Amazing Deal: 61% Off Amazon With 60% Off Groceries

There is an amazing combination of promotions going on right now that can achieve 45% off groceries. I just found out about these deals by a visit to my local Albertsons and from a friend who just took advantage of a portion of it.

First, Albertsons is promoting gift cards. Currently, when purchasing $125 or more in gift cards to a variety of places, including Amazon, we’ll receive a coupon for $15 off the next purchase of $25 or more within the next 7 days. $15 off of $25 is a 60% return.

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Buy an Amazon gift card for atleast $125, $150 if you have friends or family who will let you use their Amazon Prime Now accounts or let you create one for them. Limit one coupon per transaction, so make sure to separate transactions into totals of $125. This promotion ends 12/1/15, but can be taken advantage multiple times.

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Next, when purchasing the gift card(s), use a credit card with a high earning rate such as Wells Fargo’s Cash Back card which earns 5% back at grocery stores. That starts you out with 5% cash back on the gift cards, so 5% at Amazon in this strategy.

Wells Fargo Cash Back

Another option is to use a loyalty card such as the SPG, Starwood Preferred Guest card by American Express. It only gets one point per dollar, but with the flexibility of SPG points, they’re worth a lot more than a penny each.

SPG cards

Next, Amazon is currently promoting their Amazon Prime Now app and delivery system. They now deliver within an hour to metro areas around the country. With the promo codes 20PRIMENOW or GETITNOW (from the PrimeNOW app,) shoppers will receive $20 off their first purchase of $50 or more.

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Also, since the purchase will be above $35, in Chicago, Orlando, Northern New Jersey, and some zip codes in New York City and Philadelphia, along with other metro area’s, shoppers will receive free shipping. That’s another savings of $8.

So take your Amazon gift card to Amazon.com. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account already, sign up for one. Use the free trial if you haven’t already to access the next part of the deal for free. The best return is if you have at least 3 accounts that have not used PrimeNOW and use the coupons for each account.

This promotion, including the free shipping savings and 5% cash back credit card, brings a return of 61% when making a purchase of exactly $50. If you have friends or family who don’t live in a metro area who can take advantage of this promo, use their accounts to get this return multiple times.

In total, $92.50 will be spent to receive $199 on Amazon and at Albertsons. $90 will be spent on Amazon for $174 in goods and shipping. $7.50 will be received from cash back bringing the amount spent down to $82.50. $10 will be spent at Albertsons for $25 in groceries.

To receive this, download the Amazon Prime Now app, put in your zip code and start shopping. Add your items to your cart and put in the code 20PRIMENOW or GETITNOW. Check out.

Finally, wait for your discounted goods to arrive. Enjoy.

Watch out for my upcoming interview on the popular blog Million Miles Secrets @ The Boarding Area.

Also, Check out my Latest blog post – an interview with a couple who survived the Paris Terrorist attacks earlier this month.

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How I made $1300 Grocery Shopping Last Month

update: BlueBird has shut down many accounts of people who have used them to Manufacture Money Spent as in this article and others. While not all have been shut down and it is still possible to open accounts and do a bit of MMSing, it is dying and should not be seen as a guaranteed option.

Ever felt like you needed a bit of extra cash? Ever been unemployed and unsure of where your income will come from?

Travel Hacking is not only good for earning points and miles toward travel. It can be used to create a decent source of income, enough to mimic a $20,000 job after taxes at least.

I’m currently living in Las Vegas for a few months before my upcoming trip to Europe in February. I’m sharing a house with a resident teacher while I explore a new relationship.

My plan before coming was to become a substitute teacher as soon as I got here, but it took longer than expected, leaving me unemployed. However, thanks to Travel Hacking, that doesn’t mean I’ve been without income.

Wells Fargo Rewards

I created over $1,300 in September from Wells Fargo Cash Back Rewards by shopping at grocery stores. Of that, only $300 was expenses, leaving a profit of $1000, non-taxable income.

How do I do this? I recently wrote about a Manufacturing Money Spent (MMS) strategy that I use to make it look I’m spending up to $35,000/month. I actually only take a max of about $400 out of the profits. I do this at grocery stores such as Smith’s, Albertson’s, and Wynn Dixie.

With the Wells Fargo Cash Back Rewards Card new card holders earn unlimited 5% cash back at grocery stores, gas stations, and drug stores the first 6 months. When applied to the MMS strategy, the only limit to how much can be earned is how many like you.

Things to consider:

  • Currently, there is no sign up bonus, although if you are a WF account holder, there may be a offer of up to $100 cash back.

