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Archived Posts from Deals and Discounts

Wow. Just when I thought the whole Visa Signature stuff is at times pointless, out comes a fairly nice promotion from Southwest Airlines and Visa. Not sure why I didn’t see this promotion earlier.

The deal is pretty straight forward:

  • Visit VISA’s deal page to check if you qualify.
  • As long as you’re a Visa Signature card holder, you’ll be presented with a Southwest promo code after verifying
  • You’ll have to input your email address before they give you the promo code
  • Search for flights on either Southwest or SWABIZ, or use the tool on the VISA page

The fare saver codes are available from Jan 20th to April 30th, 2011. Works at Southwest.com or SWABIZ.com. Codes are valid for travel between Jan 20th through June 1st, 2011.  The code works only ONCE and you’ll only be issued one code per Visa Signature card you own, so use them wisely.

Here are the blackout dates:

  • April 21, 2011 through April 25, 2011
  • May 20, 2011 through May 24, 2011.

Despite the blackout dates, this is still a very good deal, considering you can get an easy 15% off the lowest “Wanna Get Away” fare and its real saving especially if you do a cross country trip.  I generally take Southwest for their daily shuttles from SNA to SFO, but they’re perfectly fine for long-haul transcontinental trips too.  If I recall correctly, my pal Jim at Bargaineering is a raving Southwest fan.

Well here’s a stupidly good deal that you really can’t pass up on (especially if you’re going to buy something at Amazon in the near future). LivingSocial.com is having a nation-wide deal on a $20 Amazon gift card, 50% off for $10. The deal started a couple of hours ago and went from 50,000 takers, to 200,000 to the now incredible 740,000 sign-ups (as of time of writing). Grab the deal fast as time is running out.

For those that aren’t familiar with Living Social (or sites like it such as Groupon), these are daily group-buy deal websites that presents you with usually location/local based deals. You can see from the screenshot above that they’re currently presenting me with Orange County, CA deals.

Groupon and LivingSocial have both been around for quite awhile now (about 2 years+), and both are legitimate companies offering local deals. If you’re wondering why and how Living Social is doing this sweet Amazon deal, in short, Amazon has invested about $175 million into Living Social in recent months. It’s unsurprising that they’d want more coverage and brand recognition for the company they’ve invested in, and its most likely Amazon is heavily subsidizing this particular deal.

Still Not a Big Fan Yet of Local Deal-of-the-Day Sites

Although I’m a big time bargain hunter, I still haven’t really taken advantage of any Groupon or Living Social, etc. deal sites yet. Simply put, most of the deals don’t really interest and/or entice me. A quick skim on local nearby deals shows that I can premium skin care in Los Angeles, discount on a cleaning agency in Orange County, and uh, yoga sessions in San Fernando Valley. Today’s Groupon deal shows $20 for $40 worth of scrapbooking supplies and classes at a local scrapbooking store:

Having said that, these deal-of-the-day group buying sites can be of great value to users and local businesses that sometimes promote on them (even if results are sometimes mixed). You can find and support local businesses that you may have never heard about before, and for the local small businesses, perhaps earn a new loyal customer.

Have you tried sites like Groupon and Living Social yet? If so, share your experience in the comments below.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the Amazon deal if you’re buying something from Amazon in the near future (the gift card will be available the following day).

Whenever people ask me about getting a free FICO score, it’ll often involve a long process where I’ll explain why they will most likely have to pay for their FICO credit score. The fact is, while there are a number of free services that offers a credit score base on your real credit history, one of the few places to easily get a real FICO credit score, and avoiding all those “fake scores” is to get your score straight from myFICO.

free FICO score 10 day trial

For a long time, myFICO offers FICO score for free via a trial service with their Score Watch product, but for whatever reason they discontinued this trial offer earlier this year. If you’re ever in need of the credit score and not just estimates from third parties, you will usually have to fork over anywhere from $12-$15 for these numbers. Thankfully, myFICO has now reintroduced their free trial offer (this time, a 10-day trial offer versus the previous 30-day offer).

Getting your free FICO score is rather easy:

  1. Visit the myFICO free trial sign-up page and sign-up for an account.
  2. Input your personal and payment information.
  3. You will not be charged until the trial offer ends, as noted by this page.
  4. myFICO will email you 3 days before your trial ends to remind you to cancel or keep your subscription.
  5. To cancel your account, simply use this form, select “I would like to cancel my production subscription” and then choose the Score Watch product.

