Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – April 2020 (Updated)

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Updated April 2020. I’m still collecting points and miles now, in order to save money in the future. That space in your wallet or purse is valuable, and you should be the one to get that value. Selected banks are offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to encourage you to apply and try it out. These are the top 10 credit card offers that I would personally apply for right now, if I didn’t already have most of them. Notable changes:

  • IHG Hotels 140k/75k – 140k still highest ever, new 75k traveler offer.
  • United 60k – extended.
  • NavyFed 50k – offer is back.
  • Delta limited-time offers ended.

If you pay off your balances every month, then you can join me and many others in funding a huge chunk of your annual travel budget with cash credits, points, and miles. You don’t need to be a “I only fly business class” world traveler. I mostly use my rewards points on domestic economy flights, mid-class hotels, and cheap car rentals. If you have credit card debt, you should focus on paying that off first as the interest charges could offset most of the perks.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Business Card Offers. Small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Card

  • 140,000 IHG Rewards club points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free Night after each account anniversary year (valued up to 40,000 IHG points).
  • $89 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Want something lower risk? The no-annual fee Traveler version is now offering 75,000 IHG points.

Chase United Explorer Card

  • 60,000 bonus United miles. after $3,000 in purchases within 3 months. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your United ticket.
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to find that saver award economy ticket.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

JetBlue Plus Card

  • 60,000 TrueBlue points after $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for you and up to 3 companions when you use your JetBlue Plus Card.
  • $99 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 2X points on Travel and Dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Alternative: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. 3X on Travel and Dining, Priority Pass airport lounge access, $550 annual fee, $300 annual travel credit, 1-year Lyft Pink membership.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Mastercard

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after any purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. See link for details.
  • $99 Companion certificate offer. Earn a certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in the first 90 days.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $99 annual fee.

Citi Premier Card

  • 60,000 points (worth $750 towards travel booked at ThankYou.com) after $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points for every $1 spent on travel including gas stations.
  • Must not have gotten bonus from or closed a Citi Rewards+, ThankYou Preferred, Premier, or Prestige card in the past 24 months.
  • $95 annual fee.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Card

  • 50,000 points (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $100 annual Airline Incidental Statement Credit.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $95 annual fee.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card

  • 50,000 miles (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 2% cash back on ALL purchases. Plus earn 10X miles at Hotels.com through January 2020.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

  • 50,000 Hawaiian miles after $2,000 in purchases within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for primary cardmember when using your card to purchase eligible tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Receive a one-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and The Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

Navy Federal CU Flagship Rewards Credit Card

  • 50,000 bonus points ($500 value towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Must be Navy Federal credit union member; Eligibility is restricted primarily to those with a military affiliation or a relative who is a military veteran.
  • $49 annual fee.

Chase World of Hyatt Card

  • Up to 50,000 Hyatt points. 25,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. See link for details and rough valuation of points.
  • $95 annual fee, free night award upon card anniversary.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Chase IHG Rewards Club Traveler Card Review: 75,000 Bonus Points, No Annual Fee

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

The Chase IHG Rewards Club Traveler card is the IHG hotel card that includes a sign-up bonus and special IHG perks but with no annual fee. They just improved the sign-up bonus from 60k to 75k points. Here are the highlights:

  • 75,000 bonus IHG points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 15X points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel.
  • Earn 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Fourth Reward Night Free when you redeem points for any 4+ night stay.
  • No annual fee.

This is a new card, but please note the following:

This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.

This offer is for the new “IHG Club Traveler” card, so this language means that if you have the older and different “Premier” or “Select” card, you can still apply for this card and get the sign-up bonus.

What can you get with IHG points? The best redemption value for IHG points is for free hotel nights. The other options offer significantly less value. While the points don’t translate directly to a dollar value, but overall you should expect around 0.60 cents of value per point, which would make 60,000 IHG points worth an estimated $360 value. Not bad for a no annual fee card. You can perform the calculations for hotels that fit your needs. I tried a bunch of other various combinations and got between 0.5 cents and 0.8 cents per point equivalent value.

