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Miles of Deals Posts

A $300 Checking Account Bonus With Minimal Effort? Yes, Please

After my last post on checking account bonuses, I was ready to get back to credit cards, but hold the presses! There’s a new $300 checking account offer out there that you are going to want to apply for if you like money. The bank is Santander. Yes, they are legit. No, I had never heard of them before I applied for an account last year solely to get a bonus.

Here’s the how to:

  1. Open an eligible new checking account by 12/31/2018 with the promotion code: DIGBONUS300DMP (DO NOT FORGET TO ENTER THE CODE)
  2. Have direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more post within the first 90 days, starting the first business day after opening the account.
  3. Keep your account open for at least 90 days and open at the time of the bonus payment.
  4. Once you meet these conditions, your $300 bonus will be paid.

Apply for an account here. The offer is only available to residents of NH, MA, RI, CT, DE, NY, NJ, or PA.

A couple things to note: you can close the account once the bonus hits, but it will likely take the full 90 days for you to get it. There’s a $10 monthly fee, but man oh man is it easy to avoid. One transaction a month of any kind keeps it fee free. I just set up a $1 bill payment each month to one of my credit cards and then just waited for the bonus to hit. As I tell my 2-year-old when he’s scared of his shirt going over his head: easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Oh, another bonus, you can fund the checking account with up to $500 from a credit card. So if you have a CC that you need to hit a minimum spend requirement on it, this is a great way to knock out $500 of it.

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Yes, Bank Account Bonuses Are A Thing Too

I will admit I got a bit carried away with bank account bonuses last year. M&T Bank was offering a $200-$250 bonus for signing up for an account and making a couple direct deposits. But here’s the thing: you could just keep creating accounts under the same name and address and get the bonus over and over again. Sadly, M&T Bank cracked down on this and you can now only get the bonus once per year. It’s probably for the best though as at one point I had about 20 checking accounts open between my wife and I and it was getting a bit nuts trying to keep track of all of them.

Most bank account bonuses have similar requirements: you make XX number of direct deposits and then you wait XX number of days and you get the bonus. In many cases, if you close the account before 3-6 months, they will hit you with an early termination fee. But I’d say just by doing the 3-4 best offers, you can easily make $1,000 for not a whole lot of time/effort and that’s the point of the game.

One thing to keep in mind about bank account bonuses: unlike credit card bonuses, they are counted as interest income. So for each one you do, you will receive a 1099 form and will need to pay taxes on the bonus. Now it’s not that much. For a $300 bonus, you might pay $50 in taxes max so still a pretty sweet deal.

Here are three of the top bonuses out there right now:

  1. Chase- This one is pretty much the holy grail. Chase is a huge bank and many people already have a Chase account. If you don’t, open one now! The requirements for the $300 bonus are simple: Open a Total Checking account with a deposit of $25 or more. Have a direct deposit hit your account within 60 days. Wait 10 business days for the bonus to post.  You do need to keep the account open for 6 months or Chase will take back the bonus. There is a $12 monthly service fee that is waived if you either have $500 or more in direct deposits to the account each month or keep a $1,500 balance. Of course you could just do nothing and pay the $60 in service fees over 6 months (the first month is often waived automatically) and then cancel the account. You’d still pocket $240. Apply here.
  2. TD Bank- Another $300 offer. Open a TD Premier checking account and receive direct deposits of $2,500 or more within 60 days to get the bonus. That’s a decent chunk of change. If you can’t make that work, there is also a $150 bonus if you make direct deposits of $500 or more within 60 days. The bonus will post 30-90 days after you complete the direct deposits. Probably toward the lower end of that range. There’s a $25 monthly fee for the Premier account that is waived with a $2,500 minimum daily balance. The $15 monthly fee on the account with the $150 bonus is waived with just a $100 balance. There’s no early cancellation fee at TD so once you get the bonus, you are free to cancel right away. TD bonuses are available in the following states:CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, ME, MA, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VT, & VA. Apply here.
  3. M&T Bank – Most people probably have never heard of M&T Bank. I sure hadn’t until I got a mortgage through them. But they sure have a great checking account signup bonus! $250 bonus for setting up a direct deposit of $500 or more within 90 days of opening. Make sure to use promo code TL when signing up. The best part about this bonus is it usually posts within a couple days after the direct deposit hits. Keep the account open for 6 months or pay a $50 fee. Avoid the $15 monthly service fee by having a $2,500 average balance or at least $1,500 per month in direct deposits. Apply here.
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Chase Ink Preferred Offers 80,000 Point Bonus

The Chase Ink Preferred offers one of the most valuable signup bonuses out there right now: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points for $5,000 in spending in the first three months. There is a $95 annual fee that is not waived the first year, but who cares?! Those 80,000 points are worth $1,000 in travel if booked directly through Ultimate Rewards. They can easily be worth more than $1,500 toward travel if transferred strategically to airline and hotel programs.

