Virgin Mobile Full Year of Unlimited Service for $1 w/ iPhone Purchase

virginmobie

Virgin Mobile has extended their promotion offering a full year of unlimited service for $1 for new customers who buy an iPhone and transfer their number, as well as current Virgin Mobile customers who upgrade to an iPhone. Auto-pay required. It has officially been extended through 8/31/17.

Virgin Mobile USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint and is thus on the Sprint network. Unlimited talk, text, and data with de-prioritization after 23 GB each month. Although taxes are technically not included, people report being charged only 8 cents per month, so apparently it’s not a concern. After the first year, the unlimited plan costs $50 a month including all taxes as this is a prepaid service.

The cost of the newest iPhones from Virgin Mobile is comparable to buying direct from Apple. For example, iPhone 7 32GB version is $649. However, there are discounts for older models: iPhone 6 32GB is $320. iPhone SE 32GB is $280.

Compare this offer with the Sprint Free Year of Unlimited offer. For the Sprint offer, you must bring your own eligible device and qualify via a hard credit check. If you don’t want an iPhone, you could buy a New Unlocked Moto E4 for $99 from Amazon. For this Virgin Mobile offer, you must buy a new iPhone for at least $280 but there is no credit check. Sprint includes mobile hotspot tethering, while Virgin charges an extra $10 a month.

Per this press release, Virgin will also throw in the following perks:

  • A round-trip companion ticket to the United Kingdom on Virgin Atlantic
  • One night’s stay at Virgin Hotels
  • $170 savings on an introductory offer to Virgin Wines club
  • Up to 20% off flights on Virgin America
  • 20% off on the Virgin Sport San Francisco Festival of Fitness (Oct. 13-15)

If you wanted to buy an iPhone anyway (a new model is coming out soon) and are okay with the Sprint network, this can work out to a good deal. You could get a new iPhone 6 (which is still perfectly useable in my opinion) and a year of Unlimited talk/text/data service for $321. After the first year, you’ll still have the iPhone 6 which you can use on another network.

Amazon Prime: Spend $25, Get Free Snack ($5-$8 Value)

azsnack Amazon Prime members who spend $25 or more can get a free Happy Belly or Wickedly Prime snack with the promo code PRIMESNACK. I do love Chicago-style popcorn…

Here are the eligible products:

To redeem, add $25+ worth of products that are sold by Amazon.com or Amazon Digital Services LLC to your cart. Amazon gift cards don’t qualify, but the following online and physical gift cards from Safeway, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Lowe’s Home Improvement, etc should work. I personally was going to buy these Anker Bluetooth earbuds for $25 anyway.

Then add one of the Amazon snacks above (~$5 to ~$8 value). Enter promo code PRIMESNACK at checkout and the snack should be free.

Alaska Airlines Dash For Miles Promotion: 3,000 Bonus Miles, Reset Expiration

alaskamilesAlaska Airlines has a Dash for Miles promotion where you can earn up to 3,000 bonus miles: 1,000 bonus miles times three partner sites through September 30, 2017. You must register at the link above first, and then complete at least one transaction from any of the following:

All of these sites are relatively easy to participate in. Mileage Plan Dining has a relatively wide restaurant network and you could link a credit card and buy a $2 soda. Mileage Plan shopping can be triggered with a $5 purchase at Staples.com, Gap.com, or Groupon. The Opinion Terminal only takes the time commitment to fill out an initial survey. (I was able to get the 400 miles after about 15 minutes. Some people only get 5 miles, but that’s enough to trigger the 1,000 point bonus.)

This promo can also be used to reset the expiration of your Alaska Mileage Plan miles for another 24 months. If a Mileage Plan account is inactive for 2 years, Alaska Airlines may close the account, delete any mileage balance and reassign the Mileage Plan number. Deleted mileage can be reinstated for a fee for up to 1 year.

Dash for Miles Challenge Offer Terms & Conditions:

Limited time offer valid August 7, 2017 through September 30, 2017: Mileage Plan™ members who register for this offer and complete at least one transaction with each of Mileage Plan Dining, Mileage Plan Shopping, and Miles for Surveys during the promotional period will receive 1,000 bonus Miles for each partner they earn with. Registration is required prior to the first qualifying transaction. Bonus Miles do not count towards Mileage Plan Elite Status. Bonus Miles will be awarded within six weeks of the last qualifying transaction posting to a member’s account. All terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan program apply. Offer subject to change without notice.

