Is Bank of America Cracking Down on the $100 Alaska Airlines Statement Credit?

For a long time, it was easy to get approved for multiple Alaska Airlines cards in a day until Bank of America recently started cracking down on that. Even better was that you could usually find a direct link for the card that had a $100 statement credit so Bank of America would literally be paying you to acquire 25k Alaska Airline miles. The $100 statement credit offer was suppose to be for those who purchased an Alaska Airlines flight but it was possible to attempt a dummy booking and you would usually see the offer right before you would have to pay for the flight. It has come to my attention that that Bank of America might be cracking down on those who signed up for the card with the $100 statement credit without purchasing a flight as I know of at least one report now that Bank of America refused to issue the $100 statement credit.

PointsCentric reader Kenny recently commented on this post how he was refused the $100 statement credit after spending $1,000 on the Alaska Airlines credit card. He disputed this with Bank of America who in turn sent him a letter officially denying him the $100 statement credit. Kenny has allowed me to share a snapshot of that letter below.

Alaska100Denial

This is the first I’ve heard about this so I don’t know yet if this is an outlier case or the new trend. It could also be possible the reader thought he signed up via a link with the $100 statement credit but actually didn’t (it did say in the letter he signed up via the Alaska Airlines homepage). Personally I think that’s unlikely – it’s very obvious when you signup for the card whether there is a $100 statement credit or not. 

The timing of this is quite interesting as I recently got 2x Alaska cards with the $100 statement credit back in May. I met the $1,000 spend requirement on one card early in May and got my $100 statement credit. However for the other card I actually just met the spend requirement this past weekend. I will keep you updated if that $100 credit posts. 

There are several things to take away from this:

  • Alaska Airlines must be providing BofA this information as BofA would not be able to tell if you actually purchased a flight.
  • If this is indeed a new policy, does it impact any card that has not met the minimum spend yet? I should be able to determine this if the credit posts to my second card.  
  • Unless it does post and that leasd to this question – Does it affect cards that were applied for after a certain date? I need to ask the reader who shared this when he applied for the card. 
  • At the very least, there is now some risk you would be wasting a $1,000 of spend on this card. Since your return is about 10% (little less unless you spend exactly $1,000), I would still chance it for now until I see other reports confirming this. 
  • Lastly, even if the $100 statement credit never posts, I’d still be happy earning 25k Alaska miles for a $79 annual fee. 

Let this serve as a reminder that the Hobby (corrected link to the Rolling Stone Article) is always changing and evolving. What works today, may not work tomorrow.

Has anyone else run into this issue? 

(HT to Kenny for alerting me of this issue)

 

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The Latest App-O-Rama Results – An Easy 150,000 Miles + $200 in Airline Gift Cards for only $79

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is “what credit cards do you have?” so I thought I would share the results of my wife’s latest app-o-rama. While some will argue the following is outdated, my wife and I stick to applying for credit cards around every 91 days or so, though we do make exceptions if there is an amazing, limited time offer. Between the two of us, we have applied for 76 credit cards in the past 4 years and have only been denied twice (and for the doubters who think our credit scores are awful, they have actually gone up since we first started this). Safe to say this method hasn’t let us down so I don’t see any reason to change it.

My FICO score

My FICO score

 

Andrea's FICO score

Andrea’s FICO score

One last note before I get into what cards we applied for this time around. The cards we chose to apply for below matched our needs based on our future travel goals and what cards we were able to apply for/haven’t had before. I felt comfortable making this a smaller churn with only 3 cards but some people will only feel comfortable doing 1 card while others will do 8 at a time. The average person may or may not benefit from following our example below but if you want a personalized assessment of what cards to acquire based on your travel goals and credit history, please check out my consulting service.

App-O-Rama Results

Our main focus for this round of application was to increase our airlines miles. We’re sitting on millions of hotel points spread across several programs so I felt comfortable bypassing any hotel cards this time around. We ended up applying for two cards that offer flexible points in the sense they can be transferred to many different airlines (or could also be used to pay for tickets at a fixed value) and one card that offers straight airline miles. Without further ado:

1. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Offer of 50,000 points for spending $1,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $195 waived for the first year. Automatically approved (this is a charge card so no credit limit).

