Groupon: Costco New Membership Deal

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Here’s a Groupon deal for a new Costco Gold Star Membership where for the regular price of $60 you can get the following (up to $148.98 value):

  • 1-year Gold Star membership ($60 normally), which includes a membership card for the primary cardholder as well as one free Household Card
  • $20 Costco Cash card
  • $68.98 value in free coupons – Free Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean HE Laundry Detergent Pacs ($17.99 value), Free Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size® Paper Towels ($15.99 value), $10 off Fresh Meat (beef, chicken, pork, or fish; excludes deli items), $25 off an order of $250+ on Costco.com

Valid only for new members and those whose memberships expired prior to May 1, 2019. If you value the laundry detergent, paper towels and meat coupons together at roughly $40 and add in the $20 gift card, you’re basically looking at a free year of membership.

Save even more on your Groupon with a cashback shopping portal. Many offer new customers bonuses if you make a qualifying purchase, including Rakuten (formerly eBates) ($10 bonus), TopCashBack (varies), and BeFrugal ($10 bonus). I have cashed out of all of these in the last 12 months.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

Firefox Private Network: Free Browser-Based VPN Encryption During Beta

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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.

If you’re like me, you take advantage of all the free WiFi you can get to avoid having to pay too much for a big cellular data plan. Coffee shops, airports, libraries, hotels, conference centers, etc. The problem is that (as Mozilla puts it) if a “Wi-Fi connection is free and open to you, it’s also free and open to hackers”. The solution to this problem is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that acts like a secure “tunnel” between you and the service you are reaching. The VPN tunnel keeps other folks from peeking in on your e-mail passwords, website visits, exact location, and so forth.

Firefox promotes itself as a privacy-focused web browser alternative, and its newest feature is called Firefox Private Network, which bakes VPN encryption into the browser itself. While it is in beta testing, this feature is free to all Firefox for desktop users in the United States. They do plan on charging for it at some point in the future. However, I think this presents a good opportunity for more people to become more familiar with using a VPN and see that it isn’t very complicated.

While I don’t necessarily feel everyone “needs” a VPN, I have used one myself for many years. Even if I only occasionally work in public spaces with shady WiFi, I figure that paying a few bucks a month is worth avoid a bigger cellular data plan and it allows me to connect to that free airport WiFi with peace of mind. Some people use a VPN 24/7 as they don’t want Comcast/Spectrum/AT&T/Verizon collecting their internet data either.

I’m not a VPN expert, but I switched to NordVPN about a year ago because they hade a good deal for a 3-year subscription at $2.99/month (deal ends Monday 9/16). There is also 1 year at $5/month. I switched from Encrypt.me, which also worked fine but it costs a lot more at $10 a month or $99 a year. Instead of renewing at $99, why not get 3 full years from NordVPN for only $108? I have also heard good things about Private Internet Access which starts at $3.33 a month, but I haven’t actually used them myself. (NordVPN and PIA are affiliate links, Encrypt.me and Firefox PN are not.)

If you use a traditional VPN service (not the Firefox version), they usually allow you to change your IP address location so that for example you can use Netflix even when you travel temporarily internationally. It also helps me do some website testing as I can see how different sites load if I was visiting from Europe, Asia, etc. Which reminds me, if you are self-employed or run your own business, a VPN can be a worthwhile tax-deductible business expense.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

Southwest Credit Card Bonuses Toward 2019/2020 Companion Pass (60k/80k Points)

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New 60,000 limited-time offer, 80,000 point business card bonus. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book either paid or award flights (including to Hawaii!). If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, and you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year the following full calendar year. For example, if you earned it in September 2019, you would have the benefit for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020. You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

Points earned from credit cards count toward that 110,000 point requirement, including sign-up bonuses. You can often get very close to that magic number when you add up the potential miles from these Southwest credit cards:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card

  • Up to 60,000 Rapid Rewards points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 total on purchases within the 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

  • Up to 60,000 Rapid Rewards points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 total on purchases within the 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

  • Up to 60,000 Rapid Rewards points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 total on purchases within the 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.

