Extra 30% Off Any Print Book


Black Friday Weekend 2015. Take an extra 30% off any book at with promo code HOLIDAY30. Print books only, max $10 off, must by sold and shipped by Valid until November 30, 2015 at 02:59am EST.

Stack with your $15 off $60 at Amazon from American Express, 10% off Amazon from Chase Freedom, and 5% off Amazon from Discover (10% with Double Promotion).

Here are some recommendations for those looking to give or receive some financial inspiration:

Here are all my book reviews in reverse-chronological order.

My favorite book of 2014 was Dinner A Love Story. It has some inspirational material to help you cook for yourself and your family, along with the best compilation of weeknight dinner recipes I’ve read in a cookbook. They taste special enough (not bland or boring), but they also take 30 minutes. I still use it to this day.

My favorite book of 2015… I looked back at my book reviews and didn’t really have a strong favorite. I would say one trend is that I have become a fan of re-reading Vanguard founder Jack Bogle’s classic books. His old stuff has a lot of common sense reasoning that doesn’t always fit with today’s “one-size-fits-all” advice.

Capital One 360 Savings Promo – Earn Up to a $500 Bonus

Up to $500 Promo is back until November 30th, 2015. Capital One 360 Savings has a limited-time sign-up bonus for up to $500 for new customers, tiered depending on your opening deposit. Here’s a quick recap of the features of 360 Savings accounts:

  • No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.
  • No minimum deposit required to open an account.
  • Free electronic fund transfers to a linked checking account.
  • 24/7 online and mobile access, or talk to a real person 7 days a week 8AM-8PM.
  • % APY as of 10.02.2015

Bonus instructions.

  1. You must open your first 360 Savings Account by the promotion expiration date, 11/30/2015 at 11:59 PM EST. (If you’ve had a Savings product with Capital One 360 or ING DIRECT before, you won’t be eligible for the bonus.)
  2. To qualify for a bonus, your account must be funded within the first 10 days of account opening. Deposits from an existing Capital One 360 account will not qualify for the bonus.
  3. The amount of your bonus will be determined based on the highest amount you deposit within the first 10 days of account opening and maintaining that balance on a daily basis for the next 90 days following the 10 day period. You must deposit a minimum of $5,000 and maintain a daily balance of $5,000 for 90 days after the initial 10 day period to qualify for any bonus. The amount of the bonus you actually earn will be determined based on the following balance tiers during the initial 10 day period and the 90 day period after that: $5,000+ earns a $50 bonus, $10,000+ earns a $100 bonus; $20,000+ earns a $200 bonus; $30,000+ earns a $300 bonus; $40,000+ earns a $400 bonus; and $50,000+ or more earns a $500 bonus. The maximum bonus you can earn is $500.

Essentially, if you deposit an amount exactly on the tier level, you will earn 1% of your deposit (i.e. $50 on $5,000 or $500 on $50,000) with a minimum holding period of 90 days following the 10-day deposit window. This is in addition to the existing interest rate.

For more details on the account interface and such, please check out my 360 Savings account review.

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Disclosure: I will receive a referral if you open an account via one of the links above, as a paid endorsement. To my knowledge, this is also the best publicly-available 360 Savings bonus offer out there. I won’t be participating myself because I’ve had an account (ING Direct) since 2005. Please refer to my full advertising disclosure.

Verizon ThanksGetting Promotion: 2 GB Free Data For Existing Customers


Here’s some free stuff for existing Verizon Wireless customers. Visit and Verizon will give you 1 GB of free data this billing cycle, and another 1 GB your next billing cycle. Starting on Wednesday 11/25, they’ll start giving out other stuff like $5 iTunes gift cards, free Amazon media credits, and free in-flight WiFi. The bonus data should show up in your online account almost immediately after enrollment.

*Limit one data promotional per account. The 1GB Data offer (“Promotional Data”) can only be redeemed one time per account by VZW customers on a qualifying plan. Must have a valid VZW Mobile Telephone Number. Promotional Data will be added to your existing monthly data allowance, and applies to data usage after Promotional Data redemption date. Promotional Data will be shared by all lines on an account. Data usage applies for app downloads/use.

