Flickr Photo App: 1,000 GB Storage Free + iCloud Replacement

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flickrapp2Photo site Flickr recently updated their iPhone and Android apps. This just happened to coincide with me running out of space both on my Apple iCloud and Dropbox accounts, so I took another look at the Yahoo-owned site and found it actually fit my needs at a great price point – free!

As they say, the best camera is the one that you have with you. Since the birth of our first child, we’ve quickly racked up over 20 GB of pics on our phones alone, and much more from our point-and-shoot. iCloud only gives iPhone users 5 GB of free storage, so I found myself paying $40 a year for the 25 GB upgrade (with a discounted iTunes gift card of course) but ate through that as well. Since I keep both USB hard drive and online cloud backups, I was also running out of room even on my free Dropbox account. I used to pay for an unlimited photo service called Everpix, but they shut down last year.

In comparison, Flickr offers everyone 1,000 GB of free photo and video storage at full resolution with no caps or image compression. (I figure that should last us until kindergarten…) 100 GB of space runs $100 a year on both Dropbox and iCloud – I know there are cheaper options but these have the most convenient sync software.

flickrapp4My favorite iCloud feature was the ability to automatically and continuously backup the photos on my phone. Nothing to remember, just take pictures. With their updated free app, Flickr can also auto-upload and sync your iPhone photos taken with the default Camera app. (I’m assuming the Android app has a similar feature.) It doesn’t appear to upload any of your old pictures automatically, just the ones taken after you install the app and enable the Auto Sync feature (see screenshot). Auto-uploaded pictures are always set to Private by default (viewable by you only).

The new Flickr app also has several new features like an in-app camera with Instagram-like filters, sharing feeds, and better photo editing tools. After I manually back up the old photos, I plan to downgrade my iCloud account back to the free 5 GB level.

Citi Simplicity Card Review: 0% for 18 Months, No Late Fees, No Penalty Rates

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citisimplicity175I usually focus on rewards-earning credit cards, but I know many folks are still carrying some balances and thus more concerned about their whopping 15% interest rate rather than a relatively puny 2% back on purchases. The Citi Simplicity® Card is uniquely suited for those that want to transfer higher rate balances to a long 0% intro period while also offering some “accident forgiveness insurance”. The highlights:

  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening. Balance transfer fee is 3% of balance transfer amount, $5 minimum. This is one of the longest offers out there for balance transfers.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 18 months. This means you can keep charging your new purchases on this card as well and also enjoy no interest for 18 months. Also one of the longest 0% offers available for purchases.
  • No late fees. If you’re late on a payment, you won’t be dinged with a ~$40 late fee as with many other cards.
  • No penalty APR. Even worse than a late fee, a missed payment can lead to a rate hike into a “penalty” APR rate as high as 25% or more.
  • No annual fee.
  • Direct to human help. If you call in and say “representative”, you’ll be transferred directly to a human, 24 hours a day.

The Citi Simplicity card does not earn any cash back, points, miles, or free toasters; I’d open a separate card for rewards. It does include additional purchase benefits such as Citi Price Protection (price drop protection on brick and mortar purchases) and free Extended Warranty (extends manufacturer’s warranty for up to 12 months).

Alternatively, the Chase Slate® Card offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months with no balance transfer fee, but does not include some of the more consumer-friendly features of this card that ensure your low rates don’t get hiked.

To summarize, the Citi Simplicity® is a solid card for those in the midst of the debt payoff process looking to pay no interest for 18 months with minimal gotcha fees compared to the competition.

Lyft Promotion Credit Codes: Free Ride Credits

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lyftappLyft is a smartphone-based ride service that competes with traditional taxis. They are similar to Uber, but Lyft calls their fares “donations” and aggressively recruits casual drivers who can apply directly from their app. (Uber does a similar thing with their UberX service whereas their UberBlack and UberTAXI service employs professional full-time drivers.) Lyft drivers are screened with DMV and background checks, as well as provided $1 million in liability coverage. Riders pay entirely through the smartphone app. Drivers keep 80% of the total fare.

