Monday, June 30, 2008

Credit Card Churning: How to use credit card signup bonuses to get lots of free miles, cash and prizes!

This is part eight in a series on Credit Card Education.

Part 1: General Credit Card Information
Part 2: Credit Reports and Scores Explained
Part 3: Building Your Credit - Your First Credit Card
Part 4: Fixing Your Credit – Tips And Tricks
Part 5: Where To Check Your Credit Reports And Scores
Part 6: Amex Financial Review
Part 7: Store Credit Cards
Part 8: Churning Credit Cards - Tips and Tricks
Part 9: Credit Cards With Great Signup Bonuses

Many credit card companies offer all sorts of amazing incentives to get you to sign up for one of their cards. Most of these cards come with an annual fee, but are free the first year.

Follow these tips and you can start earning hundreds of thousands of miles a year.

It is true that applying for a card lowers your score. Usually, when the card first shows up on your credit report, your score may drop again. However, after a few weeks, your score will rise, because you now have more available credit. Depending on how old your cards are, your score will also go down a couple of points because now the average age of your cards is younger.

Many people think that it’s too good to be true! Well, it is true! With minimal effort you can be making an extra few thousand dollars worth of miles a year!

Here are some tips to help you play the game right!

Keep an eye out on your score!
Get your score above 750 before starting to churn cards. Definitely not lower than 700. Check your score every once in a while to make sure your score is not dropping too much. Read here about where to check your scores. Make sure to check your fico score if you want to maximize your earnings.

How often can I open a card?
Opening one card a month or two (or a few cards every few months) is generally a good balance between getting lots of miles and yet not having your score drop too much! If you are planning on buying a home in the next 6 months, then you might want to hold off on opening lots of cards, as in the short term your score will go down a bit.

Personal Vs. Business:
Business credit cards are better for churning than Personal credit cards. Business cards don’t show up on your credit report at all. Therefore, when canceling, it won’t affect your score. However, Business cards are often harder to get approved for.
With a personal card, your score will drop:
1) When you apply
2) When the card first shows up on your report
3) When you cancel the card – unless done the right way, see below.
With a Business card on the other hand your score will only drop when you apply for the card.

No pre-set spending limit:
Problem: If the card has a ‘no preset spending limit’, it can hurt your score. The reason why opening a card doesn’t hurt your score in the long run, is because you now have more available credit. If your card has “no preset spending limit”, then that will often be considered as “$0 spending limit” on your report, so every month, you will be spending more than your limit.

Solution
: One way to deal with this is to pay your bill before it closes so that when your bill closes it will show a $0 balance.

Some cards use your highest balance as your available credit, so if one month you spend a lot, then that amount will be considered your available credit for future months. So if one month you spend $754 on the card, from then on, your card will show as having a $754 credit limit.

Canceling Cards:
  • Don’t cancel the card within the first 6 months of opening the card. There have been stories of companies confiscating points in such situations.
  • Personal cards:
    • before canceling, try to move your credit to another card within the same company, so that your total available credit won’t go down.
    • If it is a no-annual-fee card, and it's from your oldest cards, then better don’t cancel it.
  • Business Cards: There is no problem canceling a business card. Being that it was not on your report to begin with, losing the available credit will not affect your score.
Opening more than one card with the same airline
Most airlines officially let you earn their bonus miles only once. Some airlines forget after a year or so.

One way to get the miles again and again is to apply for a second card without writing your frequent flyer number on the application. You will be automatically assigned a new number and given the bonus miles. After you get the bonus miles, call the airline and ask them to combine your frequent flyer accounts. This method seems to be hit or miss, and lately seems to be way more misses than hits.

The one card which lets you consistently earn the bonus again and again is Citi AAdvantage. Read the post on getting lots of Citi AA cards.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

MicroSD Cards and Flash Drives On Sale

Update 06/30: Click here for more memory deals.
Update 06/27: I added some more items.

