Amazon Prime Video: Watch Select TV, Get $5 Cheez-It Credit + $5 Prime Video Credit

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Getting compensated to watch TV with Cheez-its and more TV = horrible on multiple levels, or dream come true? The time commitment of 5 hours is way too long if you weren’t going to watch these movies already, but I do like Cheez-Its, I did want to watch Knives Out anyway, and Top Gun is awesome. Too bad that only adds up to 4 hours… Anyhow, there is apparently a new one of these promos very month.

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 $50 + $75 Bank Bonus, $50 Stock Bonus, 10% Cashback Promo

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Updated bank bonus details, 10% cash back categories still active. If have you a SoFi Money account, don’t miss that they are offering earn 10% cash back on select Grocery: Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Instacart and Subscriptions: Netflix, Disney+, Spotify when you pay with SoFi Money from 7/1 through 9/30. Max cash back is $50 for Grocery ($500 in purchases) and $50 for Subscriptions ($500 in purchases). I like that they keep coming up with new bonuses.

If you opened a SoFi Money account prior to 6/9/2020, this is available to all members. If you opened a SoFi Money account after 6/9/2020, you need $500+ in monthly deposits (from any source, bank transfers okay) in order to qualify for the 10% cash back program. Looks like they added a new hoop with a grandfather clause, although you would need to add in some money to take full advantage of this promotion anyhow. See app for details.

Bonuses for new accounts:

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 (in addition to other friends and family) to grow the total bonus.

SoFi Money (Cash Management Account)

  • Get a $50 cash bonus when you open a new account and fund the account with at least $500 (from any source including external bank transfer). This is my referral link. The referrer gets money too, so thanks if you use it!
  • After you receive your $50 referral bonus for funding the account with $500 from any source, you become eligible for an additional $75 bonus if you have a direct deposit within the next 30 days. Details here.
  • After joining, you can also refer your own friends and family. You will get $50 as the referrer and they will get $50.
  • FDIC-insured. No account fees. No minimums.
  • Free debit card with unlimited reimbursed ATM fees.

SoFi Invest (Brokerage Account)

  • Get a $50 of your choice of stock when you fund your account with at least $1,000. This is my referral link. The referrer gets $75.
  • After joining, you can also refer your own friends and family. You will get $50 as the referrer and they will get $50.
  • SoFi Invest allows fractional shares (“stock bits”), so you can get exactly $75 worth of Apple, etc. Trade as little as $1 at a time.
  • Sample stocks are Apple, S&P 500 ETF, or Berkshire Hathaway.
  • No trading fees.

The opening process is quick and simple. Find your referral links to refer others in the SoFi app after joining. 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 financial products. They can quickly add up to easy money for a minor amount of effort. A couple where one person refers the other can earn hundreds in total bonuses. They have also been consistently offering new bonus categories and various promos to keep you interested.

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.

Fidelity Spire Saving App, Fidelity Go Roboadvisor Pricing Changes

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Fidelity is gradually moving into the areas previously catered to by startups like Betterment and Wealthfront. Younger customers, more mobile features, lower fees, etc. It was only a matter of time, but now we will have to see which big brokerage firm can pull it off the best. Schwab? Fidelity? Vanguard?

Fidelity Spire is their new mobile app, which doesn’t require any Fidelity account at all (but of course will work with them and/or be a perfect place to open a new account). As with many other apps, you can link your external accounts, track balances, and set financial goals. Fidelity acquired fintech startup eMoney in 2015, and is using that technology for account aggregation. Spire is not the same as the official Fidelity app, and you can’t made trades yet. After downloading and poking around a bit, it feels a like many other goal calculators within fintech apps like Stash and Acorns.

They are offering a rather dinky little $5 if you download the app, sign-in, set up a goal, and link it to a Fidelity Cash Management Account (FCMA). You can open the FCMA in the app, and it has no minimums and no account fees (and horrible 0.01% APY interest). This may be some low-hanging fruit for existing Fidelity customers, but not really much of an enticement otherwise. You can refer your friends for $5 each for up to another $25 (up to 5 friends).

