By Julian, author of Devil’s Advocate…
This week saw the unfortunate demise of SyncAssist, a terrific utility built by Seth the Wandering Aramean for automatically registering Amex Offers as they appeared on Twitter. A second utility called Offersbot (which I wrote about last year) was also shut down in recent months. That leaves us with no alternative but to manually tweet out Amex Offers while crossing our fingers and hoping we can get to the most valuable ones before they hit their maximum registrants.
Or does it?
A few days ago the Doctor of Credit wrote about a neat workaround that combines IFTTT and the still existing Offersbot Twitter account. It requires a little time to set up, but it’s the simplest remaining method to automate registration of every Amex Offer that appears via Twitter. If that’s all you need, then check out Will’s post and follow his instructions here.
However, a number of readers have mentioned they’d rather not sign up for every single Amex Offer. It seems like a bit of overkill since most people won’t ever use the vast majority of the offers, and it might prevent others from registering who would actually use the deal.
So today, we’re going to build on Will’s IFTTT/Offersbot technique and show how we can create a machine that will automatically sign up for only the Twitter offers we want, based on what’s appeared in the past. And we’ll also demonstrate a way we can be alerted to offers that we aren’t automatically signed up for and then decide on a case-by-case basis whether we want those offers or not.
(Boy, now that I write it out, that sounds like a lot of work. Can’t I just do a post about how annoyed I was that I went all the way to Europe this past weekend and the euro was still worth more than the U.S. dollar despite the fact that one of the countries in the EU has been reduced to paying for goods and services with leftover pita bread?)
No one’s interested in that topic, huh? OK, fine. Just offering.
Create a master Amex Twitter account.
First, as I’ve noted before, you probably don’t want to be doing any of this with your real Twitter account. Not only is there a slight chance of being shutdown by Twitter (though I believe that risk is minimal since you’ll only be retweeting one account), but it’s also nice to keep Amex hashtags out of your main Twitter feed.
You also need a separate Twitter account for each Amex card you have anyway, since you can only sync one card per account. Check out “The complete guide to Amex Offers” for more info on how Amex Offers work with Twitter and how to sync an Amex card to a Twitter account.
If you’re creating a Twitter account for your Amex Offers for the first time, you can put your initials in the name and call it your main Amex Twitter account. Since I’m The Devil’s Advocate, maybe I’d call my account “tda_amex_main” or something like that. It doesn’t really matter what you call it as long as it’s a separate account and you sync it to one of your Amex cards.
Set up an IFTTT recipe.
If you’re not already familiar with IFTTT, you can read all about how it works in my post “Bet You Didn’t Know: Mistake Fares Exclusively For Your City or Airline.” The quick version is that IFTTT allows us to set up what’s known as a “conditional statement,” whereby if one thing happens, then another will happen as well.
As the Doctor of Credit demonstrated, the Offersbot Twitter account is still sending out tweets every time a new Amex Offer appears on Amex’s Twitter account, even though they can no longer automatically sign you up for them. So we could set up IFTTT to simply retweet everything that comes from Offersbot.
But in our case, we don’t want to retweet everything — only the offers we want. So we need to tell IFTTT what to look for.
We want to choose Twitter as our Trigger since Offersbot tweets will be our Trigger (again, read my previous post here if you don’t understand what a Trigger is or how IFTTT works). But since we’ll be filtering out most Offersbot tweets, we can’t choose the option for a “New tweet by a specific user” because that won’t let us filter anything. Instead, we need to choose the “New tweet from search” option:
That brings us to the search box for the Twitter Trigger. Fortunately, Twitter offers a fairly robust set of search operators that lets us cull things down to exactly what we want.
We’ll specify we’re looking for Offersbot tweets by using the phrase “from:offersbot” at the start of our search statement. We should also add the hashtag “#available” since as of today Offersbot will always include that hashtag for any new offers it finds. That will eliminate retweets of anything but new Amex Offers.
Finally, we can include every offer that we want to be automatically registered for by including its hashtag in the search parameter with the word “OR” separating each one.
For instance, if we want to make sure we’re always registered for Staples and Hilton offers, our complete search parameter will look like this:
You can add as many Amex Offers hashtags as you’d like by separating each of them with the word “OR.” I don’t know if there’s a limit, but I was able to get 20 hashtags into one search parameter without difficulty. If you do hit a limit, just create another IFTTT recipe to handle the additional hashtags.
What if you don’t know which hashtags are used by Amex? You’re in luck — Offersbot is keeping a complete list here. There are a couple hashtags that appeared before Offersbot started collecting them which aren’t on the list, but all the recent ones are there.
The Action channel is your Amex Twitter account.
Finally, we’ll finish up our IFTTT recipe by setting Twitter as the Action channel and linking our main Amex Twitter account to our IFTTT account (if that last sentence sounded like Portuguese to you, read my post here). This time we can pick “Post a tweet” without worrying about filtering since we’ve already done that part.
All we need to include in our retweet is the actual text from the Offersbot tweet — we don’t need their username or anything else. So put only the “Text” ingredient in your tweet box.
And that’s it. Your IFTTT recipe will now automatically sync your main Amex card with every offer you specified in your search parameter whenever Amex puts it out there again and Offersbot catches it.
What about other Amex offers? Or new ones?
Of course, we can only selectively choose to automate Amex Offers that we already know about, since it’s impossible to predict new offers in advance. But we don’t want to miss knowing about those new offers so we can decide if we want them when they appear. Or perhaps an old offer will come up that we decide we actually want after all. How can we handle these types of offers?
The best answer is to create one more IFTTT recipe that sends us a notification when a new offer appears that we didn’t automatically register for. Again, choose Twitter as the Trigger channel and use the identical search parameter, but this time skip all the “OR” separators and instead include a minus sign in front of each Amex Offer hashtag:
Or if you just want to know about all the offers (whether you’re automatically registered for them or not), then make your search look like this:
Personally, I’d prefer taking a little extra time to set up the first option because that way I won’t get confused about which offers I’ve already set to auto register and which ones I didn’t. But you can do it either way.
Our final step is to set our Action channel to any sort of notification. It can be a text, an e-mail, or even an Android or iOS notification. I use the latter nowadays since it’s immediate and isn’t limited by IFTTT like texts can be.
Now when a new Amex Offer appears, you’ll be instantly notified what it is. If you don’t want to register for that offer, you can just ignore it and go on with your life. But if you do want the offer, the quickest way to get it at that point will be to sign directly into your Amex Twitter account and tweet the new hashtag directly.
What if I have more than one Amex card?
Ahhhh, now there’s an excellent question. I’m sure you can already guess that one method is to just create the identical recipe above for multiple Twitter accounts. That will work, but unfortunately it also requires creating multiple IFTTT accounts since IFTTT will only allow you to link one Twitter account to each IFTTT account. That’s a lot of work to set up, especially if you’ve got a bunch of Amex cards.
Is there a better way? Yes, there is. In fact, there’s a couple of ways to choose from. But they’re each a bit complex and therefore deserve their own post, so I’ll cover them all in the next episode of “Bet You Didn’t Know.” Ugggh, I know, cliffhangers are sooooo annoying…
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Find all the “Bet You Didn’t Know” posts here.