AmexPRG

Benefits:

  • $100 airline credit annually (based on a calendar year so can use this credit twice before the annual fee is due). This is where I am getting the $200 in airline gift cards.
  • 3x miles on airfare purchases
  • 2x miles on US gas purchases
  • 2x miles on US restaurant purchases
  • 2x miles on US supermarket purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases

The public offer on this card is only 25,000 points but if you open this link in an incognito window you might be able to get the 50,000 point offer to appear. It did not work in incognito Chrome for my wife but did in Firefox and Internet Explorer in their private browsers. We use Membership Rewards points for airline miles as MR points transfer to 23 different airline partners covering all major airline alliances and smaller airlines like JetBlue, Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic & Virgin America.

Interestingly enough, neither Andrea or I ever held this card before so this was an easy decision to increase our Membership Rewards balance since she was able to generate the 50,000 point offer via a private Firefox window.

2. Citibank Thank You Premier Offer of 50,000 points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $95 waived for the first year. Automatically approved with a $10,300 credit line.

CitiTYPremier

Benefits:

  • 3x miles on travel purchases
  • 3x miles on gas purchases
  • 2x miles on dining purchases
  • 2x miles on entertainment purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases

Citibank is making a strong push with its ThankYou points program recently and I find myself looking to increase our ThankYou points balance substantially. If you have a Prestige card, ThankYou points can be redeemed at a rate of 1.6 cents a point towards paid American Airlines tickets  (1.33 cents on flights on other airlines) and you would earn miles for flying on these tickets since these are considered ‘paid’ tickets. This is a pretty big benefit as you don’t have to worry about award availability though if you want to travel in premium cabins, this not the way to go. If you don’t have a Prestige card, then points can be redeemed for paid flights at a value of 1.25 cents a point.

ThankYou points can also be transferred to 11 airlines, including Singapore, Virgin Atlantic and Flying Blue which are probably the best values for transferring ThankYou points. The points also transfer to Hilton HHonors at a rate of 1.5 ThankYou points to 1 Hilton HHonors point. I could see myself transferring them to Singapore most frequently or using them for American Airlines flights as mentioned above since I have a Prestige card and my wife can transfer her points to me.

3. Barclays Lufthansa Miles & More World MasterCard Offer of 50,000 points for spending $5,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $79 NOT waived for the first year. Automatically approved with a $19,000 credit line.

Milesandmorecard

Benefits:

  • 2x miles on airfare purchases from Miles & More airlines
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • Annual companion ticket (though I don’t foresee us ever using this)

This card isn’t the most popular one out there but I wanted to add another card to this round of applications that wasn’t from Citi, Amex or Chase so I was left with a Barclays or Bank of America card. My wife just got 2x Alaska cards earlier this year and I wasn’t interested in the Virgin Atlantic card due to the high spending requirements so this left the Lufthansa card for us.

I got this card solely for the 50,000 miles with plans to use these miles for United flights, mostly to the Caribbean or domestic first class since those tickets are only 17,000 miles each way instead of the 25,000 miles United charge for the same exact flight. Miles & More also offers discounted award flights via Miles Bargain to Europe for only 30,000 miles so that could be an option though fuel surcharges are a deterrent there. Here is a list of the best uses for Lufthansa miles. For most people, I wouldn’t recommend this card until you’ve run out of options but 50,000 miles is the best offer I’ve seen on this card.

Summary

This was the absolute best case app-o-rama as I was shocked to see my wife get 3 auto approvals so she didn’t have to get on the phone to call the reconsideration departments. Auto approvals almost never happen anymore for either of us so I’ll take this as a pleasant surprise. For an out of pocket cost of $79 (the upfront annual fee on the Lufthansa card), my wife will earn 150,000+ points/miles plus $200 in airline gift cards. We do have to spend $9,000 in 3 months but a little manufactured spending will make this pretty feasible.

