How to Calculate APR: A Complete Guide

October 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Credit score, Resources

credit cards and a summary on how to calculate apr

Image from Pixabay

When building or rebuilding credit, many people turn to credit cards and loans to help establish their credit history and raise their credit score. When considering these credit vehicles, you will want to know how to calculate APR in order to determine if you can make your payments and decide which cards or loans are the best for your situation.

What Is APR?

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Whenever you borrow money, you will have to pay a cost for borrowing that money. This cost is referred to as the annual percentage rate, or APR. This rate is a percentage of the money you have borrowed. The APR is how the bank, mortgage company or credit card company can afford to offer money on credit. In order to make enough money to be worthwhile, banks must charge higher interest rates for riskier clients. If you have a low credit score or no credit history, you will often have to agree to higher APRs than people with better credit scores and longer credit histories.

APRS AND COMPOUND INTEREST

It is vital to understand compounding interest when learning how to calculate APR. Any time you borrow money, you won’t only pay interest on the money you borrowed. You will also pay interest on your interest. APR is compounded based on your daily or monthly balances. It is most often compounded daily and added at the end of the billing cycle to the balance of your loan or credit card. For example, if you make $1000 in purchases on a new card with a 15% APR, every day a portion of that 15% APR gets added to your balance. If your interest is compounded daily, after a year, you will have about $160 of interest due on the balance if no payments are made to the principal or balance.

When figuring out how to calculate APR, it helps to understand the differences between the various types of loan APRs and credit card APRs that you might encounter. The differences between these will affect how to calculate APR and how much money you could end up paying to use the loan or credit card.

Types of Loan APRs

Loans are an important tool and a necessity for almost every working adult. However, not all loan APRs are created equally. Sometimes, the 3% interest rate on one type of loan, such as a variable loan, will cost more in reality than a 5% interest rate loan that is a fixed rate. You must take these types of loans and rates into account as you figure out how to calculate APR.

FIXED APR

VARIABLE APR

TIERED APR

Types of Credit Card APRs

Most American adults will carry some credit card balance. Any time you carry your balance over to a new month, a portion of your APR is added to the balance. You must pay the interest or it becomes a part of your new balance as time goes on.

INTRODUCTORY APR

BALANCE TRANSFER APR

PURCHASE APR

CASH ADVANCE APR

PENALTY APR

How to Calculate APR

Depending on what you want to figure out about your APR, there are a few different ways to calculate your APR. We highly recommend using online calculators and Excel formulas to calculate your APR and the compounded interest. If you are determined to do the calculations yourself, you can find the formula below.

​ONLINE CALCULATORS

​EXCEL FORMULAS

​HOW TO CALCULATE APR WITH COMPOUND INTEREST

Conclusion

It is important to learn how to calculate APR so that you can figure out your effective APR, including compounding interest. There are a few different ways to calculate your APR and some variations depending on what in particular you want to solve for. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to quickly figure out your effective APR with online calculators and Excel spreadsheets. Knowledge is power, and if you know how much it will cost you to borrow money, you have the power to make the best decisions to improve your finances and your credit score.

How to File Taxes: Complete Guide

September 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Debt, Resources

Filing Taxes

Knowing how the tax process works can help to reduce any stress that a person may be under to get their taxes filed. Learning more about this process also provides more information for the user during the process. What they once did not know, they may know after gathering this information. Your first or even second time doing anything can seem like a challenge. This is especially true if you’re worried about not filing something right. Learning how to file taxes is not as complicated as it seems.

You want to know what information and documents you need, how long it will take if you’re filing the right forms, and if there are ramifications should you forget to add or do something on the forms. All of these concerns will come piling up during the tax filing process. It is important that you take it step by step. Each question will be answered, and you will feel more confident as time moves forward. Learn what makes up a tax return and then use that to your advantage when going through each part and filling in the information.

What Does It Mean to File Taxes?

Time For Taxes

You are not alone. Many people do not know how to file taxes. They either hire someone to do this job for them, or they have to learn just like you are now. Filing taxes means you have to submit papers to the government letting them know how much you have made throughout the year. Everyone that is a resident and a citizen of the United States that works must file their taxes every year. Taxes are then paid to the government to help with specific expenses that the government sees fit during that year.

Is There a Need to File Taxes?

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Some individuals may not have to file taxes for that year. There is a specialized tool from the IRS that can figure out if you are required to pay taxes depending on your status, how much you have made, and other factors. Almost everyone must file taxes within the United States though as long as they are making money. Some citizens that are living in other countries may have to still pay taxes to the United States if they are still listed as a citizen with this country. However, this is something that has to be worked out with the IRS offices.

How to File Taxes the Right Way

How to File Taxes the Right Way

There is a process that a person has to undergo to file their taxes. Every tax form, regardless of which you have to fill out, has specific steps and instructions that have to be followed. Know the steps ahead of time so you are prepared when tax time comes, and you need to fill out the form and provide the necessary documentation requested of you. Here are the steps required to fill out a simple tax form.

KEY TIPS FOR FILING YOUR TAXES – BEFORE YOU START

Tips for filing taxes

It is important to know what to have on hand before you start filing your tax returns. Knowing things like life changes, such as a marriage, birth, or change in a job, is also ideal. It can make the process go faster. You will also need to have access to these key specific items:

  • Your social security number
  • The social security number of your dependents 
  • W-2’s or 1099 income 
  • 1095 which is used for health insurance verification 
  • Consider all of your sources of income – through a job, retirement, savings, pension, investments, etc. 
  • Any donation forms 
  • Child care expense receipts 
  • Education expenses 
  • Information regarding taxes paid on your mortgage

KNOW HOW YOU’RE GOING TO FILE

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There are a few different ways to file your taxes depending on how you feel the most comfortable. Filing your taxes online can be done through an online e-filing program. These programs will walk you through the entire process and have areas where you can look up your questions to get answers. This is very helpful for those learning how to file taxes on their own.

Another option is to file the taxes through the mail. While this takes longer to have them reach the IRS, it also provides them with a way to fill out everything on paper. Those that like to leave a paper trail and want to submit all of their paper documentation would use this option. It is not the most popular, but it is definitely an option.

Those that do not know how to file taxes sometimes use the help of a tax professional. These professionals walk the person through what they are doing on their taxes, ask questions, and do the process for them. They can find hidden deductions, look for ways to save on taxes, and even try to get the person money back for that tax year. They are knowledgeable about the tax process, the laws, procedures, and other specifics so that those looking for some help when learning how to file taxes can speak with these professionals for more information about the process.

Filing the Tax Return

Filing the Tax Return

Follow these steps to file your tax return once you know how to file taxes. You have gathered the above, chose the right method, and are ready to file. Now is the time to do so with the help of the specific method you went with.

  1. 1
    Gather all of your paperwork, documentation, and other information you need. These are stated above. Any forms regarding taxes, as well as income, should be brought over when doing your taxes.
  2. 2
    Determine your filing status. Are you filing head of household, single, married? You also want to determine how much you made this past year as it determines which form you will fill out to file your taxes. Those that make under $66,000 per year are put into one bracket, while those over this amount are in another. Self-employed individuals have to pay a specific tax bracket. E-filing services will automatically decide which filing bracket you need when you answer simple questions for them at the beginning of the process.
  3. 3
    Calculate all of your taxes and credits by filling in the information requested on the forms. This is usually regarding the dependants you have, the amount you made, any extra income, etc. There are credits given to those that have given to charity, have children, education expenses, and other related deductions.
  4. 4
    Claim all of your dependents and exemptions on the form. It is important to know who qualifies as a dependent on your tax return. Children that you are legally responsible for and provide over half of their support are generally thought of as your dependents.
  5. 5
    Find out if you pay in taxes quarterly, have to pay one lump sum, or if you will get money back. This is all determined based on several factors. Going through the entire process will give you more information. Mailing in your payments, paying online or through the phone are all options for those that owe money to the IRS. For payments coming back to the person that filed, checks and direct deposits into bank accounts can be made.
  6. 6
    File your taxes by submitting them electronically or through the mail. This is usually done electronically if you have hired someone to go through your taxes for you.

The process is generally easy with the number of resources available to those learning how to file taxes. Working with a professional also has helped many people file their taxes. It is important that the taxes are filed within the time limit that the government sets. Those that file and owe money have to pay by April 15 while others have to submit their applications and extensions by the same day. This date may change if the 15th falls on a holiday or a weekend, which means it can be the 16th,17th, or even 18th on some years. It is important to think about filing taxes as soon as possible. Gathering information on how to file taxes can help you get prepared for the tax time to come.

