Best of, Earning Cashback

Best Cash Back Cards for Grocery Shopping in 2017

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Shopping for groceries typically does not rank highly on the to-do list. Unless the excitement stems from sampling the foods at the demo stations, grocery shopping just is not thrilling. Cash back on the other hand, that’s worth getting pumped up over. Now you can inject some enthusiasm into a rather mundane task by using one of the best cash back cards for grocery shopping.

Unlimited Cash Back

PenFed Platinum Rewards – 2.55%

349_card.349_card.PenFed_Platinum_Rewards_Visa_Signature_CardWith unlimited cash back on groceries, this card can certainly help reduce the overall grocery budget. If you spend about $700 a month on average for groceries, this reward equals about an $18 cash back reward. That does not seem like much, but it means an extra $216 in a year. Tuck that away in a top saving accounts with a 1.00% interest rate, and you can pad your earnings even more.

Caveat: PenFed is a credit union, so you must first become a member of the credit union in order to be eligible. Fortunately, anyone can join by making a one-time donation to National Military Family Association ($15) or Voices for America’s Troops ($14).

If you live in California. The Golden 1 Credit Union offers a no annual fee card with unlimited 3% cash back on groceries.

Cash Back with Limits

Amex Blue Cash Preferred – 6%

695_card.695_card.Blue-Cash-Preferred-Card-from-American-ExpressIf you spend $600 or less per month on groceries, then the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card may the best choice for you. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cash back on groceries and 1% on everything else. The annual cap is $6,000 for grocery spending. That’s an average of $500 a month in grocery spend. You would earn $30 a month just in the groceries category. That’s an extra $360 just from cash back. Plus, there is a $150 bonus when you open the card and spend $1,000 in the first three months. That’s $510 of cash back in year one, before the annual fee.

Caveat: There is a $95 annual fee. With the right spending, this fee is easily covered by the rewards. However, if you allow the card to collect dust in your wallet, the fee is an unnecessary expense.

NUSENDA Credit Union Visa Platinum Rewards – 5%

This Visa Platinum Rewards card offers 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter.

From January – March, groceries are one of the 5% categories. You can earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases a quarter, and there’s no annual fee for the card. Anyone can become a member of NUSENDA – just ask about it when you apply.

Consumers Credit Union Visa Signature Cash Rebate Card – 3%

Consumers Credit UnionThis Visa Signature cash back card from Consumers Credit Union offers credit union members 3% cash back for grocery and convenience store purchases. However, anyone can become a member of the credit union by paying a one-time, non-refundable $5 fee to CCU’s sponsor, the Consumers Cooperative Association, and then depositing and maintaining a minimum $5 in a Membership Share/Savings Account. The card also gives 2% for gas purchases and 1% for all other purchases. There is a $100 bonus for making $1,000 worth of purchases in the first 60 days.

Caveat: There is a cash back maximum of $6,000 per year, which, if you were spending in groceries only, would equate to $200,000 of spending. And the cash back is credited to the VISA each month, preventing you from depositing that cash and earning interest.

Huntington Voice – 3%

175_card.175_card.Huntington_Voice_Credit_CardThe Huntington voice card allows you to boost your earnings and choose your 3% cash back category. In this case, you could choose grocery spending and earn up to 6,000 points ($2,000 of spending) equaling $60 back per quarter. If you spend $2,000 a quarter (every 4 months) on groceries, you could earn up to $240 a year. Cash rewards work out to 1% for all other non-boosted categories.

Caveat: The ability to change categories and the point system can get a little confusing. Don’t hesitate to call Huntington if you need an explanation on your account.

Amex Blue Cash Everyday – 3%

381_card.205_card.blue_Cash_Everyday_Card_from_American_ExpressThis Amex card comes with no annual fee and a $125 bonus after the first $1,000 spent within 90 days. For grocery spending up to $6,000, you’ll earn 3% and if you go over $6,000 you will still earn 1% on all grocery spending. That’s a potential to earn $305 in year one. The card also offers an unlimited 2% on gas spending and select department stores.

Caveat: The bonus cash back in grocery stores and gas merchants depends on the merchant category code. If you buy groceries at Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon be aware that these retailers do not count as supermarkets.

