Did I mention I like memes?
Okay, enough silly posts for this week… Let’s make some money, shall we?
MONEY SALE: OfficeMax is having a sale on money! Specifically, $20 off $300 in MasterCard prepaids. BigHabitat is all over it and you should be too. If your store is out of the $200 cards, ask if they have any extra in stock. And make sure they scan the offer book they keep by the register to give you your discount–I just encountered a clerk and a manager who were unaware of this deal.
Between this and the Best Buy bonanza a few weeks ago, 2014 is off to a tremendous start for retail deals. We haven’t seen any killer credit card offers yet, but I’ll be surprised if we don’t see something big in the next month or two as the 2014 marketing budgets get into gear.
COSTCO PRICES EXPLAINED: Thanks to WeddingSpend for passing this one along… There’s a method to Costco’s pricing madness, and it’s explained clearly here. By paying attention to the last two digits of the price, you can get an idea of how good of a deal you’re getting.
- Credit Report: You will get a free copy of their Experian credit report. If you enroll online, your report will be available online. Online credit reports are available for 30 days.
- Daily Credit Monitoring: You will receive alerts for one year that reflect changes to your Experian credit report during your membership term. This includes new inquiries, newly opened accounts, new derogatory information (such as delinquencies or medical collections) and more.
- Identity Theft Resolution: If confirmed that you have been the victim of identity theft, you will be assigned a dedicated, U.S.-based Experian Fraud Resolution Agent who will walk you through the fraud resolution process—and remain available to answer questions—from start to finish.
- Identity Theft Insurance: If you have been a victim of identity theft relating to this incident, you will immediately be covered by a $1 million insurance policy that can help you cover certain costs, including lost wages, private investigator fees, and unauthorized electronic fund transfers for one year.
- ProtectMyID ExtendCARE: Access to personalized assistance from a highly-trained Fraud Resolution Agent will continue even after the initial one year ProtectMyID membership expires.
STAY GOLD: Grant Williams has some fascinating stuff here about manipulation of the gold market. If the tale is to be believed, the Bank of England sold almost 400 tons of gold at the market’s absolute bottom in 1999 in order to keep a couple of financial institutions (AIG and Rothschild) with big short positions from going under. Williams argues that we’re about to see a scarcity of physical gold and correspondingly higher prices. You may have heard about the surge of gold-buying in Asia recently:
Are any of you buying or selling gold these days?
I’M LOVIN’ IT: A science teacher named John Cisna lost 37 pounds in 90 days… by eating nothing but McDonald’s food:
With the help of three of his students, Cisna simply planned and followed a diet that totaled no more than 2,000 calories each day and closely mirrored the reference daily intakes of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and cholesterol. Mind you, he didn’t merely scarf a single meal to sate those requirements; he savored three square meals each day! A typical day’s sustenance varied, but it would typically include two egg white delight McMuffins, a bowl of maple oatmeal, and a 1% milk for breakfast; a salad for lunch; and a value meal for dinner.
“So this isn’t something where you say, ‘well he went to McDonalds and he only had the salads.’ No, I had the Big Macs, the quarter pounders with cheese. I had sundaes, I had ice cream cones,” Cisna told KCCI.
Also included in Cisna’s self-experiment were 45 minutes of daily walking. Moreover, the teacher dutifully tracked his meals and exercise in an Excel spreadsheet. By the end of the 90 days, he was 37 pounds slimmer, and his LDL (bad) cholesterol had plummeted by 60 points.
I don’t really have anything to add to this, so here’s a pre-Seinfeld Jason “George Costanza” Alexander in a McDonald’s commercial.
I thought I’d revisit the issue of credit card issuer quality, the reason being that I found this CFPB complaint database and thought it would be fun to run the numbers. The database lets you sum complaints by issuer, so all I summed up the total credit card complaints this year through May 31.
Obviously, large issuers will have more complaints, so to level the playing field I divided the complaints by each issuer’s outstanding credit card receivables (as of mid-2011, but close enough for our purposes, with the GE and Amex numbers coming from their 2012 annual reports) to come up with a complaint index. This isn’t meant to be any authoritative statement on how good or bad issuers, it’s just a check to see what the data shows us.
And here’s what it shows us:
And what do you know? Capital One and Citi are once again in the discussion! Joining them is Barclays, which doesn’t surprise me too much based on grumbles I’ve seen about them in various forums. Chase and Bank of America come off fairly well, relatively speaking. And keep in mind that HSBC’s credit cards are now part of Capital One.
MONEY ON SALE: Through June 15, OfficeMax is giving you $10 off a gift card purchase of $200 or more. As you might have guessed, folks at Flyertalk are reporting success in buying more than one Visa gift card per shopping trip. The T&Cs do not prohibit this, so have at it!
SPEAKING OF MONEY SALES: Frequent Miler is a fan of money sales and other good deals, and he’s launched a new feature on his blog to list hot deals.
LUFTHANSA MILES AND MORE FOLLOW-UP: Following up on Saturday’s post, a friend of ours tried the archaic $2,500 minimum spend version of the 50,000 mile Lufthansa credit card application. He and his wife were both rejected, although they were approved via the reconsideration line for the $5,000 minimum spend version. Unless we hear of anybody having success with it, we recommend staying away from the $2,500 spend application and sticking with the official link. (Disclaimer: that’s my affiliate link, but it is the best offer I’m aware of for this card.)
FREE STUFF FOR BANK OF AMERICA CREDIT CARDHOLDERS: Check your mailbox for promotional materials from Bank of America and/or FIA Card Services (a B of A subsidiary)–we just received a promotional offer for a $15 gift card from our choice of Target, Best Buy, or Starbucks when we use our credit card to pay a utility bill. This offer was for our Fidelity Amex (issued by FIA), which is also the only active B of A card in our portfolio, so perhaps this is only targeting active users, or perhaps we’re just in a test cell, who knows. If you want to check to see if any of your cards are eligible go here for FIA and here for B of A. The website asks for your registration code; select “Don’t have one”, and then enter your ZIP, last four digits of the account, and your last name.
CHEAP TIRES AT SEARS: Several stackable promotions add up to cheap Goodyear tires at Sears. There’s a buy 3, get 1 free promo (that’s B3G1 for all you couponers out there), then there’s a $40 coupon, a 10% off coupon, and a $40 rebate. Sound good? This one is a little complicated, so please refer to Slickdeals, our source for this and other deals, for details. If you need help installing the tires, please note that Wal-Mart also has a good deal: for $11 per tire, you get installation plus rotation and balancing every 7,500 miles for the life of the tires.
AMAZON GIFT CARDS ON SALE AT OFFICEMAX: Get $5 off two $25 Amazon gift cards at OfficeMax (i.e., $5 off $50). In-store only, limit two GCs per transaction, and some stores may limit you to two GCs, period.
BANKDIRECT REDUCES AA MILES PAYOUT: For a long time BankDirect.com has been known as a good source of AA miles. They’re still a good source, just not quite as good if you’re a high-roller. For deposits up to $50,000, you can get 5,000 AA miles per month in lieu of interest. Previously the limit was $200,000, so some people were able to bank 20,000 miles per month from their savings account.
If you value miles at one cent each, that works out to an interest rate of 1.2%, which is pretty good by today’s low standards. If you’re a savvy frequent flyer, like this guy, you may value your miles higher, which makes BankDirect an even better deal. (H/T: FlyerTalk)