Best of

The Best Online Banks in 2015

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

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If you’re still using a brick-and-mortar bank, you might want to think about switching over to online banking.

Why? Online banks have lower overhead since they don’t have physical branches. As a result, they pass their savings onto the consumer via higher rates and less (or no) fees.

Online banking is also more convenient than traditional banking. With many online banks, ATM fees and minimum monthly balance requirements are a thing of the past. There’s no need to go out of your way to a branch to deposit a check or take money out, either. Plus, the annual percentage yield (APY) offered by online banks (as high as 1.05 %) is much higher than the common .01% offered by traditional banks.

The four best online banks we’ve reviewed offer these exact features and more. Let’s take a look at the checking, savings, and investment options available so you can start saving more.

Ally Bank

Ally bank offers some of the best rates out of all the online banks, and has minimal fees.

Its checking account allyhas no monthly maintenance fee to worry about, no ATM fees, plus ATM reimbursements if you get charged using another bank’s ATM, and no minimum amount required to open an account. The APY is .60% with a balance of $15,000 or more, and .10% APY with less than $15,000. Ally does charge an overdraft fee of $9 with a maximum of once per day, but this fee can be avoided by setting up overdraft protection. Ally does not charge for the service of moving money out of savings to checking in order to cover your overdraft.

Ally Bank’s savings account currently offers a .99% APY, has no monthly maintenance fee, and no minimum to open.

Ally also offers competitive rates on Money Market Accounts (.85% APY), CDs (.87%-1.05% APY), and IRAs (starting at .99% APY).

Lastly, they have 24/7 customer service just a phone call away.

Apply Now

Bank of Internet USA

If you’re looking to save money on fees, then Bank of Internet USA is right for you.

Its rewards checking account has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum monthly balance, and no overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees. You only need $100 to open an account with them. Domestic ATM transactions are completely free, while International ATMs may charge a fee. Bank of Internet USA offers a tiebank-of-internet-usared APY system, currently capped at 1.25%.

Its high interest checking account offers a .71% APY, but you’re required to have a $5,000 minimum average daily balance, otherwise you incur a $7.50 monthly fee. $500 is required to open an account, and ATM fees are reimbursed up to $8/month.

The Bank of Internet USA savings account offers a .61% APY with no monthly maintenance fees or minimum monthly balance, though you need $100 to open an account. Its money market savings account has slightly higher APY at .75%.

Bank of Internet also offers CDs at .55% APY (12 months), .70% APY (24 months), and .1.35% APY (60 months). There is a $1,000 minimum to open a CD account.

Apply Now

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is the bank we like to recommend for those that love to travel as there are no foreign exchange fees.

Its checking account has no monthly service fees, no minimum required bcharles-schwabalance in the account, and unlimited rebates on ATM fees anywhere in the world, with a .10% APY. Checks returned due to insufficient funds incur a $25 fee, up to a maximum of $100 per day.

The Charles Schwab savings account has no monthly service fees, no ATM fees, no minimum balance requirement, and no account minimums. There is a $15 NSF fee though, and its APY is not stated on the website.

To open either a checking or savings account with Charles Schwab, you’re also required to open up a Schwab One brokerage account, which has no minimum requirements.

Charles Schwab also offers money market accounts with an initial investment of $2,500, and CDs with a $1,000 minimum to open.

Apply Now

Capital One 360

You might be familiar with Capital One, as its one of the banks that offer both physical and online branches. It’s important to note that Capital One 360 is Internetonly – you can’t go to one of their physical branches as they won’t be able to access your account. However, the bank is pioneering cash deposits for the Internet-only bank account by allowing certain Capital One ATMs to accept cash.

capital-one-360Its checking account has no fees, no minimums, a .20% APY for balances under $50k, and gives you access to 38,000 Allpoint Network ATMs, which are free to use.

The Capital One 360 savings account has no fees, no minimums, and a .75% APY. You can open multiple savings accounts, and there are unique savings tools built into your account to help you meet your financial goals.

Capital One 360 also offers CDs at the following rates: .40% APY for 6 to 24 months, .70% APY for 30 to 48 months, and .90% APY for 60 months.

Apply Now

How to Choose

Internet-only banking is all about convenience. If these four banks all sound great to you, and you’re having a difficult time choosing, consider these factors:

  • Do you travel a lot? Having no foreign exchange fees to worry about, along with being able to use any ATM in the world, would be beneficial to you. Go with Charles Schwab.
  • Do you want to reap the small reward you can get for keeping some money in a savings account? Choose Ally for its high APY.
  • Want to have 6 different savings accounts for all the goals you want to fund? You can open multiple savings accounts with Capital One 360 and use its “My Savings Goals” to track your progress.
  • Sick of dealing with the fees that banks love to charge? Pick Bank of the Internet USA for their no-fee, no-hassle accounts.

Make the switch to one of the best Internet-only banks today and get higher rates and the peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about meeting any minimum requirements. Just be sure you have all the equipment needed to bank online: a smartphone and a computer with Internet connection.

