Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card Review – New, Simple 1.5% Cash Back

Quicksilver CardArt

Quicksilver CardArtThe Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a new credit card that earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. In addition, there is a one-time $100 bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months.

This card is all about simple cash rewards with no gimmicks. No points, no miles, no travel credit, no rotating categories. When you apply, you will either get approved or not; you will not be automatically considered for an alternate card. Like most top-tier rewards cards, this card is for those with excellent credit.

You can cash out for any amount, at any time. Your rewards never expire and you can redeem for straight cash via check or statement credit. No caps on earning cash back, either. There is no annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee.  For purchases, there is a 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months (until January 2015); 12.9%-20.9% variable APR after that. For balance transfers, there is a 0% intro APR for 9 months (until January 2015); 12.9%-20.9% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amount transferred.

This is a Visa Signature card, so it comes with some additional benefits as listed on the application page. All in all, the $100 bonus and focus on simplicity differentiates this card from competitors in addition to making it an improvement to their previous Cash Rewards card (the Jimmy Fallon commercial one).

In terms of comparison, there is the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard that gives 2.22% cash back towards travel, making it more complicated but potentially better if you want statements credits towards travel purchases. The Fidelity American Express Card gives you 2% back, but you’ll need to open a Fidelity brokerage account first to get your cash back (only redeemable in $50 increments). AmEx is also less widely-accepted than Visa/Mastercard.

Car Insurance Quote Shopping and Credit Checks

After doing a car insurance quote comparison test, I wanted to clear up any confusion regarding applying for car insurance and your credit history. Here’s why you should be able to get quotes from as many insurers as you like without worrying about your credit score.

Will auto insurance companies check my credit?

Probably. According to recent surveys, over 90% of insurance companies (including the top 5 auto insurers) use credit information in their underwriting process. It’s not the only thing, just one of the many things that gets considered like your driving record or accident history. There is a historical correlation between certain behaviors like high credit limit utilization and filing an insurance claim. Insurance scores weigh various factors differently than in standard FICO scores.

However, certain states including California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts do not allow the use of credit information in the underwriting or rating of car insurance. Texas had a similar bill proposed in 2013, but I don’t think it was passed.

When will they check my credit?

Either during the premium quote process, or when you actually pick one and apply for insurance. (Some will also check your credit upon premium renewal.) Out of the four insurance companies that I got quotes from, only Progressive asked for a Social Security number and it was optional (I declined to provide it). However, all of them get permission from you to run a credit check in the fine print when you apply for a quote.

For some companies, the initial quote provided assumes you have acceptable credit, and during the application process they check your credit and may adjust the quote based on any negative information. For example, your report may show a high utilization percentage of available credit.

Will it affect my credit score? Hard vs. soft pulls

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Chase Ink Plus Business Card Review: $500 Cash, $625 Travel Bonus

Chase Ink Plus Business Card Banner

Chase ink Plus Business CardChase has announced a new small biz credit card, called the Ink Plus® Business Card. It turns out to be very similar to the Chase Ink Bold Business card (full review), but with the important difference that the Ink Plus is a credit card where you can carry a balance and the Bold is a charge card that you must pay in full each month. The current APR for both purchases and balance transfers is 15.24%.

The good news is that the Ink Plus has a sign-up bonus, offering 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after your after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months your account is open. You can read about my Ink Bold bonus experience here. To briefly recap:

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Chase Ink Bold Review: Business Card Bonus Worth $500 Cash, $625 in Airfare

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The Ink Bold® Business Charge Card is a premium small business being offered by Chase, directly competing with the biz cards from American Express. If you have a small business including freelance or online eBay/Etsy sales, using a business card allows you to separate your personal and business expenses as well as get some nice rewards in the process. Just to get you to try it out, Chase is offering 500 bucks in the form of 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months your account is open.

50,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for $500 cash (real money, via statement credit or check) or 25% extra = $625 when used towards airfare, split up however you like into multiple tickets. If your total is more than $625, you simply pay the difference. I’ve used this feature and it’s very easy and flexible to book airfare using their points (system and prices are like Expedia, Travelocity, etc). Here’s an example of combining cash and points:

If you prefer, you can also transfer points to British Airways Avios miles, United Airlines miles, Hyatt hotel points, and Marriott hotel points. 1 Chase point = 1 mile/hotel point for these transfers, so that’s 50,000 miles.

Until 6/30/13, Chase is offering a special 10% discount on gift cards from the following retailers: Kohl’s, Land’s End, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, and Regal Movie Theatres. This means that 9,000 points = $100 gift card, a savings of 1,000 points off the usual prices. This means you can get over $550 in gift cards using 50,000 points.