Added separate free data offer: I’m still waiting to verify for myself, but Verizon is giving away 2 GB of data per month for 3 months to those people who download their Go90 app according to this link (log in and scroll down to see offer).

Promo offer only applicable to The More Everything Plan and The Verizon Plan customers with accounts in good standing. Extra data applied to account and is for any data usage. One promotional offer per account. This promotional data can be combined with other Verizon promotional offers. Limited time offer.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card New Bonus: 50,000 Points = $625 In Travel, Plus 5,000 Points For Authorized User

Chase Sapphire Preferred Image

Updated with new offer, perk details. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a premium rewards credit card, now with an upped sign-up bonus to new cardholders that is the best publicly-available bonus in years. Bonus highlights:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn an additional 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual fee is waived for the first year, $95 in future years.

Note the following text:

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

The short version is 50,000 points can be redeemed for $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards™. Using it is flexible as well, as you can buy a more expensive ticket (or tickets) and simply pay the difference. You can also transfer the points to various airline mileage programs as well and redeem miles for even better value. This card has a lot of other small features that other cards don’t offer. Full review below.

Rewards Program Summary

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants. Earn 1 point for every dollar in other purchases. Travel includes airfare, car rental, hotels, and more. Restaurants include both table-service dining and fast food. There are no earning caps or expiration dates. The Ultimate Rewards points that you earn offer great flexibility:

  • Simple cash rewards. Cash redemptions are easy – you can redeem in $1 increments as long as above $20, so you could cash out $27 or $253 without anything left over. 100 points = $1.
  • Simple travel rewards. Points redeemed towards travel are worth 25% more, and you can apply them to any hotel or flight available on their travel portal. Redemptions can also be maximized because you can book wherever you want and simply pay the difference. For example, 25,000 points can be used for any ticket up to $312.50, but if say you wanted a $325 ticket you could just pay the $12.50 difference. You’re able to use every last point on this program, and you don’t have to worry about room or flight availability.
  • Flexible transfers to airline miles. If you prefer, you can also transfer to United Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt Hotels, IHG Hotels, and Marriott Hotels. 1 Sapphire point = 1 mile/hotel point for these transfers. Miles redemption continue to offer great value for savvy travelers, especially for last-minute travel and business class seats. If you collect miles, this is really lucrative as I don’t know of any other card that gives 2 miles/dollar spent on travel and dining.
  • Sharing points. Ultimate Rewards points are instantly transferable to other accounts like family members, as long as they have their own card as a (free) authorized user. This way, you can pool points together for transfers and redemptions if you like.

More Features

Just nice-to-have perks:

  • Premium, dedicated customer service line with a live person, 24/7. I tested this out and it works. A real person picks up after a couple rings, no phone trees or typing those darn 16 digits over and over. You can use this feature to redeem cash rewards over the phone for free, although booking rewards tickets over the phone costs $20 (doing so online is free).

Travel-related perks:

  • No foreign transaction fees. Also comes with smart chip. Current cardholders can request a new chip-enabled card (free) by either calling in (remember, no phone trees with Sapphire…) or using the secure message feature of the Chase website. They’ll even send a prepaid mailer to return back your old card, since it is metal and thus hard to shred.
  • Primary car rental collision damage waiver insurance. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. Most other cards only offer secondary insurance, which means it only kicks in if your personal auto insurance does not cover an accident (which can trigger an increase to your premiums).
  • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours and hotels.
  • Trip delay reimbursement. If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement. If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Baggage delay insurance. Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for five days.

Retail shopping and purchase-related perks:

  • Extended Warranty Protection. Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • Purchase Protection. Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Return Protection. You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase, up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year.
  • Price protection. If a card purchase you made in the U.S. is advertised for less in print or online within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.

I share the opinion with many others that this is a strong bonus backed by a solid rewards card for the savvy traveler. I say “savvy” because if you can wrangle 2 cents per mile of value out of a frequent flier program (quite possible), then this card is great value. During your first year, you should see if you can get enough value to justify the $95 annual fee. For someone who charges very little on their credit card and/or does not travel much, it is likely not a good rewards card for that situation.

