Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Staples Manufactured Spending Updates...

A couple of updates regarding my Staples manufactured spending scheme.  One good and two bad.

1) Reader Voz Is Goshien (comment on this post) confirms that the 1% for Visa Business Edge will post as a statement credit.

2) Staples caps your purchases with a Staples Gift Card at 5 gift cards, so you can only do about $500 at a time.

3) I got a call from Staples that they weren't happy with my order.  They didn't want me to buy Visa Gift Cards with Staples Gift Cards.  I had the choice of canceling the order or putting it entirely on my credit card.  The phone call was only triggered when I tried to buy 5 at a time.  I was able to successfully buy one at a time.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Free Bill Pay with a Visa Gift Card - Evolve Money

Evolve Money has come out recently with a free Bill Pay service.  You can pay with ReLoad It cards that can be bought with cash or credit card at various stores or with a Debit Card.  The great thing is that Visa Gift Cards are officially considered Debit cards and are accepted as a payment option.

This is a great way to unload your Visa Gift Cards for free to pay companies that otherwise would not accept credit cards or only for a fee

They have lots of great companies to pay bills to.  For myself, I was able to pay my Electric and Gas Bill (PSE&G) and my car lease (Honda Financial).  They also have Time Warner Cable, Cable Vision and all the major Cell Phone Companies like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.  Go to this link to look up the companies you would like to pay.

Unfortunately, major credit card companies are not on this list so you can't pay them, but certain department store credit cards are, like the Target Red Card.

I paid some bills on Sunday and they already posted without any fees whatesoever.  They are even waving the $1.50 fee for same day bill pay until mid February.

You can see from the PSE&G website that the $499 payment went through and I now have a credit.

There is a max of $1,000 a day, but that's actually pretty high in my opinion.

A Word of Caution

I don't really get the business model.  How are they making money?  I'm a little skeptical and wary to go all out on this, but it seems pretty good right now.  It could be they charge a small fee from the companies, but I'm not sure.

They have Bank Level Encryption so it should be safe, but who knows.

Also, some people on these sites talk about "paying" a 529 plan in order to withdraw the money.  Don't do it unless you fully understand the tax implications of doing such and are not afraid of the IRS possibly getting upset about it.

Note: make sure to wait at least 6 minutes when you try to pay the same company with two different cards.  If you don't, the payment will fail and the money will be temporarily on hold from your prepaid card or Visa Gift Card.  The money may automatically go back on or you may have to speak to your card's provider to release it.

You can find out more information from Fat Wallet and Flyer Talk Forums

Sunday, January 26, 2014

100 Free Hyatt Points

100 Free Points from Hyatt

If you are interested in luxury hotels, Hyatt chains are the way to go.  Their most expensive hotels cost 30,000 points a night, but you would have to shell out $1,000 a night or more so you can get really good use of your points.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points into Hyatt points at a 1:1 ratio.

Hat Tip - DansDeals and Point Me to The Plane

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sodastream $60 from Staples

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

Staples is selling the Sodastream kit for $80 but the price drops $20 to $60 with coupon code 32345 which works until 1/26.  Final price is $64.19 after tax.

Start your shopping from Upromise or Shop Discover and you will get 5% deposited into your account.

Pay with your Chase Ink Business Card (which can be combined with the shopping portal above) and you will get 5 points per dollar spent at Office Supply Stores, including Staples.

I refill my carbonator at Bed Bath and Beyond for $10 after a $5 off $15 coupon.  I pay with Bed Bath and Beyond gift cards I get from my Discover card.  $20 of rewards gets me $25 at BB&B so I am actually paying $8 to refill.  Love it!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some Potty Humor...

This is not my typical post and it has nothing to do with saving money, but I was laughing so hard I needed to share.

This is very low brow humor so don't bother if you aren't into that.

Basically, there are "Sugar Free" gummy bears that seem to cause a lot of intestinal issues.   Take a look at all the reviews on Amazon for the product.