1,000 Marriott Rewards Points for New Visa Checkout Customers

visacheckoutHere’s another promotion for Visa Checkout (they are really pushing this thing). Create a new Visa Checkout account from Marriott.com and earn up to 1,000 free Marriott Rewards points: Earn 500 points when you sign up for Visa Checkout on Marriott.com and 500 points when you use Visa Checkout within 15 days of signing up.

Stack with the Starbucks / Visa Checkout promo. You can have multiple Visa Checkout accounts (each one needs a separate e-mail/phone number and credit card). For this promo, the e-mail address must match between Visa Checkout and Marriott Rewards, so you might need to change one or the other beforehand. Fine print:

Offer valid through 9/24/17 while supplies last. Only new Visa Checkout users eligible. Address on Visa Checkout account must match email address associated with Marriott Rewards member account. […] Allow 6 to 8 weeks from the end of the Promotion Period for delivery of the bonus points award. Marriott Rewards members who have elected in their account profile to earn miles are not eligible for the Promotion.

$20 Starbucks Gift Card for $10 with Visa Checkout

sbux_cupFall promo is live. Starbucks is selling $20 Starbucks Gift Card for $10 if you buy it using Visa Checkout instead of credit card directly. Limited to the first 225,000 loads, but if you can still buy a gift card at the link, then the promotion is should still be alive. Otherwise valid 8/14/17 to 9/30/17.

Hey, Starbucks finally figured out that it would be nice to have all this reflected during checkout! A screenshot from my order:

sbux20

Selected terms:

Promotional Offer Terms: Read the following terms to see how you can get a promotional $10 added to the value of your Starbucks eGift Card while supplies last (“Bonus Load”). Starbucks will give away 225,000 Bonus Loads between 8/14/17 and 9/30/17 (“Promotional Period”). To receive a Bonus Load, you must purchase a minimum $10 Starbucks eGift Card with your valid Visa Checkout® Account during the Promotional Period and meet other eligibility requirements below.

Free 1,000+ Marriott Rewards Points Promotion

marriottchirp0

Back again, but different? I’m not sure if this works if you’ve already done it before, but there is a new Chirpify promotional page with a new #RewardsPoints hashtag (instead of #MRpoints) showing the following opportunities:

  • 750 free points. 250 points each for linking your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.
  • 250 free points. 125 points each for following Marriott Rewards on Twitter and Instagram.
  • ???. There is a vague reference to additional points earning opportunities. “A maximum of 45,000 points per Marriott Rewards account can be earned each calendar year through #RewardsPoints.”

Here’s a link to the FAQ. I don’t know why all these things ask for the ability to post on your behalf, but then promise “we won’t post on your behalf”. So why ask for it? Just as with secondary e-mail accounts, some people choose to keep secondary social media accounts…

Free Collection of Investing Books by Meb Faber

investwiththehouse

Free again. Asset manager Meb Faber is promoting the launch of his new book, The Best Investment Writing: Selected writing from leading investors and authors (Vol. 1), by making all four previous self-published books free in Kindle format for a limited time (ends Saturday 8/5). Below are direct links to each book. Check first that the Kindle price is $0 (“0.00 to Buy”), then buy it to own permanently. Do not click “Read for Free”.

Grab them now while they are free, and read later at your convenience. You can read Kindle eBooks on smartphones or on any computer via web browser.

I enjoy reading these books, but I’m always careful when reading about finely-diced backtested strategies that worked well in the past. Before you put your hard-earned money at risk, please realize that even if they continue to work (which is in no way guaranteed given how markets tend to weed out edges), they will still be hard to stick to in real life. At some time, you will underperform other strategies for an extended period of time. You must ride out those low periods in order to achieve any sort of market-beating returns. In my opinion, the fancier the strategy, the harder it is to keep faith.

Costco New Membership Discount – LivingSocial

costco0LivingSocial has a Costco Gold Star Membership Package where for $60 you can get $215.63 value:

  • 1-year Gold Star membership ($60 normally), which includes a membership card for the primary cardholder as well as one free Household Card
  • $20 Costco Cash card
  • $$35.63 in free coupons – Free Paper Towels Create-a-Size 12/160 ct ($15.69 value), Free VitaRain Zero Flavored Water 24/20 oz bottles ($9.99 value), and Free Food Court Whole Pizza ($9.95 value)
  • $25 off an order of $250 on Costco.com
  • $75 Costco Cash Card toward Costco Travel to the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, or the South Pacific (excludes cruises)

Valid for new members only, which here means the primary cardholder can’t have a current Costco membership or a membership that expired after April 1, 2017. Offer is valid at all U.S. Costco locations.