You’ll also earn up to 5 points per $1 spent on the first $50,000 spent annually on eligible business purchases:

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The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN Review

The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPENThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is an premium charge card for small businesses where you must pay off the balance each month, but you get the AMEX perks like purchase price protection, extended product return protection, and the famous AMEX extended warranty that actually pays out. Here are the highlights:

  •  Get 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Built with business-sized purchasing power and fast rewards
  • 3X points on airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • 2X points on US purchases for advertising in select media, shipping, at gas stations, and made directly from select computer hardware, software, and cloud computing providers
  • Up to $100,000 in each category per year, then 1 point
  • Use points to entertain clients, reward employees, reduce travel costs, or just offset the everyday expenses of moving your business forward
  • Terms and limitations apply

Note: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have had this product or any other Business Gold, Green or Platinum Card account within the last 12 months.” I’m not eligible for this one because I already got this exact card in January, but check out my post on apply for multiple American Express cards for ways to maximize your bonuses even more.

Business Credit Card Eligibility

Many people aren’t aware that they can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not a corporation or LLC. Any individual can be a small business. Perhaps you sell items on eBay, Craiglist, or Etsy. Maybe you do some graphic design, web design, freelancing and/or consulting. If you received a 1099-MISC tax form and filled out a Schedule C, that means you have business income, you pay self-employment taxes, and you’re a sole proprietorship. This is the simplest business entity, but it is fully legit and recognized by the IRS. On a business credit card application, you should use your own legal name as the business name, and your Social Security Number as the Tax ID.

This card will require you to personally guarantee that you’ll pay them back what you charge on the card, which means they’ll check your personal credit score like any other consumer card. However, as the card is a business card, American Express won’t have it show up on your personal credit report, so it won’t change things like your credit limits, average account age, or credit utilization ratio.

Best Value for Citi ThankYou Points Redemptions

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If you have a Citi credit card or a Citibank account with the ThankYou points rewards system, you have a wide array of options to redeem your points at ThankYou.com. But while that fancy coffeemaker may look nice, chances are the cash equivalent value for your points is quite poor. I’ve covered this in bits and pieces before, but here’s a complete guide to getting the most value out of your points.

Eligible ThankYou accounts (* are the ones I have linked to my account):

Best Value Option #1: Limited Time Offers

If you have either patience or luck, Citi does offer “sales” on gift card redemptions which can reduce the cost of a reward by up to 25%. For example, right now until 3/31 you can get a $50 Home Depot gift card for 4,500 points. Normally, you’d need 5,000-6,000 points. That equates 1.11 cents in gift card value per point. If you wanted cash, you could sell a Home Depot gift card at PlasticJungle.com for 87% of face value in cash, 91.35% in Amazon.com gift certificates. That equates to 0.967 cents per point in cash.

Previously ThankYou point sales have involved gift card to other popular retailers like Wal-mart, Lowe’s, Kohl’s, Best Buy, Gap, and Macy’s. The regular price is usually 1 cent in gift card value per point.

Best Value Option #2: Student Loan & Mortgage Rebate Checks

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The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN – Review

The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPENAmerican Express is running another welcome offer on The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN. This small business card won’t be for everyone, but if you travel regularly and value convenience, this offer is a way to effectively get a year’s worth of airport lounge access for you and your family.

  • Welcome Offer: Get 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.†
  • 20% Travel Bonus when using Membership Rewards® Pay with Points
  • A Premium Card with access to over 40 benefits to help power your business
  • Complimentary access to 600+ participating airport lounges through Priority PassTM Select
  • Business Platinum Concierge is like your own assistant, ready to help you with just about anything personal or professional, 24 hours a day
  • Purchasing power that can adjust as your business evolves
  • Terms & Restrictions Apply*

So there you have it. The annual fee is $450, and you’ll have to decide if you can get $450 of value from the above benefits. Then, on top of all that, you’ll get unlimited airport lounge access for you and your family for an entire year. Finally, the $450 annual can be a deductible business expense which can offset the net cost. Is this better than an upfront point bonus? That’s up to you.

This card will credit your $100 application fee (after you’ve paid for it) for Global Entry, a U.S. government program that provides you expedited clearance when returning to the US after international travel. You basically go through a background check, and if you’ve traveled recently you may have noticed little kiosks where people whisk by after scanning their passports instead of standing in the long customs lines. Lasts for 5 years before you have to renew.

Note: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have had this product or any other Business Gold or Green Card account within the last 12 months.” So I’m currently out after my last AmEx application spree.