IHG stands for Intercontinental Hotel Group which has over 5,000 hotels including the following brands:

  • Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts
  • Crowne Plaza
  • Kimpton
  • Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express
  • Staybridge Suites
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Hotel Indigo
  • EVEN Hotels

IHG points expire after 24 months of inactivity, which is relatively long so with occasional activity you can easily save up these free nights for later. Chase Ultimate Rewards points also convert to IHG points.

Total of 15x points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG. Here’s how this breaks down: Earn 5X points per $1 spent as an IHG® Rewards Club Traveler credit cardmember + 10X points per $1 spent from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club Member, for a total of 15X points total at any of their 5,400+ IHG® hotels & resorts.

Given my 0.6 cent per IHG point valuation, I would book my IHG nights on this card, but not my everyday purchases on an ongoing basis.

  • 2 IHG points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
  • 1 IHG point per $1 spent on all other card purchases

Upgrade to Premier? Downgrade to Traveler? If you can reliably use a anniversary night certificate (40,000 point maximum value) and get $89 value out of it, you should consider going with the IHG Rewards Premier credit card mentioned on the same application page. The Premier card also adds some other small perks like Platinum Elite status and a TSA Precheck fee credit.

If you already have the Premier card and don’t want to pay for those added perks, you may consider asking if you can downgrade to this Traveler now without any annual fee.

Bottom line. The Chase IHG Rewards Club Traveler credit card now comes with no annual fee and an improved sign-up bonus boost of 75,000 IHG points. As with most of these co-branded cards, the best value is obtained if you can redeem for IHG hotel nights.

Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Best Interest Rates on Cash – April 2020

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

The Federal Reserve further cut their target Fed Funds Rate to zero in March, so we continue to see a steady stream of rate drops on cash savings. I hope that some of you got a nice rate locked-in if you tried to refinance your mortgage.

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for April 2020, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. I track these rates because I keep 12 months of expenses as a cash cushion and also invest in longer-term CDs (often at lesser-known credit unions) when they yield more than bonds. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to see how much extra interest you’d earn by moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 4/2/2020.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks make huge profits while paying you 0.01% APY, it’s easy to open a new “piggy-back” savings account and simply move some funds over from your existing checking account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I list the top rates as well as competitive rates from banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you with a temporary top rate and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
A common question is what to do with a big pile of cash that you’re waiting to deploy shortly (just sold your house, just sold your business, legal settlement, inheritance). My usual advice is to keep things simple and take your time. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. Marcus has a 7-month No Penalty CD at 1.70% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.55% APY with a $25,000 minimum deposit. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.70% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • CIT Bank has a few competitive term CDs at similar rates: 12-month CD at 1.86% APY ($1,000 min), 13-month at 1.82% APY, and 18-month at 1.85% APY.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, beware that many brokers pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). The following money market and ultra-short bond funds are not FDIC-insured, but may be a good option if you have idle cash and cheap/free commissions.

  • Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund currently pays an 1.07% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund which has an SEC yield of 0.68%. You can manually move the money over to Prime if you meet the $3,000 minimum investment.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 2.08% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 2.18% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is more interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.57% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 3.16% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months. Note that the higher yield came from a drop in net asset value during the recent market stress.

Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes. Right now, this section probably isn’t very interesting as T-Bills are yielding close to zero!

  • You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 4/2/2020, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.09% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.14% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 1.42% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 0.88% SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL. Expect these yields to drop significantly as they are updated.

US Savings Bonds
Series I Savings Bonds offer rates that are linked to inflation and backed by the US government. You must hold them for at least a year. There are annual purchase limits. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest.

  • “I Bonds” bought between November 2019 and April 2020 will earn a 2.22% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More info here.
  • In mid-April 2020, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.

Prepaid Cards with Attached Savings Accounts
A small subset of prepaid debit cards have an “attached” FDIC-insured savings account with exceptionally high interest rates. The negatives are that balances are capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. There is a long list of previous offers that have already disappeared with little notice. I don’t personally recommend nor use any of these anymore.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $2,500, but there are many hoops to jump through. Requirements include $1,500+ in “signature” purchases and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month.

Rewards checking accounts
These unique checking accounts pay above-average interest rates, but with unique risks. You have to jump through certain hoops, and if you make a mistake you won’t earn any interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. Rates can also drop to near-zero quickly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling. I don’t use any of these anymore.

  • Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking (my review) still offers up to 5.09% APY on balances up to $10,000 if you make $500+ in ACH deposits, 12 debit card “signature” purchases, and spend $1,000 on their credit card each month. Elements Financial has dropped to 2% APY on balances up to $20,000 if you make 15 debit card “signature” purchases or other qualifying transactions per statement cycle. Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
CDs offer higher rates, but come with an early withdrawal penalty. By finding a bank CD with a reasonable early withdrawal penalty, you can enjoy higher rates but maintain access in a true emergency. Alternatively, consider building a CD ladder of different maturity lengths (ex. 1/2/3/4/5-years) such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account. When one CD matures, use that money to buy another 5-year CD to keep the ladder going. Some CDs also offer “add-ons” where you can deposit more funds if rates drop.

  • Pen Air Federal Credit Union has a 5-year certificate at 2.20% APY ($500 minimum). Early withdrawal penalty is 180 days of interest. Their other terms are competitive as well, if you want build a CD ladder. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization ($3 one-time fee).
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. You may need an account to see the rates. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. Vanguard and Fidelity both have a 5-year at 1.60% APY right now. Be wary of higher rates from callable CDs listed by Fidelity.

Longer-term Instruments
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk, but I still track them to see the rest of the current yield curve.

  • Willing to lock up your money for 10 years? You can buy long-term certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. Vanguard has a 10-year at 1.50% APY right now. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a unique guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate which is quite low (currently a sad 0.10% rate). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. You could also view it as a hedge against prolonged deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years. As of 4/2/2020, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 1.04%.

All rates were checked as of 4/2/2020.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

National Emergency Library: Free Digitized Book Access During Pandemic

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It is estimated that 1 in 5 students across the world are currently unable to attend school. In response, the Internet Archive opened the National Emergency Library, which suspends the normal lending waitlists on its 1.4 million digitized books. Your local library also has an eBook section, but only has a finite number of copies that it can lend out at one time. (I’m still waiting patiently to read Ali Wong’s Dear Girls…) The National Emergency Library is essentially lending out unlimited copies through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later.

Announcing the National Emergency Library, a collection of books that supports emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries are closed.

Here are their Frequently Asked Questions.

This may be is another helpful resource for those that can’t utilize their normal libraries.You won’t necessarily find the current bestsellers, but there are a number of classic books and good options for children. I randomly checked a few investing geek books that are relatively rare and expensive to buy, and they even have scans of Poor Charlie’s almanack : the wit and wisdom of Charles T. Munger and Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

CARES Act: Stimulus Checks, Unemployment, Student Loan, IRA/401k, HSA/FSA Changes

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In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government approved a third round of economic relief. There is plenty of media coverage, but after reading multiple articles I noticed that nearly all of them miss at least one thing that another covered. Here’s my own mixtape of highlights so that you can research further if it applies to your situation.

$1,200 for each adult + $500 per child 16 or under. You may want to wait to file. Individuals under $75,000 adjusted gross income get the full amount, and married filing joint under $150,000 get the full amount. Fully phased out at $99,000/$198,000. You can find AGI on Line 8b on 2019 Form 1040 2019, Line 7 on 2018 Form 1040. Based on 2018 tax filing if you haven’t filed for 2019, and 2019 tax filing if you did file. So if got a big raise in 2019, you should delay filing. If your income went down in 2019 or you didn’t file before, you should file now. Finally, if you made a lot in 2019 and expect to make less in 2020, you may still be able to get the money eventually when filing your 2020 taxes.

There is no clawback provision on overpayments, so it doesn’t matter if you end up making more than the income limits in 2020. If you listed a bank account for direct deposit of tax refund, they will try to send your money that way (and then send you a snail mail confirmation). The target date is April 17th. Otherwise, you will likely have to wait longer for a physical check. The money is not taxable.

Unemployment benefits expanded again. The bill has expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits to self-employed and part-time workers. Eligibility also expanded to cover those unable to work due to the coronavirus outbreak. The eligible period is also extended by 13 weeks. There will also be an increased benefit amount (up to $600 per week) on top of your state benefits for up to 4 months.

401(k) and IRA early withdrawal penalties waived up to $100,000. You can now take up to $100,000 out of your IRAs and you have 3 years to put it back into your IRA again without penalty or tax. It’s kind of like a really long rollover window. However, you will owe income tax on whatever partial amount is not put back within 3 years. This is called a coronavirus-related distribution (CRD) and is limited to those affected by the coronavirus.

