Finance

Category Archives for Finance.

Money transfer works between REDbird and Serve

Screenshot 2015-02-02 11.40.35

The funds were sent from REDbird

There’s nothing too remarkable about the image above, except that I received funds in my Serve account – and they were sent from a REDbird account.

It’s not surprising given that it’s literally the exact same interface copy and pasted (and turned red instead of blue).

To send money between Serve and REDbird, you just click “Pay & Transfer” then “Send Money.” Just be sure to use the email address associated with the account, and you should have no issue. The funds transferred right away, and I logged into my Serve account and paid a bill with the online bill pay.

Just make sure the emails or phone numbers match

Just make sure the emails or phone numbers match

This might be useful for some.

I am in the middle of loading up my Serve for the last time (day 2 of 5 right now), after which, I will cancel my account online and activate my own REDcard. The timing is great because I can max out the limits on both cards in February – even if it is a short month!

I know some of you are currently waiting on REDbird to arrive or don’t have a Target nearby – but in case you need to send from from Serve to REDbird, or vice versa, you’ll be totally fine.

Bottom line

Just wanted to throw this up, PSA-style, in case anyone else was in an in-between phase with these two cards and needed to send money to a friend or family member. I suspect it would also work with Bluebird, but I’d do a small transfer (like $5) just to test it out before I went full hog.

Having this transfer capability allowed me to pay my rent on time this month, and I was glad the two cards “talked to each other.”

In any regard, between Serve, REDbird, and PayPal My Cash cards, I am pretty well set for this month.

I *do* want to make sure US Bank cards are good with REDbird at Target because I really love Club Carlson points. I’ve heard US Bank is super weird about the REDbird reloads, so aside from that – now that I’m 100% I can load REDbird in NYC – I’m ready to get my permanent card and start this ball a-rollin’.

Using credit cards + REDbird to pay off large debts – and earn major points

This topic came up a lot last night at the NYC Miles and Points Meetup, so I thought I’d do a post about it.

Lots of people were planning to use REDbird + points/miles credit cards to pay off large sums of debt, meet minimum spend requirements, and reach threshold bonuses offered by certain credit cards.

It’s an incredibly easy but effective idea.

Run all your bill payments through REDbird

REDbird

REDbird

REDbird lets you load up $5,000 per month – for free – using a points or miles credit card.

If you max that out for a year, that’s $60,000 run through a credit card.

My own personal example is my student loan. I’m so tired of it hanging over my head and I’m about ready to turn around and kick that sucker in the face – but I’m gonna get a free vacation out of it!

For roundness or whatever, let’s say you owe $50,000 to:

  • Student loans
  • Your car payment
  • A mortgage
  • Medical bills
  • Credit cards
  • Or any or company or even person

You can add any company as a payee on the REDbird website.

At the top of the site, hover over “Pay & Transfer” and a dropdown menu will appear.

Where to add payees

Where to add payees

From there, click “Add Payee” and get rockin’ and rollin’.

What you get out of it

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Confirmed: You can load REDbird at Target stores in New York

Here at Out and Out, I had this idea to make February “Manufactured Spend Month.”

With the impending blizzard, and then frigid single digit temps on the horizon, I used this nearly 50-degree day to manufacture some spend ahead of schedule.

First, I went to CVS with my Chase British Airways Visa Signature and got $1,000 worth of PayPal My Cash cards. The transaction went through flawlessly. And later this evening, I will pay my first round of rent utilizing RadPad.

After CVS, I dared to face the Target at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, New York.

My heart was pounding as I went in. It’s perhaps the busiest Target store in the entire United States and some say one of the busiest in the Northern Hemisphere (Target does not officially publish their busiest locations), so I wasn’t sure what their stance would be on ol’ REDbird. Would it be par for the course or the one store where credit cards were NOT accepted for reloads?

My experience

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Smart Debt: Is carrying a balance ever a good idea?

Ahem: text-heavy post ahead!

The toolbox

The toolbox

Recently, I was talking to a friend about getting the Airbnbs up and going. We were weighing the pros and cons of charging the upfront costs (~$7,000) to a credit card and carrying the balance until the business became profitable – usually 1-2 months in this case.

He said, yes, of course it’s worth it. It’s “smart debt.” 

smart debt

Let me think about that…

It got me thinking about this hobby and all the points and miles we love to earn.

The points and miles cards we all hold earn us, obviously, point and miles. But, beyond that, they are important financial tools. Your credit is one of your most important assets, and I feel no one talks about the credit cards as an avenue for anything beyond earning points and miles – and that avenue is great – but by extending us credit, the banks open up other opportunities for us.

Now, in starting up my side hustle, there was no way I wasn’t going to run all the expenses through a points or miles card, but I’d never considered the idea of not paying it back at the end of the billing cycle. I’m of the mindset of never paying a dime of interest – but is it OK, in certain situations, to carry a balance?

Smart debt

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Confirmed: CVS accepts credit cards for PayPal My Cash reloads in NYC

I couldn’t wait until February to kick off Manufactured Spend Month: I just got back from CVS, where I successfully purchased two $500 PayPal My Cash reloads with my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.

