Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card Review – $500 Bonus + 4% Back at Restaurants

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Does dining out and take-out describe your daily ritual? Capital One has refocused their Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card with a new $500 sign-up bonus, waived first year annual fee, and a big 4% cash back at restaurants. Here are the highlights:

  • $500 cash bonus after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more.

Capital One says that existing Savor cardholders will be upgraded to the 4% back on dining and other features of the Savor, but will have their annual fee waived indefinitely. No sign-up bonus, though!

Purchase rewards details. Notable about this card is the 4% back on dining and entertainment. 4% is higher than most other rewards cards that offer some sort of boost on restaurant purchases, such as the Costco Anywhere Visa (my review) with 3% on restaurants (amongst other rewards categories), however it does charge an annual fee. Often one of the rotating 5% cash back cards has restaurants as a category.

If you already have one of those cards above, you’d have to spend decent chunk on dining out to justify paying that $95 annual fee after the first year. That $500 first-year bonus will buy a lot of grub, though! Of course, if you do dine out often, you might actually take advantage of their free Concierge service to help you get reservations at high-demand spots.

In case you were curious, the application page provides some direct clarifications on the rewards structure.

What counts as dining?
Purchases at restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges, fast-food chains and bakeries.

What counts as entertainment?
Buying tickets to a movie, play, concert, sporting event, tourist attraction, theme park, aquarium, zoo, dance club, pool hall or bowling alley. Also, making purchases at record store and video rental locations. This excludes non-industry entertainment merchant codes like cable, digital streaming, and subscription services.

What counts as a grocery store?
A supermarket, meat locker, freezer, dairy product store and specialty market. Excludes superstores like Walmart® and Target®.

Statement credits. The rewards on this card are nice and simple. You earn cash, which can be redeemed as a statement credit or a mailed check. There are other options, but none are especially interesting or more valuable than cash.

Credit approval details. This card says it requires “Excellent credit”. Capital One is known to limit you to two consumer Capital One credit cards per person. They are also a bit unusual in that they pull your credit reports from all three major bureaus, instead of just one.

Bottom line. The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has a new $500 sign-up bonus, waived first year annual fee, and 4% cash back on dining and entertainment. The total first-year value of this card is over $500, which makes it worthy of mention. Note the $3,000 of total spending required within 3 months – maybe it’s your turn to put group dinner on your card and have everyone else pay you back to take advantage of that 4% back.

The high first-year value puts this card on my list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Chase United Explorer Card Review – 40,000 Bonus Miles

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

The United Explorer Card is a co-branded Chase credit card that offers unique perks on United Airlines including free checked bags and expanded economy seat availability when redeeming miles for award flights. Right now, the $95 annual fee is waived during the first year. Here are the highlights:

  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket.
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to find that saver award economy ticket.
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit.
  • Priority boarding + 2 United Club one-time passes every year for your anniversary.
  • 2X miles at restaurants and on hotel stays.
  • 2X miles per on purchases from United.
  • 25% Back on United inflight purchases (Wi-Fi, Food and Drinks).
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Your miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn.
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Keep in mind the following terms and conditions:

This product is available to you if you do not have this Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus for this Card in the past 24 months.

This card is very focused on making it a better experience to fly on United. Before you board, you might use one of your free United Club lounge passes. You have the first checked bag for free on United flights, both for your and a companion traveling on the same reservation. The fee is usually $30 per person, each way, so quadrupling that is how they get the value of $120 each roundtrip. You also get Priority Boarding, which helps you find space for your carry-on. While onboard, you get 25% back on your inflight purchases of WiFi, food, and drinks.

Expanded award availability. You earn United miles for all your purchases (double miles on restaurants and hotel stays), but then they also make it easier for you to redeem those miles on Saver level tickets with no blackout dates. Expanded award seat availability is another of the top perks from this card, and I’ve found there is actually a significant difference when searching. If you’re constantly trying to find economy tickets for the entire family like me, this is a big deal. Saver Award ticket redemptions start at 12,500 miles one-way within the continental U.S. and Canada.

Another unique feature of this card is that it offers primary coverage on the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. On most other consumer cards, this coverage is offered as secondary coverage, meaning it only kicks in after your personal auto insurance has been exhausted.

Bottom line. The United Explorer Card offers great perks for folks that fly United even just once or twice a year. The card provides lounge passes, a free checked bag, priority boarding, and inflight discounts. A key feature for miles hoarders is the special expanded award seat inventory for credit card holders to make it easier to actually redeem those miles for economy saver flights.

Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express Review: 6% Cash Back on Groceries ($6,000/Year), Netflix, HBO Now, Spotify

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New added features, bigger welcome offer. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has been updated with a bigger welcome offer and new 6% and 3% cash back categories. Thankfully, their best feature remains: 6% cash back at US stand-alone supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases. If you spend $65 a week at supermarkets, that alone will earn you over $200 a year in rewards. Here are the updated highlights:

  • $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations.
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. (NEW)
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more. (NEW)
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • $95 annual fee.

