Disney Gift Card Discounts: 10%+ Off Your Disney Cruise or Vacation

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Update: If you have an American Express Business card, look in the Amex Offers section of your online account page for 20% off a single in-store Sam’s Club purchase of $100+ (limit of to $250 back). You could use this offer a variety of ways, but one of them is to stack with the Disney Gift Card discount below. Thanks also to commenter Jamie. Here’s a screenshot (click to enlarge):

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I bought 9 of the $150 face value packs at $142.98 each, for a total cost of $1286.82. (The $500 cards were not available in my store, and there were no transaction limits posted.) That would reach the max discount of $250 (20% of $1,250). Therefore, I will have gotten $1,350 of Disney credit and paid $1036.82, a 23% combined discount. (I’ll also get credit card rewards from the purchase.) If you were going to spend that much money on a Disney vacation or cruise anyway, that’s a $313.18 savings.

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If you are planning a Disney-related vacation, especially a package deal or Disney Cruise, I wanted to point out a current way to get 10%+ off of Disney gift cards. Act quickly though, as part of this deal will stop at the end of the 2016.

First 5% off. Right now, Sam’s Club is selling Disney gift cards at roughly a 5% discount to face value. There are two options:

Sometime they’re in stock online and sometimes they are only available in-store. The $500 gift card may be seasonal. There may be posted limits per transaction in the stores, but I’ve read several reports that you can buy more if you make separate purchases spaced apart (wait until the previous order is shipped and received). Alternatively, you can have a friend or family member buy them and pay them back.

Disney Gift Cards are valid at many places:

  • Walt Disney World® Resort (including hotels, restaurants, gift shops, etc.)
  • Disneyland® Resort
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Disney Store locations in the U.S.
  • DisneyStore.com
  • Disney PhotoPass™
  • Disney Vacation Club®
  • Adventures by Disney®
  • Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii
  • Disney’s Hilton Head Island and Vero Beach resorts

Second 5% off. In addition, both Chase Freedom and Discover have Sam’s Club as one of their quarterly 5% cash back categories until December 31st, 2016. That means you could theoretically get 5% back on $1,500 of Disney gift cards per card account. Discover also has Sam’s Club in Q1 2017, but not Chase Freedom. (If you and a partner both had a Chase Freedom and a Discover, that would cover up to $6,000 in total purchases in Q4 2016 and another $3,000 in Q1 2017.)

Finally, up to another 2% off? You can technically get another 2% discount on your Disney vacation package with the Disney Vacation Account. For every $1,000 you load into the account and spend on qualified vacation purchases, they will give you a $20 Disney gift card. Qualified purchases include:

  • Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida
  • Disneyland® Resort in California
  • Disney Cruise Line®
  • Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii
  • Adventures by Disney®

You can load your Disney Gift Cards into this account, although only up to $500 will count towards the DVA bonus.

You’ll be eligible for a $20 Disney Gift Card for every $1000 you spend on qualified vacation purchases with your Disney Vacation Account prior to December 31, 2017 (date subject to extension), up to a total $500 in Disney Gift Card(s) per household.

If you have a big package deal like a Disney Cruise, it’s not that much hassle to buy these gift cards and directly apply them to your balance. On a $3,000 cruise or vacation package, getting 10% off is a $300 savings.

Southwest Companion Pass: Now May Be The Best Time To Qualify

swa_logoSouthwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly free with you on both paid and award flights. If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year, and you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year plus the following full calendar year. For example, if you earned it in March 2017, you would have the benefit for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018. You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

There are many different ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points, so you can “mix and match” to get that magic 110,000 number. You can even get it without flying at all. A good way to qualify used to be that you could save up your hotel points over time, and then convert them to Southwest points when you wanted to qualify. However, Southwest recently announced that the hotel points option will expire as of March 31st, 2017. That means right now might be the best time to try and qualify by pooling together all your hotel and other points.

