I recently signed up for the 100,000 American Express Business Platinum card in which I had to spend $10,000 in 3 months to get the signup bonus. Now that amount is outside my normal amount of spending for everyday expenses over 3 months so I had to figure out a way to hit this minimum spend. While I could turn to some manufactured spending (and I did), I also turned to my friend Billy Joel.
Ok, I’m not really friends with Billy Joel but his residency at Madison Square Garden has created a strong demand for tickets to attend his concerts. I’ve wanted to go for a while now but I’ve always missed the presale events or I didn’t have the right access for the presale. And the tickets on the secondary market have a huge markup that I won’t pay for. The solution is to determine when the next presale event is and get the right access to them. The Billy Joel presale is through Citi Private Pass which requires you to pay with a Citibank card…or rather is suppose to make you pay with a Citibank card.
Here is the TicketMaster Hack:
Since Citi Private Pass handles the Billy Joel presale, you first need to enter the first 6 digits of your Citibank credit or debit card to access the presale. Even if you don’t have a Citibank card, you can Google for the 6 digits (hint: 4128 00) to get access but that’s not the hack I’m talking about. Once you find the tickets you want and you fill out your information (or log in to TicketMaster), it will take you to the billing page to enter your credit card information. One problem though – if you enter a non Citibank card, you will get an error when you submit the form. Here is what happened when I tried paying with my Amex Business Platinum.
The system is smart enough to prevent you from paying with a non Citibank card if you use the credit/debit card payment option. However, if you scroll all the way down on the billing page, there is an option to pay with American Express Checkout or Visa Checkout and by using these options, you can pay with any credit card – not just a Citibank credit card. This is the hack to get around using a Citibank card if you don’t want to.
I clicked on American Express Checkout and it brings up a popup asking you to sign into your American Express account with your American Express login. I did so and was given the option to select one of my existing Amex cards. I selected one and completed the transaction without any errors. My confirmation email arrived almost immediately afterwards with the link to my print my tickets. This confirms the TicketMaster system is not able to stop non Citibank cards when using American Express Checkout or Visa Checkout (I tried this one as well).
Anyway back to how Billy helped me meet my minimum spend. TicketMaster imposes a limit of 8 tickets per event so I cleaned up on the two presales that were going on a few weeks ago for the August and September shows. I got two tickets for my wife and I but the only thing is I don’t have 14 friends who want to go with me so I will take advantage of a strong resale market for these tickets and sell them. As you can see below, I bought my tickets for $145 each and the tickets near my section on Stubhub are going for an average of around ~$200 each. If I can sell these for $200 each (I also have a low row number which helps), factoring in Stubhub’s 15% commission for selling, I will net $170 a ticket so a profit of $25/ticket or $100 on these four tickets below. If I assume similar profits on my other tickets (which are in other sections to not cannibalize these tickets), I could make a profit of $300-$350 while knocking $2,400 off my minimum spending requirement.
Of course there is some risk the resale market with plummet and I could be stuck taking a small loss on these tickets but based on the history & popularity of these tickets, I think that is unlikely. That said, I am pricing my tickets competitively in my sections in hopes of selling these quickly and not having to float the money for a long period. In the event they don’t sell right away, this isn’t a concern for me as I can float the money but for others it certainly should be factored in.
In short, I knew I could make money reselling Billy Joel tickets and by taking advantage of the option to use American Express Checkout, I was able to circumvent the requirement to use a Citibank card so I could meet the minimum spend on my American Express Business Platinum card. That’s a pretty valuable TicketMaster hack to know if you ever find yourself without a credit card from the bank offering the presale.
(Hint: There are presale tickets available to his October show)