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Credit card series I: Amazon Visa Card

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link here. This is the new card I got this year. I got the $40 first statement credit, and am very pleased to get the extra points for my Amazon purchase (quite a bit after our new baby born).

With your Rewards Credit Card, you will earn points for every dollar you spend on the card.

Earn 3 points on eligible purchases
Earn 2 points on eligible gas, dining, and drugstore purchases
Earn 1 point on purchases everywhere else

This is probably the most straightforward reward card.

Sample rewards
2,500 points can get you $25.00 Amazon gift card;
5,000 points can get you $50 check;
90,000 points can get you an air ticket to any where in the world (disclaimer: worth about $1,600).

One point is roughly 1 cent ($0.01).

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Sales tax on online shopping coming?

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I read two news this week, which makes me think this is coming. Keep in mind many local governments are upside down in terms of budget and debts, any tax revenue helps. Collecting tax revenue from online merchants in remote places like Seattle (HQ of Amazon) is a convenient choice.

Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE) tax lawsuit (source: hotel-online): from my reading, basically the dispute is around the basis of tax, we know Expedia sells hotel room at discounted rates, but the local government (Columbus, GA in this case) think it should be the listed price. I am not lawyer but I lean towards the discounted rate.

Amazon may stop doing affiliate business. Quote WSJ Amazon Threatens Cuts Over State Taxes:

The Wall Street Journal reports that (Nasdaq: AMZN) may stop doing business with some of its marketing affiliates over state taxes.

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Amazon and Jeff Bezos

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Saw this from Yahoo Tech-ticker. While I would not necessarily compare Amazon/Bezos to Apple/Jobs, I admire Amazon the company and Bezos as a business leader. That being said, the stock (Nasdaq: AMZN) is still not cheap, with a PE (ttm) about 40. As a customer, some of the features I like about Amazon over the years include: suggestions “you may also like”; user reviews (5 stars); over $25 free shipping; wish list. As a techie (and analyst) I like Amazon’s investments in cloud computing a few years back (when this thing was not as popular as today). It seems their investments will pay off over time.

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I bought AMZN puts

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This is my very first option buy. After I “buy to open” on this $65 put, I don’t know how to realize the gain, if any. So I called the broker and asked for help online, both came back with answer “sell to close”. That made me more re-assured. The option terminology can make one head spin (I am sure my wife is in that camp), here is some introductions on investopedia.

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Congrats to Bill Miller

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Today Bill Miller must be very happy, as his fund (Legg Mason Value Trust) core holdings Amazon (5% of $20 b, roughly $1 b) went up more than 20%, this is the second time AMZN came out with a blockbuster quarter this year, and the stock has been up more than 100% in the past 6 months. I think his AMZN made more than $1 b for his clients in a year or so. Last year, largely due to the underperformance of AMZN, Bill Miller’s fund did not beat the market. Many people laughed at him, but he believed in himself.

Would like to talk a little more about AMZN. I believe most people know they are the largest online retailer, they sell things from books to mobile phones.

But in recent years they have used their experience in building online store, and information technology to expand in related areas. They build stores for other retailers, as we can see the “other” options when look for things, in some cases Amazon’s price may not be lowest. This is OK because they still collect money from their partners when customers buy from the partners. Arguably their profit margin on the “3rd party store” is higher than their own store.

They have this “Amazon Marketplace”, which is similar to eBay, and is gaining popularity lately. Their developer program and other web services also bring values to small retailers. Just like I talked about “what exactly is Google, Apple or MasterCard”, we are still trying to figure out what exactly is Amazon.

But when we all figure out what it IS (and its potentials), maybe it’s time to sell the stocks. I’m glad I don’t need to worry about that, it’s bill’s problem 🙂

amazon logo

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Amazon Endless New Promotion

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I saw this when I was doing some research on Amazon (AMZN). They are giving away $5 for overnight shipping. This is very ineresting because normally the online merchants will do free shipping. But Amazon is always innovative.

On serious note, I think Amazon is interesting because people usually think Google is the king of the Internet, while regard Amazon as nothing more than an online retailer. This could change because Amazon has invested heavily on technology (software) in those years. They are providing technology services to other customers (including retailers). Also from my observation, the Amazon Marketplace, where individuals can list items to sell (similar to eBay), is getting momentum. So don’t think Amazon is nothing more than the online “Wal-Mart”…

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Amazon is Going After Shoes and Bags

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Amazon have already sold those in its main web site. The only thing new here is they are going to launch a new site for this. The site is called endless. I don’t know too much about bags but I know the footwear sales through the web is increasing. As a testimony I bought two pairs of shoes through zappos last year. I am not worried about zappos, but I think traditional brick and mortar discount stores such as DSW will feel the pressure. Since I owned some footwear stocks, I checked out footwear stores from time to time. It seems to me consumers will be the ultimate winners here 🙂

zappos logo shoes online web