Shop.kingston.com has the
1GB MicroSD Flash Card (with SD adapter) $4.00
2GB microSD Flash Card (with SD adapter) $7.00 $8.00
4GB microSDHC Class 4 (with miniSD & SD adapters) $17.00 $21.00
MicroSD Reader $4.00 $5.00
1GB SD Card $5.00
2GB SD Card $7.00 $8.00
1GB Flash Drive $5.00
Tax added where applicable.
Free shipping.

Craftsman Laser Trac Combo Kit - $8.99

Expired
Sears has the Craftsman Laser Trac Laser Combo Kit for $8.99. Choose 'pick up' to save on shipping.

Monday, June 23, 2008

25% Cashback From Ebay!

Update 06/30: Back up to 25%!
Update: Up to 20%
Update 06/25: Down to 10%
Update 06/24: Up to 20%
Update 9:30 pm: Up to 15%
Update 5:30 pm: Down to 10% (Might go up again soon...)

Get 25% cashback on 'Buy It Now' purchases on eBay through Microsoft Live Search Cashback Program.

Microsoft recently started a cashback program: if you click through certain stores from their search engine, you get cash back on your purchases. Most stores are between 1%-5% off.

On Monday 06/16, someone noticed that Microsoft was offering 35% cashback on purchases made at eBay! At the time I did not post it, because I didn't believe it would work, as it definitely sounded too good to be true.

Now they lowered the cashback to 25%, which is still amazing! Being that Microsoft still has it listed, and they lowered it to 25%, (the cashback amount keeps on jumping around; it went down to 10% then up to 15%...) makes me think that perhaps it will work! Although, if Microsoft will follow through with this it will cost them millions and millions of dollars! I guess they really want people to start using their search engine. As you don't actually get the cash for 60 days, try this
at your own risk!

What makes this whole thing sound weirder is that eBay is not listed in Microsoft's list of stores.

Heres the deal:
Get 25
% cashback on your eBay purchases!
  1. Sign in or sign up to Microsofts CashBack Account.
  2. Click here. (Or go to live.com and search for 'canon' or 'blue ray' or any other item you want. You may need to click search a few times to see the 25% off link for eBay)
  3. Click the sponsored link (either on the top of the page or on the rights side) for 25% off from eBay. It will say 'Live Search Cashbak' on the link.
  4. Search for any item on eBay that has a "Buy It Now" option and accepts Paypal. (Does not have to be the item you searched for on live.com)
  5. Click the "Buy Now" button, log in to your eBay account, but don't commit to buy yet.
  6. Make sure that you see the cashback on the page before confirming!
    If this purchase is not eligible, then on the screen, before purchasing, it will say so.
  7. Pay using PayPal.
  8. You should receive an email from eBay with your cashback information.
  9. Cashback should show as pending in your Microsoft Cashback Account within a day or two.
  10. You should receive your money after 60 days.
Some of the rules: (full rules from Ebay here)
- Must be a 'Buy It Now' purchase
- Only one purchase per online session (sign out after each purchase).
- Only 3 eBay purchases per account.
- You can earn a maximum of $250 cash back with this promotion.

Get another 10% off your purchase for a total of 35% off!

Use coupon code: CJUNE0810P
This coupon will ONLY work if you received this code in the email from eBay. Check your email, or check your eBay messages.
This coupon has no risk as it will take off the 10% before paying! (not cashback)
Maximum money off with this coupon is $100.
(If you want to check if the 10% off coupon works, then click on a item that has 'immediate payment required', so that you can test the coupon before committing to buy)

Follow the deal at Fatwallet.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Plantronics Noise Cancelling Stereo Headset $10.00 -Free Shipping

Update: Expired
Buy.com has the Plantronics Audio 350 Halo 2 Noise Cancelling Stereo Gaming Headset for $10 with free shipping.
Free with new Google Checkout account (make sure to choose 'budget shipping').
Reg. price is around $20.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Amex Simplycash Lowering Cash-Back on Gas to 3%

Starting July 15th Amex SimplyCash Business Card will only be giving 3% cash-back on gas (instead of 5%) and there will be a limit of $12,000 spending a year on gas for the 3% cashback. Everything else about the card will remain the same. They will continue giving 5% cash-back on office supplies and wireless service and 1% on everything else. Click here to read about that card, along with the other recommended Amex cards.