Santander Bravo – 3%

697_card.697_card.SANTANDERBRAVOThe Santander Bravo card offers a $100 bonus after the first $1,000 spent within 90 days. You will also earn up to 15,000 points ($5,000 of spending) per quarter for grocery, gas station, and restaurant spending. This works out to a 3% cash back rate and the potential to earn $600 a year. The points can be redeemed for gift cards and airline tickets.

Tip: The 3% only applies to the first $5,000 spent per quarter, around $1,700 per month. There is also an annual fee of $49.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards – 2%

161_card.161_card.U.S._Pride_BankAmericard_Cash_Rewards_Visa_cardThe BankAmericard cash rewards card from Bank of America offers 2% cash back on grocery spending up to $1,500 per quarter. There is no annual fee and you can redeem this cash directly into a Bank of America checking or saving account. The card also offers 3% on gas related spending. The rewards never expire and if you apply online and spend $500 in the first 90 days, you also receive a $100 cash rewards bonus.

Caveat: The $1,500 limit per quarter applies to both grocery and gas spending. After you hit that limit, all other purchases earn 1% cash back.

Last Piece of Advice

Make sure your grocery store is included as an appropriate merchant by a company before applying for one of these credit cards. You don’t want to think you’re earning 6% back and then realize it doesn’t report as a grocery store to your credit card company!

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College Students and Recent Grads, Pay Down My Debt

Can You Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy?

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Students throwing graduation hats

Student loans have been a hot topic in recent news and for good reason. The level of student loan debt in the United States has grown substantially over the past several decades. As of 2014, the balance of student loan debt reached $1.2 trillion. Students burdened with debt have one option when it comes to repayment: pay the debt. However, in extreme circumstances, it may be possible to completely discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.

How to Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy

The U.S. Department of Education website provides four cases in which federal student loans may be discharged. Those include:

  1. Closed school discharge
  2. Total and permanent disability discharge
  3. Death discharge
  4. Bankruptcy discharge

There are a few more options for partial discharge with qualifications. The website lists bankruptcy as an option in rare cases.

“If you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may have your loan discharged in bankruptcy only if the bankruptcy court finds that repayment would impose undue hardship on you and your dependents. This must be decided in an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court. Your creditors may be present to challenge the request.”

The U.S. bankruptcy court will use the three-part Brunner test to determine if the student loans are eligible for discharge in bankruptcy. To show hardship you must show that:

  1. If you were forced to repay the loan, you would not be able to maintain a minimal standard of living.
  2. There is evidence that this hardship will continue for a significant portion of the loan repayment period.
  3. You made good-faith efforts to repay the loan before filing bankruptcy (usually this means you have been in repayment for a minimum of five years).

If you are unable to satisfy any of the three requirements, the loan will not be discharged. However in a study published in the American Bankruptcy Law Journal by Jason Iuliano, 39% of those who applied were granted at least some discharge.

For example, if you are 30 and your student loan payments make up a significant portion of your total income, and you can prove that this hardship will continue for many years you might be able to have your student loans included in your bankruptcy.

But if you just started making payments and have not attempted to use available programs such as income-based repayment, then you may have a harder time discharging your student loans.

If you feel that bankruptcy is for you, consult a lawyer and consider including your student loans.

[Struggling to pay back private student loans? Learn about loan modification here.]

Ramifications of Bankruptcy

Choosing to eliminate your student loans using bankruptcy is a difficult path. Moreover, you will mark your credit report for 7 or 10 years with a bankruptcy filing. This could prevent you from purchasing a home, opening new lines of credit, and benefiting from the best rates to borrow money. It could also prevent you from getting a job with credit pre-screening.

Options So You Can Avoid Bankruptcy

If you would rather avoid bankruptcy, here are more ways to eliminate your student loan debt.

Reduce or Halt Your Current Payment

Determine if you are eligible for deferment or forbearance. A deferment is a period during which repayment of the principal and interest of your loan is temporarily delayed. Depending on the type of loan you have, the federal government may pay the interest on your loan during this period.

If you can’t make your scheduled student loan payments, but don’t qualify for deferment, a forbearance may allow you to stop making payments or reduce your monthly payment for up to 12 months.

