Archives for April 2016

Logitech Wireless Combo MK320 Keyboard and Mouse for $20 (free shipping depends) [updated]

UPDATE 5/1/16: The Staples offer ended, but Office Depot picks up the mantle and offers it on sale for $20 for the first half of May 2016, both at their website and their brick and mortar stores.

Or if you prefer Staples or want to pick it in-store, it remains in-stock for $20 at the Staples website.

The offer at Staples ends on Saturday night (4/30/16), which means the Amazon Prime price-match will likely end at around that time (or earlier).

UPDATE 4/29/16: The Amazon price increased to $26~ for Prime members…

ORIGINAL POST: If you have an Amazon Gift Card and you had been waiting for Amazon to price-match the Staples Weekly Special offer on the Logitech Wirelss Combo MK320 Keyboard and Mouse, your wait is over! As of the time of writing, for Prime members only, this very RF-wireless combo with the universal nano receiver is on sale, in new condition, for $20 with a limit of five per customer at Amazon’s website.

25 Bonus Stars on Packaged Coffee Products at Starbucks

The bonus stars promotions continue to roll out from Starbucks as they try to generate momentum for the new Rewards system. This time they are focusing on coffee buyers. This offer too is sent by email to rewards members, so I have no way of knowing if everyone is getting the offer or some members.


With this promotion, you get 25 Bonus Stars for one package of packaged coffee. This includes not only coffee beans and ground beans, but also K-Cups and Verismo Pods, and their instant coffee, the “VIA”. The last one is the lowest price of the lot, so if you are a fan of that, you can make the most of this promotion.

The offer is good at their own stores, at their website, and at grocery stores. Redemption of the bonus stars varies depending on where you buy it. You can use this promotion up to three times during this promotional period which is April 27 until May 8 in 2016.

Refurbished 11.6″ Acer One Cloudbook for $100 [W10]

If you are going to get a really entry-level Windows 10 laptop, you might as well pay a really entry-level price, $100 with free shipping and free returns. That gets you the manufacturer refurbished 11.6-inch Acer Aspire ONE Cloudbook from Groupon Goods.

This has basic specs obviously, the Celery N3050 CPU (ranks #1592 at cpubenchmark), along with 2GB RAM, 32GB of on-board storage, 1366×768 screen, 02.11ac WiFi, two USB ports (one is 3.0), HDMI out, Bluetooth, SD slot, etc. It comes with a 90 day warranty from Acer. Its full name is AO1-131-C9RK.

Buy $25 Google Play Gift Card, Get 500 Plenti Points

Unlike iTunes Gift Cards, Google Play gift cards are rarely discounted, so this is a good opportunity to scoop them up at a good discount. This promotion is available through the Plenti rewards program at Rite Aid stores. You purchase a $25 physical plastic Google Play Gift Card, and receive 500 points in your Plenti Rewards program. This offer ends at the close of business on Saturday April 30 in 2016 at Rite Aid brick and mortar stores.


500 points have the buying power of $5, which you can spend in future purchases (the morning after your purchase) at Rite Aid or Exxon-Mobil gas stations or Macy’s or other participating locations.

I haven’t seen the weekly Rite Aid ad this week, but these promotions are typically two per customer during this week, so that’s pretty good. Google Play Gift Cards can be used on Apps, Music, Video, and eBooks purchases through the Play store. NOTE: they cannot be used to purchase subscriptions (eg Google Play Music All Access) or hardware from the Google non-Play Store.

PS: if you are not familiar with the Plenti rewards program, check our introductory post.

PS2: these are a great way for cordcutters to buy Season Passes for their favorite TV shows. Amazon rarely discounts their gift cards since they sell at pretty much face value in the used gift card market.

April 26 – May 2: Buy Select Items Get 60 Stars (SBUX Rewards)

This is a pretty good promotion if you are a Starbucks Rewards member and you got an email with this offer. It runs April 26 until May 2nd in 2016, and you have to make a choice before you start using it. There are three different product categories. You have to select from the email the one category you want to participate in. Here’s a screenshot with the relevant parts highlighted in red:


Once you select one of the three categories, you have to buy the listed quantity of items (two or three) in that particular product category during this time period. If you do so, your account will receive 60 Stars by May 13. That’s almost half a reward, think of it as the equivalent of 6 stars under the previous rewards program.

You will only earn one 60 Star Bonus during this promotion. There’s no promo code to mention to the barista, but you have to first select your product category from the Starbucks email.

PS: if you are not certain what qualifies as a “breakfast sandwich”, open the Starbucks app and go to the Orders section and look at the sandwiches there. Sometimes they are grouped together in the display, but not always so. They are probably the best way to get to the bonus since the “Egg and Cheddar” goes for $2.95.

(Date Varies by Person) Personalized Double Stars rewards Begin Rolling at Starbucks (Gold members)

Please note this is a personalized promotion according to the Starbucks Rewards email, so different people will get these at a different day during the month. The point of the post is that the Double Stars Days have began rolling for Starbucks Rewards members, so keep an eye for them in your email.

