Wells Fargo + Apple Pay = Up to $30 in Bonuses

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Use your iPhone 6 to make an Apple Pay purchase with your Wells Fargo credit card by November 30, 2014, and you’ll earn a $20 statement credit.

Use your iPhone 6 to make an Apple Pay purchase with your Wells Fargo debit or prepaid Card by November 30, 2014, and you’ll earn a $10 statement credit.

AirBNB Promotion Codes: 20% Off First Booking or $50 off $75

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airbnblogoUpdated. Airbnb rents out everything from private rooms to entire houses to ancient castles. Here’s a list of current promo codes. Use coupon code 20off for 20% off your first booking of at least $200 minimum. You must book by 11:59 pm Pacific on November 1, 2014. Selected fine print:

The 20% discount is valid only for guests who have never completed a booking on Airbnb. To receive the discount, you must book via the Airbnb platform with the discount code as provided in this email prior to booking. You must complete a booking (including host acceptance) using the code before 11:59 pm PDT (California time) on November 1, 2014. The discount applies to the base cost of your reservation up to a maximum value of USD$200 off your reservation (excluding cleaning, service fees or taxes). No minimum length ofstay required.

Alternatively, right now you can get $50 AirBnB credit towards your first reservation via my referral link. Your booking must cost at least $75 to redeem the credit. The standard amount is usually $25, so I’m not sure how long this will last. I confirmed the $50 credit via this example booking screenshot:

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If you haven’t seen it, also check out this guy: I Bought an Apartment Just to Rent Out on Airbnb. Share your own Airbnb experiences in the comments.

Amazon Fire Streaming Stick 50% Off with Prime

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fire_stickOffer expired, now $39. Many cable TV “cord-cutters” get their TV fix using an HDTV over-the-air antenna and/or a streaming video device like the Roku, Google Chromecast, or Apple TV. Amazon has just announced their new Amazon Fire TV Stick. The regular price is $39, but if you have Amazon Prime and order it by 10/29/14 at 6am Pacific, you can get it for just $19. Here’s a comparison chart against similar competitors provided by Amazon (click to enlarge):

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Notably, Google Chromecast does not support Amazon Prime Instant Video and does not include a physical remote. Fire does not support HBO Go.

Not a Prime member? Join as Amazon Mom for a free 1-month Prime trial and get 50% off diapers. Join as Amazon Student with a .edu email address and get a free 6-month Prime trial.

I have an older Roku box that I’ve been using on and off for the last couple of years – it is useful for Plex which streams my own media from my hard drive to my TV and also for various kids shows on-demand from Amazon Prime Instant Video. (I cancelled my Netflix subscription after having kids since I don’t have time to binge-watch TV anymore.) So why am I going to buy this? Because my 2-year-old lost/hid/ingested the remote, and this new gadget is cheaper than buying a replacement Roku remote!

Republic Wireless: Unlimited Talk, Text, 3G Data for $25/Month, Moto E for $99

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motoeSeveral updates. Republic Wireless uses WiFi coverage to place mobile phone calls and texts whenever possible, saving both you and them money. They have quickly become a popular frugal option for cell service. When WiFi is unavailable, you fall back onto Sprint cell towers. No contracts, but you must buy a phone specially programmed with their WiFi software. Some recent updates:

  • Moto E. This newly-released value phone costs just $99. It won’t compete with a cutting-edge phone and is 3G-only, but it will do nearly everything you need – email, text, Facebook, internet. The reviews are actually pretty positive – read the Engadget and Verge reviews. Looks like the weakest point is the camera.
  • Moto X. Their premium phone is the Moto X at $299, which has 4G capabilities and also has solid reviews at a higher price point. See Engadget and Anandtech reviews.
  • Switch between plans for free. You can switch between any of the new plan options, up to twice per month, with no penalty. This means you could upgrade to cellular data for a week or a month if you need it, or downgrade to the $5 or $10 plan if you are traveling or don’t plan to use any data that month. Nice flexibility, and you can switch plans directly from your phone without calling customer service.
  • MMS and text short codes now supported. MMS (multimedia/picture texting) is now officially working with all major carriers and most regional carriers. You can also now text shortcodes.

Plan Options

Here’s a new graphic that explains the plans pretty succinctly:

  • $5/month = WiFi only. This is basically like VoIP home service, but on a smartphone. You must route all calls and text through WiFi.
  • $10/month = WiFi + Talk + Text. Unlimited talk and text, no cellular data.
  • $25/month = WiFi + Talk + Text + 3G Data. Unlimited talk, text, 3G data.
  • $40/month = WiFi + Talk + Text + 4G Data. Unlimited talk, text, 3G/4G data.