The last $100 is harder to redeem, but the $20 gift card and $25 in free paper towels/pizza still makes it a pretty good deal if you have a household member without a current membership.

Remember that you can save a bit more on your LivingSocial purchases with cashback shopping sites like eBates ($5 new customer bonus) and Mr. Rebates ($5 bonus).

Amazon Prime: Buy Sample Box, Get Equal Credit Towards Similar Products

azsample2

Updated (again) with new sample boxes. Amazon Prime members can buy sample boxes that come with a credit towards a future purchase in that specific product category. For example, you can buy a beverage sample box for $9.99 and then you’ll get an equal $9.99 credit towards a future purchase that is valid towards eligible items in that category (i.e. beverages in that sample box). You’ll still get Amazon Prime free shipping. Here are the currently available sample boxes:

The following are currently marked as unavailable:

Due to the way this deal is structured, I choose to view it is a “free sample box” if you would already otherwise purchase something on their eligible item lists. That way you’re not buying something you don’t need anyway.

Limited-Time Offer: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® 75,000 Mile Bonus

Citi AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard Art

Limited-time offer. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, from our partner Citi, is their premium American Airlines co-branded card. The previous 50,000 miles bonus has been improved to 75,000. Here are the details:

  • For a limited time, earn 75,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.*
  • Admirals Club® membership included for you and guests with you.*
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge Access for authorized users.
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year.*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases.*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation.*
  • Receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or The TSA PreCheck®.
  • $450 annual fee.

Note the following fine print:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

As mentioned, this is the highest level Citi/American Airlines card. The 75,000 miles are nice and can be converted to several hundred dollars (or more) worth of airfare. $100 for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry is nice. But the annual fee is a hefty $450. The special features of this card that the lesser cards omit are Admirals Club lounge membership and the opportunity to earn Elite Qualifying Miles towards status.

Admirals Club lounge membership value and details. Admirals Club membership usually costs ~$500 a year on its own, and this is now the only card that gives it to you as a complimentary feature. Here’s the full cost chart:

aa_clubcost

This membership allows both you and your immediate family (or up to two traveling guests that accompany you) to access over 50 Admirals Club locations worldwide. You don’t even need to be on an American Airlines flight! You can even give your spouse or trusted friend/family an authorized user card and they’ll get lounge access too, even while traveling separately from you. (Authorized user cards have no additional fee.)

You can be flying on any airline, and if that airport has an Admirals Club you and your family can go inside. Lounge access might save you money on certain things like comfortable seats, free food/drink, WiFi, and sometimes hot showers. Mostly it just makes the overall flying experience more pleasant. I’ve been to Admiral’s Clubs with special kids rooms; perfect for families during delays or layovers.

American Airlines elite qualifying miles. For those that know you can generate the required $40,000 in spending in a calendar year . I’ve given up status chasing for the time being, but if you’re an elite on American, you probably already know the value of accumulating these type of miles. 10,000 elite qualifying flight miles is like going from Honolulu to Los Angeles, roundtrip, twice.

Bottom line. The limited-time bonus bump to 75,000 miles is nice, but this remains a niche premium card. If you can take advantage of the Admiral Club lounge access, this can be a great way to get it for you and your travel companions. If you don’t care about lounge access and aren’t trying to achieve elite status on American, this card is probably not for you given the relatively high spending requirements.

“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 Trial w/ 2 Free AudioBooks (May Work For Previous Trial Members)

audible2promo0Amazon Audible has an improved promotion where you can get a free 1-month trial to Audible that includes 2 audiobook credits (usually only 1 audiobook credit). Even if you are not a new member, try clicking anyway as it worked for me and I had a previous trial Audible membership. Here’s what you should see after clicking on “Start your free trial” and logging into your account:

audible2promo1b

Your Audible audiobooks will remain in your account forever even if you stop the monthly membership fee. So you’re basically getting $30+ worth of audiobooks for free. If you do nothing, after 30 days you’ll be charged the normal $14.95/month membership fee that includes 1 audiobook credit per month. As with other Amazon trials, you can set it not to renew and still use up the rest of the trial. If you are paranoid, I would recommend picking out two books quickly and canceling right afterward.

Additional Audible membership features include being able to swap out audiobooks if you don’t like it after listening for a bit, and 30% off the list price of additional audiobooks. You can even have Alexa read your audiobook to you.

audible2promo2

During my first trial, I listened to Shoe Dog (Nike origin story) and When Breathe Becomes Air. Here’s my Shoe Dog review; I enjoyed it in audiobook format. When Breathe Becomes Air was poignant, but I think I’d rather have read it as a physical book.

