New To Military Churning Best Practices 2019

Updated 19 May 2019: Derpreport has become a bloated archive of products and techniques that have existed or have worked in the past. Currently working on static websites of MLA Travel Club and MLA Vacation Club.

I intend to put the most up to date links and information on these two sites. Please consider the rest of Derp Report to be a historic archive of our wacky churning adventures, and by no means up to date. I will continue to blog on derpreport, but it is no place for you kids just starting out. For a beginner’s guide Check out:

WWW.MLATRAVELCLUB.COM

TLDR guide follows this line break:


Service Members who receive the Military Lending Act Protections for high end credit cards ($400+ Annual Fees) should consider holding only these cards as benefit producing assets despite what Dave Ramsey says is a tool for certain financial devastation. Once acquired, all travel expenses will be spread out over this card portfolio to generate perpetual memories and feels for your family that you will cherish the rest of your days, for free.

Chase (5/24 Restricted)

Product NameDispositionReturnReferral
Chase Sapphire ReserveAll Travel$300No

Chase FreedomChange to CSR$300Yes
Chase Freedom UnlimitedChange to CSR$300Yes
Chase United Club Card*A Lounge Access$550No
Chase Bonvoy BoundlessChange to Ritz$3001 NightYes
  • 5/24 rule: no more than 5 card opened at ANY BANK in 24 months
    • This includes Authorized Users (AU)
    • Do not make yourself an AU to a spouse card and vice versa
    • Wait until the first day of the 25th month after your fifth account was opened before attempting to apply for a new Chase Card.
  • Due to 5/24 you should always hit Chase first
  • 2/30 rule: two applications every 30 days
  • 24 month bonus rule: Sign Up bonus per 24 months
  • 48 month bonus rule: One Sapphire Bonus per 48 months
  • Active Duty & Spousal Waivers of Fees Per MLA (Post Oct 2017)
    • Submit request via Secure Chat
  • Product change must stay each brand family
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve reimburses $300 in travel expenses
    • Resets every 12 months form open date (Anniversary Date)
    • For airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages
  • The Ritz Carlton Card offers $300 in airline credit, 50K Free anytime night at one year mark.
    • Must product change from one year with any Chase Marriott Card (Bonvoy Boundless is best)
    • Can be used for inflight dining, luggage fees, seat change, and lounge access, but must be called in each time
    • card offers $100 off any pair of domestic round trip tickets
    • $300 credit resets every 01 January

American Express Credit Cards

Product NameDispositionReturnLink:
Hilton Honors AspireAll Hilton$500, 1 nightYes
Hilton Honors AscendUpgrade to Aspire$500, 1 nightYes
Hilton HonorsUpgrade to Aspire$500, 1 nightYes
Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantAll Marriott$300, 1 nightYes
Marriott Bonvoy BusinessReplace W Brilliant35k NightYes
Delta ReserveAll DeltaComp PassYes
  • 5 Credit Card Limit (Unlimited Charge Cards)
  • 1/5 rules: one new card every 5 days
  • 2/90 rule: only 2 cards in a 90 day period
  • Lifetime Bonus Rule: 7 years between receiving bonus again
  • Active Duty Waiver of Annual Fees Always
    • Submit via website link
  • Product change must stay each brand family
  • Hilton Honors Aspire offers these annual benefits:
    • $250 Airline Credit (5x $50 delta gift card, 1x $250 SW Gift Card)
      • Resets 01 January
    • $250 for HIlton Resorts (room rate or room charges)
      • Resets card anniversary
    • 1 free weekend night any Hilton, except these places
      • Resets card anniversary
  • Bonvoy Brilliant has these annual benefits:
    • $300 spend on room rate or charges to room at Marriott
    • One Free 50k night at any Marriott
  • Delta Reserve
    • One free companion pass, up to first class
    • Resets every card holder anniversary

