5% Cash Back Credit Cards: Rotating Categories Update 2015

3rd quarter activation for 2015 now open! The credit cards below offer a hefty 5% cash back on certain categories that rotate each quarter. It takes a little extra attention, but I also rack up over a hundred dollars in additional rewards per year without changing my spending habits. None of these have an annual fee, so it costs me nothing to keep them all around. New cardmembers often also get an initial sign-on bonus.

Chase Freedom® – $100 Bonus
Chase Freedom Image

From July 1st through September 30th, 2015 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations
  • Kohl’s

Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com, it’s quick and as long as you activate by the end of the quarter the rewards are retroactive. All other purchases earn 1% back, with no tiers or expiration of rewards. Currently, the Chase Freedom® card is offering $100 bonus cash back if you sign up and make just $500 in purchases in your first three months and a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period. No annual fee.

Discover it 14 ImageDiscover it® Double Cash Back your first year

From July 1st through September 30th, 2015, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Home Improvement Stores
  • Department Stores
  • Amazon.com

Enroll after logging into your online account (look on the right-hand side). Discover it Double Cash Back your first year is offering new cardholders a promotion that doubles all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year – automatically. That means 5% can be doubled to effectively 10% off!

Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa CardCiti® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card

From July 1st through September 30th, 2015, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Airlines
  • Hilton’s Portfolio of Brands

Log into your online account or call 1-800-231-0891 to activate the rewards each quarter (starts upon activation, not retroactive). The total cash back earned with the card is $300 per calendar year.  See Citi Dividend Card Reward Program Information for details. Full 1% cash back on all other purchases and eligible cash advances and rewards do not expire as long as you have activity once every 12 months.

Finally, don’t settle for the “1% on everything else” that these cards offer, get 2% back on everything else with either the Citi Double Cash or Fidelity American Express credit cards:

“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.”

Chase Freedom: $200 Sign-Up Bonus + 2015 5% Cash Back Categories

Chase Freedom Image

3rd Quarter 5% cash-back categories now open for activation.The Chase Freedom® – $100 Bonus is a popular rewards card, due primarily to the fact that there is 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 all the highlights:

  • Named a Best Card for Cash Back by MONEY® Magazine
  • Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn another $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%
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on every purchase
  • 5% Total Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter
  • You’ll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like Gas stations, Restaurants and Amazon.com. It’s free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire as long as your account is open

2015 5% Cash Back Categories

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From April through June 2015:

  • Restaurants
  • H&M
  • Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Overstock.com

From July through September 2015 (activate starting 6/15/15):

  • Gas Stations
  • Kohl’s

Activate each quarter at ChaseBonus.com 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.

 

Chase Freedom Visa Banner

“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.”

 

 

All-Clad VIP Factory Sales: Limited-Time Discounts on Lifetime Cookware

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All-Clad cookware is known to be very high quality, but also quite expensive. If you cook often, then the prices aren’t so bad when you consider that the stainless steel pans will essentially last forever (skip the non-stick stuff). Frugal home cooks know that All-Clad has (semi-annual?) Factory Sales that offer the same pans with slight cosmetic blemishes for significant discounts. These still come with the same lifetime warranty as if you’d bought them at Williams-Sonoma. (Really, who cares about dents and scratches when it comes to cookware!)

The products which are for sale on this site are FACTORY SECONDS. They have minor cosmetic scratches and/or dents. There are no defects which will affect the cookware’s performance. For this event, all sales are final, no returns will be accepted.

Usually, first there is a huge in-person sale near their headquarters – last one was in Washington, Pennsylvania. After that, they have a semi-secret online sale, which is going on right now from June 15 to June 17th. Visit this link and use the pass code ACVIP15, thanks to mrdjman of FW. I was also given the access code via All-Clad e-mail so it should be open to all.

(The physical sale already happened last week, sorry! For future reminders, anyone can like their All-Clad Facebook page or send an e-mail to allcladvipfactorysale@groupeseb.com to get on their mailing list.)

