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Corona Card Bennies

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:

  • Prestige:
    • $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.

Cell Bills

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!

Streaming

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.

Dell

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.

Pro Deals That Make Your Re-up Less Crazy

Military Gear Discounts

Everyone loves scoring a great deal on new gear and Pro Deals are one of the best and easiest ways.  Pro Deals are discounts (usually quite substantial) that retail companies offer influencers in their fields to gain a larger market share.  Some retailers will extend these offers to members of the military.  Below are our three favorite Pro Deal compilation sites that offer deals on multiple brands and have eligibility for members of the military.  These sites can save you serious cash on gear for anything ranging from outdoors, cooking, tactical, fashion and anywhere in between.

Outdoor Pro Link is our absolute favorite for outdoor gear pro deals.  Discounts range from 35-50% off retail on over 90+ retail brands.

ExpertVoice (formerly Experticity) is another great site for pro deals.  Expert Voice has 500+ brands that offer varying levels of discounts.

Provengo offers 60+ brands offering varying levels of discounts.

These sites require registration, but it is worth the time.  Some of the prices are so good that it is against the pro deal terms to publish them online.  I recommend using Google Shopping to verify you are getting the best deal when you factor in shipping and tax.  This takes all of 30 seconds to do and sometimes you will find a better deal on another site because of free shipping or a sale.  However, these three sites can offer some serious savings for the geardo in your life.

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry for Active Duty

I would hope this is a widely known benefit but SCRA and MLA aren’t so I’ll post just to make sure.

If you add your DODID to the “Known Traveler” number when booking air travel, you will be granted TSA PreCheck.

If you want to elevate your travel game with a Global Entry card then you can get the $100 fee reimbursed by any of these credit cards with waived annual fee’s: Amex Platinum, Amex Bonvoy Brilliant, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase United Explorer, Chase IHG Premier, Chase Ritz Carlton, Citi Prestige, Citi AA Executive, US Bank Altitude Reserve