Southwest Companion Pass via Chase Southwest Credit Card Bonuses (Now 60,000 Points Each)

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Updated Southwest card info to add +20,000 point offer. 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 and/or award flights. If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year, you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year plus the following full calendar year.

Right now might actually be a great time to apply, because if you manage things to earn the points in January 2019 (or anytime in early 2019), you would have the benefit for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020. You would just want to make sure you don’t reach the spending hurdle until 2019 to be safe, even though the points probably won’t post until sometime after the billing cycle ends. You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

Points earned from credit cards count, including sign-up bonuses. You can earn very close to the 110,000 points required by signing up for Southwest co-branded consumer and/or business credit cards. In addition, the points are easy to redeem for “Wanna Get Away” airfare without having to worry about blackout dates or seat availability. There are some slight variations between them:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card

  • 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 within your first year.
  • 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

  • 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 within your first year.
  • 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

  • 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 within your first year.
  • 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.

60,000 Rapid Rewards points redemptions vary in a narrow range, but a reasonable approximation from my experience is $900 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. These points are much easier to use than a “saver award” on the traditional airlines.

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. (Previously, you might apply for both a Plus and a Premier close together for example.)

If 110,000 Rapid Rewards points would have theoretically covered 16 free one-way flights, then with the Companion Pass you’d now be getting 16 free one-way flights for two people! You also can’t forget that Southwest still has the customer-friendly perk of two free checked bags per person. That’s a lot of free and flexible travel.

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. Just the free award flights from the points from any one of these cards is enough to satisfy that rule, and then you can add on the value of the companion tickets.

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn 100,000 Southwest points (or more) from just two credit card sign-up bonuses, which is very close to the 110,000 points needed to qualify for the Southwest Companion pass (and a lot of free Southwest flights). This would get you a free companion ticket on every flight bought with cash or points for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019. Southwest also still includes two free checked bags per person.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business: $2,000 Bonus Cash 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.”

Limited-time offer. The Capital One Spark Cash for Business is a rewards business card offering a big early spend bonus offer in addition to ongoing 2% cash back rewards. They’ve just added a limited-time offer for businesses with sizable spending, boosting the total bonus value to $2,000. Here are the highlights:

  • Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.
  • Up to $2,000 cash bonus. First, earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. In addition, you can earn another $1,500 cash bonus if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. This is a limited-time offer.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee after that.
  • Cash back rewards don’t expire as long as your account is open.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Free additional employee cards.

Consider that if you meet the $5,000 spending requirement within 3 months, you will end up with $500 + $100 from 2% cash back – that’s $600 on $5,000 spending (12% cash back). If you do meet the $50,000 spending requirement, you’ll earn the $2,000 cash bonus from the limited-time offer and 2% cash back for another $1,000. That is a total of $3,000, amounting to a rate of 6% cash back on $50,000.

Note that “Existing or previous Accountholders may not be eligible for this one-time bonus.” For comparison, there is also a Spark Select for Business and Spark Classic that are different cards with lower sign-up bonuses but no annual fee.

The 2% cash back for all purchases is a strong rewards structure, and you get no annual fee during the first year as well. From the second year onward, you’ll have to weigh that against the $95 annual fee after the first year. The math says that you would have to spend more than $19,000 every year ($1,583 a month) to make the 2% back and $95 annual fee (Spark Cash) pay out more rewards than 1.5% cash back and no annual fee (Spark Cash Select).

Here is some info taken from the Terms and Conditions regarding rewards cash back redemptions:

How do I redeem my rewards?
You can get your cash back upon request in the form of a statement credit or a check. You can also set up an automatic redemption preference; options include: (1) at a set time each calendar year or (2) when a specific threshold ($25, $50, $100 or $200) has been reached. Just go online to capitalone.com or contact our Rewards Center. You can also redeem for credits for previous purchases, gift cards, and more. Rates for these redemption options may vary and are subject to change without notice.

