Here’s a list of products or services I’ve used personally and would recommend to my friends and family:
Porte Banking (open on your mobile device) – stash that Emergency Fund and earn 3% APY on up to $15k! Once you receive a single direct deposit of $1,000+ (ALSO giving you a $50 bonus if you use my referral link), you’re then eligible to open their savings account earning the 3% APY. Neither account has any recurring monthly fees to worry about. This rate is definitely promotional while they’re in the growth phase, so get it while you can!
SoFi Money – modern, simple banking with a comparatively high-yield APY checking account including zero fees and ATM rebates. Nice UX. They often have separate bonus offers for their stock and bitcoin investment accounts too. Note: I do not endorse investing in bitcoin, but won’t say no to free money! (you ‘invest’ in income producing assets; don’t gamble/speculate on currency valuations)
Coinbase – a well-known, easy-to-use crypto brokerage that’s unique in frequently offering ~$3 “rewards” in some crypto after watching a few short videos teaching you about that currency. Of course, buyer beware; see note above regarding bitcoin/crypto.
Marcus – great option for a stand-alone savings account with very competitive interest rates and hassle-free transfers.
Ally Bank – no referral here, I just like them. Competitive interest rates, clean web and mobile interface, and serves as my ‘hub’, allowing me to connect up to 20 other bank accounts for transfers (very helpful in churning bank bonuses).
I prioritize cash back over travel, so recommend these cards accordingly.
American Express Blue Cash Preferred – awesome every-day-carry card for at least the first year. Earn 6% cash back on trips to the grocery store (up to $6k/year), 6% on streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, etc., and 3% on gas or transit purchases. Comes with a $250 signup bonus after $1k in spend (25% ROI). This does have $95 AF that pays for itself after spending ~$31/week on groceries, or you can downgrade to $0 AF Blue Cash Everyday (3% grocery, 2% gas)
Discover IT – earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter, but IMPORTANTLY, Discover will double all cash back after your first year, effectively earning 10% back on the quarterly categories! No annual fee to worry about either.
Fidelity Rewards Visa – no referral, but this is my everyday carry card for non-bonused spend that earns 2% cash back on every transaction. Simple, unlimited cash back that gets auto-deposited into my $0-fee Fidelity Cash Management Account (i.e. a brokerage version of a checking account). Sometimes there’s a signup bonus, check here, and they run periodic spend bonuses (e.g., “After $500 in spend, earn an additional 1% cash back through the end of the month“).
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards – when paired with Platinum Honors status under their Preferred Rewards program, this card yields 5.25% cash back from one bonus category (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement, up to $2,500/quarter). The best part is that you can have multiples of these cards to maximize cash back across a range of spending categories.
Chase Freedom Unlimited – an excellent downgrade option from a Sapphire Preferred or Reserve that has no Annual Fee, lets you hold on to any accrued Ultimate Rewards points, and earns 1.5 UR points for every dollar spent. Also worth looking at the original Chase Freedom cards for their 5% back categories that rotate quarterly.
American Express Blue Business Plus – a solid no-AF card that earns an unlimited 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent. Since all MR-earning cards are pooled, this is a great way to keep from forfeiting your MR points in case you need to cancel a different Amex card. Earn 10,000 MR points after $3k in spend (worth $125 in cash if redeemed with a Schwab Platinum card into your Schwab brokerage account).
Mint Mobile – this has been really cheap, fast, and reliable for me, but check if T-Mobile has good coverage in your area. They can charge less by requiring that you pay in 3, 6, or 12-month increments; the longer you prepay, the better deal you get and all options include 5G coverage. Using my referral link gives us both a $15 credit.
Plastiq – let’s you pay many bills with a credit card for a flat 2.85% fee. Although not a money-maker on a regular basis, this can be a easy way to meet the Minimum Spend Requirement (MSR) on a new credit card and earn the signup bonus (SUB). They also run periodic promotions which can be money-makers.
Personal Capital – much better than Mint for managing multiple investment accounts (401k, IRA, HSA, brokerage, etc.) that gives you a complete picture of your net worth, investment performance, sector allocation, fees (expense ratios), and even tells you how you should adjust your portfolio based on your risk tolerance.
Mint – I use it, albeit reluctantly (strong sunk cost fallacy here), but don’t recommend it due to owner Intuit’s poor data privacy policies and how they lobby to make filing tax returns without their software more difficult for Americans. As an alternative to Mint (or PC above), I’ve heard good things about YNAB, but never used it.
Pablo’s Coffee – my favorite local roaster here in Denver