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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by blind dog, Apr 10, 2015.
Everything I’ve read makes it seem like Amex only gives out one retention offer for the plat.
need to designate my airline for the Hilton Aspire airline $250 credit benefit. Did some googling but haven't figured out the best way to use it. Anyone have tips on the best way to take advantage?
I generally fly southwest (and I already have two southwest cards to get free priority boarding, so i don't really need to seat assignment funds)
Not really sure what card to get. Just moved into a new house and have a ton of furniture, etc. to purchase. I haven't applied for a card in over a year but I'm still over 5/24 until May though (and then have ones dropping off the count in June, August, and October). I have the SW Priority currently but the bonus offer of 30k + companion thru 2/28/22 is tempting on the $69 card (although not really sure how much use I will get out of it before the end of next February).
Can't do a Sapphire product and the best Amex Plat offer I've come across is 85k (won't do less than 100k). I've closed Hyatt and United cards within the past 24 months and got a Citi AA bonus last July (took a year to post to my account after being told I was ineligible). I'd probably do a Barclays AA but the wording around their bonus concerns me since it sets no parameters for when you may be eligible for one again (if ever). I got a bonus on this card back when it was a US Airways card in 2014 and closed it in 2019. Earned an Amex Delta bonus in the past few years.
Not sure I can hold off on buying stuff until May to get a Chase card. Seems like my best (non-Chase) bets are Barclays AA (if I can figure out if I'm eligible for a bonus again), Alaska, and the Hilton Surpass. I'm a little skeptical on the Surpass though. I opened one a little over 2 years ago but didn't get the bonus (they moved the goal posts on what the spend to bonus was supposed to be and wouldn't honor it) so I assume I'm eligible for one still? Anything obvious I'm overlooking?
Different airline of choice but I use that credit on United Club passes. That credit plus the free weekend night and the $20 restaurant credit every month this year have made me keep the card another year
Dammit I forgot to change mine for this year. Has anyone ever had luck changing this outside of January or am I shit out of luck?
edit: appears I’m able to change it once this year. So that’s good. Thank you for the reminder!
He Got $300,000 From Credit-Card Rewards. The IRS Said It Was Taxable Income.
Physicist’s financial experiment juggled credit cards, money orders and gift cards to generate proceeds
The IRS went after a man who was pocketing the difference between 5% rewards on his American Express card and lower fees on gift cards and money orders.
PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG NEWS
March 7, 2021 9:00 am ET
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Konstantin Anikeev, an experimental physicist, assembled everything he needed for an inquiry far outside his field.
His materials included American Express cards, the government’s view that credit-card rewards aren’t income, and his own willingness to spend time buying gift cards and money orders. He pulled the concept from personal-finance websites: Exploit the difference between unlimited 5% rewards and lower fees on gift cards and money orders.
“If one has a theory, one can test it experimentally. Some are easier to test,” Mr. Anikeev said. “Others require a Large Hadron Collider or something like that. But this one was a bit more accessible.”
It (mostly) worked.
Notes on the News
The news of the week in context, with Tyler Blint-Welsh.
Mr. Anikeev’s financial-optimization plan in 2013 and 2014—including $6.4 million in credit-card charges—led to an Internal Revenue Service audit and a finding that he and his wife had more than $310,000 in income that should have been taxed.
Judge Robert Goeke’s decision last month largely affirmed longstanding Internal Revenue Service practice, which says credit-card rewards are usually nontaxable rebates. In other words, buying a pair of shoes for $100 and getting a 5% reward is really a $95 purchase, not $5 of income. But the judge also offered the IRS avenues for tougher enforcement.
Mr. Anikeev’s interest in personal finance started when he was a graduate student with plenty of time but little money. The Connecticut resident drew on ideas from personal-finance websites, he testified at his 2019 trial.
Risk and Compliance Journal
Our Morning Risk Report features insights and news on governance, risk and compliance.
In 2009, he, like many others, used a rewards credit card to buy $1 coins from the U.S. Mint, profiting from the lack of shipping charges on them.
By 2013, he found the strategy that would land him in tax court.
