Archives for August 24, 2017

Kanopy: Free Movie Streaming for Library Cardholders and Students

kanopyLooking for high-quality streaming content? The NY Times recently highlighted a new video streaming service called Kanopy, which has partnered with 200+ public library systems and educational institutions to offer access to 30,000 movies free of charge. There are no commercials. You can stream via Roku box, Apple/Android smartphones and tablets, or via web browser. Check if your local library offers access here. Note that there may be a monthly limit:

Each library imposes its own limit to the number of free movies a single cardholder can watch each month, from three to 20 titles per card, a spokeswoman for Kanopy said. Once they’ve registered their library cards with Kanopy, viewers can keep track of how many movies they have left in the upper right-hand corner of the onscreen interface. The limit for New York Public Library cardholders is 10 free movies a month, while Brooklyn Public Library allows six. Outside of New York, Los Angeles County libraries, for example, have a 10 movie limit.

You won’t find the latest Marvel movie, as Kanopy’s library is heavy on classic cinema, independent films, and documentaries. They boast “hundreds of new films every month”. There are many films from the Criterion Collection like Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Kurosawa’s Rashomon. If you still have interest in the solar eclipse, check out Chasing Shadows. There are neat educational materials in the Great Courses section, including the Everyday Gourmet series.

GiftsforBanking CD Review: 2-Year CD at 1.85% APY + Gift Valued Up to ~1% APY has a unique FDIC-insured certificate of deposit that pays out a mix of traditional cash interest and a physical gift. The underlying bank is, which is in turn a division of Flushing Bank. Via DepositAccounts, they just upped their 2-Year CD to a competitive 1.85% APY of cash interest, a choice of gifts based on your deposit amount:

In the perfect scenario, you open a 2-year CD with $25,000 (or $50,000) and get 1.85% APY a gift worth another 1% APY. (Ex. $25,000 x 1% APY = $250 per year. For 2 years = $500 total.) A theoretical 2-year CD paying 2.85% APY (or even 2.5% APY) would be a top available rate in the current market.

However, it is important to note the following fine print:

*Annual Percentage Yield. APYs are effective as of 8/18/17 and are subject to change without notice. There is a substantial penalty for early withdrawals, including the value of the gift chosen. The value of all gifts will be considered as interest on your account for tax purposes in the first year the account is opened. A 1099-INT statement for the value of the gift (including applicable sales tax, shipping and handling costs) will be issued for the year of gift redemption. Please allow up to three weeks from the time that you place your gift order for delivery of gifts. Photos of gifts may not be exact model. reserves the right to make gift substitutions of comparable value and assumes no liability for any defects in, or consequential damages relating to gift items. The warranty is the sole responsibility of the manufacturer. CD Reward codes will expire twelve (12) months from the date that the code is first emailed to you.

This brings up the following concerns:

  • You will receive a 1099-INT for the cash interest and the value of the gift (including applicable sales tax, shipping and handling costs). It is unclear exactly what this number is for each specific gift option. It is traditionally the MSRP, but sometimes even that number is hard to figure out. How much extra will they tack on for shipping and handling? In the end, you could be on the hook for taxes on a amount significantly higher than the actual resale value. (Update: Commenter David reports that the $25k/$50k tier gifts will have a 1099 value of $575/$1,100 respectively.) You could try to dispute this amount but is it really worth the trouble?
  • The early withdrawal penalty includes both 6 months of interest the value of the gift. That is a relatively heavy penalty.
  • There is a minimum opening balance of $25,000 for each CD.
  • Why does the website look like it traveled in time from 1999?

The good news is that 1.85% APY on a 2-year CD all by itself is a pretty competitive rate. So if you wanted, you could simply consider the additional gift “interest” as a special discount. Instead of paying say $360 for an Apple Watch from Amazon and $80-$95 for a $100 iTunes Gift Card, you might only have to pay income taxes on $500 or so. The key is whether you actually wanted to buy a 2-year CD anyway, either for your cash reserves or as a bond replacement. For comparison, right now a 2-year US Treasury bond only yields 1.32%.

Bottom line. This is a quirky bank CD promotion with the potential to be a good deal, but some important things have to align. You already want a 2-year bank CD. You should be quite confident you won’t withdraw early. You can get good value out of the gift options or are willing to resell. Is the potential extra value worth the added hassle?

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