Free Limited-Edition Gund Teddy Bear with $100 Amazon Gift Card

gundEach year, Amazon teams up with Gund to create a limited-edition teddy bear. Gund is known for their stuffed animals and they do everything from Elmo to Curious George to Boo the Dog.

Amazon Prime customers can now get a free 10″ 2016 Gund Teddy Bear with the purchase of $100 Amazon gift card. It’s a nice little bonus that you can either give them together or just keep the gift card and give the teddy bear to a child. If it goes out of stock now, it is also available in $150, $200, and $250 gift cards. You can also check back later as they usually come back in stock a few times. However they do eventually sell out every year.

The 14″ version of the 2016 Gund Teddy Bear costs $15 to $20 all by itself.

DirecTV Now Review + Free Apple TV or Fire TV Stick Promotions

dtvnow0Attention cord-cutters! DirecTV has gone live with their new streaming TV service called DirecTV Now. This join existing competitors Sling TV and Playstation VUE. Here’a an image that breaks down the $35/$50/$60/$70 per month tiers (click to enlarge). HBO and Cinemax can be added on for $5 a month each. Below are a list of current promotions as well as brief pros and cons.

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Current Promotions.

  • Free 7-day trial for everyone. Credit card is required, they will auto-bill you at the end of the 7 days.
  • “Go Big” Package is $35 a month for a limited time. Regular price is $60 a month. Here is their exact wording on future pricing: “Customers who sign up for this offer will continue to enjoy this special price for as long as you keep the package, subject only to future reasonable programming price increases applicable to all packages.”
  • Free 4th-gen Apple TV ($149 retail) with 3 months pre-paid of any DIRECTV NOW package. You’d basically be paying $105 for 3 months of service and an Apple TV.
  • Free Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa ($40 retail) with 1 month pre-paid of any DIRECTV NOW package.

Pros.

  • Competitive price, more niche channels. The channel line-up does differ from Sling and VUE – check this CNET table for a specific network. DirecTV in general includes more niche channels in its packages.
  • Simplicity. No installation fees, satellite dishes, annual contracts or credit checks required.
  • Cancel anytime. You can cancel or pause your subscription online without calling in.
  • AT&T Wireless customers get free app streaming that won’t use up mobile data limits. This is a handy feature if you have AT&T service already, but such favorable treatment is not good for net neutrality.

Cons.

  • Limited local network broadcasts. Depending on where you live, you may not get live local network broadcasts from ABC, FOX, or NBC. However, you can see some network shows on demand the next day. CBS is not included anywhere.
  • No DVR capabilities. You can’t pause live TV or record anything. DVR features are supposed to arrive “sometime in 2017”. To mitigate this, DirecTV has added in video on demand from many networks after a 72-hour delay. In other words, you can still watch a bunch of shows later on at your convenience, but not everything.
  • Sling TV has a basic $20 a month level. Sling TV’s lowest tier includes 30 of the more popular cable networks (ESPN, CNN, TNT, TBS, Food Network, etc) but is only $20 a month. The lowest tier for DirecTV Now is $35 a month.
  • DirecTV Now limits you to two simultaneous streams on different devices (ex. TV + iPad). Sling and Playstation limit you to three simultaneous streams. This may or may not affect you.

Compatibility. Works with the following for now. Notably, Roku boxes and Samsung Smart TVs are not yet compatible.

  • Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
  • Android mobile devices and tablets
  • iPhone, iPad and Apple TV
  • Chromecast (Android at launch; iOS in 2017)
  • Google Cast-enabled LeEco ecotvs and VIZIO SmartCast Displays
  • Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari web browsers

Commentary. A little preview of the future. DirecTV differentiates itself with volume, offering more channels than streaming competitors. The current promotions basically get you a free streaming unit from either Apple or Amazon. The free data allotment for AT&T customers is unique and ideal for those who watch TV away from WiFi. (AT&T now owns DirecTV.) If I’m going to cut the cord, $35 a month is probably close to the max I’d pay for live content given I’m likely also paying for NetFlix. Personally, the lack of DVR capabilities continues to be a deal-breaker for me.

Starbucks App: Load $10 with Visa Checkout, Get $10 Bonus

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Promotion back again starting 11/29. A recent study found that free pizza was a better motivator than cash. How about some free coffee?

