Netspend Card 5% APY Savings Account Review

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(Update: On 5/31, NetSpend effectively issued a 30-day notice that the rate structure will be changed as of July 1st, 2016 such that the 5% APY will apply up to $1,000 and anything above that gets 0.50% APY. The 5% APY will apply to up to $5,000 until June 30, 2016 which is when the next quarterly interest payment will post. Thanks to all who notified me of this change.)

Prepaid debit cards are a growing niche for the “under-banked” or “un-banked” who can’t or don’t want to use traditional checking accounts to hold their cash. In order to promote the adoption of prepaid debit cards as their sole financial hub, many now offer the option of an attached high-interest savings account.

The NetSpend Prepaid Visa offers 5% APY on balances up to $5,000. For balances over $5,000, it pays 0.50% APY. Even with the balance limit, this is an attractive rate and worth a look even if you don’t need a prepaid debit card otherwise. I’ve had this card open since September 2015, but a quirk of this card is that interest is only paid quarterly, so I waited to see if the 5% APY (4.91% APR) would post correctly. As you can see in the screenshot below, the interest for all 3 months was credited as promised at roughly $20.50 per month. (The 0.50% APY on balances above $5,000 is credited on a separate line.)

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For the purposes of this review, I will not focus on most aspects of the prepaid debit card. I am primarily interested in maximizing the savings account feature and the avoidance of any fees.

Account opening process. Visit the Netspend website and enter your personal details to order a card (name, address, e-mail). No credit check. No application fee. You will eventually need to provide your Social Security number as required by law, since you’ll be opening a FDIC-insured bank account. If you are referred by an existing user (links above are mine, thanks if you use it), both get an additional $20 bonus after depositing at least $40. After signing up, you can also refer your own friend and family for more $20 bonuses.

Once the physical card arrives in about a week, follow the included directions and activate your account online. You will be provided your unique account number and a routing number, which will allow you to make electronic ACH transfers from your external bank accounts. You can also use this information to have direct deposit set up with your payroll or government benefits.

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5% APY savings account funding directions. Previously, you had to upgrade to Netspend Premier to get the 5% APY savings account option. This requirement appears to have been removed. You must use an external bank to “push” money over into the Netspend card. I used my Ally Bank savings account as the transfer agent (screenshot below). I used the account and routing numbers provided, which confirmed that the underlying FDIC-insured bank is MetaBank of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Other banks that they say may be used are BofI Federal Bank and The Bancorp Bank.

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Then, all you need to do is move over $5,000 from your external bank to your Card Balance, and then move that $5,000 over to your Savings Balance. Your Card Balance is the part that can be spent via prepaid debit card, but it will not earn any interest, so be sure to move it over to Savings Balance. They are separate buckets! Here are the before and after screenshots (click to enlarge).

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The Savings Account has no monthly minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees. Transfers between Card Balance and Savings Balance are free, but the number of withdrawals from Savings Balance are limited to 6 per calendar month by federal banking laws.

Avoiding Debit Card fees. Now, the Savings Account has no monthly fees, but the Debit Card does have a choice of plans with their own fee schedules. Since I don’t plan on making any actual purchases using this debit card, I chose the Pay As You Go plan with no monthly fee. Now, with this plan there is also an account maintenance fee of $5.95 per month:

Account Maintenance Fee $5.95 per month (fee applies if Card Account has not had any activity, that is, no purchases; no cash withdrawals; no load transactions; or no balance inquiry fee for 90 days). If enrolled in any FeeAdvantage Plan and your Card Account has had no activity as described above, this fee applies instead of the Plan Fee.

The simple solution to avoid this fee is to load a few dollars once every 90 days via your original ACH transfer source. Most banks will even let you set up an automated transfer schedule; I like every month just because it serves as a monthly reminder to check the balance, APY, etc. You could also use their mobile app and make a check deposit.

Withdrawals. The easiest way to make a withdrawal is again via “ACH pull” from your external transfer bank. Remember, you’ll have to move the funds over from “Savings” to “Card”. Another free alternative is to use the BillPay feature and pay down a credit card bill using your funds. If you have a credit card that you use regularly, you can even make an overpayment and simply hold a negative balance until it gets used up by future credit card purchases. Finally, you could just use the Visa feature to buy something or make an ATM withdrawal (subject to daily limits), but you may be subject to transaction fees.

