Frontier Airlines World MasterCard Review: 50,000 Bonus Miles = Two Roundtrip Award Tickets

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Frontier Airlines is a lesser-known budget airline that actually has a pretty decent nationwide footprint using its main central hub at Denver. (see route map). For example, you could fly from Los Angeles to New York La Guardia or from Seattle to Orlando (with a stop in Denver). They also fly to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico.

I looked this up because The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® currently has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles. You get 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, and another potential 10,000 bonus miles on balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) in the first 90 days. The extra 10,000 balance transfer miles aren’t really worth it due to the 3% balance transfer fee (there are better no-fee balance transfer options).

The good news is that it only takes 20,000 miles to book a roundtrip award ticket anywhere in the US that they fly. (Roundtrip awards from US to Mexico and Costa Rica are only 30,000 miles.) This means 40,000 miles is enough for 2 domestic roundtrip award tickets (subject to government fees/taxes of $2.50 per leg). I just quickly priced out a San Francisco to New York La Guardia flight and it was $385 roundtrip per person. That’s over $750 of potential value right there.

You will need to subtract out the $69 annual fee that is not waived for the first year. However, the spending requirement is relatively low at $500 within 90 days and the issuer is Barclaycard. This makes it a good option if you’ve already gotten the good cards from the other major issuers like I have. The only Barclaycard that I have so far is the Arrival World Mastercard with $400+ value bonus, but this card can actually offer more value if your flight plans match up with their routes.

Big List of Free Credit Reports, Free Credit Scores, and Free Credit Monitoring

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Annual reminder for 2014. Want to get back on track for the new year? Here is a list of ways to get free credit reports, free credit scores, and free credit monitoring services.

Remember that there are three major consumer credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – all with possibly different data. A few of these offers require a free trial and noted as such, which is not preferred but I am not completely opposed to as you’re getting something of value in exchange for a bit of hassle. My personal tip is that I always cancel them the same day as part of one continuous process, preferably within an hour after saving what I need, that way there is nothing to forget later.

Free Credit Reports

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to request your federally-mandated free credit report from one or all of the 3 major bureaus. You can get one from each every rolling 12 months, so either get them all once a year or space them out. No trials, no credit card required, although the bureaus may try to sell you a credit score.

Special Situations – Denied Credit, Unemployed, Welfare, Identity Theft. As outlined by the Federal Trade Commission, here are a few other scenarios where you also get a free credit report:

  1. You were denied credit, insurance, or a job due to information on your credit report. A notice stating which credit bureau supplied the report should be included in your letter of denial. You then have 60 days to request a free copy of your report from them.
  2. You are unemployed. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days.
  3. You are on welfare.
  4. You are a victim of fraud, including identity theft. Place a fraud alert on your file, and then ask for a free copy of your credit report.

Here are the numbers you’ll need (remember to mention FTC if needed):

* Equifax: 800-685-1111; Fraud Dept. 800-525-6285
* Experian: 888-397-3742 (same for Fraud Dept.)
* Trans Union: 800-916-8800; Fraud Dept. 800-680-7289

MyFICO Score Watch Trial. If you sign up for a free 10-day trial at MyFICO.com, you’ll get a free Equifax credit report and Equifax FICO credit score. You’ll need a credit card. You must call 1.888.577.5978 to cancel. My recommendation is to get your credit report and credit score, print or save to PDF, and then cancel immediately afterward on the same day so that you won’t forget later. Hours (PDT) M-F 6am-6pm, Sat 7am-4pm, Sun Closed.

Free Credit Scores

Your credit score. Did you know that you have probably 50 flavors of your credit score. Even the “real” FICO score comes in several different versions, and there’s one per bureau. Personally, I would never pay $10-$20 a pop for a score. Many of the free providers below will also provide selected information directly from your credit reports, like overall credit limit utilization or total balances.

Credit Sesame / Experian. You can get a free credit score based on your Experian credit report from Credit Sesame, updated every month. They make money by sending you offers like lowering your mortgage rate. Screenshot:

CreditKarma / TransUnion. Similarly, get a free credit score based on your TransUnion credit report from CreditKarma.com, updated daily as long as you login each time. Also ad-supported. Screenshot:

MyFICO Trial / Equifax. Same as above… If you sign up for a free 10-day trial at MyFICO.com, you’ll get a free Equifax credit report and Equifax FICO credit score. You’ll need a credit card. You can try to cancel online, but it told me that you must call 1.888.577.5978 to cancel. My recommendation is to get your credit report and credit score, print or save to PDF, and then cancel immediately afterward on the same day so that you won’t forget later. Hours (PDT) M-F 6am-6pm, Sat 7am-4pm, Sun Closed.

Citi Idenitity Monitor Trial. Finally, if you’re willing to spend $1 and endure a trial, you can sign up with Citi Identity Monitor get a free credit score and free credit reports from each of the three major bureaus. After you submit your personal info, enter your credit card info, and choose your username/password, be sure to opt for the “free upgrade” which will give you the 3-in-1 report. You’ll have to call 866-279-9637 to cancel within 30 days. Again, cancel the same day if possible. Hours (ET) M-F 8am-11pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun Closed.

