Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as the greatest wealth transfer in history is on, protecting seniors, Greek elections this Sunday, the latest United miles devaluation, don’t do fraud like this kid did, Bakhmut matters in Russia, excellent interview of China specialist Dan Wang, the amazing story of Tokyo Joe, nuking the moon, riding a train in Japan and meeting some of its evaporated people, horrible Detroit Pistons draft outcome and so unfair to see French NBA phenom going to the San Antonio Spurs, more on the accelerating devaluation wave of frequent flyer miles and more, enjoy your weekend!
TBB Blog Mission: To Educate. Entertain. Inspire. In That Order!
Support TBB by applying for CREDIT CARDS or Buy Me a Coffee or visit our LINKS
I use and recommend Proton VPN <—– REFERRAL LINK
You like my blog? Send a link to someone please!
No ads, no clickbait. No sponsored posts.
This blog publishes every Friday and Tuesday…for now.
I think this is indeed happening…The Greatest Wealth Transfer in History Is Here, With Familiar (Rich) Winners. I have seen it in my experience as a financial advisor advising clients.
In 1989, total family wealth in the United States was about $38 trillion, adjusted for inflation. By 2022, that wealth had more than tripled, reaching $140 trillion. Of the $84 trillion projected to be passed down from older Americans to millennial and Gen X heirs through 2045, $16 trillion will be transferred within the next decade.
Excellent article on Protecting Seniors. With six excellent suggestions on how to help your aging parents and loved ones at the end of the article. But I want to single out this part that reading it made me visibly upset, I can guess which company these
advisors brokers/salesmen worked at! I am a huge proponent of boring low cost ETF index based portfolios, keep it simple! The complexity is designed to separate you from your money to compensate these incentivized salesmen masquerading as non conflicted advisors!
Later that same day, at my local volunteer tax preparation site, I came across two returns that raised concerns. Both were for clients in their 80s who had modest incomes comprised of Social Security, small pensions and required minimum distributions from their IRAs. Both had statements from major financial institutions that showed complex portfolios and dozens of transactions.
The first client, a widow, had more than three dozen short-term capital gain sales, about 40 long-term capital gain transactions and 10 pages of dividend details. Her portfolio had dozens of mutual funds, individual stocks, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds. There also were several single-country emerging market funds and seemingly duplicate municipal bond funds. Many of them had high annual fees and front-end loads. The statement showed she paid approximately $2,000 in fees. This seemed to me and my tax prep colleagues to be an expensive and complex portfolio, not at all consistent with the widow’s modest income. [Sadly, this is very common…]
The other older client, a widower, had a consolidated statement detailing the proceeds of a Section 1256 contract. [WTF!!!!]
I hate to say this…To the parents of this kid, come on, seriously? Maybe you should have told the kid “hey, if you are going to commit fraud, at least don’t have anything in writing or on your phone ok?”. Or something like that. Wow, amazing stupidity! Teen charged with hacking DraftKings bragged ‘fraud is fun,’ feds say.
On those devices, investigators found credential stuffing programs, instruction photos on how to use stolen user credentials to steal money from victim accounts, and messages between Garrison and co-conspirators, the complaint said. The messages included ones where Garrison wrote, “fraud is fun . . . im addicted to see money in my account . . . im like obsessed with bypassing s—,” according to a court filing.
UKRAINE RUSSIA WAR/GEOPOLITICS
Timothy Snyder on why what matters in Bakhmut matters in Russia: War and politics. Trying to untangle what is going on inside Russian politics is inherently difficult.
War brings political pressure, and not necessarily where the aggressor intended. Pressure forces choices. Putin can afford to lose in Ukraine, but he cannot afford to lose in Russia. He must face that choice if this war is to be brought to an end
Fantastic interview of Dan Wang about China. Dan is the guy who used to write those beautiful annual letters while he was in China. Sadly, he is back in the States so no more annual letters, so sad. Interview: Dan Wang, China specialist. We talk about China’s economy, decoupling, export controls, industrial policy, state control, and lots more. You will learn a lot reading this.