Additional cards. If you have a spouse or partner, you could both get a NetSpend Prepaid card which would bring your 5% APY limit to $10,000. There are also other cards which offer a similar setup, including Brink’s Prepaid (I have this one as well), Ace Elite, and Western Union. If you had one of each of these (which is still allowed to the best of my knowledge), then that would bring your theoretical limit to $20,000 for an individual or $40,000 for a couple.

Recap. Yes, it really works, as long as you set it up properly and maintain an active account. As compared to a 1% APY savings account, each $5,000 balance at 5% APY would earn $200 more in taxable interest income each year. It is up to you to weigh the potential reward vs. effort, also taking into account the size of your cash balances.

Credit Card Churning vs. Sustainable, Efficient Sampling

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In investing, when a market inefficiency is made well-known and also easy to replicate, you can bet that inefficiency will soon disappear. I was catching up on my magazine stack and saw that Bloomberg Businessweek wrote about credit card churning, where people aggressively sign up for 16 credit cards in a year and bend the rules as far as they will go.

As someone who just came back from Costco, this made me think of their free samples. Manufacturers give out these free samples with the hope their upfront expense will be covered by the additional product sales. Most people will pass on by, some will take one sample, and a few will treat it like their personal buffet line. Now, there are no rules posted, but obviously if everyone takes 10 samples then the system falls apart.

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I’m not hatin’, just observin’. I’ve certainly gotten my share of bonuses in the past. I have a dedicated Google Spreadsheet and know that business card organizers are a great way to keep physical cards organized. (I used to use baseball card pages, but this is more compact and nothing falls out.) However, I am actually quite fine with credit card companies adding some limitations on their bonuses. As the saying goes, I’d rather shear the sheep many times rather than skin it once.

You don’t need to apply for 16 credit cards to earn a healthy dose of travel perks. Keep in mind that for many years, a sign-up bonus of $100 was noteworthy. Right now, I probably won’t write about something unless it is worth at least $500 in total bet value (taking into account both upfront and ongoing rewards, minus any annual fee). This is still a relatively good time for rewards, if no longer the absolute best.

At $500 a pop, just four cards per year will still net you $2,000 in annual perks. Consider it your reward for having a high credit score and good money management skills. (If you don’t have both, don’t do this at all.) Be a sustainable, efficient credit card sampler. Focus on the low-hanging, juiciest fruit only. High value, low work. It’s less stress, less risk, and you can still cover a big chunk of your annual vacation budget every year. I only apply for a maximum of roughly 4 cards per year for myself, and 2 cards per year for my spouse. For example, here are four cards that we have gotten recently that adds up to over $2,500 in value for us:

Back to the Costco free sample analogy. In end, if the product is good, it will be successful. If something isn’t good, giving away stuff won’t matter. For a long time, American Express had the “king” of credit cards points with their Membership Rewards points. But they starting chipping away at the value, and Chase introduced their brand-new Ultimate Rewards points and their Chase Sapphire Preferred card. These days, most people will tell you that Ultimate Rewards are a notch better because they are more flexible and have a higher base value per point.

When you apply for a card, your job is to both happily take the free stuff but also give them a chance to earn your business. Use it for purchases. Try their card website and see how easy it is to pay your bill online or set up automatic payments. Try their points website and see how easy it is to redeem your points. Call up their customer service and see how easy it is to dispute an incorrect charge. If it is a co-branded card, try out the hotels or airlines. See if it fits your lifestyle, be it Four Seasons or Motel 6.

Some can surprise you, especially if you learn about their lesser-known perks. For example, the American Express Delta Platinum SkyMiles card does not heavily advertise that it offers a free economy companion ticket each year upon card renewal. As a couple who regularly flies coast-to-coast on Delta, the free companion ticket has easily offset the $195 annual fee of the card and then some every year, while we also get free checked bags, priority boarding, and improved saver award seat availability.

The article focuses on customers getting stuff from credit card companies. Don’t forget there would be NO bonuses if credit card companies weren’t trying to get your money, either indirectly through the transaction fees you generate and your personal spending habit data, or directly through the interest you pay on your balances. Let them try to earn your business. Keep the good ones. Cancel the ones that fall short. There is nothing wrong with that.

