Military Credit Card Strategy In The Age Of COVID-19
Hot diggity, something to write about has emerged from this travel-less wasteland of government over-reach and communist rule. I think a new paradigm is amongst what was once the land of the free. Society as a whole has tipped its hand and shown the extent to which it will sacrifice liberty for that sweet sweet false sense of safety. A safety provided by the government, whom you may remember from such films as: Social Security, The DMV, The Post Office, and the VA (not to forget the ATF for my stamp collecting brethren out there). So, in typical free-market fashion, private companies have once again done what the government is woefully incapable of – adapt. And adapt they have by bringing unprecedented value to credit cards built for travel perks in a time when no one can travel. Behold, your new (gosh I pray temporary) normal.
American Express China Virus Perks
As per usual, Amex is at the forefront of banks in providing both out of the box thinking and convoluted value to its consumers. The new bennies to get fully torqued over are:
- Platinum Card:
- $20/month cell service credit May-Dec
- $20/month streaming service credit May-Dec
- Business Platinum Card:
- $20/month cell service credit May-Dec
- $20/month shipping service credit May-Dec
- Additional $100 semi-annual Dell credit May-Jun and Jul-Dec
- Green Card:
- $10/month cell service credit May-Dec
- Hilton Aspire:
- $250 resort credit triggers for restaurant spend Jun-Aug
- Free nights issued before 1 May 2020 expire 31 Aug 2021. Can be used any night of the week.
- Free nights issued after 1 May – 31 Dec 2020 expire in 24 months. Can be used any night of the week.
- Bonvoy Brilliant:
- $300 Marriott credit triggers for restaurant spend Jun-Aug
Citi Wuhan Whooping Cough Perks
Citi didn’t pull out all the stops like Amex and just bestow free cell service to everyone but they did make a change that should take you from 6 to midnight:
- $250 travel credit triggers for restaurant and supermarket spend May-Dec
Chase Kung Flu Grocery Perks
Chase and Amex have really amped up their bonus point multipliers but Chase Sapphire Reserve will give you the biggest return for spending. I’ll include both for comparison or in case you are in need of specific points:
- Sapphire Reserve: 5x May-Jun
- Sapphire Preferred: 3x May-Jun
- United Club: 5x May-Jun
- United (all others): 3x May-Jun
- Southwest (all): 3x May-Jun
- Hyatt: 3x May-Jun
- IHG: 3x May-Jun
- Marriott (all): 6x May-Jul
- Amex Hilton Aspire/Surpass: 12x May-Jul (points count towards lifetime elite status)
- Amex Marriott (all): 6x May-Jul
- Amex Delta (all): 4x May-Jul
The TDWise Strategy (so far)
I waited a bit to write this just to confirm the reimbursements worked. It looks like Amex will be covering my cell bills for the foreseeable future and my streaming subscriptions at least until the end of 2020. I don’t plan to switch my grocery spending since the Amex Gold already gets 4x points and coupled with the Schwab Plat the cash value is 1.25 cents per point, giving an effective 5% back anyways. The only unknown now is which travel credits to blow on the fanciest dining I’ve ever done and which to liquidate to gift cards.
Verizon makes it easy to liquidate these perks online by going to Bill > Payment Options > “Pay Another Amount” and applying $20 from each Platinum and $10 from each Green card to your account (just don’t save your payment methods or you’ll max out the number of cards you’re allowed to save). I also linked my bank account to autopay and even though autopay won’t be needed at all, it still codes the $10/month discount. My cell bill is about $120/month. Between the 10 Platinum cards and 3 Green cards that gives me $230 per month towards my cell service. This leaves me with an account surplus after Dec of $880, which will last me another 7 months beyond the credits. All told, I won’t be paying for cell service until August 2021. Thanks Amex!
The streaming credits don’t have a great liquidation or banking method in place. So far I’ve applied my Showtime ($10.99), Hulu ($11.99), Netflix ($15.99), Audible ($14.95), CBS All Access (9.99), and HBO ($14.99) each to their own Platinum card for a combined monthly savings of $78.90. There IS a way to scoop up the residual credits into your Apple ID account but since Apple sends level 3 transaction data to Amex (I charged an Apple TV rented movie and was able to see the movie I rented under the transaction on Amex), it’s primed for a future clawback for not being an approved streaming charge that I would not like to risk. So I guess I just have a lot of free movie rentals now.
We have 1 Business Plat and that means $200 each half-year to spend on Dell. This is easy, we needed some home computing peripherals. Maybe I’ll get a drone in July, you know, for droning.
The Credit Card Coronathon
All told, there has never been a better time to justify annual fees (if you have to pay them), even in the wake of worldwide travel bans. Amex and Chase have even extended the minimum spend timeline for sign up bonuses out to 6 months. It sucks, I want to get back out into hotels I shouldn’t be able to afford and into airline seats I shouldn’t be able to justify, but in the meantime, the banks have made it easy to stick with their travel-focused products. I will make any further updates to card perks on this post. Everyone stay safe out there and tweet Elon to get out of California.