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As a Centurion cardholder of 22 years, I finally gave up my Centurion membership.

As a loyal Amex customer since 1988, I worked hard to help the team at Centurion understand how appalling their customer service had become, how untrained their agents were, and how their new team structure vs dedicated contacts has led to booking errors, mistakes, and the general feeling one gets when calling a remote call center that knows nothing about you.

This is everything Centurion claims it is not.

I tried reaching out to senior team members at Amex with no response. They simply don’t care.

I finally spoke at length with a very sweet and nice “executive customer service” team member I had spoken to a year ago when things started going off the rails and she promised me that she would discuss my issues with “management”, but in the end was given the run around with the obligatory “I’m so sorry we can’t meet your needs and that we are losing you.

I personally was mentored and coached for years by an old leader of American Express named Alan Loren. He would be turning in his grave if he knew how terrible the Centurion product had become. He was a believer in the customer experience and in those days management was willing to speak directly to a customer to understand their concerns. No longer 🙁 

AEXP happily lost me as a Centurion customer after 22 years, without doing anything to try to make amends for the terrible service received.

Here are some of the shortfalls and issues with the card that everyone should know:

– Multiple booking errors leading to problems with travel, lost seats, lost flights, etc.

– Multiple times I received no call back from an agent I had spoken to at length and literally no way to get back in touch with them, since there is no longer a personal point of contact for Centurion members (just a large team who often isn’t available anyways and then your call goes into a pool). Centurion has become a faceless, nameless call center experience.

– There’s been a dramatic elimination of historical benefits, personalized events, and special perks – only to be replaced by a complicated grouping of “experiences”, which quickly become unavailable anyway – “Oh sorry”, they say on the same morning an event becomes available for booking, “the event you want isn’t available anymore We can put you on a waitlist”. They should be ashamed of this new experience program.

– Gone is Hyatt, United, and other airline and hotel programs where status was afforded.

– When booking flights, almost always, the travel team couldn’t even find the same rates I could find online. I literally booked 5 business class seats to Turkey last summer for 1/2 the cost they quoted. When I pointed it out and showed them, they simply said they couldn’t get the same rates – baffling, as they are supposed to be the experts. They don’t even take the time to shop, offer creative suggestions that any pro would offer, or even understand or know the properties and routes they are quoting.

– When trying to book a difficult restaurant reservation through the “concierge” they called back a day later saying that nothing was available, but when I called the restaurant right afterwards, they gave me a table.  

Their concierges can’t even get what any normal person can get, making you wonder why they are even there. It’s become better to simply do things yourself vs working with the Centurion team.

– When I cut my spend a year ago, in protest of their terrible service, saying I would up it again when they proved they would improve, I never even got a call asking why. They simply don’t care and Centurion cardholders are treated like everyone else. There is no more special treatment or special feeling.

Which begs the question – what is one paying $5000 for each year? Do they even really want to have this offering anymore? Do they still care about the customer experience or is it just about the bottom line? Do they even customer Customer Lifetime Value anymore?

There are so many more examples of terrible service, whittled down options comparable to Platinum and many more instances of a lack of travel knowledge by their team.

It seems Amex has given up on their Centurion cardholders, many of whom are their most loyal supporters and brand ambassadors. I feel given up on and am saddened by what has become of this iconic card.

Another Jeff

BBVA is dead. 🙁 Believe all cards have been product changed to garbage PNC cards. Rip 5x/10x deals


Ned from Boston


I recently logged into my American Express account and noticed that my posted purchases read “For a limited time: Use 40% fewer Membership Rewards points when you use them to cover eligible charges. Terms Apply.” For this purchase of $118.74, underneath it reads “Offer available ($118.74 = 11,874 pts). Tap to Use Points”. This was for a sporting goods store on my BBP. I have screenshots for my Platinum and BBP on posted charges. Platinum has Uber Eats and Udemy – my two recent posted purchases. Nothing on my Gold cards as I have no posted charges on that card. After speaking with a customer service rep, Karen, she confirmed it was indeed a targeted offer going to out to certain members.

J .

These requests include any previous and future files, info, etc etc Retain it all.

Thank you!!



in prior years, Hyatt offered a nice discount on gift cards (15%) around the holidays. Do you see them resuming that this season?

Keep up the great work, and congrats on securing the FM domain!


Greg, Nick, Stephen,
I noticed that Chase reduced the cash access line on 3 of my personal credit cards as of the last statement date (yesterday). got in touch with my their credit services department via my bank manager.
Was told Chase has instated a new policy – all Credit card cash lines are being reduced to 5% (from the old 20%) CL. This is effective Oct’2020 for all Biz and Consumer products.
Will be good to get confirmation – Have you heard any others mention this change?

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Mark Bacon

Greg/Nick – Looking at the latest Bask Bank offer for AAdvantage miles. Would love to hear your viewpoint if worth it.


Greg/Nick — Any confirmation regarding earning MQM and Bonus miles From Delta Reserve card before the change to the “new” rules? I met my $30K mileage boost by 1-20ish… the MQM miles boost posted… but, not the 15,000 bonus miles. Do you have any data points on whether this is the norm all around… or just in my case?

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Steve S

Greg and FM Team, I was thinking about writing this in comments section of the podcast post this week but thought I’d try it here too. I thought it would be nice since you guys completed 40K to far away to revisit some of the sweet spots you found for travel between different areas not to/from US. For instance, what’s the best mileage program to fly between Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia? I have extensively tried researched this and it’s not widely covered and searching for options in business I’ve jumped down a lot of rabbit holes researching programs from the usual suspects AA, UA, Aero, KLM Thai to EVA and more. I’ve started diving pretty deep into this and honestly can’t really come up with anyone covering this except for maybe Spencer.
This actually could be a good topic for Greg/Nick to discuss on the podcast at some point.

I posted this to the comments on Start Here page but this is probably better venue

Great job with the podcast.


I’m curious how you MS’d $500,000 for you and your wife to get Delta Diamond. Are you using Simon Mall? Im just trying not to get the Amex ban hammer, thanks!


