Best of, Credit Cards

Credit Cards: Find the Best Credit Card Offers & Deals (0% for 24 mos, 6% cash back)

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Credit Cards: Find the Best Credit Card Offers & Deals

Updated December 10, 2016

The best credit cards can help you earn $2 or more for every $100 you spend – an easy way to make $100s or even $1,000s a year. When done properly, low rate credit cards are also the cheapest way to borrow. You can get 0% interest for up to 2 years. And credit cards are the best way to build, rebuild or maintain an excellent credit score, without paying fees.

But if you get it wrong, you can easily end up buried under a pile of expensive debt. This is a step-by-step guide that will help you find the best credit cards (updated daily) while avoiding expensive traps.

Should You Get a Credit Card?

Credit cards are like knives. Used well, they are great (even essential) tools. But if you start playing with them, you can get into trouble quickly.

There are two big risks associated with swiping plastic:

  • You spend more than you should, because it is just too easy
  • You pay higher interest rates than you should, adding years to your debt repayment

Before using a credit card, you need to answer the following question honestly:

Do I trust myself with plastic? Can I exhibit the necessary self-control to spend only what I can afford to pay in full every month?

If you have the discipline and self-control, keep reading and we will help you find the best credit card for your needs. But, if you don’t, it is possible to live a long and fulfilling life without plastic cards in your pocket.

The CFPB has a good guide on what to be aware of with your first credit card, as does the Federal Reserve.

Which type of card is best for you?

Why do you want a credit card ? The answer to that question will determine which type of card is best for you.

Just remember this critical rule when selecting a credit card:

You should have a Rewards Card for your spending. You should have a Low Rate Card for your borrowing. But you should avoid mixing the two. The best Rewards Cards tend to have higher interest rates. And the best Low Rate Cards often have no (or bad) rewards.

How to Choose and Use a Rewards Card

It is now easy to earn great rewards when you use a credit card for your spending. You should earn at least 2% cash back, and can earn even earn more with a bit of work. The money can add up quickly. If you spend $1,000 a month, you can earn $240 a year. It is not very often you can get something for nothing. But if you make the right choice and follow the rules, it is possible to get something for nothing.

How to Choose

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

These are the top cards offering a flat cash back rate.

Citi Double Cash Card

1% When You Buy + 1% When You Pay

Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card is the best overall cash back credit card. So long as you pay your statement balance in full and on time every month, you will earn 2% cash back. You earn 1% unlimited cash back on all of your purchases. You then earn an additional 1% on payments based on your purchases. The bonus cash back can take up to two billing cycles to post.

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  • No caps on how much cash back you can earn.
  • Cash back earning formula is easy to understand
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until after you apply

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent Credit

Purchase Interest Rate : 13.49% – 23.49%

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : None

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer : 0% for 18 months with a 3% fee

Tip: Make sure you pay your statement balance in full and on time to maximize your cash back

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Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

Unlimited 2% Cash Back on Every Purchase

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card offers Fidelity customers a generous 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limits or category restrictions. The cash back you earn must be deposited into a Fidelity account, but you don’t need to have a Fidelity account to apply for the card.

If you do not have a Fidelity account, they will open a Fidelity Cash Management Account to deposit your cash back. It works like a checking account with no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees. In addition, all domestic ATM fees are reimbursed (unlimited).

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  • Simple cash back earning formula
  • No caps on how much cash back you can earn
  • You need to have a Fidelity account in order to redeem your cash back

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent Credit

Purchase Interest Rate : 14.49%

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : None

Tip: You don’t need to keep your retirement or stock accounts with Fidelity to qualify for this card. Anyone can apply.

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Barclaycard Cash Forward Credit Card

1.575% Cash Back

Barclaycard CashForward Credit Card

You don’t need perfect credit to get a good cash back credit card. Barclaycard has just launched this card, which offers a generous 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases. You can earn a 5% bonus when you redeem, which creates an effective 1.575%.

There is a $100 bonus if you spend $500 in the first 90 days. The card has no annual fee.

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  • Cash back earning formula is easy to understand
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until after you apply

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent Credit

Purchase Interest Rate : 15.24%, 20.24% or 25.24%

Annual Fee : $0

Sign-on Bonus : $100 after spending $500 in the first 90 days

Intro Purchase APR : Not available

Tip: Always pay your bill on time to avoid late fees.

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Best Category Bonuses (Gas, Grocery, Travel, Dining)

Here are the top cash back cards that pay much higher rates in certain bonus categories, which can be a great way to boost your returns.

Fort Knox Credit Union Platinum Visa

Unlimited 5% Cash Back on Gas

Fort Knox Credit Union Platinum Visa

If you spend a lot of money on gas, there is no better card than this. You can earn unlimited 5% cash back on spending at gas stations. You will earn 1% on all other spend. You must be a member of the credit union, but anyone can join. Pay $5 to join the American Consumer Council of Kentucky (you can do that here) and you will be eligible to join.

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  • No limit to the cash back you can earn, even in the bonus category
  • You have to be a member of the credit union to get the card

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 9.50%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: If you are not yet a member, you can use the non-member application process. Once approved, you can join with your $5 contribution to American Consumer Council.

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Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

6% Cash Back on Groceries (Up to $6,000 of Spend)

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

The unparalleled 6% cash back rate on groceries makes this one of the best cards on the market for heavy grocery consumers. Even with the $75 annual fee, most grocery shoppers will come out ahead.

You will also earn 3% cash back on all gas station purchases, 3% at select department stores and 1% on all other purchases. You will earn a bonus offer of $150 after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. And, for a limited time, you can earn 10% back at Amazon.com, up to $200 within the first six months you have the card.

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  • Simple, easy to understand bonus offer
  • There is an Annual fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 13.49% – 22.49%

Annual Fee : $95 (no fee for additional cards)

Intro Purchase APR : 0% for 15 months

Tip: If you spend less than $200 a month on groceries, you will earn less than 2% cash back (after taking into account the fee) and would be better with Citi Double Cash or Fidelity American Express. But, if you spend more each year, this is a great option.

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PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express

4.25% Cash Back on Airfare Expenses

PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express

If you buy a lot of plane tickets every year, this card can be particularly lucrative. You will earn 5 points for every $1 spent on air travel. When you convert those points to a prepaid Visa card, those 5 points turn into a 4.25% earn rate. You earn 1 points per $1 on all other purchases.

There is no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and 20,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 within three months.

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  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • The conversion from points to $ can be confusing
  • You must be a member of the credit union

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 9.24% – 17.99%

Annual Fee : $0

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : 0% for 12 months with a 3% fee

Tip: Keep an eye open on the redemption opportunities. You can sometimes find better deals than just prepaid Visa cards.

GO TO SITE More Cards for Travel Spending

AARP Credit Card from Chase

3% Unlimited Cash Back at Restaurants

AARP Credit Card from Chase

You do not have to be over 55, or a member of the AARP, to apply for this credit card. When applying, you just need to keep the “AARP Membership Number” field blank. You can earn unlimited 3% cash back on your dining expenses. So, if you are a foodie, this is a great card. You also get a healthy 3% cash back on gas and 1% on all other purchases.

If you are interested in joining the AARP, you also don’t need to be older than 55. Anyone can join.

You can learn more about the offer by visiting AARP.org.

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

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  • No limit to the cash back you can earn
  • You do not need to be an AARP member to get the card

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 16.49%

Annual Fee : $0

Intro Purchase APR : 0% for 12 months

Intro Balance Transfer Offer : 0% for 12 months with a fee of 3% or $5 (whichever is greater)

Tip: Joining AARP at a younger age isn’t as crazy as it sounds. There are a lot of benefits and discounts available to members.

More Dining Credit Cards

Do you spend a lot of money in other categories? You can find the best cash back credit cards for every category here.

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

If you would like to earn free travel, there are a number of credit cards designed specifically to help you earn free flights quickly. Here are the best travel rewards credit cards.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards

Best No Annual Fee Travel Card – Miles Can Be Used Anywhere

BankAmericard Travel Rewards

You earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend. There is no limit to the number of points you earn.

The points can be used on any purchase. There are no restrictions and no blackout dates. Every 100 points can buy $1 worth of travel. The rewards get even better if you have “Preferred Rewards” at Bank of America. You can earn a bonus of between 25% and 75% if you have significant balances at Bank of America or Merrill Lynch.

There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. You can use your points for a wide range of travel options, including flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars and even pesky baggage fees.

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  • Simple introductory bonus
  • No limit to the points you can earn
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until after you apply

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 15.49% – 23.49%

Annual Fee : $0

Intro Purchase APR : 0% for 12 months

Tip: The Preferred Rewards program offers excellent rewards. If you rollover your old 401(k) or IRA to Merrill Edge, you can get up to a 75% credit card bonus and ATM fee reimbursement with a Bank of America checking account.

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Amex Everyday Credit Card

Best No Annual Fee Travel Card – Earn Airline Miles & Hotel Points

Amex Everyday Credit Card

You can earn 2 points for every $1 spent at supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year. You will earn 1 point on all other purchases, including supermarket spend above $6,000. And there is an added bonus. If you use your credit card for 20 purchases per month, you will get a 20% bonus. That means you would get 2.4 points on grocery store spend (up to $6,000) and 1.2 points on everything else.

You will be earning Membership Rewards Points, which have a wide variety of redemption options. You can convert these points into frequent flier miles of airlines. Participating airlines include Delta, Virgin America, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and more. You also have the option to convert points into hotel programs, including Hilton and Starwood.

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  • Simple introductory bonus
  • The 2-point bonus on grocery store spending is capped
  • You need 20 transactions each month to get the the 20% bonus

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : Prime + 9.74% – Prime + 18.74%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: Make sure you use this card for all of your everyday spend. The 20% bonus is based upon the number of transactions made, not the value of those transactions. Even buying a package of gum in the grocery store counts.

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Best Credit Cards for Foreign Travel

These are the best credit cards for use when traveling outside of the country. None of these cards have foreign transaction fees. And some of them even have chip and pin, helping to increase acceptance.

First Tech Credit Union Platinum Rewards MasterCard

No Annual or Foreign Transaction Fee + Chip and Pin Functionality

First Tech Credit Union Platinum Rewards MasterCard

This card is the perfect companion for overseas travel. There is no annual fee or costly foreign transaction fee. Even better, the card offers chip and pin functionality. Most major credit card issuers in America have rolled out chip and signature, which can be problematic overseas. If you try to use your card at a ticket machine or with a waiter’s portable payment device, you have a good chance of being rejected.