His American Express card offered unlimited 5% rewards at grocery stores and pharmacies after he had spent $6,500. So Mr. Anikeev used his AmEx card to buy prepaid Visa gift cards at grocery stores, routinely stopping during his commute and purchasing the maximum allowed per day at a store. He often used the gift cards to buy money orders, then used the money orders to make deposits in his bank account, then used that money to pay his credit-card bill.
In a $500 transaction, the 5% rewards would yield $25—more than enough to cover gift-card fees of about $5 and the $1 fee on the money order.
The millions of dollars of those transactions tripped the sensors at the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which investigates money laundering, an IRS lawyer said during the trial. That agency kicked the case to the IRS, which said he owed back taxes. Mr. Anikeev took the government to court, bringing a tub of gift cards to his trial to demonstrate what he did.
“They sort of picked the fight with the wrong person,” said his lawyer, Jeffrey Sklarz. “They should have picked someone who was a hot mess.”
Judge Goeke issued a split ruling. Rewards earned on purchases of Visa gift cards aren’t taxable, he ruled, because the cards are products; most but not all of Mr. Anikeev’s transactions happened that way. Rewards earned on purchases of money orders or reloading debit cards are taxable, the judge determined. The IRS already says rewards can be taxable if they are earned without spending, such as a bonus for opening a bank account.
The two sides still must calculate what additional taxes Mr. Anikeev might owe. Andrew Johnson, an American Express spokesman, declined to comment on Mr. Anikeev’s case. He said the company uses a “combination of strategies” to police the rules of rewards programs that don’t allow purchases of cash equivalents. The IRS doesn’t comment on active litigation.
Mr. Anikeev said he was somewhat disappointed. He said the judge’s distinctions ignore that the IRS classifies money-order businesses as services and that money orders are items, and thus any rewards from purchasing them shouldn’t be taxable.
Judge Goeke raised an alternate way for the IRS to attack future transactions like Mr. Anikeev’s.
Perhaps, he wrote, if gift cards are property, the rewards reduce a person’s cost basis in that property. Following that logic, exchanging gift cards for money orders would be selling property for a gain. The judge urged the IRS to consider regulations or public statements to offer clearer rules in case people are confused.
“How do you know when you cross the line?” said Robert Tobey, a partner at the Grassi accounting firm in New York.
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The case highlights a flaw in the IRS approach to credit-card rewards, said Stephanie Hoffer, a tax-law professor at the McKinney School of Law at Indiana University.
Treating them like rebates makes sense for purchases of products, she said. But in Mr. Anikeev’s case, there is no purchase of goods or services, just a circular money flow.
“I was really shocked by the outcome of the case. To me, this seems clearly to be income,” Ms. Hoffer said. “At the end of the day, does this taxpayer have an accession to wealth? The answer is clearly yes.”
Ordinary credit-card rewards users need not fear that they are earning taxable income. Even so, the case is a warning that activity far outside the norm might catch the government’s eye, Mr. Tobey said.
Mr. Anikeev said he isn’t doing anything like what he did in 2013 and 2014, though he is still just as interested in personal finance.
“He’s a very mathematical, brilliant person,” said his lawyer, Mr. Sklarz. “And this was just something he thought was fun.”
Write to Richard Rubin at [email protected]
I'm new to AMEX MR points. How long after statement close date do MR points normally post? My first statement date was Feb 12 and I'm still showing 0 points.
Do the points not post until you pay your statement or is there some crazy long built-in delay?
I think there's a one-month lag if it's the same as cash back.
Platinum doesn't post until you pay your statement.
Go here and you can see exactly for your own transactions and billing cycles. Essentially, I think the answer is yes to the first question.
For instance, I have received points through the last day of my cycle ending Jan 22. Nothing for transactions after Jan 23.
This link also shows modifiers (e.g. 3x earnings) for better detail.
i dont "need a card" looking to take advantage of some offers if they're out there. Currently have 200k Jet Blue points with my business card and dont see the need to keep racking up points.
Chase Ink is offering $750 cash back if i spend $7,500 in the first 3 months - which i can easily do. Amex has ridiculous stips to get their 4x points back system and doesnt seem worth it. Any other offers i should look at for a small business?
go with the Ink preferred. 100k chase points is hard to beat.