Here are various ways to get lots of points at once:

  • Chase Southwest Plus personal credit card is offering 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $69 annual fee applies. You must have less than 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months shown on your credit report to get approved.
  • Chase Southwest Premier Business credit card offers 60,000 points
    when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $99 annual fee applies. You must have less than 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months shown on your credit report to get approved.
  • Marriott points convert to Southwest. *This only counts until March 31st, 2017.* The transfer ratio is variable, but 30,000 Marriott points = 10,000 Southwest points and the best ratio is 70,000 Marriott points = 25,000 Southwest points. There are also Hotel + Air packages for higher amounts.
  • Hyatt points convert to Southwest. *This only counts until March 31st, 2017.* The standard ratio is 2.5 Hyatt: 1 Southwest point. However, if you transfer 50,000 Hyatt points you’ll get 30,000 Southwest points.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest points convert to Marriott, which convert to Southwest. *This only counts until March 31st, 2017.* For example, 90,000 Starwood points = 270,000 Marriott points = 120,000 Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Marriott, which transfer to Southwest. *This only counts until March 31st, 2017.* For example, 270,000 Ultimate Rewards points = 270,000 Marriott points = 120,000 Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel. (Don’t transfer directly from Chase, you must go through Marriott.)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt, which transfer to Southwest. *This only counts until March 31st, 2017.* For example, 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points = 50,000 Hyatt points = 30,000 Southwest points.
  • American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Starwood, which transfers to Marriott. *This only counts until March 31st, 2017.* For example, 270,000 Membership Rewards points = 90,000 Starwood points = 270,000 Marriott points = 120,000 Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel.
  • The two credit card offers listed above are the best, but you could also apply for Chase Hyatt, Chase Marriott, or American Express Starwood/Membership Rewards credit cards and then convert the points you get over to Southwest. You’ll want to make sure you get the points in time as they are hotel points.

Keep in mind, once you earn those 110,000 Rapid Rewards points, you can still use them for free flights alongside your new Companion Pass. 110,000 Rapid Rewards points transfers roughly to $1,700 in Wanna Get Away airfare (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). If $1,700 would have theoretically covered 16 free one-way flights, then with the Companion Pass you’d be getting 16 free one-way flights for two people. Explore the country!

Free Estate Planning Guide and Workbook from American Red Cross

arc_estateIf one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to create an estate plan for you and your loved ones, here’s a good starter kit. The American Red Cross has a free Estate Planning Guide and Workbook which comes in both electronic fillable PDF form or a paper workbook format if you give them your address. It is roughly 50 pages and includes blanks to store your asset and beneficiary information, make future edits when needed, and print multiple copies to share with your attorney and family members. The guide will help you to:

  • Understand estate planning and the importance of having a will.
  • Gather the information they need to prepare to draft or update your will.
  • Discover ways to minimize taxes and liabilities for your families.
  • Explore the benefits of making charitable gifts in your estate plans.

Here’s a snapshot of the Table of Contents:

  • Why Everyone Needs a Will
  • When to Revise Your Will
  • Get a Head Start on Writing or Updating Your Will
  • Three Pillars of Every Estate Plan
  • Will Planning Workbook
  • Charitable Giving Through Your Will or Other Gift Plan
  • Including the Red Cross in Your Will
  • Making a Gift Outside Your Will
  • Gifts that Benefit You and Keep the Red Cross Strong

The American Red Cross also offers another free PDF resource called Disasters and Financial Planning: A Guide for Preparedness and Recovery.

5% Cash Back Credit Cards: Rotating Categories Update 2017

Activation for 1st Quarter 2017 is open. Do it now before you forget.

The credit cards below offer a hefty 5% cash back on certain categories that rotate each quarter. It takes a little extra attention, but I also rack up over a hundred dollars in additional rewards per year without changing my spending habits. None of these have an annual fee, so it costs me nothing to keep them all around. New cardmembers may also get an upfront sign-up bonus. Also, look for opportunities to load up on gift cards to get the 5% back now but spend the gift cards later.

Chase Freedom VisaChase Freedom Card

From January 1st through March 31st, 2017 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations (Warehouse clubs are NOT included)
  • Local commuter transportation (includes taxis, subways, local commuter buses and trains)

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Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com. As long as you activate by the end of the quarter the rewards are retroactive. All other purchases earn 1% back, with no tiers or expiration of rewards. Currently, the Chase Freedom card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make just $500 in purchases in your first three months.

