14% Cash Back On Saks Double Dip (Maybe only 10%)

Happy New Year! With the AmEx $50 Saks credit reset for 2019, I am planning on the ultimate cash back stack by getting Ebates cash back twice (use link here). I will earn 4% on the in-store gift card purchase (or not according to the offer language), and 10% again online with spending the gift cards at Saks Off 5th (and now Saks 5th)!

Update: The language in the Ebates page says no gift cards, however I just got 7 emails saying that my in store gift card purchases worked. The terms are this:

4.0% In-Store Cash Back was 2.0%:
Earn Cash Back when you shop with your linked card at all participating Saks Fifth Avenue stores. Maximum Cash Back per qualifying transaction is $100.00. Offer not valid at Saks OFF FIFTH stores. Debit card purchases must be processed as credit in order to be eligible for Cash Back. When using your debit card, do not enter your PIN. Only US-issued payment cards are eligible to enroll and earn Cash Back. Offer not valid for gift card purchases. In-Store offers not valid for online purchases and may not be combined with other Ebates rewards. US stores only. Offer not valid at locations in US territories. Offer may be displayed on multiple websites but is redeemable only once per qualifying transaction. If you link to the same offer on more than one site, your qualifying transaction will only be eligible for rewards or benefits associated with the offer through the most recently linked site. A linked offer is good for 24 hours after initial redemption. After such time the offer must be re-linked prior to your next purchase. A linked offer that has not been redeemed will automatically expire 45 days after it is linked or on the date the offer itself ends, whichever is sooner. Cash Back earned will be paid with your next eligible Ebates Big Fat Check!

I bought a single $350 gift card in the Men’s department at Chicago’s Saks Fifth Ave split over 7 AMEx Platinum Cards. I was met with a little hesitation as one of the managers said you could only do 4 cards per any transaction. I had the another salesman in his $20,000 Kiton Custom suit do 5 cards and kept on encouraging him to do all 7 towards a single gift card. No problem at all, I signed 7 slips for 7 cards at $50 a card. and walked out with a single $350 gift card and 7 of these emails:

ArmyGrunt07 says:

Last year on Black Friday the E-bates cashback return was 15% for online purchases from Sak’s. I used my gift cards for the majority of a $500 purchase and received the E-bates return on the entire purchase amount, regardless of the use of gift cards. I’ll be saving mine and hoping they offer a similar bonus this November.

Currently Ebates is offering 4% in person, and 10% online at Off 5th and Saks 5th:

You just need to sign up for Ebates (please use my link), then add the Saks offer to each card here, and then add your AmEx Platinum cards to Ebates to use in store. Then add the AmEx cards and buy gift cards in person at Saks for 4%. Then use Ebates again for 10% online at Off 5th using the gift cards:

Data points have shown that you can split a $300 gift card over 6 AmEx personal platinum cards at the Saks store (not off 5th). Reader Dave on 26 Dec 2018 says:

The Vegas Saks was more than helpful and happy to split a $300 gift card across 6 plats at the general office. All 6 reimbursed today.

Make note that you must go in person to only Saks Fifth Avenue as every datapoint shows that the online gift cards do not get reimbursed. Nor does buying anything at an Off 5th in person. Note that AmEx gets reports online on what exactly you buy online, spooky:

Here is the conversion, with a physical gift card in hand (bought at a real Saks Fifth Avenue only), you can then go back to Ebates and link to Off 5th and get 10% off even using gift cards from Saks 5th:

With my 14 AmEx Personal Platinums, I should get $56 on buying the gift cards, and then $140 to spend said gift cards on $1,400 worth of useless Bougie-Bitch shit! I got my eye on this Gucci watch (with $100 to spare):

Yes, you too can get paid $196 to be a marketer of a Veblen good. I got my multiple Platinums with the following cards, and with upgrading the gold and green after a year (please use the referral links to support the site). All cards have annual fees waived for AD via SCRA:

Damn I feel like a vapid millennial influencer now! Getting paid to wear free flashy shit. Happy New Year! (Note that Saks Fifth now offers 10% as well)


AmEx and The French Laundry Breakup

You know it used to be mad love 

I sent my most senior correspondent out to Napa to dine at the French Laundry this Christmas weekend only to find that there was no special amenity for her. I had booked months ago with the AmEx concierge, If you can recall, I was able to get free wine and a truffles when I went last year.