American Express Charge Cards

Product NameDispositionReturnReferral
Platinum ChargeDirect Airline Booking$500Yes
Gold ChargeGroceries, Upgrade to Pt$500Yes
Green ChargeUpgrade to Pt$500Yes
MS Platinum ChargeDirect Airline Booking$500No
CS Platinum ChargeDirect Airline Booking$500No
AP Platinum ChargeDirect Airline Booking$500No
Business Platinum$5,000+ Buys, 35% Refund$400Yes
Business Gold$5,000+ Buys, 35% Refund$400Yes
Business Green$5,000+ Buys, 35% Refund$400Yes
  • No Foreseeable card account limits (Infinite charge cards)
  • 1/5 rules: one new card every 5 days
  • 2/90 rule: only 2 cards in a 90 day period
  • Lifetime Bonus Rule: 7 years between receiving bonus again
  • Active Duty Waiver of Annual Fees Always
    • Submit via website link
  • Product change must be similar Biz or Personal charge card
  • Must wait 12 months to upgrade personal cards
  • No wait needed to upgrade business cards (although get the bonus first)
  • The Personal Platinum has the following $500 annual benefits:
    • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue: $50 Jan to Jun, $50 Jul to Dec
    • $200 Uber: $15 a month Jan to Nov, $35 Dec
    • $200 Airlines: Jan to Dec (4 x $50 Delta gift card, 1 x $200 SW)
    • 5x MR points on airline tickets booked directly with airlines
  • The Business Platinum has the following $400 annual benefits:
    • $200 Dell: $100 Jan to Jun, $100 Jul to Dec
    • $200 Airlines: Jan to Dec (4 x $50 Delta gift card, 1 x $200 SW)
    • 1.5x MR points on any charges over $5,000

Citibank

Product NameDispositionReturnReferral
Citi PrestigeAll Dining$250, 2x 4th night FreeNo
Citi PremierPC to Prestige$250, 2x 4th night FreeNo
AA ExecutiveOW Lounges$650No
AA PlatinumPC to Prestige$250, 2x 4th night FreeNo
  • 1/8 rule: one application every eight days
  • 2/65 rule: two applications every sixty five days
  • 6/6 rule: max six hard inquiries in 6 months
  • Active Duty & Spousal Waivers of Fees Per MLA (Post Oct 2017)
  • Can Product Change from any card to any card (cross family)
  • 24 months between initial family bonuses (not by card, but by brand)
    • AA points earned on Executive will deny points on new platinum
    • TY points on Prestige would deny TY on Premier
    • Use Mailers to get around this language
  • Citi Prestige gives $250 in airline travel credit and 2 free nights:
    • Credit on: airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies/travel aggregators/tour operators, commuter transportation, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, and bus lines
    • 4th night free is based on the average of nightly rate of the total 4 consecutive nights stay
    • Can product change any card to prestige after one year

U.S. Bank

Product NameDispositionReturnReferral
AltitudeAll Digital Wallet$325, In Flight WiFiNo
Skypass PremierKorean Airlines$200, KA Lounge PassesNo

The only U.S. Bank that is worthwhile is the U.S. Bank altitude which requires a prior relationship with the bank. The MLA does waive the $400 annual fee, and it offers a $325 travel credit that renews with every card anniversary. The card is hard to get and several readers have been denied because of too many open accounts at other banks. Not sure the actual numbers or rules have been established. The only other card with annual benefits is the Skypass Korean Airlines Select which comes with $200 travel credit and two lounge passes for North American Korean Airline Lounges.

Second “beginners guide” archive continues here (Click to show):

Continue reading

Two Paths Blazed To 2 SPG Lux Cards

My referral link for the SPG Lux Card can be found here.

I got distracted by my travels to apply my wife for the SPG Lux card before the hammer came down Sunday 26 Aug 2018. We were now stuck with option #2 which was to simply call in and Product Change (Upgrade) her SPG Personal Card that she got 15 August 2015 to another Luxury card. I called in with her and there was no offer of points for the upgrade. I was hesitant to upgrade, but with her girl’s trip at the Ritz Toronto looming next month, we decided to go for the upgrade to take advantage of the $300 credit for spa services and in room dining as a data point.

My card arrived today via FedEx only a mere 5 days from calling the reconsideration line. It came in a very similar package to the Hilton Aspire Card, #10 envelope stuffed to the max of literature, placed in a box then another FedEx envelope. There is no indication of “Luxury” on the card, just a website of americanexpress.com/spglux . I will have 90 days from today to spend the $5,000 to get 100k Starriott points.

On my wife’s side we upgraded Personal SPG to SPG Lux since she has the MLA waived Ritz Card. We would be ineligible for the 100k points since I missed the deadline of 26 Aug 2018 before the new rules kicked in. The applications for both the Personal SPG and the Lux say (respectively):

Effective 8/26, welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards®Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase, or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card from JP Morgan in the last 30 days.

