as your airline for the year then you will get the Statement credit for the charge resulting in free loafers.

Again another benefit of the AmEx Platinum over the CSR. Looks like they will keep this loophole open since everyone wins, The retailer gets business, United gets money to feature the merchant, and AmEx remains relivant in this crazy mixed up world of banks trying to kill each other. Good luck out there.

-Derp

 

Update: The charge as of November 9, 2016 shows up coded as an airline for Amazon on MPX for AmEx Platinum!

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Hyatt Gold Passport now “World of Hyatt”

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Ummm.. im a World of Hyatt Globalist?

If you can be a Platinum member of a Gold Passport which is just confusing as all hell, then no worries, now you have a whole other loyalty program known as World of Hyatt, which is confusingly summed up in the peppy video. Now the tiers will be Discoverist, Explorist, and Globalist instead of the passé references to precious metals and gems like those other uncool, not hip with millennials like MarriottSPG and ConradHiltonWaldorfAstoria.

Pretty much this dude here summed up the new program. They are trying to shoe in a mid high level catagory that is some awful hybrid of diamond and gold, should of called it cubic zircronia or some crap like that.

What this means for me is I am going to really consider dropping my Chase Hyatt card which gave me 2 free nights at Bill Murray’s favorite Hotel outside of Chicago (valued at $850 a night). Unfortunately after March they won’t give me a mid-tier status, but only the lowly Discoverest level. I hope they match my Diamond status with Hilton with the new program, otherwise it’s not worth the annual fee even with the free night.

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The only benefit from the lowest tier is faster internet and a freeking bottle of water. No mention if there will be a change in the value of points used for booking a room. For shame Hyatt, this is another reason to get out of the points games, as Hyatt was always a good go to in terms of using up UR points. Gone are good redemption programs like Amtrak which would book you a nice train suite in the same time zone for cheap.

For you Chase Sapphire Reserve jerks out there, hope you get you points soon before the massive inevitable Hyatt devaluations sure to come with any program revamp.

-Derp

70,000 Miles, 10k MQM on Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

I just got 70k miles and 10k MQM on Delta using this link! Delta is being awesome now with their very generous lounge access for AmEx Platinum Card Members. Arriving from my flight back to Chicago I decided to duck into the lounge in Terminal 2 before picking up my luggage. First off they did they have amazing 3 ply quilted northern toilet paper and (MALIN+GOETZ) soap in a private, nicely appointed bathroom. Second I got my Sunday brunch of Mimosas, Bloody Marys and bagels and cereal for free. When I got my luggage, they had it behind a velvet rope with blue carpet awaiting me as a Sky Priority Member, didn’t even have to wait with the normies! No joke, it was amazing not to wait for the luggage at the conveyer like a sucker. Unfortunately the Sky Priority goes away next month because it was only a 3 month match to United Gold, so back to the normal world for us, since we didn’t fly 12,500 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 15 Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) on flights operated by Delta or Delta Connection®.

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The Delta 70k deal was not offered to me when I logged in and tried to apply for the card. In fact AmEx canceled my application in August, because I already have the Gold and Reserve versions of the card. This happened work out well for us because at the time they said that I could not have the Platinum and Reserve Delta cards at the same time. Plus the offer was only 50k at the time.

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My wonderful and understanding churning spouse applied for the Platinum Sky Miles card herself today and added me as an AU. It worked, but we had to be incognito mode to get the 70k sky miles and 10k MQMs. You can simply click on the link here to get the same offer. According to reddit this is the largest offering of points in a the history of Delta AmEx cards. Also it appears to expire in November of 2017.

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I know this goes completely against my idea of switching to cash back, but I am trying to spend the points before I even earn them this time. I already have the points slated for a family trip out to Sal Tlay Ka Siti, and better yet you can spend the rest of the points on wine at the lounge!

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Amazing redemption of 2 cents per mile at the bar! Compared to the tickets we are looking at 73,500 points for $814 per ticket for 1.1 cents per mile.

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This will allow me also to spend the rest of my Delta Sky Pesos and hopefully some UR on hotels.

-Derp

Sour Grapes 2.0: Why Amex+SCRA+Delta is better than Chase any day!

I am flying free today and writing this post at 30,000 feet in an aging Delta Boeing 717 thanks to my loyalty to American Express.

49878087316__e0bef3f8-0ce7-4894-b0cb-702dc448d677The idea of un-sustainability came up on Reddit regarding the permanence of benefits from the CSR. I have had my AmEx Platinum for three years now and my Blue Cash for a whopping 10 years. As you know from previous posts, that I was denied the CSR, so consider this a admittedly another sour grapes rant of how Chase Sapphire Reserve is not a good card for those who have SCRA benefits with AmEx already.

Everything from the lounge access, to the flight, to the WiFi are free all thanks to the extended SCRA benefits that AmEx extends to Active Duty Military members. For those lucky to get the CSR, good for you, but will you still be paying the hefty annual fee in two years? I bet its going to be down graded to a freedom before the second year hits. Also good luck finding a Priority Pass lounge in the Domestic Side of any American airport. The only one of note is the Air Canada lounge at LGA. There are tons of lounges in Asia, but in America you have Delta, AA, United, and Centurion lounges. These lounges are inaccessible to CSR jerks with your non digital Priority Pass Select. Again, my motivation for lounge access is not one of prestige, but rather being too cheap to pay $4 for coffee.

