Avios Synergy: Using CX, IBE, AA For Nice Seats, 2.8 Cents Per Point

Don’t sit in row 25 like a bitch

I just got off the phone with American Airlines, and it turns out everyone is confused by the One World Alliance. I called because I needed the American Airlines locator, for a flight I booked with Avios on a code share with Iberia. I had only the Iberia record locator and a ticket number. Also I had to give them my Asia Miles number because it was linked to my Cathy Pacific Sliver status, which is of course One World Ruby, which is equivalent to American Airlines Gold!

Mind blown! This is why churning is so fun, it’s like collecting Pokemon, but much more rewarding. These multinational corporations have made all these agreements without any thought into how confusing it is. The operator was confused because I used a Spanish carrier (IBE) to book a domestic flight (AA) with status with a Hong Kong carrier (CX).

I had booked a flight from ORD to BDL for the AGD Meeting this July 2019:

I could choose between Hartford, CT or Providence, RI and drive to the Mohegan Sun. I went for Hartford, because of the Escape Lounge that I have yet to go to. On the Iberia site, all the AA flights were wide open:

I had previously earned 100,000 Avios when Chase allowed anyone to get the card. It has since been restricted as a 5/24 card. If I paid with cash, the trip would have been almost $1,000:

I looked at British Airways and none of these segments showed up, then the site was down for over a day. With Iberia Avios we are getting a solid 2.8 cents per point! Not bad, and keep in mind that you can transfer both UR and MR to Iberia, making it a great use of points (sometimes).

Once booked I received an email in Spanish/English with a useless Iberia record locator. I called American Airlines and they were able to look up the American Airlines Record Locator as well as put in my Cathy Pacific number to give myself Ruby Status for the flight. I bought this status with my Founders Card.

I was then able to pull up my reservation on the American Airlines website, I got to choose premium seats as well as put in my DoD ID number for TSA pre check. The best part is AA.com is a much better website than the Iberia site which is simply unusable.

If you are headed to the meeting, hit me up. This has been the best use of my Avios which are short haul round trip flights on AA, and this is the best practice to convert them to a solid AA managed booking.


Physical Markel Stock Certificate Using AmEx MR Points

April O’Neil from TMNT appears on the Markel Stock Certificate

I was able to get a physical stock Certificate delivered to me for free all using my Membership Rewards Points via Schwab AmEx Plat. I have done this before with Goldman Sachs. On 03 March 2019, I moved 100,000 MR points from my AmEx Platinum to Schwab at 1.25 cents a point for a cool $1,250.00. I put in a Good Till Canceled buy order for 1 share of MKL at a limit of $1,000 a share which executed the next day:

In the tradition of me being a shitty market timer, the stock has continued to fall to new awesome lows! As of today you can get the share at $980 or 78,400 MR points. This post should constitute financial advice on what NOT to do! Markel has been described as the Baby Berkshire Hathaway by some or a ranging dumpster fire by haters at the actual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting. I just wanted another $1,000+ piece of artwork to hang on my office wall.

I had no Idea how the stock cert would look since there are no descriptions of it online. No one had ever blogged on getting one, and it didn’t show on sites like this. What the hell, I decided to just go for broke, and I reached out to AST which is the transfer agent for MKL and they gave me this information:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for contacting the Shareholder Services Department at American Stock Transfer & Trust Company. Please be advised that in order to transfer your shares to AST, you can contact your broker who in return will do an electronic transfer via the DRS Profile System. Once the shares are held at AST, you can request that we issue the stock certificate. Should you require additional assistance, please contact our Shareholder Services Department at the number listed below. Correspondence Department.

