ORD to SAN for $8.20 A Segment, 1 cent per Avios or 2.4 Cents per MR

My very understanding and accommodating wife has allowed me to take advantage of a a excellent direct flight deal to San Diego from O’Hare for February 2018 for only $8.20 a segment! This was achieved by taking the red eye flight both ways in conjunction with the $200 fee credit waiver on my AmEx  Platinum Card from Ameriprise. As some of you may have experienced, there has been a serious month long shutdown of the United Gift Registry.

This has been the message on the site to add to the registry since 07 Sep 2018. As of today (27 Sept 2018) there seems to be no sign of the site coming back online. I had failed to do my due diligence and check FlyerTalk for their data points. Stupidly, I had chosen United Airlines as my airline for my new Ameriprise AmEx Platinum card, which now had no way to add to my United registry with the shutdown.

In the end this turned out to not be a big deal, I called 1-800-615-0403 and just asked nicely to switch to American Airlines (I checked here to verify AA was still working). I explained that my travel patterns have changed. This was not a problem since I had not spent any of the credit. I got an email right away:

Dear Derp,

We received and processed your request to change your airline selection for the $200 Airline Fee Credit benefit to American Airlines and US Airways. You will continue to receive up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your eligible Platinum Card® Account.

Eligible incidental fees include:
  • Checked baggage fees (including overweight/oversize)
  • Itinerary change fees
  • Phone reservation fees
  • Pet flight fees
  • Seat assignment fees
  • In-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, headphones)
  • In-flight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet because it’s not charged by the airline)
  • Airport lounge day passes & annual memberships
Please allow 2-4 weeks after you charge the incidental fee(s) for the statement credits to appear on your Account. We rely on airline transaction data to identify incidental fee purchases, so if you do not see a credit after 4 weeks, simply call the number on the back of your Card and we’ll be happy to assist you.

So keep in mind the gift cards are not listed, but because of the magic of merchant category codes (search for them here) some times a gift card codes as an additional covered fee and will trigger the $200 rebate. I charged two $100 gift cards on American Airlines in June, and sure enough they credited me the $200 two days later. I would of used my newly charged gift cards but there is a 72 hour hold on the gift cards when purchased. I figure I will switch my cards to American if the United Gift Registry never comes back.

Now I looked at other options before resorting to using my $200 in gift cards. Since the distance between ORD and SAN is over 1,152, but less than 2,000 miles they want 10k Avios for it. This seems like a great deal, until you pull up the actual cost of the flight:

It would only be 1 cent per Avios which is pretty low when compared to some amazing redemption I have gotten before. I decided to look at using the Visa Discount Air via my Ritz Carlton Card:

Again this would be an amazing deal at $83 a segment, but I could not find anyone to fly with me, and gift cards cannot be used on this site. I then settled on using my $200 gift cards and booking directly on the AA.com site:

It was easy, you just enter the card number and PIN when checking out. I was left with a $16.80 charge of which I paid with my AAdvantage Silver card from BarclayCard to earn 50 AAdvantage miles (3x miles per $1):

That is $8.20 a segment, free checked bags (military waiver), free Admirals Club (military CAC), free $10 Airspace Lounge at SAN (AmEx Plat), and all thanks to the $200 gift card bought with the reimbursement from the annual fee waived AmEx Platinum. I thought this was a screaming deal, but I made the mistake of still looking after booking. I checked the AmEx Travel site to see that my flight pair had an insider deal:

If I had booked the same flight with 20,511 MR points via AmEx travel, I would of gotten 10,256 MR back as my 50% as well as 1,085 from the 5x personal booking. I would have only spent 9,170 MR for a $217 flight at a whopping 2.4 cents per point! Lesson learned, even if you have the Avios and the gift cards, don’t be quick to just dump miles or use credits for the sake of a free flight. Make sure you do your due diligence and maximize those points and bonuses!


AmEx Metal and Spouse Data Point

Finally I have rid my wallet of the ghastly plastic credit cards that the normies use. Yes you can now get a metallic AmEx Business Card in Metal by simply logging in and requesting a replacement card. You have the option of getting a metal one for the sake of coveting a metal card:

Nothing else has changed for the Business Platinum, of which I suggest all of you should get (hopefully you wait till next year after my referral bonus max resets). With this combo the 35% points back when booking with points means you get 1.5 cents per MR point. This means in combination with the Personal Platinum you are getting 7.5% cash back on flights, far superior to the Chase Sapphire Reserve which is only 3 UR points making 4.5% redemption on flights. Best angle is that the $450 annual fee is waived for Business and then $550 for personal if you are a military member who is the main card holder.

