AmEx Charge Card Limit Reached?

Here is my collection of AmEx Charge cards:

  1. Personal Platinum
  2. Business Platinum
  3. Another Business Platinum
  4. Premier Rewards Gold
  5. Charles Schwab Platinum
  6. Morgan Stanley Platinum
  7. Mercedes-Benz Platinum

Since I have been doing the AU Churn I haven’t had a hard pull on my credit for the entire month of August! Why the hell not try to go for my 8th AmEx charge card as my August hard pull? I decided to apply for the Ameriprise AmEx Platnum just to get another $200 on Uber and another $200 on United Airlines every year. This would give me a total for $1,000 in Uber and $1,500 on United per year! There are good datapoints out there that a relationship with Ameriprise is not needed to get the card note the 25k offer is over).

Sadly, I applied here and got the above response. Not sure if I found the limit for charge cards is 7 or if they enforce the relationship with Ameriprise clause now (thinking about getting CostCo auto insurance form Ameriprise of that’s the case). I will check here or call the AmEx reconsideration backdoor number: 877-399-3083 to see if it ever gets approved.

Update: Success!

I called the recon line and they said to just wait 48 hours. I was approved without any relation to Ameriprise!

-Derp

 

AAdvantage Platinum status for 3 months

I did the AA status challenge for a taste of Platinum status for 3 months (17 Sept to 17 Dec). After that I go back to normie status as I don’t think I can achieve the objectives without great distress to my poor wife and kids. To retain status for all of 2018 I need to:

Earn $2,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) AND 12,500 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or 16 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) by traveling on American Airlines or other select airlines during the challenge period.

I can do one of these challenges every 5 years, in hindsight I should of waited for a 3 month period where I would have a lot of TAD snd vacation days. However I do have 3 AA flights in this period and wanted to see what their version of elite status was like. I would like to credit FoundersCard for arranging this little venture, and we can add it to value to its staggering $295+ annual fee. As with all things on this site, please use this link to toss some FC points my way if you think its a worthwhile venture for you. Right now they are doing $395 a year but you get a $100 gift card using code 100AMEX1YR. Just mention I sent you so I get my cut.

So what exactly is Platinum status on AA? Well it can be summed up here, basically it is like United Gold, giving you better chances for upgrades. You also get upgraded to a higher class of travel for flights less than 500 miles, which is not a lot of places I want to go to:

Since my active duty status already gives me free lounge access at the Admirals Club and free checked luggage, there really is no value add to having AA Platinum for military Members.  I guess if you have these type of showdowns ever once in awhile, it can be like winning the coin challenge on who buys the next round. Overall pointless and rare to occur.

However, if you are hell bent on getting status I say you buddy up with another person doing the challenge and take advantage of the $100 travel credit on the Ritz Carlton Chase card. For example flight to ORD to LAS are going for $158.80 for 2 RT tickets. We are looking at less than $40 a segment!

Just do this 8 times and you got the 16 segments, I believe you will get the full $94 as the EQD which is only $752 so not sure how you would come up with the needed $2,000 EQD to get status. We also have the option to use American Express miles at 2.2 cents via the Business 50% back combo conjugated with 5x points. Remember any Business or First Class is eligible for the 50% rebate as long as you are grandfathered in. You can book a single $2,000 first class ticket for 200,000 MR points and wait the 45 days to get 110,000 points back. This would clear you for the EQD but not the segments or miles.

So you milage may vary, for those active duty with two kids then not possible to fly or spend the needed flights in 3 months without some resistance. For those DINK HENRYs out there you might just make it. Overall I find the Platinum AA status to be an awesome thing to have, but not if I have to put any work into it at all, since you get the highest free status with AA which is American Active Duty status (AADvantage LT status) worth the free lounge and luggage for every AA flight!

-Derp

AmEx AU Points Building

I was ineligible for the 75k offer from AmEx Biz Gold. I was feeling a bit bummed, but right now AmEx has the following offers for adding an AU to your account. Each offer is targeted, and requires the AU to spend $500 for Plat, or $1,000 (SPG and Hilton) in 90 days:

I went ahead and signed up for Plastiq (Use this link here or my code 674873) and just used my AU’s CC numbers to do my normal spend and pay for my regular mortgage, lawn care, child care bills. Using the link makes $500 fee free for such payments. This internal referrals have kept me from getting any new cards outside of AmEx. Which is a brilliant way to make AmEx’s new account numbers look good without really trying.

-Derp

Marines’ Memorial Reciprocal Membership Clubs Part 2

This is a continuation of my report on visits to the clubs around the world included in my free membership at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco. Part one can be found here.

