1099 From AmEx Referrals!

DOC, Miles Talk, and reddit are all reporting 1099s being issued for AmEx cash based referrals as well as points earned for referrals.

I am getting multiple letters from AmEx today marked important tax information. These are all reporting to myself and the IRS on bonuses earned at 1 cent per point. So that 15,000 MR bonus for referring your friend means you just made $150 taxable income from AmEx. The letters look like this:

Initially I thought they were counting the $550 waiver was being reported, but it appears to be taxes on the bonus earned. This is how they are valuing each point referred:

  • Amex Membership Rewards: 1 cent per point
  • Marriott (new): 1 cent per point
  • Hilton: 0.67 cents per point
  • Delta: 1 cent per point

Looks like were gonna have to do some withholding next year in anticipation of a bountiful referral year!


Chase Reader Referral Links

Referrals can now be generated through the Chase Mobile app for the following cards:

Keep in mind they are all 5/24 restricted, excellent for the new churner. Personal cards will have MLA waivers for Servicemembers and their spouses. However business cards are not MLA annual fee waived. Please post yours below or use mine above.


Marriott Premiere Plus Now Offering 3x (35k) Nights

Thanks to Frequent Miler for the heads up!

Earn a 3 Free Night Award with the Marriott Rewards (R) Premier Plus Credit Card (Up to 35k per night). Please use this link if you are at all interested: https://www.referyourchasecard.com/252/MRW002Q6S2

This card will become the Bonvoy boundless after 13 Feb 2019. After one year you should upgrade it to a Ritz Card to ger a 50k night every year as well as a $300 travel credit to use on any airline.


Reservist Data Points Needed

Not sure if there are any Reservists out there but reader Mike asked:

Quick question for you; I’m not sure if you have experience with this or could point me in the right direction.

I know that MLA/SCRA protections are generally for active duty or reservists on long term orders. However, I’ve seen it referenced in a number of places that regular, drilling reservists are getting MLA/SCRA protection/rates/etc. My question is… how?!

I tried secure messaging Chase, but they asked for orders. I don’t have any active orders to give – are people using IDT orders?

Great blog, and if you have any advice, I’d love to hear it!


There are some datapoints out there of Navy Reservists. But mine is a single O-5 that applied for the AmEx Platinum while activated. He was able to get this one card waived of its annual fees. I suggested to Mike to check the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) site here and make a request while activated. My report looks like this:

What I need is a reservist that is not activated vs a reservist that is active to run the same report. I figure that the activated reservist has a report that appears identical to the active duty one. I gander that this is why active reservists are getting the MLA and SCRA protections. Please post it if you got it!


Correction: The Dell $200 Credit From AmEx Business Platinum Will Work Like The Saks Credit ($100 x2), Can Use 3 Cards Per Dell Purchase

Edit: I was given bad intel on the use of the $200 Dell credit, I have corrected the article to reflect the $200 Dell credit to be split over 6 months.

BLUF: A huge partnership between Dell and AmEx Business Platinum is coming in the form of a $200 Dell benefit starting February 2019. The Dell credit will work the same way as the Saks Credit on the Personal Plat, as in you have Jan to June to use $100, then another $100 from July to Dec. You would opt into the benefit first to get the credit. Dell small business is offering 2% cash back on Ebates, and Dell allows 3 credit cards per order. Members of Founders Card can stack their 5% on top of all of this.

I got 6 Biz Platinum Cards By Upgrading Golds and Greens

Right now 2 of my 6 AmEx Business Platinum Cards are offering this AmEx Deal of 10% at dell.com, so I am seeing a big AmEx and Dell partnership coming soon:

A month ago I opened an AmEx Business Gold and upgraded it to another AmEx Biz Platinum once the 50k bonus on $5k spend hit, no need to wait a year! I got the new Platinum card in the mail today, and I called AmEx Business Card Activation at 1-800-523-8444 and asked about the $200 Dell Credit.

The customer service representative (CSR) informed me the offer was up to $200 credit annually to be used at the US Dell Store Online and (according the the CSR) in person at a “physical Dell store” (yet to be discovered by me). The credit would not work at a third party retailer selling Dell computers and services. This resets every year after December 31st, and works for products and services from Dell. You have to register with the AmEx website to make sure the offer is active. Credits will post after you make the purchase, but no time line yet on when it would credit.

