Healthywage Review: Bet on Yourself, Get Paid To Lose Weight ($100 Prize Bonus)

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

(2020 update: HealthyWage is offering a $100 Prize Boost for a limited-time. I update when this happens because it only gets this high a few times a year and can double your winnings. Look for the banner on top.)

hw_logoAfter reading academic studies which found that financial incentives were effective in helping people lose weight, I joined HealthyWage.com. You tell them how much weight you want to lose, your current body details, how much time you want, and and they’ll calculate what prize to offer you based on how much you want to bet on yourself. Since I eventually lost 50 pounds with the help of HealthyWage and other weight-loss betting sites (and have kept it off since), and I wanted to share my experiences including both positive and negative aspects.

My overall HealthyWage bet was to lose 10% of my body weight over 9 months (22 pounds in my case). My offered bet was to put up $50 per month for 9 months for a potential win of $50. You may like the sound of “winning $500”, but know that a lot of it will be your own money:

healthywage500

Honestly, risking $450 to win $50 didn’t feel like a very good risk/reward ratio, but I wanted the extra motivation. Perhaps my goal was too easy and that was why the payout wasn’t as high. You can put up your own numbers and calculate your own HealthyWage offer. Your payout may be much better than mine. The quote is free, you just need to provide any e-mail address.

If I had been willing to bet that I would lose 50 pounds like I actually ended up doing, I could have earned a lot more money:

Initial weigh-in verification. There are four ways to verify your weight:

  1. Smartphone app. There is a HealthyWage app for iOS and Android. You take a clip using the app and your personal scale.
  2. Video Verification. Upload a video to their website using your personal scale.
  3. Verification by a Fitness or Health Professional – Bring a form to your “local gym, pharmacies, corporate wellness clinics, walk-in clinics, HR reps, nurses, your personal doctor, your personal trainer or your chiropractor.”
  4. Verification at a Weight Watchers Meeting.

I followed their directions carefully, uploaded my video, and both my initial and final videos were accepted with no issues or additional requests.

Every month, I would see a $50 charge on my credit card bill from Healthwage. However, that was about it. There were no encouraging e-mails. No fun tokens or prize giveaways.

Upon initial sign-up, I was given my 2-week window for final weigh-in. HealthyWage’s two-week window is definitely more generous than DietBet’s 48-hour window, with the important difference that I was never sent any reminders by HealthyWage when the time actually came. In comparison, Dietbet sent me multiple reminders beforehand. Now, I had the date marked on my digital calendar with several alerts, so I completed my weigh-in by the second day of the window. It is quite possible that if I waited until closer to the final deadline, I would have gotten a reminder. But I wouldn’t rely on it. Remember, if you forget, they keep your money!

I also did a DietBet at the same time, which is similar but different in that it collects participants into groups and then takes a cut from the pooled bets. See my separate DietBet Review.

Extra final verification hoops. Upon final weight verification, you’ll have to submit the verification video again (see above). But that’s not all. I also had to locate and upload a “before photo” and an “after photo”, which could be any photo from “around the time” of the start and end of the challenge. I also had to upload a scan of my driver’s license. Here’s a screenshot of their page asking for additional information.

Finally, I successfully referred a few people to Healthwage and received extra money added my “pot”. This referral program is nice feature to get some social support, but remember that you get the referral money only if you win your own bet.

Final payout options. There are two options to receive your winnings. A mailed check takes 3-4 weeks to process, with no fee. The other “fast” option is PayPal, which charges a 3% fee. I picked the PayPal option because I didn’t want to wait around for a check. However, they later clarified that it would still take 3-5 business days for Paypal transfer. The 3% fee is taken out by PayPal, so HealthyWage actually sends the full amount (they just choose not to subsidize the fee). In retrospect, maybe I should have just waited for the check. Here’s a screenshot:

hw_finalpay

Bottom line. I committed to a Healthywage bet to lose 10% of my initial weight over 9 months. I lost the weight, completed my verifications without hassle, won the bet, and was paid my winnings. Although I found the process a bit impersonal, they are a legit company. Calculate your own HealthyWage offer here. No obligation to get a quote. However, the fact that HealthyWage motivated me to finally lose over 50 pounds was worth more to me than the cash winnings.