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Best of, Earning Cashback

Gas Cards That Reward You More As Gas Prices Fall

Advertiser Disclosure

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

Gas in car_lg

With the price of gas now below $2 a gallon in many places, your gas spending is a smaller part of your budget than it used to be. But there are ways to make the savings even greater, thanks to some gas cards that actually give you a higher cash back return on your gas spending when the price of gas falls.

That’s because there are two primary types of gas cards:

Percentage rewards cards. These give you rewards back based on how much you spend at the pump, and you always get the same percent cash back no matter the price of fuel.

Savings per gallon cards. These let you earn a fixed discount off the price per gallon of your gas bill based on how much gas you buy each month. With these, as gas prices go down, you’re getting a higher return on your gas spending.

For example, a card that gives you a 10 cent per gallon discount when you buy 75 gallons a month nets you 2.7% rewards on your gas spending at $4 a gallon. But with gas at $2 a gallon you get twice the reward return on your spending at 5.3%.

Most of the savings per gallon reward rates were set when gas prices were much higher, so take advantage of them now to get big savings. They might not last if gas prices stay low for long.

Valero Consumer Credit Card

ValeroCard2017_225x150When you buy 75 gallons or more per month at Valero, you get an 8 cent per gallon rebate on your gas spend. That means big increases in your reward rate as the price of gas goes down:

Reward rate @ $2/gallon: 4%

Reward rate @ $4/gallon: 2%

At 4% with today’s gas prices, it comes close to the reward rate on the highest gas cash back card, the Fort Knox Credit Union Platinum Visa and the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa, both of which offer 5% back on pump purchases.

There is a limit of 110 gallons in rebates a month.

Note: The due date grace period on this card is 21 days, rather than the 30 days of most cards, but if you pay by the due date you won’t get hit by interest.

Up to 7% gas rewards: Speedy Rewards MasterCard

Speedy RewardsWhile the rewards return for this card is the same at every gas price (so technically, it doesn’t reward you more as gas prices go down), it’s such a great deal if you have a 20+ gallon fuel tank we have to mention it.

With this card you earn 50 points per dollar at Speedway and soon Hess gas stations, and you can redeem 8,750 points for a 50 cent per gallon discount for up to 25 gallons in a single fill.

You need to spend $175 on gas to earn the 8,750 points, and those points used for a full 25 gallon fill up are worth $0.50 X 25 gallons = $12.50.

So you’re getting over 7% cash rewards on your gas spending when you use the discount for a full 25 gallon fill up. If you have a more standard gas tank of around 15 gallons you’ll get around 4% rewards, still a healthy level.

ExxonMobil Smart Card

ExxonMobil_PersonalWhen you buy 45 gallons or more at Exxon or Mobil you’ll get a 6 cent per gallon rebate on your gas that month.

Rewards rate @ $2/gallon: 3%

Rewards rate @ $4/gallon: 1.5%

There is no annual fee on the card and there is a limit of 100 gallons a month in rebates.

Union 76, Phillips 66, Conoco Cards

You can earn a 5 cent per gallon rebate each month you buy 45 or more gallons of gas.

Rewards rate @ $2/gallon: 2.5%

Rewards rate @ $4/gallon: 1.25%

There are no annual fees on the cards, and you can earn up to 110 gallons in rebates each month.

Sunoco Rewards Card

You get an instant 5 cent a gallon rebate on all of your gas spending with no minimums or maximums.

Reward rate @$2/gallon: 2.5%

Reward rate @$4/gallon: 1.25%

Citgo Rewards Card

You get an instant 5 cent a gallon rebate on all of your gas spending with no minimums or maximums.

Reward rate @$2/gallon: 2.5%

Reward rate @$4/gallon: 1.25%

Holiday Smart Savings Credit Card

You get an instant 5 cent a gallon rebate on all of your gas spending with no minimums or maximums.

Reward rate @$2/gallon: 2.5%

Reward rate @$4/gallon: 1.25%

BP Chase Credit Card

bp_visaThis card gives you a 15 cent per gallon discount for every $100 you spend at BP. The discount can be used for a single fill up of up to 20 gallons. That works out to a 3% rebate on your gas purchases when you fill exactly 20 gallons. The less you fill up with your discount, the lower your rebate percentage. So a 10 gallon fill up would only net you 1.5% rewards on the gas spend that earned the rewards.

Chevron Texaco Card

Unfortunately this gas card doesn’t give you rewards for spending at gas stations. It only gives you a discount on gas that you earn by using the card anywhere but gas stations.

Shell Platinum MasterCard

Shell_Platinum_Select_MasterCardIgnore this card. It earns a maximum $0.20 per gallon discount applied to up to 100 gallons in a month. But you have to spend $2,500 a month on the card to get it, which works out to a less than 1% rebate on your spending.

 

Let’s keep in touch! Follow us on Twitter @Magnify_Money and on Facebook.

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Best of

Credit Unions Anyone Can Join

Advertiser Disclosure

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

Geeting advice on future investments

Credit Unions offer Americans alternatives to doing business with the big banks (or even local banks). Instead of answering to shareholders, a credit union must act in the best interest of its members — who also happen to be the customers. By joining a credit union, you own a share in the financial institution and thus have voting rights. Credit unions are often a slightly exclusive, with membership eligibility requirements being strict and often focused geographically.