Prices don’t included taxes and surcharges. Below is information quoted about their Acceptable Use Policy:

Our policy is targeted toward the top 1% of users, based on mobile data consumption —that means users who consume more that 5GB of cellular data or 100MB of roaming data. The vast majority of our users will never reach these limits. In fact, the first time you hit this threshold, we give you a free pass —once in any six-month period we’ll allow you to exceed the limit— and your speed won’t be reduced. If you hit the threshold twice within a six month period, your speed will be reduced to 2G speeds for the remainder of the month of billing. We’ll make sure you’re aware if your usage starts to approach either benchmark.

My Thoughts
I think Republic Wireless has found a good balance between offering “unlimited” data and still making sure people use WiFi at home/work whenever possible as that is critical to their business model. If you remember, their initial limit back in 2011 was about 500 mb of data, which many (including me) thought was too restrictive. Now, it’s 10 times as much at 5 GB of data, and you get a free pass every 6 months. I like that they are continually improving their service in a relatively open and transparent manner.

With the announcement of their new $99 Moto E phone, I finally bought one with the goal of letting my parents use it (and play with the technology myself…). Their previous phone was a Virgin Mobile Kyocera flip phone, so this should be a huge upgrade. They do have an iPad, so it shouldn’t be too hard to pick up. Hopefully, they can cycle between the $10 and upgrade to the $25 plan when they travel. I don’t think they need data on a daily basis. Learn more at RepublicWireless.com.

$20 Referral Bonus
Until October 31st, 2014 (only one more week!) new customers can also get a $20 monthly plan credit by signing up via my referral link. If you don’t use it all, it will carry over to future months. If you get $20, my parents will also get $20 of monthly plan credit. You should see the credit on your confirmation page, see this screenshot.

Coupon Code: $10 off $100 at Costco.com

Costco CardsYou can get a one-time use coupon code for $10 off a $100+ purchase at Costco.com if you visit SavingsTooBig.com and share the deal. I’d say the easiest option is Twitter as I didn’t even have to actually post the tweet to get the code (although I did anyway… why not share?). Costco.com is actually a good way to get big or heavy stuff delivered directly to you; their shipping cost quotes have often been a lot lower than I thought it would be. You can also buy a lot of stuff for the same price as in-store, so why not save $10.

Only valid on Costco.com. Not valid in warehouse. One coupon code per Costco member. Ineligible purchases include: new Costco memberships, Costco membership renewals, gift of membership, online gift certificates, Costco Cash cards, custom installation services and online-digital print orders. Not valid for orders at the Pharmacy, Costco Travel or Costco Business Delivery. The merchandise total in your cart must equal $100 or more before tax and shipping to receive the $10 off. The coupon code must be entered in the promo code box at checkout to be valid. This offer may not be combined with any other offer or promotion. No cash redemption value. View Official Rules. Offer expires 12/31/2014.

Chase Ink Plus Business Card Review: $500 Cash, $625 Travel, or 50,000 Rewards Points Bonus

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Chase Ink Plus Card ArtChase has 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:

Ultimate Rewards points are very flexible:

  • Cash. 1 point = 1 cent in cash, so 50,000 points = $500 cash.
  • Travel. 1 point = 1.25 cents towards travel, so 50,000 points = $625 towards travel at the same prices at Expedia or Travelocity (no % markups), split up however you like into multiple tickets, down to the penny. Good for people who don’t like to bother with miles.
  • Frequent flier miles and hotel rewards points. Transfers directly to United miles, British Airways miles, Hyatt hotel points, and Marriott hotel points. Best for folks that are willing to research and maximize their miles. Top up your account to reach an award, an transfer over only what you need.

The card also has the following same Ink Bold features:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards..
  • Flexibility to pay your balance over time or in full.
  • Earn 5X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 2X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs
  • Chip-enabled for enhanced security at home and abroad
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year, then $95.

You can buy Amazon.com gift cards at Staples and OfficeMax and get the 5x points, effectively discounting them 5% in cash (6.25% in travel), which may also help you with the spending requirement. Based on past experiences, you should be able to get this card and bonus in addition to the Ink Bold card as they are different cards. I already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred personal card and the Ink Bold card, so I’ll probably wait for a bit during my no-annual-fee first year and then try out this new card as well for my business. Gift cards purchases are also useful for satisfying the spending requirement for the bonus.

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that they can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not a corporation or LLC. The business type is called a sole proprietorship, and these days many people are full-time or part-time consultants, freelancers, or other one-person business. 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.

“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.”

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Amazon Promo: Buy $50 of Household Essentials, Get $15 Gift Card

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charminAmazon is running a promotion where if you buy $50 of select Household & Beauty Essentials, you will get a $15 Amazon.com gift card (add it to your cart and it’ll show as free upon checkout). Eligible items include Bounty paper towels, Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper, Tide pods, Gillette Fusion blade refills, and other P&G products.

