AGD 2019: ORD to BDL

Howdy folks, looking forward to meeting up with all you dental churners out at AGD 2019 at the Mohegan Sun Casino! I have been told that I am very bad with my trip reports. My backlogs of reports from my past trips of Germany, Mount Rushmore, NYC will never be filed on time or even at all. I think this is pretty shitty of me because that was the whole point of this blog was to show traveling with points. My message is: don’t just earn points, but use them! This needs to be better exemplified in future articles.

I will give Little Miss Traveler credit on being super diligent on reporting how to live out our points based travel lifestyle. She just posted on her most recent trip, and suggested that I write as I travel. I am going to write and update this trip in real time!

Cost Summary

  • Flights: ORD to BDL RT: 34,000 Avios + $40.40 from Chase Iberia
  • Hotel (Expense to U.S. Bank Altitude $325 travel credit):
    • $147.95 military rate BDL Airport Sheraton
    • $175 Reciprocal Member @ Q Club via Marine Memorial
  • Car rental: $154.47 for two days on CSR ($300 Credit)
  • Lounges: AA Admirals club ORD, Escape Lounge BDL
    • American Airlines Executive Card
    • American Express Personal Platinum

Departure

Typical for ORD, there were plenty of delays throughout the day due to thunderstorms. The morning of every flight, I always check out the misery map on flight-aware. This gives me an idea on how miserable my trip will be. I also use Trip It Pro via my membership with Founders Card.

Check in was chaos, lots of sad faces from all of the delays. There is one Kiosk in the back for military. You must use this terminal to check in, check luggage for free, and pick free Main Cabin extra seats. It has a screen that welcomes military members:

Look for this special kiosk

When you check in it will call an attendant to verify your status.

More to come, eating lobster rolls now…

AmEx Biz Plat: 100,000 MR for $25,000 Spend

Almost worth doing even without the MLA waiver

Since my wife and I both have gotten the Biz Plat in the last 7 years (defacto life time), we are inelegibel for the 100k bonus. I have decided to have my mother get the AmEx Biz Plat for her real estate business. I would add myself as an AU and try for the MLA waiver, but I doubt that it would be honored. However with the current offer I could justify the $595 annual fee and here is why:

  • $200 in Dell credit
  • $200 in inflight reimbursements (going to try the cancel ticket method for statement credits)
  • WeWork membership for a year
  • 100,000 MR is worth $1,500 in flights alone

We have several large spends coming up related to the family business that would easily trigger the 1.5 MR for purchases above $5,000. If I stick to large purchases we are looking at 37,500 on spend alone on top of the 100k. Even if I were to book a flight to Hong Kong on American Airlines via Cathay Pacific metal for $1,375, it would cost me exactly 135,000 points, but I would get 35% of these points back (47,250) in a month. The flight would be only 87,750 MR. This would be lucutive enough to justify the nearly $600 annual fee!

The 100k offer is acessibkly only by referral, please use my links below (just click one at random please):

Any data points out there for MLA/SCRA waivers for being an AD AU on a non-mil primary account?

-Derp

AmEx Cleans Up (By Cracking Down on Self Referrals)

If you earned points by using your own referrals, then AmEx just clawed back all of your ill gotten points! According to reddit r/churning people have been seeing thousands of points being removed from their MR accounts!

Self Referral Is Now Verboten!

If you engaged in the heinous act of self referral (the act of using your own referral for another card for yourself), then you have this message to look forward to:

We are writing to let you know that, after careful review of your Membership Rewards® account activity, we have removed points in your Membership Rewards® program account. Please ensure that any Additional Card Members who are authorized to redeem points from your account are notified of this change in your Membership Rewards balance.

Why we are removing these points We recently noticed point accrual or redemption activity on your Membership Rewards program account that indicates an effort to obtain or use points in a manner that is not appropriate. It’s important for you to know that the Membership Rewards program terms and conditions state that “If we in our sole discretion determine that you have engaged in abuse, misuse or gaming in connection with earning or using points or that you may attempt to do so, we may:

Take away any points in your program account, Temporarily suspend your ability to redeem points, Temporarily suspend your ability to earn points, Cancel your program account, or Cancel any of your American Express Cards”

This is not the first time the RAT (Rewards Abuse Team) has struck! BE WARNED amex is cleaning house, best not fuck with them right now. On the flip side their MR site has been updated to not look like an AOL website anymore:

Despite all of the bad noise, I think it’s showing that AmEx is keeping up with Chase. Hopefully the next step is $200 airline incidental credit becomes a generalized travel credit like Chase, U.S. Bank, and Citi’s respective top cards!

Let me know if you got the clawback! I have never practiced self referral, but rather spouse referrals where I would use my wife’s links and vice versa. This practice has not been shut down, yet.