Here is a list of all the cities they serve. Right now Lyft is aggressively expanding and the following promotions are available:

  • Download their iPhone app or Android app first.
  • New users: Get free ride up to $50. Enter code SLICKDEALS in the Settings > Payment > Lyft Credits area. Good for one free ride up to $50. Only works if you have never taken a ride or redeemed a code before. Screenshot. Via SD.
  • They do have a refer-a-friend program, but that will only get you a ride up to $25 and the offer above is currently a better deal.
  • Residents of Pioneer cities get free rides for two weeks. Pioneer cities are places where Lyft is just starting out. If you join the app in a Pioneer city, you’ll automatically get a number of free rides (up to $25 each) valid for the first 2 weeks after you join. Currently, Pioneer is only available in Indianapolis, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Atlanta, Phoenix, Charlotte, Denver, Dallas, Silicon Valley, Baltimore, Orange County, Sacramento, Houston and Columbus for a limited time. (I think Cincinnati, OH, Detroit, MI, Tampa, FL, and Tucson, AZ also qualify.) Details here. Launched 4/24 as part of “Lyftapalooza” were ALBUQUERQUE ANN ARBOR BUFFALO COLORADO SPRINGS CORPUS CHRISTI FRESNO JACKSONVILLE KANSAS CITY LEXINGTON LINCOLN LOUISVILLE MEMPHIS MODESTO NEW HAVEN NEWARK OKLAHOMA CITY OMAHA RALEIGH DURHAM ROCHESTER SAN BERNARDINO SPOKANE TOLEDO TULSA VIRGINIA BEACH. Stackable with $50 promo above.

I also just got an e-mail that there is only 3 days left to get free $20 credit with Uber via referral. After 4/25, supposedly it’ll be back to $10. It is pretty neat to summon a ride from your smartphone and track it by GPS as it gets closer to you.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card – Limited Time Offer

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citihilton180emvLast update: Offer expires Friday, 4/18/14. Citi has a new limited-time promotion for its Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card. The sign-up bonus has been improved by 10,000 points and a $50 statement credit over their standard offer. This offer is only available on a handful of sites, not even on Citi.com.

  • LIMITED TIME: Earn a $50 statement credit after spending $50 on your first stay at any hotel and resort within the Hilton HHonors Portfolio during the first 6 months of cardmembership as well as 50,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of cardmembership.*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at a participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio. *
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations. *
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases. *
  • No annual fee.*

*Click for additional pricing and to learn more.

Due to the way the bonus is structured, this card is really best for people who at least occasionally stay at Hilton hotels (as this card is also giving you a bunch of points and complimentary Silver status to try and get you to become more loyal). Hilton HHonors points are worth the most when redeemed for a hotel stay, as there aren’t really that many great cash-equivalent redemption options. You can use this search tool to see how much a hotel will cost in any specific area (i.e. Honolulu or Paris).

This card has no annual fee. If you are willing to pay an annual fee in exchange for a bigger bonus and better ongoing perks, check out the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.

Target Mobile Coupon Text Codes: $10 off $50 in Food Purchases & More

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targetgroceryAttention Target shoppers… Target is offering some special coupons if you text specific messages to them at 827438 (TARGET). They’ll reply with a link to a unique coupon code that you just show the cashier on your smartphone. This week there is a pretty good $10 off coupon if you spend $50 on food and beverage purchases, and then I got sucked down the rabbit hole and wanted to find all the other available codes (even though I’m really not an avid coupon person). Here are all of them that I could find:

  • Text GROCERY to 827438 for a $10 off $50 coupon good on food and/or beverage purchases. Excludes alcohol, baby food, nutrition shakes and bars, pet food, Target Cafe and Starbucks Cafe. Expires 4/19/14. (GROCERY2 works as well.)
  • Text OFFERS to 827438 for a link to sign up for future coupons offers on your phone. Obviously, this means you’ll get ongoing marketing messages from Target. Up to 5 texts per month.
  • Text BABY to 827438 for a link to sign up for Target Baby Alerts. New subscribers get 10% off your first online baby order (excludes clearance items, diapers, wipes, training pants, and formula). Up to 6 texts per month.
  • Text APPAREL to 827438 for a $5 off $25 coupon good on Apparel and/or accessories purchase. Men’s, Women’s, Kids all included. Expires 4/19/14.
  • Text RECIPE to 827438 for a bunch of various food-related offers (this week $2 off $5 fresh fruit purchases, $1 off various easter and Target Pantry items). Expires 4/20/14.
  • Text SPRING to 827438 for a bunch of various offers (this week food, detergent, toilet paper, diapers). Expires 4/23/14.
  • Text THANKS to 827438 for a bunch of various offers (looks very similar to SPRING code above). Expires 4/23/14.
  • Text BAREURHAIR to 827438 for a bunch of various grooming-related offers (razors, shampoo, toothpaste). Expires 4/23/14.

Messaging and data rates may apply. Text STOP to 827438 to end. All the coupons say “Limit one identical coupon/offer per guest, purchase total must be met for each coupon/offer individually.”

Some of these coupons you can just find on their Weekly Ad coupons page.

Free PDF of Rich Dad Poor Dad Book

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richdadRich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter is probably one of the most controversial best-selling personal finance books out there. Some people love it, others hate it. I am bringing this up because until 4/13 you can download a PDF of the book for free at RichDad.com. Specifically, you have to sign up for an account with your name and e-mail. Unless you really want a lot of spam, I’d use a disposable or temporary e-mail address. After verifying the e-mail I was able to download the PDF without issue.

I read and reviewed Rich Dad, Poor Dad in 2005, and while I do admit the book has many flaws I guess I still have a little nostalgic soft spot for it. Somehow his message of buying assets with your hard-earned money and not liabilities connected with a lot of people. Don’t get me wrong though – having read three other Kiyosaki books and listened to an audio CD series, my opinion is to skip everything else Kiyosaki sells! Just read the original. Don’t buy any other books or products, and please please don’t pay for a get-rich-quick seminar.

American Express Twitter Promotions (Updated)

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twitter-bird-white-on-blue(New offer for $20 off $100 at Staples (gift cards eligible). Get a one-time $20 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $100 or more in-store or online at staples.com by 4/30/2014. Tweet #AmexStaples. Details. Staples sells a variety of gift cards, I’m going with Home Depot myself.)

American Express and Twitter continue to have some unique discounts for specific stores. You may also be able to access these discounts via the AmEx smartphone app or by logging into your account and scrolling down to the “Offers For You” tab, but I’ve found Twitter to be the most reliably available to everyone with an account. Highlights include:

  • Lowes Home Improvement. Get a one-time $10 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $50 or more on qualifying purchases at Lowe’s by 5/31/2014. Lots of gift cards at Lowe’s as well. Tweet #AmexLowes.
  • BP Gas. Receive a one-time $5 statement credit when you make a single purchase of $30 or more at a BP pump by 5/31/14. Tweet #AmexBP.
  • Sports Authority. Get a one-time $10 statement credit by using your connected card to make a single purchase of $50 or more in store at The Sports Authority by 4/30/14. In-store and phone orders only. Tweet using #AmexSportsAuth.
  • Petsmart. Get a one-time $5 statement credit when you spend a total of $25 or more at PetSmart by 4/30/14. Tweet #AmexPetSmart.
  • Petco.com. Receive a one-time $5 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $25 or more online at Petco.com by 6/16/2014. Online only. Tweet #AmexPetco.
  • Zappos.com. Get a one-time $30 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $150 or more on qualifying purchases online at Zappos.com by 5/31/2014. Tweet #AmexZappos.
  • Crate & Barrel. Get a one-time $10 statement credit by using your connected card to spend a total of $50+ on qualifying purchases at Crate & Barrel by 5/22/14. Tweet #AmexCrateBarrel.

(I also got a $5 off $5 at iTunes under my “Offers For You” tab that isn’t available on Twitter.)