Instead of a hardship withdrawal, you may wish to take a 401k loan instead. The retirement plan loan limit is also raised to the smaller of $100,000 or up to the full amount vested. Anything that can permanently damage your retirement savings should all be avoided if possible, of course.

Required minimum distributions are waived for 2020. This applies to everyone, even if not affected by the coronavirus. If you don’t need to make the distribution, this can save you on taxes.

Extended student loan relief. Loan and interest payments will be deferred through September 30th without penalty for all federally owned student loans.

Expanded use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Tele-medicine services can now be used before meeting the plan deductible. You can again buy over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. Certain menstrual care products, such as tampons and pads, are also now eligible medical expenses.

Sources: NYT, Tax Foundation, NPR, Accounting Today, SHRM, SGR Law

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Amazon & Target Buy 2 Get 1 Free Board & Video Games, Targeted $5 eBook Credit

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Amazon and Target have a few sales on video games and board games to help with that cabin fever.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Sprint Unlimited Kickstart Promo: $300 Prepaid Mastercard + Unlimited Talk, Text, Data For $35/Month

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Limited-time offer for $300 prepaid Mastercard. The merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is supposed to close very soon, but it hasn’t quite yet. Maybe that’s why Sprint has added a $300 prepaid Mastercard for people who port over their own device and phone number to their Unlimited Kickstart plan that includes unlimited talk/text/data for $35 per month, per line. Porting is free and you can come from any specific provider. Limited-time offer ends 4/9.

It’s rare to see them pay you for not even buying a new phone. There is no contract with Kickstart, although the fine print says the $300 prepaid Mastercard ships after 90 days, so you would probably need to stay on the plan until then. Bring over your own phone, and you could actually generate a net profit with this promo for several months!

Pros of Kickstart Unlimited:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data for $35 a month, per line.
  • You can bring over any compatible phone, or buy one from Sprint. Use their phone IMEI/MEID checker.
  • You can come over from ANY outside provider, Verizon/AT&T/T-Mobile or even another cheap MVNO.
  • No expiration date. Price will not go up after a year.
  • No annual contracts.
  • No family plan or minimum number of lines required.

Cons of Kickstart Unlimited:

  • New customers only.
  • Online orders only. You won’t see this offer in stores.
  • No mobile hotspot.
  • Unlimited video in standard definition. Video streams up to 480p, music up to 500 Kbps, gaming up to 2 Mbps.
  • Data deprioritization during congestion.
  • Autopay required.

Sprint Unlimited Kickstart is best for those that want to lock in unlimited data direct from a major provider at a low $35/month price. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile Unlimited may have slightly better networks but they are also significantly more expensive.

I am not a huge data user, but it was still nice when I was on Sprint Unlimited. I could stream videos without worry and switched all my settings to “use cellular data whenever the heck you want!” instead of having to wait to sync or download things like podcasts over WiFi. There is also (slightly) better customer service at a major provider as compared to an MVNO. However, I would also consider the these MVNO alternatives as they can offer some significant savings.

Mint Mobile is another low-cost competitor with data caps. This is what I use. They are an MVNO that runs on the T-Mobile GSM network. You can get:

(Disclosure: I am a Mint affiliate and if you purchase a Mint plan through one of the links above, I may earn a commission. I am also a paying Mint customer. Thanks for supporting this individually-owned site.)

The thing about Mint Mobile is that you have to “buy in bulk”. Initially you have to buy at least 3 months upfront, and then after that you have to buy 12 months at a time to get their lowest price. After your LTE data runs out, you still get data included at slower 2G data speeds until your month resets. They do offer a 7-Day Money Back Guarantee (starts upon SIM activation) so you can test them out before making any commitment.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

SoFi Money $75 Bank Bonus + $100 Stock Bonus + Free Stock + 20% Off Streaming & DoorDash

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Update 3/24/20: For the next three months, you can earn 20% cash back when you charge the following on your SoFi Money debit card:

• Streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Now, CBS All Access, Spotify, Pandora Music, and Google Play Music.*
• DoorDash orders.**

Update 3/9/20: Log into your SoFi Invest account and you should find a pseudo-claw game that can win you some free stocks. No cost to play. Screenshots below. I got $5 of Berkshire (no dividends = no tax paperwork), but maybe you’ll do better!

