Rakuten Paid Me $122 To Look Fabulous In A Free $800 Saks Fifth Avenue Velvet Dinner Jacket (Thanks To AmEx)

I have become a vapid Millennial Influencer.

Saks Fifth Avenue
COLLECTION Velvet Dinner Jacket

Part of the $495 annual fee on the AmEx Platinum is $50 to spend at Saks Fifth Avenue twice a year (Jan to June and then July to December). Add the benefit on each Platinum card and just charge $50 at Saks in store or online (Not at Off Fifth), the charges get reimbursed in 4 days:

Lucky for Active Duty, AmEx waives the $495 annual fee. We are getting $100 a year on Saks Gift Cards, $200 on uber, $200 on Delta or Southwest gift cards with no annual fee. Right now Rakuten (AKA EBates) is offering 10% online at Saks Fifth Avenue:

On top of that they are offering 4% cashback in store at Saks:

I previously posted on going in person to Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago and buying multiple gift cards with the charges split over several cards. My goal is to have these 16 Personal Platinum Cards:

  1. Vanilla AmEx Platinum
  2. Vanilla AmEx Platinum Player 2
  3. Vanilla AmEx Platinum From Prefered Rewards Gold
  4. Vanilla AmEx Platinum From Prefered Rewards Gold Player 2
  5. Vanilla AmEx Platinum From Rose Gold (Need to Upgrade)
  6. Vanilla AmEx Platinum From Rose Gold Player 2 (Planned)
  7. Vanilla AmEx Platinum From Green
  8. Vanilla AmEx Platinum From Green Player 2 (Planned)
  9. Ameriprise AmEx Platinum
  10. Ameriprise AmEx Platinum Player 2 (Planned)
  11. Ameriprise AmEx Platinum From Gold
  12. Schwab AmEx Platinum
  13. Schwab AmEx Platinum Player 2
  14. Morgan Stanley AmEx Platinum
  15. Morgan Stanley AmEx Platinum Player 2
  16. Mercedes-Benz AmEx Platinum
  17. Mercedes-Benz AmEx Platinum Player 2

I got 4% on all $800 of gift cards I bought over the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019. I then spent all the gift cards on the jacket. I should have gotten another $50 gift card to pay taxes:

You can use up to 9 gift cards on check out!

I then got this email the next day:

So score card:

  • $50 charged on each Plat * 16 = $800 @ 4% Cashback = $32 cashback
  • $798 Jacket @ 10% = $79.80 cashback
  • 800 AmEm MR points @ 1.25 cents per point on Schwab = $10
  • Total: $32+$79.80+$10=$121.80

I picked the free shipping via Shoprunner which is a benefit of the AmEx platinum. I also went for the gift wrap! If I was smarter I would have saved up enough cards to pay the taxes, but my last $50 card went as a prize for my Webull competition.

There was a embarrassing mix up where I sent my $200 card to the third place winner instead of my $50. Lucky I have excellent readers, and BC traded the card back with no problems at all!

Thanks for making this jacket possible BC!


Unauthorized Users: Run That Credit Report!

I received an alarming email today from Credit Karma:

The same thing happened to my brother yesterday:

This was very odd, I have not added a new AU nor have I let anyone add me as an AU. I found it to be easier just to give my wife my card or use my wife’s card online.

When I logged into Credit Karma I found nothing new, nor did my brother in his. So we went ahead and ran my annual credit report and was surprised to find that it had become 61 pages long!

I did not find any new AUs listed or myself listed as an new AU. The same thing happened for my brother who called and spoke with Chase only to find no new AU account was created. I suspect that since Chase changed its name to JPMCB, that somehow triggered this alert for an existing AU account:

Although it was frustrating, I got some interesting new insight on the MLA. At the bottom of the report was this statement and this text:

The Military Lending Act provides important safeguards to Active Military personnel and their dependents. Under the Military Lending Act (MLA), if you are an active duty member of the armed forces or are on active Guard or Reserve duty, you cannot be charged an interest rate higher than 36% on some types of consumer loans. It also protects your spouse and certain dependents.

To assist financial institutions with complying with this requirement, TransUnion receives information about an individual’s military status from the U.S. Department of Defense through their data center known as the DMDC (Department of Defense Manpower Data Center). When potential lenders request your credit file from TransUnion, they can also request this information. 

The identifying information that appears on your TransUnion credit file is considered a potential match to information listed on the U.S. Department of Defense database. 