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.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card

  • 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 9,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Inflight WiFi Credits of up to 365 x $8 credits.
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre?® Fee credit in the form of a statement credit of up to $100 every four years.
  • $199 annual fee.

Value of Rapid Rewards points. Redeeming Southwest points for flights varies in a narrow range, but a very reasonable approximation from my experience is 1.5 cents in Wanna Get Away airfare in per point. That works out to $600+ in Wanna Get Away airfare from 40,000 points or $900+ in Wanna Get Away airfare for 60,000 points or $1,200+ in Wanna Get Away airfare from 80,000 points (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. This means that Southwest points are much easier to use than a “saver award” on traditional airlines.

Now, if you manage to qualify for the the Companion Pass on every trip that you book with those points, that doubles the potential value of each award redemption. In other words, 110,000 Rapid Rewards, would usually get you $1,700 in Wanna Get Away airfare, but with the Companion Pass you’d get an extra companion ticket for every flight booked.

A backup option is gift card redemptions. You can still redeem 5,000 points for a $50 a Amazon.com or Wal-Mart gift certificate. That makes 60,000 points still worth $600 in Amazon or Walmart gift cards.

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

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 are enough to satisfy that rule, and then you can add on the potential value of the companion tickets.

Card 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.

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

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn up to 80,000 Southwest points from qualifying for a single credit card sign-up, which in itself can be redeemed for a lot of free Southwest flights (including to Hawaii!). However, if you can qualify for two (one personal and one business), you can surpass the 110,000 points needed for the Southwest Companion pass, which provides a free companion ticket on every flight bought with cash or points for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020. Finally, Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person on every flight.

Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers and also the Top 10 Best Business Card Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

NetNewsWire 5.0: Free RSS Reader for Mac

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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.

If you like things old-school and still follow blogs and news sites using RSS s, you may be interested to know that the NetNewsWire RSS reader name has gone back to its original creator and there is a new version now available as a free, open source download for Mac OS X 10.14.4 or newer. Since the demise of Google Reader, I know that many people have switched to Feedly, but I have been a paying user of NetNewsWire for a long time.

By the way, here is the raw My Money Blog RSS URL.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card Review: 100,000 Point Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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 Reward Flight Statement Credit. The British Airways Visa Signature Card is a co-branded travel card (issued by Chase) has brought back their bonus offer of up to 100,000 total Avios points with a split spending hurdle. Here are the highlights:

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 50,000 additional bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you’ll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • NEW: Reward flight statement credit. Get up to $100 (economy) to $200 (business/first) statement credit against taxes and fees when you book an award flight with Avios. Up to 3x per calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 annual fee.

The Avios reward chart is now based on how far you want to travel in terms of miles. So what can you do with all those points?

Redeem awards domestically on partner American Airlines. Within the US, it’s usually easiest to find flights on partner American Airlines. There are no fuel surcharges when booking with American. Seating availability will be limited, but if you are flexible there is decent inventory.

  • Los Angeles to Honolulu, Hawaii using only 26,000 Avios points roundtrip. I ran a quote in Fall and it cost $659 broken down to $621 fare and only $38 in taxes. So in this case you could save $621 in exchange for 26,000 points, which is 2.4 cents per point. You can also do JFK to LAX for 25k points roundtrip. (Avios chart updated 5/30/19.)
  • Shorter-distance flights can be a good deal as well. Roundtrip from Chicago to New York City is only 18,000 Avios points + about $30 in taxes. Charlotte, NC to New York City is only 12,000 Avios roundtrip. Los Angeles to Las Vegas is also 12,000 Avios roundtrip. Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon is 18,000 Avios roundtrip.

Finding partner awards on BA.com is better than is was in the past, so try it first. Type in your to/from cities within the US, choose to book flights with Avios points, and then click to include partners:

If you have the flexibility, you can also search for additional dates for more available seats. You may find more space going business class in the US.

Use the American Airlines AA.com website and look for “MileSAAver” awards. Record the exact flight dates and numbers, and then call at British Airways at 1-800-452-1201 to book them. If you can’t find the same flight on BA.com, they should waive the phone book fee (they did for me). Don’t be discouraged if you have to use this method, especially if you aren’t flying nonstop. Also, call back and talk with a different agent if they aren’t helpful initially.