Basically, AmEx is trying to be trendy and cover things like Netflix, HBO Now, Spotify, and Uber/Lyft. Note that they are removing removing the ability to earn 3% cash back at U.S. department stores benefit on 7/31/2019. This works out well for my spending patterns.

Max out your benefit by buying gift cards at US supermarkets. Every December, I use this card to buy gift cards at a standalone grocery to use up the annual limit and get 6% back. My local Safeway has an entire wall of options, but I usually go with Amazon, Apple iTunes, or Starbucks. You can easily track how much you’ve spent on groceries on your online account. Just go to “Statements & Activity” > Chart logo (Graph and Filter your Transactions), and then click on “Merchandise and Supplies”. Adjust dates as necessary. Screenshot:

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Supermarkets details. “US stand-alone supermarkets” means that superstores, convenience stores and warehouse clubs are not considered supermarkets. This means no Super Wal-Mart, no Super Target, no Costco. Examples of merchants that count (and this is not a complete list!) are Safeway, Whole Foods, Meijer, Vons, Winn-Dixie, Gristedes, Shoprite, Stop and Shop, and online supermarkets such as FreshDirect.

Gasoline details. “US stand-alone gas stations” means that superstores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline are not considered gas stations. This means no Target, no Costco, no Sam’s Club. Examples of merchants that count (and this is not a complete list!) are Exxon, Mobil, Hess, Shell, Gulf, Murphy USA, Murphy Express.

US Streaming Subscriptions details. These are all included:

• Amazon Music
• Apple Music
• Audible
• CBS All Access
• Direct TV Now
• ESPN+
• Fubo TV
• HBO Now
• Hulu
• iHeartRadio
• Kindle Unlimited
• MLB.TV
• NBA League Pass
• Netflix
• NHL.TV
• Pandora
• Prime Video Unlimited
• Showtime
• Sling TV
• SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite
• Spotify
• YouTube Music Premium
• YouTube Premium
• YouTube TV

Annual fee. There is a $95 annual fee, so you’ll want to utilize that 6% cash back on groceries to maximize your value. If you spend the max cap of $500 a month at supermarkets, at 6% back that would net you $360 cash back in a year vs. $60 at 1% cash back. Note that simply spending $31 per week at supermarkets at 6% cash back will result in over $95 Reward Dollars per year to cover the annual fee.

If you don’t like the idea of paying an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases with no annual fee. It currently offers a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. You can also learn more about this card and apply online at CardRatings.com.

Cash back is officially given in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit, gift cards, and merchandise. I always just stick with statements credit to directly pay down my monthly bill.

Bottom line. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express has the key feature of 6% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year). You can now also get 6% cash back on Netflix/Spotify/HBO Now as well as 3% cash back at US gas stations and transit (Uber/Lyft/train). New cardmembers can get a $250 statement credit after $1,000 in purchases within 3 months.

This has been a “keeper” card for me for many years now. I treat it like one of my 5% cash back cards, except there are no rotating categories or activations to worry about. Supermarket purchases (and gift cards) go on this card all year long. Then in December, I use up the rest of the $6,000 annual spending limit on gift cards for holiday presents. With the new features, I’ll also add it as default payment for any streaming apps and Uber/Lyft.

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – May 2019

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Updated May 2019. That space in your wallet or purse is more valuable than you think. Credit card companies are fighting it out, offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to encourage you to apply and try it out. These are the top 10 credit card offers that I would apply for right now, if I didn’t already most of them. Notable changes:

  • Chase Southwest cards – improved 60k offer.
  • Citi American – limited-time 65k offer.
  • United Explorer – limited-time 60k offer.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – improved 60k offer.
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus – bonus offer up to 70k.
  • Expired offers: AmEx Delta Gold, IHG, Barclays AA.

If you pay off your balances every month, then you can join me and many others in funding a huge chunk of your annual travel budget with cash credits, points, and miles. You don’t need to be a “I only fly business class” world traveler. I mostly use my rewards points on domestic economy flights, mid-class hotels, and cheap car rentals. If you have credit card debt, you should focus on paying that off first as the interest charges could offset most of the perks.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Business Card Offers. Small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 2X points on Travel and Dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Alternative: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. 3X on Travel and Dining, Priority Pass airport lounge access, $450 annual fee, $300 annual travel credit.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card

  • 70,000 points (worth $700 towards travel) after $5,000 in purchases in the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • Unlimited 2X miles on every purchase.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $89.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

  • 60,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. 60,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Southwest still gives everyone two free checked bags.
  • More than halfway to Companion Pass. If you can sign up for this one and also the small business version, you can qualify for a Companion Pass in 2019/2020.
  • $69 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Mastercard

  • 65,000 American Airlines miles after $4,000 in purchases in first the 4 months. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Chase United Explorer Card