The Standard Club of Chicago (Aug 2017)

The Standard Club of Chicago is perhaps  one of the most friendly and inviting of all the clubs I have gone to. When you check in, just show your letter of introduction and Marine Memorial Card, you are then issued a temporary guest number that you link to any credit card. The temporary membership is open for a week with limitless renewal. I was able to join my O-4 friend for an actual non-liquid lunch in the main dining room.

The space is magnificent with just that overwhelming level of class you could only expect in a private club. Despite the grandeur, everyone was down to earth and vey personable. I was given the lady’s menu with no prices, where my guest was given the menu with prices, I guess the waiter assumed that he was the member.

They have a $20 lunch buffet, but I decided on the Broiled Lake Superior Whitefish ($19) which has been on the menu for over 100 years according to our waiter.

The fish came out without any delay, and was perfect, perfect temperature with an excellent crust. The creamed corn was nice hand hand cut, never had creamed corn not from a can. Just some of the best fish I have had in a while. The dessert was over the top as well:

Pretty much went overboard on food, I didn’t have to eat for the rest of the day. The rest of the club is a visual treat as well.

Certainly worth a visit for dinner before or after a show in the area.

The Union League Club of Chicago (Aug 2017)

I sent my Letter of Introduction a week before my visit and they already had my card waiting for me at the front desk. The reciprocal membership is limited to 4 one week visits per year, with a year defined as 12 months from the first visit. The Union League Club sits next to the historic Monadnock Building which is the tallest load bearing brick building in the world.

The day I stopped in they were filming an episode of Empire and the entire second floor was closed for filming. However I was able to sneak up there to see their Monet painting. The club has one of the largest private collection of art in the city. It was nice to check it out. They have a pretty amazing YouTube video on their collection.

I ended up doing a liquid lunch in their casual dining room called Rendezvous:

No cash exchanged, just sign and they charge the card on file. The main dining room was very impressive but I was a bit intimidated to dine there:

Maybe if I had a tuxedo on! The other floors were vey nicely appointed:

I wish I had more time to check it out. Overall it was a very impressive space, with a very friendly staff. Worth a visit just for the artwork alone.

More to come…

Avios Setback

Well, we broke Air Berlin and their very profitable use of Avios Points for ORD to Berlin. Looks like the Air Berlin Top Bonus system is now defunct. My plans to book a business class ticket to Berlin for 50k Avios is now just a big regret. This should be a lesson learned to jump on these deals when the come around, because they don’t last too long. Fortunately I did not transfer any more MR to Avios during their 40% bonus time.

Hopefully they get a buyer soon, and who know, maybe even better use of Avios? We can only hope!

-Derp

Trip Report: Houston On Points

Summertime is almost over, so we might as well spend some points before the 50% point bonus on my AmEx Biz Platinum is rolled back in December. It is worth noting that I am still waiting for the points to come back on this particular booking, now it has far exceeded 31 days for any points to come back. I asked AmEx yesterday and they gave me this standard blow off answer:

Yes, we are looking at 56 to 70 days to see our 50% points come back. Starting to not be worth it for the 2.2 points, and transfer partners to BA Avios seems more worth it each day. Despite this throttling down of points values, I decided to use AmEx points to send our most senior DerpReport correspondent to the Lone Star State. For the flight I booked United roundtrip because my usual go to using the Ritz Card for $100 credit requires you to book two tickets. Here I was able to use 30,640 MR points for a $306.40 ticket on United. Because I chose United as my bonus airline (same one as my $200 credit airline) I will eventually get 15,320 MR back as well as 5x points on the $306.40 charge for a grand total of 16,852 back for a sweet 13,788 MR for a $306.40 or 2.22222 cents per point!

Of course I am still waiting for my damn points! Now the hotel was another conundrum, I ended up choosing the Marriott Marquis Houston because I didn’t want her to rent a car or pay for parking, and the Viator tour for Galveston (use link for $10 credit) leaves from their lobby. I figured I would send her from the airport to the hotel on a shuttle which is about $50 each way (charged to the Chase Sapphire for 3x UR points).

Yes, the Texas shaped Lazy river is a feature of the newly renovated Marriott Marquis hotel. I decided to pay cash per night because for the senior (65+ and older) rate it was only $178 a night. If we look at the points needed for a category 7 hotel it would be 35,000 Marriott points or Chase UR points per night. This come out to about half a cent per point, not worth it. 

