Saddling Up (Again)

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The miles game marches on . It’s almost biblical, really. (To every season churn churn churn.)

Personally, I’m getting ready for another round of credit card churning.

The experiment with getting one or two cards every month didn’t last long, (about 30 days to be precise.)  The main reason is that the rate limiting step in credit card churning is waiting 90 days in between Chase card applications.

Chase has most of the best credit card products for miles enthusiasts,and it’s not even close. (Also there was a temporary deeper dip in the credit card scores)

As always there are a few new developments in the miles game to be shared. So I thought I would both share the news flashes, as well as run my upcoming card churn by you, my readers.

First the news.

As The Ink…Dries?

Chase ink plus has a limited time 70,000 mile sign-up bonus.

This is as good as it’s ever been for a sign-up bonus offer on this credit card.

(For the record this is my favorite credit card. It more than pays for itself by giving you five times points back on Internet, cable, and phone bills, not to mention Amazon gift cards purchased at office supply stores)

The floor on the value of travel to be had with this card is really $700 or $800. Realistically it’s more like $1400 or $1500.

This offer is important for two reasons.

1. If you don’t have this card yet now is the time to apply.


2. If you have recently applied for this card, you should send a secure message to Chase asking them to credit your account with an additional 20,000 miles upon reaching your sign up bonus spending requirements.

It is worth noting that the $95 per year fee is not waived on this card, while it usually is with the standard 50,000 mile bonus offer.

The second bit of news is also Chase ink related. But it has to do with the Chase ink bold card which is the charge card version of the card.

Apparently the Ink Bold card will be phased out of existence in mid-November. So if you don’t have this card yet, now is the time to apply for the standard 50,000 mile bonus offer with the $95 yearly fee waived.

Cash Advance False Alarm

Frequent miler reported this week that suspicious charges were showing up for serve card loads using Chase credit cards.

Apparently the reload was initially being coded on the credit card bill as a cash advance.

Fortunately after a day or two it was coded as a simple purchase (meaning no cash advance charges).

This reinforces the wisdom of always setting your cash advance limit to zero when you activate your credit cards.

Walgreens Surprise.

To me , Walgreens has long been the most disappointing location in the manufactured spending game.

In this neck of the woods, Walgreens is the dominant player in drugstores.

When vanilla reloads were all the rage Walgreens had them in spades. Unfortunately the cash registers were hardcoded not to allow credit card purchase. It was always so tantalizing yet disappointing.

On a whim, however, while picking up fluoride tablets for my children, I decided to try to buy PayPal my cash cards using my credit card at Walgreens. Shockingly it worked!

It just goes to show you, it never hurts to try.

Bonus Info. Unrelated. Anecdotal. Apropos Nothing.

A brilliant whole food desert.

I had this at a block party (hat tip to Dana) a couple of weeks ago and am now officially hooked.

Step 1: take a medjool date, tear it in two, remove pit.

Step 2: Take a pecan half (or two) and stuff it where the date’s pit used to be on both halves.

Step 3: Pop it in your mouth.

It’s like a deconstructed pecan pie. Addicting I tell you!

raiders 09

But don’t take Indiana Jones’ Dates, monkey.

Back to the task at hand.

The Last Low Hanging Fruit…

Quick reminder.

Amazon payments person-to-person payments will officially sign off October 12th.

Don’t forget to hit it hard. (It’s like drinking to Amazonia’s posterity… it’s your duty really.)

Upcoming Churn.

1. Chase Ink Bold:

70,000 Ultimate rewards points for $5000 in spending in first three months.

$95 yearly fee not waived.

(I already have one of these, but was invited to apply again using my website tax ID. I don’t know if it will work it’s worth a try.)

2. Chase Hyatt Visa Signature Card:

Two free nights plus platinum status for $1000 spend in the first three months.

$75 fee waived the first year.

3. American Express Business Platinum Card.

100,000 membership rewards points for 10,000 dollars spend in the first three months. $200 statement credit for airline incidentals.

$450 fee not waived for first year.

4. Citibank Thank You Premier Card.

50,000 thank you points for $2000 spend in the first three months and $3000 spend in the first three months of year 2.

(Year 2 $125 fee not waived.)

5. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature.

85,000 Club Carlson points after $2500 spent in the first three months. $75 annual fee not waived.

6. Barclay’S Us Airways Premier World Mastercard.

40,000 US airways miles after first purchase. $89 annual fee not waived.

7. Capital One Venture Rewards.

40,000 points after $3000 spent in the first three months.

$59 annual fee waved.

So what do you think?

260,000 airlines miles? 5 hotel nights? $400 in travel cash?

$24,500 in manufactured spending in 3 months?

Have I lost my marbles?

Don’t answer that….but please do leave comments and suggestions below.

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16 Responses to “Saddling Up (Again)”

  1. TN October 6, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    I think you reverse the Ink Plus with the Ink Bold for 70K sign up/phase out

    • Miles Dividend M.D. October 6, 2014 at 9:55 pm #


      You are Correct. Thank you for pointing it out. Now corrected.


    • Miles Dividend M.D. October 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm #


      I’ve already got all 4 citi AAdvantage cards. They’re great. I’ll hit them again 18 months after my previous


  2. 5280 Miles October 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Lost marbles? No. I really like the aadvantage card for business. Pretty easy 50k.

