Monday, June 20, 2011

PerkStreet Financial

I want to take a couple minutes here to talk about a unique checking account offered by PerkStreet Financial: the PerkStreet Financial Deposit Account. Coupled with a PerkStreet debit card, they offer one of the most rewarding cash back programs in America by offering up to 2% cash back on all non-PIN debit card purchases.

You typically earn at least 1% cash back on non-PIN purchases with a PerkStreet card debit. But whenever your account balance is over $5,000 for a day, they double that to 2% cash back on all non-PIN purchases. Additionally for the first 90-days after opening a new account, they are offering 2% cash back on every non-PIN purchase regardless of your account balance.

The average family earns $600 cash back every year with PerkStreet – substantial rewards that can be redeemed for gift cards at places like Starbucks, Amazon, Target or Best Buy. But PerkStreet Financial isn't just about offering a checking account with cash back, it can be a great tool to improve your financial life. Use your cash back to pay down debt, save for the future or even reward yourself. To start earning cash back with PerkStreet, sign up today!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pandora: A Broken IPO

Shares of Internet music service Pandora Media (NYSE: P) began trading Wednesday, June 15 after the stock's initial public offering (IPO) at $16 per share. Pandora's shares rose on their first day of trading, and peaked as high as $26 on Wednesday. The hype surrounding a new IPO is usually the main driving force behind a rapid run up such as this one.

However in the first day of trading day after its IPO, Pandora closed significantly lower than after the initial pop at $17.42. Yesterday, June 17th, Pandora dropped to close at $13.40 after dropping below its initial $16 offering price on Thursday. Traders call an IPO that has dropped below its initial offering price a "broken IPO". So, Pandora is now considered a broken IPO.

The recent LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE: LNKD) IPO has brought a new focus on IPOs. LinkedIn's IPO price was $45, and started trading on 5/19/2011. LNKD skyrocketed upward going as high as $122 at one point.  However, it closed this past Friday at $65.53. While this is still greater than it's IPO price, LinkedIn's stock price is still much less than its peak.

On this blog, I have written about buying IPOs before. While getting into an IPO can be a way to make money quickly, I have warned that not all IPOs go up in price. A point that I will again underscore is that buying an IPO can involve significant risk! This is certainly appears to be the case with Pandora.

Disclosure: I do not own any interest in Pandora Media or LinkedIn.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Free Walmart Gift Card?

Has anybody heard of a company called Buyers Advantage? They recently sent me an offer to receive a $40 Walmart gift card, and the offer was made through a bank that I used to do business with. Apparently, if I sign up for Buyers Advantage, they will send me a free gift card, and I can cancel within 30 days. Otherwise, my bank account will automatically be debited a $14.99 monthly fee for the service.

But, they left the biggest question unanswered: What exactly is Buyers Advantage? Is it a type of purchase insurance, or a discount program? This point was not clearly spelled out in the offer materials. But in the very fine print on one of the inserts, separate from the reply form that you have to sign, is a brief mention that the service is a price protection guarantee program. It says that they'll refund "the difference between the original purchase price and sale price when items go on sale within 90 days of purchase in the same retail store". The program is offered through a company called Trilegiant Corporation (TLG).

So, the funny part of this marketing campaign is that they are not even trying to sell you the product, but instead are promoting the free Wal-Mart gift card offer. Also in the fine print is that they don't actually send you the Walmart gift card when you enroll. Instead you have to return another form that in included in the membership materials they send, and allow four to five (more) weeks for delivery.

After I saw how many hoops there are to jump through to get a $40 gift card, I decided not to enroll in this program. But, I'm curious if any of my readers have signed up for Buyers Advantage, and what experiences they had. I am wondering if there are complaints about this company, or if this is a scam? Did you get charged for something you didn't really want?