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!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Buy Money Orders at Post Office with Debit Card (Paypal Debit Card)

Buying Money Orders with a Debit Card at the Post Office

I have known for a while that you can buy money orders from the post office with a debit card.  Unfortunately, Visa and Mastercard gift cards don't work at the post office even though they are sometimes considered debit cards.  For the most part, Debit cards aren't usually too valuable since they don't usually have cashback or miles associated with them that can offset the fees.

Enter the Paypal Debit Card. 

For the last couple of months I've been experimenting with the Paypal Debit Card as a way of creating Manufactured Spend.  When combined with the Old American Express Blue and American Express Serve, the Paypal Debit Card can be a very powerful tool.  See More at The Power Trio

The great part about the Paypal Debit Card is that it is a permanent debit card and has all of the functionality of a debit card including your name on the card.  The Paypal Debit card does work at the post office.

Keep in mind that Paypal may and probably will shut me down eventually.

Fee Structure

Fees - There is a $1.65 fee for a $1,000 money order.  The fee comes to 0.165%, which is not too bad.  You can also get up to $50 in cash at the same time with no fees.

I don't know the exact limits on this yet, but it seems as though when you try to buy $3,000 worth of money orders at one time there is Patriot Act paperwork that needs to be filled out so keep it at $2,000 a visit. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

13.5% off Dunkin' Donuts Gift Cards from Raise - Today Only

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site:  Raise and Top Cashback sells gift cards to retailers at a discount.  They run almost weekly weekend sales where you can get an extra 5% off on top of the regular prices on select gift cards.  I usually don't pay attention to them because they are companies that Raise is trying to reduce inventory on so they aren't usually exciting.

Keep in mind that the base price for the gift changes with inventory so I will list its current price, but it might not be the same if you try to buy it

Click this link for the current discount rates of all the gift cards on sale

Don't have a Raise account?  Sign up free

Here is how to save 14% off of Dunkin' Donuts Gift Cards from Raise:

  • 5% 
    • Dunkin' Donuts gift cards are currently 5.1% off at raise without any discounts.
    • $47.45 for a $50 gift card
  • 5%
    • Use TAKE5 and you will save another 5%
    • $45.08 for a $50 gift card
  • 2%
    • Start your purchase from Top Cashback and get an extra 2% cash back
    • $44.18 for a $50 gift card
  • 2%

When you count all of the discounts and cashback, you end up saving 13.5%.  Not too shabby!

In related news, it seems that Raise is now allowing for American Express payments.  Nice!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Amazon Payments No Longer Useful for Manufactured Spend!

I'm a little late to this party so most of you probably already know, but the news is still newsworthy.

Amazon Payments updated their terms and conditions and as of October 13th 2014, Amazon Payments will no longer support Peer 2 Peer credit card payments.  This means you can no longer manufacture any credit card spend with Amazon Payments after that date.  You can still use it for September and October until the 12th.

I can't say I'm upset that I can't get quite as much free money every money, but I still wish it would have continued.

You can find similar stories here, here, here, here, here, and, of course, here.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oren's Money Saver Beginner's Guide Part 3 - Savings Without Credit Cards

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

Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Maximize Savings Through Credit Cards
Part 4 - Manufactured Spend

In this part, I will discuss maximizing savings online without have to use specific credit cards, for the most part part.

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site: Top Cashback, Ebates, Big Crumbs, Be Frugal, Raise, 

The following ways to save will be discussed:

  1. Discounted Gift Cards
  2. Shopping Portals
  3. Promo Codes
  4. Credit Card Specific Offers

Discounted Gift Cards

Depending on the store, you can often do best through buying discounted gift cards online than by buying items with your credit card.  

Let's take Starbucks as an example because it is a consistently popular gift card to sell and buy online.

Here is how to do it:

  • Go to
    • There are lots of websites that sell discounted gift cards.  Gift Card Granny brings the results of the main sites together on one page.  You don't buy from them, but they will tell you which websites to check.

Today, Gift Card Granny tells me that I can buy a Starbucks eGift Card for 25% off from, a physical gift card for24% off from ABC Gift Cards.  You can also get 21% off from Raise.  We'll talk more about Raise later (Hint: Raise will end up with the largest savings for some).