Original post:

SoFi (“Social Finance”) has expanded from students loans into a cash management and stock brokerage account. They’ve also updated their bonuses for trying them out, and if you have a spouse/partner, you can refer each other to grow the total bonus. There is also a new $75 direct deposit bonus for existing customers.

SoFi Money (Cash Management Account)

  • Get a $75 cash bonus when you open a new account and make two direct deposits of at least $500 each. This is my referral link. The referrer gets $25, so thanks if you use it!
  • After joining, if you refer a friend yourself, you will get $25 and they will also get the $75 bonus. That means a couple together can earn a total of $175.
  • FDIC-insured. No account fees. No minimums.
  • Free debit card with unlimited reimbursed ATM fees.
  • Currently pays 1.60% APY.

SoFi Invest (Brokerage Account)

  • Get a $100 of your choice of stock when you fund your account with at least $5,000. This is my referral link. The referrer gets $100. This is quadruple the standard $25 bonus, but with a higher minimum deposit.
  • After joining, if you refer a friend yourself, you will get $100 and they will also get the $100 in free stock. That means a couple together can earn a total of $300.
  • SoFi Invest allows fractional shares (“stock bits”), so you can get exactly $50 worth of Apple, etc. Trade as little as $1 at a time.
  • No trading fees.

For example, you can get $100 of Apple, S&P 500 ETF, or Berkshire Hathaway. Find your referral links to refer others in the SoFi app after joining.

Opened an account recently? New targeted $75 Direct Deposit bonus. If you opened an account, or after you do open an account, be on the lookout for an e-mail offer of another $75 bonus if you make two direct deposits of $500+.

You can also get another $100 bonus if you refinance your student loans through SoFi.

SoFi has a lot of competition as high interest savings accounts and free trades are what’s hot these days. The good news is that SoFi makes the opening process quick and simple. You can open, apply, fund online and be poking around the app all in the same day.

Bottom line. SoFi is offering cash and free stock bonuses for trying out their new products. They can quickly add up to easy money for a minor amount of effort. Existing users may also be eligible for a direct deposit bonus for even more free money.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Juno: 2.15% APY Guaranteed for 1 Year, 5% Cash Back, $25 Referral Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Juno is a new fintech bank checking account with a combination of nice-looking features:

  • 2.15% APY guaranteed for 1 year for first 1,000 sign-ups who link a bank account. Up to $20,000 balance. Their Twitter account says 800 spots left as of 3/23.
  • 5% cash back on 5 brands of your choice, on up to $3,000 in debit card spend. Examples shown include Costco(.com, apparently), Amazon, Walmart.com, Target.com, Uber Eats, Doordash, Dunkin, and Starbucks. This is a permanent feature.
  • $25 bonus on first deposit if opened via referral link. The referrer gets $25 as well. That’s mine, thanks if you use it!
  • No minimum balance requirement, no maintenance fees, no ATM fees.
  • FDIC-insured through partner bank.

After the Fed rate cut to zero, 2.15% APY for 1 year is better than any 12-month CD out there, and this is a 100% liquid checking account. During my application process, it seemed that I could only get this “Priority Access” if I linked my external checking account. They use Plaid for linking data, which is a legit service (now owned by Visa) that I am familiar with.

The 5% cash back on Costco definitely caught my eye, as I spend thousands there every year:

At first glance, this look like another in a crowded field of banks. The high APY, high cash back rewards, and an upfront bonus all try to help it stand out initially. However, if I can really get 5% cash back at Costco, this one is a keeper! For now, I just quickly signed up for Juno to lock in the guaranteed APY.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Special Coronavirus Relief: Paid Leave, Mortgage Payments, Student Loans, Credit Cards, and Unemployment

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Wow. I thought that I was prepared, but I must admit that I was still shaken by last week. For those facing severe financial emergencies right now, so I have tried to collect information and links to where you can hopefully find some help. Be prepared advocate for yourself; many of these will only be given to those who ask and are persistent. Everything is in flux as well, so if you don’t find success try again later. There will be more government stimulus coming.