For more details regarding the DMDC, please contact: dodhra.dodc-mb.dmdc.mbx.mla@mail.mil

For more information concerning the above messages, visit http://www.transunion.com/customer-support/faqs/support

I also found out that a lot of business hit up your credit to send out offers:

Pretty much every junk mail item came from one of these places listed above. Has anyone out there gotten a weird email about being added as an AU?


How To Get Multiple Bonvoy Brilliant Cards, and 150k Bonvoy Points!

I think we have a new strategy to hit AmEx for 150,000 Bonvoy and end up with two Bonvoy Brilliant Cards.

  1. Get the personal Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant for 75k Bonvoy
  2. Get Marriott Bonvoy Business for another 75K Bonvoy
  3. Close the Bonvoy Business after the 35K annual cert hits
  4. Open Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant #2

Matt just posted his most recent datapoint regarding his third Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant:

DP: Approved for Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Aug18. SPG LUX auto upgraded to MBB #2 Apr19. Applied and approved for 3rd MBB this month. Plan on getting Aspire #2 next.

Reader Mike said a week ago:

I was approved for a second Bonvoy Brilliant while already holding one.

These data points lead me to believe that my last ditch effort to get the SPG Card in February was not needed. Instead I should have simply applied for a new Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, despite already having a SPG Luxury Card that automatically became a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant.

Currently I am left with the painful waiting game of keeping my new AmEx Bonvoy open till February 2020 just to upgrade to another Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant. Rather, I could be enjoying another 50K free night as well as a $300 statement credit in one year if I just had the balls to have gotten another Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant.

If I have know about this double dipping possibility, I could be swimming in 150,000 Bonvoy Points. This new approach would milk the 75k bonus for the Business Marriott Bonvoy, and then swap out for a second Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Personal. According to Greg at the Frequent Miler, It would be possible to get both AmEx bonuses, as long as you waited out the time with the Chase Marriott:

From The Frequent Miler

I personally had the SPG Business so there is no point for me to attempt this churn. If you haven’t jumped on the Bonvoy Train yet, I recommend hitting the business and personal AmEx Bonvoy products, then replacing the business with another Bonvoy Brilliant.


Check Out The Cassey Excursion

I got an notification today from The Cassey Excursion who just posted on personal finance. It has almost been a year since I had read her blog, and I had come across her blog recently to show as an example to Little Miss Traveler for some inspiration.

Cassey joined the Navy via Officer Candidate School and served as an Active Duty line officer. She documents her adventures on the ship and traveling the world. She has since gotten out and has been blogging recently on her post Navy experience.

Cassey’s blog is what started out my own personal churning adventure. She was the first to show me the SCRA waiver on the American Express Platinum. Without her site, there would be no Derp Report as we know it today!

She has not reached out to me in any way, but I wanted to give her a spotlight here for all the active duty readers. This blogging life can only survive if we can cater to our 1,000 true fans. I just hit 200,000 pageviews here at Derp Report, and I hope to continue growing:

If you got a chance, please check out her vlog and youtube channel! Currently she has 15 subscribers, but I am sure she would be thrilled with some traffic from this humble little site!


How I Accumulated 750,000 Hilton Honors Points in 5 Months

The following is a guest post from Little Miss Traveler. She has been an awesome resource on spousal MLA datapoints. Her site should help bring any of your spouses that on the fence on board to this MLA churning. She has been compensated by having me host her referral links for this post:

American Express currently offers 3 separate Hilton credit cards: Hilton Aspire, Hilton Ascend, and Hilton Honors.  Normally, the Aspire and the Ascend carry a hefty annual fee, but thanks to MLA, active duty service members and their families get this fee waived!!  The Aspire comes with a 150,000 welcome bonus after spending $4000 within three months, the Ascend comes with a 125,000 welcome bonus after spending $2000 within three months, and the Honors comes with a 75,000 welcome bonus after spending $1000 within three months.  What’s awesome, is that Amex allows you to get all 3 cards!  So that’s exactly what I did, and here’s how: 

I applied for the Aspire card in November, and after hitting the $4000 spend received the 150,000 welcome bonus.  Then, I referred by husband the Aspire (which got me a 20,000 referral bonus) so he got another 150,000 points after hitting the $4000 spend.  We normally don’t spend money so quickly but it was holiday season so we had a lot of expenses!  So by the beginning of January we had accumulated 320,000 points!  Now it was on to phase 2…

I applied for the Ascend Card, and after hitting the $2000 spend received the 125,000 welcome bonus.  Next, (you guessed it!) I referred my husband and got another 20,000 points for the referral. After he received his 125,000 welcome bonus, we were at 590,000. 