I’ve been tracking these for a couple years after I was gifted a set of All-Clad fry pans. America’s Test Kitchen often finds All-Clad pans to be the “best” when price is no object, but in terms of quality/price ratio, that is debatable. However, I do love the hefty feel and balance of my All-Clad pans and have come to appreciate quality in cookware after using my Le Creuset and Staub dutch ovens. As a lazy shopper, I just like the idea of buying something once and never worrying about it again.

The current sale has a much better selection than the other recent ones I’ve seen, so if you’re ready to buy then now is a good time. Or just browse now and think about it while signing up to be notified of the next one. Even on sale, this stuff is spendy. 😉

Discover it Card Double Cash Back For 12 Months Promotion

Discover it 14 ImageDiscover has announced a new promotion for their Discover it Double Cash Back your first year. In addition to all the existing perks like 5% cash back categories and free monthly FICO score outlined in my Discover it Double Cash Back your first year review, they are also adding “Double all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your 1st year—automatically.” for new applicants.

That means you would effectively earn 2% cash back on all purchases and 10% cash back on their rotating bonus categories during the first year of card membership. Here’s what we know about the bonus categories for the rest of 2015:

discovercat2015

  • April through June 2015 is Restaurants and Movies. “Discover Cardmembers are signing up to get 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1,500 in Restaurant and Movie purchases from now through June 2015.” Restaurants include full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast food locations. Movies includes movie theaters, video rental stores, and online movie ticket services.
  • July through September 2015 is Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores, and Amazon.com. “Discover Cardmembers will sign up to get 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1,500 in purchases in Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores, and Amazon.com from July through September 2015.”
  • October through December 2015 is Holiday Shopping. “Discover Cardmembers will sign up to get 5% Cashback Bonus when they shop for the holidays. Exciting program details, including the maximum you could earn, are coming August 2015.”

I know I certainly wouldn’t mind getting 10% back at restaurants, Home Depot, and Amazon.com. Gas stations were the rotating category from January to March 2015, so hopefully that will come back again early next year as well.

(Note: Depending on your usage of the 5% (again, doubled would be 10%) categories, you should also consider the Discover it Miles Card which also has a doubling offer for new applicants that works out to 3% cash back for the first 12 months.)

Discover also has a new feature called “Freeze It” that allows you to stop any new purchases in seconds by “freezing” your account via mobile app or website.

When you freeze your account, Discover will not authorize new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers. However, some activity will continue, including bills that merchants mark as recurring, as well as returns, credits, dispute adjustments, payments, Discover protection product fees, other account fees, interest, rewards redemptions and certain other exempted transactions.

There is also 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 12 months (then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance).

I have a Discover it card as a “keeper” card as it has no annual fee and I can enjoy the 5% bonus categories and free FICO score whenever it suits me. Discover’s policy in the past had been to only allow one card per person, but now you can have two (i.e. you can have both a Discover it and a Discover it Miles.)

  • Discover it® Double Cash Back your first year Application

DietBet.com Update: My Weight Loss Profit Breakdown

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Back in early February 2015, I wrote about and started participating in a weight loss challenge at DietBet.com. As the picture above indicates, a group of folks (strangers or friends) agree on a weight loss goal, put money into a community pot, and the winners split the pot (after fees). It’s part gambling for profit, part community support group, and part behavioral modification nudge.

Knowing myself, I definitely hate losing money if I can at all help it. So far, it’s working! The idea that I would lose hundreds of dollars definitely kept me on track during times of weakness and doubt. (In addition to DietBet, I also did a simultaneous bet at similar site HealthyWager to up the total ante.)

Anyhow, since this is a money blog I figured I’d share some details about my financial results so far on DietBet. You pick from a list of open “games” with a goal of either losing 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks, or 10% in 6 months. I chose the 10% goal and joined The Transformer (Feb 5 – Aug 4), mostly because there were over 1,000 participants and I figured there had to be some people that would drop out. I know, it’s selfish, but it’s like poker – all your profits come from the losers! Indeed, DietBet uses the poker rake business model where they take a cut of the pot and thus never have to risk their own money.