Paid leave for small/mid-sized business employees, including part-time workers and self-employed. Eligible employees can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave for 12 weeks when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable. Business must have less than 500 employees (52% of workforce). This is done via refundable payroll tax credits. DOL press release. NYT article.

The act provided paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19 related reasons and created the refundable paid sick leave credit and the paid child-care leave credit for eligible employers. Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees that are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave under the act. Eligible employers will be able to claim these credits based on qualifying leave they provide between the effective date and Dec. 31, 2020. Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals based on similar circumstances.

Unemployment insurance. Many states are expanding their eligibility rules for unemployment benefits. You might be eligible if you have to stay at home to care for children. You may not have to officially quit your current job (i.e. your employer temporarily shuts down). You might be eligible if you are under quarantine or have to take care of someone under quarantine or infected. Please visit the Department of Labor for your specific state. CNBC article. DOL.gov/coronavirus.

Mortgage payments. Contact your mortgage or home-equity loan servicer directly to ask about mortgage payment deferral options. Fannie and Freddie Mac have instructed their loan servicers to suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months if borrowers suffer hardship. In New York, the impacted can defer mortgage payments from any servicer for 90 days. Bank of America is allowing deferrals on a case-by-case basis, with the waived payments being added to the end of their loan term. CNBC article.

Student loans. President Trump announced that federally-held student loans would be set to 0% interest for at least 60 days in addition to being able to request forbearance for 60 days, but there has been a lot of difficulty in actually making the requests with loan servicers as they have cut back on call center hours. There will also be an automatic suspension of payments for any borrower more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, 2020, or who becomes more than 31 days delinquent. Press release. ED.gov. Studentaid.gov.

Credit cards and auto loans. Chase, Citibank, American Express, US Bank, Discover, Ally Bank, and Apple have all announced some sort of accommodation for coronavirus. The offers are often vague, but it can’t hurt to call and ask for details. For example, Discover says it won’t report late payment to credit bureaus, but what about late fees and penalty APRs? Chase says they might waive fees or extend payment due dates, but only on a case-by-case basis. Apple (if approved) will allow you to skip your March credit card payment without incurring interest charges. Ally Bank will allow deferral of auto loan payments for 120 days, but finance charges will still accrue. Some of these are rather lame, like offering up credit line increases that were always available anyway.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

5% Cash Back Cards: Grocery Stores, Gas Stations, and Wholesale Clubs – April thru June 2020

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

5percentbackActivation open for 2nd Quarter 2020. The credit cards below offer up to 5% cash back on specific categories that rotate each quarter. It takes a little extra attention, but it can add up to hundreds of dollars in additional rewards per year without changing your spending habits. You can also buy gift cards with the 5% back now but spend the gift cards later. New cardmembers may also get an upfront sign-up bonus.

Chase Freedom VisaChase Freedom – $150 Bonus

From April 1st through June 30th, 2020 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Grocery stores. Walmart and Target are not included.
  • Fitness club and gym memberships.

From January 1st through March 31st, 2020 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations
  • Internet, Cable & Phone Services. Internet, cable, satellite television and radio, cellular, wireless data, and landline services will qualify.
  • Select Streaming Services. The full list is Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube TV, and ESPN+.

Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com. As long as you activate by the end of the quarter the rewards are retroactive. All other purchases earn 1% back, with no tiers or expiration of rewards. Technically, you earn Ultimate Rewards points which can also be converted to airline miles or hotel points instead of cash if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Currently, the Chase Freedom card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make $500 in purchases in your first three months. No annual fee.

Discover it 14 ImageDiscover it Card

From April 1st through June 30th, 2020 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas stations (stand-alone).
  • Uber and Lyft.
  • Wholesale Clubs. Sam’s Club and BJ’s accept Discover.

From January 1st through March 31st, 2020 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Grocery Stores. Does NOT include Walmart nor Target.
  • Walgreens
  • CVS

Enroll after logging into your online account (look on the right-hand side). 5% rewards won’t apply until after you activate your rewards, so it is best to activate now before you forget. No annual fee.

