Nanolicious!

The nice FedEx lady just dropped off my own brand new 2nd Generation 2GB Silver iPod Nano – free (of course) courtesy of KeyBank. Thanks KeyBank! Unfortunately, it looks like the promotion is now over. Hopefully everyone who participated gets their’s soon too.

It’s stuff like this that help me make an extra few thousand dollars a year from various offers. Won’t you subscribe and join me? Here’s a nice picture of my new Nano:
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AmEx Business Gold Even Better, $100 plus up to 100,000 points

Update: The below promotion is now expired. The New Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN now offers 3X points on airfare, 2X points on advertising, gas, and shipping and 1X point on everything else. The annual fee for this card is $175 but it is waived for all new cardholders. You can also get unlimited additional gold cards for an extra annual fee of $50 but this fee is waived for the first year as well.

Thanks to Aruna for pointing out in my Two $100 Business Credit Card Bonuses post that on top the $100 statement credit for the New Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN, you can also get a boatload of Membership Rewards points during the first year. It starts at 5,000 free points for doing nothing, and goes all the way up to 100,000 points with enough spending. That’s 100,000 not just 10,000!

It’s a bit hidden – if you click on the ‘Learn More’ link on the application page, you’ll see the bonus points offer, which works out to:

5,000 free points for doing nothing.
10,000 free points total for spending $20,000 in the first year
30,000 free points total for spending $50,000
90,000 free points total for spending $60,000 ($5,000 avg x 12 mo)

(The last 10,000 points for the one-year card renewal, which you’ll be charged $125 for, so you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it. The first year’s annual fee is already waived.)

Membership Rewards points are similar to Citi ThankYou points, but you can also transfer them into frequent flyer miles with many programs like Delta and Southwest Airlines. You get 1 point per dollar spent on your AmEx card, although there are occasional ‘Double Mile’ promotions. Overall, I would value them at about 1 cent per point, as you can either go for airline miles or things like gift cards (10,000 points = $100 gift card at stores like Banana Republic or Home Depot). In the past, I used to transfer my points into Southwest Airlines credits, and then sell the flight vouchers on eBay to get more like 1.5 cents/mile.

At 1 cent/point x 5,000 points, you are getting $50 for doing nothing. So in essence with one purchase you get the $100 statement credit and $50 in points for $150 total.

If you can spend $60,000 in one year, things get interesting. You get 60,000 points directly for the spending, and then you get 90,000 bonus points, for a total of 150,000 points on $60,000 of spending. That works out to a healthy 2.5% cashback, again at 1 cent per point. On top of that you also still get the $100 statement credit.

Remember, anyone can apply for a business credit card!

New TradeKing $100 Opening Bonus

TradeKing, a newish online brokerage that offers $4.95 trades and no maintenance or minimum fees, is again offering $100 for opening an account with $1,000 and executing one trade using the promotional code TRADE expired!.

I already received my $100 bonus the last time they offered it with little problem.You must maintain a balance of $100 for the first six months. Buy a small amount of something stable if all you want is the $100 minus the commissions, or see my previous post for what I did. Here’s the fine print:

* To qualify for this offer, new accounts must be opened and funded with a $1,000 minimum and one trade executed. Offer excludes retirement and custodian accounts. Offer is not transferable or valid in conjunction with any other offer. Open to US residents only. One offer per household. TradeKing can modify or discontinue this offer at anytime without notice. A minimum balance of $100 is required in the account for the first six months. Other restrictions may apply.

I couldn’t find any specific expiration date, but since they can ‘discontinue it at any time’ I’d act sooner rather than later.

The offer actually worked for me, as I’m keeping my account open even after the six months is up. I think it’s a pretty decent brokerage, although some have complained about bad fills. If Scottrade doesn’t start offering online funds transfers soon like they promised in ‘Summer 2006’ (umm… is October still Summer?), then I might switch over completely. I already plan to close my now-liquidated Ameritrade I-Zone account with $5 trades.