  • Up to 60,000 bonus United miles. 40,000 miles after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months, an additional 20,000 miles after $8,000 total in purchases within the first 6 months. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your United ticket.
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to find that saver award economy ticket.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

  • Up to 75,000 bonus miles. 50,000 miles after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months, an additional 25,000 miles after $6,000 total in purchases within the first 12 months. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for primary cardmember when using your card to purchase eligible tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Receive a one-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and The Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

  • 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Free Night after each account anniversary year (valued up to 35,000 Marriott points).
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Card

  • 50,000 points (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $100 annual Airline Incidental Statement Credit.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $95 annual fee.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card

  • $500 cash bonus after $3000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Chase World of Hyatt Card

  • Up to 50,000 Hyatt points. 25,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. See link for details and rough valuation of points.
  • $95 annual fee, free night award upon card anniversary.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Improved 60,000 Point Southwest Credit Card Bonuses (Good For Companion Pass)

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Multiple offer bumps to 60k. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the , which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book either paid or award flights. If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, and you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year the following full calendar year. For example, if you earned it in May 2019, you would have the benefit for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020. You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

Points earned from credit cards count toward that 110,000 point requirement, including sign-up bonuses. You can often get very close to that magic number when you add up the potential miles from these Southwest credit cards:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 3,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $69 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 7,500 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list status.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $149 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Value of Rapid Rewards points. Redeeming Southwest points for flights varies in a narrow range, but a reasonable approximation from my experience is $900+ in Wanna Get Away airfare from 60,000 points (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way) . Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. This means that Southwest points are much easier to use than a “saver award” on traditional airlines.

Now, if you manage to qualify for the the Companion Pass on every trip that you book with those points, that doubles the potential value of each award redemption. In other words, 110,000 Rapid Rewards, would usually get you $1,700 in Wanna Get Away airfare, but with the Companion Pass you’d get an extra companion ticket for every flight booked.

A backup option is gift card redemptions. You can still redeem 5,000 points for a $50 a Amazon.com or Wal-Mart gift certificate. That makes 60,000 points still worth $600 in Amazon or Walmart gift cards.

Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person. The fees on the other airlines have crept up to $30 per bag, each-way. That adds up.

Our family policy is to not try out a new credit card unless it offers us $500 in total value. Just the free award flights from the points are enough to satisfy that rule, and then you can add on the potential value of the companion tickets.

Card restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language on the consumer card:

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

Basically, you can get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest consumer card once every 24 months. You can also get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest business card once every 24 months.

Extending your Companion Pass with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest points on a 1:1 basis. The idea is is to book an award flight with those Southwest points while you have the Companion Pass, thus doubling the value of your Ultimate Rewards points as well.

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn 60,000 Southwest points from qualifying for a single credit card sign-up, which in itself can be redeemed for a lot of free Southwest flights. However, if you can qualify for two (one personal and one business), you can get the Southwest Companion pass that provides a free companion ticket on every flight bought with cash or points for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020. Finally, Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person on every flight.

I have added this card to my ongoing list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Best Interest Rates on Cash – May 2019

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for May 2019, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. There hasn’t been much movement recently, and the rate curve is still pretty flat with long-term rates only slightly higher than short-term ones. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much extra interest you’d earn if you are moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 5/1/19.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks like to get away with 0.01% APY, it’s easy to open a new “piggy-back” savings account and simply move some funds over from your existing checking account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I prioritize banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
A common question is what to do with a big pile of cash that you’re waiting to deploy shortly (just sold your house, just sold your business, legal settlement, inheritance). My usual advice is to keep things simple and take your time. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 2.50% APY with a $10,000 minimum deposit. 13-month No Penalty CD at 2.35% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • has a 12-month CD at 3.00% APY ($10,000 minimum) but with a big early withdrawal penalty of 12 months of interest. If you have a military relationship, has a 10-month special at 2.75% APY with add-on option.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, beware that many brokers pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). The following money market and ultra-short bond funds are not FDIC-insured, but may be a good option if you have idle cash and cheap/free commissions.

  • currently pays an 2.44% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, which has an SEC yield of 2.36%. You can manually move the money over to Prime if you meet the $3,000 minimum investment.
  • currently pays 2.64% SEC Yield ($3,000 min) and 2.74% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is more interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF () has a 2.74% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF () has a 2.75% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.

Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes.

  • You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current . As of 5/1/19, a 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 2.42% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 2.39% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF () has a 2.30% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF () has a 2.24% SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL.

US Savings Bonds
offer rates that are linked to inflation and backed by the US government. You must hold them for at least a year. There are annual purchase limits. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest.

  • “I Bonds” bought between May 2019 and October 2019 will earn a 1.90% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More info here.
  • In mid-October 2019, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.

Prepaid Cards with Attached Savings Accounts
A small subset of prepaid debit cards have an “attached” FDIC-insured savings account with exceptionally high interest rates. The negatives are that balances are capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. There is a long list of previous offers that have already disappeared with little notice. I don’t personally recommend or use any of these anymore.

