Amex Priority Passes, JPMCB Binding Arbitration, and Hacking Barclaycard
Amex Is Dropping Restaurant Reimbursement From Its Priority Passes
Well, what a week of credit card changes it’s been.
I guess I should rip the bandaid off first and start with unfortunate news on the Amex front: As of 01AUG19, their Priority Pass memberships across all cards will no longer grant a reimbursement at airport restaurants. Now, I’ve only ever used this benefit in Tuscon while visiting one of my best good Army friends since there are only 28 locations in the US that the PP restaurant benefit works at. Even still, it was pretty awesome to have a $28 credit times the pass holder + 2 guests giving a total of $84 for lunch. It was like an airport lounge open bar but open kitchen as well. (Side note, I found out the hard way that if you have 3 guests in your party, you will be charged $28 for the 3rd guest even if they don’t order anything. Be sure to have someone else whip out their PP card to keep the number of guests at or under 2 on any one membership. No, you cannot use two of your own PP cards in any one visit, the names must be different on the cards.) So on that bombshell, all the Amex PP membership cards have been devalued. Luckily, if you follow the “Which Card Should I Get?” guide, you will end up with at least 6 PP memberships, all with differing stipulations. Make the PP you get from the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ritz Carlton Rewards, or Citi Prestige your go-to PP membership to ensure the restaurant benefit remains in your traveler’s toolbox.
Chase and JPMCB and Binding Arbitration
In other news, Chase and JP Morgan have danced around their separate but equal relationship and merged or something. Legally, I’m sure it made some sort of sense to them, but practically it just changed the name of the card servicer for all your Chase accounts. If you haven’t already, you’ll be receiving a rollout of notices stating the name change on your Chase card accounts. You’ll also be getting notices from some of your credit monitoring services freaking out that you got a new account or auto loan when in actuality the name on your previous or existing Chase financial account just changed to JPMCB (JP Morgan Chase Bank, very creative, just not Bonvoy creative). Also, the merger(?) made a change to card terms that include a binding arbitration clause. In layman’s terms, this means that if Chase does you dirty somehow, you are forced into dispute via arbitration (non-disclosure, no appeal, limited to actual damage reimbursement) as opposed to litigation. It also makes class-action suits practically impossible. I am absurdly confident it won’t affect the vast majority of TDWise users since it’s hard for Chase to screw with someone making purchases and then paying off those purchases in full (which is what you’re doing, right?) without some sort of gross negligence. However, people all over the internet have latched onto this opportunity to play the victim card and have lost their collective minds over what they are amounting to a human rights violation by Chase. So if you become overcome by these fears, fear not, for Chase accounts covered by MLA bennies are automatically opted out of the clause. Why? Because the MLA forbids mandatory arbitration clauses. I guess you can add “helps you sleep at night” to the list of TDWise reader benefits.
My Tale of Barclay Troubles
Finally, I need to decide on a Barclay card to get, and the reasoning is complicated, but it makes for a fun (long) story. See, back in the early days and simpler times of churning, Barclay gave out SCRA annual fee waivers AND dropped card interest rates to 0% for all their cards for anyone on active duty (similar to the current Amex model). Then Barclay came up with their Luxury Card lineup and at the peak was the Gold Card with a $995 annual fee for honestly less benefit than the Amex Plat but it was a 2% cashback on all purchases card. Terrible return for the fee but a no brainer if they were just handing them to the military for free. So I got the card with a $20k limit and milked the bennies for a year when suddenly Barclay went all Citi pre-MLA on us and sent out letters stating the SCRA benefits would only be for accounts acquired before going AD and that we would be getting charged that $995 annual fee on our next account anniversary. This was an unfortunate blow, but the letter also stated another curiosity: the 0% interest rate would be honored for the life of the account. I then applied for the Barclay Aviator Red for their 50k AA miles bonus after any 1 purchase and the $95 annual fee (I’ll get around to an article about this someday). This card came with a cool $17k credit limit. I then found myself on a Disney Cruise with the wife where we sat through some Disney timeshare briefs (Disney Vacation Club) for the chance to win some shipboard credit. Turns out, the Disney Vacation Club, in an unprecedented feat for a timeshare, actually made financial sense to buy into if you could do so without financing. It also turned out that the DVC package required to attain a bunch of shipboard discounts, making it even more of a financial win, was to the tune of $30k. So, with a month left before the Gold Card annual fee was going to hit and after confirming with Disney that I could just charge a DVC membership to a credit card (surprisingly yes), I put a call into Barclay and transferred $15k of my credit limit on the Aviator Red to the Gold Card bringing the Gold Card credit limit up to $35k. I then swiped the Gold Card (a 2% cash back card) to the tune of $30k in one charge and the wife and I became DVC members. What? I thought the number one rule was to pay off your statement every month? It is, to avoid paying interest.
The Gold Card, however, was sitting at 0% interest for the life of the account and thus became free unsecured financing. So, I then waited for the charge to clear, liquidated my $600 in cash back to the account, called Barclays back and canceled the Gold Card before the annual fee could hit. It’s been one of my best financial plays. Enter my current dilemma: I have read online that canceled Barclay accounts lose online account access. I would prefer to keep online account access for ease of paying off this 0% interest loan 1% at a time. I believe I still have my account access because I have an open card with Barclays still: the Aviator Red. The Aviator red is charging me $95/year still, and it’s the only card I currently pay an annual fee on. It also doesn’t bring any annual benefits that the AA Executive card doesn’t so I would like to cancel it before the fee hits this year in July. I need to replace it with a no annual fee card in the Barclay lineup to keep my online account access to the Gold card. I’d love to snag the Arrival + for its tasty signup bonus, but online data points suggest they have a 6/24 rule on that specific card and I’m still at a laughable amount of accounts in the last 24 months. What should my replacement Barclay card be?