Just got a 100k AMEX platinum offer in the mail. I posted last page that I am looking to get back into the passive churning game. Cant get sapphire product (48 month) for a few more months so should I go ahead with this offer. Wife has sapphire reserve already so some of the benefits overlap and arent worth that much to me but 100k is 100k right?
I just got one. $15 per month in Uber credits plus an extra $20 in December ($200 total) + $30 per month in PayPal credits from March through June, 2021 + $100 Saks credits per year + $200 airline credits for incidental costs like checks bags = $620 in potential savings in the first year. And then you get 100k points.
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/FRANKRzoPz?XLINK=MYCP
amex tries really hard to get you full value for your cards if you expend any effort
the only really annoying to use benefit of the plat is the airline credits, they'd benefit from dropping it to like $150 but making it apply to everything billed by your chosen airline
Just a heads up, referral links typically don't show hte best offers with Amex's premium cards. The best offers are always targeted
Being new to the AMEX portal, are the 100k points essentially $1,000 or is it like having the sapphire reserve where you can redeem at 1.5x and its basically $1,500?
All of those other perks are great just kind of a pain in the ass that I have to make sure to use them. I guess it is a no brainer so I will go ahead and apply for the 100k.
I think it's essentially $1,000, but could be worth more depending on the travel being booked.
It's pretty much a penny a point for air travel, but often they'll have a special rate on one or more flight options.
speaking of, they finally bumped the upgrade offer to 75k points so my new platinum card arrives tomorrow. Thinking of a strategy to call and get them to bump it to 100k but regardless the $750 in air travel more than makes up for the first year membership, even putting aside all of the other benefits.
i had my wife as an authorized user on my plat for years but dumped it once covid hit. still have my solo.
now waiting on her to get a big solo card offer(wanting 125k, but will take 100k), but she's irritated that when we fly somewhere next we won't have delta lounge access if we don't have it by then
THE PGA LOUNGE IS FINE. sorry. just venting.
I'm a huge idiot. Don't repeat my mistake.
I got the CSR when it became available in 2016. I applied for Global Entry in May 2016, and am coming upon the expiration of the 5 years of "membership". Should be as simple as renewing online...
Well I went and submitted my renewal application online and paid the fee earlier today, completely forgetting that I had extended the card benefit to my now wife in 2018. Since chase changed (I believe) the terms to where it could only be used 1x every 4 years, I think I will be paying for this one out of pocket, w/ no credit from Chase.
Quite dumb because I have multiple cards with this perk and I should have just checked my statements to put it on the correct card.
To add insult to injury, the website says they are extending the grace period to 1 whole year after expiry "while CBP is finalizing your renewal application".
Chase even timestamps the last time you used the perk.
The Platinum is best used for transferring points to their partner airlines. Booking hotels and airfare through their portal is no benefit at all. You can't cash the points out either.
You can get pretty decent benefits if you're interested in a hotel that's in their Fine Hotel Program. Free extra night, $100+ property credit, free breakfast for two etc.
Also, look at signing up with Rakuten and linking that account to your Amex. Make all online purchases through Rakuten. I've gotten an additional 20,000 MRs that way.
The Centurion Lounges have been my favorite benefit. Best domestic lounges I've been in. The food, wine and craft cocktails are all exceptional. Always disappointed when I end up in an airport with only Priority Pass lounges.
which one of you did this
125k offer was great but the DIA Centurion lounge was worth every penny
Only thing that gets me at times is the location of Centurion lounges. They usually seem to be in the international wing which I totally get but that can be a haul to get to from a normal domestic flight
I’ve never used the chase rewards portal before when booking travel.
Was hoping to use some points for a 4 day trip to Galveston next weekend and the hotel I wanted to choose didn’t have any available rooms.
But when I look on the hotel’s direct website or Priceline, plenty of rooms are available.
is this common?
Check Expedia. I believe that is the search engine that chase rewards uses.
Beyond that, I do think it's somewhat normal for options on the chase portal to differ from the hotel website. I don't know exactly how it works, but there can be limits to what shows up on Chase.
Any problem with the black card from master card?
I am nerding out about getting the metal card even though I don't need it. I am not worried about the yearly fee.
if it's the black card im thinking of, it's a terrible proposition.
