Thursday, January 17, 2013

Citi Dividend Card Q1 2013 Categories

I had written before that I have a Citibank Dividend MasterCard. One of the benefits of this card is that it offers 5% cash back on rotating categories of merchants. The main problem I have with this arrangement is that I always forget which categories are currently offering 5% cash back when I am at the store. As a result, I often miss out on the bonus dividend dollars. In order to help me remember, I have decided to post the categories which change every three months here.

For Q1 2013, you will earn 5% for purchases from:
  • Drugstores
  • Fitness Clubs
Note that "Q1 2013" means from January 1 - March 31, 2013. Also note that even if you have a Citi Dividend Card, the enrollment is not automatic. You have to login and sign up for this offer at the Citibank website.

See also Discover Card Q1 2013 Cash Back Bonus Categories.


Monday, January 14, 2013

How Many Credit Cards is Too Many?

I recently applied for an IberiaBank Visa Card. Iberia Bank offers 1% cash back on qualifying purchases with their Gold Card, so I was anxious to get in on the bonus. But to my surprise, I was denied a new credit card by IberiaBank.

The last time that I checked, I had a credit score of 803, and this score is better than 89% of all Americans. Iberia listed the reason for their decision as: excessive revolving bank cards. I have a grand total of 9 credit cards: 2 American Express, 3 Citi cards, 2 Discover ™ Cards, and 1 each from Bank of America and Barclays Bank Delaware (Barclaycard). Barclaycard is the same company that offers the Visa Black Card.

Is this number of credit cards considered excessive? Has anybody else with a good credit score been denied a new credit card for the same reason? What do readers think?


Saturday, January 12, 2013

How to Use a Credit Card Safely

According to the law enforcement agency Europol, data breaches have made the US the main source of credit card fraud in the EU. In fact, they believe that 60% of the losses from credit card fraud result from 'card-not-present' transactions, transactions which involve the use of stolen data from the Internet.

Less prone to credit card fraud is the UAE, which ranks below the US in terms of susceptibility to credit card crimes. Even so, 45% of UAE credit card holders don’t use their card online, despite this being safer than offline use at hotels and restaurants. In such places, credit cards can be copied or the details stolen before the card is returned to the owner.

However, if you take certain measures and pay attention to detail, whether you’re in the US or in the UAE you can avoid falling foul of online fraudsters.

Online Precautions
  • Never supply your PIN number online. You only need this at cashpoints and, if you’re making the payment through a chip-and-pin system, at points of sale.
  • Don't provide sites with your online banking password. They don’t need it.
  • Avoid buying things online in Internet cafes and other places with public Wi-Fi access. You can easily stay logged without realizing it, exposing your data to others.
  • Be suspicious if you return to an online shopping website site and it doesn't ask you for your CVV2 number. Once a transaction is complete, the site isn't allowed to store it.
  • Some websites take part in the ‘3D Secure’ transaction verification system. Despite the name, the system lacks a lot of the cues that indicate a window is safe. Often, the window comes from a strange overseas address that has no clear connection to the trader, the bank or the card provider. Be wary of this.

Offline Precautions
  • Hang up on anyone who calls claiming to be the bank; tells you to replace your card; suggests you phone back the ‘bank’ and then prompts you to key your PIN number into the phone. Genuine banks will never do this.
  • Shield your PIN number at ATMs, take your withdrawal slips with you, and, if later you don’t need it, shred it instead of scrunching it up and throwing it in the bin.
  • If you pay by credit card at a hotel or restaurant, don’t let them take your credit out of your sight. They may steal the details or copy the card.
  • Extremely devious fraudsters change the address the credit card is registered to. Notify your bank if you suddenly stop receiving bank statements in the post.

Protecting yourself against credit card fraud is a matter of being careful and observant. Be wary of sudden instructions to disclose delicate information, like your PIN number or online banking password, and of where you use your card. If anything on a website seems suspicious, don’t go ahead with the transaction until you can confirm the site is genuine. Not going ahead with the purchase is the best protection there is!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reader Submitted Money Saving Tips

Thanks to everyone who participated in the iPad Giveaway. The contest winner chose to receive a $300 Amazon gift card in lieu of the Apple iPad Mini that I was giving away. Perhaps that is a money saving tip in itself. Anyway, I have compiled the tips that were submitted by PFStock readers. I have tried to categorize the tips, and hope that this will come in handy my readers. Without further ado, here are some of the tips that were sent in:

Use coupons:
  • Make sure to use coupons!
  • Use coupons and shop on sales.
  • Use coupons, keep an eye on good deals, and buy in bulk.
  • My best tip is to use coupons on products that you buy.
  • Use coupons and watch sales and check the clearance racks.
  • Use a free coupon with a Buy One, Get One Free offer, doubling your savings!
  • Make a budget, use coupons, buy items on sale and use cash so you don't overspend.
  • Only shop sales, use coupons and make a plan so you don't overspend.
  • Food is a big ticket item, follow the sales, use coupons, cut down on non essential food items,you'll save money and learn to eat healthier.
  • I religiously cut coupons and follow several great blogs that feature coupon matchups at local stores, so I can shop efficiently, quickly and most cost-effectively.
  • My car is a walking coupon shop. I have an envelope with coupons for shopping such as Macy's, Express, Chico's etc. Then I have another with restaurant and fast food restaurants. Then the last is for grocery store items. I continually check Groupon, the radio and newspapers for deals to purchase both for at home and as gifts. We live on what we earn. We do not go out or buy unless we have the money for it. We drive older cars and my husband is in the car business. We save as much as we can in the 401K and have a savings for unexpected expenses. We pay off credit cards, do not take out loans and you'd be surprised what we earn. We would never stop in a coffee shop for a coffee when you can make it at home. We don't drink alcohol so that saves money.