Free 1,000 United Miles with Prosper Daily App (Expired)

prosperdaily0Promo expired early. Marketplace lender Prosper acquired the BillGuard app in late 2015, and has re-branded it as Prosper Daily. Right now, you can get 1,000 free United miles if you register here first with your United MileagePlus number, install the iOS or Android app by 6/30/15 using the link they text you, and then register a new account in the app.

Miles will be posted in 6-8 weeks. United MileagePlus miles currently expire after 18 months of inactivity, so this can be a good way to reset the expiration countdown clock. One per person – I always try to get these types of bonuses for both my spouse and myself.

Prosper Daily highlights:

  • View all of your bank and credit accounts. You provide login credentials to each account, and they will track all your balances. Like Mint app.
  • Budget and bill tracking. They analyze your accounts to track due dates and chart your budget and spending.
  • Free credit score. You must provide additional personal information for this service; I chose not to for now. The score is non-FICO and based on your TransUnion report (I already have that from elsewhere).
  • As with similar services, they will make money by showing you advertisements based on your personal information.

Fine print:

To be eligible, you will need a valid United MileagePlus® account and you must be a new Prosper Daily app user. Each eligible and participating person may earn miles one time under this offer.

To earn miles for this offer, you will need to download the Prosper Daily app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, then register in the app. You can then begin using the app by enrolling to receive your free credit score and connecting the financial accounts you want to track in the app. Download by June 30, 2016 to qualify for the miles offer. […] Award miles earned by an eligible participant will be posted 6-8 weeks after download and registration.

Free FICO Score For Everyone via CreditScoreCard, No Credit Card Required

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Discover has rolled out a new service called Credit ScoreCard, which provides everyone access to their FICO score for no charge with no trials or credit card relationship required. (Well, free in exchange for right to market things to you based on your personal information.) Checking your own credit does not impact your credit score. This post provides updated information and instructions regarding this service.

FICO Score details.

  • FICO Score version: FICO Score 8, or FICO 08. This is the most widely used of the many FICO flavors. Score version is directly shown on the website.
  • Credit bureau: Experian
  • Update frequency: Either monthly or when you log in, whichever is longer.
  • Limitations: Available to everyone. You do not have to be a Discover cardholder.

Is this legit? The name is a little generic and perhaps even phishy-sounding, but you can view information at discover.com/free-credit-score, which links directly to creditscorecard.com/registration. The domain registry information matches that of Discover Financial Services.

How to get your score. Here’s a preview of the application and approval process:

  1. You must provide personal information, including Social Security Number. Name, address, etc. This is required for any service that checks your credit score. You do not need a Discover credit card.
  2. You must agree to their Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy. Basically, they will give your free access to your credit score and other credit information, and they will also collect personal information to market Discover products and other services to you. Don’t miss this chart:

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  3. Identity verification questions. They will ask you some multiple choice questions based on your Experian credit report data in order to verify your identity. If you don’t pass this quiz, I would go over to AnnualCreditReport.com and get a copy of your report to scan for errors.
  4. Set your personal security questions. At this point, you are approved. You just need to set up the standard security questions like “Who was your 2nd grade teacher?”

What kind of information do you get? The score model is FICO Score 8, based on your Experian credit report. This is the same score model and credit bureau offered by American Express, and is within a few points for me (the check dates are slightly off). The other two major bureaus are TransUnion and Equifax. Note that Discover also offers their cardholders access to FICO Score 8 based on their TransUnion credit report. From their terms:

The FICO® Credit Score we provide is the FICO® Score 8. The score range is 300-850. FICO® Credit Scores are based on information on your credit report, and give you a snapshot of your credit report information at a very specific point in time. As the information in your report changes, your score may also change. According to FICO®, 83% of the population experiences changes to their score by up to 20 points month to month. FICO® Credit Scores as well as other credit scores are based on credit bureau information, and may be different from one credit bureau to the next.

You also get access to data points like Total Number of Accounts, Length of Credit (Oldest Account), Revolving Utilization Percentage, and Missed Number of Payments.

How often is it updated? As often as every 30 days, but only if you log in to the website. Many sites operate this way, as it reduces their costs of grabbing your score if you are no longer interested. Also, they want you to log in so that they can show you advertisements. From the terms:

Unless you cancel this authorization, we’ll pull fresh credit report information for you the later of every thirty days or the next time you log into your Credit Scorecard.

