TurboTax Discounts with State Farm Bank Account

ttpremier180State Farm is offering significant TurboTax discounts, but only for select bank and mutual fund customers. The promotional prices for 2015 are: TurboTax Federal Deluxe Online free, Premier $20, and Home & Business $30. A free state return is also included with free e-File for all online versions. Details:

  • You must have at least one State Farm Bank or Mutual Fund account linked to your StateFarm.com online profile. This includes checking, savings, IRA, and credit card accounts. However, if you only have insurance with them, you will NOT get this discount.
  • You must register through this promotion link.
  • Offer limited to the first 25,000 qualified customers who register through State Farm to use TurboTax Online. I don’t recall how fast this ran out, but last year I believe it did run out before April 15th.

Some history… According to my notes, from 2006-2009 State Farm offered TurboTax Deluxe for free to all customers including insurance policyholders. In 2010 or 2011, they started restricting it only to bank and credit card customers.

The easiest way to gain access to this promotion is their regular “Checking” bank account with requires a $25 minimum initial deposit and no minimum balance fee. You must link your bank account number to your online State Farm profile, after which the website will recognize you as a State Farm Bank customer and you’ll be given access to the offer. Here is what you should see:

sf_tt2015

Reminder: TurboTax only charges you when you finally file your return. To guarantee that you’ll get this discount, you’ll have to access TurboTax via this StateFarm.com link and not TurboTax.com. Some people choose to “lock in” the pricing by registering and paying before actually finishing your return, but I’d only try this if you’re just using the free Deluxe (unless you are 100% sure you’ll use this software).

State Farm® customers can save on TurboTax 2015 by taking advantage of special offers. To receive your special TurboTax offer, you must access and complete your return through the link below. If you access your return directly from Intuit’s site, special offers will not be applied.

TurboTax Desktop Software 2015 Deals, 40% Off at Amazon

turbodeskflavors

Tax prep season is coming up soon, and Amazon has some deals going on for desktop versions of Intuit TurboTax for Tax Year 2015. Here are some reasons that you may choose the desktop software version (CD or download) over their more-popular TurboTax.com online version:

  • With desktop software, you keep all your sensitive data (Social security number, income, etc.) on your own home computer instead of on someone else’s cloud server.
  • The desktop software allows up to 5 Federal tax returns (including 5 separate e-Files) per product purchase. So if you have extra family members or close friends, you can share it and save money.
  • Depending on the promotion, buying the download/CD version can be cheaper than using the online version. Note when comparing prices: If the download/CD version only says State download is included and not explicitly State e-File, then you can complete a state return, but the State e-File will be an additional cost of $19.99 per return. (By contrast, the TurboTax.com online version charges $36.99 for the state software add-on, but it includes one state e-File.) My suggestion is to simply print out your return, mail it in for the cost of a stamp and envelope, and pocket the savings.

There are two separate Amazon promotions going on right now. First, receive up to 40% off the desktop software versions of Intuit TurboTax 2015 (either Mac or PC, download or physical CD). You can get only Federal or Federal + State. Promotion link. Expires January 30th, 2016. Example prices:

Buy a bundle including both Intuit TurboTax and Quicken on CDs, and save $20 on the entire bundle. You have to add to cart and go to Checkout in order to see the discount. Note that this is physical CD only, but both Mac and PC versions are on the TurboTax CDs. However, Quicken for PC and Mac are different prices. Promotion link. Example prices:

(Note: Please verify prices, as they have been changing. Pretty annoying actually, as only the $20 off is set, but they keep changing the original price of the bundle instead.)

At the time of writing this post, it works out to getting Quicken 2016 PC for about $10 extra. If you turned around and sold the Quicken on Amazon Marketplace or eBay, you’d probably get more than $10, which means your net price for TurboTax would be even lower than the first promotion (in exchange for some extra work).

