UA Travel Bank Shutdown (For 2017 At Least)

The Same, Two Months Later…..

Looks like the United Travel Bank is not a reliable way to dump your excess credits for the year 2017. I stumbled upon one of my 10 AmEx Platinum Cards which I had only spent $50 of the $200 set for United Airlines. I had forgotten to add $150 to my gift registry before the TravelBank site went offline. I was being cautious and had spent $50 as a test deposit, because of this, I could not switch to American Airlines for the remaining $150.

I had to do the next best thing, which was to use the credit for its intended purpose in the last two months of 2017. The AmEx site says legitimate uses are:

  • Checked baggage fees
  • 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

Since I get the luggage and lounge for free with military I decided that the only good thing for a one hour flight would be to try to drink $150 worth of boozes. I decided to buy doubles for my whole crew on the flight. What resulted was an interesting conversation with the flight attendant. I asked to buy the entire row behind me double anythings as well as a double for myself and a wine for my buddy sitting next to me.

The resulting charge was $71.91 which showed up on my statement the next day, and was then promptly reimbursed the day after:

There you have it! Its tough to spend $200 in in flight beverages since the flight attendants can serve you only two drinks at a time. You would need to buy 25 little bottles of boozes over the next two months just to get max out of your $200 United Benefits.

Goes to show you have to use up these credits before the loopholes get closed, remember the MPX loophole, and how short lived that was? Now I have only 4 more flights to spend the remaining $78.09! If this United TravelBank doesnt work for next year I think I will do SouthWest and American Airlines with their gift cards.

-Derp

Forget the SCRA, The MLA Means Fee Waivers From Chase & BoA

If you opened a new card after 20 Sept 2017 with Chase or Bank of America, you may get your annual fee returned to you and waived for the future because of the 03 October 2017 activation of the 2006 Military Lending Act. According to this new write up in DOC, Active Duty are starting to see AF refunds as written up on the DOC page:

I am hoping this will get my coveted Barclay gold card waived! Hopefully also get my newest BA card opened after 20 Sept 2017 waived as well. I went ahead and used Walt’s link for the BoA Alaska card, but I was not instantly approved! More to come on that, but Dr. Licious the O-4 just got his approval for a brand new Ritz-Carlton despite being well over 5/24! We called the MLA line for Chase at 1-800-235-9978 and go a very ambiguous answer, so I hope to see some good data points soon.

-Derp

Gold Luxury Card’s Last Hurrah!

I just received another luxury gift from BarclayCard’s Gold Luxury Card, a $203 pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses just for being awesome (and presumably paying the $995 annual fee). This is the second gift since getting the card 2 years ago. The first being this engraved gold Cross Pen.

As many of you all have read, the SCRA has been revoked for their Gold Card, even those that have been grandfathered in have been informed that the annual fee will be up soon. My fee will be charged to me at the end of January 2018, giving me time to spend $200 for the reimbursable travel fee before i close the account. Even with the free glasses and the $200 travel credit, the annual fee of $995 is impossible to justify. The 2% cashback on the card is noting compared to the no annual fee USAA Limitess card at 2.5% cashback on everything.

If you get a UPS Choice email for a 0.40 pound package from “RETURNED PROCESSING DEPT” from Luxury Card Services 2435 Goodwin Lane, New Braunfels, TX 78135-0001 it’s going to be RB3025 58 Ray-Ban ORIGINAL AVIATOR sunglasses from Gold Luxury Card. See below for the actual style and model number:

Made in Italy! I am going to keep them because they are not faddish and approved for uniform wear. No word if my AUs will get them as well.

-Derp

$18,500 For TSP in 2018!

Good News from the IRS! According to two articles here and here, there will be a $500 increase in the amount you can put into your Roth or Traditional TSP for the 2018 tax year. That means you can put away $18,500 in addition to some sweet 5% base pay match for those going for the Blended Retirement System. Remember the 5% BRS base pay match does not count towards this $18,500 personal contribution limit . From the BRS literature:

To max out your TSP under the current contribution limit ($18,000 for 2017) you would need to contribute $1,500 per month from your pay checks. That is very aggressive, but it is certainly possible, depending on your rank, pay grade and living expenses. It is important to note, employer contributions are in addition to the annual elective deferral limit. Visit TSP.gov for more information on contribution limits.

According to this FAQ, the match will go directly into Traditional TSP since Uncle Sam will want to get their taxes on the withdrawal end. The text from the document says:

Q2.7. Can a service member put their contributions into the Roth TSP? A2.7. Service members can elect to put their contributions into a traditional account, Roth account, or both. Service members can contribute in any whole percentage they choose subject to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) limits. Service members can make adjustments to their TSP account online at any time. All government automatic and matching contributions are based on the total amount of money (traditional and Roth) that the service member contributes each pay period. All government contributions are deposited into the service member’s traditional account.

Also keep in mind if you max out your tsp before the year ends you will not get a match for any month you do not make TSP contributions!

Now I have also come across a conflicting article saying they are shutting down the limit to $2,400 a year. Not good news if true, but again it is just a proposal. Get on this new $18,500 limit and then $24,500 ‘catch up’ at age 50.

-Derp

Reminder To Destroy Your Priority Pass From HHonors Surpass

For those who signed up for the  HHonors card (use my link here). You will soon get another Priority Pass!

