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Barclays online savings account offers one of the highest interest rates and lowest fees available today. In this review, we cover the details to help you determine if Barclays Bank is right for you.

Barclays online savings

Barclays Bank is a relative newcomer to the U.S. online savings market. It’s been around as a bank, though, since 1690. That kind of longevity is enough to make some customers feel comfortable with keeping their money here. But you should take a second look at this bank’s online savings account offerings even if you don’t find its history impressive.

First, we’ll do a quick rundown of the account’s features. Then we’ll talk more in depth about whether or not it’s the right account for your needs.

Features and Fees

The Barclays Online Savings Account stands out for several reasons, not least of which is its APY. Here are the main features:

  • 1.50% APY
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance to open
  • 24/7 online access
  • Easy online transfers to and from other banks
  • Savings assistant tool to help you reach your goals
  • Remote Deposit available through an app
  • Link your savings to your external checking account

Banking Deal: Earn 1.55% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at CIT Bank.

Let’s Talk Interest

As we’ve said elsewhere, with interest rates well under 2%, this shouldn’t be your first consideration for a savings account. However, it should fall on your list of things to consider. And in the interest rate game, Barclays comes out ahead of most banks. Plus, their interest rates are trending up. Just a few months before this February 2018 update, the account offered 1.30% APY rather than 1.50%. Hopefully that’s a trend we’ll see continuing!

Barclays FAQs says that your deposits will start earning that interest just as soon as they post to your account–usually within 2 or 3 days of initiating  transfer.

No Maintenance Fees

These days, you really shouldn’t own a savings account that regularly charges you fees. There’s just no reason for it when there are so many excellent accounts available for free. This is just one example. There are no monthly maintenance fees, and there are no minimum balances or fees.

If you’re just starting out and you can’t put a lot into savings, this is definitely an account to consider. Some others don’t offer fee-free privileges until you have a decent balance in your account. But with the Barclays Online Savings Account, you don’t have to worry about that particular issue.

With all this said, the account does have some fees and consequences for certain savings behavior, including:

  • Barclays has the right to close the account if you have a balance of less than $1.00 for 180 days.
  • The bank will charge a $5 Non-Sufficient Funds fee if you initiate a transfer but don’t have enough money to cover it.
  • Make too many transactions–more than six withdrawals in a month–and Barclays will charge $5 per withdrawal after that.
  • You can get a cashier’s check, but it will cost $5.
  • You will be charged $5 per returned deposit item, up to $50 in one day.
  • For a $25 fee, you can have your account documentation via Express Mail or rush delivery.

Easy Access to Your Money

One of the advantages of online accounts like this one is that you’ll have several ways to transfer money to and from the account. You can use your smart phone to deposit a check remotely. You can also link the account to external checking accounts, from which you can deposit money into the account or take it out. And you can set up direct deposit. You can also get a check by mail.

The Bottom Line

So is the Barclays Online Savings Account right for you? If you need an easy way to save money but don’t want it directly connected to your main checking account, it definitely could be. This would be a great account as part of your emergency plan, or one to save for longer-term goals like buying a home or a car. With its low fees and high interest rates, it’s definitely a winner worth considering.


Vacations and business travel can get expensive. One option is to purchase trip cancellation insurance. But is it worth the cost? We answer that question and provides ways to get vacation coverage for free.

trip cancellation insurance

People who love to be prepared for every little thing when traveling usually gravitate toward trip-cancellation insurance. Others see it as a sure way to lose a few hundred dollars. That money could have been used to upgrade to first class or stay an extra night at a luxurious hotel.

Are you potentially avoiding the loss of thousands of dollars? Or are you throwing a few hundred dollars down the drain when you invest in trip-cancellation insurance? Whether or not this type of insurance is worth the investment actually depends on a few different factors. Take a look at the pros and cons of purchasing trip-cancellation insurance for your upcoming and future adventures.

What Trip-Cancellation Insurance Typically Covers

Trip-cancellation coverage will typically reimburse you for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses. Of course, reimbursement only occurs if you’re canceling your trip for what qualifies as a covered reason. Trip cancellation insurance usually covers you in the event of an illness or injury, weather and natural disasters, strikes, military duty and some companies will even cover you if you have passport or visa issues. Keep in mind that every policy is different, and you should read the fine print thoroughly.

Most plans offer reimbursement for some or all of the following costs:

  • Airfare
  • Airline change fees
  • Mileage redeposit fees
  • Hotel reservations and cancellation fees
  • Cruise reservations
  • Booked tours and excursions
  • Ground transportation

Some trip-cancellation policies seem to cover everything under the sun. Others only reimburse you for the basics. Actual approved reimbursement items and payment maximums will vary by company. You should make your trip payments using your credit card to qualify for reimbursement if you’re receiving trip coverage through a card.

