MLA+RC>CSR: Maximizing Utility From The Ritz Card

Edit: Reader Clay makes a good point with his question below. I went for the Ritz Card because it is EXEMPT from 5/24! Even with my wife who had 11 cards in the last 24 months got approved by shifting $10k credit from one of her other credit lines. The card went into review, but appeared the next day in her Chase online account.

Well good to see so many of you readers getting the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card from Chase, and getting the $450 Annual Fee Waived via the MLA! This is one of the most valuable and overlooked cards out there. I had the Ritz card since June of 2015 and kept it open well after getting the sign on bonus. I gladly paid $1,295 in annual fees because I get so much use out of being a card holder, right off the bat I got $900 in travel credits and have booked 4 round trip flights for $400 in discounts. The free nights, club upgrades as well as the multiple $100 hotel credits have all been icing on the cake on top.

A little bit of history here, the annual fee was $395 before it was upped to $450 when it became a Visa Infinite product. When the annual fee hits again in June of 2018 I might just cancel my card and remain as the AU on my wife’s MLA annual fee waived Ritz Card, unless of course I value the $100 Visa Flight Discount more for booking flights of 4 people.

I have made more than $1,295 as mentioned above in travel perks. I have made it in these three perks: $300 annual travel reimbursement, $100 hotel credit for stays of 2 nights or more, 3 annual club level upgrades.

Since moving back to CONUS, the real money is in the $100 Visa Flight Discount on domestic flights. I am thinking of keeping both my $450 annual fee card and my wife with the waived fee card just to hit this bonus twice. I can split the party into two pairs, just to book in groups of 2 to get a $100 per pair. For example, I book for me and my kid, and my wife books for herself and my mom and then we get $200 off for the 4 of us rather than just $100 off for the 4 of us.

Also if you haven’t been giving away global entry like hotcakes, then you get another $100 to charge on this card for a loved one or friend to join you in the TSA pre check line. The other side perks is first year Marriott Gold which you already get with AmEx Platinum, and then 2 free nights at a Tier 1-4 Ritz anywhere in the world.

The Optimized Ritz-Carlton Card Trip

I am getting a lot of shit from a local O-4 about my desire to book a trip to Cleveland, but it has been on my radar for some time now. It happens to have a Category 2 Ritz which is super cheap at 40k points a night! Rather than use points or even the 2 free night cert I decided to see if they have a Gov’t rate:

For $141 a night for 2 nights we spend $328.53 with tax, but remember a paid stay of 2 nights means a $100 hotel credit. Essentially we are paying $228.53 for two nights which means $114.27 a night.

If we look at compatible properties in Cleveland we can see it’s even cheaper than the Holiday Inn Express with this credited adjusted for.

This credit can be used at the gift shop, spa, or even room service. I tend to use it in the gift shop for gifts to bring back home.

Now lets say we wanted to book the club level and use one of my 3 upgrades, you would have to pay the full $332 for a room or $439 for a one bedroom suite. This is certainly not as cheap, but cheaper than the club level rate:

I can tell you from experience that the club level is awesome, 5 different food services a day with free drinks. However for nearly twice as much I usually book a single night and extend early check-in and really late checkout to maximize its benefits. I was given the corner Lakeview one bedroom suite in Chicago recently by using my club level upgrade.

The food is awesome in the lounge and is always nicely presented, but to maximize this benefit in this case you would have to book on a non-busy weekday to ensure the highest level upgrade to justify the room premium. It all depends on what kind of traveler you are, and who you are traveling with.

Now flights are booked using one of two ways. You can do the slow churn of buying $50 gift cards 6 times on American Airlines and then calling it in for reimbursement. Then use those gift cards for your ticket. The $300 annual credit has been successfully used for these things. Even though it was only meant for these non-ticket purchases:

  • airline lounge day pass
  • yearly lounge membership
  • airline seat upgrades
  • airline baggage fees
  • in-flight Internet/entertainment
  • in-flight meals

The more useful option is to use the Visa Discount Air Benefit which means $100 off for RT flights of at least two passengers for unlimited bookings. The price are comparable to booking directly with the airlines, but it searches all the major airlines at one time:

For about $56.70 a segment you get full economy service with a free checked bag from the United military waiver. This is only $11.70 more than the MegaBus to Cleveland:

When you fly the route you will earn full PQMs and PQDs for status as well as the segments, the $100 is not reflected on the airline side. You can also use the Ritz Card to upgrade yourself to a economy plus or buy food and drink on the plane.

