Monday, October 13, 2014

KreditCarma.com - Free Full Credit Report



With all the breaches in credit and personal identity information recently (Target, Home Depot, Chase, Kmart, etc.), it is very important to monitor your credit. I've mentioned several ways to keep track of your credit score and report and where to get those scores and reports for free in some of my past posts. (i.e Free Credit Scores, Mint.com Free Credit Score)

Credit Karma now has a NEW beta feature that will give you your full credit report for FREE on top of giving you a free credit score.

First you will need to create an account if you don't already have one...don't worry, you will NOT need to pay for anything and you will NOT need your credit card. This is completely free.

After you created your account or if you already have an account, login and under the "My Finances" tab you will see "Full Credit Report":


It's that simple and very useful to make sure there is no suspicious activity going on under your identity. The score and report are updated once a week. 

Enjoy!



Here's a quick list of places you can get a free credit SCORE:

Mint.com - updates about once every 3 months
CreditKarma.com - updates every week
CreditSesame.com - updates every month
Discover.com card holders - updates every month
UsBank card holders - updates every month
Barclays card holders - updates every month

Here's a quick list of places you can get a free credit REPORT:

AnnualCreditReport.com - you can get a report every year
CreditKarma.com - Updates every week



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Credit Card Everyone Should Have

I'm asked the question: Which credit card should I get?
A: It usually depends on a lot of factors, such as what type of spender are you?, do you pay off your cards in full every month?, what type of rewards are you looking to get?, etc. HOWEVER, there is a new card that I think EVERYONE would benefit from (unless you don't follow "the Rules").

What is it? 

Citi's new "Double Cash" 




Key points: 


  • NO LIMIT to the rewards you get
  • ALL spending earns you 2% cash back
  • You get 1% for the purchase PLUS 1% when you make the payment on the purchase. 
  • NO ANNUAL FEE
  • O% APR interest for the first 15 months. 


Q: Why should everyone have it?
A: It gets you 2% cash back on EVERY purchase. Other cards will give 1%-1.5% and often it's not for all purchases. So if you spend a little OR a lot, this card will always give you 2% cash back. So if you had one credit card to make all of your purchases with, this card would be an excellent option. In short, this card is great for the "advanced" credit card guru and the first time credit card noob.

Q: Are there other 2% cash back credit cards?
A: Kind of. They just are as straight forward as this card. Barclays has a card that will get you 2% back, but the rewards MUST be towards TRAVEL. Fidelity also has a 2% american express card, but you have to have a Fidelity account and the rewards are only available to put into your Fidelity account. Also, those rewards count toward your contribution limit, which is a negative to some people.

The only negative about this card that I can think of is that a Bonus offer is not available for it.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mint.com Free credit score




Getting a free credit report and score these days is actually really easy. No credit cards. No "free-trials". Just free credit scores and reports. The latest resource to help with this is Mint.com

Mint.com is a great tool to help keep track of your spending, and now there is a Beta free credit score that you can get with them. I just logged onto my account and the free score was available to me after answering a few questions. Login to your account to see if you have the free Beta tool to get your free score.

Want a free credit report? You can get 3 free reports from each bureau each year at annualcreditreport.com.

There are several other ways to get free credit scores. Check out this POST to discover easy ways to get your free credit score.

How Often should you check your credit score?
A: I think once a month is good enough. With so much identity theft and stolen credit card information, it's good to keep yourself updated.

Why do I get different scores from different sources?
A: Most free credit scores are only estimates, but are fairly accurate. There are also 3 companies that these estimates are based off of: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. So you will get slightly different.

What's the difference between a credit score and credit report?
A: A score is just that--a score...it's an actual number with out all the details. A report will not have a number, but give specific details about where your credit it is coming from. Both are good to know.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cereal Deals - $$$ and Movies

Cereal boxes have some fun deals every once in a while. Usually, it's for worthless toys, once in a blue moon, there are actually some pretty awesome deals. Over a year ago, I was able to get free movie tickets for a year!

Right now there are a couple of cereal box deals that are noteworthy.

1. Free digital copy of 1 of 12 movies by General Mills on specially marked boxes. 


What do you have to do?
A: Buy 2 specially marked boxes with the displayed deal...maybe your grocery store has it maybe not...you'll have to check it out at your local store. 

Which Movies?


Which Cereals?