Starbucks is again offering a free $10 bonus Starbucks eGift card if you use the Starbucks smartphone app to load a minimum $10 onto your Starbucks Card using Visa Checkout as your payment method. Details:

Download the Starbucks® app and create a Starbucks Rewards™ account.
Existing Starbucks® app users: Simply go to the “Pay” section of the app to get started.
Reload $10+ in the Starbucks® app with Visa Checkout (sign in/sign up link below).
Receive your $10 Starbucks® eGift within 1 day courtesy of Visa Checkout.

Valid between 11/29/16 and 12/22/16, or while supplies last. Usually if they run out of free codes, they will take down the offer page. However, if you’re interested I’d take advantage of this offer as soon as possible.

Qualifying customers will see the $10 Bonus Load in the form of an emailed Starbucks eGift card within 24 hours. (Update: I got my $10 bonus within 8 hours.) You will not see any mention on your initial $10 load receipt. You can check which Visa card is linked to your Visa Checkout by going through the “Add card with Visa Checkout” button.

Target 15% Off Everything 11/27 and 11/28, Online & In-Store

targetcyberTarget is offering a flat 15% off your entire purchase on Sunday 11/27 and Monday 11/28, both online at Target.com and in-store. This is a nice and easy way to save some money on your everyday shopping at Target, and it stacks with the 5% off with Target REDCard.

Alternatively, you can try to buy something specific that rarely goes on sale otherwise. Examples of eligible items include Apple iPads, Apple Watch, Beats headphones, and Kitchenaid appliances. There restrictions include no gift cards and no prepaid phone cards (though you can get 10% off select phone cards as part of a separate ongoing sale):

*Offer excludes all gift cards, prepaid cards (airtime, entertainment, iTunes, and online gaming), Beauty Advent Calendar, Elf on the Shelf, LEGO, Cards Against Humanity, Joking Hazard game, Vitamix, Simple Human, Weber, DSLR cameras and lenses, LG TVs, Samsung TVs, Google products, Bose, Sonos, GoPro, alcohol, dairy milk, Tylenol, CVS pharmacy, clinic, Target Optical, and Portrait Studio. Target.com orders also exclude Traeger and Company Store purchases.

Finally, if you shop online, you can use a cashback shopping portal. Many offer new customers bonuses, including eBates ($10 bonus), TopCashBack ($10 bonus, you see it after entering e-mail), and BeFrugal ($10 bonus). I have cashed out of all of these before.

Amazon Black Friday Weekend Deals: $10 off $25 of Books Coupon, Special Prices on Echo, Fire Tablets, Fire TV

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Amazon has started their Black Friday Weekend deals. They are offering $10 off $25+ in book purchases with promo code HOLIDAYBOOK. Here are some recommendations for those looking to give or receive some financial inspiration:

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

Amazon Echo

Amazon Fire Tablets

Amazon Fire TV

T-Mobile Black Friday: Free Apple iPhone 7 with Trade-In and $200 Per Line Switched

Here are the details of T-Mobile’s Black Friday deals. Three separately available offers:

  • Free Apple iPhone 7 32GB, or Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB, or LG V20 64GB with trade-in. Free when you trade in a qualifying device with T-Mobile ONE or Simple Choice Unlimited, after 24 monthly bill credits. This deal is available until Sun., Nov. 27 at 11:59pm PT. Details on Apple iPhone 7 qualified trade-in devices here.
  • Get $200 for every line you switch to T-Mobile (up to $2400) with trade-in. For a limited time, when you switch a number to T-Mobile with T-Mobile ONE, we’ll give you $200 per line to spend however you want on a prepaid Mastercard. Valid 11/24-12/31/16.
  • Free hour of In-Flight Wi-Fi for Everyone – even AT&T, Verizon & Sprint Customers. Starting today through Sat., Nov. 26, the Un-carrier is giving everyone a free hour of Wi-Fi for their smartphone on Gogo-equipped domestic flights. Now, everyone can enjoy one of the perks T-Mobile customers already enjoy during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

If you prefer to set up your service with T-Mobile over the phone, you can call 855-407-3034 and ask for this offer.

Supposedly, Verizon Wireless will be matching these deals as well. It should be shown on this Verizon Wireless Black Friday deals page.

