Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers – January 2019

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Do you have small business income or work as an independent contractor? Uber/Lyft, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Airbnb? You are eligible to open a small business credit card, which keeps your personal and business expenses separate. If you are not a corporation or LLC, you can apply as a sole proprietorship, with your name as the business name and your Social Security number as the Tax ID number. I did this for years successfully before incorporating my business.

Small business credit cards are offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to try out a new card. Below are the top 10 credit card offers that I would apply for (or have applied for already) as of January 2019. Recent changes:

  • Added new United Explorer Business limited-time offer.
  • Updated Alaska Air card offer.
  • Updated Capital One Spark for Business – New limited-time bonus up to $2,000 bonus cash back or 200,000 bonus miles.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers for personal cards. Notice that 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 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.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

  • 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,000 towards travel!) after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

United Explorer Business Card

  • 75,000 United miles after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip).
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to redeem for that saver award economy ticket.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
  • No annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase Ink Business Cash Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • No annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Card

  • Up to $2,000 cash bonus. Earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. In addition, you can earn an additional $1,500 cash bonus if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. See link for details.
  • Flat 2% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card

  • Up to 200,000 bonus miles. Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. In addition, you can earn an additional 150,000 bonus miles if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. 200,000 miles is redeemable for $2,000 towards travel. See link for details.
  • Flat 2X miles per dollar on all purchases with no limit.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points (redeemable for $900+ in Wanna Getaway airfare) after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • $99 annual fee.
  • Combine with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Consumer Card to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

American Express Plum Card

  • $600 cash back. Earn a $200 statement credit after each $10,000 you spend in purchases, up to $30,000, within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 1.5% early pay discount on all purchases which stacks on top of the bonus above.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $250.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card

  • 75,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Points can be used towards Starwood and Marriott hotel stays, or converted to select airlines miles.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95. Receive free night award (up to 35,000 points) upon card anniversary.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard

  • 70,000 American Airlines miles after $4,000 in purchases in the first 4 months. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic flights perk ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard (Barclaycard)

  • 60,000 Hawaiian miles after $1,000 in purchases with the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • One-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and the Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card (Bank of America)

  • 30,000 Alaska miles + BOGO Companion Fare Voucher after $1,000 in purchase within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Companion fare voucher is “Buy one ticket, get one for just taxes and fees” ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22).
  • Free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation.
  • $50 annual fee for company, plus $25 per card.

United Explorer Business Card Review – 75,000 Bonus Miles Limited-Time Offer

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

The United Explorer Business Card is a co-branded business credit card between Chase and United Airlines. This card offers unique perks for regular United customers including free checked bags and expanded award seat availability for redeeming miles. Right now through 3/18/19, there is also a limited-time offer bump, which matches the highest bonus amount I’ve seen. Here are the highlights:

  • Limited-time offer: 75,000 bonus United miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months.
  • 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 ticket.
  • Two one-time United Club passes each year ($100+ value)
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to redeem for that saver award economy ticket.
  • Priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights.
  • 2X miles at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores.
  • 2X miles on United purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Your miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Keep in mind the following terms and conditions:

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.

However, you CAN get this card if you had the consumer version of the United Explorer in the past 24 months (or have one now).

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that they can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not a corporation or LLC. The business type is called a sole proprietorship, and these days many people are full-time or part-time consultants, freelancers, eBay/Amazon/Etsy sellers, Uber/Lyft drivers, or other one-person business owners. This is the simplest business entity, but it is fully legit and recognized by the IRS. On a business credit card application, you should use your own legal name as the business name, and your Social Security Number as the Tax ID.

Note that Chase has an unofficial rule that they will most likely 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 (aka the 5/24 rule). This rule is designed to discourage folks that apply for high numbers of sign-up bonuses. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so in our household one applies to Chase while the other applies at other card issuers.

The good news is that small business cards from Chase hardly ever show up on personal credit reports, so getting this card in itself won’t affect your future 5/24 eligibility. This it makes a “free” application if you are already eligible.

This card is very focused on rewarding you for being a United customer. Before you board, you might use one of your free United Club lounge passes. You have the first checked bag for free on United flights, both for your and a companion traveling on the same reservation. The fee is usually $30 per person, each way, so that this how they get the value of $120 each roundtrip. You also get Priority Boarding, which helps you find space for your carry-on.