[Miss a student loan payment? Learn how to find help here.]

Choose a Reduced Payment Plan

For federal loans, there are a few repayment plans that can help you manage your student loan repayment. Choose one of the following:

  • Income Based Repayment Plan – Payments are calculated based on your discretionary income and can extend up to 25 years of repayment.
  • Graduated Repayment Plan – Payments start off small then increase every two years for a maximum of 10 years of repayment.
  • Extended Repayment Plan – Payments can extend up to 25 years of repayment.
  • Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan – Payments are calculated based on your discretionary income and can extend up to 20 years of repayment.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan – Payments are based on your adjusted gross income and can extend up to 25 years of repayment.
  • Income Sensitive Repayment Plan – Payments are based on your annual income and last for a maximum of 10 years; however, you will pay more over time versus the standard 10-year repayment plan.

[Read about Student Loan Forgiveness Programs Here.]

Career Based Discharged

You can also have your student loans discharged if you take a certain career path and your loans are: Direct, FFEL Program, or Federal Perkins loans. Private loans are often not eligible for forgiveness programs. As an eligible public service employee you can have 100% of your loan balance forgiven after 120 consecutive payments; this assumes that you maintain your status as an eligible public service employee while making those payments. If combined with one of the reduced payment plan options that could mean a substantial reduction in total repayment balance.

Check out our Student Loan Refinance table to compare your options.

 

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Best of

Best Small Business Credit Cards

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

credit card and dollar close-up

As a small business owner, you have enough to think about. From late invoices, to shipping issues, you could easily fill your day with the issues that arise. The last thing you should have to worry about is your small business credit card. Once you find a card that works for you and your business size, you can get back to your primary goal, increasing revenue. Here are the best options for small business credit cards.

1. TrueEarnings Business Card from Costco and American Express

391_card.206_card.TrueEarnings_CardThe TrueEarnings Business card will allow you to earn 4% back on U.S. gas stations and gas at Costco with a $7,000 cap. You’ll also get 2% back on travel and restaurants, including travel purchases at Costco. Earn 1% cash back on everything else.

An example of Costo Travel offers includes an all-inclusive resort through Costco Travel to Costa Rica for $879 a night, including taxes and gratuities. The 2% cash back alone is about $18 dollars and booking through Costco travel includes a savings of $96 a night over booking the same room directly through the hotel, which would cost $975 a night.

Caveat: You do have to be a Costco member and there is a 2.7% foreign exchange fee; however, there is no additional annual fee for the card.

Apply Now

2. Spark Cash Credit Card from Capital One

525_card.525_card.Spark_Cash_Credit_CardThe Spark Cash credit card from Capital One comes with a $250 bonus after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months after opening the account and offers generous 2% cash back on all business spend. If your business requires overseas travel this may be the card for you because it also comes with 0% foreign exchange fee.

Caveat: There is a $59 annual fee but it is waived the first year.

Apply Now

3. Ink Cash Business Credit Card from Chase

75_card.75_card.Ink_Cash_Business_Credit_CardWith the no annual fee Chase Ink Cash Business card, maximizing the cash back requires a bit of category tracking. You will earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at office supply stores; on cell phone bills; and for landline, cable, and Internet bills. After that the card offers 2% on the first $25,000 spent each year in gas stations and restaurants; and 1% on all other purchases with no caps. If you spend $3,000 in the first three months, you will also earn a $300 bonus.

Caveat: Businesses with a larger spend that could exceed the category caps may do better with a card that offers cash back in all categories. Also, there is a 3% foreign exchange fee.

Apply Now

4. Chase Ink Plus from Chase

282_card.282_card.Ink_Plus_Business_Credit_CardThe Chase Ink Plus credit card offers 5X points back on up to $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.

Beyond that you’ll earn 2X points per $1 on the first $60,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year.

All other purchases earn 1X point per dollar with no limit.

Caveat: Of the best small business credit cards, the Chase Ink comes with the highest annual fee of $95. However, there are no foreign transaction fees. If you frequently travel overseas the savings may cover the annual cost of the card.

