Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Amex Starwood 30,000 Points Signup Bonus!

American Express is now offering 30,000 points signup bonus after spending $1,000 during the first three months! This is the best offer from the Starwood Amex that I've seen.
The offer is for both the Personal and the Business cards, and the first year is free.

If you haven't gotten one of them in the past, get it now! Or better yet, get them both for 60,000 points (120,000 if your spouse get's them too). The offer expires July 6th 2010.

The Starwood Amex is a great card to keep long term, and is one of my two main cards, together with Charles Schwab, that I use on a regular basis.

Some benefits of this card:

- It's an Amex - Great benefits and security and Ages your credit history!
- Reports your credit line to the CRA's - which helps keep your score high. Not all cards report it.
Best points/mileage program - more on OneMileAtATime and DansDeals.
- Hotel nights start at just 2,000 points
- Points transfer to miles in over 30 airlines
- Transfer 20,000 Starwood points into 25,000 miles - Often there are promotions for more.
- Low annual fee - First year free, after that it's $45/year

More on ViewFromTheWing

Chase Freedom 5% Cashback on Travel During Summer Months

Chase Freedom is offering 5% cashback on Gas, Airline tickets, car rentals and hotels, from July 1st - September 30th 2010.

The 5% is on up to $1,500 in spending. Totaling $75 cashback (1% standard cashback + 4% bonus).

Registration required

If you are looking for a cashback card, Charles Schwab is the best, but they aren't accepting new cardmembers now. Fidelity Amex also has 2% cashback. For a non-Amex, Chase Freedom is a decent card, but if you are applying for a new Chase card, there are way better signup bonuses out there, so I'm not sure I would 'waste' an application on a card that only has a $100 signup bonus.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Three Months Amazon Prime, Syms Bash & $0.99 for 250 labels

Amazon Prime - Cheap Diapers
After ordering the amazingly priced pampers from Amazon the other day, I got an email today giving me a free three month trial to Amazon prime. Whether or not you get the prime, the pampers are really cheap.

Now Amazon is offering 30% off diaper products when using Subscribe and Save. You can click here after ordering to cancel subscription.

Syms Bash

Syms is having their bash, where prices are cut approx. 25%, until July 5th. Nice store with good prices.

$0.99 for 250 Customized Labels - Today only
Use coupon code 854758859 to bring price down to $0.99 with free shipping.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google Voice Open to All - No Invitation Needed

Google Voice used to be open by invite only. It wasn't too hard to acquire an invite, but now Google made it easier by making it open to the public.

Google Voice is a great way to have a totally free US phone line anywhere in the world. I have been using Google Voice with an old Voip box (from Sunrocket) for the past couple of years, and love it.

In short:
Google Voice gives you a free US phone number. You can either choose by area code, or see if they have a word available. They don't give you a phone, just a phone number. So, you need to have another component to actually let you make and receive phone calls. Any phone will do the trick. If you want the whole thing to be totally free, then use one of the free programs out there, that can either be used as a soft-phone on the computer (you would then use a mic and headset to talk), or can be installed on an old voip box, you would then connect any land line phone to the voip box (this way would be much clearer).

I set it up my Google Voice with Gizmo Project, but now Gizmo Project is not accepting new sign-ups, so try Sipgate. I'll write up an updated post on the best ways to use Google Voice sometime when I have a chance.

You can also use Google Voice as a voicemail service, and for sending free text messages. Google Voice has unlimited free calls to anywhere in the US and Canada, free texts to anywhere in the world (I think) along with decent prices to the rest of the world.

Previous Posts
Review: Grand Central - Free virtual phone line!
GrandCentral Upgrades To Google Voice!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Great Sale on Pampers at Amazon - $27.89 For Big Box - Now $26.85!

Update 2: The Subscribe and save discount went up to 30%, making the total $26.84!
Update: Price dropped to $40.49, making the total $26.85!

Amazon currently has an amazing sale on diapers. They are offering 30% off most of their diaper products using Subscribe and Save. You cancel the subscription straight after ordering. Plus you can use a coupon for another $1.50 off.