HT - DansDeals Forums

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

100,000 Pageviews!

Thank you everyone for the continued success of the blog!
It took 14 and a half months to get my first 25,000 page views.

It took 7 and a half months to get the next 25,000 page views.

It took 4 and half months to get the next 25,000 page views.

It took only a little over 2 months to get the final 25,000 page views.

It's already been the most number of pageviews this month ever and it's only 2/3rds of the way into the month!

Thank you all!

Remember to follow on Twitter or Facebook or via Email (sign up on the top right corner) of every page!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Extreme Manufactured Spend at Staples with Chase Ink

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site: Discover it® and Plink

Update 3/4/2014 - Plink has announced that the Staples deal will expire as of 3/11/2014 so no more cashback for that part of the deal :(

The Chase Ink lineup of Business Credit Cards has some great benefits.  One of the best is that you get 5 points per dollar spent at Office Supply stores like Staples, Office Max and Office Depot.

The idea of manufactured spend is to buy a form of money (usually in the form of a Visa Gift Card) at or below cost while racking up points or cashback.

In stores at Staples you can't get much of a good deal if you buy Visa Gift Cards because you are maxed at a $200 gift card which comes with a $7 fee.  Even though you are getting 5x points, you don't come out with much.  I don't think it's even worth your time unless you don't have a job and can churn the cards over and over.

Online you are maxed out at a $100 Visa Gift Card at Staples which has the same $7 fee, ouch! However, there is usually a way of working some magic.  I've tested everything I'm about to show you except one point.  The one I haven't tested will definitely work.  Allow me to explain:

The hurdle we need to get past is that darn 7% fee staples charges.

Let's start by making it worse.  In order for this to work you need to have Staples Gift Cards.  Staples charges a $2 shipping fee for the privilege of buying a Staples Gift Card online.  So if you are buying a $100 Staples gift card, you are paying $102.  I don't know of any other stores that charge for their own gift cards.  We now need to cover 9% in fees.  Let's see if we can do it.  Challenge on!

Here are the steps.  Read them all before you begin.

1) Start your shopping from Shop Discover.  You need a Discover it® Card to access it (sign up from this link and you will get $150 after spending $750 in the first 3 months) .  From there you go on to Staples website.  Discover will give you 5% cashback for anything you buy at Staples.  At Staples you buy 2 $100 Staples gift cards for a cost of $203.98.  Pay for the purchase with your Chase Ink card.
     -  You will get 5% cashback, or $10.20, into your Discover account even though you didn't pay with a Discover card.  You will also get about 1,020 Ultimate Rewards points from Chase.  This picture is from a $75 Staples gift card I bought with my Chase Ink.

2) After your Staples Gift Cards comes in the mail, go back to Shop Discover and then on again to Staples.  Use your Staples Gift Card to buy 2 $100 Visa Gift Cards.  The final price for the Visa Gift cards is $213.90 so you you still need to pay $13.90 on your Chase Ink Card.  Until about two months ago Staples did not allow you to use a Staples Gift Card online, now you can use it online and use it to buy Visa Gift Cards. Works for me!
     - You will get another 5% cashback, or $10.70, into your Discover account.  You will get another 69-70 Chase Points.

3)  Before you buy anything, sign up for an account at Plink if you feel comfortable with it, you have to give them your username and password for your online credit card.  They use bank level encryption so it should be safe, but you never know.  The upside is that you get a $3 Amazon gift card if you spend $60 or more at Staples at one time on the credit card you attach to Plink.  You have to connect your Chase Ink for it to work.  The Visa Gift Card purchase just got you a $3 Amazon Gift card as well.