Apply Now

5. SimplyCash Business Credit Card from American Express Business

SimplycashThe SimplyCash Business credit card also offers a tiered cash back program. You’ll earn 5% cash back on U.S. office supply stores and wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. service providers. The card also offers 3% cash back in the category of your choice from a list of select categories; however, there is a cap at $25,000.

Categories available include: airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals purchased from select car rental companies, U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, and U.S. purchases for shipping.

There is no annual fee and 1% cash back on all other purchases with no cap.

Caveat: You need to purchase airfare and hotel rooms directly from the airlines and hotels in order for the purchase to be eligible for cash back.

APPLY HERE

What to Remember About Small Business Credit Cards

Carrying a small business credit card can help with reporting and allow you to earn cash back and rewards as well. Remember that small business credit cards are not protected by the CARD act and you will be personally liable for charges. Moreover, defaults on the card can be reported to your personal credit report. To maximize your rewards, tally up your expenses for popular categories and see which credit card would offer the most for your particular small business.

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Best of

Best Credit Cards for 2015

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

credit card and dollar close-up

A credit card, when used wisely, can be an asset to your financial health. It helps build a strong credit history and score and even affords the opportunity to earn cash back. The credit card market is filled with bonus offers and deals, which can make it feel overwhelming to find the best one. We’ve simplified your search and found the best cards across cash back, secured cards and balance transfers.

UNLIMITED CASH BACK

TIE: Both the Citi DoubleCash and the Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex offer 2% cash back on everything.

Citi DoubleCash – 2% Cash Back

721_card.Citi_doubleGet 1% cash back immediately and another 1% when you pay your bill on time each month. There is no annual fee and once you earn $25 cash back, you can request a check, gift card, or statement credit. If you spend about $2,000 a month, this card will earn you $480 over the next 12 months.

Caveat: In order to earn the full 2% cash back, you must pay your bill on time. Failure to do to will cause the cash back rate to default to 1%. And pay the bill in full. Paying just the minimum means you’ll start paying interest to Citi and that will void the point of earning cash back.

Apply Now

Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex – 2% Cash Back

725_card.647_card.fidelityGet 2% back on all spending and a sign up bonus of $50 when you spend $500 in the first 2 months after account opening. There is no annual fee and once you earn $50 cash back, you can have the money deposited in your brokerage account, cash management account, retirement account, or Fidelity managed 529 account. If you spend about $2,000 a month, this card will earn you $530 over the next 12 months.

Caveat: You must have a Fidelity account to earn the cash back but there is no cap to the amount of cash you can earn.

Apply Now

BEST GROCERY CASH BACK

Amex Blue Cash Preferred – 6% cash back

695_card.695_card.Blue-Cash-Preferred-Card-from-American-ExpressThe Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cash back on groceries and 1% on everything else. The annual cap is $6,000 for grocery spending. That’s an average of $500 a month in grocery spend. That would allow you to earn $360 just in the groceries category. There is also a 3% unlimited reward on gas station and department store spending.

Caveat: There is a $95 annual fee. With the right spending, this fee is easily covered by the rewards. However, if you allow the card to collect dust in your wallet, the fee is an unnecessary expense.

Apply Now

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature – 2.55%

349_card.349_card.PenFed_Platinum_Rewards_Visa_Signature_CardMembers of the PenFed credit union can earn 2.55% on supermarket spending with this card. Anyone can join the credit union by making a one-time donation to Voices for America’s Troops for $14 or National Military Family Association for $15. There is no annual fee and earnings on gas related spending is even higher at 4.25%. The conversion must be done from points to rewards, for example, a Visa Prepaid card. After 2,490 points earned, you could redeem for a $25 prepaid card.

Caveat: The points expire 5 years after they are earned and point redemption varies. Also, remember that cash advances, balance transfers and other transactions do not earn points.

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BEST GAS CASH BACK CARD

Fort Knox Credit Union Platinum Visa – 5%

visaplatinumMembers of the Fort Knox Credit Union can earn 5% cash back on grocery purchases with this card. However, anyone can join the credit union by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council for $5. There is no annual fee. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

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PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature – 4.25%

349_card.349_card.PenFed_Platinum_Rewards_Visa_Signature_CardMembers of the PenFed credit union can earn 4.25% on gas spending with this card. There is no annual fee and a low ongoing annual APR of 9.99%. Anyone can join the credit union by making a one-time donation to Voices for America’s Troops for $14 or National Military Family Association for $15. The conversion must be done from points to rewards, for example, a Visa Prepaid card. After 2,490 points earned, you could redeem for a $25 prepaid card.