You will receive an email the day before announcing that tomorrow is your Personalized double stars day. I do not know if each person has the same date each month, or it randomly changes. We will know for sure by the end of May 2016 🙂

The email will say something like this (screenshot):


The new regular is 2 stars per dollar, so with this promotion you get 4 stars per dollar. If you are a regular coffee and tea drinker, this brings it to nearly the same level back when one transaction was one star.

Strategically this is a great time to buy more expensive items, bags of coffee beans, boxes of tea, coffee mugs, etc. For transactions of $5+, the new Rewards program is actually much better than the old Rewards program. For example, if you bought a coffee machine with the old system, you only got one star. With the new system, your stars are a percentage of the purchase price, and a coffee machine is a lot more expensive than $5 🙂

Speaking of coffee machines, Starbucks has seasonal special promotions on them, so if you don’t need them right away, you may want to wait for a seasonal promotion. Mother’s Day is coming, they may have some specials by then!

YMMV AMEX Offers: Spend $100+ at, Get $25 Statement Credit

If you have an American Express credit card, among the latest wave of offers in the AMEX Offers section (after you login to your AMEX credit card account) is a nice promotion on (website purchases, not in-store purchases). If you spend $100 or more, you will receive a $25 statement credit on your American Express credit card.

NOTE: this is a YMMV promotion since I have no way of knowing how AMEX customers are seeing this offer.


Even though the promotion expires 6/19/16, you should activate it (clicking on the “Add to Card” over there) as soon as you can, because the activation period of the offers is often shorter and sometimes they have a limited time number of activations. But once you activate it, you have until 6/19/16 to use it.

There is a long paragraph with all the terms and conditions, so check those out before placing an order. Limit one per customer during this offer. If you have multiple cards on the same AMEX login, make sure you activate the offer on the card you intend to use.

1 Year of Starbucks Gold with a single purchase by May 2

Starbucks continues to ramp up interest and/or curb disappointment in their new Rewards program. One promotion that is running at the moment is that if you are a Rewards member (Green or Gold), and you make a purchase by 5/2/16, you get One Year of Gold membership.


If you are an existing Gold member, your membership will get extended by one year by 5/15/16. Green members will get upgraded to Gold within 48 hours of making that qualifying purchase. You can only get one 1-year of Gold with this promotion, you won’t get multiple years if you make multiple purchases 🙂

Surveys earn you 10 Stars
The Starbucks Satisfaction Surveys have had their benefits very slightly trimmed too. You now get 10 stars if you do one of those random after-visit customer satisfaction surveys Starbucks occasionally emails you. Ten stars is 8% of a reward. Previously you got one star, which was 1/12th of a Reward, a 8.33%. A small percentage, probably the easiest way for them to “translate” this.

With the old program, 12 surveys was one free reward. With the new program, 12 surveys and a $2.50 purchase get you a free reward. Nitpicking for sure, but we are already irritated by the new Reward program, so this adds insult to injury 🙂

April 24-30: Mastercard $300+ Gift Card, Get $20 back promotion returns to Staples

You have until Saturday night (4/23/16) to take advantage of the Staples Rewards promotion (best if you buy items in multiples of $20 to maximize your rewards), but there’s more action at Staples next week.

Per the weekly ad teaser posted on their own website, for the week of April 24-30 in 2016, the Mastercard Easy Rebate promotion is back. You buy $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards and you get $20 back via Easy Rebate. This promotion is a money maker if you can get to $300 with two gift cards. The activation fees of three gift cards are too close to $20, making it a wash. Now if you can find a $300 gift card (a bit of a unicorn), that’s even better.


These offers have their dedicated repeat buyers, so if you want to get it, you may have to be there Sunday as close to opening time as possible. Note also that sometimes they hang gift cards at various parts of the store, so even if the gift card area is out of them, there is still hope ~ assuming you don’t mind walking all around the store (if nothing else it’s a good exercise).

13.3-inch ASUS Zenbook UX305UA for $750 [Win10]

Everything Zen, well, if all goes well 🙂 There’s a discount on another SSD-powered Zenbook, the UX305UA is on sale for $750 with free shipping at Amazon by Amazon actual. This is a Windows 10 device, with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD (hooray, no spinning disks!).

It is powered by the Core i5-6200U Skylake processor which currently ranks #547 at It has a 13.3-inch full HD (1920 x 1080) display of the matte variety with a 170-degree viewing angle.

Other potentially promising specs include a weight of under 3lbs, a 10 hour battery life, and a variety of ports, including micro-HDMI with 4K display support. This has no touchscreen display, but a larger touchpad if you are fond of using touchpad gestures.

If you prefer a touchscreen, there is a model that shares some of the main specs going for $800, it is the ZenBook UX303UA.

Starbucks Gold Rewards: Double the Stars on purchases made after 2pm (April 18-24)

Starbucks continues its “charm offensive” to do some damage control over the disappointment of many regular customers of the change to the new Rewards program that favors big spenders over regular coffee and tea drinkers.