The CSR mistakenly told me that you will get all $200 to use at once, however she was wrong as the offer is reported as:

Get up to $100 in statement credits between January and June and up to $100 in statement credits between July and December for U.S. purchases with Dell on your Business Platinum Card. That’s up to $200 in statement credits annually. Enrollment required.

I then called Dell at 1-800-624-9897 and asked about splitting an order over several cards. However they were closed for the night. I reached out to the online chat and they confirmed that you could only split an order over three cards:

My plan was to split a $1,200 item over my 6 cards, but I guess I have to settle for four orders of $300, each split over three cards. Each card would get a $100 charge which will be reimbursed by this new credit. It appears Dell does not sell gift cards online, so the spend has to be straight.

With two of the cards registered for 10% back in a $100 charge, I will actually get $20 on this AmEx offer and 2% cash back on Ebates of $6. On check out you can enter three credit cards:

This Friday I will actually place this order and get all three $100 charges credited! I will do this again with my other three cards. Reminder that Dell Small Business is offering 2% cash back on Ebates! Use my Ebates link here to stack the deal.

I also asked the AmEx CSR about WeWork, which will be a one year Platinum Global Access Membership. It appears that you will be able to pick and enroll when you want to activate for the free year. If I can stagger the activations over 6 cards then I will have 6 years of free office space! I have a tour of a Chicago office on Monday, so more to come on that. No information under the benefits tab as of midnight Eastern time on 01 Feb 2019.

More information will come in the form of an email or snail mail! Either way I now have the problem of figuring out how to spend $1,200 in Dell stuff! Please use my link for an upgradable AmEx Biz Green, AmEx Business Gold , or direct application for an AmEx Biz Platinum.

Update: Founders Card Members get 5% more off on Dell on top, use my referral link if interested.


12 Feb Deadline To Figure Out Bonvoy

BLUF: There are changes taking place 13 Feb 2019. The current Chase and AmEx card line up will look like this:

In the time it took me to write this one Marriott Bonvoy post, Greg from Frequent Miler Wrote these 8 posts:

Overall, Greg has an excellent posts and charts, I won’t repeat all the information here and urge you to check out his posts linked above. His chart is also a masterpiece:

(From FM) I’m Going To Need At Least Till March to Figure This One Out

A Navy O-6 from Jacksonville reached out to me asking if he should take advantage of this last chance to get some cards before they get discontinued before the merger takes place on 13 Feb 2019. I was disappointed in myself in not having a clue on what was going on, so I decided to write this post to figure out my own situation. Here is where I stand currently:

  • Ritz Carlton Card (MLA Waived in April)
  • Wife’s Ritz Carlton Card (MLA Waived in December)
  • Marriott Premier ($85 Every Aug)
  • Wife’s Marriott Premier ($85 Every July)
  • Mom’s Marriott Premier ($85 Every Dec)
  • SPG Luxury Card (SCRA Waived in July)
  • Wife’s SPG Luxury Card (SCRA Waived in Aug) (Upgraded from SPG)

I had the lowest SPG and SPG Business in the past which makes me ineligible for the bonus for the new Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card  and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.  However with the application going away for the lowest AmEx SPG card on 12 Feb 2019, I am considering getting the card even if I wont get the bonus again. I would just have to drop my Delta Platnium or Blue Cash to make this happen. I also have a non-MLA Ritz that I downgraded to the Marriott Premier.

Regarding my wife’s cards. We got into this weird situation of upgrading my wife’s SPG personal to SPG Luxury because she has the MLA waived Ritz Card. We would have been ineligible for the 100k points since I missed the deadline of 26 Aug 2018 before the new rules kicked in. She is also not in the business of applying for any new cards until July 2019.

What makes this one of the most challenging mind games is the other Frequent Miler Chart here:

Greg’s Amazing Chart of Anti-Churning Absurdity

Here is the situation the chart outlines, my wife and I both hold on to the Marriott Premier Card and did not take the 20,000 point upgrade offer to Premier Plus when it came out a year ago. This means my wife could cancel her non-MLA waived Marriott Premier when she is under 5/24 and get the 75,000 point bonus by applying for a new Marriott Premier Plus Card.

After one year she would upgrade this new Marriott Premier Plus card to another MLA Waived Ritz Card, and I urge anyone that has an MLA waived Marriott Premier or Premier Plus Card to do the same.

