Sunday, March 30, 2014

CVS No Longer Selling Vanilla Reloads with a Credit Card

If you read any other credit card points blog regularly, you probably already know that CVS will no longer allow you to buy Vanilla Reloads with a Credit Card.

See for example DansDeals, Mommy Points, Point Me to the Plane, Delta Points, Running with Miles, Points Miles and Martinis

Vanilla Reloads were the lowest hanging fruit to manufactured spend for lots of miles and cashback and CVS was pretty much the only place left that you could buy them with a credit card.  If you don't know why this is important, you can see this post to check out what you can't do anymore.

All good things must come to an end if it doesn't give any profit to the companies involved, but this one lasted a long time.  Oh well.  On to the next scheme, I mean idea.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

$150 for Citizens Bank Checking Account - No Direct Deposit Required

Update: As pointed out by a commentator, you will get a hard credit pull for opening this account.  This can affect your credit score and ability to open new credit cards in the short term.

There are often bonuses available for opening new checking accounts, but most of them require direct deposit.  I assume that most people are not interested in constantly going to HR to change where their Direct Deposit is going so I don't post them.  Here is one that doesn't require Direct Deposit.

$150 Bonus for opening a Citizen's Bank Checking Account.  Here are the requirements:

  1. Register online
  2. Open your first new One Deposit Checking account or other first new personal checking account by 3/31/14
  3. Make an additional deposit (excluding the opening deposit) OR five qualifying debit card payments or purchases by 5/31/14
  4. Get $150, which will be deposited in your account by 7/31/2014

A One Deposit Checking account requires a minimum of $25 to open.  In addition, there is no monthly fee as long as you make one deposit each month.  There is no minimum as to how much you must deposit.

The terms and conditions don't seem a mention any penalties for withdrawing the money after 7/31/2014 so I assume that's when you can close the account without penalies, but I don't know.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Free Magnetic Bottle Opener

Free magnetic bottle opener from Skoal

Skoal is a chewing tobacco company so in order to create an account in their system they have to verify that you are over 21 so you have to answer some questions from a credit database to verify your identity.    If you don't want them to have your information, don't bother.

Hat Tip - Hey It's Free

Monday, March 24, 2014

Use Discover Rewards for Staples Gift Cards and save off Visa Gift Cards!

Discover it® is one of my favorite credit cards.  I don't actually use the card for very much spending, but having the card gives you access to Shop Discover, the Discover Shopping Portal, which sometimes has the best cashback options.

When you redeem Discover cashback you can get better value if you redeem for partner gift cards.  In the past, I have always redeemed for Bed Bath and Beyond gift cards.  $20 in Discover rewards could buy a $25 gift card.

The "problem" is that lately I have been earning Discover money at a far greater pace (see Best Buy and Staples for the details) and I can't possibly use that much Bed Bath and Beyond money.  I felt bad about it, but I started redeeming the money for straight cash.

Recently, Frequent Miler reminded me that Discover money can be redeemed at the same rate for Staples gift cards.  $20 for a $25 gift card.

My brain started churning.  I'm already using Staples Gift Cards to buy Visa Gift Cards.  Now I can recycle the rewards I'm earning to buy Staples gift cards for 20% off using Discover and buy new Visa Gift Card for 20% off!  I have found my new Discover money redemption partner!

With the link above, you will also get a $150 sign up bonus for spending $750 in the first 3 months.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Walgreen's - Coupon Code Didn't Work? Ask for Discount in Person

In the past, I would use Snapfish for my picture printing needs.  I would load my pictures ahead of time and wait until a good coupon code came out and print all of the pictures I had saved for printing.

Snapfish gives you the option of shipping or picking up the pictures from Walgreen's.  The problem is that if you choose the option of pick up from Walgreen's, your coupon code is nullified.  You either need to pay for shipping or full price for the pictures.

Enter Walgreen's.  Instead of uploading pictures, you can upload directly to Walgreen's website.  Walgreen's uses Snapfish's software so you don't even need to get used to a new system. They post their coupon codes directly onto their site, (for example right now you can save 40% off a $10+ order with code PRINTS2LARGE).  The best part is that you can pick up your photos with no shipping and the coupon code will still work.