Take one of these paths if you’re interested in joining a credit union:

  1. See if you’re eligible for a credit union because you live, work, worship, volunteer in its region or belong to an organization/work for an employer with membership privileges.
  2. If not, you can join any of the credit unions below by making a donation to join an organization with membership privileges or in some cases, by registering to volunteer or pledge support to a credit union approved organization.

A List Credit Unions Anyone Can Join

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

  • You can join with a one time $25 donation to Affinity Plus Foundation

Agriculture Federal Credit Union

  • You can join by first becoming a member of The Friends of CityDance Association – $20 dues.

Air Force Federal Credit Union

  • You can join with a one time $25 donation to the Airman Heritage Museum

Alliant Credit Union

  • You can join by making a $10 or greater donation to Foster Care to Success (FCS)

Altra Federal Credit Union

  • You can become a member by joining the Altra Foundation with a one time $5 lifetime membership dues

America’s Christian Credit Union

  • You can join with a one time membership fee of $5, along with an initial deposit of $25 for individuals and $100 for Ministries and Businesses into your regular share savings account

American Heritage Federal Credit Union

  • You can join by depositing $15 into a share savings account and maintaining this minimum balance

America’s Credit Union

  • You can join with a minimum deposit of $25 to a Regular Savings account and a submission of notarized copy of your Washington State drivers license or outside the state of Washington, notarized copies of two forms of ID.

Andrews Federal Credit Union

  • If you aren’t eligible based on military affiliation, you can join American Consumer Council with a $5 donation if you currently use or have used a major consumer product or service in the past 12 months. Lifetime membership costs $15.

Aspire Federal Credit Union

  • You can join by accepting the stipulations of the following agreement on the membership form: I agree to become a member of American Consumer Council through Aspire Federal Credit Union. There is no fee for ACC membership when I join Aspire Federal Credit Union. I further understand that the information above will be provided to ACC to establish my membership with their organization.

Capital Educators Federal Credit Union

  • To qualify for membership with CapEd you can join the Idaho CapEd Foundation as a Sustaining Member Volunteer. The Idaho CapEd Foundation is a non-profit organization that funds worthwhile educational endeavors that include the CapEd Teacher Grant Program. Minimum donations are $1 for students and $10 for non-students

Chartway Federal Credit Union

  • You can join by making a $10 donation to Chartway Federal Credit Union’s philanthropic arm, the We Promise Foundation

Communitywide Federal Credit Union

Connexus Credit Union

Corporate America Family Credit Union

  • You can join by making a $5 donation to The Hope Group. You must also maintain $25 in your savings account.

Credit Union of New Jersey

  • Membership in one of over 200 groups makes you eligible. If you don’t fit into one of those groups, CUNJ offers to get in touch with them to see if they can find a way for you to be eligible. The application offers the ability to make a one time donation $5 to the CUNJ foundation

Digital Credit Union

  • You can join an organization with member privileges. Joining these organizations range in membership cost from $25 to $120. Once you join DCU, you have a lifelong membership, so you could cancel a membership with the other organization after joining.

First Flight Federal Credit Union

  • You can join one of the following associations with a small donation of $5-$10 to qualify for First Flight membership.  You can easily join one of these associations while you open your account online or at one of our financial center locations.
    • Capital Area Preservation Club
    • Holly Springs Arts Council
    • Beaufort Historical Society

First New England Federal Credit Union

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union

  • You might not have heard of this credit union, but anyone can join. You just need to pay $5 to join the American Consumer Council / Kentucky and you’re eligible.

Garden Savings Federal Credit Union

  • If you aren’t eligible based on military affiliation, you can join American Consumer Council with a $5 donation if you currently use or have used a major consumer product or service in the past 12 months. Lifetime membership costs $15.

Great Lakes Credit Union

  • The online application system will automatically qualify you if you click “let us help”

GTE Financial Credit Union

  • CUSavers for a one-time $10 membership fee qualifies you for credit union membership.

Hanscom Federal Credit Union

HeritageWest Credit Union (division of Chartway)

Hughes Federal Credit Union

INOVA Federal Credit Union

Justice Federal Credit Union

  • One of the eligible associations for membership is the National Sheriff’s Association. It costs $38 to join the NSA as an auxiliary member or student. By joining the NSA first, anyone can then become a member of the Justice Federal Credit Union. This brings the cost of membership to $43.

Kinecta Federal Credit Union

  • You can join through the Consumers Cooperative Society of Santa Monica. Kinecta will process the enrollment into CCSSM for you. A $10 fee applies CCSSM.

Lake Michigan Credit Union

  • If you are a donor to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association, West Michigan Chapter, you can be eligible to apple.

McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union

  • A one time minimum donation of $25 to become a member of the Voice Foundation

Melrose Credit Union

  • Regardless of where you live or how you earn a living, you may qualify for membership. There is a $1.00 one time membership fee and a minimum opening deposit of $25.00.

Money One Federal Credit Union

  • You can become eligible simply by making a one-time donation to Gifts for Easter Seals. Use this Easter Seals Donation Form. However you do have to bring it to any Money One location to complete your application, which does make this credit union pretty regional specific.

