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Amex Crackdown, Capital One Crackdown, First Class Upgrades

Amex and Capital One Brought Down the Hammer

Sorry for the lack of post last week, I was away in a pretty intense class for work and didn’t have enough time or energy to put forth a proper post effort.

No More Amex Self-Referrals

In big news, Amex has cracked down on self-referral bonuses. See, about 6 months ago or so Amex revamped their referral system to first allow you to refer any card in the card family of your particular Amex card and then a short time later just allowed any Amex card to be referred from any Amex card. For example: Say you had a Hilton Aspire card and your friend wanted a Hilton Ascend card. You could access your Aspire referral link, scroll down to view other cards in the Hilton Family, select the Ascend, and copy and paste the link in your browser to refer them to the Ascend. Your Aspire would then snag a signup bonus as if you referred them to the Aspire. Then it became available to view any Amex card, not just card family, and you could snag any card’s referral bonus for referring any other Amex card. Well, the community discovered a loophole with this system where you could just use your own referral links to sign up for your next Amex card. It was a risky move as Amex is known for clawing back points that they deemed inappropriately earned but the community threw caution to the wind and rolled with it. Bad move.

This blog never suggested this loophole as we tend to err on the conservative side of the game. Turns out, that was a good move as Amex decided last week to clawback any points earned through the self-referral loophole. Since referrals are now being taxed at 1 cent per point via 1099 at years end, I’m curious to see if the 1099s will reflect the clawed back points or if the bold and daring will now have to pay taxes on the clawed back points. The bottom line, of course, is don’t be shady with Amex and use TDWise referral links for all your Amex card needs.

No More Old Capital One Accounts

Another pretty rough crackdown this week came from Capital One. Apparently, without warning, Cap1 officials decided to close any Cap1 credit card that had no account activity in the last three years. Letters were sent out saying you had about 3 months to liquidate your rewards while your account was restricted and then the account would close. No way to reinstate, lift the restriction, or otherwise reverse this decision. Normally, I wouldn’t care too much about a Cap1 card as they have little to offer in the premium card space, but my wife’s oldest account was a Cap1 card and now that’s going to hit her average age of accounts pretty hard. We tried to make a purchase and called customer service, both to no avail. Remember to show a little love to the sock drawer cards now and again. I’m going to now identify each card I don’t put natural spend on and buy some Amazon gift cards the first of every year. Live and learn I suppose.

Free First Class Via Ritz Carlton

Finally, some good news, today we were able to find some sweet Delta first-class upgrades for our upcoming Disney trip on a Newark to Orlando leg for $306 total. Seeing as we have Ritz card flight incidental cash to burn before the new year, those upgrades will now only cost us $6 out of pocket once Chase reimburses $300 of that charge. In even more first-class news, we found a 25k AA mile award flight for the wife to take our cat back east in preparation for our upcoming PCS to Virginia. The cat ticket will be another $125, but since we also have a bunch of Amex airline incidental cash to burn before the new year and gift cards are no longer an option, her Schwab Platinum card will cover that expense too. Travel is so free with appropriately applied credit cards.

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