Caveat: The points expire 5 years after they are earned and point redemption varies. Also, remember that cash advances, balance transfers and other transactions do not earn points.

Apply Now

BEST DINING CASH BACK

Chase AARP – 3%

1167_card.AARP_ChaseYou might immediately think of Seniors aged 55+ when you hear AARP. However, anyone can apply for this card because you do not need to be an AARP member. There is no annual fee and 3% unlimited cash back offered for dining out and gas purchases. And, if you spend $500 in the first 3 months after account opening, you’ll earn a bonus of $100. Spending about $2,000 a month will earn $436 over the first 12 months.

Caveat: Other spending only earns 1%, so keep this card just for dining and gas purchases.

You can learn more about this card at AARP.org.

The information related to the Chase AARP Visa credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Santander Bravo Mastercard -3%

697_card.697_card.SANTANDERBRAVOThis card offers points for purchases. You can earn 3 points for purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. All other purchases earn 1 point for every dollar spent. While there is an annual fee of $49 on this card it is waived in the first year. After you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, you will earn a $100 bonus. With an average monthly spend of $2,000 you could earn $484 in the first 12 months.

Caveat: The 3% reward only applies to the first $5,000 of spending each quarter. That averages out to about $1,700 a month total.

Apply Now

LONGEST 0% BALANCE TRANSFER

Santander Sphere Visa Signature Card – 0% for 24 months, 4% fee

santander sphereIf you are looking to transfer a balance from a card with a high interest rate, this card will give you the longest amount of time to pay off the balance. For 24 months the card offers a 0% interest rate on balance transfers. There is a 4% fee for the balance transfer. On a balance of $10,000, that works out to $400. If you make equal payments of $450 a month, you’ll be debt free. You can use our pay debt faster tool to see how long it would take you.

Caveat: Keep this card for simple debt repayment and do not use it for purchases. The purchase APR is a variable 12.99% to 24,99% based on creditworthiness.

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BEST NO FEE BALANCE TRANSFER

Chase Slate 151_card_Chase_Slate

The Chase Slate card has is one of the biggest banks and makes this credit card deal well known. You can get this offer (see terms at Chase) if you complete the balance transfer within 60 days of opening the account. You can significantly reduce your principal before rolling the remaining debt to another balance transfer offer.

Caveat: You must complete the balance transfer within 60 days of opening the account. Also, aim to pay the card off within the promotional period.

Apply Now

BEST SECURED CARD FOR BUILDING CREDIT

EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card – $250 Deposit

1245_card.EMV Secured Visa Platinum Card By State Department FCURebuilding credit takes time and using a secured credit card can help with the process. The State Department Federal Credit Union offers the EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card. The minimum deposit to open the card account is $250. The APR is 6.99% and there is no annual fee. Remember that with a secured credit card your cash deposit typically determines your credit limit.

Caveat: There is a $1 fee to join the credit union if you are an employee of the Department of State or a member of an eligible organization. See here for other eligible organizations. If not, simply pay a $5 fee to join the American Consumer Council.

Apply Now

KEEP IN MIND

While these are the best cards currently, remember that offers, rates, and bonuses are subject to change. Always check the most current information before applying for the card and keep in mind the deadlines for spending requirements.

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Pay Down My Debt

How To Deal With Harassing Debt Collectors

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Young couple calculating their domestic bills

For 3 years I barely picked up my phone when it rang. I was deep in debt with about $22,000 of credit card bills. Debt collectors were calling everyday. They had their methods. Typically, they used some sort of automated service to ring my phone. I knew it because if I picked up the phone, I would hear two clicks, then a person speaking. Sometimes I would get a call from the same number twice in a row. Once to check if I would pick up and a second one to leave a voicemail. I began to devise my own methods for dealing with the calls. I saved each number as it came in to a contact I created in my phone. ‘Blocked’ was the name I set for these calls. But no matter how I tried to avoid the calls, they kept coming.