Important: If you do decide to keep the Score Watch service, know that the service has a minimum of 3 month subscription!

Personally, the previous cancel option from the previous 30 day trial service was much easier, as you simply clicked a link and the service is cancelled. But myFICO still made it relatively easy when compared to other companies that has “free trial” offers, and it’s much appreciated that they email you in advance to warn you that the trial service is ending.  By using the contact form, you won’t have to deal with any phone reps that may be trying to upsale you to other services or hardball you to keep your service (none of that AOL never-cancel service tactic, thank-you-very-much).

Score Watch Summary Page

Though I’ve never fully written about the Score Watch service before (and I’ve been meaning to since 2006), its generally one of the better paid credit monitoring service available.  Beyond the fact that you’re getting a real free FICO score, the newly designed interface makes the monitoring service easier to navigate and provides the right educational information right where you need it.  For example, if you have a negative item in your credit report, myFICO points you to the right place to get it disputed.

The Score Watch summary page breaks down your Equifax credit score (click to enarlge pictured above), give you a quick run through of the four main FICO score ingredients: payment history, amount of debt, length of credit history, and amount of new credit.  My credit score as you can see above, is rather low, but myFICO has classified it as “good.”  This relatively low score is due to some recent balance transfer as I shuffle money around, something that should clear up quickly once the balances are paid off.  When compared with my old score of 790, it can be quite a difference!

If you’re interested in getting your FICO Score for free, give this free trial a whirl. Do remember that if you’re not interested in the service, request a day or two in advance to cancel the trial period just so you won’t be accidentally billed.  A FICO score is a handy reference if you’re in any financial situation that needs it: shopping for auto loan, mortgage, etc.; other than these situations, paying for a score due to curiosity probably isn’t worth it — but if you’re still dying to know, thankfully the free trial offer is back!

Related Resources & Links:

Track your real FICO scores with FREE 10-day Score Watch!

It’s sad but true, I used to be a real FICO score junkie (especially during the time where I was trying to make my scores consistently more positive). If there was anything I learned from my binge of credit score tracking was that you should never pay full price for your FICO scores from Fair Isaac. In recent days, there have been a number of myfico promotional code available online which will save you a few pretty pennies. Check the promo codes below if you’re currently interested in purchasing some of the scores and reports from myFICO.com. Each link will take you to each product’s page and automatically embed in the discount code for you.  Read on for more description for each of the FICO product offerings, when you should (and shouldn’t) purchase them — after all, being a credit score junkie isn’t easy on the wallet.

myFICO Score Watch

What it is? Score Watch from myFICO.com provides you with daily monitoring of your Equifax Credit Report and weekly monitoring of your FICO score.  It notifies you when you may qualify for better interest rate (such as significant change to your FICO score), delivers alerts when important changes to your score and report are detected, and shows you key factors affecting your FICO score and how lenders view you.

Why do I need it? You may have recently come across financial situations where you need to keep on tabs of your credit score.  Perhaps you’re trying to better understand and control your credit worthiness before applying for a large loan such as a mortgage or an auto loan; or perhaps you’re actively trying to keep track of your credit scores so you can better negotiate with lenders for more favorable interest rates.

How much does it really cost? myFICO’s Score Watch use to have a free trial offering but that is no longer available. Without the discount, the monthly subscription fee is a $9.95, with a 3 months advance payment required, which brings the cost to $29.85.  You can potentially “save” a bit of money by opting for an annual subscription of $99.95, but with the discount, the monthly subscription fee is at $7.96, making the 3 month cost $23.88 and an annual subscription costing you $79.96. The annual FICO score tracking plan can be quite a saving when compare to buying your score individually monthly. The current myFICO promotional code discount definitely makes purchasing the credit score more of a bargain, but again, consider carefully if you need such a subscription before you sign-up.

Having said all that, unlike many other credit subscription services offered on the web, myFICO has no high pressure monthly subscription demands or phone calls to loop through to cancel. You can easily log into your account and hit the “cancel subscription” option. This is from personal experience, so if you don’t like the service, you can end it anytime after the 3-month subscription period.