New York can be kind of a barren wasteland for manufactured spending, but today it was a gold mine. It was like the Vanilla Reload days all over again.

I walked into a CVS in East Midtown in Manhattan. The gift cards were on an endcap, prominently displayed, near the registers. I immediately saw the bounty.

cvs paypal my cash credit cards

PayPal My Cash cards at CVS

I grabbed two of them and walked to the register – there was no line (the joy of shopping mid-day on a week day). I pulled out my license and credit card. The cashier looked at them and asked to see both. She didn’t say anything like, “Cash only,” or “We don’t accept credit cards,” which I was kinda bracing for. Whew.

She scanned the reload cards, then my license (because with activation fees, the transaction was over $1,000). I was a little worried that Barclays would flag the transaction like they did when I got my temporary REDbird card last month, but the little signature screen popped up, I signed, and all was good to go.

It was SO EASY and took all of a minute. I walked in, checked out, and was done. It was JUST LIKE Vanilla Reloads in every regard, including the loading up (which I will get to in a sec).

Then, in Brooklyn…

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How to pay bills with PayPal My Cash + Business Debit Card + RadPad + Evolve Money

UPDATE 1/26/15: A few readers have reported that their PayPal Business Debit Cards no longer work with Evolve Money. Indeed, when I deleted the card and went to re-add it, I got this error message:

Evolve Money error message

Evolve Money error message

Apparently other users that added the card previous have been grandfathered in, but new users are not able to add the PayPal card as a new payment method. Major bummer. I have updated posted to reflect this. RadPad is still working great though!

UPDATE 2: Just got this email from Evolve Money:

Screenshot 2015-01-26 10.30.17

#deadinthewater

I’m going to dub February “Manufactured Spend Month” for Out and Out.

I still have the intention to make that data point about the REDbird (see link above), and I’ve been eyeballs deep in FT/Milepoint convos about it the past few days. All signs point to: it should work. I’ve been nervous about killing my Serve card only to find that it can’t be loaded in NYC – which is already kind of a barren wasteland for MS to begin with. If the Target in Brooklyn doesn’t let me load REDbird, the next closest Target is in Harlem, which is a bit far for me. But, positive vibes.

With the Serve card, I can reload $1,000 per month from my computer or phone without leaving home. With REDbird, I’d have to make at least two in-store visits per month. But I can reload 5 times more per month. And I won’t have to worry about cash advance fees, which means I am free to use any card I want (although I’ve heard US Bank is beasting about the reloads and flagging them all as fraud.)

With all of this in mind, and with all the other work I have going on, I have decided to make my data point in February and get one more round of loading out of the Serve card before I kill it. Hence February being declared MS Month.

Anyway, aside from REDbird, I started adding up the ingredients for an addendum to the madness. It could be another way to run an additional $4,000 of MS through credit cards and a great way to pay rent, student loans, and everyday bills, or to load Serve or REDbird.

Stop! HT time.

Before I get any further, I have to stop and do some HTs:

Finally, I thought I had coined the term “Perpetual Points Machine” (PPM). No. That would be Frequent Miler, who began using the term as early as 2011. It’s one of those terms that you read once or twice and it just gets stuck in your head. FM has lots and lot of great stuff about manufacturing spend, and I’m not surprised he is original user of this phrase.

PayPal My Cash Cards

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What’s in my wallet? (Evaluating credit cards and travel goals)

As I begin to figure out my points and miles strategy for 2015, I thought it would be helpful assess what I currently have in my wallet.

Pre-warning: this is a very text heavy post. No pretty pictures to look at, just a whole lotta straight talk (1,200 words worth).

By bank:

American Express

  • Platinum Card
  • EveryDay Preferred

I just got a new Platinum Card in hopes that I’ll actually get a bonus for opening it – but I’m not holding my breath. In any regard, I already cashed in the $200 in airline incidentals on AA gift cards in 2014 and will do so again this year, so I will make back most of the annual fee right away.

I occasionally use Priority Pass Select on lounge visits that would otherwise be $50 a pop, and love dipping into the Centurion Lounges where I easily drink over $50 in cocktails alone (not to mention the spa treatments).

I also have utilized the Fine Hotels & Resorts program a time or two, and really love the near-constant Amex sync offers. So, I’m keeping it.

As for the EveryDay Preferred… it really has become by “EveryDay” card – I use it constantly and get 1.5-4.5x Membership Rewards points on everything I buy, which is pretty sweet. The earning is decent for non-bonus spend and is great for groceries, gas, and even more sync offers. (Email me if you’d like a referral to this card!)

If only Amex would up the points-earning power of the Platinum Card, I might actually put a buck or two of spend on it.

Barclaycard

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I found the REDbird to make a (data) point in New York City

First of all, Happy New Year’s Eve! And now…

I HAB THA REDBIRD

I just got back from REDbird Land (AKA the Memphis metro area). I was there visiting family for the holiday and made a point to stop in to a Target to pick up a REDbird card (AKA Target American Express Prepaid REDcard) and load it up with $500 – the max load for a temporary card.

