- Apr 3, 2016
Don’t feel bad for your advice on the self referrals I think most of us here understand that there are risks. Id rather know about the loopholes so please don’t stop sharing. I lost 40,000 MR but I have gained so much more than that from this hobby because of people like you sharing information with me. I’m willing to risk it and hit loopholes because I have still come out ahead and the only reason why is because of the helpful people on this thread. I know I also share a lot of MS tricks and I’m sorry if things stop working. I hope everyone who has gotten a serve card recently understands the cards can be shutdown and to please be careful don’t go out and buy thousands of gift cards that you can’t float. my philosophy is to take advantage of things while I can. I’m different from most people on this thread I’m hitting things hard and I honestly also don’t even care if Chase shuts me down. The gravy train ending would be a big loss but even with that there will be other opportunities.I have much deeper thoughts and feelings about this and the recent Amex clawbacks than what I'm going to type. I’ll try to get the gist of this down. I just haven't had much time to write up very many meaningful posts, analyses, or replies, while still keeping up with the conversation and providing at least cursory answers to people's questions. And to be honest, the Amex developments have left me incredibly shaken.
First and foremost, I want to apologize to everyone who had any MR points clawed back as a result of self-referral. I was the one who brought over the news from r/churning that this was possible last July, and I did it myself and I feel like I set an example for others to follow. While everyone has to consider the risks of whatever they do in this hobby, and assess their own tolerance for that risk, I know we all look to DPs and strategies from both strangers and people we trust to help make our decisions. And if any of you feel like I've steered you wrong, I am truly and deeply sorry.
I shared the self-referral and cross-referral methods with the intention that this could help folks here earn a lot more points themselves and within their household once they already had one or two Amex cards, instead of settling for public offers or having their clicks go to someone else. I think this succeeded for a time as I, and I'm sure many others, saw a significant drop in their support clicks on Amex cards coming from other DISchurners. Self-referral or cross-referral became the de facto advice on r/churning and here, because if someone wasn't recommending you do it, then they weren't watching out for your interests and likely fishing for your support click. And so everyone was doing it. (I think the fact that MRs cannot be transferred or pooled among spouses or within a household also affected calculations to self-refer rather than refer from P1>P2 or P2>P1.) I’m devastated that this method, in the end, cost some people real money if you paid taxes on points that Amex ultimately took away with no indication how they’re going to fix this mess.
I can't recall anyone raising any flags that Amex would claw back these support bonuses. Just as I try to relay useful information to this thread, I’m always on the lookout for negative DPs. In late April, we shared a DP from a r/churning claiming that Amex clawed back a self-referral bonus. We advised caution and to wait and see if there were any further DPs of such clawbacks. I waited until June to self-refer to a BBP. There were no more negative DPs, and that report in April appeared to be a one off, perhaps prompted by eyes drawn to the OP's account for other reasons, or maybe the OP was just mistaken. Nothing suggested Amex would go back a year and claw back literally millions of MRs. We should have done better, kept our tinfoil hats on, and always remember Amex's modus operandi. Amex froze accounts and clawed back millions of MR from those who it believed abused the leaked Thanksgiving 2016 100k MR Platinum link. More recently, Amex clawed back the Saks credits from people who returned their purchases – even on closed card accounts, and charged people's cards hundreds of dollars for using multiples of the Staples Amex Offers.
What Amex giveth, Amex can taketh. It’s a real love/hate relationship with Amex. Amex has some of the biggest and best bonuses, solid co-brand and transfer partners and thus a lot of value to their programs, some cards that are actually worth keeping and putting ongoing category spend on, generous and useful Amex Offers (I’m looking at you Chase and your max $4 back at Rite-Aid), and hands out cards like candy. But Amex is also incredibly high maintenance, sensitive to perceived abuse, and downright schizophrenic. I’m sure all of us could come up with a list of 10 Things I Hate About Amex (h/t @SouthFayetteFan). If Amex thinks you’re not spending enough on them – pop up! Gaming their Amex Offers or credits? Don’t be surprised if Amex charges your statement for returns or refunds on which you got that credit, even if it’s months or more than a year later. The RAT has a long memory. MS their SUB? Bonus denial or clawback. But don’t do enough organic spend so you MS to keep Amex happy? That’s perfectly fine, have some more cards! Glitch holding up your bonus or credits? It’s not our fault, it’s yours! Just keep spending until you hit the bonus! And now the self-referrals…
You all might not know this from my irreverent chatter on the thread in the past week, but I haven’t felt this low since probably Plastiq 3x died on the CIP. I was a major cheerleader for the CIP, aside from its SUB, and Plastiq because of the ability to actually make money paying your bills. And when Plastiq stopped coding 3x the first time, and then a second time, I know several of you had just paid your bills before the DPs caught up but would only get 1x on the payment and you folks had to eat the fee. Then Chase kept killing all the other things that I happily told you coded 3x on the CIP…
And now we come to the CIPpy cup. I feel some amount of joy, but also responsibility for bringing news about the CIPpy cup here. I had been monitoring chatter and DPs on r/churning about multiple CIP approvals using only a SSN, but did not share the news until there was confirmation the bonuses were posting. I realized this is a way for us to turbocharge our UR balances, which is probably the favorite currency for most of you, at a time when Chase had killed the DD and imposed 48-month restrictions on the Sapphire cards. Come to think of it, I also shared the MDD.