Conclusion

tax service

Alternatively, those that wish to save time and hassle can hire a tax service. This service prepares the taxes for you when you give them your financial documentation. They go over all the specifics so you can easily submit the information while also providing the necessary tax payments for being a citizen with the country. If there are further questions regarding filing, if you are filing yourself, it is important to speak with either the IRS or a tax professional that can provide the help required. Knowing how to file taxes the right way can allow you to feel more confident in the years to come when you have to continue to file taxes.

Please keep in mind that if you have further questions regarding the process, look into the IRS website for FAQs and other commonly featured articles. They use this as a guide to help those learning how to file their own taxes have all the information they need. 

Amazon Credit Card Review

August 2, 2019 by  
Filed under Credit card, Resources

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Image from Amazon

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card provides you with 5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases; It offers 2% back from purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can redeem your rewards easily for millions of items on Amazon.com. Further, you have access to travel baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, no foreign transaction fees, and other perks. Also, the Amazon credit card offers protections for roadside mishaps. It also offers room upgrades and exclusive benefits.

In this review, we will cover the details of the Amazon credit card, review its pros and cons, and then compare it to similar products on the market for a comprehensive overview. We hope that this article provides you with more information and aids in your new creditcard search.

What Is the Amazon Credit Card?

With the Amazon credit card, you can keep your Amazon card in your wallet to use in stores, and you can keep your card synced with your Amazon Prime membership online and use your card to pay for Amazon.com purchases. If you have an eligible Prime membership, you can earn 5% back at Amazon.com with the Amazon credit card. If you do not have a Prime membership, you can still earn 3% back with purchases at Amazon.com. Further, upon approval of an Amazon credit card, you receive an instant $70 Amazon.com gift card.

Product Specs

While you can gain the most rewards by purchasing items on Amazon.com, you can earn rewards anywhere you shop with the Amazon credit card. One of the greatest card perks is the travel benefits. When you use your Amazon credit card on international trips, you receive lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, travel and emergency assistance, and no foreign transaction fees. Further, when traveling via car, you receive purchase protection, extended warranty protection, auto rental collision damage waiver, and roadside dispatch.

Also, if you stay in the Visa Signature Hotel Collection, you can receive room upgrades and VIP guest status. You receive complimentary Visa Signature Concierge service 24/7 to help you plan and book.

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There is no annual fee to use the Amazon credit card. As mentioned above, there are also no foreign transaction fees.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare to the Amazon credit card:

Amazon Credit Card

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PRICE

There is no annual membership fee for the Amazon credit card. However, to gain the most rewards and 5% back on Amazon.com purchases, you have to be a Prime member, which requires a $119 membership fee per year.

APPLICATION PROCESS

When you submit an application for an Amazon credit card, your application is processed through Chase Bank. If your application is instantly approved by Chase, you will be taken to the Cardmember Agreement page with terms and agreements to review before using your new card. If your application is not instantly approved, you will be informed about your status after Chase has completed their review process, which takes an average of two to four weeks after applying.

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD

There is no introductory APR period, and it is consistently 15.24-23.24%. However, when you are approved for the Amazon credit card, you receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card to use online. 

BALANCE TRANSFER

The Amazon credit card has a balance transfer fee of 5%, with a $5 minimum. 

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Many customers have reported negative experiences with customer service for the Amazon credit card.

Pros

  • 5% cash back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases under Prime membership
  • 2% cash back on gas, restaurants, and drug stores
  • Great travel perks, with lost luggage reimbursement, no foreign transaction fees, plus more

Cons

  • Cannot transfer reward points to other accounts
  • No introductory APR period
  • No annual bonuses

American Express Everyday Card

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With the American Express credit card, you receive 3% cash back at US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year on purchases, 2% cash back at US gas stations and some department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases. Further, you receive a $150 statement credit after spending an initial $1,000 within the first three months. There is no annual fee, and there is a 15-month introductory APR period. You can redeem cash back or statement credits, gifts cards, and various merchandise.

PRICE

The American Express credit card has no annual fee, so it is an inexpensive credit card option.

APPLICATION PROCESS

In order to apply and be approved for an American Express credit card, you should have an average credit score at a minimum. The application process takes five to ten minutes to complete. After submitting your application, you will receive a message on your computer screen indicating that you have successfully submitted the application. Then, you will receive an acknowledgment email from American Express within one working day along with next steps.

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD

The American Express credit card has an introductory period of 15 months with 0% purchase APR. Also, there is a 15-month 0% introductory period on balance transfers. There is also a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases with your new card within the first three months of opening an account.

BALANCE TRANSFER

As mentioned in the introductory period section above, there is a 0% charge on balance transfers during the first 15 months. After the introductory period, the American Express credit card has a regular APR of 14.99% to 25.99%. 

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Many customers have reported poor customer service from American Express employees. Many people rate the assistance with this card as “bad.” 

Pros

  • 15 month 0% APR period for purchases and balance transfers
  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 during the first three months
  • 3% cash back at US supermarkets and 2% cash back at gas stations and some department stores

Cons

  • $6,000 maximum for 3% cash back at US supermarkets (followed by 1% cash back)
  • Many customers reported a poor experience with customer service
  • American Express not widely accepted by all retailers

The Platinum Card by American Express

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The Platinum Card from American Express is an excellent travel card for those always on the go. You can earn five times the points on booked flights or with American Express Travel, five times the points on prepaid hotels (hotels booked and paid in advance) via amextravel.com, and you can earn points for each dollar spent on eligible purchases. Furthermore, you can earn 60,000 reward points when you use your new card on $5,000 in purchases after your first three months.

With the Platinum card, you can enjoy complimentary benefits, such as $15 in Uber credits for US rides every month plus a $20 bonus in December. Further, you can enjoy complimentary, unlimited Wi-Fi access with the Boingo American Express Preferred plan on up to four devices. Additionally, you receive hotel benefits of $550 at more than 1,000 fine hotels and resorts when you book through Fine Hotels & Resorts Program, including room upgrades upon arrival, daily breakfast for two, guaranteed 4 pm late check-out, noon check-in when available, complimentary Wi-Fi, and unique amenities valued at $100 USD, such as spa or food and beverage credit.

PRICE

This a more expensive card option with excellent perks for frequent travelers. There is an annual fee of $550 for card users. 

APPLICATION PROCESS

The American Express Platinum card is one of the best travel cards, with its 60,000-point welcome bonus, purchase rewards, and annual travel credits, so it has pretty strict requirements. You need to have a credit score above 700, and you need to make sure that you do not open too many new accounts at once, which can jeopardize your approval chances. If you are concerned about your credit score, you should consider getting another American Express credit card first, which allows you to establish a relationship with American Express before applying.

You should be 21 years of age or older to apply as your chances will be a lot higher. We have rated this process as two out of five stars for its more difficult and competitive process.

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD

This is a charge card, which means thatthe balance should be paid every month. There is no introductory APR period as there is no APR on this card. However, you can opt to pay over time as well. As an introductory bonus upon using your card, you can earn 60,000 reward points when you spend $5,000 during your first three months.

BALANCE TRANSFER

This card does not have an option for balance transfers as it is a charge card and not a credit card.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

With the American Express Platinum card, you can rely on 24/7 medical, legal, financial, and other select emergency coordination and assistance services when traveling more than 100 miles from home via Premium’s Global Assist hotline. They can direct you to English-speaking medical and legal professionals and arrange for transfer to a medical facility. Premium Global Assist can also help with prescription replacements, emergency hotel check-ins, cash wires, missing luggage, lost or stolen passports, and more.

Premium offers roadside assistance 24/7, including emergency towing up to 10 miles, changing a flat, or jumpstarting a battery (even in the driveway). They will pay for included services up to four times a year.

Pros

  • 24/7 medical, legal, financial, and other emergency coordination and assistance services
  • Enjoy complimentary access to 1100 airport lounges across 120 countries
  • 60,000 bonus points during the introductory period

Cons

  • Expensive annual fee
  • Charge card, not a credit card, which means that you should pay your entire balance every month
  • Not all airport lounges participate

Alaska USA

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The Alaska USA Visa card is offered by Federal Credit Union and offers reward points for every dollar spent, which can be redeemed for travel and merchandise. There is no annual fee for Alaska USA checking account holders. There is a low, fixed APR rate of 10.5% with no penalty rates, and there are no foreign transaction fees. Points are redeemable for virtually any airline, hotel, cruise, or name-brand merchandise. Extra travel benefits include rental car insurance, lost luggage insurance, travel emergency assistance, and travel accident insurance.