NASA Federal Credit Union

  • A complimentary membership to the National Space Society (NSS) entitles you to join NASA FCU.

Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union

Northwest Federal Credit Union

  • You would select employer/organization: Financial Awareness Network. They will sponsor you for a onetime $10.00 fee.

Nusenda Credit Union

  • Anyone can join the Nusenda Credit Union (formerly the New Mexico Educators Credit Union) by becoming a member of the La Montanita Food Co-op, which costs $15 for three adults who share a kitchen.

NuVision Credit Union

  • If you aren’t eligible based on military affiliation, you can join American Consumer Council with a $5 donation if you currently use or have used a major consumer product or service in the past 12 months. Lifetime membership costs $15.

Pen Air Credit Union

  • Become a member of the Friends of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society by making a $3 donation to qualify for membership with Pen Air FCU.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

  • Members of the National Military Family Association and Voices for America’s Troops are among those eligible for PenFed membership. PenFed makes it easy for you to join one of these associations, and subsequently join PenFed. You pay a one time dues to Voices for America’s Troops for $14 or National Military Family Association for $15.

People’s Trust Credit Union

  • You can become eligible with a $5 minimum donation to the People’s Trust Foundation

Pinnacle Federal Credit Union

  • You can join Pinnacle FCU by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council in which they will pay your membership fee of $5.00.

Premier America Credit Union

  • You can qualify for membership by joining the Alliance for the Arts From $50 – $1200

RTN Federal Credit Union

  • Membership in any one of the organizations listed below qualifies you for RTN membership. The Credit Union handles the process for you to join whichever organization you choose.
    • Amesbury Carriage Museum
    • Danvers Historical Society
    • Greater Boston Sickle Cell Association, Inc.
    • Gore Place
    • Tewksbury Historical Society
    • Waltham Historical Society
    • Wakefield Repertory Theatre

Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union

San Diego County Credit Union

  • You can be eligible by becoming a Financial Fitness Association Member. To become a Financial Fitness Association Member, click on Open an Account and select the Financial Fitness Association Member button.

SCE Federal Credit Union

  • You can become eligibile with a $10 is a tax-deductible donation to the credit union’s non-profit Center for Financial Empowerment.

Sierra Point Credit Union

  • You can be eligible by becoming a Financial Fitness Association Member. You have to mail in or bring the form into a local branch. There is no online option.

Self-Help Credit Union

  • Apply for mission supportive membership by joining the credit union’s founding charitable sponsor, the Center for Community Self-Help, for a one-time $5 fee.

Signal Financial Federal Credit Union

South Division Credit Union

  • A Membership Share Savings Account with a minimum deposit balance of $50 is required to become a Member and open any other account type.

Southeast Financial Federal Credit Union

  • Make a $5.00 donation to the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee to automatically qualify for Southeast Financial membership.

Stanford Federal Credit Union

State Department Federal Credit Union

  • You are eligible to join the SDFCU if you’re an employee of the Department of State or one of the extensive organizations with ties to the credit union (all listed here under “who can join”). If you don’t work for the Department of State, you may also be eligible through the American Consumer Council. You can join the ACC for only $5 if you’ve used any major consumer product or service within the past 12 months

The Golden 1 Credit Union

  • You can apply by becoming a Financial Fitness Association Member with an $8 fee. To become a Financial Fitness Association Member please click on Open an Account and select the Financial Fitness Association Member button.

Tobyhanna Federal Credit Union

  • Join the American Consumer Council through the website. Enter the promo code “consumer” to waive the membership fee. TFCU can also enroll you when it opens your account. Become a member of the Tobyhanna Army Depot Chapter of the Association of the United States Army: $14+ for military affiliation and $34 for civilians.

United States Senate Federal Credit Union

  • You can become eligible through a contribution to the US Capitol Historical Society (USCHS) and you must open a primary savings account with a minimum of $5 and one-time-only membership fee of $1.

University Federal Credit Union

  • Join the University of Texas Longhorn Foundation for instant eligibility to join UFCU. A one-time $20 donation to The University of Texas is required to become a member.

Western Federal Credit Union

  • Western Federal Credit Union will allow potential members to join through a complimentary membership with a partnering nonprofit organization: Surfrider Foundation or Friends of Hobbs.

Xceed Financial Credit Union (online application)

XCEL Credit Union

  • Click associate member or volunteer when filling out the application to fulfill eligibility requirements.

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Best of, Building Credit

Best Secured Credit Cards When You Don’t Have Any Credit History

Advertiser Disclosure

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

storecard - lg

Updated: April 15, 2015

There is a difference between “no credit” and “poor credit.” No credit means you’ve never taken out a line of credit. It’s common with recent college graduates who didn’t take out student loans or 18 year olds leaving the nest and entering the workforce. Poor credit is typically the result of a slip up: missing a credit card payment, defaulting on a loan, a medical bill going to collections.

A secured card offers a solution to building credit from scratch. Because you don’t have any credit history, a lender isn’t inclined to trust you. A secured card is a way to prove to a lender you can be responsible while the lender minimizes risk.