Shop around online and in stores:
  • Always Google or check RetailMeNot for coupon codes for online purchases. Use ebates or another site to earn cash back on your purchases.
  • Check websites for the best deals.
  • Look at sale flyers online weekly and compare prices and coupons.
  • I comparison shop online then search for coupon codes to save extra money.
  • Compare prices every where online and check for coupon codes for free shipping.
  • Always search online for coupons and sales, and if you don't 'need' the thingy wait for a coupon or sale (example: I like 3D movies but they cost way too much, I waited for Black Friday and got them for 1/2 price).
  • Always price compare online before purchasing a desired product.
  • Shop around online, you can find great deals and compare prices.
  • My tip is to set alerts from deals websites for the things you need so that when a good deal comes around, you can buy it and not have to worry about buying at retail.
  • I always check prices on the internet for things I will be buying. I try to shop for groceries from the store ad. I stock up when items are on sale and try not to pay full price for anything.
  • Shop secondhand shops for clothing and housewares!
  • A good money saving tip would be look at other stores before jumping in and buying something because you wouldn't believe how many things I've looked at on one site and kept looking around and have deals on things. Another good tip is look for coupon codes before checking out on sites there are some really good codes out there for free that you can easily find with searches for free shipping and percent off of your total order which helps around the holidays and anytime! Hope I helped and thank you for the amazing giveaway good luck everyone!

Use credit cards to your advantage:
  • Make sure to pay credit cards off in full in month. I keep a list of all our monthly charges, each charge goes right on the list, so I know exactly what we will owe. We don't buy unless we have the money ahead of time. Also, Get a credit card that doesn't charge a fee and look for one with rewards.
  • Avoid credit cards and pay with cash. You will be surprised how much money you will save.
  • My best tip is if you can't pay cash don't buy it. I am currently credit card balance free. (knock on wood)
  • Money saving tip for travelers.. check out flyertalk the credit card threads.. you can literally aty & fly for free with the great sign up bonuses on so many credit cards. [PFStock: Can anybody tell me what the word "aty" means?]
  • If you pay with cash you will spend less. It's too easy to hand over a card and not think about how much you're spending.
  • Plan purchases and watch hidden costs if you have to charge. Getting 18 months no interest and not paying things off is costly. You pay interest on the whole purchase after 18 months even if you only owe a few dollars. BEWARE!
  • Price match, use coupons in store and online, shop around before purchasing, take advantage of credit card rewards and other store loyalty programs etc.

  • Coupon, and organize with a list - the time invested will be worth it.
  • Always make a list and never ever buy on the spot for big purchases.
  • Always use your grocery store's discount card and always look for coupons before you go shopping.
  • Carry your store affinity cards in a coin purse, separate from your wallet. This way, all of your store cards are all in one place and easy to find.
  • Make a list before shopping and stick to it. Resist those impulse buys.
  • My best money saving idea is to take a list when you go shopping and stick to it.
  • Stay out of stores! Only grocery shop with a list - and stick to it.
  • I sign up for loyalty rewards from my favorite stores. Besides that I earn points whenever I use it, I also get special discounts.

Reduce Wasteful Spending:
  • My best money saving tip is to reduce wasteful spending like cigarettes, liquor, eating out...and& to coupon when you will save money faster than one might think.
  • My best money saving tip is to reduce the amount of monthly bills you have to the smallest number possible. For example get rid of cable, you do not need it. You can get rid of all the monthly bills except electricity and phone.
  • I try to save my money because I am a college student.
  • My best money saving tip is to buy something even if you don't need it (except foodstuffs) when it's on sale, especially if you use it, because then you won't need to buy it when you need it.
  • A saving money tip I suggest is don't spend on unnecessary. Spend on needs, not wants!
  • One money saving tip is loose your cable company. With today's platform integration, who needs regular TV? There are so many free options with internet TV and YouTube. I say who needs it?
  • Stock up when commonly used items are on sale.
  • Money Saving Tip~ BUY GENERIC EVERYTHING. Generic is just as good as brand name!
  • Lots of good tips. I try to buy whatever I need when it's on sale and try to save every extra cent I can, which is hard to do today with the high price of rent, etc.
  • I grow a garden in the summer and try to put up as much as I can to have fresh veggies and fruits during the summer and preserved food the rest of the year.
  • I set aside a food budget. I do not use any other money outside of the food money. It helps us plan better and get what we really need.
  • Shopping around and comparing prices... never buy right away!
  • My best tip is wait one week before buying any large ticket (non-essential) item. It truly gives you the time to think about the item and stops you from an impulse buy. It seems so simple but I have really instituted this rule in my life for anything over 100.00 and I have saved a large amount of money doing this. The time also gives you an opportunity to shop around and decide if you really need it and maybe, yes maybe, you forget about the item. If you do, you have saved $ and realized eventually that it wasn't that important (when you think about it again in the future).
  • In addition to using coupons and shopping around to get the best price you should work to keep the things that you have in good working order so that they don't need to be replaced and get as much use out of everything as you can - for example, you can use less than the recommended amount of laundry detergent and still have clean clothes; you can use half as much toothpaste and still get clean teeth, reuse disposable items (with care, you need to be sure that they CAN be reused without harmful effects) or don't use disposable at all.