Digging the Debt Hole

When I made that first credit card swipe I don’t think I knew how much it would affect my life. Living with credit card debt that I could not afford cost me a lot of stress, worry, and unnecessary cash.

I like to say when I was 18, I signed up for a credit card and I was given a free shirt and a shovel. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. Yes, I got a free t-shirt when I signed up for a credit card. The shovel? That is what I called each credit card I possessed. Every time I swiped the card I felt like I was digging my own grave of debt, and one day I’d be buried in that grave. At first, I was perfectly happy to spend the extra money. I shopped, I traveled, and I put a new stereo system in my car. I enjoyed the life that I always wanted to have. I felt rich. I had no idea that I would begin to hate the piece of plastic in my wallet.

One day I got a call from a particularly aggressive creditor. I had been avoiding most of the ‘blocked’ calls but for some reason, on this day I decided to pick up the phone. The phone call began like they all do, with a disclaimer that the call was an attempt to collect a debt. I carefully answered the questions and responded the only way I could.

“Yes, I understand that my debt is delinquent.”

“No, I don’t have any family members that can help.”

The Revelation

I was exhausted. I was tired of saying the same things over and over again. The woman on the phone became exhausted as well. She began to speak forcefully and told me that I should be ashamed of myself that I would not pay my debt.

At that point I hit rock bottom. I started crying on the phone, “I don’t have a job right now.” I felt the pity party coming on. I thought about the rocky economy, my inability to get a job, my choice of degree, and my choice to use credit.

I hung up phone and suddenly it hit me. Why was I crying over money? Why was I allowing myself to be emotionally wrecked over some inanimate object?

So I made a plan. I knew that I wanted to not only get rid of the debt, but also set myself up for success in the future. I also knew that I would never allow another creditor to influence my emotions. Yes, I had created the debt on my own but that doesn’t make me a bad person.

Are you dealing with aggressive debt collectors? Here are steps to take:

Answer the Phone

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Speak frankly with the creditor and be prepared to negotiate. Collections agencies buy your debt for pennies on the dollar, so they are more than willing to negotiate so they at least get some money. Depending on your situation you may be able to get fee concessions or other perks by working with the creditor.

Know Your Rights

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says debt collectors can’t harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact. If harassment occurs, you can sue the debt collector for violations of the FDCPA. If you sue under the FDCPA and win, the debt collector must generally pay your attorney’s fees and may also have to pay you damages. If you don’t win, be sure you can afford the attorney’s fees.

Make a Plan

Make a plan to eliminate your debt. Shop around for balance transfer credit card options and create a budget. Set a goal date when you would like to have all of your debt paid. Evaluate all of your purchases and trim or eliminate unnecessary expenses.

I began to answer each call and speak frankly with my creditors about what I was able to do. I started working part time jobs and eventually I secured a full time job, which gave me the ability to pay all of my debts off within 3 years.

Are you dealing with debt in collections? Reach out to us at info@magnifymoney.com. 

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Get A Pre-Approved Personal Loan

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Won’t impact your credit score

Best of, Eliminating Fees

The 6 Best Free Checking Accounts in 2015

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

ATM

Some bank customers don’t even know checking accounts used to be free. I remember visiting my local bank branch, requesting a new account, and receiving a fee-free checking account. However, it seems those days are gone. Today, checking accounts come with a variety of fees. Some banks charge fees to speak with a teller, fees for low balances, fees to use an out-of-network ATM, fees to cash a check, or fees for writing too many checks. Stop the madness!

Fortunately, the rise of the digital age created more competition between banks. Online banks are competing against each other and traditional brick-and-mortar banks by offering superior products. Thanks to these digital competitors, the truly free checking account exists again. The following accounts provide you with the opportunity to never be hit with a monthly fee, overdraft fee or ATM fee again.

1. Bank of Internet USA

bank-of-internet-usa (1)Need to withdraw cash? Visit any ATM with a Bank of Internet USA account and have all US ATM fees reimbursed. Bank of Internet USA never charges an overdraft fee, and there are no monthly fees.