Your weight is verified using a smartphone app (or website) that uploads two pictures each month: one with your feet on a digital scale, and another of your entire (lightly-clothed) body on the same scale. You are given a special keyword to ensure that the weigh-in is done during a 48-hour window.

I put up $25 a month for 6 months. I was offered one month free ($25 discount) if I paid $125 upfront, but since this is all about the behavioral component for me, I wanted the monthly charge to show up on my credit card bill. Players who have chosen to place their bets on a monthly basis may drop out at any time and avoid being charged for future, unplayed rounds.

There is one round per month; Rounds 1 to 6. Half of the total money bet is put towards Round 1 through 5. That is $25 x 6 / 2 = $75, split across 5 rounds is $15 per round. The other half is put toward the final weigh-in round. So $75 is bet on Round 6.

Four rounds have been completed so far, and here are my winnings. Here’s the graphic from my profile page that explains things pretty well:

db2

  • Round 1 Breakdown: $16.09 (7% ROI on $15 bet)
  • Round 2 Breakdown: $26.94 (80% ROI)
  • Round 3 Breakdown: $31.36 (109% ROI)
  • Round 4 Breakdown: $31.50 (110% ROI)

According to their documentation, the average “win” is 50% to 100% of your contribution. My personal results appear to be in line with these numbers. Based on the recent trend, I am not expecting the the future payouts to get much better than about 110% as these are probably the serious participants that will finish successfully. Additional people may also “catch up” and make that final Round 6 goal.

Dietbet does take a cut of the gross pot before distribution, between 10% to 25%. For my small monthly bet of under $100 a month, they will take a significant 25% cut. While I definitely think they should take a fee for providing this helpful service, I am conflicted as to what should be a “reasonable” fee. Keep in mind that taking 25% of the gross pot means that they usually take over 50% of your net winnings! (You are guaranteed never to lose money if you win, which otherwise technically could happen if enough people win.)

If I were to assume that I reach all my future weight-loss goals and a future 100% pot ROI, at the end of 6 months, I will have put in $150 and won $285.89 gross (135.89 in gross profit). After the 25% fee, I will take in $214.42 for a net profit of $64.42. That’s a projected 43% ROI on my $150 total bet. Hmm, that’s not too shabby. Perhaps I should have bet more money in retrospect. :)

But if I am honest, the fact that the last time I was this weight was about 15 years ago in college, THAT makes me happier than even winning a hundred bucks. In that very important aspect, I think DietBet has a great idea going. If I lost 9% of my total body weight, I’d still probably be okay with everything. There is also a supportive community aspect where people both commiserate and cheer each other on (which I did not actively participate in… not my thing).

You can read through all the Transformer rules here and how they discourage cheating and such. I’ll do a more complete final review once my 6 months is up.

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

Capital One 360 Savings has a new sign-up bonus for up to $500 for new customers, tiered depending on your opening deposit. Limited-time offer. 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.
  • % APY as of 7/28/15.
  • 24/7 online and mobile access, or talk to a real person 7 days a week 8AM-8PM.

Bonus instructions.

  1. You must open your first 360 Savings Account by the promotion expiration date, 09/30/2015 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 of % APY as of 7/28/15.

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

Capital One Bonus Banner

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.

Google Photos: Unlimited Free Photo and Video Backup

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Google may already see all your search queries, have access to all your e-mails with Gmail, and now it wants to store all your photos. Why would you let them? How about unlimited space. Free. From the Google Blog:

Google Photos gives you a single, private place to keep a lifetime of memories, and access them from any device. They’re automatically backed up and synced, so you can have peace of mind that your photos are safe, available across all your devices.

Google Photos will store unlimited images for free, with a few conditions. You can choose from one of two options:

  • High quality – Unlimited free storage. Recommended for phones or point-and-shoot cameras that are 16 megapixels (MP) or less. Good for typical printing and sharing. Will be compressed using their special algorithm. Anything under 16 megapixels will have minimal degradation of quality, supposedly it is optimized so that visually you can’t tell the difference. Anything bigger than 16 megapixels will be downsized to 16 megapixels, which can be significant for DSLR users.
  • Original quality – Limited free storage: Uses your Google Account’s 15 GB of free storage. Recommended if you take photos with a DSLR camera and want to maintain the exact original quality. Recommended for printing large banners or to store your original files. Store your photos and videos exactly as you captured them.