Beware of fuel surcharges on British Airways flights. Don’t use Avios for a economy British Airways flight from USA to Europe, because you’ll still be subject to taxes and fees on award redemptions, which are often half the entire cost of the ticket. I ran a quick search for a random New York City (JFK) to London (LHR) flight that cost $1,050, the taxes and fees alone were $650. You can get the $400 “fare” for 40,000 Avios points, but that’s only 1 cent a point value. This can be mitigated with the…

Reward flight statement credit. Pay for your reward flight taxes and fees using your Chase British Airways card and you will automatically receive a statement credit of $100 for an economy or premium economy booking or $200 for a business or first class booking. You can receive one statement credit per reservation, up to 3 times per calendar year ($600 total limit per calendar year). Details here.

Note the following language:

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

Bottom line. The British Airways Visa credit card has a new bonus structure of up to 100,000 Avios, split into two spending requirements for 50,000 each. 100,000 Avios is nearly enough for 4 economy tickets from the West Coast to Hawaii (or West Coast to NYC) roundtrip on American or Alaska Airlines (104,000 Avios). In addition, for every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you’ll also earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

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

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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 September 2019. Do you have small business income or work as an independent contractor? Uber/Lyft, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Airbnb? You are eligible to open a small business credit card, which keeps your personal and business expenses separate. If you are not a corporation or LLC, you can apply as a sole proprietorship, with your name as the business name and your Social Security number as the Tax ID number. I did this for years successfully before incorporating my business.

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

  • AmEx Platinum Business – limited-time 100k offer.
  • Business United – limited-time 100k offer.
  • Business Delta, Hawaiian – offers ended.
  • Business Southwest Performance – new card w/ 80k 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 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.

American Express Business Platinum Card

  • Up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $1,540 towards airfare). 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 within your first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Largest airline lounge access network. Includes Delta Sky Club membership + their own Centurion lounges.
  • Free year of WeWork co-working membership.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a calendar year in baggage fees and more at one airline that you pick.
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit.
  • $595 annual fee.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

  • 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,000 towards flexible 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.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

United Explorer Business Card

  • Up to 100,000 United miles. 50,000 after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months + another 50,000 after $25,000 total in purchases in the first 6 months. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip).
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to redeem for that saver award economy ticket.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

  • 75,000 American Airlines miles after $5,000 in purchases in first the 5 months. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

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.

Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard (Barclaycard)

  • Up to 60,000 Hawaiian miles. Earn 50,000 miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days, and an additional 10,000 miles after a purchase is made on an employee card. 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.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 in 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 in 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

  • $500 cash bonus after $4,500 in purchases in the first 3 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

  • 50,000 bonus miles after $4,500 in purchases in the first 3 months. 50,000 miles is redeemable for $500 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.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

  • 75,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free night award upon card anniversary (worth up to 35,000 Bonvoy points). Earn an additional Free Night Award after spending $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Annual fee is $125.

Wells Fargo Business Platinum Card

  • $500 cash back bonus after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every $1 spent, OR earn 1 point on every $1 spent + 1,000 bonus points when company spend is $1,000+ in any monthly billing period.
  • No annual fee.

Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card (Bank of America)

  • 40,000 Alaska miles + Companion Fare Voucher after $2,000 in purchase within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Companion fare voucher is “Buy one ticket, get one for $99 taxes and fees” ($99 fare 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, $25 per card.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

American Express Business Platinum Card: 100,000 Point Limited-Time Offer

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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.

Limited-time offer + new perks added. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express is the ultra-premium AmEx business card with a big annual fee and a very long list of perks, including the best airline lounge access program (Delta Sky Club + their own Centurion lounges) and a year of WeWork co-working space membership. Right now, they are running a limited-time offer of up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points. Here are the details:

  • Limited-time offer: Up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points. Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked at amextravel.com.
  • 1.5X points per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. (Up to 1 million additional points per year.) 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Get 35% back when you redeem points for flights. Use their “Pay with Points” option for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year. See details below.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a calendar year in baggage fees and more at one airline that you pick.
  • $100 Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Free Unlimited Boingo WiFi access + 10 Free Gogo inflight internet passes annually.
  • NEW – Free year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork ($2,700 value). With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities and 22+ countries. This includes access to open workspace and premium amenities, including Wi-Fi, phone booths, and refreshments, like coffee, tea, and fruit water. Enroll by 12/31/2019.
  • NEW – $200 in statement credits at Dell (up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell). Details here.
  • $595 annual fee.