Fidelity Go, their robo-advisor service, is also changing their fee structure. There is still no minimum to open an account (they’ll start buying stuff with $10) and here are the new advisory fees:

  • $10,000 or less: No advisory fee
  • $10,000 to $49,999: Flat $3 a month
  • $50,000 or more: 0.35% annually

At $10,000 in assets, $36 dollars a year = 0.36% annually. At $49,999 in assets, $36 dollars a year = 0.07% annually. Basically, everything under $50,000 in assets is now cheaper than before (and simply priced so you can think of it as even cheaper than Netflix.)

In addition, they also state that there are “no commissions, trading fees, or underlying fund fees that you pay.” Fidelity actually created a new line of mutual funds especially for their fee-based portfolios. They are called Fidelity Flex Funds and are similar to their other passive and actively-managed mutual funds but with zero expense ratios. For example, there is a Fidelity Flex 500 Fund and a Fidelity Flex International Index fund. I take this to mean that your entire portfolio will now be created using this proprietary line-up of funds. Previously, I remember seeing iShares ETFs and such.

As with other roboadvisors, the portfolio they choose will be based on you filling out a relatively short online questionnaire. If you aren’t sure about the resulting asset allocation, I recommend going back and change your answers to see the effects. With Fidelity Go, you do not gain access to financial advice from a human advisor. However, you will still gain access to their phone/live chat customer service, which has traditionally been rated highly.

One factor that I think is often overlooked in these “starter” services – What happens if/when you want to move your money elsewhere? Will they force you to sell all your proprietary Flex funds? If so, that could be a huge tax hit on a taxable account and a form of “lock-in”. This question doesn’t just apply to Fidelity, but all robo-advisors.

This is why I prefer to DIY and construct a portfolio using “high-quality interchangeable parts” that I can keep forever, like the Vanguard Total US Market ETF (VTI). You could do this using any broker, or you can use something like M1 Finance if you wanted more automation while maintaining the ability to port out your investments at any time.

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.

Marcus Bank AARP 0.10% APY Rate Boost, CD Special, Free AARP Membership

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This is a multi-part deal, but you may already have some of these accounts. Marcus is the online banking arm of Goldman Sachs. AARP members are eligible for two member benefits at Marcus:

  • 0.10% APY rate increase to the Online Savings rate for 24 months. As of 7/29/20, that means 1.15% APY instead of 1.10% APY.
  • Special 8-month No-Penalty CD at 1.10% APY as of 7/29/20. Their standard No-Penalty CD is 0.90% APY for 7 months.

AARP membership is targeted at those age 50+, but there is no actual age restriction. I’ve been a member in the past, as AARP has offered a variety of member benefits that can be quite valuable. Insurance discounts, hotel discounts, restaurant discounts, and so on. If only younger folks had such a well-organized association! The standard membership fee is $16/year, but it drops to $12/year if you sign-up for auto-renewal with a credit card on file (you can still cancel at any time).

Swagbucks is a popular points website, and you can currently get 1,200 Swagbucks for joining AARP through their site. 1,200 Swagbucks is worth $12 in Amazon gift cards, which you can think of as offsetting the AARP annual membership fee. If you are a member, log in and search for “AARP”. If you are not a member yet, join via my Swagbucks referral link and earn a $3 referral bonus + an additional $10 bonus if you spend at least $25 through their shopping portal within 30 days of registration. (There are even some money-making offers on Swagbucks like donating $15 to the Sierra Club and getting 4,000 Swagbucks in return worth $40 in Amazon gift cards.)

Taken altogether, you can get the 0.10% APY rate boost, special CD access, and a year of AARP membership (including many other perks) all at zero net cost. Thanks to reader Bill P for the tip.

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.

BBVA $250 Bank Bonus: $200 Checking + $50 Savings

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

BBVA has a new $250 bonus promotion, with a $200 bonus for opening an Online Checking account and receiving a qualifying direct deposit of $500+ by October 31, 2020. Get an additional $50 bonus by adding an Online Savings account and having a savings balance of at least $1,000 on October 31, 2020. If you want the $250 bonus, be sure to click on the “Open Both Now” button on the promotion landing page. Offer good for checking and savings accounts opened between July 24 – August 10, 2020. Checking account bonus details:

Eligible accounts include BBVA Online Checking and BBVA Easy Checking (Easy Checking available in AL, AZ, CA, CO, FL, NM, and TX only). Account must be opened online by clicking either the “Open Checking Now” or “Open Bundle Now” button above.

