THE $9.84 CREDIT CARD HUSTLE: There’s a blogs called Krebs On Security that’s done a tremendous job lately in covering the Target credit card breach. Blogger Brian Krebs has a new article out on what he calls the $9.84 credit card hustle–mysterious (and fraudulent) charges for $9.84 that are showing up on credit card statements. Krebs does quite a bit of digging into what’s going on, and it involves London, Cyprus, and Malta.
This goes to show that it’s usually a good idea to keep an eye on your credit card statements–it’s easy for a random charge to slip through unnoticed if nobody’s looking.
VIRGIN AMERICA CREDIT CARD IS BACK: Gary has the story. The gist:
My rule of thumb is that Virgin America’s points are deflated, that one Virgin America point is worth about 2 points in a European airline frequent flyer program. Their points are reasonably good, then, for redeeming on partners (with fuel surcharges). And the credit card is reasonably good at acquiring those points — since the price of partner awards is low, and the card earns one point per dollar, it’s like earning two points per dollar with a ‘regular’ award chart.
You can use the points for about 2.2 cents apiece towards travel on Virgin America, or for fixed-point redemptions on their partners.
There are some partner opportunities that may be of use is certain situations such as west coast to Hawaii for 20K miles roundtrip on Hawaiian Airlines. Aside from that, meh. Read on if you’re curious.
Caribou Coffee Co. Inc. launched its Caribou Perks customer loyalty card Thursday [January 2].
Coffee drinkers began getting the cards Thursday morning to earn rewards like size upgrades, baked goods and drinks.
The Brooklyn Center-based coffee chain is using a surprise method of handing out the rewards. It isn’t saying how often or exactly what customers will get, but over time the rewards will be tailored to customer tastes.
Uncertain, erratic rewards? Hmm… that’s interesting, I suppose. In any case, you can get a free drink when you sign up here.
10,000 UNITED MILES FROM OPTIONSHOUSE: Here you go. You’ll need to fund with at least $5,000 and then do 10 trades. Not my cup of tea but I’m sure at least one of you might be interested. (H/T: Maximizing Money)
UNLIMITED FREE STOCK TRADES: My Money Blog reports:
Is the endgame for stock commissions really free trades? Silicon Valley startup Robinhood.io wants to try, this time in smartphone app form. Recently approved by finance regulatory agency FINRA to become a broker-dealer, this comparison chart shows their ambitious plan to offer unlimited free trades with no minimum balance requirement.
This has been tried before. Zecco stood for Zero Cost Commissions. They had no physical branches, free trades had to be placed online. They had a “lean engineering team”. They used social media. They tried to make enough money from margin interest and order flow to cover everything else. But it wasn’t enough, and they gradually had to raise commissions.
While we await the inevitable demise of this business model, you’re all welcome to spoon-feed me ideas for risk-free guaranteed-profit commission-free trades in the comments below.
AND FINALLY: A friend of mine is participating in the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator competition. His team’s idea: “A mobile app that rewards users for tracking health data and participating in market research by subsidizing health costs.” You had me at “rewards”! Click here to give ’em a like on Facebook if you’re feeling charitable. Thanks everybody!
A friend wrote in to point out an interesting feature of the Starbucks loyalty program:
Stars are earned per purchase. So, one could purchase X amount of the cheapest thing in the store (like a small chocolate for 0.50) and earn X stars. I think it’s 10 or 12 stars to get a freebie, etc.
I usually redeem my freebie for the absolute largest size drink possible, usually about a $5+ value, and have them pour it into two smaller cups.
That’s one angle. Another angle is to work promotions: in fact, right now Starbucks is offering double stars on every food item through Dec 18. They’ve also targeted promotions to rewards card members via email. In fact, the Starbucks loyalty marketing team has been very active this year, with the most infamous moment being a poorly executed campaign where anybody who signed up for the program got $5 added to their account.
I say “poorly executed” because Starbucks allowed people to signed up for multiple “new” accounts, and if this 886-page Slickdeals thread is to be believed some people scaled this up to the tune of thousands of dollars.
If you want to extract more value from your drinks, here are some tips from a former barista. If you want to maximize the value of your free drink after you’ve earned enough stars, this guy figured out how to order a $47 drink at Starbucks.