The card also offers low credit union interest rates, starting at just 9.99%. It is easy to join the credit union. Membership is free if you work for a sponsor technology company. If you work for the state of Oregon or live in Lane County, Oregon membership is also free. Otherwise, you just need to join the Financial Fitness Association. There is a one-time fee of $8, and you are member. That membership gives you the right to join the credit union and apply for this card.

You will earn 1 point for every $1 you spend. This is not the best rewards program on the market.

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  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • You have to be a member of the credit union

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : from 10.24%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: First, join the Financial Fitness Association. Then join the credit union. Finally, apply for the credit card. This can all be done online, and it is an easy process.

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Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

No Foreign Transaction Fee + Chip and Pin Functionality

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

With this card, you earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend. When you redeem, you receive a 5% bonus, which gives you a 2.1% earn rate. Your miles can be used on any travel purchase with any airline, hotel or other travel expense. There is an annual fee of $89, which is waived during the first year. If you spend $1,000 a month, you would earn $252 of rewards during the year. After deducting the annual fee, you will have earned 1.4%.

There is a sign-on bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. But the real strength of this card is for foreign travel. There are no foreign transaction fees and full chip and pin functionality is available.

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  • No limit on the bonus points you can earn
  • There is an annual fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49%

Annual Fee : $89 (waived during the first year)

Intro Purchase APR : None

Intro Balance Transfer : 0% for 12 months with a 3% fee

Tip: Given the high annual fee, this card is only worthwhile if you expect to spend a lot on the card.

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Capital One Quicksilver One Rewards MasterCard

Best Foreign Travel for Fair Credit

Capital One Quicksilver One Rewards MasterCard

This card is designed for people with Average/Fair credit. If you have defaulted on a loan in the past five years (but not more than one), or if you have had limited credit history (at least one account for less than three years), you would be considered “average/fair.”

With this card, you can earn 1.5% unlimited cash back. There is also no foreign transaction fee. That combination of no fee and rewards can make this card lucrative. There is an annual fee of $39.

This card can be useful to build your credit score. Just keep your utilization low (ideally below 20% of the available credit) and make your payments on time and in full every month. Capital One provides free access to your FICO score. So, you can track your score and see when you are eligible for an upgrade to a no-fee card.

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  • No limit to the cash back you can earn
  • No confusing categories or limits
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Fair or Average

Purchase Interest Rate : 24.99%

Annual Fee : $39

Intro Purchase APR : 0% until September 2016

Tip: Use this credit card to build your score and avoid expensive foreign transaction fees.

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How to Use

In order to maximize your cash back, make sure you follow these suggestions:

  • Use your chosen cash back card for ALL of your spending. Your goal should be to replace cash, checks, automatic debits and debit cards completely. For example, you can automate bill payments (like your cell phone) to be debited from your credit card. This will make your life easier (only one payment to make each month) and it will make budgeting easier (you can set a target for spending and track it easily).
  • Set up automatic monthly payments for the statement balance, not the minimum due. If you set up automatic payments, you will ensure that your payment will be on time every month. And if you set up the automatic payment for the statement balance, you will ensure that you are never charged interest and only charge what you can afford to repay.
  • Avoid cash advances. If you use your credit card to take out cash, most companies will charge a cash advance fee that averages 3%. The interest rate on cash advances is usually above 20%. And there is no grace period, which means interest starts accruing right away.

Brian Karimzad, Co-Founder of MagnifyMoney, explains how to get the most out of cash back credit cards in this video:

How to Choose and Use a Low Rate Credit Card

When done properly, credit cards can be the cheapest way to borrow. Just make sure you choose the right credit card for your situation and automate a plan to pay off the debt as quickly as possible.

How to Choose

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

With a balance transfer credit card, you can transfer debt from a high interest rate credit card to a 0% introductory promotional rate. You can find no fee balance transfers for up to 15 months. If you are willing to pay a fee, you can find balance transfers for up to 24 months. The fee is usually worthwhile – if you want to do the calculation, you can use the calculator on our interactive tool.

Remember: you cannot transfer debt between two credit cards of the same bank.

Here are the best 0% balance transfer offers in the market today. All of these credit cards waive interest – which means there is no retroactive interest charge to worry about.

Chase Slate®

$0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee

Chase Slate®

With Chase Slate®, you can save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free. At MagnifyMoney, this is our favorite balance transfer offer.

You cannot transfer debt from other Chase credit cards, including their co-brand cards. Chase operates credit cards for companies like United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Marriott.

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  • Interest is not deferred during the introductory promotional period. It is waived.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 15.49% to 24.24% variable

Annual Fee : $0

Intro Purchase APR : 0% for 15 months

Tip: Make sure you complete the balance transfer within 60 days of opening the account.

LEARN MORE Read Our Full Review

Alliant Platinum Visa

No Fee – 0% on transfers for 12 Months

Alliant Platinum Visa

With the Alliant Platinum Visa, there is no balance transfer fee and you pay no interest for 12 months. You can apply for the credit card even if you are not a member of the credit union. If you are approved for the credit card, you can then join

Anyone can join the credit union. You just have to make a contribution of $10 to Foster Care for Success and then you can become a member of the credit union. That is what we love about credit unions: joining requires a donation to a worthy charity.

There is one catch (that we don’t like). Even if you are approved for the credit card, you might not get the 0% offer. Depending upon your credit score, you might be given a much higher introductory interest rate.

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  • Interest is not deferred during the introductory promotional period. It is waived.
  • You might not get the 0% offer, depending upon your credit score
  • You have to join the credit union

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 9.49% – 21.49%

Annual Fee : $0

Intro Purchase APR : 0% for 12 months

Tip: If your credit score is not excellent, you might find it difficult to get the 0% offer. Pay close attention to the offer details once approved.

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Santander Sphere Visa

0% on transfers for 2 Years – 4% Balance Transfer Fee

Santander Sphere Visa

This is the longest 0% offer in the MagnifyMoney database. The only catch: it comes with a hefty 4% balance transfer fee. The fee could still be worthwhile, depending upon how long it takes for you to pay off the debt. You cannot transfer debt from other Santander credit cards.

The card also offers a rewards program, with 1 point for every $1 spent. And if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, you earn 10,000 bonus points.

You have 90 days from account opening to complete the balance transfer, otherwise you lose the promotional rate.

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  • Interest is not deferred during the introductory promotional period. It is waived.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 12.99% – 22.99%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: This card is a good option if you think it will take a long time to pay off your debt in full.

GO TO SITE Read Our Full Review

Citi Simplicity

0% on transfers and purchases for 21 Months; 3% Fee

Citi Simplicity

Citibank has a strong balance transfer offer, with a long 21 months and a 3% fee. In addition, Simplicity has some added perks. There are no late fees, no penalty rate and no annual fee. Although you should always try to pay on time, it is nice that this card will not punish you for the occasional mistake.

In addition to the balance transfer offer, you pay no interest on purchases for 21 months.

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  • No late fee, no penalty APR and no annual fee
  • Interest is not deferred during the introductory promotional period. It is waived.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 13.49% – 23.49%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: Make sure you transfer your balance within 4 months of opening the card, otherwise you lose the promotional offer.

GO TO SITE Read Our Full Review

Barclaycard Cash Forward Credit Card

0% Balance Transfer

Barclaycard Cash Forward

The Barclaycard Cash Forward might be a good option if you have already used balance transfer offers from other banks.

The balance transfer has a 3% fee, but you will have 0% interest for 15 months on transfer you make in the first 45 days and there is no annual fee.

You interest rate after the transfer can be as high as 25.24%, so this is definitely a card you only want to use for a balance you know you’ll pay off in under 15 months.

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  • No annual fee.
  • A high ongoing rate if your credit isn’t great.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate: 15.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% based on your credit worthiness.

Annual Fee : $0


Tip: Watch your credit score closely. As you pay down your debt, your score will improve.

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Paying off credit card debt sometimes requires more than one balance transfer credit card. If you want even more choices, check out our full guide to the best balance transfer cards, or use our balance transfer calculator to see which cards will save you most.

Best 0% Purchase Credit Cards

With a 0% introductory purchase offer, you will not be charged interest for purchases made on the credit card during the promotional period. This is a great way to finance a purchase. Even better, none of these top cards charge retroactive interest if you don’t pay off the balance during the promotional period. (A lot of store credit cards offer 0%, but then hit you with a big penalty. But don’t worry – these recommendations don’t do that).

Citi Simplicity

0% on Purchases for 21 Months

Citi Simplicity

If you are looking to finance a purchase, Citibank offers the longest 0% purchase promotion of any credit card in the MagnifyMoney database. The APR on purchases will be 0% for the first 21 months after opening the credit card.

Additionally, Citi Simplicity charges no annual fee, no late fee and has no penalty APR.

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  • No late fee, no penalty APR and no annual fee
  • Interest is not deferred during the introductory promotional period. It is waived.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 13.49% – 23.49%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: The 21 months starts from when you open the credit card, not when you make the purchase. So make sure you time your application with your planned purchase.

GO TO SITE Read Our Full Review

TruWest Visa Signature

0% on Purchases for 18 Months – Credit Union Membership Required

TruWest Visa Signature

TruWest is a credit union with restricted membership. Unfortunately, you need to live in certain regions of Texas or Arizona, or work for a few select employers (like Motorola) to join. You can learn about membership eligibility here.

If you are able to join, you will find a long 0% promotional period. Even better, the credit card has reasonable credit union interest rates after the promotional period ends. There is no annual fee on the card.

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  • Interest is not deferred during the introductory promotional period. It is waived.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Good or Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 8.15% – 9.15%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: Make sure you check your membership eligibility before you apply.

Best Low Interest (not 0%) Credit Cards

Having a credit card with a rate that stays low is a good idea. In case of an emergency, you will always have access to a low cost way to borrow. Here are some great low interest rate options:

Barclaycard Ring

13.49% Variable Interest Rate

Barclaycard Ring

Barclaycard Ring was launched as a new type of credit card. Barclaycard has created a “community” that allows cardholders to share opinions and participate in a charity partner Giveback program.

There is a flat 13.49% APR (variable). That is a nice card to have in your back pocket in case of an emergency.

There are no rewards offered on this card.

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  • One flat interest rate
  • No annual fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : 13.49% Variable

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: This is a good card to keep in your back pocket in case of an emergency

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Langley Select Visa Platinum Card

As Low as 7.50% from a Credit Union Anyone Can Join

Langley Select Visa Platinum Card

Anyone can join Langley Federal Credit Union by joining an association during the signup process for $5.

If you have excellent credit and just want a place for emergency spending with no rewards, consider keeping this card on hand. Although the rates start as low as 7.50%, not everyone will get a rate that low.

It’s more of a hassle than a regular bank card, but if you insist on the very lowest rate consider this.

