Guest post: Seated app review

Today's post is another guest contribution from Robert Dwyer about his experience with a new restaurant reservation and rewards app called Seated. You can follow all Robert's culinary and viticultural adventures on Twitter @RobertDwyer.

We wanted to check out a new spot for brunch this past Sunday. I recalled seeing some of the better/up and coming restaurants in the Boston area in the Seated app so I gave it a try.

Their program works by giving you gift cards (Starbucks, Uber, Amazon) when you make a reservation and dine at participating restaurants.

I like deals where I get rewarded for doing something I wanted to do anyway.

How it works (from their site)

  1. Download the Seated app (available on iOS and Android) 
  2. Search from the best restaurants in your city, and pick when you'd like to eat 
  3. Choose your $15-$40 reward credit (Uber, Starbucks, or Amazon) 
  4. Book dinner, eat, and repeat! 

My experience using Seated

Making a reservation via the app is pretty straightforward. You select your city then can sort by cuisine/neighborhood/price. Strangely they don’t seem to allow search by restaurant name, perhaps to encourage discovery? Not sure, but with enough scrolling I was able to find the restaurant wanted.

From there, you have to make a reservation through the app. The reward you get depends on the number of people in your party and the time of the reservation.

For our Sunday brunch for 3 people we needed to spend $72 before tax and tip to get a $17 reward. For the same restaurant for dinner tonight 3 people would need to spend $90 to get a $15 reward.

This is smart on their part because they can tune the reward to encourage you to spend more than you otherwise would. And it allows them to dial back rewards when demand is high.

It turns out, prices are quite modest at the restaurant we selected and we would have had to order things we didn’t really want to get to $72 for the 3 of us. It’s kind of like they dialed it in that way.

It’s unclear to me whether money spent on alcohol counts towards the spend target required for the reward. Some states have laws that are jumpy about these sorts of things, and MA is surely one of the worst in that regard. If alcohol were included, it could make hitting the target a lot easier. Let’s hope for the best in this regard and keep it on the down low if it works.

If we would have spent $72 we would have gotten paid out either by submitting an image of a receipt -or- by linking bank account credentials for them to monitor. Your choice. You don’t have to tell your server you’re dining with Seated or anything like that.

Bottom line

We would have gone to the restaurant anyway, and it was quite good so I don’t regret tinkering with the Seated app. But since I didn’t end up being rewarded for the dine it wasn’t a fruitful first experience.

That said, I’d happily try again in the future. Their list of participating restaurants in the area is terrific and it doesn’t take much cognitive bandwidth to use the service.

Sounds like too much work? Check out these three dining programs that earn rewards passively.

Guest post: the case AGAINST FlexPerks — because US Bank is just too hard

[Editor's note: today's post is a guest submission from Trevor, who blogs alongside Joe Cortez at Tagging Miles, a member of the Saverocity blog network (i.e. the good guys). Trevor is a After seeing Trevor's rants about US Bank on Twitter where he is @tmount, I begged him to write a post giving my readers the case against one of my favorite points currencies: the Flexpoints earned by US Bank's Flexperks Travel Rewards credit cards. To his complaints, I can add my own indictment: I have no idea whether Flexperks is supposed to be written with CamelCase (FlexPerks) or without. Enjoy!]

The Free-quent Flyer is big on FlexPerks. I suspect he is in the 1% of maximizers of the FlexPerks program. And why not? On the face, it’s a pretty spectacular program:

FlexPerks Earn rates

So then why I am so down on it? Simply put – the value of points or miles is intrinsically linked to their ease of redeeming.

Now, I’ve got accounts with Chase, American Express, Barclays, Citi, FIA (aka Fidelity AMEX), Discover, and US Bank. The only account I commonly have to reset the password (which is nearly as hard as booking a Korean Air Skypass award), is USBank. So before I can even think of redeeming (and I’ll get there), I’m going through a rigmarole just to check my account. Really, I feel like they should be buying me dinner and drinks – first you ask me my log-in / username, then you ask me who my best childhood friend is, then it’s an image and a password. Ok – so I’ve finally gotten in!

Using FlexPerks

A week or few ago I received a little pamphlet showing me how easy it is to start redeeming my FlexPoints. Maybe it’s just me, but if you have to send out a pamphlet with step by step instructions, maybe it's kind’ve hard?


The first thing that strikes me about using FlexPerks is that you’re limited to their website to purchase tickets.

US Bank Flight Search

Ok. I get it, they have a partner that they want to guide you toward. Or they want to simplify their accounting. I don’t know, but I get the single option. For all of my — non-mistake fare — revenue travel, I book directly with the airline. Why? Because it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling, like, if I run into a problem before, during, or after travel, I can call the airline, and they can make it right.

I’ve been in the other position. I once went up to Boston on an interview, the ticket was paid for by the company I was interviewing with, and I finished early. I called the airline to try to waitlist on an earlier flight, yet I was told that I had to call Orbitz, because that was who the ticket was booked through. That got me nowhere fast. I ended up flying my ticketed flight after 3 hours in Logan Airport's old terminal (at least I think it was old, it sure looked old).