RadPad: Pay Rent With MasterCard Credit Card at 1.99% Fee

rp_logoRadPad is a startup trying to be both a better apartment search engine and a better rent payment service. Of course, this translates to: Find apartment on your smartphone. Pay rent on your smartphone. Tap tap done. :)

I haven’t learned much about their rental marketplace, other than it is free for landlords to list. However, RadPad recently altered their fee structure:

  • No fee for debit card payments (Visa and MasterCard debit, under $5,000).
  • 1.99% fee for paying with MasterCard credit card or their Masterpass digital wallet.
  • 3.49% fee for Visa, American Express, and Discover credit cards.
  • Works with Apple Pay.

Your landlord or management company doesn’t have to sign up for anything, Radpad will mail them a paper check. RadPad also guarantees that you won’t be subject to late fees (they require 4 business days lead time). They’ll even send you an alert when the check is deposited by your landlord.

If you write and mail a check now, then you most likely have a debit card already. You can pay no fees, but gain in convenience (and perhaps save a stamp?). Much fewer debit cards offer significant rewards after the Durbin Amendment.

(The notable exception is the PayPal Business Debit card, which gives you 1% cash back on online “signature” purchases. If that is how it is processed, you can net 1% and the money is drawn from your bank account. However, for existing cardholders after 2/1/16 and all new cardholders, PayPal will not pay cash back on “PIN-less debit” transactions. This is a fine distinction, but if that is how the transaction is processed, then you won’t get the 1% cash back. Honestly, nobody really knows until someone tries it after 2/1.)

The lower 1.99% MasterCard fee also opens you up to paying rent with a rewards credit card like the Citi Double Cash card (issued as a MasterCard). Alternatively, you may be working on a spending requirement on a credit-card sign-up bonus. If, for example, you get $500 in rewards after making $3,000 in purchases like the Citi ThankYou Premier card (issued as a MasterCard), then that works out to over 16%.

rp_payscreen

Note: Plastiq offers a similar service. It works with a wider variety of payments (not just rent), but the default fee is 2.5% for credit card payments. If you catch them during a promotion, the rate may be lower.

Free SAT Test Prep from Khan Academy

khan_satWhile catching up on some reading, it was refreshing to see Bill Gates offer a more positive spin with his Top 6 Good-News Stories of 2015. One of them was that the College Board announced free, high-quality SAT practice at Khan Academy.

This past June, the company that created the SAT helped the Khan Academy launch a free online learning portal for any student who wants help getting ready for the SAT or PSAT. Check out the site for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ll look at these interactive tools and video lessons and wish they had been around when you were in high school. I’m very excited about this development because of what it means for kids who can’t afford expensive test-prep classes and tutors.

The interactive software offers both short diagnostic quizzes and full exams, along with feedback and interactive tutorials to make improvements. Apparently, the SAT is being revamped again in March 2016 and reverting back to the older 1600 point scale + optional essay. Ah, fun times.

Amazon Prime Discounts and Promotions

Update: This Amazon promotion has expired.

To celebrate their Golden Globe awards, Amazon is offering a discount on Amazon Prime for new members. Here is the promotion landing page. Join Amazon Prime for $73 (normally $99) and save $26 on your first year’s membership. Offer valid through 11:59pm PT on Sunday, January 17th.

Until Sunday, January 17th at 11:59 p.m., PT, new members can join Amazon Prime for $73 for the first year and enjoy member-only benefits and content, including our Golden Globe Award-winning series, Mozart in the Jungle. Although the price in your cart will show $99, the promotion discount will be applied at checkout. You will be charged when you place your order.

Promo does not apply for renewals or gift memberships.

Invest With The House + Free Investing Books by Meb Faber

investwiththehouseAsset manager and author Meb Faber has a new book out called Invest With The House: Hacking The Top Hedge Funds, where he explores the idea of simply copying the publicly-available holdings of top investment managers. I haven’t read it yet, but for a taste, consider that a copycat portfolio of Warren Buffett using simply the Top 10 holdings of Berkshire Hathaway would have beat 98% of mutual funds since 2000. It is free to borrow for Kindle Unlimited subscribers and $9.99 to buy on Kindle.

