Just the Tip(s)

Category Archives for Just the Tip(s).

26 More Awesome and Creative Uses for Evernote

Be the elephant

<3

While brainstorming for my previous post, 7 Awesome Uses of Evernote for Travelers, I found some really inventive ways to use this app in ways other traveling and thought I shouldn’t keep it to myself. Thus, this entry. So pardon for the Evernote bonanza!

Evernote is one of those apps that found its way into my life gradually, then suddenly, and now I use it all day every day, for hundreds of tiny things. It really is my external brain, and increasingly, as I use it to remember the things I love and the goals I hold dear, my external heart.

Here are some other things to use Evernote for.

1. Brainstorming.

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Points and miles as insurance – why it’s good to have a stash

Everyone knows I’m Mr. Earn and Burn: I typically like to keep my miles balances as close to zero as possible.

I don’t trust any mileage or point program, really. Not for a second. Every major airline has had a drastic, no-notice-given change to their mileage program this year.

That being said, I like to have a little stash.

Where to keep the stash and how many to tuck away

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Snap: An Awesome App for Saving Money on Groceries

A friend of mine (HT: Jason) shared this link with me last night, and I thought I’d pass it along to you guys because I know I will definitely be using it in the future. It’s called Snap, from Groupon.

Snap

Snap’s a new app for saving money on groceries – at any grocery store. You locate a coupon you want to use, “snap” a picture of the receipt, then upload it through the app. After it’s approved, they add money to your account, and you can request a check once you hit the $20 mark, which seems really easy to do as some of the coupons are for unlimited use.

And a lot of the coupons are for household staples. Here are some screenshots: Read More

FoundersCard Promo: $395 a year forever and a new AA promo

Screenshot 2014-09-26 15.58.56
Worth mentioning since I’ve posted about FoundersCard before.

When you join FoundersCard, you get to enjoy the initial rate you paid… forever. I joined when the rate was $495, and have gotten that much value out of the card despite only being a member coming up on a year. Here’s a chance to do even better than the deal I got in on.

You now can join FoundersCard for $395 a year, and you’d get to keep paying that rate every year you keep the card.

Here is the link to the promo and the promo code to use is FCHARLAN818.

If you’ve been deliberating about whether to join or not, this $100 off the usual lowest rate ($495) might be the thing that makes this deal a little bit better.

Also, if you’re an AA flyer, their current AA promo is 5% off most fares on American. You will receive a discount code that is good for unlimited use. If you heavily fly on American/OW and are trying to meet some sort of status before the end of 2014, you’d get to take advantage of the fare discount and start earning your $395 back right away.

That, combined with the multiple other discounts and freebies offered by the card, as well as the fantastic global networking events, makes this card a great investment for entrepreneurs in major cities.

AA’s last quarter promo was a free Gold status challenge, and bonus Business Extra points. They’ve featured 5% off fares before, and that seems to be a hit with most members of FoundersCard.

Read my full review to learn about the other discounts offered and to decide whether this membership might be worth buying.

If you have any questions, email me at zynner@gmail.com or feel free to post a comment below.

Free Caesars Total Rewards Diamond Status with FoundersCard

Screenshot 2014-09-01 23.39.08Also see:

Update: You can lock in a FoundersCard membership for $295 a year through May 12th, 2016 when you sign-up with my link. This is $100 less than the usual rate!

(To begin, if you are not at all into gambling, please skip this post!)

I’ve written about FoundersCard in the past, and, about six months in, am really enjoying the benefits of the card. Click this link to read my review of the card and to learn about some of the benefits. So far, I am loving it. The AT&T discount alone nearly pays for the card, and when you throw in all the perks it offers along the way, it makes this card a really nice companion to urban living. Next month, I will be attending my first networking event here in NYC sponsored by the card and will be sure to write about the experience.

FoundersCard has done a great job at stepping up their benefits package lately, like offering American Airlines Gold status, giving 10% off British Airways fares, and, most recently, offering free Diamond Status with Caesars Total Rewards.

Now, I’m not a gambler and don’t even live near a casino (unless you count Atlantic City), but I went ahead and made myself Diamond with Total Rewards just because of the “why not?” factor. A list of all their casino locations is included here. When I was in Las Vegas earlier this year, I got preferred treatment thanks to Hyatt’s relationship with MLife, and most of those benefits are duplicated with Total Rewards. The biggest ones are lounge access and priority treatment in just about every corner of the hotel and casino.