  3. Ming October 8, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

    Hi there. I’m a resident in training and I was telling my GF about this as a possible great way to plan for our spring break vacation next year (beach getaway, Florida or Caribbean or a caribbean cruise, hawaii if can afford)

    And I’ve been reading some guides/FAQs as well on this but it seems quite daunting. There are so many cards to choose from it’s hard to just pick a list of handful of “standard” cards to start out with. Any quick recommendations for travel to Florida/Caribbean and for cruise?

    Also in the manufactured spending department, I will need to use this since I won’t be able to meet most spending requirements on a resident salary. Latest news is CVS was cracking down and stopping the reloadable visa gift cards?

    I’ll still need to do more readings and keep up the forum monitoring as better/new offers come out.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. October 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm #


      For a trip to the Caribbean considerBritish airways Avios if you are starting on the East Coast. Aruba is a good destination to hit with the club Carlson hotel card as well.

      For cruises I would focus on cash equivalent cards like the Barclays world arrival card, and the capital one venture card.

      In terms of manufactured spendingit is quite easy to do even today. Check out my post entitled “better than sliced bread.” This is my most recent approach.

      Good luck and keep the questions coming.


  4. Robert October 9, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    Alexi, can you please expand on this statement that I didn’t understand: “I decided to try to buy PayPal my cash cards using my credit card at Walgreens”? What has PayPal to do with it? Thanks.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. October 9, 2014 at 9:22 pm #


      The PayPal angle goes something like this. $500 PayPal my cash card with credit card.
      2.load onto PayPal account.(Up to $4000 a month per account)
      3. Use PayPal debit MasterCard to load $1500 a month onto Isis serve card.(And get 1% cashback)
      4. Transfer remaining PayPal balance to bank account.


      • Robert October 10, 2014 at 5:04 am #

        Thanks. I didn’t realize there was a card called “PayPal My Cash” card. Just googled it and now see how this works. I guess you could skip step 3 and get the same manufactured spend, but the extra step gets you some cash back.

  5. Ming October 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    Miles Dividend,

    So I’ve been spending part of my weekend reading up on MS on flyertalk and also on various blogs as well as reading the fine print of a bunch of credit card sign up pages.

    1 – How suspicious would it look, if we quickly transferred/withdrew money that was loaded onto BB/Serve back into our own checking/bank account? Obviously this way we can pay back our original credit card.

    Or do we even need to do that at all? if I’m understanding it right, the BB/Serve accounts can be used directly to pay off the credit cards (which presumably we used to buy a VGC in the first place that loaded the BB/Serve)

    2 – After reading alot of small print on the bottom of the credit card sign-up pages, they all mention something to the effect of: money orders,traveler’s checks, cash advances, etc. are not treated as purchases that will count towards award miles/points and we reserve right to cancel/modify if we see any gaming/taking advantage of the award program.

    And I’ve read people posting on forums and blogs that some of their VGC/reloads were treated as cash advances

    • Miles Dividend M.D. October 12, 2014 at 10:30 pm #


      1. I don’t know how suspicious it looks, butI frequently withdraw money from my serve account into my checking account and have had no troubles yet.

      2. Yes. It is very easy to pay credit card bills from your serve account.

      3. Gift cards tend to show up as simple purchases on your credit card bill. (Ie. if I buy a Moneypak at Riteaid, it shows up as a generic drug store purchase.) Even when you buy money orders, you are never purchasing them directly with CC. (You use a CC to buy your visa gift card, and your gift card to buy the money orders. There are no guarantees of course, but to date I have never had any difficulties with cash advance fees or any blowback from the CC companies.

      Just start slow, and take it from there. And don’t manufacture spend with money that you can not afford to be without for a month or 2.


  6. Ming October 12, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    Thanks! I think I’m gonna do just 3 this time around….US airways card (40k miles after 1st purchase), the Frontier card (40k mi after 500/3months, I use Frontier to visit my GF every month basically) and then possibly the Barclays world arrival. We’re not looking at cruises anymore so more like resort-type places (Florida vs Mexico vs Caribbean island). Still trying to decide if I should get something cash equivalent or a Hotel chain specific card (Arrivalvs vs Hilton Honors vs Club Carlson…)

  7. OnlyKetchup October 18, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    I’ve been reading your site for a while and enjoying it very much. I have a question on how you convert the points/miles from all of these disparate cards into something usable?

    Ex: The 700 from chase won’t buy all of your airfare to Japan, so how do you leverage the other points?

    Also, if the idea with the churn is to cancel the cards after getting the bonuses, how do you use the bonus points before canceling the cards? (Assuming your travel may not be for another 6 months)


    • Miles Dividend M.D. October 18, 2014 at 9:16 pm #


      70,000 ultimate rewards points are more than enough for a round-trip ticket to Japan. you get much more value by transferring the ultimate rewards into United miles, than you do by using them as cash equivalents.

      For sign-up bonuses that transfer to a third-party (like United airlines or American Airlines) once the miles post they cannot be taken away.

      But for ultimate rewards points, or membership rewards points, or Starwood points, you will have to open another Ultimate rewards card in order to keep your points active upon cancellation. Alternatively you could transfer them to an airline or hotel prior to canceling your card.

      The final point is that you can book your travel almost one year in advance, so I trip six months down the road would not be an issue at all.


  8. Michael October 18, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    Do you always get accepted immediately? I have 820 credit score, make a little over 100k, but was only accepted immediately for 2 of 5 cards today.

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