Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Get 80% off gift certificates from Restaurant.com!

Get 80% off gift certificates from Restaurant.com for $2.  Just put in the promo code "fall" and the price should down by 80%.

They have a few kosher restaurants.  Search by zip code and then by cuisine and then you will find Jewish/Kosher category and you will see if there are any restaurants in your area.  I know that in the NY are there is Wolf and Lamb, Traditions and Safa.  I am not sure if there any others.

Expires 9/30

The gift cards themselves never expire.

I Only Want One Credit Card, Help!

I get this question frequently.  It usually goes something like this, "There are too many cards to choose from and I don't want to have too many cards in my wallet , so which card should I get?"

People usually only want one card because of one or all of the following reasons: They don't want their credit score affected by opening too many cards, don't want a bulky wallet, others don't want to keep track of so many cards both in terms of bills and when to use what card.

The answer to this question is a little complicated.  Different cards are right for every person depending on their spending habits.

When some ask this question, often they mean that they don't want many cards but if they have 2, or maybe even 3 cards, that's okay.  Someone who falls into this category should continue towards the end.  The first section will be dedicated to someone who wants one card only.  I highly recommend more than one card because of the great rewards available if you are willing to have an American Express card, but here are the best non AE cards that I know of:

I would like to start by saying that only one of these cards has an annual fee (American Express Blue Cash Preferred) but if you spend a lot of money on groceries or gas this fee is worth it.

If anyone has a credit card that they like to use please leave a comment and if it is superior I will update the blog.

One Card Only:

If you are only going to have one card, the best card depends upon how you usually spend your money.  However, I would suggest a visa or mastercard, not an american express so that your card is accepted everywhere (unless you carry plenty of cash with you anyway)

I don't have any specific categories that I spend money in:
There are probably three cards to choose from for this person.

1) Fidelity Visa Card/Capital One Cash Rewards - both give you 1.5% back for every purchase.  The capital one card gives you 1% back and then gives you another .5% at the end of the year but there is a sign up bonus of $100 after you spend $500 in the first 3 months.  The Fidelity card gives you 1.5% back once you reach a certain threshold of rewards (I don't have their Visa - I have the Fidelity American Express which gives you $50 after you spend $2,500).  The annoying thing with the Fidelity card is that you need a Fidelity account, which requires a one time $2,500 deposit, which can be transferred out once the account has been opened.

2) Chase Freedom - 1% back on every purchase but 5% back in rotating categories, which last a few months (currently Gas and travel purchases) - up to $75 back for each category.  For a calender of what gets you 5% back, go to chase.com/freedom.   Plus you can get a $100 sign up bonus when you spend $500 in the first 3 months.

I spend a lot of money on gas and groceries

There is really only one visa or mastercard that I know of that is right for you.

Bank of America Cash Rewards - this card gets you the regular 1% back on every purchase but gives you an additional 3% back on gas and 2% back on groceries.

I spend a whole lot of money on gas

Penfed credit card - 1% back on everything and 5% back on all gas purchases.  Beware of this card.  I tried to get it and you have to go through a whole bunch of hoops to qualify.  I was unable to get it (mostly because of a lack of income) even though I have qualified for every other credit card.

I am willing to have two cards:

If you are willing to have more than one card I would suggest an American Express credit card as your standard card and a visa or mastercard as your second card for when your AE is not accepted.

I don't have any specific categories that I spend money in:

Best overall card is the Fidelity American Express - this card gives you 2% back on everything.  There are drawbacks.  Read this link for more information on advantages and disadvantages of this card.