All this, as with anything in this hobby, is not without risk. @SouthFayetteFan highlighted many of the risks in his original post. I will add that the Chase could stop refilling the CIPpy cup at any time. Although it’s a general rule that Chase will not approve a card without the bonus attached, Chase could conceivably deny the bonus. I’ve yet to see that on a UR-earning card, but I remember there was chatter about going for the Chase Marriott Biz card before it was discontinued just to hold it for the anniversary FNs, even if you weren’t eligible for the bonus under the fine print restrictions. Chase could, as they did when they were shutting down the Sapphire DD loophole, unilaterally close cards without notice. Personally, I think the risk of this is minimal because you’re not doing a DD with the CIPpy cup, and actual businesses have legitimate reasons for multiples of the same card. I remember seeing an open browser of Tesla Guy’s Chase account with all his cards and spotted several CIPs. But for someone like TPG, who is all about bonus category spend nowadays and spends millions on advertising, it would make sense to have multiple CIPs and BGR/Biz Golds since their bonus categories are capped at $150k/yr. If Chase were to target all their customers with multiples of the same product, they would upset a lot of non-churning clients and businesses. But what if they just targeted those who received SUBs on multiples of the same product within, say, a two-year span. That would also sweep in non-churning clients and businesses with legitimate reasons to hold multiple Ink cards and received bonuses on them. Again, what’s Chase’s modus operandi? Chase isn’t known for clawbacks. I can’t recall ever seeing a DP about a Chase clawback. As I posted recently, Chase’s weapon of choice is a shutdown, whether it be to close specific cards or shut down all card accounts. This is something we typically see in a bust-out situation (due to velocity and balances), the DD purge, or for whatever reason Chase or its affiliates decides to end their relationship with you. I want to be clear, as @SouthFayetteFan already pointed out, in all of these cases Chase never clawed back any points and allowed the customer 30 days to either cash out, redeem it, or transfer the points to a travel partner. (It’s not recommended to transfer points from a shut down account to P2 and risk P2 getting shut down.)
I’ve discussed Amex and Chase, but there’s also Citi. Many of us are riding the GrAAvy train, but there’s a risk with every application that the bonus won’t post, especially if you’ve used a public link. I can only imagine how terrible @SouthFayetteFan and @speedyfishy must have felt when we discovered public links to the GrAAvy train were a lot more YMMV, without apparent rhyme or reason, after sharing information that they were a way to bypass mailers and possibly save some money.
@SouthFayetteFan and I, and I’m sure many of the active contributors to this thread share information we come across with only the intention to benefit other members of this community. Personally, I try to vet the information I post, consider the risks and be thorough about explaining it, and I continue to be on the lookout for DPs that say a method has changed, ended, or something else adverse has happened so that I can share that too. But please note that there’s a built-in delay to all DPs, and a DP reported today might have come too late to change something you did yesterday and may not be an accurate predictor of how something works tomorrow. This hobby, its rules, and how the issuers apply those rules are constantly changing. We do our best to keep up and keep you all informed, but we’re not omniscient or infallible. I know we can all be cheerleaders and enablers sometimes, but I have to trust that you consider the benefits and risks as it relates to your own situation, assess your own tolerances, and come to the right decision for you. But please, don't be scared off from this hobby because, I think for almost everyone here, you've notched a lot more wins than losses.
I know several of you have asked if anyone’s gotten CIP4. I think what they’re looking for is a green light and an all-safe to go ahead and apply for CIP4. I can’t give you that. I don’t think anyone here has gone for CIP4 all with only their SSN, but I also don’t doubt there are folks on r/churning pushing that envelope and beyond. I’ll say under the current way things work, if you go for CIP4, provided you’ve watched your velocity and managed your credit lines, you’ll probably get approved and you’ll likely get your SUB. I can’t make any predictions or assurances what Chase will do with that in the future (maybe nothing!) other than muse about the risks as I did above.
What does my own strategy look like for the rest of 2019? DW’s CIP3 SUB and the support bonus from my CIP2 just posted this week. DW has two open CIPs from March and June, a CIU from last September, and a CIC from last December. I recently closed my 1+ year old CIC, got approved for CIP3 this week, have an open CIP2 from April, and a sockdrawered Marriott Biz. (Interestingly, I did apply for DW’s and my CIP3 with our FN MI LN and SSN but, as @SouthFayetteFan suggested, with a different business category to at least make a plausible case for different businesses between different CIPs.) With 2 open CIPs each, I’m thinking we’ll both cool off with our CIP apps for the next few months.
DW is 1/24 and I’m seriously considering referring her from my Biz Plat (20k MR>20k Hilton) to the Hilton Surpass before we cancel her Hilton Biz next month to avoid the AF. That will probably push DW out with Chase, if not for a velocity issue (because, historically, Amex doesn’t report a new personal card until the close of the second statement), then because of juggling the MSRs on several new cards. I was just approved for CIP3, so that’s a $5k MSR in the next 3 months; and I’ve barely made a dent in the Biz Plat upgrade offer for $10k spend in the remaining 4½ months. The Surpass would come with another $4k MSR in 4 months. Then, when DW goes back to Chase, I’m looking at the Hyatt card. At 2/24, another personal card for DW is not a problem. We’ve been meaning to earn some Hyatt points towards a possible Japan redemption so that we don’t have to transfer out of our UR stash, but the CIPpy cup has sidelined those plans. Meanwhile, I’m 4/24 until next spring so I need to stick with biz cards to keep playing in Chase’s playground. I think I’ll have DW refer me from her CIC/CIU to my own CIU, probably in October. That’s a 50k UR SUB and a 15k UR support bonus. Not CIPpy cup money, but also not another open CIP. Afterwards, we’ll probably close DW’s CIU since it will have passed a year. Around the end of the year, I’ll probably refer DW from my CIU to back to CIU2. We’ll see where I am at the end of the year, but I am also eyeing a Hyatt card and that’ll be the card that takes me to 5/24 for a while.