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.

20% of Gift Cards Are Left Unused After 1 Year. How About Yours?

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

It’s now been a month since Christmas. Have you spent your gift cards yet? The odds are that you haven’t, as only 38% of all gift cards overall have been redeemed after a month. This is from a neat collection of gift card statistics from Zachary Crockett and The Hustle.

Here’s a chart of gift card redemption rates over time. Initially, it surprised me that less than 80% of gift card are used up after 12 months. That means 1 out of 5 are sitting there collecting dust after an entire year. Then I looked over at my own stack of unused gift cards, and realized that I am part of the problem!

This also explains why many gift cards can be discounted 10% to 20% in stores. In addition to the embedded profit margins of each specific business, around 6% of gift cards are never used. On top of their normal profits, Starbucks makes over $100 million a year from gift cards bought and never used! They literally get paid for doing nothing.

This means ~30% of gift cards that are unused after a year will never be used. Perhaps the best move is to give yourself a year and sell whatever hasn’t been used within a year. (I apply this same rule by throwing out clothes that aren’t worn after four seasons have passed.) Here are a bunch of sample quotes from card-buying site CardCash using nice round $100 numbers:

Look for extra value by exchanging for gift cards that you always use up. CardCash offered 3.5% extra over the cash offer if I exchanged into an Amazon gift card, 5% extra for Home Depot, and 7% extra for Lowe’s gift card. I have a 100% usage rate for Amazon gift cards, so that works well for my spending habits.

We all know that the solution is to give cash, but for whatever reason, giving cash in American culture is not standard practice. (Maybe some red envelopes would make it feel more classy?) In the end, I think gift cards are here to stay. I would still much rather have a gift card than a sweater that doesn’t fit. We just have to accept that there is going to be some waste in the process, like all that wrapping paper and ribbon.

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.

United Business Card Review: New Perks + 100,000 Bonus Miles

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

New card features, 100k offer. United is discontinuing their “Business Explorer” card and replacing it with the… UnitedSM Business Card as the Chase business credit card that offers unique perks for regular United customers including free checked bags and expanded award seat availability for redeeming miles. I don’t really get the point of changing the name, but they did add these perks:

  • $100 annual United travel credit after 7 flight purchases of $100 or more.
  • 5,000 miles annual bonus miles when you have both the United Business Card and a personal Chase United credit card.
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases.
  • 2X miles per $1 spent on local transit and commuting- including train tickets, taxi cabs, mass transit, tolls and ride share services.
  • Note: Annual fee is now $99 (instead of $95).

More good news is that this is a “new” card and thus everyone is able to get the sign-up bonus again as a new cardholder (no bonus if you convert your old card over). They are starting out with a limited-time offer of up to 100,000 bonus United miles for with a lower total spending requirement while keeping all the perks from the old card:

  • 100,000 bonus United miles after spending $10,000 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.
  • $99 annual fee.

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 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. Right now, there is a 100,000 mile limited-time offer.

I have added this card back to the Top 10 Best Small Business 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.

Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier Card Review: 140,000 Points Limited-Time Offer (Highest Ever)

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

New 140k limited-time offer! The Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card is the IHG hotel co-branded card that includes special IHG perks like a free night award every year you keep the card. Right now, they are also offering a limited-time offer with the highest bonus size ever. Here are the highlights:

  • 140,000 bonus IHG points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Free Night award after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Valid at IHG Hotels with a current point redemption level of 40,000 points or less. An additional free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights.
  • 25X points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel.
  • 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Platinum Elite status included as a Premier card member.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $89 annual fee.