What Trip-Insurance Costs

The cost to ensure a trip will vary drastically, depending on the type of coverage, the length of your trip, the destination and the ages of every traveler. However, typically, it should cost between four and ten percent of your total trip cost.

You shouldn’t let the cost of trip insurance deter you. Instead, consider the risks for any given trip. For example, if you are traveling to the Caribbean during the height of the hurricane season, you may want to find a policy that specifically offers full coverage in the event weather-related disasters.

The Pros of Trip-Cancellation Insurance

Trip-cancellation insurance can be a real lifesaver. You paying several hundred dollars to protect against losing several thousand when you purchase cancellation insurance for an expensive trip. Purchasing cancellation coverage could be a wise move if you have a chronic condition or long-term injury that can sometimes flare up and make travel difficult, unwise or impossible. It can also give you peace of mind to know that you won’t lose the total cost of your trip if a loved one with an illness requires hospitalization or passes away right before it’s time to take off.

Trip-cancellation insurance can also protect your investment in travel expenses even if nobody gets sick. Most policies will cover you in the event that your flight is cancelled due to carrier issues or weather. In addition, you can often get reimbursed through your coverage if a natural disaster occurs where you live or at the destination you’re headed to. Trip-cancellation insurance could even save the day if jury duty or some other legal obligation springs up on you and forces you to cancel your trip.

The Cons of Trip-Cancellation Insurance

Making the decision to purchase cancellation insurance isn’t easy. It typically costs between four and eight percent of the total price of your trip. Is it really worth parting with such a big chunk of money?

The biggest con to getting cancellation insurance is how confusing the process can be. The words in the fine print can sometimes come back to haunt you when you purchase a trip-cancellation policy. Many policies have very strict rules that only allow you to be reimbursed for travel expenses under very specific circumstances. Almost all policies won’t cover you if you miss a trip due to your own fault. In other words, you shouldn’t expect to get your money back for your trip if you miss a flight because you drank too much and crashed your car on the way to the airport or you didn’t hear your alarm clock going off on the morning of your flight.

Trying to provide proof and documentation even if your reason for canceling your trip does fall within your policy’s guidelines can sometimes cause a real headache. This is why it’s at least worth looking into cancellation insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason. While this is a better option for getting peace of mind, it is obviously going to be much more expensive.

Free Trip Cancellation Insurance

What if you want to enjoy the peace of mind that goes along with knowing that you won’t be on the hook for the cost of your canceled trip without shopping around for a new policy every time you travel? Frequent travelers actually have two good options to consider. The first option is to purchase an annual policy that will cover you every time you book a trip to leave the country.  One such company is Travel Insurance Direct, where you can buy travel insurance starting from today. Another company is Alianz, which can help you find the best travel insurance for your needs. This type of policy is a smart choice for frequent travelers because you’ll essentially end up paying less than you would for individual policies if you take three or more international trips per year.

The second option is to simply sign up for a credit card that offers built-in travel insurance. A card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard® provides reimbursement if your trip is interrupted or cancelled for a covered reason and your tickets were purchased using your card.

Do You Need Trip-Cancellation Insurance?

It’s probably worth paying a few hundred dollars if you’re booking an expensive international trip that costs more than you can realistically afford to lose. Of course, it’s important to really read the details of the policies that are available to make sure that the one you choose actually offers coverage for reasons that are likely to happen to you. People who leave the country at least three times a year are much better off purchasing annual insurance. Alternatively, they could sign up for credit cards that offer travel coverage than they are trying to make sense of individual policies every time a new trip is booked.


A simply way to save more is to automate your savings. In this step-by-step guide, we show you how to put saving money on auto-pilot.

automate your savings

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the power of habits. Books like The Power of Habit and Making Habits, Breaking Habits have given me insight into how habits work. They’ve pointed out that the vast majority of actions we take on a daily basis are habitual.

When was the last time you consciously thought about driving to work? Brushing your teeth? Eating lunch? Walking up or down stairs? Kissing your kids goodbye before school?

These actions are all habits. And that’s a good thing. Without habits, we’d have to expend way too much mental energy thinking about the things we have to do every day. Habits free us up to put our time and energy into more important pursuits, like succeeding at work or finding new solutions to old problems.

All this talk about habits has made me realize the importance of habit in finances, as well. You probably already have lots of good, and probably some bad, financial habits. You may follow a particular routine for paying your bills and tracking your budget. Or maybe you have a habit of clipping coupons before you grocery shop, or shopping around for the cheapest airfare before you travel.