 

I put the booking on the Marriott Chase card for 5x points for future Ritz Carlton stays. A hotel like the Ritz Central Park which runs for $1,250 a night would only cost twice the points of this hotel, but it would be valued at seven times the nightly rate. Now let’s look at the sweet free schwag that comes with this particular trip. At IAH airport she has 3 lounges to check out, all in Terminal D which was walkable from Terminal C where the ORD flight arrived.

The first lounge is the AmEx Centurion Lounge reachable by elevator by gate D6. She got in showing her AmEx Platinum Card (She is my AU for this purpose alone). Surprisingly, my senior correspondent was not impressed, she was able to get a glass of Rosé wine but stated the food was limited when compared to SFO.

Moving along is the KLM lounge by gate D8 which was open to her due to her Priority Pass from the same AmEx Platinum:

Again she was not so impressed, but the bar was self service, so that is something to be said:

However the food was even more limited:

The final lounge is the Air France found by gate D12:

This had the most limited food:

However it did have bottled beer, so there you go! It also had some neat french biscuits:

Being a very thrifty Derp Report Correspondent she helped herself for the week (the website doesn’t pay very well):

The Marriott gave her an upgrade to the executive level due to her Gold Status from SPG Gold from her AmEx Platinum. This put her on an upper floor:

Along with the upgrade she gets free premium WiFi as well as M Club access:

That means free breakfast Monday to Friday (points instead of food for the weekend). Cash bar for cocktail hour, but Hors d’oeuvres from 1730 to 1930 and Dessert 1900 to 2200 Sunday to Thurs.

She enjoyed the lobster empanadas as well as various finger foods:

Finger foods: Little snacks mostly:

Nightly charcuterie:

Also cocktail hour has free non-alcoholic beverages:

Overall very impressed, but the best part was dessert!

Tons of food to eat!

Breakfast the next day was reported as impressive!

Overall the trip went well except for the looming Hurricane coming ashore any time now:

I hope I get my most senior correspondent back!

-Derp

Use RH Link For Free Stocks

There is a pretty interesting podcast on Robin Hood here. I am kind of impressed that despite all the rejection, they got a pretty successful product to market. Regardless of how you feel about RobinHood, it is here to stay!

Right now if you use the link here you can get a free stock for yourself and send one to me!

Thanks to all those readers out there for the free shares by using my RH link here. Each reader got one share themselves ranging from CHK to ZNGA, no BRK-A yet. The catch is you got to hold on to the free company share for at least 2 days before selling, then wait a month to cash out. From the terms and rules:

Shares from stock bonuses cannot be sold until 2 trading days after the bonus is granted. The cash value of the stock bonus may not be withdrawn for 30 days after the bonus is claimed.

Enjoy the free trading in the meantime!

Now I don’t recommend you put $50,000 into this app like an idiot, but it is still a good service to  buy and sell very small amounts of stock just to play around. Also don’t forget to check out Stock Stream for stupid YOLO plays.

-Derp

Marines’ Memorial Reciprocal Membership Clubs Part 1

Part 2 can be found here.

When I was on holiday in San Francisco I joined the Marines’ Memorial Club for free because I applied as active duty, and in person at the hotel. If you apply online membership for Active Duty is $30, but totally worth it for the reciprocal membership at clubs all over the world. I was given access to the website after 2 weeks, and a month later I got a physical membership card in the mail.

If you want some time away of the real world, you can take advantage of the many private reciprocal clubs around the world. I am stationed in Chicago, and we have quite a few within the city. You can log into the website and request the automated system to send an introduction letter to the club requested to visit. Some clubs are quick to respond to email to confirm receipt, some don’t get back to you at all. In the case of the latter, just call and most will acknowledge receipt over the phone.

Below is a quick review of each club I have gone to so far:

The Cliff Dwellers (Aug 2017)

Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Carl Sandburg, Roger Ebert all were members of this club, although not in its current location on the 22nd floor of the former Borg-Warner building. On arrival in the lobby you check in with the doorman and he directs you to the elevator that I presume is called for behind the desk.

The signage is pretty well hidden on the side of the single elevator in the back:

Once you get to the 22nd floor you get the feeling being in someone’s penthouse apartment with walls full of beautiful original art work.

The club is quite small with a dining room, sitting room and balcony (think United club Terminal 2 ORD sized). The bar is quite small with two bartenders working. Drinks run about $7-11 and are well made with a very knowledgeable staff. Although the club is sitting on top of a relatively short 22 floor building, its proximity to the park, and lack of tall neighbors, gives the balcony a wide sweeping landscape of the lake:

They allow smoking on the balcony which is unlike all other clubs I went to. That means cigars and scotch while looking at the lake! I went in jeans and a button down shirt and had no problems. Honestly they didn’t even check my membership so I guess we didn’t make a scene. I had sent my letter of introduction a day before, but the staff seemed to not even look for it. I grabbed a drink at the bar and enjoyed the view from the balcony. The most amusing thing is they had an individual stall for a urinal, how very classy:

We had to make it to a show at the Chicago theater and didn’t have a chance to try out Daniel Burnham‘s deep dish fruit pie featured on the menu. Maybe next time!

