Monday, September 29, 2014

Almost Limitless Supply of American Express Authorized Users - The Key to Extra Free Money!

American Express runs promotions all the time.  One day a year, for the past 3 years, they have had a wonderful promotion called Small Business Saturday.  This promotion allows you to spend money at a small business and get a statement credit back.  This year, the promotion allows you to spend up to $30 and get a $30 credit if you play your cards right.  I will be eligible for over $1,000 of credits this year and I'll explain how.

Now that you know that every American Express card is worth $30 this year, how can you get more?  Obviously, you can sign up for more cards.  If you are only interested in promotions, I recommend AMEX cards that have no annual fee.

The problem with signing up for more cards is that AMEX  limits you to 4 credit cards per account so that can only take you so far (charge cards do no count towards the 4 card limit).

The answer is Authorized Users.  It's nice to add your spouse to your account and you to your spouse's account, but we can do better!

An Almost Limitless Supply of Authorized Users

What if you could add lots of Authorized Users to your accounts?  I'm here to tell you that you can. You can add whoever you want as an authorized user, all you will need is their Name, Address, Birthday and Social Security Number.

What if you could add lots of Authorized Users on your account without knowing lots of social security numbers?  I'm here to tell you that you can.  There are reports of people adding authorized users over the phone without needing SSN.

What if you could add lots of Authorized Users online without knowing lots of SSNs and without adding lots of people to the account?  I'm here to tell you that you can and this is the best part.

If You Only Read One Part, Read the Next 3 Paragraphs

I found this out by mistake, but here is an interesting nugget about American Express.  You can add your spouse (or anyone else) as an authorized user on your account.  When you are done, you can add your spouse again as an authorized user on your account.  When you are done, you can add your spouse again as an authorized user.  I could keep going, but I think you get the point.

Interestingly enough, it doesn't end there.  When you are done adding your spouse, you can add yourself as an authorized user on your account.  When you done adding yourself, you can add yourself as an authorized user on your account.  You probably get the point again.

Every time you add yourself or your wife to the account, you will get another credit card with a new account number.  There are no new annual fees for the new cards, but each card is eligible for promotions separately.


Some limits to this practice:

  1. If you sign up the same person twice at one time, you will approved for one and American Express will send you a letter saying that the second card application is cancelled because it is a duplicate.
  2. Limit of 99 authorized users per credit card account
  3. American Express probably won't like this too much when they figure it out.  Try explaining to a rep why you need to add yourself as an authorized user.  Don't sign up for 99 cards per account.  Add a couple per account and you'll be fine.  Remember, it's important to push the limits, but you want to be pushing the limits less than other people.
  4. Excessive numbers of Authorized Users can trigger a Financial Review by American Express.  As long as your provable income matches what you told American Express on your application, a Financial Review is nothing to be afraid of.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

American Express Small Business Saturday is $30 This Year!

Amazingly, American Express has actually increased the amount of free money they are giving away for Small Business Saturday.  Every eligible American Express credit card can get up to $30 of statement credits for free.

The credits are in $10 increments so you need to spend $10 on each card 3 times to take full advantage.  If you spend $30 once you will only get $10.

I have always used my cards to get gift cards to one store.  The gift cards can then be combined later.

This year, Small Business Saturday is November 29th 2014.  You can start to register your cards (you have to register every card separately if you the card to qualify) at 12am Pacific time on November 16th at  A limited number of cards can be registered so you don't want to wait too long after the 16th to register

  • Every American Express credit card that has a separate 15 digit account number on the front can be registered separately.   
    • Authorized users from credit card accounts that are processed by American Express and issued by American Express have a separate account number on the front and the authorized user card can be registered for a separate $30. Just look at the front of your Authorized user and you will see a different 15 digit number than the primary. 
    • Authorizes users from credit card accounts that are processed by American Express, but are issued by another company will have the same 15 digit account number as the primary and are not eligible for a separate promotion.
  • Prepaid and Gift cards do not work for these promotions, except Serve and Bluebird (Bluebird added this year)
    • Serve allows for up to 4 subaccounts which should also be eligible.
  • Personal business cards are eligible, but corporate cards are not.