(Test your investing nerd skills. How many of the hedge fund manager caricatures can you name on the cover?)

To celebrate and promote this release, Faber is also making his last three books free to buy on Amazon Kindle for a limited time (1/7-1/12/16). Here are direct links to those eBooks, plus links to my book notes.

Now, Faber does a fascinating job going back and finding such market-beating tricks, and I will probably read this new book as well. But before you put your hard-earned money at risk using such strategies, please realize that even if they continue to work (which is in no way guaranteed), they are also very hard to stick to in real life. Don’t change your investing strategy unless you are supremely confident you will keep to it through thick and thin.

AmEx Special Offers: Amazon, Cell Phones, Hulu, Uber, Sports Authority, Etc.

amexoffers

Reminder: Many top offers expiring 12/31/15. American Express cardholders can participate in “AmEx Offers” which offer discounts to various merchants. These promotions often offer the opportunity for easy savings without changing your spending habits. For places that I shop at regularly, I can often buy a gift card to lock in the savings.

Here’s a quick roundup of current offers. Some are targeted but if a Twitter hashtag is listed they are open to all. Some offers are limited and are “sold out” if you haven’t already registered. Many expire at the end of 2015.

amexoffers_amazon

  • Amazon.com. Spend $60+, Get $15. Get a one-time $15 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $60 or more online at Amazon.com by 12/31/2015. This one is sold out, but if you registered previously lock in your credit with a Amazon e-gift card or physical $60 Amazon gift card to trigger the $15 back. Worked for me instantly with an e-gift card.
  • Any major cell phone provider (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular or Verizon) . Spend $75+, Get $10 Back. Good 2x, so up to $20 Back. Targeted. Enroll your eligible Card & pay your cell phone bill of $75+ online @ these accepting major US Carriers by 1/31/16 & get $10 back. Limit 2 statement credits. I just paid my bill and made a negative balance, got confirmation e-mail instantly.
  • Any cable or satellite TV provider in CA, NY, NJ and IL. Spend $50+, Get $10 Back. Good 2x, so up to $20 Back. Targeted. Enroll your eligible Card & pay your cable or satellite television bill of $50+ by 1/31/16 & get $10 back. Limit 2 statement credits. Offer valid for services provided in CA, NY, NJ and IL only.
  • Hulu. Spend $10+, Get $10. Targeted, but I see it on all my cards.
  • Uber. Spend $20+, Get $10. Tweet using #AmexUber through 12/31/15. Details.
  • Toys R Us and Babies R Us. Spend $25, Get $5. Tweet #AmexToysRus, expires 12/31/15.Details.
  • Diapers.com. Spend $50, Get $10. Tweet #AmexDiapers, expires 12/31/15. Stack with a coupon, just make sure your total charge to AmEx is enough. Details.
  • Sports Authority. Spend $50, Get $10. Tweet #AmexSA, expires 12/31/15. Valid both online and in-store.
  • Newegg.com. Spend $200, Get $25. Tweet #AmexNewegg, expires 12/31/15. Details.
  • American Express Gift Cards. Spend $200+, Get $10 back. Tweet #AmexGift, expires 12/31/15. Use promo code NOV1CAS to get the purchase fee waived. Sign up for the Premium shipping trial to get shipping waived (but don’t forget to cancel the trial).
  • UndercoverTourist.com. Spend $150, Get $30. This is one of the few legit places to get discount Disney World tickets, as well as other places like Universal. Combine the existing discount with this promo, and this is about as cheap as they get. Tweet #AmexUCT, expires 12/31/15.
  • Sam’s Club Membership, Spend $45+, Get $25. Sam’s Club takes AmEx now. Good towards membership only. Expires 12/31/2015.
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton. Spend $250+, Get $50 Back. Get a one-time $50 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $250+ on room rate and room charges, when you pay for your stay with Embassy Suites by Hilton from 10/19/15 to 12/31/15. Tweet #AmexEmbassy

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

Here are the various ways to access these offers:

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

There are many different American Express cards today, but these two are my current favorites:

Chase Freedom Review: $150 Sign-Up Bonus

Chase Freedom Visa

The Chase Freedom® – $150 Bonus is a popular rewards credit card. What makes it unique is the combination having no annual fee and the ability to get 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter.