I reached out to the concierge and they had this to say:

– The French Laundry – 
Unfortunately we have recently ended our partnership with this restaurant, however that does not mean we can no longer assist with your dining requests. I would recommend for the best chance at success to place your request with us ahead of a given booking schedule, which is approximately on a quarterly basis. For example: January 1st,will release for March 1st through April 30th. In our typical experience, it takes about 10 minutes for a given period to fully sell-out once the books open, and prime-time weekends always go the fastest. We still to collect advance booking attempt requests from our valued Cardmembers, but please note that we are now limited only to the publicly available TOCKTIX page. Unfortunately we have no further provisional access to tables at this restaurant, and once the books have opened for a given date, we can only add our Cardmembers to the TOCKTIX wait-list, which will contact them directly with an offer if there were an opportunity. As a reminder, The French Laundry pre-charges all reservations at the time of booking, for the full menu price of $315 per person, and are all final sale and cannot be refunded, which do make cancellation opportunities rare. 

Oh well, I got my eye set on Atelier Crenn anyways, which just received a third Michelin Star. They are also located in the Bay Area. The AmEx concierge had this to say:

We do have an established partnership with chef Dominique Crenn and her fabulous restaurants, and we are more than happy to leverage this to our advantage for you, however there are limitations to this as well. Atelier Crenn opens their books to reservations on the first date of the month, 2 months prior (for example, all dates in March of 2019 will become available on January 1). Atelier Crenn is also booking on TOCKTIX, involving a pre-charge of the full menu price starting at $335 per person, and cannot be cancelled or refunded once booked. Once the books are open and a given date appears to be booked, we often have additional access for parties of 2 only, at the 8:00 PM time mark, although these are limited and not guaranteed. 

How times have changed! I always found the AmEx relationship with The French Laundry to be one of the most valuable Platinum membership perk. I am glad to see that they added Dominique Crenn to their Global Dining showcase! Is this a sign of appealing to a more contemporary crowd? Looking forward to checking out this relationship soon. Please use this link if you have not gotten your free for military AmEx Platinum.


Saks Fifth Avenue 2019 Strategy

The Saks 5th Ave credits on all of my personal platinum cards will reset on 01 January 2019. If we break it down by taxonomy we have the following eligible cards:

I squandered the first round of bonuses back in July of 2018 on multiple $50 gift wrapped gift boxed (for free) orders online, stacked with EBATES, and shipped for free via shop runner. Now that I have a proven datapoint $50 gift cards work in person , as well as another from my O-6 friend in Hawaii who got a $200 gift card split over 4 Plat cards still resulting in reimbursement.

I am planning on buying $50 physical gift cards over 13 visits between Jan to June and then 14 July to Dec. Then over all of 2019 I should have 27 little gift boxes with 27 little Saks 5th bags all worth $1,350:

Now I have been given direction on the online chat that you can use infinite gift cards in person to spend on a single transaction. You are also able to use up to 9 gift cards online. Better yet you can combine gift cards in store to spend online! The best part of the physical gift card strategy is the ability to use the cards at OFF 5th, both in person and online. Your dollar would go much further there.

When my friend bought the $200 over 4 cards he got some pushback. He was able to eventually get someone that would do it, I say it’s not worth the hassle since you can combine and redeem gift cards later. For those that don’t find themselves by a Saks and like to push the envelope, you can attempt to buy a $400 gift card split over 8 cards. Move to another register and repeat till you have exhausted all your cards. Then combine them into a single massive gift card!

I hate to draw that much attention to myself and rather get 27 gift cards over 365 days! Plus imagine misplacing a $1,350 gift card. That would hurt!


One Last Churn for 2018

Well, it was too tempting to pass up on the possibility of $200 a year of Dell Credit for each AmEx Biz Plat so I went ahead and got another AmEx Gold Business with full intention to upgrade to another Plat by February 2019.

I had a Biz Gold back in my Okinawa days of 2015, but for another company. That card has since been upgraded to another Biz Platinum. I was given the offer to order to earn 50,000 MR points with $5k spend in 3 months and no-pop up indicating that I would not be eligible for the offer because I had the product before. I hope this works out since there have been some reports of bonus denials even with the lack of pop up.

I also double dipped the churn by having my wife send me her Schwab AmEx Platinum referral link to earn $100 on the successful application. From this link I was able to choose any card from AmEx that is currently offering a bonus. This has been pretty lucrative for the year:

These referrals from the Ameriprise Gold and Plat as well as Schwab Platinum have changed the name of the referral game. Each card can earn up to $550 a year for 6 referrals at $100 each. Chase should take notice, because this is what will get the most reach out there!

Overall I went for another business card because in 6 months my wife will be off her 24 month credit card fast to start hitting chase hard again. AmEx Business Cards do not show on any credit report and therefore are under the radar of Chase!

I don’t think I can hit the $5k spend in the one week left of the year once I get the card in the mail. If I had done this right, I could have hit the $200 airline credit twice in two months if I could upgrade to another biz plat before end of December!

Please use this link here if you want to get an AmEx Biz Gold card.


Use Your CC Bonuses Before The End Of The Year

Gentle reminder that these bonuses reset every calendar year, so it’s best use them in the upcoming weeks before the year is over:

  1. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card:
    1. $75 annual credit on Southwest flights
  2. Ritz-Carlton Credit Card: 
    1. $300 on Airline fees (good for $100 AA Gift Cards (YMMV))
  3. AmEx Personal Platinum: (My Link Here)
    1. Uber @ $15 a month with an extra $20 in December (Use on Uber Eats @ end of month
    2. $200 annually on Airlines:
      1. American Airlines (single $200 gift card) or
      2. Delta Airlines (4x $50 cards online at delta.com only) or
      3. Southwest Airlines gift card (single $200 gift card)
    3. $50 on Saks 5th Ave gift cards bought in person only (2X: $50 Jan to June, then $50 July to Aug)
  4. AmEx Business Platinum: (My Link Here)
    1. $200 annually on Airlines:
      1. American Airlines (single $200 gift card) or
      2. Delta Airlines (4x $50 cards online on delta.com only) or
      3. Southwest Airlines gift card (single $200 gift card)
    2. 10 GoGo in flight WiFi passes
    3. $200 for Dell computer (Starts Feb 2019)
  5. AmEx (Rose) Gold (Referral Link Here)
    1. $100 airline credit to be spent like AmEx Platinum credit (AA, Delta, Southwest Gift Cards)
    2. $120 for dining ($10 a month) (GrubHub, CheeseCake Factory, and more)
  6. Hilton Aspire Card: (Referral Link Here)
    1. $250 on American Airlines, Delta Airlines, or Southwest Airlines gift cards (Delta: 5x $50, AA and SW: Single $250)

This is an incomplete list, please post below if I forgot something. If you got the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card , please share your link. I did not include stuff that expires on the anniversary year of card membership (eg: $300 travel on CSR).


Online $50 Saks Gift Card Does Not Get Reimbursed By AmEx Personal Plat

Update: The charge ended up showing up as “Saks Fifth A 8559729WILMINGTON DE” but no reimbursement.

Thank you for all of your data points! An O-3 here at Great Lakes just bought a $50 gift card online and the charge showed up on his card account as “ONLINE E-GIFT BUYATAB”:

Remember that the Saks $50 credit terms state specifically that the $50 credit will not work for gift cards. Another datapoint comes from reader Lejeune-O3 had this experience:

Data Point on the new E-Gift Cards of $50. Purchased $50 Gift card on 27 Nov and no reimbursement so far as of Dec 6. Even though AMEX says the purchase is from Saks the charge itself seems to be registered as ONLINE E-GIFT BUYATAB. Will update if this changes.

Another reader Janine reported the existence of sub $150 Saks gift cards online on 26 November 2018. She tried to buy one on 27 November only to have the order canceled. I think its a bad idea to buy any Saks gift card online with any expectation that it will be reimbursed.

This switch-o-roo is very similar to the Delta $50 gift card when bought via phone app would automatically transfer you to a third party site. This third party would charge you thereby attaching their name instead of Delta Airlines. Since the charge is not from Delta Airlines there was no way to reimburse the charge. To advoid this, just buy the gift card on a desktop or laptop via the main delta site.

If you want to keep trying the online Saks Giftcard, please continue to post your data points either way below. Your best bet is to actually buy an item on Saks, but be sure to stack it with Ebates to get some cash back as well as use shop runner AmEx Benefit for free overnight shipping. You can also get free gift wrap when checking out of the site. Be aware that some items ship via 3rd party and will be ineligible for free overnight shipping and gift wrap, this is the case for almost all the food items.

I for one, would go into a Saks Fifth location (not OFF Saks) and buy a $200 gift card and split it over 4 AmEx Platinum cards. My O-6 friend did this in Hawaii and all 4 cards got the credit. You could attempt a $400 card split over 8 cards, but I think that would raise some alarms. I for one have done a single $50 card in the store and got reimbursed no problem.


Merry Christmas From AmEx: $25,000 Personal Loan @ 0.00%

We finally got the long awaited datapoint via email:

To support the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces, we are handling your loan referenced above in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”).

The SCRA provides for a maximum annual interest rate of 6% per year on loans you received before starting active military duty. However, at this time we have chosen to reduce the interest rate on your SCRA eligible balance to an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 0.00%.

We have issued credit for the full amount of applicable interest charges and fees to your loan account. This amount will appear as a credit(s) on your loan invoice. The total interest charges and fees you have already paid will be returned to you in the form of a check under separate cover. The check amount will appear as a debit on your loan invoice and will be offset by our credit(s). In addition, we will waive any future late payment and returned payment fees for the duration of your active military duty.

Beginning with your next loan invoice and thereafter, your new Monthly Payment will be $692.55. We have also adjusted any monthly payment(s) previously billed but not yet paid, to reflect the new Monthly Payment amount.

If you are currently enrolled in AutoPay for this loan, your future AutoPay amount will reflect the new monthly payment amount above and no additional action is required.

If there are any additional accounts you would like to be reviewed for SCRA relief, 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

Here is my timeline:

  1. Applied For Loan on 31 Oct 2018
  2. Approved for $25,000 @ 5.98% for 36 Months on 01 Nov 2018
  3. Faxed SCRA Request to +1 (623)444-3000 on 01 Nov 2018
  4. $25,000 deposited into my bank account on 05 Nov 2018
  5. $760.44 payment withdrawn on 27 Nov 2018
  6. Noticed that the $760.44 payment applied to the entire $25k balance
  7. 0.00% SCRA Letter Received Via Email on 05 Dec 2018

For what its worth, the 0.00% SCRA worked for now, but can be revoked at any time! AmEx is just being really generous in loaning out $25,000 for three years without any interest. I keep on thinking this in my head, but if they change their mind and jack up the rate. I am more than happy to pay off the entire loan.

If you are super careful like me I am going to use the money as an emergency fund. I decided a high yield savings account would be the way to go:

For the time being the $25,000 is split over several accounts earning 5% in a Bridgeview Pennywise Savings account here, and 2% on a Capital One 360 Money Market Account here. The Pennywise is a much higher earning rate, but the deposits are physically demanding:

They also capped the accounts to only $3,000 earning the 5.00%, previously it had a limit of $5,000. Also you had to make deposits in physical coin at a physical location in Illinois!

The more practical approach is to earn 2% on a Capital One 360 Money Market Account by applying here or If you use promo code OFFER200 you can earn a $200 bonus with balances of $10,000 or more by by December 14, 2018. Over the 3 year loan your $25,000 would earn $1,500 an that’s not even counting compounding interest! Not to mention you would get to use the Capital One Cafe space with an account. This is a lot better than paying $2,372.07 in interest for the $25k!

Best of luck out there! Just be patient for the SCRA letter if you decide to go with the AmEx personal loan. There have been reports of taking up to 40 days for a response!


Dude You’re Getting a Dell (Credit)!

Image result for dude you're getting a dell

Major changes coming to the AmEx Biz Platinum coming Feb 2019. More info here and here. The most notable is this:

Up to $200 in statement credits annually for U.S. purchases with Dell on your Business Platinum Card. You’ll receive more information about how to enroll in the new Shop Dell with Business Platinum benefit in February 2019.