Make sure you cut it up! Since this one will charge you $27 for every lounge visit! Stick with the one you get from AmEx Platnium, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or The Ritz-Carlton Card from Chase which all get you in a lounge for yourself and 2 guests for free!

-Derp

 

Delta Triple Dip Time: 170K SkyMiles, 20k MQM, $150 Credit, 2 Companion Passes for $3k*3 spend

AmEx is really pushing their Delta Cards of which I already have all three. Every year I get 2 companion passes, one from my Platinum and another from my Reserve AmEx card. Since I get the annual fee waived for being active duty, it’s like a 2 free delta roundtrip tickets from AmEx every year! This means I can bring along a companion on a flight for free, even in first class (with the reserve) for any domestic ticket I buy!

Please use this link for the Reserve to get 40k SkyMiles and 10k MQM. The $450 annual fee is waived for military. The Platinum offer is below and they dropped the minimum spend to $3k from $4k for the same points and credit, again the $195 annual fee is waived for military:

Please use this link for the Platinum to get 70k sky miles, 10k MQM and $100 statement credit. If you get both you would have 110,000 Sky Miles and 20k MQMs with 2 companion passes and $100 credit. This is a much better offer than what was given in the past for the Reserve, but the same for Platinum with less spend.

Now lets say we go for all three here, we can get another 60k on gold for $3k spend:

Please use this link here for the gold. If you go for all three, we are looking at a total of 170K SkyMiles, 20k MQM, $150 statement credit, and 2 companion passes all for $9,000 spend. Now bonus strategy time is to product change the Platinum and Gold to Reserve for three first class companion passes a year!

The 20k MQM will put you up to almost Silver Medallion (25k needed) for the year without ever setting foot on a plane. The 170k will get you three round trips from ORD to SEA (44,500 SkyMiles) to go visit your favorite O-4 reader that just PCSed:

If Seattle isn’t your thing, you can fly 10 segments to and from Atlanta for 17k SkyMiles per segment.

So if you got $3,000 to spend three times, might as well make it worth it for some free travel from Delta and AmEx!

Well lets just say we end up upgrading the Delta Gold and Platinum both to Reserve, With three reserve cards we are looking at 3 round trip flights a year in first class for the price of coach! Every year you will have a deposit of a companion pass held electronically in your SkyMiles account:

You then apply it to book a pair of tickets, it must be used in a year of it being issued. Here is ORD to SEA round trip:

For $845.80 or $211.45 a segment you can fly first class to SEA from ORD as your companion gets to fly for free! This is the cost of a regular coach ticket. Take advantage of the annual fee waiver for the Reserve, and when your AD time is up, downgrade all the cards to Gold to take advantage of the account history without annual fee.

-Derp

Hong Kong Centurion Lounge Now Open!

My plan to hit every Centurion Lounge

Thanks to an O-5 Navy Okinawa reader for the link! The Reward Boss has some good photos from the newest international AmEx Centurion Lounge in Hong Kong. Looks like you get a free gift for being there. The lounge is located in Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1, Level 7 before Gate 61. They are open from 5:30am – 12:30am. This looks even more awesome than the Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 1, East Hall I often go to with their in house XO sauce.

Don’t forget the lounges in AustraliaMexico, India, and Sweden as well when traveling overseas. Hope to send my most senior correspondent there in January for an update!

-Derp

35K SPG (105K Marriott) For AmEx Biz SPG

Well, I should of waited till today to sign up for the Biz SPG card with an all time high offer of 35,000 SPG or transferable to 105,000 Marriott points. This is worth it for at least one or two nights at a Ritz Carlton (Depending on Tier). The offer can be found at this link here. I ended up applying two months ago like a sucker for only 25k points.

To get the first 25k SPG points you need to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints after you make an additional $4,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months. The annual fee of $95 is waived for military, but those non-military get the first year free. You can also get Sheraton lounge access using this card when booking a select Sheraton directly with SPG.

Please use this link here to toss me some points, thanks!

-Derp

Free Old Style and Chicago Style Hot Dogs at ORD Admirals Club, Terminal 3, Concourse H/K

I picked a good day to fly. During the Cubs Nationals game tonight they were serving up made to order hot dogs (Chicago style without Chicago dog sauce) from a cart at The Admirals Club, Terminal 3, Concourse H/K at ORD. Also always free at the bar is Old Style beer for that authentic Cubs experience:

Go cubs go!

I was able to get in with my CAC and AA boarding pass without any hesitation. It makes me wonder why I have a United Club membership at all. This is the superior club welcome to all active duty. I asked the cart dude, and he said that the Hot Dogs will be around for pretty much every sports event.

-Derp

Free Stock Trading For Military Members

Thanks to Davey Nelson at Trainwrecktrader.com for this one! Please use this link here and mention my real name to give me $100 in credit (comment below and we can talk)!

Right now get an actual trading platform with the Robinhood Pricing at TradeStation! More details on the site here, Please use this link and my name to give me a referral credit. This program has been around since November of 2016 as mentioned in an article here. They just recently expanded to police, fire, and first responders last month according to this article here.

I applied for an account and am awaiting approval. Once approved, I plan on dropping in the $500 minimum to see if I can buy stocks to transfer out to Computershare for the sweet paper certs. I will keep you posted! Again use my link here.

-Derp