Every once in a while a coupon code doesn't work.  This happened to me last Saturday night.  When I got to Walgreen's I asked politely, "I tried to use a coupon code online that I saw on the Walgreen's website and it said it doesn't work. Is there any way that you can add the coupon manually?"  He asked me how much it was, I told him 30% and he instantly took a couple dollars off.

I am not gutsy enough to demand the discount to be added, but I have enough guts to ask for the discount I know that I was supposed to get.  Usually, if you ask nicely, they will happily give it to you.

Do other people use different photo companies?  Anything really good and cheap I should look into?  Leave a comment if you have a suggestion.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

$100 Staples Gift Card for $85 - Today Only

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

Update: Dead!

Gift Card Mall is selling a $100 Staples Gift Card for $85 via their Ebay Store.  The sale is limited to today.  Limit 2 per buyer.

Start your eBay shopping at Fat Wallet and you will get an additional 1% cashback

Staples gift cards can be used to buy Visa Gift Cards online ($7 fee so you will "only" get 8% off).  In addition, if you go through Shop Discover (requires a Discover Credit Card) you will get an additional 5% off the purchase of the Visa Gift Card for a total of 13% off the Visa Gift Card.

I recommend buying Visa Gift Cards with Staples Gift Cards in $300 purchases or less at a time. Otherwise, they will likely call you to cancel the order.

Final Math

$170 for the gift cards + $14 fee for Visa Gift Cards =  $184

You Get:
Buy the Staples Gift cards with American Express Fidelity = $3.40 in cash back.
Fat Wallet will give you $1.70 for starting shopping there.
Use a Chase Ink business card for the extra $14 in fees and you will get 70 Ultimate Rewards points which are worth a minimum of $0.70 and worth more if you transfer to Airline and Hotel partners.
Start at Shop Discover and you will get $10.2 in Discover money.

So you will have $200 in Visa Gift cards, $16.10 in cashback while paying $184 so you will save over $30 or 15% on the purchase of the Visa Gift Cards!  Not too shabby!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Ideal Wallet Q2 2014

Related Links

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

These are the Credit and Debit cards that will be in my wallet (assuming my wallet was the size of George's) from now until the end of June 2014

Make sure to sign up for Credit Sesame and/or Credit Karma to monitor any changes in your credit history for free (I have both).

  • Chase Ink Classic (Business Card) - 5% cashback at Office Supply Stores, Cable, Phone (Landline or cell) and Internet bills.
    • 20,000 Ultimate Rewards for spending $3,000 in 3 months.
    • No annual Fee

  • Bank of America Better Balance Rewards - $25 back for every quarter that you pay your full bill or more than the minimum balance in every month.  Another $5 if you have a Bank of America Checking account.
    • Best Usage - Set up a monthly bill on this card and auto pay the full balance. You never have to think about it and then every three months you will get $30.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

$75 Bonus for Fidelity American Express

Fidelity American Express is one of my favorite credit cards to use.  It's kind of a boring card so it doesn't get as much attention as it deserves.  In addition, there is usually sign up bonus so I don't talk about it too much, but it's my trusty old card that's always in my wallet.  In fact, when I am asked what is the one card I should get, I will usually tell people to get this card and have a Visa as a backup for when American Express isn't accepted.  There are exceptions, of course, but it shows you how much I like this card.

There are no rotating bonus categories or any special purchases.  The reward is 2 points for every dollar you spend.  When you redeem your points into a Fidelity Account 5,000 points will equal $50 so it is a true 2% cashback credit card.  Every purchase gets two points and there are no limits to how many points you can earn.

Right now, you can get a $75 sign up bonus if you spend $500 in the first 60 days.  If you have been thinking about this card, now is the time to get it.

Sign up for a Fidelity account (free with no account minimums) and then sign up for the Fidelity American Express and get yourself a great card with a sign up bonus.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Combine and Upgrade Your Target eGift Cards

I Love and Hate Gift Cards

I hate gift cards because they are just plain annoying.  You have to make sure to have them available for that time when you might use them only to remember when you came home that you forgot to use it anyways.  My wallet is too big as it is before any gift cards and it's another thing to keep track of.