Live below your means and save money:
  • Automate your savings so you'll be sure to pay yourself first.
  • Pay yourself 10% first. David Chilton's advice will serve you well. Also - don't pay bank fees! Get a no-fee bank account at PC Financial or ING. Use a no-fee credit card and pay off your balance. And finally and most importantly - Spend less than you earn! [PFStock: David Chilton is the author of the classic personal finance book, The Wealthy Barber.]
  • Do not carry credit card balances. Realize you cannot Keep Up With the Kardashians.
  • Make a budget and stay on it and always avoid the temptation to "keep up with the Joneses."Make a budget and stay on it and always avoid the temptation to "keep up with the Joneses.

Plan your finances:
  • Check your banking statements. Be careful of rewards programs where you might have to pay an annual fee!
  • Best tip for saving would be to set up automated withdraws to IRA's, savings accounts, etc... What you don't see in your bank account, you won't spend.
  • Don't necessarily choose the cheapest insurance, choose a company that will cover you in a loss AND has good premium costs.
  • This is not as much a money saving tip as it is a budget on a shoe string. I divide my monthly bills into my paychecks and pay that portion each and every paycheck. This was it is smaller amount and easier to budget.
  • The best tip would be to save more than you spend. Other solutions would be to always survey prices using certain apps that can scan barcodes and also to keep track of daily expenses with a limiting budget set for each month.
  • If you want a new car. Start saving the monthly payment for at least 6 months prior to ensure you will be able to afford it. Also if you save it for 6-12 months at $500 a month that is $3000-$6000 cash. You could use this to buy a used car paid in full and start saving the monthly payment again but 12-24-36 months. This will then give you $6000-$18,000 cash to pay for a very nice car including the trade in value of your car you bought for 3-6 grand.
  • Never spend change, just save it.
  • My best advice is to budget, budget, budget! And, like the above poster mentioned, saved change adds up in a hurry. Lastly, avoid impulse purchases like the plague lol.
  • I believe in setting realistic goals for myself when figuring out what I should be buying and saving. I know my needs vs. wants. I spend based on both, but I only spend on the wants if I have enough to cover those expenses. Too many people spend over the amount they really can afford because of impulse spending. That's bad budgeting. I've learned to plan ahead. Keep a "rainy day" account for those emergencies that may pop up. Plan for the future.

Thanks again to everybody who participated. If you have more money saving tips, feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading this far. If I can afford it, I would like to continue offering giveaways like this in the future. As many readers know, giveaways are usually financed by blog sponsors. I would like to have another iPad giveaway in 2013. You can help make this a reality by applying for an offer on either of these pages:

Most of these offers are free to apply. In return for your support, you will automatically receive 35 entries in the next giveaway. To let me know that you entered, send me an Email or complete the form on each of the pages. Thanks.


Disclaimer: Comments are user submitted money saving tips. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of PFStock.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Discover Card Q1 2013 Cashback Bonus Categories

Discover Card offers a 5% cashback bonus on a "seasonally rotating" list of spending categories. For the Q1 2013, these bonus categories are as follows:

Q1 2013: Restaurants, Movies

Discover has not yet announced what the specific categories will be for the rest of 2013. But based on the information currently on the Discover website, these are my guesses as to what they will be:
Q2 2013 (Spring Style): Home Improvement Stores
Q3 2013 (Summer Fun): Gas Stations
Q4 2013 (Holiday Shopping): Online Shopping purchases

For 2012, Discover offered 5% back on "movies" every season, so they might continue to do that in 2013. You should always use your Discover card if you are at the movies.

It is also worth mentioning that Discover Card is currently highly promoting their brand new "Discover it" card. Here are the bullet points that I know of for the Discover it card.

  • No annual fee.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service available any time.
  • No late fee for your first late payment.
  • Paying late won't increase your APR.
  • No overlimit fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter offered to all cardmembers.
  • Unlimited 1% cash back, not points, on all other purchases.
  • Pay for millions of items with your rewards at
  • Pay your bill 'til midnight (ET) the day it's due by phone or online.
  • Choose your payment due date online or by phone.
  • Lower rate, lower payment or other help after job loss.
  • Automatic expedited delivery of your new card.