Shareholder Services
6201 15th Avenue | Brooklyn, NY 11219
800-937-5449 F: 718-236-2641
help@astfinancial.com | astfinancial.com

I contacted Schwab on secure mail and they wanted me to call the order in. Here is their response:

I called out to my Asset Transfer team this morning to inquire about this transfer. I apologize that this was not communicated previously, but in order to transfer this asset out of your account, we will either need a signed letter of authorization stating the request to move the 1 share of MKL, or our Asset Transfer team can take this request verbally if you are able to call them directly. You will want to call Schwab Client Reporting and Security Services at 800-323-4332 Monday – Friday: 9:00 am -7:00 pm ET

On the 12th of March I called in and had the stock transfered electronically to AST. I got a letter from AST in the mail shortly after with my AST account number. On 22 March 2019, I contacted AST with my address, this new account number, my last 4 of my SSN and requested a paper cert. On 03 April 2019 these hipsters over in Brooklyn sent me the folded up, and mangled stock certificate in the smallest envelope they could find:

I have it under a stack of books to get the creases out, but I think it’s still suitable for framing. That’s the service you get for free, as compared to Computerserve that charges $25 for a nice large flat envelope they send certs to you in.

If you are not a fan of travel or stuff, you can get enough MR points with just two AmEx Platinum cards (one being the Schwab Platinum) and $10,000 spend to great an investment you can hold! Please use my link here for the AmEx Platinum and Gold which will generate MR points to transfer out with your Schwab AmEx Platinum. All annual fees are waived for military.

Good Luck,


3 Hilton Aspire = Free Vaycay Every AD Year

Each Hilton Honors card costs $450 a year, but this annual fee is waived for Active Duty. It has been over one year with my Hilton Aspire Card, and my only regret is to have closed my Hilton Honors Surpass Card in order to get it. What a fool I was to not have closed anything else in order to keep my Surpass and to upgrade to another Aspire. First off, my anniversary was rewarded today with another one of these free weekend nights at any Hilton Worldwide (excluding these properties).

I realized now how valuable the Hilton Honors Aspire from AmEx really is, and how it’s a perpetual free vacation machine. Now that we know each card can generate a $250 Southwest gift card, as well as give $250 for a resort credit for room rate & incidentals.

You can easily squeeze out thousands of dollars in value every year if you hit all three Hilton Products:

In one year you would upgrade the Honors and Ascend both to Aspire for 3 free weekend nights every year. You would then get 400,000 Hilton Honors points to book free rooms. I would then use the free nights at pricey hotels like The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills:

I would book individually a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Night and then combine the three reservations at check in. Remember that these have to be weekend nights per the terms and conditions. In the case of the Beverly Hills Waldorf we are looking at $926 a night for a total of $2,778 not counting taxes and fees. This benefit is perpetual with the card, so I am ready to have 3 of my 5 card be strictly Hilton Honors Aspire cards!

Regarding flights, the three cards would mean $750 in Southwest airfare every January. I looked at taking a flight from MKE (Closest Southwest airport to Great Lakes) to LAX:

You can use up to three payment methods per transaction, so that means you can get up to a $750 ticket over the three gift cards. Southwest won’t let you pay any overages over three Gift Cards with a credit card, but you can use two gift cards and then the rest on credit.

The best part of the trio of Aspires is your getting fed at these places for free. With the Hilton Diamond status from the card you can get breakfast if there is a lounge or restaurant (Most Hilton) or some other means. For example I was given a credit at the Chicago Waldorf Astoria for Breakfast since there was no lounge.

Even better usage would be for a Hilton Resort such as the Orlando Waldorf Astoria:

Here you would be able to charge up to $750 in incidentals and then at the end of the stay split charge over my three Hilton Honors Aspire cards for the $250 resort credits each. Remember the $250 resort credit only resets on the anniversary of the card along with the free night. Now I got to get to a more stable AmEx card portfolio!


Who Has The Balls To Be the MLA Datapoint for the MasterCard Gold Luxury Card By Barclay?

Banks are afraid to charge service members more than a $100 annual fee per the Military Lending Act on any consumer credit card product per my armchair analysis of the MLA.

I am currently being charged the $75 from BoA for their Alaska Product, but when I opened it in November of 2017 the annual fee was waived citing the MLA. They have since actually read the MLA and determined that a sub $100 fee is a bonafide fee, and started to charge for it again. On the flip-side Citi has decided to waive their $450 on their American Airlines Executive as well as their $495 fee on their Prestige card. Chase has followed suit and waived $450 for their United Club card, $450 on Chase Sapphire Preferred, and even the $450 on their Ritz-Carlton Card citing the MLA.