I also love gift cards.  I would venture to say that most of the deals I post involve a gift card at some stage, sometimes multiple gift cards.  The reasons are multifaceted but in its most basic form everyone else hates gift cards even more than I do so they can be bought at a discount, sometimes at deep discounts.

Target Gift Cards

Target is my favorite merchants gift card to buy.  Between Target brand diapers, wipes and formula, my family spends a lot of money at Target on a regular basis.  When you buy a gift card from Target you can actually combine multiple discounts (See - Maximizing Spending at Target).

There are two problems with buying gift cards online from a site like that sells discounted gift cards.

  1. seems to only exclusively sell Target eGift cards.  These gift cards cannot be used in store unless you have a Smart Phone (which, of course, I don't).
  2. The person who sold the gift card retains the gift card information.  You just needs the numbers to use it.
    1. and most discount gift card sites offer a short term guarantee that the money will still be on the card.  The guarantee is usually 60-100 days.  Here is the link for the guarantee from Raise (60 days).

Upgrading Target Gift Card to Another Target Gift Card

What happens if the 60 day guarantee is running out and you don't want to use your gift card yet?  You can upgrade your gift card.  Buy a physical gift card with your eGift card.  You can now use the gift card online or in store and no one can else can use it because it has new numbers.  It's a simple solution for one of life's most vexing problems.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Staples Plink Rewards Expiring in One Week!

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

Update: Plink is no longer giving rewards for Staples purchases.

Unfortunately, when I logged into my Plink account tonight I saw an ominous sign on the Staples rewards that said "Expiring Soon."  I clicked on it to see that the reward is expiring 3/11/2014, which is just one week away!

Plink gives you 50 points for spending $15, 125 points for spending $30 and 300 points for spending $60 at Staples.  500 points can be used to get an $5 Amazon gift cards so this was a very generous offer.  This will also change the calculus of buying Visa Gift Cards at Staples.

Hopefully the offer will be renewed at some point, but it look like some bad news for the time being.

Monday, March 3, 2014

American Express Business Gift Cards 3% from Top Cashback Again!

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

American Express Business Gift Cards can now be bought without any shipping fees.  This saves you $8.95 for your order.  Purchase fees or only $7.90 for $5,000 of gift cards if you buy one $3,000 gift card and one $2,000 gift card.  You need to use promo code FSEMP14 and pay with an American Express credit card.

Use your Social Securtiy number for your Business ID and your name for your Business name.

In addition, Top Cashback will give you 3% back for buying the gift cards if you start there first.  

Here is the math for what this deal can do for you:

Scenario 1: Fidelity American Express (2% back on every purchase).

Let's say you max it out at $5000 in gift cards.  Your total charges will come to $5007.90.

- $150 will come to you from Top Cashback
- $100 will come to you from Fidelity American Express
- $7.90 fee for buying the cards

Bottom Line - $241.05 net after fees or 4.8% on your purchases with the gift cards.  Not too shabby!

Scenario 2: American Express Starwoods (Let's say you're a miles man)

Same thing: Max out at $5000.  Total charge is $5007.90

- $150 will come to you from Top Cashback
- 5,009 starpoints from American Express Starwoods
- $7.90 fee for buying the cards

Bottom Line - $141.05 net after fees + 5008 starpoints  If you do this 4 times you will have $560 and 20,000 starpoints which can be redeemed for 25,000 miles on many airlines.

More advanced tools so that you don't have to actually spend the money (manufactured spending):
Amazon Payments - You can send up to $1,000 a month to a friend with a credit card, including American Express gift cards.
Buy Vanilla Reloads/Visa Gift Cards - You should be able to use these cards to buy Vanilla Reload cards or Visa gift cards which can be loaded onto Bluebird online for Vanilla Reloads and at Walmart for Visa Gift Cards.  Add 1% in fees for this option.
Google Wallet - if you have a Google Wallet account, you can send money via email with a credit card to anyone and that person can withdraw to a checking account.  The problem is that the fee is a whopping 2.9%, which negates most of your cashback.
That being said, you will still net over $100 with the Fidelity American Express without having to spend any money.  With a points card, you end up getting 5,000 points for just about nothing.