PRICE

There is no annual fee for this card if you are an Alaska USA checking account holder. However, if you do not have an Alaska USA account, there is a $50 annual membership fee.

APPLICATION PROCESS

You can become a member of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union if you are affiliated with a company, organization, or community that has requested that Alaska USA serve their members or employees. You can typically qualify if you are related to someone who is qualified to join, such as someone that lives or works in Alaska, Washington, California, or Arizona.

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD

There is an introductory 1.9% APR period on purchases made through January 31, 2019. After January 31, 2019, APR for purchases increases to 10.5%, 12.5%, or 14.5%. There are no bonus points during this introductory period. 

BALANCE TRANSFER

Balance transfers incur an APR of 1.5%, 12.5%, or 14.5%.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Many customers have reported poor customer service, assistance, and flexibility. 

Pros

  • Low purchase interest rate
  • Flexible flight rewards
  • Enhanced travel rewards

Cons

  • $50 annual fee if you are not a checking account holder within Federal Credit Union
  • Must be a member of Alaska USA credit union to apply
  • No introductory bonus reward

Conclusion

The type of card that you choose depends on your priorities and your spending habits. If you frequently shop on Amazon and want to redeem your rewards for Amazon purchases, we recommend the Amazon credit card. We have rated it a total of four out of five stars for its 5% cash back on Amazon.com purchases and Whole Foods Market purchases, along with its $0 annual fee. However, you gain the most rewards by being a Prime member, which does incur an annual fee.

In comparison, we recommend the American Express card for its broad range of reward opportunities and ways to redeem, as well as its $150 introductory bonus. If you are a frequent traveler that wants a lot of perks, we recommend the American Express Platinum charge card. You should be cognizant of its high annual fee and that it is not a credit card. Finally, you can check out the Alaska USA card if you live within its membership range and want travel benefits. We hope that the card you choose gives you the most rewards for your spending habits. Happy shopping!

Lowes Credit Card Review

July 30, 2019 by  
Filed under Credit card, Resources

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the Lowes Credit Card

The Lowes credit card will give you a variety of rewards for in-store purchases. You can earn 5% cash back on Lowe’s purchases, or you can choose to receive a 5% discount on your total Lowe’s purchase. While it has a high APR of 26.99%, you can choose special financing for a purchase of $299 or more for a six-month 0% APR financing. Further, you receive a special onetime bonus of $30 on your first in-store card purchase when you open an account.

In this review, we will discuss the details of the Lowes credit card and consider its pros and cons. To further the review, we will compare it to similar cards on the market and give it an overall rating at the end of this article.

What Is the Lowes Credit Card?

The Lowes credit card is only accepted at Lowe’s physical stores or at Lowes.com. If you find yourself regularly making a run to Lowe’s for various DIY projects or construction jobs, there are definite benefits to using this card. The primary benefit of this card is the option to accept the immediate 5% discount upon purchasing items in store or online. If you choose to opt for deferred-interest financing for purchases of $299 or more, you should not opt for the 5% discount upon purchase, as you can only choose one or the other.

Lowes Credit Card Specs

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As mentioned above, you can opt for rewards in a few ways: you can earn 5% cash back on Lowe’s purchases, you can opt for a 5% discount upon checkout, or you can opt for financing options for purchases of $299 or more. The main downside to this card is the high APR of 26.99%. This is not a card on which you want to keep a balance, but if you plan to pay off the balance quickly, then it definitely has great rewards.

Pricing

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Image source: Pixabay.com

There are no annual fees for this card, but interest can rack up quickly if you keep an outstanding balance on this card. You can opt for special financing with no interest so that is a solid option for bigger purchases that you cannot pay off immediately.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare to the Lowes credit card.

PREVIEW

CARD

WEBSITE

citi credit card - double cash

CITI DOUBLE CASH CARD

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CHASE FREEDOM UNLIMITED

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CAPITAL ONE VENTURE REWARDS CREDIT CARD

Lowes Credit Card

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PRICE

The Lowes credit card has no annual fees.

EASE OF USE

The Lowes credit card is easy to use and very straightforward in its benefits. It is a simple card for Lowe’s fans as you can only use it in Lowe’s stores or online on Lowes.com purchases. The benefits are limited and simple: you can either accept a 5% discount upon checkout or 5% cash back on your purchases. You can also opt for special financing over a variety of time periods. We have rated this section as four out of five stars for its simplicity. This is not a general card for all purchases, but it is a great option for big Lowe’s shoppers.

APPROVAL AND APPLICATION

The Lowes credit card is supposedly one of harder cards to obtain. You should have “fair” credit or higher with a credit score of 620 or more. You can submit an application for a Lowes credit card online or in-store, but you should sign up in store to gain the onetime sign-up offer of $30 on your first in-store card purchase. We have rated this as four out of five stars.

DESIGN QUALITY

The design quality of this card depends on your spending. If you love to shop at Lowes and need not worry about interest (if you pay everything before the due date), then this is a great card! If you do not appreciate a high interest rate and enjoy keeping a balance on your card, and if you rarely shop at Lowe’s, then this is not the card for you. We have rated the design of this card as three out of five stars for its rewards for avid Lowe’s shoppers combined with its high interest rate.

BENEFITS OFFERED

The Lowes credit card offers a variety of benefits to Lowe’s shoppers, including 5% cash back on in-store or online purchases, 5% discount at check-out to see immediate benefits upon purchase, or special financing options for those that are making big purchases. For a store card, we think that these are great benefits with variety for customers to choose from, depending on how they want to utilize their rewards. We have given this a rating of four out of five stars.

Pros

  • 5% cash back option for Lowe’s in-store or online purchases
  • Special financing options at a variety of APR rates
  • 5% discount option to see immediate benefits of Lowe’s purchases

Cons

  • High interest rate on balances left on the card without opting for special financing
  • Difficult to get compared to other store cards
  • Points and rewards are limited to Lowe’s purchases

Citi Double Cash Card

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citi credit card - double cash

The Citi Double Cash Card provides you with 2% cash back on purchases, where you earn 1% upon purchase and 1% as you pay. There is a 0% introductory APR period of 18 months for balance transfers, and there are no categories to track or activate to gain rewards. There are no maximums on cash back rewards, and there is no annual fee. You should have a good to excellent credit score to qualify for approval, and foreign transactions incur a 3% fee.

PRICE

There is no annual fee to use the Citi Double Cash Card. There is a 0% introductory APR period of 18 months for balance transfers, however this does not apply to purchases. Purchases have a variable APR rate of 15.49% – 25.49%, which also applies to balance transfers after 18 months.

EASE OF USE

The Citi Double Cash Card is easy to use as you need not activate any categories to gain the most rewards. The cash back process is straightforward- you earn 1% as you buy items and earn an additional 1% as you pay off your card’s balance. This is a relatively hassle-free card, and there is no limit to the rewards you can earn. This card is great for those that do not want to put in the extra work of activating certain rewards or only shopping at certain stores. We have rated the ease of use of this card as five out of five stars.

APPROVAL AND APPLICATION

In order to apply for this credit card, we recommend that you have a credit score of 690 or higher, with good to excellent credit. You can apply online, and Citi will notify you of your acceptance or additional steps you need to take. Due to its more competitive nature, we have given this three out of five stars.

DESIGN QUALITY

This card has a high rewards rate, and you can redeem your rewards for statement credit, a bank account deposit, a gift card, or a check. You have to have a minimum of $25 to redeem your rewards. While it is easy to use, it does not offer the bonus categories that give other card users the perk of 5-10% cash back at various times. We have therefore rated its design quality as four out of five stars as its simplicity causes its higher earning potential to suffer compared to other cards. However, we appreciate its 2% cash back on all purchases.

BENEFITS OFFERED

We appreciate the 2% cash back on all purchases (1% upon purchase and 1% upon payment), the 18 month 0% APR period for balance transfers, and the variety of ways you can redeem your rewards. However, this card is missing an introductory bonus reward and high earning bonus potentials of more than 2% cash back. Further, it does incur foreign transaction fees. We have rated the benefits offered as three out of five stars.