Effective 8/26, welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card from JP Morgan in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a welcome or upgrade offer for The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months

I spoke to the CSR online and they stated her old SPG Personal anniversary night means nothing, and today would be the upgrade anniversary day where her $300 hotel credit and 50k free night will take place. They did say that we got a free 35k night from the old personal card which had this bonus:

Free Night Award

Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.

Still haven’t seen that in her account, yet. In the end I think we made out like a bandit. When my wife come off of her 5/24 fast she can apply for the Marriott Plus card and get 75,000 points since it has these restrictions:

This product is available to you if you do not have the Marriott Rewards Premier or Premier Plus credit card, or have not received a new cardmember bonus for either of these cards within the past 24 months. Please note: You may not be eligible for the bonus if you hold, or have previously held, a Marriott International co-branded card issued by a United States credit card issuer.

Here is our total loot pile for these 4 cards:

  • 2x $300 annual airline credits over two MLA Waived Ritz Carlton Cards (works for $100 AA gift cards)
  • 6x Club Level Upgrades over the same two MLA Waived Ritz Carlton Cards
  • 4x free (up to 50,000 Point) nights over 2 SPG Lux cards and 2 Ritz Cards
  • 2x $300 Annual Marriott Credits

So once a year, if we can time it right, we can have 4 nights of hotels free with $600 to spend to get there, $600 to spend when we stay there!

Phase 2 of this plan is to see if I can apply for an SPG Personal card (forgo the bonus since I had it before) just to upgrade to my 3rd SPG Lux card in a year!

-Derp

Fly Cape Air on a 1980s Cessna 403 Using Points

On Saturday I got to fly in a 1980 Cessna 402C on Cape Air using points. This may be my last chance to do so since this ancient workhorse will be replaced on January 2019 by the Tecnam P2012 Traveller. I first booked the flight using my US Bank Altitude Card. It cost me only 7,867 points for two one way tickets from ORD Terminal 3 to DEC:

The points were earned at 3 points per dollar on mobile pay transactions. That means a $2,623 spend would net enough points for two tickets valued at $118 making a sweet 4.5% cash back when spent on travel. I got these points I just logged into my US Bank account and booked using their booking engine. The reservation was held by Hahn airlines after the booking. If you have any relationship with US bank, then get this card especially since it pays you $325 a year to spend on travel and they waive the $400 annual fee for Active Duty:

On the day of the flight you can only check in exactly one hour before departure because the check in agent is the same agent as the gate agent. They are incredibly short staffed and each person wears a lot of hats for both airlines. In fact the one ticket agent also handles the check-in for Air Choice One and has to bounce between two difference computers to check in each airlines. This is amazing considering both airlines get a combined $12 million dollars a year from the Department of Transportation to maintain these routes:

State Airport Annual Subsidy Airline
IL Decatur $3,002,731 Cape Air
IA Burlington $2,415,564 Air Choice One
IA Mason City $2,920,405 Air Choice One
MI Ironwood $3,619,229 Air Choice One
Total: $11,957,929

Does it really cost $11,957,929 to fly and operate 4 routes? I think they could spare some coin to hire someone to sit at the front desk all day. So I checked in at 09:40. They weighed all of my carry on luggage and tagged it. I had to give an estimate of my own weight. They gave me a boarding pass which had TSA Pre-Check (which was not a feature of Air Choice one), and was told to get to gate L11b by 10:25 for my 10:40 flight. Naturally I went to American Airlines Admirals Club located in Terminal 3 to load up on snacks. Sure enough, I got a call from the gate agent from 1(508)862-9700 right at 10:25 demanding to know where I was. Boarding had begun and I was the only passenger missing! I ran over to the gate which was a desk all the way at the end of Terminal 3.

When I got to the gate they lead us downstairs to the plane and stripped us of  our luggage. Pro tip: bring a even smaller bag on the plane for your headphones and snacks, there is no overhead or under seat storage! Once inside you can see how much bigger the Cessna Caravan on Air Choice One is compared to the 402c:

Once we were all seated we began our taxi to the runway with the big boys, I got to hear the jet was from a brand new 787:

The plane is so low to the ground that you get a true sense of how giant commercial airliners are. There was zero leg room for my daughter due to the full backing up of the seat for the pilot. They pick seats for all the passengers based on weight, so don’t think you get to choose where you want to sit.