I spend a lot of money on gas and groceries:

American Express Blue, American Express Blue Preferred and Bank of America Cash Rewards - The regular American Express Blue gives you 1% back on everything, 3% on groceries and 2% on gas.  The Bank of America card gives you 1% back on everything, 2% on groceries and 3% on gas.  You have to see whether you spend more more on groceries or more money on gas to decide between the two.
The American Express Blue Preferred gives you 1% back on everything, 6% back on groceries and 3% back on gas.  Unfortunately, it has an annual fee of $75.  However, if you spend $500 in the first 60 days you get $100 so the first year the annual fee can be a non issue.
If you spend just $2,500 a year on groceries you would get $75 back for the 3% card and $150 for the 6% card.  
For more reading on these cards take a look at this link. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Avoid Putting Charitable Contributions on your Credit Card

Every time you make a purchase (or a donation) on your credit card, the merchant is charged a fee (usually around 2%) which helps pay for your rewards programs.  The merchant is making a cost-benefit analysis in accepting your credit card.  There is no ethical dilemma in using your card.

When it comes to a charity, however, things are a little bit trickier.  The assumption is that you are donating money to a charity because you want them to have the money.  If you were planning on donating $100, why do you want the charity to only get $98 of it?  Even if you would give the reward from the card to the charity, if you only 1% back on purchases, the charity still loses out (P.S - you should be getting more than 1% on every purchase - click the link).  It just doesn't make sense

Here is what to do:  

Send a check

Almost every charity that has a website that can accept credit cards also has a link that says "contact us".  In that link they will usually have an address that you can send the check to.  It takes a little more time to fill out the envelope and the check but you obviously care enough about this charity to send them money in the first place.  If you think you are the type of person who won't give money unless it is easy or you will forget about it later, by all means give through your credit card.

Note :

This is not true about tuition payments, even if you care about the institution.  If you have to pay $10,000 a year, whether it is a check or credit card, that is a different situation.  If you get back 2% on every purchase, you would get back $200 so your tuition becomes less expensive.  You might want to send a check anyway to save them money but that is a personal decision.  If you have no obligation to give any money then the charity loses out when you put the contribution on your card.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chase Sapphire Preferred - $625 for Hotels and Airfare Sign Up Bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred 

update: sign up bonus has been reduced to 40,000 points, from 50K.
This is a great sign up offer.  You get $625 towards hotels and airfare.  There is also no annual fee the first year.  This means that if you are signing up just for the bonus, you should cancel within the first year otherwise you will incur a $95 annual fee the second year.

Updated: You have to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months on the card in order to qualify for the sign up bonus.

The United Credit card had the first year free too but required you to keep the credit card open for six months in order to keep the bonus so I would keep it open for between 6 months and 11 months.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pet Owners: Free $10 Credit at Wag.com

Wag.com is from the same people who came out with diapers.com and soap.com except that it is for pets.  If you spend $50 they will give you free next day shipping.  Also, you can get 15% off your first order with the coupon code wagpet.  All you need to do is click the link and then "like" them on facebook and you will get the $10 credit.

Free $10 Credit at Wag.com

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Free Internet Filter and "Freedom" from the Internet

Filters are a great to control who is using your internet, when they are using it and what they are allowed to see when they are on the internet.  Whether you are using it for your children, a public work station or for yourself (give someone else the password) to make sure that you aren't using the internet too much or during certain times of the day, there are many filters that will work you.

There are some great internet filters out there and some are free.  The one that usually gets very good reviews is K9.  K9 is free both for Windows and Macs.  The other good ones are netnanny and safe eyes but those cost money.  Always do your research before you buy any of them to see if there is a feature that you need that only some filters have.

The downside of a filter for yourself is that if you need the internet and you have blocked it you will not be able to get on.  There is a solution to this:  Freedom

If you are having trouble with your internet usage you might want to check out Freedom, which works for both Windows and Macs.  I have this program and I find it very useful.  You tell them how long you want to not be able to go on the internet and then you will not be able to go on the internet for that time period.  In the event of something urgent, you can always restart your computer and get back on the internet.  I have used this many times when I should be starting and I find myself surfing or blogging.  The only downside is that it used to be free but now costs $10 but if you are someone who does have trouble controlling your internet time I think it is a wise investment.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cheap Eye Glasses - As Low as $6 a Pair

If you are looking for inexpensive glasses Zenni is the place to go.  Prices range anywhere from $6-$45.  There is a $5 shipping fee (they come from China) but it is the same $5 whether you buy one pair or multiple pairs.

All you need is your prescription.