Back to using FlexPerks – the Free-quent Flyer has a lot of tips and tricks for utilizing FlexPerks, Frequent Miler has some recommendations too. But, when you actually go to make the booking, first you’re faced with points only, not able to make the judgment call as to whether you’re maximizing your points or not.

FlexPerks Results — points cost only

I guess this is the same thing as if you look on ITA Matrix to find a flight you want, then go to buy it on American Airlines’ website, but it just seems like additional clicks that are geared against consumers trying to maximize their value.

You do get the point and dollar cost once you’ve selected your flight, which is good, but it's additional clicks.

Points and Dollars

Is the hassle worth it?

So, to summarize my issues with US Bank:

  • Just logging in is nearly as difficult as it is to book a Korean Air Skypass award;
  • Once you make it in, it’s another few clicks to get to what is essentially an Orbitz search tool;
  • Initial results only provide the required points, it requires an additional click/page load to see what the dollar equivalent of a ticket is.

Talking about the benefits of the US Bank Cash+, yes, you can get up to 5% on charity, but is it worth it?

Guest post: Funding bank accounts with credit cards

[Editor's note: this post was a guest submission by Will from Doctor of Credit. Will previously wrote for the site on the subject of depositing money orders remotely using smartphone apps, which I found to be an immensely helpful resource. I often mention Will as a great resource on his own website and perpetually helpful on Twitter @Drofcredit.]

Introduction: funding bank accounts with credit cards

You can view my favorite bank bonuses here, or a full listing of current bank bonuses here. Awhile ago I posted another guest post on Chasing the Points, with a list of bank accounts that could be funded with a credit card and also included whether opening a bank account with that bank account resulted in a hard pull and if that bank was offering a bonus at the time. That post is now a bit outdated, so I decided it was time to freshen it up. You can view it below, but first a few warnings:

  • Before doing this, make sure you set your cash advance limit to $0. A lot of card issuers will try to charge cash advance fees when funding a bank account, by setting your cash advance limit to $0 you'll avoid this risk. Don't even bother trying to use a Citi card as they almost always code as a cash advance.
  • You're better off focusing on the bank bonus, rather than the credit card funding aspect. Bank bonuses can be extremely lucrative and earn you an easy $200 per bonus, if you were using a 2% cash back card you'd need to find one that allows $10,000 in credit card funding to get $200 in cash back.

Last time I posted this I was criticized, but if you look back you'll see that almost none of these banks have changed how much can be funded with a credit card. This is because this is a relatively cheap way of acquiring customers for a bank and it's a cost they are well aware of and willing to pay for. Assuming a bank pays 3% in credit card processing fees (which is extremely high) allowing funding of $2,000 would only cost them $60 which is significantly lower than bank bonuses that they offer consumers on a regular basis. We've purposefully left out banks that allow funding for a large amount, as in the past this had lead to abuse.

Understanding the list

Use the following key to understand each bank's entry:

  • ^ next to the bank's name indicates this bank is currently offering a bonus for opening an account
  • * next to the bank's name indicates this bank does a hard credit pull to open an account

You can click the links to be taken directly to the page specifying the bonus that bank is offering, for banks not offering a bonus it'll take you to the home page.

Nationwide Banks

State Specific Banks

  • America's Credit Union^ up to $10,000 (not actually state specific, but extremely limited membership)
  • Arizona State Credit Union [AZ only]
  • BB&T [AL, DC, FL, GA, IN, KY, MD, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV Only]
  • BBVA Compass up to $300 [AL, AZ, CA, CO, FL, NM & TX]
  • Bank of Maine^ [ME, MA & NH] up to $500
  • Citizens Bank [Enter zip to find out] up to $1,000
  • First Citizens* [AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, KS, MD, MS, NM, NC, OK, OR, SC, TN, TX, VA, VA, WA, WV] bank up to $1,000
  • First Mark^ [TX only], possibly up to $10,000 and place two week hold on transactions above $100. Only accept Visa & Mastercard
  • GTE Federal* [FL only] up to $5,000 per account. Also possible to open six month CDs
  • KeyBank^ [AK, CO, ID, IN, ME, MI, NY, OH, OR, UT, VT, or WA] up to $100
  • NorthWest Savings Bank^  [PA, NY, MD, OH] up to $100
  • Regions Bank [AL, AR, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, & TX] only up to $1,000 for both the checking and savings account


For more like this, don't forget to visit Will at Doctor of Credit and follow him on Twitter.

Guest post: Deposit money orders by smartphone

Today I'm very pleased to present a guest post on a topic that I think my readers will find as fascinating as I do: depositing money orders using your smartphone, instead of at the counter or using a bank's ATMs. For more like this, check out Doctor of Credit's site here.

List Of Bank Accounts That Allow Deposits Of Money Orders By Smart Phone

by Doctor Of Credit

I asked on Twitter whether I should post a list of bank accounts that allow MO deposits because a lot of people have been asking me for such a list. Originally I was just replying to those e-mails with this information, but FQF suggested that I share it. I asked him if he'd like to host the post and he said yes, so here goes!

