TESTING SOMETHING OUT HERE: Yesterday, as a joke, I tossed in an affiliate link along with some obviously false miraculous claims about credit cards healing the ill, and to my surprise it generated some clicks. So today I would like to remind you that GoFreeCredit.com masterminded the Carolina Panthers’ evisceration of the New York Giants on Sunday, plus they can also give you a free credit score.
APPARENTLY CHOICE HOTEL POINTS ARE USEFUL FOR SOMETHING: Thanks to Loyalty Traveler for teaching me something new! Today’s lesson learned is that Choice Hotel points are actually useful for something, namely European travel:
Thinking beyond the high end hotels in Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and InterContinental opens up the opportunity to book comfortable hotels at bargain rates if you expand your outlook to midscale chain hotels available for points in programs like Choice Privileges, Best Western Rewards and Wyndham Rewards. These are global hotel chains where the best values are often found outside the USA.
This was news to me as I’m much more familiar with the other big chains (and their credit cards, of course). During a recent promotion it was possible to buy 56,000 points for a couple hundred dollars, and those points can you get you a full 7 days in a number of hotels, such as the one immediately below (though 7 nights is too many to spend in Venice in one trip, but still) so you’re essentially getting a hotel room for 90% off.
THE INS AND OUTS OF CREDIT CARD GUARANTEES: Thanks also to Frequent Miler for doing some legwork in figuring out whether standard credit card protections apply when you partially pay with gift cards. Bottom line: it depends. For example:
I checked the benefits guides of a few American Express cards and found mixed results. Purchase Protection applies when any portion of the purchase is made with your card. Return protection, though, only applies when the purchase is made entirely with your card. The extended warranty is less clear about whether it applies to partial purchases, but I think it does.
Most of the cards FM looked at require the entire purchase to be made on the card in order for the protections to apply, so caveat emptor and give the article a look.
ANATOMY OF AN INVESTMENT DISASTER: Over at Oddball Stocks, Nate reviews what happened with First Bank of Delaware, one of his investments gone bad. Here’s the setup:
The bank was digging itself into a hole that seemed hard to recover from, that was until I found a news release on the bank’s website that explained they were looking into the possibility of winding down operations and liquidating. Suddenly I was interested, here was a bank trading for $22m with a book value of $44m. The trade seemed attractive, especially with such a large discount to book value, if the company’s book value was anywhere close to reality I had the chance to double my money.
The downside seemed somewhat limited as well, at 50% of book value what could possibly go wrong? What sort of event could destroy this investment?
The First Bank of Delaware’s troubled past had finally caught up with them. In their recent history they had been known as a subprime enabler, they were a clearing bank for subprime credit cards. They were also involved in a supposed security incident where the bank processed a large number of fraudulent Visa and Mastercard transactions. The bank was also involved in a check cashing company from California that was accused of lending at usurious rates. And lastly the bank was involved in an online check cashing and payment system that was allegedly used to send fraudulent payments that they bank was aware of.
Read the gory details here.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Crack is not an acceptable form of payment at your local government offices. Besides, it doesn’t even earn you points.