Total Savings - 
You still use your credit card to buy the gift card so your total savings for an eGift Card is 27% (2% extra from Fidelity American Express), 26% for physical from ABC Gift Cards and 22.5% from Raise (don't accept American Express).

*Note*  Please keep in mind that the gift cards are being sold from other people who still retain the account number and pin of the gift card.  They can sell it and then use the card themselves.  I will only buy from websites that give a money back guarantee if that happens within 60 or 90 days.  Only buy when you are ready to use them.

Also, prices are constantly in flux, you may get different results when you check.

Shopping Portals

Some of the biggest and best Shopping Portals are Shop DiscoverTop CashbackEbates, Big Crumbs, Be FrugalChase Ultimate Rewards and many others.  Shop Discover requires a Discover card and Chase Ultimate Rewards portal requires a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards.   The others are open to anyone.

Shopping portals are websites that refer you to the actual website you want to shop at.  The Shopping Portal gets money for referring you and they give you most or all of that money for going to them first.  Let's use the same Starbucks gift card as an example.

Start at to see which shopping portal gives back the most money for shopping at Raise.


Cashback Monitor tells me that I can get another 2% cashback from Raise if I start my shopping at Top Cashback.

So, I go over to Top Cashback, type in Raise and click there to confirm that I will be getting 2% cashback and it is false.  Most gift cards at Raise get 2% cashback from Top Cashback, Starbucks is more popular so they only offer 1% cashback, but it is better than nothing.

However, when you check and ABC Gift Cards on Cashback Monitor, neither sites give any extra cashback through a shopping portal.

Total Savings - 
Your total savings for an eGift Card is still 27%26% for physical from ABC Gift Cards and 23.5% from Raise.

Promo Codes

Many stores allow you to type in promo codes to get extra savings.  Promo codes are basically coupons for online stores.

Currently, Raise is offering a coupon code RAISE75AF for new customers.  If you spend $75, you will get $5 off.  Now the math changes in favor of Raise if you are a new customer.

The Starbucks card from Raise is for $100 and selling for $79.  After the coupon code, it will cost $74.  Combined with 1% off from Top Cashback and your credit card cashback, you will now get 28.5% cashback, more than the 27% from

Don't have a Raise account?  Sign up here for free

Credit Card Specific Offers

Many credit cards have offers to specific stores.  For example, when you log in to your American Express account, there is an area called "offers for you" that has a list of extra cashback at specific merchants.

My Current offers:

  • $5 off a $25 purchase at Carter's
  • 30% off a hotel booking through American Express Travel

You have to add the offer to your card and spend the money on the card with the offer.  You can use any other method to get a discount and as long as you spend $25 at Carter's, you will get $5 off.  American Express also has offers that you can sign up for through Twitters, Facebook and FourSquare.

Here are some examples of useful ones from the past:

American Express has the most number of offers and the best, which is why I collect American Express cards without annual fees.  I can usually get these offers on multiple card.

Bank of America also has BankAmeriDeals.  Some have reported getting $10 or $20 off of $100 and $200 purchases at Staples which can be used to buy Visa or Amazon gift cards at good savings, but I have never seen that in my account :(

Discover also has Discover Deals, but for the most part they are the same deals that are available through the Shop Discover shopping portal.

The Double Dip

Sometimes, some shopping portals will give cashback even when you use gift cards to pay.  This allows you to perform a double dip.  You can buy a gift card directly from the store after using a shopping portal or after buying at a discount from a third party.  Then, you can go back to the shopping portal to buy the merchandise and pay with the gift card.  Many times you will get cashback on the entire purchase, even the part you paid for with a gift card.

Here is an example from Lowe's in the past.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

$5 off a Paypal Purchase

Just follow the steps at this link until the end (about 2 minutes) and you will be given an offer via email within the next week for $5 off your next purchase through Paypal.  The purchase needs to be finished by 9/30/2014.

You should be able to sign up with each email that is connected to a PayPal account.