Mortgage Lenders Offer Savings Accounts, 5.25-5.50% APY

With rates rising, I guess they want some more money to lend out too:

E-LOAN Online Savings5.50% APY on all balances. Minimum opening deposit of $5,000, no monthly fees.

Countrywide Bank SavingsLink – 5.25% APY on balances of $10,000 – $49,999, 5.30% APY on balances of $50,000 – $99,999. Minimum opening deposit of $1,000, no monthly fees.

I Spent A Lot of Money In Europe

Really no other way to put it 🙂 Eating out in London is atrocious. After a while a £10 meal starts to look like a great deal, when in reality it cost you $19. A one-way subway ride in London starts at £3 ($5.60), and day-passes start at $11. I extended my trip even longer and went to Paris for a few days. I reasoned that the hotels and food were cheaper, so I could cover the train ride 😉 A one-way Paris subway ticket is less than $2 no matter how far you travel.

Did you know that the price of baguettes are actually controlled by the government in France? Less than 1 Euro for the best bread you’ll ever have. Stop by a charcuterie and a fromagerie for some deli-style meat and stinky oozy cheese by the kilo, and you’ve got yourself a righteous picnic on the cheap. Wine is literally cheaper than bottled water there as well, starting at about ?1 a bottle!
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Presidential Bank Launches Online Funds Transfer

It looks like Presidential Bank’s promise of online funds transfer capability has come to fruition. I see that it is a CashEdge-based funds transfer system, the same system used by Bank of America and HSBC. See the FAQ. Similar to BofA, only incoming transfers are free, outgoing transfers will cost $3.50. This makes me happy though, my two main everyday-use accounts are BofA and Presidential, and now I don’t have to use an intermediary to transfer money between them either way. I need to update my Presidential Checking Review, which is getting dated.

I just added a bunch of external accounts, so I’ll also earn a few bucks for all those 50 cent deposit verifications. Here is a screenshot of the announcement page I get after logging in:
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Free Stock Trades From Zecco.com?

Update: Please see my new Zecco Broker Review.

I almost feel like it’s the dot-com era again. This time, a new website called Zecco.com is saying that it will offer free online stock trades starting on October 9th, and instead make its revenue from advertising. Possible? I guess we’ll see.

They’ve been telling me about their blogger revenue-sharing program recently, and I wasn’t sure if I should join since frankly I get a lot of similar emails about new financial sites. But it seems like these guys have some serious backing, so I’ll have to look more into it. Check out the press release. Some excerpts:

Our model is different. We run a lean operation, use the latest technology and rely entirely on word of mouth, guerilla marketing, viral campaigns and public relations to get the message out. As a result we can look at the $2 per trade as the cost of doing business ? and still turn a tidy profit.

This approach will force the major brokerages to respond quickly – but in a sense they are caught between a rock and a hard place. Take E*Trade as an example. They will be looking at an annual loss of several hundred million of they decide to do away with commissions. Not a pleasant thought for a publicly traded company.

Thanks to Buddino for the heads up on the free stock trades announcement.

Are We The iPod Generation Too?

Lest you think things across the pond are so much better than things here in the States, I read today that according to a British study young people here are worse off now than their parents at the same age. In fact, they are coined the iPod generation – “Insecure, Pressured, Overtaxed and Debt-ridden”. Sounds very ominous, doesn’t it?

The Best Value For The Money In London

Whew! London is fun… and very expensive. Everything basically costs twice as much here. Burger King Whopper? On sale for ?1.99, or $3.80. No, I didn’t eat one. 😉

I just watched A Comedy of Errors at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. It was simply fantastic!! It’s an authentic replica of the original Globe Theatre where Shakespeare introduce most of his later plays to the public. For ?5 ($9), you can get a ‘groundling’ ticket which is basically general admission for standing room only. But they are right in front the theatre – so they are the best seats (so to speak) in the house. If you get there about an hour early, you can line up to be the first people there, so you are at the very very front. You can literally rest your elbows on the stage and be inches from the actors. By far my favorite experience so far. I’m catching a musical (much more expensive) tomorrow.

