What will it be like in 2018 I wonder? We just learned yesterday one of my favorites for earning ~6% in travel cash has died. US Bank finally, after many years, got smart(ish). Next year this means, when each flex perks point drops to 1.5 cents fixed value each we could max earn 3% firm via Kiva loans. Still not a horrid return (for free on short term loans less than 1 year) but not a slam dunk like it has been. I like FMs idea of using Kiva to clear out small value VDGCs earned at 5x as my local sources no longer allow split payments on small cards. As they say, there is always another way!
And that brings me around to what I think next year will be like. First Delta.
I have some interesting data points to share as we all sit on pins and needles waiting for the next
enhancement upgrade improvement devaluation to the Medallion program. A few days after I broke the news of what the mothership has planned to roll out for the 2019 Medallion year (that we start earning for on 1JAN18) I penned a post to give Delta some choices other than the draconian one that would surely end up with mass Delta CO-Branded Amex card cancellations. It seems it got their attention. Normally ~20 unique readers per day come to the blog from Delta computers (I can track that, yes). But for that post well over 100 looked that one over. Let’s hope someone takes credit for one of the ideas as any of them would be better than what is planned.
Having said that, if you have not taken the time to write to Delta and Amex with pen and paper (shame on you) please still take the time to do so today! It is not too late to have an impact. On to other bits.
Credit & travel cards. Boy, has this space changed over the past 10 years. We have gone from small rewards to super awards on new cards. But that has not come without pain. We have Chase who stupidly have their 5/24 that IMO is one of the reasons their credit card division is hurting so much nowadays. We have Amex with their 1x lifetime cap for new card bonus deals (rumored to be 7 years) that also will cost them. A better choices would be 1x every 2 or 3 years IMO but they did not ask me. We have others like Citi that have pooled cards into families and limited bonus to every 2 years. The point is they all are trying to stop “gamers” i.e. those only signing up for a new card bonus then dumping the cards (and spending as little as possible for the bonus). The secret is not difficult, card issuers i.e. just provide value after the bonus and folks will keep and use the card.
Card spending for 2018. Many are terrified about the RATS and justifiably so (rats stands for Reward Abuse Teams at banks). The only thing worse that missing spend totals and not earning a bonus is for a bank to suck back a bonus you earned. What this could mean for next year is moving back to basics on many levels i.e. finding spend that is either “blessed” or takes a bit more work. There should be no problem with over paying taxes at the appropriate time and getting a refund (and eating about a 1% net fee for mega spending). Kiva, as already mentioned, could end up being more useful than ever (yes, it ties up money for a period of time, but there are ways that can only cost you just 1% as well). Without hammering this one to death right now there will be ways for little cost to us to keep this going and still be reasonably lazy getting it done.
So what is the point of today’s musing? The sky is not falling (yet). When the banks, airlines et al change things for the worse we will adapt. There IS always another way and we will find it. It may not be as ridiculously easy as it once was (hello mint coins) but that is OK by me because I like the chase and love the game we play. – René
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