Hi Greg. I’d be interested to find out the same. Thanks


Got into this game over a year ago. Love it. I have a question / idea for article:

I own rental properties. My monthly mortgage payments are about 17k. I was thinking, as my accountant says I can write it off as a business expense, to use plastiq for those… The question is… What is the best way. What will be the best bang for my buck..

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I mean Flying Blue miles


Hi Guys,

Love your site and guidance.

For last two months or so, I have seen absolutely no US domestic flight availability for Flying Miles …. Do you know anything about this?

I have a bunch of miles expiring and am hoping to use them.



Since I posted this I received other feedback suggesting that you can usually only see availability if you go in through the french or dutch website rather than the US website. That has worked fine although the foreign websites require passport, greencard, etc. info which i didn’t have so I had to call in to book over the phone. Awkward but it worked. Not sure why only the foreign websites show the availability but that seems to be the case ….


Strange but it does. I have a bunch of flying blue miles expiring because i could never find any domestic availability but have now been able to book three different itineraries which only showed up on the french website.

LoriAnne Neiger

My friend purchased a ticket with Alaska last August for a trip in November 2017.
The fare dropped and she received a travel credit for the difference.

The travel credit is set to expire in August. She has no future plans, but would like to keep the credit or extend the credit.

Is there a way to do this?

thank you.


The Costco Visa card, for which there is no annual fee beyond Costco membership, returns 3% on travel purchases, including airfare. Why bother calculating if Southwest points are worth 1.3 cents or 1.9, when paying with the Costco card yields 3 cents? We are talking about REAL MONEY here – Costco will redeem in cash – which, unlike Southwest points, cannot be devalued from one day to the next, at least not by Costco.


Thanks for maintaining this page and answering people’s questions for all to see. On your best offers page, would it be possible to filter credit cards by card association networks (Visa, MC, etc.)? There are times when I am specifically looking for a big bonus on a Mastercard because I can hit min spend with Plastiq paying a mortgage with MC but not Visa or Amex. I imagine there are other instances where one would want to go after a bonus from a specific network, and this extra filter would make your great resource even better. Thanks for considering it!

Honest Inquirer

Good day! I am wondering if I purchase visa gift cards with a Chase business card, and then buy money orders with the visa gift cards, if I should report the Visa GC amount as a business expense and the money order amount as business income on my tax return, resulting, for each transaction, unless it is an Office Max/Office Depot type of deal, in a slightly larger expense than income amount for each transaction. Credit card points acquired do not count as income according to the IRS, according to my understanding. Thanks in advance for the response.


Saw your aug 27,2017 article on changes by Chase re: double dipping Preferred and Reserve. Have there been any recent data points on whether someone who got Preferred bonus in 2014 (still have it) can get a Reserve card and the bonus. And are the steps still the same to preserve the existing points?Thanks for any help.


Nick/Greg, I recently got the USB Altitude, mostly for the mobile spend 3x. Got my first bill and saw that none of my mobile spend was credited for 3x, the travel I booked was though. Called up and was told Google Pay is not one of their excepted “mobile wallets”. Have you guys heard of anybody else having this issues? I see that their splash page at USB still says Android Pay, even though its now defunct.


Nick/Greg, I was on my (wife’s AU) Amex account this evening looking for the Air New Zealand offer. On my no-annual-fee Hilton, I found: “NEW No Foreign Transaction Fees Use your Hilton Honors Card and don’t worry about Foreign Transaction Fees.” Did I miss this being reported somewhere, and as important, does it apply to any other no-/low-annual-fee Amex cards?


Hi. I have a question about card security. I am in the process of applying for my first credit card since the Equifax security breach last year. I was impacted by the breach and opted to freeze all my credit reports. I called the bank offering the card I am planning to apply for and they were unhelpful when I asked which credit agency they use. So it is looking like I would need to unlock all my credit reports which is a pain and then have to pay to have the reports refrozen.

Is there a better way to do this????

Nick Reyes

Two solutions:

1) Just apply. You won’t get approved instantly — you’ll have to call the reconsideration number. They should then tell you which bureau they tried to pull and you can provide them with a security PIN for one-time access to your report. You get the PIN from the credit bureau. For example, here’s a link where you could do that with Experian:

2) Check out the Creditpulls database at to get an educated guess as to which bureau the bank will pull. Just put the bank name in the “Creditor” search box. You could also pick your state from the drop-down menu. You don’t need to fill in any of the other search parameters:

That will show you a list of reports as to which bureau the bank has pulled in your state. Some banks are very consistent. For example, in almost all of the US, Amex pulls Experian. Barclaycard almost always pulls Transunion. Discover used to consistently pull Equifax in my state I think, but it looks like reports are pretty mixed now. Chase, Citi, and BOA are less universal, but you might be able to identify a pattern in your state.

For example, based on my experience, I know that Amex and Chase always pull Experian when I apply. I just thaw my Experian report for a day when I plan to apply with either of them. I could alternatively apply and then call to give them a PIN to pull it, but I’m usually happy to avoid the phone call if I can get an instant approval by thawing.

Unfortunately, the bank won’t tell you ahead of time which bureau they will pull, so if it’s a bank that uses multiple reports in your state, it might just be easiest to thaw all of them. You can choose how long to thaw — if I’m just planning on one application, I just thaw for 1 or 2 days.

Also keep in mind that when you freeze your reports, you may be opted out of receiving pre-screened offers (targeted signup bonus offers) — but you can opt back into those if you want using the same site you would use to opt out if you weren’t freezing but didn’t want to receive the offers:

Hope that helps!

James Silver

I am holding US passport. I will be traveling Thailand next month, and I will fly from Thailand to transit at SHENZHEN CN, SZX airport for 5 hours before coming back to the US. Do you know if I need a visa for this 5 hours transiting? I get different answers for this question. Thank you.

Jay Robertson

Hey Guys,

Where is the best place to see a monthly view of Americans availability for super saver fares to places. I have seen it on here, but can’t seem to find where it comes from or how to replicate it.

Thanks, Jay

Jay Robertson

Where do you go to look up those routes, I can’t seem to find that monthly chart you guys publish.

Thanks for the reply.