Google Photos will store unlimited video for free at 1080p quality. This is pretty big for me, as my videos take up the most space and right now I don’t pay to back them up in the cloud – only on external hard drives. If you upload something 4K, it will downsize to 1080p.

As you might expect with Google, they have also tried their best to make searching through your huge image library as easy as possible:

VISUAL SEARCH: Your photos are now searchable by the places and things that appear in your photos. Looking for that fish taco you ate in Hawaii? Just search “Hawaii” or “food” to find it even if it doesn’t have a description.

There is even facial recognition that groups photos with the same face. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I probably will as I don’t know of any other service that offers free unlimited 1080p video storage. Amazon Prime members can get free unlimited photo storage, but only 5 GB of free video storage.

Here are the links for the Web interface, Android app, and Apple iOS app.

Ting GSM SIM Cards: Bring Your Own Phone + Referral Credit

tinglog(Update 6/9: Limited-time offer is now ended, back to $25 referral credit.) Ting provides mobile phone service with a “pay-only-for-what-you-use” structure. Think “a la carte” instead of Golden Corral buffet. :) For the last few months, I’ve been beta-testing the new Ting GSM program in my out-of-contract iPhone 5. Just popped in their SIM card and off I went. Their GSM SIM card service uses the T-Mobile GSM MVNO network, while their original service is a Sprint CDMA MVNO.

Until June 8th, Ting has upped their refer-a-friend bonus to $100 off a device or $100 in Ting credit if you buy used or bring your own phone to Ting. This applies to both GSM and CDMA service. I believe the standard referral offer is only $25 off. I’m actually on vacation right now and thus won’t have a full review ready in time, but here’s what you need to know:

  • Ting interactive rate calculator to see how much they would charge you. If you are not a power user or have a lot of variability in your usage, Ting can often save money over time. (Tip: You can set alerts or even hard usage caps, so you’ll never exceed a certain level.)
  • Ting phone compatibility checker tool. Bringing over a used GSM or Sprint phone is the best deal in my opinion. You can find a lot of good, cheap GSM phones on the secondary market now, like the Galaxy S series or iPhone 5 or 5S.

Here is my referral link. You get $100, I get $50. Thanks in advance if you use it!

Here’s a screenshot of their rate breakdown:

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Here’s the full referral e-mail text:

Dear friend,

From now until 11:59pm ET on June 8, the Ting Refer a Friend program is offering you $100 to try Ting mobile phone service. If you sign up and activate a phone, I’ll also receive a $50 credit and yes, once you join Ting, you’ll be able to refer your friends too.

z4jl1i37om9.ting.com. That’s my unique referral URL and the key to this offer. Click through and you’ll receive $100 off select phones in the Ting shop or a $100 credit if you bring your own phone to Ting.

Speaking of which, the phone you already own will probably work with Ting. Go to the Ting compatibility checker to find out for sure.

See Ting network coverage here.

Capital One Spark Business Credit Cards: $500 or 50,000 Miles Bonus

sparkyLooks like the small business credit card competition is heating up. Capital One has temporarily upped the sign-up bonus on both of their small business cards:

Capital One Spark® Cash for Business is offering a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months. There is a $59 annual fee that is waived for the first year. “Existing or previous Accountholders may not be eligible for this one-time bonus.” Note that there is also a Spark Select for Business and Spark Classic that are different cards with lower sign-up bonsues but no annual fee.

The Spark Cash for Business offers 2% cash back for all purchases, which is strong, but you have to weigh that against the $59 annual fee after the first year. If it was 2% with no annual fee, that would be keeper business card for sure. Just comparing the two CapOne cards head-to-head, you have to spend more than $11,800 every year to make the 2% back and $59 annual fee (Spark Cash) pay out more rewards than 1.5% back and no annual fee (Spark Cash Select).