Once you get up in the air you can watch everything that is going on which is fascinating. All of the checklists and settings to change every minute in flight. We never went above 8,000 ft because the cabin was not pressurized and there was no supplemental oxygen. Landing was pretty awesome especially on a windy and cloudy day. Upon arrival it is apparent that this $3,000,000 subsidy from the DoT is the only thing keeping the DEC airport alive:

Everyone had to deplane and grab their luggage. Those that continued on to STL had to re-check into the flight on the secure side of the single gate terminal. I left the airport with a much better appreciation for aviation in general, and I am going to fly Cape Air one more time in November for my Thanksgiving visit. Next year I hope to fly the new Italian plane! Till then, I encourage you all to get your tax refund by flying these EAS routes on points before the whole program is shut down. Denver is one of the hottest hubs for the program:

Hope to visit a lot of these smaller towns via tiny planes before it goes away. Now the change of the EAS route from Air Choice One to Cape Air is a definite downgrade, but I am looking forward to the replacement plane in 2019:

Until then we got these old clunkers that haven’t been made since 1985!

-Derp

Card Conundrum: 5/24 Abstinence or 100k SPG?

Thank you all for the wonderful Data Points regarding a very successful roll out of the new SPG Lux card! Now what about all of the existing SPG Personal Card Holders? Apparently some people are getting 100k offers to upgrade according to DoC.

Reader Dan writes:

After I was approved for the SPG Luxury card I went ahead and upgraded my SPG basic card to a 2nd luxury card via the below link. In order to get the option upgrade it, I had to remove the SPG basic card from my main amex login and add it to its own login temporarily, similar to what we’ve had to do in the past to upgrade cards into Platinums and enroll in the Saks credit. Sadly, I did not get a promotion offer with my upgrade (ie, spend 5k get 100k points), but it’s still worth it for the $300/year credit and free anniversary night.
Just a mere 12 hours ago I applied and got approved for my own SPG luxury card. Unfortunately I checked and my wife did not get an offer of anything to upgrade her SPG Personal to Lux. As you might have read, I am abstaining from applying for any new cards for my wife so she can finally get under 5/24 in mid to late 2019. I went ahead and logged into her account and sure enough, just like Dan said, I got a very simple one click solution to upgrade her Personal SPG to the Lux version:
But then the FOMO got the best of me, do I say fuck it to the 5/24 fast and just get a new SPG Lux card for her? She is currently at 4 of her 5 card limit: Personal SPG, Delta Platinum, Everyday Preferred, and Hilton Ascend (was Surpass). Her open date on her SPG is September 2015. Her 5/24 drop off dates are as follows:
Card Age (In Mo) Drop Off Month
Chase 12 Jul-19
Chase 12 Jul-19
AmEx 10 Sep-19
Chase 9 Oct-19
Chase 7 Dec-19
Then I thought I was being an idiot here and throw away 100k points with an upgrade, but keep in mind she also had a Ritz card so we would have to get her a new card before 26 Aug 2018, and I would be on the hook for $10,000 spend for both of our cards in a 3 month period. This would require a bit of Manufactured Spending. Perhaps in the form of Bitcoin and Krugerrands (not smart). I decided to click ahead:
The terms were interesting because it spoke of the free annual night as well as the credits. According to the conditions, the $300 credit pays out like so:

$300 SPG/Marriott Rewards Statement Credit

During each year of your Card Membership (“reward year”), you are eligible to receive up to $300 total in statement credits on your Card Account for eligible purchases made directly at participating SPG® or Marriott Rewards® hotels on your Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card during that reward year. Your first reward year begins on your account opening date. Each subsequent reward year begins on the anniversary of your account opening date.
Eligible SPG or Marriott Rewards property purchases must be made directly with the participating SPG or Marriott Rewards property and charged to your Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card account for the benefit to apply. Incidental charges (including charges made at restaurants, spas and other establishments within the hotel property) must be charged to your room and paid for with your Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card at checkout in order to be recognized as SPG or Marriott Rewards purchases.
Visit spg.com for the list of participating SPG properties or Marriott.com for the list of participating Marriott Rewards properties. Purchases made by both the Basic and Additional Card Members on the eligible Card Account are eligible for statement credits. However, each Card Account is eligible for up to a total of $300 per renewal year in statement credits across all Cards on the Card Account. Please allow 8-12 weeks after the eligible SPG or Marriott purchase is charged to your Card Account for statement credit(s) to be posted to the Account. Please call the number on the back of your Card if statement credits have not posted after 12 weeks from the date of purchase. Card Members remain responsible for timely payment of all charges.