Now I finally got a good datapoint about having your non-military spouse get a waiver of fees on an AmEx product. Turns out you will not get the annual fee waived even if one of the authorized users is a military member. Thanks to my O-6 reader who send me the evidence right here:

Dear CAPT’s Spouse,

To support the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces, we are handling your account referenced above in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

According to our records, this account does not qualify for any adjustment(s) under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This is because the relief interest rate only applies to debts incurred by the Servicemember entering active military service. The account of a Servicemember’s spouse is eligible to receive the relief interest rate if the spouse is the Basic Card Member of the account and the billing address is located in a community property state or territory.

This completes our review of this account. If there are any additional accounts you would like reviewed for Servicemembers Civil Relief Act benefits, please call us at 1-800-253-1720. If you are outside the United States, please call us collect at 1-336-393-1111.

We are grateful for the service and devotion you have shown to our country.


American Express Customer Care

It was reported but not verified of people getting wavers as the AU on a non-mil spouse account. Since I am unable to gather my own datapoint I rely on you readers to report back to me. Has anyone out there gotten their spouses account waved by simply being the AU?


Another $200 from Mr. Porter

Just months after getting my sweet REVO radio via the $200 off $500 promo via FoundersCard (referral link here), Mr. Porter is offering another $200 off a $300 charge! This via an AmEx offer, you actually get 10,000 points which are transferable to $125 in Schwab Cash that you can take out via ATM. I value them as $200 in flights using the AmEx Plat Business Card 50% MR rebate I have been grandfathered in to.

Too bad I did not wait to combine the offer with the $200 off $500 from FoundersCard. If I had I could of gotten the radio, 3 shirts, hand salve for $132.30 (free shipping)!

I was able to get the latest offer on my MB AmEx Card. No offers showed up for any of my AUs or my other cards. My brother reports that the language is very specific to curtail churning:


Get 10,000 additional Membership Rewards points one-time by using your enrolled Card to spend a minimum of $300+ in one or more eligible transactions online at MRPORTER.com by 10/18/2017. See terms for exclusions.


ENROLLMENT/ELIGIBLE CARDS: Enrollment limited. Must add offer to Card and use same Card to redeem. Only U.S.-issued American Express® Cards that are enrolled in the Membership Rewards® program at the time of purchase are eligible. Your enrollment of an eligible American Express Card for this offer extends only to that Card. Your enrollment does not extend to any other Cards that may be linked to the same Membership Rewards program account (such as Additional Cards). Offer is non-transferable. ELIGIBLE PURCHASES: Valid only on US website. Valid only on purchases made in US dollars. Valid only on shipments to US, Puerto Rico and USVI. Not valid on shipments to Guam and American Samoa. Excludes NET-A-PORTER. Purchases may fall outside of the offer period in some cases due to a delay in merchants submitting transactions to us or if the purchase date differs from the date you made the transaction (for example, the purchase date for online orders may be the shipping date). If American Express does not receive information that identifies your transaction as qualifying for the offer, you will not receive the additional points. For example, your transaction will not qualify if it is not made directly with the merchant. In addition, in most cases, you may not receive the additional Membership Rewards points if your transaction is made with an electronic wallet or through a third party. EARNING POINTS: Limit 1 enrolled Card per American Express Card online account and limit of 10,000 additional Membership Rewards points per Card. These additional points are in addition to any points you would normally receive for purchases on your Card under the terms of your Card Member Agreement and the Membership Rewards program. When we calculate the additional points benefit for Amex EveryDay® Card products, points awarded under this offer will not be included. Additional points will be credited to your Program account within 90 days after 10/18/2017, provided that American Express receives information from the merchant about your qualifying purchase. Terms and conditions for the Membership Rewards program apply. Visit membershiprewards.com/terms or call 1-800-AXP EARN (297-3276) for more information. Participating partners and available rewards are subject to change without notice. The value of Membership Rewards points varies according to how you choose to use them. To learn more, go to www.membershiprewards.com/pointsinfo. By adding an offer to a Card, you agree that American Express may send you communications about the offer. Bonus ID: B3MF POID: G9CZ:0002

So there was no mention of gift card restrictions, and I have been using Mr. Porter to get little items such as toothpaste and socks elegantly gift wrapped and sent free overnight in signature white boxes.I decided to get a $300 gift card in order to use Mr. Porter to wrap all my Christmas gifts, and because I get free overnight shipping with EIP, I would spilt up orders to have each gift wrapped. With the $300 gift card I can trigger the 10k MR points, and have time to split up the orders for some pretty neat gifts for my family.The $20 shipping fee is then waived thanks to FoundersCard:

Immediately I got the conformation emails:

Then 5 days later the points showed in my account:

Now I can cash the points into Schwab for $125, but insted I will use them to book $200 in flights.