I got the Pampers Economy Plus Pack for $27.89 after discounts, with free two day shipping. The regular price is $41.99. Usually the discounts are only for the smaller boxes, not on the big Economy Plus packs. So this came out very, very cheap.
  1. Click here, then click the coupon that says 'Save $1.50 on any ONE Pampers Diapers or Pants'. You may need to refresh the page a few times to get the coupon to show up. Once you click the coupon, come back here to #2.
  2. Pick the size you need:
    Size 1 (252 count)

    Size 2 (228 count)

    Size 3 (204 count)
    Size 4 (176 count)

    Size 5 (156 count)

    Size 6 (128 count)
  3. On the right side of the page, click 'Subscribe Now' for 15% off (Now 30% off).
  4. By checkout, use coupon code PMPLUVJN for another 15% off
  5. Once your order ships, you can cancel your 'Subscribe ans Save' in a second. Just click here, and cancel your subscription.
Total price is $41.99 -15% -15% -$1.50 coupon = $27.89.
Without the $1.50 coupon it's $29.39, which is still a great price.

$25 From American Express Pass, Free Pedometer and Miles

  • Free Pedometer

  • 5,000 Free Spirit Airlines Miles

  • $25 for reloading American Express Pass

    Update: The maximum amount you can take out of an ATM each week is $200

    It's basically a prepaid credit card that you purchase from American Express. Each time you add money to the prepaid card, the minimum amount is $25. When you add on $25 a second time, before August 15th 2010, you get a $25 bonus. Starting October 1st there will be a $3.95 monthly fee, until then it's free. So, if you don't want the fee, cancel before then. You can take out the money at an ATM for a $1.50 charge.
    More on Fatwallet

  • Kindle price drop to $189

Monday, June 14, 2010

35% Bonus For Transferring Hotel Points to American Airlines

American Airlines is running a promotion: Transfer hotel points to your AAdvantage account, and get a 25 - 35% bonus. The 25% bonus is on transfers up to 20,000 miles and 35% bonus for anything over 20,000 miles. See the terms and conditions for more details.

On nice opportunity here is with Starwood. If you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines, between 6/14/10 - 6/30/10, you will get 33,750 AAdvantage miles: 20,000 + 5,000 bonus from Starwood (Starwood adds in an extra 5,000 for every 20,000 you transfer) + 35% = 33,750. The regular transfer, without this promotion, will get you only 25,000 AA miles.

To get the most miles, transfer only up to 60,000 points a day, as there is a maximum of 99,999, and 80,000 will total 100,000.

American Airline is the only airline I know of that counts mileage earned from any source (and not just actual flying miles) towards their million miles program, which gets you lifetime gold at a million, and lifetime platinum at two million.

For a while now I was considering transferring my Starwood points over to American, but never actually did it. Now with this promotion, I figured it's a good time. I moved over 60,000 Starwood points, which should get me 101,250 AA miles. Right now I have just under 650,000 lifetime AA miles. After this goes through, I should have around 750,000, just 250,000 short of a million. Maybe I won't reach a million before they cancel the program (and start counting only actual flight miles like all other airlines), but I figured why not give it a shot.

More on Flyertalk and DansDeals

Sunday, June 13, 2010

All About Credit - Collection Of Links

Here's a post with links to all the important credit articles from this blog.

Why use a credit card?
Which credit card to use?
What is a credit report?

Building and fixing your credit

Where to check your credit report and score

Credit cards for fun and profit

Advanced credit issues

Friday, June 11, 2010

Credit Cards With Great Signup Bonuses

Originally posted July 2nd 2008

Part nine 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

Here are some of the best credit card signup bonuses available online. Read chapter eight for tips on on how to keep on opening cards without harming your credit.

In general, applying for a few cards every few months is a good balance between collecting lots of miles, and keeping a good credit score. If you want to earn lots of points and yet want to keep the process as simple as possible, then apply for 2-3 cards every six months, and when you apply for new cards six months later, cancel any of the previous cards that you don't want to keep anymore. You should also keep your eyes out for those amazing limited time offer signup bonuses, like the 100,000 BA miles offer.

If yo use an excel spreadsheet, keeping track of the cards, and seeing which cards you need to cancel and which ones have an annual fee coming up, can be a real simple and painless process.

This list of cards is not necessarily the best for long term use, see this post for a list of cards to use on a long term basis.

Before deciding which card to open, ask yourself:
1) Do I want to collect miles with a specific airline?
If you don't know what airline you want, consider getting a Amex Starwood, they're less points, but you can use them in any airline. Alternatively, get the Amex charge card. I like to collect miles with many different airlines, like that I have more options when it comes to redeeming.
2) How much money will I spend on each new card?
Many cards, you have to first spend a certain amount on the card in order to get the signup bonus. If you don't want to spend much on your credit cards, get the ones which give you miles after first purchase without a minimum spend. Read this post for lots of 'free' ways to spend money...