Screenshots. Here’s a peek at mine:

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Bottom line. CreditScoreCard by Discover is one of the first free services I’ve seen that offers a FICO Score without requiring you to be an affiliated credit cardholder. If you already have access to this score model and credit bureau combination through other means, you may not want another entity to have access to your personal data. If you don’t, you may find this a very reasonable way to get free access to your Experian FICO 8 score.

Related: Here is additional information about other major credit card issuers with free FICO programs:

Qapital App Review: Rules-Based Automated Savings Account – Free $5 to Start

qapital0Before we let them take over the world, computers must first prove their worth by helping us become better savers and investors. Importantly, we humans have a horrible tendency to put off saving when we have to manually do it each and every time.

Fintech start-up Qapital intends to fix this by automatically setting aside money based on a customized selection of rules. At it’s core is a free, FDIC-insured savings account held at Wells Fargo with no minimum balance or monthly fees. They are also giving out five bucks to start (details below).

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Here are the current rules available:

  • Round-up Rule: Round up your purchases and save the difference every time you buy something. Ex. You can round to the nearest $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5.
  • Spend Less Rule: If you spend less than your target budget amount, then save the difference. Ex. Spend less than $15 at Starbucks during a week, then save the difference towards a goal.
  • Guilty Pleasure Rule: If you buy something you’re trying to resist, Qapital will automatically save some money for you. Ex. Save $10 every time you make a purchase at McDonald’s.
  • Set & Forget Rule: A traditional rule where you save a fixed amount daily, weekly, or once a month. Ex. Save $50 every week.
  • Apple Health Rule: If you hit your fitness target, Qapital will save towards your goal. Ex. Save $50 towards vacation goal every time you take 500 steps.
  • IFTTT Rules: Use the IFTTT service to trigger a money transfer.
  • Freelancer Rule: Every time you receive a large deposit, save 30% of it towards taxes.
  • 52 Week Rule: Save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, and so on for 52 weeks. (This adds up to $1,378 by the way!)

You must be 18 years old and link up an existing US-based checking account as the funding source. Trial deposits are used for verification using account and routing numbers. To prevent a million little transactions, withdrawals from your checking account to your Qapital account are only done twice a week. You can make move money back into your checking account at any time.

You can also add a credit card such as Citi, Chase, or American Express to trigger the rules, although you can’t use it as a funding source.

If Qapital is free, then how do they make money? They don’t charge any fees directly. They make money by keeping any interest that might be earned on your savings balance. Given that the top savings accounts pay roughly 1% APY, that means for every $100 in the account you’re losing out on $1 a year. They promise not to sell your transaction data.

Get $5 free to start. Right now, Qapital has a refer-a-friend promotion where a new user can get $5 if they are referred by a current user and open a new Qapital account with a least one deposit. Here is my special $5 referral link. Thanks if you use it!

Recap. Qapital is another iteration of “let me save for you” concept, previously seen in the “Keep the Change” program from Bank of America and the “round up to the nearest dollar” system from the Acorns app. Qapital differs in that they offer a wider variety of rule-based triggers, they are free while working with any credit card, and your only option is an FDIC-insured savings account (no stock investing). Overall it is a nice execution, although I predict that this idea will become more common across many different financial institutions over time (i.e. other people gonna copy it).

Setup is relatively easy and the user interface is good; I’ve set up a few rules for myself. I like that you can round up purchases into a simple savings account instead of the tax complexity of buying tiny bits of ETFs. There is no phone number, but there is in-app chat and e-mail support. My question was answered within an hour during their business hours. The app has worked fine so far while rounding up my purchases, but I’ll be interested to see if it keeps my attention several months from now.

More screenshots:

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Next up: Digit.

Sam’s Club Mom’s and Dad’s Club – Free $10 eGift Card

sams10gcSam’s Club has a new Mom’s and Dad’s Club and is giving out free $10 eGift cards to join. Looks like you’ll get special offers and free samples targeted for families and children. Fast sign-up, eGift card must be used online. You must use the same e-mail address as registered on SamsClub.com. The fine print wording suggests that the offer may be targeted, but it seems worth a shot if you are a Sam’s Club member and have an e-mail on file already. Hat tip to shikha_sharma of SD.