Considering that I currently have 31 eligible American Express cards (includes all authorized users, my cards and my wife's cards) and I hope to get at least another 5 before the promotion, I'm pretty happy about this increase.  It may take me an hour to register all of my cards, but I'm pretty sure that's well worth the $900-$1000 of free merchandise.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Free National and Avis Car Rental Status

There are public links available that will give you high level status at National and Avis.

At National, you will have Executive status until early 2016 and at Avis you will have Avis First status.

Both allow you to upgrade the type of car you get for free and earn free rentals faster, but the programs aren't exactly the same.  Check out the specifics of Avis First here and National Executive here.

Note - Avis requires you to have a Mastercard.  Thanks MW.

HT: Frequent Miler Quick Deals

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Oren's Money Saver Beginner's Guide Part 4 - Manufacured Spend

Check out the other posts in the Beginner's Guide Series

Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Maximize Savings Through Credit Cards
Part 3 - Savings Without Using Credit Cards

Manufactured Spend

What is Manufactured Spend?  Manufactured Spend is a way to create credit card spending (and the points that come with them) while keeping your fees to as close to zero as possible.  Usually, this involves buying American Express/Visa/Mastercard Gift cards, but not always.

Some of these techniques are lucrative and don't require much time commitment. Others require more time or aren't as lucrative.

In general, manufactured spend is most lucrative for sign up bonuses where you need to spend a certain amount of money to get a very large bonus. It is less lucrative on your credit card's category bonuses, but it can still be worth it.  Most of my personal Manufactured Spend is on the credit card category bonus type.  It can really add up over the course of the year

Ongoing vs. Limited Time Offers

There are two types of manufactured spend; ongoing offers and limited time offers

Limited Time Offers

Sometimes, a store will run a promotion that works very nicely for manufactured spend.  For example, in 2013 Office Max ran a promotion that gave you $15 off $150 of American Express gift cards.  The promotion negated the fees and in fact you made money before any credit card bonuses.  These types of promotions can be very lucrative, but they are by nature limited time offers so you can't count on any specific deals.

Ongoing Offers

Ongoing offers are where it's at and where you want to be.  The problem with ongoing offers is that sometimes they turn into limited time offers, like Amazon Payments A"H.

Here are a couple of ongoing offers.   
  • Serve
    • $1,000-$1,500 a month of no fee credit card spending, depending whether you have the app formally known as ISIS.  Withdrawals are simple as well.  See this post for more details. 
      • No specific credit card required, but don't use a card that is processed by American Express, unless you don't want the credit card points.  You will receive rewards with your Fidelity American Express since it is processed by FIA Card Services, not American Express.  Confused?  Me too.  
    • Some grocery stores sell Variable load Visa/MC/AMEX gift cards that can be loaded with up to $500 for a $6 fee.   American Express Blue Preferred gets 6% cashback at grocery stores so you will get $24 cashback after fees for every $500 you buy (4.8%).
      • $75 annual fee is well worth it, but cuts into your profits.

  • The Power Trio
    • Combination of 5% cashback at pharmacies, Paypal Business Debit and Serve.  'Nough Said.

  • $200 Visa Gift Cards at Staples
    • These come with a hefty $7 fee (3.5%) so why on earth would you buy these?  The Chase Ink series of business credit cards gives you 5% cashback at Office Supply stores so you will get 1,035 Ultimate Rewards points.
    • If the card is a Visa Card, you will get an extra 1% cashback for signing up with  Those points can be transferred to lucrative airline and hotel partners if you have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points with an annual fee. You need to travel a lot to make this worthwhile.  I don't personally go this route because even I think it is too annoying.  Check out this post from Dan's Deals for more details.

  • 5% categories with Specific Credit Cards
    • Chase Freedom
    • Discover it
      • Same thing as Chase Freedom for 3 months of the year and also have online purchases for 3 months of year.  Visa gift cards can be bought online for 5% back.
    • Citi Dividend

Our last discussion in this series will revolve around liquidating all of the gift cards you just bought after this post.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Free Krispy Kreme Donut Tomorrow (Friday)

I'm not really sure how to respond to this one, but Krispy Kreme is giving away a free donut on Friday September 19th because it is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  All you need to do is come to a Krispy Kreme location and talk like a pirate.

Warning:  you will be dumber after you watch this video.

There a couple of things you can do to get a dozen donuts for free.  Check out the Krispy Kreme website for more details.

HT: Hey It's Free!