Online Checking account details:

  • Minimum opening deposit is $25.
  • No monthly service charge.
  • No ATM fees nationwide at more than 64,000 AllPoint®, participating 7-Eleven® and BBVA USA ATMs.
  • You will automatically receive a paper account statement by mail for a fee of $3 per month. However, you can opt for free electronic account statements and eliminate the $3 Paper Statement Fee when you turn off paper statements through Online Banking. Don’t forget to opt out!

Savings account bonus details:

You must meet stipulations for the $200 Checking Bonus to be eligible for the $50 Savings Bonus. The Online Savings account must be opened at the same time as the checking account through this landing page using the “Open Both Now Button”.

Online Savings account details:

  • Minimum opening deposit is $25.
  • No monthly service charge.
  • Currently interest rate is 0.05% APY.
  • You will automatically receive a paper account statement by mail for a fee of $3 per month. However, you can opt for free electronic account statements and eliminate the $3 Paper Statement Fee when you turn off paper statements through Online Banking. Don’t forget to opt out!

Additional bonus details:

  • We reserve the right to deduct the bonus amount if the account is closed within 12 months of opening.
  • The BBVA Online savings account holder must be an account holder on the new BBVA consumer checking account.
  • You must be a new BBVA savings customer who has not had a BBVA consumer savings account in the past 12 months or closed due to negative balance.
  • The cash bonus(es) will be deposited into the new checking account within 90 days of meeting the bonus requirements described above.
  • Accounts must be open and in good standing with a balance greater than or equal to $0.00 at the time of payment in order to receive the new account bonus(es).
  • These bonuses are not combinable with other BBVA Direct Deposit or Savings Account cash bonus promotions, and you may not have received a Direct Deposit or Savings Account Bonus in the past 24 months.
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 Pay with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, Get $15 off $50 (Targeted)

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

New version of promo, check if eligible! If you have Ultimate Rewards points from Chase credit cards, you can use them to buy eligible items at Amazon.com. The redemption rate is 1 Ultimate Rewards points = 1 cent at Amazon, which is the same rate as their statement credit redemptions. The only added benefit is that there is no minimum redemption size. In general, you check if you can get a better value by converting them to frequent flier miles like United Airlines or hotel points like Hyatt.

However, there are also targeted limited-time offers like this one:

Even if you have done a similar promotion before, you may be eligible for this one too for a relatively easy $15 off $50 purchase (I was).

Be sure to click on the Activate button. Products must be shipped and sold by Amazon. You only need to redeem 1 Ultimate Rewards point ($0.01) to trigger the offer. You should see the discount on the final page of checkout. Promotion begins on 7/28/2020 and end on the earlier of (a) 11:59pm PT on 10/31/2020, or (b) the time at which 46,667 customers have redeemed the offer.

I have the useful combination of Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom cards, although the Chase Freedom Unlimited is also a great pairing for many people.

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 Freedom Unlimited Review – $200 Cash Bonus + 5% Back on Groceries (Up to $600 Cash Back in First Year)

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

New limited-time offer. The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card is a no-annual-fee rewards card which earns a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases (or a possibly more valuable 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent). This is a different card from the popular Chase Freedom, which has 5% cash back on rotating categories, on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter. Right now, this card has a higher-yet-attainable limited-time offer:

  • $200 cash bonus (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after $500 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target(R) or Walmart(R) purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. That’s up to $600 cash back the first year (and you can buy many gift cards at grocery stores).
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Redeem for cash – any amount, anytime.
  • Earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3.5% cash back in addition to the 1.5% cash back you already earn.
  • Cash back does not expire as long as your card is open.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases.
  • No annual fee.

1.5% cash back on all purchases is better than the 1% cash back you see from a lot of cards, but there are competitors with higher effective cash back rates.

But wait, you actually get Ultimate Rewards Points! The lesser-known perk of this card is that you actually earn Ultimate Rewards points, which are in turn redeemable for cash back at a rate of 100 points = $1 in cash back, or 1 cent per point. But you don’t have to do that. Ultimate Rewards points are worth collecting because of their flexibility. (I hope Chase doesn’t forget this fact.) This is important because there are many ways in which Ultimate Rewards points can be worth much more than 1 cent per point.