Please note the following:

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

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

What can you get with IHG points? The best redemption value for IHG points is for free hotel nights. The other options offer significantly less value. While the points don’t translate directly to a dollar value, but overall you should expect around 0.60 cents of value per point, which would make 140,000 IHG points worth an estimated $840 value. You can perform the calculations for hotels that fit your needs. I tried a bunch of other various combinations and got between 0.5 cents and 0.8 cents per point equivalent value.

(IHG points are worth less than other points like Hyatt or Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but you get a lot more of them with this bonus!)

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

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

IHG points expire after 24 months of inactivity, so if you keep up your activity then you can save up these free nights for later. Chase Ultimate Rewards points also convert to IHG points.

Total of 25x points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG. Here’s how this breaks down: Earn 10X points per $1 spent as an IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardmember + 10X points per $1 spent from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club Member + 5X points per $1 spent from IHG® with Platinum Elite Status, a benefit of this card = total of 25X points total at 5,400+ IHG® hotels & resorts.

I would book my IHG nights on this card, but not my everyday purchases on an ongoing basis.

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

I would keep this card if you can use the anniversary night certificate with the 40,000 point maximum value. You should be able to get $89 value out of it as long as you need a hotel night. Stay must be completed within 12 months from date of issue.

Bottom line. The Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card has a current sign-up bonus boost of 140,000 IHG points. This is a limited-time offer and the highest bonus size ever. If you’ve been thinking about this card, now is the time to apply. As with most of these co-branded cards, the best value is obtained if you can redeem for IHG hotel nights.

I will be adding 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.

Chase United Explorer Card Review – 60,000 Miles Limited-Time Offer + Annual Fee Waived First Year

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

New limited-time offer ends 4/2. The United Explorer Card is a Chase-issued credit card that offers unique perks on United Airlines including free checked bags and expanded award seat availability for redeeming miles. Right now, there is also a limited-time offer bump up to 60,000 bonus miles with no annual fee during the first year. Here are the highlights:

  • Limited time offer – 60,000 bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases in 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.
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to find that saver award economy ticket.
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
  • Priority boarding + 2 United Club one-time passes every year for your anniversary.
  • 2X miles at restaurants and on hotel stays.
  • 2X miles per on purchases from United.
  • 25% Back on United inflight purchases (Wi-Fi, Food and Drinks).
  • 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.
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight.
  • $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.

This card is very focused on making it a better experience to fly on United. You have the first checked bag for free on United flights, both for your and a companion traveling on the same reservation. The bag fee is usually $30 per person, each way, so that adds up to $120 each roundtrip. Before you board, you might use one of your free United Club lounge passes. You also get Priority Boarding, which helps you find space for your carry-on. While onboard, you get 25% back on your inflight purchases of WiFi, food, and drinks.

Expanded award seat 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 I’ve found a very significant difference when searching. If you’re constantly trying to find economy tickets for the entire family like me, this is a big deal. 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 most other consumer 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 Card offers great 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. Right now, there is a limited-time offer up to 60,000 bonus United miles with no annual fee during the first year.

I’ll be adding this limited-time offer 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.

Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express – 70,000 Mile Offer, New Features

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

The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express has a limited-time offer if you are referred. Highlights:

  • 70,000 bonus miles. 60,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases within first 3 months. Earn an additional 10,000 Bonus Miles after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Special Offer Expires: 04/01/2020.
  • 60,000 Skymiles is 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.
  • New feature – $100 Delta flight credit after $10,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year.
  • 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.
  • Annual fee is waived for the first year, then $99.

Here is the new rewards structure on card spend:

  • 2X miles at restaurants.
  • 2X miles at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 2X miles on Delta purchases. 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
  • 1 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Here is my link for the Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express referral offer. Thanks if you use it.

I will be adding this limited-time offer to the 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.

Marcus Bank $100 Bonus on $10,000 Deposit (New for 2020)

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

Marcus by Goldman Sachs is offering a $100 bonus if you deposit $10,000+ in new funds into their online savings account within 10 days of enrollment at this special offer page. You must enroll by 11:59pm EST on 2/11/20 and maintain the new $10,000+ deposit for 60 days.