BofI offers two different checking accounts: the Rewards checking account and the Cash Back checking account. Both accounts request a minimum opening deposit of $100, but after that there is no minimum balance required.

The primary difference between the two accounts is the interest payments versus cash back. The Rewards checking account offers daily compounding interest of up to 1.25%. To earn this rate on your balance of $150,000 or less you need:

Direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more

Use your Rewards Checking Visa debit card 15 times or more on purchases of $3 or higher in a month.

The Cash Back checking account offers cash back of 0.50% for signature-based transactions. Those are debit card purchases without using a pin number. You can earn up to $1,000 per month on these signature-based transactions.

Remember, we don’t advise regularly using your debit card for purchases because it makes you more susceptible to fraud. Credit cards offer better fraud protection and better cash back value. If your debit card becomes compromised, crooks having direct access to your money and can drain your bank account.

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2. Fidelity Cash Management Account

fidelityFidelity Cash Management Account reimburses all ATM fees the same day, has no monthly fees, and no overdraft fees. The FDIC insurance covers up to $1,250,000, which is 5 times larger than the standard bank account. Get free checks and check writing, mobile deposits and bill pay, all with no minimum balance. And because this account can be linked to your Fidelity investing account, you can easily move money between your Fidelity accounts.

The downside? There is no option for a line of credit to protect from an overdraft. Instead, you’ll need to link a savings or brokerage account to sweep funds if you go overdraft and want all items to clear. Without a linked account, purchases that would cause an overdraft are simply declined.

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3. Ally Interest Checking

allyAlly Interest Checking Account reimburses all ATMs in the U.S., offers free overdraft transfers from savings to checking and you get a high 0.60% rate on balances higher than $15,000. If that’s not enough to get excited about, the account also offers free checks and free cashier’s checks. On the downside, there is a $9 fee if you overdraft without a linked savings account. However, the bank charges overdraft fee only once per day and there are no extended overdraft charges.

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4. Simple

simpleSimple offers a simple account with no overdraft or monthly fees. Stay in the Allpoint network for ATM withdrawals otherwise you will pay the other bank ATM fee. How do you know if the ATM is in the network? Use the Simple ATM finder and type in your location or allow the map to find one near you. I found 5 ATMs within a 5-mile radius of where I live.

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5. EverBank Yield Pledge

everbankEverBank offers a promise to keep your yield in the top 5% of competitive accounts. Earn 0.93% APY in the first year and a bonus for the first 6 months. The ongoing interest rate is nothing to get too excited about, but if you find that you want a higher rate, you can simply move to one of the other accounts listed above or use this tool to find the best high yield savings account.

Everbank only reimburses ATM fees if you keep a minimum of $5,000 in your checking account and each overdraft fee costs $30 with no daily cap.

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6. Moven

movenMoven also offered a reimbursement of ATM fees but only when using ATMs within the Star network. Doing a quick search, I found 8 options within a 5-mile radius of my zip code. There is no monthly fee, or overdraft fee because any transactions that exceed your available balance will be declined.

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Find the Right Account For You

Take a moment to calculate how much you could earn using the free checking account comparison tool. Enter your zip code and how much you have to save and find the right account for you.

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Pay Down My Debt

3 Ridiculously Simple Methods to Pay Off Debt

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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By LaTisha Styles, YoungFinances.com

This year I finally paid off over $22,000 of credit card debt. It took a lot of discipline and sacrifice; more than I thought I had when I started my pay off debt journey. Whenever I see stories of debt payoff, I always wonder, “How did you accumulate that much debt?” You might be thinking the same. Here’s my story.

When I reached the age of 18, I headed off to college, like most high school graduates. It was the first time in a few years that I did not have a job. I started working at the age of 15, at McDonalds, then later at a local grocery store. However, when I went to college, I was under the impression that I could survive on my scholarships and the money my parents promised to send me each month.

I quickly learned that I wanted more. I wanted to be able to go out with my friends, spend money on clothing, and eat more than the three square meals that were offered at my college. As I was thinking about all of the ways I could make more money, I walked by a display table on campus with a stack of free t-shirts. I slowed, listening for the catch, and a representative quickly accosted me. She offered me a free t-shirt if I completed the credit card registration form. I had never owned a credit card before but I thought, “What do I have to lose?” So I signed up and took my free t-shirt.