Pros

  • 2% cash back rewards on all purchases: 1% upon purchase and 1% as you pay
  • 0% introductory APR period on balance transfers for 18 months
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No sign-up bonus
  • No 0% APR introductory period for purchases

Chase Freedom Unlimited

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The Chase Freedom Unlimited card provides you with a flat 1.5% cash back earning potential on every purchase you make, with a $0 annual fee. You can redeem rewards for statement credit or a bank account direct deposit. Further, this card has a great sign-up bonus of $150 when you spend $500 during the first three months. It comes with an introductory APR of 0% on purchases and balance transfers during the first fifteen months, followed by an ongoing Variable APR of 16.99% to 25.74%.

PRICE

The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card has no annual fees. Further, it has a fifteen month introductory period with 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers. Following the introductory period, the APR increases to a range of 16.99% to 25.74%.

EASE OF USE

The 1.5% rewards rate is applied automatically to all purchases, and cash back rewards never expire as long as the account is open. Further, there is no minimum required to redeem your points for cash back. Further, you can gain 5% cash back in rotating categories, which you activate every three months, up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. This card is great for those that want a hassle free card, with automatic rewards, plus the opportunity to earn more during quarterly opportunities when you “activate” certain categories. We have given the ease of use five out of five stars.

APPROVAL AND APPLICATION

In order to apply and be approved for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you should have good or excellent credit with a credit score of 690 or higher. Due to its more competitive approval process, we have rated this section as three out of five stars.

DESIGN QUALITY

This card is designed for both the engaged customer who enjoys “activating” categories and earning automatic benefits without any extra effort. Its automatic rewards plus its higher earning potential during quarterly categories make it a great choice for those that want the potential to earn more but also want to benefit from the continuous automatic rewards. Further, it has a great $150 initial bonus. We have rated this as four out of five stars as we wish its automatic rewards were higher.

BENEFITS OFFERED

This Chase card offers great automatic benefits, with automatic 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Further, it has a great introductory bonus of $150 when you spend $500 within the first 3 months of opening an account. We have rated this section as five out of five stars.

Pros

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • No annual fee
  • $150 introductory bonus when you spend $500 within the first 3 months

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Must activate categories every 3 months to earn 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in spending per quarter)
  • Requires good to excellent credit

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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With the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, you earn unlimited two times the miles per every dollar you spend on any purchase, regardless of the day. Plus, you can earn ten times the miles on thousands of hotels. When you open an account, you earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account. Further, there is a $0 annual fee for the first year of membership, followed with a $95 annual fee after that. This card comes with no foreign transaction fees, and you can receive up to $100 credit on Global Entry to TSA pre-check.

PRICE

There is a $0 annual fee during the first year of membership, followed by a $95 fee after that.

EASE OF USE

The Capital One Venture card is easy to use as every dollar you spend on any purchase automatically gives you 2 miles at 1 cent apiece. Plus, if you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months, you earn 50,000 miles. It is a no hassle card as you do not need to “activate” any rewards. We have rated ease of use as five out of five stars.

APPROVAL AND APPLICATION

You should have good to excellent credit to apply and be approved, with a score of 690 or higher. Since this card is limited to users with great credit scores, we have rated this section as three out of five stars.

DESIGN QUALITY

This card is designed for the traveler with no foreign transaction fees, high rewards rate in the form of miles, a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles, and the potential to earn 10 times the miles on thousands of hotels. The design quality is high for those who travel, and we have therefore rated it as four out of five stars, as it is not as beneficial for those who do not want to redeem their points in the form of miles.

BENEFITS OFFERED

The basic benefit is that you earn 2 times the miles for every dollar you spend on any purchase, plus ten times the miles on certain hotel bookings. Other benefits include $0 fraud liability, personalized payment options and access to a higher credit line, auto-pay options, 24/7 customer service, access to the Capital One Mobile App, CreditWise from Capital One, 24-hour travel assistance, roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, and more. Further, you earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.

Pros

  • 2x the miles for every dollar spent with the opportunity to earn 10x the miles for certain hotel bookings
  • 75,000 bonus miles during introductory period
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $95 annual fee after the first year
  • Redemption value for cash is half that of redeeming your rewards for travel
  • Requires good/excellent credit

Conclusion

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credit cards

Image source: Pixabay.com

The type of card you ultimately choose depends on where you shop and your spending habits. If you are a big Lowe’s fan and can pay off your card regularly, then the Lowes credit card is a great store-specific card. Overall, we rate the Lowe’s card as three out of five stars, as it is a good store card but is very specific to Lowes users and has a high interest rate.

If you want hassle-free rewards, the Citi Double Cash Card is a great option. The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card is another all-purpose card that is easy to use and has automatic rewards as well as activate-as-you-go rewards for more earnings. The Capital One Venture Card is another great all-purpose card that is a spectacular card for travelers. Whichever card you choose, all the cards above give great earnings for different shoppers. We hope you gain the most you possibly can from your card choice and enjoy your rewards!

How Long Does It Take to Build Credit – Tips And Guides To Build Credit

January 2, 2019 by  
Filed under Credit Report, Resources

Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life. Aside from your social security number, this is probably the one number you must monitor and protect most rigorously. How long does it take to build credit? That’s a question many young people ask, and it’s very important.

While you might assume that never using credit is the best way to live, you would be incorrect to a certain degree. If you have the cash to pay for a home or a car outright, you don’t need credit. However, did you know that many employers look at your credit score prior to hiring someone for a job? Did you know it’s difficult to rent a car without a credit card in many instances?

Again, how long does it take to build credit? That’s a question without one specific answer. It takes months to build some credit history, but it takes years to build excellent credit. The process and requirements also depend on your age, what resources you’re using to build your credit, and which major credit bureau you’re trying to build credit with.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when working on building your credit score, and that’s why there are so many variables associated with this kind of situation. This article presents basic information you need to know about building credit and how long it may take for you.

 

Why Should You Build Credit? 


How long does it take to build credit, and why should I even bother? You might be asking yourself both questions right now. Many people have been taught that using credit is a bad, risky decision because credit cards cause debt. Loans cause debt. Buying a car causes debt, and what if you’ll never be able to afford to live with all that debt?

These statements don't reflect most people's experience. It’s not about the card or the loan or the car, but about you and your ability to repay those obligations. If you get a credit card and max it out, get another and max it out, then take out loans to pay off your cards before maxing them out again, and then you buy a car you cannot afford, you’re putting yourself into a disastrous debt position. However, if you use your credit wisely and with intelligence, you won’t fall victim to overwhelming debt.


Why You Need Credit


Here are a few of the most pressing and important reasons many people have to start building credit:

  • To secure a loan
  • To buy a home
  • To buy a car
  • To rent a car or reserve other necessities

There are so many reasons you need credit. Take your pick as to which one is the most important to you. Do you want to buy a car so you can get to and from work when you leave college and get your first real job? You need credit to buy a car. Do you want to buy a home and start your family? You cannot get a loan without building some form and level of credit first.


Travel, Employment, Insurance & More Considerations

If you go on vacation and you want to rent a car, you will be very limited without a major credit card. If a company will rent to you at all, you may be confined to cars of a certain type. You’ll need at least two forms of identification and proof of a round-trip airline ticket, or perhaps two bills or financial documents with your mailing address that are paid and up-to-date. The process is intimidating.

What about that dream job you’re trying to land? Employers don’t know if you might be a risky employee in some respect, so they often look at your credit score to help make a hiring decision. This is especially true of jobs in the financial industry. Employers will not hire someone without evidence that the person is financially responsible.

You have to carry car insurance if you drive. You might not get an affordable rate if you don’t have any credit or an acceptable rating. Better credit scores indicate a less risky driver by insurer standards, which means your insurance company is more likely to offer you more affordable rates.

Can you get through life without credit? Yes, you can, but you should know that you must keep plenty of cash on hand or in an account. You will not receive the best rates on some services and products. It is best to build some credit, and you must learn to use it wisely to prevent yourself from accumulating unaffordable debts.

 

How Long Does It Take to Build Credit?


Let's return to our original point of inquiry: How long does it take to build credit? The answer depends on whether you are starting with no credit and working your way to having credit or if you have bad credit and you want to increase your rating once again. It’s a frustrating situation to find yourself in because there is no quick fix. You can use credit carefully and with good intentions for months and still not have a credit score that lenders consider high or worthy.


