Amazon Assistant Browser Extension: $5 off $25 Promotion

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Promo is back, supposedly for new customers but may work if you uninstalled it previously. Amazon Assistant is a browser extension for most popular web 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 for new users. 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:

  • Install the Amazon Assistant browser plugin. 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. Your cart must contain physical goods sold by Amazon.com.

Southwest Companion Pass: 3 Chase Credit Cards with 60k Bonus Points Each

swa_logoUpdated. Southwest 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.

As of March 31st, 2017, Southwest ended the ability to transfer hotel points to qualify for the Companion Pass. Therefore, I have removed a big chunk of this original post.

However, points earned from credit cards still count, including sign-up bonuses. As such, it is notable that all three Chase credit cards currently have a limited-time offer of 60,000 bonus points. Picking any two cards and qualifying for the bonus will get you there with no flying at all with an upfront cost as low as 69 + 99 = $168 in annual fees.

  • Chase Southwest Plus consumer card is offering 60,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $69 annual fee applies. 3,000 points at card anniversary (and you pay another annual fee).
  • Chase Southwest Premier consumer card is offering 60,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $99 annual fee applies. 6,000 points at card anniversary (and you pay another annual fee). No foreign transaction fees.
  • Chase Southwest Premier Business card offers 60,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $99 annual fee applies. 6,000 points at card anniversary (and you pay another annual fee). No foreign transaction fees.

Restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language:

This product is available if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Because the companion pass counts for the calendar year of qualification and the next full calendar year, you can still time things so that you have Companion Pass most of the time (assuming these credit card bonuses stay this high).

In addition, you can use all those points 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.

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn 120,000 Southwest points from signing up for just two credit cards with required total annual fees as low as $168. That’s enough points to automatically qualify for the Southwest Companion pass. With the 120k bonus points and Companion Pass, you’d have roughly 16 free one-way flights for two people. Not bad for $170. Explore the country!

Hyatt Credit Card – Two Free Nights Offer Changing to 40,000 Points on 6/29

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The Hyatt Credit Card is changing their sign-up bonus on 6/29/17. For now, you can get two free night awards after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. The free nights are valid for a standard room at any Hyatt hotel worldwide with no blackout dates, no resort fees, but expire within one year of issuance. You can also get 5,000 Hyatt points after adding an authorized user and having them make a first purchase in the first 3 months from account opening. This alternate link adds a $50 statement credit but says nothing about an authorized user bonus. Take your pick.

The new offer is supposed to be 40,000 Hyatt points after spending $2,000 within your first 3 months of cardmembership. The question is then:

What is better: Two free nights at any Hyatt hotel or 40,000 Hyatt points?

The overall answer is you should apply for the current offer if you have an aspirational hotel you want to stay at within the next year or so. Here is a screenshot of their award chart:

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As you can see, the best Hyatt hotels cost more than 20,000 Hyatt points per night, with a cash cost of $500+ per night. Some examples of these Category 6 and 7 properties:

There are about 50 hotels worldwide that at Cat 6 and Cat 7. If you don’t want to stay at one of those, then you should take the flexibility of the 40,000 Hyatt points. You don’t need to use them within a year, and you can also use Points + Cash redemptions if you want.

If you have any problems booking your award nights, I would first try using the phone and calling. If that doesn’t work, use the power of social media and contact their Gold Passport “Concierges” @hyattconcierge on Twitter.

Card highlights.

  • $75 annual fee. Not waived the first year.
  • Free Category 1-4 award night upon renewal. Upon annual fee renewal, you will also receive a free night certificate valid for Category 1-4 hotels. Category 3-4 hotels can easily run $200 to $300 per night.
  • Free Discoverist member status. Automatic as long as your card is open. This gets you minor room upgrades when available, premium internet access, and late 2pm checkout.
  • Explorist status after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases in a calendar year. Perks include guaranteed room availability up to 72 hours in advance, 4 Club lounge access awards and more.
  • 3 Bonus Points per $1 spent at all Hyatt hotels and resorts. 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies. 1 Bonus Point per $1 spent on all other purchases made with your card.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Restrictions. This Chase Hyatt card is not subject to “5/24” restrictions, although it will count as an opened card for other 5/24 cards. Our strategy is to have one person apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else like these. However, there is this language:

This product is available if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Bottom line. I enjoy using hotel awards to stay at luxurious places where I would balk at paying the full cash cost. Nights-based awards are nice for such aspirational stays. You can get $1,000+ value out of two free unrestricted night awards. The award certificates do expire after a year though, so you might prefer to wait for a points award with additional flexibility. I might even wait for an improved limited-time offer or something. But if you’ve been waiting on this bonus, you need to make a decision soon.