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  • Interest is not deferred during the introductory promotional period. It is waived.
  • There is a range of interest rates. You won’t know yours until you apply.
  • You have to join the credit union

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Excellent

Purchase Interest Rate : from 7.50%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: You need to have an excellent credit score in order to qualify for the lowest interest rate. And unfortunately the online banking is not as good as some of the bigger banks.

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You might get a lower rate from a credit union or bank near you that doesn’t accept nationwide applications, and you can check our full list of low interest credit cards to see if there is one that works for you.

How to Use

If you need to borrow money, credit cards can be an incredibly low cost way of borrowing. Just make sure you pay attention to the following tips:

  • Get that balance transfer done quickly! If you are transferring a balance, make sure you complete the transfer as soon as possible. The introductory offer starts from when you open the card, not when the transfer is completed. And you can lose the offer with most issuers if you wait more than 60 days to complete the transfer.
  • Automate your monthly payments. If you pay late, you can be charged a costly late fee. And, if your payment is 60 days late, you can lose the introductory offer entirely.
  • You cannot transfer debt between two cards of the same bank. For example, if you open a Citibank account you will only be able to transfer debt from credit cards other than Citibank.

Nick Clements is the Co-Founder of MagnifyMoney. He also used to run a large credit card company and explains how to use balance transfers in this video.

How to Choose and Use a Credit Card to Build or Rebuild Your Score

If you are looking to build or rebuild your credit score, a credit card can be the perfect tool.

How to Choose

If you have no credit, or your credit score is below 620, you should consider a secured credit card.

If you have limited credit history (less than three years) or you have only defaulted once on a credit card or loan (not multiple times), you should consider a credit card for fair credit.

Best Secured Credit Cards for People with Bad or No Credit

Secured credit cards are the best option if you need to build or rebuild your credit score. The best secured credit cards have no annual fees. If you’re going to use a secured credit card, it will help you grow your score if you pay your balance on time every month, keep your credit utilization low, and you apply for an unsecured credit card after 12-18 months of regular use.

Need to know more? These are ways that you can build your credit without paying interest and spending just $10 a month, and these are tips for improving your credit score.

No Fee Secured Card with Free FICO Score; $200 Deposit Required

Discover it® Secured Credit Card – No Annual Fee

This is our favorite secured credit card. There is no annual fee. You will get free access to your credit score. You can watch your good behavior being rewarded, and you will know when it is time to convert to a fully unsecured credit card.

In order to open the card, you will need to deposit at least $200, depending upon your creditworthiness. With this secured credit card, you will actually be able to earn cash back rewards. If you have previously filed bankruptcy, you still have the chance to be approved.

Our favorite part of the product is the automatic graduation. After seven months, Discover will start monthly automated reviews. If you qualify for a standard card, you will be graduated (and get your deposit back).

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Transparency Score
  • No annual fee
  • Free FICO credit score

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Anyone can apply

Purchase Interest Rate : 23.49% variable APR

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: This product reports to all three credit bureaus. It is a great tool to build your score. But, if you miss payments, you can do damage to your score.

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Community Secured Visa from Coastal Credit Union

No Fee Secured Card; Credit Union Membership and $100 Deposit Required

Community Secured Visa from Coastal Credit Union

This card has no annual fee, and you only need to deposit $100 in a Collateral Savings Account to get started. If you’re not a member of Coastal Credit Union, you can join an organization for $18, which is deducted from your initial deposit, and become a member. So you’ll need $118 to get started.

While the initial deposit is a bit higher than the Capital One card, you get the peace of mind that your interest rate will be more reasonable in case you get into trouble. This one takes more work to open than the Capital One card, since it involves joining a credit union, but you deal with less fine print once you have the card.

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Transparency Score
  • A single interest rate that you know up front, before you apply
  • You have to join a credit union

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Anyone can apply

Purchase Interest Rate : 15.50%

Annual Fee : $0

Tip: It is easy to join the credit union. Join an organization for $18 and you will become eligible.

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We also have a list of several other no annual fee secured credit cards from both banks and credit unions anyone can join. Or browse our list of hundreds of secured cards to compare rates, fees, and deposit requirements.

Best Credit Cards for People with Fair Credit

If you have fair or average credit, you might be able to qualify for an unsecured credit card. If you have more than one default in the last five years, you will find it difficult to get approved. In addition, if you are currently delinquent on any of your accounts it will also be hard to get approved, and you should try a secured card instead.

Here are some good cards for people with fair credit:

Capital One Quicksilver One

1.5% Cash Back for People with Fair Credit – with $39 Annual Fee

Capital One Quicksilver One

Capital One has created a credit card specifically for people with fair or average credit. If you have defaulted on a loan (but not more than one) in the last five years, or you have limited credit history (at least one account for less than three years), you would meet the definition of fair credit.

You will earn 1.5% cash back, unlimited. There is also 0% interest on purchases until September 2016 as well.

Transparency Score 30
Transparency Score
  • Interest is not deferred during the introductory promotional period. It is waived.
  • There is an annual fee

Key Information

Credit Score Required : Fair or Average

Purchase Interest Rate : 24.99%

Annual Fee : $39

Tip: Watch your credit score closely. As you pay down your debt, your score will improve. Once your score is above 700, you can find a lot of choices for credit cards with better rewards or no annual fee.

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You may also want to try and see if you are pre-qualified for a credit card before applying. Banks can perform a ‘soft’ pull on your credit file to give you a sense of whether you might qualify for one of their products. It leaves no mark on your credit score, and you can see a full list of ways to check if you’re pre-qualified here.

A Special Note: Beware Predatory Companies

Many lenders target consumers with FICO credit scores of less than 650. If you have searched for “credit cards for bad credit,” you will probably find offers from companies like First Premier. In addition to high interest rates, these lenders often require application processing fees, maintenance fees and more. You could be given a $300 credit limit and see a big portion of it eaten up with fees.

Stay away from these specialist subprime lenders. Instead, consider the following:

  • If you need to borrow, consider a personal loan instead. You can find much better deals. Search for options here
  • If you want to build your credit score, use a secured credit card instead.
How to Use It

In order to build your credit score with one of these cards, you should follow our tips. By doing this, you should see real improvement in your score.

  • Don’t use more than 10% – 20% of your available credit. For example, if you have a $500 credit limit, never spend more than $50. That keeps your utilization low.
  • Use your card every single month. You should make sure you have a transaction every month, so that positive data is reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Automate and pay your statement balance in full and on time every month. Even just one late payment could crush your score. And by paying the balance in full, you will avoid any interest expense.
  • Watch your score closely. Keep an eye on your credit score. After 12 months, you should really start to see a big improvement. Once your score is above 650, you should try to get your secured card converted or apply for an unsecured credit card.

Other Benefits of Using a Credit Card

Not only can you use a credit card to earn rewards, borrow at low rates or build your credit score for free – but there are many other benefits available. Here are some of the benefits that you can find:

Available on Most Credit Cards

$0 Liability on Fraudulent Activity: Credit cards are the best way to protect yourself from fraud. So long as you report the fraud to your credit card company, you will not be liable for any losses on any major credit card.

Car Rental Collision Insurance: If you waive collision coverage when renting a car, your credit card may provide secondary coverage of $50K or more.

Available on Some Credit Cards

Retail Purchase Protection: Protects you from loss, theft, fire or accidental damage for a limited period of time after your purchase has been made. Not all cards protect you from loss, so look it up in the Purchase Protection Coverage Description Document.

Price Protection: If you buy something in stores and you see an advertised price, you will receive the difference between the two prices.

Extended Warranties: Duplicates both manufacturers and store warranties for a limited length of time and for limited dollar values (varies by card).

Travel Accident Coverage: If you are injured during travel, and you purchased the tickets via credit card, your company fully insures you.

Lost Luggage Coverage: You can receive compensation for lost, stolen or damaged luggage if you purchased flight or travel tickets using your credit card.

Trip Interruption Cancellation Coverage: If travel delays keep you from completing a trip, and you purchased the tickets on your credit card, the full value of the tickets will be refunded

Concierge Services: Certain cards offer free access to local concierge services that can help you make dinner reservations, purchase event tickets, and locate items while you are abroad.

FAQ

The minimum payment calculation differs by credit card issuer. The most common is 1% of the principal balance plus any interest or fees that accrued in the month (or a set amount, like $25, if the minimum due is very low).

If you use your credit card at an ATM to take out cash, a few things will happen. First, you would be charged a cash advance fee, which is usually about 3%. Second, interest would start accruing immediately, because most issuers do not have a cash advance grace period. And the cash advance interest rate is usually much higher than the purchase rate. Don’t be surprised to see interest rates as high as 24% (or higher).

While there is no over-limit fee, having a credit card with a balance that is greater than the credit limit can have a very negative impact on your credit score. In general, you want to keep your credit card balance below 20% (ideally below 10%) of your credit limit.

We do not recommend closing credit cards, because it can reduce your credit score. Closing unused credit cards does two things. First, it reduces your total available credit. That increases your utilization, which is bad for your score. Second, the age of your open credit cards helps your score. If you close old accounts, you can hurt your score over time.

The law requires that any payment amount beyond the minimum due must be applied to the highest APR balance first. The minimum due is at the discretion of the credit card companies. However, it is usually applied to the balance with the lowest APR first. Your goal is to eliminate high APR debt – so don’t be afraid to make much bigger payments on credit cards. The extra amount will always go to the most expensive debt first.

Each application for new credit can take 5-10 points off your credit score. If you are planning on applying for a mortgage or auto loan in the near future, you have to be very careful. Even just 5 points can be painful. However, if you are not going to be applying for a mortgage or auto loan in the next 6-12 months, you should not worry too much about your credit score. Instead, focus on getting out of debt quickly.

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7 FinTech Startups Helping Businesses Fight Fraud

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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.

fraud identity theft hacker

Whether it’s a small shop or a multinational company, businesses must constantly have their guard up to protect against fraud. Installing security cameras, verifying dollar bills aren’t counterfeit, and hiring a security guard to prevent shoplifting can all help with physical fraud. But as commerce and banking continue to go online, digital security is critically important as well.

LexisNexis’ 2016 True Cost of Fraud study focuses on U.S. merchants. The study reveals businesses reported an increase in the cost of fraud as a percentage of annual revenue for the third year in a row.

On average, companies have dealt with nearly 650 fraudulent purchase attempts each month, and over 200 of those are successful. Increasingly, fraudulent purchases are coming from remote channels, either from mobile devices or other online methods.

Combating in-person, online, and mobile-transaction fraud can be an exhausting process, and several financial technology (FinTech) companies are working to help businesses outsmart thieves and win the fight.

1. Feedzai

FeedzaiFeedzai uses machine learning and big-data analysis to help companies prevent fraud while managing payment processing, opening new customers accounts, underwriting merchant accounts, securing marketplaces, and validating customers.