After you spend your 100k UR points in a year, will the points be so devalued that they feel like Hilton HHonors points? Chase like Citi has the policy of only waiving fees of cards you had before joining. Where AmEx and Barclays understand that members of the military actually are good customers, always pay their bills, constantly employed and paid, and will blab about their products to everyone. So why not waive their fees? They make there money on the retailer processing side anyways (at a hefty 10%). Effectively AmEx Platinum is standard issue for every Officer and NCO I have encountered, the fee waiver results in cheap advertising to a population that is very insular.

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10% Cash Back on Amazon with BCP

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In an effort to remain relevant, AmEx is now offering up to $350 Back in the form of $150 BACK after spending $1,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. PLUS, when you apply by 02/01/17 you can earn 10% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200. Use this link here to sign up.

I use this card mainly for the 6% Cash Back at the commissary, the 3% cash back for Gas has been usurped by my Costco card. Now I am actualy going ot have my wife sign up for the $200 cashback in the form of 10% amazon. Again the $95 annual fee is waived for active duty!

Getting ready for Christmas!

-Derp

 

ChityBank Costco card: No AUs without membership

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Everything that Citi touches turns to Chit. You may all well know that AmEx and Costco broke up after 16 years of marriage and they decided to pair up with a complete deadbeat of a partner, Citibank. Now my distain for Citibank began with my attempt to open a Citigold account which was wrought with server crashes, then they promptly pulled credit card funding. The second straw was a denial of a $400 bonus due to being a authorized signer on an account from a long time ago. This was all notified to me after of course my $15,000 checks cleared into the new account.

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$400 to tolerate the ChittyBank experience

Today is what did me in, not even a potential $500 bonus of opening a new checking account ($400 for the account and $100 referral) would ever get me back into a branch. I was told that adding an Authorized user to my Costco account would be no problem at the time of writing that $15,000 check for the checking account. After waiting two weeks for my card to arrive, I called in and they told me that AUs would also need to be members of Costco. I had intended this card to replace my CSP for 3% back on dining and 4% on gas, but now I would have to add members to Costco for everyone to have a card. This would not be worth the additional $55 for two more cards. This is totally bogus, I consider the omission of detail as a form of deception, but these assholes use it as their primary way of marketing.

So $15k locked up in a checking account that has an early termination fee, and countless hours wasted on the phone have made me reconsider this whole checking churning thing. There is a reason they offer $400, because that is the market price to put up with this Chitty service. Citibank should have a new program of “no thank you” points earned by avoiding this place and its services. I would be racking them up left and right!

Good luck out there!

-Derp

 

Fly ORD to STL on a Cessna Caravan For Free

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There is a very controversial subsidy program provided by the Department of Transportation called Essential Air Service where airports in small communities have guaranteed air service to major hub airports. These flights are very unprofitable and seldom traveled, but the promise to these small towns to build an airport came with the big fat yearly check of $200 a passenger ticket to keep these routes open. A list of these airports can be found here on wikipedia, notice how they are mostly in Alaska, but look how there is one in Decatur, Illinois!

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Pure Uncut Lysine

If you have ever seen the movie “The Informant” or listened to the TAL podcast on the same story you will know the town of Decatur, Illinois. This small town is both the home of Millikin University, and HQ to ADM, “The Super Market to the World”. AMD got messed up with Ajinomoto and fixed the price of Lysine in a super evil plot for world food additive domination. The plot was busted open by the Matt Damon character, and order was restored in the world.

get in on these sweet subsidies, before they’re gone!

The AMD thing may be unrelated, but imagine you are a hot shot executive you would need to drive 60 mins west to Springfield or 59 mins East to Champaign Urbana for a very well established route on United to STL or ORD. Since you own the world with your lysine money, you could fly out of Decatur direct to both STL or ORD. I guess they some some how convinced the DOT to have this sweet direct route to ORD and STL despite two perfectly good airports to the east and west of the town.

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A company called Air Choice One has won this contract worth $2,667,922. This is not a new company, nor is it the first time I flew with them. There are some pretty good trip reviews on the experience here so I won’t go on posting too many photos, but I must confirm that the morning flight usually empty with me being the only passenger. The especially comes in handy of you have to use the chemical toilet located in the back seat.

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not bad for a Y fare seat

The one way flight from STL to ORD with a 20 min stopover in DEC cost me $108 (with an estimated $400 DOT subsidy). When charged on my MasterCard Gold Luxury Card it was instantly taken from my $200 a year credit. For those assholes out there that got the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it would be taken out of your $300 travel credit. You only have 3 more months to spend it, so why not on this heavy subsidized route. I would probably do an overnight in Champaign Urbana next time, check out my old stomping grounds. Get on that reimbursable travel spend, the year is over!