The best way I’m aware of to keep track of new hashtags is via the Favorites list for @AmericanExpress.

Haven’t signed up yet? Link your American Express card and Twitter account at sync.americanexpress.com. You can also link up your Facebook and Foursquare accounts for similar (usually identical) offers. If you wish to change your linked card (useful to checking which one is linked), go to sync.americanexpress.com/unsync.

Finally, don’t forget to follow me @mymoneyblog!

Free Starter Personal Finance Book: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly

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ifyoucanbookWilliam Bernstein, author of several books on investing, has recently released a short book targeted at giving young folks a primer on saving for retirement. The title is If You Can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly (Amazon link for the reviews). It costs the minimum 99 cents there, but you can also download it for free in PDF, MOBI ebook, and Amazon AZW3 formats. From his website:

For years I’ve thought about an eleemosynary project to help today’s young people invest for retirement because, frankly, there’s still hope for them, unlike for most of their Boomer parents. All they’ll have to do is to put away about 20% of their salaries into a low-cost target fund or a simple three-fund index allocation for 30 to 40 years. Which is pretty much the same as saying that if someone exercises and eats a lot less, he’ll lose 30 pounds. Simple, but not easy.

Not easy because unless the millennials learn a small amount about finance, they’ll fall victim to the Five Horsemen of Personal Finance Apocalypse: failure to save, ignorance of financial theory, unawareness of financial history, dysfunctional psychology, and the rapacity of the investment industry.

The book is only 27 pages long, but there are also several “reading assignments” of other books to complete your education. Those other books are not free but they have all been around long enough that it shouldn’t be too difficult to borrow a copy from your local library.

Free eBooks on Real Estate Investing and Renting Out Your House

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biggerbookBiggerPockets.com is a popular discussion forum for real estate investors. Founder Joshua Dorkin and Senior Editor Brandon Turner have also written a couple of books about the subject. For a limited time, they are free in Amazon Kindle format.

I have not read either book (yet). According to the Amazon reader reviews, it looks like there is some solid beginner information inside both books along with numerous references back to their BiggerPockets website. I believe the first book is also available as pages on their website but it may be easier to read this way.

Download the books now while it is still free and read them later. As a reminder, you can read Kindle books on a web browser, Mac or Windows computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Amazon Mom 3-Month Trial + 50% off Diapers

Amazon Mom is a program that has some nice perks for parents (open to anyone… mom, dad, grandparent, or caretaker). The main draw is the 20% off diapers & wipes (5% Subscribe & Save discount + 15% Amazon Mom discount) and the fast shipping.

If you already pay for Amazon Prime at $99 a year, you can sign up for Amazon Mom for free. New Prime/Mom members are eligible for a 3-month free trial of Prime (must not have had free trial previously on your account) where you’ll also get the free 2nd-day shipping of Prime but not the video streaming or free Kindle book borrowing. Canceling is easy, you can even cancel the trial ahead of time while still getting the remainder of your 3 months.

Right now, new Amazon Mom members with free or paid Prime who join between March 27, 2014 and April 10, 2014 get 50% off their first pack of eligible diapers. You can still use Subscribe & Save to lower the price even more. Details in link.

Discover It Card Review: Improved, 5% Cash Back Categories, Free FICO Score

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discover2014q2(2nd Quarter activation open. I just logged on and noticed that you can now register to get 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in purchases in Home Improvement Stores, Furniture Stores, and Bed Bath & Beyond from April to June 2014. 5% rewards start only after activation each quarter and are not retroactive, so sign up now by logging into your account online.)

Scrappy little Discover is trying something bold. They’ve chucked everything and started fresh with only one card – the new Discover it® Card. (Yes, lowercase, don’t ask me why.) No longer promoted are the Discover More, Motiva, Open Road, Escape, and Miles cards.