I don’t think I will ever be under 5/24 and I should jump on the next time an offer is made to upgrade the Premier to the Premier Plus. On the Chase side I should consider the Business Marriott Card before it goes away forever:

Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business card (was Chase Marriott Business Premier Plus) comes with:

  • 35K free night award each year upon renewal
  • Silver status
  • 15 elite night credits each calendar year
  • NOT 5/24 Restricted
  • Must Pay Annual Fee (No MLA Waiver)

I would then keep my SPG Luxury cards and Ritz cards and enjoy the following each year after these plans are executed:

  • 5 x (50k Nights) 3 Ritz, 2 SPG Lux
  • 5 x ($300 credits) 3 Ritz, 2 SPG Lux
  • 1 x (35k Night with $99 AF) Chase Biz Marriott
  • 2 x (25k Night with $85 AF) 2x Chase Marriott Premier

Now the real question to ponder is do I drop a Delta Card and have a dead space of a non bonus earning SPG Personal card for a year? My current holdings are:

  • Blue Cash Preferred (Planning On Replacing with Hilton Honors)
  • Delta Reserve
  • Delta Platinum (Upgrade to Reserve)
  • Hilton Honors Aspire
  • SPG Luxury

My wife is going to be under 5/24 in July 2019 and she currently has this:

  • Everyday Preferred (Replace with Hilton Aspire)
  • Delta Reserve Business
  • Delta Platinum (Upgrade to Reserve)
  • SPG Luxury
  • Hilton Honors Ascend (Upgrade to Aspire)

I have until 12 Feb 2019 to make my last moves here. You think its worth dropping a Delta Companion to get another $300 and a free 50K night? I am also debating dropping Bonvoy in favor of another Hilton Honors card because it is so easy to get top tier status (Hilton Diamond) with the Hilton Honors Aspire. Note that my Platinum status with Marriott (which I got at the merger) will expire at the end of 2019 which will mean losing free breakfast and lounge access. Greg writes:

I earned 75 nights largely due to short term opportunities caused by the program merger between Marriott and SPG.  Specifically, I have four credit cards which each contributed to my total: Marriott Premier (15 nights), Marriott Premier Business (15 nights), SPG (5 nights), and SPG Business (5 nights).  With that collection of credit cards I had earned 40 elite nights before setting foot in a Marriott or Starwood hotel. Going forward, it won’t matter how many Marriott cards one has: the elite nights will no longer stack.  So, going forward, I’ll earn only 15 elite nights per year from credit cards.

So it might make sense for me to just get the Business Chase Card and try to maximize my slots for AmEx to favor Hilton. My ultimate make up will look like this:

  • 4x Hilton Honors Aspire
    • Wife: Direct Aspire (Dropping Everyday Preferred)
    • Wife: Aspire (Was Surpass that became Ascend)
    • Hilton Honors Aspire (Dropped Ascend like an idiot)
    • Hilton Honors Basic converted to Aspire (Drop BCP)
  • 2x Bonvoy Brilliant Cards
    • Wife: SPG converted to SPG Lux
    • SPG Lux direct after dropping SPG Biz
  • 4x Delta Reserve Cards
    • Wife: Delta Platinum Upgraded to Reserve
    • Wife: Delta Business Reserve Direct
    • Delta Reserve (Dropping Delta Gold)
    • Delta Platinum converted to Reserve
  • 3 Ritz Carlton Cards (MLA Waived)
    • Wife: Direct application before 5/24 rules
    • Wife: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless converted to Ritz
    • Direct application before 5/24 rules
  • 2 Marriott Premier Plus Cards (Not Waived)
    • Personal Premier card (Downgraded form Chase Ritz)
      • Then upgraded to premier plus
    • Chase Business Marriott Premier Card

This would give me 4 Hilton nights anywhere with $1,000 half for flights and half for Hilton resort credits. 5 Marriott nights up to 50k and $900 for flights and $600 for Marriott hotels. Then four Delta companion passes, and finally 2 vouchers for 35,000 point hotels.