Some points to keep in mind when applying for cards at different banks:

Chase has been having some really good offers lately, but you can't open too many chase accounts. The general rule seems top be one application every six months, but it's definitely not strictly enforced, as I managed to get more than one within a six month period.
Citi is no longer allowing churning AA cards. If you once got a specific card, it's unlikely that they will approve you for the card a second time. If a long time has passed since you had the card last, you can try again.
I used to stick mainly to Citi AA cards, as they let you open them again and again, and even have more then one of the same exact card at the same time... but now that they basically stopped the churning, I moved on to other cards.
American Express: I wouldn't open too many Amex cards, as that can trigger a financial review. One or two a year should be fine though. A real nice thing about Amex cards is that every new personal card you open gets reported to credit bureaus as if it was opened the year your first Amex card was opened. This really helps lengthening your credit history!


Amex Business Gold - Special Offer
- 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 by December 31st 2010.
- First year is free, after that it's $125/yr.
- Every year that you spend $50,000, you get 25,000 bonus points.
- This is a great offer if you can do the spending.

Amex Premier Rewards
- 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000.
- Lots of people reported actually getting 30,000 signup bonus.
- Every year that you spend $50,000 on the card, you get a 25,000 point bonus.
- First year free. After that it's $175/yr.

- There was a limited time offer of 25,000 for this card (although the 30,000 seems to be a better deal...)

Gold Charge Card
10,000 points after first purchase. (Redeemable for $100 gift card)

Amex Delta
35,000 Miles. Personal and Business. $95/yr. First year free.
Try this link to see if you can get a better offer.

If you got a Amex Delta card in the past, try applying without entering your Delta SkyMiles number. I've read that if you do that, they will just make you a new Delta SkyMiles account and give you the miles. After you get the miles, you can call Delta and ask them to combine the accounts. There's no guarantee that it will work, but worth a try.

Amex Starwood
Personal and Business:10,000 points after first purchase
With the personal card, get an additional 15,000 points if you spend $15,000 during the first 6 months. Some people were able to get the 15,000 points with the Business card as well.
First year free. After that it's $45/yr.
The personal Starwood is a great card to keep. It's one of my two everyday spending cards, together with my 2% Schwab card. (See here for more on the Schwab card)

Amex Hilton
Up to 52,500 points, with spending $1,500 and adding an additional user. If you stay at their hotels you can earn an additional 10,000.
No annual fee.


As above, Chase might decline your application if you applied for a Chase card within the past six months, so choose wisely.

Chase Sapphire:
25,000 points for spending $3,000 during the first three months. First year free, after that it's $85/yr. When first year is over, downgrade to free card.
- Use 25,000 points for one of the following: redeem for a flight worth up to $312.50 (and earn miles on that flight), get $250 statement credit, or transfer into 25,000 Continental miles

Chase Marriott -
50,000 points plus free hotel night, annual fee is $65, even for first year. I'm not sure as to the value of their points, but it looks like a nice offer. You also get a free hotel night every year you renew.

Chase Continental - 32,500
25,000 after first purchase, and 5,000 for adding an authorized user.
No social needed for the additional cardmember, so it won't hurt anyone's credit.
Plus, get at least 2,500 from the Mileathon promotion. Even more if you get more points.
First year is free, $85 from second year.

Chase United

Personal Card: 30,000 after spending $250. First year free. After that $60.
Business Card: 30,000 after spending $250. $75/yr.
Limited Time Offer - 50,000 miles signup bonus for United Visa. $60/yr. First year free.

Chase Amtrak - 36,000 points
Transfer to Continental once you spend $200 on Amtrak.
Hint: If you buy a fully refundable train ticket, it can be canceled and refunded even months later.
More at ViewFromTheWing

Chase SouthWest
16 Credits (free flight) after first purchase.
Personal and Business are $59/yr.

Citi used to allow you to open the same cards again and again, and earn the signup bonus each time. That changed since Citi stopped churning.

Citi AA Cards
35,000 miles after spending $750. Officially only for first time applicant . Very few people have reported getting the signup bonus a second time after the crackdown.

Here is a link for a Citi AA Business card that doesn't say that it's for first time cardmembers only. So if you cancel your old Citi Business cards you might be able to get this one. The thing the first year isn't free, it's $85.

-AA is the only airline I know of that considers mileage earned from credit cards towards their million miles program.
-Citi AA cards have no preset spending limit, which could slightly negatively affect your score.
If you pay your bill before the statement closes, then it shouldn't be a problem.

