This, that, and the other thing

As we head into the weekend, there are a number of things on my mind…

Shopping portal holiday bonuses

A number of shopping portals are offering bonuses for holiday shopping:


  • AAdvantage eShopping (10X): Through December 2nd, earn bonus miles for cumulative spend as follows: 750 miles for $75 spend, 1,500 miles for $150 spend; and 2,500 miles for $250 spend.  This works out to an extra 10 miles per dollar if you spend exactly the amount of one of the thresholds.
  • SkyMiles Shopping (4X): Through December 5th, earn 500 bonus miles for every $125 (cumulative) you spend.  This works out to an extra 4 miles per dollar if you manage to spend an exact multiple of $125.  5500 bonus mile limit.
  • MileagePlus Shopping (2X): Through December 31st, earn 500 bonus miles for every $250 you spend.  This works out to an extra 2 miles per dollar if you manage to spend an exact multiple of $250.  2500 bonus mile limit.

Assuming you know that you’ll hit a threshold, it can make sense to pick one of these portals (especially the AA portal) over other ones even if the other portals seem to have better payout rates. 

Black Friday is coming

The most interesting Black Friday deal I’ve seen so far is from OfficeMax.  For three days they’ll offer $200 MasterCard and Visa gift cards for $20 off.  Gotta love free money.  The offer says “limit 1 per customer,” but in past similar promotions that limit was not often enforced.

Small business Saturday is coming and its smaller than ever

Speaking of free money…  I love American Express’ small business Saturday, but this year they’re offering only $10 back for a $10 purchase made at a participating small business.  In previous years, they’ve offered $25.  Still, I’ll happily visit a bunch of local merchants and, at a minimum, buy a $10 gift card from each one.  More likely, though, I’ll get a start on holiday gift shopping.  Of course, I’ll be armed with piles of Amex cards from my own accounts and as an authorized user on many of my wife’s accounts.  Unfortunately, Bluebird and other prepaid Amex cards are not eligible.  Full details here.


BP statement credit test

American Express often has great offers in which you can get a statement credit simply by spending a certain amount of money at a certain store.  In fact, Deals We Like listed a bunch of these yesterday, including how to register for them (see “Recap of New Amex Sync Promotions“).  I don’t usually report these since they tend to be single purchase deals, but this time there is one that is good for multiple purchases:

BP: Get a $5 statement credit each time you use your enrolled Card to make a single qualifying purchase of $25 or more at the pump at any BP station by 12/31/2013.

That’s a pretty terrific promotion since it means that you could go and fill up your tank to $25 each time and get back $5.  That’s a 20% savings!  I decided to test whether I could take this further.  Despite the terms saying otherwise, would I get a statement credit if I bought a $25 gift card at BP?  How about if I bought two in two separate transactions?  Would I get two $5 statement credits?  So, I tried it.

The answer was no.  No statement credits for me.  I guess Amex really meant it when they wrote in the terms of the offer:

Offer not valid for online purchases or any other purchase not made at the pump. 


Amex gift cards cash advance

Last month, I reported via Quick Deals that Chase is now charging cash advance fees when you use a Chase credit card to buy Amex gift cards online.  Now readers have reported similar experiences with Discover and US Bank (Citi was always an issue here).  It seems that Amex had changed how they code these purchases.  Amex credit cards seem to be fine for purchasing Amex gift cards, but if you plan to use any other types of credit cards, I recommend that you call the bank and request a low (or, ideally zero) cash advance limit.  It would be better for these purchases to get declined than accepted and treated as cash advances. 

Post title?

Reader challenge: Who can tell me where the title of this post comes from? 

Have a great weekend.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. post title? clearly a reference to 6 time Grammy award-winning musician Dr. John’s 2004 LP titled Dis Dat or d’Udda

  2. I’m not certain where Hutch is located, but the answer is Seinfeld. I ask about location because I’m hoping to at least be the first with the correct answer on the west coast! 4:56am here…

  3. Has there been widespread reports of cash advance fees by discover for purchase of amex gift cards? I bought one a few weeks ago and it was reported as a regular online transaction. Does Discover let you set cash advance limit to 0?

    • Mike B: I’ve only heard one report so far of Discover charging a cash advance. It was a reader comment who said that their purchase was denied because they had their cash advance limit set too low for the transaction.

  4. Thanks for checking out the BP $25 gift card possibility – you saved me the disappointment of trying myself. Not going to complain though, still a really good deal for the next month and a half.

  5. the dream sequence when Gilligan is the dictator of the island. in his speech to his “minions” he promises “this, that, and the other thing” followed by canned applause

  6. I think I read somewhere that each Office Max store will only have about 20 cards that qualify for the $20 off discount. Not sure if that is true, but sounds possible. In the past, I have been able to buy more than one gift card at the same time because the cashier “didn’t recognize me”. Your Gilligan Island reference might be a little to old for some of us (maybe just me). Have a good weekend Greg!

      • What? Don’t they have reruns anymore? I’m significantly older than Grant, but I still got all of my Gilligan’s Island exposure during afternoon reruns. 🙂

  7. Anyone know if the trick of loading existing sears GCs works with these portals? That would work out perfectly for me if it does.