Have you ever done a post on MagsForMiles? I get my wife’s people magazine subscription there. It costs 2200 miles for a year. I found the same subscription online for about $76 dollars. That’s roughly 3.4 cents per mile. That’s a pretty good conversion rate!

James S


I’m about to buy restaurant, which I expect the food cost to be around $300000 a year. I wonder what would you rather have 300000 spg or 450000 URs from freedom unlimited?
I only travel to Thailand once a year.
Though there is no freedom unlimited for business I’m not sure if it ok to use personal card for business expense.
Also, can I have multiple business blue plus cards? I rather earn 2 MRs than spg and 1.5 URs.

Thank you!

Nick Reyes

Sort of building on Greg’s advice (it depends on which transfer partners interest you), I’m going to throw an alternative method of analysis at this: You know where you want to go, so how do you want to get there and where do you want to stay?

In your case, I think the best thing for you to do is figure out who flies to Thailand and which routes you’d prefer from where you live.

Bangkok is heavily serviced by Star Alliance carriers — Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Thai Airways, Asiana, ANA, Air China, Air India, Austrian, Ethiopian, EVA, Swiss, and Turkish all fly into Bangkok. OneWorld has some options, but availability can be harder to come by on Qantas and Finnair. In my experience (flown to and through BKK a number of times), I’ve always found availability on something to BKK with Star Alliance due to the sheer number of flights. With UR, you could transfer to United and book flights with tons of routing options. Having Ultimate Rewards also gives you Singapore as a transfer partner, and that’s a great option as well. You would have Singapore as a partner with SPG or Membership Rewards as well, but with SPG you’re earning at a lower ratio (1.25 per $1 if you transfer in 20K increments…and your award might not cost an increment of 20K).

Furthermore, with Ultimate Rewards, you’ve got Korean as a transfer partner, and they are known to have a lot more availability for their own members. However, you will only be able to book flights for yourself and immediate family — if, for example, you were looking to bring an unmarried partner or someone else, you wouldn’t be able to get their ticket with your Korean miles (workaround would be adding them as an AU to transfer URs to their Korean acct, so not impossible).

On the other hand, if you want to fly Emirates to get there, I think you’d be better off with SPG in order to transfer to Alaska or JAL. The other advantage with SPG is the ability to transfer to both American and Delta. With American, I think the only option that opens for is Cathay Pacific. So the advantages I see for SPG in your case are just if you want to fly Emirates or Cathay and if you want to stay in SPG/Marriott properties (and those certainly can be a deal in SE Asia, so that may be a strong consideration….on the other hand, cash prices in SE Asia are correspondingly lower, so getting 1.5cpp our of Ultimate Rewards (assuming you pair that Freedom with a CSR) might be just as valuable.

Unless…you plan to stay in one hotel for 7 nights in Thailand. Then, you might want to consider that SPG strategy a second time. We’ve written quite a bit about Marriott Travel packages. 90K Starpoints will get you 270K Marriott points — which is good for 120K miles in many programs (132K United) plus a 7-night stay. When there is a transfer bonus (like the 35% bonus with Aeroplan right now), you might get 150K+ airline miles plus a 7-night stay for each 90K Starpoints. Now you’re earning 1.67 airline miles per dollar PLUS getting a 7-night stay. That’s compelling — if there is a Marriott you want to spend 7 nights at in Thailand. I stayed at the Bangkok Renaissance a couple of years ago and I think Greg did as well and I would definitely go back there for a week — it was nice, the lounge was decent, and I love Bangkok. With 300K Starpoints, you could easily find a transfer partner to fly a couple of people first class and have a couple of free rooms for a week if you wanted. Alternatively, SPG also has nights-and-flights awards where you could get a 5-night stay plus airline miles. It’s fewer miles in that instance.

I think Amex Membership Rewards is also a great option. If you’re using a Business Platinum, purchases over $5K earn 1.5X. So after you max out your 2X bandwidth on the Blue Business Plus, you can still get 1.5X on your large purchases. That gives you ANA as a transfer partner, which may be advantageous due to their distance-based chart (if you’re based on the west coast) and round-the-world awards (if you decide you do want to visit a couple of places).

With all three currencies, you get Flying Blue as a transfer partner as well, which gives you the possibility of the SkyTeam partners that fly to Thailand as well (Air France, China Eastern, Korean, a couple of others).

The issue with Membership Rewards is that they aren’t really useful towards hotels. Both SPG and UR are much better if you’re looking to cover both flights and hotels for your trip to Thailand.

I think if I were in your shoes, I would take an Ultimate Rewards approach as it gives you access to plenty of transfer partners to fly on a large chunk of the airlines that service BKK and it also gives you the ability to transfer to Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG if a good PointBreaks deal comes up in Thailand.

If you asked me, “Would you rather have 300K Starpoints or 450K Ultimate Rewards”, it’s a tight race — but I think I’d say that I’d rather have the Starpoints. But when you add the fact that you’re just looking to go to Thailand once a year, I think the Ultimate Rewards win — unless you can take advantage of the Marriott Travel Packages or SPG nights and flights. That’ll take some more time and research for you to figure out. It also might depend on your home airport and which carriers service it / how you’d get to Thailand (is it going to take 4 connections? Are you willing to do that? etc.). Nobody flies direct to Thailand from the continental US.

Best of luck with the restaurant and your decision-making process!

James S

Thank you very much for replying! My airport base is LAX, so I think it works for all rewards. After reading all your advice, I feel that SPG might be the best choice. URs is good for hotel, but I feel that redeeming those URs for IHG, Hyatt, and Marriott are not that good since I think in Thailand, paying cash pay should be better. I look at the redemption for Hyatt, the their mile only worth only 1 cent. Plus, I felt horrible to transfer URs to IHG and Marriott. It feels like i trade Mercedes to Toyota.

Also, I think the business platinum is not working for me since mostly the purchases are usually around $3000. I like MRs because of ANA since I rather paying more cash and less mile. “110000 MR + $500 fuel” is better than paying 160000 URs(united redeeming for business) in my opinion, and I also could book for my family for ANA.(I don’t know if it’s going to be a problem to proof since me and my mother use different last name)

In term of Airlines, to get there, I looked at Alaska, I need 130000 to redeem for JAL, so around 106666 SPG vs 160000 for united(which I need to spend around $100000 to get those, so I kinda agree that 1 SPG is equal to 1.5 URs). However, in term of hotel, I think SPG is slightly better than the rest. However, I think I will travel with my mother, so I heard that Alaska does not allow family pooling for book award flight for someone else, so this is a problem. So I might doing 100000 for MR for ANA redeeming for my mother and the rest to SPG.