  • The only notable card left in this category is at 6% APY on up to $2,500, but there are many hoops to jump through. Requirements include $1,500+ in “signature” purchases and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month.

Rewards checking accounts
These unique checking accounts pay above-average interest rates, but with unique risks. You have to jump through certain hoops, and if you make a mistake you won’t earn any interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. Rates can also drop to near-zero quickly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling. I don’t use any of these anymore, either.

  • The best one right now is Orion FCU Premium Checking at 4.00% APY on balances up to $30,000 if you meet make $500+ in direct deposits and 8 debit card “signature” purchases each month. The APY goes down to 0.05% APY and they charge you a $5 monthly fee if you miss out on the requirements. There is also the TAB Bank 4% APY Checking, which I don’t like due its vague terms. Find a local rewards checking account at .
  • If you’re looking for a high-interest checking account without debit card transaction requirements then the rate won’t be as high, but take a look at at 1.60% APY.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
CDs offer higher rates, but come with an early withdrawal penalty. By finding a bank CD with a reasonable early withdrawal penalty, you can enjoy higher rates but maintain access in a true emergency. Alternatively, consider building a CD ladder of different maturity lengths (ex. 1/2/3/4/5-years) such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account. When one CD matures, use that money to buy another 5-year CD to keep the ladder going.

  • has an 18-month CD at 3.10% APY ($10,000 minimum) but with a big early withdrawal penalty of 12 months of interest. has a 19-month CD special at 3.00% APY ($1,000 minimum) with an early withdrawal penalty of 6 months of interest.
  • 5-year CD rates have been dropping at many banks and credit unions, following the overall interest rate curve. A good rate is now about 3.25% APY, with offering 3.35% APY on a 5-year CD with an early withdrawal penalty of 1.5 years (!) of interest..
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of and . These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable fixed early withdrawal penalties. Nothing special right now. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 2-year non-callable CD at 2.45% APY and a 5-year non-callable CD at 2.75% APY. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs listed by Fidelity.

Longer-term Instruments
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk, but I still track them to see the rest of the current yield curve.

  • Willing to lock up your money for 10+ years? You can buy long-term certificates of deposit via the bond desks of and . These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable fixed early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, Vanguard is showing a 10-year non-callable CD at 3.00% APY. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity. Matching the overall yield curve, current CD rates do not rise much higher as you extend beyond a 5-year maturity.
  • How about two decades? are not indexed to inflation, but they have a guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate which is quite low (currently a sad 0.10% rate). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. You could also view it as long-term bond and thus a hedge against deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years. As of 5/1/19, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 2.74%.

All rates were checked as of 5/1/19.



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TAB Bank Kasasa Cash Checking Review: 4% APY (Up to $50k) w/ Activity Requirements

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TAB Bank has a account that offers 4% APY on balances up to $50,000 if you meet certain deposit activity and debit card transaction requirements. However, they include some vague language that lets them withhold your interest based on their subjective opinion. Details below.

FDIC confirmation and eligibility. I was able to find TAB Bank at FDIC.gov under “Transportation Alliance Bank, Inc. D/B/a Tab Bank” with FDIC certificate #34781 and domain tabbank.com. Since this isn’t a credit union, you don’t need to worry about joining a member organization or maintain a share savings account. Anyone nationwide can apply online and fund using ACH transfer. They also say that they won’t perform a credit inquiry for a checking account.

Monthly requirements. To qualify for the 4% APY on balances up to $50,000 and up to $15 in ATM fee rebates per month, you must have the following during each monthly qualification cycle:

  • At least 1 direct deposit, ACH payment, or bill pay transaction.
  • At least 15 debit card purchases, and each must be $5 or more. When using your card, choose the credit option and bypass using your PIN.

If you don’t meet these requirements, there is no monthly fee but you lose the ATM rebates and your interest rate is only 0.05% APY.

Potential catch? Vague fine print. If you read through their ], you will find the following vague assertions:

Purpose and expected use of accounts – The Kasasa Cash account is intended to be the accountholder’s primary checking account in which payroll transactions and day-to-day spending activities including but not limited to grocery, gasoline, apparel, shopping, dining, sporting and entertainment transactions are posted and settled.

[…] You will automatically qualify for the account’s rewards during your account’s first statement cycle. If the account is closed before rewards are credited, you will forfeit the rewards.

[…] Commensurate with the spending activities identified above, we expect the account’s debit card to be used frequently throughout each month and for transaction amounts to reflect a wide dollar range. Small debit card transactions conducted on the same day at a single merchant and/or multiple transactions made during a condensed time period particularly near the end of a Monthly Qualification Cycle are not considered normal, day-to-day spending behavior. These types of transactions appear to be conducted with the sole purpose of qualifying for the account’s rewards and thus will be deemed inappropriate transactions and will not count toward earning the account’s rewards.