[Make sure you understand HOW to use a secured card before you get one.]

In order to open a secured card, you put down a deposit and the lender gives you a line of credit – typically the same as the amount you put down. Not all secured cards operate the same way. Some secured cards charge an annual fee while others require steep deposits.

Before you start applying haphazardly, see if your local bank or credit union offers a competitive secured card. With no credit, you may have an easier time being approved with a financial institution you’ve already established a relationship with. If the fees and deposit required from your local bank or credit union seem to steep, be sure to check out the options below.

Below, we’ve outlined secured cards with a variety of conditions, but all of which tend to approve people with no credit history.

If you’re a current college student looking to build credit, then apply first for a student credit card instead of a secured card.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Discover itDiscover has a market leading secured credit card and even if you don’t have any credit history at all, you can get approved for this card.

There is no annual fee, but you need to make a $200 deposit to open account. One of the most helpful features of this card is an automatic upgrade review after 7 months. So if you pay on time there’s a chance you could get your deposit refunded and the card switched to a standard credit card with a bigger credit limit.

You also get to earn earn cash back: 2% at restaurants and gas stations (on up to $1,000 of spend each quarter) and unlimited 1% on everything else. While there’s a 23.49% APR you don’t pay interest if you pay your balance in full by the due date each month.

Apply Now

State Department Federal Credit Union

1245_card.EMV Secured Visa Platinum Card By State Department FCUSDFCU’s EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card sounds elite, but you can be eligible for as little as $5, as long as you have the $250 for the deposit.

You are eligible to join the SDFCU if you’re an employee of the Department of State or one of the extensive organizations with ties to the credit union (all listed here under “who can join”). If you don’t work for the Department of State, you may also be eligible through the American Consumer Council. You can join the ACC for only $5 if you’ve used any major consumer product or service within the past 12 months – and you probably have.

Apply Now

USAA Secured Card

1177_card.USAA Secured Card Platinum MasterCard by USAAThe USAA Secured Card comes with one big catch, you have to be a USAA member or have military affiliation personally or through family in order to become a member.

USAA’s secured card comes with a $35 annual fee and you must put a deposit of $250 – $5,000 into a CD in order to open the secured card. This deposit will be your credit limit. The APR can range from 9.9% to 19.90%, so never carry a balance on the card.

Apply Now

Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card

1194_card.nRewards Secured Credit Card by Navy Federal CUNavy Federal Credit Union also requires military affiliation to be eligible for it’s nRewards Secured Card. It also comes with the hefty deposit of $500. There is no annual fee and a variable APR starting at 8.99%.

While there is a rewards aspect of this card, we recommend ignoring it and focusing on building your credit score above 700 so you’re eligible for a truly competitive rewards credit card.

Apply Now

DCU Visa Platinum Secured Card

DCUThe Visa Platinum Secured Card comes with a hefty minimum deposit of $500, but doesn’t have an annual fee. However, you will need to pay to join this credit union if you aren’t already a member.

  • Cost to join – $5 to join DCU + membership costs to join eligible organization if you aren’t eligible
  • Minimum deposit – $500

 

Just like with USAA and Navy Federal, you must be a member to be eligible. Except with the DCU, it’s easy to become a member. You can be eligible to join DCU if a relative is already member, if your employer offers membership or your community is included within field of membership. If none of these apply, you can join an organization with member privileges. Joining these organizations range in membership cost from $25 to $120. Once you join DCU, you have a lifelong membership, so you could cancel a membership with the other organization after joining.

Apply Now

Capital One Secured Mastercard

If you can’t afford a hefty deposit of $110 – $500, consider the Capital One secured card.

1173_card.Secured MasterCard by Capital OneCapital One offers a secured card with a $49 minimum deposit for a $200 line of credit.

Unfortunately, the $49 deposit isn’t a guarantee because it’s based on “creditworthiness.” It is possible Capital One will ask for a deposit of $99 or $200, especially if you have no credit history.

Apply Now

Harley Davidson Visa Secured Card from U.S. Bank

HarleyWe know it seems a little strange, but the Harley Davidson Visa Secured Card from US Bank offers a good option for those not interested in paying to join a credit union and trying to avoid an annual fee (aren’t we all?).

Here are the details:

  • 22.99% APR – so don’t carry a balance
  • Minimum deposit – $300
  • No annual fee

Apply Now

View other options on our Secured Credit Card Comparison Table

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Best of

The Most Transparent Credit Cards

Advertiser Disclosure

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

MagnifyA+

At MagnifyMoney, we want to help create a simpler, cheaper and more transparent banking system. Part of that mission means finding ways to praise products that remove complexity, while punishing those products that add layers of fine print and confusing terms. In order to make it easy for our users to sort the good from the bad, we created the MagnifyMoney Transparency Score.

We have a very simple approach: the more fees, fine print and complexity, the lower the score.

We have made a small change to the Transparency Score for our Balance Transfer Credit Cards, and we wanted to explain that change to you today.