To be honest, I like Peninsula and Shagri-La than others but it seem there are no transfer partners. (I want to try mandarin oriental too, but it is kinda out of reach for me). As for Phuket, Chiang mai, or Krabi, I haven’t looked in to hotel brand yet, so if you have any recommendation, i appreciate it!


Hi Greg,

Not sure if you are already aware that Amex might be having a large-scale problem with its welcome bonus posting. It’s been a couple of statements since meeting the spending requirement for my SPG card (organic spend), and yet the bonus starpoints have not posted. I was just told by an Amex representative that the bonus points are not showing up in the system despite the fact that I met all the requirements, and that they have recently become aware of such occurrences which impacted many customers. This is quite different from their answers for my calls a few weeks ago on this problem, when they just cited terms and conditions, and asked me to wait.

I wonder if you have started seeing any large-scale welcome bonus issues with Amex?


Unfortunately not. After Amex failing all of their self-imposed deadlines and getting nowhere with their customer service, I took the matter to their Executive Office and the CFPB. Received an official reply in response to the complaints acknowledging the offer, while stating that they “have identified an issue”. Now they imposed a new deadline for the middle of September (!). Good that I’m not in any particular hurry for the Starpoints. I do feel rather curious what “the issue” could be that is so difficult to fix.


OK, the good news is that I finally got the 35k Starpoints from Amex, though it took 5 months and two CFPB complaints. Amex of course failed their mid-September deadline in their official response to my first CFPB complaint for posting the points. So after going nowhere with them on the phone, I filed a second CFPB complaint with their response letter to the first one attached. A few days after, the points posted to my account.

From what I saw online, it seems that this problem happened to people who signed up from referrals. It appears that in this situation, while their system was displaying the 35k offer on the front end, the back end really didn’t have this offer. And so making the points post requires manual adjustment from Amex, which apparently is something they are very reluctant to do.


Hi Greg,
Long time reader. Just a quick question, you recently stopped sending out via twitter a daily recap on any increases in portal multipliers (I believe it was through evrewards). Any suggestion on how your readers can find out this information or perhaps you post it elsewhere and I have just not been able to find it.
Thanks as always


Hi Greg,

Thanks for all your great work in the blog. Quick question. I have a Citi Premier and Prestige card. I would like to cancel the Premier card before renewal, but as you know here are expiration I the points even if you combine accounts. Could I use the points in Premier to buy an AA refundable ticket, close the account, then cancel the ticket for a cash or gift card refund on AA? If not, any other suggestions for the points.


My brother took a 2-year gig in Japan recently. I plan on taking some family members that meet the 5/24 rule to get Sapphire Reserve cards before they go away, but then what would you recommend as the best use of those 100,000 UR points plus the travel credits from the card with the goal of a round trip flight either from Japan to the Midwest (ORD or MSP), or vice-versa?


Hi Greg – My wife and I just applied for several BOA biz cards to stay under 5/24, but my wife received an unusual response from BOA that I’m curious if you’ve seen before. All BOA applications went pending and I was later called with questions about my businesses. My questions were standard and all three of my BOA biz apps were approved over the phone. However, my wife received 3 identical letters requesting extremely detailed information including 2 years of tax returns for the businesses, proof of business ownership or authorization to borrow, and verification of the legal structure of the business. She called the number on the back of the letter, but they were not able to approve without these documents. Have you encountered this before?


Any ideas for using the City National fee credit this year? AA e-gift card seems to not work.




Is there a way to share a 50k Southwest referral with the broader community if the referral email is an “Invite Friends” email that requires me to provide Southwest with the email addresses of the folks I wish to refer?


I just wanted to ask a question.

Can the AMEX offer for Harry & David be used at to purchase gift cards and be triggered successfully? I wanted to ask around before I gave it a try.


Noe Zapata

Hi I just want to share this Promo:
No Purchase Fees and
Free Expedited Shipping: Code CYBEML
No purchase fees on Gift Cards with promo code CYBEML. Plus, free expedited shipping on all orders (up to $8.95). Purchase fee promotion and free shipping offer expire 12/4/16. See more.

Noe Zapata

This is for American express Gift cards.


Noe Z.

Andy M

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, if I were to apply now, does the annual $300 travel credit have to be claimed by the end of this calendar year, or will it be 2017?


Hi Greg(or Shawn)

I was wondering if you could do a side by side comparison of the benefits of the current hotel point transfer bonuses to American,United and AirCanada. I have lots of Marriott/SPG points and am thinking maybe to max each offer out with the 7 nights Hotel/flight packages. You know,,diversify ;o)
Looks like they are all close to 270k Marriotts will get me 150k(ish) in each, plus the 7 nights. Curious of any sweet spots that I may be missing. Like 110k R/T w/AC in BUS N/America-Europe is better than 140k R/T w/UA(partner) in BUS N/America-Europe. Mind you,,transferring to AK would be great for return to Asia at only 100k,,using no 20/30% bonus!

Anyways, a little guidance would be great,,Thanks.


Thanks Greg. Ya,,I guess I’m splitting hairs since I have extra points in all those. Maybe I’ll do one of each. Oops,,I meant AS not AK. Guess I missed the deadline for AA’s offer ;o(

Thanks again!

Bart K

Hi. I’ve heard one can book Singapore air for NYC-TLV I would like to know how to to that (to avoid UA close in fees. trying to lv 11/15/16) I couldn’t see how on their site. I really need MEM(memphis)-TLV but could do the first leg separately if nec. thx!

Azam Makki

Hi Greg,
I got to meet yup at a FTU earlier this year. You mentioned that you or others use meetup to meet other points/miles enthusiasts. I’m from the MetroDetroit area and would love to meet others in the hobby. Any suggestions how to do this?


