Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Story of Bluebird, Vanilla Reload, Chase Freedom, Citi Dividend and the Scramble for Free Money

In the never ending cycle of trying to get easy (debatable) ways to get free money, I've already introduced the concept of the Bluebird prepaid card from American Express.  Check out that post here.  The basic idea is that you can buy a prepaid card with a credit card and pay your credit bill with that same money.  It's a little more complicated, but that is the gist.

In general, I do not think that Bluebird has widespread benefits that most people will take advantage of.  As I said in the other post, the best benefit is probably in meeting credit card spending minimums.  I am wary of "perk abuse" and credit cards shutting down my accounts, I just don't think it is worth it for a few bucks a month.

That being said, there is tremendous opportunity for free money starting this January:

Both the Citi Dividend and Chase Freedom card have rotating quarterly 5% categories.  From January until the end of March, drug stores are one of their categories.  Vanilla Reload cards are available at CVS that can be bought with credit cards (don't bother with Walgreens, their computer system automatically blocks credit card purchases for Vanilla reloads).  

Chase Freedom allows you to spend up to $1,500 and still receive 5% back ($75 or 7,500 points).  Citi Dividend, however, allows even more.  You can get a maximum of $300 of cashback a year in 5% categories, which is the same average of $75 a quarter, but you can max out your entire year in one quarter.  

Buying a $500 Vanilla reload incurs a fee of $3.95, about 0.8%.  Buying them at CVS will get you 5% so every $500 will net you 4.2%, or $21.  If you "buy" $1,500 on freedom and $6,000 on Citi Dividend from January until the end of March, you will net a total of $315 without spending anything, $63 on the Chase Freedom and $252 on the Citi Dividend.

You have 3 months to spend the money so even if you don't have these credit cards you have plenty of time.

Sign up for:

1) Bluebird Prepaid card by American Express (if you already have a serve account, you will need to close that first)
2) Citi Dividend - $100 signing bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
3) Chase Freedom - $100 signing bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months 

You can sign up separately for you and your spouse and double your bonus and rewards!

P.S. - good luck finding them in NYC with everyone trying to buy them, thankfully I live in Buffalo and they are always in stock at my local CVS.