Expanded award availability. You earn United miles for all your purchases (double miles on restaurants and hotel stays), but then they also make it easier for you to redeem those miles on Saver level tickets with no blackout dates. Expanded award seat availability is another of the top perks from this card, and it is actually a significant difference. Saver Award ticket redemptions start at 12,500 miles one-way within the continental U.S. and Canada.

Another unique feature of this card is that it offers primary coverage on the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. On many other cards, this coverage is offered as secondary coverage, meaning it only kicks in after your personal auto insurance has been exhausted.

Bottom line. The United Explorer Business card offers valuable perks for folks that fly United even just once or twice a year. The card provides lounge passes, a free checked bag, priority boarding, and inflight discounts. There are bonus categories to earn more miles, and special expanded award seat inventory for credit card holders to make it easier to actually redeem those miles for flights.

I have added this card to the Top 10 Best Small Business Card Bonus Offers.

IKEA Coupon January 2019: $25 off $150

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ikea0IKEA has a new printable $25 off $150 coupon [pdf] that is valid for two days only: January 19-20, 2019. The coupon states that you can also show it on your phone at checkout. Valid in US stores only. The fine print:

Coupon is valid in store only January 19–20, 2019. One coupon per household. Offer not valid for delivery, assembly, kitchen planning or other services. Not valid in the IKEA Restaurant, Bistro, or Swedish Food Market. Not valid on previous purchases or the purchase of IKEA Gift Cards.

IKEA coupons are pretty rare, other than their ongoing $25 off $250 moving coupon.

Blooom Review 2019: Free 401k Analysis + Human CFP Financial Advice For $10 a Month

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Does the New Year have you motivated to give your retirement account a tune-up? As opposed to many other online advisors, Blooom.com (with three Os) focuses on providing advice for 401k, 403b, 457, and TSP accounts by offering both a free 401k analysis and charging a flat $10/month fee for ongoing portfolio management and CFP advice. They don’t require you to move any money over to them.

Free 401k analysis screenshots. Anyone can sign up for their free 401k analysis with no commitment. They don’t ask for last name or credit card information.

1. They ask you for first name, current age, and retirement age. You don’t need to be super-specific here, they just want some basic information to create your target asset allocation and time horizon.

2. They ask you short risk questionnaire. I’m still not convinced of the validity of finding your risk tolerance via a few multiple choice questions, but I suppose this is the most practical way to at least get you in the ballpark. They had me at 68% stocks and 32% bonds, which is actually really close to my actual stock/bond mix.

3. Provide your login credentials. Blooom will automatically pull in your 401k holdings and other information when you provide them your username and password. This is similar to how I track my own portfolio via Personal Capital. It took them a couple of minutes to crunch everything.

4. Analysis results and screenshots. They first give you an overall report card. Looks like I have a lot to work on:

Next, they told me about the fees that I am paying. It appears that because my fees were “difficult to identify”, they used an average number based on all of their clients. I’m guessing this is because I have a lot of non-mutual-fund holdings in my Solo 401k.

They then analyze asset allocation, identifying the mutual funds and assigning the proper asset class. They they compare with their recommended asset allocation for you:

Free 401k analysis review. My main concern about this analysis is that it only takes into account your 401k. If your 401k is your only retirement savings, then this is fine. However, my 401k is only a portion of my overall portfolio. In addition, I use tax-efficient asset placement, so my 401k mostly holds REITs and TIPs. While their asset allocation breakdown of my actual funds was mostly correct, I was never going to be close to their target mix. This prevented me from getting value out of this service.

Paid management service review. Here’s what the paid service includes:

  • Fee analysis. Each mutual fund you own charges an expense ratio that is quietly taken out of your balances daily. There may also be additional administrative fees charged by your provider.
  • Asset allocation advice. They will come up with a mix of stocks and bonds that are appropriate for your age, and time horizon. Their suggested asset allocation advice is in line with that of other robo-advisors.
  • Rebalancing service. Blooom will rebalance your assets periodically back towards your target values. They’ll help you maintain diversification across asset classes like US stocks, international stocks, safe bonds, etc.
  • Chat with Certified Financial Planners. You can e-mail or Live Chat with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) about any financial topic, not just 401ks.
  • Fiduciary advice. Blooom is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) and pledges a fiduciary duty under the law to give advice in your best interest only. This is an important detail!