If you have also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred Card, then you can pool all of your Ultimate Rewards points together (even with your spouse/partner as an authorized user) and thus utilize all of the same transfer partners with the following results:

  • Earn 1.5 United Mileageplus miles per dollar spent on ALL purchases.
  • Earn 1.5 Hyatt points per dollar spent on ALL purchases.
  • Earn 1.5 British Airways Avios per dollar spent on ALL purchases.
  • Earn 1.5 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on ALL purchases.

Notice that you are earning more miles and points on ALL purchases than even the specific co-branded cards from United or Hyatt themselves! Most of them just offer 1 point/mile per dollar spent on all purchases.

If you placed a perceived value of 1.5 cents on each United Airlines mile or Hyatt hotel point, then you’d receive 2.25 cents of perceived value per dollar spent with this card. Your actual numbers will depend on your own specific redemption choices, but you can see that you can definitely exceed 2% cash back value on an ongoing basis with the Sapphire Preferred/Freedom Unlimited combo.

With the Sapphire Reserve, you can also redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal at 1.5 cents per point value, which means 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points = $300 towards airfare, hotel, car rentals booked through Ultimate Rewards. 5% cash back on groceries turns into 7.5% potential value back, and so on.

If you would like the opportunity to earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories each quarter, compare with the Chase Freedom card. You can have both a Freedom and a Freedom Unlimited card, but you’ll have to apply for each card separately. I think this is actually a great idea if you plan to keep a Sapphire Preferred/Sapphire Reserve/Ink Preferred cards as well.

Restrictions. This card is 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:

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.

Bottom line. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a unique card that works best in combination with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred Business cards. The combination of earning 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all purchases plus the unique redemption options from those other cards can create a value exceeding that of 2% cash back.

Right now, there is a limited-time offer for $200 cash back with a relatively low $500 in purchases, in addition to 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. That’s up to $600 in cash back in the first year if you spend a lot on groceries these days.

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.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Review: 100,000 Point Limited Time Offer

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

Limited-time offer. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card arose from the merger of Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott (formerly the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card). This card offers unique perks for regular Marriott customers, and right now there is a limited-time offer bump to 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (a 25k increase to their previous 75k offer) with a lower spending requirement. Here are the highlights:

  • Limited time offer: 100,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Additional Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 2X Bonvoy points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.

Keep in mind the following:

The bonus is not available to you if you:

(1) are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express);

(2) are a current or previous cardmember of either Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or

(3) applied and were approved for Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card) within the last 90 days.

That’s a lot of long card names, but note the different 30-day, 90-day, and 24-month waiting periods that may now include Marriott business cards. (See my Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Review.) This is why you should be looking to get the best possible bonus (like a limited-time offer) if you do apply.

The Marriott and Starwood merger is now complete, and you can use these points at either Marriott properties (Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites) or former Starwood Properties (Westin, Sheraton, The Luxury Collection, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis, Le Méridien, Aloft).

Here’s the new award chart information:

You could use 70,000 points on two free nights at a Category 5 hotel like the Courtyard Waikiki Beach in Hawaii on a standard date, or you could get 4 free nights at a Category 3 hotel like the Residence Inn Austin Arboretum.

You can still turn your points into airline miles with a bonus. 60,000 Marriott points = 25,000 airline miles. Similar to the old Starwood bonus structure, they will add 15,000 points for every 60,000 points you transfer to airline miles.

Finally, Marriott points are also convertible to gift cards, but it takes 60,000 points to redeem for a $200 gift card for Marriott or retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Nordstrom. That ratio isn’t all that great so you’ll definitely get the most value via hotel night redemptions or airline miles transfer.

Free Night Award. At your card anniversary (when you pay the annual fee), you will receive a Free Night Award that is good for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. This excludes the very top properties, but for regular travelers it will be very easy to get your $95 value. Many W Hotels, Westin, and even some Ritz-Carltons worldwide are included. Here are some sample hotels that qualify under the 35,000 point limit:

  • Sheraton Kona Resort (Big Island, Hawaii)
  • Westin Hapuna Beach Resort (Big Island, Hawaii)
  • Courtyard Waikiki Beach (Honolulu, Oahu)
  • Sheraton Kauai Resort (Kauai, Hawaii)
  • W Atlanta
  • New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
  • W Chicago
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing, China
  • The S. Regis Bangkok, Thailand

Bottom line. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card (formerly the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card) has a limited-time offer of 100,000 bonus Marriott points. Previously the standard offer was 75,000 points, so you may consider this a good time to apply. As with all hotel cards, the value is dependent on your unique travel preferences. If you stay at Marriott/Starwood properties regularly, the free annual night award should easily cover the annual fee.