Enroll in Sam’s Club® Mom’s and Dad’s Club with a valid email address matching the email address registered on SamsClub.com by May 15 to receive a $10 eGift Card. eGift Card will be provided by email between May 15 and June 15 to the email address used to register your Sam’s Club Membership on SamsClub.com matching Mom’s and Dad’s Club registration. Offer only available to the Sam’s Club Member associated with the original email address for this advertisement. Only one eGift Card per membership. eGift Card may not be used to pay for membership fee, travel purchases, or select services. eGift Card can only be used online at SamsClub.com. Offer not valid in Puerto Rico.

Raise App: Buy Discounted Gift Cards, $10 off $100 Coupon Code

Updated with $5 new user bonus, limited-time $10 off $100 coupon code. Raise has a new promo code APP10 that takes an additional $10 off $100 minimum if you use their app (links below). Valid for existing users. Now only valid for new users. Expires 5/16/16.

To redeem, open the Raise app and apply code APP10 in promo box at checkout. Exclusions: $100 order minimum. Can only be used on the Raise app. Cannot be combined with any additional offers. Limit one time use within date of promotion. One redemption per household. Offer expires on 05/16/2016 11:59 PM CST.

For new users, Raise has a referral program that offers you $5 to start. Here is my $5 referral link. Thanks if you use it! Here’s the generic text:

Join me on the upside at Raise, where your money is worth more. Here’s $5 to get started! http://geta.raise.com/jping1

Lots of the good gift cards just over $100 are going fast, but new ones are also arriving. I probably could have done better with some patience, but I snagged a CVS gift card at 17% off face value for an upcoming purchase.

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Original post:

raiseapp2I prefer shopping tips that let you save money on stuff you’d already buy anyway. Raise.com lets you buy and sell gift cards online, and according to them they are the largest online marketplace for gift cards (plus they’ve raised $25M in venture capital).

Raise now has both an iOS app and Android app. You an tell they put some thought into it with little things like scanning your credit card number via smartphone camera and storing all your past gift cards in their “wallet”.

This app makes it even easier to buy a discounted gift card after you’ve already decided what to buy and are on the way to the register. Store your credit card info ahead of time, buy a discounted card for 5% to 10% off, and use up the gift card a minute later. Why wait for shipping? Definitely worth keeping on your phone, if only for big $100+ purchases. Always check the gift card to make sure it will be delivered electronically. The fine print states that eGift cards will be delivered “within 1 hour” but they’ve always arrived within a minute for me. Even their press release states “A user standing in line for coffee, for instance, could quickly find and buy a corresponding gift card and redeem it at the store counter, pocketing instant savings.”

Raise also guarantees that the gift card you purchase will have the correct value upon redemption. The only “catch” is that you must tell them within 60 days of purchase. I wouldn’t recommend waiting nearly that long with any used gift card, as at least one other person has the code.

Final tip – Inventory is constantly changing with this app, gift cards can disappear even though you’ve already added them to your cart!

American Airlines Promo: Quick, Free 700 Miles

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In celebration of the 35th anniversary of the American Airlines AAdvantage® program, they are running a Miles for Milestones promotion.

  • To get the first 350 miles and enter the 350,000 mile sweepstakes, you just need your name, e-mail, and AAdvantage account number.
  • To get the second 350 miles, you’ll have to share something on your Facebook page, Twitter account, or e-mail them directly.

Screenshot:

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Between my wife and I, we tried the e-mail option and the Twitter option. After sending the e-mail, we got an auto-reply but no direct confirmation of qualification for the bonus miles. After sending the tweet, we got an instant Twitter reply with a link to verify the tweet. The Twitter option felt more concrete and satisfying, but the e-mail option is more private.

This will extend the life of your miles, as AA miles currently expire after 18 months of inactivity. Keep in mind the terms state it may take up to 8 weeks for your bonus miles to post. Ideally, 700 miles for each family member in under 5 minutes.

Navy Federal Credit Union Military Appreciation Month Promotions 2016

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navyfedlogoNavy Federal Credit Union has solid bank and loan products, including checking accounts with ATM rebates, competitive mortgage rates, and limited-time 0% balance transfer promotions. Readers have commented on their excellent customer service and the fact that they often keep and service the mortgages and other loans they originate.

Membership eligibility for NavyFed is primarily restricted to Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard regular Active Duty and reservists, and Army and Air National Guard personnel, but also includes family and household members of existing NavyFed members and some civilian employees in the Department of Defense.