Feedzai claims its Fraud Prevention That Learns technology, which bases its decisions on historical and real-time behavioral profiling, can detect fraud up to 10 days earlier than the competition, and identify 61% more fraud with lower false alarms.

2. IdentityMind Global

IdentityMind GlobalIdentityMind Global has a platform that payment service providers, online merchants, and financial institutions can use to identify and prevent fraudulent purchases, botnets, phishing attempts, account takeovers, and other types of attacks in real time.

The platform also offers anti-money laundering (AML), know your customer (KYC), and other risk management services to companies, including Bitcoin exchanges and internet lenders.

3. InAuth

InAuthInAuth is a risk management and fraud-detection and -prevention platform for the banking, payments, health care, e-commerce, and mobile commerce industries. Large companies can also use it to secure and identify employees’ devices and information.

InAuth’s InExchange service allows businesses from different industries to share positive and negative information about devices, helping companies determine whether or not the device has been linked to fraudulent activity in the past. InAuth also works to identify when devices are infected with malware or crimeware, and whether or not it’s a rooted or jailbroken device, potential signs of fraudulent use.

4. Jumio

JumioAvailable for merchants in the retail, travel, gaming, finance, telecom, and sharing economy industries, Jumio offers digital identification verification, mobile checkout, and form-filling software. Two of its three products can help prevent fraud.

Netverify helps authenticate potential customers by letting them take a picture of their photo ID and use their phone or computer to scan their face. The software verifies that the person matches the photo in the ID. BAM Checkout lets customers make mobile purchases by taking pictures of their credit or debit card and driver’s license. The software compares the names on the ID and card, and can help prevent fraud while creating an easy checkout process for customers. Jumio also has a third service, Fastfill, which allows customers to quickly fill in their information by snapping a picture of an ID card.

While Jumio filed chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2016 due to some reported financial irregularities within the company, Jumio’s assets were acquired by Centana Growth Partners. Under this new umbrella, Jumio does seem to have steadied itself and raised an additional $15 million from Centana in August 2016.

5. iovation

iovationiovation delivers device-based fraud prevention and authentication services to help prevent mobile and online fraud. The service automatically collects information about a device. This information is used to visit a company’s site and decide whether or not they should allow, deny, or conduct a manual review of a transaction. For example, iovation may notice a device was used to make over $1,200 of purchases in the previous 12 hours, check to see if a phone number is connected to more than three devices, and see if this purchase is coming from a high-risk location.

Using iovation’s fraud prevention service, companies can require suspicious users to go through additional identification protocol or prevent a transaction outright. They can also use iovationScore, a predictive risk score, to help them identify good and bad customers. As a result, they make a checkout experience smoother for good customers, by letting them skip a security check, for example. The scoring system uses real-time machine learning to monitor billions of transactions globally and increase its predictive capabilities.

6. BioCatch

BioCatchBioCatch has created cloud-based technology that builds user profiles based on over 500 cognitive parameters, including behavioral patterns. By learning what it looks like when fraudsters create accounts, purchase products, or browse websites, BioCatch can help detect and stop future potential frauds. BioCatch can also help detect when someone takes over a legitimate account by comparing a user’s normal behaviors, including typing speed or cursor movement, to behaviors during the fraudulent session.

7. Trulioo

TruliooCanadian startup, Trulioo, uses data from over 140 sources to collect and share information on over 3 billion people, making it one of the largest consumer data companies in the world. E-commerce stores can use Trulioo to verify new customers, reducing the risk of fraudulent purchases and subsequent chargebacks. Financial institutions can use Trulioo’s data to help them meet AML and KYC identity verification requirements.

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5 Best Robo-Advisers to Help Manage Your Investments

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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.

5 Best Robo-Advisers to Help Manage Your Investments

These days, individual investors have a lot more tools at their disposal to help manage their money like pros, even if they don’t have a lot of knowledge and experience with investing. One tool that has become very popular for individual investors in the past couple of years is the robo-adviser.

Because so many new robo-advisers have popped up and gained traction in the past year or two, it may be difficult to decide which one is best. This review of five major robo-advisers may help you select which one to use to effortlessly manage your investments.

Vanguard

Vanguard Personal Advisor ServicesVanguard expanded their investment services by launching Vanguard Personal Advisor Services to help customers save money and make better investment decisions. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services can help you meet goals like investing for retirement, saving for a college education, buying a home, or just basic wealth building for the future.

According to John Woerth, public relations spokesperson at Vanguard, “Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is a hybrid that offers the best of both worlds — the user-friendly online experience and sophisticated investment modeling of a robo-advisor, coupled with the judgment and coaching of a professional advisor.”

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services appoints an adviser to serve as your financial coach. Based on your goals, this adviser helps craft a custom, investing plan that is meant for the long haul, regardless of how the markets change.

Vanguard doesn’t offer automatic tax-loss harvesting, but they can help minimize your tax burden through asset allocation. This means being more efficient with both taxable and tax-advantaged accounts. They can also help create a tax-friendly distribution plan for retirement.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services requires an account minimum of $50,000.

Vanguard is known for their low-cost products, and this holds true for Personal Advisor Services, as well. The annual cost is 0.30% of the assets under Vanguard’s management. For example, if you have invested $250,000, the cost would be $750 per year.

Personal Capital

Personal CapitalMany people are familiar with Personal Capital’s robust money management dashboard, including free cash-flow monitoring, asset allocation and portfolio performance, fee analysis, investment checkup, and their retirement planner. However, you may not be familiar with Personal Capital’s wealth management services.

Although Personal Capital is sometimes lumped in with robo-advisers, they claim Personal Capital doesn’t exactly fit into this category.

According to their website, they are different because they “have a team of financial advisors based in San Francisco and Denver to work one-on-one with [their] clients.”

Last year, Personal Capital reduced their minimum asset requirement from $100,000 to $25,000, making it easier for more people to get started. Plus, their web interface is very friendly for users who enjoy managing their information online.

Your money is invested in exchange traded funds (ETFs) to leverage asset allocation, tax-loss harvesting, and rebalancing. You also have access to Personal Capital’s full suite of financial planning services and a licensed team to answer questions on college planning, estate planning, home purchases, 401(k) allocation, and more.

Personal Capital charges a flat 0.89% for the first million assets under management. After the first million, this fee is reduced by 0.10% per additional million dollars.

One nice feature of Personal Capital is the ability to see a complete overview of your finances right from their dashboard.

Betterment

BettermentBetterment Robo Adviser is another popular robo-adviser that uses software and algorithms to help manage your money based on your risk tolerance.

Betterment takes the guesswork out of asset allocation by investing your money into a fully diversified index-fund portfolio made up of 12 ETFs. They also offer fractional shares, broader diversification, and tax-loss harvesting — none of which are available when purchasing ETFs directly.

There is no minimum required deposit to open a Betterment account.

If you automatically deposit $100 per month and your balance is under $10,000, Betterment’s fee is 0.35% annually. Without an automatic deposit of $100, the fee is $3 per month.

Once your account reaches $10,000, automatic deposits are no longer required and the annual fee is 0.25% per year. If your balance is over $100,000, the fee is just 0.15% annually with no recurring deposit required.

Wealthfront

WealthfrontWealthfront and Betterment have a lot of common features, like the use of modern portfolio theory to determine your diversified portfolio of ETFs. Also similar to Betterment, Wealthfront offers automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting (for taxable accounts).

Wealthfront offers several types of accounts, including taxable investment accounts, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRAs, IRA transfers, and 401(k) rollovers.

Unlike Betterment, Wealthfront does have a minimum amount required to open an account. However, it is only $500, down from $5,000 when the service began. There is no annual fee for the first $10,000, but the fee increased to 0.25% annually above $10,000.

Wealthfront also offers tax-optimized direct indexing for accounts over $100,000. This means Wealthfront directly purchases over 1,001 securities from the S&P 500 and S&P 1500 indices and an ETF of smaller companies. This allows for further tax-loss harvesting and reducing annual fees.

Recently, Wealthfront also began offering a 529 College Savings Plan, which is also free for the first $10,000. Nevada residents get the first $25,000 for free. After these amounts are reached, the fees are 0.43%-0.46% per year.

Charles Schwab

charles-schwabCharles Schwab, the discount stock broker, now offers robo-adviser services in the form of their product Schwab Intelligent Portfolios.

The biggest advantage of using Schwab Intelligent Portfolios is their lineup of 54 ETFs, which is significantly more than Betterment and Wealthfront’s asset classes of 12 and 11, respectively.

Schwab has also attracted a lot of attention for having a low account minimum of only $5,000 and no account fees outside of the annual ETF fees.

Tobin McDaniel, president of Schwab Wealth Investment Advisory, said, “We think our service has a unique combination of features compared to similar types of products in the industry. We’re not charging any advisory fees, our portfolios are sophisticated with up to 20 asset classes using both cap-weighted and fundamentally weighted strategies, we have live investment professionals available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, and our service is backed by the security and stability of a firm with $2.7 trillion in assets and 40 years of experience working on behalf of investors.”

After you sign up with Schwab, you are given a 12-step survey to help determine things like your goals for investing, a timeline for retirement withdrawals, and your risk tolerance. This will help determine the right mix for your investments. The selection services for ETFs with Schwab tends to be more complex, and most portfolios are made up of a larger number of funds than with other robo-investing companies.

One of the problems with using Schwab Intelligent Portfolios is their fee structure. The Department of Labor’s recent fiduciary ruling says fees have to be level regardless of what you invest them in. Critics have pointed out that since Schwab doesn’t earn the same commission on all products, they are violating the Department of Labor’s new rules.

To further complicate things, a significant portion of their ETFs are allocated in cash. Because Schwab is earning money from this cash, their no account fees claim isn’t exactly accurate or transparent. Again, this doesn’t meet the Department of Labor’s fee level fiduciary rules.

Which Robo-Adviser Is Right for You?

Even with all of this information, it can still be difficult to determine which robo-adviser is right for your investing needs. The decision depends on several factors, including how much you have to invest, how much the service costs, and which features are most important to you. Whether you choose a robo-adviser, a traditional financial planner, or a combination of the two, or choose to do it yourself, the most important thing is you are planning for your future.

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4 Digital Banks That Treat You and Your Money Well

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4 Digital Banks That Treat You and Your Money Well

If you are still banking with a physical bank, it may be time to go digital instead. Digital banks offer several benefits and features that physical banks can’t, or don’t, offer due to the cost of operating a physical location. Because online banks don’t have these overhead costs, they can offer more benefits to help customers save money on fees, and earn more money via interest too.

There are several online banks from which financially savvy customers can choose from these days. If you are looking to go digital with your banking, here are a few good options to consider.