Discover it 14 ImageDiscover it® Card

From January 1st through March 31st, 2017 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations (stand-alone)
  • Ground Transportation
  • Wholesale Clubs

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Enroll after logging into your online account (look on the right-hand side). 5% rewards won’t apply until after you activate your rewards, so it is best to activate now before you forget. New applicants can get their earned Cash Back doubled at the end of the first year.

Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa CardCiti® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card (Existing cardholders only)

From July 1st through September 30th, 2016 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories: (calendar):

  • The Home Depot
  • Home furnishings stores

This a grandfathered card that is no longer available to new applicants. Log into your online account or call 1-800-231-0891 to activate the rewards each quarter (starts upon activation, not retroactive). The total cash back limit is $300 earned per calendar year.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card. What makes this card unique is that you get to choose the two 5% cash back categories every quarter, out of a preset selection of niche categories like “Fast Food” or “Sporting Goods Stores”. You also get to choose a single 2% cash back category from a preset selection of broader categories like “Gas Stations” or “Grocery Stores”. 1% cash back on everything else. No limit on total cash back earned.

As you’ll see below, getting 2% is not that special, so this card is best if you spend significantly in the available niche categories. Also, you must remember to choose your categories each quarter! If you do not choose your categories, all purchases revert to only earning 1% cash back for that quarter.

Don’t settle for the “1% on everything else” that these cards offer. Get 2% cash back or higher. The following cards currently have the ability to offer cash back rewards as high as 2% or even greater. Please read my card-specific reviews for details.

“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.”  

“The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.”

Amazon Audible: Free $25 Amazon Credit + Two Free Audiobooks with Prime

azaudible0If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can stack two current offers to get free $25 Amazon credit and a free 2-month trial to Audible (1 free audiobook per month). If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you could start a 30-day free trial and/or consider this a $25 off discount on your membership. Offer expires December 31st, 2016.

  • Make sure you are logged into your Amazon Prime account.
  • Visit the Audible Gold membership page and look for the offer that says “Get a $25 Amazon credit to use in the next 90 days when you join Audible. Offer ends 12/31”. This means that your account is eligible.
  • Go to LivingSocial.com and search for “audible” and claim a code for a free 60-day membership at Audible.com. It’ll be unique and look like “UM82ZRGX2SGQ7”. In the same web browser, visit audible.com/at/redeem and enter the that code.
  • You’ve now technically signed up as a member for Audible (for free) and thus triggered the free $25 in Amazon credit.
  • Remember to cancel your Audible free trial within the two months, or you will automatically be charged $14.95 per month after the trial ends. However, redeem the $25 credit first. Either set a calendar reminder or cancel after you redeem the $25 Amazon credit and chosen your first or second Audible book (1 free per month). Your Audible audiobooks will remain in your account even if you cancel membership.

The terms and conditions state that you’ll get an e-mail confirmation with 10 days regarding your free $25 credit, but I saw my credit (without any e-mail notification) in about 24 hours by trying to check out with something in my Amazon cart. Promotional credit only applies to products sold by Amazon.com or digital content sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC (other than certain digital content). It worked on $50 in Chili’s gift cards, see screenshot:

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Below are screenshots of the two stacking offers (1) $25 to join Audible and (2) free 2-month Audible trials.

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Use your Amazon credit in combination these other recent Amazon promotions.

Amazon Assistant Browser Extension: $5 off $25 Promotion

chrome0Amazon Assistant is a browser extension for Google Chrome and Firefox browsers. I usually don’t like these “helpers” as they slow down my computer and track my every movement even more than usual, but Amazon is offering a $5 off $25 coupon if you install it before 12/31/16. You can always un-install or disable it after you use up the coupon. Here’s how to get the promotion applied to your account:

  • Click to the promotion landing page. You should see offer as shown in the screenshot below.
  • Click on “Install now for …” button. When complete, you should see a little Amazon Assistant “a” icon on your top right of your browser.
  • Make sure you are signed into your Amazon account. Click on the Amazon Assistant “a” icon on the top right, and scroll through the introductory tutorial.
  • Click on the “Get Your Promotion” button to apply the credit to your account.

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During checkout, look for $5 off your next $25 purchase. Stack with these other recent Amazon promotions. There is no specific code to type in. Your cart must contain physical goods sold by Amazon.com. Remember to use by December 31, 2016.

