Citi Cards and eBills
Random rant - I love ebills, you know the electronic bills that get sent to your banks bill pay system informing you automatically of how much you need to pay and when. Historically, every major credit card I’ve had supports ebills - I can’t imagine why any bank would not.
Today I noticed something new, after having problems with getting my Citi Cards to work with Bank of America bill pay, the option to setup Citi Credit Cards as a ebill is no longer available. After reaching out to BOA customer service they informed me that Citi Bank discontinued ebill support in February.
WTF Citi Bank! one more reason to stop using their products.
iMessenger for Mac needs to come to iCloud as a web client!
It was only a matter of time before Apple would release a Mac client for iMessenger. One of the reasons I moved to Google Voice a few years ago was the ability to carry on sms conversations on any platform. Since iMessenger came out with iOS5 I’ve been using it more than google voice for my close friends (where the higher volume is) so that i can carry on a conversation on my iPhone and iPad. This Mac version is one step closer. What Apple needs to do now is either open the platform or create a web client within iCloud. Unlucky for me I use a PC for most of the day. I would love to have a web client to carry on conversion over iMessenger while on my PC. Please Apple!
Mobile banking in 2012
In late 2010, I switched banks from CitiBank to Ally.com. The decision was easy: no fees, ATM reimbursements, great customer service, and a good online platform. It was a fantastic decision, one which I am still happy I made. Fast forward to 2012, Ally still has essentially the same interface, feature set (although they have added the ability to deposit checks using a desktop scanner), and customer service. They are still a good bank. At the time the large main street banks had horrible online or mobile products which made the decison easy. However, I find myself wondering if its time to make another move.
Today, all the large banks have advanced mobile (iPhone and iPad) applcaitions and online platforms that are as good or better than Ally’s (take for instance American Express’s iPad app). One primarly reason for my switch was the lack of Citi ATM’s in my area. Howerver, now that I am in San Francisco there are pelntly of locations for the large banks here (BofA, Wells, Chase, etc) and with the rise in electronic payments over the last year, I find myself visitng ATMs less frequently, and most of the time its to deposit funds into an account to later transfer to Ally (as that is the easiest way i have fond to deposts funds to Ally).
Its true, you can access Ally’s online site via the browser on the iPad, but its painful and the billpay is even more painful (should only be attempted if absolutly necessary). Ally has stated they are on track to release a basic mobile app in 2012 with later versions (hopefully in 2012) to potentially include billpay and check depsoit via camera image, but truefully its a little late for that. Online only banks are great so long as their technology and ease of use stays ahead, but now the major banks have advanced technology (mobile and online) and have the physical presence to enahnce the equation. In 2012, most things I do are via a mobile platform. If I cant do something on my iPhone or iPad, I likley will not do it. This trend will only continue for more and more of the population.
The one cavate is fees. Ally is a great fee free bank and while the BofA account I used to deposit funds for transfer to Ally also has no fees who knows how long that will continue. It’s time for Ally to catch up with its competition.
Budgeting with Mint.com
Over the holidays this year I sat down to work on my 2012 budget in Mint.com, my favorite online financial service. Unlike previous years where I had budgets in Mint, I tried to make this one reasonable and obtainable. Historically, I have used mint.com for hindsight review rather than proactive budgeting (some of that was due to living in three apartments in the last year, including a move from Washington, DC to San Francisco, CA without updating the budgets).
This whole processing has lead to reaffirm my biggest grip with Mint’s budgeting and to ask a very basic budgeting question.
First, I still cannot believe that in 2012 Mint does not have the ability to set annual budgets. For example, I want an annual budget for things like clothing, travel, and gifts. For the life of me I cannot figure out a workaround to create one. As a result, I am left with keeping these outside of Mint in a spreadsheet. Thats a manual effort that shouldn’t be required. Anyone have any suggestions?
Second, while I have outlined my day-to-day spending in a detailed manner I have also included budgets for my “fixed costs” (those that do not fluctuate from month to month - rent & car payment). In my mind it makes sense to include these, however since these payments tend to be front-loaded in the month it skews the progress bar as soon as these payments are recorded in Mint to make it look like I’m off budget until the very end of the month. While I understand the visual result is due to these payments, it still requires me to look into the various budgets set to see if my variable costs are still on target. So my question to you: do you include your fixed cost structure in your mint budgets, or leave them out?
I love the new HTML 5 based Pandora interface. For the longest time I have been unable to use Pandora on my primary machine do to flash security settings, in fact most of the streaming music sites have been unavailable for this reason. Playing with the new HTML5 version today has been music to my ears. It works, its slick, its fast, its everything I wanted Pandora to be. Now I just need to find a way to have it scrobbing to last.fm.
I’m very excited to see more and more services adopting HTML5.
Office cell phone coverage
About 14 months ago my firm moved offices, literally right across the parking lot, and the office went from having mobile coverage from all the major carriers to none. There was absolutely no coverage for AT&T, Verizon, TMo, and a little coverage from Sprint. 300 feet in almost any direction from our new offices and mobile phones worked fine, but not in our building (they must have built the building out of lead or something).
After 14 months of management telling us they were working on the problem I returned from vacation last week to find the problem had been fixed (or rather the firm finally installed antennas throughout the building),either way it is a very welcomed fixed. Now I can ditch the virgin mobile MiFi I’ve been using to provide my iPhone internet access (we also do not have wifi in our offices (I know, really)).
It’s funny how the little things like mobile phone service matter. Streaming music, I’m back. Speed test from the other day.