We've divided this list into two sections, nationwide banks and local banks. The local bank section also lets you know of any joining requirements. It's important to remember that a lot of these accounts come with fees (most of which are avoidable) so keep that in mind before opening an account. Tip: Leave the receipt attached to your MO to increase the chances of it being accepted. This won't work for all applications, but it should work for most. 

Warnings about MO's & bank accounts:

  • Always keep copies of everything you do and get receipts where possible. This way if something goes wrong you have a paper trail to help rectify the situation.
  • Start small and only do amounts you are comfortable with having frozen, in case of a shut down or dispute.
  • Check that the bank is FDIC insured or has NCUA insurance if it's a credit union.
  • Spread your money orders around different accounts.
  • If you sign up for a new bank account be wary of monthly fees and early account closure fees (most banks charge this if you cancel your account within the first
  • Some banks will do a hard credit pull when you open a new account, all banks will do a ChexSystems inquiry.
  • Too many ChexSystems inquiries in a short time frame can result in a fraud flag or similar being placed on your ChexSystems account. This will make it difficult to get accepted with other banks/lenders that check ChexSystems.
  • It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with structuring laws to ensure you're not violating them.

Nationwide Banks/Credit Unions


  • Alliant: Very quick to shut down accounts doing any sort of volume. Usually available the same business day, sometimes held for one business day if submitted after 3PM CT.
  • Discover: Funds take two days to post, no known limits although the ToS does state they reserve the right to add these limits in as they like. People often have issues with MoneyGram MO's, Western Union MO's will work fine.


  • Simple: Allows 15 photo deposits per month and a maximum of $3,000 per deposit. First five money orders are limited to $2,000. For the first 30 days there is also a 9 day hold applied to MO's, after that they should post instantly.  Recently started sending e-mails to people asking the source & purpose of the money orders. $200 of the money order is released the following business day and the remainder the business day after that. They also tend to exclude people with too many ChexSystems inquiries (generally if you have more than 4 in the past year you'll be denied by Simple).
  • CitiBank: Maximum of $500 per month for the first six months and then $1,500 per month. Application seems to have a lot of trouble dealing with some MO's.
  • Everbank: Funds should be available immediately, no known limits.
  • Schwab: The limit that applies will depend on your check deposit limit. This is different from individual to individual. You can find this limit by navigating to the "Deposit" screen, it'll be under the "Amount" field. Most people will find they either have a $1,000 or $10,000 limit based upon how much funds they are holding with Schwab. Their app has issues with differentiating between the background of a MO and the actual writing on the MO, which means they can't accept all MO's. MoneyGram MO's seem to struggle, whilst WesternUnion MO's work better.
  • PenFed: Funds are made available immediately, no known limits.
  • USAA: Money posts instantly, no known limit ($12,000/month is the maximum I've seen). The application seems to struggle reconigizing some MO's, for best results use a black background and decent lighting. If you're still having issues you can use their Deposit@Home product.
  • Wells Fargo: Daily limit of $1,000 and 30 day limit of $3,000 for the first 180 days, after 180 days this limit is automatically increased to a daily limit of $2,500 and a monthly limit of $5,000. These restrictions are per account, not per person meaning you could use a savings & checking accounts to double these limits. Funds should be released the following business day. A lot of people seem to have issues doing MO deposits with Wells Fargo, this seems to be largely dependent on where the MO was purchase.

Doesn't work

  • Ally
  • Bank of America: Used to work but this was shut down on February 23rd, 2014
  • Barclay Savings AccountToS specifically states MO's are not allowed with remote deposit.
  • BB&T
  • Bluebird: ToS specifically states no MO's.
  • Capital One 360/ING direct
  • Etrade
  • Fidelity Investments
  • PNC: Some have reported this working, but more reports of it not working.
  • Serve: ToS specifically states no MO's are allowed.
  • SunTrust
  • Vanguard

State Specific Banks/Credit Unions


  • DCU: [Requires membership]
  • LMCU: Ensure the back of the MO is signed, otherwise the app will not recognize it [Must live, work, worship or attend school in Michigan's lower peninsula].
  • Patelco CU [Must live, work, worship or attend school in one of the following California counties: California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, or Sonoma].
  • Security Service FCU: Funds available immediately [only available in OH, UT & CO. Other requirements apply].

Doesn't Work

Some banks also have the ability to accept MO's via a mobile application but they charge a fee for doing so. These banks usually have a more feature rich offering with less limits and limitations (and better scanning technology) but the fees makes them a non-feasible option for most people, KeyBank & US Bank are two well known issuers that charge for this service.

As always, your own mileage may vary so if you have any other data points please let us know in the comments - I hope you found this post helpful. 

Will blogs over at Doctor of Credit. If you're going to sign up for a new bank account, you might as well sign up for one that gives you a bonus.

Will compiled this list which shows a complete listing of bank account bonuses. It can be filtered by bonus amount, hard/soft pull, credit card funding, direct deposit requirements, monthly fees, early account termination fees and expiration date. Don't forget to follow him on twitter as well

P.S from Will, if you haven't already I'd recommend signing up for a subscription to Free-quent Flyer. He drops a lot of nuggets of wisdom not shared elsewhere and it only costs you a minimum of $2 a month. You can sign up in the side bar.