Note the following language: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.” You can only get the welcome offer on the Platinum Business AmEx once time per lifetime, so it is best to apply during a limited-time offer.

American Express Global Lounge Collection. Some other travel cards give you Priority Pass Select, which is nice but not as inclusive as the Platinum card’s list of 1,200+ airport lounges across 130 countries. Domestically, you get Delta Skyclub access (an individual Skyclub membership costs $495 from Delta alone) as well as the new Centurion Lounge network built specifically for American Express cardholders.

  • The Centurion® Lounge
  • The International American Express Lounges
  • Delta SkyClub®
  • Priority Pass Select
  • Airspace Lounge
  • Escape Lounges

Other benefits:

  • Automatic Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott) Gold status.
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.

35% Airline Bonus details. Let’s say your selected airline is Delta, and you want to buy a couple economy Delta tickets for $1,000 using their Pay with Points features. This means that $1,000 ticket booked through AmEx Travel will only cost you 65,000 Membership Rewards points net (100,000 points and then 35,000 point rebated back). This improves the 1 cent per point value to 1.54 cents per point value. This means that 100,000 Membership Rewards points can be worth $1,540 in airfare on your selected airline.

Transfer partners. You can transfer Membership Rewards points to 16 airline and 3 hotel partners including Delta, British Airways, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Air Canada, Hilton, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Choice Hotels. If you’re good at snagging award tickets, you can get even better value this way.

Doing some math with the perks vs. annual fee. Spending $25,000 within 3 months is a relatively high spending hurdle. (Given the 5X bonus category, it would be perfect if you needed to book some business flights/hotels soon. You could also charge your income taxes and pay the 1.87% fee, hopefully offset by the 1.5X points on a $5,000+ purchase.) If you can swing that, then this card can offer a lot of value in a year.

In the perks, column, you would have the 100,000 Membership Rewards points worth $1,540 towards airfare (see above). WeWork Global co-working space membership (they say $2,700 value, but even the most basic WeWork membership runs $45/month). The best lounge access program, with the included Delta Sky Club membership costing $495 on its own. $200 annual airline fee credit. $100 TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit. Unlimited Boingo WiFi access + 10 Free Gogo inflight internet passes annually. All this against a $595 annual fee.

Bottom line. The Business Platinum Card from American Express card tries to make your air travel more pleasant by addressing things like baggage fees, economy upgrade fees, TSA PreCheck security lines, Global Entry customs lines, inflight WiFi, free snacks and drinks at airline lounges, and finding a work center (WeWork membership). Right now, they have a 100,000 point limited-time offer, which makes it the best time to apply since you can only get the bonus for this card once per lifetime.

I will be adding this limited-time offer to my list of the Top 10 Best Business Card Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

Mint Mobile B3G3 Promo: 6 Months of Unlimited Talk, Text, 8 GB Data For $60 Total ($10 Per Month)

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Offer end date announced to be Monday, September 9th. In my own phone, I use Mint Mobile to keep my cell phone costs low. They use the T-Mobile network, which means if you have a compatible phone switching just involves swapping in a new SIM card. It works just fine in my iPhone X. I am nearing the end of my first full year (I bought a full year upfront) and I plan on renewing since it is only $15 a month at my lower tier.

They just started a limited-time “B3G3” promo where if you buy 3 months of service, you get another 3 months free. It’s valid on their $20/month tier with Unlimited Talk, Text, 8 GB of LTE Data per month. That means you’ll pay $60 upfront and get 6 full months of service to try them out at $10 per month.

New activation required. Must be activated within 45 days. Taxes and fees apply. 3 months equals 90 days.