Freeman Grover

Good morning Greg! I have read of a number of taxes that we can pay using a credit card. Since we are approaching the end of the calendar year, most people with personal property will soon be receiving their property tax bills. Do you know of a any way to pay personal property tax using a credit card?


Do you happen to know if the Citi Double Cash Back works on gift cards? Have googled around and can’t find anything. Thank you!

Greg Z

Hi Greg, with CPC can I apply online and contact my banker if I go pending or do I need to apply in-branch with him? New to Private Client.

Awesome pics with Sir Richard!!




Thanks for all the great content. Here’s an idea for a blog post. In one of your emails you say “It’s not unusual for a person to earn 200,000 or more points in a single “churn” (…) every 3 or 4 months!”

I have been getting lots of credit cards starting this year, but after just six months or so I feel like I have gotten them all. I got all the best cards from the major airlines and hotels.

So, how can I keep getting points like it seems so many of you more experienced folks do?



Christine B

New Amex offers…undercover tourist, seasons 52 (good for any Darden restaurant), McCormick & schmick (Landrys restaurants)


Hi Greg, I don’t understand the current rules for Delta credit cards. Ok I understand it’s once per lifetime, but are they grouping the cards together. If I have had the Delta gold card can I still get the Platinum and receive the sign up bonus? How about the Business cards?
Thanks Jim

Babs Daigle

United shows business swiss award available. Before transferring points from UR to United, I checked both Aeroplan and ANA. They show the award flights available only in economy. Should I not book on United because it is phantom? I really want this flight, is there any way to assure a business class seat when booking on United?


Will I qualify for the citi a advantage consumer card bonus if it’s been more than 24 months since I closed my last one but less than 24 months since I closed a citibusiness advantage card? Thank you.

Babetta Daigle

I see availability for Swiss Business Awards from New Orleans via Chicago to Zurich on UNITED, but not on AEROPLAN. I want to book with Aeroplan Miles. Is that possible since not showing on AEROPLAN?


This is a data point for American Express cardholders working on their minimum spends. I applied and was approved for the MB Plat card recently. There were serious delays, and my card arrived about 3 weeks after it should have because of “problems with the plastic and a higher response for the card than expected.” When I complained to AmEx about losing several weeks to meet the card’s minimum spend, I was told that all AmEx cards allow for an extra 18 days past the approval date to meet the spend. The rep. said that not all reps. know this, but that all managers do. Just passing this on in case it helps anyone or is useful for a future post.

As an aside, thanks for providing such a thorough list of credit card offers. Also, I’m not sure if it’s just my browser, but the credit card offers master page/list seems to have some errors and doesn’t show images of cards anymore.


Dear FM,

I have my brother and his wife coming to the US for a visit. They would like to get a US credit card each to use here. What would be the best card of mine that they could use as authorized users? I have tons of cards of all flavors. I have no trust issues with them using my accounts.

Alternatively, what card would be easy to get quickly and be useful for for about 3 weeks? Maybe get the bonus pointed to my FF account ?


Thanks, Greg.


Morning Greg – thanks for your help on a number of issues in the past – great information on your site. I have a new question – do you know of programs (such as Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles) that allow transferring of miles to the Hilton HHonors points program?



Have you seen the news that HNA will purchase Club Carlson hotels? What do you think the impact will be on the Club Carlson program?


Hi Greg,
Are you aware of any of the “normal” travel programs available for travel in the United States, which would allow your miles or points to be used to rent a car within the USA?
Thanks for your help,
Freeman Grover


Just booked a Delta award from LAX to SAN in October. one way, 5500 miles – way lower than the award sites seem to say. Is that normal?


FM, today I received a email from Southwest saying that I can earn 35% more points with buy, transferring and gifting. So I was wondering if you get 35% more when you transfer from chase to SW? If so would this scenario be possible. Transfer points from Chase account to wifes SW account (earn 35%) gift points from wifes SW account to my SW account (earn another 35%)?


How much do they charge to transfer points? Can this still be beneficial?


Me too, got shut down on my Serve today after loading and paying up to 2K or less per month. . Good riddance.


Hi FM,

Just want to let you know that there is one more round of Bluebird shutting down started today. I just received an email that I can’t load anymore my Blue bird which I had for a couple of months.

I opened it in January after Redcard fail and I totally did about $5K in three months. Very slow usage and sometimes had money in the card for long periods. But nothing worked. Just one more data point, I never had Serve – First BB, then closed it to open Redbird and closed it to open BB and now shut down.

It seems there is no pattern, Amex just does it to all!


Hello! Can you get the sign up bonus for both the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card and the Citi Hilton HHonors reserve card within a short amount of time? It’s my understanding that you have to wait 18 months to receive a sign up bonus after canceling one card, but I’m wondering if I can apply for both of these cards within the next few months, and receive the 75,000 point offer, as well as the 2 free nights? Thanks for any info!

Jessica Carr

Perfect! Thanks for the info 🙂


Wow I am really overwhelmed trying to find a use for Citi Thankyou points. I am needing to book flights for 4 people from phl to pvr or bwi to pvr. I am not sure how to go about doing it. on southwest it is super easy with my chase points, it’s only 79k points, but trying to figure out how to do it with citi points is really hard. I only have 65k citi points so I will have to pay, but can’t figure out if it is worth it or should I just fly SW and use the citi points for something else? Thanks for any help you can give me. or even point me to a forum where I can get some info.


I did it seems like they limit the actual flights that are available and the rates were not favorable. Is that usually the best way to use the points? The value is only 1.25 cents vs the sw are usually 2.5

Francisco C

Will the 5/24 rule affect my ability to be added as an authorized user onto my wife’s sapphire preferred or ink plus? (I exceed 5/24, not her). That seems like an indirect way of keeping my points transferable to outside programs. Otherwise, I may need to stop churning for almost 2 years. Thanks!!

Francisco C

Yes. But an AU on her sapphire preferred, will me stranded UR points be either transferable to outside programs directly or indirectly through her? Thanks

R Martin

Are you the Shawn Comer from 3/3 BCT?


I upgraded my AMEX to a PLAT back in 1/2012 and kept it until 9/2014 when I downgraded to a AMEX Green Card. I received a targeted email offering 50K MR with 5K spend over 3 months. I read everywhere and there is no mention of not having the card before or getting a bonus before anywhere in the email or webpage it directs to.

