3 More Costco Angles / Loopholes


CostcoStoreFor me, paying for the privilege to shop at a store reeks of buying a seat license for the honor of purchasing season tickets, or a membership to a video rental store.  The latter may sound nuts, but in the 1990s I was a card carrying, dues paying member of Lakeside Family Video.

I’m sure a Costco membership works out financially for some people who buy stuff they actually need.  It was not worth $55 a year for me.  Like I said here, most of my purchases were for booze, taquitos and tube socks.

If you are thinking about joining Costco, here are three things you might wanna consider:

  1. Two people in a household can share a membership, even roommates.  Who are we to say what a household is?  It takes a village!  No H8!  Sisterhood of Traveling Pants!  Who’s with me?!?!?!  I know a couple dudes who got a Costco membership when they were roommates.  When they moved out into their own swingin’ bachelor pads, they kept the membership alive.  Sure, this may get them thrown in Costco jail if their cover is blown.  For now, they split the cost of membership.
  2. There is such a thing as a Costco Cash Card.  It’s a gift card that can be purchased and reloaded by a Costco member in denominations from $25 to $1,000.  Regardless of whether you are a member or not, if you have one, you may use it to
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CostCo BJs Sams Logo

Costco = Non-Members Can Buy Rx & Booze… Cheap!


When it comes to Christmas parties, you are either throwin’ or goin’.  In both cases, alcohol is probably involved.  It can get pricey unless you have a still, or belong to a wholesale club.  But will you save enough to pay the membership?

As you know, membership has its privileges, but so does non-membership. Turns out, you don’t need a membership at Costco to buy prescription drugs and alcohol.  You pay the same price as members.  The same may apply to your area wholesale club.

Years ago, I joined Costco in the Bank of Bur (Burbank, CA).  All I’d buy at their li’l boutique was party fixins and tube socks.  Once I stocked up on athletic hosiery, I pulled the plug on my $55/year membership.

Thanks to Attorney Daniel Perlman for providing me with the chapter and verse from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Rule 27 (b). From Title 8, CCR §27 re: qualifications for licensing.

“Alcoholic beverages offered for sale shall be displayed and available for convenient inspection and purchase by the general public. The licensee shall not refuse to sell, for immediate delivery, to qualified purchasers any item of alcoholic beverages on display for sale.”

I confirmed all this with the store manager. She said that if the greeter at the door is unaware that you can walk in for alcohol or prescriptions, just tell them you are going to “Membership”, then go shop. Check your local Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s to see if your state makes this possible for you.

I Text On The Toilet Tshirt

Get Free Cell Phone Insurance ($600 Per Phone)


i_text_on_the_toilet_tshirtA rash of people in my life have dropped their cell phones in public toilets.  How many people in a “rash”?  Three.

This post’s title is more than a Spam Catcher’s entrée – it’s true.  If you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo personal credit card, you’ll get up to $600 protection (subject to a $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft at no cost.  You can do this twice a year.  If you need it more frequently than that, what’s wrong with you?

Thinking of gaming the system?  Terms and conditions specifically address phones that are lost or “mysteriously disappear.”  This coverage is on the primary phone, and up to three secondary phones on the account.

What if you break your phone, take it swimming, or drop it in a Port-A-Let?  Your provider doesn’t let you out of your contract.  You have to buy a new phone unless you have insurance.

I used to pay Sprint $8/month for insurance before realizing it was a bad plan.  If I used

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Fly American? This One’s For You


US Airways-American Airlines merger moves forwardThe official okie-dokie came down yesterday for the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.  This is an excellent chance to boost your American Airlines frequent flyer miles.

For an unknown amount of time, you can get a US Airways credit card that has no annual fee the first year and gives you 35,000 frequent flyer miles if you make one purchase.  Click here for that application.  I did that one and it worked like a charm.

A few years ago, I got a Northwest Airlines card and bonus frequent flyer miles before they were absorbed by Delta.  Last year, I did the same with Continental before they became United.

Once my miles were safe and sound, I eventually canceled the defunct airline’s card.  This made it possible to get the sign-up bonus on the surviving airline’s card.  It’s a double-dip of sorts.  Had I not canceled the card, the new and improved airline would have eventually replaced the old airline’s card with the new airline’s card – but no second sign-up bonus.

I don’t know if I had ever flown Northwest or Continental, but I knew their miles would eventually become Delta and United miles.  It’s the same with US Airways becoming American miles.

For the US Airways, use the link in this post above.  Other airlines have cards that offer nice sign-up bonuses.  Click on Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on these cards and more.  Email me if you have any questions about which card might be right for your situation.

Photo: nypost

Sweet Charity (Giving Tuesday)


We have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and now Giving Tuesday.

Being charitable is a good thing – especially if it will get the guy next to the red kettle to stop testing your eardrums with his bell.

Some people “tithe” – which is giving 10% of one’s income. It’s like God is their agent and that is his commission. I can hear Him now, “I put you in America, how about a little something for the effort? Thank you. Me Bless.”