ODDZ & ENDZ
I had never heard of this Japanese American mobster. In Chicago. His name was Ken Eto. The Last Gamble of Tokyo Joe. What a story, wow! To be shot in the head three times and survive…to turn informant and go on the witness protection program in the last stage of his life. Oh, the two dudes who shot him and failed to kill him had a not so good ending predictably.
I had no idea about this, you? The crazy plan to explode a nuclear bomb on the Moon. Project A119, as it was known, was a top-secret proposal to detonate a hydrogen bomb on the Moon. Hydrogen bombs were vastly more destructive than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, and the latest in nuclear weapon design at the time. Asked to “fast track” the project by senior officers in the Air Force, Reiffel produced many reports between May 1958 and January 1959 on the feasibility of the plan.
There are elections in Greece this Sunday. And every time there are way too many parties involved that get very few votes. Watching them campaign is one of those rare wtf moments. There are several communist parties that have broken away from the main Greek communist party that amazingly still uses the ‘hammer and sickle”! And also, several green party offshoots. And to get even more ridiculous, several fascist/racist/nationalist bunch of clowns. Here are all of the parties running along with their main campaign spots on Youtube, it is a freak show. I single out some for your amusement:
Anticapitalist Left Front [This one specializes in armed struggle…I am serious!]
Communist Party of Greece [Main Communist party, still waving the hammer and sickle flag!]
Communist Party of Greece (Marxist–Leninist) [Split because the main Communist party was not communist enough!]
Marxist–Leninist Communist Party of Greece [Because the two communist parties above were not communist enough lol]
Organisation of Internationalist Communists of Greece [must be a new one, never heard of it woohoo]
Organization for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece [another one, wtf!]
Greek Solution [Kill all immigrants, Greece belongs to Greeks]
European Realistic Disobedience Front-Alliance for the Rupture [Greek Taliban]
Movement of the Poor [Send money lol]
Smoking Groups for Art and Artistic Creation [this one has to be a joke..and it is]
We travel to Japan today…
And we take a Sleeper Seat on Japan’s Newest Overnight Train 😴 12 Hour Trip from Kyoto via Solo Travel Vlog. Very nice video…
Remember some years ago I posted in my blog an article about the evaporated people and the industry that has come to life to help them disappear. This is a really good video made about them. And it is very sad to watch…
Good to see more airlines coming to Detroit: Icelandair now offering non-stop flights from Detroit to Iceland 4 times a week. One of these days we will make it there, it is a short hop now!
A section where I go on and on about some stuff that happens in my life and anything else that just does not fit in another section above.
I can’t stand the Miami Heat. But I do respect them for showing up and just elevating their game at the playoffs. And they are just three wins away from reaching the NBA Finals! As an #8 seed. They had to survive a play-in tournament to even make it to the playoffs, how does this happen?
We Pistons fans here in Detroit are distraught by the NBA draft lottery disaster. After having the worst record in the league last year…intentionally, the phucking balls punished us and we got the worst possible draft pick #5. And the San Antonio Spurs get to pick the French phenomenon…after they picked Robinson and Duncan in the past, so unfair! This tall kid looks like the real deal by the way: Inside Victor Wembanyama’s Plan to Dominate the NBA Like Never Before.
Last one on Gary Numan, here is a fantastic documentary about his long career: Ressurection. Amazing! Also, seeing Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) thank him for influencing them is awesome. At 4.22 and 24.30 showing some fans who were in line to see him for the first time after seeing him as kids at Wembley back in 1981, it is hilarious. Just a wonderful documentary about a rock legend and his life.
This blog started with a focus on miles and points and travel. It has evolved since then. Everything below deals with the hobby of collecting frequent flyer miles and points. If you are not interested, you can stop here, thank you.
MILES & POINTS NEWS/PROMOS/MY ACTION
This is pretty good…for now: Strengths and weaknesses of major US frequent flyer programs.
