Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Citi Professional Card: Back in Business... (an update)

Back in the building, back on the map. My credit card rewards were corrected in fact.

So earlier I wrote about a troubles with my Citi Professional Card, as I had been shorted the 1% back on everything and the 3% back on restaurants. Recently I got my statement where my rewards were correctly adjusted and my new purchases correctly reflected my purchases.

Now although the rewards information was correct, the thing that worried me more was the balance of my bill. Ever since I got the card, it seems that my balances have slowly been climbing. Although there was a big jump this month, it was due to some Christmas shopping and a fancy dinner at Cafe Grey. That being said, I'm glad to have gotten 3% back on my near $300 bill from the feast at Cafe Grey. Who knew rabbit, fish, and all that stuff I never really eat could cost so much? Anywho, I think my balances will continue gradually rising as my girlfriend from Tampa has come back to NYC. She's definitely a food monster and I will continue to be greatful for the 3% back on restaurants.

In other news, I cannot express enough how much I enjoy this holiday season. Family, friends, food and just good times. Now if only work didn't get in the way...

One Love,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Toyota to become #1 Automaker


After 75 years atop of the automotive world, GM (NYSE: GM) is poised to lose its coveted crown to Toyota (NYSE:TM) in 2007. While the de-throning of GM has been expected for a while, this is finally becoming a reality as Toyota continues to open factories across the globe, to increase its world-wide presence, while GM continues shutting down factories and laying off workers solidifying its descent. I for one would rather buy a Toyota's Scion/Toyota/Lexus lineup rather than spend a simliar amount on GM's Saturn/GMC/Lincoln which have less bang for the buck and considerable quality nightmares.

A quick look at the stock prices of both these companies shows the picture. On the top, its clear that Toyota's value has well surpassed GM for a while, with its value over 4X that of GM. Perhaps one the biggest events that insured GM's death knell was news in November that major GM Shareholder Kirk Kerkorian would be selling his shares. Previously, he had ramped up in the stock building his holdings to 56 million shares. Thanksgiving week, he sold off 14 million shares lowering his stake to 42 million shares and showing his lack of trust in the company.

Toyota (TM)

General Motors (GM)

Who knows what 2007 will hold for this struggle of power. As customers demand quality and innovation, Toyota can stay on top of its game by continuing to offer the quality cars that have topped Consumer Reports most reliable cars list for years. While I forsee a quick rebound by GM as highly unlikely, Toyota may not have smooth sailing after reaching the top. Time will tell if its ultra aggressive expansion will cause havoc on quality controls as it spreads production around the globe. It may run into some of the same problems faced by GM and for the sake of brevity, instead of giving TM a STRONG BUY rating, I place a watchful BUY on Toyota's stock. As for GM, with no bright prospects in sight I keep a SELL rating GM's stock.

One Love,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

CDs? Nah, stay liquid with online savings...

If you're lookin for a place to stash your holiday cash, you might want a traditional CD to get a guaranteed rate of return. In this day and age, however, look no further than online savings accounts. They offer comparable rates to traditional CDs, but lack the restrictions of being able to pull out your money. So if you need access to your dough asap, or are looking for a temporary place to stash your cash and get a decent return without the penalites, look at an online savings account.

Here are a look at some of the biggest names in this arena:

  • 4.50% APY
  • First big player on the market; interest rates have not kept pace with competitors
  • $25 referral bonuses for recommending friends

Citibank E-Savings
  • 5.00% APY
  • Convenient transfers/set up if already have Citibank accounts
  • Requires Citibank EZ-Checking account

  • 5.05% APY
  • Big player offering one of the most competitive rates
  • After peaking around 5.15%, interest rates have trailed off recently

  • 5.38% APY
  • Newest big player on the market, started offering 5.50% APY but has trailed off recently
  • Still offering one of the most competitive rates
  • Require $5,000 minimum for accounts
These are only a small handful of the biggest players, but by doing your own research you may be able to find better deals for smaller, regional players. Either way, set up your account and start making your money work for you!

One Love,

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sony Playstation 3 Premium Package For Sale!

The holidays are close approaching and well if you if are like me and haven't gotten your gifts yet, you better get a move on. Lucky for you, if you're reading this you may have guessed from the title you can get your hands on your very own PS3. Yours truly has a PS3 I'm looking to sell.

The basics...

Location: NYC, if you're in the area we can meet up and exchange. If not, we'll go the PayPal route and I'll ship it.

Price: You can't find it in stores, so gimme your best offer =)

What's Included: Brand new, never been opened Premium Package with the specs below:

System Specs:

60 GB Playstation 3 CPU

Cell Broadband Engine GPU

RSX Memory

256 MB XDR Main Ram, 256MB GDDR3 VRAM Hard drive

2.5" Serial ATA (60GB) Input/Output

Four USB 2.0 ports, Memory Stick/SD/Compact Flash Card

Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.0, Built-in IEEE 802.11b/g Wi-Fi Connection

Wireless Bluetooth (up to seven) Resolution

480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p AV output

AV multi-out, Digital optical, HDMI Disc drive

Blu-ray/DVD/CD player Sound

Dolby Digital 5.1 (games), Dolby TrueHD (Blu-ray movies)

Wireless Controller + Special Release Blu-ray DVD included: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"I mean, I wake up in the morning and I piss excellence."

