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Reviews

Have you been looking for a new online checking account? Preferably one with a higher-than-average interest rate? Then the FNBO Direct checking account may be the answer.

FNBO Direct checking

I’m a bit particular when it comes to my checking accounts. I don’t like paying any monthly fees, regardless of how much money I keep in the account. I want to be able to easily withdraw my money; I want a debit card, and I want to be able to manage my funds (including paying my bills)… oh, and I want all of that for free.

Narrows the list down a bit, huh? Luckily, the FNBO Direct Checking with BillPay offers all of that and more. Here’s what you’ll get with this account:

  • A completely free online checking account with zero monthly service fees, no matter how much money is in your account
  • Interest earned on your balance – currently 0.65% APY (as of April 7, 2017)
  • Minimum opening balance of $1 – yes, one dollar
  • Free online banking, bill pay, and account alertsfnbo
  • Complimentary FNBO Direct Visa® Debit Card
  • One overdraft fee forgiveness every 12 months (typically a $33 fee)
  • Free incoming wires
  • Free stop payments (I’ve paid as much as $35 for this before, so it’s a great bonus in my book!)
  • 24/7 access to over 2 million ATMs worldwide (no fees charged by FNBO for using out-of-network ATMs, though the machine operator may charge their own fees)

BillPay

popmoney

Being able to automate my bills is one of the biggest perks. The FNBO Direct checking account allows you to not only pay your bills online, but also set up automatic, recurring payments. That way, you’ll never miss another electric bill or charitable donation.

Need to send money to a friend or pay your babysitter? You’ll also have access to the free person-to-person money transfer app, Popmoney®, which is conveniently linked directly to your checking account. It allows you to easily and quickly send (or receive) money via mobile and email.

Earn Interest

For me, one of the best perks of this account is the interest rate. While it is subject to change, of course, the APY currently sits at 0.65%. This is significantly higher than many online savings accounts… let alone checking accounts!

The high yield – and absence of any fees – make this account a must-have for anyone looking to earn as much as they possibly can off of their money.

If you’d like to learn more about FNBO Direct checking with BillPay, or are interested in opening an account, check them out online here.

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While I’m generally happy with my Capital One 360 account for a good portion of my savings, I’m looking to spread the money around to take advantage of some higher interest rates. One of the banks I’ve targeted is FNBO Direct, the online arm of First National Bank of Omaha, currently offering 0.95% APY as of March 2017 (subject to change).

FNBO savings

FNBO Direct is a member of the FDIC, so deposits at the bank are insured. As long as balances stay below the limits set by the FDIC, I won’t have to worry about the safety of my money.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.05% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at GS Bank.

Opening my account at FNBO Direct

Opening a savings account at any bank takes several days from start to finish, and FNBO Direct is not an exception.

Step 1: Visit FNBO Direct and fill out an application [click to continue…]

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With W-2s and other tax forms now appearing in our mailboxes (or inboxes) daily, chances are that taxes are on your mind. If you believe you’ll owe money to the government, it makes sense to put off filing as long as possible, up to this year’s filing deadline. If you expect to receive a refund, however, file your taxes early to receive your money faster.

tax

Previously, H&R Block offered a product that allowed customers to get their refund even faster than the few weeks the IRS takes to process. However, they no longer offer these (though, you can sign up here to be first in line when they begin offering the Emerald advance lines of credit again). While you can find anticipation loans through third-party companies, these are typically accompanied by high fees. So, as of now, the least expensive and quickest way to receive a refund is to allow the IRS to deposit your refund directly into your bank account.

Regardless of how you receive your refund, you can file online using H&R Block’s system if you’d prefer to not visit a local office in person (buying a software package is one more option you have, too!). Here is what you need to know about filing online.

Different editions available

H&R Block offers three tiers of their online filing system in 2017 (for filing your 2016 taxes).

[click to continue…]

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I have one free download code for Quicken 2015 for Mac to give away to a lucky reader. Instructions are at the bottom of this article.

It’s been nine years since Intuit released a version of Quicken that was both fully-featured and designed to run on Apple’s hardware and operating systems. The Quicken Essentials for Mac bridged a technology gap between Quicken Mac 2007 and the Windows versions of the software, but many important pieces were missing.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.00% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.