 

  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then 12.15% – 25.99% variable APR. It’s always best to pay off credit cards in full each month, but it’s nice knowing that for the first 15 months, it’s not necessary, just remember to pay the minimum.

 

  • No annual fee. This makes this card great for the first 6 months and then forget about while it slowly boosts your credit score.
Wells Fargo Cash Back
Ask not what you can do for it, but what it can do for you!

I have run into some issues with Wells Fargo that has caused me to lose out on quite a bit of cash back, but I have solved the problems so you don’t have to.

First, when going to buy gift cards or make a large purchase, call WF and have them put a pre-authorization on the account. After a while, WF will notice the pattern and large purchases can be made without pre-authorizations.

Second, when paying off the card, instead of sending money from BlueBird straight to the card account like normal, withdraw the money to a checking account using BB’s settings page (preferably a WF checking so payments will apply instantly,) and then pay the credit card.

This is a bit more of a hassle, but since BB isn’t a checking account, WF says they can’t verify that the money is there. They will hold payments for up to 15 days before allowing it to effect available credit.

A bank account can only be added to 2 BB accounts, so I send the money from my other accounts to the 2 that are linked to make the withdraw. BB states that accounts are limited to sending up to $2,500 per month and receiving up to $10,000, including the $5,000 load limit.

This means that $20,000 can be withdrawn to one checking account each month. If you plan to MMS more than that, then have a second bank account ready or plan to send some money straight to the card and be prepared for a possible hold on the credit limit.

I recently wrote about how to earn up to $3,000 per Discover Card account.

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Manufacturing Money Spent: Bluebird

update: BlueBird has shut down many accounts of people who have used them to Manufacture Money Spent as in this article and others. While not all have been shut down and it is still possible to open accounts and do a bit of MMSing, it is dying and should not be seen as a guaranteed option.

Manufacturing Money Spent or MMS. What is that and what does it mean? MMS is the act of making it look like more money is being spent on a credit card than you are actually spending. Often times, as it is with the strategy I demonstrate in this post, a person will spend 1% to earn points or miles. This means, that if a credit card gives a return of anything more than that 1%, we can turn a profit. It means that when we sign up for a credit card that has a $5,000 minimum spending requirement to receive the sign up bonus, we do not actually have to spend $5,000 of our money.

Gift Cards

The first step in this strategy to MMS is to find a local store that sells Visa or MasterCard gift cards. I go to my local grocery store, where I get a 5% return on groceries, and buy their $500 Visa or MasterCard gift card. They each come with a one time activation fee of $5.95, so just above 1%. There isn’t much difference between the two, the main thing to keep in mind when buying the gift cards is that they can not be Vanilla brand, any other bank issuer is fine, and American Express gift cards do not work. The other difference is that with the Visa cards, the PIN is automatically the last 4-digits of the card number, while with MasterCard, there is either a code attached to the card, or you have to call MasterCard to set a PIN. Once I have my gift cards, I make my way over to Walmart.

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Excluding Steak and Shake, these cards all had balances of $200 or $500

Bluebird

Bluebird was created from a partnership between Walmart and American Express (Amex.) It is a prepaid card with online access, it is not a checking account and there is no credit attached or involved. A Bluebird card can be obtained in two ways, either by purchasing a temporary card at Walmart, usually for $5, or by going to their site, Bluebird.com and signing up there. Temporary cards must be registered on their site and go through the application process as well. They will mail a permanent card once the application is approved. Identity verification is required at times.

Bluebird has compliance limitations to what accounts are allowed to do. Each account can upload $1000/day at Walmart’s ATM machines or $1,500 at the Money Center. They can also only load $5,000 per month per account. With this, we can MMS $5,000/month, not a small amount, however, some, like myself, want to be able to MMS more than that. I currently manage 7 Bluebird accounts that my family and best friend have opened and allowed me to use. This means I can load $35,000/month. If I do it all at the grocery store and I use my Wells Fargo Cash Back card, which gives 5% cash back at grocery stores, I will spend $416.50, but I will receive $1750 in cash back, turning a profit of $1,333.50 per month.

Bluebirds Small

Now that I’m at Walmart, I’ve bought my Visa or MasterCard gift cards, and I have my Bluebird cards, I head over to the Money Center. If there is an ATM, I use that, otherwise, I head to the register. If I’m at the register, I hand the cashier a Bluebird card and tell her I would like to add $500 to my account, sometimes $500 to two accounts. If I have a Visa card, when the time comes, I just slide the card, enter the last 4 digits of the card number and it should go through. If I have a MasterCard, I have to hit “Change Payment” and select “debit card,” enter the PIN that came attached to the card or the new PIN I called to set and, it too, should go through. If I use the ATM, my preference because I generally don’t like telling cashiers what I’m doing or that I’m using a gift card to add money to my account, I hit the Bluebird button to start. I follow the steps of swiping my Bluebird card, entering the amount I want to load, $500 at a time, accepting the amount, clicking “Debit Card” as the payment option, and swiping my gift card. Here, it does not matter if I have Visa or MasterCard, both will work, I just slide, enter the PIN and finish.