During the limited-time offer, I will add this to my list of 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.

Amazon: Pay with American Express Points, Get $20 off $50 (Targeted)

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

If you have an American Express card with Membership Rewards (MR) points, you can redeem them to buy eligible items at Amazon.com. The redemption rate is 100 MR points = $0.70 to spend at Amazon, which is less than a cent per point and thus not really the ideal use of MR points. However, here are two targeted promotions where you can save money after redeeming just 1 single MR point.

If you haven’t already, click here to link your American Express Membership Rewards points balance to your Amazon account.

My two “keeper” consumer American Express cards are the Blue Cash Preferred from AmEx (6% cash back on US supermarkets, up to $6,000 annually) and the Amex EveryDay Card (keeps my Membership Rewards points active with no annual fee, helps qualify for various Amazon promotions).

My favorite business American Express card is the Blue Business Plus Card – 2X points on all purchases, up to $50,000/year. 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. 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.

Merrill Edge + Preferred Rewards = Up to $1,000 Bonus For Moving Assets, Improved Credit Card Rewards

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

(Updated again July 2020: Let’s try this again with a non-expired link! BofA has new promotion for up to $1,000, even higher than the previous offer and worth considering if you have adequate brokerage assets to move over to Merrill Edge. Thanks to comment Ken Nand for the pointer. See updated full review below.)

Merrill Edge is the self-directed brokerage arm formed after Bank of America and Merrill Lynch merged together. They are currently offering an increased cash bonus of up to $1,000 for moving “new money” or assets over to them from another brokerage firm. This new bonus is linked to the BofA/Merrill Preferred Rewards program, which is another reason to consider using them as it gets you waived banking fees and better credit card rewards. Here’s an overview along with my personal experience as I’ve had an account with them for a few years now.

Cash bonus. Brokerage firms love to collect assets. The good news is they don’t require cash that will be earning zero interest, and Edge has no management fees if you stick with DIY. If you are holding shares of stock, ETFs, or mutual funds elsewhere, you can simply perform an “in-kind” ACAT transfer over to Merrill Edge. Your 100 shares of AAPL will remain 100 shares of AAPL, so you don’t even have to worry about price changes, lost dividends, or tax consequences. Any cost basis should transfer over too.

This specific offer is better than the standard offer:

  • $50 bonus with $20,000 to $49,999 in new assets
  • $250 bonus with $50,000 to $99,999 in new assets
  • $500 bonus with $100,000 to $199,999 in new assets
  • $1,000 bonus with $200,000 or more in new assets

Note that you must keep the assets there for 180 days. For comparison, here is an expired offer that was the highest I’ve seen. Here is the standard offer that has been around for a while.

This offer includes both IRAs and regular taxable (CMA) accounts:

Offer valid for new individual Merrill IRAs or Cash Management Accounts (CMAs). Offer is limited to one CMA and one IRA, with no more than two enrolled accounts per accountholder. Eligible Merrill Edge IRAs limited to Rollover, Traditional, Roth and Sole-Proprietor SEP only. The Merrill IRA or CMA may be a Merrill Edge Self-Directed account, Merrill Edge Advisory Account or Merrill Guided Investing account. You may be eligible for a different or better offer. Please contact us for more information.

Note that last sentence! It’s not just boilerplate. After I did this bonus once with a partial transfer (just enough to satisfy the requirements), a Merrill Edge rep contacted me and offered me a custom bonus to move even more assets over. (The bonus ratios were about the same, but higher limits.) Therefore, if you are considering this and happen to have more than $200,000 to transfer over, you may want to give them a call and see if they can offer even more money.

You can even transfer in Admiral Shares of Vanguard mutual funds that they don’t let you trade there, but you can only hold or sell them. You can’t buy more shares. You can, however, buy more shares of the corresponding Vanguard ETF if you wish. (Alternatively, you should consider having Vanguard convert your Admiral share into ETFs on a one-time basis that will preserve your original cost basis. After you have ETFs, you can move those over to Merrill Edge and trade them as you wish.)