Blooom has settled on a flat $10 a month fee for ongoing 401k management and advice. This is the same if you have $10,000 or $10 million. Flat fees end up being a high percentage of small accounts though, for example on $10,000 that ends up being 1.2% a year. My personal opinion is that if you have few thousand dollars or less, you should buy the cheapest S&P 500 index fund (or a low-cost Target Date fund) in your 401k and focus on increasing your contribution rate. You don’t need to pay $10 a month for advice right now. Asset allocation isn’t that important yet. Of course, the financial advisor access may be worth more than $10 a month by itself (see below).

While flat fees don’t work out mathematically for small accounts, you will start to save money as your account grows when compared to a percentage-based fee. Once you reach about $50,000 in assets, paying a flat $10 a month becomes cheaper than paying 0.25% of your assets annually.

If you had a solid low-cost, diversified Target Retirement fund from Vanguard, Fidelity Index Series, or Schwab Index Series, you may not need to pay for extra advice either. The asset allocation, rebalancing, and growing more conservative over time is all baked-in. The problem is that there are a lot of bad Target Retirement funds out there that have added layers of fees, stuffed with expensive questionable funds, and chase performance.

The hidden deal? You can get ongoing financial advice from a human CFP for only $10 a month! I think the most overlooked feature of the Blooom paid service is that they include the ability to Live Chat (text) or e-mail with Certified Financial Planners with no minimum balance requirement. A real human CFP, not some AI bot!

DID YOU KNOW blooom clients have access to a CFP? Just ping us on chat, email, Morse code, singing telegram, Pony Express… well, you get the idea, we are accessible.

You are welcome to ask questions about topics outside your 401k:

Ask our advisors any financial questions you have… even beyond 401ks! […] We go beyond retirement advice. Thinking about how a puppy or new car might affect you financially? Give us a whirl! Whether it’s $20 or $20,000, we want all our blooom members to make smart decisions about their finances.

I don’t know of any other place I can get a CFP to chat with me for ten bucks. For example, Betterment won’t let you have CFP access until you have $100,000 held with them (and 401k assets don’t count). You could always pay $10 for the first month and see how you like their CFP advice, as there is no contract on the monthly plan.

Bottom line. Blooom is an online financial advisor that manages 401k/403b/TSP employer retirement accounts. This works out if the majority of your retirement assets are in such a plan. They offer a free 401k/403b analysis to try them out. Above that, they will manage your funds and provide chat/e-mail access to a Certified Financial Planner for a flat $10 a month. This is one of the cheapest ways I know of to chat and email with a human Certified Financial Planner.

Disclosure: I have an affiliate relationship with Blooom. If you try out the free 401k analysis, I get nothing. If you end up being a paid member of Blooom through one of the links above, I will get a commission at no extra cost to you. All content and opinions remain my own.

Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – January 2019

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Updated January 2019. That space in your wallet or purse is more valuable than you think. Credit card companies are fighting it out, 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 apply for right now, if I didn’t already most of them. Recent changes:

  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards – new Companion Pass offer.
  • Chase United Explorer – limited-offer expired.
  • Chase World of Hyatt – limited-offer expired.
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus – new 70,000 mile limited-time offer.

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.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card

  • 70,000 points (worth $700 towards travel) after $5,000 in purchases in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee. See link for details.
  • Unlimited 2X miles on every purchase.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $89.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $625 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.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Alternative: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. More rewards, more perks including lounge access, $450 annual fee, $300 annual travel credit.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

  • Bonus Companion Pass + 30,000 Southwest points. Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19. See link for details.
  • $69 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

American Express Gold Card

  • 40,000 Membership Rewards points (flexible, worth 50,000 miles at various airlines) after $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • $120 in Grubhub and Seamless credit. $10 in statement credits each month when you pay with this card at participating partners – Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations.
  • $100 airline fee credit. Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits towards checked baggage fees and inflight meals.
  • $250 annual fee.