Diamond benefits

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The Points Game is free today for Kindle downloads! 9/1-9/3!

As a thanks for reading the blog, I decided to make The Points Game e-book free for three days starting today, Labor Day.

It’s the exact same content as what’s in the NEW? section of this website, but formatted for Kindle – in case you’d like to download and read on-the-go.

Feel free to pass the link along to anyone you know who might want an intro to the points and miles world. There’s a lot to know, and it can seem daunting at first, but readers here will know that it is all very worth it!

Without further adieu, here’s the link: bit.ly/pointsguide

Feel free to copy and share anywhere. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading and happy Labor Day!

Not New, But Improved: Shell Fuel Rewards Network

From the I’ll-never-use-this files (similar to my previous pondering about Alaska’s MileagePlan), I stumbled upon the Shell Fuel Rewards Network and wanted to share an overview of the program because it looked really interesting.

Stop me if you’ve already heard about it and I must also disclaim: I live in New York City. I don’t have a car. I don’t even know where the closest Shell station is. But I signed up for the Fuel Rewards Network program all the same.

Why?

Automated savings

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FoundersCard offering free AA Gold Status Challenge until 5/31/14

I’ve written before about the benefits of FoundersCard.

Quick overview of current bennies

They partner with American Airlines to offer a unique benefit each quarter. In the past, they’ve had discounts of 5% or 10% off most fares on AA metal, which can be quite a nice break with you fly American a lot.

Here are the current airline benefits:

  • Virgin Atlantic: Complimentary Flying Club Silver Elite Status & Fast Track to Gold Elite Status
  • Virgin Atlantic: Up to 20% off US & Vancouver originating Flights to the UK
  • Cathay Pacific: Complimentary Marco Polo Club Silver Tier Status
  • Cathay Pacific: 5-25% off flights
  • JetBlue: FoundersCard Members save 5% on fares (excluding multi-city trips)
  • Qantas: FoundersCard Members receive up to 25% off travel between US, Australia, and New Zealand. Discounts are available on most classes of service
  • Emirates: 5-15% off fares for US originating flights
  • British Airways: 10% off most roundtrip US, UK & Canada originating airfares

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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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T&Cs

So I needed to reset myself this week. Working too much, friend in town, holiday, etc.

Expedia/Swiss ticket

I got myself into a couple of situations where I didn’t fully excavate the T&Cs – the dreaded terms and conditions – which further depleted me.

All is fine and good until you get to this little set of rules that is typically appended onto something you (or I) might think is a really good deal. And I’ve gotten myself into some sorry situations for not fully reading them these past few days.

In the post where I talked about the upcoming trip to Venice in Swiss biz class, I said:

I was able to click through the FIA/Fidelity portal to get 3 points a dollar back + points for using a mileage-earning credit card… 

Wrong.

Had I properly read the T&Cs I would’ve seen this disclaimer:

Retailer Exclusions
Bonus points will be awarded only after travel is completed. The following are not eligible to earn bonus points: Air Travel, pre-packaged vacations, Groupon Getaways, any car transaction exceeding a purchase price of $5,000 USD. Car transactions between $1,000-$5,000 are subject to investigation by Expedia.

AKA I got nothing for clicking this link and spending nearly $1,500. I would’ve earned 1 point a dollar by instead clicking through to Travelocity at the Ultimate Rewards portal. 1,500 points is better than no points. But I didn’t read the T&Cs, so, like a schmuck, I got nothin’.

Zoola Rewards

Then, I really thought the Zoola Rewards portal would a boon. After all, you have to put your credit cards on file with them. I thought it would be a great way to stack a lot of points into one transaction. Key word: thought.

I tweeted them and got confirmation that you do have to click through their portal to earn the cash back. Therefore, I would not advise using that portal unless you want CASH. But even still, if you have cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, you can redeem those points for cashback or a statement credit – and they’re much more versatile in case an idea for a trip comes along. So, the Zoola Rewards thing could be good for those who don’t have cards that can earn cash or statement credits and just want to earn cash – not points or miles. In all other instances, it’s not the right thing to use. I have to recommend avoiding this portal now. Why? I confirmed, on Twitter, their T&Cs.

So there you have it.

Bottom line

Let this be a reminder to always confirm what you’re getting – or what you think you’re getting. No matter how rushed you are to snag a deal, it only takes a few extra seconds to read. Don’t make an assumption. You know what they say about assumptions. They make an ass out of u & me.

Or, this week, just me.

Happy travels and remember to read the fine print!