Ally Bank

ally1_c794a82274fb5b321fa200860b050e1bAlly is a digital bank with a full range of services, including online savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs, IRAs, checking accounts, credit cards, and more. It has also been named the “Best Online Bank” 5 years in a row from 2011 to 2015 by Money Magazine.

Ally has become a popular place for people to store their savings in an online savings account due to the 1.00% APY currently available on all balance tiers. It also offers 0.85% on all money market balances. These accounts offer daily compounded interest, FDIC insurance deposits, and no monthly maintenance fees.

Checking accounts with Ally Bank allow customers to earn interest on their money, which is something that is not as common with physical banks. Daily balances of less than $15,000 earn 0.10% APY, and accounts with a daily balance over $15,000 earn 0.60% APY.

Customers of Ally Bank also enjoy the ability to use any of the 43,000+ Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. for free. Plus, Ally Bank reimburses up to $10 per statement cycle for fees incurred at other ATMS. It also offers exceptional customer service with 24/7 live customer care.

Charles Schwab

charles-schwabCharles Schwab is another bank that started offering more digital products for its customers, including checking and savings, lending, and investing.

The High Yield Investor Checking account is a popular choice for many customers as Schwab offers this account with no ATM fees worldwide and unlimited ATM reimbursement for fees incurred each billing cycle. It also offers no account minimums or monthly services fees, and easy banking 24/7 with Schwab Mobile. The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is linked to your existing Schwab One brokerage account so you can manage both accounts with one login.

The interest rate on the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is 0.06% APY no matter your balance, but you do have to open a Schwab One brokerage account in order to use a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account. There are no fees or minimum balance for the Schwab One brokerage account, and you can transfer funds between the two accounts for free.

Schwab also offers a High Yield Investor Savings account with no minimum balance or monthly service charge. The interest rate is 0.10% APY on all balances. It also qualifies for the unlimited ATM fee rebates.

USAA

usaa1 (1)USAA offers checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and many different loan products for cars, homes, and more. According to its website, they have been rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by over 16,000 members.

USAA offers free checking with a minimum opening balance of $25. After you open a free checking account, there is no minimum balance, no monthly service fee, overdraft protection, fee bill pay, and free ATMs nationwide. USAA reimburses up to $15 in ATM fees per month.

Like most digital banks, USAA offers interest on its checking accounts, although it is lower than many competitors at only 0.01% APY. Its savings accounts offer rates of 0.05% APY to 0.15% APY depending on the balance of your account.

There is a catch: you need military affiliation to be able to open an account. This can include a connection through a family member, such as a parent or spouse.

Capital One 360

capital-one-360Capital One 360 offers “no fees, no kidding” checking and savings accounts with no fees and no minimums. While it doesn’t offer ATM fee reimbursement, Capital One does offer a unique feature compared to many other digital banks: the ability to deposit cash into your checking or savings account with select Capital One ATMs in a 360 Café or Capital One Bank location.

The interest rates on a 360 Checking account range from 0.20% APY to 0.90% APY, depending on your balance.

  • $0 – $49,999.99: 0.20% APY
  • $50,000 – $99,999.99: 0.75% APY
  • $100,000 or more: 0.90% APY

The interest rate on a 360 Savings account is 0.75% APY.

If you’re a Capital One credit card customer, you can also conveniently access both your credit card information and Capital One 360 banking information with a single sign-on.

Another unique feature of Capital One 360 is the ability to create multiple savings account with any nickname you choose. You can also use their “My Saving Goals” section to make automatic savings deposits and set goals for your various savings accounts.

Which Digital Bank Is Right for You?

As digital banks become more popular, it can be difficult to determine which one might be the best fit for you. Of course, it depends on several factors, such as the features and services you most value, how you plan to use your account, and more. No matter which digital bank you choose, the important thing is that you are making the right decision for you and your money.

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Best of, Investing

8 Blogs to Help You Understand Investing

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8 Blogs to Help You Understand Investing

As a financial planner and an overall money nerd, I read a lot of investment material. Some of it is for fun. Some of it is for my general education. Some of it is done to answer specific client questions. And because my livelihood depends on it, it’s important for me to find information that’s useful, accurate, and easy to understand. To be completely honest, most investment sites just don’t cut it.

But there are some good ones out there, and below are eight of my favorites.

1. The Bogleheads Wiki

URL: https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki

Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit right at the start. This one isn’t technically a blog, but it is updated regularly, and it’s a goldmine of investment know-how, so here we are.

The Bogleheads named themselves after John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, and their overall philosophy centers around using low-cost index funds to implement a simple, yet effective, investment plan.

You can think of this wiki as an encyclopedia of investment knowledge, with articles ranging from the basics of getting started to the intricate details of advanced strategies like asset location.

As a bonus, there’s also an active forum where people are constantly asking questions and talking about the best ways to put these investment practices into place.

If you’re looking for an answer to a specific question, this is a fantastic place to start.

2. The Oblivious Investor

URL: http://www.obliviousinvestor.com

Mike Piper is one of my favorite investment writers because he gets right to the point and explains everything with a simple clarity.

Though he clearly has a detailed understanding of the nuances of investing, he’s a fan of simplicity and backs it up with his own personal investment strategy. He makes things easy to understand so that you walk away knowing exactly how to apply his advice to your specific plan.

He’s also a CPA and shares a lot of advice about how you can maximize your investments from a tax perspective, which isn’t something you’ll find on a lot of other sites. 

3. Ms. Cheat Sheet

URL: https://mscheatsheet.com/blog/

Kathryn is not only smart, she’s hilarious (check out the video on her home page).

Kathryn combines her 10+ years of hedge fund experience with humor and common sense to make investing both interesting and easy to understand. And she strikes a great balance between timeless investment advice and commentary on current events, so no matter what you’re looking for you’re bound to find it.

4. The Mad Fientist

URL: http://www.madfientist.com

Brandon reached financial independence in his 30s, and he’d like to show you how to do the same.

What I love about this site is that it explores ideas and tactics you won’t find almost anywhere else. He shows you things like:

5. JL Collins

URL: http://jlcollinsnh.com

Many of the readers of my site have credited Jim for their investment success, so I’ve gotten to hear firsthand how much of an impact he’s made on others.

Jim is a regular guy who’s learned how to harness a set of powerful investment principles and use them to create a lifetime full of choices based on happiness instead of money. For example:

  • At the age of 21 he negotiated an extra six weeks of paid time off per year because the money he had saved and invested gave him the freedom to not need the job.
  • Later in life he chose to be unemployed for three years so he could spend that time with his young daughter.
  • These days he spends his time writing, reading, riding his motorcycle, and generally doing what he pleases as he lives off his investments.

I would suggest starting with Jim’s Stock Series, which is a fantastic overview of all the most important investment lessons he’s learned.

6. Betterment

URL: https://www.betterment.com/resources/tags/investing-101/

Betterment sells an automated investment platform, so you will see some sales pitches on their blog. But it’s also packed with good advice that’s worth using no matter where you invest your money.

Betterment explains the basics around concepts like diversification and rebalancing while also diving deep into more complicated topics like tax loss harvesting and asset location strategies. No matter where you’re starting from, there’s almost certainly something to learn.

7. Retire by 40

URL: http://retireby40.org/

Joe started Retire by 40 six years ago when he realized that his physical and mental health were suffering as a result of his job. He wanted out, and he started documenting his journey toward financial independence.

His blog is a fantastic and down-to-earth overview of what it’s really like to pursue financial independence and what it’s like when you get there. It’s a mix of life lessons and investment lessons from a regular guy trying to figure it all out, which makes it an enjoyable and educational read.

8. Nerd’s Eye View

URL: https://www.kitces.com

If you’re looking for technical detail, this is the place to find it.

Michael Kitces has made a name for himself in the financial planning community by being the guy who knows it all. The breadth and depth of his knowledge is second to none, and he shares all the intricate details on his blog.

He writes for financial professionals, so there’s a lot of industry-specific language, and he takes each topic into more depth than you’ll find in most other places. But if you nerd out on investing, and if you’d like to up your game, this is the place to do it.

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Auto Loan, Best of, Reviews

These Are the Best Auto Refinance Loans to Lower Your Interest Rate

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Best Auto Refinance Loans

A few years after graduating college, I decided to buy a car and jumped into the auto loan contract recommended by a dealership. Since I was in such a hurry to get behind the wheel again and off the public bus route, I didn’t take the time to shop around for rates. In the end, I signed on for a 49-month term loan with a whopping 11.93% APR in the DC-Maryland area. Over the lifetime of the loan, I paid an additional $2,000 in interest charges alone.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn I could refinance my auto loan and potentially lower my APR until I was close to paying the loan off.

I made two rookie mistakes when shopping for my car: I didn’t get pre-approved for a low-rate auto loan and I went with the financing deal the dealership recommended. (You can avoid these same mistakes if you shop around and borrow before you buy.)

Take the time to shop around at various lenders to be sure you’re getting the lowest possible rate. If you shop around within a 14-day window, then your credit report inquiries will only be counted as one hard inquiry on your credit report and therefore cause minimal damage to your score.

It’s too late for me to right the wrongs with my first auto loan. But, if you’re stuck with high interest, refinancing your loan can be a simple way to save cash. There are a few drawbacks to keep in mind. For starters, to qualify for the best rates, you will need to have pretty decent credit. Secondly, refinancing your loan so that your monthly payments are smaller isn’t always the best solution. By lowering your payments, you’re dragging out the amount of time you will need to pay the loan off, which means you could potentially pay more interest fees in the long-run. It’s important to see if the numbers make sense before you decide to refinance.

In this roundup, MagnifyMoney has compiled four refinancing options that may work for you:

LightStream Auto Refinance: 2.19% APR

LightStream is a division of SunTrust bank that offers a convenient online auto loan refinance process. Loan terms range from 24 to 84 months. Loan interest is fixed from 2.19% APR to 6.19% APR (with autopay). This auto refinance has no fees or prepayment penalties. And if you sign up to pay the installment loan with autopay, you get a 0.50% rate discount. Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000.

The lowest rates and unsecured loans offered by LightStream do require an excellent credit score. According to LightStream, these are the characteristics of people who typically have excellent credit:

  • Five or more years of credit history.
  • A payment history without delinquencies.
  • A stable source of income.
  • Proven track record of saving.
  • A variety of open accounts.

If you apply for a LightStream refinance on a business day and complete all documents before 2 p.m., you may be able to have your loan funded the same day. There’s no pre-approval process. If you want to apply for this loan it will require a hard pull on your credit history and can dock your score a few points.

What are my chances of qualifying?

LightStream is looking for candidates with good to excellent credit. For those with good credit, LightStream may require you to secure the loan with your vehicle.