Standard eBooks: High-Quality, Free, Public Domain eBooks

sebooksThe Standard eBooks Project is a new volunteer-driven, not-for-profit project that produces carefully-formatted, open-source, and free public domain ebooks. They improve upon the work of sites like Project Gutenberg and HathiTrust in the following ways:

  • Modern & consistent typography
  • Proofreading with careful corrections
  • Light modernization of language (spelling, hyphenation)
  • Additional metadata
  • Ready to download in .epub (iBooks), Kobo, and Kindle native formats.

Basically, it makes these public domain books easier to download and more pleasurable to read. The only drawback so far is that the library is somewhat limited. You can also contribute in a variety of ways, from reporting errors to proofing entire books. Found via Daring Fireball.

The .epub format works with iBooks and most other readers, so you can download directly from iPad or iPhone. If you prefer to read on an Amazon Kindle, visit the website using your built-in web browser and download the .azw3 file directly. This saves you the step of having to transfer files from your computer.

Another source of free eBooks with improved formatting is Feedbooks.

Ally Bank 11-Month No Penalty CD at 1.50% APY for $25k+, 1.25% APY for $5k+

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Ally Bank raised the rate on their 11-month No Penalty CD. Here are the new interest rates under their tiered structure:

  • 1.50% APY at $25,000 minimum opening deposit
  • 1.25% APY at $5,000 minimum deposit
  • 1.00% APY at no minimum deposit.

The 11-month No Penalty CD is unique in that while the 1.50% APY rate is locked in at deposit, you can still withdraw your principal and interest without penalty at any time (well, you do have to wait at least 6 days from the deposit date). In other words, your interest rate can never go down, but you can still jump ship if rates rise or if there is a better promo elsewhere.

1.50% APY for $25k+ is higher than any other liquid savings account rate, while there are a handful of banks that beat the 1.25% rate for $5k balances. However, the rates on savings accounts can change at any time. Here the the top banks right now:

  • DollarSavingsDirect at 1.30% APY
  • BankPurely at 1.30% APY

What’s notable about these banks is that they are both “clones” of existing banks (Emigrant Direct and iGoBanking, respectively) which have lower interest rates. So they have a history of enticing new customers with high rates, and then lowering the rates on existing customers while hoping that they are too lazy or forgetful to move away. If you move funds over, be vigilant and ready to move out.

1.50% APY is also right at the top for most 12-month CDs that do come with early withdrawal penalties, although some have lower minimum deposit requirements in the $5k range.

This can be a great companion acount with the Ally Bank Online Savings and Interest Checking accounts, which are my primary bank accounts. I’ll have to decide quickly how much to move over into this 11-month CD as the rate may not last.

Rates as of 6/20/17.

Starbucks for Outlook: Send $5 Gift Card, Get $5 Gift Card Free

sbux_cupMmm… caffeine. Here’s a new promotion with Starbucks and Microsoft Outlook that is basically a Give 1 Get 1 Free $5 Starbucks eGfit Card. Here is the promo page and the terms and conditions page.

For a limited time, when you send a $5 Starbucks eGift Card using Outlook, you’ll be eligible to get a $5 Starbucks eGift Card. Just follow the steps below to send a Starbucks eGift Card to a friend or co-worker, and we’ll send you a $5 Starbucks eGift Card within 72 hours.

Follow the directions at the bottom of the promo page for Outlook.com. If you have a Microsoft Live (remember Hotmail?) and Starbucks Rewards account, this promo is actually pretty quick. Otherwise, you’d have to sign up for those two free accounts. You don’t need a Outlook.com e-mail, just use your existing e-mail. The free gift card came instantly and I was done in under 5 minutes.

Limited to the first 45,000 eligible customers between 6/20/17 and 6/30/17. Usually if they run out of free codes, they will take down the offer page. However, if you’re interested I’d take advantage of this offer as soon as possible.

Amazon Dash Wand With Alexa: $20 + $20 in Amazon Credit w/ Prime

wandAmazon has another gadget, this time called the Amazon Dash Wand With Alexa. You talk to the Alexa voice assistant and do Alexa-type things like ask the weather or order stuff (though it doesn’t play music), or you can scan physical barcodes with it. If you have Amazon Prime, it costs $20 but you’ll get a $20 promotional credit when you register your Amazon Dash Wand with your Amazon Prime account.

You may not have (or necessarily want) an always-listening Amazon Echo, so it’s good to have a cheap alternative. In addition, this device will get you access to “Alexa-only” deals, so this would be a free and easy way to gain that capability. You also get an extended 90-day free trial of AmazonFresh (normally $14.99 per month). Imagine grocery shopping by just saying out loud what you are running low on.

Promotional credit only applies to products sold by Amazon.com or Amazon Digital Services. Here are the full promo details.