Can targeted offers override the “policy”???


OK. I took screenshots of all the application pages. Upgrade processing completed online. Worst case I can get 2 years of $200 airline credits and get back access to the Centurion Clubs.


12 weeks and nothing. Bought in early Nov.

Jay Robertson

I am wondering if you have any trouble with large purchases through the portals. I flip houses and was buying sears gift cards and then buying appliances packages (double dipping). But every time I run a large purchase 2,000 or so and up. I have to fight for the miles, no records on there end, it’s like it’s a scam or something.

Ray yang

Greg, in the past, I asked you how to continue to use kiva when PayPal was shut down. You said withdraw using check and pay using guest checkout. Thanks for the tip. It worked for me for a while, but PayPal has a limit on how much money you can pay via guest checkout for each credit card. So it was not sustainable. I was wondering how did you get around that so that you can keep paying using flexperk. Many thanks!


hmmm, that’s what I did too. I clicked “pay with a gift card or credit card” and entered my credit card information. For each credit card, the first a few payments went through just fine. After reaching a few thousand $$s, the website will say “the card can not be used for this payment”, and I will have to switch to another credit card. Were you able to pay more than a few thousand dollars on one card? If so, how spread out the payments are? Want to figure out if there is a certain limit per day or week so that I can fly under the radar. Thanks!


If I buy home depot gift cards from office max with Ink card, and then go through a shopping portal to buy supplies online using that gift card, will I still get the portal bonus? Wasn’t sure since my gift card will effectively bring my “total spent” to $0. Thanks for your help and love the quick deals!!


I can vouch it works. I buy the gift cards.


Typo on reply above. E gift cards!!!!


Just about to start closing my first round of credit cards. What is the order of operations/procedure to consolidate UR points? My wife and I both have a Sapphire account, and I have an Ink Business Plus account. I would like all the points eventually in the same account so I can close the extras. Thanks, and happy new year!


I’m new to all of this but I am starting to fly every week. My flights are only 1:30 tops all around the southwest. I have an AMEX green corporate card. What is the best airline and way to gain status the quickest? I’m assuming i’ll gain status through segments and not total miles. Is there a way to use my green AMEX to help build points? Any suggestions on how to maximize my all my short travel still using my corporate card? Any help is appreciated!!


I have been following a number of mileage blogs for a few years now and let me say, FM is consistently the most informative and timely with the best organized and clear information. Your ability to quantify and present economic benefits of various programs is second to none. Keep up the excellent work. ( I try to use your signup links whenever possible to show my support)

Now my question. What are the ramifications of a “Hidden City” move using a SWA companion pass?

I’m flying SAT-LAS-SLC on a Rapid Rewards fare with my named companion flying free. Can my companion get off in LAS, abandon her LAS-SLC segment, and not have any blowback from SWA to her or me?



I’ve been buying Vanil Visa GC at CeeV for a long time and been loading my Serve card at Fam Dollar. 2 days ago it did not work. It was “declined” by the checkout POS. I did see they have a new reminder message on the cashier’s screen saying they should not accept or load card through the phone, etc… Not sure if they upgrade their system to decline Vanil Visa. However I was able to load with Vanil MC. You’ve heard anything?


Of course. I ended up buying money order at a local grocery store with those cards. I will try it 1 more time at Fam$ and see what happens.


Thought I’d share my gift card nightmare as a cautionary tale…..

I purchased two $50 Target gift cards from on 8/3. On 8/4 I received the standard email that they had shipped. Typically this is followed up within a day with the egift card email from Unfortunately this didn’t happen.

I let the country for Italy and upon return home on 8/20 I contacted Staples. Still no card. Contacted them again. They referred me to Gift Card Mall. I had to call them three times and finally on 8/27 I received a customer support email with links to the gift cards. I loaded these to my Target mobile account. A few days later when I went to use them, these e-gift cards had changed status and showed with no value as “Force Closed.”

Target states that a “third party vendor” (GCM) reported them as lost or stolen. Gift Card Mall says they are viable numbers and there are no issues with the cards and that they would not report cards stolen. Long story short, I’ve spent at least 50 hours on the phone over the last month-and-a-half and have gotten nowhere. Gift Card Mall says I am incorrect, the cards are valid, and if I have an issue call Target. Target says since they didn’t issue the cards they can do nothing, so call Gift Card Mall. Gift Card Mall says call Staples. Staples says all they do is take payment, so call Gift Card Mall. Each and every vendor is doing nothing but passing the buck. But the worst part is that Gift Card Mall has been quite rude and abrupt in their replies and not at all willing to even discuss this with me. My suggestion to each and every vendor has been to get on the phone and talk to each other (hey Target, call Gift Card Mall), but no one is willing to do that, no one ever follows up as promised and I never get any calls back. So every time I contact any of the vendors I am basically starting over.

So here I am with two “stolen” gift cards. Let’s hope Chase will help since in theory I did not receive my merchandise. Or perhaps I should initiate a police report since I was sold “stolen” merchandise?


Staples supplied Chase with my purchase details, so Chase sided with Staples and denied my dispute. It doesn’t matter if Staples ever sends me valid gift cards, as long as they can show proof that I made the purchase?! I will continue to fight this, but it’s a cautionary tale for those of us who purchase gift cards regularly.


If I book a Hilton through visa signature, am I able to attach my honors number? Would I still get credit for the current weekend triple points promo?


Can you use a CC to buy a car or pay for a portion of it? I am thinking of getting the card with the 100k Avios offer and using it for a large portion of my car purchase. Should knock out the spend in no time sending me on my way toward the companion pass thing.


Oh thats a shame, thanks for the info, I guess I will ask the dealer first. But thats still a nice chunk of spend for 1 day. lol


disc deals: Kmart says “No GC’s” Sears does not……any recent data points?


FM have you seen the new British airways card with 100k possible bonus yet? It seems like its too good to be true. I just opened the Citi Thank you card a few weeks ago, but I really would love 100k miles, should I jump on it right away or will it be around in a month?