Warning! Don't use a Citibank Credit card as they may code it as a Cash Advance so you will get a fee and no points.  American Express and Chase cards are safe.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2 New American Express Cards that Earn Membership Rewards - Amex Everyday and Amex Preferred

American Express announced that two new cards will available soon.  Both cards earn American Express Membership Rewards points (MR) which can transfer to airline and hotel partners.  You can find a list of partners here.

Here are the basics of the two cards.

Amex Everyday

  • No annual fee
  • 10,000 MR bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 MR points at Grocery Stores up to $6,000 of spending a year
  • Earn 1 MR point for all other spending
  • If you make 20 or more purchases a month you will get a 20% bonus on all of your MR points. You will effectively earn 2.4 MR points at grocery stores and 1.2 MR points everywhere else if you have 20 or more purchases

Amex Everyday Preferred
  • $95 Annual fee
  • $15,000 MR bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Earn 3 MR points at Grocery Stores up to $6,000 of spending a year
  • Earn 2 MR points at Gas Stations
  • Earn 1 MR point for all other spending
  • If you make 30 or more purchases a month you will get a 50% bonus on all of your MR points. You will effectively earn 4.5 MR points at grocery stores, 3 MR points at Gas Stations and 1.5 MR points everywhere else if you have 30 or more purchases

My thoughts

These two new cards are interesting to me.  They both have some value and can be a great card for some people.  

The sign up bonus is not so impressive so I don't see a lot of people signing up for that reason.

There are two categories of credit card users with many levels in between.  People who only want one card to keep it simple and people who try to maximize spending categories with many different types of cards.  Obviously, there are those who maximize more than others.

These cards only really have any use for the first category of people, someone who only wants one card.  The requirement of 20-30 purchases a month for the bonus is very significant.  It doesn't leave you many purchases a month to maximize on other cards.  

I assume most of my readers are maximizers so I don't think most people will get this card, but there is nothing wrong with keeping it simple, right Jon?

Use for Maximizers

Once you get rid of all your credit cards that earn MR points, your points go away with it too. You can now get the card without an annual fee and you will never be without a card earns MR points.

Inexpensive, but annoying, Workaround for Reaching Minimum Purchases

There is a workaround, but it's pretty annoying.  You can buy Amazon eGift cards in $0.15 denominations.  Even if you need to make 29 purchases to get to your bonus levels, this will only cost you $4.35 and you now have $4.35 in Amazon money.  I know, it's really annoying.  Not something I would want to do every month.

You can read some more reviews of the card from One Mile at a TimeThe Points Guy, View From the Wing and Mommy Points

iTunes and American Express - $5 off $5+ Purchase

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

As I have mentioned numerous times, American Express often runs promotions through their online site.  Just go to the bottom of the main site to the section that says "Offers for You" to see which offers you are eligible for.

Right now, I have the following offer on 4 of my cards.

$5 off a $5+ purchase from iTunes.  You need to spend the $5 by 4/30/2014

If you have the Offer on Multiple Cards

1) Normally, one you click on the offer from American Express it will be added to that card and the offer will stop showing up on another cards connected to that account.

There is a trick for this:  Log in to your American Express account from multiple tabs and open the "Offers for You" from each tab on every card the offer is eligible for before you add the offer to any specific cards of. You can now add the offer to each card.

2) Start your iTunes purchase from Top Cashback and you will get another 7% cashback into your Top Cashback account. So, yeah, you will actually be making a couple of cents while getting some free songs/TV shows/Movies.

3) You can alternatively get 4x Ultimate Rewards points if you use Chase's Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, but if something doesn't post correctly you will have a bear of a time trying to get them to add the points since you aren't using a Chase card.  Proceed with caution.  I would personally prefer 7% over 4x points, especially considering you aren't using a Chase card but to each their own.