Still unsure which card to get? Send me an email, I'll try to help.

Targeted promotions:
There are often better promotions that are sent out to specific people (Targeted). Make sure to look at the credit card offers in the mail, as there are some great offers among all the junk. One of the more common targeted offers that I've heard of: Amex Gold Charge Card with 50,000 MR points after spending $500

Important Tip:
Most credit cards will check your report and score at only one of the three CRA’s.
So, if you see that you have lots of inquiries with one CRA, you might want your next card to be one where they check a different CRA. Also, if you have a higher score at one of the CRA's you might want to try to get your next card and inquiry at that CRA. From my experience, each bank will usually check the same credit report for all people within a geographic area.

My reports here in NY were generally pulled from the following CRA's
Amex – Experian
Citi – Transunion (From mid 2008, they started checking Equifax)
Chase - Experian

Expired Offers

I will move some of the expired offers down here.

Chase United
United Airlines Personal and Business 20,000 miles after first purchase
United Airlines
Personal and Business 25,000 miles after spending $25o
United Airlines
Personal 30,000 miles after spending $250, but first year is not free.
American Express

Amex Delta
Personal and Businesss: 25,000 miles after first purchase and adding two additional cardmembers. Plus get $50 off your next Delta trip.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Great Business Amex Signup Bonus, And The End of Bing

American Express Business Gold Card
  • 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 by December 31st 2010.
  • First year is free, after that it's $125/yr.
  • Every year that you spend $50,000, you get 25,000 bonus points.
This is a great offer if you can do the spending.

Most people, I believe, will gain more from keeping a Starwood after the first year, as it is cheaper ($45/yr, compared to $125), and Starwood points are generally accepted to be worth more. If, however, you need to make really large purchases on the card, then you might want to use a charge card like this one and not a Starwood. With the charge card, which doesn't have a preset spending limit, you can build up your spending limit to a very high amount. With the Starwood, you would be more limited.
In addition, if you spend just over $50,000 a year, you will end up with 75,000 points, and if you would transfer those points to airline miles, you will end up with more than had you used the Starwood.

The End of Bing
Come July 31st, Bing will no longer be offering cashback for clicking through Bing has in the past offered some of the largest cashback around. They were at one time offering 35% at eBay, 25% at Macy's and 20% at Walmart, along with many more great offers. So, if you are planning some big shopping, you might want to check Bing t0 see what cashback they offer.

There still will be the regular cashback sites, MrRebates, eBates and Fatwallet to name a few. But Bing will most definitely be missed. For lots of stores, Bing by far had the highest cashback offers.

You can continue earning cashback until July 31st 2010. After July 31st you won't be able to earn cashback, but you still will be able t oredeem your cashback that you have in your account, and Bing will remove the $5 minimum to get your money, so everyone will be able to empty their Bing account.

Further Reading:
Best uses of American Express Membership Rewards points
Pay Less When You Shop Online: Get Cashback

Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Miles, Credit Card Offers And Some Updates

Sorry for the lack of posts the past week.

Here are some of the latest offers for free miles, along with some nice credit card offers.
  • 100 Free Continental Miles
    - Will probably only work if you have a Continental debit or credit card.
  • US Airways Promotions
    I have never collected miles with them, but the promotions seem nice.

  • 10,000 United Miles For Graduating College
    before graduating.

  • Chase Credit Cards With Nice Signup Bonuses
    If, you've taken advantage of the amazing offers from Chase that have been around lately, namely the 100,000 BA card, 50,000 United and 30,000 Continental, then I'm not sure if you are ready for any more Chase cards right now. But, if you missed those great offers, get one of these.

    • Chase Sapphire - 25,000 points for spending $3,000 during the first three months. First year free.
      Use 25,000 points for one of the following: redeem for a flight worth up to $312.50 (and earn miles on that flight), get $250 statement credit, or transfer into 25,000 Continental miles
    • Chase Marriott - 50,000 points plus free hotel night, annual fee is $65, even for first year. I'm not sure as to the value of their points, but it looks like a nice offer. You also get a free hotel night every year you renew.
  • Some Updates
    • The 50,000 United miles posted even though a card was had in the past.
    • If you signed up for the 100 Membership Rewards points, keep an eye out on your email for the certificate, then redeem it.
    • If you got the free gold status with Virgin, try and use it sometime. Their lounge in Heathrow is really something special.