Is it Worth it?
A: Depends. Do you like cereal? Do you like any of the movies that are offered? What is the cost of the cereal box? For me it was worth it, because Winco had a coupon for a free box of Cheerios...so I go free cheerios and a free movie. 

FAQ's?

2. $5 Cash (check) from specially marked Kellogg's Cereal

What do you have to do?

Which Cereals?

These (and a few other). They are specially marked. 

Is it Worth it?
Depends. Do you like cereal? What is the cost? For me it was worth it. I like cereal and the Raisin Bran was on sale for $1.50 a box so I'll actually make some money on this deal. I spent $4.50 and will get $5 back. Cool.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Cheap (but quality) AAA and AA batteries!


Update: NO LONGER AVAILABLE

This deal is good through the end of the month (7/31/14)

You can get 72 AAA or 72 AA Sony Stamina Plus batteries for only $15.99 right now on Groupon.com. I usually don't post too many groupon.com deals, but this is actually a really good deal that EVERYONE could use. The total price after shipping and tax is $20.98 (you can avoid paying shipping by adding sets of batteries to your cart), still very worth it...So basically these batteries are 1/2 the cost you will find else where.

These are selling for $42.99 on Amazon.com

So if you need to stock up on some batteries, now is a great time. Plan for the future!...these batteries will last through 2024! Will come in handy for your games, toys, and especially flash lights when the world comes to an end!

What good deals have you found on groupon.com lately? Would you like if I posted more groupon.com deals?....most deals are not for everyone, but every one in a while deals like this pop up that would be useful for everyone.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cow Appreciation Day is Back!



Get some FREE Chik-fil-A this Friday, July 11th for Cow appreciation day. My first time to Chik-Fil-A was on Cow Appreciation Day and now I love it!

HERE are the details


  • You get a Full meal (sandwich, fries, drink) if you wear a full outfit. 


  • You get a free entree if you wear anything to do with a cow.


It's very easy to dress like a cow to get a free meal. I have black scrubs and I just taped white paper spots on and they gave me a free full meal. Look at the FAQ's on the bottom of their page for more easy ideas. They even give you a page you can print to make your own costume out of paper.


  1. Start with items that you already have at home - cow-printed accessories stashed in your closet will work perfectly. Hats, vests, scarves, neckties, pants, shoes, pajamas - just about any cow-spotted item will work. Just make sure you're covered head to toe.
  2. Wear white, and then just add spots. Throw on a white T-shirt with white pants (even sweatpants) and stick on your spots using black paper. You can cut spots out of construction paper and tape them to your shirt and pants. If nothing else, you can grab an old white T-shirt and color black spots all over it with a marker - and you'll still get a FREE entrée.
  3. Not feeling too creative and want an easy costume? Search the Internet for "cow costumes" and you will be flooded with full-body costumes available for purchase. (And hey, you'll be set for Halloween, too!)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

BOGO movie theater offer





UPDATE: Check back in the summer of 2015 for this offer to come back.

Buy one movie ticket, get one free!

Now through August 8th you can get a FREE movie ticket when you purchase one or more movie tickets. Here are the Key points:


  • ONLY available on FRIDAYS. It won't work if you try on a day that is NOT Friday. 
  • Must be purchased through fandango.com/visasignature. Don't go directly to fandango.com
  • You MUST have a Visa SIGNATURE credit card to make the purchase with. HERE is a list of credit cards that might qualify. Usually it will say "Signature" under the Visa logo. 
  • You can get this offer once per month per credit card...so if you have multiple Visa Signatures credit cards this is not an issue. 
  • Ends Aug 8th and the deal is while supplies/tickets last. 
  • This offer has been happening every summer so if you miss out this summer, there is always next summer. 
Here are the steps from their website:


 Go to fandango.com/visasignature on your desktop or mobile device:


1.    Enter all 16 digits of your Visa Signature card number to ensure you are eligible for the offer. Your card will not be charged until you confirm your purchase on the check-out page. The card number is used for verification of eligibility for the offer. Your information is transmitted over a high level encryption (SSL) and is not used for any other purposes.
2.    Once you are verified, search for available movies.
3.    Enter your ZIP code or city name in the box provided to find theatres in your area that offer online ticketing through Fandango.
4.    Choose your Friday show date, theater and movie. Click on a show time listed in red to purchase tickets for that Friday show.
5.    Enter the number of tickets you would like. You must select at least two (2) tickets to participate in this offer.
6.    Enter your Visa Signature card number to pay for your order. On the Review page you’ll see the price of one ticket and the convenience fee for one ticket deducted from your order, up to $19.50 total, compliments of Visa Signature.
7.    Complete the purchase process and follow the instructions on your confirmation page to claim your tickets at the theater.