Lastly my most favorite trick to the card is there is no age requirement for authorized users. I added my 6 month old son and 4 year old daughter as my AUs just for the sole purpose of getting them a Priority Pass card. American Express will not allow a card member under the age of 15. I used this benefit at MSP last month to earn a $15 credit for the 5 of us for breakfast at the PGA lounge at MSP. I took these $15 coupons to Ike’s downstairs and a very nice waiter allowed me to combine them in a single tab for an awesome steak and eggs, crab cake eggs Benedict, french toast and giant insane bloody marry breakfast.

For all the Ritz Card newbies out there, don’t be ignorant and just use the card for the two free nights. It is very useful for many of your future travels with or without staying at the Ritz!


Achievement Unlocked: BoA does MLA Waivers

On 31 October I applied for Alaska Airlines BoA using a reader’s referral link (hit me up if interested) and was charged the $75 annual fee. I went to their military portal here and followed the directions:

Send an email to militarybenefitonlinerequest@bankofamerica.comImportant: Type “Online Request” in the subject line of the email. You will receive a response within 1 business day with instructions on how to send secure communications.

I then sent in this military-benefit-request-form via secure upload and on 27 Nov 2017 I got my fee waived for being active duty military!

The Alaska Airline card is boss because it gives you a free companion pass ($99 fee waived) on any of Virgin America or Alaska Airlines domestic flights for the first year. This renews every year, but you must pay $99 for the flight! The current offer is 30k miles with a mere $1k spend which you can use to book Virgin America flights.

Other benefits of the card are:

  • Alaska’s famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees from $22) every year on your account anniversary for Alaska and Virgin America flights booking on with no blackout dates.
  • Free checked bag on Alaska and Virgin America flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation.
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly with Alaska Airlines and Virgin America purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus chip enabled for enhanced security when used at chip-enabled terminals.
  • No mileage cap.
  • Miles won’t expire on your active account.
  • Low Annual fee of $0.00 because of MLA

So, please hit me up for a link if you want to apply, and be patient to get the MLA waiver for military. Remember this is only applied for new accounts after the MLA took effect 07 October 2017. Old accounts will still require the $75 annual fee unless you had it before you joined the military.

Any suggestions on what BoA card to get next? I will host suggestions and referral links below!


The Luxury Lounge is No More!

The Luxury Lounge is no more! I visited today 27 Nov 2017 and the lounge has closed and been emptied at 645 Madison Ave. NYC

I called the concierge for BarclayCard Gold Luxury Card and they said it has been closed for a month now. So if you were planning on visiting, don’t bother. Also if you were planning on getting MLA fee waivers on any of Barclay’s products don’t bother either! Acording to DoC, their response is this:

The Military Annual Percentage Rate (MAPR) of any billing cycle will not exceed 36%.  Barclaycard will not assess any fees, other than the annual fee, for any Covered Borrower while on active duty.

Go ahead and write off BarclayCard as a complete hull loss. You got plenty of military fee waivers with MLA with Chase, and BoA! Also thank you DoC, and Garry for the link back!


The Art of The Chase

Good news to the Churner Virgins who have had no problem getting the CSR with MLA fee waivers. Please use this link if you happen to be one! I have a successful applications and waiver I have reported on here. Now those who have been chuning hard in the past 2 years will need to apply a little artistry to get the CSR.

Japan based 0-3 reports bad news from the CSR application front for those who got the bonus before. He tried to apply for another CSR after closing his first one and got this message: Denied: “Earned a new account bonus on a sapphire product in the last 24 months”.

This got me worried since I am going into my CPC branch this Wednesday for my second attempt to apply for my second Sapphire product. Currently I am ineligible to apply for any chase product (Besides IHG, Ritz, BA, Amazon, Hyatt) due to 5/24 rule. My Chase Private Client (CPC) advisor said she can call in the recon line for me and beg my case.