Citi Premier Card

  • 50,000 ThankYou points (worth $625 towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points on Travel, including Gas Stations
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card

  • Up to 50,000 American Airlines miles. 40,000 miles after $2,000 in purchases in first 3 months, plus another 10,000 after making a total of $6,000 in purchases in first 12 months of account opening. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic flights perk ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

British Airways Visa Signature Card

  • Up to 100,000 Avios points. 50,000 Avios after $3,000 in purchases within first 3 months. Additional 25,000 Avios for $10,000 in purchases within first year. Additional 25,000 Avios for $20,000 in purchases within first year. See link for details and redemption tips.
  • Free Travel Together companion ticket when you spend $30,000 in calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • NOT subject to 5/24 rule.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

  • 125,000 Hilton Honors points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.. See link for details and rough valuation of points.
  • Free Weekend Night Reward certificate after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
  • $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 Savor Cash Rewards Card

  • $500 cash bonus after $3000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

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.

Chase United Explorer Card

  • 40,000 United miles. 40,000 bonus United miles after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months. 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.

Southwest Companion Pass via (a Single) Chase Southwest Credit Card Bonus

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

New shorter but easier Companion Pass offer with a single card sign-up. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book your own paid OR award flights. The traditional way to earn a Companion Pass is to either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year, after which you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year plus the following full calendar year.

Southwest has new limited-time offer with a “promotional” Companion Pass, which is easier to achieve but only lasts for the remainder of the current year (through the end of December 2019). You get to skip the 110,000 point requirement. Keep in mind that you can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year. Limited-time offer ends February 11, 2019.

Here are the new offer highlights. There are some slight variations between them:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 3,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $69 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 7,500 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list status.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $149 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

30,000 Rapid Rewards points redemptions vary in a narrow range, but a reasonable approximation from my experience is $450 in Wanna Get Away airfare (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. This means that Southwest points are much easier to use than a “saver award” on the traditional airlines. Now, if you use the Companion Pass on every trip that you book with points, that doubles the value to $900.

Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person. The fees on the other airlines have crept up to $30 per bag, each-way. That adds up.

Restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language on the consumer card:

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

Basically, you can get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest consumer card once every 24 months. You can also get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest business card once every 24 months.

Another option to consider is gift card redemptions. You can still redeem 5,000 points for a $50 a Amazon.com or Wal-Mart gift certificate. That makes 50,000 points still worth $500 in Amazon or Walmart gift cards.

Our family policy is to not try out a new credit card unless it offers us $500 in total value. In this case, the Companion Pass might not be worth anything if you travel alone, or it could be worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Remember, the companion pass works on tickets booked with either points OR cash.

In our case, I like that this makes it much easier to earn two concurrent Companion Passes with just two credit card applications – one for me and one for my spouse – which would mean we could take two kids free.

Extending your Companion Pass with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest points on a 1:1 basis. The idea is is to book an award flight with those Southwest points while you have the Companion Pass, thus doubling the value of your Ultimate Rewards points as well.

Bottom line. Right now, Southwest is offering a promotion for Companion Pass good through the end of 2019 if you sign up for an eligible credit card and meet the spending requirements. The Companion Pass lets you pick one person to fly with free whenever you book your own paid or award flights. This can mean big savings. Southwest also still includes two free checked bags per person.

Which one would I pick? Well, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers 3,000 more anniversary points (6k vs 3k) than the Southwest Plus, but also costs $30 more per year ($99 v. $69). If you are basically willing to buy more points at 1 cent each, then you may want the Premier as you it’s not hard to get more than $30 value out of 3,000 points. However, I would personally just pick the simpler and cheaper option and stick with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card.

Best Interest Rates on Cash – January 2019

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for January 2019, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much extra interest you’d earn if you are moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 1/9/18.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks like to get away with 0.01% APY, getting higher rates is as easy as transferring money electronically from your checking account to an online savings account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I prioritize banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
I am often asked 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 locked-in rate with no early withdrawal penalty. That means your interest rate can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) if you want to use it elsewhere. Marcus Bank has 13-month No Penalty CD at 2.35% APY with a $500 minimum deposit, Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD is at 2.30% APY with a $25k+ minimum, and CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 2.05% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • First Internet Bank has a 1-year CD at 2.89% APY ($1,000 minimum) with an early withdrawal penalty of 180 days of interest.

