Archives for December 2015

[DEAD] Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) drops to $120 (VM)

The new year came (2016) and with it, all the Virgin Mobile USA phone discounts got washed away… But I’m sure they’ll have more sales in the next few days… CES is already underway and more phones are getting announced, so it’s natural for the existing models to eventually go through the discounting and clearance cycle…

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Is the $40 Starbucks January 2016 Refill Cup A Good Deal?

UPDATE 1/10/17: this is back at the Starbucks website, going for $28! Shipping is extra unless you participate in a free shipping promotion (eg orders over a certain amount or something else). Note that if you buy it, it will take a few days to arrive, so if you are doing the math on how many free drinks it gets you, factor that in.

This is not a bad cup, I would value it at least $10 on its own, it weighs about 12.5 ounces empty (without the lid on). It is a true 16oz cup, stays cool to the touch even if you have a hot drink inside, does a decent job of keeping a hot drink hot, fits well in smaller car cupholders as well…


The original post below is for the January 2016 $40 coffee cup which was available when the old Starbucks rewards program was running. The January 2017 cup is now available [as of late November 2016] to purchase at the Starbucks brick and mortar stores along with the Starbucks website. Now that we have the new rewards program, this is an even better deal, because you get 80 Stars (2/3rds of a reward) on the purchase of the cup ($40 times 2 stars) instead of the previous one star (which was 1/12th of a reward). Not only that but if you wait for a Bonus Stars promotion, you can get 160 Stars with the purchase of the $40 cup. That’s 1.28 rewards on the purchase price alone.

The reward math of the drinks have also changed in favor of the $40 cup. With the previous year cup, assuming you got one drink a day, by getting the freebie, you were not getting rewards for the 31 drinks. With the old system, the opportunity cost was around 2.58 rewards (31 divided by 12). With the new program, the opportunity cost is 152 stars ($2.45 per coffee/tea), which is 1.2 rewards. Slightly less if you use a reusable cup ($2.35 per drink). This paragraph is talking opportunity costs, so it is semi-academic in practical terms 🙂

I haven’t purchased the 2017 cup, but I saw it in-store, and the 2016 looks and feels nicer, and it is a more general-use cup. You can use it all year round without looking like a hipster running around with a Christmas cup in July 🙂 Having saod that, you can also get away with using the new one year-long, it kinda fits seasonal patterns (kinda spring, kinda harvest, kinda summer vines) 🙂

Without factoring in the reward math, the straightforward cut-off point is this: $40 divided by the price of a cup. $2.45 if you don’t bring your own cup, or $2.35 if you bring your own cup and get the 10c discount. $40 buys you 16 to 17 cups. So if you are going to be at Starbucks more than 17 different days in January 2017 AND buy a coffee or tea (no fancy drinks qualify), this is a no-brainer.

The above is before you factor in the value of the cup, which is probably somewhere between $10 and $20. Since the rewards program is a factor of the price paid, it tracks the other parameters above.


The PSL may be the most famous of the Starbucks Holiday promotions but it’s only one of many. One lesser known promotion that they run during the holidays is the January cup. You pay a fixed amount of money ($40 + tax this year) and you receive a coffee cup that entitles you to one grande (= 16oz) brewed coffee or brewed tea PER DAY during the whole month of January 2016. That’s 31 days of free 16oz drinks. This is only brewed drinks, you can’t get free lattes or mochas or fraps. Just good old coffee and tea 🙂 Customizations are extra, and Reserve coffees and Oprah Chai Teas are excluded.

As you can see in the pictures below, this is actually a nicely designed cup, modest and stylish at the same time, without it being obnoxious. You can easily use this all year round. It does not scream holiday cup. You get the cup, the lid and instructions.


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[DEAD] Deepak Chopra Four eBook Enlightenment Collection for $2

The special holiday bundle sale expired as of early 2016… Keep in mind a number of e-books are also available to borrow digitally from your local library…

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[DEAD] Starbucks Rewards Members: Verismo 600 machine and Box of Pods and 12 Stars for $59

This holiday temptation expired, but I’m sure there will be more sales before the Christmas of 2016…

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[DEAD] Lucky Rewards YMMV: $5 off $25+ order in-store

This particular offer expired as expected…

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LG Stylo (Boost Mobile) for $100 [no contract]

We have yet another discount on the big screen LG Stylo. You can get in the Boost Mobile (part of the Sprint family) version for $100 with a limit of three per customer at Amazon by Amazon actual. You don’t have to sign up for a plan or contract, just add to cart and checkout. You can use it as a Wifi-only (perhaps as a note-taking?) device. It comes with a stylus, but please note this is not as advanced of a stylus technology like the Galaxy S-Pen or the ones used by MSFT’s Surface tablets. Despite its size and features, this is a mid-tier phone, it only has 1GB RAM and 8GB on-board storage.

Amazon also offers the Virgin Mobile version for $110, with no commitment and no contract. Or you can get that for $100 from VM’s own website as part of their holiday sales.

Discover 5% Cashback Bonus for Q1 2016 revealed

If you are a Discover credit card member, we have some news for you. Discover has official revealed the 5% Cashback Bonus categories for the first quarter of 2016. These promotions run from January 1st until March 31st. You get 5% cashback on gas stations and ground transportation purchases.