For a balance transfer credit card, we look at 3 areas in order to determine the grade:

  • Fees: the more fees your charge (for example – late, over-limit, foreign exchange), the lower your score
  • Interest Rates: we don’t like when credit card companies say that your interest rate can be anywhere between 2% and 30%. And then you have to apply for the credit card (which means you accept the terms), only to be told your interest rate after you have been accepted. So, the wider the pricing band, the worse the score. So, someone who offers 9.99% – 15.99% would be rewarded more than someone who offers 4.99% – 22.99%, because you have a better indication of your interest rate before applying.
  • Marketing: we believe that the key terms should be clearly disclosed in the marketing message, and not hidden in the fine print. The easier it is for us to figure out the terms and conditions, the better the score.

These 3 pillars of our score have not changed. However, we have tweaked our highest score, which is an A+. We will award an A+ to a credit card if:

  • There are no “junk” fees of any kind. That means no balance transfer, late, over-limit, returned payment or foreign transaction fee can be charged. This remains the same as before.
  • The marketing message clearly identifies the terms, which also remains the same as before.
  • We have tweaked the criteria for pricing. Before, you could only receive an A+ if you had a single price point disclosed up front. However, we recognized that by limiting the price points, we will only ever give an A+ rating to a card that targets people with the highest credit score. So, we changed the criteria so that you are eligible for an A+ if the range of possible interest rates is fewer than 10 percentage points.

We still hope that banks and credit unions will provide more transparency on pricing before people apply.

At the moment, there is still only one credit card that meets this criteria: PenFed Promise.  We applaud the simplicity of PenFed Promise, and we hope that other products will join Promise over time, as the banking system becomes simpler, cheaper and more transparent.

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Balance Transfer, Best of

The Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2015

Advertiser Disclosure

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

Woman using credit card and laptop

Updated 6/2/15

Credit card debt can be depressing. If you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. Americans have over $850 billion of total credit card debt, and the interest rates are incredibly high. You are probably paying more than 15% interest on your credit cards, and if you have a store credit card you are most likely paying more than 20%.

We did a survey, and found that families with credit card debt have an average balance of $10,000. At a 15% interest rate, that means nearly half of the country is paying more than $1,500 of interest alone on their credit card every year. And if you only make the minimum due, if will take you more than 30 years to pay off your debt, and you will end up paying more interest than you originally borrowed. If you want to see how long it will take you to pay off your debt, you can use our debt repayment calculator.

But don’t let those calculations scare you. You don’t have to continue paying high interest rates. If you have a good credit score (which means a FICO of 700 or higher), and if you have a debt burden below 40%, you can qualify for some amazing offers. (Note: debt burden is defined as the monthly payments of debts reported to the credit bureau divided by your monthly income). If your score is below 700, you may want to consider a personal loan. And if you want more help, download our free Debt Guide.

 

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There is a good balance transfer option for people with mediocre credit (score above 640) from PenFed, an excellent credit union. We have a review of that offer below.

We all feel comfortable re-financing our mortgages when interest rates drop. Yet, for some reason, we tend to stick with our credit card companies even though the interest rates may be shockingly high. There is good news: you can complete a balance transfer and dramatically reduce the cost of your debt, taking years off debt repayment. Applying for a card and completing a balance transfer only takes a few minutes. And we will share with you the best balance transfer credit cards of 2015.

Why The Best Deals are at MagnifyMoney

When you search for the best balance transfers, you usually find the same 3-5 products at all of the other price comparison websites. Why? Because these are the products that pay commissions. At MagnifyMoney, we do not take commissions from banks. That is why you will not see an “Advertisers Disclosure” on our website. And that is why you will see all of the best offers, including credit unions, community banks and other offers.

We have a team that reviews all the best products every day. Nothing makes us happier than finding a new offer and sharing it with you. If you work for a bank or credit union, and you believe you have a better offer, just email us at info@magnifymoney.com and we will write about it.

What Is A Balance Transfer?

A balance transfer is a special offer that a bank or credit union will give you to transfer the debt from another bank or credit union. For example, imagine you have debt at Bank A. Bank B, a competitor of Bank A, would like to steal business from Bank A. So, they give you a special offer. If you transfer the debt from Bank A, Bank B will charge 0% interest for X period of months. That is a great deal for you, because you will dramatically cut the cost of your debt. And it could be a great deal for Bank B, if you fall into the traps of a balance transfer.

How To Avoid the Traps of a Balance Transfer

Banks don’t like making loans at 0% interest. They offer balance transfers, because they believe you are going to make some of the following mistakes:

  1. You will spend on the credit card. Whenever people are given new plastic, they tend to use it. That means they give into the temptation of spending money they don’t have. There are two problems with spending on the card. First, it increases the likelihood that you will not have paid off the balance when the promotional period expires. And, second, on many credit cards you will not have a grace period when you make purchases. Instead, you will be charged interest from the day the purchase is made. In order to avoid this trap, we recommend putting the credit card in the freezer once the balance transfer is complete.
  2. You will make a late payment. If you pay even just one day late, you could be charged a big late fee. If you are 30 days late, your credit score will get punished. And, if you pay 60 days late, you will lose the special promotional rate. In order to avoid any risk, sign up for automatic payments.
  3. You will keep your balance at the credit card company after the promotional rate expires. After the introductory period, the interest rate will jump to a very high rate. There is good news: most balance transfers (and none of the balance transfers recommended by MagnifyMoney) do not charge interest retroactively. But the go-forward interest rate can be high. And banks hope that you don’t pay off the balance during the promotional period, and end up paying high interest rates. In order to avoid this trap, make sure that you either pay the balance off completely during the promotional period, or have a plan to transfer the balance again at the end of the period.
  4. You don’t complete the transfer within 30-60 days. If you are approved for the credit card and do not complete the transfer within 30-60 days (depending upon the bank), you would lose the promotional offer. There is an easy solution to this problem: complete the transfer the day you are approved. 