FICO25: 25% off myFICO Standard

What is it? myFICO Standard consist of a FICO score and a credit report of your choice from either Equifax or TransUnion. If you’re wondering about a FICO score from Experian, unfortunately the agreement between Experian and Fair Isaac fell through, so you can no longer purhcase your Experian FICO score thru myFICO.com (or anywhere else for that matter). A FICO Standard purchase will give include an explanation of the positive and negative factors affecting your score, plus access to the FICO Score Simulator, which shows you how actions like paying off an existing account or opening new accounts may affect your FICO scores.

Why do I need it? This is a no frills purchase, and is a solid choice for people that simply wants to know what their FICO score is based on their Equifax or TransUnion credit history. Maybe you need to know your FICO score before you head to the car dealership to negotiate financing terms or maybe you were just told by a lender that your FICO score ranges were much lower than you expected — in these situations, purchasing a real FICO score from myFICO can give you more knowledge and ammunition before engaging in financial transactions that involves credit history.

How much does it really cost? A FICO Standard purchase cost $15.95 per purchase, and in perspective, this is quite a bit of money to pay just for a set of numbers (of course, you also receive a detailed credit report, but you can always request those for free annually). There is no monthly recurring cost and this is a one-time purchase. With discount, the expensive purchase can be lighten to $11.80. myFICO regularly releases certain promotional code, so you should never pay full price. Either bookmark this page or keep an eye open for new promotions that will give substantial discounts.

CPPSAVINGS: 25% off FICO Quarterly Monitoring

What is it? FICO Quarterly monitoring provides you with quarterly update of your TransUnion FICO credit score and credit report.  In short, you get 4 TransUnion FICO score per year, and in a sense this is a variant of the Score Watch service, but pulls your TransUnion credit history instead of your Equifax credit history.  The FICO Quarterly Monitoring service also use 400 other data sources for signs of identity theft, providing you alerts whenever there are new information added to your TransUnion credit report.  Lastly, you’ll also receive a $25,000, no-deductible identity theft insurance policy from St. Paul Travelers as part of your subscription.

Why do I need it? This is a product that’s pitched for those that may have reasons to suspect their identity have (or will be) stolen.  With FICO Quarterly Monitoring, you can have a somewhat peace of mind as you set specific alerts so you can be notified whenever additional information are tied into your credit history (such as name, phone number, residential address, etc.).  If you’ve recently lost your wallet that contains many of your personal and sensitive financial information, FICO Quarterly Monitoring may be a good service to consider (as it provides you with weekly monitoring).  If you suspect that you may be a victim (or potential victim) of identity theft, whether from strangers or family members (sadly this happens frequently), FICO Quarterly Monitoring can be an additional tool to ensure your credit profile isn’t being fiddled with.  Take note however that this service will only monitor your TransUnion credit profile.  If you’re absolutely certain you’re a victim of identity theft, you may want to consider a credit freeze.

How much does it really cost? The service will cost $4.95 monthly or with an annual subscription rate of $49.95.  With the discount promotional code above, you will save 30% off your monthly subscription fee or your annual rate, bringing the cost to $3.46 per month or $34.96.  You’ll also receive an additional 20% discount whenever you opt to purchase other myFICO services whenever you’re subscribed to FICO Quarterly Monitoring (for example if you want to complement the service with an additional subscription of Score Watch).  In some sense, this is one of the cheaper service, especially if you’re ever in a situation where you need to purchase more than two TransUnion FICO scores or report.

Perkstreet Financial is now offering a 2% cash back debit card for six months!

PerkStreet Financial 2% Cash Back Visa Debt Card

2% Cash Back Detail

  • To get 2% cash back for six months, you will have to open a new account online with at least a $25 deposit.
  • You can earn cash back on all non-PIN debit card purchase.
  • After six months, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all non-PIN debit card purchase.
  • There’s also two other type of rewards offered: Free music and free coffee.
  • If you choose the other rewards instead of cash back, you’ll earn double the reward for the first six months.
  • Offer only available to brand new PerkStreet customer!
  • Offer expires July 15, 2010 (in a month), so take advantage of the offer if you’re interested before it’s too late.