HT - Dansdeals

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bank of America Museums on US - This Saturday and Sunday

Bank of America Museums on Us program gives Bank of America card holders free access to select museums on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month.  September 7th and 8th 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, like I did.

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Happened to Portal Cashback for American Express Gift Cards?

Just as I was singing the praises of American Express Gift Cards due to their high rates of cashback from Shopping portals, it seems as though the cashback rates have lowered for many portals and disappeared entirely from others!

A quick check on Top Cashback and Be Frugal doesn't even list American Express Gift Cards as a partner even though they were 3% cashback two weeks ago.

Big Crumbs is now the best at a paltry 1.5%, and a few others at 1%.

What's going on?  I don't really know and I can't really get upset that they aren't giving me as much free money for almost no work, but I still hope the rates return.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Oren's Money Saver Beginner's Guide Part 2 - Using Credit Cards for Maximum Savings

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

Part 1 - Introduction
Part 3 - Savings Without Credit Cards
Part 4 - Manufactured Spend

Using Credit Cards for Maximum Savings

I am currently carrying 16 cards.  I have credit cards, debit cards and gift cards and I actively use each one of them.  The number will vary, but I always have plenty with me to save extra money over the course of the year.  It's probably somewhere between $3,000-$5,000 a year, but I don't know exact numbers.  To me, that's pretty significant. For others, it may not be as important.  

To be fair, much of that is from Manufactured Spend, as I will outline in a later post, but a lot is also just from using the right credit card in the right situation.

I am well aware that it isn't normal to carry so many cards.  I also don't give my wife quite as many cards, though she has plenty and is a good sport about it.  I think most people would get a headache from it but, check this out, I really enjoy it.  

If you don't want to carry so many cards, don't, but just because you don't want to carry 16 doesn't mean that you don't want to carry 2 or 3.  You never know, you may start adding cards as you learn more.  I know, wishful thinking.

Which Cards Do I Actually Use?

First of all, check out the list of My Favorite Credit Cards.

This is my list with a short blurb on why I have it, but it doesn't include any cards that I happen to have in my wallet because I need to spend money for a signup bonus.

  1. American Express Gift Cards
    1. Over 4% cashback everywhere.
  2. Visa Gift Cards
    1. Over 5% cashback everywhere.  Not for normal spend if I can avoid it because I don't have an unlimited supply and Visa gift cards are more valuable than AMEX gift cards for manufactured spend.  More, in later posts.
  3. American Express Fidelity
    1. 2% cashback everywhere
  4. American Express Blue Preferred
    1. 6% cashback on groceries, $6,000 max spending per year.  $75 annual fee.
  5. Bank of America Cash Rewards
    1. Soon to be 5.25% cashback on gas for highrollers with Bank of America (100k)
  6. American Express Blue Cash (AKA Old AMEX Blue)
    1. 5% cashback at pharmacies, grocery stores and gas after $6,500 spending per year in those categories.  Very useful for manufactured spend.  Part of my Power Trio.
  7. Chase Freedom
    1. 5% cashback in useful rotating categories.  Very useful for manufactured spend.
  8. Discover it
    1. 5% cashback in useful rotating categories.  Very useful for manufactured spend.
  9. Citibank Dividend
    1. 5% cashback in useful rotating category (hint: pharmacies).  Very useful for manufactured spend.
  10. Bank of America Better Balance Rewards
    1. $25-$30 per quarter for making one purchase per month.
  11. Chase Ink Business Cards
    1. 5% cashback at office supply stores.
  12. PenFed American Express Airlines
    1. 4.25% cashback on airline purchases
  13. Paypal Business Debit
    1. Debit card that can be reloaded from purchases at Drug Stores.  Very useful for manufactured spend.  Part of my Power Trio
  14. Charles Schwab Debit Card
    1. Refunded ATM fees anywhere in the world without limits.  You can go to ATM without thinking about it.

Notice that I have no Airline Credit Cards, no cards that are exclusively points/miles since I personally prefer cashback over miles.  Also, none of these cards have an annual fee except the Blue Preferred, which is clearly worth it in my opinion.

Am I missing anything?  Please comment with your thoughts.