Since every situation is unique, LightStream gives some basic guidelines for what it considers a good loan candidate. You should have several years of credit history with very few, if any, delinquencies and a variety of open accounts. You also need to have savings and a stable source of income.

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PenFed Auto Refinance: 1.49% APR for new cars

Auto refinances from PenFed are broken into two categories, refinances for new auto loans and used auto loans. For new cars, interest starts as low as 1.49% APR. You can borrow as little as $500 and up to $100,000. Loan terms range from 36 to 72 months.

For used cars, interest starts at 1.99% APR. Loan terms are also 36 to 72 months and loan amounts from $500 to $100,000. To apply for a PenFed auto refinance, you’ll need to provide basic details like your vehicle information, employer, gross income and expenses.

PenFed is the only credit union to make our list, but it’s a credit union that anyone can join. During the refinance application process, you can easily complete the documents for membership. If you don’t meet the membership requirements through organization or employer affiliation, you can make a one-time donation to Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association to become eligible.

What are my chances of qualifying?

The PenFed refinance doesn’t have a minimum credit score or credit history requirement. Instead, your entire financial situation is taken into consideration when evaluating your application. You may have a shot at qualifying with less than perfect credit if other aspects of your finances like savings and income outweigh the weakness on your credit report.

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Capital One Auto Refinance: 2.99% APR

Capital One offers loans with interest as low as 2.99% APR. Loan terms range from 24 to 72 months. You can refinance a minimum auto loan of $7,500 and maximum of $40,000. There are no prepayment penalties, so you can pay off the refinance early without consequences.

The application for this refinance is quick and it’s one you can also complete online. Once you apply to receive an interest rate, it’s locked in for 45 days. If you decide to move forward, you’ll be asked for your vehicle identification number and to submit other requested documents. Depending on your credit score, you may be asked to show proof of income as well.

This loan does have a few other requirements to keep in mind. The car you’re refinancing must be 7 years or newer and you must be up-to-date with all auto loan payments. You also can’t refinance an existing Capital One auto loan.

What are my chances of qualifying?

Capital One uses an automated underwriting system to review variables besides your credit score to determine if you’re eligible. Some of the variables include your income, employment and whether you’re an existing Capital One customer. You may still be able to qualify with a fair credit score if other credentials tip the scale in your favor.

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Bank of America Auto Refinance: 2.99% APR

Bank of America offers rates as low as 2.99% APR, but this estimate varies by state and by term. 2.99% is specific to the 60-month term. Loan terms range from 12 to 75 months. Bank of America takes into account your credit history, loan amount, loan term and whether you qualify for Preferred Rewards discounts to set your interest rate.

The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program breaks members down into gold, platinum and platinum honors. You need to have over $20,000 in a Bank of America banking or Merrill Lynch investment account (combined) to qualify for gold membership, $50,000 to qualify for platinum membership and over $100,000 to qualify for platinum honors. Preferred Rewards clients that meet the criteria can earn an interest rate discount of 0.25% to 0.50%.

You can apply for the Bank of America refinance online and there are no application fees. There’s also no prepayment penalty fee in most states, but there may be if your loan originates in Florida, Louisiana or Ohio. After you submit an application, your rate is locked in for 30 days. You may be able to get approved online within a few minutes.

What are my chances of qualifying?

During the underwriting process, Bank of America takes a look at your debt-to-income ratio and creditworthiness. Your debt-to-income ratio is calculated by dividing your monthly recurring debt payments (credit card payments, mortgage payment, etc.) by your income. The lower your debt-to-income ratio the better chance you have at qualifying for this refinance.

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Should You Refinance Your Auto Loan?

An auto refinance can potentially save you money, but you need to crunch the numbers to make sure it will benefit your situation. The loan term length is an important factor to consider besides interest. If a refinance increases the number of monthly payments you need to make before the loan is paid off, the savings you get from an interest rate deduction may be less significant.

Financial institutions that offer a refinance, including Bank of America and LightStream, typically have refinance calculators on the website you can use to compare your current loan to see if it’s worthwhile.

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Best of, Pay Down My Debt

6 Personal Loans for 600 to 700 Credit Scores

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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.

7 Personal Loans for 600 to 700 Credit Scores

If you have a less-than-perfect credit and want to pay off credit card debt, fund home improvement projects, or pay for unexpected expenses, then finding a lender that will consider your credit might seem like an uphill battle.

Refinancing high-interest debt with a personal loan can quickly cut down the amount of interest you’re paying, which effectively allows you to pay if off in less time. You particularly want to avoid payday and title loan lenders at all costs.

Many personal loan companies approve people with scores as low as 600. The best way to shop for the best deal is to use the MagnifyMoney Personal Loan Shopping Tool. With this tool, you can get prequalified for personal loans without hurting your credit score. With just one application (which takes less than five minutes), multiple providers will compete for your business and offer you real rates. You can start shopping here.

If you don’t want to use the tool, you can go to each personal loan company individually. Here are 7 personal loans for people with credit scores of 600 to 700. Read below to see if one is right for you!

1. LendingClub

LendingClub offers loans of up to $40,000, for individuals with a minimum credit score of 600. Its APR ranges from 5.99% to 35.89%. LendingClub also uses a soft credit pull to determine your rate, which will not affect your credit.

The Fine Print

In order to qualify for a LendingClub personal loan you must:

  • Not have more than 5 hard credit inquiries in the last 5 months
  • Have at least two active credit accounts open
  • Have a credit history of at least 36 months
  • Debt-to-income ratio of less than 40%
  • Be able to verify employment and income

Once you have met the minimum criteria, LendingClub uses its own scoring system to determine what amount you can borrow as well as your rate.

You can borrow money for up to 60 months, but it does charge up-front (origination) fees depending on credit worthiness, which come out of the loan amount.

Pros

  • Can see your rate with a soft credit pull
  • Will consider applicants with credit scores as low as 600
  • Offers very competitive interest rates for people with scores below 700
  • The application process only take a few minutes

Cons

  • Missed payments or items in collections will result in your application being rejected
  • Loan processing could take a week or more
  • APR can be as high as 35.89%
  • It does charge origination fees
  • Is not available in Iowa or West Virginia

LendingClub will approve people with credit scores as low as 600. If approved, the interest rates offered can be very competitive and the online application process is easy. This is good first stop for anyone with a score of 600 or higher to find the best deal.

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2. BestEgg

BestEgg offers personal loans up to $35,000 for people with credit scores as low as 640. APRs range from 5.99% to 29.99%. You can check your rate without hurting your credit score, and BestEgg has an excellent application process (that can result in funding your loan very quickly).

The Fine Print

BestEgg does charge an origination fee, which can be between 0.99% and 5.99%. However, there is no prepayment penalty, and you can pay off your loan early without penalty.

 

Pros

  • Can see your rate with a soft credit pull
  • Will consider applicants with credit scores as low as 660
  • Offers very competitive interest rates
  • Fast application process and fast funding

Cons

  • APR can be as high as 29.99%
  • It does charge origination fees

BestEgg offers competitive rates and a quick online process to get your loan. It is an excellent option for people with less than perfect scores.

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3. Avant

Avant offers access to loans from $1,000 to $35,000. There is no prepayment penalty. It is possible to get your loan as soon as the next business day. Although every case is unique, we have seen Avant accept people with credit scores as low as 580 be approved.

The Fine Print

Interest rates range from 9.95% to 36.00%. Avant does charge an up-front origination fee that ranges from 0.95% – 3.75%, which is lower than most of the competition.

Checking your rates through Avant only requires a soft pull to see your rate, which does not affect your credit score, and there are no prepayment penalties.

A personal loan through Avant received an “A” from MagnifyMoney’s Transparency Score.

Pros

  • Approved people with lower credit scores
  • “A” Transparency Score
  • Can see your rate with a soft credit pull
  • Fixed terms, fixed interest rate, no prepayment penalties

Cons

  • Interest rates as high as 36%
  • Avant charges an origination fee
  • Not available in Colorado, Iowa and West Virginia

Avant is a good option for people with less than perfect credit. You can check your rate without hurting your score and it has an “A” transparency score.

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4. OneMain

OneMain offers loans up to $25,000 for individuals with credit scores starting at 600. It offers terms of up to 60 months and APR ranges from 25.10% to 36.00%.

The Fine Print

In order to be accepted for a OneMain Loan, you must live near a OneMain branch, as a face-to-face meeting is required to finalize the loan. OneMain personal loans are not available in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont, or Washington D.C.

In order to qualify you must have:

  • Verifiable, steady income
  • No bankruptcy filings, ever
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have at least some established credit history
  • Credit score of at least 600

If, at any time during the application process, OneMain becomes aware that you intend to use the personal loan for gambling, your loan application will be cancelled. OneMain personal loans cannot be used for business expenses or tuition.

You cannot see your OneMain rate until it performs a hard credit pull, which does affect your credit, and the OneMain personal loan earns a “B” Transparency score.

Pros

  • Credit score as low as 600
  • Fixed Rates
  • No Prepayment penalty
  • Fixed terms
  • Convenient location, at OneMain branches

Cons

  • APR ranges from 25.10% – 35.99%
  • Loans cannot be used for business expenses or tuition
  • Cannot see rate without a hard credit pull
  • Personal loans only available up to $10,000
  • Loans not available in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont, or Washington D.C.
  • You must visit a OneMain branch to complete the loan.

The OneMain personal loan caters to people with low credit scores, or who would prefer to complete the personal loan application process at a branch, rather than online.

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5. Freedomplus

Freedomplus offers loans ranging from $5,000 to $35,000 that can be used for everything from debt consolidation, to unexpected expenses. APR ranges from 8.47% to 29.99%.

Its biggest selling point is the same-day approval and availability of funds within 48 hours, a lifesaver in some circumstances.

The Fine Print

In order to qualify for a Freedomplus loan, you must:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be a legal US resident
  • Have a valid ID
  • Minimum credit score of 700
  • At least $25,000 in verifiable income
  • No bankruptcies in the last two years

Freedomplus charges origination fees ranging from 1.00% to 5.00%, which is deducted from the loan amount before you receive the funds. There are no prepayment penalties.

The Freedomplus personal loan scores a “B” Transparency score because its fee structure and much of the fine print is unclear or not covered by the final contract.

You can prequalify with a soft credit pull, which does not affect your credit score. However, Freedomplus requires a phone screening with each applicant before the loan is approved.

Pros

  • Will approve credit scores as low as 700
  • The phone screening may improve your chances of being approved for the loan
  • Same-day approval and funds within 48 hours
  • No prepayment penalty
  • Can prequalify with a soft credit pull

Cons

  • APR ranges from 8.47% to 29.99%
  • The fee structure is not readily available for review
  • Origination fee of 1.00% to 5.00% applies

The Freedomplus personal loan is a good option for you if you have less than perfect credit, and need access to funds quickly, without visiting a physical branch.