Youd be much better served by the CSR or CSP from Chase.
And I think the CSR is metal as well.
It seems similar to CSR, chase says I am approved for CSR on their website based on our current "relationship". I have chase freedom unlimited now and I've been very happy with it. Only spent about 50K with it last year and I pay it off every month.
What's the recommended wait time for upgrading a newly opened CSP to CSR? The 80k signup for the CSP is enticing but then all the benefits form the CSR is what I'm ultimately interested in, and would want to utilize sooner than 12 months from opening.
You should really look into the CSR or CSP to make all those points you've earned with the CFU more valuable. Whether it's using them for travel, transferring to hotel/airline partners, or utilizing the pay yourself back feature, you will get a nice boost in value.
CSP is as well
From chase's website...
"This product and credit line is available to you if you don't have any Sapphire card, and haven't received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months."
Thanks for linking. This is the card I was recalling and it's value is dubious, apart from the affiliations that Chase (with the Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred) and Amex (with the Platinum) have on their metal cards.
One's ears should be up when this is one of the primary 'benefits' of the card.
This is Nerdwallet's subtitle on their review: "The heavy metal cards come with big annual fees, but not necessarily the benefits to match."
I'd go with whichever of CSP or CSR benefits you prefer more, although if you want to go Amex, they have been crushing it in pandemic related rewards/temporary benefits, and I think the 100K MR welcome offer (a hall of fame offer) is currently available.
I laughed when I saw that... who the fuck wants something in their wallet that is as heavy as possible.
With that said, some of my appeal is admittedly how this stands out when being used and if a card is heavy it probably catches more peoples notice. All of this is extremely superficial but it's obviously got my interest.
I only have a 75k referral offer w/ $200 cash back on home improvement Hail Southern on my Amex plat. You probably shouldn't apply via me, so I won't even share my link.
and your post made me laugh. Card heft is associated with premium and therefore being of prestige, that's why card makers make them heavy.
If you want a no annual fee metal cc, go with the Apple Card which is a Mastercard from GS.
Are people really impressing bartenders and waitresses with their metal cards?
My Platinum metal has only been beneficial when chopping up lines with strippers.
I'm not trying to get both bonuses. I'm eligible for a new sapphire and want the 80k signup for the CSP and then immediately flip to the CSR to get the 1.5 cpp redemption value. I've read in some places to wait 12 months to upgrade and that doesn't work for my time line.
Im guessing Chase would balk at upgrading a 3 month old card
The most comical metal card I have is the Amex plat
Could cut someone's throat with it
I thought it was neat that the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred was transparent so that was my first rewards CC right out of college 8 years ago.
That's the only time the physical appearance of the card influenced my decision to apply for one.
The visa black card is a horrible deal
What's the boost in value for transferring to partners?
If you have the CSR and redeem the points as cash in the Chase portal, you get 1.5 cpp. CSP and CIP, you get 1.25cpp
Any of those cards allow you transfer to Hyatt, United, Southwest, Marriott, where the points can be worth more or less than 1.5 cpp. You can get routinely get 1.5-3 cpp through those programs. You can get like 5-8 cpp if you're into 1st class/business class flights. I think more airlines are going to standard cash equivalent for thier points, so they may not be quite as lucrative any more, but still potential for more than just the chase portal.
Hotel point redemptions through the hotel programs, and not UR, has the added bonus of avoiding taxes and sometimes resort fees. You have to pay the $5.60 eqch way on any domestic flight point redemption and whatever your international destination charges in arrival tax, but you can avoid that expense if you transfer to Hyatt, for instance. That can really add up and add to the cpp value.
And almost any hotel/airline partner will give you more than 1 cpp in value that you get if you strictly utilize the cash back option, which is all you are limited to with the freedom cards. If you purely want cash back, there could be better cards than Chase's offerings (which are more geared toward those that travel and focus on travel redemptions)
Got it, thanks. Wasn't sure if I was missing a transfer bonus with the partners. I've cleaned out my United account for example and just move points over per award flight as needed.
Just transferred 125k UR points to Hyatt to book 5 nights at the Hyatt Zilara in the Domincan Republic. Should be tight. Hoping July comes fast.