All the museums and libraries are free in London, so it’s not the cheapest thing to do, but still the best deal for me. Only two minutes left at internet cafe, gotta run!

Two $100 Business Credit Card Bonuses

As a follow-up to my post on Earning More Bonuses Using Business Credit Cards, here are two additional non-airlines cards with nice bonuses:

CitiBusiness Card with ThankYou Network – 10,000 ThankYou Points after first purchase, redeemable for either $100 cash towards student loans, or a $100 Gift Card at Home Depot, Target, gas stations, Gap, etc. There is also a 0% balance transfer intro offer with this card.

The New Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN –  Now offers 3X points on airfare, 2X points on advertising, gas, and shipping and 1X point on everything else. The annual fee for this card is $175 but it is waived for all new cardholders. You can also get unlimited additional gold cards for an extra annual fee of $50 but this fee is waived for the first year as well.

Earning More Free Money Using Business Credit Cards

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that anyone can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not part of a corporation or LLC. Just use your own name as the business name, and your Social Security Number as the Tax ID.

Why? Because any individual can be a business as well. The business type is called a sole proprietorship. Maybe you sell garage sale items or crafts on eBay. Boom! You’re a sole proprietorship. Done any freelance work for a friend? You’re a sole proprietorship. This is the most simple business entity, but it is fully legit and recognized by the IRS. Unless you apply for another one, the name of your business is your legal name, eg. John Doe.

When you apply for a business credit card, you will have to put down both your Social Security number and the Tax ID number for the business. If you are a Sole Proprietorship, you Tax ID is your Social Security Number. (Unless you filed for a EIN). For the vast majority of business credit cards, if even you are a corporation or LLC, you will still be personally liable for business debts. That’s why they’ll usually ask you for your SSN anyways.

Remember, if you are a sole proprietorship there is no legal distinction between you and your business anyhow. Business debts are personal debts. Personal debts are business debts.

(Also, unless you want to deduct your purchases as qualified business expenses on your tax return, you really don’t need to worry about any tax issues or filing anything special with the IRS. You can simply buy things with the card and pay off the balance as you would your other credit cards. If you do want to take deductions, please consult your tax advisor.)

Because of this liability, you will get a hard credit inquiry to your personal credit report just like apply for a consumer card so that the issuer can make a decision whether to offer you credit. (Now, businesses can also have their own credit scores, but that’s another post for another time.) However, for most business credit cards the card itself won’t show up on your personal credit report. This means that you can open and close accounts, have a bunch of new accounts, and max out the credit lines without affecting your personal credit card score. This also means you can make thousands from playing the 0% Balance Transfer game without worrying about your credit score!

In addition, I use this fact to get more credit card bonuses. I was reminded of this recently by my mom, actually. My parents live in a smaller city which is basically only served by Delta Airlines, so they love SkyMiles. When you are in a small city, tickets are expensive since you can’t get a nonstop flight. So they always get over 2 cents to the mile when redeeming for free tickets.

Anyways, my mom applied for the Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express Card for the 17,500 free bonus miles (Even though now new card owners can earn 30,000 miles), and then my dad applied for the SkyMiles card for the free miles. My mom asked me if she could cancel the card and apply again to get more free miles. Not so quickly, I don’t think, but while don’t you apply for the Delta Business SkyMiles AmEx card for another 20,000 free miles? First year is even free too. She applied and got accepted, now next Thanksgiving is at my place 😉

The Best Time To Buy Everything

Here are two different viewpoints on ‘The best time to buy everything’, one from SmartMoney and the other from CNN Money. Some excerpts are below, see the articles for more.

Airline tickets
SmartMoney and CNN agree: Buy on a Wednesday, about 21 days (or just a couple of days earlier) before your flight. This is when airlines release their available seats for the upcoming weekend and the weekend after.

Televisions
SmartMoney: Six to 12 months after a particular model is launched.
CNN: While the blowout sales on electronics tend to cluster around the holidays, even cheaper deals on TVs can be found in the spring beginning in April, after the end of the fiscal year in Japan.
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