Intuit has no announced their plans to release Quicken 2015 for Mac, and the software is available for pre-order beginning today. I had a chance to take a look at Quicken 2015 for Mac earlier this week. I am not a Mac user; I’ve been using Quicken Deluxe or Quicken Home & Business on Windows for years, and I’ve upgraded every year except this past year. But every time I’ve written a review of the latest Quicken product for Windows, I’ve heard from many readers who have been dreaming of a Quicken Mac version that contains all the features of the Windows version that can be run natively in OS X.

And that’s what Intuit is presenting today. It’s a complete re-write of the Quicken codebase (as it would need to be because of the requirements of OS X). And sometimes, from an application development perspective, when you’ve been modifying the same code for two decades, it’s good to start from the beginning with a fresh codebase.

Mac users will like the improvements. The interface borrows from what has worked well in Quicken’s mobile versions, and in fact, Intuit is also releasing an update mobile application for Quicken (the 2014/2015 mobile app).

The Quicken 2014/2015 mobile app.

Intuit promises the new mobile app will provide faster syncing between your desktop financial information and your mobile. A new feature allows you to easily take a snapshot of your receipts and enter the information for easier entry as a transaction, either on the spot or later. There are many mobile applications that allow you to organize your receipts, but if you’re a Quicken user, this built-in feature is essential.

Quicken 2015 for Mac desktop.

The sleek new interface is a welcome change. This overview screen shows how Quicken has improved its budget tracking features over the years, and most newer Quicken users are interested in tracking a budget. Quicken has really focused on household spending, and this has been seen more in the recent versions of the Quicken mobile app, and the same approach is now being featured in the desktop version of Quicken 2015 for Mac.

But the new version also finally gives Mac users powerful tools for tracking investments. It’s been almost ten years since a version of Quicken for Mac was able to do anything more than track investment balances. Like Windows users, Mac users can now track not only the balances in investment accounts, but the transactions as well. The investment features of the latest software are finally on par not just with the Windows version, but with users’ expectations for fully-featured personal financial management software.

Mac users can now track gains and losses, investment performance over time, and other important facets of all types of investment accounts, from stock trading portfolios to 401(k) retirement accounts.

Automatic upgrades for one year.

Intuit is trying something new with Quicken 2015 for Mac. When you buy the software, you will receive free, automatic software upgrades for one year. This is somewhat similar to how the Windows version works. Every time you open the Quicken software, the software checks to see if any new updates are available. There’s an important difference, however. The Windows updates are only bug fixes. And as most Quicken for Windows users know, there are undoubtedly bugs that need to be fixed with every new version.

However, with Quicken 2015 for Mac, the updates throughout the year will also include new features. According to Intuit, they are closely listening to their community of Mac users to determine what features to include. Any new features for one year will be automatically rolled out to all Mac users.

What’s missing from Quicken 2015 for Mac.

Intuit prioritized the features to include in the software based on feedback from Mac users. But as this is a new piece of software, built from the ground-up, and because Intuit is keeping to a release schedule, there are many interesting features available in the Windows version of Quicken that have not yet found their way into this new release for Mac users.

For instance, there is no calendar view of upcoming bills. The Mac version doesn’t include a debt reduction planner, something that many Windows users have found useful or at least interesting. Quicken for Mac doesn’t support some types of investment transactions, particularly those dealing with employee stock purchasing plans (ESPP). That would have been a deal-breaker for me. The retirement planner and goals planner are among some of the Windows features that are still missing from the Mac.

You can, however, vote on the features you’d like to see added to Quicken for Mac 2015 throughout the year. Intuit plans to listen to its community of users as much as possible, and implement the features that are most desired.

Final words.

For a Mac user that is serious about his or her finances, Quicken 2015 for Mac is a must buy. There’s always the alternative of running Quicken for Windows on a Mac through emulation, but the new interface makes the native version more appealing, but only if you don’t need the features that are currently missing from the Mac version.

The new software is an amazing improvement over what has previously been available for Apple’s operating systems, and the integration with mobile is a advantage worth the upgrade for users still hanging onto Quicken Mac 2007. Furthermore, any version of Quicken is much more feature-rich than any other financial management software available.

Intuit’s own (through acquisition) Mint has captured the interest of a new generation of financially-minded individuals and households, but Quicken holds so much more power, and as someone moved beyond basic budgeting and spending tracking to grown-up financial needs like investing for retirement or being the head of a household, Quicken is an essential upgrade over Mint.