Alternatively, the Capital One Spark® Miles for Business has a limited-time offer now up to 200,000 miles – redeemable for $2,000 statement credit towards travel. That is broken down into 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and then another 150,000 miles when you spend $50,000 within the first 6 months. The travel can be booked directly through airlines and hotels, and there are no blackout dates or award seat limits to worry about. $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee after that. No foreign transaction fees. Similar to the offer above, the Spark Miles offers 2 miles per dollar with the $95 annual fee but there is also a Spark Miles Select for Business that offers 1.5 miles per dollar with no annual fee.

Capital One now allows you to transfer your “miles” into select airline miles programs as well, on a 2:1.5 ratio (ex. 20,000 Capital One miles = 15,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles). Here are the 12 transfer partners:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France/KLM
  • Alitalia
  • Avianca
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad
  • EVA
  • Finnair
  • Hainan
  • Qantas
  • Qatar

Unless you know how to leverage one of these international airline miles programs, I would prefer earning cash rewards over the “miles”, since these Capital One “miles” only get their maximum value when redeemed against a travel purchase.

If you are looking for a comparison with other strong business cards, check out my updated list of Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers.

Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers – November 2018

“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? Do you have side hustle either by yourself or via a company like Uber/Lyft, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Airbnb, and so on? You are eligible to open a small business credit card, which offers the benefit of keeping your personal and business expenses separate. You can use the rewards earned for a company retreat (even if you’re the only employee) or simply to offset some business expenses. If you are not a corporation or LLC, you can apply as a sole proprietorship, with your name as the business name as 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 new card during the first year to try out a new card. These are the top 10 credit card offers that I would apply for in November 2018, if I didn’t already have many of them. Please see links provided for full details. Recent changes:

  • Updated Capital One Spark Cash for Business and Spark Miles for Business – New limited-time bonus tier for up to $2,000 bonus cash back or 200,000 bonus miles.
  • Updated Hawaiian Airlines Business card – Bonus increased to 60,000 miles after $1,000 within 90 days (was 50,000 miles after any purchase).
  • Removed American Express Business Gold card 50k offer.

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 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.

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.

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)

  • 32,500 Hawaiian miles + Companion Fare 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.

Sam’s Club 1-Day Sale 11/10 : $100 Face Value Gift Cards for $70 + Groupon Membership Deal

“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.”

Sam’s Club is having a one-day sale on Saturday, November 10th. There are the usual discounts on huge TVs and the latest Apple products, but what caught my eye was that all of the “Extreme Value” gift cards that are usually $40 for $50 face value or $80 for $100 face value will be discounted to $35 for a $50 face value or $70 for $100 face value gift cards. These are mostly food gift cards that vary by geography, but I see 186 gift cards options online. Some examples include:

  • Chili’s
  • Steak ‘n Shake
  • Build-a-Bear Workshop
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Jamba Juice
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Papa John’s Pizza
  • Smashburger
  • The Old Spaghetti Factory
  • Coldstone Creamery
  • Bonefish Grill

In my mind, this 30% off gift cards sale is an easy way for those that hate shopping to knock out their holiday gift list in one fell swoop. Gift cards can seem impersonal, but surveys keep showing that people like getting gift cards! I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Don’t have a Sam’s Club membership? Consider this Sam’s Club Groupon deal that offers the following for $35:

  • One-year Sam’s Club membership ($45 value)
  • Complimentary membership card for a spouse or other household member
  • $10 eGift Card valid online or in-club
  • $15 eGift Card for purchases on SamsClub.com
  • Free Fruit Party Tray ($19.98 value)

There is a more expensive option for $10 more that is actually a better deal as long as you redeem the gift card and you like free cheesecake. For $45 you get:

  • One-year Sam’s Club membership ($45 value)
  • Complimentary membership card for a spouse or other household member
  • $20 eGift Card valid online or in-club
  • $15 eGift Card for purchases on SamsClub.com
  • Free Fruit Party Tray ($19.98 value)
  • Free Gourmet Sampler Cheesecake ($14.98 value)

Garden Savings Federal Credit Union: 4-Year CD at 4.08% APY

“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: “Due to the tremendous success of our certificate promotion, we have concluded the special rates that were being offered as of the end of business on Friday, November 9th.” Reader Ryan adds that as long as you started the application process before the end of business on Friday, they will let you complete the process but you must fund by the next Friday.)

