Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hurry, Tonight Only - American Express Gift Cards - 4% Cashback Everywhere or Easy Manufactured Spending Opportunity

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site: Top Cashback 

Update 10/23/2014 - Cashback is back down to 1.5% and my cashback is already pending in my Top Cashback account.

Until the rest of 10/22Top Cashback is offering 2.25% cashback for buying American Express Gift Cards.  This is a very good sign considering there was a time when American Express Gift Cards disappeared from all the shopping portals.

American Express Gift Cards have long been one of my best buds in the manufactured spending world.  Unfortunately, with the demise of Amazon Payments, they are far less useful, but they still can have their uses.

Why Can I Do With This Deal?

The maximum you can buy per person is $5,000 per 15 business days.  2.25% is $112.50 cashback from Top Cashback.  Purchase fees and shipping fees come out to $16.85.

Before I get into any heavy math, I will give you a preview of what you will get:

  1. 3.9% cashback everywhere or $55 with a Fidelity American Express.
  2. Meet a spending threshold and break even on a 1% cashback card
  3. "Buy" your favorite miles for under a penny per point.

1) Fidelity American Express

  • 2% cashback everywhere.  For a $5,016.85 order, this comes out to  $100.33 from Fidelity and $112.50 from Top Cashback.   After fees, this comes out to about $196, which is 3.9% cashback to spend anywhere.  Not too shabby!

2) Meet a Spending Threshold 

  • Recently signed up for a credit card and need to spend money to get the bonus (I'm giving you the stink-eye JF)?  Me too!  You can buy these gift cards to put money on your credit card now and use these gift cards over time.
    • Assuming your credit card gets 1% cashback on every purchase, you will get $50 cashback from your credit card and $112.50 from Top Cashback for a total of $145.65 after fees or 2.9% cashback while meeting a spending threshold at the same time.
3) Buy Miles Cheaply
  • You can take this as an opportunity to buy 5,000 miles on your favorite credit card for a very cheap price.  You would want to cash out the gift cards to make it worthwhile.  That comes next.

Using American Express Gift Cards

What should you do with these gift cards once you buy them?

  1. Spend them like an American Express credit card.  You can buy one $3,000 and one $2,000 card so it isn't too much of a hassle.  I recommend not using them on any purchase that you might want to return.
  2. Cash out.  I don't know of any way to do this cheaply.  You can use Google Wallet to send money to a friend (read: my wife) who can then withdraw to a bank account.  This costs a whopping 2.9% or $140.  You will keep about $4,860 of the $5,000.
    • With Fidelity American Express you will end up keeping about $55 for about half an hour of work.
    • If you are meeting a spending threshold, you will just about break even and still be $5,000 closer to your target
    • If you are buying miles, you will be getting 5,000 miles at a fee of $0.0088 per mile.  
      • You are "buying" 5000 miles for $44 after fees

No promo codes!  Your cashback from Top Cashback will be invalidated.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

You Can Sign Up for Bank of America Preferred Rewards Now


You can now sign up for Bank of America Preferred Rewards nationwide.

This is a great program if you have some serious dough with Bank of America. The top tier ($100,000+) gets a 75% bonus on all of their credit card rewards.  This means that with a Bank of America Cash Rewards card you will get 5.25% cashback on all of your gas purchases!

There are other tiers as well which give smaller bonuses.

You need to have the average balance be over the minimum for three months in order to sign up.

Check out this post for more details

Monday, October 13, 2014

Serve Cash Advance Fees

As I pointed out about 10 days ago, some credit cards seemed to recode Serve loads as cash advances.  It seemed like no one was getting charged a cash advance fee, but since then more information and data points have been gathered for people who are getting actual cash advance fee.

To be fair to the credit card companies, it would seem that Serve loads are your quintesential cash advance and Serve even warns you that it may be treated as a cash advance, but that doesn't mean it has to be treated that way.

Which cards are safe and which aren't?

This chart is from Frequent Miler
Safe List
Here are cards that were reported by readers to be safe, along with the most recent date of purchase:
  • BarclayCard Arrival Plus, October 9
  • Chase Southwest Premier, October 11
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred, October 9
  • Fidelity Amex, October 9
  • Nasa FCU Rewards Visa, October 11

Unsafe List
The following cards were reported to charge a cash advance fee for Serve reloads.  Most recent reported date is listed:
  • Citibank, October 9
  • Bank of America, October 11
  • Emigrant Direct Visa, October 8
  • US Bank Club Carlson, October 9

What Should I Do Now?

  • If you have been using a card from the Unsafe List, you should switch it to one of the cards from the safe list.  

  • Call your credit card company and ask for the cash advance limit to be reduced to $0.  If you do that, any cash advance transaction will be declined instead of going through with a fee.  Even if you are using a safe card, it may turn into an unsafe card at any moment.

  • Ask for a refund.  A reliable source (that's right AL, I called you reliable) confirmed that he had a cash advance fee on a Bank of America card and called to ask for a refund of the fee since he didn't know it was a cash advance transaction.  His fee was then refunded.

If you have any more data points, please leave a comment or email me.

Thanks AL for the tip!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Multiple Bank of America Better Balance Rewards Credit Cards!

I was just approved for my second Bank of America Better Balance Rewards Credit Card!

Every Better Balance Rewards credit card is equal to $100-$125 a year of almost free money.  All you need to do is charge one purchase per month and pay the bill in full and you will get $25-$30 every quarter for free. 

If you have a bill that you can pay automatically with the card, you can sign up for autopay and the entire process will be automated.  Automatic is my favorite, high reward and low time involvement.

The extra $5 depends on whether you have a Checking account with Bank of America as well.

I don't know how many cards each person can have, but I will try my best to find out ;)
If I can get 4 cards for myself and 4 for my wife, we will get $1,000 yearly automatically.  Not too shabby!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

American Express Promotions - Add Subaccounts to Serve Easily for Extra Free Money

Outside of adding Authorized Users to your existing American Express accounts, signing up for Serve and adding up to 4 subacccounts for each account you have is the easiest way to take advantage of American Express promotions.

A couple of issues that make it tougher

  • Subaccounts require a new phone number for each one
  • Subaccounts require a new email address for each one
  • Subaccounts require a name on the front of the card

Serve subaccounts require a new phone number

Easy work around:
Serve asks what type of phone number it is (home, cell, work etc.).  One of the options is "other".  If you choose other, you can use the same phone number for every subaccount.

Serve subaccounts also require a new email address. 

There is a trick that works for this too so that you don't need extra email addresses.  If my email address is, I can make a quick change that gives me a new email address.  If you were to email, the email goes to the same email address.  I you email, the email goes to the same email address.  If you email, the email goes to the same email address, etc.
Even though goes to the same destination as, Serve thinks you have used a new email address so you can sign up for multiple Serve accounts with just one email destination and you don't have to sign up for more accounts.  When you login to Serve, you will have to login as for that subaccount

Serve subaccounts require a name on the front of the card

Multiple solutions:
1) You don't anything except a name.  You can sign up a spouse, a father, a brother, a friend etc.  No social security number, no birthdate needed.  No credit check
2) You can put your name down for subaccounts.  I think it is less risky to do #1, but this will work and I have done it.

Each serve card and subaccount will be worth $30 towards Small Business Saturday so you can get $150 per account if you add 4 subaccounts.  I think it is well worth the effort for something that should continue to work in the future as well.