Six Months Minimum

Our general answer to the question "How long does it take to build credit?" is six months. If you are going from no credit to some credit, it could take six months before you’re able to generate a score. You should know this score won’t be good yet, either. By that, we mean that it will not be a high score. It will probably fall into the fair range, but your continued efforts can turn that into a more positive score.

Sometimes It Takes Years

If you have a negative credit history, it might take years to raise your score. The problem is that, whether due to hardship or mismanagement, credit bureaus and lenders view you as an unreliable, risky credit user. If you now have a bad credit score because you missed payments, defaulted on loans or cards, lost a car or home, or anything like that, it can take years to raise your score. Once you make a mistake, it’s there for a long time. Depending on the type of obligations you have been unable to meet, these problems can affect your credit score for 7 to 10 years.


Ways to Build Credit Quickly


So, how long does it take to build credit? It takes months, but you may get results a little faster if you take some of these tips and apply them to your situation. If you are in the market to build your credit score quickly from nothing, you do have some options.


Become An Authorized User

If you have parents or family members with good credit, ask if they are willing to make you an authorized user on their credit cards. This means you get to take advantage of their long credit history. You see, when it comes to credit, history matters. If you have no credit, you aren’t going to build a great score in six months. Credit bureaus need to see longer histories before revising their ratings.

Becoming an authorized user on a parent’s account, however, may allow you to pile up years of good credit, on-time payments, and responsible credit use without opening your own accounts. Consider this sequence of events: You may have been a toddler when your mom applied for her card, but now you can build a better score in a shorter time than someone else if she lets you "borrow" some of her long-term credit history.

Know The Secrets

If you are working to build the best score in the least amount of time, it's critical to know what works. For example, simply having a credit card in your name won’t give you good credit. You need to use it, and you should also try to pay it off in full each month. You also need a diverse array of credit if you hope to build a good score.

The best strategy is to apply for a card, use it, and pay it off in full each month. Next, apply for a small personal loan. Pay off more than the minimum amount due each month so you can pay it off ahead of schedule. These steps can help you build credit faster.

Don’t Apply For Everything

The cautionary element covering this entire situation is that you cannot get credit if you don’t apply for credit, but you can ruin your credit if you apply for too much credit. If you don’t have credit now and must ask how long does it take to build credit, one big mistake to avoid is starting to apply for every card imaginable.

Too many inquiries (reports that you applied for credit) can drag down your score quickly. If you don’t have a score yet, it hinders you even more. Our advice is to apply for one or two cards, secure those, and then don’t apply for anything else for a long time. A hard inquiry can appear for a year or two on your credit report, and it drags your score down significantly.

 

Conclusion


How long does it take to build credit? It depends on what you’re working with and whether you take this advice. You can spend years working to build your credit, or you can find out what you need to do right now to make your credit score rise quickly.

It might take months to years to build credit, but it takes no time at all to lower your score and make your life more difficult. Please remember to use your credit wisely. Never allow more than 30 percent of your available credit to revolve. Pay off everything you can in full each month and don’t spend anything you cannot afford to pay back in full right away. Set up automatic monthly payments so you never miss a payment or make a late one.

How To Get Out Of Debt And Other Essential Things To Know

December 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Finance, Resources

Unfortunately, one of the most common financial questions asked in our modern consumer society is how to get out of debt. It's an important question and the correct answers can be found in different places for different people. Before we get into some creative yet logical ideas for how to get out of debt, it's beneficial to know about how debt works and if it's ever a good thing.

How Debt Works

First of all, there's no debt without credit, and while these two things are closely related, they are not synonymous. Credit is something that is given and debt is something that is owed. In any given loan, there are two parties: the creditor and the debtor. The debtor (or the borrower) is the person who receives the credit, while the creditor (or the lender) is the person who gives the credit.

With any loan, there's almost always a contract in which the terms of the repayment are specified. The contract will clarify how much money is owed by the debtor, how much time the debtor has to repay the creditor, and what the interest rate will be. Interest is a percentage of the principal (original amount loaned) that is expressed as an interest rate and is calculated monthly or annually.

For example, a loan might have an annual interest rate of ten percent, meaning that the debtor has to pay back the creditor the original amount of the loan (the principal) plus ten percent of that loan per year. The interest fee is what gives the creditor incentive to loan the money in the first place. To the creditor, it's as if your money is making you more money over time.

DEBT CLASSIFICATIONS

There are consumer debts and public debts. The most popular types of consumer debts are credit card debts, home mortgage, car loans, home equity loans, and student loans. These types of debts are held by the common individual. Public debt, on the other hand, is money owned by governments.

Other debt classifications are secured and unsecured debts. Secured debts are backed by something of real value, or collateral. Mortgage debts are a great example of a secured debt because the debt is backed by the value of the house itself. The same goes for that of a car loan, there's something of physical value backing the debt.

Unsecured debts, conversely, are like credit card loans. There's nothing of real value backing the loan, so if a person can't make good on a loan payment, they often have to borrow even more money, thus starting down a slippery slope; this is why these types of debts are the most dangerous types of debt to accumulate.

GOOD DEBT VS. BAD DEBT

good debt vs. bad debt

Yes, good debt exists. While it's possible to live life completely debt-free, it might not be the smartest thing to do. Unless you have enough money to buy a house up front with cash, for example, taking out a loan for some of life's big purchases can be a good thing.

Good debt is an investment that will grow in value or generate long-term income. Like a mortgage loan, student loans are also a good example of a good debt. While student loans generally have low interest rates compared to other types of loans, they provide future value. With an education, a person is more valuable in the working field and has the opportunity to make more money in the future than they would have without the education.

The same is true for a mortgage loan. While mortgage loans are generally lengthy (around 30 years), they also have relatively low interest rates. That, coupled with the fact that (hopefully) your home will increase in value over time, makes a mortgage loan considered a good loan. In the best-case scenario, your home's value will increase enough during the thirty-year loan to offset any interest payments, essentially making your loan a free one.

Bad debt, on the other hand, is debt incurred to purchase things that quickly lose their value and do not generate long-term income. Bad debt, like credit card debt, also carries a high interest rate. The general rule to avoid bad debt is: If you can't afford it and you don't need it, don't buy it.

Some other types of bad debts are payday loans or cash advance loans. In fact, these are some of the worst kinds of debt. Interest rates for payday loans are incredibly high, starting at 300% annually, and if you don't pay back the loan by your next payday, you incur more fees to "roll-over" the loan, and the cycle continues.

Reasons Debt May Be Bad

reasons debt may be bad

Debt often starts with a little and turns into a lot. The emotional high of buying things with a credit card can be very addicting. You may feel like you are walking away with new things but not having to part with your money. However, you will have to part with that money eventually, and more often than not, it ends up being more money than it should have been.

DEBT BORROWS FROM YOUR FUTURE INCOME

Any time you take out a loan or swipe your credit card, you are taking away from money you hope to earn in the future. Most of time, it feels terrible spending your money to pay for something you've already used up or don't get value from anymore.

INTEREST RATES CAUSE YOU TO PAY MORE

Interest rates pile up over time and those $200 shoes you bought might end up costing you over $250 or more by the time you pay them off.

DEBT CAN KEEP YOU FROM OWNING A HOME

This is ironic because as was mentioned above, most of the time if you buy a home, it comes with a mortgage (which is debt.) You have to have a good credit history to be able to take out a mortgage, so it's crucial to pay back your debts of all kinds.

FINANCIAL AND MENTAL HEALTH MAY BE AFFECTED

When you have unpaid bad debts, it's hard not to stress about them. The stress from debt and worrying about how to pay back your creditors without going further into debt can lead to mental health problems including ulcers, migraines, depression, and even heart attacks. Not to mention monthly debt payments limit the amount of money you have to spend on other things, like retirement, or that vacation you could really use, or Christmas presents for your family.

How to Get out of Debt

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Often, if you're in some sort of debt, you just want to know how to get out of debt. Here we have created a list of creative, logical, and fairly easy ways for how to get out of debt.

COUPONS

Yes, coupons can help you save money at the register over time. Looking through coupon books can be tedious, but worth it in the long run.

CUT YOUR CABLE BILL

If you haven't done this yet, it's time. Most of your favorite shows can be found online, and this $100 per month will go a long way if you're wondering how to get out of debt. There's also the library for renting books and movies for free.

EAT IN

Going out to eat too often doesn't help the debt situation. While it's easy to justify going out to eat because we are humans and we need food, coupon shopping and making your own food at home is far more logical.

