topics

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Economy Plus

Better seats and amenities via seatguru etc

Booking award travel through partners of partners

Best way to search for and book tickets

How to take AirTrain to Newark and JFK

Upgrading with miles

? spend everything you can on a card, esp your biz

how to get biz saver

United Expert Mode

links (tpg etc, scotts deals)

categories for disparate topics in menu

miles bookers

status challenge/match

how I organize my cards

Carmel vs Uber (I am an establishmentariran, establishment represents safety)

creeping revenue-based rewards

$450 cards review

super “Luxury cards” review (Centurion, Palladium, Luxury Card, etc)

portal super hacking/stacking

credit rating

comparing airline cards

earning from other carriers on your chosen carrier

Chase reconsideration line

threatening to cancel

United employee in Chicago airport who upgraded me

What is Visa Signature and MasterCard World?

What’s the diff between Visa and MasterCard and Amex anyway?

best cash back cards

places I’ve been

beward fuel surcharges, especially BA

hotels are shitty redemptions

Other card benefits (purchase protection etc)

Reconsideration line

Threatening to cancel to comp the annual fee

My story of applying for the dumb Reserve

keeping your points

all my reddit posts

SPG/Marriott merger, get SPG card

couple alternation (think this out)

 

 

“making confusing landscapes of shit simple”

“just do this. your life will be better.”

“Don’t do this. Your life will be worse.”

saving money with multiple FU’s, single Sapphire

getting credit/FICO score

awardhacker.com

Canada AirMiles

 

other non-travel stuff:

Hotel lobbies that I’ve worked in

Wi-Fi anywhere

Dessert list

Best way to get from one place to another

Why I don’t have a dishwasher?

Optimistic Dyspepsia

Enjoy my “hedonism” — my love of various things

keeping me in “that role: analysis and recommendation”

get coaches to help you

I’m not good when I’m saying something just to say it

If I’m interested in it, striking me, it’s probably because I want to provide something useful.

“don’t take this highway, take that highway”

I used to read the Thomas Guide

I enjoy being right

 

promo:

find blogs I can post it in the comments for

find blogs I can guest blog on

make videos

 

audience:

create a guest list of 5-10 people (cheerleaders), explain that this is a writing project:

Nicki

Sophia

Alan

Caroline

Emma

Max

Arjan

Than

 

What are the ground rules? Article topic suggestions? No less swearing, no criticism? Not asking you read constantly or every day? Important to feel like I’m writing for people I care about. Positive feedback and/or topic suggestion. I’ll let you know when I’m ready for constructive criticism.

 

notes:

trips to take, so I can keep status:

SB

LA

SF

 

other trips to take/moves to make:

Try to upgrade Klaus K room with Starpoints?

Bali: can use 160,000 MR points for Caroline (Delta), and 150,000 UR points for me, to fly same Korean Air biz class flight. What about Cathay? (UR -> Air France)

cards I have in last 24 months:

  • Banana [expires in November]
  • FU
  • FU-Caroline
  • SP-Caroline
  • Ink Plus
  • Citi

cards I want:

  • Sapphire Preferred for IX (me, July 8; put VAI on it; need for taxis) [3rd card]
  • Citi Prestige (me, November, for clubs and 4th hotel night free; $350/year if apply in-branch, but $250 travel credit back; maybe wait until next trip) [6th card]
  • Freedom Unlimited for IX (Caroline or maybe dad, July 8, put all on it except telecom and dinner; add VAI after Sapphire Preferred spending is met) [C-3rd card]
  • MileagePlus Club (me, November, if I am going to lose United status) [5th card]

 

  • Possible other stuff to get:
  • Freedom (me, November or later, not essential; maybe don’t apply if 5 cards) [7th card]
  • Ink Cash (Caroline, May, signup bonus; biz can switch to this and close Ink Plus in April) [C-5th card, unless we just downgrade the Ink Plus because fuck it]
  • Anyone else offering points (AA particularly)
  • SPG or Amex Platinum if they’re having a good signup bonus, but I’m probably ruling out because VAI is our best MS option and they don’t take Amex