4) If your Chase Ink is a Visa Card (mine is a Mastercard, but I will make sure to call up and switch), you can sign up for Visa Savings Edge.  You will get another 1% cashback for anything you buy at Staples on that card.  It needs to be a minimum of a $200 purchase so you would only get it if you buy two gift cards.
 - If you are buying two $100 Staples gift cards, you will get $2.04 cents.
 - This is the one I haven't tested since I have a Mastercard.  There is no reason it shouldn't work. Business cards only.

The Bottom Line

Here is the final math assuming two Visa Gift Cards at a time.

You come out with 2 $100 Visa Gift Cards
Fees - $17.88 (1.99 x 2 and 6.95 x 2)
Shop Discover Money - $20.90 ($10.70 + $10.20)
Plink Money - $3 Amazon Gift Card
Visa Business Edge - $2.04
Chase Ultimate Rewards = 1,090 points, which is worth a minimum of $10.90 because it can be cashed out for $10.90.

$20.90 + $2.04 + $3 - $17.88 = $8.06

Your Haul = $8.06/$200 = 4% + 1,090 points.  If you count the points as $10.90 you are getting
18.96/200 = 9.48% cashback.  Not too shabby at all.

1) Ink has either a $25,000 or $50,000 yearly limit on 5% cashback at office supply stores, depending on which card you have.

2) You have to be able to do something with the $100 Visa Gift Cards.  You can put them on Bluebird at Walmart without Fees.  You can pay someone on Amazon Payments without fees.  You can use them to pay for things, but then you aren't earning other points.  Lastly, you can cash them out with Square, Google Wallet or another service that will charge you upwards of 3% to send money to a friend.

3)  You don't want Chase shutting you down if you are putting $4,000 a month on your card.  I think this is a low possibility in this scenario as it is not so crazy for a business to spend that much.  I would start slower and then ramp up the spending.

4) Plink $3 is no matter how much you spend.  If you buy $4,000 at a time, you will still only get $3. Your percentage gain is less at high numbers, but not by much.

5) Staples may not look so kindly at an order of $4,000 worth of $100 Visa Gift Cards paid for almost entirely by Staples Gift Cards.  There isn't much they can do other than cancel future orders.  

Personally,  I will probably go for the $1,000-$2,000 a month range and try to use Walmart, Amazon Payments and regular spending to avoid any fees.  If you buy $2,000 a month the math is multiplied by 10.  You will net $45 a month and 10,900 Ultimate Rewards points or 130,800 points a year and be paid $540 to get them.  A round trip economy flight to Israel will soon cost 85,000 points on United and 140,000 in Business.  Not too bad for a little extra work.

If you did 4K a month, you would be getting 261,600 points a year along with over $1,000, but it gets that much harder to dispose of your gift cards.

Caution: Keep in mind that Staples will shut this down for sure if they knew you could buy Visa Gift Cards with their gift cards so don't go crazy spreading this around.  If my blog was more popular I wouldn't have even mentioned it at all.  Hopefully it's both confusing and annoying enough that most people won't do it anyways.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Win A Chance to Go To The Super Bowl!

Disclaimer: This post is an advertisement.  I do not have any financial relationship with this tzedakah. You can scroll down to see regular posts.

Update 1/16 - The raffle is this Sunday.  Credit cards will now be accepted.  Please contact Matthew Hildebrand ( to arrange credit card payment.

The Super Bowl will be a Giant Stadium this year and tickets are completely sold out, but now you have a chance to win 2 Super Bowl tickets in a raffle that benefits a tzedakah as well.

300 raffle tickets are to be sold for $100.  The winner of the raffle will get 2 tickets to the Super Bowl along with a parking pass.

Raffle proceeds benefit The Young Israel of Holliswood and Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Garden Hills.  The drawing will be on January 19th.

If you are interested in buying tickets contact Matthew Hildebrand at

Make checks payable to the "Young Israel of Holliswood".  Checks can be sent to the following address:

Young Israel of Holliswood
86-25 Francis Lewis Blvd
Jamaica, NY 11423
Attention: Matt Hildebrand

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

7-11 Continues to be a Gas Station!