CIT Bank High Yield Savings Account Bonus: 1.15% APY + $125/$250/$425

cit_logoCIT Bank has a Spring Savings Account promotion that stacks a flat bonus of $125 to $425 on top of their current interest rate of 1.15% APY. Here are the bonus amounts based on the minimum average balance that you maintain over 3 full monthly cycles. The $125 bonus is the best “value” in terms of percent of balance. In my opinion, the $425 number only best at getting your attention.

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Here are the terms highlights:

  • Account must be opened with Promotional Code BONUS17 by July 14, 2017.
  • Account must be funded within 30 days of account opening. Minimum deposit $100.
  • Funds used to qualify for bonus must be new funds, not already or recently on deposit with CIT Bank or One West.
  • Must maintain a minimum $15,000 average monthly balance for the first 3 full monthly statement cycles.
  • Any bonus for which the customer qualifies will be deposited to the account within 45 days of the end of the third full monthly statement cycle.

A full statement cycle is defined as beginning the first day of a month and ending the last day of that same month, e.g., 6/1/17 to 6/30/17. The average monthly balance for each full statement cycle is calculated as follows: at the end of each day, the Spring Savings Account balance is recorded. When the statement cycle ends, these end-of-day balances are added together and then divided by the number of days in the statement cycle to determine the average monthly balance.

Let’s run the numbers for $15,000. Let’s assume you open this account in June and fund with $15,000 right before June 30, 2017. That would mean you can maintain the minimum $15,000 average monthly balance for the first 3 full monthly statement cycles of July, August, and September 2017. The bonus would then be deposited within 45 days of 9/30/17, so let’s say 11/15/17.

As the account has no minimum balance requirement, technically you can take your money out at the end of September and as long as you keep it open you should get the $125 bonus. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say you keep all your money in there for 4.5 months until you get the bonus on 11/15/17 and then take it all out at once.

So from 7/1 to 11/15, assume you’ve earned 1.15% APY (call it a 1.14% rate without the compounding) the entire time and then the $125 bonus on a $15,000 balance. That would leave an ending balance of $15,000 + $64 interest + $125 bonus = $15,189. That works out to $189 in interest and ~3.36% annualized return over 4.5 months.

If you wanted simplicity and kept your $15,000 in there for a full 12 months, you’d end up with $15,000 + $172.50 interest + $125 bonus = $15,297.50 That works out to $297.50 in interest and ~1.98% annualized return over 12 months. So you could look at like a 12-month CD paying nearly 2% APY if you had $15,000 to put aside.

Let say you put in $50,000. From 7/1 to 11/15, assume you’ve earned 1.15% APY the entire time and then the $125 bonus on a $50,000 balance. That would leave an ending balance of $50,000 + ~$213.75 interest + $125 bonus = $50,338.75. That works out to ~$338.75 in interest and ~1.81% annualized return over 4.5 months.

If kept your $50,000 in there for a full 12 months, you’d end up with $50,000 + $575 interest + $125 bonus = $50,700. That works out to $700 in interest and ~1.40% annualized return over 12 months. Not looking as good.

Let say you put in $100,000. From 7/1 to 11/15, assume you’ve earned 1.15% APY the entire time and then the $250 bonus on a $100,000 balance. That would leave an ending balance of $100,000 + ~$427.50 interest + $250 bonus = $100,677.50. That works out to ~$677.50 in interest and ~1.81% annualized return over 4.5 months.

If kept your $100,000 in there for a full 12 months, you’d end up with $15,000 + $1150 interest + $250 bonus = $101,400. That works out to $1,400 in interest and ~1.40% annualized return over 12 months.

Bottom line. I wouldn’t call this is a screaming deal but if you wanted to put aside around $15,000 to $30,000 for the next 3 to 12 months, this promo makes it one of the highest effective APYs for an FDIC-insured account out there. (I’d run specific numbers if significantly more than $15,000.) You wouldn’t be able to move your money for at least 3 months to get the bonus, though you would still earn the 1.15% APY if you did withdraw early. You’d have to decide for yourself if the effort is worthwhile. Reportedly, CIT Bank does not perform a “hard” credit check when opening a new account.

Switch to Sprint, Get One Year of Free Cell Service (Unlimited Talk, Text, Data Plan)

blacksprintSprint has a new aggressive promotion aimed at existing postpaid customers of Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Sprint will give a free year of service to new customers who switch to Sprint and sign up on sprint.com/1yearfree by 6/30/17. Your free unlimited talk, text, and data service will run until 7/31/18. There is no requirement to continue service past that. Offer is valid for 1-5 lines. For example, if you currently pay $100 a month, this promotion is worth $1,200. If you pay $150 a month now, that’s $1,800 value.

The current promotion for Sprint Unlimited is $50 1st line, $40 2nd line, and $0 for lines 3-5. That’s $90 a year for 5 lines until 6/30/18. This new offer is for a free year of service, so even at that number it’s worth $1,080.