The terms of the free night read like this:

Free Night Award (up to 50k points)

Each year, after renewal of your Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, you will receive one Free Night Award from Starwood Preferred Guest®. The Free Night Award can be redeemed for a one-night stay inclusive of room rate and applicable taxes at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels with a redemption level at or under 50,000 points.

The Card Member may be responsible for payment of additional mandatory resort fees at properties where resort fees are applicable, and is responsible for all incidental charges. This benefit is only available to the Basic Card Member on the Card Account.

The Free Night Award will be automatically deposited into your loyalty member account within 8-12 weeks after your Card Account anniversary date in the form of an e-certificate. You will receive an email from SPG to the email address listed on your loyalty member account confirming that the Free Night Award e-certificate has been deposited into your loyalty member account. The email will also provide instructions on how to redeem your Free Night Award e-certificate. To redeem the Free Night Award e-certificate, you must log into your loyalty member account and apply the e-certificate during booking. The Free Night Award e-certificate will expire after 1 year from issuance. E-certificates may not be transferred, extended beyond the expiration date, or re-credited for points. To qualify for the Free Night Award, your account must be open and not in default at the time of the Free Night Award e-certificate issuance. Please visit spg.com/cert for a list of participating properties.

American Express is not responsible for fulfillment of Free Night Award e-certificate redemptions. Redemptions are subject to the terms and conditions of the loyalty program.

Free Nights – No Blackout Dates

There are no blackout dates for free nights, which apply to standard rooms only as defined by each participating property; contact the property before booking to check availability.

I am not sure if the September date of initial SPG Personal opening or if the upgrade date would be considered the anniversary date upon reset. This would mean I could squeeze out $300 credit from today till September, and then another $300 and the 50k free night after the original September anniversary date! That would be more than enough to justify forgoing the 100k bonus, so I clicked along:

Luckily there was one more step, because I now had my doubts about maintaining 5/24 here. Come July 19 she could get the CSR, United Club, Southwest Priority, Marriott Plus, and Freedom. If I got a new SPG Lux card and revived the bonus then according to this Frequent Miler chart:

I would have to wait 90 days and 24 months from the SPG Lux bonus to get the new bonus. If I was to just upgrade today, we could get the Marriott Plus bonus of 75K as well as another 35k free night a year when July 2019 hits. If I get the new SPG Lux Bonus, then no dice on the 75k bonus on the Marriott plus. Net loss would be only 25k Marriott by upgrading today!

So I could not go through with the upgrade without asking the readers out there! What should I do?

  • Upgrade my Wife’s SPG Personal to SPG Lux for $300 and another free night, because I could not hit the spend anyways and I would preserve her 5/24 dreams of having all these Chase Cards: CSR, United Club, Southwest Priority, Marriott Plus, and Freedom.
  • Forgo 5/24 and apply for a new SPG Luxury Card for 100k points, but be on the hook for a total of $10k spend in 3 months.

Let me know your thoughts!

-Derp

SPG Luxury: Approved After Pending Approval, 5 Card Limit for Most

My referral link is here.

Final Update: As of 11:27 (6.5 hours after application) I received both an email and a change to approval on the status website:

The email had the last 4 of my new number, but not the temporary card for online use:

My O-6 Select friend was not as lucky, when he applied for the SPG Lux today, he had 5 cards open: Delta Platinum, Hilton Aspire, Hilton Ascend, Hilton No Fee, and Blue Preferred. He was sent to pending as well. When he called in he was asked to close one account. This datapoint should be a sign that the 5 card rule is still in effect for most people.

Looks like some people are getting approvals when applying by NOT logging into their AmEx accounts, and applying with a new browser window. People have also noticed a brand new Marriott Number found by logging into Marriott after 18 June 2018. I had no change in my Marriott number and my SPG and Marriott accounts were unlinked (despite being linked in the past). I signed in to my Marriott account and noted I have Platinum Elite status from my Ritz Card. I hope in the future I can use my AmEx platnum to get Platinum status like we had gotten gold in the past.