In fact, you may want to convert your old Discover card to this one. The new card is a definite improvement over the old products, with many positive changes in direct response to the competition. Here are the highlights:

  • 5% cash back on rotating categories. My favorite feature. As with the Discover More card, you’ll get 5% cash back from select categories each quarter. From April to June 2014, get 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in purchases in Home Improvement Stores, Furniture Stores, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
  • 1% flat cashback on all other purchases. Previous cash back cards had an initial tier that only gave you 0.25% cash back on the first $3,000 in purchases, and then 1% after that. They’ve finally matched competitors and went for 1% flat.
  • Free FICO score every month. You get a free official FICO score, updated every month, shown on your billing statement.
  • Late payment forgiveness. There is no late fee for your first late payment, and your APR won’t automatically increase either. You can also pay-by-phone for free, up to midnight Eastern on your due date. We all make mistakes, so this is a nice addition.
  • Human. 100% U.S.-based customer service available any time. Guides a free, personalized online tour to help you get the most rewards for how you use your card. Instead of an intentionally-complicated robot phone tree, you can now select at any time to go straight to a human. I’m a little bummed that this has to be touted as a feature, but sadly it is…
  • No annual fee, no fee for going over your limit.
  • Looks out for you. Since each Discover purchase is monitored. If it’s unusual, you’re alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized Discover card purchases
  • 0% Intro APR* on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%.  A fee of 3% applies for each balance transferred.
  • No foreign transaction fee. Discover is not accepted very widely in Europe, although it works anywhere you see the Diners Club International Logo. However, it is one of the best cards for Asia, especially China and Japan. You can use your Discover anywhere you see a China Union Pay, JCB, or Diners Club International logo.
  • Silly things. Things that shouldn’t matter, but still might. The card arrives via UPS/FedEx mail in a sleek-looking box. The card front is made to look like brushed stainless steel with no raised embossing – your name and card number are only on the back. I wonder where they got that idea?

Is it really a game-changer? Well, no. It’s not quite “one card to rule them all”, but it does combine the good bits from several other popular cards (Chase Sapphire, Chase Freedom, Citi Simplicity) to create a competitive offering. I like the 5% categories that are usually pretty broad and useful.

Discover is still the underdog to American Express/Visa/Mastercard, but it has its own perks. There are bonuses above cash back value for certain gift card redemptions. Their ShopDiscover cashback portal also often has the highest percentages for online shopping merchants, like 10% at Sears, better than eBates and such. Finally, Discover card has a lot of consumer features like return protection and an extended warranty that extends the manufacturer’s warranty for up to an extra year.

Basically, this Discover card is certainly improved and a worthwhile addition to your wallet, although rewards geeks like myself probably won’t it the only card in our wallets. ;)

Existing cardholders. I have not gotten any communication from Discover that my existing cards will be converted to an “it” card automatically. Readers report that if you call them up, they will convert you to the new card manually for free. You get to keep your same card number and thus credit history. Certain people with annual fee miles-type cards or those doing a 0% balance transfer promotion may prefer to stay, but again I think this card is definitely better than the plain Discover and Discover More 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.”

American Airlines Free Bonus Miles – Facebook Required

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aapassAmerican Airlines has a new AAdvantage Passport Challenge where you can earn free bonus miles for various small activities:

  • Play trivia and other games to earn up to 700 miles
  • Share and complete social actions to earn up to 350 miles
  • Take flights to earn over 9,000 miles

You’ll need a Facebook account, but it does present a good way to reset your miles expiration date at no cost. AA miles currently expire after 18 months of inactivity.
You should get 50 miles just for the Like, but I also did the first quiz “New American Trivia” to make sure I get some miles. You get less points if you missed questions, so here are answer hints:

  • More 330 locations, more than 50 countries.
  • Last 4 airports are Chicago O’Hare, Charlotte Douglas, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
  • American Eagle
  • aa.com/findyourway
  • All of the above.

Update: I did the 2nd tail fin quiz too. They were the same for both of our accounts, so here you go: 323 121 322 132.

That was the low-hanging fruit, I skipped the rest for now. Per the terms and conditions, “Bonus miles will be awarded within 3-4 weeks after the promotion period has ended”.