Preferred Rewards bonus. The Preferred Rewards program is designed to rewards clients with multiple account and higher assets located at Bank of America banking, Merrill Edge online brokerage, and Merrill Lynch investment accounts. Here is a partial table taken from their comparison chart (click to enlarge):

At the Platinum and Platinum Plus levels, Merrill Edge used to offer 30 and 100 free online stock trades every month, respectively. However, now everyone gets unlimited $0 trades. Bank of America’s interest rates on cash accounts tend to be quite low, so moving cash over to qualify may result in earning less interest on your cash deposits. Merrill Lynch advisory accounts also usually come with management fees. The sweet spot is if you have brokerage assets like stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs.

Checking accounts. With Gold status ($20k in assets) and above, you’ll get the monthly maintenance fee on up to 4 checking or savings account waived. That means you no longer have to worry about a minimum balance or maintaining direct deposit, depending on your account type. You’ll also get waived ATM fees at non-BofA ATMs at certain levels (12/year at $50k assets, unlimited at $100k). Free cashier’s checks.

Credit cards rewards. With the Preferred Rewards boost, you can get up to 2.6% cash back towards travel on all your purchases on the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card. You can also get up to 5.25% cash back (on up to $2,500 per quarter) on your choice of gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card.

My personal experience. In terms of Merrill Edge, I’ve had an account with them for a few years now and my lightning review is that they have a “okay/good” user interface and solidly “good” customer service (i.e. real, informed humans available 24/7 on the phone, not email-only customer service that takes hours to days like Robinhood). I would add that I am not an active trader and only make about 10-15 trades a year. I have been quite satisfied with the account. I can also move money instantly between my Merrill Edge and Bank of America checking accounts, making it easy to sweep out idle cash into an external savings account.

The biggest financial benefit to this BofA/Merrill Edge combo has probably been the 75% boost to their credit card rewards, allowing me to get 2.625% cash back on basically all my daily purchases. The second biggest benefit has probably been this cash bonus, and the third is the occasional waived checking or ATM fee. One negative is that the cash sweep options are not very good, but as of July 2020 the interest difference is quite small.

Bottom line. Merrill Edge is currently offering up to $1,000 if you move over a significant amount of assets to their self-directed brokerage. This can simply be mutual fund or ETFs shares currently being held elsewhere. When you keep enough assets across Bank of America and Merrill Edge, their Preferred Rewards program can offer ongoing perks like waived bank account fees and boosted credit card rewards.

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.

NBC’s Peacock TV Streaming Service Has a 100% Free Tier

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Just a quick note that there is a new streaming service, Peacock by NBC Universal. What makes it different than Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and other services is that it has a 100% free tier (with ads) that includes a lot of decent content including “live” channels. (I might finally watch Downton Abbey.) No free trials. You don’t even need a credit card to sign up. There are also two Premium tiers ($5/month with ad and $10/month without ads).

Small catch: NBC is negotiating with Roku and Amazon (Fire TV devices) about money, so right now you won’t find Peacock on those devices. There is an iOS app, Android app, Apple TV, Chromecast, LG/Vizio smart TV channel, XBOX One, and you can always just watch from a web browser.

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.

Country Time Bailout: Kid’s Lemonade Stand $100 Stimulus Check

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The summer lemonade stand remains the iconic entrepreneurial opportunity for kids. Well, maybe not this summer. Country Time Lemonade is starting the Littlest Bailout Relief Fund, which is a $100,000 fund to send $100 stimulus checks to 1,000 kids who had to close their lemonade stands due to COVID-19. To enter the random drawing, you must attest to being the parent or legal guardian of a child 14 years or younger that actually operated a lemonade stand. You must also attach a picture of the child’s lemonade stand, and they will review all submissions.

Sure, it’s a publicity stunt, but at least it’s a fun one. Two years ago, Country Time Lemonade offered “Legal-ade” to reimburse any permit fees or fines incurred by a child trying to operate a lemonade stand.

Here is a local news story I shared on Twitter with some real-world kid businesses: Lego kit rentals, mobile baseball lessons, and tutoring/swim lessons. Here is an older WSJ article on teens making serious money doing iPhone repairs.

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.