Chase Freedom Quarter 1 5% categories includes gas stations.  Most 7-11 stores are considered gas stations and every 7-11 I've been to carries $500 Visa Gift Cards.

Here's the Rub:  7-11 registers allow you to buy the $500 Visa gift cards with a credit card.  Policy varies from store to store whether the clerk/manager will allow it, but I was able to find one in the Teaneck area that works.  Keep trying the different 7-11's and eventually you will probably find one near you as well.

Don't bother with Vanilla Reloads, you will probably find plenty of them and even if the store lets you try to buy it with a credit card, the register is coded not to let the purchase go through unless it is paid for with cash.

Not every 7-11 is considered a Gas Station so make a small purchase and go to Chase Blueprint to see how the purchase is categorized under "Track It."

You can see from the picture that the last time I spent a significant amount on gas was July and August of this year, which corresponds to the last time Chase Freedom had Gas as a 5% category and the last time I bought $500 Visa Gift Cards at 7-11 (actually, then you could still buy Vanilla Reloads at 7-11).

Note: American Express seems to code some 7-11's as grocery stores so if you have an American Express Blue Preferred and can't find $500 Visa Gift Cards at a Grocery stores, this is a good option to look into.  First buy a little and see how it is coded.

Monday, January 13, 2014

5 Simple Methods I use Frequently to Save/Earn Money

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site: Top Cashback, Ebates, Raise, Cardpool, Discover it®

Here is a list of the methods I use on a regular basis that are not too complicated and don't require as much time as most things I talk about.  There are lots more, but these are the easiest and the most frequent.  Almost none of these actually require me to get off my lazy tuchus.

1) Online Shopping Portals - I like to keep it simple so I don't use too many.  Usually the ones I use are Top Cashback, Ebates, Shop Discover (needs a Discover it® card)and Ultimate Rewards (needs a Chase card that gets Ultimate Rewards - like Freedom and Sapphire).  Before any purchase online, I will check Cash Back Monitor to see which one is the best for that purchase.

2) Discount Gift Cards - Instead of buying items directly, I usually buy a gift card at a discount to pay for it.  Raise and Cardpool (after starting at Top Cashback) are some of my go to's, but I usually check out to see what's the best deal out there.

After I buy the gift card I still usually go back to Top Cashback before the purchase of the actual merchandise as a "double dip" is usually successful.

3) Target Gift Cards -  Specifically with Target, I always use a gift card.  As long as I am logged into my account online that is connected to my Red Card I will get all the benefits of the Red Card and stack my savings.  See this post for more info.

4) Using the Right Credit Cards - questionable if this is easy.  This is where the most savings comes for me, but also the most mental energy.  I am constantly thinking about which is the best credit card.  My mantra is, "Maybe I can be doing better."  Check out this post to figure out which cards are the best for you.

5) Bank of America Better Balance Rewards - This card is a no brainer.  I get $120 for me and $120 for my wife's card without doing anything.  All you do is have one recurring bill automatically paid by the card and the credit card bill automatically paid from your checking account and you will get $25 a quarter.  Another $5 each quarter if you have a Bank of America checking account as well for $30 per quarter.  
A word of caution - make sure your rewards go into a separate account and not as a credit into the credit card.  I got a credit and one month my bill was negative and I wasn't eligible for the $30 at the end of the quarter.  Bummer!
Check out this post for more info.

Anyone else have super easy ways to save real money?  Am I missing anything?  Comment below

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Joseph A. Bank - Clearance - Great Sale, Even for Them!

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

Jos A Bank Clearance Reduced 50% - All Clearance Suits, Sportcoats & Outerwear! Free Shipping On Orders $75+. Valid: Jan 12-20, 2014

Right now, wool suits are $89, non iron shirts are $20 and much more.  This only applies to their clearance section, but they seem to have a good selection.  Check out the sale.

Free shipping on any orders over $79 which means free shipping for any suits or for 4 shirts.