New cardmember bonus details. If you are a new applicant and sign up via my Discover Card referral link, you will get a $50 Cashback Bonus after your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. You will also get Cashback Match for an entire year – a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. During those 12 months, your $50 Cashback Bonus becomes $100, your 5% cash back rewards becomes 10% cash back, and your 1% cash back rewards become 2% cash back. You can verify this on the application by clicking on “See rates, rewards and other info” and searching for “cashback match” and “statement credit offer”:

Cashback Match: No purchase minimums. After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, we will match all of the cash back rewards you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the following one or two billing periods. If your account is closed or no longer in the cash back reward program at the time we calculate your potential award, your cash back will not be matched. You’ve earned cash back rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period. This promotional offer may not be offered in the future. This exclusive offer is available only to new cardmembers.

TERMS OF STATEMENT CREDIT OFFER: Get a $50 Statement Credit after you make your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. Promotional award will be applied within 8 weeks. The promotional award is in addition to the Cashback Bonus earned on all purchases.

ABOC Platinum Rewards Card – $150 Statement Credit Offer

From April 1st through June 30th, 2020 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Dining & Transportation. Eligible MCC code categories include Groceries, Restaurants, Fast Food, Gas, Tolls, Mass Transit, and Ride Share.

You must register each quarter at ABOCRewards.com or in your online account. Currently, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard is offering a $150 statement credit if you sign up and make $1,200 in purchases in your first 90 days. No foreign transaction fees. No annual fee.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card. You get to choose the two 5% cash back categories every quarter, out of a preset selection of specific categories:

  • Fast Food
  • Cell Phone Providers
  • Home Utilities
  • Ground Transportation
  • Select Clothing Stores
  • Electronics Stores
  • Car Rentals
  • Gyms/Fitness Centers
  • Sporting Goods Stores
  • Department Stores
  • Furniture Stores
  • Movie Theaters
  • TV, Internet, and Streaming Services

Unfortunately, you can’t pick a broad category like gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores. Make sure to choose your categories each quarter, even if you want them to stay the same. If you do not choose your categories, all purchases revert to only earning 1% cash back for that quarter.

Currently, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make $500 in eligible net purchases in your first 90 days. No annual fee.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card. This card earns 6% cash back at US supermarkets all year long (on up to $6,000 per year) and. 3% cash back at US gas stations. New: 3% cash back on transit and 6% cash back on Netflix/Spotify/Hulu. I use this card all year long for groceries, and then in December use up the $6k annual limit on gift cards bought in the supermarket aisle. New cardholders are also eligible for a $250 statement credit after $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. $95 annual fee. See details in link.

Amazon Prime Rewards Card. Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods all year long. Prime membership required. 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores (yawn… see below). New cardholder bonus varies by person. No annual fee.

Citi Dividend Card. This card is no longer available to new applicants, but if you still have the grandfathered card you can view and activate your quarterly 5% category here. Limit of $300 cash back for the calendar year.

Don’t settle for the “1% on everything else” that these cards offer. Get 2% cash back or higher. Check out the card-specific reviews for details.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Federal and State Tax Payment Deadline Extensions Due to Coronavirus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Updated March 20th. The US Treasury has announced taxpayer relief for federal tax in response to COVID-19. Here is the Treasury press release, official IRS notice, and a CNBC article. On March 20th, the filing deadline was also changed. Below is my brief summary for most taxpayers.

  • The standard deadline for filing your individual federal income tax returns is now July 15, 2020. This is a change as of 3/20.
  • If you’re getting a tax refund, you should try to file right away. Might as well get your money sooner, as this relief won’t help you if you don’t owe money.
  • The deadline for tax payments if you owe money has been postponed by 90 days. If you owe money on your return, instead of April 15, 2020, you now have until July 15th, 2020. Penalties and interest that you would otherwise have accrued will be waived. This applies on up to $1 million in tax owed.
  • Filing a tax extension can still help. If you can’t make the filing deadline of 4/15, you should file for a free automatic online extension by 4/15. This extends your tax filing deadline all the way to October 15th. Late filing penalties are quite significant.
  • 2020 1st quarter estimated tax payments due April 15th are also now due July 15th. This can be confusing as the 2nd quarter deadline is still currently June 15th. This may help many self-employed workers whose income is hard to predict right now.

Check your state tax situation as well. The American Institute of CPAs has a handy list of state-specific coronavirus taxpayer relief.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.