Use Up Small Balance Visa & American Express Gift Cards with Amazon.com Purchases

For some reason, cash is old-fashioned and now it’s common to give out gift cards in the form of prepaid credit cards. If you have a prepaid Visa, Mastercard, or American Express gift card and you want to use up an odd remaining amount like $3.34 or even $0.26, here are a couple of tips:

  • Amazon.com gift codes. Did you know that you can buy an Amazon online gift code for any amount, and for as little as 15 cents? Amazon gift certificates arrive instantly, they never expire, and you can combine many small codes into your account. I prefer this method because I don’t need to leave the house and I know I’ll use it up eventually. :)
  • Ask for a split tender transaction. Most modern POS systems allow purchases to be split into amounts of any size.
  • Pay your cell phone or utility bill. If you have a utility or cell phone company that takes credit cards, it’s often easy to pay the bill in small chunks. I’ve had some problems with these services though, as like gas station pumps they may ask for a pre-authorization before accepting payment.

MyMoneyBlog.com $2,500 Holiday Cash Giveaway (Winner Announcement)

Citi Simplicity MasterCard

Winner Announcement! The contest is now closed. The winning entry was picked using Random.org with the Timestamp: 2012-12-25 03:28:18 UTC. Congratulations to Anthony T (aXXXXXX@gmail.com), the lucky winner of $2,500. You should have received an e-mail notification to your registered e-mail address. Thanks to all who entered, and I wish everyone a very happy holidays.

One of the great things about being a blogger online is that you’re part of a community.  Years and years of blogging have created a lot of good friendships, and today, five friends and I are able to put together a cash giveaway, totaling $15,000.  If you recall, we had a $10,000 giveaway last year that was a roaring success, so I’m hoping this year is even better.

To enter the giveaway this year, the following rules must be agreed to:

  • In order to participate, you must sign up for the MyMoneyBlog.com RSS Feed and complete a short five question survey.  The link to the survey can be found HERE.
  • Only one entry per person (duplicate entries on the same website will disqualify you from winning the $2,500 prize on that site)
  • Winner must be a US resident
  • The giveaway begins Wednesday, December 12th and concludes Sunday, December 23rd at 11:59 pm ET.  The morning of December 24th, a winner will be chosen at random, (using Random.org), announced on the site and will have 72 hours to provide their name, address and social security number for tax purposes (yes, this $2,500 will count as miscellaneous income toward your 2013 taxes)
  • The email address you enter in the survey must match the email address you use to subscribe to the MyMoneyBlog RSS Feed.

After you’ve completed the survey here, make sure you enter our friends giveaways for five more chances to win $2,500 in cash!  Links to their giveaway pages are listed below:

  1. Wealth Pilgrim $2,500 cash giveaway
  2. DoughRoller.net $2,500 cash giveaway
  3. CashMoneyLife.com $2,500 cash giveaway
  4. CompareCards.com $2,500 cash giveaway
  5. PTMoney.com $2,500 cash giveaway

Balance transfers are always most popular the first few weeks after Christmas and the survey information will help in making sure consumers receive the best balance transfer opportunities in 2013.  I know it hit you with a lot of credit card stuff this past month but using credit during the holidays is a great way to save money (so long as you don’t overspend).  If you find yourself in need of a balance transfer, two cards come to mind as the best (and they’ve been the best for a while).

Slate from Chase VisaChase Slate® – Introductory 0% APR on balance transferand purchases for 15 months and $0 balance transfer fee! With no balance transfer fee, the Slate from Chase is offering interest free payments for up to 15 months with no catch and $0 annual fee. The 0% intro APR is also extended on purchases for 15 months and once the intro rate has expired, the purchase APR becomes 12.99% – 22.99% variable.

Citi Simplicity MasterCardCiti Simplicity® Card – 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months. That’s nearly 2 years at 0% interest for balance transfers and purchases! An exceptionally long and flexible offer with no over limit fees or late payment fees, as you can both transfer a balance and also keep charging purchases on it during the introductory period. Balance transfer fee is 3% with a $5 minimum. No annual fee.

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.”

Free Experian Credit Monitoring from Credit Sesame

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You may be familiar with Credit Sesame from my popular free credit scores with no trials post, as they offer you a free credit score based on your Experian credit report, updated once a month. They make money by presenting you with credit-related offers like mortgage refinances or auto loans. I’ve been happily getting my updates for years now… I don’t worry about the absolute number as much as the relative change each month to see if anything new has either hurt or boosted my creditworthiness significantly.