I called in earlier today they said the application looked good, and they were just waiting for another department for the final approval. As of 1127 they approved me. The delay could be due to my recent SPG Biz closure that drove me under the 5 card limit.

Continue reading

No more 5 card rule for AmEx?

UPDATE: Looks like they were not counting the Hilton Citi card that became the Hilton AmEx.

I thought I was being proactive when I closed my SPG Biz card to get under the 5 card limit for the new SPG Luxury Card coming out on the 23rd. Today I found out that move might have not have been necessary. Dang it, there goes my annual free night at a 35k points property!

On the upside, this will be big if this is more than a fluke! I am planning on getting another SPG card after getting the lux to upgrade to another SPG card! Infinite Hilton Aspire cards and infinite Delta Reserves to the moon!

More to come,

Derp

SPG Luxury Opens Aug 23, Apply Before the 26 Aug Rules Apply

SPG Lux referral link here

Here are the three dates that are important for the SPG & Marriott Merger:

This means you can get the 125k Marriott point bonus with $5k spend despite having the Ritz card, if you get the SPG Lux card between the days of 23 and 26 Aug 2018!

This is great news for me, and here is my new plan:

  • Close my SPG Biz Card ASAP to open up a slot (I have Delta Plat & Reserve, Blue Cash Preferred, and HHonors)
  • Apply for SPG Lux on 23 Aug
  • Make the $5k spend in 90 days for 125k Marriott
  • Upgrade My Wife’s SPG personal since she would be ineleigible for the bonus (i’m keeping her under 5/24)
  • Enjoy $600 in hotel credits as well as 2 free nights at a 50k hotel (Ritz Chicago) every year over two cards.

If you are in a situation where you have the Ritz card or any of these rules:

Then you only got three days to get the SPG Lux between 23 and 26 Aug to get the bonus before these draconian anti-churn rules take place!

-Derp

 

Using The First Class Delta Companion Pass From Amex SkyMiles Reserve

Every year on my card anniversary (when my waived annual fee should have been charged), my AmEx Delta Reserve and Platinum card give me a companion pass each, which I can use for a free RT ticket when I buy a ticket (essentially fly for 50% off). These 2 tickets do not have to be for yourself, and you can buy a pair of tickets for any two people to fly anywhere CONUS that Delta has a route, connecting flights included.

The one added benefit from the Delta Reserve card is you can use the companion pass for a pair of first class tickets vice the Platinum SkyMiles card only does it for Main Cabin (bitch normie class). So if you fly a lot of delta, you should get every delta card in this order (note this will take up 4 of your 5 slots):

  1. Delta Reserve (40K Public Offer Currently) <– Use my link here if you want to support the site
  2. Delta Platinum (70K Public Offer Currently) <–Use these links if you want to support the site
  3. Delta Gold (60K Public Offer Currently) <– Davey’s Link
  4. Delta Blue (10K Public Offer Currently)<– your link here, just post it below if you want to me host

Then after one year you should upgrade each and every one that is not a Reserve card, to the reserve card, space it out by 3 months and get the SCRA waive to make an annual companion pass machine with 4 companion passes from 4 Reserve cards a year:

Booking is easy, the cert will show up in your Delta account wallet after one year of membership:

Select it and use the booking engine to select a flight:

Note that these prices are for two tickets, I can fly ORD to SEA RT for $144.20 Main, $188.20 Comfort+, or $348.20 First per person. You end up on the hook for tax for your companion:

And the strangest thing is you must use an AmEx card to pay for the flight, no Visa, no gift cards or credits. I chose my personal AmEx Platinum to get 5x points on the $724.80 for 3,624 MR points worth $45.30 as a Schwab brokerage deposit or $54.36 in airfare. This can be seen as 7.5% cash-back so we are looking at $669.64 for this flight.

Two tickets RT to Seattle from Chicago would run you about $724.80 which is $181.20 a segment. If we run the numbers for basic bitch economy we end up with a total of $316.80 for two round trip tickets costing $79.20 a segment. The $102 premium per segment over the 4 hour flight would mean you are paying about $25.50 an hour per person for this first class service.

Looking at it from a redemption standpoint, we could have used 88,000 skymiles and $22.40 for the same pair of tickets instead of $724.80 making these sky pesos worth 8/10th of a cent each in this case.

