Friday, March 7, 2014

So What is MY Credit Score? -- March 2014

People are always amazed that I can travel for free to so many places and that I earn thousands in cash back every year. I do this through credit cards...that is, I get a lot of credit cards and the bonuses that come along with them...not only for me but also for my wife.

The next thought or question people have is..."okay, then what is your credit score?" "Doesn't getting so many credit cards hurt your credit?"

The answer is if you pay off your credit card every month and don't leave a balance on the card, then NO, getting a lot of credit cards doesn't hurt your score at all....in fact your credit score will improve over time if you pay off your bills.

So what is my score after applying for a lot of credit cards for almost 2 years?

According to these sources, this is what my score is as of today:

CreditSesame.com: 797
CreditKarma.com: 758
USBank: 744
DiscoverCard: 774
Barclays: 769

So you can see that my scores are actually very good. Any score over 740 will usually get you the best interest rates on loans, mortgages, etc. I now have 20+ credit cards and over that period of time my credit score has actually improved on average about 25 points (see graph below). How is this possible? Well, I now have a larger amount of credit extended to me, I have more excellent credit history, and I make all of my payments on time. Here are some Credit FAQ if you want to learn more.


My goal is no to convince you to go out and start getting credit cards. There is no benefit in that for me. I'm just sharing cause it may be interesting to read about. And maybe this is something you think you would enjoy doing responsibly. I wish I understood these ideas years ago. 

Want to learn more? You can start HERE with some other posts I've made. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

TurboTax.com will give you 10% of your tax refund in Amazon Gift Cards



Ready to do you taxes? Have all of your W-2's in the mail? Now all you have to do is decide which online tax company to use to fill out your taxes (unless you have complicated tax returns, then online is definitely the way to go, and it's EASY).

This year one great option is to use TurboTax.com because they will give you up to 10% BONUS refund in the form of amazon gift cards. Here are the details:




So who is this deal good for?

Anyone, who uses Amazon.com to shop! I would suggest redeeming an amount of your refund equivalent to how much you think you will spend shopping at Amazon.com for the year....So if you think you will spend $1,000 at amazon this year, choose to have $1,000 of your refund go towards amazon gift cards that way you'll get $1,100 in gift cards...that's $100 free at Amazon.com.



Don't think you would use this deal?

HERE is a previous blog post about how to get a Free federal AND State tax return if you are eligible.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Target Free Credit Report for 1 year



Remember the big credit card breach at Target over the holidays? Well, target is doing it's best to save face and is offering EVERYONE a free year of credit monitoring/credit report. Remember this is NOT a credit score, but a credit report.

Sign up HERE

  • It's a good idea to look at your credit report at least once a year to make sure, nothing fishy is going on under your social security identity. 
  • After your free year of credit, you will NOT automatically be billed for another year. It will simply expire, so no need to worry about getting charged for this. 
  • Sign up before April 23rd. 
  • FAQ's
  • Of course, there are other way's to get free scores or credit reports, but his is another great way to make sure your finances are safe. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Free Fico Scores



There are several credit cards that are now offering free credit SCORES when you have an account with them. This is NOT a credit report, rather a score.

Here are the 3 companies currently offering the free score. Discover is one of my favorites as it has no annual fees and many other great benefits.

Barclays credit cards
Discover It
Us Bank

What is a Credit Score?

It's a number ranging from 300-850. This POST explains it all.

What is a Credit Report?

A report shows all of your open and closed accounts in the past 7 years. It shows what accounts are in good standing, delinquent, contact information, etc. It does NOT give you credit SCORE. If you want a free credit REPORT you can get one from annualcreditreport.com. You can get a free report from all 3 credit bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian). You can get this report free ONCE a year from EACH bureaus. So one strategy some people use is to first get a free report from Transunion, then 4 months later get a free report from Equifax, then 4 months later get a free report from Experian...then start all over with Transunion. That way you can get a free report every 4 months. Keep in mind though, that each report might have slightly different information as each bureau tracks this information slightly differently.

Other free ESTIMATES of your credit score:

Creditkarma.com - free estimate of your Transunion credit score.
CreditSeseme.com - free estimate of your Experian credit score.