FICO scores July 2016:

Experian 8, as reported by Amex: 727 out of ?? (as of July 2, 2016)

Equifax 8, as reported by Citi: 752 out of 900 (not sure as of what date, and Bankcard score)

MyFico sez, as of 7/11/16: Equifax: 743, TransUnion: 740, Experian 735 (Chase uses Experian)

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/chase-ultimate-rewards/1707643-applying-chase-credit-cards-may-2015-present.html

Strategy might be to keep tick-tocking the business every year between the Ink Cash and Ink Plus, closing the other so we can reapply and get bonus the following year, and using VAI to meet our spend if they don’t mind changing cards regularly. Or if too greedy, stay on Ink Cash. Either way, only charges on it should be telecom, everything else should be on the biz Sapphire Preferred (dinners, biz travel) or Freedom Unlimited (other).

My plan 7/11/16: find out if I can even have a Sapphire Preferred on the business account login. If not, discuss with Caroline about using for taxis and VAI for signup bonus, and the biz writes the check for the card that’s otherwise in my account which she can check or it can auto-pay from biz bank account. If she says no, I just get it for myself, pay the gym and personal food with it, and decide if I want to keep paying for it a year from now. Anyway I think we lower the credit limit on the Ink Cash to 3K and the Plus to 25K, so that will free up $18K for the Sapphire application. I think I wait until Wednesday and then I have her send me the invite again to a different email address, not getting it was a blessing in disguise. Then I get that Citi Prestige card and try to use it for Finland.

Chase verification line

Adventures in reconsideration calls

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So, fuckers, you probably know that if you get denied for a credit card — or even if you go into a wait cycle rather than instant approval — you can call the credit card company and ask to be reconsidered. Or maybe you don’t know that, in which case, I am telling you. In the wake of the pandemic, banks are not exactly throwing credit around, so I have had to do this a lot lately. (The numbers to call are listed at the always invaluable Doctor Of Credit.)

To paint a picture: in early April, when shit was starting to hit the fan, I applied for my first credit card in a year, a Chase United Explorer. I always need more United miles, especially now that they’re worth jack shit, and that I’m kinda living in Santa Barbara with a lot of anticipated trips back to NYC once the death plague is a little bit more under control, so I scooped it up. Easy approval. They automatically took credit from a different card, but what do I care. They did take too much, though, so I had to secure message them to distribute it more sensibly.

(Santa Barbara airport is small, as you might imagine, and your only options to anywhere are United to SFO/DEN, American to PHX/DFW, Alaska to PDX/SEA. The flight from SFO is the only opportunity to get to NYC on a nice transcon rather than blah 737’s. Prior to the pandemic, you could also do United to LAX, which also offered a nice transcon, Delta to SLC, Sun Country to MSP, Frontier to DEN, Contour to LAS/OAK. Maybe those will come back one day. And I can always drive two hours to LAX if I want to fly a different airline, but I don’t really want to, so it’s still gonna end up being all about UA for me.)

Ok, so, after that, Ms X and I bought a fucking house here, if you can believe that shit, and it’s really cute as fuck and we’re excited about it, and that triggered multiple mortage inquiries over May-August, spiking my hard pulls on my credit report, as well as a new home loan account.

So, when, in early September, I applied for both a Citi Premier and a Chase Freedom, I was initially shot down, and same for a Chase United Business I just applied for last week. (I was, however, approved for an Amex Business Gold a day or two before that, because Amex are whores and they’ll give their cards, especially their charge cards, to anybody.) I had to bring my best game and a little luck, but I was able to triumphantly reverse all three denials. I rule. You can too!

So, first off, let me give you the general tips about reconsideration: be polite, frame yourself as the one offering to help by providing information, don’t back down, don’t give up, offer to move existing credit rather than having new credit extended, express that you always pay on time and in full, and tell the truth (or fake it convincingly). Think it through first, so you have answers ready. And persist, trying again if the first time wasn’t the charm.