If you don’t spend on the card, pay on time, and make sure that you transfer the debt again at the end of the promotional period, you will end up cutting your interest cost by 90% or more. And that means you can take years off your debt repayment.

The Best Balance Transfers as of September 2015

We update our database every day. You can see the full database in our balance transfer marketplace (where we will also do the math to show you how much you can save). In this article, we want to highlight the best offers out there today. And many of these offers can not be found on any other review site.

  • Best No Fee Balance Transfer Credit Cards
  • Longest Balance Transfer Credit Cards
  • Best Runner Ups
  • Best Balance Transfer Credit Card for Bad Credit

Best Introductory $0 Fee Balance Transfer Credit Card: Chase Slate

The Chase Slate has an intro offer for 0% intro APR for 15 months, with $0 intro fee for balance transfers. This is literally a 100% reduction in the cost of your debt.

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Best Long Duration Balance Transfer Credit Cards: Santander Sphere, Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred

You can have 0% for a full 2 years. You will have to pay a 4% fee up-front, but will then enjoy no interest for 2 full years. It will be difficult to find a longer deal out there.

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Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred both offer 21 months at 0% with a 3% fee. Just remember: you can only transfer debt from another bank.

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Apply Now

 

Best Balance Transfer for Bad Credit

If your credit score is between 640 – 700, you may want to consider the PenFed Promise Card. PenFed is an excellent credit union, which you can join by making a donation to support our troops. The Promise Credit Card was recently awarded an A+ by MagnifyMoney, because it has eliminated virtually every credit card fee ever invented.

PenFed Promise offers 4.99% for 12 months, which is the best low-rate promotional offer for people with credit scores below 700. If you work hard and pay down your debt during those 12 months, your score will most likely have a dramatic improvement. You can then look for even better deals in month 13.

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In Summary

You can save a lot of money by transferring your debt from a high interest rate credit card to a low interest rate balance transfer. Even more importantly, you can get out of debt faster. Any one of these options could be a great choice. Just make sure you don’t fall for any of the bank tricks. And, make sure you complete the balance transfer within 60 days of being approved for the credit card, otherwise you will lose the offer.

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Banking Apps, Best of, Consumer Watchdog

Best and Worst Mobile Banking Apps: From 100+ Banks and Credit Unions

Advertiser Disclosure

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

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Having a mobile banking app that works reliably is more important than ever as the number of consumers using mobile apps to deposit checks has grown over five times since 2011 according to a recent Pew study.

MagnifyMoney compiled the ratings of iOS and Android banking apps from over 100 of the biggest banks and credit unions, including the 50 largest banks and 50 largest credit unions along with a selection of top online direct banks.

The data, collected from iTunes and Google Play the week of November 20, was used to create a composite 1 to 5 rating factoring a weighted average of the ratings from both the iOS and Android platforms.

The best and worst mobile banking apps include:

  • Best Big Bank App: Capital One (4.1)
  • Best Credit Union App: Eastman Credit Union, ESL Credit Union, Redstone Federal, SEFCU, VyStar (tie: 4.7)
  • Best Regional Bank App: East West Bank (4.5)
  • Best Online Direct Bank App: Simple (4.6)
  • Worst Big Bank App: Citibank (3.1)
  • Worst App Overall: UMB Bank (2.5)

You can read more about the findings below these graphics…

10 Best and Worst across all banks and credit unions reviewed

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Best and Worst among the 10 biggest banks and credit unions

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Credit unions top the ratings

8 of the 10 highest ranked apps were from credit unions. Five credit unions shared the very top average score of 4.7, including Eastman Credit Union, ESL, Redstone Credit Union, SEFCU, and VyStar Credit Union.

Simple was the only online direct bank in the top 10, while East West Bank was the only traditional bank in the top 10 with a 4.5 rating.

Of the 10 highest ranked apps, 9 of them used an interface from an external app developer, Digital Insight, including all 8 credit unions and East West Bank. This is in contrast to internal development favored by larger banks. The un-flashy Digital Insight interface (pictured below) was cited for simplicity and reliability by users.

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Bank apps have room for improvement

Across all institutions surveyed the average rating was 3.8 out of 5.0, with traditional banks averaging 3.7, online direct banks best at 4.0, and credit unions at 3.9.

Among the 10 lowest rated apps only two were from credit unions, while 7 were from traditional banks. Only one traditional bank’s app ranked among the top 10 highest rated.

Capital One has the best app among big banks, while Citibank lags.