Both new and existing customers are eligible. Marcus had a very similar offer last year, but having done it in 2019 does not exclude you from doing it again in 2020 (looking at you, CIT Bank, ha). This offer is actually a bit better because their 2019 offer had a 90-day minimum holding period and this is only 60 days.

After enrollment, you must deposit $10,000 or more in new funds (internal transfers won’t count) into a Marcus Online Savings Account within 10 days of enrollment and maintain at least $10,000 of those new funds in your account in addition to your account balance at the time of enrollment for 60 consecutive days from the date of reaching the required dollar amount. Multiple deposits are allowed to reach the required dollar amount and can be made by joint owners for a joint account.

Offer available to new and existing customers. Each customer is limited to one bonus offer, which can only be applied to a single account. For eligibility purposes, each joint owner will be treated as a separate customer. For example, if you apply the bonus offer to a joint account, the remaining joint owner(s) may apply this offer to another account they own if they have not done so already. […] The bonus will be treated as interest for tax reporting purposes.

Basically a 1% bonus on $10,000 if you keep it there for 60 days, which makes the bonus itself the equivalent of ~6% APY annualized. They will deposit $100 into your account within 14 days after that 60-day period. (I usually like to wait until the bonus shows up before taking out any money.) The bonus is on top of the standard interest rate, currently 1.70% APY as of 1/22/20. This combination makes it a great short-term rate at that balance size when compared to my last monthly update of best interest rates.

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.

Better Future: Free Background Check Powered by Checkr

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

While updating my posts on free Consumer Reports, I noticed that Checkr offered a free background check via the BetterFuture.com website. No credit card required, no trials. Checkr is a legitimate company that provides background checks for Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and Instacart, so I valued their results more than most other “free lookup” sites.

The benefit of knowing what is on your background check is that you can fix any inaccuracies before applying for employment. In return, Checkr makes money by trying to connect you with relevant job opportunities based on your unique information.

Better Future takes your basic information (name, address, SSN) and pulls data from federal databases and public records from over 3,200 local counties. The sections of the background check report are:

  • Address History
  • SSN Trace
  • Sex Offender Search
  • Global Watchlist Search (International crime databases)
  • National Criminal Search
  • County Criminal Searches

I decided to run a free background check on myself, and it only took about an hour even though it said it might take up to 3 days. The information shown was all correct to my knowledge. Here’s a redacted screenshot of my report:

The background check does not include Employment History, Driving Records, or Civil Records. Here is the disclaimer that comes with the report:

This background check is for the named individual only. Better Future searched the sources listed below based on the information you provided. Failure to provide accurate or complete information may affect results. Third parties, such as potential employers, may search other databases for information about you. This is not a “consumer report” as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and may not be used for determining any person’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing, or for any other purposes covered under the FCRA.

Bottom line. Checkr offers a free background check via BetterFuture.com. No credit cards, no trials. In return, they can match you up with job opportunities (optional). I signed up for a free report and I found no errors in the information.

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.

CIT Bank Savings Builder $200 Deposit Bonus – Both New and Existing Customers (New for 2020)

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

CIT Bank has a new for 2020 Savings Builder Account deposit bonus. This time, you can get up to a $200 cash bonus depending on deposit amount, and it is again open to both new and existing customers. The bonus is on top of the interest rate, currently 1.75% APY (as of 2/4/20) at their top tier for qualifying accounts. Here are the details.

Unfortunately, if you did their 2019 bonus promotion, you are not eligible for this one:

PLEASE NOTE: Existing Customers enrolled in a Savings Builder bonus promotion prior to January 1, 2020, are not eligible for this promotion.