I did a quick price comparison for the Bounty and Charmin and got varying results. Before taking into account the promo, the Bounty paper towels listed are priced competitively at $2.81 per “huge” roll vs. $2.74 at Walmart.com and $2.75 at Target.com. If you say the $15 off $50 is 30% off, then after the promo each roll is $1.97 per huge roll. (Supposedly each huge roll is 2.5 regular rolls.)

But a similar comparison for the Charmin toilet paper has it at $0.72 per “double” roll vs. $0.50 at Walmart and $0.58 at Target. After 30% off the Charmin goes back to $0.50 a roll, which isn’t much of a deal. I haven’t done this for the other products, but it might be worth a quick comparison. If you like these brands, this promo will probably still save you some money.

Also, I didn’t factor in that you can currently get an additional 5% back at Amazon with both the Chase Freedom or Discover It cards.

Truvia Natural Sweetener Class Action Settlement

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truviaCargill has settled a lawsuit alleging their Truvia Natural sweeteners were not so “natural” because they contained ingredients that were highly processed and/or derived from genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”) and that the descriptions of the products, and of the ingredients of which these products were made, were inaccurate or misleading. Here are the details from TruviaSweetenerLawsuit.com.

  • The Settlement Class includes all persons who, from July 1, 2008 through July 24, 2014, resided in the US and purchased Truvia products for their personal consumption and not for resale. Includes Truvia Natural Sweetener in packet, spoonable jar, and baking blend forms, of any size or quantity.
  • Depending on how much Truvia you bought or paid for, you may receive up to $45 cash or $90 in Truvia product vouchers. Details on the breakdown here.
  • No proof of purchase is necessary to file a claim. However, the Claim Form must be signed under penalty of perjury affirming that the information provided is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.

Even if everything goes smoothly the checks for this probably won’t be sent out for another year or more.

Citi® Double Cash Card Review: Earn 1% When You Buy + 1% As You Pay

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citidouble200Update: Certain existing Citi cards are now eligible for conversion to this new card. Details below*. Citi has just launched an all-new cash back credit card and it is actually quite compelling. With the Citi® Double Cash Card, as the name suggests you earn cash back twice:

  • 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make
  • Plus an additional 1% unlimited cash back as you pay for those purchases, whether you pay in full or over time.

This all comes with no caps, no category restrictions, no quarterly enrollment hoops, no rotating categories. All with no annual fee. The only way you don’t get your 1% + 1% total is if you default on your bill and don’t even make the minimum payments. You can redeem your cash rewards in full as soon as it totals $25 or more, via check or statement credit (i.e. if you have $31.44, you can get a check for $31.44).

So is this a 2% cashback card? Imagine you put $100 on the charge, 1% is earned so you have $1. Then you redeem that $1 (ignore minimums for this example) for a statement credit (as opposed to paper check) which means Citi actually “paid” for $1 of the $100. So you pay the remaining $99 and get an additional 1% or $0.99 back. Final tally: $1.99 back on $100 in purchases, or 1.99% back.

  • If you ask for your cash rewards in the form if a statement credit, you’ll get 1.99% effective cash back.
  • If you ask for your cash rewards in the form of a check, you’ll get the full 2% total cash back.

If you charged $1,000 per month, the difference between 1.99% and 2% per month would be a whopping 10 cents per month, or 1.20 per year.

There have been flat 2% cards in the past (Fidelity Mastercard, Sallie Mae, Priceline) but they are all no longer open to new applicants. However, most existing cardholders were grandfathered in, so based on that precedent you may want to get this card while it is still offered. Based on call with a Citi phone rep, you cannot convert an existing Citi card to this one at this time.

(* Added 10/2014: According to various online reports, certain existing Citi cardholders can now convert their card to this Citi Double Cash card. Most success stories involve Citi Dividend and Citi ThankYou cards. Many Dividend holders got to keep their cash rewards balances; ThankYou cardholders must still have another linked ThankYou card or risk losing points. Some people got to keep their old number, others got new numbers. Speculation is that having a Mastercard helps in this regard. Most rejection stories involve the Citi Forward or Citi Simplicity cards. While there is uncertainty, it does appear worth a shot if you are interested. Converted cards are not eligible for the 0% interest for 15 months mentioned below. Call the number on the back of your card or their main line at 800-950-5114.)

Obviously, you’ll want to pay in full every month (unless taking advantage of the 0% APR promo rate on purchases) as to not rack up interest charges which can quickly offset your cashback rewards.

0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99%-22.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Bottom line. Given the combination of the ability to get 2% flat cashback on all purchases, no annual fee, and the fact that it is a Mastercard which has the widest acceptance, the Citi Double Cash is a great rewards card to keep in your wallet, both for those who prefer simplicity and just want one card and for those who like optimizing multiple cards and can now establish a 2% minimum on everything. I don’t know of any other card that offers this combination of features.