‘Seated’ App Double Dining Dip

I have become obsessed with the Uber Eats Credit from my AmEx Platinum Cards. As of now, my 9 Personal AmEx Plat cards get me $135 a month in Uber credits. This will become $315 for the month of December! I was just alerted by Frequent Miler to an App called “Seated” which can earn $15 to $20 per reservation in the form of Uber, Starbucks or Amazon gift cards. This is much more than the $1 (100 points) to $10 (1000 points) I get back with OpenTable.

Download the Seated app here and use code “jerry35” to get $5 credit right off the bat, Happy Ubering/Amazoning/Starbucking!


BitCoin & Robinhood MashUp, Robinhood Wants it All

Introducing Cobinhood via Meb Faber’s Snarky Re-Tweet of Jamie Foxx’s shoutout. So what can we expect now that we have a Robinhood like trading app based approach to cryptocurrency? Lost of dumb money influx for sure, and you need dumb money to dump your worthless new Digital Coin! For those out of the loop there is an excellent primer here about how this whole bitcoin and criptocurrency works!

Keep in mind what Warren Buffet says “Don’t invest in things you don’t understand”. This mantra kept Mr. Buffet from getting in early on Google pre IPO as well as Amazon, so his sage and conservative advice is no way to YOLO! However you can see that he has been doing okay otherwise following such a constrained investment policy.

For the rest of you kiddos out there that can take grave and insane risk with your money, go for it! Let me know how it goes, as I won’t be participating in the greatest Initial Coin Offering backed by a comedian. I have also noticed that Robinhood wants a bigger slice of the pie and has offered to take over all your existing investment accounts with no transaction fees:

What this means is, when the baby boomers die, and their hapless millennial children are burdened with all these left over funds, they will just bring it to Robinhood. Smart move on their part as there is 30 Trillion dollars transferring generations in the next 30 years. I have nothing left but 70 shares of Ford of my TD Ameritrade since I bought a house. I went ahead and moved them to Robinhood to be a datapoint. I have one free share sitting there from my referral (thanks readers for using my link). I am planning on liquidating my position via Robinhood to save myself $4.95.

The process should take about 5-7 days, I will let you know how it goes!


The Points Commander: The SCRA CSR/Freedom Switch-a-roo

I think it’s time I get www.thepointscommander.com up and running now that I put on LCDR!

My duty as the most junior of the most senior of the junior officers is to advise the junior officers as their more senior, junior officer. I have one LT who has a SCRA waived Chase Freedom card, and another LT who has a Chase Sapphire Preferred with SCRA benefits. Both got their cards before they joined, in the case of the CSP she gets her $95 annual fee waived. The one LT with the freedom even got the CSR with the 100k offer when it first came out and paied the $450 annual fee. It was sad to see these fine LTs getting fee waivers on such basic cards. I had to get them to see if they could do a product change from the freedom and the CSP to the CSR and extend the fee waiver like I did for my United Explorer to my United Club Card.

Sure enough with a quick message using the secure messenger on the chase website we got the datapoint we were looking for! The one LT with the freedom can upgrade to CSR as a product change. He is going to cancel or downgrade his current CSR to freedom to continue capturing 5x points. We did an swap, but now his $450 annual fee is waived since it was grandfathered in when that product was a freedom. He is getting Chase to pay him $300 in travel credit this way! His CSR becomes a freedom that has no annual fee. Not sure if they will let the downgrade happen, need another datapoint on that. Make sure you are doing product changes and not canceling and killing your SCRA waived account!

The LT with the CSP can upgrade to the CSR and get the fee waived as well, and essentially get $300 free every year. I advised her it was pointless to use my link to get her own CSR since having any Sapphire product means disapproval for the CSR.

A lot of you military may have a freedom that you got before you joined. Never close this account as this will be key to making you $300 a year. First milk the 50k bonus for a new CSR using my referral link. You will get approved as long as you never had a Sapphire card or 5 other cards in 24 months. Pay the $450 annual fee for the new account, get the $300 credit for travel, the 50k UR points for $750 in travel. Then product change your Freedom to a CSR for perpetual $300 travel credit. Then downgrade the other card to the freedom to continue to get 5x points on the rotating categories. Keep in mind you can transfer these points to the CSR to get 1.5 cents on flights for 7.5% cashback.

Hope this works out for a lot of you guys out there!


Chase Sapphire Reserve Referral

I had decided to keep my CSR after seeing the video from Ask Sebby. I can justify the $450 fee because I can spend $300 on travel , the 6 hour trip delay as well as, primary rental car insurance would make up for the $150 fee. I also have a bunch of UR points I need to spend via the portal at 1.5 cents per point or even redeem for Hyatt hotels with half off family rates for a second room. Biggest bonus of the card is the referral link here for 10k UR for those who finally waited and passed for 5/24 to pass. Please use the link!