New deposit bonus details. For new customers, you must first open a new account with at least $100 using promo code Bonus20 at this link. If you already had an existing account as of 1/16/2020, you need to first officially enroll in this offer via the “Let’s get started” button at the top of this link for existing customers. After doing that:

  • A new deposit of $25,000 to $49,999 within 15 calendar days of your open/enrollment date will get you a $100 cash bonus.
  • A new deposit of $50,000+ within 15 calendar days of your open/enrollment date will get you a $200 cash bonus.

New accounts will have to maintain this balance for 90 calendar days following the end of the 15-day Funding Period. However, existing accounts will only have to maintain this balance for 30 calendar days following the end of the 15-day Funding Period. The shorter holding period for existing customers is nice, but remember it has to be funds from an external financial institution and not currently in your CIT Bank accounts. This is their definition of “starting balance” when measuring new deposits for existing customers:

The balances of all the customer’s individual Savings Builder accounts, any joint Savings Builder accounts in which the customer has ownership, if not already enrolled in the bonus promotion by another joint owner as of January 15, 2020.

They will deposit your bonus within 1 to 5 business days after the Funding Period, but it will be on hold (can’t withdraw) until 7 days after your minimum holding period of 30/90 days to make sure you satisfy the requirements.

Effective APY. Here are the effective interest rates you could get as either a new or existing customer:

  • For a new customer earning either the $100 bonus on $25,000 or $200 bonus on $50,000, which also qualifies you for the 1.75% APY rate, that works out to a total 3.35% APY for 90 days (1.6 + 1.75).
  • For an existing customer earning either the $100 bonus on $25,000 or $200 bonus on $50,000, which also qualifies you for the 1.75% APY rate, that works out to a total 6.55% APY for 30 days (4.8 + 1.75).

It’s always nice to stack a cash bonus on top of an already competitive interest rate. This promotion is scheduled to last until April 16th, 2020. There are no minimum balance fees, no monthly service fees, no inactivity fee.

Savings Builder high interest qualifications reminder. This a unique savings account with two ways to qualify for their highest interest rate tier. 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+.

Everyone earns the top tier rate for the first monthly “Evaluation Period”. Then, if you meet one of the requirements listed above during the first Evaluation Period, you’ll earn the top rate for the next monthly 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. They have an indicator in your online account that confirms that you have qualified.

One option that I did is to set up an automatic monthly transfer from my checking account to this account for $100 and satisfy the requirement on auto-pilot. (I can always transfer additional funds in or out as needed.) More details in my previous full review.

Bottom line. CIT Bank has another Savings Builder Account deposit bonus, new for 2020. You can get up to a $200 cash bonus depending on deposit amount, and it is open to both new and existing customers. The bonus is on top of the interest rate, currently 1.75% APY (as of 2/4/20) at their top tier for qualifying accounts. While not as high as the last one, it’s still a solid bonus. (Unfortunately, if you did their 2019 bonus promotion, you are not eligible for this one.) These types of bonuses help me earn higher interest rates even when rates are dropping.

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.

H&R Block / TurboTax Desktop 2019 Sales

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

The benefit of “old-school” desktop tax software is that it doesn’t require your Social Security Number and financial details to be stored in the “cloud”, a fancy word for a third-party server where it can be copied or hacked. Amazon and Newegg.com often have limited-time sales (often just 24 hours) on these desktop versions, but you have to catch them in time. Apologies if you missed it!

  • H&R Block Desktop Deluxe + State 2019 is currently $19.99 at Amazon. This is a good price as the all-time low price all last year was $18. Other versions are not on sale this time. Thanks to reader Bill P for the tip.
  • TurboTax Desktop Deluxe + State 2019 is $39.88 at Amazon for the physical disc/PC download/Mac download versions. This is not a special price, although it is rarely discounted (and will go higher as the deadline nears). There may be another deal later on that shaves off another $10 or so.

Keep in mind that for both H&R Block and TurboTax desktop Fed+State products, Federal e-Files are included but State e-File is extra (about $20 each). You can print the (usually shorter) state return for free and snail mail it in if you don’t have a free State e-File option.