As you see above, you can buy 2 suits and 4 shirts for $257.96 with free shipping.

Start your shopping from Top Cashback and you'll get an additional 8% cashback into your account.  I have been use Top cashback since November of 2012 and I already have close to $500 in my account for shopping I would be doing anyway.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Up to 23% off Coffee Bean Gift Cards from Raise

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site: Top Cashback, Raise, is offering Coffee Bean Gift Cards at steep discounts!  Everything in The Coffee Bean is Kosher and I'm pretty sure it is Cholov Yisrael as well.

They come in $25 denominations and are over 16% off.

Use promo code TAKE5 for another 5% off for 20.5% off.  There is no maximum on how large a gift card will qualify.

Start your shopping from Top Cashback and you'll get an additional 2% cashback into your account for close to 22% off.  I have been use Top cashback since November of 2012 and I already have close to $500 in my account for shopping I would be doing anyway.

Use a Fidelity Visa card or Bank of America Privileges for another 1.5% off (they don't accept AMEX) for grand total of 23% off.

If you are a new customer you can use coupon code RAISE60AF and save $5 off $60.  Promo codes cannot be combines.  I would save the RAISE60AF for a different purchase that you can't use a promo code for.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cashback vs. Points/Miles - What's Better?


What's better, cashback or points/miles?  It seems like I am asked this question at least once a month. 

Over 2 years ago, I wrote a post that came out heavily in favor of cashback.  You will hopefully be able to tell after this post that my views are slightly more nuanced than before.

So, what's better?  My conclusion is that there is no actual answer.  In most situations, I prefer cashback.  To me, the more important question is: What are the benefits of each and how should one decide which type of rewards to collect?

Here is a quick list of factors that are important in your decision.  After the list, I will discuss them in more detail.  I'm sorry for the atypical length of the post, but I think this is important stuff and tough to shorten.

1) Travel Habits
2) Value of a point/mile
3) Last Minute Travel 
4) Luxury Travel
5) Getting something for free
6) Earning miles for your trip
7) Devaluations
8) Spending Flexibility
9) Credit Card Sign up Bonuses
10) Penfed American Express

1) Travel Habits

This is the probably the most important factor.  Do you travel a lot?  Do you have a job? How flexible are you?

I have plenty of miles.  I have over 300,000 united miles, 200,000 American Airlines, 75,000 Avios.  I got 75% of those within the last year.  The "problem" for me is that I have a job.  I can't just pick up and go when the value of miles are high.  I didn't have time this year to go on vacation and spend those miles.

When it comes to miles, flexibility is key.  If you aren't an expert award searcher, you may not find the flights that work well for your job/situation.  Blackout dates are common.  If the flight you need is blacked out, what good are all of those miles?  If you are flexible for travel, miles are perfect.

2) Value of a Point/Mile

How does one go about valuing point or mile currencies?  Unless you are selling them, which is against the terms and conditions of the Frequent Flyer Program you agreed to when you signed up - everyone makes their own decisions - it is quite difficult to assign a set value. 

I think it is fair to use the value of what someone is willing to pay for those miles, but in our situation we are talking about someone who is going to use the miles so the broker values aren't true for you.  If you redeem them on one flight you might get 6 cents of value, but another flight might only be 1.5 cents. 

The value depends on how they end up being used and you don't know the answer to that until you actually use them.

You can assign a lowest level.  For example, I know that if I am redeeming miles there is no way I will redeem for less than a penny per point.  Therefore, when I am trying to figure out if I should get 3 miles per dollar spent or 2% cashback, I will choose the miles.  If I will get 4%, I will choose the cashback.

3) Last Minute Travel

Last minute travel is one time where miles are sitting pretty.  If you are buying a ticket to Israel tomorrow, you might have to spend $2,500 to get that ticket, but the price of miles stays the same.  In fact, some of the best availability for miles redemption is last minute.  It's great to have miles available for last minute travel.