Enjoy the movies!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Will having a lot of credit cards hurt my loan application?




Disclaimer: This post is from my own personal research and I am sharing with you MY experience. 

When I tell people I have 20+ credit cards people are amazed. I'm a dental student and so one question that comes up is: "won't having a lot of credit cards hurt my future business loan application?"

Answer: NO!!! The fact that I have a lot of credit cards in and of itself is not a bad thing, if fact it can be a good thing. If I mismanaged my credit, then YES of course having that many credit cards is a bad thing...in fact mismanaging your credit cards on 1-2 cards is also bad! But if you never miss a payment, have low credit utilization, and have good history with your credit cards, your loan application will be good.

I may need to get a business loan for my future dental practice in 2-5 years. I decided to ask the business loan experts at Wells Fargo bank. I explained that that I have a LOT of credit cards and ALL of them are in good standing. In fact, I pay my bills in FULL every month (and you should too...otherwise, stay away from credit cards). I told them my FICO score was 750+. Then I asked if they felt that having a lot of credit cards would hurt my loan application. Here are some of their responses:

"While  20 “revolving” accounts is quite a few – the most important factor is the amount of credit you have used vs. the amount of credit you have available. If you continue to pay off the balance’s each month, you shouldn’t have any issues maintaining your high credit score. "

Morgan Stump
Vice-President
Business Development Manager
Mountain-West Region (OR, UT, NV, WY)

"Great question!   Having multiple credit cards is not a bad thing.  Make sure you pay them on time and if you can, pay more than the minimum amount required each month.  This will help your credit and credit score overall."

Kris Nishihira
VP, Business Development Manager
Wells Fargo Practice Finance | 111 W. Ocean Blvd Suite 950 | Long Beach, CA 90802


"Thanks for reaching out.  I saw both Kris and Morgan’s responses and I agree with both.  The only things I might add are that if you were to decide to close some of the credit cards, I would recommend closing the newer cards as opposed to the well-established cards.  The longer you have an account open the better it is for your credit score.  The other side of that is closing an account can temporarily hurt your credit score.  Not by much, but a small amount.   Your score will recover quickly but just want you to be aware.  Your goal in managing your FICO score should be to keep it above 750-775.  Anytime your score is over that threshold you are typically going to get the best rates and offers." 
 

Vice President
Business Development Manager
Wells Fargo Practice Finance | 2410 S Power Rd. | Mesa, AZ 85209
MAC S3937-015

Thank you Christian for your email, it sounds like you are doing great. 
·        750 is a great FICO. 
·        I know you said you are paying them off – continue to pay as much of card balances down or pay them off - keep them all open.  Don’t close credit cards.
·        Sign up for one of the credit protection services to make sure you are notified of any changes
·        Make sure all your student loans are in good standing
·        Take as many business classes offered during the tradeshow events or in your school
·        On your free time, write a business plan and update it as you learn more about how to be successful in business (form attached)
·        When you have time take on the challenge of being a speaker for whatever public or school event you have.

Sina J. Mansouri
Vice President, Business Development Manager
Wells Fargo Practice Finance
855.544.0245 Office

And then this one was from a home mortgage loan officer:

"Hello Christian,

It all comes down to your debt to income.  The nice thing about credit cards is we just look at the minimum payment.  You would probably be just fine!  Call me any time to run some numbers."

Best,

Tyson M. Barry
cid:image002.png@01CE57D4.46B91120
Presidents and Top Producers Club
1750 E Northrop Blvd. Suite 230
Chandler, AZ 85286
Mobile480.788.9766


I understand all but one response came from Wells Fargo, so the sample size is not that large. However, if you were to ask other personal and business loan officers you would get a similar response. I don't agree with everything these experts said and they don't all agree with themselves. Here are the key points to take away:

  • DON'T use credit cards unless you pay your balances off in FULL.
  • The main focus on loan application is your FICO score and how well you manage your credit. My score has actually increased since I started getting a lot of credit cards. Other factors come into play, but if you manage your credit cards well, it won't hurt your application.
  • Try to keep your oldest credit cards open (this will help your FICO score)....preferable this would be a card without an annual fee. It's okay to close credit cards, but it's better to close your newer ones. Your score will drop a little temporarily when you close a line of credit, so don't do this before applying for a loan. 
  • Don't open a lot of credit cards 1 year prior to applying for a big loan. Getting 1-2 would be okay, but don't do that right before applying for your loan. 
  • Different lenders will look and focus on different things. Remember, there are a lot of banks out there so you can shop around if one lender is not helpful to you. 
What do you think? Any of you have experiences with applying for a large loan while having a lot of credit cards/credit lines?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Barclay's World Arrival - 2nd year annual fee waived



I have 20+ credit cards and many of them have annual fees after a year (most will have the annual fee waived the first year). People ask me if I pay all those annual fees or just cancel the card. I don't like to pay annual fees, but I don't always like to cancel a card if I like it. I like my Barclay's World Arrival card because it gives me 2.2% travel cash back on ALL my purchases.

I've had the card for a year and my annual fee just posted. I didn't want to cancel it, but I also didn't want to pay the $89 annual fee. So I called customer service and spoke with the lady.

CSR: How can I help you? (after verifying who I was)

Me: Hi, I noticed that an annual fee posted on my account recently. Is there anyway I can get it waived or something?

CSR: No, I can't do that. (pretty straight forward right?)

Me: Oh, okay. That's too bad...Is there anyone else I can talk to that can help me?

CSR: umm (pause), let me transfer you. (that's a good sign!)

Me: okay, thanks.

CSR: I have my manager here on the line who can help you.

Me: Thanks for your help.

Manager/Supervisor: How can I help you?

Me: Hi, I noticed that an annual fee posted on my account recently. Is there anyway I can get it waived or something? I really enjoy the card and use it a lot.

Manager: (pause)...sure I can do that for you. I see that you use the card and make your payments.

That's it. Got the fee waived! If the person you are speaking with can't help you then you can always ask to speak to someone else or hang-up-and-try-again (HUCA). Always to remember to be nice and polite. Getting upset or frustrated never helps and it's not fair to the person you are talking to. .

Now if I didn't really use the card that much and the annual fee was due, I would probably be just fine canceling it. I've canceled many cards after or less than a year.


Monday, May 5, 2014

FlexPerks - retention bonus


I have 20+ credit cards and many of them have annual fees after a year (most will have the annual fee waived the first year). People ask me if I pay all those annual fees or just cancel the card. I don't like to pay annual fees, but I don't always like to cancel a card if I like it. I don't really use my US Bank FlexPerks rewards credit card any more so when the $49 annual fee hit my account I didn't want to pay for it....So I called customer service

877-978-7446

CSR: Hello, how can I help you (after verifying who I was)

Me: Um, I think I want to cancel my Flexperks credit card. There is an annual fee that is on my account and I don't want to have to pay it. (I don't just say I want to cancel the card because I want to give the them a chance to give me an offer to keep the card).

CSR: Okay, I can help you with that.

Me: Okay, thanks. Is it possible to waive the annual fee for another year?

CSR: Sorry, we can't do that....but I can offer you 5000 bonus points after your next purchase on the card.

Me: Ummm...okay, I think I would do that. Thank you


So I ended up keeping the card because I go the 5,000 retention bonus. I can use 3500 points to pay for the $49 annual fee and then I'll have netted 1,500 points in the end. For me I was fine with that, so I didn't cancel the card.




Thursday, May 1, 2014

Selling Your Credit Card Points or Miles

What to do with all your points? Sell them for cash!


If you're like me, you have a LOT of miles and points from all those credit card bonuses and points...and even if you don't have that many, this post can help you maximize the value of those points.

I don't really do that much traveling and since I have a ton of points and miles which I won't use completely for travel, I want to get as much cash out of them as I can. Yes, I do travel a little bit, but not enough to use all my miles and points.

Many points or miles can get you 1 penny for every 1 point/mile as a credit statement or as a check. For example, if I had 50,000 Chase Ultimate points, I could get a credit statement of $500 on my account. Well, there is a way to get more than that...up to 40%+ more than that.

There are several websites where you can sell your points or miles and I've looked at many, but the one I like the most so far is Rewards2cash.com. Why?

  • Great offers
  • Good customer service
  • Timely
  • Easy
Here is a pictures of the rewards points you can sell and what you can currently get them for. 

So that same 50,000 Chase Ultimate rewards points would give me $665 instead of $500. I've done this several times and it works great. 