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 money 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 2.44% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, which has an SEC yield of 2.31%. 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 2.71% SEC Yield ($3,000 min) and 2.81% 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 2.96% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.98% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

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.

  • 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 1/8/19, a 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 2.40% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 2.60% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 2.24% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 2.16% SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL.

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 2018 and April 2019 will earn a 2.82% 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 2019, 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 or 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. Signature purchases of $1,500 or more and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month is needed to qualify for the 6.00%.

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, either.

  • The best one left is Consumers Credit Union, which offers 3.09% to 5.09% APY on up to a $10k balance depending on your qualifying activity. The highest tier requires their credit card in addition to their debit card (other credit cards offer $500+ in sign-up bonuses). Keep your 12 debit purchases just above the $100 requirement, as for every $500 in monthly purchases you may be losing out on cash back rewards elsewhere. Find a local rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.
  • If you’re looking for a non-rewards high-yield checking account, MemoryBank has a checking account with no debit card requirements at 1.60% APY.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
You might have larger balances, either because you are using CDs instead of bonds or you simply want a large cash reserves. 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.

  • INOVA Federal CU has a 14-month CD at 3.00% APY and a 20-month at 3.15% APY ($200 minimum). 180 day early withdrawal penalty. Premier America CU has 15-month CD at 3.10% APY ($1,000 minimum). Anyone can join these credit unions with via membership in partner organization (see application).
  • United States Senate Federal Credit Union has a 5-year Share Certificate at 3.69% APY ($60k min), 3.62% APY ($20k min), or 3.56% APY ($1k min). Note that the early withdrawal penalty is a full year of interest. Anyone can join this credit union via American Consumer Council.
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 2-year non-callable CD at 2.75% APY and a 5-year non-callable CD at 3.20% APY. Watch out for 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 fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 10-year non-callable CD at 3.45% APY. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity. Matching the overall yield curve, current CD rates do not rise much higher as you extend beyond a 5-year maturity.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a 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 long-term bond and thus a hedge against deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years. As of 1/9/19, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 2.86%.

All rates were checked as of 1/9/19.



Sprint Free Year of Unlimited Data Promo: Get Free Service Through March 31st, 2020

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Offer extended! Bring your existing AT&T or Verizon phone over to Sprint and get free unlimited data through March 31st, 2020. Sprint has an unadvertised “secret” promotion (no TV, radio, newspaper ads, not even mentioned on front page of website) that is only available online to new customers who use the right link. If you sign up at the special link HERE, bring over your own eligible smartphone, and port-in your phone number, Sprint will give you a free year of unlimited talk, text, and data. There is no requirement to continue service past that. I did have to pay approximately $3 to $4 a month in taxes and fees per line.

Need proof? Here’s a picture of our monthly bill. Two lines for six bucks a month!

Offer is valid for multiple lines (up to 5). If your household bill is currently $100 a month, this promotion is worth $1,200 over a year.

My experience.

  • Offer keeps getting extended. I signed up over a year ago, but they keep extending the offer each month. At this writing, you can get free service through March 31st, 2020. I believe that Sprint is trying to keep their subscribers numbers high right now while they complete the T-Mobile merger, so this won’t last forever.
  • Sprint will perform a hard credit check. They will check your credit, so be aware. It was worth it to me for the several hundred dollars in savings.
  • My total cost for two SIMs was $15.98 + sales tax ($2.99 each + $10 flat shipping). If you order by 2pm EST, they will send the SIM cards that same day by UPS Next Day Air.
  • Activation was quick and easy. The activation process was done 100% online, and it took under 20 minutes to swap SIM cards and port the existing numbers over. To complete activation after you get the SIM cards, you will need your SIM card #, phone IMEI/MEID #, and current carrier’s account number and PIN.
  • Some people have been successful switching from prepaid service, especially Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile Prepaid. However, they do state that they require port-in from a postpaid plan. Use the phone compatibility checker tool after you click “Get Started” here. Another tactic is to first move to T-Mobile’s cheapest prepaid $3/month plan ($10 minimum load) and then immediately port over to Sprint.
  • My total monthly bill always ranged from $6.xx to $7.xx including all taxes and fees for 2 lines. This matches with the online reports of monthly bills in the $3 to $4 range (per line) including everything.
  • No surprise fees or charges. We got what was promised for all 12 months with no funny business. I recommend their online Live Chat if you have any questions.
  • Sprint coverage is worse than my previous carrier (Verizon), but it’s acceptable. I primarily notice this in terms of slower data speeds. Sprint is definitely slower than Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in my area. I get fewer bars of 4G LTE and occasionally I can only get 3G. I am not a heavy data user, so I feel the inconvenience is worth the $100 a month in savings. I haven’t had any problems with dropped calls or a complete lack of coverage. Check OpenSignal for a better coverage comparison in your specific zip code.