They have accurate face recognition software to virtually "try on" your glasses.  You upload a picture and tell them your interpupillary distance and they will analyze the picture and put the pair of glasses on your picture.

You get what you pay for.  They are not as durable as regular glasses.  My last pair lasted me 2 years.  I usually lose my glasses before it's an issue ;)

Start your purchase at from Ebates and get up to 4.0% cashback as well.  You will still get your normal cashback from your credit card as well. 

Don't have ebates?  Sign up here for free.  You also get a $10 gift card to Target, Barnes and Noble, Home Depot or Magazines.com after your first $25 purchase 

Updated:  Thank you AH for introducing me to this website 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Get 3-6% Cash Back on Groceries and 2-3% Cash Back on Gas! - American Express Blue Cash and Blue Cash Preferred

American Express Blue Cash


1) 3% cash back on Groceries and 2% cash back on Gas and Department stores

2) No limits on how much you can get back

3) No annual fee


1) Superstores and Warehouse clubs do not count so Walmart Superstores, Costco and BJ's will likely not count for this deal.

2) It is an American Express so it is not as accepted but chain stores almost always accept American Express.

3) Another credit card to carry.  It is up to you to make a cost benefit analysis of whether it is worth the money to carry around a few cards.

Keep in mind that if you have the Fidelity American Express you are already getting 2% back on everything so only need to use this card for groceries.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred

This is a big improvement from the old American Express Blue.  You used to have to spend $6,500 before you got any big rewards, not anymore!


1) 6% cash back on Groceries and 3% cash back on Gas and department stores.

2) No limits on how much money you can get back


1) There is a $75 annual fee.  However, if you spend $500 in the first 60 days you get $100 so the first year the annual fee can be a non issue.

2) Superstores and Warehouse clubs do not count so Walmart Superstores, Costco and BJ's will likely not count for this deal.

3) It is an American Express so it is not as accepted but chain stores almost always accept American Express.

4) Another credit card to carry.  It is up to you to make a cost benefit analysis of whether it is worth the money to carry around a few cards.

Which one should I get?

If you spend more than $50 a week on groceries, which is most people, you should go for the annual fee card.  I am not normally a fan of annual fee cards but when they offer rewards like this card you can make back the fee very quickly.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

20 Free Song Downloads (They Choose the Songs) from Mostly Music

Mostly Music has posted a list of about 20 songs that you can download for free.  You need to set up an account but then when it asks for payment, you click no payment information necessary.  Once your order is finished you go back into your account and go to the order and you can start downloading absolutely free.

Free Monthly Credit Score - Credit Sesame and Credit Karma

Credit Sesame is a free ways to keep on top of your credit score and all of your expenses.  They update your score every month for free. (Thanks for the referral too :)

When you sign up they will show you all the debt you have on each of your credit cards.  They will also show you how much you owe on your mortgage and your monthly payments.  They will analyze all that information for you and offer advice on how you could get your credit score higher and get your debt lower.

They make money if you use their partners to lower you debt load but if you are just using it to monitor your credit picture and score you can use it for free.  In fact, they never ask for your credit card when you sign up.

You can also get a free annual credit report from the three credit bureaus (ie - 3 a year, one from each bureau).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beware of Free Gift Cards - Many are Scams

I just saw this ad for a Free $500 gift card from IKEA for answering a survey.  If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

One of the best ways to find out if something is real or not is google it.  For instance, before I did anything with this survey I googled ""$500 IKEA gift card scam" and I got this link.  Just because you don't see something on google doesn't mean it isn't a scam but it often will verify it for you.

Amazon Prime for Students - Six Months Free!

Get six months of Amazon Prime for free if you are a student!


1) Free 2 day shipping without any minimum on any item sold by Amazon - Normally you can only get free shipping if you spend $25 on qualifying items and then it takes 5 business days.

If you want to buy something from Amazon, please go to http://www.kuritzky.com/ohrtzion/ and start your search from there.  Ohr Tzion in Buffalo will get 3% of your purchase and there is no cost to you!