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.

Bask Bank Review: Earn American Miles On Your Cash Savings

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

Bask Bank is a new online savings account that pays you American Airlines (AA) miles instead of cash interest. Every $1 earns 1 mile a year. For example, $1,000 kept for a year would earn 1,000 AA miles at the end of the year. If you kept $50,000 there for a year, you would earn 50,000 AA miles at the end of a year. There is no minimum balance and no monthly fees. They state there is no hard credit check upon opening. Note: They do not currently offer joint accounts.

Bask Bank is part of Texas Capital Bank (FDIC Certificate #34383), which also runs BankDirect. BankDirect has been giving out American Airlines miles for a while on their checking account, but with different requirements and a $12 monthly fee. Note that they are all the same bank in regards to the $250,000 FDIC insurance limits per depositor type. Bask Bank routing number is 111026177.

New account bonus + feedback bonus. If you maintain a minimum balance of $1,000 for 30 days within 60 days of opening a new account, you get a 5,000 mile bonus. You must apply by February 29, 2020. In addition, if you provide feedback on their app, they will give you another 1,000 miles. For this bonus, you must open an account by April 30, 2020. These are the “easy” bonuses.

Log into your Bask Savings Account, select “provide app feedback” in your Welcome Checklist and take our quick survey!

Additional deposit balance bonus. If you maintain a minimum account balance of $25,000, $50,000, or $100,000 for 360 days, you can get an additional bonus of 10,000, 20,000, or 40,000 miles respectively at the end. Note that you must open by 3/31/2020, fund within 60 days of opening, and maintain the balance for 360 consecutive days without dropping below even once.

Value calculations. If you valued American Airlines miles at 1 cent per mile, then this account would earn you the equivalent of 1% APY. ($10,000 a year = 10,000 AA miles = $100 value.) Given that many established online savings accounts earn 1.70% APY, you would need to value AA miles at more than 1.7 cents per mile to exceed that alternative.

This calculation ignores the bonuses above. If you kept $25,000 in the account for 360 days, you would earn 25,000 + 10,000 bonus = 35,000 miles. At 1 cent per mile value, that is still only an effective APY of 1.4%.

1099-INT details. If you get miles instead of cash, what happens at tax time? Bask Bank and BankDirect has stated that they plan to issue 1099-INT for 2020 interest earned based on a valuation of 0.42 cents per mile. This can be found deep in their disclosures:

Since you are Awarded Miles based on the average collected balance in your Account each month instead of interest, Bask Bank calculates an interest equivalent based on a good faith estimate of the value of the miles. Your interest rate and annual percentage yield may change based on a change in either the Miles Award Rate or the estimated value. Miles are currently valued at 0.42 cents per mile, the equivalent of 0.42% annual percentage yield.

So if you held $10,000 for all of 2020 and earned $10,000 miles, current your 1099-INT will show $42 in interest paid. However, this is subject to change and I don’t like that sort of uncertainty. It is unlikely but still possible that they could change this to as much as 2 cents per mile and it would be a pain to dispute such a valuation.

Low-hanging fruit… Airline miles are useful, but also subject to rampant inflation. Since AA miles are worth less every year AND they are not worth 1.7 cents a point in my opinion, I do not plan on using this as my main savings account. The balance bonus takes too long in my opinion (1-year inflexible lockup) and does not improve the effective rate enough to exceed that of cash-earning alternatives anyway.

However, the relatively easy upfront 6,000 mile bonus and the ability to keep about $15 in there and earn at least 1 mile per month to prevent my existing American miles from expiring, that could be useful. If I need a certain amount of American Airlines to reach an award, this may be a backup option as well.

Bottom line. Bask Bank is an online savings account that pays you American Airlines (AA) miles instead of cash interest. It’s not a great deal, but may be interesting to those that can maximize the value of an American Airlines mile. There are also some low-hanging fruit you could pick. Read all the details above and make sure you understand how it works.