[…] TAB Bank reserves the right to determine if the Kasasa Cash account is being maintained for a purpose other than day-to-day, primary use. Accountholders who persist in making debit card transactions in a calculated and limited fashion in order to meet their monthly qualifications may have their accounts converted to a different checking account or closed altogether.

Basically, they reserve the right to change up the requirements to whatever they want. We know that banks make money when we use your debit card. However, if you want your customers to use it more, then just make your requirements higher. You already added the $5 minimum per transaction. Just say you want 15 transactions with a combined total of $1,000 or similar. Make the rules fair, clear, and transparent.

Good deal? The interest rate is good, but the vague rules make this account not worth the bother. They are allowed to judge what I am “supposed” to buy on a day-to-day basis as a “normal” person? Pass! If you put in a sizable balance, that’s $100+ of monthly interest that they can withhold for no solid reason (and are actually incentivized to do so as it saves them money).

For now, I would compare with the Orion FCU 4% APY checking account, which doesn’t play such games, is more upfront and understandable. If they make the rules transparent (even if more restrictive), I would reconsider.

Bottom line. TAB Bank has a rewards checking account called that offers 4% APY on balances up to $50,000 if you meet certain deposit activity and debit card transaction requirements. However, they hide in the fine print that they can withhold your interest based on their subjective opinion. If they judge you ineligible, you will earn virtually no interest (0.05% APY).

Here are the rest of the Best Interest Rates on Cash.

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M1 Finance $100 Brokerage Transfer Bonus

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Extended through May 7th. As noted in my post on best online brokers, my favorite option in the now-crowded “robo-advisor” category is now . Here’s a quick rundown of what makes them different:

  • Fully customizable. You pick your own ETF asset allocation “pie”. (You can add individual stocks too.) You can simply copy one of the many model portfolios out there, or tweak it as you like. You have full control! Here is my pie which I named the .
  • No commissions. Free stock/ETF trades with a low $100 minimum account size for taxable accounts and a $500 minimum for retirement accounts.
  • No management fee. Most robo-advisors charge an annual management fee of 0.25% to 0.50% of assets (or force you to own something bad, like artificially low-interest cash).
  • Automatic rebalancing. M1 will rebalance your portfolio back to the target allocation for you automatically (for free). You don’t need to do any math or maintain any spreadsheets.
  • Fractional share ownership. For example, you can just set it to automatically invest $100 a month, and your full amount will be spread across multiple ETFs. Dollar-based transactions were one of the good things about buying a mutual fund, but it seems that ETFs are the future due to their lower costs and tax-efficient structure. Fractional shares solve this problem.

Short version: Free and DIY, of course I like it!

How do they make money? Here’s how . As commissions shrink, this is the business model for pretty much all online brokers now:

1) Interest on idle cash (can be minimized as you can auto-invest all idle cash in the investment account)
2) M1 Borrow (margin loan interest)
3) M1 Spending (debit card generates fees for them)
4) Payment for order flow (same as Robinhood and TD Ameritrade)
5) M1 Plus (premium subscription that gets you higher interest rates and debit card cash back).

$100 account transfer bonus. Now through May 7th, they will give you a $100 cash bonus if you perform a brokerage account transfer of $20,000+ over to M1. Works with both taxable and IRA accounts. Via their post on , this bonus should basically cover the cost of any outgoing fee. The most common transfers come from Vanguard, Betterment, Wealthfront, Robinhood, E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and Schwab.

Here is a . Here are the main steps:

  • First, you’ll need to . For a smooth transfer, your M1 account type should match your current account type. For example, a Joint account should be transferred to a Joint account and a Roth IRA should be transferred to a Roth IRA. If you choose to change account type in a transfer, it will require additional paperwork.
  • Email them at “[email protected]” with your most recent account statement and any additional instructions, including directions on which securities you do and do not want transferred.
  • Transfers typically take 7-10 days. The $100 bonus will appear in your M1 account on July 15.

Bottom line. M1 is a new brokerage account that acts like a free, customizable robo-advisor with automatic rebalancing into a target portfolio. I am trying them out with my 2019 IRA contribution. Right now, there is also a transfer bonus if you move $20,000+ over to them from another broker.

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard Review – 65,000 Bonus Miles

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Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard Art

The has an improved limited-time offer.  Here are the updated card highlights:

  • Limited-time: Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at restaurants*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • Receive 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Annual fee $99, waived for the first 12 months.

Bonus details. Note the following language for the personal card. Basically, to get the personal card bonus, you can’t have had the personal card opened or closed within the last 24 months. Having the business version is okay.

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

To clarify, you can have one of both the consumer version of this card and the CitiBusiness® version designed for businesses under your name. The bonuses are also separate. You can get one consumer bonus every 24 months, and you can also get one business bonus every 24 months.

Baggage fee value. Currently, American Airlines recently joined the other airlines and now charges $30 one-way for the first checked bag and $40 one-way for the second checked bag in Economy. That’s $60 roundtrip for a single checked bag, per person. With this card, your first checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation.