4) Luxury Travel

Economy travel isn't usually terribly rewarding when you are paying with miles.  You can check out the end of the post for some math.  For luxury travel, however, miles become a much better deal.

If you normally stay in 5 star hotels and fly in business/first class or you want to be able to, miles are the way to go.

Personally, I can't bring myself to do it.  Even if I can get better value for each individual point, you are still paying more.  Again, check out the math at the end.

In summary, it depends on your priorities.  If you want to fly luxuriously and you are willing to pay a premium, miles give you much more value.  If you don't care like me, stick to cashback earning.

5) The Feeling of Free

"When I use miles, I am traveling for free!"  This is patently false, but I understand it.  Once you have earned the miles you are in fact traveling with minimal out of pocket expenses. However, there is an opportunity cost in attaining those miles.  You could have been getting cashback, which you have forfeited in favor of miles.

That being said, I understand it.  If it feels free to you, it doesn't matter what I think.

Personally, I set up a separate account where all of my cashback goes to.  This is my travel account.  If I redeem $30 from my Bank of America card, it gets transferred to my travel account.

6) Earning Miles for Your Trip

When you travel with miles, an important factor to remember is that you don't earn miles because it has been paid for by miles.  When you pay with cash, you do earn miles (the old school way of earning miles).

This is not an insignificant factor to me.  I flew to Israel on Turkish Air via Istambul and earned over 11,000 frequent flyer miles into my United account (both are Star Alliance partners).  The whole trip is only 80,000 miles on United, which means that basically every 8th trip is free when you pay with cash.  To me, that means that cashback is actually 1/8 (12.5%) cheaper than the listed price for airlines.  I just saved $125 on a $1,000 flight. Boom!

7) Devaluations

Airlines and Hotels have and will continue to devalue their miles in the future.  This year, United majorly devalued their currency for luxury travel starting in February and lots of Hotel chains devalued their currencies before that.  This is up to the discretion of the airlines. It isn't that frequent (can't decide if the pun was intended), but it does happen.

8) Spending Flexibility

I can spend money on whatever I need or want, including flights.  Miles are limited.  This comes with the psychological benefit of getting something for free.  It wouldn't feel free if it could be used for anything, ironically it's only free if you have to use it for specific things. 

9) Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

In my mind, this is where miles programs are undeniably better and this is where I get the majority of my miles.  Between Chase, American Express and Citibank, the best sign up bonuses are all for miles or points that can be converted into miles at a higher rate than can be redeemed for cashback.

10) PenFed American Express

If you use miles, you are losing out on the PenFed American Express card which offers 5% cashback on travel expenses with no annual fee.  Combine this with the 12.5% from earning miles and the cash price just went down by 17.5% for economy travel.  Double Boom!

Bottom Line:  I try to have a mixture of both cashback and miles.  I certainly will go after airline credit card sign up bonuses.  I also will value miles at 1 cent per mile for every type of mile.  Certainly oversimplified, but easier for me.  I know I can redeem my points for more than 1 cent a mile and it makes the decision of what to collect more simple when it comes to shopping portals.

In addition, if you are interested in miles, you should check out and for lots of great information regarding the best ways to earn and take advantage of miles.  Often times you need to be a real expert to get the best redemption options or at least follow one on a blog :) 

Some Basic Math

I don't personally plan on doing much travel that isn't to Israel and I assume many of readers are similar.  Therefore, I like to show some basic math of miles to Israel.

AmericanExpress Starwoods is generally considered the best credit card for everyday spending to earn miles.  This is because you can redeem 20,000 starpoints for 25,000 miles on many airlines.  Instead of 1 point per dollar spent, you are really earning 1.25 miles.

