RE-ADVISOR: Somebody wrote in to creditcards.com asking how best to get to New Zealand next May. Their only loyalty / frequent flyer assets are 30,000 AA miles. The advice was to drop $1,300 on a ticket. My better advice, assuming an adequate credit score for the would-be traveler: go to PFD’s credit card bonus page. You’ll find three different links to Citi AA cards with 50K bonuses. Apply for one that you don’t have, and congratulations, you now have the 75K miles you need to get to New Zealand and back, plus a few thousand extra miles you can use to buy an Economist subscription to read on the plane. Or you could apply for the Chase Sapphire 40K, and a Chase Ink 50K, then transfer 80K points to United for the roundtrip ticket. Despite what certain lost souls may think, frequent flyer programs can be a very good use of your time.
FREE MONEY FROM BEST BUY AND CAPITAL ONE: In case any of you happen to hold a Capital One Best Buy credit card: we received a flyer notifying us that we can get a $75 gift certificate if we spend $1,500 on my card before Dec 31. That’s 5%, and keep in mind you’re already getting 2% for using the card, plus an additional 2% if you purchase at BB, plus an additional 1% if you’re a Silver member buying at the flailing electronics merchant. Which brings you to 10%. BB sells Kindle cards, which can be used at Amazon. Last time we checked, they still sold prepaid Visa gift cards, valued up to $200 with a $6 activation fee, so take 3% from your net if you go that route. Last month we were able to use a BB reward certificate to buy Kindle gift cards, so we would guess they would work for the prepaid Visas as well, though YMMV. Always read your junk mail!
NOT LINKED IN TO REALITY: Somebody calling himself “Christopher Elliott” has published a misguided article at linkedin.com saying that frequent flyer programs are a scam and should be banned. Perish the thought! There’s a mini-industry of people beating the FF programs at their own game, and it’s open to anybody with an internet connection and some time to read. Maybe start here or here, Chris? View From The Wing has a more extensive evisceration.
DISCOVER CARD ROUNDUP: Frequent Miler, one of the best bloggers out there, details some of his experiments with the Discover More card. Do gift card purchases get cash back? Do purchases made with gift cards get cash back? Stay tuned… Discover is offering 2% cashback on Black Friday purchases to some customers, YMMV. Log in and sign up. And as poster mvkkreddy points out over at Fatwallet, Discover is already giving 10% cashback on Sears purchases through their portal, plus 5% as part of their quarterly promotion, so the 2% brings you to 17% cashback—not too shabby.
CAVEAT EMPTOR, ESPECIALLY IF THE EMPTOR GETS A REALLY GOOD DEAL: (H/T: FW) Man buys car. Dealership screws up, prices it several thousand too low in the paperwork. Dealership wants man to pay up. Man refuses. Dealership has man arrested and jailed. Dealership apologizes for attempting to have police enforce its whims. Dealership wants man to dismiss $2 MM lawsuit.
NAMIN’ AND SHAMIN’: Meanwhile, somebody over at flyertalk wants to publicly shame bloggers for publicizing good deals, mistake fares, and ways to game our great nation’s financial system. 20 pages of hilarity has ensued. Our plan to is generate some angry traffic to this blog by publishing which banks let you fund accounts with a credit card. J/K, FT, RELAX! (For those of you not in the know, CC account funding is an easy way to generate points/miles with your credit card, but people—including us—are understandably secretive about which banks allow this)… Speaking of flyertalk, folks there have reported that CVS and sometimes Walgreens will let you buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card. YMMV, so try, try again… Bank of America is apparently offering gift cards to random people upon their online banking logout. Some people have reported getting the offer after 5 or 10 tries. Slickdeals is all over it, because hey, free gift cards.
CREDIT CARDS: View From The Wing reminds: this is your last chance to get 50K MR points with the Amex Biz Gold credit card. No fee first year, $5K minimum spend. It’s about as good as the offer gets for this card, and keep in mind that Amex occasionally has transfer bonuses when you switch points to their travel partners, so you can get more than 50K miles if you’re patient… And in case you’re on the fence about this, The Points Guy gives you the lowdown on how to apply for business cards… Meanwhile, Mommy Points shows you how to get an easy $3,300 in Southwest Airlines travel.
PERSONAL FINANCE: Sandy victims: How to made your insurance pay up…The Simple Dollar on tightening up your entertainment budget. Forbes covers the eternal dilemma: how much to put into your healthcare FSA. Yahoo Finance has a good article on finding treasure at garage sales.
DRUGSTORE FREEBIES: One underappreciated virtue of Black Friday week: free stuff from the big drugstore chains. The slickdeals CVS forum has the details: Coke! Advil! Kleenex! Candy! And about 25 other things, a pretty good haul if you’re into working their ExtraCare Bucks rewards program. Meanwhile, since free isn’t good enough, Rite-Aid actually has a few items that’ll make you some money if you print some coupons. More freebies later this week.
BLACK FRIDAY EXTREMISTS: These people started in July. You’re all a bunch of amateurs. Speaking of which, the mint.com blog has some Black Friday app suggestions to help along those of you who waited until now to figure out how best to battle deal-crazed mobs.
BANKING: Frequent Miler breaks the news that Office Depot will no longer stock Vanilla Reload cards. For those of you not in the know, people were using these in conjunction with the Chase Ink business cards to get 5% back on all their purchases… Just a reminder that PenFed has a 2.75% 5/5 ARM with no closing costs. PF Digest is tempted… Ways to join PenFed are listed here.
PERSONAL FINANCE: Occupy Wall Street is threatening to actually do something useful by forgiving peoples’ debts. If they really wanted to stick it to the man, they’d teach people the simple but legally dubious ‘get rid of student loans by transferring them to credit cards’ trick… Meanwhile, folks are taking to craigslist to find loan cosigners. What could possibly go wrong?… Meanwhile, scammers using Hurricane Sandy to enrich themselves. Generosity is wonderful, but be smart about it… And courtesy of FWF, I learned that Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris drives a 1991 Mazda 626. As somebody who likes inexpensive transportation, I really like this Morris guy all of a sudden.
TRAVEL: Hack My Trip makes the moral case for working the travel system. Preach on, brother… On a related note, an interesting discussion at Flyertalk on why airlines rewards programs can have a tendency to favor people who are good at racking up miles instead of people who spend money.