Full disclosure: I do not have any affiliate links and as such, there are NO affiliate links in this post. I have included links to the cards to make it easy for readers to access the card and learn more about them.

PSA: The Alaska Airlines 25,000 Miles + $100 Statement Credit Offer Never Actually Disappered

Last month, I posted how I found a way to generate the Alaska Airlines 25,000 miles + $100 statement credit offer when many had thought it was a goner. Then Maximizing Money one-upped me and found a direct link which made getting the offer easier and quicker. Since then a direct working link has come & gone several times and much ado is made when a working link returns. That’s nice and all but my PSA for today is that this offer is always available – working link or not. Let me remind you how. 

Last month, I stumbled across the offer while pretending to book a flight on AlaskaAir.com. Sometimes making a reservation, whether it be for a flight or hotel, can generate a better offer on the applicable credit card, as seen in the past with Hyatt and IHG. I tried to replicate this with Alaska Air and BAM, there was the offer on the payment page.

Emeril

I swear the offer appeared just like that…

For those that need more of a step by step instruction:

1. Go to AlaskaAir.com and start booking a flight. It doesn’t matter where but I’d chose somewhere fun.

2. Choose the flights and start filling out the passenger info.

3. You can skip the seat selection and all those add-ons. You just want to get to the payment page – its not like you will be flying this anyway.

4. Scroll down to where you would enter your credit card and look to the right. BAM!

Alaska100

5. Click “Apply Now” (duh) and you’ll be brought to a page that looks like below. Voilà!

AlaskaApplication

While it is a nice to have a working link to save you the 30 seconds of getting the offer in the way I outlined above, please remember you can use this approach to get this offer on demand. Bank of America will undoubtedly pull this this current working link at some point so the next time you apply for one or two of these cards don’t fret if you don’t find a working link. Bookmark this post as a reminder and let Bank of America pay you $25 to earn 25,000 miles.

PSA: The Best Offer for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card is Not Online

The long standing offer on the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select cards has been 50,000 miles after $3,000 in spend in 3 months. Sometimes I’ve seen the card offered with two day passes to any Admiral’s club which is a nice touch – either offer is great in my opinion.  In fact, I’d argue it is better than the corresponding 50,000 mile offers currently on the Delta Gold SkyMiles card but what do I know as some prominent blogger who rhymes with the Da Joints Pie has that 50,000 Delta Gold SkyMiles offer as the #1 CURRENT CREDIT CARD OFFER AMONG ALL OFFERS. Are you (bad word) kidding me?!?! That signup offer might get you a roundtrip ticket to Kansas City…keyword being might. What a load of… Sorry end rant, let’s get back on topic.

Back to the PSA at hand, let’s discuss the current state of offers on the Citi AAdvantage card. If you go to AAdvantage page or even the Citibank.com homepages, you will only see a 30,000 mile offer for this card. We can do better than that. Per Flyertalk, there are a whole bunch of links that still show a 50,000 mile offer. Here is one such link if you’d like but we can do better than that (or there wouldn’t be a point to this PSA if the best offer was online).

A nice reader of mine passed along a picture of this offer she was given during her most recent American Airlines flight.

CitiAAPlatinumSelect CitiAAPlatinumSelect1

Do you spot the difference? This offer includes two one-time passes to the Admiral’s club. A one day pass purchased from AA cost $50 so in theory this is an extra $100 of value in this offer. Not into $100 worth of pretzels and stale veggies? You could always sell these two passes on eBay and net around $50 which isn’t too bad. So at most, I’d argue this offer that can be found about 35,000 feet in the sky is  worth ~$50 more than the best one I can find online.

Is this a ground breaking development? Of course not and I’m sure most of you will say screw it and just apply online if you want the card as its extremely unlikely you’ll jump on a flight just for this offer. That said, I bet there is someone reading this who is flying AA soon who might be thinking about picking up this offer. And to that person, this PSA made you an extra $50 so you’re welcome. 

