Monday, May 25, 2009

Cheap and Free Hotel Stays Through Expedia's Refer-a-Friend Program

Update 2: Now over.
Update:
This offer was changed by Expedia. Now the £20 is only off £200...

Expedia.co.uk is running a Refer a friend promotion. If you refer someone to Expedia, the person you refer will get £20 (around $30) off their first purchase, and you'll get a £40 voucher for future use on Expedia.

Send me an email to dealreviews@gmail.com with your name, and I'll email you a £20 voucher code.

A few points:
- Even though the promotion is from expedia.co.uk, you can book hotels anywhere in the world. The price though will be in British pounds.
- The voucher codes seem to work once per credit card and email address. If you get more than one referral code, they won't work with the same email address and credit card...
- You can earn up to ten £40 vouchers.
- The voucher won't take off more than one nights stay. So hotel nights close to or more than £20 a night will give you the best value. (Or £40 for the £40 voucher)

Here are the terms and conditions.

If you use your imagination, you can be getting lots of cheap/free nights...
Especially considering, based on what I gather, your "friend" doesn't actually need to stay in the hotel in order for you to get the £40 voucher...

I will update this post as more information comes to light. See more on Flyertalk.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Citi AA Cards And My Fico Score, Plus US Mint is Speeding Up

In the past week, my Fico score dropped twice by a few points.

My score dropped because Citi AA credit cards don't report the credit limit to the three credit agencies. As I wrote about previously, the percentage of your credit that you’re using is one of the things that make up your credit score. Now, being that Citi AA cards don't report the credit limit, (being that they are “no preset spending limit’ cards), any balance is considered 100% of your available credit on that card. Now, using too much available credit on one card, is not as bad as using too much of your overall credit from all your cards, but it still does hurt your score. Ideally, you shouldn’t use more than 10% of your overall available credit.

On one of these occasions, my bill was $500, which dropped my score by 8 points, to 765, and the other time my bill was $10, which dropped my score by another 5 points. Even though the bill was only $10, it’s still 100% of my available credit on my credit report, which for this months bill is $10....

The drop is only temporary. Next month, once I pay my bill, I won’t have any debt on these cards, and I won’t be using any of my available credit, my FICO score will go up again. If you have a low credit score to begin with, or you need to keep your score high, then you might want to avoid even a temporary drop in your score.

Here’s how to make sure that your FICO score doesn’t drop when you spend on a card that has no preset spending limit: Pay the bill before the statement closes, so that when the statement closes, the balance will be reported as $0.

Although often, when there is no limit being reported, the highest past balance is considered your credit limit for calculating your debt–to-credit ratio, it didn't work for me, as my 'High Balance' was reported as zero, even though I had a $750 bill a few months back.

Note to advanced users:
There is a massive benefit to the fact that the AA cards have no preset spending limit. Which is that you can often go way, way over your limit. For instance, on one card that I've had a $15,000 limit, I was able to spend up to $50,000!

Update To US Mint Ordering:
It seems like the Mint started speeding up their order processing times. While in the past it has been taking a few weeks to receive an order, lately it’s been arriving in just a few days!
My shipments are also being sent via UPS Next Day Air!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Credit Card News: Chase Freedom, Advanta And Statefarm Gift Cards

Chase Freedom Card:
It seems, that as of June 30th, Chase Freedom will no longer be offering $250 when you reach $200 in spending, in essence cutting the cashback down from 1.25% to just 1%. Also, they will no longer offer 3% on your top spending categories (actually 3.75%). I currently use the Chase Freedom card for most of my non-Amex purchases. Perhaps now I will get the Charles Schwabb Visa, which offers a flat 2% cashback on all purchases.

Advanta:

Advanta is closing down! You won't be able to use their credit card anymore as of June 10th.
Lots of my readers have benefited from their 0% APR offers, so I figured I'll let you know its over. If you already have the card, you shouldn't have a problem waiting to pay back the money till the 15 months are up though.

Statefarm Gift Cards:
Oh well. It looks like Statefarm no longer accepts Citi cards when purchasing Statefarm gift cards. I wrote about how it's an easy way to spend the required $750 on Citi AA cards, without actually spending it. Now it seems that Statefarm caught on. So, the US Mint seems like the best place to spend that $750 for now.

My latest gift card purchase was interesting. I bought two $500 Statefarm gift cards on a Citi AA card. The charge went through for $1,009.90, then I was refunded twice $500. So I ended up being charged $9.90. Once the statement closed I was pleasantly surprised to see that the 25,000 signup bonus still posted, even though I only got 10 AA miles for the $10 charge.

It would be nice to know if other refunded purchases qualify for the $750 you need to spend before receiving the sign up bonus...

And once we're talking about Citicards: Be careful when you use your Citi card overseas, you will be charged an extra 3%, even if the actual charge is in US dollars.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another Free Customized Paper Card From Hallmark

Hallmark is again running a promotion for a free paper card. You customize it on their site, and they will print it and mail it for you, for free.
Use promotion code: ICTCARD
I tried it out last time, and it worked perfectly.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Open Lots Of Credit Cards? Get an Amex Card

For those that churn cards, one of the things that can affect your score, is that by opening new cards, you are shortening the average age of your credit history.

One way to counter that, is to open a Amex card. Opening a new Amex card can actually help your score, because, in my experience, and from what I've read, Amex seems to report your new card as if it was opened the year when your oldest Amex card was opened! So, if you opened a Amex card 10 years ago, and lately you have opened lots of cards, then opening another Amex card can actually raise your score, as now it will count as if you have another 10 year old card! This obviously only applies to personal cards, as business cards don't get reported.

I wouldn't recommend applying for a bunch of Amex cards right now though, as Amex seems to be very trigger happy these days. And I wouldn't do anything that might make Amex close my account.

Related post: Credit Reports and Scores Explained

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Citi AA Cards 30,000 Mile Signup Bonus - Time To Start Churning

Update: See this post.

Citi is now offering 30,000 mile sign up bonus for the Citi AAdvantage cards, instead of the usual 25,000. This is great for those who churn cards. I'll be signing up for them soon...

If you get all three cards, you'll get 90,000 miles! (Instead of the usual 75,000). If your spouse gets all three as well, that's 180,000 miles!

If you sign up for all three cards again in three months, you can get 180,000 miles, or 360,000 for two people... Now that's a lot of miles! Depending on your credit score though, you might not want to apply too often. Read this post for more info on churning Citi AA cards, along with suggestions on how often to apply.

Here's the link to the Visa cards. Also 30,000 miles.

Monday, May 4, 2009

100 Free Continental Miles

Click here, enter your Continental OnePass number, and get 100 free miles.
Offer expires 06/30/09.

Note: It might only work if you have a Continental credit or debit card, but it couldn't hurt to try in any case.

Related post:
300 Free Continental Miles

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Western Digital 1TB External Hard Drive - $75

I just bought myself one, and figured I'll share it with you.

Staples has the Western Digital 1TB My Book External Hard Drive on sale for $99.99 with free shipping.
Now, you can either use a $25 off $75 coupon (Buy on e-junky for as low as $1.50), or add something to your cart to raise the total to over $100. (i.e. pens, sticky notes, or a notebook, each of which cost $1, or an eraser for $0.59), and use a $25 off $100 coupon (on e-junky for $0.90).
I added the label maker which is free after easy rebate.

Total price should be around $75 plus tax.
If you click through a cashback site, it will be even less...

Check out this slickdeals thread for more items on sale from Staples.

$25 off $100 coupon:
I have one extra $25 off $100 coupon: 1147264006894251
Please let me know or comment if you use it.