50,000 UR for $4k spend, $150 Effective annual fee ($300 credit on $450)

Keeping The United TravelBank Alive!

Update: United finally gave some clarification on when this would be coming back:

Dear Mr. Derp:

Thank you for contacting United.com Web Support.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in this response.

We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you.

Our Gift Registry is down for maintenance and will not be available for contributions and/or updates to the profile until early 2018. You still have the ability to use the funds in your account. The Gift Registry is valid for five years, it does not contain an 18 months expiration. The MileagePlus account where the balance is stored for accrued miles does have an 18 months expiration, however the Gift Registry does not count towards the required activity for the MileagePlus account to remain active.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Thank you for using united.com.


Claudia Novoa

United.com Web Support

Between the MR points and the annual travel credits that I need spend on each card, I have not had to spend any money on United for a long time now. This means my United TravelBank is getting unused, and I had a worry today that the funds may expire! My fears were dismissed when I read the terms of the account here and found this:

TravelBank Cash expiration

  1. TravelBank Cash accrued in a Member’s TravelBank account shall be maintained in the account until they are redeemed or until they expire, whichever occurs first.

  2. As a general rule (and unless stated otherwise by United under the terms of a particular offer or the terms of certain qualifying activity as determined by United from time to time) all accrued TravelBank Cash in an Account is subject to expiration and/or forfeiture for any Member who fails at any time to engage in Account Activity (as defined <below>) for a period of eighteen (18) consecutive months. United may, but shall have no obligation to, send a Member a notification of TravelBank Cash nearing or subject to expiration.

Account activity

  1. “Account Activity” shall be deemed to occur when a Member either (a) accrues TravelBank Cash in such Member’s account in any manner recognized by TravelBank, including without limitation the use of a United credit card, or (b) obtains a TravelBank Award by the use of TravelBank Cash in the Member’s account. In cases where TravelBank Cash is for any reason removed from an account, as for example the use of TravelBank Cash for a TravelBank Award, and there is a subsequent cancellation of a transaction and a redeposit of the TravelBank Cash to the Member’s account, the cancellation of the transaction and redeposit of the TravelBank Cash to the account shall not qualify as “Account Activity.” Neither United’s correction of TravelBank Cash in an account nor Prohibited Conduct shall qualify as Account Activity.

Luckily I hit the account every 12 months in January to load more funds in from my AmEx cards Plat and PRG. The minimum contribution to the account is $25 which is alright when you get an annual statement credit for it. Right now I get about $2,400 a year, and over 20 years (assuming the loophole doesn’t get shut down) it’s gonna be like $48,000 in United credit. This should cover a few trips before I become a useless old man. I’m planning on retiring on this pile of united cash, but what happens if I no longer have the fee waiver, loophole, or AmEx Platnum and PRG cards? Well today my answer appeared with the new United TravelBank Card from Chase. It has no annual fee, and I can trickle in a few bucks into my Travel Bank to keep it alive! Not sure if its exempt from 5/24, the application is here.

Overall the card is not a stellar card, but I would use it to trickle some dollars in after the $150 TravelBank credit on $1,000 spend. More info can be found on Ask Sebby. Now I was reminded that the little known united.com club is a viable alternative to trickle money in to keep it alive, but it is $25 a year!

Update: I went online to put my new Ameriprise card in my registry for another $200 only to find this:

We’re sorry, our gift registry page is currently unavailable for maintenance. You can still use the funds from your gift registry to book travel during this time, but you will not be able to receive contributions or update your registry details. Please check back at a later date.

Hopefully its United prepping the site for the launch of their United TravelBank card and not a shutdown of this little loophole. Lots of buzz about it on flyertalk.

I will be sure to be the next datapoint on this one!


Barclaycard is Desperate For Our Attention

Since dropping their SCRA waivers, I have entirely forgotten about my relationship with Barclaycard as well as their Arrival+ product, However, Barclaycard does not want to be forgotten easily, and today I randomly got this package in the mail:

I wasn’t too excited, the luggage tag is just a metal tag with a nice stainless steel cable. It has a unique QR barcode that I won’t bother to activate online.

I don’t think this bank really knows what consumer’s want. It has gone from sending 24kt gold pens and having the $995 annual fee waived to cutting all SCRA waivers and sending out silly metal luggage tags. The overall impression even at r/churning that they are all but a joke of a bank. I would not be with Barclaycard anymore If it wasn’t for their latest Wyndham churn of 3 free nights on top of 3 more nights using the MasterPass 10k bonus churn.