Not surprisingly, having the Intuit team take me through a demo of the software earlier this week has piqued my interest for the latest Windows upgrade. I skipped Quicken 2014 for Windows, and I’ve been reading that users are still having problems with this version. I’d like to see some of the interface improvements and underlying technology fixed with the next version for Windows. It would be great to see a ground-up rewrite of the code, just like the Mac version, but with a tight yearly upgrade cycle, I doubt that will be the case any time soon for Windows users.

How to buy Quicken 2015 for Mac.

Quicken 2015 for Mac is available today for immediate download from Intuit, the Mac App store, or Amazon.com. If you prefer receiving software in a box in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM format (does anyone?), the software will be available in October in retail locations.

The price today is $74.99.

I have one free download code for Quicken 2015 for Mac to give away to a lucky reader. Instructions are at the bottom of this article.

Quicken 2015 for Mac FAQs.

Here are some of the questions I’ve received so far.

Can you edit investment transactions?

Yes. Unlike Quicken Essential for Mac, the investment features are implemented the same way as all other accounts, so you can add, edit, and delete transactions. The software does more than just track your investment balances.

Can you import old data?

Yes. You can import data from any previous version of Quicken for Mac or Windows into Quicken 2015 for Mac.

Give us your feedback.

Once you’ve downloaded the software and have had a chance to import your data (or begin from scratch), let other potential users know about your experiences. I’ve had a chance to look at the software from afar, and I like what I see, but I don’t have a Mac to run the software for myself. Do you like the new features, and do they work as expected? Are you missing the few aspects of the program that are available on the Windows version but not yet on Mac?

Free download giveaway.

Update: The giveaway has ended, and the winner is @beskie.

Want to download Quicken 2015 for Mac for free? I have one download code to give away to a Consumerism Commentary reader. In order to qualify, follow these instructions:

  • For one point, post the following to Twitter: Read the @Quicken 2015 for Mac review by @luke_landes and win a copy! http://flexo.me/1pUASYZ #giveaway.
  • Get an extra point if you have over 1,000 followers, another extra point if you have over 5,000, another extra point if you have over 10,000, another extra point if you have over 50,000, etc.
  • Leave a comment below with your Twitter ID and write briefly about your experience with Quicken. If you leave a comment and don’t post to Twitter, you’ll still get one point.

Every point you receive gives you one entry in the giveaway. I’ll choose the winner randomly on September 1.

The images in this post were provided by Intuit.

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Discover it® with 18-Month Balance Transfer Offer

by Joe Taylor Jr.

The Discover it® card with an 18-month introductory balance transfer offer arrived on the market with heavy fanfare, including lots of television ads and billboards touting personal service and a new rebate structure that frees customers from most cash-back traps. This card’s critics have pointed out that other lenders extend far more generous sign-up offers, dangling hundreds […]

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Discover it® for Students

by Joe Taylor Jr.

Discover®’s made strong inroads into student borrowing over the past few years. Discover it® for Students represents the bank’s latest foray onto college campuses, with pricing and features that resemble full-featured credit cards more than the typically watered-down student accounts on the market. Loading up your wallet for the long haul For years, student credit cards earned bad […]

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Discover it® for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus

by Joe Taylor Jr.

Once upon a time, applying for a student credit card got you a cheesy T-shirt, or a hat, or a beer koozie. Often, that same card saddled you with a higher-than-average APR and a bare bones set of features compared to regular credit cards. Instead of spiking your finance charges, the folks behind the Discover it® for Students […]

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Barclays Online Savings Review

by Luke Landes

Barclays has enjoyed a long and storied history as a financial industry leader in the United Kingdom. While those of us in the United States often consider a financial company to be well established once it passes its centennial, Barclays was founded in 1690. As an organization, the bank is older than our country. The brand […]

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Discover it® card Review

by Joe Taylor Jr.

The Discover it® card makes a habit of saying no. No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment, and no APR hike for paying late. Discover®’s latest incarnation of cash back cards aims to simplify the relationship between cardholder and card issuer into one of easy cooperation. Discover it® Card maintains 5 percent […]

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Capital One 360 Savings Account Review

by Luke Landes

Capital One’s decision to acquire ING Direct was a great strategic move, but the deal had a few problems. Because ING Direct’s parent company, as part of a European bail-out agreement, was required to sell ING Direct in the United States and in other global locations, and to cease using the ING Direct name, Capital […]

42 comments Read the full article →
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