The easiest Starwoods partner for Israel is probably American Airlines, which requires 90,000 miles to fly to Israel in Economy.  You need to spend $72,000 to get 90,000 miles at 1.25 miles per dollar.  If you spend $72,000 on a 2% card like Fidelity American Express you would end up with $1,440.  The vast majority of the time an economy ticket to Israel is less than $1,440.  As I pointed out, the cashback price is really 12.5-17.5% lower than that as well.  Also keep in mind that there is a $65 annual fee with Starwoods and no annual fee for Fidelity American Express 2% cashback on everything.

This being said, there are definitely ways to make the math work better in favor of miles.

An Economy class trip to Israel is 80,000 miles on United (going up to 85,000 in February). A Business class trip to Israel is 120,000 miles on United.  Therefore, it is only 1.5x more expensive for business class in miles.  Let's say Economy costs $1,300 and Business class costs $3,000, that's more than 2x the price. 

If you use 80,000 miles to pay for the $1,300 Economy seat you are getting a value of 1.625 cents per mile.  If you use 120,000 miles to pay for the $3,000 Business ticket you are getting a value of 2.5 cents per mile which is better than the standard 2% credit card.  Still, I wouldn't ever pay $3,500 for a business class ticket so it is a fake 2.5% to me.  If I spent $120,000 on a credit card I would rather take my $2,400 and fly almost twice in economy rather than "get a good deal in Business." 

These are my rambling thoughts on cashback vs. miles.  I would love to hear any comments or rebuttals.  Who knows maybe someone can turn me into a miles-man!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

11-16% off at Lowe's

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site: Top Cashback, Raise is now offering Lowe's gift cards for 10% off.

Start your shopping from Top Cashback and you'll get an additional 1% cashback into your account for a total of 11% off.  I have been use Top cashback since November of 2012 and I already have over $500 in my account for shopping I would be doing anyway.

If you are a new customer you can use coupon code RAISE60AF and save $5 off $60.  

In addition, as I explained a while back, you can use your Lowe's gift card to double dip by using the following method:

1) Start your actual shopping for Lowe's at one of the shopping portals.

2 ) Start off by buying gift cards worth slightly less than your final price.  For example, if you expect to spend $124 at Lowe's, buy a $120 gift card.  This makes sure you don't end up with a gift card with a small balance you have to remember about later.  In addition, you will be forced to pay the balance of the purchase on a credit card.  Pay for the items with your discounted gift cards.

3) As long as some of the purchase is with a credit card, you should qualify for additional money or cashback via the shopping portal.

Lots of gift card and shopping portal experiments can be found at the Frequent Miler Labs.  Check it out.

Current Best Shopping Portals for Lowe's - You can check for yourself here at Cashback Monitor

Shop Discover - 5% - You must have a Discover Card to use it.
Ultimate Rewards - 3x points per dollar spent - Must have a Chase Card that gets Ultimate Rewards Point (Freedom, Sapphire, Ink series)
AAdvantage Shopping - 3x miles per dollar spent.  Must have American Airlines Frequent Flyer Account

You can also buy Lowe's gift cards that can only be used in store for 12.5% off after Top Cashback, but I don't recommend it because then you can't do the double dip with the shopping portals.

Note: Keep in mind that Raise sells gift cards sold to them by individuals.  They don't usually have a large stock of any one card and prices are changing constantly based on what is sold to them and what is bought.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bank of America - Museums on US - This Saturday and Sunday

Bank of America Museums on Us program gives Bank of America credit card holders free access to select museums on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month.  January 4th and 5th are the dates for this month so that means this Saturday and Sunday are the free days this month.

You need to have a credit or debit card in the name of each person so you still have to pay for kids, unless you get a credit card for you child as well.

Sign up for email or text alerts to remind yourself of the dates here.