-Derp

Rakuten (Ebates) 10%, Top Cashback 12% Cashback On Dell, Combine with Amex 2x MR on Dell, and $100 Credit For Free Xbox Gift Cards

I just got paid to buy stuff form dell.com! Right now Rakuten is offering 10% and TopCashBack is offering 12% on Dell.com. Here is what I did:

  1. Sign up for Rakuten here for 10%
  2. Sign up for TopCashBack here for 12%
  3. Log into www.americanexpress.com
  4. Add the Dell 2x MR offer (targeted) as well as the $100 credit to your AmEx Biz Plat
  5. Log in to Rakuten or TopCashBack and search for dell.com, use that link
  6. Buy the $100 xbox live gift card
  7. Use your AmEx Biz platinum at checkout
  8. Wait 12 hours and your code will appear in the Dell Digital Locker
  9. Go to microsoft.com to redeem the gift card as a credit to your Microsoft store.
  10. Buy a drone or monitor or whatever you fancy from Microsoft
  11. Check out and apply the gift card balance

Here are the steps in photos:

Make sure you add this offer first
Add this offer if you have it, if not then just pass on it
This is the card to buy as it appears on the mobile phone
How this looks on check out
The key is in the Dell digital locker at the bottom after 12 hours
Get $12 for a $100 xBox gift card on TopCashback!
Adding the code will give you tis screen
How the credit will appear once added to Microsoft.com
One of the many toys you can get with multiple Biz Plat Cards
Take advantage of their military deals on Surface Pro

Have fun!

-Derp

What To Do With The AmEx $200 Travel Fee: The In-Flight Commissary & Package Store

Looks like AmEx will not reimburse for any gift card for any airline now.

Everybody DO NOT PANIC! We are not in the hook for a $550 annual fee ($595 for biz) on these cards, therefore we don’t have the stress to “recoup our losses”. My LT MBA DDS friend predicts that AmEx will transition the $200 fee to cover all travel to be in line with Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite, and U.S. Bank Altitude card. I hope he is right!

In the meantime consider the $200 ($100 for gold) to be the icing on the cake! I almost am thinking about multiple Gold Personal Cards just to get $120 in the form of a $10 Cheesecake Factory of the month club!

Let’s first look at the legitimate things the fee covers:

Incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments.

That pretty straightforward! Two goddamn things: food in flight and bags. Ya’ll know we never pay for bags anyways by showing our CAC at check in. Now the funny part is what is not covered:

Incidental air travel fees must be separate charges from airline ticket charges. Fees not charged by the Card Member’s airline of choice (e.g. wireless internet and fees incurred with airline alliance partners) do not qualify for statement credits. Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits. Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees. The airline must submit the charge under the appropriate merchant code, industry code, or required service or product identifier for the charge to be recognized as an incidental air travel fee.

I hazard to guess that all of these items are being shut down as you read this. So we are now left with eating and drinking on these airlines:

Flyertalk has a whole discussion thread on each airline if you want to continue to take on the challenge of testing what can slip by the churn police, then here are all of your data points:

I have given up completely in this data point game, so many upsets. I have decided for 2020 that I will treat every flight as an In-Flight Commissary & Package Store. (Class VI for you Air Force & Army folk). Going to buy at least two drinks and 4 snack boxes to take off the plane. Some inflight menus can be found here:

So I say let’s make this fun! What is the largest haul you have made on a single flight? They gave me two half bottles of wine and 4 snack boxes on a 2 hour flight from ORD to RAP on United. I once bought an entire row of friends double vodka tonics from ORD to BUF also on United:

The $200 can be easily spent on a single flight. On our most recent Glamping adventure, we had enough snack boxes for the kids to last the entire weekend:

Bring a mooching sack and get ready to raid that service cart. I would go as far as to walk to the galley and buy the remaining snack boxes at the end of service. You will feel like this guy buying the whole lot while you travel in style!

-Derp

Derp Report Goes Coal Powered

Happy 4th of July everyone! It’s been awhile since I have posted, so I decided to go way off subject here.

I decided to donate my Diesel Mercedes to my friend to be used on his hippie vegan commune in New Orleans. He will convert it to run on straight waste vegetable oil (WVO). More on that road trip to get the car down there in October in a future post.

Right now I am looking to take advantage of the massive arbitrage that is going on in the state of Illinois which decided to implement a 38 cents a gallon tax on gasoline. Worst hit are Diesel trucks and cars as Illinois’ state gas tax moved up 21.5 cent-per-gallon to 44.5 cents per gallon of Diesel. This however does not affect electric cars, which share the same roads as these tax paying suckers.

They have thought about hitting these Illinois tax evaders with a $1,000 a year registration fee! Fortunately, I will be able to get out of this state before that passes in a few years. Right now many bases (including Great Lakes) have level 2 charging for free! Unfortunately the only power generation in Waukegan comes from dirty smelly, radioactive coal. If you ignore this fact, and hope that those around you don’t look into it, then you could be full of smug, and feel you are saving the earth somehow. I’m just trying to save money here! At less than $1 a charge at home, and free charging at work, I can make my commuting costs less than $5 a week or $20 a month. Yearly cost should be $300 for the power consumption.

I am thinking of buying a 2012 Nissan Leaf at a modest price of $6,000. I also looked into Marriott hotels in the city that offer free charging of EV vehicles. In Illinois we have a few:

I called some of these places, and you will have to pay for the parking fee of course. Other hotels can be found here.

Have any of you readers gone the route of evading avoiding gasoline taxes, yet use the roads that these taxes pay for? I just want to know how other bases are equipped for EV charging.

-Derp