While at the ATM, when I try to load more than $1,000 onto one account or $1,500-$2,000 onto multiple accounts, the ATM’s camera sees that it is the same person and decides that I have reached the compliance limit for the day. I have to wait until a worker comes to help or just walk away. If I wait, the associate will generally cancel the transaction and I will either have to wait until the next day to continue or go to the cashier and put a last $500-$1,000 onto an account or two. To avoid the machine showing the compliance message, after I load $500 or $1,000, I’ll walk away and either get a drink of water, use the restroom, do some shopping or let someone else use it and wait behind them. If I go shopping, I ask to load $500 at the end of the transaction. This time away resets the ATM and will allow a bit more to be loaded without the message popping up.

Once I have loaded my gift card balances onto my Bluebird accounts, I either go onto my Bluebird App or go home and pull up the accounts on my computer. Once I am logged in, I go to the “Pay a Bill” page, this is the final step in the MMS strategy. I’ve added my payee’s by clicking the “Add Payee” button, searching for whichever bank issued the credit card I purchased my gift cards on and then putting in my credit cards info so that I can send payments to it. I give the payee the nickname of the type of card I have so I can distinguish between payees without referencing card numbers when I have more than one credit card from a single bank. Bank accounts can be linked too and the balances can be withdrawn to it instead of being sent to the credit card. Since the payee is set, I click “Pay a Bill” and send the balance from my Bluebird account to the credit card.

Using this strategy, I make it look like I am spending thousands of dollars each month while only spending 1% of that. Any spending requirement is within reach and any points or miles goals can be achieved. It is essential to stay organized when doing this with more than one card, it can become complicated very quickly. Watch for my upcoming post about how to stay organized and MMS like a pro.

 

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How to Get IHG Points for .292 Cents – Stay in Hotels for $15!

While the offer is limited, IHG – Intercontinental Hotel Group, is still offering the purchase of 100,000 Rewards Club Points for only $565 through Daily Getaways, a purchase value of .565 cents, a better value than the normal points and cash purchase value of .7 cents – 10,000 for $70, it seems most people have not realized that this is actually a much better deal than it appears.

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When purchasing getaways from the site, the purchases are coded as travel, so we are able to buy the points using the Barclay’s Arrival Plus card and earn 2 miles per dollar and then 10% back when redeeming for travel – essentially 2.2 miles per dollar spent; okay, great, we’ll get 1243 miles back – $12.43, not adding up.

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The great thing here is that we can buy Visa and Mastercard gift cards, $500 for $5.95 (at my local grocery store,) and upload them to BlueBird by American Express and Walmart and then use that money to pay Barclays. But, wait, there’s still the $1,000/day $5,000/month limit, and we need 55,257 miles to redeem for the purchase (minus the miles earned on the purchase,) and we only have 120 days to earn them.

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Here’s something I haven’t read about in any blogs; open Bluebird accounts for friends and families – it’s a prepaid debit card, no attachment to credit, I have done it with my four family members, best friend, and grandma and hope to open others in more family and friends names. This allows for a lot more miles to be earned, much more quickly, now the limit is how many friends and family members will let you open an account in their name instead of the set limitations.

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Now, during the 120 days, we can buy 55 gift cards (round to the next highest, without factoring the 10% point rebate) for $327.25 and upload each to our Bluebird accounts. Redeem 56,500 miles for the paid value of $565 and voila! Our price has dropped to $327.25, factor in the rebate and you have another 5650 miles left which you didn’t have to buy another 6 gift cards for $35.70 to get, so take that from the price and we’re at $291.55, or .29155 per point.
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Now, redeem these points for 20 nights at the IHG Pointbreak Hotels for 5,000 points per night, and you’re looking at 20 nights at a hotel for $14.58 – cheaper than a lot of shared dorms in hostels. While most of the hotels are budget ones like Holiday Inn, there are some incredible places on the list – like the beautiful InterContinental Lhasa Paradise in Lhasa, XZ, China, where rooms start at $180 when I looked, a savings of $165.42  or 91.9% every night, and a point redemption value of 3.6 cents. Another top place currently is the Hotel Indigo in San Jose, Costa Rica where the rooms start at $123.  Hurry, because these deals are almost gone.