The benefits are a bit mixed here for AD. I asked at check in about getting TSA PreCheck, of which she had a hardy laugh. I guess they don’t so it was the basic bitch line for me, shoes off, laptops out like some sort of non status animal. However on the flip side Military get a free checked bag! I also got into the American Airlines lounge. They did request my orders this time, and I also had to show I was connecting from the AA flight that brought me here in the first place. So YMMV for sure, I figure if you are pleasant and don’t dress like a dirt bag, you can get in for free!

-Derp

 

 

AmEx to Avios for American

Many good things to report today on the status of Military Members and American Airlines. As you know American Airlines merged with US Airways which brought AA out of bankruptcy. If you were holding on to AMR then congrats you have 0.0665 shares of the new company, ticker symbol, AAL. Anyways never invest in an airline company, because you have jerks like me that fly for free, and you will never make money.

First off American Airlines doesn’t suck any more. Specifically they give a shit, especially about the appearance  of their facilities. The lounges are nice, the furniture is new, even the check in counters are shiny and worthy of display in an Apple Store. However for the Military Member I have discovered many benefits unique to us just by using you CAC for lounge access as well as TSA pre-check on award tickets.

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free old style (in glass bottles) in the lounge!

I booked a flight from ORD to STL using 7,500 Avios Miles that were moved from 6,250 MR points during their special offer. This ticket is usually $216 in peak season yielding a whopping 3.4 cents per MR point! Not as good as on JAL for HND to SGN, but still very good.

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That’s not all that kicks ass, for domestic short haul flight there is no fuel surcharge, you get priority boarding with Avios, but I noticed that I didn’t get TSA precheck no matter how many times I put in my DOD ID as my Known Traveler ID number. No worries, a quick stop at the priority desk with my CAC got me the pre check! They said that 100% of DOD IDs get pre check where TSA Precheck and Global Entry has a 80% success rate! I guess the special trust and confidence in my commission from the American Government means something, even to the TSA. I lerened today to always use your DOD ID as the Know Traveler ID number, even if you have global entry!

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The biggest score today is I walked nervously into the lounge with just ticket and CAC in hand, and surprisingly I was let in without showing any orders or leave paper work. Quite a change from the old company that said I needed to specifically be an Afghanistan veteran to get in. They are a huge sponsor of the USO, so kudos to American Airlines for not redirecting me to the USO, which is too dry for my taste. This CAC lounge access is a very similar experience I had at LAX and SAN, so its not a fluke!

I am planning on using all my 200k Avios for flying short haul in the USA. Here are some destinations according to flights.google.com:

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Notably Traverse City Michigan which is the premier destination for Tim Allen’s ‘Home Improvement’ fans.

American Airlines may be my new favorite use of my miles and time. Seriously good redemption for short haul flights. Even if they are 7,500 instead of 4,500 last year. Remember the Zimbabwe dollar. You need to spend all this points before they devalue the Avios further. Dump your points like if they were any other unstable currency, its all going to be worthless soon.

-Derp

 

United Stop Overs are gone!!!!

I’m here with the family frantically booking United flights before the new rules go into effect at midnight. This means no more stopping at other destinations for free on your way to another location for free. Effectively making trips cost more points. Another reason I am switching to all cashback soon. These points might as well be Deutsche Marks with the way redemption changes are going.

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Tier One Churner


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AmEx just applied for the trademark “Tier One” so that is pretty good news for a new card to appeal to those left on the sidelines due to Chase being strict to 5/24. Lots of buzz about it on reddit r/churning and also here, apparently all leaked by a drunk AmEx employee in Manhattan. I’m going out in the field with beer in hand by 200 Vesey Street New York, NY 10285 for the details regarding the big reveal on Oct 5!

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Is this the new Tier One card?

Edit on Oct 5: Turns out the new deal is 5x points on airfare with AmEx Platinum, a bit disappointing, but certainly an upgrade from their single category of 2x point on booking trips with AmEx travel services. I hope there is more, On Reddit someone wrote a script to find some photos of cards the site uses. I noticed a blue cash card that has a green square in the middle, hope that is some sort of new card coming. I’m just surprised there would be such an anemic response to the ever growing CSR hype.

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If there is a card I would go for it would indeed be one that would give cash back for travel, lets say 4% for Hotels, Airfare, Taxis, parking much like CSR. Would would be nice would be some cashback on Amazon. Since I am transitioning to cashback, I went ahead and got the Costco Anywhere Visa Citibank card for:

  • 4% cash back on eligible gas worldwide, including gas at Costco, for the first $7,000 per year in gas purchases and then 1% thereafter.
  • 3% cash back on restaurant (including cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants) and eligible travel purchases worldwide, including airfare, hotels, car rentals, travel agencies, cruise lines and Costco Travel.
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases, including the non-qualifying purchases listed above.

The 4% on gas will be replacing my Blue Cash Preferred since I only get 3% with that card. The 6% on groceries using the Blue Cash will now be its only use. My non-category spend will be the flat 2% from Gold Luxury Card.

What we all can learn is never trust a drunk girl in NYC, she might not have the inside scoop. I am intrigued by the Tier One Green Cash Rewards card that I entirely made up just now using a bunch of random rumors.

-Derp