Friday, April 28, 2006

Citibank e-savings: get $25 for online billpay

I openned a Citibank e-savings account earlier this month and received the welcome package days ago. I thought it might contain nothing important since I have been a customer with Citi for more than three years. So I put the material in my folder of "non-urgent letter" and didn't pay attention to it. Today I started to process all the letters marked non-urgent and found that actually there was something precious there. After the signature card, direct deposit forms and some rate chart, there is an offer for online billpay.

Starting no later than the calendar month after the month in which you opened the account, pay 2 or more bills each calendar month for 3 consecutive months online at citibankonline.com, $25 will be credit to your account within 90 days from the end of the statement period in which you met all of the above requirement.

If you miss the $200 bonus, you are still qualified for this one. Take a look at your welcome package for details.

No credit and debit card payment on Verizon.com

Starting from today, credit and debit card payment will no longer be accepted at verizon.com. There are only two options for you to make payment online. One is to make a one time payment from your bank account. The other is to set up the automatic monthly payments using direct debit. Of course it is also from your bank account.

According to the email sent by Verizon, you will only be able to pay with your credit card over the phone. Please be noted, however, that you will be charged a fee for that service.

Those change does not impact verizonwireless.com or verizon.net.

Currently both of my local phone and DSL provider are Verizon. It's been a long time that I have been considering the option of the naked DSL. Just didn't get a chance to call them. I sent an email days ago while getting an ambiguous answer. Anyone in New York area got the naked DSL from Verizon successfully?

HSBC online savings rate: 4.5% after Apr 30th

Just got an email from HSBC about the future interest rate

"We are writing to let you know that beginning May 1, 2006, your HSBCdirect Online Savings Account rate will change to 4.50% APY**. This is one of America's leading rates and still 8x the national average*, so you can continue to watch your money grow"

It's totally out of my expectation. I thought it would be something around 4.75%. Now two of the most competitive ones are GMAC and Presidential. Will do some research on those banks and see if I should open another account just for the 0.25% interest difference. Or maybe I would just start to buy some treasury bills. At least the interest is state and local tax free.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Am I missing anything?

Last week I introduced my blog to my friends in China but got reported that none of them were able to access it. Should I change anything in my blog setting? Or is it just that the blogger denies all access from overseas? Have any of you encountered the same problem? Any hint will be highly appreciated.

Open an EZ checking get $200 from Citibank

Citibank rolled out its e-savings account to catch up the rising interest rate in the internet banking competition. And yet in order to open an e-savings account, you must open a checking account first. According to other people's experiences, Citibank is pulling a hard inquiry on your credit report when you open an account. So what will me you think it is worth doing it considering that the rate is not that competitive? Obviously most people would say: a bonus. There you go. Citibank will pay you up to $200 if you open an EZ checking account with them and make 2 bill pays each month for 12 consecutive months.

The special code is CD3J
Deadline: 07/31/2006
Minimum deposit: $1500

Check the bonus terms yourself

To go or not to go, it's all your decision.

Experience on Transferring money between HSBC and Scottrade

I reported that I successfully linked my HSBC account and my Scottrade account last month. To make a test, I made a transfer from HSBC to Scottrade this week. Here is the detail story.

4/23 set up the transfer on the website of HSBC
4/24 fund was deducted from HSBC account
4/26 fund was deposited to the Scottrade account.

Seems the fund has been held somewhere for one day, the same way as the transfer between HSBC and other regular banking accounts does.

Unofficially I heard that Scottrade will have the ACH function by this summer. But the exact date has not been announced. With ACH, I believe that Scottrade will become more attractive.

Please note that Scottrade currently runs a referral program. If you would like to open an account there, drop me a line and I can send you a referral code. That way both you and I will get 3 free trades.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Where do you want to park your money next

The promotion period of ING has already ended. So will be that of HSBC in 13 days. Where is your next place to park your money?

As the Federal reserve keeps raising the interest rate, the rate competition between banks becomes more and more tough. It would be worthwhile to take some time to move your money around so that you could maximize your benefit.

If you are not in need of cash in a short term, you may consider lock up your money in a CD account. Bankrate publishes a list of the highly-yielding CD's. You may balance the terms and interest rate based on your own situation. Just keep in mind that you may incur a penalty if you withdraw the money before the maturity date.


Another option would be the online savings account. It offers the comparable rates with more flexible term. You can link it with your local checking account and transfer the money back and force to meet your own needs. Here is a snapshot of the current rates offered by some of the well-known online bankers.