Important requirements and fine print:

  • You must bring over a phone that is already unlocked and compatible with Sprint (so that you just need to switch SIM cards). See list below, but enter your MEID and phone number to check eligibility.
  • You must own the phone(s) you’re bringing to Sprint. (Not on a lease plan.)
  • You must still pay a small monthly fee: “standard $1.99 admin fee, $0.40 regulatory fee and other taxes and fees apply.”
  • The $30 activation fee is waived as part of this promotion. The fee will appear on your first bill and a credit will appear within 2 bills.
  • Requires a Sprint SIM card ($2.99 + $10 shipping if not picked up in-store), paperless statements and Sprint AutoPay ($5/mo./line discount applied within two invoices). If AutoPay and eBill are removed, a $7.99/mo. charge will apply.
  • This deal is not available in any stores, you must sign up online through the special website above.
  • You must port-in from another postpaid carrier. Sprint requires a hard credit check on all new postpaid customers, including this offer.
  • If you keep the service past 7/31/18, you will then start to pay $60/mo. for line 1, $40/mo. for line 2 & $30/mo./line for lines 3-5.

Details about the Sprint Unlimited Plan:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data subject to the following limits below. Data deprioritization applies during congestion after 23 GB.
  • Stream video at up to HD 1080p, music at up to 1.5mbps, gaming at up to 8mbps.
  • 10GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data per line. Once your 10GB is used up, continue at up to 2G speeds (32 Kbps) for no additional cost, or purchase more on-network high-speed data for $15/1GB until the monthly billing cycle resets.

The following phones are eligible:

  • Apple iPhone 5C (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 5S (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 6
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple iPhone 6S
  • Apple iPhone 6S Plus
  • Apple iPhone 7 (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone SE
  • Google Nexus 5 (Verizon only)
  • Google Nexus 5X
  • Google Nexus 6
  • Google Nexus 6P
  • Google Pixel
  • Google Pixel XL
  • Motorola E4
  • Motorola Z2 Play
  • Motorola G4
  • Motorola G4 Play
  • Motorola G4 Plus
  • Motorola G5 Plus
  • Motorola X Pure Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ Special Edition

I’m definitely tempted by free (or at least somewhat close to it). Too bad they don’t allow switching in from a prepaid carrier.

Amazon Cash: Add $20, Get $10 Bonus Credit

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Amazon Cash is a new way to buy things at Amazon without a credit card, debit card, prepaid card, or bank account. You get a unique barcode linked to your Amazon account, and then bring it in to a participating physical store. You can either print it out or use your smartphone. Have the cashier scan it like you’re buying a physical item, pay with cash (or card*), and the funds will be loaded onto your Amazon balance (same place as where gift cards go). There are no fees. Participating stores include GameStop, CVS Pharmacy, KwikTrip, Fred’s Pharmacy, Cumberland Farms, and more.

(* Note: While this is designed to allow you to load with cash, you can also load with a credit card and thus earn rewards or cash back.)

Amazon is running a promotion that gives you $10 Amazon bonus credit if you add $20 via Amazon Cash.

For a limited time, add $20 or more to your Amazon Balance with Amazon Cash and earn a $10 Amazon Credit towards your next purchase from Amazon.com. Your discount will automatically be applied at checkout. This is a limited time offer, one per Amazon customer account. The promotional credit expires on August 31, 2017.

Offer is stated to expire 7/31/17, but it may end earlier. Note that the $10 free credit must be used on products shipped and sold by Amazon.

Virgin Atlantic Free Status Match to Silver and Gold

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Virgin Atlantic has a new official status match program that will match the elite status of another airline’s frequent flyer program for a full 12 months. (Oftentimes these status matches are unofficial and only last a few months.) To request a status match, you must already have a future flight booked with Virgin Atlantic in either Premium Economy or Upper Class. You must also show that you fly enough overall to possibly qualify for future status.

Here are the qualifying airline programs that will get you either Silver or Gold status for free with Virgin Atlantic. Note the absence of Delta as they are 49% owner of Virgin Atlantic.

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Here is the Gold/Silver benefits table for Virgin Atlantic.

Free 150 Marriott Rewards Points Promotion

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Offer is available again (albeit with less points). You can earn up to 150 free Marriott Rewards points by registering at this Chirpify promotional page and then connecting your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter social media accounts for 50 points each.

If you don’t have a Marriott Rewards account yet, go here first and grab 1,000 free points for joining.

This offer alone won’t get you enough points, but due to the ongoing Marriott-Starwood Hotels merger, you can transfer 1,000 Marriott points over to 333 Starwood Preferred Guest points, which will reset the expiration of your Starwood points and have your account considered active for another 12 months.