Garden Savings Federal Credit Union has a limited-time certificate special on their 4-Year Share Certificate at 4.08% APY. They also have a 2-Year certficiate at 3.04% APY. NCUA-insured. Here are the highlights:

  • $500 minimum deposit.
  • Interest paid monthly.
  • Penalty for early withdrawal is 180 days of dividends.
  • Membership with at least $5 deposited in a Share Savings account required.

According to a myFICO forum post from 2016, the membership application is a soft credit pull. This is not a guarantee, of course. Please share your own experience if you apply.

If you have the big bucks, Garden Savings FCU has the usual NCUA-insurance up to $250,000, but also another $250,000 in additional deposit insurance through Excess Share Insurance.

Credit union membership eligibility. You are eligible for membership if you live, work, worship, attend school, volunteer or regularly conduct business in Newark, Elizabeth, or Jersey City. Select employer groups are also eligible. In addition, anyone can join by being a member of the American Consumer Council (ACC), a non-profit organization dedicated to consumer education, advocacy and financial literacy. The cost is a one-time $8, although there is a promo code “consumer” that has worked to get the membership fee waived. You can make additional donations as you wish, but it is not required. They will send you an e-mail shortly with your ACC membership number. I’ve joined a couple of credit unions with my ACC membership.

Good deal? 4.08% APY is the best rate that I know of for a 4-year CD, with the current competitive range for a 4-year CD being around 3% to 3.35% APY. The closest deal from my Best Cash Rates November 2018 post was a 5-year CD at 3.63% APY that required a $60,000 deposit. A 5-year Treasury bond currently yields about 3.05% and is exempt from state and local income taxes. The 180-day early withdrawal penalty is on the reasonable side.

I think the deal is good enough that it won’t last very long. This credit union is not tiny, but it isn’t huge either. It is quite possible that there will be enough new applications to overwhelm their staff (and deposit needs). If you’re interested, I would act quickly as these deals can end abruptly. I’d be ready to send in additional paperwork (like a copy of your driver’s license) if requested to expedite things.

Best Interest Rates on Cash – November 2018

“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 November 2018, 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 11/5/18.

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.

  • MemoryBank and Redneck Bank offer 2.25% APY with no minimum balance (Redneck has $50k maximum balance). Northpointe Bank offers 2.30% APY with a higher $25,000+ minimum, guaranteed for 12 months. If you have existing accounts at CIT Bank, you may wish to move some money over to their new Savings Builder account at 2.15% APY. There was a bank (EBSB Direct) that offered 2.50% APY for a bit last month, but has since pulled the account information completely from their website. I hope they keep the rate high for existing accountholders. There are several other established high-yield savings accounts at 1.80% APY and up.
  • My primary “hub” bank account is the Ally Bank Savings + Checking combo due to their history of competitive rates, 1-day external bank transfers, and overall ease of use. The free overdraft transfers from savings allows to me to keep my checking balance at a minimum. Ally Savings is currently at 1.90% APY. From here, I open “spoke” accounts and CDs from other banks to lock in higher rates. (Ally Bank also recently had a good promotion that offered a 1% bonus on new deposits held for 3 months, but enrollment is now closed.)