But one of the most important financial habits is that of saving. Without saving money, you simply can’t get ahead financially. Luckily, creating new savings habits is actually much easier than creating new diet or exercise habits. That’s because it’s really simple to automate your savings. Automating your savings becomes a habit as soon as you set up the automation and leave it alone. And you’ll reap the benefits for as long as you leave the automation in place.

So how can you automate your savings? Here are five ways to build this financial habit.

1. Use separate accounts

If you don’t already have at least one separate savings account from your checking account, what are you waiting for? There are too many low-fee and no-fee options available today to keep all of your money in one place. And, in fact, I’d recommend setting up at least four separate savings accounts. Here’s what you should have:

  1. A retirement account. Of course, you should be saving for retirement. This is best done through a 401(k) if your employer offers one. If they don’t, or if you’re self-employed, set up an IRA without delay. Then, start saving for retirement in this tax-advantaged account.
  2. A short-term savings account. This account should be for expenses that you know are coming within the next year or possibly two years. It depends on your definition of short term, really. That’s a personal preference. But either way, you should have an account like this to save for specific upcoming expenses. This account can be attached to your checking account, and you may find that it’s fairly fluid.
  3. A long-term savings account. You’ll also likely have longer-term savings goals you want to meet. There might include taking a fabulous vacation to Europe, paying cash for a new car, or putting a down payment on a home. This account should be separated from your checking account, and you should look to get a better yield on this type of savings.
  4. Emergency savings. We’ve talked elsewhere about having a comprehensive emergency plan, rather than just an emergency fund. But an emergency fund is part of that plan. This should definitely be separated from your checking account. You might even consider a CD ladder strategy for this type of savings.

Separating out your finances to this degree might seem ridiculous. But it will help you keep track of how well you’re saving. And it’s essential to automating different types of saving.

2. Set up your direct deposit

The first thing you should do is follow the old adage to pay yourself first. Luckily, this is easy for most people who have direct deposit through their workplaces. Most employers will split your paycheck at least two ways, if not more, on payday. You’re not at a high risk of spending money that never sees the inside of your checking account. So if you can take this option, do.

Just be sure that you carefully calculate your savings with this option. Look at your retirement funding first, and put at least enough into your retirement account to get any matching funds that are available from your employer. Typically, retirement funds won’t count towards your employer’s limits on the number of accounts you can use for direct deposit.

Next, if your emergency fund isn’t up to snuff, send part of your paycheck there. Once that’s funded, you can redirect your emergency savings to your long-term savings. Speaking of which, make long-term savings your next direct deposit goal. If you can, add short-term savings, as well. But if this is too many accounts, just split your paycheck three ways.

Typically, you can set up these direct deposits based on the percentage of your paycheck or a set dollar amount. A percentage-based amount can be a bit safer if your paycheck is at all variable. But if you’re a salaried employee, directing a set amount of cash to each account can make sense.

3. Set up automatic transfers

What if you can’t split up your paycheck in as many sections as you’d like? In this case, you can set up automatic transfers. Your bank will automatically route money from checking to savings on a particular day of the month, if you choose. This is a good way to continue paying yourself first, even if you run out of paycheck-splitting options through your workplace.

4. Set up other savings rules

You can set up other savings rules to help you continue to automate your savings, as well. For instance, you might transfer $10 into your savings account every time you go grocery shopping. Or you could make it a habit to transfer money to savings each time you go out to eat, buy your favorite expensive coffee drink, or spend money on new clothes. With these types of habits, you’re basically “taxing” your own behavior so that you save automatically based on things you do every day anyway.

You can also use an app to further automate your savings based on rules like these. For instance, the app/banking solution Qapital lets you set up specific savings rules. then it transfers money according to these rules. Or you could use Digit, an app that analyzes your cash flow and saves money for you automatically.

5. Keep track of your progress

Finally, it’s essential that you keep track of your progress and constantly re-evaluate why you’re saving and how you’re working towards your rules. Keep tabs on your savings account balances, and keep thinking about how those play into your goals. Then, change your automated savings as you need to. This might mean changing your direct deposit amounts, boosting your automatic bank transfers, or changing your behavior-based savings rules.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll make progress with your savings goals once you start automating your savings.


What’s a quick way to empty your pockets? Paying for overdraft fees. Here are ten tips to help you avoid those bank penalties.

overdraft fees

Consumers overdraft their bank accounts . . . a lot. According to data compiled by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, these fees totaled more than $11 billion in 2015. More recent data shows that just the three largest banks generated over $6 billion in ATM and overdraft fees combined.