Gas stations are fairly self-evident, but they include a long list of examples, including Shell, Texaco, 76, BP, Chevron, Exxon, Conoco, Philips 66 and many more. That list is just examples, it is not an exhaustive list. Basically if a gas station is properly registered with Discover, then it should count. If you are not certain, just make a fillup and wait for your next statement. Or call them.


The ground transportation (see above) is a welcome addition for people who don’t have cars or who don’t drive a lot of miles. They include most of the basics, rental cars, buses, trains, taxis, and also Web 2.0 taxis (Uber, Lyft). Tour buses and charters are also eligible however, they must not be purchased through travel agencies and other similar services.

As usual, the limit is $1500 per quarter per credit card. If you spend more than $1500, the amounts over $1500 will earn the standard cashback rewards like any other purchase.

PS: if you are using Apple Pay, these purchases should register as well for the 5% cashback.

AMEX Offers: Pay $10+ at Hulu, Get $10 Statement Credit

If you have an American Express credit card, logon to your account and check your latest offers. One of them making the rounds is a Hulu offer. If you spend $10+ at Hulu, you will get $10 back as a statement credit. Even though the offer has a long expiration date, the sign-up period for the offer is shorter. So if you think there is a possibility you will use it, add it to your account as soon as you see it. Once added to your account, then you have the posted deadlines to take advantage of it.


If that offer doesn’t work out for you, or you are not offered, there are a few Hulu offers making the round at the Plenti rewards program as well.

[DEAD] Lucky Rewards Members: Update to Latest App version, get $5/$25+ coupon

This app-update “encourager coupon” promotion expired per the previously mentioned deadline…

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Samsung Book Deals options for December 2015 are out

If you have an eligible Samsung mobile device (smartphone or tablet), you may qualify for a free monthly e-book from the Amazon Kindle store. As with many things Samsung, there is an ecosystem twist to it. You have to download the Amazon Kindle app from Samsung’s own app store. This is a plus if you have an S-Pen device, because Amazon made this particular version work with the S-Pen (eg highlight text or blazing fast page turns).

Anyway, if eligible, they have four more ebooks to pick from during December 2015. As usual, you get one of those four for free. If you want more than one, you have to pay for the second and later. You have until December 31 (2015) to make a choice, but don’t wait until the last minute!

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[DEAD] New discounts at Virgin Mobile’s USA website

This sale ENDED in 2015…

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Lucky Rewards members: 500 Points for completing a survey

If you are a member of the Lucky Rewards program, check your email inboxes! They have a promotion that gets you 500 Bonus Rewards Points if you complete a survey. The only way to do this is using the link from their emails. This is a limited time promotion. The points will be added within 24 hours of survey completion.


Their text, as you can see highlighted in the screenshot above, says the results will not be shared with outside parties. I haven’t done the survey yet, so I don’t know what kind of questions they ask. If I ever get around to completing the survey, I will update this post.

500 points is a respectable amount. That’s $5 off a Lucky’s purchase. You can also use your points towards free items that change every few days, but typically you are better off taking the $3 off (300 points) or $5 off (500 points) or $10 off (1000 points) and so forth, since you can use them to buy what you actually want, versus using them up on random reward items. The only exception to that is if the reward item is available at a better “points price” versus the actual in-store price.

December 12: 20% off select coffees, teas & items at Peet’s Retail Stores

If you live or happen to be near a Peet’s brick and mortar coffee shop on Saturday December 12 in 2015, you can enjoy a 20% off sale on select coffees, teas, and gift items. Eligible items include their Holiday Blend beans (regular or decaf) and K-Cups, and their holiday teas (Holiday Breakfast Blend, Winter Solstice, Vanilla Bean Pouches, Chocolate Mint Truffle Pouches, Vanilla Keemun), and some gift items. The offer is not good for drinks or bakery food items. No coupon is needed, the sale price will be factored in automatically within the stores. These type of offers are typically only good at retail locations, not some of their more express store-within-a-store locations.


2 oz of Teavana Qi’Lan Fireside Oolong Tea for $2.50 with free shipping

If you like to try out new loose-leaf teas without breaking the bank, this is as close to a free online sample as it can get realistically. Teavana is offering 2oz of their Qi’Lan Fireside Oolong Tea for $2.50. You can buy it in multiples of 2oz or get 1lb for $20. Their website has free standard shipping on all orders until 12/23/15. This tea averages 4.8 out of 5 based on eight customer reviews. And this is just tea leaves, no other ingredients.

Steeping instructions are included on the above page. Their recommendation is 3-5 steeps, so this is quite the bang for the buck tea considering the price, and the fact that this is actual real tea leaves, not a blend of tea leaves and various fruits and vegetables and spices [meow!] 🙂 So if you are a tea purist, this is a hot deal!


As you can see from the screen-shot above, this is part of their Sales promotions, which includes a few other teas that go for under $5 per 2oz, and those are flavored/desserty teas.

[DEAD] Starbucks Verismo 600 with free box of Verismo pods for $59 (ends Mon PM)

This limited time holiday promotion EXPIRED…

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