Of course, the whole point in the industry is to keep enticing you so you will click on their credit card affiliate links, never forget that! 10 Amazing Ways to Redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points.
Miles/points always devalue. And using them is always much harder than it is earning them, something bloggers in this space always do not emphasize as much as they blog about how amazing it is to “travel for free”, etc. And the outsize value you could get from this currency is being reduced steadily right before our eyes, sadly.
I started seeing some of these higher prices recently and I was surprised no blogger did a post on it. Until it became widespread I guess. Major United Mileage Plus Devaluation: 33%-46% increase in award prices to/from Europe. I guess no more Business class tickets using United miles flying Lufthansa/Aegean back to Greece, so sad. Some of the ridiculous increases on the partners were dialed back a little bit but still…
- Book early, book often – if there’s a devaluation, already issued tickets don’t go up in price and most award tickets are refundable for no-fee or for a very small fee
- Keep your points in a flexible program like Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards until the moment you need to book
- Book with alliance partner miles when prices are lower
- Don’t let your points balances grow into seven figures and beyond, and especially don’t let that happen in multiple programs (I failed here, big time)
- Focus on cash back once you’ve got enough points for the current booking window’s trips (it turns out cash is fungible)
Due to the above, I decided to better wrap up our remaining award bookings for our Singapore/Thailand trip in November. I thought I had booked my daughter’s flight back from Bangkok and I am so glad I checked again and found out it never ticketed due to a “system error”. So I had to call United and after a while they ticketed it; there were only a few seats left, phew! I am coming back from Bangkok a week later, also with 44,000 United miles, flying Thai Airways to Frankfurt and then to Detroit on Lufthansa. I looked over at the Business class award rates and there was one (with horrific connections) for 160k and then, please sit down, some for 600k, we call this the Deltafication of United. With award charts disappearing, welcome to the new era of dynamic pricing. I need to get more familiar with the Air Canada Aeroplan program as transfers from Chase to United are now not too appealing.
I had a Hyatt Free Night Category 1-7 certificate expiring so I decided to burn it at the Chicago Park Hyatt. And I also burned just 50,000 Radisson points (there is a sale going on it appears) for the Radisson Blu Aqua to make it a weekend I guess. To go see Tinariwen live. But…I then realized the show is sold out, damn it! I am on the waiting list…Speaking of Radisson Rewards points, I have been trying to use these points for years and I am glad I finally booked something as the expiration deadline was coming closer. And I still have over 300k Radisson Rewards points to burn…First world problems.
I am making a push to get under 4 million miles/points at last!
MILES & POINTS
HOT CREDIT CARD OFFERS: 80k CHASE Sapphire Preferred (ENDING MAY 25 at 9 am!), 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture X, 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture Rewards, 75k CHASE Ink Business Cash, 75k CHASE Ink Business Unlimited, 100k CHASE Ink Business Preferred, 60K CITI Premier, 40k CAPITAL ONE VentureOne Rewards, $1,000 Cash Back CHASE Ink Business Premier, 140K CHASE IHG Rewards Premier, 60k US BANK Business Altitude and many more, including many AmericanExpress cards such as Delta Airlines, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors cards! Please check out my Affiliate links. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. If you do not see a credit card with my affiliate links, perhaps I could refer you?
This section is about my
hobby addiction of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points since the early 1990’s! SKIP if you are not into it!
As of today, I have burned 812,000 miles/points year to date in 2023 and have 4,072,061 miles/points in the bank. Some do drugs, I do miles lol!
Thanks to US banks, very lucrative travel rewards credit card offers come and go all the time. This section will act as a reference point on the best CURRENT offers. I will designate new material preceded by NEW.