Capital One Spark® Miles for Business is offering one-time bonus of 50,000 miles – equal to $500 in travel- once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months. There is a $59 annual fee that is waived for the first year. “Existing or previous Accountholders may not be eligible for this one-time bonus.” Similar to the offer above, the Spark Miles offers 2 miles per dollar with the $59 annual fee but there is also a Spark® Miles Select for Business that offers 1.5 miles per dollar with no annual fee.

As far as “normal” small business spend, I usually don’t charge more than $12,000 a year on my small business. My primary expenses are web hosting, cell phone, internet, and office equipment. But if you spend a lot on stuff that doesn’t fit in the 5%/2% bonus categories of the Chase Ink Cash or Chase Ink Plus cards (office supply, internet, cell phone, cable TV, gas stations, restaurants), then these cards may be a good fit as a primary small business card.

Here are some selected quotes from the fine print for the Spark Cash card (not Miles):

How does my spend bonus work?
You will earn a $500 bonus if you spend at least $4,500 within 3 months of your rewards membership enrollment date. Once you qualify for this bonus, we will apply it to your rewards balance within two billing cycles. Existing or previous Accountholders may not be eligible for this one-time bonus.

How do I redeem my rewards?
You can get your cash back upon request in the form of a statement credit or a check. You can also set up an automatic redemption preference; options include: (1) at a set time each calendar year or (2) when a specific threshold ($25, $50, $100 or $200) has been reached. Just go online to capitalone.com or contact our Rewards Center. […] Until you set up an automatic redemption preference, you will receive your cash back each year in the form of a check issued in your rewards membership anniversary month.

I’m not sure why someone would pick the miles over the cash, since the miles are restricted to use over travel. My theory is that some businesses like that the miles aren’t cash because then they can be given out as a non-taxable perk like other frequent flier miles?

Note: I do not receive any referral fees for the application links above. They are the best publicly-available offers that I could find. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

Chase Ink Plus Business Card Review: 50,000 Rewards Points Bonus

Chase Ink Plus Card Art

Chase’s newest small biz credit card is called the Ink Plus® Business Card. It turns out to be very similar to the Chase Ink Bold Business card, 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%.

This means that the Ink Plus is a separate card with its own sign-up bonus, currently a 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.

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 60,000 points = $750 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..

Here are the important features of this card:

  • 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®
  • 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.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Global acceptance with Chip Technology
  • Free employee cards
  • $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 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. This is how I got all my cards before incorporating, and how my wife gets her business cards for her small side business.

“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.”

Sling TV Review + Free Amazon Fire TV Stick or Roku Stick Promo (Updated)

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Updated review after 3 months of using Sling TV. Promo still live for a couple more weeks. Sling TV allows you to stream a package of major cable networks live over the internet. That means you can watch it on your smartphone, your home TV, or your laptop. No cable subscription required. Here are the channels included in the base package that runs $20 a month:

  • ESPN (live sports!)
  • ESPN2
  • CNN
  • Food Network
  • Travel Channel
  • HGTV
  • Cartoon Network
  • TNT
  • TBS
  • Cartoon Network
  • Disney Channel
  • ABC Family

Right now, if you commit to prepaying 3 months of Sling TV ($60 total), you can get any of the following deals:

That’s a $39 to $50 savings, depending on the deal, if you were looking for a modern streaming device. You must redeem the promotional code by June 5, 2015.

Alternatively, if you sign up at Sling TV directly first, you can get a free 7-day trial to see how it works for you. If are then ready to commit, then I would sign up for this Amazon promo using a different e-mail address as it says “new customers only”.

My 3-month user review of Sling.

  • Quality isn’t bad; my internet is only 15 Mbps on a good day but we usually don’t have more than one thing streaming at any given time. It looks especially crisp on my iPhone.
  • I’ve had a couple of crashes while channel surfing. This is on the Mac OS X desktop app.
  • You can’t choose to record shows for later viewing. It doesn’t work like a DVR. However, on select channels you can get limited replay of past episodes. From their site:

    Sling TV includes a 3-day replay feature that allows you to watch shows that have aired in the past three days on the following channels: HGTV, DIY, Travel Channel, Cooking Channel, Food Network, Galavision, El Rey, Univision Deportes, Universal Sports, and beIN Sports and we expect this list to grow. Sling International customers can enjoy exclusive 8-day replay on all international channels.

