About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

More articles by Harlan »

Good Deal: Get a Year of VPN Service for $24 – Secure Your Desktop & Mobile Traffic

I’ve been looking to get a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for a while now. While there are pros and cons to using a VPN, the good stuff far outweighs the bad.

Having a VPN:

  • Lets you steam content from anywhere (no geoblocks!)
  • Gives you a new IP address
  • Protects you when using unsecured public wifi (like in airports)
  • Secures VOIP phone calls
  • Prevents your ISP from tracking BitTorrent and other torrent sites
  • Helps you get around bandwidth throttling tied to your IP address

I primarily use a VPN to stream content from other countries (like when Spotify or YouTube says “this isn’t available in your country” – problem solved), and torrenting. Though when I’m connected to a VPN, I have to go through the whole security routine with bank logins (they want to send a text or email to confirm it’s me – which is a PITA).

That said, I found a deal to get 12 months of NordVPN service for $24 – and so far, I really like it! Particularly because they have apps for every device. So I can secure the traffic on my iPhone. Because I already use Face ID for most apps, the security is actually much easier for mobile.

I’ll show you how to stack the deal to pay $24 for a year of service.

nordvpn coupon

Get a year of NordVPN for $24 – better than a sharp stick in the eye

They also have a 30-day money back guarantee, and make it super easy to cancel auto-payments.

NordVPN coupon + TopCashback = $2 a month for a year of VPN service

Read More

Using Points for Emergency Travel: Why Having a Stash Is a Huge Relief for Same-Day Flights

What a week. Just got back from Memphis. Last Friday, I got one of those phone calls. One of those drop everything and fly home right this minute phone calls.

My dad was in the ICU with a brain lesion near his optical nerve – and no one knew why. Doctors thought it could be anything from a simple infection all the up to brain cancer. He had to have biopsy surgery to find out.

Tickets home were $659 round-trip, or $329 each way. I didn’t want to spend the cash, so I went to my usual tricks: using miles and points to fly cheap or free.

I threw clothes in a bag and headed to the airport. This was the first time I’d ever had to fly back so quickly. It was a bizarre experience I don’t want to repeat any time soon.

And it showed me why having a stash of points ready to use at all times is so important for these situations.

points for emergency travel

I hate hospitals. Using points got me home the same day my dad went to the ICU

Here’s the series of quick steps I used to fly home right away.

When you have to fly immediately, having points for emergency travel can help so much

Read More

The Top Card for Beginners? Yeah, the Chase Sapphire Preferred

I’m sure it’s happened to you at some point. A friend asks, “How do you do it?” Take all these trips to places like Hawaii, Tokyo and Osaka, Dublin, Barcelona, and more. How do you get free hotel rooms that cost hundreds of dollars a night?

“I want to travel like you do,” they say. “Where do I start?”

And you have that moment where you’re thinking, “Well for starters, using that debit card for everything you buy isn’t helping anything.” *cough*

You ask about their spending habits. “Do you shop online?” Definitely use a shopping portalget free miles for clicking a link.

You can stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta for FREE with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

And sign up for dining rewards while you’re at it because you never know when you’ll get some extra miles in your account – especially if you live in a mid-sized to large city.

But as far as cards go… where to begin?

Read More

Get the Capital One Savor $500 Sign-Up Offer While You Can (Dropping to $300?)

Update: This offer is no longer available. Check here to see the latest card offers!

Right now, the sign-up bonus for the Capital One Savor card is showing as a $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening on the Capital One website.

But through affiliates like CardRatings, it’s shown with a $500 cash bonus upon meeting the same minimum spending. There’s some speculation it’ll drop to $300 across all channels, although nothing’s confirmed. So if you’ve been thinking about this card, I’d recommend getting the higher bonus while it’s still up, as these links can be pulled at any time.

You’ll also earn:

  • 4% cashback on dining and entertainment
  • 2% cashback at grocery stores
  • 1% cashback everywhere else
  • Free Postmates Unlimited membership through December 2019 (as a statement credit)
  • Learn more here

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year. If you spend even moderately on dining or entertainment, this is a great card to consider with a really generous $500 cash bonus.