I believe this $100 threshold cited in the FDIC documents is prompting all of this. I have not found anyone that has the Cojones to try for the $995 Barclay’s gold card that we enjoyed back in 2016. NOw that the MLA has taken place, they would have to justify a $995 annual fee as being a bonafide fee.

What makes the experiment more risky is the lack of 50,000 points as a sign up bonus (Worth $1,000 in travel in th epast). However there is a $200 travel credit you can get at least $400 back if the whole thing does not work out if you straddle two years (Hit in July and then in January, then cancel).

Maybe we need to create a churning defense fund for this type of thing. Make it part of the CFC so that you can make tax deductible contributions. Please if you are up for going for it, post your data points here!


April 2019 Webull Standings

This is the last month of the competition. There have been some major improvements for most participants, but it doesn’t look good for those that got mixed up in penny stocks. I haven’t made any more trades since I got lucky on Goldman Sachs in December, and Julia’s College Fund has not made any trades at all! You can check the links for November, December, January, February, and March to see how everyone has been doing.

  • Derp Reporter $1,112,847.49
  • Credible: $1,103,961.39
  • Mjv305: $1,095,955.91
  • Sheep Doggy Dog: 1,061,984.07
  • BC: $1,051,871.40
  • Julia’s College Fund: $1,000,000 (No Trades)
  • Jouster: $999,581.36
  • Magoo: $956,546.49
  • Heim Time: $607,799.48

Sheep Doggy Dog is having problems navagating his updated app, but as of lasts screenshot he had 28,571 shares of UGL at $37.17 a share for $1,061,984.07. Email me if you got yours! and use my link here if you want to open your own Webull account.


MLA and SCRA Ends For AmEx Plat, Retroactive Annual Fees Charged (April Fools)

I got a phone call today from AmEx, they said it was game over for us. Turns out that it was a computer glitch that waived the annual fees on our AmEx cards. They have since fixed the glitch.

The bad news is they want me to pay the annual fees on my 26 AmEx Platnum cards at $495 a card for the past 6 years. This means I have to come up with $77,220.00 by the end of the month or they are going to put me in churning prison.

Please Help Keep Derp Report Alive!

Luckily the points guy is willing to buy derp report for 1,000,000 MR points. Which when cashed out at the 1.25 cents per point rate with Schwab would only be $12,500. I am only $64,720 short of my goal.

Now if I cash out the $12,500 and put it on a single number in roulette and hit, I should have a cool payout of $437,500 which is more than enough to cover the AmEx Bill. Even a street bet over three numbers would pay out $137,500. I think this is my only way to stay alive. Please comment below on what number I need to pick in order to win.

I think its best to say that this was an April fools joke! I hope you can get someone flipping out on this one!


A Sea Lawyer’s Breakdown of the Military Lending Act of 2006


I am not a real lawyer, but my fellow O-3 Endoid, my High School Friend that I interned with at the Federal Reserve Bank 14 years ago, and myself are trying to wrap our heads around reading the actual guidance given by the FDIC on the MLA as posted here. The actual MLA can be found here, and a comptrollers guide can be read here. My head hurts after reading all of that. Any of you JAGs out there can chime in? This whole thing is goddamn rocket surgery to us!

First and foremost the entire point of this MLA passed over 12 years ago under George W. Bush was this:

The Military Lending Act (MLA), enacted in 2006 and implemented by the Department of Defense (DoD), protects active duty members of the military, their spouses, and their dependents from certain lending practices. These practices could pose risks for service members and their families, and could pose a threat to military readiness and affect service member retention.

It’s interesting how “Service member retention” is mentioned. I believe the MLA is the greatest retention tool of all time. Pretty much these $450 to $595 annual fees are the “new potential debt” that I am trying to avoid by staying active duty forever. Maybe this is the DoD’s plan to retain us forever as a 33 year retired retained O-6s.