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6. Prosper

The Prosper personal loan process is a little different than a traditional lender. It is not a bank, but rather a peer-to-peer lender. Once you have applied, and checked loan terms and rates, you create a loan “listing” that then appears on in the Prosper marketplace.

From these listings, peers (investors) choose which loans they would like to finance. When your loan listing is financed, the money is transferred to your bank account.

Prosper offers loans from $2,000 to $35,000, and APR ranges from 5.99% to 36.00%. It offers loans terms of either 36 or 60 months. Your APR is determined during the application process, and is based on a credit rating score created by Prosper. Your score is then shown with your loan listing to give potential lenders an idea of your creditworthiness.

The Fine Print

Your loan listing will remain active for 14 days. After 14 days, your loan must be at least 70% funded to receive the funds. If you are not 70% funded within 14 days, you must reapply to have your loan re-listed.

Origination fees range from 1% to 5% and are based on your Prosper score. In order to qualify, you must:

  • Have a bank account
  • Have a social security number
  • No more than 7 inquiries on your credit in the last six months
  • A verifiable, steady income
  • A credit-to-debt ratio of less than 50%
  • At least three open accounts, such as checking, savings, and credit card.
  • No bankruptcies in the last year

A returned payment may result in a $15 fee, and late payments past 15 days are charged a 5% fee, with a minimum of $15.

Prosper’s overall fine print is very clear is its fees are quite minimal, so it scores it an “A” Transparency Score. Also, you can check your Prosper rate with a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score.

Pros

  • Minimum credit score of 640
  • Can see your rate with a soft pull
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Paying off a Prosper loan can reduce your APR on future Prosper loans

Cons

  • Only 14 days to secure financing from peer lenders
  • Origination fee of 1% to 5% applies
  • APR varies from 5.99% – 36.00%

Prosper is a flexible alternative with a low-end APR that beats a credit card.

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Shop Around to Find the Best Deal

If you have made past credit mistakes, or have very little credit, there are personal loans out there for you. Many of these lenders offer rates much lower than what you would be paying on a credit card, shaving month and hundred or thousands of dollars off of your debt.

Don’t give up on a personal loan just because of your credit – there are options out there for you. It never hurts to shop around and look for the best rates available, especially if the lender does a soft credit pull to show you your options.

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Best of

20 Credit Cards with No Cash Advance Fees

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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 Cards with No Cash Advance Fees

If you have a credit card, your financial institution has likely mailed you checks for cash advance purposes. Understanding this aspect of your available credit is incredibly important, as it can be much more expensive than simply making a purchase.

Taking a cash advance gives you money now in cases where you can’t use a credit card (perhaps paying rent), or have otherwise maxed out your purchasing power. Many financial institutions will charge you a fee between 1% and 5% just for making this transaction.

But some cards have no fees for cash advances.

The catch is, interest starts accruing immediately on cash advances, meaning that even if you pay your statement balance in full by the due date, you will still incur interest charges in the interim. So if you do a cash advance, try to pay it off as quickly as possible, even before the due date, to minimize the interest you pay.

Best Cards with No Cash Advance Fees

These credit unions offer no cash advance fees on all their credit cards. While you’ll pay interest from the day you take out the cash, as a last resort it’s a better bet than paying an upfront fee. These are all credit unions anyone can join, but many of them require excellent credit to qualify for a card.

PenFed Credit Union

PenfedBankLogo (1)Pentagon Federal Credit Union, commonly known as PenFed, offers five different credit cards with no cash advance fees. None of them charge a foreign transaction fee, and all interest rates are the same for purchases and cash advances.

Anyone can join PenFed Credit Union simply by making a one-time donation of $14 to Voices for America’s Troops, or a one-time $15 donation to the National Military Family Association.

  • PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • PenFed Promise Visa Card
  • PenFed Gold Visa Card
  • PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card
  • PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa

American 1 Credit Union

American 1American 1 Credit Union offers four different credit cards with no cash advance fees. Interest rates on purchases and cash advances are the same, though there is a foreign transaction fee of 1%.

Anyone can join American 1 Credit Union by joining Community 1 Cooperative. You pay $3 for membership, which includes a litany of discounts on consumer products and services across an array of industries.

  • American 1 In-House Visa

CapEd Federal Credit Union

CapEdCapEd Federal Credit Union offers one card with no cash advance fees. It also carries the same interest rate for purchases and cash advances, but does have a foreign transaction fee that varies depending on if the transaction is in USD or requires conversion into a foreign currency.

To join CapEd, all you have to do is make a one-time $20 donation to the Idaho CapEd Foundation.

  • Visa Platinum Card by CapEd Federal Credit Union

First Tech Federal Credit Union

FT_logo_rebrandFirst Tech Federal Credit Union offers three different cards that come with no cash advance fees. The interest rates on these transactions will be higher than the interest rates on regular purchases, however. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Anyone can join First Tech through membership in the Financial Fitness Association, which costs $8 per year, or a digital membership to the Computer History Museum, which will run you $15 per year.

  • Odyssey Rewards World Elite MasterCard
  • Platinum Rewards MasterCard
  • Choice Rewards World MasterCard
  • Platinum Secured MasterCard

ISU Credit Union

ISU credit unionISU Credit Union offers two cards that have zero cash advance fees. Interest rates on cash advances are higher than those on regular purchases for the first year only, and there is a foreign transaction fee of 1%.

To join ISU Credit Union if you don’t live, work or study in Southeastern Idaho, you can qualify through paid membership at a number of Southeastern Idaho organizations including humane societies and educational cause groups.

  • Platinum MasterCard by ISU Credit Union
  • Platinum Plus MasterCard by ISU Credit Union

Mid-Illini Credit Union

Mid-Illini Credit UnionMid Illini Credit Union offers two different cards that come with no cash advance fees. Interest rates for purchases and cash advances are identical, and there is a foreign transaction fee of 1%.

Anyone can join Mid Illini Credit Union by making a one-time $1 donation to Dollars for Scholars, an organization that provides scholarships to students of McLean County, Illinois.

  • Visa Classic Card by Mid Illini Credit Union
  • Visa Platinum Card by Mid Illini Credit Union

Stanford Federal Credit Union

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 1.34.35 PMStanford Federal Credit Union offers a singular card with no cash advance fees for which the general public qualifies. There are no foreign transaction fees, and rates are the same for purchases and cash advances.

To join Stanford Federal Credit Union, you can become a member at the Museum of American Heritage or join Friends of the Palo Alto Library.

  • Visa Platinum Cash Back Rewards Card by Stanford Federal Credit Union

Digital Credit Union

DCU_Banking2Digital Credit Union offers two cards with no cash advance fees. While interest rates are the same for both cash advances and regular purchases, foreign transaction fees will vary based on the need for currency conversion.

You can join Digital Credit Union by donating to any number of organizations that match your interests. The most common organization new members choose is Reach Out for Schools, which only requires a one-year membership at the cost of $10.

  • Visa Platinum Card by Digital Credit Union
  • Visa Platinum Rewards Card by Digital Credit Union

 

Alternatives to Cash Advances

While cards that offer no fees on cash advances are cheaper, that does not mean these transactions are cheap. You should only take a cash advance as a last resort in a true emergency. In order to avoid becoming one of the American households that can’t cover $400 financial hardships, start building an emergency fund today. When you withdraw money from your own savings account, you have to pay zero interest and zero fees.

If you don’t have an emergency fund, but you do have a credit card, it is wiser to charge emergency expenses as a purchase rather than taking money out as a cash advance if at all possible. Even when interest rates are identical for these two different types of transactions, cash advances will start charging you those rates immediately, while purchases won’t require you to pay interest until after the first statement is issued.

Foreign travelers will also want to charge purchases whenever possible for this same reason. If you must use cash, a cash advance is a safer alternative to withdrawing money from your bank account abroad, but it is also wise to pay it off using your financial institution’s online services as soon as possible to avoid paying more interest than you have to.

Cash advances aren’t ideal, so if you can avoid them you should. However, they are a much better option than turning to the alternative lending industry where you’ll find predators and payday loans.

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Best of, Reviews

Amex EveryDay or Amex EveryDay Preferred : Which Should You Use?

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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.

Amex EveryDay Preferred

Looking for a credit card that will reward you for feeding your family? The Amex EveryDay and Amex EveryDay Preferred cards are two options to consider. The basic Everyday card offers the rewards for free while the Preferred card gives you an opportunity to earn more and includes rewards for spend at gas stations, but the tradeoff is an annual fee. Let’s figure out which is best for your budget.

Amex EveryDay

The Amex EveryDay gives 2x points on groceries with a $6,000 annual cap and 1x points on everything else. Warehouses and superstores are not included in the grocery category, so be mindful of this if you’re a big Costco or Target grocery shopper.

An extra perk of the rewards program is if you make 20 or more purchases in a month, you’ll earn 20% more points on those purchases. Amex EveryDay has a sign on bonus as well. If you spend $1,000 within 3 months of card signing, you’ll earn 10,000 extra membership reward points. You can redeem points through American Express Membership Rewards.

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Amex EveryDay Preferred

The Amex EveryDay Preferred card has similar terms as the Amex EveryDay except it awards you a little more for your spending. The extra points you can earn do come with a price tag: a $95 annual fee.

You can earn 3x points for supermarket spending on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, 2x points at gas stations and 1x points on all other purchases. As an added bonus, if you use the card 30 or more times in a month you’ll get an extra 50% more points on those purchases.

Spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of having the Amex EveryDay Preferred card and you’ll also get 15,000 bonus points. You use the Membership Rewards site to redeem points from this card as well.

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American Express Membership Rewards

Since both cards give you access to American Express Membership Rewards, let’s give it a closer look. Through Membership Rewards, you have the option to cash in points for gift cards, statement credit, travel, entertainment and more.

The value of each reward varies. You won’t get as much value from rewards points if you choose statement credit for instance. If you redeem 10,000 points for a statement credit, you’ll only get $60. If you use that same amount of points for airfare through American Express Travel instead, the value is $100.

You can also transfer points to other travel programs. Generally, 1,000 Membership Rewards points equal 1,000 miles, points or credits in another travel program.
There are some exceptions including:

  • British Airways and Iberia: 250 points = 200 Avios
  • El AL Israel Airlines: 1,000 points = 20 Matmid points
  • Hilton: 1,000 points = 1,500 HHonors points
  • JetBlue Airways: 250 points = 200 JetBlue TrueBlue points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: 1,000 points = 333 Starpoints
  • Virgin America: 200 points = 100 Elevate points

Pros and Cons

Amex EveryDay Card

Pro: You earn Member Rewards points for free since there’s no annual fee. And you earn even more points if you make over 20 purchases in a month.