If I weren’t trying to stay under 5/24, I’d get this in a heartbeat. Keep in mind Capital One pulls from all 3 credit bureaus when you apply for a new card.

Capital One Savor $500

How about $500 smackaroos right back in your pocket? Hit up this offer sooner rather than later if you’re interested

And I’ll remind you about those bonus categories!

Capital One Savor $300 Bonus

Read More

The 8 Best Chase Credit Cards & 3 Paths to Choose From (Or Mix and Match)

In a couple more months, I’ll be mercifully under 5/24, which means I’m looking at the best Chase credit cards and wondering what I’ll open, as if ordering off a menu. Chase hasn’t been a possibility for so long, it feels a bit like starting over.

It kinda is. I’ll get to retool my card arsenal – and that got me thinking about what’s worth getting – and what to skip (or cancel if it comes to that).

Upon reflection, I realized there are 3 ways to approach Chase cards:

  • Focus on personal cards (especially Ultimate Rewards cards)
  • Focus on small business cards
  • Go for the Southwest Companion Pass

Not to say any of these paths is absolute. I find that generally, peeps have certain travel goals in mind before they start applying, myself included.

And of course, you can mix and match. Here are the ones to start with.

Best Chase Credit Cards

I’ve got the Chase Freedom – and soon I can expand my entire Chase card strategy

Then you can fill-in around the edges with cards from other banks.

8 best Chase credit cards

Read More

Hacking Uber: Earn Points, Cashback, and Credits Every Time You Ride 🚙

Updated 5/23/19.

I’ve been riding Uber more lately because they make it so easy to stack multiple offers when you ride.

earn points with uber

Oh, Uber. I am “getting there”

And, I’m hopeful they’re slowly but surely turning things around.

With Lyft, you can only earn 1X Delta miles – and 30 JetBlue points on airport trips. Which, meh.

I’d rather earn cashback and Drop points, use travel credits, and get Uber credits for shopping around town. And many times you can stack these deals. You know I love a good stack!

1. Earn points and get cashback with Freebird

Read More

Excellent 3X Categories, $300 Bonus, & No Annual Fee: Wells Fargo Propel Amex Review

All sorts of cards are getting my attention with my impending sub-5/24 status looming near.

After I get the Chase cards I want (Ink Business Preferred and Freedom Unlimited are current frontrunners), I’ll turn to other banks, like Wells Fargo and Capital One.

High on the list: the Wells Fargo Propel Amex (learn more here). This card has:

  • A sign-up bonus of 30,000 bonus points (worth $300 in cash back, travel, gift cards, or other rewards) after completing minimum spending requirements
  • Really good 3X bonus categories
  • NO annual fee
  • Up to $600 in cell phone insurance when you pay your wireless bill with the card

While I usually prefer cards that earn points toward award travel, there’s a lot going for this cashback card – especially considering it’s free to keep long-term. It’s a strong card for active lifestyles, and for peeps who don’t want to pay an annual fee.

Wells Fargo Propel Amex review,

Eat out, order in, travel, unwind… the Wells Fargo Propel Amex earns 3% cashback in some of the best bonus categories and has NO annual fee

Let’s take stock!

Wells Fargo Propel Amex Review – A hidden gem with no annual fee

Read More

I’m Finally Gonna Fall Below Chase 5/24: My Credit Card Plan

I have a below 5/24 plan. How’d that happen?

A combination of things. Bank of America added application rules for Alaska cards – I held back on my nth card.

And I can’t get most Amex cards because I’ve already earned the welcome offer, or Citi cards because of their 24-month “family of brands” rule. Plus, I got busy baby-making.

So when I checked Credit Karma, I had to blink again. For the first time in years, I’ll be below 5/24 as of July 19, 2019 – only 4 months away!

I mean yeah, there are non-Chase cards I’d looove to get (I’m drooling for the Amex Hilton Aspire). But heck, if I’m this close, I may as well keep trending. And you bet I’m running right for the Chase Ink Business Preferred – I hope that sweet 80,000-point bonus is still around!

below 5/24 plan

When I think of UR points, alls I see is Hyatt hotel stays. First stop: Ink Business Preferred

More broadly, this might be the beginning of a long-needed credit card overhaul.