If you apply before July 1st, you will still get 5% cash-back on gas for a year from when you applied. This also applies to people who already have the card. So if you got the card six months ago, you will continue earning 5% cash-back on gas for another six months.

If you are planning on getting a Amex SimplyCash credit card, apply for it now! Then you will have the 5% cash-back for a full year.

Tip:
As specified in this article, you have to calculate if its worth opening the card.
If you have another Amex Business card that you no longer need/use (e.g. a Starwood card that you got for the signup bonus) then you can call Amex and ask them to change your card to a SimplyCash card. Make sure to confirm with Amex that they are just changing your card without another credit pull. I did that without a problem.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

HP LaserJet P1005 Printer $50 -Free Shipping

Update 10:00 pm: Expired ($25 off $75 coupon no longer works)

Add Printer to cart for $129.98.
Add coupon codes: 19683 for $65 off and 78020 for $25 off $75.
Add at least $10.02 more to you cart (e.g Batteries).
Total (with batteries) $50.27 -Free Shipping.
Tax added where applicable.
Printer is a decent black and white laser printer, usually sells for $70 or more.

Note: As with most printers, printer does not come with USB cable, which is needed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Macy's Baby Clearance

Update: Most really cheap items are gone.
Macy's is having a clearance. Baby Boy and Baby Girl.
$0.99 shipping for entire order! Enter this code at checkout: 99CENTS
Click here to see a list of items on sale.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Store Credit Cards

This is part seven in a series on Credit Card Education.

Part 1: General Credit Card Information
Part 2: Credit Reports and Scores Explained
Part 3: Building Your Credit - Your First Credit Card
Part 4: Fixing Your Credit – Tips And Tricks
Part 5: Where To Check Your Credit Reports And Scores
Part 6: Amex Financial Review
Part 7: Store Credit Cards
Part 8: Churning Credit Cards - Tips and Tricks

Part 9: Credit Cards With Great Signup Bonuses

Future topics in this series will include: churning credit cards and which credit cards to get for different purposes.

Store Credit Cards
Many stores try to convince customers to open their credit card. They usually offer signup bonuses like 10% off your purchases that day and extra discounts whenever you use the card in that store in the future. Some stores offer way less then that. Here is what Walmart was offering as a sign-up bonus... (A bottle of soda!)

Sounds great? Not necessarily.

Some negative points about store credit cards:

1. With a store credit card, you will have a harder time disputing charges then you would if you were using an Amex (or even Visa and MasterCard).
2. Store Credit cards usually come with a high APR. (APR is the interest rate if you don’t pay in full every month) Shouldn’t really be a problem though, because hopefully you pay your bills in full every month!
3. It’s not worth it to open up a credit card just to save $25!
If you want the cash, you can open other cards which will give you $50+ cash, as a signup bonus. E.g. Chase Freedom Card
4. If you open lots of credit cards to earn miles (churning), then opening a store credit card isn’t necessarily a great idea. Opening a credit card affects your credit score in the short term. I try and make sure I get around $200 worth of miles/points/cash for each card I open. (I consider each mile to be worth at least one penny.)

One great thing about store credit cards:
They are usually way easier to get, so it’s a great way for someone with no credit history to start building credit. Read Part Three for more on that.

Bottom line:
Think twice before being convinced to open that store credit card.
If it’s a store that you shop at often, and there are nice discounts for card holders, then it might be worth it for you. I would recommend making a basic calculation: if the credit card won't save you at least $100 during the first year, don't get it. If it will, then consider it.

Stay tuned for next post Churning Credit Cards

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mens Jeans -$4.79

Update: Expired

Kohls has these Jeans on sale for $5.99.
Use coupon code for 20% off: exclusive20
Shipping is $0.99 per item.
Total: $5.78

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Purchase Cash With Your Credit Card -Free Shipping

Dollar Coins From US Mint At Face Value

The U.S. Mint is selling $1 Presidential Coins at face value with free standard shipping.
You can get either $250 or $500 of John Quincy Adams $1 dollar coins.