Barnes & Noble Black Friday Weekend: 30% Off Any One Item

bn0Barnes & Noble is offering 30% off any one item with coupon code BNBFRIDAY16. Offer is also valid in-store with Store Coupon #30164100000. For each customer, this coupon can be redeemed only once at any Barnes & Noble retail store or only once per billing address online. Valid from 11/24 to 11/27 (technically until November 28, 2016 at 2:59am ET). The discount will be applied to the most expensive eligible item in the order.

American Express Small Business Saturday 2016

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This year, Small Business Saturday will be on November 26th, 2016. Although it was started in 2010 by American Express on the Saturday after Thankgsiving, since 2011 this day has been officially recognized by Congress.

As was the case last year, there will be no flat statement credits in 2016 for shopping at a small business. Instead, American Express is offering double points or double cash back through the end of 2016 for shopping at small businesses from now until December 31st, 2016. You must register here first. Find local, participating small businesses on their Shop Small map.

The 2X promotion works these various flavors of American Express. When you use your enrolled Card at small businesses:

  • Membership Rewards cards will earn 1 additional Membership Rewards point per dollar spent.
  • Delta Skymiles cards will earn 1 additional mile per dollar spent.
  • Blue Cash cards will earn an additional 1% back per dollar spent.
  • Blue Sky cards will earn 1 additional Blue Sky point per dollar spent.
  • Hilton Honors cards will earn 3 additional Hilton HHonors points per dollar spent.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest cards will earn 1 additional Starpoint per dollar spent.
  • Plenti cards will earn 1 additional Plenti point per dollar spent.
  • Schwab Investor cards will earn an additional 1.5% cash back per dollar spent.

Rewards cap applies; 2X Rewards valid on up to $100,000 in purchases per enrolled consumer card and $250,000 in purchases per enrolled business card.

American Express has also been adding a lot of new offers – including local small businesses! – to their AmEX Special Offers. Log into your account online and see what you have targeted in your area. You may also see 10% off your cable or Satellite TV bill, 10% off your cellular phone bill, $25 off Verizon Wireless, $20 off $100 at Staples.com, or double/triple points at merchants like Amazon, Target, and Home Depot.

If you have a small business and accept American Express but aren’t shown on on their Shop Small map, here’s how to get yourself added:

Please contact the Shop Small Team at 1-800-235-8916, Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, EST and have your federal tax ID handy. We look forward to hearing from you!

Participating small businesses can also sign up for additional marketing materials here.

This Fortune article discusses the positive impact that American Express’s statement credits from 2010-2014 had on small businesses after the 2009 recession. It felt good that this promotion supported independent retailers, whereas most promotions go towards the big chains. Small Business Saturday was also a clever way for American Express to tell the public that they’ve increased acceptance of their cards at small businesses, which has always been their relative weak spot due to their slightly higher fees for the merchant.

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Amazon $25 off $75 on Household Essentials

az_larabarAmazon is offering a $25 off $75 promotion when you buy $75 in total items from on their Holiday Essentials list. Here are all of the eligible items sorted by category.

Sample deals. Here are a couple of quick, simplified scenarios to work out if the deal is generally worth it. I picked these two products at random out of the items that I had a rough idea of what they should cost.

Larabar Gluten Free Snack Bar, 1.7 oz Bars, 16 Count is on the list and costs $16.38. If I buy 5 boxes to reach $75, my total is $81.90 – $25 off = $56.90 net. At 80 bars, this works out to $0.71 per bar, which is a pretty good price. Here’s a screenshot of the $25 off:

az_spend75save25

24-pack of Energizer MAX AA batteries is on the list and costs $9.79. If I buy 9 packs to reach $75, the total becomes $88.11 – $25 off = $63.11 net. That ends up at $0.29 per battery, which is a good price as far as Energizer MAX batteries go. I could certainly buy a cheaper generic brand for a little less (AmazonBasics at $0.24 per battery). I have found that Energizer MAX batteries really do leak less than both Duracell and Costco Kirkland brands.

Basically, if you would buy these items otherwise, this promotion can save you some money by mixing and matching products. The prices don’t appear to be hiked up just to be taken back down. You do have to pick from the items listed on the page, in their listed quantity. They should already be set as such, but they must also be sold and shipped by Amazon. You should see the $25 off on your checkout page before committing to purchase.

RingPlus: Basic, Free Cellular Phone Service Plans With a Catch

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November 2016 Update. The most recent update:

Starting December 1, 2016, all Plans that are not Mad Plans will not renew at the end of their billing cycle. Members can change to any of the currently offered plans from our website. Phone Swaps will be free starting Wednesday (11/23/16) until further notice.