Some are quick to blame the banks. Putting politics aside, however, it’s clear that consumers control whether they overdraft their bank account. In some cases, having insufficient funds may be just an honest mistake. If it happens repeatedly, though, their may be a bigger issue at play.

If you follow these suggestions, there should be no reason for you to be charged an overdraft fee unless you make a mistake.

10 Ways to Prevent Overdraft Fees

1. Balance your checkbook. There is a disconnect between the checking account balance according to the bank and how much money you have to work with. If you have a traditional personal checking account, the bank doesn’t know when you write a check. It’s your responsibility to know how much money you have available at any one time. The best way to do this is to keep a register. Start with your opening balance, and subtract from it every time you write a check and add to it every time you make a deposit.

There are plenty of apps that can help you keep tabs on your account. For budgeting, YNAB is one of our favorites. For more comprehensive money management, including investments, we love Personal Capital.

2. Don’t forget about your debit card. It gets difficult to balance your checkbook if you also use a debit card to get cash or to pay for purchases. When you sit down at your desk to write checks to pay your bills, all of your financial information is in front of you and you can easily enter the check amount in your register. But when you use a linked debit or ATM card, you need to hold onto your receipts so you can enter the transaction into your checkbook at a later time. If you remember.

3. Access your checking account online. Online banking is one of the greatest benefits of the internet. Rather than waiting for your monthly statement in the mail, you can log onto your bank’s website and check your recent transactions at any time. If nothing else, checking the bank’s records for your account more than once a month helps you become familiar with the transactions that flow through your account and how low you like to keep your balance.

4. Keep your balance well above the minimum. Some checking accounts charge a fee if your balance dips below a certain minimum, but almost all will charge a fee if that minimum is $0. Give yourself a buffer. If you withdraw an average of $2,000 each month for your mortgage and other bills, don’t let your bank account float below $2,000. This way, you always have a month’s worth of expenses ready to protect you from $0. Since checking accounts often offer lower interest rates than savings accounts, particularly high-yield savings accounts, you will be giving up a small amount of interest income, but the protection might be worthwhile.

5. Link your checking account to a savings account. Many banks offer the option of linking a checking account to a savings account. In the even that your checking account dips below $0 due to a cashed check for which you have insufficient funds or a charge on your debit card, the bank automatically transfers money from your savings account to cover the withdrawal. Some banks will charge a fee for this service, but the fee is often lower than an overdraft fee.

6. Link your checking account to a line of credit. If you have good credit, this is a legitimate option. Rather than withdrawing funds to cover your overdraft from a savings account, the bank taps your line of credit. You will owe interest on the amount you borrow from your credit line, and you may owe an annual fee for use of the credit line, but the total fees could be substantially lower than a typical overdraft fee.

7. Ask to remove overdraft protection. Banks believe overdraft protection, even for a fee, is a service customers want. In many cases, that is true. If you send your mortgage or rent payment, you might prefer the large check not to bounce. Bounced checks cause problems for the recipient and the sender; overdraft protection eliminates this hassle. If it is not likely that you will bounce a major payment, it might make sense to ask your bank to remove the overdraft protection feature for your account. Keep in mind that you will still be charged a “returned check” fee if you bounce a check.

8. Track your finances electronically. There are many tools now that let you connect directly to your bank’s databases to download and list your transactions automatically. My current favorite is the desktop version of Quicken, but even with its robustness, this type of software may be more than what is necessary for avoiding overdraft fees in a checking account. I suggest signing up for a free service like Mint to monitor all your financial accounts in one place.

9. Create reminders and notifications. Many banks continue to improve their technological offerings for checking accounts. I know of at least one bank that will, if you enable this feature, send you a text message if your bank account decreases to a balance you define. For example, you might receive a notice when a cashed check reduces your balance to $95, five dollars below your established warning minimum of $100. If your bank doesn’t offer this feature, one of your linked services will. Although I don’t use this service often, I receive an email from Mint when my Wachovia personal checking account balance dips below $2,000.

10. Look for free overdraft protection. Some credit unions offer checking accounts with free overdraft protection. You can start at the Credit Union National Association’s credit union finder.

Overdraft fees happen to the best of us because we are all human and make mistakes. The best thing we can do is reduce the occurrence of these fees to a point at which it will be much easier to talk with the bank when the mistakes do happen. Opening a line of communication can help, and if you maintain a good conversation with customer service representatives, you may be able to convince banks to make an occasional overdraft fee disappear.

This negotiation works best when you have a positive history with the bank. The more overdrafts you have on your record, the less likely the bank will be willing to forgive your fees. If you prove yourself to be a good customer, you have a better chance of being rewarded.


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