MAKE YOUR OWN COFFEE

Similar to the note above about eating in, make your coffee at home instead of stopping by the coffee shop every morning. If you're a coffee drinker and wondering how to get out of debt, this single thing might be the most effective daily lifestyle change.

CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARDS

Throw them away! How to get out of debt includes one major step: stop going further into debt. It will be very hard ever getting out of debt if you continue to make ill-advised credit card purchases. So do away with the temptation and don't carry the credit card around.

AVOID EXPENSIVE HOBBIES OR MEMBERSHIPS

This can include cutting down on your golf rounds or even ditching the gym membership. You can always run outside for free and do push-ups and sit-ups on your own. Getting out of debt is really about cutting down on all the non-essentials and getting creative.

MAKE A BUDGET

If you treat this like a game and follow through rigorously, the process of getting out of debt can actually be fun. Track your progress along the way and feel good about yourself while cutting expenses and climbing out of debt.

Conclusion

How to get out of debt? There's no one answer, no magic wand, and no secret formula. You really just have to cut down on your spending in any way you can and realize that it's not a sprint. Steady progress is the way to do it. Be conscious of where all your money is going and make paying off your debts a priority. Best of luck, you can do it!

How To Freeze Your Credit? Free Credit Report Help

November 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Credit card, Resources

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When it comes to your personal finances, you can never be too careful. That is why, in a rare instance, you might want to consider freezing your credit. A credit freeze is not something you want to do on a regular basis. In fact, it is something you don’t want to do unless it is your only option. However, sometimes it really is your only option, so if you find yourself in a problematic situation, you will need to know how to freeze your credit. Knowing how to freeze your credit might be what saves you from serious financial headaches later on down the line. 

About Freezing Credit 

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A credit freeze does what it says: It freezes your credit where it stands today. It makes it impossible to open up another line of credit. Credit cards or loans or anything else of that matter can’t be taken out in your name or with your Social Security number. Now, this doesn’t mean a credit freeze saves you from making payments. It’s not, by any means, a get-out-of-jail-free card that allows you to stop paying your debts. However, if you’re looking at how to freeze your credit, you probably already have run into a situation that has pushed you to learn exactly what a credit freeze can accomplish.

When you freeze your credit, it puts the act of opening these additional lines of credit under lock and key. The length of your credit freeze might depend on where you live. Some states limit the length of a credit freeze to seven years but most who opt for one don’t need to freeze credit for nearly this long. In other instances, the credit freeze can last for as long as you want it to last. You must let the different credit bureaus know you would like to remove the credit freeze when you’re ready to start the “thaw.” As long as you do this, you should be able to open your access to new credit lines back up at that point.

When to Freeze Your Credit

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You might well ask this question: If a credit freeze doesn’t save you from making payments for any set period of time, why would anyone want to use a credit freeze? There are a few instances where this is something you must consider.

When it comes to your personal finances, you can never be too careful. That is why, in a rare instance, you might want to consider freezing your credit. A credit freeze is not something you want to do on a regular basis. In fact, it is something you don’t want to do unless it is your only option. However, sometimes it really is your only option, so if you find yourself in a problematic situation, you will need to know how to freeze your credit. Knowing how to freeze your credit might be what saves you from serious financial headaches later on down the line. 

STOLEN INFORMATION

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First, if you believe that your personal information has been stolen, you may need to request a credit freeze. For example, if someone has stolen your identity or you believe someone has done this, putting this credit freeze into effect will prevent anyone from opening a new credit card or another type of account under your name. Obtaining credit cards under someone else’s name is fairly easy when the identify thief knows all of your critical personal information.

DIVORCE

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Another reason you might want to initiate a credit freeze is a concern involving a person who knows you well. if you’re going through a divorce or difficult breakup and you believe someone might try to open up additional lines of credit in your name, this step might be necessary. There are many unfortunate cases of one disgruntled partner taking advantage of the other financially, so it is better to be safe than sorry and far poorer in this situation.

You don’t want to wait and watch your credit score only to find a new line of credit pop up that you know nothing about. It is better to request the freeze and lock anyone else out from using your personal information instead of waiting for someone to raise your alarms. Thankfully, you have full control over a credit freeze you initiate for yourself, so you can lift it whenever you want. Whatever you decide to do though, just know you do have this option should you need to use it. And while you might wonder exactly how to freeze your credit, it isn’t all that difficult to do.

THE PROS AND CONS OF FREEZING YOUR CREDIT

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The biggest “pro” result of knowing how to freeze your credit is that you can use this knowledge is to protect your credit score and stop fraudulent loans from being sought under your name. Quite simply, this is one of the strongest forms of financial protection you can utilize when it comes to protecting your sensitive information.

As for the negatives, the biggest issue is that freezing your credit is inconvenient. You must contact all three of the national credit bureaus. This may require opening separate accounts with TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, and you must track all the different PIN and password information this will require. Additionally, you’ll still need to guard your Social Security number and other key data fiercely because identity theft can occur in all kinds of ways, including some new ones you probably haven’t heard of yet.

One of the other issues with a credit freeze is that the action makes it difficult to apply for certain things like a new apartment. When you apply for a new apartment, the property owner or manager will typically perform a credit check. The same is true if you’re applying for a new job. When you have a credit freeze, it doesn’t just prevent individuals from opening up new lines of credit, but it also blocks out those who query from even viewing or receiving your credit score.

Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll be completely out of luck when it comes to applying for a job or an apartment. You will need to give who you’re applying with a password-protected PIN to use when performing the credit check. Additionally, it’s necessary to let the different credit bureaus know that a credit check will be performed. This way, the service providers know what to look for and what questions to respond to. If you do not let all three service providers know, the renter or company trying to perform the credit check may not get be able to get what they need to approve you.

As you can see, it is inconvenient to have a credit freeze in place. That is why, while it is important to know how to freeze your credit, you shouldn’t use the measure unless you know you need it (or have a very strong feeling you do).

How to Freeze Your Credit

If you have decided that you probably do need to freeze your credit, then it’s time to talk through how to freeze your credit. Even if you’re not sure if you need to use this measure right now, it is still good to know how to freeze your credit. This way, you will always have a handle on an action that can safeguard your financial well-being and prevent problems related to fraud and identity theft.

You will need to contact all three of the major, reporting credit bureaus in order to freeze your credit effectively.


EQUIFAX

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You can either call Equifax or visit their website and perform the credit freeze directly through the site. The website will provide you with a step-by-step instructional guide on how to do this. If you want to talk with someone at Equifax and get their opinion as you’re going through it, you can contact a representative by calling 800-685-1111.

It may be easier to do all this online if you don’t feel that you need to talk with anyone. This way, you can print all information you might want to keep or take screenshots and save them in groups on your computer for later reference.

TRANSUNION

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You will also need to contact TransUnion and let them know what you want to do. Remember that when you choose to remove your credit freeze, you must contact all three companies again. You can do all of this by either calling each company or going online.

If you choose to use the TransUnion website for your credit freeze, you will begin by creating an online profile. Again, it may be easier to complete everything online because your system may make it easier to remember how to log back on and how to monitor your credit information going forward. If you decide you want to contact the company by phone, the posted number is 888-909-8872.

EXPERIAN

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As with the other major bureaus, you must let Experian know that you want to perform a credit freeze. As with Equifax and TransUnion, you can do this either online or through a phone call. If you don’t want to go directly through the website but instead would rather call Experian directly, you can do so at 888-397-3742.

Conclusion

It is important to know how to freeze your credit. Ideally, you will never have to use this information to lock down your credit and prevent someone from opening new accounts under your name. If you do find yourself in such a situation, though, you can protect yourself and protect your financial information by knowing how to freeze your credit… and by implementing that powerful financial action decisively.

Freezing your credit is a step that can prevent you from falling deep into debt or having your credit score tarnished because of someone else’s misdeeds. Fraud and identity theft are not the easiest things to prove in the aftermath, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. That requires knowing how to freeze your credit.

Citibank Credit Card Review – Free Credit Report Help

November 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Credit card, Resources

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Choosing the best credit card for you is part art, part science. Everyone’s financial goals and needs are different, which is why it’s impossible to point to one credit card that is better than others in all categories. However, when you understand the different options available—and ask the right questions, such as “what does a Citibank credit card offer that an American Express card does not?”—you can find the credit card that is the best fit for your spending habits and credit situation.