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 Sapphire Reserve Card Review: 50k Points Worth $750 in Travel, $300 Annual Travel Credit, $550 Annual Fee, New Lyft/DoorDash Perks

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

Updated with new annual fee and perks list. Chase has updated their “ultra-premium” credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, which has headline features of Visa Infinite benefits, 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus, $300 annual travel credit, 3X points on travel and dining, and a $550 annual fee. Here is the long list of perks:

  • 50,000 Bonus Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That can be redeemed for $750 of airfare, hotels, and other travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • $300 annual travel credit. Every year, the card will rebate you back up to $300 in travel purchases such as airfare and hotel nights charged on your card.
  • $100 statement credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Priority Pass Select membership. Provides free access to 1,000+ airport lounges in over 400 cities worldwide.
  • 3X points per $1 spent on travel & dining worldwide. The 3X points on travel kick in immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • DoorDash credits. Up to $120 in statement credits towards DoorDash purchases ($60 in 2020 and another $60 in 2021). Also get $0 delivery fee with free DashPass membership for at least 1 year.
  • Free year Lyft Pink membership + 10x points on Lyft purchases through March 2022. Lyft Pink usually costs $19.99 a month and includes 15% off Lyft rides, 3 complimentary bike and scooter rides a month, and priority airport pickups.
  • 1:1 points transfer to various frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.
  • Annual fee is $550, not waived the first year.

Note the following text:

This product is available to you if you do not have any Sapphire card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months.

Ultimate Rewards points. This card offers a special 50% bonus on travel redemptions made through the Ultimate Rewards travel website. That is more than any other Chase card (a 25% bonus is the most otherwise). 50,000 Ultimate Rewards = $750 in travel. Similar to Expedia or Travelocity, you can book flights on most major airlines and hotel chains. This makes it much more flexible to spend your points. You can even buy something more expensive and pay the difference.

If you have other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points like the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Cash or Ink Business Unlimited, you can transfer points into this card account and take advantage of the this higher premium. In other words, your existing Ultimate Rewards points balance could be increased in value by getting this card.

Prefer airline and/or hotel points? This card also allows you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points into hotel and/or airline miles. Transfer to United Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt Hotels, IHG Hotels, and Marriott Hotels at a ratio of 1 Ultimate Rewards point = 1 mile/hotel point. Miles redemption continue to offer great value for savvy travelers, especially for last-minute travel and business class seats.

Cash redemptions are a simple and easy option, but the conversion is a straight 100 points = $1.

Sharing points. Ultimate Rewards points are instantly transferable to other accounts like family members, as long as they have their own Chase card with Ultimate Rewards as an authorized user (free with Chase Freedom). This way, you can pool points together for transfers and redemptions if you like.

Additional card benefits:

  • Dedicated customer service line with a live person that answers the phone 24/7. No waiting or complicated phone trees.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Primary car rental collision damage waiver insurance. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. Most other cards only offer secondary coverage that kicks in only after the deductible of your individual insurance policy is used.
  • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement. If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket
  • Enjoy special car rental privileges from National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar when you book with your card.

Note that Chase has 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 (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.

As for the $300 annual travel credit, “annually” means the year beginning with your account open date through the first December statement date of that same year, and each 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date. So it’s not exactly by calendar year, but roughly close and you can likely get this twice under the first year’s annual fee.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t need the new Lyft and DoorDash perks very much. I have also been redeeming my points for Hyatt hotel nights primarily, so I will stick to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with a lower $95 annual fee and the same 1:1 ratio for turning Ultimate Rewards points into Hyatt points. I will miss the Reserve’s 3X earning power on travel on dining, however! Your spending and point-redeeming situation may be different.

Bottom line. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has a 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus, $300 annual travel credit, 3X points on Dining/Travel, Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, up to $100 Global Entry application credit, Lyft perks, DoorDash perks, and more… in exchange for a $550 annual fee. You should compare against that of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which has less perks but also a lower 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.