Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to use your Citibank ThankYou points for a mortgage payment

Citibank ThankYou Points (TYPs) are a type of rewards point that Citibank offers on their ThankYou rewards credit cards and checking accounts.

I personally don’t value TYPs as high as the Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points, but they are still a form of currency and can be valuable when redeemed.  

I’ve earned quite a bit of TYPs over the last 6 months, since I was under a promotion through Citibank that gave me 5 TYP per $1 spent.
Citibank TYPs never expire, and can be used to redeem anything from gift cards, to statement credits, to cash back, to mortgage payments, student loans, electronics, toys, books, discounts off airplane tickets and much more.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Habits of people with the highest credit score

MyFico has a great article on the key habits and behaviors of individuals with FICO scores greater than 785, some of the highest scores in the nation.

Here’s a great infographic the site has posted:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Free credit score from Wells Fargo (Experian)

I’m always looking for ways to check my credit report and credit score for free.  Wells Fargo is currently offering their customers a free credit score and report from Experian.  See here for more details. 

From now until midnight November 15th, 2012, you can walk into any Wells Fargo bank to pick up a personal access code.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mental accounting

Mental accounting causes us to be poor savers, extreme spenders, and poor investors.  Mental accounting is a common habit that sneaks up on us and influences our attitudes toward money.

Think of these situations:

- Grandma gives you $200 spending money for your birthday.  Do you convince yourself that your gift is a "free $200 off coupon" that you use to buy a new iPad for $600?

- You get your income tax refund.  Do you think of it as a nice windfall of free money you deserve to reward yourself with by buying something nice?

- Do you continue to carry a credit card balance that is charging you interest, yet at the same time continue to put most of your money into a savings account?

- Do you spend more money when you pay by credit card than you would if you paid by cash?

We are irrational beings and we do not treat all money the same.  Money is money.  It doesn't matter where the money comes from.  Its origin does not dictate it’s value.

Make yourself aware of the symptoms of mental accounting.  Treat any money that comes your way, regardless of its source, as money that you worked hard to earn.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Get fees waived simply by asking

I purchased an iPhone 5 recently and upgraded my cell phone plan to another 2-year contract.  Now when you upgrade any phone on AT&T (and any other carrier), the carrier likes to tack on what they call an “upgrade fee.” The fee AT&T charges is $36. 

When I received my bill, I saw this buried in the statement:
According to AT&T:
The upgrade fee is to allow us to assist customers with recommending new equipment, offering special offers and discounts, providing assistance with the upgrade process if needed, and supporting the returns process within 30 days. These specialized processes help us to ensure you are satisfied with your new equipment, and are ready to use it the day you receive it. The upgrade fee allows us to defray some of these additional service costs.

To get this fee waived, simply call 611 on your phone, or click on AT&T Live Chat (billing and payment support) and kindly ask to have your upgrade fee waived.  It may help by telling the customer service rep how happy you are with the service to butter them up a bit. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Points and miles versus cash back

I had an interesting discussion this weekend with some of my friends on how they go about optimizing spending on their rewards earning credit cards to earn cash back, points, and miles on all their credit card purchases.

My friend, let's call him Cashback Carl, is all about the cash back.  Whenever he reaches certain thresholds of cash back, he requests a statement credit or a check mailed to him.  
"It's like getting free money every few weeks for doing nothing!" he says.  You can't really argue with that logic.  Cash back on normal purchases is great, and one of the biggest reasons I always advocate making your purchases with your credit card (and NOT with debit cards or cash).  His favorite card right now is the The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which earns 6% cash back on grocery store purchases, 3% cash back on gas and department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else.  He will frequently purchase $500 Visa or Mastercard gift cards at the grocery store, then use those cards to effectively get 6% on ALL of his credit card purchases.  
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