It appears that the act was to keep E-1 Seaman Timmy from getting another Chevy Camero at 36+% APR. There are a couple of calculators for shady car dealerships to max out their exploitation, imagine an APR so high that you need a website to calculate reaching 36%. The main target is predatory lenders as the punishment for anyone not complying with the MLA is harsh:

creditor who knowingly violates this section shall be fined as provided in title 18, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

This was an excellent effort to stop these young recruits from fucking up their financial life. Now we wonder why does Citibank, Chase, American Express, and U.S. Bank extend such provisions to their consumer products? The answer lies right here in the comptrollers’ guide:

The main reason these specific banks are waiving annual fees is out of an abundance of caution. They simply do not want to be in violation of potentially charging over 36% interest when the annual fee is factored in. Unless they have a dedicated super computer and some accountant on each service member’s account I don’t see how they could ever keep up making sure they are not in violation on a monthly basis.

The FDIC talks about Bonafide Fees of which any of us can say a $450 to $595 annual fee is excessive. The FDIC guide says these fees are considered reasonable in only these circumstances:

So it would be unreasonable for Citibank to charge $495 for a Citi Prestige card with a wimpy $5,000 credit limit. The bank could say, bring it on and challenge us because we can justify the fee. However since Citi is the same size as Chase and AmEx we look at the other provision mentioned here:

Just because Chase, U.S. Bank and AmEx are waiving fees, does that force Citi (and potentially Barclays) to follow suit? None of the other provisions make any sense. For example page 6 of the FDIC guide shows a calculation of the Military Annual Percentage Rate (MAPR) as per 12 CFR 1026.14(c) and (d) of Regulation Z.:

This section refers to personal loans of which AmEx has set their APR to 0.00% for military. When we look at the credit card section we see this:

For example my $495 annual fee Citi prestige has a $20,000 credit limit and a 17.99% APR.

If we do the MAPR calculation we take the APR of 17.99% and then add the ($495 AF /$20,000 CL) = 2.4% which is only 20.4%. This is less than 36% limit and is NOT in violation of the MLA, even if I drop my Credit Limit to $5,000 I am at an MARP of 28%. So this makes no sense that they are in violation of the MLA. However what if I carry no balance from month to month? Turns out no fee can be charged in this situation:

It appears the worse they could do is charge max of $100 a year for any of their premium products, and only if a balance is carried over!

The MLA interpretation is currently a very generous gift of Chase, AmEx, U.S. Bank, and Citibank. So keep that in mind, nothing lasts forever and this could all end abruptly like how the $995 fee waiver ended for the Gold Luxury Card.

Any one have data points on other banks?


Wonky Citibank Rules

I have been brainstorming on how to maximize Citibank now that they are waiving annual fees per the MLA. As far as I know Citi allows product changes for any of their card to anything else. In the past I took my American Airlines Platinum card and changed it to a Bronze American Airlines which became the AA MilesUp card. I also successfully changed another Platinum AA card into a Double Cash Back card which is of an entirely different family. I am reading now that people have been able to product change their American Airlines Executive to another Prestige after one year. This would be a game changer as each Citi Platinum I’m churning with Snail Mail codes would become another $250 Prestige in my pocket after one year!

The list of possible products (dated Feb 2018) is this:

  • Citi® Double Cash Card
  • Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
  • Citi® CashReturns® (an old 1% cash back card)
  • Citi® Dividend
  • Citi® Dividend World Elite (same cashback program as regular Dividend)
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM Mastercard®
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Bronze Mastercard
  • Citi Prestige® Card
  • Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
  • Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
  • EXPEDIA®+ CARD From Citi
  • AT&T Access More Card From Citi
  • AT&T Access Card From Citi
  • AT&T Universal Savings and Rewards (5x on AT&T purchases)
  • Costco Anywhere Visa® Card By Citi

Here are my sources for all of Citi’s wonky rules:

If this is the case then we should not attempt to get a Premier card until exactly 24 months from opening the Prestige card. Instead we should hit every single Citi card on their own and convert to a prestige after one year. Keep in mind each Citi card I have opened has been a hard pull and there are reports of a 6/6 limitation. This is where only 6 hard pulls from any bank in 6 months will keep you from getting any new Citibank card. Reader NC asks:

Derp, How many hard pulls have you had in the last 6 months? At least how many does Experian show? I recently got denied for the Prestige for too many inquiries on 24Feb or 25Feb. My Experian account says I have 8 inquiries in the last year. Trying to see the soonest I should apply next and have a chance at approval. I don’t know if I’m ready to garden just yet. Dan, if you see this, weigh in?

The other rule to contend with is the well know 8/65 rule where you must wait 8 days between applications and then 65 days between each pair. For example I got two Citi AA Platinum cards on 24 Jan and 12 Feb (spaced more than 8 days apart). So in a moving 65 day window I had 2 new cards making me ineligible for a third till the first one drops off. I will be eligible to get my next cards at these intervals:

  • 30 March & 18 April
  • 22 June & 7 August
  • 26 Aug & 11 Oct
  • 30 Oct & 15 Dec

What I need to look out for now is not going over 6 hard pulls in a 6 month period. With the application today I have 3 hard pulls at these intervals:

  • 24 Jan 2019 (Drops 24 July 2019)
  • 12 Feb 2019 (Drops 12 August 2019)
  • 30 March 2019 (Drops 30 September 2019)

If we assume I only work Citi this year we can have this to expect:

  • 18 April Application (4th pull of 6)
  • 22 June Application (5th pull of 6)
  • 7 August Application (5th pull of 6 since the 24 Jan dropped off)
  • 26 August Application (5th pull of 6 since the 12 Feb dropped off)
  • 11 October Application (5th pull since the 30 March drops off)
  • 15 December Application (5th pull since 18 April Drops off)

When 24 January 2020 comes around we can then start product changing the AA Platinums to multiple Citi Prestiges just for more $250 credits and free 4th nights. When 24 months rolls around we can finally hit the Citi Premier for more thank you points!

What this plan is contingent on is finding a steady supply of these:

Please don’t throw these out! Hit me up if you got some extra codes

Otherwise I will have to get every single Citi Product with intention to product change to multiple Prestiges in one year.

I will also not be able to get cards from any other bank to risk racking up any hard pulls. Maybe when I am in the upgrade phase I can switch to getting back under 5/24 and working on my wife’s accounts.


Success On Citi Prestige!

Thanks for all of the positive data points on the waiver of the $495 annual fee per the MLA for many readers out there. Not it is my turn, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I ran a Credit Karma report and made sure it had been exactly 65 days from opening my first of two Citi Cards based on the hard inquiry dates:

I then plugged the date of 24 January 2019 into Wolfram Alpha and got today’s date:

2019-03-30.jpg (750×1334)

I logged into my Citi account and went under products and found the application link. Upon application, I ran into this ominous message:

I reached out to reader Dan who is the SME on Citi and he told me not to fret. This is SOP for Citi to verify applications via phone. I called 1-800-763-9795 and they verified my identity with a text message. Then I was then instantly approved! I got this email shortly after my phone call:

You can always check you application status here or by calling the number above. My next card will be on Thursday 18 April and will be a fourth Platinum AA using a Snail Mail code. I will do the same thing again on 03 June 2019.

I had the bright Idea to try to hit Premier at the same time as prestige, but there are conflicting reports on getting both bonuses since they are the same Thank You Points product family. Although it is technically possible to get both bonuses simultaneously, any miscalculation would mean doing all that spend for no bonus at all. The safer move is to wait 24 months from Prestige to get a Premier card. Any data points out there on this?

Update: I got a call from 800-825-0393 on 02 April 2019 to confirm that it was me that applied for the card. They said it would take 7 to 10 days, Oddly I got an email on Sunday saying there was an overnight package coming today of which I assumed was the card. However a reader got the same message and it was just an overnight letter saying he had simply been approved for the card. What a waste of resources right there!