Your Burning Questions Answered – Ask In the Comments About: MS, Credit Cards, Miles, Points, Family Travel or Other Related Topics!

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questions and answers july 2015

Miles to Memories Q&A Returns – Ask Away!

Back in May I opened up the site to a Q&A week. During that week I was able to answer dozens of your questions and I know it was popular with a lot of readers. In case you missed it, here are the related Q&A posts including answers to a ton of questions:

Previous Q&A Posts

This time I want you to ask even more questions so we can do this again. While this is a great way for me to get content for the site, the main reason I do this is because it helps everyone. The chances are if you have a question, then someone else probably has it too.

What Type of Questions

Please feel free to ask anything, but keep in mind it is difficult to answer wide scoping questions like “How Do You Manufacture Spend?” Being a little more specific will make things easier and make it much more likely that I can answer the question in a post.

Instead of asking the question above, you could ask, “What Is the #1 Newbie Thing I Should Study About Manufactured Spend?” Something like that.

I Can’t Get to Everything

I believe during the last round I answered about 80-90% of the questions. While I most likely will not answer every single one, my goal is to try. Some questions just don’t suit themselves well to these types of posts and others can create legal/moral issues for me. If your question isn’t answered, feel free to email me to ask why, but it is likely for one of the reasons above.

How to Ask

To ask your question, simply leave a comment! (Note: If you have never left a comment before it will go into moderation. You do not need to post again. I will see it and approve it. After your first approved comment, all future comments should show up right away.)

I will start answering questions tomorrow and in several posts this week so don’t forget to subscribe to the site via RSS or the Newsletter. Do you know someone who is new to the hobby? Please send this link their way so they can ask questions as well!


This post may contain referral, affiliate or sponsor links that provide Miles to Memories compensation. Thank you for your support.

39 COMMENTS

  1. Would love to hear details about your battle logistics/time management when conducting MS operations for one specific strategy:
    – MS via buying Gift Cards then liquidate via Serve/BB/RedBird etc

    I find this process very burdensome and time consuming and ultra YMMV to the point where different crap happens daily based on location/cashier/store manager so I really would love to hear how a pro does it and successfully completes this particular strategy/mission.

    So in essence, do you first buy shitload Amex GC via portal then buy VGC or Vanilla VGC or MC GC (whenever/wherever Amex GC is accepted) during major opportunities (including Staples deals) then pick a weekday or a weekend and unload all of them in Walmart/Target? Do you unload all GC at once at one store or do you rotate?

    Like for me, I go to a different Target for each RedBird I unload. This is to lower suspicion and get less questions because unloading so many VGC to multiple RedBirds all at one cashier/register makes people see wtf youre up to. Also, one time manager walked by and did the over the shoulder of the cashier and thats when they told me “sorry, you cant load using GC”. Damnit! I was so good unloading until you came – you nosy bastard!!!

    This is where Walmart and Serve/BB really stand out. If the MoneyCenter machine is working then you are ALL GOOD! Totally private MS. Target is not like that. I wish they had a MoneyCenter.

    This question is also related to scale when MSing this way. When people tell me they MS $100k/mo. Im like HOW DO YOU HAVE TIME FOR THIS?

    But they must have secrets.

    So thats why I would love to hear your battle strategy.

    • Just to be clear, this particular question is very high level. Want to understand the general strategies used by the pros. Although there is a significant amount of local trade secrets one may use and not blogged about or even available to most people. Dont want haters to start pointing theirs dicks at anyone. I couldve just PM about this but thought others may want to hear the answer too.

  2. Why do some card issues, e.g., Chase and Citi give authorized user cards the same number as the primary cardholder’s card whereas others, e.g., Amex and Barclays give the authorized user card a number slightly different from the primary cardholder’s card? thanks

  3. Other questions I had just thought about:

    1) Within my local area, I see shitload of MyVanilla Debit cards. I believe I can buy the initial temp card for $500 via CC without registering (unless you want to reload). Based on my understanding, this is just a crappy version of BlueBird/RedBird. However, do you have experience with this card? I want to utilize this card for MS if possible since they let you buy the initial $500 load with a CC unlike other stores thats cash only. I think you can unload via PIN as well without registering.

    2) Within the current landscape, what would you say are the top strategies that can scale easily for MS?
    I know GC buy/resale and Serve/BlueBird/RedBird are probably the dominant top two ways used.

    Third major way is probably becoming a inventory reseller (buying shit cheap and reselling) which is actually a lot of work to hold inventory and probably not as consistent as you want it to be.

    So how about something like American Express Prepaid / American Express for Target prepaid card / PayPower / Paypal / Amazon Payments / Evolve etc etc. My initial feeling of these methods is that its too “small scale” to really spend time using, but not sure.

    I just dont hear these as often anymore. Is it because they suck?

  4. How about something personal for me. I live in Hawaii and have about 190k MR points. I choose to earn MR because they are fairly easy to earn. Also they transfer to Hawaiian airlines which is my primary airlines to the destinations they serve in the west coast. What is the best transfer partner of Amex MR for first class travel from Hawaii to Japan? Hawaiian does not have a good first class and they require too much points.