Check your credit report first (you can get it for free at Experian, or CreditKarma for Transunion and Equifax), so you know what they’re seeing. You can figure out what bureau the bank you’re applying to pulls here (thanks again, DoC). Remember that most business cards won’t appear on your personal credit report, though they are potentially visible if you’re applying for another card from the same bank. Here’s some of what you might be asked, though you probably won’t be asked all of it.

  • Why you’re applying for the card: do not mention the welcome bonus. Do mention the card’s benefits, choosing a specific one or two if you like, and how that applies to your life currently.
  • Gross annual income: remember that you’re allowed to include money that you have access to, i.e. that of your spouse/partner, provided s/he likes and trusts you and everything. Or if family members don’t mind sharing their cash with you, throw it in.
  • How much you’re expecting to spend on the card monthly: I never know what to answer to this, so I say, I dunno, probably $2000. Seems like a nice average reasonable number for a professional who’s not going crazy with their spending, but calibrate accordingly. Remember that these are the people who are just approving the card, and once that’s done, they have no further relationship with you; they’re not going to verify what you tell them.
  • Why you’ve got a high balance on another card: Just have some kind of answer, like home improvements, or, if it’s a business card, office improvements or new business investments.
  • Why you’ve got several balances on different cards: Just have a good story here, like that you’ve got a mix of personal cards that you use based on benefits such as hotel cards for hotels, that you share a card with your spouse for shared expenses, that you use a personal card for a side business, or that you like using multiple cards for categorization and account purposes.
  • Why you have a whole pile of cards: Again, have a good story, like you’ve had different needs over the years as your career and location has changed.
  • Why you don’t have a lot of activity on other cards at the same bank providing the card you’re applying for: Have an answer, like you’ve been using another bank’s card because that was what made sense in the recent past, but the card you’re applying for better fits your current needs.
  • Why you have any late payments or delinquencies: Say it was a screwup because you moved and you weren’t getting statements, and if they look at your history you hope they’ll see that one card was an anomaly, or whatever.
  • How much credit you want to transfer from another card, and which one: This will only come once they’ve decided to approve you, but you may as well have an answer ready, rather than going um, uh, um.
  • If you’re applying for a business card, be prepared to tell them details of your business (or “business”), even if you’re a sole proprietor: gross income, net income (doesn’t necessarily have to be high, as many businesses spend all they make for capital investment, growth,  bonuses, or tax avoidance), projected income for this year, what the company specifically does, what your specific role in it is, how long you’ve been there, how long you’ve been in your field, how long it’s been in business.

In most cases, I think they’re just looking for a vaguely plausible answer; they’re not the Stasi, they’re just trying to figure out whether you’re credible, and hence creditable.

I’ll share some of the specifics on my recent reconsideration calls in upcoming posts.

Dig my zombie points blog talking about new Chase card changes

Hey everyone! Are you digging your global pandemic life? Me neither. And I don’t really want COVID-19, so I’m not getting on a plane for leisure. I realize your risk calculus may be different. But I also have kinda relocated to Cali, and I am gonna need a fuckton of points and miles at some point in the future for the back and forthing to NYC if and when we’re on the other side of this shit.

So, I have not been paying attention to credit cards much as of late, but I recently have gotten back on the horse. Here’s what I got for ya: Continue reading

I’m going to write about United PQP, now that it’s totally irrelevant

Hello, I know, I never call, I never write. Well, hi again. First off, I’ve had the odd post here and there but my mail notification thingamajig stopped working so scroll back and maybe you’ll find some outdated nugget of wisdom. Or stupidity. Probably stupidity.

Ok, so, this post is about United’s new loyalty scheme, in which PQD and PQM are replaced with PQP. Who gives a fuck, you ask? Since we’re never going to fly again? Since we’ll all be dead from Covid-19? Where’s your sense of whimsy, brother? Or sister. Either.