What exactly does Delta First Class buy you anyways? I used my companion pass from last year to fly ORD to SLC in Delta First, and I have to say the experience feels like what coach was in 1988; wider recliner sized seats, free booze, real food, and friendly service without a beverage cart.

The check in experience was meh at ORD because of the undermanned SkyPriority counter, and the TSA line was shorter but much slower than the Pre-check line. You already get the luggage and this priority line for military. I got into the lounge with just my boarding pass because it was linked to my SkyMiles number which had my Reserve card on file. A guest would have cost me $28, but my wife got in with her AmEx Platinum card. They had Chicago style hot dogs instead of mac and cheese. At the gate you get to board early, but military in and out of uniform get to board even earlier. There really is no benefit from check in to gate between first class and military members.

Once seated on the plane and while at the gate you get a drink served in plastic, and in the air you get one of those hot towels to freshen up as well as another drink with dinner, and an after dinner drink. The dinner was pretty decent on my flight:

Pesto Chicken salad

some sort of meat ball and salad.

However, the biggest benefit of first is the attentive staff that can make any drink that you want and not waiting to get off the damn plane when you get there. With the extra time not waiting in the back of the plane you can visit the SkyClub one more time on arrival so you wont have th face the indignity of waiting with normies at the baggage carousel. This trip I went to the Sky Club at SLC and they had Dom for 12,500 sky miles worth 2 cents a mile.

This price of $250 is consistent with the price you find at a restaurant, but Costco has bottles for about $133 and Binny’s we are looking at $160:

Naturally I had to order as a datapoint for the blog. I asked if I could take it out of th elounge and they siad they didnt care what I did with it, but it had to be open in the bar per their liquor license. They gave me an iPad and using my full name and Sky Miles number it deducted the 12,500 Skymiles from my account. I left a cash tip, but you can tip with points on the iPad. They sent a manager over and they had a big to do about opening it and asking what we were celebrating.

We had our two glasses and they were good, but not $250 good. I poured the rest into a water bottle. And we took the empty bottle with us. By the time we got to the bag claim our luggage was already there.

In summary if you want to have dinner in a flying restaurant at $25 an hour then fist class with the companion pass is perfect for you. I certainly can take it or leave it for myself, but first class is like Dom Perigion, it is there to impress someone else in my book. Probably going to use the companion pass to send my in-laws somewhere and I won’t tell them how i did it.

-Derp

Existing SPG Card Holders: Check Your Anniversary Date

It’s a bummer that SPG and AmEx is restricting the sign up bonus for their new SPG Luxury Card for any existing user of their Chase Marriott, Chase Ritz or AmEx SPG Cards according to this chart:

The bonus is not small potatoes either, it is rumored to be 75k for the personal and business SPG products and 125k fo the SPG Lux according to DoC, and the release date has been push back to after 18 August 2018 as well! The only saving grace is the fact that we are all going to get the conus night for our existing SPG cards according to this email received today:

Annual Free Night Award: Card Members whose Card account anniversary dates are on or after August 1 will be eligible to receive their annual Free Night Award (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.

I went ahead and checked my existing SPG personal account and it was opened on September of 2015. If I can upgrade the SPG card to the Luxury on 18 Aug 2018, then I can get $300 Marriott Cash, and a 50k free night without a hard pull on my credit. This would also save me from my route to 0/24 in 2019!

Now on the Chase Marriott Side, here are my dates of opening:

  1. My card opened June 2015 (As Ritz)
  2. Wife’s card opened July 2015
  3. Mom’s card opened Dec 2016

Since I held back from upgrading to the Marriott Premier plus, I am eligible to get the bonus on the SPG Biz card for my wife (since she never had the card before). On the back side since it has been 24 months since my mom’s last Marriott card bonus, she can close her Marriott card and get the bonus for the Marriott Premier Plus after she opens her own SPG cards from AmEx. This has become a very intracate game of chess with two banks!

On a side note, all of this drama has incentivized me to consider trying to get back to 0/24 myself.

I made it an entire quarter without getting a new card! If I can make it to January of 2020 I should be prime to get a Chase card such as my own CSR, then wait a month to get my own Southwest, then Marriott Premier Plus (closing out my Marriott Premier in the process), Freedom, and another Southwest card for the companion pass. More ideas found here (keep in mind no MLA waivers for business cards).

How are you guys going ot manage these new SPG Marriott Chase AmEx rules? Comment below!