T-Mobile giving out free Hulu, a gift card fraud lawsuit and what player 2 really thinks about points and miles (Saturday Selection)

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T-Mobile is giving some customers free Hulu (but the bad kind), a Japan Airlines flight bursts into flame and what your player 2 really wants to say about points and miles. All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).

What Player 2 really thinks about points and miles

two monkeys hugging each other

Have you ever spent hours on your day off driving to office supply stores to buy thousands of dollars of fee-free Visa Gift Cards at the behest of someone you care about? You might be a player 2. Have you ever hotel-hopped during a weekend stay and thought it was perfectly normal? You might be a player 2. Player 2 is the name that we affectionately give our (often reluctant) significant others who come along, and are sometimes dragged, on our points and miles earning and burning adventures. I remember listening to part of an episode of Frequent Miler on the Air with my wife one day while driving. Nick and Greg were discussing the Wyndham Earner Business card. About one minute in, she said, “you know what that sounds like to me? Wyndham!….wah wah wah (Charlie Brown adult voice)…. 40,000 points!!….wah wah wah….8x fuel!!!…wah wah wah.” I’m not always quick on the draw, but I could tell that she wasn’t exactly riveted by the quality content. That was the last time that we listed to the podcast together. Being a player 2 can be a tough, thankless, boring, confusing gig…that just happens to come with international business class. Lindsay, aka “Miles Earn and Burn P2,” recently wrote a hilarious “diary” of a player 2. Thanks to her for a fun read. We hope that all those P2’s out there feel seen.

Visa Gift Card issuer Incomm sued for high incidence of fraud

a cartoon of a man holding a credit card

99% of the country has no idea what “Vanilla” brand gift cards (or their issuer, Incomm) are. But these broadly unnoticed shelf-hangers are near and dear to the hearts of many folks that are involved in manufactured spending, as they have historically provided a simple means to turn bonused spend into cash at low fees. Over the last few years, fraud involving the physical Vanilla cards found at retailers has become more and more frequent. The most common scam involves the prospective thieves removing the card from its packaging, noting the numbers and PIN code and then waiting for someone to buy and load the card, at which point they can drain the funds. As a result, the San Francisco DA is now suing Incomm, saying that the company knew that these cards weren’t secure, did nothing to fix it and then didn’t properly reimburse consumers when fraud did happen. I’ve bought a lot of debit gift cards over the years and, interestingly, I’ve never personally had an issue with an Incomm card. On the other hand, there are other issuers (ahem, US Bank) where I’ve found fraud to be much more common. Regardless, stay safe out there.

T-Mobile now offers free Hulu on some plans…with a catch

a man wearing a beanie and pointing his finger
T-Mobile gives you more than just a beanie these days.

Compared to the staid, horse-and-buggy world of bundled cable, today’s mass of streaming apps can feel like the wild, wild west. Every service seems to have service plans with and without ads, constant promotions, bundling deals and co-branding agreements with everyone from American Express to Wal-Mart. Phone providers have gotten into the mix as well, with both Verizon and T-Mobile (and probably others) providing free access to everything from NFL games to Netflix as amenities to their more expensive plans. T-Mobile just announced the addition of free Hulu for customers of its expensive Go5G Next plans, to go along with the Apple TV and Netflix that is already included. Unfortunately, there’s a huge, glaring, no-good, very bad problem: the plan that T-Mobile provides has ads…yuck. Some people don’t seem to mind ads and this is great news for them. But, for those who don’t want to hear about car insurance during the last five minutes of The Handmaid’s Tale, you can still get ad-free Hulu covered by American ExpressDigital Entertainment Credit.

Japan Airlines flight hits plane on landing, burst into flames

a plane on fire at night
Image courtesy of Kyoda News

Unless you’ve been on a media diet, you’ve probably seen the terrifying images that came from Tokyo last week, when a Japan Airlines (JAL) Airbus A350 with 379 passengers onboard collided with a coast guard plane as it was landing at Haneda Airport. Evidently, the coast guard aircraft wasn’t cleared to taxi by air traffic control, so no one was aware that it was in the path of the massive airliner. The JAL flight was almost immediately engulfed in flames, effectively turning it into a rolling fireball. It eventually burnt down to what was little more than a pile of ashes. Incredibly, all 379 passengers and the entire crew made if off without a single death…and anyone who’s ever seen a Japanese airline board a full plane in 10-15 minutes knows why. Hats off to the crew of Flight 516 for keeping calm and carrying on.

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