BASICS: This travel hacking hobby is mostly about getting the fat Signup Bonus of travel rewards credit cards while of course NEVER EVER carrying a balance. Banks have a marketing budget and are willing to give us many THOUSANDS of miles/points to travel mostly for free hoping to hook us to charge 20%+ interest rates on our balances. The poor souls who fall for their marketing paying these ludicrous interest rates end up subsidizing us responsible consumers who enjoy taking advantage of, cough, such bank marketing budgets! Some of us have been doing this for thirty years creating amazing travel memories…Feel free to ask me questions or post them in the comments.
BASICS: Prefer credit cards from the proprietary points programs of banks, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Network, Capital One Rewards Miles because they are a lot more flexible and are not devalued as frequently. Over pure airline and hotel travel rewards credit cards. Pure cash back credit cards may work for you best and they are getting more valuable as airline and hotel loyalty programs keep getting devalued. Sometimes, a pure no annual fee 2% cash back card works best for simplicity!
TOP TRAVEL REWARDS SIGNUP BONUS CARDS
In my household, we prefer swimming in the Chase Ultimate Rewards points ecosystem. We all four have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. My kids got it six months after they turned 18 (when they both got the Discover for Students card) and they have been building up their credit score ever since, it is their go to card. The annual fee is $95. The main earning structure is 3 points on dining and 2x on travel (and others you are not likely to use but bloggers LOVE to tell you to entice you to get the card with their affiliate links). Most importantly, you must have a premium Chase card (Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred) in order to be able to transfer out to partners such as Hyatt and United where you can get more value out of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The card is also very valuable when you rent cars as it provides primary insurance benefit, meaning, in case of an accident you don’t have to involve your own car insurance company. There is a 10% anniversary bonus on all annual spending. So, Chase gives you basically $1,000 towards travel…for $95! Or just take $800 in cold hard cash, hello? So I guess I can say I recommend it. To me, this card and the Capital One Venture X card are keepers. And now the Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points as Signup Bonus after you spend $4,000 in the first three months hooray! You can read the posts below but if you prefer to support my blog please apply with my own Credit Card Links HERE, thank you!
The Capital One Venture X card offers a 75,000 point Signup Bonus after a minimum spend of $4k in the first three months. If you like simplicity and looking for one (premium) card, I highly recommend this card (and yes, I have it myself!). It has an annual fee of $395 but it comes with a VERY easy $300 statement credit for travel booked on its excellent travel portal, essentially turning it into a $95 annual fee card. But wait…there is more! On each card anniversary you earn 10,000 points essentially making it FREE! Every dollar of spend earns 2 points and flights booked on the travel portal earn 5 points per dollar. You get access to Capital One and Plaza Premium airport lounges and a Priority Pass Select lounge membership and, this is important, you can add FOUR authorized users FOR FREE who can also have their own Priority Pass Select airline lounge membership. You can transfer your Capital One points to up to 18 Transfer Partners. No foreign transaction fees. Free Hertz President’s Circle rental car top elite status. Cell phone protection and PRIMARY rental car coverage. Awesome seats at baseball stadiums for just 5k points each. And lots more. Available with my Credit Card Links, thank you for your support!
Sticking with Capital One Bank…it is offering 75,000 points for its Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Annual fee is $95, minimum spend required to earn the Signup Bonus is $4,000 over the first three months and the card basically earns 2 points for every dollar. And you can transfer the points out to airline and hotel partners just like the Capital One Venture X card above.
Capital One has a no annual fee card, the weirdly named Capital One VentureOne card that offers a 40,000 point Signup Bonus after just $1,000 minimum spend in the first three months. It earns 1.25 points per dollar and has no foreign transaction fees. If you want more Capital One points and/or you just hate annual fees. It appears the Capital One Bank credit card offers have the best offer with my Credit Card Links.
Remember, you are NOT allowed to ever carry a credit card balance if you ever get a credit card here!
Let me leave you with this…
Some of the links are behind a paywall. You can try to read them using Archive.is.
Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoy it please pass it on to a family member or friend. Or Buy Me a Coffee, thank you!
You can join 556 email subscribers to receive each blog post by entering your email address below and then clicking on Subscribe:
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.