Choosing the best credit card for you is part art, part science. Everyone’s financial goals and needs are different, which is why it’s impossible to point to one credit card that is better than others in all categories. However, when you understand the different options available—and ask the right questions, such as “what does a Citibank credit card offer that an American Express card does not?”—you can find the credit card that is the best fit for your spending habits and credit situation.

TYPES OF CARDS

types of cards

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Before you dive into the specifics of each credit card, identify what features will meet your specific needs. Luckily, credit cards are grouped into three main categories that match up with most peoples’ requirements:

  1. Cards that help improve limited or damaged credit
  2. Cards that save you money on interest
  3. Cards that earn rewards

When evaluating different credit cards, it’s important to pick one that has features and benefits that sync up with your spending habits and help you reach your financial goals. For example, if you are a mom with three teenage boys who eat you out of house and home, a Costco Citibank credit card will give you points at a retailer you are already spending money with. By identifying where you spend, you will rack up points faster and increase the likelihood you will use the rewards you earn.

What Is a Citibank Credit Card?

citibank credit card

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Once you’ve decided on the best type of credit card for you, Citibank offers many credit card options. Whether you are looking for a low introductory rate on balance transfers, airline miles or rewards for shopping at certain retailers, or cash back, Citibank has a wide variety of credit cards to meet your requirements.

Features Universal to Every Citibank Credit Card

features universal to every citibank credit card

Photo credit by: Citi.com

While certain features are specific to the program you enroll in, there are benefits and perks available to every Citibank credit card customer.

CITI PRIVATE PASS

private pass

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Every Citibank credit card customer can use Citi Private Pass, an entertainment program that gives you special access to event tickets. From presale tickets to the hottest music concerts and in-demand sports games to complimentary movie screenings and dining experiences, the Citi Private Pass program is just one perk you’ll enjoy as a Citibank credit card customer. To learn more about the Citi Private Pass program, visit citiprivatepass.com.

PROTECTION

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Photo credit by: RiversideFinancialConsultants.com

One of the primary benefits of having a credit card is the protection it provides, and Citibank’s credit card customers receive top-notch protection on travel, purchases, and identity theft.

Travel Protection

By building EMV Chip Technology into all their credit cards, Citibank customers can use their card across the globe at chip-enabled terminals without the fear that their information is being compromised.

Purchase Protection

Citibank credit card customers are completely protected against unauthorized charges on their account. Whether the charge is online or in-person, you will have $0 liability on charges you did not authorize.

Citi Identity Theft Solutions

Identity theft can happen to anyone. However, if it happens to you—and you are a Citibank credit card customer—you can use Citi’s Identify Theft Solutions to resolve the matter—and get your life back on track. Besides identifying compromised accounts and filing police reports, Citi Identify Theft Solutions will take steps to get your name and credit back on track.

24/7 Customer Service

Whether you have a question about your Citibank credit card during normal business hours—or at 3 AM on a Saturday night—all you have to do is call the number on the back of your card for support. Citibank Customer Service is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can help with virtually every aspect of your credit card (including technical help).

Automatic Account Alerts

To keep you informed about your Citibank credit card account, set up email or text message alerts to be reminded of your balance levels, upcoming payments, or if you go over your credit limit.

Choose Your Payment Due Date

Citibank credit card customers can pick the payment date that best fits their schedule, whether it is the beginning, middle, or end of the month. Plus, enjoy the flexibility of paying your full balance or the minimum due each month.

Pricing for Citibank Credit Cards

pricing for citibank credit cards

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Each Citibank credit card will have unique pricing structures, interest rates, and terms and conditions. As with any major financial decision, it’s important that you read and understand all the disclosure forms come with your Citibank credit card. Understanding the interest rates, charges, and fees will help you pick the best Citibank credit card to meet your needs.

Citibank Credit Card Comparison

citibank credit card comparison

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To help you make the best decision about a credit card that fits your needs, we picked four different Citibank credit cards to see how each compare.

  1. CITI THANKYOU PREFERRED CARD FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS

  2. CITI SIMPLICITY CARD

  3. CITI REWARDS CREDIT CARD

  4. CITI DOUBLE CASH CARD

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

citi thankyou preferred card for college students

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If you are a college student who wants to earn rewards while building credit, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students is a good option. Students will enjoy two ThankYou points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment and one ThankYou point for every dollar spent on other purchases.

However, it’s important to remember that to get the most out of this Citibank credit card you need to redeem your ThankYou points as bill payments or gift cards; the other options that are available—like cash and merchandise—won’t be as lucrative for you.

PRICE             $

This Citibank credit card has an annual fee of $0 and a sizable sign-up bonus of 2,500 ThankYou points if you spend $500 within the first three months after you open the account.

APPLICATION PROCESS       ****

If you are interested in signing up for the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, you can fill out an application online or apply by phone.

CUSTOMER SERVICE            ***

To contact customer service for the Citibank ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, dial the phone number on the back of your card. If you want to speak to a customer service associate immediately, say “representative” when you call, and you’ll bypass the automated system.

BALANCE TRANSFER             **

If you are looking to transfer a balance from a non-Citibank credit card to the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, you can expect a variable rate APR on transfers completed within two months from account opening. For balance transfers done after the two-month introductory period, the fee is $5 or 4% of the total amount of each transfer (whichever is greater).

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD       **

The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students has 0% APR for seven months on purchases from account opening. After the introductory period, the APR will return to the variable rate.

PROS

  • Rewards for dining and entertaining purchases
  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR for the first seven months
  • Points don’t expire

CONS

  • High penalty APR if you miss a payment
  • High balance transfer fee
  • Potentially high APR after the introductory period

Citi Simplicity Card

citi simplicity card

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If one of your financial goals is to get rid of debt, the Citi Simplicity Card is one of the best options available. When you are approved for this Citibank credit card, you can take advantage of low introductory APR on credit card balance transfers and purchases. Plus, there are no late fees, no penalty rates, and no annual fees.

PRICE             $

The Citi Simplicity Card has no annual fee.

APPLICATION PROCESS       ****

If you are interested in signing up for the Citi Simplicity Card, you can fill out an application online or apply by phone.

CUSTOMER SERVICE            ***

To speak to a customer service representative, call the number on the back of your Citi Simplicity Card and say “representative” when the system picks up. You will be routed to a real person who can answer all your questions.

BALANCE TRANSFER             *****

If you are planning to transfer a balance from a non-Citibank credit card to the Citi Simplicity Card, you will receive 0% APR for 21 months from first transfer. You must complete all transfers within the first four (4) months, after which the variable APR applies. Also, there is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% of the amount of each credit card balance transfer (whichever is greater).

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD       ***

The Citi Simplicity Card has 0% APR on purchases for 12 months from the date you opened the account. After the introductory period, the variable APR will kick in.

PROS

  • No late fee
  • No annual fee
  • Low intro APR

CONS

  • No rewards

Citi Rewards Credit Cards

citi rewards credit cards

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One of the primary reasons credit cards are popular is because of the rewards you can earn. Citibank credit card rewards range from travel and airline miles to retail and technology.

If you are interested in applying for a Citibank credit card that rewards you for travel, you have two options: Citi AAdvantage cards or Expedia+ cards. For those interested in earning rewards at retailers, Citibank offers Costco and AT&T credit cards.

Each Citibank rewards credit card has unique features, benefits, and terms and conditions specific to the card. To view a side-by-side comparison, there is a helpful credit card comparison tool on Citibank’s website.

PRICE             $$

Depending on which Citibank credit card you select, annual fees will range from $0 to $450.

APPLICATION PROCESS       ****

If you are interested in signing up a Citibank credit card, you will need to fill out an application online for the rewards card you choose.

CUSTOMER SERVICE            ***

To speak to a customer service representative, call the number on the back of your Citi rewards credit card and say “representative” to be automatically routed to a real person who can answer all your questions.

BALANCE TRANSFER             ***

Depending on which Citibank credit card you select, balance transfer fees can range from 0% to the variable APR (based on your creditworthiness).

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD       ***

Citibank credit cards have introductory periods going to 18 months.

PROS

  • Card rewards
  • Introductory periods

CONS

  • Potentially high APR

Citi Double Cash Card

citi rewards credit cards

The Citi Double Cash Card is a good option for those interested in earning cash back on purchases. With this Citibank credit card, you will earn 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make—plus you will receive an additional 1% cash back as you pay your credit card bill (as long as you pay the minimum amount due).

Unlike many other cash back credit cards, the Citi Double Cash Card has no cap on how much you can earn back and no category restrictions. And, you can also choose how to redeem your cash back rewards: statement credits, gift cards, or checks.

