Cheapest, easiest debit card expenses?
December 27, 2014 10:31 AM   Subscribe

My credit union has a nice high interest rate but only if you jump through some rather annoying hoops. I mostly don't jump high enough to qualify and I'd like to figure this out. I need the easiest, cheapest (ideally, automatic) debit card charges I could accomplish on a monthly basis.

So, the most annoying of the hoops is that I must have 12 separate debit card transactions each month. I don't use this account as my primary transaction account so this is a bit tricky. I tried one month buying some songs on iTunes but iTunes bundled the purchases together so they presented as one transaction. And I think the interest only nets me an additional $20 a month, so spending $12 to get $20 is sort of annoying. I need a small transaction, relatively easy, if not automatic, each month. Any ideas?
posted by amanda to Work & Money (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Can you use this account for some of your recurring bills? Phone, Internet, Netflix, whatever. I bet that you could get at least half of the twelve knocked out this way.
posted by naturalog at 10:33 AM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I used to do this! buying 1-cent Kindle ebooks on Amazon. You might have to buy one per day rather than buying 12 at once, as Amazon sometimes lumps them together like iTunes would. Also, make sure Amazon has your debit card registered either as debit or credit (whichever your bank requires) - Google for instructions. I'd include more but I'm on mobile.
posted by lizzicide at 10:57 AM on December 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You could probably set up some (small) recurring charitable donations.

Or help fund Metafilter.
posted by box at 11:06 AM on December 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

You could buy spotify premium. I charge that to my debit card each month automatically for 4.99. Also, spotify premium is a fantastic service, let's you download playlists and songs with one button, and erase entire playlists with another, for virtually all non-taylor-swift music out there!

Netflix is another thing that you could pay for each month.

You could buy one of those razor-kits for a dollar or two each month.

Cell phone bill.

Rent? I write a check, but it goes into my checking account.

You could donate a quarter to wikipedia every week. Be careful though, depending on how they do their charges it could cost them more money then they would get.
posted by bbqturtle at 11:20 AM on December 27, 2014

Or help fund Metafilter.

That's what I came here to say, too. It's a small amount, regularly/automatically charged. Other relatively cheap, easy recurring payments might include the Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom bundle, Netflix subscription, or maybe a timed micro-contribution to your favorite charity. I bet you could set up continuing additions to a public transit stored value card, or something similar. Y'know, stuff that amounts to a couple of nice cups of coffee, or one decent lunch per month.
posted by credible hulk at 11:33 AM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can have the minimum payment on your credit card be paid automatically monthly, even if it's $10. You can also have a small amount taken out monthly for an RRSP or savings account. Most utilities should support automatic payments - water, hydro, gas, phone, cable, internet, car insurance - whatever you've got. Online services - netflix, hulu, spotify, etc. If the online services don't support payments from your bank directly, they probably support paypal, which can be setup to deduct from your bank account. Also - Amazon! You could use their subscribe and save plans - you could save up to 15% on a product you'd normally buy anyway paid for and delivered on a recurring schedule.
posted by cgg at 11:43 AM on December 27, 2014

My credit union does this too (4%!!!! on 25,000 - that's $85 a month). Instead of specific automated debits, I looked at my regular monthly checking and credit purchases and decided to do any transactions under $25 on my debit card and anything over that on my Discover card (1%, sometimes 5%). And I gave a card to my spouse. So - 2 tanks of gas each week, lunch or dinner out once or twice a week, any quick trip to the grocery story, and I've got my 15 transactions by about the 20th each month.

I don't spend any of this money "because" it's getting me an extra $85 per month - it's money I would have spent anyway. But I choose to put it on this card until I get to 15 transactions.
posted by CathyG at 11:54 AM on December 27, 2014

Best answer: Someone I know uses Square Cash for this purpose. Just move the money from the credit union account to your primary account. No money lost to you.
posted by disaster77 at 12:08 PM on December 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd say pay your credit card bill in 12 installments every month. Or any bill you have.
posted by General Malaise at 4:04 PM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm very intrigued by SquareCash -- trying that out now. The key here is not to spend the money so if that works that would be the best! The credit card bill installment plan is pretty good, too. I think I would need to call the card issuer and make sure there isn't a minimum amount or any penalties for that many payments. The $.01 Kindle books also sound great -- though it would be hard to do that automatically.

And what I've realized is that my credit union has actually lowered the interest rate -- so maybe I need to find another CU to park my cash. I think it was 3.5% and now it's a paltry 1.75% which makes the hoop jumping even less attractive!
posted by amanda at 4:23 PM on December 27, 2014

You can also go to one of those Big Grocers that have automated checkout stands and buy, say, a dozen grapes as a dozen individual purchases. I've done this before, and it actually takes multiple grapes to register on the scale, but you get the idea.
posted by aniola at 12:41 AM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

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