Redemption tips. American Airlines MileSAAver awards are still 25,000 miles for a round-trip ticket within the contiguous 48 states. Their online system is pretty good for looking for domestic AA awards. If the trip is less than 500 miles, then it is only 15,000 miles round-trip within the contiguous 48 states. Under-500 miles routes include Las Vegas to/from Los Angeles, Charleston to/from Miami, New York to/from Washington DC, Philadelphia to Boston, and many others.

This card also makes you eligible for , where you save up to 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver® awards to select destinations on American Airlines operated flights.

Bottom line.  The has a 65,000 mile limited-time offer. As with most of these co-branded cards, a lot of the ongoing value comes when you fly on American and utilize the free first checked bag benefit for you and up to 4 companions (recently increased to $60 per person, round-trip).

There is also a Barclays co-branded American Airlines card, and that version has its own limited-time offer of 60,000 bonus miles without a spending hurdle requirement (just make any single purchase on the card), while it does charge a $99 annual fee for the first year. You can find both that card and this card on the current list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Healthywage Review: Bet on Yourself, Get Paid To Lose Weight ($100 Prize Bonus)

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(Update: If you missed it in January, HealthyWage is offering a for limited-time until April 22nd. This can potentially double your winnings!)

hw_logoAfter reading academic studies which found that financial incentives were effective in helping people lose weight, I joined . You tell them how much weight you want to lose, your current body details, how much time you want, and and they’ll calculate what prize to offer you based on how much you want to bet on yourself. Since I eventually lost 50 pounds with the help of HealthyWage and other weight-loss betting sites (and have kept it off since), and I wanted to share my experiences including both positive and negative aspects.

My overall HealthyWage bet was to lose 10% of my body weight over 9 months (22 pounds in my case). My offered bet was to put up $50 per month for 9 months for a potential win of $50. You may like the sound of “winning $500”, but know that a lot of it will be your own money:

Honestly, risking $450 to win $50 didn’t feel like a very good risk/reward ratio, but I wanted the extra motivation. Perhaps my goal was too easy and that was why the payout wasn’t as high. You can put up your own numbers and . Your payout may be much better than mine. The quote is free, you just need to provide any e-mail address.

If I had been willing to bet that I would lose 50 pounds like I actually ended up doing, I could have earned a lot more money:

Initial weigh-in verification. There are four ways to verify your weight:

  1. Smartphone app. There is a HealthyWage app for iOS and Android. You take a clip using the app and your personal scale.
  2. Video Verification. Upload a video to their website using your personal scale.
  3. Verification by a Fitness or Health Professional – Bring a form to your “local gym, pharmacies, corporate wellness clinics, walk-in clinics, HR reps, nurses, your personal doctor, your personal trainer or your chiropractor.”
  4. Verification at a Weight Watchers Meeting.

I followed their carefully, uploaded my video, and both my initial and final videos were accepted with no issues or additional requests.

Every month, I would see a $50 charge on my credit card bill from Healthwage. However, that was about it. There were no encouraging e-mails. No fun tokens or prize giveaways.

Upon initial sign-up, I was given my 2-week window for final weigh-in. HealthyWage’s two-week window is definitely more generous than DietBet’s 48-hour window, with the important difference that I was never sent any reminders by HealthyWage when the time actually came. In comparison, Dietbet sent me multiple reminders beforehand. Now, I had the date marked on my digital calendar with several alerts, so I completed my weigh-in by the second day of the window. It is quite possible that if I waited until closer to the final deadline, I would have gotten a reminder. But I wouldn’t rely on it. Remember, if you forget, they keep your money!

I also did a DietBet at the same time, which is similar but different in that it collects participants into groups and then takes a cut from the pooled bets. See my separate DietBet Review.

Extra final verification hoops. Upon final weight verification, you’ll have to submit the verification video again (see above). But that’s not all. I also had to locate and upload a “before photo” and an “after photo”, which could be any photo from “around the time” of the start and end of the challenge. I also had to upload a scan of my driver’s license. Here’s a screenshot of their page asking for additional information.

Finally, I successfully referred a few people to Healthwage and received extra money added my “pot”. This referral program is nice feature to get some social support, but remember that you get the referral money only if you win your own bet.

Final payout options. There are two options to receive your winnings. A mailed check takes 3-4 weeks to process, with no fee. The other “fast” option is PayPal, which charges a 3% fee. I picked the PayPal option because I didn’t want to wait around for a check. However, they later clarified that it would still take 3-5 business days for Paypal transfer. The 3% fee is taken out by PayPal, so HealthyWage actually sends the full amount (they just choose not to subsidize the fee). In retrospect, maybe I should have just waited for the check. Here’s a screenshot:

hw_finalpay

Bottom line. I committed to a Healthywage bet to lose 10% of my initial weight over 9 months. I lost the weight, completed my verifications without hassle, won the bet, and was paid my winnings. Although I found the process a bit impersonal, they are a legit company. No obligation to get a quote. However, the fact that HealthyWage motivated me to finally lose over 50 pounds was worth more to me than the cash winnings.