The REDbird experience

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Airbnb First Month By the Numbers

I have set up an Airbnb here in NYC as a new income stream.

There has been a lot of spilled ink about Airbnb lately, especially in New York where it is a VERY hot topic, to say the least. I work in real estate, so am particularly close to the issue.

I found an ideal one bedroom apartment in New York’s East Village neighborhood for $2,300 a month. And then I spent a lot of money on it. This post is about exploring the investment and starting up this side income stream with a focus on numbers. REAL numbers (except my electricity bill which I have to estimate.)

Cash outlay

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I rented an Apartment to Airbnb in NYC

Ladies and gentlemen, one of the craziest things I have ever done (other than using Airbnb as a verb in the title).

I just rented an apartment in Manhattan for the express purpose of listing it on Airbnb. 

airbnb-log-100009316-orig

As some of you know, I work in real estate in New York, so I’m privy to rentals and have seen a lot of spilled ink on the whole Airbnb debate. It’s a very hot topic in the city right now.

I heard of an apartment in the East Village that was sitting there, easy approval, beautiful block, door was open if I wanted to go check it out.

A few people in my office have Airbnb apartments and seeing their calendars full of green (which means days booked) got me thinking.

So when I walked into that apartment, I quickly ran some numbers and just like that, decided to go for it.

Starting up

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Confirmed: Amex Serve $50 Bonus Works with Amazon Payments + Posts Instantly

Always a good feeling to wake up to an extra $50 when you don’t expect it. Last week, I talked about my experience getting the Amex Serve card after ditching Bluebird. I’m currently testing out different banks to see if they charge cash advance fees + give me points for using credit cards. So far, I’ve confirmed US Bank does not charge any fees and they already posted my Club Carlson points.

Serve’s $50 Bonus Promo

Right now and until the end of June, Serve is running a promo that gives $50 for two direct deposits of $250 or more. The questions in mind when I saw this were:

  • Does Amazon Payments count as direct deposit?
  • When will the bonus post?

Bluebird generates a monthly statement like any other bank account. I thought maybe Serve would do the same thing and post the bonus at the end of a statement cycle, that is, if Amazon Payments counted at all.

I can confirm that Amazon Payments does indeed work as direct deposit AND that the bonus posts as soon as the second direct deposit clears.

All in a day's work

All in a day’s work

I loaded $1,000 to Amazon Payments after getting in on the recent (and current!) 6.6% cashback at the Arrival portal. It’s a great way to generate some points and liquidate Amex gift cards. In fact, I just ordered a second round.

From there, I sent over two direct deposits of $250 to my Serve account simultaneously.

This morning, all the cash was in the account with the bonus $50. Can’t beat that!

Bottom line

If you’re at all interested in getting a Serve account, I highly recommend signing up using this promo link and scoring an extra $50 for doing so.

Serve is a great complement to the points and miles world if you’re far from a Walmart and can’t load up Bluebird at CVS any more. Or if Walmart stops accepting gift cards for Bluebird reloads. (There have been reports that this might be starting to happen.) $1,000 a month is the credit card load limit (on the non-Isis version) for Serve accounts. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to pay a few bills and still get some points rolling in. Every little bit helps. It really does! – I did some quick math on this post.

Amex Serve: Which banks charge cash advance fees?

Update 3/3/15: US Bank credit cards are no good with Serve. It is coding as a cash advance. 

Update 11/2/14: I tried to load up Serve with my Chase British Airways and it is coding as a cash advance! I have also read reports that the Sapphire and Freedom are starting to code as CA, too – so with Chase, beware

I also loaded up $5 with my US Bank Club Carlson Visa. It is still on my account as a pending transaction – will post with an update soon. 

For now, I am using my FIA Fidelity Amex. I couldn’t get the Serve website to accept my Barclaycard Arrival no matter how many times I tried. No idea why. But it took my Fidelity Amex on the first try, so not sure if the website is glitching out or what. Just keep an eye on Serve. I think it’s starting to go the way of Vanilla Reloads, unfortunately.

Update 10/12/14: There is some speculation that US Bank (and possibly other banks) are starting to code Serve reloads as cash advances. These fees destroy any value you get from a points-earning credit card. I have already loaded my $1,000 this month so can’t personally test until November. I’d recommend loading up $5 and giving it a few days – let the transaction post. If you are charged a fee, avoid any other cards issued by that bank. The next step in manufactured spend is hopefully just around the corner!

As you guys know, I just ditched Bluebird and got a Serve card to help manufacture some spend post-Vanilla Reloads at CVS.

From what I understand, you can still purchase Vanilla Visa cards with a credit card at CVS, assign it a PIN with the first purchase, and use a service like Evolve Money to make bill payments. I may employ this method soon to pay student loans and electricity bills (HT: Neil). Just make sure your payee is in their system before you get started.

Why I got Serve

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