For me, I keep this card around after looking at the whole picture. I have accumulated nearly 300,000 Ultimate Rewards points from this card and other sources including the Ultimate Rewards cashback portal and the Chase Freedom card, but I need to keep this card open to retain the flexible transfer options as I like to keep these UR points around to transfer over to specific partners as needed. I try to specifically put travel and dining out on this card, as I prefer 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar over 2% cash back. This works out because the travel protections on this card are stronger than most and only apply if you actually charge your travel on this card. Primary car rental CDW insurance is pretty valuable on its own.

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“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.”

Plastiq: Pay Tuition, Rent, or Taxes With Credit Card at 1.5% Fee, Debit Card at 0% Fee


Updated, new promotion. lets you pay bills and invoices with a credit or debit card, even if they don’t usually accept them. The standard service fee is 2.5% for credit cards and 0% for Visa and MasterCard debit cards. However, they run limited-time promotion with lower fees. They will charge your card and send out a paper check to the payee (direct bank transfers to a few), so you’d want to plan ahead for any snail mail delays. They recommend 10 business days to be safe. More ideas from their site:

  • Rent or Mortgage
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) dues
  • Tuition
  • Childcare costs
  • Buying a car, RV, or ATV
  • Income or business taxes

Current promotion runs until November 30th, 2015 and lets you make payments with a 1.5% fee for one-time, immediate MasterCard payments.. Here is their blog announcement. No minimum amount required. Does not apply to recurring payments. No special promotional code or sign up required.

Selected fine print:

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but why wait until then to show how thankful we are that you’ve signed up with Plastiq? To make the holiday even sweeter, we’re excited to share that today is the start of a special promotion. Get a 1.5% rate for all one-time, immediate MasterCard payments to any business! […] This promotion will expire on November 30, 2015 at 5 p.m. PT.


Why would I want to pay a 1.5% service fee?

Sign-up bonus spending requirements. Sign-up bonuses often having spending requirements. For example, you might get a $500 value bonus but need to spend $5,000. Well, that’s effectively 10% back so if you need a little help to get over that hurdle, it’s okay to pay a 1.5% fee. Here are some recent cards with big $500 value bonuses but also spending requirements:

2% cash back credit cards, or similar. If you have a rewards credit card that offers 2% cash back (or equivalent value in points), then you can still make a slight profit by putting them on your credit card. A current example is the Citi Double Cash Card. For example, if you have a tuition bill or tax bill of $5,000 and you earned 2% cash back while paying a 1.5% fee, your net 0.5% is $50.

Combine a rewards card + 0% APR on purchases. Many credit cards offer 0% APR on purchases for an introductory period of 12 months or longer. If the card also has a half-decent rewards program on purchases, the combination of purchase rewards and spreading out the payments over a year at no interest could be attractive.

Another play on this is to take advantage of the 0% fee on debit card payments. The PayPal Business Debit card account gives you 1% cash back on non-PIN purchases. Thus, you can net 1% and the money is drawn from your bank account.

Straight Talk Promotion: Unlimited Monthly Plan Cards for $22.50 a Month

st2015_0Straight Talk is a prepaid MVNO that offers the ability to buy SIM cards that you can pop into any AT&T-compatible, T-Mobile-compatible, or unlocked GSM phone. This includes many Samsung Galaxys and iPhones that you can buy refurbished or on the used market. For $45 a month you get unlimited minutes, unlimited text, and 5 GB of high-speed data with no contracts and no credit checks. You also avoid the usual cell phone taxes that can add $5 to $10 per line. Unlimited data means 3G/4G data speeds for 5 GB per month (recently improved from 2.5 GB) and then 2G data speeds after that.

$45 a month is the everyday price. Last year, there was a nice promo that let you buy 4 months of the Straight Talk unlimited plan for $26 a month, a significant 42% savings off the regular price. I’m actually just updating that old post here and pruning stale comments.