Important requirements and fine print:

  • You must bring over a phone that is already unlocked and compatible with Sprint (so that you just need to switch SIM cards). If you have AT&T or T-Mobile you may need to call them up and ask to unlock your phone. See list below, but be sure to use the phone compatibility checker tool after you click “Get Started” here.
  • You must own the phone(s) you’re bringing to Sprint. (Not on a lease plan.)
  • You must port-in a phone number.
  • You must still pay a small monthly fee: “standard $1.99 admin fee, $0.40 regulatory fee and other taxes and fees apply.”
  • The $30 activation fee is waived as part of this promotion. The fee will appear on your first bill and a credit will appear within 2 bills.
  • Requires a Sprint SIM card ($2.99 each + $10 shipping), paperless statements and Sprint AutoPay ($5/mo./line discount applied within two invoices). If AutoPay and eBill are removed, a $7.99/mo. charge will apply.
  • This deal is not available in any stores, you must sign up online through the special link above.
  • According to the terms, you must port-in from another postpaid carrier. Sprint requires a hard credit check on all new postpaid customers, including this offer.
  • If you keep the service past the first year, you will then start to pay $60/mo. for line 1, $40/mo. for line 2 & $30/mo./line for lines 3-5.
  • This plan also comes with Sprint Global Roaming, which includes “data up to 2G speeds and text messaging in any of our 165+ Global Roaming countries at no charge, plus calling for just $0.20 a minute.”

Details about the Sprint Unlimited Plan:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data subject to the following limits below. Data deprioritization applies during congestion after 23 GB.
  • Stream video at up to HD 1080p, music at up to 1.5mbps, gaming at up to 8mbps.
  • 10GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data per line. Once your 10GB is used up, continue at up to 2G speeds (32 Kbps) for no additional cost, or purchase more on-network high-speed data for $15/1GB until the monthly billing cycle resets.

Here are select eligible phones. (Not the entire list! Use the checker tool to be sure.)

  • Apple iPhone 5c (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 5s (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 6
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple iPhone 6s
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
  • Apple iPhone 7 (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 8 (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone SE
  • Apple iPhone X (Verizon only)
  • BLU S1/VIVO S
  • Essential Phone
  • Google Nexus 5 (16 & 32 GB – black/white/red) (Verizon only)
  • Google Nexus 5X (all versions)
  • Google Nexus 6 (32 & 64 GB – black/white)
  • Google Nexus 6P (all versions)
  • Google Pixel
  • Google Pixel XL
  • Google Pixel 2
  • Google Pixel XL 2
  • HTC One A9 (Sprint Version only)
  • LG X Charge
  • moto e4
  • moto e4 plus
  • moto g4
  • moto g4 play
  • moto g4 plus
  • moto g5 plus
  • moto g5s plus special edition
  • moto x pure edition
  • moto x4
  • moto z2 play
  • Orbic Wonder
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile)
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile)
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9 Special Edition

If you don’t have one of the phones above, you could probably buy a new Android model for under $300 or a used one for under $100. If you prefer Apple iPhones, on the cheap end you could get a used iPhone 6S 64GB from $230 or used iPhone 7 for $305 and then get a brand new battery for $30, which should last you a while. Alternatively, you could just take the hundreds of dollars in savings and buy a new phone with it.

Bottom line. Sprint is offering an unadvertised promotion of unlimited talk/text/data FREE for an entire year if you bring over your own phone and port in a phone number. My wife and I were able to save $1,000 over a year with this promotion. The coverage wasn’t as good as Verizon in our area, but the savings was worth it. All we had to pay was about $3 to $4 a month in taxes/fees per line. There were no surprise charges. You must sign up via this special link, as it is not advertised on TV or on Sprint’s home page.