(Update: If you missed it in January, HealthyWage is offering a for limited-time until April 22nd. This can potentially double your winnings!)

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Schwab Commission-Free ETF List Review (Updated 2019)

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ETFs are surpassing mutual funds as the standard building blocks of stock and bond portfolios. Here’s a closer look at the latest updates to the Charles Schwab commission-free ETF list. While the commercials often focus on quantity instead of quality, I will do the opposite. Here are the factors that I think are important:

  • Total Assets. This is a measure of popularity and reputation. A more popular ETF will have a smaller bid/ask spread and won’t have to liquidate in a bear market. A more reputably ETF manager will have lower index tracking error. However, ETF size isn’t everything.
  • Index/Asset Class. What index does it track? Does that index cover an asset class that I want to include??
  • Cost. What is the expense ratio? Low costs are important.

Schwab Commission-Free ETF full list. This includes a full list of their 503 commission-free ETFs.

Brief history of changes. In , Schwab announced that it would increase the number of commission-free ETFs on their list to 503 as of March 1st, 2019, including no early redemption fees (no minimum holding period). Here is the list of , including 90 iShares ETFs.

Schwab’s ETF OneSource started in February 2013 with 103 commission-free ETFs including many in-house ETFs. Schwab has become very competitive with Vanguard and iShares by developing their own brand of low-cost, index ETFs. Outside providers now include: Aberdeen Standard Investments, ALPS Advisors, DWS Group, Direxion, Global X ETFs, IndexIQ, Invesco, iShares ETFs, John Hancock Investments, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, OppenheimerFunds, PIMCO, State Street Global Advisors SPDR® ETFs, USCF, WisdomTree and Charles Schwab Investment Management.

In March 2017, Schwab dropped their standard stock commission to $4.95 per trade + $0.65 per options contract. In addition, expenses for the Schwab market cap-weighted index mutual funds were lowered to match their Schwab ETF equivalents. Schwab Index mutual funds now have no investment minimum.

Largest ETFs on Schwab Commission-Free ETF list. Here are the top 20 most popular ETFs on their list, sorted by largest total assets. Also listed are the asset class and expense ratios.

ETF Name (Ticker) Asset Class Expense Ratio
iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) US Total Bond 0.05%
iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) US Corporate Bonds 0.15%
iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA ETF (USMV) US Low Volatility 0.15%
iShares TIPS Bond ETF (TIP) US Inflation-Protected Bond 0.19%
iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF (SHY) Short-Term Treasury Bond 0.15%
iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF (EMB) Emerging Markets Bond 0.39%
Schwab International Equity ETF (SCHF) International Developed 0.06%
iShares MBS ETF (MBB) US Mortage-Backed Bonds 0.09%
iShares MSCI Japan ETF (EWJ) International Country Stock 0.47%
iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG) US High-Yield Corporate Bond 0.49%
Invesco S&P 500® Equal Weight ETF (RSP) US Large-Capk 0.20%
Schwab U.S. Large-Cap ETF (SCHX) US Large Cap Blend 0.03%
Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF (SCHB) US Total Stock 0.03%
iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond ETF (IEF) Interm-Term Treasury Bond 0.15%
iShares National AMT-Free Muni Bond ETF (MUB) Municipal Bond 0.07%
iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) Long-Term Treasury Bond 0.15%
iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol EAFE ETF (EFAV) International Developed Stock 0.20%
iShares Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF (IGSB) US Short-Term Corporate Bond 0.06%
Invesco S&P 500® Low Volatility ETF (SPLV) US Large-Cap Stock 0.25%
iShares Edge MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF (QUAL) US Large-Cap Stock 0.15%

 

Lowest Expense Ratio ETFs on Schwab Commission-Free ETF list. Here are the top 20 cheapest ETFs on their list, sorted by lowest expense ratio.

ETF Name (Ticker) Asset Class Expense Ratio
Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF (SCHB) US Total Stock 0.03%
Schwab U.S. Large-Cap ETF (SCHX) US Large Cap Blend 0.03%
SPDR Portfolio Large Cap ETF (SPLG) US Large Cap Blend 0.03%
SPDR Portfolio Total Stock Market ETF (SPTM) US Total Stock 0.03%
SPDR Portfolio Developed World ex-US ETF (SPDW) International Developed Stock 0.04%
Schwab U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (SCHZ) International Developed Large Cap Blend 0.04%
SPDR Portfolio Aggregate Bond ETF (SPAB) US Total Bond 0.04%
Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF (SCHG) US Large-Cap Growth 0.04%
SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 Growth ETF (SPYG) US Large-Cap Growth 0.04%
Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Value ETF (SCHV) US Large-Cap Value 0.04%
SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 Value ETF (SPYV) US Large-Cap Value 0.04%
Schwab U.S. Mid-Cap ETF (SCHM) US Mid-Cap 0.04%
Schwab U.S. Small-Cap ETF (SCHA) US Small-Cap 0.04%
Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF (SCHP) US Inflation-Protected Bond 0.05%
Schwab 1000 Index ETF (SCHK) US Large-Cap Blend 0.05%
SPDR Portfolio Mid Cap ETF (SPMD) US Mid-Cap 0.05%
SPDR Portfolio Small Cap ETF (SPSM) US Small-Cap 0.05%
SPDR Bloomberg Barclays Corporate Bond ETF (CBND) US Corporate Bond 0.06%
Schwab International Equity ETF (SCHF) International Developed 0.06%
Schwab Intermediate-Term U.S. Treasury (SCHR) US Treasury Bond 0.06%