If anyone could please comment on whether it works for former students who still have their .edu email addresses, I would appreciate it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Buying Purchases Online

Disclaimer - The Discover offers are no longer valid.

If you are ever buying something online, in order to maximize your savings, here are the following tips:

Coupon Codes:
For example, if you are buying something from walmart, google "walmart coupon codes."  Many places will have coupon codes for free shipping or 10% off that you will just have to search a few website for but they are out there for the easy taking.

Go through your Credit Card's Website:
Most credit cards have online retailer links.  You can get anywhere from 2-15% or more off the price through your credit card's site.  I have especially found that photo places like Snapfish and book stores like Barnes & Noble are likely to give discounts of 5%-10% and up.

Discover it™ website seems to give the most off for the same retailers.  For example, you can get 5% of walmart.com while if you were to use ebates, you would only get 2% off

Websites dedicated to referrals for retailers
If your credit card's website does not have a particular retailer, there are many websites that specialize in this.  They usually have more retailers than your credit card's website but they usually give a smaller percentage.  One good site is ebates.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Checking Account - Charles Schwab

I recommend the Charles Schwab Checking Account


1)  No ATM fees - You never have to think about planning your ATM runs.  Schwab has almost no ATMs so they refund any ATM fees you may incur at other ATMs.  It doesn't matter how close you are to a Schwab branch or how many ATM withdrawals you have a month.

2) You can get some interest on the money in the checking account, albeit a very small percentage (0.2%).

3) Unlimited Checks for free.

4)  If you have a smart phone, you can take a picture of your checks and deposit them electronically.

5) No fees, no minimums for the checking account (there is a minimum for Schwab Brokerage account - keep reading).


1)  You have no physical bank to go to.  If you have a problem you have to go online or call them up.  I personally think this is an advantage.  You can just mail all your deposits (or email them with a smartphone).  I have never had a problem that I couldn't solve quickly over the phone.

2)  Their savings account is not as competitive as Discover bank (1.1%).

3) You need a Schwab Brokerage Account which has a $1,000 minimum.  If you are someone who ends up paying ATM fees, this is a no brainer. I read online that they wave the $1,000 minimum if you have the checking account.  I don't know if this is true but it may be because they say there are no account minimums.

My Recommendation:

Open both a Schwab Checking account and a Discover savings account.  Keep enough money in the checking account for any emergencies and any left over money keep in the Discover account so that you can take advantage of the higher rate.  You can transfer the money electronically between the two of them but it may take a few business days so you have to make sure there is enough in your Schwab for any possible expenses.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Brokerage Firms

Lowest Fees

Just 2 Trade - $2.50 a trade.  I've never used it so I can't tell you anything about it.

OptionsHouse - $3.95 a trade.  Probably as good as you will find.  Difficult to use and navigate but if all you want to do is trade, they can save you a lot of money.  Plus you get a bonus for signing up!  Also, if you move your brokerage account to them from someone else they will cover up to $100 of the transfer fee your old brokerage house will charge.  Most other brokerage houses will give you some sort of bonus as well.

Zecco - $4.95 a trade.  A little less difficult to use than optionshouse but still not great.

Scottrade - $7 a trade.  Never used it.

Charles Schwab - $8.95 a trade.  Very simple navigation.  In addition, you can get their ATM card and never pay an ATM fee again.  They will reimburse you no matter how high the fee is and no matter how many times you use it.

One thing to keep in mind with the smaller brokerage companies:  Many do not participate in DRIPs (Dividend ReInvestment Program) the way the larger brokerage companies.  For instance, let's say you have 5 shares of a company that is $200 a share ($1,000) and it is paying a 2% quarterly dividend and you have signed up for the DRIP program.  If this is invested with Charles Schwab, you will get $20 reinvested back into the stock for free and you will end up with 5.1 shares after one quarter.  If it is invested with optionshouse, however, they will not reinvest the money unless it is equal to a full share.  In our example you would end up with 5 shares and $20 dollars after one quarter.

Top Credit Cards

Disclaimer - The Discover offers are no longer valid.