Good, the spend isn’t a problem sounds like a great deal. I may need to close another chase card though. Maybe I will wait a month to jump on it. Thanks for the help.


My discover card on wallet now states the gift cards do not qualify for the 10%. I took a picture. Is the gig up before it got started? Dont know how to attach a picture to these comments.


I sent a referral for my IT card to my girlfriend, who was accepted for my card using my referral. When I check my referral status page, it shows the “click” under her email, but nothing for “opened”. Isn’t “opened” to reflect an account opening?


Hi Greg, I wanted to buy some more $200 Visa gift cards at Staples, but got a message that they were discontinued. Do you think this is temporary or is this pretty much the end of the usefulness of the Ink card? Thanks!


This may sound silly, but I am thinking of getting a Kohl’s credit card. Is there any particular time that’s better to get the card? I don’t have anything in mind to buy at this time, but want to get it now so that when the time comes, I can use the card.


Awesome! Thanks so much FM.


What airline do you think rewards it’s frequent flier’s with the most free flights the fastest?

Bourbon Miles

Dear FM,

Like many recently I was declined last week by Chase for the “Freedom Credit Card” due to the very lame “too many credit card apps over two years” excuse despite having an 800+ credit score, a 35 year spotless CC credit history and my last two apps were the Chase SP and the (expensive) Ritz-Carlton cards within the past seven months (Seven total apps in the last 24 months).

Therefore, what is the best strategy to reapply for the Chase Freedom card? Should I wait six months with no further CC apps and hope that Chase Bank has retreated from their Club Carlson/Delta-like “we really dislike our loyal customers” abrupt-turnaround display – or should I simply write-off Chase for the next two-three years? Frankly, I would prefer not to encounter another “negative outcome” hard pull on my credit score (with Chase) that all other credit card issuing banks clearly have had no problems with over the last three plus decades.

Many thanks.


I have read most of this site all about GCs. Now I have only a couple questions. I got the serve and I can’t find $500 gift cards at any staples or OfficeMax, is it worth branching out?
Also, I loaded my serve and then took the money out of the arm as cash, and deposited it to my local bank, is this bad?


Thanks a lot. Will try it tomorrow.


What’s a decent airline award search tool?
I just bought ExpertFlyer but it doesn’t include all the important airlines for USA to South Africa. I bought the KVS tool and it likewise doesn’t allow much unless I have credentials and it seems impossibly complex.

I am willing to pay for an award service but as I have tons of flexibility and miles it seems I shouldn’t need to.

United is fine but I can’t get away from the extra cost for a stopover …

Any ideas would help.


Thank you, I will give it a shot.


Can I purchase $500 Visa or Master Card Gift cards, and load them into my Target Redbird as a debit card? I have three new cards that I need to spend $7000 on. I was out of the country when the May 6th deadline hit. Help!


FM, I recently went through a fiasco with Hyatt and the Baha mar resort and they are sending me a check to replace my southwest airline miles. I could either keep the money or I could purchase the miles right now because they are on sale with the 50% bonus, and spend about 1/3 less then what they are giving me. So my question is, is the 50% sale a good deal that I should take advantage of? I could use these miles for a trip next year and transfer my chase miles to hyatt for the resort instead of SW.


I learned about the Nationwide VISA Buxx from you while in San Diego. I believe you said you have 4 cards. A few questions:

Do you fund all 4 cards with the same CC?

Are there any cards that post as a CA instead of a purchase?

Since each card is the same name, SSN, DOB, etc. as the others how does this not raise a red flag???

Bourbon Miles

Dear FM, Which AMEX card would you recommend as my fourth AMEX card (assuming that I am only allowed to maintain four AMEX CCs)? I currently have the Platinum, SPG and the E’day Preferred. FYI, I do not have the Chase Hilton card yet (waiting on a 2 night redemption opportunity in late 2016) and I am not a fan of Delta’s Skypeso program but I will follow your recommendation. Many thanks!

Bourbon Miles

Thank you FM for the AMEX clarification and the Surpass card 80K tip.


Heard of something called Payoeer?


Earning points/rewards for paying my mortgage has been getting harder and harder and now it’s impossible. I had a Bluebird- lovely when I could load it with vanilla reloads up to 5K a month and pay my 2K mortgage payement with the Bluebird bill pay. Vanilla beans went away so I switched to Serve and had to settle for 1K per month loading using my Barclays Arrival card- at least I got 2 points per dollar to pay half my mortgage. Then Serve and Bluebird stopped accepting anything other than American Express cards for credit card load. OK, no problem, I’ll use my Delta Skymiles Amex reserve to load the 1K credit card limit on my Serve. – at least it will help me meet my 30K spend on the Reserve and I’ll get my 15K Skymiles and Qualification Miles bonus and be exempt from Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement. WRONG!! I just spoke with customer service- I knew you didn’t get any SkyMiles for using the Reserve to load Serve but I read that it does count toward annual spend. When I got my Amex reserve statement after using my Reserve to load Serve for the first time in April-not only did I not get any Sky Miles for that (expected) it did not reflect the 1000 dollars I loaded to my Serve in the annual spend count. I called Amex and they confirmed that it doesn’t count. At least there was not cash advance fee charged.
But something is strange, when I go to Delta.dumb and check my annual spend, it says 12-13K spent when the statement I go says 11.1 K spent year to date. I only have 200 bucks in charges since the statement closed so it looks like the Delta website is giving me credit for the 1K load but the reserve statement says otherwise. What is going on?


FM, I have the legacy Citi Forward that gets 5x on dining and bookstores. I know when the card came out, Amazon counted as bookstores but I didn’t care because I could buy Amazon GC at office stores and get 5 UR instead. Now that TYP are better, I want to use my Forward, but I vaguely recall that Amazon no longer counted as a bookstore for 5x Forward. I did some searching online, and there’s a lot of stuff about this from 2013. I thought I read this more recently, and maybe the 2013 talk is when the card was discontinued. Any final word? Thanks

Yaya Tore

I thought I would just offer my experience. This was weird. I used my Chase Ink to purchase Sears gift cards from GiftCardMall on eBay when there was the 20% off sale. Chase coded that purchase as a cash advance (no idea why). I was charged a $15.00 fee for that purchase as well. I am sure it will be easy to fix this with Chase, but it is something to watch out for. I’ve purchased plenty on eBay before and I am really surprised this happened.


