RAT teams (reward abuse teams). Claw backs. The dreaded Financial Review. These are unique times for many of us who have, for years, enjoyed the perks and yields from holding either the Delta Amex Reserve card and or the Delta Amex Business Reserve card.
Why do I say unique? If you take a look at the screen shot above from one of my Amex statements you will see that I purchased a single $200 Mastercard gift card at Staples this past year. The charge produced what is often called “level 3 data” to Amex about the purchase that is not just that I made a buy at Staples but also just what the product I purchased was. Why does that matter?
For years now Amex has warned us that certain purchases will not either 1) yield any points when you use the card to make the purchase and or 2) not count toward spend bonus offers of either a new card or items like the Delta Amex bonus MQM and yearly spend waiver for being MQD exempt. But even though the language has been in our statement for years, these kinds of buys have worked. In 2019 things started to change.
Nationwide there are malls that operate under the corporate name “Simons Mall”. There is one in Mishawaka, Indiana near the South Bend airport. They sell visa gift cards up to $1000 each for a low fee of $3.95. Wow right! Well not so fast. As mentioned above, you can buy them, but they no longer give you points or credit (so what is the point – literally). I have not purchased a gift card from my mall all year in 2019 and have no plans to do so in 2020.
With the death of the above and level 3 data becoming more and more common, just what will work in 2020? It will take some testing on your part to see just what works best for you. There are some that are blessed and work just fine but are not instant.
- Paying taxes. This has worked for years and is 100% AOK with Amex. If you have a large chunk of spend to knock out, and can wait for a tax refund, I suggest you read up on paying your taxes with your Delta Amex card (or other Amex cards for that matter).
- Kiva. Many readers are still using Kiva with minimum cost (loss). Yes, it can take months or even a year to get paid back but it is also a way to knock out large spend over time i.e. making loans each and every month.
- Prepaying bills. Here again, if your utility companies, cell phone providers, internet and so on allow prepaying for months or even a year at a time – this can work well and help toward your spend goals. As a side note, last year, I prepaid my cell provider for a year and they called me and said I can not do that and sent me check back for my overage! 🙂
Well all of the above is good and well if you have the financial position to do that kind of spend and still PAY OFF IN FULL your card bill when it comes due (we never EVER pay a penny in credit card interest – EVER)! What about all those who want other methods, that is, what I call “creative spending”. What still works? It will take testing on your part and there are always risks to consider. OK, explain.
Buy even with level 3 data. My purchase above at Staples did yield points but I did not push it and I no longer buy gift cards at Staples with any Amex card. It is not worth the risk (to me anyway). I do not like the idea that at some point I could see a claw back. You may be more risk tolerant than me. What else?
Test stores that do not yield level 3 data. There are likely a ton of stores around your area that are big or small that may work. You just have to test and see what works.
Those are the simple things that are still possible solutions. Yes they take some testing but in 2020 this hobby is no longer ultra simple – it takes work. What else? The rest really takes time and work and risk.
Consider buying and selling. There are any number of folks who have taken the time to look for amazing bargains on Amazon or Ebay or coins and such and when the price was right buy and buy big. Then take the time to resell everything over the coming months and as long as the net cost is ZERO they have harvested the points for free (plus their time). Again, not for everyone but an option to consider. Same goes for reselling of discounted non-visa/mc gift cards from many locations.
All of this really matters now due to what I have highlighted in the screen shot above about Delta Amex spend that POSTS as a completed charge from 1JAN to 29JAN of 2020. During this time we can harvest not just bonus MQMs but also bonus SkyMiles to help offset the cost of your spending. Charges that POST on or after the 30th of January no longer enjoy this mega dual bonus perk (but clearly we wil have the chance for more spend levels so there is that perk to consider going forward for some).
This post is not meant to say that spending $250,000 is easy in 2020 and beyond. While it can be done, it does take effort and cost. I personally will NOT (again) try for ¼ million dollar spend waiver for 2020 but I will put a large chunk of spend on my card to start the year to get the $25,000 waiver knocked out to lock in Platinum status (I have a lot of rollover MQMs) as well as earning more upgrades with the 25k+ spend done ASAP to start the year. Then I will likely, once again, consider partner mileage runs to rack up a ton of MQDs for minimum spend out of pocket (#ProTip – My pal ADAM can help you book an amazing “fun run” if you want one).
My last tip to keep in mind is that spending on your Delta Amex card on the 31st of December has posted for me on January 2nd or 3rd for many years now. There is a risk in this but for those who are brave (like me) and want to get spend started ASAP this may work again this year.
I will end with the talk about a spend waver for 2020. I would NOT count on any kind of Amex spend waiver for 2020. There are scattered reports of Delta reps suggesting to call in January and see what could be done. I have other data points that any waivers granted in the past will not return next year. I would plan for the latter and look for other ways to reach your medallion goals.
Are you going to get creative and mega spend on your Delta Amex cards in 2020 or are you giving up on status chasing at this point? Is all this still worth it to you personally? – René
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