The card also offers 3 UR points per dollar spend on travel, shipping purchases, advertising purchases made with search engines and social media sites and on internet, cable and cellphone services.

Now the caveat, and it’s a relatively big one: the Ink is a business credit card. You need a business for a business credit card. But here’s the thing: a ton of things count as “businesses” for the purposes of obtaining a business credit card. Do you sell items on Amazon or eBay? Do you do any consulting work? Are you an Airbnb host? Well, then you can apply!

Just be honest on the application. If you sell items on eBay and only made $200 last year, put that down in the income section. If your credit score is above a 700, it’s very likely you will be approved.

Now this part is important: when you apply, unless you do have a have a registered business, select sole proprietor where it asks what kind of business you own and then enter your social security number as your tax ID/EIN. Also important: just put your name down as the business. I’ve read some reports of people running into trouble when their business name doesn’t match their real name. So just keep it simple and just put your name down in both sections.

You will very likely not get approved instantly for this card. That’s fine. Just wait a couple weeks and the card will likely wind up in your mailbox. If you do get a rejection letter, don’t fret, often this can just be because Chase wants to speak with you to verify your identity. So if you do get rejected, call their business card reconsideration line at 800-453-9719.

The $5,000 spend in 3 months for the bonus can be tough to pull and I haven’t done a post yet on ways to “manufacture” spend so if anyone needs a few ideas, just shoot me an email at ryanpbonner@gmail.com.

Apply for the Chase Ink Preferred here.

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Shopping With Points on Amazon to Save a Ton

Using your credit card points for shopping is generally an awful idea. Using points for merchandise or toward a purchase is often going to get you less than a penny per point worth of value and that’s not how we do things around here.

But if you have any Amex Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Amazon has two highly lucrative offers that you are going to want to take advantage of. Now it seems these offers may be targeted, but you should at least check to see if they are available on your account.

The Amex offer is the better/bigger one. If you redeem just one MR point toward your Amazon purchase, you get 20% off the entire order up to a maximum of $100 in savings. So say you were planning spending $500 this holiday season on Amazon, if you register for the promo and then spend that amount in one order and apply a single MR point, it will cost you $400. That’s damn incredible. So any way, check here to see if your account is targeted for the promo. If it says you aren’t eligible, click here to make sure your American Express card is linked to your Amazon account. If it’s not, link it and then go back to the promo signup page and see if the offer then shows up.

The Chase offer is similar. Use a single UR point and you get $15 off a purchase of $60 or more. Check here for the promo. Link your Chase account Amazon first here if needed.

Now the reason you just want to use just a single point toward your purchase and not your entire points balance is simple: without the promo, points are worth just .7-.8 of a cent toward Amazon purchases and that ain’t pretty.

Cyber Monday is tomorrow (which for people like me if better than Christmas itself) so it’s a great day to take advantage of these promos. You can find Amazon’s Cyber Monday deals page here. Another great thing about the Amex/Chase offers, you can get the promos even when buying gift cards, basically all gift cards besides Amazon’s own.

 

 

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How to Save a Ton by Buying Discounted Gift Cards

Credit card points are passion, but I’m always looking for ways to save money in other arenas. One of the best ways: buying discounted gifts cards. This used to be pretty shady area. There were a ton of scammy sites and it was almost impossible to figure out which sites were reputable. Well, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Over the past 5 years, I’ve saved about $2,500 by purchasing discounted gift cards from Raise and Cardpool. To be clear, I used all the gift cards to buy stuff I was already planning on buying anyway. Just tonight, I bought a $25 Chili’s gift card on Raise for $20 and then used it five minutes later. It took me about 30 seconds to buy the gift card on the Raise app. 30 seconds for $5 bucks? Not bad!

If you do buy a bunch of discounted gift cards, once in a while you will run into an issue where a card has been drained by a scammer or it doesn’t have the right amount on it. I would say this has happened 3-4 times between Raise and Cardpool, but I have purchased hundreds of gift cards from them with no issues and both sites offer a 1-year money back guarantee. If you buy a card for $50 and then go try to use it the next day and it has nothing on it, you just email them and you will get your money back.

Now obviously you shouldn’t be reckless. Don’t buy a $500 gift card and then try to use it 3 years from now. I usually use these sites for spur of the moment purchases. You’ll often find the biggest discounts on restaurant cards.

I love Raise and Cardpool, but I’m partial to Raise because 1) you get e-gift cards within minutes (it may take longer for your first order) and 2) the mobile app is awesome. With Cardpool, there have been a couple of times where I have ordered a card ready to buy something online and then it doesn’t get sent to my email for a couple days.