Realistically, this was always the type of deal that was not going to last forever, and hopefully if you participated you got good value out of it. I got over a year of Sprint-based cellular service with 1,000 minutes, 1,000 text, and 1 GB of data for an total cost of $10 (technically the $10 is still in my account). The party is winding down… in the meantime I recommend taking the following precautions:

Know that your plans can and will be discontinued with little or no notice. Don’t buy an expensive phone just to switch to R+. Don’t pay for their lifetime Member+ plan. To put it simply, commit as little money as possible. Have a plan to port your number elsewhere; Ting can use Sprint or there are many free or $1 SIM cards out there on GSM networks.


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Andrews Federal Credit Union 84-Month Certificate at 3.01% APY

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Updated. Andrews Federal Credit Union is offering the following November and December 2016 Specials. The specials have been extended until 12/31/16. The website has now been updated accordingly. Here are the notable deposit deals:

  • 3-month Share Certificate at 3.01% APY
  • 18-month Share Certificate at 1.81% APY
  • 84-month Share Certificate at 3.01% APY

I find the 84-month 3.01% APY certificate the most interesting because the early withdrawal penalty is a rather modest 180-days of interest. The minimum opening deposit is $1,000. No maximum balance cap. I created a spreadsheet to calculate the effective interest rate if you withdraw early, and here are the results visually:

afcu_bf2016

If you withdraw after one year, you’ve still earned 1.50% APY after paying the penalty. After 2 years, you’ll have earned 2.25% APY. After 3 years, you’ll have earned 2.51% APY. At all these intervals, you are ahead of nearly all the top rates from other banks and credit unions.

If you don’t qualify directly, anyone can join the credit union by first joining the American Consumer Council for $8. Try the promo code consumer and you should be able to save that five bucks. After that, join AFCU online, and deposit the minimum $5 to open a share account. After your share account is open, you can try to open the promotional CDs online. Alternatively, you may need to call them up directly and expedite things. Make sure you fund it by the deadline.

$50 Refer a Friend Bonus. As part of the holiday promotion, new members can also get a $50 cash bonus if referred by an existing member. The referrer also gets $50. However, the referred person must open a checking account and set up direct deposit of $500 or more. Here are the exact terms:

Refer a friend offer available to existing Andrews Federal members who refer a new member to the credit union. New member must open a new Free or Advantage Checking account with a direct deposit of $500 or more. Direct deposit must be initiated within 30 days of opening new Free or Advantage checking account, and must be received for at least two consecutive monthly statement cycles for both members to be eligible for reward. Account must remain open and in good standing for at least 90 days; accounts closed prior to 90 days will be ineligible. $50.00 will be credited to the referring member’s and the new member’s credit union accounts within 4 weeks after the 90- day period has ended. New member must qualify for credit union membership, which includes the opening of a Base Share Savings account with a minimum balance of $5.00.

I am not exactly sure how this works in practical terms. I believe that during the application process there is a question “Where Did You Hear About Us?” and you can pick “Family/Friend Referral” and you can leave your friend’s name and Andrews FCU membership number in the comments field. If you are looking to open up a checking account and set up direct deposit, I am a member now so if you want a referral please contact me.

Uber American Express Promotion: 2 Free Rides From Airport (up to $65 each)

uberlogo200 Just in time for the holiday travel season! Uber and American Express are running a new promotion for 2 free Uber rides from an eligible airport up to $65 each. This promotion is valid for both new and existing users.

  • Enter code AMEXAIRPORT in your Uber app under Promotions or Payment.
  • Be sure that an American Express card is linked to your Uber account and selected as your payment method for the ride. (Prepaid cards not eligible.)
  • Good for two rides, up to $65 each. Any amount over $65 will be charged to your American Express. Valid on all Uber options.
  • Your ride must originate from one of the eligible airports listed below.
  • You must complete your trip by 11:59pm on 12/31/16.

Hera are the eligible airports:

  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)

If you don’t have an Uber account yet, you can get $20 off your first ride via this special link or by using promo code uberMYMONEYBLOG at signup. But remember – Uber promo codes cannot be combined or stacked. When you enter multiple promotion codes in the Uber app, the most recently entered code that is eligible for the ride will be applied to that ride. Once you have added a promotion code to your Uber app, you cannot delete it.