Last-Minute Gifts: Amazon Gift Card Discounts and Free Stuff With Purchase

I guess they came up with another named day… “Last-Minute Monday”! Amazon is offering up lots of discounted gift cards and/or bonus stuff with gift cards for procrastinators, most guaranteed to arrive by Christmas. Click, click, done. Some of these deals are good enough for self-gifting.

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20% off Various Retailer Gift Cards. Most are structured as $50 in gift card value for $40. Stores featured include Whole Foods, AirBNB, Applebee’s, Petco, Petsmart, JC Penney, IHOP, Old Navy, Chili’s, Build-a-Bear, Children’s Place, TGIFridays. You can purchase these retailer gift cards with Amazon credit or gift card balance. These go in and out of stock and the retailers vary. Some you have to wait to become live. If you see a special gift code in the title, be sure to use that promo code to get the discount at checkout.

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Free $10 Amazon Credit with Starbucks & Amazon Gift Card Purchase. Buy a $50 Starbucks + $50 Amazon Gift Cards for $100, and get $10 in bonus Amazon credit.

Promotional Credit Details: A $10 Amazon.com promotional credit will be added to the purchasing customer account after both the $50 Starbucks Gift Card and the $50 Amazon.com Gift Card ships. The $10 Amazon.com promotional credit will be automatically applied to the next Amazon.com purchase on eligible products sold by Amazon.com Inc. and its affiliates and does not apply to products sold by third-party merchants through the Amazon.com site.

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Free Snowflake Gift Tin with Amazon Gift Card. Make your gift card stand out and feel more substantial with a free tin. Also available in Santa tin and red ornament tin.

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Free Limited Edition Teddy Bear with Amazon Gift Card. I posted about this earlier, and you now need to buy at least a $200 gift card to get this cute bear as it usually sells out.

This highly-targeted Amazon gift card promotion that may be worth a click, just in case you get the ability to buy a $50 Amazon gift card and get a bonus free $10 Amazon gift card (i.e. $60 gift card value for $50). Be warned, most people will get the dreaded “Unfortunately, you are not eligible for this offer.”

Finally, Amazon keeps extending this $5 off $15 of books coupon. I’ve included my recommendations in the linked post.

Free Gillette Razor With Picture Upload

gillette5Here’s a throwback to when free razor samples were everywhere – Gillette is running a Welcome Back promotion where if you share your story about how you tried Harry’s, Dollar Share Club, or another razor brand and want to come back to Gillette, they’ll send you a free razor. You just need to tell them a quick blurb of why you didn’t like their competitors and upload any photo of yourself. Took me under a minute. Valid while supplies last.

I actually did the Harry’s free trial and wasn’t overly-impressed, although they did offer “no hassle” experience. By the way, anyone can use these free razors, whether it is colored blue or pink. 🙂

Amazon App: Free $5 Credit + $5 off $10 Code for New Users

Here are two quick offers for those who haven’t used the Amazon smartphone/tablet app before – available on iOS and Android/Fire OS devices. There’s one for installing the app, and another for making your first purchase through the app. The first offer ends 12/17, so I’d jump on that one immediately.

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Get free $5 Amazon gift card after you install and sign-in to the Amazon app for the first time.

1. Download the Amazon app on your smartphone
2. Next, just open the app and sign in with your existing Amazon account ID and password
3. That’s it! You should see an email with $5 gift card redemption code within 7 days

The offer link will tell you if their records show that you’ve already logged into the app before.

Get a coupon for $5 off your first $10+ Amazon app purchase if you visit this referral link on a mobile device and apply the embedded claim code. If the link doesn’t work, you can also manually enter the promotional code JONAT1665N directly into the app. Open the app, go to Menu > Your Account > Invite Friends > Have A Referral Code?, and enter the code. You must not have made a purchase on the app within the last 12 months. The referrer (me) will receive a $5 off $10 coupon as well. Thanks if you use it.

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Netflix: Download Movies and Shows for Offline Viewing

netflix0I just saw that Netflix now allows an offline download option for many of their shows and videos (and not just Netflix-only shows). You will need iOS 8.0 or later, Android 4.4.2 or later, and the latest version of the Netflix iOS or Netflix Android app. This can save you money on cellular data and alleviates the pain of using slow WiFi. From the press release:

Many of your favorite streaming series and movies are already available for download, with more on the way, so there is plenty of content available for those times when you are offline. For example, Orange is The New Black, Narcos and The Crown are available for download today.