We hit the lottery just by being born in the good ole US of A.  Everything else is gravy.  Still, some folks here have legitimate needs.

It’s great to do things for charities. If you were looking for ways to be able to give more to charities, I have a few suggestions that have worked for me.

  1. I have a savings account at my bank that I call my “Donation Fund”. Every month I have an automatic transfer from my checking to that fund. If your bank won’t give you a free interest bearing account, set one up at Capital One 360 Savings (.75%).  That pays interest, has no minimums and no monthly fees. EverBank (.86% for the first year) requires $1,500 to open the account.  It’s amazing how fast those funds will grow!
  2. Now that I have my Donation Fund, when I get a request to Save The Tatas, Bike
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25 Dollar Bill CropSM

33% Off Everything at



UPDATE 12/3/13: It was sweet while it lasted, but this offer is now closed.

For a limited time – American Express will give you a $25 statement credit after you spend $75 at by 12/31/13.  The catch: You must register your eligible card(s) for the promotion.  To see if you’re in with the in-crowd, login to your Amex account and scroll down to see “Offers For You” (screenshot below).

My Modus Operandi:  I registered my cards and then popped over here to buy Amazon e-Gift Cards.  If you click my link, it will cost you the same price, but I’ll thank you today for a tiny tasty referral credit I’ll get from Amazon on Tuesday.

Buying e-Gift Cards meets the requirement and lets you leisurely spend the money at  I once bought gift cards for myself for $75 each, I received an email with the gift card code.  I entered the code in my Amazon account and the $75 is banked in my Amazon account (screenshot below).

This does not appear to be a targeted offer.  Although I received only one email about this offer, I registered my other cards here.  Then, I got emails from Amex thanking me

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$3 for $25 Restaurant Certificates – TODAY Only


restaurantsdotcomREDEveryone eats, right?  Here is a perfect stocking stuffer / Hanukah gift idea.  Today only, you can buy a $25 restaurant gift certificate for $3.  Code “CYBER”.

I’m a late-adopter of because it sounded too good to be true. Then I received $25 and $50 gift certificates from friends. Even though the gift certificate said that alcohol was not included, when I called to make a reservation, the restaurant/bar said alcohol could be included – so ask.

A few months ago, I picked up three. I decided not to use two of them. Both were credited back to my account as two $25 credits. I can use those credits to buy a combination of $10, $15, or $25 gift certificates to ANY restaurant.

So, buy certificates now at the $3 special offer.  Enjoy the restaurants you chose, or use that work-around to go to different places that they offer.

You can search by zip code or city. Certificates do not expire. This deal ends when “Cyber Monday” turns into “Regular Ole Tuesday”.  Click to get some now!

Get $125 + $75 at Capital One 360 “Sale”


CapOne360BlackFriday-OrigShhh!!! Capital One 360 doesn’t know what “sale” means. They think it means to give away cash.

Now through Monday night ONLY, they will give you a $125 BONUS if you open a 360 Checking account and a $75 BONUS if you open a 360 Savings account.  Click on the links to open your accounts.

I have both of these accounts. No Minimums. No fees. No tricks. No brainer.

Black Friday is about deals.  Where else can you actually make $200 in ten minutes today?

When you get back from the jungle of credit card wielding, sleep-deprived bargain hunters, reload your bankroll!

Let me know if you have questions. Details here:

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SmallBusinessSaturday ShopSmallCircle Smaller

Register Now For Shop Small – Get $10 Per Amex


SmallBusinessSaturday-ShopSmallCircle-smallerRegistration for Small Business Saturday is now open.  Click here to register your American Express cards.  You’ll get $10 statement credit per registered card when you use it to spend $10 or more in a transaction this Saturday, November 30th.

I really like this promotion because it is a win-win for small businesses and consumers.  Basically, Amex is buying you something at your local business.

If you don’t have an American Express card yet, there may still be time to get in on this hot, credit card credit action.  While you’re applying, here’s why you should add additional users.

American Express has many personal and business cards.  I’m a fan of the Starwood & Delta cards.  To pick a card, any card, click on Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on these cards and more.  Email me if you have any questions about which card might be right for your situation.

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Sprinkler Boug

It’s Not Water, It’s H2O


We just had our first November rain in Los Angeles.  That means it’s time for my annual post about turning off your sprinklers!  Woo-Hoo!!

The reason you do that is really SEXY: Saving on your Sewer Service Charge (SSC). Hubba-hubba. My most recent bill’s SSC was $24.99. I had paid as much as $155.55 until I wised up.

I will tell you the answer first, because the explanation could put you in REM 3. If you have automatic sprinklers and you live in an area that charges you a sewer usage charge based upon water you use – you might wanna shut them off until Spring. I live in the warm and sunny Los Angeles “Valley”. I shut off my lawn sprinklers between the first rain in November until March-April.

I started doing this a few years ago and my lawn, in full sun, has not suffered a bit. Individual results may vary. Void where prohibited without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball.

Serve your environmentalist side with your “green” stance on water conservation while currying favor with your inner capitalist by keeping “green” in your wallet!

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