These are completely free and actually pretty close to what your score really is. Right now creditkarma.com says my score is 754 and my actually credit score is 755.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

9 Day Florida Trip for under $300



My family and I took a vacation to Florida back in November. I have 2 children and I'm still a dental student, so a lot of people wonder how I can go on vacations right now. I thought I would share the break down of all the expenses and show you how it's really not that expensive.

3 Plane Tickets: Free from 75,000 bonus credit card points
Hotel: Free using hotel bonus points
Rental car: Free from 12,000 Barclays world arrival points
Gas: $65 for about 600 miles worth of driving
Parks (Gatorland, Sea World, and LegoLand):  $97 including parking
Food: $200
Misc/parking/tolls: $15

Total Cost of Trip: $280

That's pretty good considering I would have spent money on gas and food even if I didn't go to Florida. So really the actual cost would probably be well under $200.

So how did I do this? Here's the detained explanation on how I saved the money.

Airport Parking: First I dropped my family and luggage off at the airport then parked my car for free at a hotel that was close to the airport. I then jumped on a 5 min public transportation to the airport for $1.25. If I had parked my car in a cheap economy lot it would have cost me about $7 a day X 9 days = $63 or much more depending on the location and fees.

Plane Tickets: I got the points from a 60,000 united explorer card I got early in 2013 and from a 40,000 point bonus from Chase Sapphire credit card. I only used 75,000 of those points for 3 round trip tickets from Salt Lake City to Orlando. The cheapest you'll find these flights are probably around $315 a ticket or close to a $1,000.

Hotels: I used to live in Florida so there were several places we wanted to go. So we traveled across central Florida staying in Tampa, Orlando, and Melbourne. We stayed at Country Inn and Suites, Residence Inn by Marriott, and a Sheraton hotel. I used my free hotel points from Club Carlson (I used 30,000 points), Chase Marriott credit card (I used 30,000 points), and SPG credit card (I used 10,000 points). Most people would probably have spent $700+ on hotels for 9 days.

Rental Car: This was a full sized car at a economy sized car price. Because I'm a member of the military they upgraded me for free. I don't think they normally do this, but they did in my case:) I purchased the rental car using my Barclaycard Arrival credit card. The $120 charge will be reimbursed using 12,000 points. I have well over 12,000 on that account. You get a 40,000 just when you receive the card. 40,000 points are good for $440 worth of travel related expenses (planes, hotels, cruises, rental cars, etc.).

Gas: I actually spent $80 using my american express (AMEX) card, but they will reimburse $15 of that because I made 3 purchases of $25+ at BP gas stations. AMEX had a promotion going on that when you spend $25+ at BP gas stations they will give you a $5 account statement. So basically I got my gas for about 20% off the going rate. Nice.

Gatorland, Sea World, and Legoland: Okay, so this is where I get a better deal than most people would be able to get because I'm a member of the Military. Gatorland gave me a free pass into the park and 20% off for my wife and my kids are all under 3 so they were free. Sea World gave my whole family free entrance into the park because I'm military. Legoland gave me free entrance and about 30% off for my wife and my kids are under 3 so they were free to get in. The total another non-military family would have paid would be: $300

Food: We ate out several times at places like Chili's, Cafe Rio, Subway, Sweet Tomatoes, Chipotle, etc. We were able to save for breakfast because most of the places we stayed had free breakfast. We also purchased food at grocery stores.

So this trip would have cost $2,500 - $4,000 without credit card freebies and military discounts.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

FREE Amazon Prime Membership for 1 year! - AMEX



American Express has recently offered several cards that includes a free 1 year membership for amazon prime! Here are the cards that include the offer:

  • Blue Cash Everyday -- NO annual fee, $50 bonus, 3% cashback on groceries, 2% on gas. 
  • Blue Cash Preferred -- $75 annual fee, $100 bonus, 6% cashback on groceries, 3% on gas. 
  • Platinum Card -- $450 annual fee, $250 bonus, $200 airline credit, and free airport lounge access. 
  • Business Gold Rewards -- No annual fee for the first year, then $175 after that, $300 bonus.
This is great  timing for the holidays. You can actually apply for the credit card and once you are approved, you'll get your card number so you can sign-up for amazon prime the same day. 