This new promotion, sent via email to Gold Rewards members (keep in mind, I am doing this using my Rewards account as a guinea pig ~ I have no way of knowing if every single person gets it or a subset), gets you double stars for purchases made after 2pm local time at Starbucks stores. Double stars means 4 stars per dollar. This means you need to spend $31.25 to get a free reward (125 stars divided by four). This is essentially the level of the previous rewards program, a dozen $2.50 drinks is about $30 and would have gotten you a free Reward “way back then” 🙂

Having whined about the new program, I should also point out that this has a nice benefit if you purchase multiple items per visit. You no longer have to break your order in parts to get the maximum stars. Since the stars are rewarded on the purchase amount, it doesn’t matter if you buy 10 $2 items or one $20 item. You earn the same amount of rewards 🙂 This is especially useful for “To Go” customers.

There is no opt-in or coupon code, this happens automatically on their systems. The promotion runs April 18-24 in 2016, so even if you don’t know about the offer, you still get the bonus stars (if eligible).

Walgreens (Apr 17-23): FREE After $3 Rewards Snickers Crisper fun size bag

For the week of April 17-23 in 2016, at Walgreens brick and mortar stores, you can get a bag of fun size Snickers Crisper chocolate squares (fifteen individually wrapped chocolate squares with 100 calories each) for FREE after Register Rewards. You pay $3 at the register and the register spits out a $3 Register Reward. You can use that on your next purchase. You have to spend at least $3 to use the $3 reward, you can’t do partials.


Make sure you pick that up before you leave the store. The cashiers are trained to hand them to you, but sometimes they may forget. So make sure you don’t walk out the store without it!

Since this is not a rebate, you can theoretically get as many as you want. I don’t think you can use the Register Reward to pay for it and get another, but you should be fine if you pay with “new money”.

YMMV: Starbucks sending bonus stars via email (must click to add them to your account)

This is a YMMV promotion since I don’t know if every member of the Starbucks Rewards program is getting an offer like these, or only some people or whether everyone gets the same amount of stars. In an email today, Starbucks sent 50 bonus stars. All you have to do to claim them is click on the link in the email. The stars will be added to your account in 24 hours. You must click to claim them by 4/20/16 (ha!).

Here’s a screenshot from that email:


50 Stars may sound like a lot, but it’s really just 40% of a reward. If you assume a reward has a $6 value, that’s like giving you $2.40. Still better than nothing, but it won’t make up for the changes in the reward program 🙂

Speaking of the new rewards program, there is a simple way to think of it: assuming you will redeem your Reward for an item costing $6.25, you are essentially getting a 10% reward on whatever you spend in store. Here’s the simplest example, if you spend $62.50 at the store (in any amount of visits), you will earn 125 stars. 125 stars translate to one Reward. Assuming you select a $6.25 item as your reward, you have 10% ($6.25 vs $62.50).

It should go without saying, make sure you use your Rewards on the most expensive items you typically buy. Don’t use it on a cup of coffee or brownie!

For more details on the new rewards, check our earlier breakdown post.

April 17-23: 25% back in Staples Rewards

If you are a Staples Rewards member, you may want to hold off on your supplies purchases until next week. According to their weekly ad (sneak-peaked on their website every Thursday) for April 17-23 in 2016, the 25% back in Staples Rewards promotion is back!


You need to be a rewards member and show the coupon to the cashier or mention the coupon code (highlighted in blue above). This scans as a coupon in their system but doesn’t count as an actual coupon. It’s just how their register works.

As usual, there are exclusions. These promotions are meant for office supplies and such. You won’t get rewards on gift cards, or technology or other low margin items or items prohibited by law.

Another thing to note is that the Staples Rewards program is not as good as it used to be. You no longer get a flat 5% of your rewards because they only pay out rewards in multiples of $5, and while the remainders rollover within a quarter, they eventually get zeroed out. In other words, your reward is a maximum of 5%. It could be as low as 0%. And this is for the 5% Black Label tier. It’s even worse for the lower tiers. One of the side-effects of the three major office supply chains consolidating into one.

15.6″ ASUS F556UA-AS54 Laptop (256GB SSD, Win10) for $550

Brand new laptop coming out of the gate if you are interested in doing away with hard drives and going the SSD route. It is the ASUS F556UA-AS54, with 256GB SSD along with 8GB RAM and powered by the Intel i5-6200U which currently ranks #572 at

It has a 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 non-touchscreen display, 802.11ac Wifi, a variety of connectors (HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, card reader, various USBs). One thing to note is that the battery is a lithium polymer (LiPo), not the more conventional lithium ion (LiIon).

It comes with Windows 10 pre-installed which can be a pro or a con depending on how much you hate this half-baked abomination of an operating system 🙂

There are no customer reviews of it yet, and it is “temporarily out of stock” but you can buy it for $550 with free shipping, with a limit of five per customer at Amazon by Amazon actual.