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Credit Cards and Travel Hacking

Update: BlueBird has shut down many accounts of people who have used them to Manufacture Money Spent as in this article and others. While not all have been shut down and it is still possible to open accounts and do a bit of MMSing, it is dying and should not be seen as a guaranteed option.

Until I was twenty, when I was about to go on my first backpacking trip, I, like many, was nervous about credit cards. I was mainly concerned about having to pay interest on something i could pay cash for, rather than actually getting into a lot of debt; I never buy anything I can not afford. My dad had urged me to get one for a couple of years, telling me that as long as I paid the card off in full each month, I would never have to pay interest on any of my purchases, but for some reason, I was not convinced.

One day, I received a promotion in the mail for a cash back card with a sign up bonus of $200 cash back after spending $3,000 in three months and it got me thinking, if I am not going to pay any interest, not allow myself to get into any debt that I can not afford, and could actually help my credit score, why not get a credit card?

I looked further into it and decided that I would get one to try. I used my card to pay for things I would previously would have used my debit card for, nothing more, and I hit my spending requirement to receive the bonus after a couple of months.

I set up autopay, linked to my bank so the previous statement amount would be paid in full on the due date each month. This way I never had to think about paying it on time and never had to pay a cent in interest. I considered this a very successful test with a nice profit, so with this, I was hooked.

I applied for, and got accepted for, about four more credit cards before I started getting rejected, now that seems like it would come with a lot of spending requirements, but I got smarter as I went along, finding spending requirements of one purchase, $500, $1,000, and $2,000. It was not much more than the previous requirement from the first card and I watched as the percentage I was getting back for each amount spent increased to above 20% (I kept finding better offers.) These sign up bonuses paid for a lot of my travel gear along with some snowboarding gear.

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After my trip, as I mention in my post Introduction to Travel Hacking, I began learning about travel hacking, and that a major part of this was travel credit cards. As I researched this new topic, I began learning about different types of credit cards, cards that give bonus points for rotating or set categories (usually 3-5 points per dollar) vs. cards that give a lower, but set, amount on any purchase (usually 1 or 2.)

Cards that are used for one loyalty program vs. cards that are transferable to multiple programs. I also learned which points and miles are more valuable, therefore which travel cards are more valuable (more points does not always mean more value.) As I was learning all of this, I decided that travel cards were much more valuable, when used to travel, than cash back cards, and again, started applying.

At first I was hesitant about the annual fees on a lot of the better cards out there, often ranging from $70-100 each, with some up to just under $500! So, I stuck to the weaker, free, cards, but soon realized that cards can be cancelled before the next annual fee and that the benefits and bonuses of most of these cards vastly outweigh the annual fees. They offer benefits such as free checked bags, buddy passes, access to lounges and priority check in, and often the annual fee is waived for the first year.

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The best part about these cards is definitely the signing bonus, and it is my favorite way to earn a lot of points, very quickly. Keep in mind, as I mentioned, different programs have different values, which I will discuss in a later post, so one point or mile, more often than not, does not equal one cent.

Before I apply for a card, I will consider what benefits it comes with to decide if it would be worth keeping after the first six to nine months and paying the annual fee the next year, but I mainly look at the sign up bonus. I try to wait until a card has at least a bonus of 50,000 miles or points before applying. My highest bonus was 70,000 points with an un-waived annual fee of $89 and $5,000 minimum spending requirement in six months, but there are targeted promotions for up to 100,000 for certain cards.

There are also a few cards, like the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG, Starpoints) card, whose bonuses I have never seen reach above 30,000 points, but these cards, these points, are also widely considered the most valuable points out there because of its wide variety of transfer partners. This bonus is more valuable than some cards with a 50,000 point bonus.

Watch for the high rollers and apply without discrimination; they will all add to your mile/point balances and there is no such thing as having too many credit cards. At the time of writing, I have twenty active cards, with one more on it’s way and looking forward to many more, but I only use two to four for my everyday purchases.

Don’t worry too much about the required spending amounts to receive the sign up bonuses either, just Manufacturing Money Spent to hit them. Even with all of these cards, we travel hackers have excellent credit and pay off our cards in full each month. We are not rich, we just realize that paying the high interest rates on these cards highly outweighs the benefits of having them in the first place. Use these cards wisely, as a person would with a debit card, only buy what can be paid off, and enjoy the free travel that comes with it!

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I will go further into detail about which credit cards are best, which to apply for first, how to manage all of these new cards and rewards programs, and much more info in later posts. Please post any questions you have and I will be happy to answer them!

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