The Amazon prime membership is a $79 value which includes free 2-day shipping, amazon movies/shows, free lending library, etc. With this membership you can also share the 2-day shipping with up to 4 family members. 

I don't like to pay annual fees so, I would say go with Blue Cash Everyday which will never have an annual fee. If you know how to leverage the other benefits then the other cards could be a good option also. I actually just got the Blue Cash preferred because I was able to get the annual fee waived because I'm a member of the military. 


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Carter's and Oshkosh B'Gosh 50% off EVERYTHING.



UPDATE: Dead. Hope everyone had a good black friday and congrats to those that snagged this deal!

There are so many Black Friday deals and promos that it's hard to keep track of them all. I have 2 children that are 1 and 3, so when I saw that Carter's and Oshkosh B'Gosh were having an awesome Black Friday sale going on, I had to jump on it.

  • The DEAL: 50% off everything site wide -- no coupon code required. 
  • PLUS: get another 20% off orders over $40 using promo code: CARTSAVE
  • Also, orders over $50 will come with free shipping. 

You will be able to enter the promo code during check-out on the page where you put in your billing information.

Carter's seems to have better deals and I think the clothes are just as good so I shopped at Carter's.

Want more Savings?

  1. Create an account at Ebates.com (they are an awesome online cash back portal...basically you'll earn $$$ for doing the shopping that you normally do). 
  2. Select receiving a gift card for a free $10 at Walmart, Macy's, Target, or Kohl's. You'll get your gift card after using Ebates.com. No, this is not a scam and you'll actually the gift card. 
  3. Search "Carter's" or "Oshkosh B'Gosh" and you'll see that Ebates will give you 3% cash back when you go to Carter's website via the link on Ebates.com. 
  4. Your cash back will show up on your Ebates account after a week or so. If you do all of your online shopping starting from Ebates, you'll end up getting a pretty good amount of cash back. My order came to $140 so I'll get a little over $4 cash back on.
Here are a few of things you can find for great prices:











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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Small Businesses Saturday - free $10



Have an American express credit? Registration for "Small Business Saturday" just opened today. Once you register your card you can use that card at participating small businesses on NOV. 30th and you'll receive a $10 credit to your account. So if you spend exactly $10, that purchase will be completely free. If you spend $14, that purchase would in effect cost you $4.

  • Registration is limited so do it right away. 
  • Multiple american express cards can be used. So if you have 4 cards you can get $40 of credit statements... Another benefit of having many credit cards.
  • Here are other FAQ's
  • This has been an annual event so if you misses out or don't have an American express card, plan now and gets some cards. 
  • Here's a MAP of participating small businesses.

Some people have purchased gift cards at participating locations for $10 so they get the whole purchase refunded and so they can use it on a different day other than Nov. 30th. For example, if you have 3 different registered cards and a participating restaurant sells gift cards, you could purchase 3 separate $10 gift cards that can be used on a different day. 

As always, credit cards are ONLY beneficial for those that can wisely use credit cards.
                     

Saturday, November 2, 2013

$75 from Discover



UPDATE: Dead

Right now Discover's 5% cash back for the quarter is for ONLINE purchases. You can get 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spending. If you reach the $1,500 of spending before Jan 1, 2014 you will get the full $75. With the holiday season coming up, that might be pretty easy for many of you by making purchases on:
  • Amazon.com
  • Walmart.com 
  • Groupon.com
  • OldNavy.com
  • Pretty much ANY online purchase
NOTE: purchases NOT included: airlines, cruises, car rentals, hotels, utility bills, government products, and tuition. 

MAKE SURE YOU LOG-IN TO YOUR DISCOVER ACCOUNT AND "SIGN-UP" FOR THIS OFFER BEFORE YOU START USING YOUR CARD!

Don't Spend that Much???

If you don't plan on spending that much or want a simple way to get the $75, don't worry. Here is a simple, fast way to do that:

Amazon Payments - You can charge your card $1,000 per account every month. Just send your spouse, friend, etc. $1,000 and have them do the same.

Don't Have a Discover Card?