They also offer a 7-Day Money Back Guarantee (starts upon SIM activation) so you can test them out before making any commitment at all. Here is my Mint Mobile SIM Activation and Number Port Transfer Review. As long as the transfer works, you have 6 months at only $10 a month to see if you want to keep them. Be sure to use their phone compatibility checker first to see if you can bring your current phone over and just put in the Mint Mobile SIM card.

In my opinion, the two best cell phone deals right now are this one and the ending-soon Sprint Kickstart $25/month for Barebones Unlimited Data.

Also see:

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

Walmart / Target Car Seat Trade-In Events: $30 Gift Card / 20% Off Discount

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Got an old car seat that you don’t use anymore? Need a bigger one? Both Walmart and Target are running car seat trade-in events this month in celebration of National Baby Safety Month. This is a good option for those with expired car seats (they eventually expire as the foam and plastic breaks down over time) or ones that have been in any sort of accident and are thus not longer safe. All car seats made after 2009 should be marked with an expiration date by the manufacturer.

Walmart Car Seat Recycling Event is running September 16th-30th, 2019. Customers can trade in used car seat from any brand and in any condition to any participating Walmart store and receive a $30 Walmart gift card. Booster seats are not eligible for this offer. Limit 2 trade-ins per household. The car seats will be recycled through TerraCycle and thus avoid the landfill. Find a participating store and more details here and here.

Target Car Seat Trade-in Event is running September 3rd-13th, 2019. Bring your car seat to Guest Services and get a coupon for 20% off a new car seat, stroller or select baby gear (includes playards, high chairs, swings, rockers & bouncers). The coupon is valid through September 14, 2019. Target will accept and recycle all types of car seats, including infant seats, convertible seats, car seat bases, harness or booster car seats and car seats that are expired or damaged. Materials from the old car seats will be recycled by Target’s partner, Waste Management. More details here and here.

If you’re looking for some suggestions, check out my list of Favorite Baby Gear: This Stuff Survived 3 Kids in 6 Years

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

Bonus Delta SkyMiles for Washington State Residents

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seahawksBack again for the 2019-2020 season. If you are a resident of Washington state and age 18+ (as indicated by your Skymiles account), you can register at www.12status.com and receive the following perks from Delta Airlines:

  • 1 bonus mile for each passing yard accumulated by the Seattle Seahawks (regular home and away games).
  • Priority boarding when departing out of SeaTac Airport on Delta during the season (Thursday, August 29, 2019 through Sunday, February 2, 2020).
  • 12% off 2 Lyft rides (up to $5 off each ride) to or from Sea-Tac. Begins Thursday, August 29, 2019. Ends Monday, February 3, 2020.

There is nothing else you need to do to be eligible. This usually adds up to about 3,000 to 4,000 free Delta miles, so why not? If you signed up for this last year, you still need to re-register again for this year.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Best Interest Rates on Cash – September 2019

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Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for September 2019, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. I track these rates because I keep a full 12 months of expenses as a cash cushion and also invest in longer-term CDs (often at lesser-known credit unions) when they yield more than bonds. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to 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 9/3/19.

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

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

  • No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. Marcus Bank has a 7-month No Penalty CD at 2.25% APY and a 11-month No Penalty CD at 2.20% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 2.20% APY with a $25,000 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Total Direct Bank has a 12-month CD at 2.60% APY ($25,000 minimum) with an early withdrawal penalty of 3 months of interest. Navy Federal Credit Union has a special 9-month CD at 2.50% APY ($1,000 minimum), but you must have a military affiliation to join (includes being a relative of a veteran).

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

  • Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund currently pays an 2.12% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, which has an SEC yield of 2.08%. 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 2.21% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 2.31% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is more interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.40% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.41% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes.

  • You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 9/3/19, a 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 2.07% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 1.74% annualized interest (!).
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 1.99% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 1.92% 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 May 2019 and October 2019 will earn a 1.90% 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-October 2019, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.

