Archive for the financial Category

Dregs on a Gift Card

So I have an American Express gift card with exactly $.67 of value left on it. That’s not dollars – that’s cents. So what do I do with it?

I really doubt I can walk into Whole Foods and ask them to take 67 cents off this card toward my next purchase. Any time I’ve tried to get them to help me drain a gift card in the past, they round down to the nearest dollar.

Of course, I do have a few merchant accounts for my businesses, so I could just charge it that way, but then a) it’s taxable and b) I pay probably half the value in transaction fees.

The real winner here is, obviously, American Express. Not only do they get an upfront fee on the card (it looks like it’s $4.95) but they probably get the leftover dregs maybe half the time. I’ll bet that adds up to some serious money. It’s a business I’d like to be in.

I wish some charity or some group that is somehow immune to transaction charges could collect this.

35% off eBay with Microsoft

Amazing, but true. For a limited time, and with a LOT of hoops:

FatWallet thread

Essentially, you must:

  • have a account
  • link it to your PayPal account
  • search in live to get to eBay through a graphic
  • find a BuyItNow item
  • verify your credit before you commit
  • pay with PayPal
  • wait 60 days for the credit

But it’s a great deal!

Gift cards are popping up fast – lots of smart sellers are listing things to make part of that 35%. But they go down fast too.

Magazines for Free = Even Better

I guess I’m realizing that I’m a big magazine consumer. I do like reading magazines – lots of fresh views on current topics. My faves are Wired and The New Yorker.

I posted earlier (twice now) on buying magazine subscriptions and renewals on eBay and elsewhere on the web for prices lower than going directly to the publisher. Here’s another way: use frequent flyer miles.

In many cases, your frequent flyer miles will be expiring, if you, like me, have miles on tons of different airlines. I don’t choose one airline over another for their mileage program – I just fly and get miles every time. But sometimes those miles will expire if the account had no activity for a period of time. Redeeming miles counts as activity (amazingly) so I often redeem them for magazine renewals. I’ve even redeemed miles from my kids’ frequent flyer accounts to extend my magazine subscriptions. So you keep the account going, and keep the miles from expiring, and you get free magazines. You can even send them to your friends.

I’ve done this from Continental/OnePass – here’s a screenshot:

and I’ve done this from American – you can find the list of magazines from AA online.

Even better than using eBay or another discounter!

Follow-up on Magazine Subscriptions via eBay

After my first fabulous success with renewing some magazine subscriptions via eBay, I just got this email from my eBay seller:

Hello. You are receiving this message/email from me since you’re one of the buyers from my store.Today, Ebay implemented their new policy regarding Pre-Sale items and they
consider Magazine Subscription as a violation to this policy. We might not
be selling magazine subscriptions on Ebay but our store will be open and
selling different item instead. We will keep it open so we can answer any
order status and refund requests (if any).

So, does it affect the order you already placed? Absolutely not. Your order
was already processed and will still be received within the timeframe provided.

We will still continue selling magazine subscriptions, but not through Ebay.Com,
but one of their affiliates, prostores. Our prostores website address is
Http://www.Superior-Subscriptions.Com. Not all items have been added there
but we’re working to have all items today. So please bear with us while
we are making the transition.

We will provide the same prices and policies. The new addition to transitioning
to a website is that you can pay using your credit card directly and not
signing up a Paypal account. Of course you can still pay with Paypal. You
have the option for combined payments as well.

For more information on the eBay Presale policy, please visit:

As always, we are here to answer any questions you might have. Please make
sure to include yuour Ebay userID when sending us an email or message.


Superior Subscriptions

All strange capitalization aside (this company does sell on eBay, after all) I’m sorry the party stopped just after I found it.

But discount subscriptions are still out there. Just never, ever use the renewal forms right from the magazine. Go to a third party website like or the one above. In my experience, they’re cheaper every time.

Here’s a strange one: buying magazine subscriptions on eBay is surprisingly inexpensive, and it seems to really work. New subs or renewals, there’s a lot of money to be saved.


I had always used sites like for my subscriptions; they’re generally much cheaper than going directly through the magazine’s renewal service, and generally easier too, since you can go online, do four different renewals in one transaction, pay by credit card, and be totally done.

But my cousin heard about a better way: eBay.

We’ve been speculating as to why this occurs, but like many oddities on eBay, we couldn’t really explain it. His theory is that since magazines basically don’t make their money on subscriptions but on ads, they want to raise their paid subscriber counts, thus getting more in ad revenue. So this is another way to get new subscribers (that’s the older term for “eyeballs” apparently).

Here’s an example: at, The New Yorker is $47/year. On eBay, I can find that for about $24 (here’s a link, but it’s a live search, so you may find different prices when you try it). And here’s the worst par: on, the one year costs $39.95, which makes me feel like a real dolt for ever using

I took the plunge and set up a renewal. The company I selected had tens of thousands of good feedback – all from mag subscriptions, at least as far as I could tell. Saved some money . . .