Friday, August 22, 2014

Hotel Bonus Points Promotions

Hyatt - Check your email for a targeted offer from Hyatt - 2,000 Extra Hyatt Points for staying with them from September 1st to November 30th.

Hilton - 2x points during weekdays, 3x points during weekends.  August 1st through September 31st.  Register for the promotion here.

Marriot - 2x points after your second stay, up to 25,000 points.  Applies to stays from September 15th to January 15th.  Register for the promotion here

HT - Freequent Flyerbook

Monday, August 18, 2014

American Express Gift Cards 4.66% Everywhere!

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

For the next 6 days, Top Cashback is offering 3% cashback when you purchase American Express Gift Cards.

If you use your American Express Fidelity to pay, you will get 4.66% cashback on a $5,000 purchase of gift cards after all fees.  That is pretty good.

I use AMEX Gift Cards for my everyday spending, unless I can get more than 4.66% cashback.

American Express is no longer fulfilling portal payouts when coupon codes are used, as has been publicized in the Blogosphere by Frequent Miler and Doctor of Credit, among others.  However, when you don't use a promo code you will still get your cashback (confirmed myself).

Promo codes were great to take off the purchase fees or the shipping fees.  Since you can buy $5,000 worth of American Express gift cards with just $8 in purchase fees and $9 in shipping fees, your total fees will come out to 0.34% of the total purchase price.  While this is tragic, it is certainly not devastating and doesn't change my plans, American Express is just giving me as little less money than usual.  I'm crying inside.

Remember that if you signed for a free shipping plan ($99 a year), the free shipping will not void your cashback.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Paypal Business Debit, Old Amex Blue and Serve - The Power Trio!

A word of caution before this plan is laid out:  Paypal is known to shut people down for manufactured spending activities.  Normally, it involves withdrawing directly to your bank account or logging in from outside of the country, but this manufactured spending gem will likely get you shut down.  You also make get a Financial Review from American Express if you continuously spend a lot of money on any one of their cards.  You are forewarned.  You can now enjoy some fictional reading.

The New Power Trio

The following accounts are necessary for The Power Trio:
  1. Paypal Account with a Paypal Business Debit Card
    1. You will get 1% cashback on signature transactions (non-pin transactions).  You need to activate the 1% cashback from your Paypal account or you won't be eligible.
    2. No hard pull, no maintenance fee.
  2. Old American Express Blue Credit Card
    1. Unlimited 5% cashback at Pharmacies, Grocery Stores and Gas after you spend $6,500 at these categories.  The first $6,500 of the year will be 1% cashback, the rest of the year will be 5% cashback.
      1. If the application doesn't load, try browsing incognito.
  3. Serve Prepaid Card
    1. The relevant point for our discussion is that you can load funds onto Serve via a Debit Card and use those funds to electronically pay your credit card bill.  I think I see where you're going here ;)
How it Works

It's actually relatively straightforward.  Here it is step by step once you have all the accounts.

  • Go to a Pharmacy (like CVS) and buy a Paypal Reload Card with your old Amex Blue.  They cost $3.95 for a $500 card.  Let's talk about buying $1,000 at a time for round numbers sake.
    • Cost = $7.90
    • Rewards = $50.39 into your American Express account
  • Load the funds onto your Paypal account.  You now have $1,000 in Paypal
  • Load money onto Serve from your Paypal Business Debit Card, which you can link at Serve's website.
    • Cost = $0
    • Rewards = $10 from Paypal for signature transaction on your Business Debit Card.
  • Pay your bills
    • Cost = $0
    • Rewards = $0
Total Cost = $7.90
Total Rewards = $60.39

Net Profit = $52.49 per $1,000 spending.  Let's call it $52.50 for simplicity.  That's 5.25% cashback on your original $1,000!  Not too shabby!
As you see, you only have to go into one store.  Everything else is done online.  That is key to me.

How Much Can I Make?

There are two limiting factors, Paypal and, more significantly, Serve.  You can only load up to $1,000 a month from your Paypal Debit Card to Serve without ISIS.  Therefore, you are limited to $52.50 per month.
You can load up to $4,000 a month onto paypal.  You can be more creative at withdrawing the money from Paypal.  You can buy Money Orders using the Business Debit card in stores that allow Money Orders with Debit Cards.  The advantage here is that the Debit Card has your name on it and it doesn't say Gift Card on it so sales associates are likely going to be nicer to you.  If you max out at $4,000 a month, you will be getting $210 every month!  If you have a spouse and/or have access to another Paypal account, you can make $420 every month!  Not too shabby indeed!

You can even go further, you can buy plain Visa Gift Cards once you reach your Paypal limit.  Use them to load onto Serve at Family Dollar (Serve has a different set of limits for "cash reloads"), use Evolve Money, Amazon Payments or Money Orders as a Debit Card.  These all require an extra trip to a store so the time to money ratio is not as favorable, but you can still do well.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bank of America Preferred Rewards - 75% Bonus - 5.25% Cashback on Gas!

Here is the relevant thread in Fat Wallet that discusses this card if you are interested.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards is a program that Bank of America will be rolling out nationwide in October. If you have $100,000 with Bank of America or any of their affiliates (think Merrill Lynch), and an active Checking account, you are eligible for the highest brackets, Platinum Honors.


  • You get a 75% bonus on any rewards you accumulate with many of their regular credit cards. All of their miles credit cards are excluded from the bonus.

Let's take the Bank of America Cash Rewards card for example:

  • Normal rewards: 1% everywhere, 2% grocery stores, 3% gas, up to $1,500 a quarter for the bonus categories.  
  • Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors: 1.75% everywhere, 3.5% at grocery stores and 5.25% at gas stations, up to $1,500 per quarter for the bonus categories.

The Bottom Line

If you have 100k with Bank of America, this is great news.  If you don't, I probably would not start transferring money to them just for the extra credit card rewards that probably won't amount to too much anyways.

If you are someone who only wants one credit card, this is probably the card for you.  It isn't AMEX so it is accepted everywhere, has high rewards for any spending and has bonus rewards for the two biggest expenses for most people.


Until now, there was the Bank of America Platinum Privileges, which gave a 50% bonus if you had $50,000 with Bank of Americ and an active checking accoujnt, so this is a nice step up if you have the money with them anyway. Keep in mind that the actual Platinum Privileges credit card is not eligible for the 75% bonus, unless you are in the Platinum Honors tier ($100,000 or more).  If you are in Gold or Platinum (25 and 50k), you will need to downgrade your card to a regular Cash Rewards card from the Platinum Privileges card to essentially get the same rewards you get now.  Sound confusing?  It is.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Chase United Explorer Credit Card - 55,000 Miles + $50 Statement Credit

Chase has upped the sign up bonus for the United Explorer card.  You will get 50,000 miles for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, instead of the usual 30,000 miles.  You also will get a $50 statement credit.

If you sign up an authorized user who makes one purchase in the first 3 months you will get another 5,000 miles for a total of 55,000 miles.

As always with this card, you will get a bonus of 10,000 miles for spending $25,000 in any calendar year.

No annual fee the first year, $95 the second year.  This deal will expire on September 2, 2014

What does 55,000 miles get you?  A round trip ticket for NY to Tel Aviv is 85,000 miles so you are getting 65% of the way there.  

Hat Tip: Doctor of Credit