Here are a couple of transactions I did recently: 

Large amount: 150,000 Chase Ultimate points for $2,100


Small amount: 5,000 American Express points for $65


Let me know if you've had any success selling your points else where!





Wednesday, April 30, 2014

American Express Gift Cards - Another way to reach your spend



UPDATE: This forum will keep you up-to-date on all latest cash back for american express gift cards: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufactured-spending/1412472-topcashback-2-25-amex-gift-cards-but-changes-fees-bigcrumbs-2-a-100.html

Problem: "I got a new credit card that will give me a $500 bonus when I spend $3,000 on the card within the first 3 months. However, I don't spend that much! What do I do?"

Solution: There are several ways to reach this spending threshold on your credit cards without losing money. I've mentioned a couple of ways to reach your spend on your new credit cards.  One method (Vanilla Reloads) no longer works. Here is another alternative to reaching your spending to get those big bonuses.

note: this is a little/lot more complicated and requires more time and patients, but if you follow the steps, it will work great!

Things you will need (all are free to get):
STEPS
  1. Login to your BigCrumbs.com account. 
  2. Search "American Express Gift Card" -- you'll see that the cash back bonus is currently 1.2%. 
  3. Click "SHOP NOW" and it will take you to American Express Gift Cards.
  4. Buy an American Express gift card with the credit card you are trying to reach the minimum spend on. To minimize the cost of fees and shipping, buy a $2,000 or $3,000 gift card. Shipping and fees will cost about $14. If you have a promo code or try the free premium shipping trial, you can minimize the fees and shipping costs.
  5. Receive the American Express gift card in the mail and activate it. 
  6. Call the number on the card to register the card with your address and phone number. If you don't do this, you can't make online purchases with the card. 
  7. Go to TopCashBack.com and search "GiftCardMall" 
  8. Click "Get Cash Back" -- Currently you will get 0.5% cash back from making your purchase on this site. 
  9. Purchase Visa Gift cards with the American Express Gift card you got in the mail (Step 5). If you got a $2,000 gift card then purchase 3 $500 gift cards and 1 $471 gift card (there are fees and shipping for this purchase also so you can't purchase $2,000 worth of gift cards because the total would then be over the $2,000 you have on your gift card). If you have a $3,000 gift card, purchase 5 $500 gift cards and 1 $457 gift card. Choose the cheapest shipping option. 
  10. Receive the gift cards in the mail. Activate the cards by calling the number on the card. 
  11. Go to Walmart and load your BlueBird card with these Visa Gift cards that you purchased. The pin is the LAST four digits on your Visa Gift Card's. 
  12. Now that the money is on your BlueBird card you can pay your bills (credit card bills, mortgage, rent, get the money sent to your bank account, whatever you want). 
Confused? Just follow the steps and you'll be fine. If you don't get it, then don't do it. This game may very likely be way too advanced for you. After you do it once, it will be tons easier the next time. The total time it takes me to do this is about 30 min. 

So Let's do the Math now for spending $3,000:

1.2% cash back you get from BigCrumbs.com = $36
0.5% cash back from TopCashBack.com = $15
1% cash back from my credit card (I'm assuming this is cash back, not points or miles) = $30
Total = $81 cash back

Total Fees and Shipping: $14 + $43 = $57

Total money made: $24!!! And I did all that spending so I qualify for the credit card bonus I was going for!!! Is it worth it to make $24? Probably not, but if it helps me make a minimum spend on my credit card to get a bonus, it is defiantly worth it. 

This method can actually be much more lucrative. Sometimes BigCrumbs will do promotions and give more cash back then the 1.2% (step 2) or maybe you have a promo code to waive the shipping costs or fees (step 4), or maybe your credit card will give you 2% cash back (step 4). Here's an example of when I did this method last time:
  • Purchased $3,000 American Express gift card with a 2% cash back credit card = $60
  • BigCrumbs was giving 3.5% cash back on American express cards as a promotion = $105
  • American Express had a promo for no fees and I used the free trial of premium shipping so I didn't have to pay the $14 fees and shipping (step 4)
  • 0.5% cash back from TopCashBack.com (step 8) = $15
Total Fees = $57
Total Cash Back = $60 + $105 + $15 = $180
Net = $180 - $57 = $123

Another thing to be aware of is that it takes 2-3 months for you to get the money (via Paypal) from BigCrumbs.com and from TopCashBack.com so you do have to be patient.






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.