  • On the non-replay channels (including ESPN, ESPN2, ABC Family, TNT, TBS, Disney Channel), you can’t even pause a show for a few minutes and pass the commercials later, or have it blip back 10 seconds if you missed something. On the other channels listed above (Food Network, Travel Channel, etc), you can pause and blip backward. I was surprised how often I would try to click the pause button, with no response. Boo.
  • There is no contract and it is easy to cancel online under your account details. It just took a few clicks and 30 seconds. No calling in required at all, which means no Comcast cancellation nightmares. Note there are no refunds the 3-month prepay offer above. You can reinstate your account easily as well, similar to Netflix.

I did this free streaming stick promo, but after the 3-month comittment I cancelled my Sling subscription mostly due to the lack of DVR ability on all channels. I’ve had a TiVo since roughly 2005 and over the last 10 years, I have completely lifestyle-inflated myself such that I just can’t watch old-school TV anymore. It was too annoying not being able to pause a show, skip commercials, record a show, or blip backwards. I don’t watch that much TV, but when I do, I want it to be on my terms. (You may feel differently!) Now I primarily just stream kid stuff like Sesame Street via Amazon Prime Video.  

Employee or Student Discounts for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile

celldiscount

Updated 2015. Every major cell phone provider offers discounts for large groups, even when it’s an existing personal line. You could qualify through your employer, educational institution, or even affiliation with certain organizations like AAA or credit unions. So grab your work or school e-mails, check out these links, and find out what discounts are available to you. You may be pleasantly surprised.

AT&T Wireless. BusinessDirect Premier Discounts

Submit your work or student email address to find out if you are eligible to receive exclusive AT&T offers and discounts on your wireless bill through your employer or school. Once we validate your email address, you will receive an email to start shopping in your own personal AT&T online store!

We need your work, school, or organization email address to determine if you are affiliated with an organization that qualifies for additional savings. AT&T has business agreements with thousands of corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions to offer wireless products to their employees at a significant discount.

If we match your work, school, or organization email address with our list of qualified companies, we’ll send you an email so you can start taking advantage of applicable discounts and benefits for which you qualify. (We are unable to match personal email addresses such as Yahoo!®, Windows Live™ Hotmail, or AOL®.)

Verizon Wireless. Employee Discount Program

Verizon Wireless offers you discounts on wireless products and services based on your employment or affiliation with an organization that has an agreement with us.

If you are new to Verizon Wireless and have an employer issued work email address, you can enter the address below to check your eligibility status.

T-Mobile. In 2014, T-Mobile changed their corporate discount program for consumer lines. Existing corporate discounts were mostly left grandfathered in. The T-Mobile Advantage Program now gives a $25 gift card per device instead. If you have a work phone directly paid for by your employer, you may qualify for Business Family Discounts.

Do you work for a company that is part of the T-Mobile Advantage Program? You could be eligible to receive a $25 T-Mobile Advantage™ Reward Card with every purchase of a new smartphone or tablet.

Does your company directly pay for your voice line on the T-Mobile network? Your family can save 50% off your first two lines on an eligible Simple Choice family plan—and pay just $10 per line after that. Is your family already on a T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan? Great! Because they’re eligible, too.

Sprint. Employee Value Program and Sprint Discount Program.

ENTER YOUR WORK OR ORGANIZATION ISSUED EMAIL ADDRESS BELOW FOR ACCESS TO YOUR PRIVATE PORTAL
If your company or organization has an account, you will gain instant access to your portal. (Please note that we cannot accept personal email addresses)

Just enter your work, school, or organization email address below to see if you’re eligible for the Sprint Discount Program. Don’t worry, we won’t sell or share your personal information with third parties. What are you waiting for? Find out now!

Here are specific links for the Sprint AAA 10% discount, and Sprint credit union 10% discount. LoveMyCreditUnion.org also offers credit union members Sprint monthly plan discounts and waived activation and upgrade fees.