Here’s the story: United decided they don’t really care how far you fly. They only care about how much you spend. They like your money, they want you to travel last minute short hops all the time for business, back when there was business. They don’t give a fuck that you found a cheap fare to fuck knows where on the other side of the world. I can sort of not blame them, though I can still hate them, because I’ll be lucky to make Silver ever again, much less Gold. Fuck you, United. Though I still love you. Though I can’t say why. I guess this is what abusive relationships are all about. Continue reading

Well shit, stupid coronavirus is making me cancel a Polaris seat

I’m in Cali visiting family right now. I was gonna go back to NYC tonight to work, but no one wants me in their homes, and I don’t blame them. And it’s zombie apocalypse over there. Plus, trying to flatten the curve and all that. So, I guess I’m just gonna stay here forever. Could be worse. Fuck it.

Anyhoo, I thought I’d share what happened with my cancellation with United.

First off, I noticed something sneaky with their “change fees waived if you book now” policy:

  • Change fees will be waived, but you’ll need to pay the difference if the new fare is higher.
  • If the new fare is lower, you will not receive a voucher for the difference if the fare is lower. I’ve never seen this before, and think it’s really obnoxious.
  • The new travel date has to be within a year of the original ticket issue date. (SOP, but also obnoxious.)
  • Because you’re changing a ticket in your name, even if you cancel it first, the value of the ticket is not transferable to someone else.

Now, for a ticket I bought in January for travel today, it’s a little better, apart from the hour I had to wait on hold for the Premier Desk:

  • I was able to cancel the ticket without having to book a future date now.
  • The value of the ticket remains associated with the confirmation number, and is not transferable to someone else.
  • When I’m ready to use the value of the ticket, I would look it up by confirmation number on the web site, or call them, and then change it to wherever I want to go. (Normally, there would be a $200 change fee for this, but it will be waived.)
  • I have to change the ticket by Dec 31 2020, and the travel date must be within one year of the original ticket issue date (which in my case would mean I’d have to travel by Jan 5, 2021, since I purchased the ticket on Jan 6 of this year).
  • If the newer fare is higher, I pay the difference. If it’s lower, I am issued an electronic travel certificate (i.e. voucher) for the balance, which is valid for one year from the date it is issued. It is also transferable — you could buy someone else’s ticket with it.
  • The agent said that if towards the end of the year I have been unable to use the value of the canceled ticket, I could submit a request to the Refunds department and they would consider it.

So, it seems to me that, refund possibilities aside, the useful life of the ticket value could be extended by a year, if needed, by finding the cheapest ticket I can, to anywhere, and changing the ticket to that. Then I’d get an electronic travel certificate for the difference. Or, I could do it right now if I want to use the value of the ticket for Ms. X, plus I could then probably cancel the cheap ticket i just bought and retain its value.

In fact, I’m sort of wondering whether I should just cancel *all* of my future UA bookings, as long as they can be rebooked now at similar or better prices, so I have change flexibility on those flights I wouldn’t otherwise have. If I just leave them in place eventually they’ll rescind the change fee waiver now in place.

Oh, and finally: fuck coronavirus. I mean, seriously.

Slumming it: I’m flying Spirit! Yeaaaahhhhhh (and it turns out you can book with Chase points)

Well, shit, I am going to Houston this weekend to go swelter in 100 degree weather and 100% humidity. But I’m meeting up with other travel peeps, so that should be fun.

Anyway, the last minute prices are vomitricious. Getting back wasn’t bad — I got a United Saver award for 12.5K miles — but outbound, everything is $329, and there ain’t no saver nothing. I mean, $329 is only 21,900 Ultimate Rewards points or so, and I can afford that, but, still, sheesh. Principle of the thing and all that. So I put a Google Flights price tracker on it, and two days later that showed me a price drop to $187!

On Spirit. Continue reading