    • Worked for me when they had the one day deal with sears. Got miles for e-gift cards and for using those to make a purchase.

  8. I was always getting my purchases declined by Amex due to unable to verify info (CC issuing banks always said they didn’t decline the charge, it went through and was then reversed by Amex) so I cancelled my premium shipping plan and got a $50 prorated refund for the unused portion. It took about 45 minutes on the phone with someone in India and a couple weeks to post to the CC I originally paid the $99 with, but I finally got the refund about a week ago. If other people are having issues with their GC purchases posting as cash advances, this might be something to consider.

  9. Does Bank of America and Barclays code Amex gift cards as regular transactions, or cash advances? Do you earn miles or points for it by using Bank of America and Barclays credit cards to buy Amex gift cards?

  10. Another question: with which credit cards do purchases from Gift Card Mall get coded as cash advances, and with which credit cards do such purchases get coded as regular transactions?

  11. I’m afraid that this, that and the other thing predates Gilligan’s Island. My parents said this, that and the other around the house when I was a child in the 1950s…and I seriously doubt that they invented the phrase.

  12. Why would someone want to use Chase visa card to purchase AMEX gift card? … I would think it is the other way around, because visa card is more widely accepted than AMEX.

    Nevertheless, thanks for the alert.

  13. FM: do you get points/cashback along with the $5 credit for using Amex at BP?
    With a Costco Business Amex, that’s potentially a 24% discount… although, the BP in my area is usually a little bit more expensive than the others… but still…

  14. It’s what when I asked my wife what she had spent on the credit card to get all “your” plink points and mileage points………..
    And don’t even try to tell me it is the wrong answer because “I was there” and I heard her utter those words……….

  15. @FM,
    Early this year, I calld US Bank, Chase and Citibank. All of them me that they can not change the cash advance limit on my cards. Amex can and did change my limit to zero.

    Any successful stories to set your cards cash advance limit to zero for Citi, Chase, or US Bank’s cards?

  16. I had a similar experience with Citi awhile back. They could adjust the cash advance limit a little, but not to zero. If I recall correctly, the lowest limit was $500.

  17. I think it goes back before Gilligan’s Island! See below:

    The Grammarphobia Blog
    Is this something to lose sleep over?
    JULY 18TH, 2009
    Q: What is the history of the phrase “this, that, and the other thing”? I find it to be one of the most vacuous expressions in the English language. I have a near visceral reaction when it falls upon my ears.

    A: Well, this may not be the meatiest of expressions, but the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t consider it quite as empty as you do.

    The OED defines the phrase “this, that, and the other” as meaning every possible or every imaginable or every sort of. It’s listed in a group of phrases contrasting “this” and “that.”

    In fact, English speakers have been pairing “this” and “that” in expressions since the 14th century. For example, John Gower’s Middle English poem Confessio Amantis (1390) says: “In ech of hem he fint somwhat / That pleseth him, in this or that.”

    The first published reference for “this, that, and the other thing” in the OED is from Sir Walter Scott’s novel St. Ronan’s Well (1824): “I am sure I aye took your part when folk miscaa’d ye, and said ye were this, that, and the other thing.”

    The OED has a more recent citation from the Ngaio Marsh mystery Artists in Crime (1938): “It’s a bit awkward what with this and that and the other thing.”

    I’m not especially bothered by this expression. Is it vacuous? Well, I usually hear it used loosely in the sense of every sort of, rather than with the somewhat more precise meaning of every possible or every imaginable.

    So, you may have a point. But I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over it.

  18. Andy/Max/Kim: I’ve successfully changed the cash advance limit to $0 with Citi, but on a personal, not business, card. It’s been almost a year since I did it though. I believe with Chase, and likely some other issuers, the limit is a fixed percentage of your overall credit limit, though I’m not 100% sure of that.

    Victor: I haven’t tried the BP deal, since I unfortunately don’t live anywhere near a BP, but in general the Amex deals are always on top of usual rewards.

  19. I’ve purchased Amex gcs twice on a citi card the last month, neither time have I been charged cash advance. I am attempting a chase card today to see if it goes alright.

  20. @Sandy – It appears that the Fidelity Amex is NOT coding as a cash advance. I placed an Amex GC order today for $2,000 with my Fidelity Amex – my cash advance limit on my Fidelity Amex is set at $10 (their minimum) – and the 2,000 Amex order appears in my pending transactions. Thus the order was not declined by Fidelity Amex (which it should have been if it was coded as cash advance), so it appears to be a purchase.

    • Updating my prior post, the final charge has now posted to my Fidelity Amex account as a purchase – no cash advance fee and the 4,000 reward points are pending the next statement close.

  21. Hi I’m a long time reader, first time poster. I was wondering if I could purchase the $200 Mastercard or Visa gift card at OfficeMax with an OfficeMax giftcard. I found some OfficeMax gift cards online for 6% off. Just wondering if this is possible to make the deal even better. Thanks

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