HSBC 4.80% promotion rate up to 4/30/06
GMAC 4.70%
umbrella 4.70%
virtual bank 4.60%
Citi e-savings 4.50%
EmigrantDirect 4.50%
ING direct 4.00%
You can get a full list here

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Check out the carnivals in this week

Carnival of Investing #17: A Financial Revolution
Carnival of Personal Finance #43: MyMoneyBlog
Festival of Frugality #18: Canadian Capitalist

Thursday, April 06, 2006

No sales tax on eligible clothing or footwear purchase in NYC

Have you been shopping in New York city since last Saturday? Did you look at your receipts closely? You may be surprised when you find that you didn't pay any tax for your clothing purchases or footwear. Starting from Apr. 1st, 2006, the New York State sales tax of 4.375% has been eliminated on any clothing or footwear item under $110. Considering that the city sales tax of 4% has already been chopped off since last September, shoppers in NYC don't need to pay any tax as long as the item price is less then $110. It's really good news for both the NYC shoppers and retailers. The shoppers don't need to go to New Jersey to buy clothes just in order to save the taxes. The retailers would attract more customers and increase their revenue dramatically.

However, in some other counties in the metro area, shoppers still need to pay the county sales tax. For example, in white plains, the sales tax is 3.875%.

Details are posted on nyc.gov
"There is no sales tax imposed on the purchase of clothing and footwear valued under $110. The New York State tax rate of 4.375% (including the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District rate) was repealed effective April 1, 2006, and the New York City tax rate of 4% was eliminated effective September 1, 2005."


Come to the big apple and pick up your favorate item. Don't forget the parking tips I shared before



New "get 5% Cashback Bonus" from Discovercard

The "Get more program" from Discovercard gives you an opportunity to get 5% cashback bonus in some popular categories that change quarterly, four times a year. Last quarter it was for medical purchase. This quarter it changes to gas and automotive purchase. Here is the detail...

From April 6, 2006 to June 30, 2006, you can get 5% cashback bonus if you use your discovercard to make gas and automotive purchases. The qualified automotive merchants include Autozone, Pep Boys, Firestone, Sears auto center and Midas. And all gas purchase and car washes are considered eligible.

It seems less attractive since lots of people have other cards like citi dividend and chase cash plus which provide 5% rebate in gas purchase all year long. However, if your car's maintenance due happens to fall within this period or you need buy some new parts for your car, you may consider to pay a visit to the above stores and see how much extra bonus you can get.

creditcard

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Where is your tax refund

Most of people should have filed your tax return by now. Are you expecting a refund? Are you wondering where your refund is? IRS provides a website for you to find out if your tax return was received and whether your fund was processed and sent to you. All you need input is just your SSN, Filing status and the amount of your refund.
Check this out: link

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Check out the carnivals for this week and last week

I was out of town last week so I owed you a post of the carnivals information. Today I just combine it with this week's Carnival. Enjoy all the great posts from the fellow bloggers.

Carnival of Investing #16: Free Money Finance
Carnival of Personal Finance #42: Okdork.com
Festival of Frugality #17: fivecentnickel.com

Carnival of Investing #15: Fat Pitch Financials
Carnival of Personal Finance # 41: Financial Baby Steps
Festival of Frugality #16: Frugal for Life

Retention offer from Credit Protector Program (CPP)

I posted about the initial rebate offer that I took advantage of from the CPP. I called to cancel my membership after I received the rebate check. And the retention offer seemed not to be cash any more. A representative told me he could send me a gift card worth $30. But I gotta choose the stores among walmart, homedepot and sears. I thought that I could get the gift card directly this time and agreed on this deal. To my surprise, I found that it was still a rebate thing when I received the paperwork. I need to fill the rebate forms and send them to the same rebate center to request the gift cards. The face value of each gift card is $10 and it should be used in three different months. I haven't decided yet if I should go through the same hassle again. I would like to get more opinion before I take any action. So what's your experience about that?

Citibank is introducing the new e-savings account

As the internet savings account becomes more and more popular, Citibank doesn't want to sit behind any more. Last week it rolled out its own version of e-savings account, trying to attract more new customers and retain more old customers like myself. Most of our fund, which has been sitting in Citibank, has been transferred to other accounts like ING & HSBC. The only reason that keeps me from closing the accounts in Citibank is the widely spread B&M branches and ATMs. So when I heard about this new product from Citibank, I opened this account online immediately.

The opening process was pretty smooth and I got approved instantly. It appeared to be a money market account in the account description though. And one weird thing was that I was unable to add my husband as the co-signer online. According to my experience, I think for the current account owner, it should be a soft credit pull, since I haven't received any alert from my credit monitoring program.

Here is a snapshot of this e-savings account:
1. No minimum balance requirement, 4.50% APY
2. Free real-time transfers between e-savings and checking account.
3. To open an e-savings account, you must have a Citi checking account. Or you must apply for one at the time you apply for your e-savings account. (If you can still find the $200 bonus promotion to open an EZ checking account, that would be a good deal)
4. Transfer money between external accounts & e-savings account via inter institution transfers, which is not free.
Type of Transfer Standard Next Day
Incoming TO Citibank FREE $3
Outgoing FROM Citibank $3 $10

5. you can't write checks
6. it can only be applied for online.