So yeah, buy discounted gift cards online. You won’t get ripped off if you stick to these two sites. You can use my Raise referral link here and save $5 on your first order if you so choose.

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Capital One Venture Card Bonus Up to $750

Whoooaaa. This is one of the top credit card signup bonuses in credit card signup bonus history. Capital One has just increased the bonus on its popular Venture card from 50,000 miles to 75,000 miles. That’s $750 in statement credits toward travel purchases. You do need to spend $5K in three months instead of the $3K that was required for the 50K bonus. But the annual fee of $95 is still waived for the first year.

So let’s say hypothetically that you are currently spending $20,000 on your debit card annually. Damn, it pained me to even type that sentence. But anyway, if you apply for the Venture, get the signup bonus and put that $20,000 on the card, at the end of year 1 before the annual fee hits, you will have made $1150 between the signup bonus and the 2% cash back you get on every purchase.

The point: if your credit score is solid and you can hit that $5K in spending, you should be applying for the Venture card right now.

Bonus: You can change the image on the Venture card once a month and you can use your own photos, which is pretty cool. I get a new version every month with a new photo of my kids on it and when they get older, I’ll give them all the old cards and they will be like, wtf dad, this is weird.

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How to Obtain Maximum Value For Your Credit Card Points

Earning credit card points by signing up for new cards is quite easy, but how you decide to use those points is where you can reap major rewards or make tragic mistakes. OK, maybe that is overstating it, but if you want to squeeze out the maximum value from your points, you need to be smart.

With fixed-value point cards, there isn’t much to think about. If you get the Capital One Venture card, you are getting a 50,000 point signup bonus that is worth $500. It’s the cards with transferrable points, namely Chase and Amex, that can have you sipping on a mimosa in first class and getting one of those hot towels. That’s some fancy shit and I sure as hell don’t have the cash to pay for that.

Anyway, I plan on delving deep into the reward programs of every bank, but for now, let’s take a look at an example of a smart use of Chase UR points. Now if you just say have a no annual fee Chase card like the Freedom, you can’t transfer your points to airline or hotel programs. But with the premium cards like the Sapphire and the Ink, you can transfer to numerous partners. From the Ultimate Reward portal, you just click on Transfer to Travel Partners. From there you can connect your airline and hotel accounts and once you do, it takes just seconds to make a transfer.

My family has been to the Hyatt Place Delray Beach numerous times. It’s an example of a hotel with a high cash price, especially during the peak tourist season, that can be snagged for a bargain’s worth of points. For example, to book the hotel with cash on the night of Feb. 12, 2019, the price with taxes comes to $396. Now you do get a decent free breakfast at the Hyatt Place, but I have two kids who eat $20 worth of Danimals a day, so I ain’t paying that much for a hotel room.

But now we go take a peek at the Hyatt Gold Passport free night chart. And look at that, the Delray Hyatt Place is only 12,000 points per night. So you simply transfer your 12,000 Chase points to your Hyatt account and book the hotel with points. By doing that, you get more than 3 cents per point worth of value, i.e. if you just cashed out the Chase points for a statement credit, you would get $120. Transfer the same amount to Hyatt, get a $400 hotel room. Not bad.

 

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You Should Be Getting At Least 2% Back on Every Purchase

This site will mainly focus on taking advantage of huge credit card sign up bonuses, but I feel like it’s first important to make sure everyone isn’t missing out on 2% cash back on every purchase they made. When I see someone use a debit card to buy something at a store, a little piece of me dies inside. Using a debit card gets you 0% cash back and that’s just not cool. Don’t do that to yourself.

There are many credit cards out there that give you 1% back on all purchases, and some of them like the Chase Freedom have 5% cash back in rotating spending categories. But there’s no reason you shouldn’t be getting at least 2% back on every single thing you buy. To get it, you just need one of the following cards:

Capital One Venture: This one not only gives you 2% back on every purchase, but there’s a 50,000 point bonus if you spend 3K in the first 3 months. You can’t redeem points for straight cash back, but it’s basically the same thing. 50,000 points is worth $500 in statement credits toward travel purchases and many things fall into the travel category. There also seems to be a nice glitch where you can keep redeeming points for the same purchase over and over again. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year. After the first year, you would need to make the call on whether to cancel or switch to one of the other cards below. But this card is certainly worth getting for at least a year.

Fidelity Rewards Visa Card: I’ve had this card forever. No annual fee plus 2% on everything is a beautiful thing. This one also isn’t a true straight cash back card as they won’t mail you a check, but it’s quite simple. You just need some kind of free Fidelity account and after you accrue $50 in rewards, you transfer it to your Fidelity account and from there you can cash out. Note there is no signup bonus on this one.