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

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

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

  • The best one right now is Orion FCU Premium Checking at 4.00% APY on balances up to $30,000 if you meet make $500+ in direct deposits and 8 debit card “signature” purchases each month. The APY goes down to 0.05% APY and they charge you a $5 monthly fee if you miss out on the requirements. There is also the TAB Bank 4% APY Checking, which I don’t like due its vague terms. Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.
  • If you’re looking for a high-interest checking account without debit card transaction requirements then the rate won’t be as high, but take a look at MemoryBank at 1.40% APY.

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

  • You could build a CD ladder at First National Bank of America at 2.85% APY for 5-year, 2.75% APY for 4-year, 2.65% APY for 3-year, 2.60% APY for 2-year, and 2.50% APY for 1-year.
  • 5-year CD rates have been dropping at many banks and credit unions, following the overall interest rate curve. A good rate is now about 3.00% APY, with Commonwealth One Federal Credit Union offering a 5-year CD at 3.11% APY ($1,000 minimum) with an early withdrawal penalty of 180 days of interest. Higher rates with $50k an $100k deposits. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
  • Navy Federal Credit Union has a special 18-month cert at 3.00% APY ($1,000 minimum) and a 5-year cert at 3.25% APY, but you must have a military affiliation to join (includes being a relative of a veteran).
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. You may need an account to see the rates. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. The rates are not interesting right now. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 2-year non-callable CD at 1.80% 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 early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, I am seeing no inventory on 7-year and 10-year CDs. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a unique guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate which is quite low (currently a sad 0.10% rate). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. However, you could also view it as a hedge against prolonged deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years. As of 9/3/19, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 1.77%.

All rates were checked as of 9/3/19.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

Rewards Dining Programs and Avoiding Airline Miles Expiration Policies

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stopwatch2

Updated + United Airlines miles no longer expire. I don’t fly as much anymore, and part of my routine to keep my various miles from expiring is to use dining rewards programs that give me miles for eating at participating restaurants. You link your existing credit card first, then pay with that credit card, that’s it – their system figures it out with no coupons, apps, or membership card required. Not all the food spots are great (this is basically paid advertising and the best places don’t need to advertise) but there is usually a small overlap between participating merchants and places I eat at anyway.

My $10 lunch fills the stomach and resets the clock on my mileage balance (although you could buy something as little as a $1 bottle of water). Most of the time, I don’t even have to think about it, but I also write the name of the restaurant and the airline on the card so I remember. Miles usually post within a few weeks. However, to be safe I try to make sure to make a purchase at least 2 months before the expiration date. (If it’s an emergency, I will do a transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards, AmEx Membership Rewards, etc.)

Here are all the airline mileage and hotel programs along with their expiration policies. Most also offer a new member bonus. You can join each program and grab every bonus (one by one or simultaneously, if you have enough credit card numbers).

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

  • Expiration policy: 24 months since last activity
  • Mileage Plan Dining website (1,000 mile new member bonus)

American Airlines AAdvantage

  • Expiration policy: 18 months since last activity
  • AAdvantage Dining website (1,000 mile bonus)

Delta SkyMiles

  • Expiration policy: No expiration (but keep your info updated)
  • SkyMiles Dining website (3,000 mile bonus)

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • Expiration policy: No expiration (but keep your info updated)
  • SkyMiles Dining website (No bonus)

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

  • Expiration policy: 24 months since last activity
  • Rapid Rewards Dining website (1,000 point bonus + others)

Spirit Airlines

  • Expiration policy: 3 months since last activity
  • Free Spirit Dining website (1,000 mile bonus)

United Airlines MileagePlus

  • Expiration policy: No expiration (but keep your info updated)
  • Mileage Plus Dining website (2,500 mile bonus)

Hilton HHonors

  • Expiration policy: 12 months since last activity
  • HHonors Dining website (1,000 point bonus)

International Hotel Group (IHG)

  • Expiration policy: 12 months since last activity (no expiration for certain elite members).
  • IHG Rewards Club Dining website (1,000 point bonus)

Each separately branded program can have multiple credit cards linked to it, but any single credit card can only be linked with one program. (In other words, you can’t earn miles on two airlines on the same purchase.) However, you can change the linked cards as often as you like via website. Delta, United, and JetBlue now all have points that don’t expire, so you can skip them if you wish.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings 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. Datenfluss.info 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.

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