A few weeks later, I received a credit card in the mail with a $750 limit. Woo hoo! I was shocked. I knew I would need a job to pay the bill so I walked to a local day care and applied for a job. With my experience, I was quickly employed part time as an after hours daycare attendant.

Each weekday I would go to classes and then to work, and each weekend I would go to the mall. At first I paid each bill in full. It was fun to feel like an adult, managing my own money properly. But after a few months, my shopping got out of hand and I started paying the minimum payment. Fast forward a few years, I had multiple credit cards, all close to the limit, and I was still only paying the minimum payment.

After an ugly phone call with a particularly aggressive creditor left me in tears, I decided to get out of debt and pay everything off. In the meantime, the economy began a downward spiral. I no longer had an income and I was having a hard time just making the minimum payments. I decided to turn to a credit counseling service that helped me set a three-year plan to pay off all of my debt.

While I used a credit counseling service, there may be another way for you to get out of debt. Here are three methods that you can use if you want to pay off your debt:

1) Go with a Credit Counseling Service

I was deep in debt and my credit score was shot after missing consecutive payments. The credit counseling service contacted my creditors, negotiated interest rates, and managed my monthly payments. For this, I paid them a small monthly fee. They negotiated the interest rate to zero percent on the majority of my cards. They also negotiated fee concessions and served as my contact for those creditors. I used a non-profit credit counseling service that was recommended to me by a friend. They had offices in my city and I was able to sit down with a counselor. However, it is important to research the firm before you begin to do business with them. A worthy credit counseling service will be transparent with you. Expect statements from them and monitor statements from your creditors. If you are looking for a reputable credit counseling service, check the reviews at the Better Business Bureau to determine the credibility of the business.

2) Use a Balance Transfer Card

If you have a strong credit score (typically 700 or higher) then why not try a balance transfer?

You can use MagnifyMoney’s balance transfer comparison tool to find the offers that suit you best. Look for upfront balance transfer fees and the details on monthly minimum payments.

Sometimes, a creditor will approve and open a new card for you but only give you a small credit line; enough to cover a portion of your requested balance transfer.

If this happens, you can look to do multiple balance transfers. However, if you use this method, be sure you are determined to pay off your debt. There is no reason to have new cards if you continue to spend beyond your means. And don’t spend on the card you used to complete the balance transfer! In fact, go ahead and lock it away as soon as you complete the transfer so you aren’t even tempted.

Say you have $10,000 of debt with Discover at a 21% interest rate. You apply for the Chase Slate 0% intro APR for 15 months, and $0 intro fee for balance transfers. Chase approves you, but only for $4,000. You can first call Chase and request a higher line of credit to move the entire balance over. Chase may agree to only raise it by another $2,000 leaving you with $4,000 left at Discover.

Next, you can apply for another balance transfer offer like Santander Sphere Visa at 0% for 24 months with a 4% fee to move the entire debt to a zero percent or low interest rate promotional offer.

Remember to mark your calendar for the month before your promotional period ends. If you haven’t paid down your debt, then shop around for other balance transfer offers to keep the interest rates low and help you save time and money on your debt repayment.

Confused about how to actually complete the balance transfer process? Then read this step-by-step guide.

3) Borrow the Balance from a Peer

Peer-to-Peer lending is an additional way to raise money to pay off your debt. If you have a good to excellent credit score, you can apply and crowdsource your funds. You may have many different lenders willing to lend at different interest rates. But if your current interest rate is higher on your credit cards, and you can get a lower interest rate via a peer-to-peer lending platform like LendingClub* or Prosper, then this choice may work for you. The payback terms are typically three years, but each loan is different and will depend on the individual lender. Rates are determined by the proprietary system developed by the lending platform and will vary.

You can compare different personal loan offers here.

Paying down debt is a journey but it doesn’t need to leave you feeling completely hopeless. Reach out for help and figure out the best way to get yourself back to being financially healthy.

*We receive a referral fee if you click on offers with this symbol. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations. You can learn more about how our site is financed here.  

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