You will see the free shipping at the final checkout page.

Those who have cash-back or points credit cards can take advantage of this...

Teva Ryley - $14.99 -Free Shipping

Update: Dead
Teva.com has the Mens Ryley and Womens Ryley for $14.99 with free next-day shipping.
Use this discount code for the free shipping: LastChance608

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Prepaid T-Mobile Nokia 2610 -Free After Rebate

T-Mobile has the Nokia 2610 (nice, simple phone), free after $30 rebate.
Phone comes preloaded with 10 minutes of airtime.
Tax will be added where applicable.
Click here, then go to prepaid.

Even better:
Sign up for BigCrumbs (A cash-back site) and get $9.00 cash-back for getting the free phone... (You will need to click through their site to get the $9)

Remember, phones must be activated within 30 days of purchase. You don't need to add any money on to the phone, but you must activate the line. If you don't activate the phone, T-Mobile may charge you the full retail value of the phone.

Arrow Men's Wrinkle Free Shirts -$9.99

Amazon has the Arrow Men's Wrinkle Free Sateen Solid Long Sleeve
or the
Arrow Men's Wrinkle Free Fitted Herringbone Long Sleeve for $9.99
Free shipping on orders over $25 or with Prime.

They are not 100% cotton. Nice price for these shirts, though nothing spectacular.

Tax be added in NY, but I have yet to see tax be added to my orders. Update: Tax is only added on taxable items (not clothing).


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Amex Financial Review

This is part six in a series on Credit Card Education.

Part 1: General Credit Card Information
Part 2: Credit Reports and Scores Explained
Part 3: Building Your Credit - Your First Credit Card
Part 4: Fixing Your Credit – Tips And Tricks
Part 5: Where To Check Your Credit Reports And Scores
Part 6: Amex Financial Review
Part 7: Store Credit Cards
Part 8: Churning Credit Cards - Tips and Tricks

Part 9: Credit Cards With Great Signup Bonuses

Amex will sometimes perform a financial review on cardholders they feel are risky, where they freeze all your Amex cards and ask you to provide proof of income, usually bank statements and tax returns. If you don't comply, then they will shut down all your Amex cards.

This might be a problem for some people if:
1) You wrote a high income level on your credit card application, and can't back it up.
2) You don’t feel comfortable sharing your tax documents with Amex.

If you do get a financial review and it doesn’t seem like you will pass the review, or you don’t want to send them your tax information, (you can try calling Amex and see if you could get away without sending in the documents), then you should preemptively cancel your Amex cards.
Don’t wait for Amex to close them. If they do, it will show up on your credit report that Amex closed the accounts. This will lower your credit score even more than if it would be 'closed by consumer'. Either way you will lose the available credit, which will lower your score.

Reapplying for an Amex card: After closing your accounts, wait a few months before trying to reapply. Some people have been successful in reapplying for cards without having to send in any documents. (Some people claim that they were able to reopen the same card after a few weeks, I doubt that would be possible)

The following things may trigger an Amex financial review: These things may and may not cause a financial review. They are some of the things people have reported to have done before getting it.
- A credit line of $25,000 or more on a single card
- Your credit score suddenly dropping drastically
- Large balance transfers
- Big business line of credit and transferring hefty sums of money
- Spending more than your stated annual income
- Asking for credit line increases too often
- Overusing an Amex Business Card for personal purchases (Probably only a problem if you don't use a personal card as well)

If you have a few Amex cards and spend not more than a few thousand dollars a month on the cards (but definitely less than 50% of available credit) and you are not racking up too much debt, you shouldn’t get an Amex review.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Teva Estio and Estia $14.99 -Free Shipping

Update 3: Free shipping code no longer works.
Update 2:
Use discount code:
LastChance608 for free overnight shipping!
Update: Shipping is no longer free at Amazon, get them from teva.com for free shipping.

Teva Footwear at Amazon.com has the Mens Estio and Womens Estia for $14.99 with free shipping

Alternatively, you can get them (Mens Estio and Womens Estia) at Teva.com and use this coupon code for free shipping:TevaDads08