Here are the highlights:

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

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

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

2016 5% Cash Back Categories

From January 1st through March 31st, 2016 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations
  • Local Commuter Transportation (includes taxis, subways, local commuter buses and trains)

freedom_q1_2016

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

“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.”

 

Free Rideshare Promo Codes: Uber, Lyft, Gett, Sidecar, Curb, And More

uberscreenUpdated, possible $20 free credit for existing Uber customers, new codes for both new and existing Silvercar customers.

Summon everything from your phone! Most of these startups offer bonus credit for first-time users. If you live in a major metro area, this can add up several free rides. I’ve used Uber several times now, and it is amazing how the entrenched taxi industry missed a huge tech opportunity. I see the same thing with Target’s online buying experience being so much worse than Amazon.

Uber. $20 off your first ride via this special link or promo code uberMYMONEYBLOG. Existing users can get another $20 in Uber credit using the Facebook Messenger app, with details here (see bottom of post) and here. I couldn’t get it to work myself, but others report success and supposedly they are adding more cities. Cities.

Lyft. $20 ride credit via promo code JONATHAN1395 or my referral link. Cities.

Flywheel. $5 off your first ride until with this special link or promo code 27A8AP.

Gett. You can usually find the best available new user promo code here, up to $50 in the past but right now I don’t see anything. Alternatively, you can try my referral code GTJONAT17 for $20 in free credit. Black car service in NYC only.

Sidecar. $10 ride credit with promo code jdhmd. If that doesn’t work, get a $5 ride credit with my referral code JONATHAN931.

Curb (formerly Taxi Magic). $15 ride credit with promo code CURBFIRST. If that doesn’t work, get a $10 ride credit with referral promo code 00b72a or via this special link. Cities.

Summon (formerly Instacab). $5 ride credit with referral code JPING or use this special link. Flat fares from anywhere in San Francisco to SFO ($35), OAK ($50) and SJC ($120).

Bonus Stuff

Silvercar. Rent a sleek Audi A4 with your phone. First-time renters can get $75 off their first rental of 2+ days with promo code JOLLY75 now through 1/10/16. Returning customers can get 15% off any rental with promo code JOLLY15 now through 1/10/16. I’m not sure if you can stack with the referral offer of $25 in Paypal when you sign up with referral code JPING (referral link, program details). I would sign up for an account first ($25 in PayPal), and then make a rental second ($75 off).

LoungeBuddy. This app helps you locate airport lounges, read reviews, and even book access directly. Get a free $10 in credit using my referral code SMMiI89dbv. In addition, until December 31, 2015, LoungeBuddy is offering a Holiday promo 100% rebate on lounge access at select locations in the form of app credit. So spend $10 cash on an airport lounge, and get $10 in LoungeBuddy credit to use again later.

Where the best deal is a referral code, I have included my own and will usually get a bounty of whatever you get (you get free ride, I get free ride). If my code isn’t the best deal, I have posted the better deal first. Thanks in advance if you use any of them. Let me know if you find a better confirmed deal.

Free 1,100 Le Club AccorHotels Points = 550 Delta SkyMiles

accorpromo_logoPromotion has expired.

Accor Hotels is a huge hotel network, especially in Europe. Their new Rewards Quest game promotion will net you over 1,000 free points in their Le Club AccorHotel loyalty program, all in under 5-10 minutes. You don’t even need to answer the questions correctly. It was actually educational for me 😉

If you are a regular Accor Hotel traveler, you’ll probably know what you want to do with your points. You’ll also have the required one hotel stay ever 12 months in order to keep your points from expiring.