Sangamo Club of Springfield, IL (Aug 2017)

Down the street from the Illinois State Capitol Building is The Sangamo Club where apparently the Illinois lawmakers hang out, and have been doing for the last 125 years.

Now it’s most current location has been around since 1974, I had the fortunate opportunity to dine with a former state house floor page who was sent to the club in the 70s to fetch a $5 cigar ($25 in today’s money). He said he could not find the club at all as it is well hidden behind all of the other buildings. The lawmaker drew him a map and he got the cigars for the Representative to smoke in the house floor. What a time it was to be alive back then! The club at one point was men only hence the split level dining room for male members to dine below as their wives an girlfriends dinned above in the balcony.

This is no longer the case, but diners in the main dining room are expected to “Dress their finest” so I opted to dine in the grill room which offers a more casual experience (dress shirt and khakis). Food and drink is priced at about $15 an entree and $5 for a beer. The service is top notch, for example, when my napkin touched the ground by accident they replaced it immediately without being asked. The club doesn’t serve my favorite Springfield dishes like the horseshoe or cozy dog, but rather some pretty good seafood from Chef Joe Martin. I got a perfectly cooked striped sea bass and my Mother in Law got a perfectly seared huge diver scallops.

All in all some of the best food and service I have had in Springfield! I was hoping to bump into some Senators and try to buy some influence, but they were not in session. Maybe next time, but certainly an experience checking out this club.

University Club of Chicago (Aug 2017)

Just an amazing location at 76 East Monroe Street, you could say the club’s front yard is the billion dollar Millennium Park. When you walk in you are immediately met by the doorman who will direct you to the front desk. On registration just present your Marines’ Memorial Club Card, letter of introduction, credit card, and you will be given a temporary membership number good for two weeks. You are limited to three visits total per year (two weeks each) which resets every 01 January.

After checking in you are free to roam about the club as if you were a member. Try not to act and dress like a dirtbag, because you will feel pretty out of place. There is quite a bit to look at:

I started with the Library on the 8th floor. There is a very attentive librarian at your service, as well as a massive collection of books and free WiFi.

From the plush leather seats  you can get a good glimpse of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the Crown Fountain. You can also just sit and stare at the beautiful woodwork on the wall as well.

The grill room on the 7th floor was nice as well. Good views of the lake as well as the sunrise, free newspapers too!

I only had enough time to get breakfast before I had to go. I got a very Ketogenic bowl of berries with a side of sausage. There is no bill or tipping involved, but rather they write the order on a slip of paper and you sign it with your temporary membership number. The bill is settled at the end of your visit, there is an option to add the 10% tip at this time.

Unfortunately I had no time to check out the other 13 floors of activity. I wanted to check out the nap room in the basement since it seems unusual. The best part of the club is all the old man beauty products found on the first floor bathrooms:

Keep checking this site for more reviews of other clubs as it happens.

-Derp

Free Wyndham Night With a $67 Stay

I just got 17,500 Wyndham points which is beyond enough for a free night at any Wyndham (15,000 points a night anywhere) including The New Yorker at (some times) $584 a night! I am planning to use this along with the 45,000 points form the Wyndham Credit Card currently being offered for $2k spend. I followed the directions on frequent miler here with a DoD twist, currently the Super 8 is giving a 15% military discount!

I was able to book a room using MasterPass for 7,500 points along with the 10,000 point welcome back deal:

I combined this with my Wyndham Diamond Status match to my Total Rewards Diamond from my FoundersCard. This could be a possible suite upgrade or some snack at check in. I was planning a road trip and was able to get a nice place to sleep on the way for essentially $67. This free night just on points alone is icing on the cake:

If you are planning a road trip, try to plan out a stop along the way to score some cheap points. You don’t even have to stay the night, just check in and check out and collect the points after a nap and potty break!

-Derp

Fly or Drive?: Traverse City, Michigan

There is a sweet spot on whether to drive or fly somewhere and you can calculate it here. According to this site it would be absurd not to drive from ORD to TVC, but I consider 6 hours in a car with two kids intolerable, so let’s look at using Avios Via AmEx transfer with the 40% bonus:

For cash for a one way we are looking at $290 a segment!