My Below 5/24 Plan

Read More

The 12 Best Card-Linked and Cashback Apps (10 Get You Completely Free Rewards)

Lord knows I love playing around with new apps on my phone, especially in the interest of free, passive cashback just for linking my cards one time.

And other apps can save you money too, but require more interaction. I’m happy to click a few buttons to earn a few free bucks.

There are a LOT of card-linked and cashback apps out there.  Here are the 6 best card-linked apps, and 6 best cashback apps.

Between the 12, you stand to gain $95+ right out the gate!

 

best cashback apps

These apps get you ongoing rewards for linking your cards. Set and forget!

Between them all, I’ve gotten back $100s in free rewards in the form of cash and gift cards.

12 Best Apps for Free Rewards

Read More

Freebird Promo Code for $10 Cashback: “OUTANDOUT”

Here’s the latest Freebird promo code you can stack for up to $30 cash back on Uber and Lyft rides booked through Freebird.

Here’s how to do it. After you download Freebird, enter this.

Freebird promo code: 

  • OUTANDOUT” – $10 cashback ($5 for each of your first 2 rides)

Freebird lets you book Uber and Lyft rides through their app – and you’ll earn points on each ride. Once you earn 5,000 points, you can cash it out for $10. So you can potentially do even better when you add points to the mix.

freebird promo code

I love using the Freebird app for Uber and Lyft rides

Plus, as I’ve found over the past few weeks, your Uber and Lyft credits should still work!

Freebird promo code powers up your Uber and Lyft apps

Read More

Is Stash Stock-Back Better Than Earning Points? They Seem to Think So – Do You?

Micro-investing platform Stash introduced a debit card this week with an interesting proposition – earn .125% rewards on every purchase in the form of stock. If you spend at a publicly traded company, you’ll get a slice of their stock.

And if they’re a private company, your rewards go into a low-cost Vanguard ETF.

That’s great, but if you want to earn stocks, just get a Fidelity Visa (learn more here) for 2% back and buy whatever fund you want. Right?

Stash says they make it easier by delivering your rewards instantly and automatically. And sometimes bonuses go up to 5% back.

Today I got an email with the subject line: “Forget points. The Stash debit card has something better.” 😲 That got my attention.

Stash Stock-Back review

Me? Forget points? I think not, especially for such low earning rates

But it does raise an interesting question: travel rewards for Now You, or invest for Future You? And I dunno, but getting 5% back as stock might be worthwhile sometimes. But I wonder how much I could really earn from that…

Stash Stock-Back review – is it worth it?

Read More

Sweet! Citi Rewards+ 10% Rebate Works With Other ThankYou Cards for up to 10,000 Points Back per Year

So this is pretty cool. The Citi Rewards+ card is a new card that:

  • Earns 2X Citi ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1X)
  • Rounds up every purchase to the nearest 10 points (spend $2, earn 10 points, say)
  • Rebates 10% of your redeemed miles on up to 100,000 points per year
  • Has NO annual fee

I product changed my old Citi Diamond Preferred to the Rewards+, and that was that. Until today, when I saw a random 1,600 ThankYou points in my account.

The only activity I’d had recently was transferring 16,000 Citi ThankYou points to Qantas. Then I realized – the Rewards+ card’s 10% rebate worked on the redeemed ThankYou points, even though I earned them with other ThankYou cards.

For a card that’s free to keep, that’s up to 10,000 points back in my account every year – and I value those for $200 at least. An as long as this works, I will 100% keep my Prestige card long-term.

This pairing is pretty awesome – and seems to work with any other ThankYou card and for any type of redemption (points transfer, travel booked directly, etc).

Citi Rewards+ 10% Rebate

Holy crap, this new power-up to my Citi Prestige card is worth an extra 10,000 points per year. Officially keeping

When you combine the rebate with points transfer bonuses and 1.25 cents for travel – it gets all that much better.

Combine Citi Rewards+ with other ThankYou cards for up to 10,000 points back per year

Read More