On top of the 24 month bonus rule, is you can’t have more than one Sapphire Product at a time. Unless, of course, you had it before the rule came into effect. I got my CSP in Dec 2014 and downgraded it to a CS last year. I went ahead and canceled it without consulting my CPC advisor. Insert facepalm here, because she wanted me to shift the credit to another line, then close the account. Oops! Lesson learned!

Before I go ahead and apply for the CSR I checked to see that I had personally earned 40k UR points back in Dec 2014 on my CSP so I am well beyond that 24 month language. I also am without any saphire product, and my credit scroe is in the 800s. I just need CPC to do their magic in branch!

If you have gotten the Bonus on any Chase Sapphire product in the last 24 months, go ahead and find out that date and mark 24 months from then. In the meantime use the links and apply for any of the other chase products below (using my links of course) and get that MLA waiver applied!

Keep posted to see what happens next. If you want a go at it please use the link below to apply for th CSR:


$7.80 Rosé With AmEx and Martha Stuart Wine

I just got an email for Black Friday sale of free shipping and 40% off at Martha Stuart Wine.

I went ahead and used it in conjunction with the current AmEx offer of $25 off $75 on my Hilton Honors AmEx card. Make sure you add it to the card before you buy the wine!

The offer also showed up for my Green Card:

So when I stack the deals I end up spending $54.76 for $132.93 of wine for about $7.80 a bottle.

I did it again with a wine pack of 4 Bordeauxs and a corkscrew and two extra bottles for exactly $76.46 with tax. That is 6 bottles for $51.46 for an amazing $8.57  a bottle with a “lever-pull corkscrew in a beautiful pine gift box”, shipped free.

With tax for Illinois and minus the $47.97 from the 40% discount, this brings the total just high enough to trigger the $25 off $75.00 AmEx offer.

Not sure if its fair to not include the value of the corkscrew, lets say its around $20:

We can recalculate it as 6 bottles of wine for $31.46 for $5.24 a bottle which is in the realm of Thunderbird wine!

Keep in mind taxes are added based on state. If you haven’t gotten an account on Martha Stuart before be sure to use my link to get a $25 bonus. Then use code MARTHA25 for $25 off. Not sure if we can triple stack the bonuses, because the $25 link bumps out the 40% link.

Make sure you have the offer in your AmEx Offers, then add it to the right card! Happy boozing!


SCRA Doubt: We Broke Chase‽

I just got alarming word from our favorite O-4 contributor that his SCRA fee waiver has been revoked. Just like what had happened to Gold Luxury Card, we may have broken an entire multinational banking corporation!

Yup, a previously SCRA waived Chase Sapphire Reserve is now getting its annual fee charged starting 07 Jan 2018! This could be an error on Chase’s part, or a datapoint in things to come.

Well, when you are dealing with any abratrage event, once it goes mainstream, it’s a good as dead! Hope it doesn’t go away with the MLA or with AmEx!

Be careful out there! Need more information before we know it’s dead! This card was a freedom before joining the Navy that was upgraded to the CSR.


New CSR Applications Get MLA Fee Waivers!!

I just got a datapoint for the CSR, new AD applications will get the Annual Fee waived under the MLA! Thank you to a senior O-3 Reader who has the MLA letter to upload as proof! Please use the link below to apply for yourself:

Earn 50,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire Reserve. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for the card. Learn more.

Keep in mind if you had the card before 20 Sept 2017 but after you join, you would be still on the hook for the annual fee!

Edit: also confirmed at the DoC site, Chase and BoA waive annual fees per MLA, Barclay does not. Also note that business cards are NOT eligible for fee waiver under MLA with Chase.


Datapoint Needed: Open Season for Chase!

The good news is coming in, we have seen fee waivers from Chase from the MLA for those who got new credit card accounts after 20 Sept 2017! This means fee waivers are back for some of the finest product out there:

Please use the links above and report back on if the MLA works!


No Go For Goldman

My source for getting the AmEx Platinum from GS has come up empty, not even current employees can get the card (according to the source)! On top of that I became a GS shareholder just to get a crappy printed out participation award quality certificate:

instead of this one:

I even emailed the good people at Give-a-Share and they confirmed they went full crap! I called shareholder services and no one had any idea of how to get the card. If you are itching for another AmEx Platinum I suggest applying for a lower product such as the Green or Premier Rewards Gold and upgrading after a year.

Use this link for PRG if you go this way.