By this time it was March, and time for phase 3 – apply for my final Hilton card!  After hitting the initial spend, I received the 75,000 welcome bonus, bringing us to 665,000 Hilton points.  I couldn’t refer my husband the Honors card because he already had 5 Amex products (remember Amex only allows you to have 5 credit cards total).  However, the Honors card doesn’t have an annual fee even for civilians, so I referred by brother-in-law and got another 20,000 points bringing us to 685,000 points!!

The title of this post says I accumulated 750,000 points, so you are probably wondering how I got the last 65,000 points.  Keep in mind that between our 5 Hilton cards, we had to spend $4000 on each Aspire, $2000 on each Ascend, and $1000 on my Honors.  That’s $13,000!  All 3 Hilton cards give a minimum of 3x points on all purchases, but some spending categories carry an even higher multiplier.  For example, the Aspire pays 7x points on travel purchases and the Ascend pays 6x points on grocery and restaurant purchases.  So after all the multipliers, that $13,000 we spent acquired an additional 65,000 points!

Now the only thing left to do is decide where to spend these points.  I can think of no better place than the Grand Wailea Resort Maui ;).  We have saved up Delta points via our Amex Delta Reserve cards and plan to fly to Maui for 5 nights next winter…all for free of course, and as always I will post a detailed explanation of exactly how!!

What’s crazy is that this is going to get infinitely better next January because after one year, we can upgrade our Ascend cards to Aspire cards and then in March I can upgrade my Honors card to an Aspire card.  Yep, we will then have 5 Aspire cards, and each one comes with an annual $250 resort credit, an annual $250 air travel credit, and an annual free weekend night. That means every year we will have $1250 to spend at a Hilton resort, $1250 air travel credit (which we will use to buy Southwest gift cards), and 5 free weekend nights!!!

Recap of Cards Mentioned in this Post:

American Express Hilton Aspire -$450 annual fee

  • Benefits
    • 150,000 welcome bonus after spending $4000 in the first 3 months
    • $250 annual resort credit (see Orlando post)
    • $250 annual air travel credit (use this to by a Southwest gift card)
    • Hilton Diamond Status
    • Annual free weekend night award (see Orlando post)

American Express Hilton Ascend – $95 annual fee

  • Benefits
    • 125,000 welcome bonus after spending $2000 in the first 3 months

American Express Hilton Honors – $0 annual fee

  • Benefits
    • 75,000 welcome bonus after spending $1000 in the first 3 months


Zero Financial (ZeroCard) Back From Dead

I wrote about the new Dave Ramsey Compatible Credit Card called zero almost three years ago. Well this scrappy company, which I thought had died long ago, finally sent me an email:

So I jumped on it today because I believe this is the best 3% cash back card that acts like a debit card:

Of course to get to the 3% carbon position, you got to refer the hell out of the product and complete these activities:

Not sure if anyone really has time for all of that. Here are the ways to level up:

Not worth spending $100,000 to get zero carbon, if you already have the double cash back from citi or the gold luxury card from barclays then you already get 2%. If you have the USAA limitless you get 2.5%. But if you want to try for the 3% and have a lot of friends then please use my link here to get on board:


I downloaded the app and registration works like Robin Hood. It acts as a credit card application and checking account all at one time. This requires taking a photo of your driver’s license as well as a credit card pull. Be warned this is going to count against your 5/24. Once set up I linked my Chase checking account via login and transferred $1,000:

Hope it’s not a total scam. There is only one other review out there. DoC wrote indirectly about it last year. Credit Cards have started to become hated by the younger crowd because of the possibility of not paying off the bill. This card acts like a prepaid secure credit card, but earns 3% cash back. It’s edge is that the app works in real time to show if you are on budget or not.

Let me know if any of you readers from 3 years ago got an invite!


Banking The $100 Dell Credit

I have 6 Business American Express Platinum Cards, all which get their hefty $595 annual fee waived by the generous people at AmEx due to our active duty status! Me and my wife (also active duty) each have gotten the following cards:

What is great about AmEx Business cards is an individual can get one as a sole proprietor by using your own SSN, and there is no wait on upgrading the card to the higher product. I went ahead and got the bonus and the gold and upgraded both to multiple Business Platinum cards. The main reason for doing this is the diversify your 35% points portfolio to three different airlines, all while getting $200 in airline credit, and then the $200 for Dell schwag every year.