The other is a free one year membership to WeWork, which I can only imagine is another AmEx Lounge. Or at least I am going to treat it as one, with up to 4 beers a day promised to members! User Mcnst says:

The selling point would be coworking and 24/7 access, nice well-maintained buildings, usually very high floors, as well as nitro cold brew on tap, kombucha on tap, and beer-on-tap during business hours. They usually lock the taps after hours, but you’d still have hot tea and the ice machine 24/7; plus could probably make coffee yourself using their supplies after hours if you feel really inclined.

As for the annual fee, it should remain $0 for military due to their generous SCRA waiver. It should be a no brainer to hit up all versions of their business cards and upgrade to the Platinum. The 35% points back and $200 Airline fee should remain the same. Please use the links below if at all interested:

  1. Plain old vanilla Business Platinum
  2. Business Green to Business Platinum
  3. Business Gold to Business Platinum

The advantage of getting 3 Biz Plats means you can select Delta, United, and American to get 1.5 cents from every point on virtually every major airline in the USA. You would get $600 for flights as well as three years (hopefully consecutively) of WeWork membership. You would also get $600 for Dell computers each year, but Dan and I are trying to figure out how to use three cards in a single order. Currently there are no gift cards online:

Perhaps we just get a crap ton of peripherals each year:

Maybe, I should get a CromeBook for every room in the house:

Well, let’s wait till February 2019 for more details, it might just be a $50 quarterly credit which would make things hard to spend on. Either way, hooray for AmEx Biz!

Amended Access American Airlines Admiral’s Admissions

Looks like the good people at American Airlines caught on to my plan to sleep, dine and shower at the American Airlines Admirals Club without any intention to fly with them:

Starting November 1, 2019
Boarding passes for same-day travel on American Airlines or partner airlines will be required for entry. Any departing or arriving flight: marketed or operated by American Airlines, marketed and operated by any oneworld® partner carrier, marketed and operated by American Airlines or Alaska Airlines in any combination.

The details can be found here. Previously all you needed to do was show your (hopefully MLA waived) American Airlines Executive card at any Admirals Club and they just let you in without even asking for any boarding pass. You could technically be flying a rival airline, be on a gate pass, or even been an airport employee or USO volunteer, anything to get you past security. Up until November 2019 they would let you in, no questions asked, for some free beer and guac and chips to catch a football game:

We got less than a year to pull off the homeless for a month at the airport challenge! Your best bet now is to get the United Club Card with Chase in order to ensure you have lounge access regardless of the airline you are flying. Now if you are in the terminal with just a gate pass then you have only the USO to go to. American Airlines is now like Delta Sky Clubs, United Club, and Centurion Lounges which all require some boarding pass for entry. No word from Justin Ross Lee on if the fully refundable first class ticket still works:

We still got a year to bum around the AA lounge, but after 01 Nov 2019 we actually got to fly with them! If the $450 annual fee hits on my AA Executive Card, I might have to reconsider if it is worth it!


Chase Referral Round-Up

Looks like us senior churners are SOL on hitting any Chase products for the next two years since 5/24 expanded to every Chase product. For all you new-to-churning folk, you are getting in at a good time now that the MLA is waiving fees for Chase cards. I would start with CSR and then hit these other Chase products:

  1. Chase Marriott Premier Plus 2 FREE NIGHTS (35k max) with $3k spend in 90 days ($95 annual fee) (LINK HERE)(2nd Link)(Link 3)
    1. Free annual night worth 35k points
    2. Will make you ineligible for the AmEx SPG Lux bonus for 24 months
  2. Hyatt Card 40k on $3k spend, in 90 days then 20k on another $6k in 180 days ($95 waived)(Link Here)(2nd link)
    1. Free annual night Category 1-4
    2. 4x points on Hyatt Spend
  3. Chase IHG Card 80k on $2k spend in 90 days ($89 AF Waived)(Link Here)(Link 2)
    1. Free annual night worth up to 40k points
  4. Chase Ink Business Preferred $95 a year (No AF Waiver) (Link Here)
    1. 80k UR on $5k spend
    2. 3x UR on Travel, Shipping purchases, internet, cable

If you have any Southwest, Freedom, United Explorer, or Disney referrals, please go here and get a referral link. Please post that link below to share with other readers. I for one am considering hitting only AmEx Biz cards until December of 2020 to finally get under 5/24.