Right now, you can buy 8 months of the Straight Talk unlimited plan for $22.50 a month. To access this promo, either try clicking on this promo deep link or entering your info at this promo intro page. You should see the following offer text in red:

For Limited Time only get a FREE SIM + FREE Service Plan Card with the Purchase of a 30 Day Service Plan Card



  • Each package includes 2 monthly plan cards, and you can buy 4 packages for a total of 8 months for $180 + taxes and shipping where applicable.
  • While the link only let you buy a T-Mobile SIM card as part of the package, the actual monthly plan cards can be activated with any provider SIM. They also sell AT&T SIM cards on the same website, if you prefer that.
  • You can also try to stack with cashback shopping portal. For example, normally offers $30 cashback for airtime + SIM purchase. BeFrugal also has $10 bonus for new customers that earn $25 in cashback. See reader Shoe’s comment.
  • If your desired SIM size is sold out, know that you can buy a simple $4 SIM cutter which can cut any SIM card into a micro SIM or nano SIM. (Or a $4 SIM adapter will make a nano into micro or regular SIM.) You may have to use a bit of sandpaper as well for the nano SIM as they are a little thinner than regular SIMs. Read the reviews, they work.
  • You can also check back later to see if they restock, but I’d rather just lock in the savings with whatever SIM is in stock.
  • Finally, the $60 international cards are also buy 1 get 1 free, making them $30 and still cheaper than the $45 plan. The $60 plan has the features of the $45 plan plus unlimited calling to Mobile in Mexico, China, India and Canada and some other features. So it’s still a pretty good discount (33% off) if the rest are out of stock.

Chase Freedom Review: $150 Sign-Up Bonus + 10% Cash Back at Amazon From 11/23 to 12/31

Chase Freedom Visa

Updated. Sign-up bonus increased to $150. New 10% back at Amazon from 11/23 to 12/31/15. Registration required. The Chase Freedom® – $150 Bonus is a popular rewards credit card. What makes it unique is the combination having no annual fee and the ability to get 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter.

Here are the highlights:

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99-22.99%
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like Gas Stations, Restaurants, and Select Grocery Stores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it’s automatic
  • Cash Back rewards never expire as long as your account is open
  • No Annual Fee

Note the following text regarding the sign-up bonus eligibility:

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

2015 5% Cash Back Categories

Chase Freedom Visa Categories

From October 2015 through December 2015:


Activate each quarter at, via your online account page, or call the number on the back of the card.  The categories usually include at least one big-spending area, and seem to go with the seasons (home improvement for spring, gas and travel for the summer). This is another “keeper” card for me, as I can keep it around and use it when the bonus categories fit my spending needs.

Added: Chase Freedom has a new limited-time promotion where you can get 10% back on purchases at,, and Valid from 11/23 to 12/31/2015. If you’ve already activated for the 4th quarter of 2015, no additional activation is required. Otherwise, you must activate by December 14, 2015. I say just try to be on the safe side. 😉 Fine print:

During the promotional period of November 23 until December 31, 2015, earn an extra 5% cash back (for a total of 10%) on up to $1,500 in new combined purchases at,, and To earn this extra 5%, your current quarterly bonus maximum dollar amount for earning will reset on November 23, 2015 so you can earn a total of 10% on up to $1,500 on new combined purchases in the listed bonus categories. If you’ve already activated for this quarter, no additional activation is required. Otherwise, activate by December 14, 2015. As long as you’ve activated by December 14, 2015, qualifying bonus category purchases on up to $1,500 from October 1 – November 22, 2015 will earn 5%, and qualifying bonus category purchases on up to $1,500 from November 23 until December 31, 2015 will earn 10%.

Want to lock in the 10%. Just buy gift cards in any denomination.

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“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.”


AmEx Special Offers: $15 off $60 at Amazon (Updated)


Updated 11/16/15. American Express cardholders can participate in “AmEx Offers” which offer discounts to various merchants. These promotions often offer the opportunity for easy savings without changing your spending habits. If it is a store that I use regularly, I often just buy a gift card. Here’s a quick roundup of current offers.