Free Credit Monitoring

Credit monitoring checks your credit report data daily and sends you an email or text alert if any activities have occurred – for example, if there was a credit pull by a lender or a new address added. This can provide early warning of attempted identity theft, reporting errors, or simply am overzealous lender checking your credit without permission. Many providers charge $10-$20 a month for similar monitoring, and while it’s potentially useful I’ve never warmed to the idea of paying a hundred bucks a year for it.

Credit Sesame. You can get free daily credit monitoring based on your Experian credit report from Credit Sesame. If you’ve already signed up for the free Experian-based credit score, it’s a very simple opt-in. Screenshot:

Selected AAA Members. If you’re an AAA auto club member, you may be eligible for free Experian credit monitoring as well. To see if your local club offers this, visit aaa.com/identitymonitoring.

CreditKarma. Get free daily credit monitoring of your TransUnion credit report from CreditKarma.com, also easy to add if you already subscribe to their free TransUnion-based credit score.

Robinhood App: Unlimited Free Stock Trades… But Will It Work?

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Is the endgame for stock commissions really free trades? Silicon Valley startup Robinhood.io wants to try, this time in smartphone app form. Recently approved by finance regulatory agency FINRA to become a broker-dealer, this comparison chart shows their ambitious plan to offer unlimited free trades with no minimum balance requirement.

 
This has been tried before. Zecco stood for Zero Cost Commissions. They had no physical branches, free trades had to be placed online. They had a “lean engineering team”. They used social media. They tried to make enough money from margin interest and order flow to cover everything else. But it wasn’t enough, and they gradually had to raise commissions.

I have my theories why. If your main selling point is “free commissions”, you’re going to get a lot of inexperienced “newbie” investors. Being a broker-dealer has a lot of compliance and regulatory overhead, so together you’ll need a lot of call center workers to provide good customer service. Skilled employees cost a lot of money. (Sometimes I think it was actually efficient for Scottrade to spread these people out in physical branches.) Plus, newbies with low balances won’t generate much order flow and are unlikely to pay much margin interest.

Many free online services and apps can get away with minimal staff because they can effectively just ignore the high-maintenance customers and hope they go away. Robinhood won’t be able to do that.

I want Robinhood to succeed. I signed up on their early access waitlist (use my link and supposedly I’ll move up in line) and I’ll likely open an account to try them out. But I just don’t see where the alternative revenue will come from.

Added 12/26: Their fee schedule includes a $50 account closure fee. This is not a common fee and hopefully some public pressure will get them to remove it?

Added 1/8/14: The $50 account closure fee is no longer shown on the fee schedule.

HealthyWage: Lose Weight, Make Money?

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A few well-publicized academic studies have shown that financial incentives can be very effective in helping people lose weight. As a result, there is now a website called HealthyWage.com that will actually pay you money if you can prove you dropped a certain amount of weight. You can even risk your own money, in order to provide both a carrot and a stick (shouldn’t it be HealthWager?). There are a few different “challenges” available:

  • Free $100 BMI Challenge. You must go from an obese BMI (BMI>30) to a healthy BMI (BMI<25) in one year. The free BMI Challenge pays a $100 prize with no upfront fee. Alternatively, you can put up a maximum of $300 at risk in order to win the max prize $1,000.
  • 10% Challenge. You wager $150 and double your money ($300) if you lose 10% of your weight over six months.
  • $10,000 Team Challenge. Competition between groups of people during preset 3-month intervals, with the top prize being $10,000. The entry fee is $25/month for three months (or a one-time $75 fee).

In terms of verification, you can either make short video of yourself following their specific instructions (continuous video, calibrate scale, show entire body, etc.) or visit a fitness or medical professional (health club worker, doctor, etc.). Supposedly, the website is funded by “advertising dollars from insurance companies, health-care systems, and food companies, as well as some government money”.

I respect that they are trying something new. It would be cool if they could help people achieve long-term weight loss, although just the hurdle of having to remember to do something a year later will probably win them a lot of bets. I’m not eligible for the freeroll, but I might try the 10% Challenge out in January… you know, post-holiday food coma.

Fandango: Buy $50 in Movie Gift Cards, Get 1 Free Movie Ticket

Several stores are offering a little something extra with gift card purchases this time of year. If you buy $50 or more in Fandango gift cards (can be multiple cards, but must total $50 in one transaction), you will get a bonus gift code via e-mail valid for a free movie ticket ($15 max value). You must make the purchase by 12/25/13, and the free movie ticket code expires 1/31/14.

Terms & Conditions: Offer valid only for purchases of Fandango Movie Gift Cards made between 11/25/13-12/25/13. Spend $50 or more on Fandango gift cards in one transaction and you will receive an email from Fandango with a promotional code redeemable for one movie ticket on Fandango. Promotional Code is valid through 1/31/14 for one (1) Fandango movie ticket valued up to $15 and is good for one-time use only.

Chase Freedom: $100 Sign-Up Bonus + 2014 5% Cash Back Categories

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Chase Freedom CardThe Chase Freedom® card is a popular rewards card with no annual fee, as it offers a $100 Bonus after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, an additional $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period and a 5% cash back on rotating categories like gas stations, restaurants, and Amazon.com. It’s free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter! 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). For 2014, you can get 5% back on gas for half the year (see below).