Voyager Crypto Trading App: $25 Free Bitcoin Each For New Users and Referrals

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Update: Referral program is set to expire on 1/15. Voyager is a new trading app that intends to offer commission-free trading of least fifteen different cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). It hopes to differentiate its service by offering more access to different exchanges and thus better liquidity and pricing. Sounds like “smart order routing” when it comes to stocks. This means it will compete with the Robinhood app, which also offers free trades for both stocks and certain cryptocurrencies.

I have never owned a single Bitcoin. I’m checking into this company because it is offering $25 in free Bitcoin to anyone who signs up early, and other $25 for each person that you refer to sign up (up to 100 people). As far as I can tell, it seems like a legit start-up with real venture capital funding and real (rich) people backing it. If they want to give away free stuff to try out their service, I will accept. You can build up referrals now and claim the early bonus, but the app is not live yet so you can’t actually open an account yet to claim the credit. Right now, they just want your name and e-mail.

*All BTC credit is issued in pending status and requires the opening of a valid Voyager account to be claimed. Stay tuned for news about when Voyager launches in your area. Voyager’s promotional and referral programs are currently only available to US residents.

Voyager’s co-founders include some notable figures in the industry. The CEO is Stephen Ehrlich, the former CEO and founder of Lightspeed Financial (which was formed by the spinoff of the professional trader arm of E*Trade). Oscar Salazar, Uber co-founder and former Chief Technical Officer. Philip Eytan, an early Uber investor. Here is a Fortune magazine profile.

Here is my $25 BTC referral link, thanks if you use it. After you sign-up and confirm your e-mail, check your e-mail again and you should be given your own referral link to share with friends.

Also see:

Best 0% APR Balance Transfer Credit Cards – January 2019 (Up to 15 Months w/ No Balance Transfer Fee)

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

0aprInterest rates are rising, which applies to credit card APRs as well. Why worry about which card earns the most points or airline miles when you are paying a whopping 20%+ interest in your balances?! One powerful strategy to get out of debt is to first transfer your balance to another issuer via a 0% APR balance transfer offer. Below are the best 0% APR balance transfer offers as of January 2019.

You’ll want the best combination of the longest 0% APR period and the lowest balance transfer fees. For example, if you are paying 20% APR, that’s like paying 1.66% on your balance every month. If you would like to spread out your payments, it may be better to pick a longer term with a modest balance transfer fee. Alternatively, if you are sure you can get it all paid off faster, go for a shorter offer with no balance transfer fee.

1) Amex EveryDay Card from American Express0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days of opening the account. Plus, earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. No annual fee.

2) BankAmericard Credit Card0% Introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 billing cycles. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10). No penalty rate. No annual fee.

Slate from Chase Card Art 3) Chase Slate Card0% Introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.99% – 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days of opening the account. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 5% ($5 min). No annual fee.

4) First Tech Fed Choice Rewards Card – 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for 12 months. Balances must be transferred during the first 90 days after account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 11.99% – 18.00%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee. There is also a sign-up bonus, but note that there is not an intro 0% APR offer on purchases. You must be an First Tech Federal Credit Union member to obtain this card, but membership is open to everyone who joins a partner organization for a small fee. No annual fee.

CitiSimplicityCard (1) 5) Citi Simplicity® Card – 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for 21 months. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee is either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. This card has no late payment fees and no penalty rate.  No annual fee.

“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.”

Navy Federal Credit Union 1.99% APR No Balance Transfer Fee Promotion

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

navyfed0Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) regularly offers a special balance transfer promotion every January that is available to both new and existing NFCU credit cardholders. This year it is 1.99% APR on balance transfers for 12 months with no balance transfer fee. You must transfer a non-Navy Federal credit card balance before February 28, 2019. (They also have a few new banking specials.) Thanks to Victor for the heads up.

Exclusive Offer for Current Cardholders
Pay down your credit card balance and watch it disappear with a 1.99% APR on balance transfers for 12 months. After that, your standard variable APR applies.1 Just transfer your balance from another lender to your existing Navy Federal Credit Card.