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
I am often asked what to do with a big wad 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. 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. The Marcus 13-month No Penalty CD is at 2.15% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Ally Bank 11-month No Penalty CD is at 2.10% APY ($25k minimum) and the CIT Bank 11-Month No-Penalty CD is at 2.05% APY ($1,000 minimum). The lack of early withdrawal penalty means that your interest rate can never go down for 11 months, but you keep full liquidity. You can open multiple CDs in smaller $1,000 increments to get even more flexibility.
  • VirtualBank has a 1-year CD at 2.75% APY ($10,000 minimum) with an early withdrawal penalty of 1% of principal.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, you should know that money market and short-term Treasury rates have been rising. 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 2.21% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, which has an SEC yield of 2.10%. 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 2.58% SEC Yield ($3,000 min) and 2.68% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is a little more interest rate sensitivity.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.55% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.64% 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 buy individual Treasury Bills at certain brokerage accounts with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity, or individuals can buy them directly at TreasuryDirect.gov. Here is my post on building your own T-Bill ladder. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 11/2/18, a 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 2.18% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 2.69% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 2.05% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 1.97% 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 2018 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.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $5,000, but there are many hoops to jump through. There is a $3 monthly fee and you need to maintain a minimum $800 net direct deposit each month. This means you can’t direct deposit $800 and also take out $800 via online transfer. Checks and ATM withdrawals have additional fees. This means you have to spend the money via the Visa debit card (and miss out on flat 2% cash back on all purchases).

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. That’s just how it goes with these types of accounts.

  • Consumers Credit Union 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 2% cash back elsewhere (or $10 a month after-tax). 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.

  • Mutual One Bank has a 19-month CD at 3.04% APY ($500 min). 6 month early withdrawal penalty.
  • United States Senate Federal Credit Union has a 5-year Share Certificate at 3.63% APY ($60k min), 3.57% APY ($20k min), or 3.51% 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 3.05% APY and a 5-year non-callable CD at 3.55% 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 3.60% 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 11/2/18, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate is now 3.37%, so this EE bond is no longer offering a huge premium.

All rates were checked as of 11/5/18.

Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express – 60,000 Miles Referral Offer ($600 in Delta Airfare)

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The Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express Credit Card has a limited-time offer if you are referred. It’s a lot better than the standard offer, but it ends very soon on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018. Highlights:

  • 60,000 bonus Skymiles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 4 months. Limited Time Offer ends 11/7/2018. The standard offer is 30,000 bonus miles + $50 statement credit.
  • That’s worth $600 in Delta airfare minimum. With this card, you get a minimum value out of your Skymiles via the “Pay with Miles” option. 60,000 Skymiles can reduce the price of your Delta ticket by $600 at the very least. (5,000 mile = $50 minimum redemption.) You can still book the traditional award tickets and possibly get better value.
  • First checked bag free. Delta now charges $30 for the first checked bag, each way. That means this perk is worth $60 per person each roundtrip. For a family of four, this perk is worth $240 per person each roundtrip.
  • Priority Boarding. Get a good chance of there being room for your carry-on in the overhead bins.
  • Annual fee is waived for the first year, then $95.

Here is my link for the Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express referral offer. Thanks if you use it. There is also a Gold Delta Skymiles Business version with a similar limited-time offer.

Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – November 2018

“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.”

Are you fully aware of how valuable that space in your wallet or purse is? Credit card companies are in heated competition right now, 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 in November 2018, if I didn’t already have most of them. Please see links provided for full details.

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 like Staybridge Suites and Courtyard Marriott, 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.

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.

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

  • 40,000 Rapid Rewards points (redeemable for $600+ in Wanna Getaway airfare) after $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 within your first year. See link for details.
  • $69 annual fee.
  • Combine with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card

  • 60,000 points (worth $600 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.

American Express Pink Gold Card

  • 50,000 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.
  • $100 dining credit. 20% back (up to $100) on dining purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first 3 months.
  • $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

  • 50,000 American Airlines miles: 40,000 AAdvantage® 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.

Chase World of Hyatt Card

  • 60,000 Hyatt points (enough for two nights at any Hyatt). 40,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Plus an additional 20,000 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.
  • NOT subject to 5/24 rule.

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.

Recent changes:

  • Updated Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards – added 20,000 more bonus points if you meet higher spending tier.
  • Removed Chase Marriott Premier Plus due to the 100,000 point limited-time offer expiring. Bonus is now 2 Free Night Awards (worth up to 35,000 points each).
  • Added Hilton Ascend AmEx due to new limited-time offer of 125,000 points.
  • Added British Airways card for its 100,000 Avios bonus that is not subject to 5/24 restrictions.
  • Updated Barclaycard Arrival Plus offer as it is even better with no annual fee the first year.
  • Removed IHG Hotels card as limited-time offer expired. Now 80,000 points.
  • Removed Gold Delta Skymiles Amex as limited-time offer expired. Now 30,000 points.