One Love,

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Money to burn? How about a $92 tee?

I'm no fashion maven, but in recent years hip-hop fashion has been all the rage. Rap impresarios have branched out to outfit their adoring fans with the finest threads. They've done quite well for themselves with 50-Cent's G-Unit line raking in over $50 million, Sean "P-Diddy" Combs' Sean John pulling in $150 million and Jay-Z's Rocawear taking in the top prize with a cool $350 million.

Now while these designer duds may have been quite the rage, as you finish up/start your holiday shopping, you might be wondering what you should get for that guy who has everything. Enter Pharrell's Billionaire Boys Club/Ice Cream line. What separates Pharrell's line over his counterparts is the exclusivity of this skateboard/hip-hop fusion. It's not as mainstream as the others and is sold in limited numbers to select boutiques. So check out the N.E.R.D./Neptunes frontman's line at

The signature tee? Yes, t-shirt. $92.

A camo-hoodie? $340. No, I'm not joking.

And of course, some denim. Only $395.

Happy Shopping!

One Love,

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Big Bell "Value" Menu

For all those Taco Bell lovers, buyer beware. Apparently, part of the "value" you get with your Taco Bell meals is a side of E. coli. If you haven't heard already, over the weekend there was a massive E. coli outbreak in New Jersey, Long Island and Pennsylvania all linking to patron eating at Taco Bell restaurants. Over 65 cases were reported, with many suffereing severe nausea, vomiting and other niceities associated with E. coli. One would think that it might be somehow linked to the Grade F meat or whatever they use in their Tacos, but apparently the root of the problem was... green onions. How you like them apples?

So what does this all mean? Well as with all fast food, you can never be sure of how it was packaged, shipped, and prepared. But then again even with some of the "fresh" food we buy, you can never be sure. Either way, I've never been much of a Taco Bell fan and this little tidbit isn't making me become one any sooner. More importantly, those in the market may want to watch Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: Yum), owner of Taco Bell and various other fast food establishments like Pizza Hut. As seen in the chart below, the stock has suffered a blip dropping over $1 in the past few days. While this may not be cause for alarm, you may want to keep an eye on this to see how unfolding events may draw scrutiny on the company, possibly lawsuits and the like, which could drag the stock down in the gutter. Further, customers turned off by this news can vote with their dollars and stop "thinking outside the bun" and lead to a decline in profits.

For the faithful out there, however, Taco Bell goes on strong. A recent article in the NY Times, "Some Stomachs Deliberate and Conclude: I Want Tacos" shows people are still returning to the restaurant regardless of the bad press. Well, what can I say, they're much braver souls than I...

One Love,

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Citi Professional Card as Rewarding as it Claims?

To take advantage of the offers being handed out by credit card companies, I decided to sign myself up for the Citibank Professional Card (To find out more go to Citibank's site here: The card rewards include 3% Cash Back on purchases made at restaurants, gas stations and some office supply stores and 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Seeing that I've been spending TONS of money at the fine restaurants NYC has to offer, the feature that sold me on the card was the 3% Cash Back on restaurants. Add up all those lunch meals and dinner gatherings, the cash could definitely pile up in a hurry.

At first, the card was great and the rewards were given as advertised. I've had the card for about 3 months now and my experience with it is beginning to sour. I noticed last month that my rewards were lower than 1% of the balance on my card for the month. This was especially troubling seeing that over $300 was spent on restaurants. So not only was I not receiving the 1% Cash Back, I wasn't getting the 3% Cash Back on restaurants. I figured there must have been some mistake that was easily fixible so I emailed the support.

Their Response:
Customer Service Wrote:

To better assist you regarding rewards, we need to speak with you directly. Please contact us at 1-800-950-5114. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Outside the U.S., call collect at 605-335-2222.

Thank you for using our website.
Well I thought that was annoying, but I went ahead and called the number. After being on hold for a good 7 minutes, I was finally connected with a rep. I thought it was a bit strange that I had to tell the rep my password to my account, but wanting to fix the problem I went ahead and disclosed that information. I told her about the problem and she assured me she would get it fixed. Pleased, I hung up and thought it would all be fixed.

Weeks later I checked my account again and the problem was still not fixed. Apparently the rep hadn't come through for me. I called the number again to complain and try to get the situation fixed. The new rep, while more helpful that the previous one, didn't seem to have a handle on how the whole rewards process worked. I went through the calculations with him, having to repeat slowly what I was calculating until he finally got it. He then said that the rewards were showing up correctly on his system, but I told him they were incorrect on the online statement. He proved to be little help as he said "I'm sorry I can only tell you what's on my screen and I don't know why the online statement shows something different." So I thanked him for his time and hung up. Currently, my rewards are still incorrect and its beginning to seriously annoy me. So I'll wait another week or two before I call them back and release an angry tirade on them.

That said, I think its time to start looking for another credit card. Any suggestions?

One Love,