Citi Double Cash Leaderboard

Red Bull Class Action Settlement

Red Bull has settled a lawsuit alleging that their marketing and labeling misrepresents both the functionality and safety of Red Bull beverages. The Settlement Class includes all persons who made at least one purchase of Red Bull products in the United States between January 1, 2002 and October 3, 2014. If you are a qualified Settlement Class Member and submit a Claim Form, you may choose one of the following:

  • A cash reimbursement (in the form of a check) of $10.00; or
  • Free Red Bull products (either Red Bull ® Energy Drink or Red Bull ® Sugarfree, as selected on the Claim Form) with a retail value of approximately $15.00 (the “Product Option”). They will mail it to you at their cost.

“No proof of purchase is necessary to obtain settlement benefits. However, the Claim Form must be signed by you under penalty of perjury (either by hand or, if you submit it online, electronically), affirming that you are a qualified member of the Settlement Class and that the information provided therein is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.”

This is all taken from the official site EnergyDrinkSettlement.com. Checks probably won’t be mailed out until late 2015 at the earliest.

Money Magazine Best Credit Card Rankings 2014

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money1410The October 2014 issue of Money Magazine features their annual rankings of the “Best Credit Cards”. Here’s a condensed list of their top picks for various categories. I’ve written about most of them, and in those cases I’m linking to that post which provides more details. Otherwise, I’m linking directly to the card page and including a few highlights about the card.

Best for Balance Transfers (Low, long introductory APR)

  • Chase Slate Card. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. No balance transfer fee if you transfer within the first 2 months. No annual fee.

Best for Regular Balance Carriers (Low ongoing APR)

Best for Purchases (Low, long introductory APR)

  • Citi Simplicity Card. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months. 3% balance transfer fee, $5 min. No annual fee.

Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Rewards (Tie)

  • Citi Double Cash Card. 1% flat back when you swipe, 1% flat when you pay your bill. No limits or tiers. If you redeem rewards via check that is 2% flat cash back, if you redeem via statement credit then it is actually technically 1.99% cash back. Spend $2,000 a month on this Mastercard and get back $480 a year without changing your spending patterns. No annual fee.
  • Fidelity American Express. 2% back with no limit or tiers. Rewards must be deposited into a Fidelity account.

Best For Cash Back on Essentials

Best 5% Cash Back Cards (Tie)

  • US Bank Cash Plus. 5% back on two categories from 12 possible choices, on $2,000 in purchases per quarter. No annual fee. Must apply in physical branch, application is not available online.
  • Chase Freedom. 5% in categories that rotate quarterly, on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter. $100 sign-up bonus. No annual fee.

Best For Travel Rewards / Traveling Abroad.

Best For Miles Hounds / Best Sign-Up Bonus.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred. Big upfront sign-up bonus, 2x points on Dining and Travel, Ultimate Rewards points offer flexible transfers to miles, cash, or travel credit.  $0 annual fee first year, then $95.

Best For Hotel Perks.

Best For Small Business Rewards.

  • Chase Ink Cash. Decent sign-up bonus, 5% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. No annual fee.

Best For Small Business Borrowing.

  • US Bank Business Edge Platinum. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, 10% to 18% after that. This is the lowest APR among no annual fee small biz cards. No annual fee.

Best First Card For a College Kid

Best Card For Online Shopping

  • Discover It Card. The ShopDiscover portal offers cash back bonuses of 5% to 20% at select online retailers, which can be redeemed as statement credit. Also has 5% rotating categories. No annual fee.

Discover Card 5% Back At Lowe’s, Shell Gas, or Walgreens

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Discover It and Discover More cardholders may be able to get 5% cashback at your choice of one of the following stores: Applebee’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s, Olive Garden, Shell, or Walgreens from now until November 30th, 2014. Subject to a cap of $1,000 in purchases. Valid both in-store and online. I think the best options for most would be Lowe’s (home improvement or wide selection of gift cards to Amazon, etc), Shell (gasoline), or Walgreens (coupon book items, expensive meds, or gift cards). I was able to get the promo by doing the following:

  1. First, log into your existing online account at Discover.com.
  2. Then, come back here and click on this link from the same browser.

You should see this page (click to enlarge):

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This is in addition to the standard 5% back categories on the Discover it card, currently 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases at Online Shopping and Department Stores and movies for 4th quarter of 2014. Selected fine print:

*Sign up to earn 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1000 in total purchases made at your choice of one of the following stores: Applebee’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s, Olive Garden, Shell, or Walgreens from 10/1/14 (or the date you sign up, whichever is later) through 11/30/14. Once you sign up, no changes can be made to your selection. Purchases made using virtual wallets or third party payment providers will not be eligible. Purchases made outside of the U.S. will not be eligible. Rewards are added to your Cashback Bonus account within 2 billing periods. See Cashback Bonus Program Terms and Conditions for further details.