Current and 2014 5% Cash Back Categories

From January through March 2014 (activate starting 12/15/13):

  • Gas Stations
  • Movie Theaters
  • Starbucks stores

From April through June 2014 (activate starting 3/15/14):

  • Restaurants
  • Lowe’s home improvement stores

From July through September 2014 (activate starting 6/15/14):

  • Gas Stations
  • Kohl’s

[Read more...]

$5 Starbucks Gift Card for AT&T and Verizon Wireless Customers

Sprint MVNO Ting.com is offering AT&T and Verizon customers a free cup of coffee (in the form of a $5 Starbuck gift card) for calculating your theoretical savings if you switched over to Ting. Be sure to account for selling your current phone, buying a new Ting-compatible phone, and any early termination fees.

You’ll have to give them your username and password and let then log into your account to check your current bill. Feel free to change your password before or afterward. Current Ting customers can get up to $10 if you “tell a friend over coffee” and upload the receipt. Via MelissaAnne of FW.

Coinstar $40 in coins = $50 Toys R Us / Babies R Us Gift Card

The standard fee to cash in coins at a Coinstar kiosk is 9.8%, which is too high in my opinion and I’d never pay that much. However, if you redeem for one of their gift certificates there is no fee, and there are often promotions that make it even better. Right now, at select grocery stores you can get $50 in Toys R Us gift cards for $40 in coins. Valid only at Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Randalls, and Tom Thumb stores. Offer ends 12/15/13.

eGift cards can be used both in-store and online, and can be also be used at Babies R Us. (Don’t forget free 2-day shipping from Shoprunner too if you order online.)

Costco.com $15 off $115: American Express Offers

If you have an American Express card, log into your account online and scroll down until you see the “Offers For You” tab. Many (but not all) will find a Costco.com offer where you if you spend $115 on your linked AmEx, you’ll get $10 back. (Looks similar to this). If you’d rather spend money in-store, you can buy a $100 Costco Cash card and a $25 Costco Cash card and you will get the $10 back. I just did it and it worked for me.

Get a one-time $15 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $115 or more online at Costco.com by 12/31/2013.

Also look at the other offers, there are some good ones right now including AMC Theaters, Best Buy, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Kohl’s, Land’s End, and more. (The recent Amazon offer appears to be expired.)

You can also try to access this offer via Facebook. You can also use the Twitter hashtag #AmexCostco if you’re synced up. I was waiting to see if this offer would go wider, but it appears to be limited to those targeted.

Amazon & Facebook: Share Wishlist, Save $5 off $35

If you link your Facebook account and share one of your Amazon.com wishlists on Facebook, Amazon is offering a $5 off $35 credit. You can always create a separate public wish list first if you don’t want to share your primary wish list.

Upon completion of the “Share & Claim” action, a $5 off $35 or more promotional credit will be automatically applied to your Amazon account. Promotional credits must be redeemed by 11:59 PM PST on Sunday, December 15, 2013. This promotion is available to customers located and with billing addresses in the United States. Limit one promotional credit per customer. Quantity is limited.

Discover it Card: $150 Bonus, 0% Balance Transfers, New 5% Cash Back Categories

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UPDATE – The Discover it Card $150 Cash Back Bonus is now EXPIRED

Discover only has one card these days, called the Discover it card. However, there are a few different promotions for new customers going on (including a new $150 bonus offer) each with a different application link – so please click and read carefully. The best offer depends on how much you value 0% interest on purchases or balance transfers for an extended intro period.

$150 cash back when you make $750 in purchases during your 1st three months from account opening. Limited-time boost, the bonus is usually $100 or less. This offer is best for those that don’t need 0% interest on purchases or balance transfers.

Discover it® – 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months

0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 18 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A fee of 3% applies for each balance transferred. 0% Intro APR* on purchases for 6 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%.

Discover it® – 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 14 months

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.

New 5% Cash Back bonus categories announced

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From now until the end of March 2014, get a 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1,500 in purchases at Restaurants and on Movie Purchases. 5% rewards start only after activation each quarter and are not retroactive, so sign up now by logging into your account online.

Common features of ALL Discover it cards:

  • 5% cash back on rotating categories (see above). 1% flat cashback on all other purchases with no tiers.
  • Free FICO® credit score, shown on every monthly statement.
  • Late payment forgiveness. There is no late fee for your first late payment, and your APR won’t automatically increase either. Pay online or by phone for free up to midnight Eastern on your due date.
  • 100% U.S.-based customer service.
  • No foreign transaction fee. Discover is actually 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.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee.

Starbucks $5 eGift Card: Buy 1 Get 1 Free w/ Visa

Starbucks is running a holiday promotion where essentially if you buy a ($5 minimum) eGift code, you get a $5 eGift code free. Perfect if you use the Starbucks app to store your codes. Limit 1 per person. Must use a Visa card.

Now through 12/6 the first 75,000 people to send a red cup Starbucks® Card eGift using a Visa® card will receive a $5 eGift on us.