    • I’m not Shawn, but my daughter lives in Japan. So I have a little experience getting there and back. We’ve used American miles to go between Hawaii and Japan.

        • Im just guessing here, but I would say YMMV and TBD and all depends. Shawn probably prioritizes his posts depending on category and importance, so I assume he will answer these questions when theres not too much else to write about. Thats just my guess. So maybe it will take a week or so.

        • I am going to answer what I can. I am out of town speaking this weekend, so it is a little tough to get to everything. If something is urgent, please feel free to email me.

  5. If you had to choose only yes or no, do you see a future devaluation with Chase and it’s UR partners as a continuation of its recent negative changes?

    There’s been a lot of negative news coming from Chase lately, including heavy fines. Chase is even pulling affiliate links for some. I personally believe they’re not changing the UR system. At least not this year. If you’d of asked me this question a few months ago I’d of not entertained the idea. It’s an interesting question though in the wake of recent changes.

  6. There are some different types of Citi ThankYou point. Specifically, there are the ones you earn from credit cards (transferable to airline/hotel partners) and those earned from CitiGold accounts (checking, mortgage, money market, etc). If I transfer all of my points to my wife, will the annoying points that don’t transfer then become transferable?

    • +1 (But you cant write a blog response. You have to PM us so it remains a secret… Otherwise you will kill the deal)

      • Oh and if you do write a blog response, it has to be inaccurate and totally false so you lead people away from the deal.

  7. Here’s my most pressing question that has come out of a new attempt at reselling.

    – What are best practices for buying inventory (in terms of CCs used)? Right now, I’m mostly just using personal cards but I am not sure I want to explain to Bank #1 why I spent $4,000 at 6 different Office Depot’s in 2 days. Similarly, if I applied for CC with stated income of $50K, wouldn’t a bank get suspicious of charging $75K over a year’s time? Can these pressures be relieved by getting business cards? If you get business cards, how explicitly should you state that you are buying inventory at retailers?

    • Just thought of some additional questions:

      – Let’s say you find a potentially profitable price match opportunity at a local office supplies store. Many times these price matches are limited to a quantity of 1. If you wanted to go to different locations of the same chain to get 1 unit at each, are you violating policies? Would you be better served using different CC’s to pay for these to prevent the system from being able to “track” or “identify” you? Or would using a prepaid card make sense (in order to spend and then discontinue, can’t be tracked)?

      – For programs like Staples Rewards, is it kosher to have two household accounts with same address? One in each spouse’s name? Does this let you take advantage of quantity limited promotions?

  8. My husband and I plan to use American points to fly business or first class from East Coast to Taiwan this fall. I’ve done research about award flights with open jaws and stopovers, but I get the feeling things might have changed since these posts. What are the newest rules? We’d love to fly Cathay Pacific and hang out in Hong Kong a few days if it doesn’t cost additional points. Or any other airline/flight that allows us to visit another country. Thanks so very much!!

  9. I would like to know when the 2 free nights certificate from the Chase Hyatt CC is dated. Is it dated from your approval date, or dated from when you meet the minimum spend requirement?

  10. Hi Shawn,

    Huge fan of the blog & I’ve gotten a lot of value out of it. I have a question that would pertain to A LOT of people starting out.

    If you were just getting started with Miles & Points earning credit cards TODAY what would be the first 5 cards you would get, and in what timeframe would you apply all for them?

    2 Assumptions:
    1. This person already has a good credit score, and other credit cards with Chase, BOA, DISC, CITI, AMEX that do not earn points.
    2. This person doesn’t have a specific travel destination in mind at this time.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I look forward to your response.

  11. Shawn- I’m very interested in the same answers NinjaX asks about. If you do need to PM the response please include me.

    Thanks!

  12. I am planning to fly Economy on AA miles with Qatar. Where would I look for that award? Also, can I add HSV-ORD flight as I live in HSV but Qatar is out of ORD for no additional miles?

  13. My friend told me that if you want to buy a ticket from AA, you can either buy a ticket, and all the normal restrictions apply. Or you can hold a reservation for 24 hours. But you can’t book a ticket and then get a refund. I was wondering if UA and Delta will do the same thing?

  14. Hi Shawn,

    Haven’t really seen comprehensive coverage on the issue, so maybe you could even do a post about it?

    Say, I have a business (which I do, though it’s a DBA and not a corporation). When applying for a business credit card for this business, I must tie it to my personal credit file.

    So, can more than one person apply for the same or different business credit card for the same business? Myself and my wife, for instance, both applying for Ink Plus for the same business. I’m guessing no, but haven’t been able to find a definite answer.

    Or how about me applying for a Chase business card and my wife for an AMEX, but for the same business?

    How do banks verify that the business you put down an application is real? Is there a national registry they check with?

    Can a bank I’m applying to see how many other business credit cards the business already has, like with personal credit cards?

    If this stuff has already been covered, my apologies — if you could just point me in the right direction, I’d be very grateful.

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