PerkStreet Financial $50 Sign-Up Bonus

I gotta tell you, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen any account opening bonus offers from banks — or at least, one that doesn’t require you to jump through numerous hoops.  PerkStreet Financial is now offering a $50 sign-up bonus for any new PerkStreet Financial checking account with a minimum deposit of $25.  Deposit $25 and get $50?  No hard credit inquiry? Sounds like a decent deal.

PerkStreet has partnered with the Bancorp Bank, member FDIC, to provide several of its banking services, such as FDIC insurance.  The checking account, while lacking in any interest bearing capability, is actually quite decent.  It touts a 1% “cash-back” debit card, giving you cash-back in the form of a Visa Gift Card, or a gift card to some of the leading retailers (such as Target & Amazon).

If you’re a proponent of debit card over a credit card but occasionally harbor  hidden-jealousy for credit card rewards, then PerkStreet’s checking account with rewards debit card may just be what you’re looking for.

$50 PerkStreet Sign-Up Bonus Details

  • Offer expires 2/28/2010.
  • Open an account with a $25 minimum deposit.
  • Keep the account active for three months
  • You can keep account active by using your initial $25 deposit with your debit card
  • $50 bonus will be credited into account within 15 business days at end of third month
  • Valid for only first-time customers

Things to note:

  • There is an account inactivity fee of $4.50!  To avoid this fee, you can do any of the activities: make a transaction with your debit card, write a check that clears the account, use online bill pay, initiate a withdrawal, or make a deposit to the account.
  • There is no hard credit pull with the regular account, but the Plus account with overdraft protection may have a hard credit inquiry (via Fatwallet forums).
  • If you want to milk things even more, you can fund the account up to $500 with a credit card, which will count as a purchase on your credit card, and not a cash-advance.  The initial funding will not cost you any fees from PerkStreet, but subsequent funding via credit cards will be charged 2% of funding amount.

PerkStreet Checking Account Features

  • Visa Debit Card with 1% cash back, free music, or coffee
  • Free checks, $25 deposit to open
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • No monthly fees when you use your account
  • A large surcharge-free ATM network
  • Free bill pay, switch perks without penalty

Look for a longer, in-depth review when I get a chance to test drive the account longer.

If you have a Zecco Trading account, you can easily earn $75 by sending a referral to a friend. The gist of the Zecco refer a friend program is pretty straightforward, you send an invite by email to a pal that may be interested in opening an online discount broker account, your friend signs-up with the same invited email address, funds their account for $500, and you’ll get $75 cash deposited into your account (or a $75 Amazon gift certificate if you have an IRA). A cool $75 = a decent dinner for you and your friend; eight In-n-Out lunches with you and your friend; or you can just hoard the money and not share them with your pal — I’d suggest the hoarding (just kidding, you cheap bastard).

Click to Continue Reading…

ShareBuilder Costco Sign-up Bonus Promotion

The online discount broker ShareBuilder currently has a sign-up bonus promotion for Costco members.  ShareBuilder encourages recurring monthly investment, dollar cost averaging, and the general idea of building your investment for the future — because of that, it wasn’t much of a surprise when ING Direct decided to purchase ShareBuilder a few years ago.

The promotion is simple. You get a $90 account bonus if you’re a Costco Executive member along with a 25% transaction charge rebate, or you’ll receive a $70 account bonus with a 10% transaction charge rebate if you’re a Costco Gold Star and Business member.

Click to Continue Reading…

If you haven’t heard, Ramit Sethi, personal finance blogger, kick-your-finances-into-gear extraordinaire, and overall cool guy has published his book, pointedly named “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.”

If you’re already planning to buy the book, join in on Ramit’s giveaway at his site. He’s giving away a Kindle every hour (2 left as of this writing), and a chance to win $1,000 throughout the day from the good folks at Mint.  Simply forward your email receipt to iboughtthebook@iwillteachyoutoberich.com and you’ll have a chance to enter in the giveaway.  Other prizes and full details can be found at Ramit’s blog.

I haven’t fully read the book yet, but of the chapters I’ve skim across, the book seems to be very solid and contains no-nonsense, straight-forward personal finance advice along with steps that works. Stick around on the personal finance blogsphere and I’m sure in the coming weeks you’ll be seeing reviews popping up on various personal finance blogs.

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