Hey, you live in Ann Arbor, correct? I went to the Target on Carpenter Rd this evening to reload my RedCard and they told me that they are no longer taking credit card reloads. Have you had this experience yet? I am so depressed about it, and I wasn’t sure if I should contact Target and tell them how frustrating this is.


That’s a relief! Thank you!


I’m new to miles and points and am slowly recognizing the value the more I read the advice from all the BoardingArea blogs! My ultimate goal is to get out and travel and can achieve that with a flexible work schedule. With that in mind, I’m set to earn AA Exp by July. I just signed up and was immediately approved for the Citi HHilton Reserve card (I got it for the status and free nights @ signup). That’s when I started reading a lot of blogs on credit cards – points and miles.

The cards I have in mind are the Hyatt Card (for the signup bonus, free night/anniversary, and status); the Chase Sapphire Preferred (for the signup bonus and points – that will probably be forwarded to Hyatt) and the Citi Aadvantage Platinum Select (to American, of course). Of these Citi and Chase cards, which do you recommend I apply for first? Shall I wait a couple of months in between applying for cards or do I sign up for more than one at the same time? And if denied, how soon can I reapply? Thanks!


In Kroger today (Houston) buying Visa GCs. Customer Service checker looked at a new memo – assuming from corporate – and said now any GC sales $2000 and over have to be done with cash. Last month I could buy up to $10,000 with a CC. I bought $1998. Just an FYI – don’t know if anyone else getting this too.


Delta awards are cheaper with hidden city ticketing.

Look at 3/18 (no status):
DTW-MSP-CVG cost = 12.5K miles
EXACT SAME DTW-MSP flight if try to book alone = 32.5k miles


Randy Rogers



I plan on purchasing a fairly large amount of Target e-gift cards via the AA portal, but I want to be confident that the miles will post. I know from recent experience that the 2x Alaska miles will post, but for some reason, some of my cash back portals did not post for me. If Alaska portal posts, is that pretty much a sure thing that AA will post?

Buddy M.

I just got an email saying that softcard was bought by google and would be shutdown March 31st. Will serve still work for loading with cc and if so, for how much?


Hi, just curious what airlines you recommend trying to bank miles from if your hub is DTW? It seems like airlines other than Delta are easier to acquire miles for, but would you always be stuck doing multi-stop trips for those? If you want simplicity, do you pretty much have to concentrate on Delta? Thanks!


Hey FM!!!!

Was wondering if you had to pick just one, would you chase airline OR hotel status and why?


Can you sign up for 2 Barclays at the same time? I would like to apply for both the Arrival & US Airway card. Thanks!!!!!!!


FM, I placed 2 orders for Saks physical gift cards on 2/19, when AA had 15x. Yesterday, the second of the 2 orders posted, for a single $500 GC. The order I placed about 6-7 hours earlier (4x $400 GC) has NOT posted. I’ve made several Saks GC orders in the past 4 months, and always gotten miles/cash back, so I know the process. 24K miles is a lot. In my experience, payouts for orders placed on the same day always post at the same time. At this point, what can I doubt I’ll get the 24K miles for the first order? I took screenshots of every step, but the portals do say no miles for GC purchases.


You’ve had points post at different times for purchases made the on same day, same portal and same online store? I REALLY hope that’s what happens. 24k!


A couple links that might be of interest (blog fodder)
CNN Money Airline Legroom:
Checking Under the Bed from Reddit:


Hi! I am curious about something. My father has the same last name as me and I had him open a delta gold card and link it to my FF account so I would get the points. I am curious if I open a card and link it to the same FF account will I still get the points? Or would I have to close my fathers account first?

Also, is it possible to have other people (without the same name) open a card and link it to you FF as well?


How are you? I have a question about Redcard. Can we still add money by credit card? I think many people wants to know clearly. Thanks.

Here is what they say:

Add money: Once you register your Card, you can continue to add money using Direct Deposit, linking a debit card or bank account, or by adding cash for free at any U.S. Target store.

Sungju Lee



Great site, I’ve been glued to it for days, thanks!

Quick question from someone relatively new to all this…

I’m still working full time with plans to retire in a couple years. Until then, i hope to take 2-3 trips per year. Given my time constraints, I’m trying to come up with an optimal strategy, since time is short.
Seems like rather than signing up for all airline reward programs (regardless of whether I might actually even fly on several of these) – I might better be served by trying to collect points through Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, since they have partnerships and allow transfer and i would have more flexibility to fly on a particular airline only when I know which one and where I am going..rather than blindly signing up for every one and spreading my spending too thin.?? Better to accumulate (especially since I am not a big spender) in one or two – most likely to use places, than a shot gun approach? am I on the right track with my thinking?
Similarly, with hotel programs? Thanks for any feedback, I hope I have explained my question clearly enough.


I made a couple large GC purchases on Saks via Discover portal using Citi credit cards. I’m new to Discover. I recently got an email showing that my cash back is pending, and that the cash back will take 6-8 weeks before it finalizes. I suppose this is the standard protocol. Does it really take that long? At this point, is there any realistic chance that the cash back will be denied due to 1) not using Discover card, and 2) buying Saks GC? Thanks


FM: how do you continue to use Kiva now your accounts are shutdown?


Is redbird being able to load with credit cards if i pick up the card in North Carolina?


MileagePlus X App. Do you know if linking my Chase Ink Card with the app, then buying Visa/Mastercard Gift Cards at Staples or Office Max get me 5X points with Chase on top of the miles I getting going throught the MileagePlus App?


Have you heard of any case in which payout was declined because a non-Discover card was used? I’m going to buy Saks gift cards so if I don’t get cash back, I don’t think I can appeal regardless of card used.


When using ShopDiscover portal, do I have to pay with a Discover card?


Koreanair option is back to Chase UR transfer


What is the best forum to get help booking my family vacation with miles? Also 1 quick ? When you book the marriot packages where you get 50,000 miles for airfare, do I have to use that 50k for that trip or will it just bank into my account?