Among the 10 largest banks in the country, the average rating ranged from a high of 4.1 for Capital One to a low of just 3.1 for Citibank. Capital One’s app was cited for its ‘Sureswipe’ feature and reliability.

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Citibank’s app was cited for crashing during check deposits and a low limit for mobile deposits of just $1,000 per day. In comparison online direct bank Ally recently raised its mobile deposit limit to $50,000 per day.

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The average for all traditional banks surveyed was 3.7.

SunTrust bank had the lowest rated iOS app among the 10 largest banks at 2.1, while PNC bank had the lowest rated Android app at 3.4.

Simple leads online direct banks.

Among the online direct banks reviewed, Simple had the highest rating at 4.6, while Ally had the lowest at 3.1. Ally’s app received complaints for mobile deposit issues following a recent update as well lacking more advanced login options.

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UMB Bank takes the bottom.

The lowest rated app overall was from UMB Bank, with a 2.5 combined rating. The app has not been updated since 2011, lacks a mobile check deposit feature and is no longer compatible with the latest devices.

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Android users are more satisfied

Across banks, credit unions, and online direct institutions, Android users were significantly more satisfied, with an average 4.0 rating versus 3.1 for iOS users. iOS users tend to have more complaints about apps not leveraging the latest hardware capabilities.

Methodology

App ratings were recorded the week of November 20, 2014 in iTunes and the Google Play store and include ratings for all app versions. Overall ratings are a weighted average of iOS and Android ratings based on the number of reviews for each platform. Institutions with no mobile apps were excluded from ranking summaries.

The 50 largest banks are defined as those with the largest deposits per FDIC data June 2014 were examined. Banks with fewer than 200 app ratings were excluded, as were those that primarily target investment accounts.

Among credit unions, the 50 largest by assets according Bauer Financial, March 2013, were examined. For online direct banks, 10 of the largest Online Direct Banks were chosen by number of app ratings.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Magnify_Money and on Facebook.

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Best of

MagnifyMoney Awards First A+ Transparency Score to PenFed Promise Visa Card

Advertiser Disclosure

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

TransparencyScore

Update: As of November 1, 2014, the PenFed Promise Visa balance transfer is no longer for 48 months. It’s 4.99% APR for 12 months. While the simplicity and transparency is still great, there are other balance transfer offers that are longer and offering a lower rate. Go to our balance transfer table to review offers

Today, we announced the creation of a new grade in our MagnifyMoney Transparency Score for Balance Transfers: an A+.

MagnifyA+When we created MagnifyMoney, our goal was to help people save money, by making it easy to compare, ditch and switch financial products. But we also had a bigger goal. We wanted to reward simpler, more transparent products. So, we designed the Magnify Transparency Score.

Sometimes banks offer a great deal, but if you make just one mistake, a tsunami of fees, charges and penalties can wipe out any previous benefits that you enjoyed. Those fees and conditions are usually buried in the fine print. So, our Transparency Score is very simple: we reward credit cards that have fewer penalty fees and ambiguity.

When we created the site, we had reviewed hundreds of credit cards. And one credit card stood out from the rest. In fact, I couldn’t believe the simplicity of the card when I read the terms and conditions. It was the PenFed Promise Card.

Visa Promise FINAL 2013They don’t just choose one fee to waive, and advertise it. With this card, PenFed has waived almost every fee imaginable, and has removed the ambiguity. Here is the summary:

  • There is a single, flat, low APR of 9.99% on purchases. You know the interest rate before applying. Most banks provide a very wide range of available interest rates, and you only know your rate after you apply. PenFed Promise discloses the APR up front.
  • There is no foreign transaction fee
  • There is no annual fee
  • There is no late fee, returned payment fee or risk-based re-pricing

When I started the product review many months ago, I never imagined we would find a card like PenFed Promise, which had literally removed all of the worst gotchas. But, given that PenFed is a credit union, we shouldn’t be surprised.

So, we decided to create a new category: an A+. Any credit card that waives all penalty fees and discloses your interest rate up-front can also receive an A+ rating. But, for now, we have only found PenFed.

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If you think we have missed a card, please let us know. We continue to add products to our database every day, but none have come close.

Just a few bits of advice if you decide to apply for the card:

  1. You must have a good credit score. Based upon our conversations with PenFed, it sounds like 700 is the most likely minimum (although they will be testing lower).
  2. Your debt burden should be below 50%
  3. If you are not a member of the credit union, don’t worry. You can join as part of the credit card application process online. You just need to give a donation of about $15 (and you can give more!) to support our troops.

PenFed is very aggressive with low rates on other lending products. They have great deals on mortgages, auto loans and other personal loans. If you join the credit union for this credit card, then you will have access to their other market-leading offers.

PenFed has an ambition to reach $75 billion of assets. They really want to shake up the banking market in big ways. We will continue to watch their product set closely, but so far we are impressed. And we think a lot of Americans could save a lot of money if they joined that credit union and moved their debt.

Want regular updates about the best financial products out there? Then sign up for our Price Checker Newsletter. Twice a month, we’ll deliver the best-of-the-best right to your inbox.

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