The offer to highlight is a $15 off $60 from, which appears to be available on all of my cards (although it may be buried below a bunch of other offers). Read on to the bottom of this post if you have multiple American Express cards and thus multiple available offers.


  • Spend $60+, Get $15. Get a one-time $15 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $60 or more online at by 12/31/2015.” Limited quantities, so you can buy a $60 Amazon gift card to trigger the $15 back. Worked for me instantly with an e-gift card.

Here are other selected offers. The first two are targeted (check each card in your account) but the rest are open to all, if needed use Twitter hashtag. Some are expiring soon.

  • Any major cell phone provider (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular or Verizon) . Spend $75+, Get $10 Back. Good 2x, so up to $20 Back. Targeted. “Enroll your eligible Card & pay your cell phone bill of $75+ online @ these accepting major US Carriers by 1/31/16 & get $10 back. Limit 2 statement credits.” I just paid my bill and made a negative balance, got confirmation e-mail instantly.
  • Any cable or satellite TV provider in CA, NY, NJ and IL. Spend $50+, Get $10 Back. Good 2x, so up to $20 Back. Targeted. “Enroll your eligible Card & pay your cable or satellite television bill of $50+ by 1/31/16 & get $10 back. Limit 2 statement credits. Offer valid for services provided in CA, NY, NJ and IL only.”
  • Uber. Spend $20+, Get $10. Tweet using #AmexUber through 12/31/15. Details.
  • Toys R Us and Babies R Us. Spend $25, Get $5. Tweet #AmexToysRus. Details.
  • Spend $50, Get $10. Tweet #AmexDiapers. Stack with a coupon, just make sure your total charge to AmEx is enough. Details.
  • Spend $200, Get $25. Tweet #AmexNewegg by 12/31/15. Details.
  • American Express Gift Cards. Spend $200+, Get $10 back. Tweet #AmexGift by 13/31/15. Use promo code NOV1CAS to get the purchase fee waived. Sign up for the Premium shipping trial to get shipping waived (but don’t forget to cancel the trial).
  • Spend $150, Get $30. This is one of the few legit places to get discount Disney World tickets, as well as other places like Universal. Combine the existing discount with this promo, and this is about as cheap as they get. Tweet #AmexUCT by 12/31/15.
  • Sam’s Club Membership, Spend $45+, Get $25. Sam’s Club takes AmEx now. Good towards membership only. Expires 12/31/2015.
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton. Spend $250+, Get $50 Back. Get a one-time $50 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $250+ on room rate and room charges, when you pay for your stay with Embassy Suites by Hilton from 10/19/15 to 12/21/15. Tweet #AmexEmbassy

Each separate card, including authorized users, may have different offers available to them. In addition, adding an offer to one card may remove the same offer from another card. Although as commenter Oleg notes “If you have multiple cards and you activated for an offer on one of them, this offer may disappear from others. You can open several [web browser] tabs, retrieve each card separately and apply for an offer.”

Here are the various ways to access these offers:

  • Log into your AmEx account online and scroll down until you see the “Amex Offers For You” tab.
  • Use the AmEx smartphone app.
  • Access via social media at – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and TripAdvisor.
  • Not everyone can access every offer, but the ones on Twitter tend to be available to everyone. You can track these on their Favorites page.

Groupon: Starbucks $15 Gift Card for $10

sbuxlatteIt’s back! Wow, haven’t posted a Groupon deal in a while. I really should have shorted the stock when even I unsubscribed from their daily newsletter, but I didn’t have the guts. Now I’m just mad because they deleted my account after not using it for a while, even though I still had unused credit (and I’ll have to open a new one for this deal).

Anyway! Groupon is selling a $15 Starbucks Gift Card for $10. Limited quantities, ends in a week or so otherwise . Why is free coffee so appealing? Over 100,000 sold already. Limit 1 per person.