Audible’s algorithm keeps recommending that I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, so maybe I’ll try that one next. I’ll probably enjoy listening to this one better, though: I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons from Kevin Hart.

Citi ThankYou Premier Card Review – 50,000 Bonus Points

Citi Premier CardThe Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has re-launched from our partner Citi, with an improved sign-up bonus and purchase rewards structure. You can now earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  The highlights:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months the account of account opening.*
  • 50,000 ThankYou® Points are redeemable for $625 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou travel center or $500 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • Earn 3X Points on Travel, Including Gas Stations
  • Earn 2X Points on Dining Out and Entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline and hotel loyalty programs.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Annual fee is waived for the first year. $95 annual fee afterward. $0 fee for additional users.

Triple points include both air/hotel/car rental and daily commute items. The triple (3X) points on on travel includes hotels, airfare, taxis, car rental, public transportation, parking, cruises, and even gas. When combined with the 25% travel premium, makes that equivalent to a 3.75% reward towards gas and travel booked through Citi Travel Center. The double (2X) on restaurants (includes bars and fast food) and entertainment (sporting events) makes that 2.5% towards travel booked through Citi Travel Center.

Bonus details. The initial sign-up bonus was formerly 30,000 ThankYou points, and while we have seen 50,000 and 60,000 for short periods before, it is a historically high number. Note the following fine print:

Bonus ThankYou Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.

Note there is talk that the Citi Prestige card will change their sign-up bonus soon to 75,000 ThankYou points, but there will also be a $450 annual fee that is not waived (and a $250 airfare fee credit).

What can you do with 50,000 ThankYou Points? Citi has been trying to improve the value and flexibility of ThankYou points, so here is a rundown of what you can do with 50,000 of them. Bonus ThankYou Points not available if you have had a Citi ThankYou Premier card opened or closed in the past 18 months.

citty20

$625 towards flexible airfare, hotel nights, car rentals, and cruises. With the new Citi Premier card, you get a 20% discount on the standard number of points needed for a travel redemption. The reverse math means 1 ThankYou point = 1.25 cents towards travel. Note that this 25% bonus applies all of your points from all Citi cards linked to the same ThankYou account, thus boosting the value of all your other points.

That means 50,000 ThankYou points will get you $625 in airfare, hotel nights, car rentals, and cruises book through the Citi Travel Center, which in my experience had the same total price with taxes as compared to Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Since you can book any flight that can be otherwise purchased with cash, there are “no blackout dates”.

This can be even more flexible because you can use it across multiple flights, multiple passengers, and you can even do partial redemptions. Let’s say you found a ticket that want for $200 = 16,000 points, but only have 10,000 points available. Citi now lets you pay the difference, so in this case you can get your $200 ticket for 10,000 points and $75. This makes it much easier to use up all of your points at a 25% premium.

$500 in gift, $500 check towards student loan or mortgage. You can view your redemption options at ThankYou.com. I took a quick look and it takes 10,000 ThankYou (TY) points to redeem for a $100 gift card to retailers like Gap, Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Bath and Body Works, Bed Bath & Beyond, Cabelas, CVS Pharmacy, Kohl’s, Land’s End, LL Bean, Sears, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Staples, and Walmart. So with 30,000 TY points, you could get five $100 gift cards from different stores.

Want something closer to cash? For a check mailed to you, it is 8,000 points for $50 (1 points = 0.625 cent). The best deal is a check mailed towards your mortgage payment or student loan (made out to your lender), which is 7,500 points for $75 (1 points = 1 cent).

Hotel points and airline miles transfer options. Citi ThankYou points are also now available to transfer to certain airline mileage programs on a 1:1 basis including JetBlue, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Etihad, Flying Blue by Air France and KLM, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways. For example, 50,000 TY points can get you 50,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles. If you know how to redeem this points wisely, you can get a lot of value for international flights.

Bottom line. The increased 50,000 point sign-up bonus with the annual fee waived for the first year is historically high. I choose to focus on the flexible value where 50,000 points = $625 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou travel center. The airline points transfer partners are may get you better value for international flights (or JetBlue for domestic). I like the new rewards structure but a cardholder would need a fair amount of spending in the bonus categories (gas, airfare, hotels, dining out) in order to offset the $95 annual after the first year where they waive it.

“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.”