*Yes, I try to have some fun with these PSA posts while trying to convey a serious point hence the different writing style from my normal posts. I hope you had a little chuckle reading these. Will this PSA be as helpful as some of my others? Probably not but its good to keep everyone abreast of things other bloggers don’t mention or don’t know about. Also, I’d say I’d feel bad about poking fun at The Points Guy….but I don’t.

(HT to Maureen for the info/pictures)

I Made Money by Paying a $40 Annual Fee on the JetBlue American Express Card

One card you never hear talked about in the points & miles world is the American Express JetBlue credit card and I can see why. The signup bonus is weak at only 20,000 points, TrueBlue points are worth less compared to other frequent flyer miles, you can only redeem points on JetBlue (or Hawaiian Airlines) flights and JetBlue’s flight network is mainly confined to the continental 48 states, Anchorage, Mexico and the Caribbean. Being based in New York, I have plenty of chances to fly JetBlue but I will have exactly one roundtrip flight with them this year. So with all that said, I decided to pay $40 to renew my card so I could make money. Let me explain.

Jet_blue_card

First, let’s start with why I have this card. Last year, American Express announced that as of May 1st, 2014 if you ever had a personal American Express card, you would not be eligible for another signup bonus on that card for the rest of your life. At that point, I looked at what American Express cards I had there were already closed that had signup bonuses and it was the JetBlue Card. I proceeded to apply for it again before the 5/1/14 deadline and earned an extra 20,000 TrueBlue points that I would not be able to earn again.

Now a year later the $40 annual fee was due and I had decision to make to cancel the card or pay the annual fee. At first blush, I thought I was going to cancel the card as I don’t fly JetBlue often (even if I did, I don’t think it makes a difference unless you really value the 50% off in-flight food/drinks) and I solely got this card for the 20,000 points a year ago. However, I knew I was going to ask for a retention offer since you should always do that before closing a card. If I got the fee waived, a statement credit for $40 or points equivalent to $40, I’d keep the card open since I’d essentially be even.

Except that’s not true. American Express in the past few months has had several great Amex Offers (Sam’s Club, Smart & Final, Whole Foods and a bunch of others I’m forgetting) and I think its fair to say over the next 12 months, I could definitely find a few to take advantage of. And I’m betting that American Express will run its Small Business Saturday promotion in November which was worth $30 per card last year. If I value the annual savings from Amex Offers at $30 (which is low in my opinion) and Small Business Saturday at $30 (just like last year), I’m actually up $20 after paying the $40 annual fee.

But wait – it gets better. That analysis above is assuming I just have my JetBlue card with no authorized users. As you probably know, you can add Amex Offers to authorized users cards AND those cards are also eligible for Small Business Saturday. You can have up to 5 additional authorized users so if you maxed this out this could be worth $300 ($60 per authorized user). 

American Express lets me add up to 5 authorized users

American Express lets me add up to 5 authorized users

Suddenly, it was quite clear – I will make money by paying the $40 annual fee. There is no way I should cancel this card and that’s true even if I don’t get a retention offer (though I did – see below).

In closing, I think there are two lessons to take away from this.

Lesson 1: To always ask for an offer before closing an account. I literally told the agent on the phone unless I get an offer with points or a statement credit to waive the fee, I will be closing this card now. I didn’t expect to get an offer based on my research I did prior to calling so I was pleasantly surprised. When the agent offered 2,500 TrueBlue points for not cancelling the card, I took it immediately. Valuing those points at 1.3 cents each, that retention offer was worth an extra $32.50 to me.

Lesson 2: The obvious choice isn’t always the right choice. Assuming you agree with my decision to open the card in the first place, I’m sure the consensus from others getting the card would be to close it after one year no matter what. There is no upside to renewing such as bonus points or other upfront perks that other cards offer for renewing. However, by digging down just a little bit, I realized I could make a profit by renewing this card if I used some Amex offers, took advantage of Small Business Saturday and added some authorized users. The icing on the cake would be if I got a retention offer as well. When I did the math above, I came out net positive so I kept the card as well as helping my credit score by not closing another card and shortening the average length of my accounts.

Do you agree with my rationale to keep my card open another year?