Membership eligibility for NavyFed is restricted primarily to military personnel including Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force – including retirees and family members – but also includes some civilian employees in the Department of Defense. Some may have joined through a military-related association in the past, but that window is now closed. If you are not military and wish to join, your best bet may be to ask an affiliated family member to refer you. NavyFed offers a variety of solid financial products including mortgage and home-buying services.

This is offer is nice in that it seems to come around every year for NFCU cardholders and you don’t need to apply for a new card. If you are willing to apply for a new card, be sure to compare first with the best no fee 0% APR balance transfer offers. Here is the current top offer which combines a 0% intro APR for 15 months, no balance transfer fee, and a sign-up bonus:

  • Amex EveryDay Card from American Express0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days of opening the account. Plus, earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. No annual fee.

Balance transfer promotions can be good opportunities to lower the interest rate on your existing balances and accelerate any debt payoff plans. Try your best to finish your payments within the introductory period, as the rates will increase significantly after that.

CIT Bank Savings Builder Account: 2.45% APY w/ Monthly $100 Deposit

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Update: Rate increased 1/3/19. CIT Bank raised the rate on their Savings Builder account to 2.45% APY. That’s a solid rate on liquid savings as long as you set up a $100 monthly auto-deposit so you have nothing to remember. Details and screenshots on how to do that in my original review below. (You could also keep $25,000 there.)

CIT Bank has a new high-yield savings account called the Savings Builder Account. This is a unique savings account with two ways to qualify for their highest interest rate tier of 2.45% APY (as of 1/3/19). You need ONE of the following in each Evaluation Period:

  • Maintain at least one single monthly deposit of $100+, OR
  • Maintain a balance of $25,000+.

I noticed that this rate is currently higher than that of their 11-month No Penalty CD, although that rate can never go down during that 11 months.

There is a $100 minimum to open the account, and everyone earns the top tier rate for the first monthly “Evaluation Period” (see below). Then, if you meet one of the requirements listed above during the first Evaluation Period, you’ll earn the top rate (2.45% APY as of 1/3/19) for the next Evaluation Period. If you don’t meet a least one of the requirements, you will receive the base interest rate during the next Evaluation Period (1.14% APY as of 1/3/19). They will send you an e-mail reminder if you haven’t made the $100 deposit requirement by mid-month.

There are no minimum balance fees, no monthly service fees, no inactivity fee. You just get the lower rate. Interest is compounded daily.

Evaluation Period vs. Calendar Month. I guess they aren’t using calendar months since banks don’t like to do anything on the weekends, so instead it’s called an “Evaluation Period”. The first Evaluation Day will occur at the end of the first full month after account opening. Your monthly “Evaluation Day” is the fourth business day prior to the end of a month. The “Evaluation Period” begins the day after an Evaluation Day and ends at 4pm PT on the next month’s Evaluation Day.

You can set up an automatic monthly transfer from your checking account to this account for $100 and satisfy the requirement on auto-pilot. I don’t like having to jump through hoops like debit card purchases, but at least this one I could automate instead of having to remember to do something every month. Log into your account, click on “External Transfer” and then “set up recurring transfers”. You can then pick your external account (you may need to add it) and choose a “Monthly” frequency:

I would pick a day that is not near the end of the month. (I picked the 10th.) Deposits can be made via online funds transfer (ACH), mobile check deposit via app, incoming wire (no fee), or by mailing a check. You can still make withdrawals out of the account at any time without affecting the rate.

I also noticed that outgoing wires are free with an average daily balance of $25,000+. Otherwise, the fee is $10 per wire. This may be helpful for people who have high balances but like the ability to instantly deploy their money elsewhere as needed.

Existing CIT Bank customers can quickly open a new account by clicking on “Open an account” here, then “I have a CIT Bank account”, and then logging in with your password. The entire opening process can be done online, and you can fund with another CIT Bank account or an external account.

Bottom line. The new CIT Bank Savings Builder Account has two different ways to qualify for the top rate. If you either make a $100+ single deposit every month, OR maintain a $25,000 balance every month, you get 2.45% APY as of 1/3/19. In my opinion, it is easiest to set up a $100 automated recurring deposit every month to make sure you qualify for the top rate. You can still make withdrawals out of the account at any time without affecting the rate.