Remember that you can save even more on your Groupon with cashback shopping sites:

  • TopCashBack ($10 bonus after $10 earned in cashback rewards, expires 11/16).
  • eBates ($10 new user bonus after any $25+ purchase, $5 mininum cash-out)
  • Mr. Rebates ($5 new user bonus, $10 minimum cash-out)
  • ($5 new user bonus)

Visa Checkout $15 Statement Credit with Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom Visa

There was previous promo with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, but now there is a another separate promo with the Chase Freedom. Earn a $15 statement credit after you spend $15 or more with your Chase Freedom® card using Visa Checkout. Valid for new or existing Visa Checkout accountholders. Read on, it’s an easy $15 if you have this card.

More people out there probably have the Chase Freedom card. No annual fee and 5% cash back in rotating categories every quarter.

Visa Checkout is a way to pay for things online without have to give a merchant your credit card number. You use a login and password instead. Think Paypal, but Visa-branded. Participating merchants include, Shutterfly, Newegg, Staples, Fandango, Orbitz, Gap, and more.

Since these are all online websites, you can also use a cashback shopping portal for many merchants and get a little bit extra back. Some suggestions for a small online purchase:

  • Order a pizza from You must get it delivered, not carry out. I can usually get 2 pizzas for around $20, so a $15 credit would cover most of dinner that day.
  • Buy some movie tickets from Fandango.
  • Go to and buy a $15 to $20 gift card to a place you like.
  • Buy a gift card from

Selected fine print:

This offer is valid from 11/2/2015 through 12/31/2015. To qualify for this offer, you must make a single purchase of $15 or more using your Chase Freedom Visa credit card with your Visa Checkout account during checkout. Limit (1) $15 statement credit per customer or card account. Allow 1 to 2 billing cycles from Visa Checkout purchase for delivery of the statement credit to the Chase Freedom account added to the Visa Checkout account; your card account must remain open and not be in default to receive the statement credit.

TradeKing $200 Cash Bonus Promotion

tk200Promo extended. To celebrate their 10th anniversary, stock brokerage TradeKing is offering a $200 cash bonus for new accounts opened by 12/31/2015, funded with $3,000 or more within 30 days of account opening, and with at least 3 executed trades within 90 days of account opening. You must keep the $3,000 in account equity (minus any trading losses) for at least 6 months.

This is probably the biggest bonus I’ve seen for this account, the standard offer is $50. TradeKing charges a flat $4.95 for online stock trades; so $200 would cover 40 trades. Option trades are also $4.95 + 65 cents per option contract.

Free Morningstar Analyst Reports Via Public Library Card

mstar_logo2Let’s say you are a DIY investor and doing some research on municipal funds. You decide to learn more about the Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt mutual fund. You pull up the Morningstar quote pages (ticker VWITX and VWIUX) and find some useful numbers, plus an analyst report hidden to the public as a “premium” feature.


You see a 14-day free trial and after some more clicking around, you discover that a premium membership to Morningstar costs $199 a year or $24 a month.


Now, I’d like to read the rest of that analyst report, but I’m not sure if it is worth the fee. Well, you may already have access to those analyst reports through your payment of local and state taxes. Yup, the good ole’ public library!

Many public libraries have a subscription to what is called the Morningstar Investment Research Center database. Most offer instant, online access via your library card number and PIN. You should look under the “Databases” or “Resources” section. Some only have a limited amount of offsite licenses, so you’ll have to either ask for a password or you’ll have to read them in a branch. Here’s a screenshot of my free report accessed from the comfort of my home, with all the good stuff blurred out of course:


You can access their analyst reports for stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs, as well as the premium version of tools like Portfolio X-Ray.

Now, if your local library system doesn’t provide this access, you can also look around for other libraries in the region for which you are eligible. Finally, there are some public libraries that offer library cards to non-residents for an annual fee. For example, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina offers library cards by mail for $45 a year (Seniors 62+, $35 a year).

Non-residents of Mecklenburg County can obtain a Charlotte Mecklenburg Library card for an annual fee of $45.00. This amount is approximately equal to the annual property tax a Mecklenburg County resident pays to support the Library. A non-resident library card entitles you to the full services of the Library at all locations.

They also offer access to the Morningstar database. $45 a year is still significantly less than $199 a year, and you’ll get all the other library benefits like access to Overdrive eBooks. Also check out the Library of Fairfax County, Virginia which offers non-resident library cards for $27 a year.