Per this press release, Credit Sesame is now offering free daily credit monitoring as well. No tricks, no trials, no credit card required. If you’re already a member, just log in and opt into the new feature. You can also get push alerts via their Android and iPhone apps. Here’s a screenshot with nothing exciting since it’s only been 5 minutes:

As opposed to the free monthly score, monitoring checks your Experian credit report daily and sends you an email alert if any activities have occurred – for example, if there was a credit pull by a lender or a new address added. This can provide early warning of attempted identity theft, reporting errors, or simply am overzealous lender checking your credit without permission. Many providers charge $10-$20 a month for similar monitoring, and while it’s potentially useful I’ve never recommended paying a hundred bucks a year for it. But hey, Credit Sesame already has my info, so I’ll definitely sign up for free.

(Note: You can get also free credit scores and similar monitoring alerts based on your TransUnion credit data at CreditKarma.com.)

From their FAQ, here’s a sample of events on your Experian credit report that may trigger an alert:
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Priceline Rewards Visa Card Review: 2% Flat Cash Back On All Purchases

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The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card There’s a new 2% flat cash back card in town …although it’s somewhat hidden under some Priceline co-branding and William Shatner doing martial arts.

Here’s how it works. The Priceline Rewards Visa® Card earns 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no limit, no cap, no category restrictions. 100 points = $1 in statement credit, so in other words that’s 2% flat cash back on everything.

Redemption involves “zapping” one of your existing purchases with your points. So let’s say you have 5,000 points ($50 worth). You’ll need to choose a purchase on your card within the last 90 days that’s between $25 and $50 to “zap”. Let’s say you spend $43.33 at the grocery store, and you pick that to zap. You’ll get a $43.33 statement credit and redeem 4,333 points. The remaining 667 points will be saved for the next time. Make sense? Not as nice as 2% back, but it’s not that bad once you understand the system. You can redeem online, there’s no need to call in.

You may redeem your points toward statement credits for any purchase(s) on your Account statement that are $25 or greater.

New cardholders also get a $50 bonus after first purchase (5,000 bonus points after your first purchase). No annual fee.

If you do use Priceline.com, you can redeem your points towards previous “Name Your Own Price” Priceline purchases at a higher rate. Depending on the size of the purchase, you can effectively get between 2.2% to 3% cash back on those purchases. Combine with a 4% or so rebate from a cashback shopping portal for hotels and care rentals, and that’s not a bad total discount.

For those interested, there is also a 0% balance transfer offer that isn’t the best, but definitely above-average. You get 0% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles after the account is opened. The balance transfer fee is either $10 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater, during those first fifteen billing cycles. See terms and conditions for details.

In summary, this is a rewards card where you can get a baseline 2% cash back on all your purchases. I recommend combining this with a nice category-specific card like the 5% cash back rotating cards or the 6% back on groceries / 3% back on gas American Express. This card is issued by Barclays Bank which is a relatively new issuer in the US and thus won’t affect your existing Citi/Chase/AmEx relationships if you have other rewards cards.

Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Visa Card – New Free Checked Bag, Priority Boarding, Other Perks

Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature Card

Update: Citi has another holiday promotion, offering 30,000 bonus American Airlines miles with their co-branded American Airlines Visa Signature Card and annual fee waived for the first year. That’s enough for a free first-class or two free economy domestic award tickets. Details below.

Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCardFor those of you that fly American Airlines and/or already have similar Citi AA cards, the new Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World Mastercard® (yikes what a long name) just announced a bunch of improvements and perks to make this card more attractive. The good news is that these perks are also extended to existing consumer cardholders of Citi AA cards of the same level.

New cardholder bonus:

  • 30,000 American Airlines bonus miles: Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership*
  • Annual fee is $95.00, waived for first 12 months.

American Airlines perks:

  • Free checked bag. Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Free Priority Boarding. Priority Boarding with Group 1 privileges* and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • 10% rebate on award redemptions. Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles each calendar year*
  • 25% savings on in-flight purchases (food, beverages, and headsets).
  • Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount every cardmembership year with qualifying purchases and cardmembership renewal*
  • Double miles on American Airlines purchases. Double AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases* like plane tickets
    and 1 AAdvantage mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

Also note that there are usually reduced mileage award prices for certain routes each quarter (17,500 miles for roundtrip economy instead of 25,000) if you have an Citi AA card.

Finally, there is a similar 50k offer for the business card. If you apply for both card on the same day at the same time using different web browsers, that will help you get approved for both cards and get you to 100,000 miles. Of course, you’ll have to satisfy two sets of spending requirements.

In summary, this card is now much better-targeted for those that fly American Airlines on a regular basis.

Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World Mastercard® application link