Everytime I see someone pay for something in cash, I cringe.  When you use cash you are paying more for your purchase, every time.  If you use a credit card you have the potential to get back 2-6.25% back on every purchases.  Also, when you buy something on a credit card and you are duped by the retailor you can usually get your money back from the credit company without a hassle.  Here is how:

I do not own any credit cards with annual fees.  Unless you are a big spender and can find a rewards program that is far superior to a free credit card, it is not worth it.  I also don't have any cards that are airline miles based.  If you get cash back you can use it on anything (including airfare), if you get airline miles you need to use them on airplane tickets.  

These are the three credit cards I recommend:


Fidelity American Express - 2% back on everything


1) This card gives you 2% back on every purchase.  It is hard to find a better deal.  

2) It is an American Express.  American Express is known for its customer service and its willingness to take purchases even when the store won't.


1) The card requires a Fidelity Investment Account.  You need $2,500 minimum to start the account.  Once you have an account, you can transfer the money out of the account.

2) It is an American Express which is not accepted everywhere.  Despite that, I have found that most places do accept them.  My card has only not been accepted once since I started using it. 

3) The money is deposited into your Fidelity account and you have to then transfer it back to an account where you can use it.  If you invest with Fidelity this is not a problem

Fidelity Visa - 1.5% back on Everything 
This card is for those who want the high cash back but don't want the hassle of having to carry two cards for when the American Express is not accepted.

If you have a large family and spend a lot on groceries, the card for you is:

American Express Blue Preferred - 6% cashback on groceries, 3% on gas and 1% on everything else.  $75 annual fee.

Supplementary Cards

Discover® More Credit Card - 5% back on rotating categories.  0.25% back on everything else until $3,000 and 1% after $3,000.


1) You can get up to 5% back and sometimes more.  If you purchase something in the correct category you will get a minimum of 5% back.  Categories can be checked from the Discover it™ website and sometimes include gas, groceries and home improvements (like Lowe's)

2) Your 5% can turn into 6.25%! You can use your rewards on gift cards through discover's reward center to get even more back.  Many of the retailers will allow you to buy a $25 gift card for $20.  This means that your rewards are actually worth 25% more.  25% of 5 is 1.25 so you are actually getting 6.25% instead of 5%!  I usually use it to get $25 gift cards to Bed Bath and Beyond which I will eventually go to.

3) You always get at least 1% back on purchases that aren't in the categories that are 5%.


1) You have to know what the categories are for that month and sign up for them.  If you don't sign up you won't get the 5%. 

2) There is a limit to how much money will qualify for the 5% rebate.  Often, you can only get back 5% on up to $$1,500 of purchases in that category.

Chase Freedom - Same as discover


Same as Discover but an added $100 bonus for signing up and a high maximum of 5% purchases (often you can get 5% on up to $1,500 of purchases).

My recommendations and usage:

If you are willing to put in a little work and carry a few cards, it is worth it to have all three.  I use the discover on any 5% categories until the 5% bonus is maxed out so that I can get 6.25% back.  Once, the discover won't get me 5% back I will use the Chase Freedom to get 5% back.  If I have used up all my 5% options or it isn't in one of the correct categories I will use the 2% card.

If anyone has a credit card that they like to use please leave the name of the card in the comments and I can try to look into it.

Brooks Brothers Credit Card

For those of you who like Brooks Brothers Clothing (I buy them so that I don't have to send my shirts to the dry cleaners to be pressed and I don't have to iron them myself), I would suggest the Brooks Brothers Credit Card.  Even if you think Brooks Brothers is normally too expensive continue to read on.


1) The day you open the card you get 15% off your purchases.

2) 4% back on purchases at Brooks Brothers.  When you spend $500 at brooks brothers they will give you a brooks brothers gift card worth $20.

3) They will give you a $20 gift card to use the month of your birthday.  You have to spend at least $20 but you you can spend $20.01 (before taxes) and barely spend any money or you can get $20 off the normally pricey merchandise.


Having another card.  I leave this card in my files and only take it out when I am going to their store so that I don't have to keep it in my wallet.