Citi Double Cash: This one gives you 1% on all purchases and then another 1% as you pay for those purchases. So a complicated way of saying 2% on everything. Also no annual fee and you can redeem cash back for a check or statement credits.

The takeaway: Stop using your damn debit card and get one of the cards above. As long as you can hit the 3K spend in 3 months, I’d go with the Capital One.

Bonus: If you already have a 2% card and you are just here for huge bonuses, well I certainly respect that. My friend Dan reminder me today of one of the best ones currently out there. The American Airlines Aviator card. You get 50,000 AA miles after making one purchase. Yes, just one purchase. You do need to pay the $95 annual fee on your first statement, but used wisely, the 50,000 AA miles are worth at least $750. That’s a damn great deal for about 5 minutes of work: 2 mins to apply and 3 mins to drive to the nearest 7-Eleven and buy a pack of gum.

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Welcome.

If you are reading this, wow! I actually started this website. My talented sister-in-law Erin created the logo months ago and then I just didn’t do anything for months, which frankly I completely expected of myself. But anyway, I am excited that I have finally put words down here. I’m keeping the website design very simple right now because the website builder thing had all these boxes and menus everywhere and I got frustrated and just deleted them all.

Here’s the quick back story on why I’m starting this site: I spend way too much of my free time searching for new credit card offers and deals in general online that I want to share some of that “knowledge” with more people.

Credit card sign up bonuses are where there is real “free money” to be made. I haven’t paid for a flight or hotel in 10 years. I would estimate I have obtained more than $50,000 worth of free travel through credit card bonuses. Over the years, I have convinced a few friends and family to get into the points game, but many others remain skeptical. How can credit card companies give away all those points? Won’t opening new credit cards hurt my credit score? I’m going to tackle some of those FAQs a little further below, but first let me run through the basic details of how obtaining a massive stash of airlines and hotel points works. For those who don’t travel, you can of course get straight cash back on many cards, but the real value comes in using points for travel.

Let’s take a look at one of the best credit card offers out there right now as an example. The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $4,000 on the card within three months after obtaining it. 50,000 Chase points are worth $500 cash or closer to $1,000 worth of travel if you transfer those point to frequent flyer programs. The toughest part of “earning” this free money can often be hitting the minimum spend in time, but there are many ways (buying Visa gift cards to use later, pre-paying bills, etc) that can help you get there. I will explore them in depth in a future post.

Now let’s tackle some of the myths that often make people skeptical of jumping into the miles/points game.

MYTH: If I apply for new credit cards, it will ruin my credit score. TRUTH: My credit score is 800 and I open 10+ cards every single year. If you apply for several cards over a short period of time, yes, your score could drop a few points but it will almost certainly rise back up to where it was and probably even higher after a couple months. 65% of your credit score is based on your payment history and credit utilization percentage (i.e. how much of your available credit you are using compared to your total credit line across all credit cards). Opening new cards increases your total credit line, thus lowering your credit utilization percentage.

MYTH: You have to pay annual fees on cards with large signup bonuses. TRUTH: Now this one is partially true, but I’d say 80 percent of credit cards with annual fees waive the fee for the first year. So if you are just trying to rack up points like myself, you just cancel the card before the annual fee hits for the second year.

MYTH: It must be a scam. The credit card companies aren’t giving away all these miles for free. TRUTH: Yes, I swear they are. This is all totally legal. In just the second quarter of 2018, Chase made $8.3 billion profit. The credit card companies are doing just fine. Their goal with these signup bonuses is to rope people into a long term relationship and they are hoping you rack up a ton of debt so you have to pay them a ton of money in interest.

Let’s be clear: the cards I will recommend on this site are not ones you should apply for if you don’t plan on paying your balance in full every month or if you are trying to get out of debt. High reward cards tend to have high interest rates. But if you are looking for a card to help you work your way out of debt, one of the best is the Amex Everyday Card. You can apply for it here. It offers no interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. And even better, balance transfers are free (they are 3-5% on most cards) if you requested one within the first 60 seconds of opening the card.

A disclaimer: I like free things, thus if I can receive a referral bonus by sharing credit card referral links on this site, I shall. The caveat is I will always post links to the best available bonus offer at the time and that may not always be one in which I can get a referral bonus. Basically if you click a link from this site to apply for a card, I can promise you the offer you receive is the highest one you will find anywhere else online. One important thing I haven’t mentioned so far: you need a good credit score to be approved for the best rewards cards. In general, that means above a 700. You may get approved for a few with a score as low as 650, but over 700 is really where you want to be. You can check your credit score for free on Credit Karma.

My main goal with this site is simple: help people travel the world for free as I have done for the last decade.

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