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

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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’m not a Bitcoin expert. 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. 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:

Download Audible App on Fire TV, Get Free $5 Amazon Credit

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If you have a Fire TV, start up the device and download the Audible app for free before 11/13/18. Amazon will give you a free $5 Amazon credit for doing so (expires in 30 days, only good for products “Sold by Amazon”). There is no activation required and you don’t need to be a paying Audible customer – although there is an Audible trial promo with 3 free audiobooks right now. Offer excerpt:

Offer available from 10/30/2018 at 11:59 p.m. PT until 11/13/2018 at 11:59 p.m. PT or while supplies last. Valid for U.S. Customers Only. After downloading the Audible app through your Fire TV device for the first time you will be eligible to receive a $5 Amazon.com promotional credit. Within 48 hours of downloading the app you will receive an email notifying you that the Amazon.com credit has been added to the Amazon account associated with your device. The Amazon credit will expire 30 days after it is deposited into your account. The Amazon promotional credit does not apply to digital content. The Amazon promotional credit only applies to products sold by Amazon.com (look for “sold by Amazon.com” on the product detail page.) Products sold by third-party sellers or other Amazon entities will not qualify for purchase by the Amazon credit, even if “fulfilled by Amazon.com” or “Prime Eligible”.

I just did this on my Fire TV and got an e-mail regarding the $5 credit within a minute.

Send $50 Amazon Gift Card Via Text, Get $5 Amazon Credit (Targeted)

“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.”

Amazon keeps thinking up new ways for folks to send/receive/reload/ingest Amazon gift credits. Which is fine with me, because they’ll usually pay you a few bucks to try it out. Click here to check eligibility for their latest targeted offer: Get a $5 Amazon credit on your next order if you send a $50 Amazon gif card by text message by 12/22/18. If needed, use promo code SMS2018.

Don’t forget that the Discover it card has Amazon.com as a 5% cash back category this quarter, so you might consider using that as your funding source if you don’t have anything better. Otherwise, you’re basically buying a gift card but make sure to choose “Text Message” as the delivery option. Yes, you can send it to yourself if you want. You should see a little grey box when you check out with this text:

Qualifying offers
Thank you for treating someone to an Amazon.com Gift Card. Now we’re treating you to a $5 promotional credit automatically applied to your account, and good for eligible products sold by Amazon.com.

Here’s the offer text:

Surprise someone with an Amazon.com Gift Card sent by text message, and get a $5 promotional code to spend on yourself. Just send at least $50 in Amazon.com Gift Cards by text message and in a single order by December 22, 2018, and receive a $5 promotional credit automatically applied to your account after the qualifying order has shipped. An email notification will also be sent within three (3) days after shipping, confirming your Amazon.com Promotional Credit.

Starbucks App and Chase Pay: Up to 475 Bonus Stars (Targeted)

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starbucks

Here is a targeted offer for Starbucks app users. Look on the Starbucks app homepage or inbox for a Chase Pay promotion that says “Reload 3x, Earn 475 Stars.” If you load up your Starbucks account with at least $20 using Chase Pay, you can get 125 bonus stars each time (up to 3 times total). Basically, each $20 load with Chase Pay gets you a $5+ value drink/food award. Ends 12/12/18. Thanks to reader Stephen.

Earn 300 stars and you get Gold status for a year. With Gold status, 125 stars can be redeemed for nearly any food or drink item on the Starbucks menu. Besides a huge Venti caffeine/sugar bomb, most of their lunch food items are over $5 and some are closer to $9. They now have protein boxes, protein bowls, hot/cold sandwiches, and more. Alcoholic beverages are excluded.

Don’t forget that the Chase Freedom card has Chase Pay as a 5% cash back category. You may wish to install the Chase Pay app on Android or iOS. Chase Pay requires you to have an eligible Chase Visa consumer credit card, debit card, or Chase Liquid card.