Hurry and apply for one, so you can start earning you free $75. You should get it within a couple of weeks if you apply today. Plus when you sign up with the link from this post, you'll get an extra $50 for just getting the card. It's actually a great card to have. I've racked up $300+ in various cash back deals like the one on this post over the last year.

APPLY HERE For Extra $50:
 Apply Here

Disclaimer: I never recommend getting a credit card if you don't pay it off in full every month and/or are not wise with how you use it.

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Pampers Sensitive Wipes 7x Box 448 Count

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Free Birthday Stuff!!!


I just had a birthday about a week ago (I'm 28 now!). I've been meaning to do a post about all the free food you can get at restaurants. The hard thing is that there are literally HUNDREDS of places that will give you something for free...an entree, dessert, appetizer, etc.

So instead of doing my own list, below is the link to the website that I thought was pretty comprehensive and up-to-date with current birthday offers.

http://www.freebie-depot.com/birthday-freebie-list

Thanks freebie-depot for keeping this ever changing list up-to-date!

So basically I selected a few of the offers that sounded good to me. To get the offers you have to sign up to their email "club". I have a separate "spam" email account that I use to sign up with. That way I don't get too much spam on my personal email address.

Some of the offers are pretty lame, but some are pretty awesome!

Here is the list of places I went this year around my birthday

  • Benihana's -- $30 gift certificate with no purchase necessary. I went with my wife so we paid for her meal, but I didn't want to go by myself! I got a meal and a ice cream for free!
  • Chevy's -- Free entree with no purchase necessary. Once again, I went with my family so I paid for my wife's meal. My daughter was sooo excited when they brought out a dessert, put a big sombrero on my head, and sang to me!
  • Firehouse Subs -- Free sandwich with no purchase necessary. This one I didn't pay a thing for and didn't have to print out any coupon or sign up on any email list. Just showed up and said it was my birthday and they made me a sandwich! One of the best sandwich's I've had too. 
  • Del Taco -- Free premium shake with no purchase necessary. 
If I wanted to plan it better, I could have gone to a lot of other places for my whole birthday month! 

My favorite time I got something free was 2 years ago at Chipotle's. I read on an online forum that said"they don't offer free birthday meals, unless you really want one". I thought that was interesting, so we went and I asked if they had any birthday deals. The manager said "no, sorry we don't". When I went to pay, he gave me my burrito for free. He said he could give free meals, but they are not necessarily free birthday meals. So the lesson is: Nothing is free...unless you really want it to be free. 

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Amazon Cash Back - October 2013 (Shoes, Clothing, Halloween Costumes, Pet Supplies)

Get 3% cash back at the worlds largest online retailer
There are only 3 cashback websites that give cashback at amazon.com

These include:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Free Krispy Creme "Talk Like a Pirate Day" Doughnuts



If you like to talk like a pirate and you like free doughnuts, then listen up. This Thursday, Sept. 19th is national "Talk Like a Pirate Day" and Krispy Creme is giving away FREE doughnuts. Here's what you got to do:
  • 1 Free doughnut = just go in and talk like a pirate
  • 12 Free doughnuts = dress up like a pirate (it's supposed to be 3 items or more...meaning you can't just wear an eye patch to get the 12 free doughnuts). 
So if you're in the mood, go get a free doughnut! Thanks Nikki for mentioning this to me!

HERE's the link for more info!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Amazon Cash Back - September (Jewelry, Watches)

Get 3% cash back at the worlds largest online retailer
There are only 3 cashback websites that give cashback at amazon.com

These include:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

$5 off your next $25 purchase at amazon.com


The only thing you need is a Facebook account.

Here's what you do:
  1. Click HERE and answer the fill-in-the-blank question and then click "share and claim"
  2. Shop for items with "ships from and sold by amazon.com."
  3. Add over $25 of eligible items to your cart and proceed to Checkout. 
  4. On the "Review Your Order" page you will see the $5 savings applied. 
  • Once you share this on your facebook page, you can delete it from your facebook page if want and it'll still work. 
  • You have until the end of Aug. 22nd before the $5 off expires. 
  • Does not work for purchases of gift cards, kindles, or digital downloads. 
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