I decided to upgrade my Premier plus because it means the difference between the Airport Marriott to the JW Marriott in most places. I am going to wait for a point offer to upgrade. Now for my wife I won’t upgrade her premier plus because it would cause the 24 month timer to reset if she was to get a bonus. Makes more sense for her to drop the card and get a new Premier Plus (Bonvoy Boundless) to get the full bonus when she is under 5/24



Expedia Gold For Weirdo Hotels

It’s been such a long time since I used Expedia for anything since I got elite status on almost every major hotel in America. Here I am writing from a free upgraded suite at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, sipping on free Pure Leaf Tea in the M Lounge due to my Marriott (Bonvoy) Platinum Elite Status.

I have always discouraged hotel reseller websites because they give you rooms that are not often cheaper and don’t earn credit for status. However what about hotels that don’t belong to any chain?

I went ahead and signed up for Expedia because of the free gold+ for military, but was instantly disappointed in the prices of the chain hotels that came up. I guess you can’t beat a price of $0 of which I am accustomed to paying. However as suspected weird independent chains are pretty affordable:

If you want to take advantage go to the offer link right here to sign up. Here are all of the “benefits” you get:

Good luck out there with this free perk!


Dangers of MR Points Hoarding

I wrote about points hoarding in a previous post, but here we are again, many months of fearless points accumulation, without an outlet, brings us to another possible disaster.

AmEx shares tanked 2.5% in after hours trading due to missing estimated earnings per share last week. When this same thing happened to Chase, they came up with 5/24 and 48 month anti-churning rules. Initially this did not alarm me, because it appeared that AmEx was still making a heathy profit with their credit card products.

However reader Dan pointed out that reddit user (and possible WeBull Challenge player) u/magoo266 warned us that his 761,000 MR points are frozen in his account due to a suspicion of awards abuse. The thread can be found here:

Upon reading this tread I also found myself with 761,000 MR points split between my wife and myself. I thought that I would have the same downside risk as u/Magoo266 if I was to get shutdown. It was a no brainer to diversify and cash out some of these points. Redditor u/dwb8p was right to discourage holding on to such a large hoard of points. Especially if you could help cashing them out at 1.25 cents per point via Schwab.

I went ahead and cashed out 250,000 MR points for $3,125. I usually use these points to book flights on American Airlines and with my Business Platinum Card I get 35% points back after a month making the points worth 1.5 cents per point. Now here is the amazing thing I just discovered, I can still get a value of 1.3333 cents per point using these points!

Thats right, I turned $10.01 into $3,135.01 with this one weird trick…

Ever since they shut down the double dip of 5x with 35% points back, there has been less of an incentive on using booking with points. Right now I can use the $3,125 and book directly for any flights on AmEx Personal Platinum. I will earn 15,625 MR! Therefore I only used a net 234,375 MR for a single $3125 flight, or 1.333 cents per point. Think of it as a 10% premium on insurance against a points freeze. So here are my new churning rules:

  • Avoid MSing as much as possible
  • Spend Organically, Use Plastiq, Use PFS when needed
  • Keep your MR balance around 250,000
  • Cash out any excess MR via Schwab AmEx Plat at 1.25 cents per point
  • Cash out Schwab and bury money in backyard

I am certainly not going to chance it, but I think larger MR balances may trigger some sort of manual review, try not to be the nail that sticks out, although it would have been awesome to see a one million point balance!


AmEx Biz Gold to Biz Plat Conversion Still Alive

Wonderful datapoint to report tonight. I opened up a AmEx Business Gold card back in 2013 which I upgraded to a Business Platinum in 2016. I then opened up a new business platinum for another business. I then opened a green Business and Upgraded to my 3rd Business Platinum. Today I was able to get my bonus on my second Business Gold and convert it to my 4th platinum! The trick was it was a different business name than my first Business Gold. Here is the time line:

  1. I opened up a Business Gold Card on 29 December 2018
  2. Hit Spend of $5,000 on 21 Jan 2019
  3. Received 50,000 MR points on 22 Jan 2019
  4. Upgraded via chat to my 4th AmEx Business Platinum (denied 3 times via chat)

If you haven’t learned already, there is no 12 month rule for product conversions of Business Cards. Unlike personal cards which require at least 12 months of having the product due to the 2009 credit CARD act. The best part of the AmEx Biz churn is it doesn’t ever hit your credit leaving you clean for 5/24 restricted cards in the future.

Please use my link here if you are interested in hitting any of the AmEx business products in the future.