If you’ve been waiting to sign-up, the special offers available during Military Appreciation Month may help you get yourself motivated (some offers are restricted to active military):

  • Get $50 When You Give Membership. Refer armed forces personnel, DoD civilians and contractors, and their dependents, and you’ll each get $50.
  • Get $50 with Active Duty Checking. Open an Active Duty Checking account with a qualifying Military Direct Deposit and get $50.
  • Get a Special Promotional-Rate CD. Open a 15-month Military Appreciation Certificate with a 3.00% APY and start growing your savings. Receive an additional $10 incentive when you set up a recurring transfer.
  • Get $200 for Auto Loan Refinance. Military members: Refinance your loan from another lender and get $200. Active Duty and retired military members save an additional 1/4% APR on selected loans with Direct Deposit.
  • Get $200 with a CashRewards Credit Card. Open a new cashRewards credit card and get $200 cash back after spending $2,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.

Offers valid between 5/1/2016 and 5/31/2016 and can expire anytime without prior notice. Thanks (again) to reader Charles for the tip.

Hilton American Express Cards Limited Time Offers (100k & 75k Points)

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Hilton Hotels have co-branded relationships with both Citi and American Express. Until 5/4/16, both the Hilton HHonors Card from American Express (no annual fee) and Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express ($75 annual fee) have temporarily increased sign-up bonuses. The current AmEx policy is that applicants can only get one sign-up bonus, per card in your entire lifetime, so if you’re going to get one you might as well wait until one of these limited-time offers:

Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.

Whether these cards are good for you depends heavily on how much you value Hilton points and/or their Elite Silver or Gold status. You can use this search tool to see how much a hotel will cost in any specific area (i.e. Honolulu or Paris). Here are some quick sample redemptions for the months of April, May, and June:

  • Honolulu, Hawaii. Hilton Waikiki Beach is 40,000 points. Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is 50,000 points.
  • San Francisco, California. Hilton San Francisco Union Square is 50,000 points.
  • Orlando, Florida. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando is 20,000 points.
  • New York City, NU. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York – Times Square South is 70,000 points. Hilton Times Square is 80,000 points.

Here are the highlights for the AmEx cards:

Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express

  • 100,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 05/04/2016.
  • 12X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • 6X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn HHonors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $75 annual fee.

Hilton HHonorsTM Card from American Express

  • 75,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 05/04/2016.
  • 7X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Complimentary Hilton HHonors Silver status.
  • Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn HHonors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No annual fee.

Another offer that I would compare with is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, which offers a certificate for two free weekend nights. I redeemed for two nights at the Grand Wailea in Maui, which otherwise would have cost 140,000 Hilton Honors points (70k per night).

Santander Bank extra20 Checking: Ending July 1st for Existing Customers

Update April 2016. I originally wrote about this promotion in October 2013, and many readers have been getting $20 of interest every month on a relatively low balance (worked out to 16% APY on $1,500 average balance). With a 1% APY savings account, you’d need $24,000 to get the same amount of interest! Unfortunately, Santander Bank recently announced that this promotion will end and accounts will be converted to a Simply Right checking account later this year (reports include either July 1st or December 1st, 2016).

I would note that this deal lasted for over 2.5 years, longer than I thought it would. Just like with 5% APY Netspend prepaid cards, you can’t really predict how long deals will last. Some end earlier than you think, some end later. Don’t forget to close your account in July, unless you’ve gotten attached to your Santander account (which was always the idea!).

Original post from October 2013 (deal is no longer available):

[Read more…]

RealtyShares Sign-Up Bonus Promo Code

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Update. RealtyShares has a referral program that offers a new customer who is referred by an existing client a $100 cash bonus after linking a bank account. I am no longer available to provide referrals as I have maxed out the limit, but you may be able to find a referral from existing client elsewhere.

Alternatively, using this link and using the code JONATHANPING25 will get you a free $25 to start.

Be sure to follow the terms and conditions and reply to your bank link confirmation e-mail with the proper promo code:

In order to receive $25 sign up bonus, user must register, connect a bank account, and use the promocode provided in the email they received about the program. Payouts to user will be within 30 days via your linked bank account. RealtyShares reserves the right to stop or modify the referral program at its discretion at any time.