Con: Spending at warehouses and superstores won’t earn 2x points. If you shop at either type of store often, this card won’t be the best opportunity for you to get rewarded for spending.

Pro: It’s the same earning category all year round. You won’t have to worry about activating categories to earn. The cap per year in the 2x grocery category is $6,000 which is a reasonable amount for an entire year.

Con: There’s a low value for statement credit. Redeeming your points for travel and gift cards will earn you more than using points to pay off your credit card bill.

Pro: Access to Membership Rewards. You have many options for redeeming points earned although each reward has a different value. Make sure whatever reward you plan to redeem for is a worthwhile use of your points. Fortunately, there’s a convenient Membership Rewards tool on the American Express website that will show you the value of each reward.

Amex EveryDay Preferred Card

Pro: No revolving categories. Again, no need to activate for bonuses each quarter.

Con: The annual fee. This card will cost you $95 per year. You need to earn over 16,000 points to cover this cost with a statement credit. Of course, you can use reward points in other areas like travel to break even faster. (10,000 Membership Rewards Points = $100 through American Express Travel.)

Pro: More ways to earn. Besides grocery stores you can earn rewards at gas stations (2x points). Plus, you earn more at grocery stores, 3x points.

Con: Excludes superstores and warehouses. This may be a huge drawback if you shop for your family at Costco, Sam’s Club and other stores that fall into this category.

Pro: Access to Membership Rewards. Just like the Amex EveryDay card, you’re offered many ways to redeem points through the exclusive American Express Membership Rewards site.

Other Rewards Card Options

Amex Blue Cash EveryDay Preferred is another option if you spend heavily on groceries outside of superstores, warehouses and specialty stores. You earn 6% cash back on groceries and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The annual cap in the grocery rewards category is also $6,000. There’s an annual fee of $75 so you must pull out this card often to reap the most reward from the program.

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Citi Double Cash could be a good choice if you want to earn cash back hassle free. You earn double rewards on all purchases, no category restrictions including shopping at superstores. You get 1% cash back when you make purchases and another 1% cash back when you pay off your credit card statement. You should be prepared to pay off your entire statement balance monthly to make the most of this cash back offer.

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Which Card Will Benefit You the Most?

The Amex EveryDay Preferred card is a better option if you do enough spending at grocery stores and gas stations to cover the cost of the annual fee. If you have any doubt you’ll spend enough in these categories, the no-fee Amex EveryDay card is the one to go with.

Both are particularly valuable in travel rewards. You won’t get much value from turning in your rewards points for cash, but you can benefit from trading them in for flights or transferring them to other travel rewards programs.

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The Best Ways to Get Cash When You’re Traveling Abroad

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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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Even if you’ve got a wallet packed with credit cards, you’ll likely need cash at some point when you’re traveling abroad.

But managing cash abroad can get tricky — and downright expensive. Carry too much cash around and you might make yourself a juicy target for a pickpocket. Carry too little cash and you’ll wind up making frequent trips to the ATM, racking up a bruising trifecta of bank fees in the process.

Most banks charge foreign transaction fees (up to 3%) and fees for using your debit card at foreign ATMs (from $1 to $5 per transaction). On top of that, whichever vendor owns the ATM you’re using will probably tack on a surcharge of their own.  One of the nastiest foreign ATM fees out there is levied by Bank of America. To take out cash abroad using your BofA card, you’ll get hit with a $5 flat fee, plus 3% of the total amount you withdraw.

Fees aside, there’s another reason to worry about using your debit card abroad: fraud. If your card is stolen or you use your card at an ATM that’s been fitted with a skimmer (a device that can copy your debit card number and PIN), you’re in a very vulnerable position. By the time you realize your card info has been stolen and you’re able to get in touch with your bank, your account could already be drained, leaving you cash poor in a foreign country.

Debit cards are treated differently than credit cards by banks. You may find yourself on the hook for some of the money stolen from you, depending on how long you wait to report it.

If you need cash abroad, here are a few savvy strategies you can use to avoid fraud and fees.

The best option: Use a bank account that has low or no foreign transaction fees

If your primary bank account has foreign transaction fees, it can make sense to open a separate account that has lower or no fees. You can use this account when you travel abroad. This way if you do experience fraud or are a victim of card skimming, you’ll still have your main checking and savings accounts to fall back on.

Here are two good options for low-fee checking accounts:
Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking

The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is our top pick to handle your money while abroad. It’s an online checking account with no monthly fee or account minimum. There are also no foreign exchange transaction fees. You get unlimited fee rebates from any ATM in the entire world, which means Charles Schwab will reimburse you whenever you’re charged an ATM fee overseas. The account is also FDIC insured up to $250,000.

Aspiration Summit Account

The Aspiration Summit Account has no minimum monthly balance or maintenance fees and has FDIC insurance as well. Fees from foreign ATMs are reimbursed but there is a 1.1% foreign transaction fee.

The Aspiration Summit Account is fairly new and marketed as an exclusive product. You have to “secure a spot” on a waiting list before getting approved for an account. In a recent MagnifyMoney Aspiration Summit Account review, we found the approval timeframe can take about a month. However, a recent test found an invitation was immediately sent. If you’re traveling soon, you can see if you’re immediately invited, otherwise you might need a backup.

The Drawbacks

Although signing up with one of these checking accounts separately is safer, there are a few downsides to keep in mind:

  • Opening up a new checking account that you don’t use often may not be convenient.
  • Aspiration has some fine print fees. One that stands out besides the 1.1% foreign transaction fee is the $5 per month fee charged if your account goes dormant past 12 months.
  • Checking accounts don’t have the same liability protections as credit cards. If your card gets skimmed, you need to report unauthorized purchases right away or you could be found liable for some of the loss.

For Zero Liability: Use a Credit Card Cash Advance

Credit card cash advances are typically a last resort when you’re in need of cash. If you are unable to pay your balance off before your bill comes due, you could get hit with interest rates of up to 25%. You will also likely get hit with a transaction fee, which can be up to 4% of the total cash advance amount.

But if you can use them responsibly — and pay them off right after you get your cash — they can be a decent alternative to paying a load of bank fees. The other benefit of using a credit card cash advance while traveling is that you will have all the fraud protections that come with credit card purchases. Furthermore, your bank account isn’t linked to the card so you can keep the majority of your cash safe from theft.

Again, only use a credit card cash advance if you are able to pay off the balance in full right away. And read the fine print carefully. Some credit cards will begin charging those double-digit interest fees from the first day you withdraw funds.

Check out our list of 20 credit cards that have NO cash advance fees. Here’s a deeper dive on one of our favorites, offered by PenFed Credit Union:

PenFed Credit Union Credit Cards

There are some smaller banks and credit unions that do not charge crazy high cash advance fees, such as PenFed Credit Union. Fortunately, anyone can join PenFed Credit Union. This credit union is unique because cards offered have no cash advance or foreign transaction fees. There is, however, interest to consider. PenFed credit card interest rates start as low as 10.24% for cash advances.

PenFed charges interest on the cash advance from the day it hits your account, no grace period. And if you are already carrying a balance on your credit card before you take out a cash advance, any payments you make will go toward your existing balance, not the balance from your cash advance.

There are some ways you may be able to get around the interest, however. You can make a payment on your card that would result in having a negative balance. For example, if you have a $0 balance on your card, making a payment of $500 would result in a negative balance of $500. This way, you’d be using the credit card more like a debit card and not racking up a large balance.

You can also make a payment online from your bank account as soon as you request the cash advance. Again, this will only work if you don’t have a pre-existing balance on the card. Otherwise, that payment will go to your previous charges first and cash advance last.

The Drawbacks

PenFed cash advances aren’t completely free, so we have to point out the negatives:

  • Interest applies to your cash advance if you don’t pay it off right away.
  • Applying for a PenFed card requires a hard pull on your credit report.
  • PenFed does not reimburse ATM fees.

For Convenience: Load a Prepaid Travel Card

Your next option is using a prepaid travel card. The benefit of using a prepaid travel card is you don’t need to open a new bank account or sign up for a credit card. You can also go online to add more money on the prepaid card throughout your trip.

Travelex Multi-Currency Cash Passport Prepaid MasterCard

You can load the Travelex Cash Passport with currency of the destination you’re visiting. The website says there may be a purchase fee depending on where you get the card. Expect to pay a fee if you get the card at an airport. For instance, a call into a prepaid card counter at Baltimore-Washington International Airport uncovered a $9.95 purchase fee.

You should be aware of some other fine print fees as well. If you hop to a different country and need to exchange currency, the transaction fee is 5.5%. Travelex doesn’t charge you an ATM fee internationally, but the ATM operator may have a surcharge which will not be reimbursed.

Lastly, there’s a $3 per month inactivity fee if the card goes unused over 12 months. And if you want to refund money back into the US dollar there’s a $20 fee on top of the 5.5% foreign exchange fee.

AAA Visa TravelMoney

Another option is the AAA Visa TravelMoney card. The purchase fee for the card may be up to $14.95 but varies by AAA club. The international ATM fee is $3, and that doesn’t cover the surcharge of the host ATM you use. There’s also a foreign transaction fee of 3%. If your card goes inactive for over 12 months, the fee is $1.25 per month.

The Drawbacks

These cards are heavy on the fine print. Beware of the downsides:

  • You’ll incur monthly inactivity fees if a prepaid travel card collects dust in your wallet.
  • Zero liability doesn’t cover all transactions. For the AAA Visa TravelMoney card specifically, there’s Visa zero liability, except the coverage doesn’t include foreign ATM withdrawals.
  • You can get hit hard by ATM and exchange fees.

The Old Fashioned Way: Take a Trip to Your Bank

Finally, there’s something to be said about walking into your brick-and-mortar bank and exchanging your cash for foreign currency. You can call your home bank or credit union first to compare exchange rates and then order currency. Traveling with cash will help you avoid fees and skimming scams overseas.

Traveler’s checks are decreasing in popularity, but are still an option. A traveler’s check is written out from the issuer (typically a bank or credit card company), and it’s like cash you can use to make a purchase. If you want money instead, you can take the check to a bank abroad to cash out.

If your traveler’s checks are lost or stolen the issuer can refund you. The downside is international exchange fees can apply. Some issuers charge a fee for checks as well. Lastly, finding banks and merchants that will accept your checks overseas or even know what a traveler’s check is can be a hassle.

Final Word

In the excitement to get out and travel the world, don’t forget financial aspects of the trip. Not having a money plan and getting trapped with gotcha fees or having your money stolen can put a damper on your experience, so think ahead.

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