Here is a list of the museums in the New York/New Jersey area:
  • NJ
    • Liberty Science Center (Jersey City)
    • Montclair Art Museum (Montclair)
    • Morris Museum (Morristown)
    • Newark Museum (Newark)
  • NY
    • Suffolk county Vanderbilt Museum (Centerport)
    • Long Island Children's Museum (Garden City)
    • Metropolitan Museum of Art (Manhattan)
    • Staten Island Children's Museum (Staten Island)
    • New York Historical Society (NYC)
    • Whitney Museum of American Art (Manhattan)
    • Brooklyn's Children Museum (Brooklyn)
    • Queen's Museum of Art (Queens)
    • Guggenheim Museum (Manhattan)
    • Old Westbury Gardens (Old Westbury)
    • Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carraiges

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Target Gift Cards - 8+% off

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site:  Top Cashback and Raise is selling Target gift cards right now for 6% off.

Start your purchase from Top Cashback and you will get another 1% off.

You will still get your credit cards rewards which is another 1-1.5% back (American Express not accepted - use either the Bank of America Privileges or Fidelity Visa for 1.5%).

When you are ready for the purchase from, log in to your account with your Target Red Card associated with it and you will get another 5% on top of that.

Grand total of 13.5% off of Target if you use all of that.

This was all shorthand, you can check out this post for more explanation if you don't understand anything.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

TurboTax Discounts in Seconds!

Tax season is approaching and many people will be using TurboTax as an easy and cheap alternative to an accountant.  I use TurboTax and like it but I am not here to review TurboTax.

You can always file a simple federal tax return for free but you will still have to pay $27.99 to file your state taxes.

    • Deluxe comes with free E-file

2013 Free Money Roundup - A Year In Review

Disclaimer: I do not receive a referral fee for any of the links below with the following exceptions: Top Cashback and Betterment

2013 has been a lucrative year for me and my wife in regards to getting extra Free Money (though she would rather not know how I accomplished it for plausible deniability - kidding of course).  The opportunities have been in great abundance and also very lucrative this year!

I am aware that this is not actually free money.  Time and work are involved and everyone has to make their own calculation whether a deal is worth it to them

I don't write this to gloat, rather to show everyone what I've done so that you can try and replicate the same thing yourself in the future.  Obviously, you can pick and choose which ones you think are worth it and which ones are not.  Some you can still do now and some are dead deals, but new ones are always popping up, but you usually need to jump on them to get full value.

Instructions in how to leverage each deal are found at the provided links.


      $300 in rewards and $47.40 in fees is a total haul of $252.60 over 3 months for the Citi Dividend


$240 - Bank of America Better Balance Rewards Card - $240 free every year between me and my wife


$100 - Chase Gift cards - Chase started selling $500 gift cards with no fees, but you still got points for them. Unfortunately, this ended - 10,000 free points - approximately - which comes out to at least $100

$167 - There was one day recently where you could get 2.5% back on a purchase $3,000 of american express gift cards ($75).  The next week, I used the $3,000 to buy 3 Visa gift cards of $993 dollars each (accounts for the fees) and got another 2% back ($60).  Add 2% from Fidelity American Express ($60) and you get $195 in rewards and $27.95 of fees  for a net profit of $167.



$100 - $10 off $200 visa gift cards at Office Max - I bought about $4,000 worth of them.  A haul of $60 and 4,000 points, together worth at least $100.


$135 - Vanilla Reloads at 7-11 - Vanilla Reloads were available for purchase via credit card and counted as gas purchases for Chase Freedom and Discover.  Together that was worth about $135.


~$200 - $30 off $150 purchase at Shop Rite - I have a lot of American Express cards.



$70 - American Express and BP - $5 off $25 at the pump.  I did a lot of $25 refuels
$210 of free Merchandise - Small Business Saturday.
$400 - Signed up for checking and Savings account for my wife  ($200 each) - New bonus is now $75


Grand Total = $2565 of free money and free merchandise

This does not include any sign up bonuses for credit cards, of which there were many.
This is more of a sampling than anything else.  It doesn't include everything because I can't remember everything and I'm a little lazy too.  I will try to catalog as I go a little better this year.