If you are NOT a regular Accor Hotel customer, then you should know that these points will convert to various airline programs. The minimum is usually 2,000 points = 1,000 Delta Skymiles, for example. However, it is not well known that if you set your points to automatically convert to a preset miles program, there is no minimum! In that case, your 1,100 Free Le Club AccorHotels Points = 550 Delta SkyMiles. After you create an account and are logged in, try this link to set things up.

I would like to convert my Le Club Accorhotels points into points for other loyalty programs systematically
– Points will be transferred automatically to the selected partner as soon as my account has the required number of points.
– My points will be credited to my partner account within 6 weeks following the transfer
– I cannot receive other Le Club Accorhotels Rewards

Here’s a screenshot from my account which shows an automatic transfer of less than 2,000 points:

accorpromo1

There may be other airlines more to your liking, such as Iberia or British Airways, although Delta is the only domestic airline option that I see. At the minimum, it can help delay the expiration of some frequent flier miles.

Pay with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points at Amazon.com ($10 First-Time Bonus)

Chase Sapphire Preferred ImageIf you have Ultimate Rewards points accrued from Chase credit cards, you can now use them to buy eligible items at Amazon.com. The redemption rate is 1 Ultimate Rewards points = 1 cent at Amazon, which is the same rate as their statement credit redemptions. The only added benefit is that there is no minimum redemption size. However, you may still get a better value by converting them to frequent flier miles like those from United Airlines or British Airways.

You’ll need to connect an eligible Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, including:

However, if you have even one Chase Ultimate Rewards point, you can now get $10 off your first purchase using this feature. See the details at this Chase / Amazon promotion page. Offer valid through 12/31/15 with promo code SWP15CH10S. Limited-time offer, while supplies last.

The instructions are pretty clear:

1. Link your Chase Sapphire® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® card to your Amazon account.
2. Enroll your Chase Sapphire or Chase Sapphire Preferred card in Shop with Points.
3. Add products sold and shipped by Amazon.com to your Shopping cart.
4. Choose your enrolled Chase Sapphire or Chase Sapphire Preferred card as your Payment Method and select to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for all or part of your order. Click “Use this payment method”.
5. Enter the promo code SWP15CH10S in the box provided and press “Apply”.
6. Redeem at least $0.01 (or 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point) and press “Apply”. If you receive an error message while attempting to apply the promo code, please wait 72 hours and try again.
7. The Shop with Points promotional offer of up to $10 of savings will be reflected instantly on the right side of the checkout page. If the shopping cart order is less than $10, the promotional credit will be applied against the full order. You can change the amount of points redeemed at any time prior to placing the order.

Here is a screenshot of my successful application of this offer (click to enlarge):

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I only had to use 1 Ultimate Rewards point, and it took $10 plus $0.01 off my order. Remember to add only products “sold and shipped by Amazon.com” to your cart.

Curbside App: Get $20 off Target “Drive Thru Window” (Limited Locations)

curbside_logoCurbside is a new app that adds a “drive thru window” to local stores like Target, Best Buy, or Home Depot. You order stuff with your smartphone (iOS or Android), and pick it up without parking your car. No handling fees, no markups. An interesting compromise between dealing with in-store crowds and waiting around for the UPS truck. Right now they are only in very limited areas.

New customers can get $20 off their first Target order. Curbside is currently ONLY available in the Greater Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York/New Jersey Area. Limit one per household. First time customers only. While supplies last.

You’ll get an e-mail with the title “Your $20 Offer is waiting.” You may need to install the app, sign up for the account, and then go use the link in that e-mail again to activate your $20 promotion balance. Here is a screenshot.

Note that the above promo is better than the standard refer-a-friend offer of $10 off $20 minimum order. You’ll see these codes readily available everywhere… including here! But don’t use my $10 off promo code NCDLO unless the above linked offer is expired.