 

Commentary. Overall, Schwab’s OneSource ETF list does include a good mix of Schwab ETFs with good management, low costs, and low bid/ask spreads. There are also a few good iShares and SPDR ETFs that could be potential ETF pairs for tax-loss harvesting. A DIY investor should find it easy create a diversified portfolio of ETFs according to their desired asset allocation, if you know what you are looking for. With 500+ ETFs, many will be short-lived duds, while still others are ETFs that track a very similar index but are much more expensive than the competition.

“My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of selected credit card products. My Money Blog and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and the content has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Datenfluss.info is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this independent site.”

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review – 3X Ultimate Rewards Points Per Dollar On Up To $20K In Spending During First Year

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Chase Freedom UnlimitedThe Chase Freedom Unlimited Card is a no-annual-fee rewards card which earns a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases (or a possibly more valuable 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent). This is a different card from the popular Chase Freedom, which has 5% cash back on rotating categories every quarter and then 1% cash back on all other purchases. Here are the highlights:

  • Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Redeem for cash – any amount, anytime.
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum.
  • No annual fee.

1.5% cash back on all purchases might have been a great percentage number several years ago, but there are now at least a few competitors with higher effective cash back rates.

But wait, you actually get Ultimate Rewards Points! The lesser-known perk of this card is that you actually earn Ultimate Rewards points, which are in turn redeemable for cash back at a rate of 100 points = $1 in cash back, or 1 cent per point. Ultimate Rewards points are worth collecting because of their flexibility. (I hope Chase doesn’t forget this fact.) This is important because there are many ways in which Ultimate Rewards points can be worth much more than 1 cent per point.

If you have also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred Card, then you can pool all of your Ultimate Rewards points together (even with your spouse/partner as an authorized user) and thus utilize all of the same transfer partners with the following results:

  • Earn 3 United Mileage miles per dollar spent on ALL purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
  • Earn 3 Hyatt points per dollar spent on ALL purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
  • Earn 3 British Airways Avios per dollar spent on ALL purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
  • Earn 3 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on ALL purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.

Let’s say you spend the full $20,000 during the first year. That’s $600 cash back or $750 toward any travel (with Sapphire Preferred and Ink Preferred Business) or $900 towards any travel (with Sapphire Reserve). Or with any of those three cards, that’s 60,000 United Miles, 60,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points, or 60,000 Hyatt points. Finally, this card has no annual fee and is worth keeping around past the first year.

Keeper value. After the first year, you can still:

  • Earn 1.5 United Mileage miles per dollar spent on ALL purchases.
  • Earn 1.5 Hyatt points per dollar spent on ALL purchases.
  • Earn 1.5 British Airways Avios per dollar spent on ALL purchases.
  • Earn 1.5 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on ALL purchases.

Notice that you are earning more miles and points on ALL purchases than even the specific co-branded cards from United or Hyatt themselves! Most of them just offer 1 point/mile per dollar spent on all purchases.

If for example, you placed a perceived value of 1.5 cents on each United Airlines mile or Hyatt hotel point, then you’d receive 2.25 cents of perceived value per dollar spent with this card. Your actual numbers will depend on your own specific redemption choices, but you can see that you can definitely exceed 2% cash back value on an ongoing basis with the Sapphire Preferred/Freedom Unlimited combo.

If you would like the opportunity to earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories each quarter, compare with the Chase Freedom card. You can have both a Freedom and a Freedom Unlimited card, but you’ll have to apply for each card separately. I think this is actually a great idea if you plan to keep a Sapphire Preferred/Sapphire Reserve/Ink Preferred cards as well.

Restrictions. This card is subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language on the consumer card:

This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Bottom line. As a plain cash back rewards card, the 1.5% cash back of the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be exceeded by other 2% cash back cards. The key factor for those in the know is that if you or your partner also has the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred Business cards, then this card allows you to receive the equivalent of 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on every purchase (3X Ultimate Rewards points during the first year on up to $20,000 in purchases). If you value other travel points like United Airlines miles, Hyatt points, or Southwest Rapid Rewards points, then by earning Ultimate Rewards you can obtain solid rewards value and flexibility from this card.

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