From The Verge:

… selection includes stuff made by Netflix (Stranger Things, The Crown, Narcos, Orange is the New Black, etc) but also a lot of other random choices. You’ve got Breaking Bad. You’ve got Mad Men. You’ve got… Paddington and Minions and Kung Fu Panda 3. This is going to be a huge deal for parents. Movies include Boyhood, Pulp Fiction, Nightcrawler, Good Will Hunting, Hot Fuzz, and more.

I agree, I’ve only started downloading tons of offline content after having kids. Here is a link to the Netflix Help Page on Downloading.

Not all titles are available for download. If you have a particular title in mind, you can search for that title and look for the download icon download.png. If you are interested in browsing downloadable titles, select Available for Download from the Netflix menu.

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Amazon Prime Video also allows downloads for offline viewing.

Free 1,400 Air Canada Aeroplan Bonus Miles Promotions

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Updated with more free miles offers. Even small amounts of bonus miles can be handy as Air Canada requires activity every 12 months to prevent Aeroplan miles expiration. They’ve been sprinkling various offers around:

250 bonus miles for Sharing Your Travel Story. You should see this text:

For a limited time, earn 250 miles when you share your Aeroplan travel story with us! We want to know about everything: trip highlights, fun activities, hidden gems, the best restaurants, and anything else you can think of.

150 bonus miles for Telling Them Your Goals. There is a rotating banner offering 150 bonus miles for telling them about your “goals”. Here’s a screenshot:

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1,000 free Aeroplan bonus miles for completing this quick “Myth or Truth” quiz. It doesn’t matter whether you the questions it right or wrong. You’ll need to enter your Aeroplan number. Note that you will see the following text at the end:

Please note that some promotions are offered by invitation, so bonus miles for those promotions will be credited only if you have been invited to participate and have fully qualified for the offer.

The quiz link is not unique, and I see no other way to tell if I am targeted or even if it matters. It only takes a minute, so it is worth a shot either way.

Navy Federal Credit Union CD Special: 2% APY for 17 Months + $150 IRA Bonus

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Navy Federal Credit Union announced a Special 17-month Certificate at 2% APY for a limited-time. That is a very competitive rate for that term length. Valid on regular taxable accounts, IRAs, and ESAs. Here are the highlights:

  • Open with as little as $50.
  • Make additional deposits anytime.
  • $50,000 maximum balance.

You probably won’t want to break this early, as certificates with a term greater than one year have an early withdrawal penalty of 180 days of interest (or all the interest earned so far, whichever is less). At least you can break it if it’s a true emergency. You may also notice their Special EasyStart Certificate at 3% APY, but there is a $3,000 maximum balance and it also requires direct deposit and checking.

Thanks to reader Chris for the tip. Note that it’s still not too late to get in on the 3% APY 84-month CD from Andrews FCU (must fund by 12/31/16). I would still consider this is NavyFed CD a good deal if you want a shorter term or don’t want the small risk of potential hassles from early withdrawals.

Additional IRA Bonuses up to $150. If you’re looking for very conservative investment for part of your retirement portfolio, you can open this certificate in an IRA. For a limited time, NavyFed is offering $50 when you open your first IRA with Navy Federal, plus you can earn another $100 when you setup a recurring automatic transfer of at least $50 per month to your new IRA. If, for example, you put in $5,000 towards a new IRA and got $150 + 2% APY of $100, that would work out to effectively 5% annualized interest for the first year.

Membership. The official eligibility options for NavyFed are primarily restricted to Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard regular Active Duty and reservists, and Army and Air National Guard personnel, but also includes family and household members of existing NavyFed members and some civilian employees in the Department of Defense. If you are looking for other ways to qualify, you might research this discussion on the Navy Federal Facebook page.

Navy Federal Credit Union has solid bank and loan products, including checking accounts with ATM rebates, competitive mortgage rates, and limited-time 0% balance transfer promotions. Readers have commented on their excellent customer service and the fact that they often keep and service the mortgages and other loans they originate.