$290-$5.60 fee, we end up spending 7,500 Avios for a $284.40 ticket at 3.7 cents per point. When we take in the account of the bonus time we are only using 5,357 MR points at 5.3 cents per point for a one way ticket! Now it’s not fair to calculate one way segments since there is often a premium on single leg journeys. so I plugged in for round trip and AA wants $404 for a round trip:

We then can see the return leg is 7,500 Avios as well as the $5.60 fee.

If we take in the account of a $404 ticket minus the $11.20 fee we get $392.80/15,000 = 2.6 cents per avios or 3.6 cents per MR point using the 40% bonus. This is very stellar redemption as it is only 2.2 cents when using the AmEx Business Card 50% bonus. To fly 3 adults, a child and infant it would cost me 42,857 MR points moved to 60,000 Avios. This my friend is worth not driving if you are sitting on a crap ton of points with no where to go. With flying you get lounge access, and get to just relax as 6 hours of driving are reduced to 35 mins of flight time. Again it is not worth the $1,616 to actually buy the tickets if you have a car and 6 hours to drive.

Since we are flying and not driving, we won’t have a car so we need to rent one. I went ahead and used my $325 a year benefit on My US Bank Altitude Card to rent from Hertz. I then used CDP code 211762 on my AmEx Platinum card to get 20% 0ff.

Whats funny is they didn’t force me to use my AmEx Plat card for the booking to get the 20% off. I used US Bank Altitude for the free primary rental car insurance as well as the $325 credit. It essentially made the rental free!

On top of that I have Hertz Presidential Circle with my United Club Credit Card. I was given an upgrade from a Toyota 4Runner or similar to a pretty sweet GMC Acadia for $77 a day. I declined all the insurance to get the car for $320 for 4 days, which was all credited by the good folks at US Bank as part of my $400 annual fee. I also ended up getting 3x points for 4.5 cents worth of redemption ($14.40) for future travel. Similar results could of been had with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

In terms of hotels I just got the Chase IHG card for 105,000 points and Platinum Status. The only Holiday Inn Resort in the Midwest is found in Traverse city at 615 East Front Street. This hotel has its own beach and nice dock for weddings. The property sits on the West Bay of the Grand Traverse Bay with amazing sunsets and sunrises with the horizon facing north.

The booked rate for the wedding I was attending was $329 a night! Now if we consider points we can get a room for 40,000 points a night these points can also come from Chase Ultimate rewards at a 1:1 ratio, but would not be worth it as you are getting less than 1.5 cents per point. Remember you can book with UR for travel directly with Chase for 1.5 cents per point. I ended up booking with cash on the IHG card to complete my spend. This also opened up more nights to book and at a value of .64 cents per point according to points penguin we are getting 10% back per booking.

When using the IHG card we get 5 points per dollar spent including incidentals and for taxes. We then get another 15 cents per dollar spent on room rate as platinum members for. My calculations show the $1,216 spent on three nights resulted in 16,148 from IHG and then 6,080 from chase. If we value the points at .64 cents we get $142.25 of value from $1,216 spend (11% cashback). The card came with 105,000 points worth $672 and that is on top of the annual free night, so we are pretty much ahead of the $49 annual fee on this one.

The hotel was nice, it actually has a kids arcade and play room on the second floor that isn’t well advertised. I took advantage of the indoor pool and private beach. The views are spectacular, and the scene is pretty much right out of a post card.

I was able to get free drink coupons for 2 adults per stay as a IHG Platinum Member. My reservation was split up in two stays because the room block for the wedding didn’t include Sunday night. On the last night I got free breakfast for everyone for both mornings as that was the rate they booked me in, as well as two more drink coupons for platinum:

Breakfast was valued around $71.56 each morning for two mornings for a total of $143. The drinks were running about $6 a pop so that’s $24 right there, lets just say $200 just free comps.

The best part of Traverse City is it is close to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. You can get an annual Park Pass for military for $0 to get the $15 entrance fee waived. Just hang the card, signature out on the rear view mirror to get waived in to the parks. Go in the visitors center and show your CAC to get a pass and hang tag.

The 1,000 foot sand dune is fun to run up. Other attractions are a Historic Village and old precursor to the Coast Guard rescue station.If you are sitting on points like me and want a quick vacation, don’t have this sort of anxiety to use them for a short trip. I think a lot of times we save up for some spectacular European vacation, but it just never happens and the points devalue. No regrets at all to spend points for 4 days in the place that Kid Rock signs about in “All Summer Long”.

-Derp