Besides the benefits universal to all Citibank credit cards, Citi’s Double Cash Card has additional perks. For example, if you forget to make a payment, Citi will give you a pass on your first late fee. You will also be eligible for Citi’s Lost Wallet Service, so if you ever lose your card Citi will replace it within 24 hours and also provide you with emergency cash (subject to your available cash advance limit).

Finally, Citi Double Cash Card customers also enjoy Citi’s Concierge—saving you time by receiving exclusive access to a team of experts who are ready to assist you with travel, shopping, dining, and entertainment needs.  

PRICE             $

The Citi Double Cash Card has no annual fee.

APPLICATION PROCESS       ****

To apply for the Citi Double Cash Card, you will need to fill out an application online.

CUSTOMER SERVICE            ***

If you need to speak to a customer service representative, call the number on the back of your Citi Double Cash Card and say “representative” to be automatically routed to a someone who can answer all your questions.

BALANCE TRANSFER             ***

If you are planning to transfer a balance from a non-Citibank credit card to the Citi Double Cash Card, you will receive 0% APR for 18 months from first transfer. You must complete all transfers within the first four months after you open the account to receive the introductory rate; after the intro period expires, it will apply the variable rate. Also, there is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each credit card balance transfer (whichever is greater).

If you transfer a balance to the Citi Double Cash Card, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by your monthly due date.

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD       ****

The introductory period for the Citi Double Cash Card applies only to balance transfers: a 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months from the first transfer.

PROS

  • No annual fee
  • Cashback
  • 0% intro APR for balance transfers

CONS

  • No intro period for purchases
  • Variable APR can potentially be high

Conclusion

Conclusion

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Picking the best credit card for you is an important decision, and you will want to choose one backed by a reputable financial institution, like Citibank. Citibank credit cards offer cardholders many ways to be smarter about their money. Whether you are trying to establish credit, pay down existing debt, or earn rewards, Citibank credit cards are solid options with competitive features—which is why we have given them a four-star rating.

Remember, the credit card you ultimately choose should help you reach your financial goals in an affordable, efficient, and timely manner. With all the different options available to you, never settle for less.

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A Helpful Guide On How To Refinance A Car

November 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Resources

Car in a highway

There are many reasons why people want to know how to refinance a car. Maybe you are between jobs and need to lower your monthly payment. Maybe you want to remove your ex from your car loan. Maybe your credit has improved and you want a lower interest rate. Whatever your reason, refinancing your auto loan can be a good decision for you.

We all know car loans are sometimes a necessary evil, but you do not want to continue throwing away your money on interest payments. Learn today what refinancing a car means, when you should consider it, how to refinance a car and more in this comprehensive guide.


What Does Refinancing a Car Mean?

thinking

Refinancing a car means taking out a new loan to pay off your existing car loan using your car as collateral. This is better than taking a personal loan to pay off your car loan because secured loans come with significantly lower interest rates than unsecured loans. This loan is secured because the lender holds your car title until the debt is paid, so they have an asset to sell and recover a portion of their financing by repossessing and selling the vehicle at auction. You are also less likely to become delinquent because your vehicle is on the line.


Promotional Credit Card

Depending on the balance left on your loan, you can pay off your auto loan using a promotional credit card. These cards often come with rewards such as cash back or travel points and you usually have a minimal or non-existent interest rate for the first 18 months or so. Even if your original lender charges you a convenience or processing fee when you use your credit card, having 18 months to pay down the principal and pay nothing on interest can do wonders for your mental and financial well being.


Cash-Back Refinancing

If you have a high-interest loan or emergency purchase, you can tap into the equity of your car much like you can your home with a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. Cash-back refinancing allows you to get cash back up to $5,000. This will increase the length of your loan, but as it is a secured loan, interest rates will be much lower than charging a purchase to a credit card or taking out a personal, unsecured loan.


When Should You Refinance?

CASH-BACK REFINANCING

Today we will discuss how to refinance a car at the right time for you and your situation. However, there are a few things to consider no matter which direction you choose to go. Watch out for prepayment penalties. You should carefully weigh the total cost of all prepayment penalties and administrative fees with the benefit of saving money on interest. Sometimes, you may have to increase the length of your loan to avoid defaulting and having your car repossessed. If you go this route, you should have a solid plan in place to get back on track quickly as this will cost you more money in the long run.


Remove or Add a Co-Signer

If you have recently experienced a break-up, you may wish to remove your ex from your car loan. Refinancing is perfect for this as it generates a brand new loan with a new contract. You may also refinance a car to add a co-signer with a better credit score than you, allowing you to reduce your interest rate and the total cost of the loan.


Lower Your Monthly Payments

Learn how to refinance a car to lower your monthly payments the right way. There are three ways to achieve this goal. You can reduce your interest rate, extend the length of your loan or both. If you only extend your auto loan term, your monthly payment will decrease but the overall interest you pay will increase. This will not save you money and is a poor decision. Lowering the interest rate lowers your monthly payments without extending the life of your loan, so you will save money monthly and overall. You may even be able to decrease the life of your loan.


Reduce the Length of Your Loan

If your credit score has not improved since obtaining your auto loan, but you want to save money over the life of your loan, refinance and reduce the length of your loan, reducing the total interest paid.


Increase the Length of Your Loan

If you have to choose between becoming delinquent on your car loan or extending the life of your loan, you may want to look into how to refinance a car to improve your cash flow. If you lack the credit to reduce your interest payment and need to decrease your monthly payments, you may have no choice but to increase the length of your loan.


How to Refinance a Car

blue piggy

It is easy to learn how to refinance a car. First, check your credit report. In the United States, you are entitled to one free credit report per year. Review it carefully for any fraud or other inaccuracies and take care of any debts you can to improve your credit score. The more you can improve your credit score, the lower your APR will be.


Get the Payoff Amount

Ask your current lender for a 14-day payoff amount. Due to the accrual of interest, a loan for the loan value on your previous statement may be inadequate to satisfy your debt. Get in writing the amount that will satisfy the debt up to a certain date in the future to give you time to pay your debt off in full. During this step, write down the APR, monthly payment and number of months you have left to pay on your loan.


Check Your Vehicle's Value

Use resources such as Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book to confirm you are not upside down on your loan. If you are, you may be ineligible to refinance. If it is worth more than the payoff value and you have a solid credit history, you should have no worries. If you made a 20% down payment and have a short loan, you should have positive equity in the car.


Shop Around

Remember those numbers you wrote down when you got your payoff amount? Pull those out. Shop around for lenders. Try to complete all your lender shopping within a couple weeks, or at most a month and a half. This way, all hard pulls on your credit will only count as one. Having too many hard inquiries can negatively affect your credit.

Some lenders may offer low interest rates, but your car may not meet their refinancing requirements. For example, in all states other than Minnesota and South Carolina, you should have $5,000 or more remaining on your car loan and the car itself should be less than 10 years old and have fewer than 125,000 miles on it.


Pull Out Your Calculator

This is the fun part. We all want to get out of debt to improve our cash flow so we can do what we enjoy in life. Break out Numbers, Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and start creating spreadsheets to show how much money you spend each month on your car loan, how long it will take you to pay it off and how much you will spend in total to pay your debt off depending on your monthly payments.

If you lower your interest rate and monthly payment, but keep the length of your loan the same, it can be really motivating to see how many months you can shave off by keeping your existing monthly payments the same and having more of the money go to principal.


Sign Your New Car Loan

The most difficult part of learning how to refinance a car is knowing when the new terms benefit you. Once you are approved by multiple potential new lenders and you have done your cost and savings analysis, make sure you understand each term of the loan and how it will affect you in the future. Do you have the opportunity to defer a payment if you hit a rough patch?

Can you defer payments for up to 60 days in a row? What are the late payment fees? Are there any prepayment penalties? If so, what are they? If you need help understanding any terms of the loan, consult an attorney to help you understand before you sign anything.


Conclusion


The hardest part of learning how to refinance a car is knowing when it is right for you. Whichever way you go, start by making sure there are no inaccuracies on your credit report. Make sure you have positive equity in your car. Get a payoff quote with all relevant information on your terms and use spreadsheet software to calculate your current and new payoff date, total cost of the loan and visual graphs and charts to help you see how your decisions affect your future financial security.

Once approved, make sure you understand all new loan terms and sign knowing you did your due diligence and are positively affecting your personal finances.