$300 Samsung Frontier s3 split over 3 AmEx Business Platinum Cards on dell.com

From January to June of each year you can charge $100 on each Business Platinum Card at dell.com and you will instantly get a $100 credit. You get another $100 from July to December. You can also split charge over three cards max per order, and double dip with ebates:

You would charge $100 per card for a max of $300 for free per Dell order

After my shopping spree I was left with a $13 credit on one of my cards so I bought a $15 xbox live gift card on dell.com:

The smallest amount is $10 and the largest is $100, and sure enough my $15 card got reimbursed!

The gift code appeared in my Dell digital locker in 4 hours, just click the order number and hit the get text based key option:

and I added it to my Microsoft account under payment options:

On checkout I was able to apply the $15 towards buying physical merchandise:

Come July I am looking at buying $600 in xbox live gift cards, all stacking with ebates, spit over my 6 Business Platinum Cards. I will do this again in January for $1,200 in gift cards to buy this crazy thing:

Screen+Shot+2019-05-14+at+8.29.44+PM.png (2048×1296)

Hopefully it will increase my blogging output!


The AmEx Full House: 3 Hilton, 2 Bonvoy

We’ll time to pack up Derp Report! I finally achieved my AmEx Full House consisting of 3 Hilton Cards and 2 Marriott cards:

Here is what I got planned out, I have one free night with my one active Hilton Aspire. I looked at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, but it turns out the rooms are all dated in the historic hotel. I just discovered the main hotel is for basic bitches, and there is an attached Beach Village at The Del, Curio Collection by Hilton with nights starting at $1,049! This is where the cool kids stay with it’s very own private entrance and pool.

I plan on using my free weekend night here, and the Hilton Diamond status would then waive the resort fee. Additionally since the place is considered a Hilton resort, I would have $250 a card to spend at the property.

Now my $250 airline credit resets January 2018, and my free weekend night will expire 03-Apr-2020. This gets me just in time to have my Player 2 get her own Hilton Honors Aspire as well as convert her Hilton Honors Surpass (Ascend) Card into another Hilton Honors Aspire card. With these three cards we can have 3 weekend nights at $1,000 a night, $750 in Southwest or Delta Airlines Gift cards, and $750 to spend on a 4 day, 3 night stay from Friday night to Monday morning all for free.

Come May 2020 I would be able to convert my Hilton Honors and Hilton Honors Ascend to two more cards as well as my Player 2 to convert her third Hilton Honors card to do the same thing all over again, but probably at the Boca Beach Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Boca Raton, FL.

All of this work is worth it for 8 days and 6 nights a year for free, with $1,500 in resort credits and $1,500 in airfare. With the MLA waiver of multiple $450 annual fees, we are looking at an out of pocket cost of $0.00.

We continue the churn with our three Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Cards. My and P2s free nights and $300 credits resets on August. On top of that I can upgrade my Bonvoy to a Brilliant in February. So I can book 3 nights in a row at 50k points a night at the Ritz Amelia Island with $900 in hotel credit. Here we can have our first official Military Churn summit with some local top brass!

Then every year thereafter we will be get the same benefits without opening or closing any cards. The perpetual churning wallet will be achieved. I might actually drop under 5/24!!!

My wife will still have her Business AmEx Delta Reserve which will give us a companion pass for first class every year. Not sure if its worth playing the shuffle game to get a 4th Marriott card. Any data points on getting a second Bonvoy Brilliant while holding on to one?


No Bonus On Hilton Ascend With Previous Surpass

If you were wondering if you can get the bonus for the Hilton Honors Ascend, but had a previous Surpass, the answer is no:

My goal is to get all three Hilton Cards:

I currently have the Aspire and Honors cards, I clicked continue and submit. I intend to upgrade the Honors and the Ascend to two more Aspire cards. The application for the Ascend went to pending. I think it is because I just closed my Delta Platinum (my 5th amex credit card) last night and that hasn’t cleared yet.

My other thought is it has been exactly 90 days since I applied for 3 credit cards. There is an ongoing 2/90 day rule where you should not try to apply for more than 2 cards in a 90 day period. Any other data points out there?

Update, I was approved a mere two hours later: