As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

Amex entered banking years ago. Today, they offer great rates with low fees. Check out our take in this American Express savings account review.

By far, the most requested review on Consumerism Commentary is for the American Express Personal Savings Account. Amex offers one of the highest interest rates available with this savings account, making it very attractive from the surface. Once you own an account, how does it hold up against All, Discover, CIT and other online savings accounts?

I opened an account to find out.

First of all, if the bulk of your savings is earning less than 0.5% APY, it’s time to change. There is usually no excuse for settling for interest rates that low. It’s simple and easy to double or triple the interest you receive in your account every month. Granted, this might not add up to a lot of money. But high yield savings accounts help to ensure your cash will at least hold its value when up against inflation. Your money loses value over time when sitting in a low-interest or no-interest account.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.20% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.

Application process

After visiting the American Express website, I was impressed with the application process. You can zoom in on the overview screen by clicking on the image included here.

The first step is entering your personal information. If you have an American Express savings account currently, you can easily link your current account to the application.

As I do not have a savings account with AMEX, I entered my personal information. Following this, I entered the amount I intend to deposit from my external bank account. There is no minimum deposit, and I decided to start with $500. While there is an option to send a check, I chose to pull the funds from an existing bank account via an electronic transfer (ACH). After confirming my personal information and deposit amount, I agreed to the standard terms of service and entered my external banking information (routing number and account number). I chose to link this account to my personal Wells Fargo brick and mortar checking account.

The strength of American Express, in this first impression, is the bank’s professional appearance. Each step through this process, the bank’s website was very helpful in letting me know what to expect and when to expect it. When I confirmed my external banking information, it was clear that I would need to verify two test deposits into my newly-linked Wells Fargo account. I immediately received an email with instructions for verifying the test deposits, and I received a welcome kit in the mail in [three] days. It took three days, from Friday to Monday, for the deposits to hit my Wells Fargo account.

Verifying deposits

After the weekend, I checked my Wells Fargo account and saw two small test deposits from American Express. Once again, AmEx outlined the process clearly, as you can see from the image here. To finalize the link between my new American Express account and my existing checking account at Wells Fargo, the bank required me to enter my email address, a verification code that was sent to me via email, and the amounts of the two test deposits.

After the confirmation, American Express allowed me to create an online user identity for viewing statements and otherwise operating my new bank account. User names for the American Express Personal Savings Account require at least two numerals, so I was unfortunately forced to use a non-standard user ID. For the first time, I chose to receive online statements in lieu of paper statements. This is a trend I want to continue; I receive too much paper in the mail, and electronic states — when chosen without paper statements — will help reduce my clutter, as well as on a small scale, help the environment.

Using my American Express Personal Savings Account

As of today, I am waiting for my initial deposit to reach my new American Express savings account. Although there is not much I can do, I am able to look at all features contained in the website and get a feel for its operation. My first order of business was customizing the account names. I also looked at the options for downloading activity into applications like Quicken. American Express supports Quicken through the “Web Connect” service as well as Microsoft Money. There are options for QIF and CSV downloads, too.

There are not many different things you can do with this savings account. Although the bank recently lowered the interest rate offered on these accounts, the rates are still comparatively high. The deposits at American Express Bank are fully insured by FDIC, which means there is no risk in depositing your money up to the FDIC maximum, currently $250,000 for an individual savings account. American Express does not currently offer a checking, bill-payment, or other “transactional” account, so this type of service is fine for letting the cash you need to sit and grow, losing as little value to inflation as possible in a savings account.

American Express Interest Rate

On July 14, 2017, American Express Bank increased the rate on its online savings account to 1.15% APY.  This keeps them in the for online banks, but there are a few banks who are currently offering a better interest rate on savings.  Those banks are:

  • Dollar Savings Direct 1.40%
  • CIT Bank – 1.35%
  • Ally Bank – 1.20%
  • Barclays Bank – 1.20%
  • Synchrony Bank 1.20%

Outside of an online savings account, there isn’t much else to the deposit side of American Express. They do offer a range of CD’s, but the interest rates on those are simply not good.  A six month CD will net you an APY of 0.40% and a five year CD comes in at 1.70%.  Keep in mind that these rates can change at any time. Check our high yield savings account page for current rates.

The ease with which American Express allowed me to open an account was terrific.  Their clean interface, transfer options and overall appeal is something that I’m not sure any other online bank can match (for my taste).  That said, their interest rate, while strong, is a bit lower than some other online banks.  If I were a rate chaser, AMEX would not have my business.

American Express Bank
Routing (ABA) number 124085066
Established December 1, 2000
FDIC certificate 35328
Location 4315 South 2700 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84184
Direct Connect Not supported
Web Connect Supported
Mint/Yodlee Supported

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

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Universal life insurance has both advantages and disadvantages. We cover both the pros and cons to help you decide whether universal life is best for you.

universal life insurance pros and cons

Every once in awhile, I will receive financial questions from readers. Now, I am not a financial adviser. I usually suggest those needing significant assistance with their financial decisions to seek the advice of a professional. However, I don’t mind answering general questions that might be helpful for a wider audience. I also solicit help from the site’s other writers who may have more knowledge than I on a particular subject.

Today’s question focuses on a topic that I don’t usually cover: life insurance. Specifically, they wanted to talk about universal life insurance, which is a bit of a controversial topic in personal finance circles.

Here’s the question a reader sent in:

I recently read a book called Tax-Free Retirement by Patrick Kelly. In it, the author was selling the idea of buying Universal Life Insurance as a way to build your retirement fund. I’ve been doing research on Universal Life Insurance (pros and cons). What are your thoughts on Universal Life Insurance, and is it something you recommend people buy?

What is Life Insurance?

Let’s take a moment to talk about the many aspects of life insurance in general. Then, I will circle back to address the specific question about universal policies and retirement funds.

So, there are three primary parties when it comes to insurance: the insured, the beneficiaries, and the insurer. Life insurance policies are offered by the insurer to protect the income and earning potential of the insured.

If the insured passes away, the beneficiaries — who relied on the income of the insured to some degree — can continue with a comparable quality of life. This may be in the form of receiving regular income (through a trust) or even getting a lump sum payment.

For example, the head of a household (or all income earners in a family) may buy life insurance in order to protect the needs of their children. This coverage could ensure that the children have their everyday needs met, as well as provide for future education expenses, healthcare, and the like.

Life insurance benefits could also help pay for funeral costs, medical bills, and any outstanding debts (such as a mortgage or joint credit card debts) that the insured may leave behind.

Types of Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance

Life insurance comes in several flavors. The most common, and the most basic, is term life insurance.

This is a typical insurance policy, where coverage is based on a set number of years. During that period, the insured will pay premiums and be protected. However, at the end of the term, the protection ends.

While term life insurance gives you the most bang for your buck, the nature of it means that someone could essentially pay into a policy for several decades without a return. If that insured individual continues to live and stay healthy, he or she will never receive any benefit from their term policy, other than peace of mind.

At the end of a policy term, insurers typically offer an option to renew the policy. However, depending on your age and any health changes, your premiums are likely to go up with renewal. This is why term life insurance is more ideal for younger, healthier adults, when their risk of death is lower.

Related: How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?

Of course, the idea of paying into a policy for years without receiving any benefit didn’t sit well with many. So, insurers eventually came up with different types of policies.

Permanent Life Insurance

These alternatives are often called permanent life insurance policies, and there are several different plans designed to suit a customer’s needs. Universal life insurance is one form of permanent life insurance. Whole life insurance is another.

These non-term policies usually include a savings or investment component in order to help insurers mitigate some risk. That’s because, in these permanent policy scenarios, the chance of paying out benefits is closer to 100 percent. This component can make them a very tempting choice when shopping for life insurance, but let’s take a deeper look before you make any decisions.

What Is Universal Life Insurance?

Universal life insurance is a type of permanent policy that can provide coverage for the remainder of your life. You won’t have to worry about renewing the policy every five, 10, or 20 years, as with term insurance. However, if you want to cancel at any time, you’ll actually have the opportunity to cash out on some of the money that you paid into the policy.

These policies often cost considerably more than term policies of the same coverage amount, but provide some flexibility in the premium payments over time.

Premiums, in case you don’t know, are the amount of money that the insured pays to the insurer for the coverage, usually on a monthly basis. The unique thing about permanent life coverage, though, is that a portion of these monthly payments also goes toward funding each policy’s savings component.

The savings component is the cash value portion of the insurance policy. It’s basically a savings account from which the insured can withdraw or borrow money over time. They can even use it to reduce or skip their policy premiums when needed. The younger and healthier you are, the more money is placed in this account; as you age or as your health deteriorates, a smaller percentage of your monthly premium will go toward building this cash value.

Because of this benefit, the premiums are much higher. Sometimes, the difference in premium is a factor of ten. So, is the savings portion worth ten times more than a basic insurance policy on its own?

The Pros of Universal Policies

There are a number of reasons that universal life insurance policies are so appealing.

First off is that whole savings component. At its foundation, it’s much more ideal to buy life insurance that actually holds some value. If you decide you don’t want the policy 15 years from now, you’ll simply* be able to cash out.

*I say simply, but the ease of this policy cancellation varies. We’ll discuss this in the cons section, next.

You also have a potential nest egg built up after all of those years, which could be seen as a forced retirement savings vehicle (if you’re the type of person who needs that sort of thing).

You’ve been paying premiums and your money has been earning interest for years. If you live to a ripe old age, you have a nice chunk of change saved up, which you can either leave alone or borrow from when needed. If you don’t, your beneficiaries receive their payout, without you having to worry about renewing term policies over the years.

Another interesting benefit of universal life insurance is that the insured can use interest earned on the savings component to help pay the monthly premiums. If you get in a financial bind or want to allocate your money elsewhere for a few months, you usually can (depending on the cash value and interest earned on your policy).

One of the biggest perks of a permanent policy, though, is simply avoiding the issue of renewing term policies or shopping around for rates every few years. You can stick with one policy throughout the decades, and have one less thing to worry about. This is particularly great if you already know that you’ll need lifelong coverage in order to provide for a dependent, such as if you have a special needs child or a disabled spouse.

There are quite a few downsides, though.

The Cons of Universal Life Insurance

High Fees

While the savings component of a universal policy sounds great in theory, it may not be so wonderful.

Compared to the returns earned by your universal policy premiums, you may be shortchanging yourself. You may easily be able to generate your own returns in savings or investments that are significantly better than the returns you’d receive through your policy. You’ll also have much more flexibility with your own investments and can make your own decisions. You don’t have any say where your policy’s cash value savings are invested.

To further that note, you’ll also likely pay much higher fees for managing the investments of your universal life insurance policy. With other retirement accounts, such as 401Ks, you can find investment fees as low as half a percent or lower. Universal life policies, however, often have fees as high as 3%. This can make a significant difference in the overall growth of the savings.

Cancellation Fees

Another downside is that when you withdraw or borrow money from a universal life insurance policy,  it reduces the amount that your beneficiaries would receive if you died before repaying the loan. This alone is often enough to steer people away from this type of coverage.

If you buy into a policy and then change your mind later, you can cancel. However, cancellation isn’t easy, and can wind up costing you a pretty penny depending on how long you’ve held the policy. Be sure to read the fine print to see how much of your cash value you will forfeit if you cancel the policy in the first 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and so on.

Mediocre Returns

Now, to what I consider to be the biggest downside of them all. Remember how we talked about universal policies being for life, versus a shorter “term” length? Well, there’s a very important caveat that could land you in some serious hot water, if you’re not careful.

Yes, universal life insurance policies can last you the rest of your life. However, this depends on the returns of those invested savings and the actual cost of your death benefits, according to your health changes over time.

As mentioned, a portion of your premiums each month goes toward your actual “life insurance coverage.” Let’s say that you’re a 25 year-old in great health paying $100 a month. Twenty dollars of that might be going toward the insurance company’s actual cost for providing life insurance for you. The remaining $80 is going into your cash value savings.

However, as you age, that number will change. When you turn 60, that split might be closer to $70 for benefits and $30 going into savings. When you hit 75, you may be in deteriorating health and those investments might not have panned out as well as the insurance company had hoped; in turn, the company may require more than $100 a month for your coverage, even though that’s your premium amount.

To make up for the deficit, the insurance company can (and will) dip into those cash value savings. If it goes unnoticed, you could realistically check on your account one day — you know, the one you counted on to be your big nest egg and provide life insurance benefits for your family upon your death — only to find it dwindled away to nothing. Decades of savings and “guaranteed” benefits, gone.

Unnecessary for Most

One final note. Most individuals do not need permanent life insurance. A retiree who has little or no earned income, for example, often has no need of life insurance. One exception, however, are families caring for disabled adult children. But again, for most families, life insurance is unnecessary after the kids have left home and retirement is at hand.

Should a Universal Life Policy Build Your Retirement Fund?

This is a tricky decision and has a lot of drawbacks. But the savings component can still make this a tempting option for many.

There are three major drawbacks to this approach that you should keep in mind before buying into a policy. Because of these reasons, I would not use a life insurance policy of any type to increase my planned income during retirement.

  1. Any retirement income you need and withdraw reduces the value of the benefits your heirs will receive, as mentioned above.
  2. You can get better investment options by opening an IRA at a discount brokerage.
  3. You’ll be paying much more for less potential performance than other retirement options. Even a 401(k) could cost much less.

If you’re a savvy saver and investor, you may want to leave your investments separate from your life insurance policy and opt for term life insurance. If you appreciate consolidating your savings with your insurance policy and are not concerned with a significantly higher cost, it might make sense to opt for this type of coverage.

For readers: Do you have a universal life insurance policy and are you happy with the insurer so far? Have you had any experiences collecting benefits from a policy?

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The best budgeting software can make managing your money easy and dare I say enjoyable. Here are our top picks for budgeting apps.

best budgeting software

When you’re constantly on the go, getting a handle on your finances can be tough. You may not have time to sit in front of your desktop or laptop, or to deal with a paper spreadsheet. That’s where budgeting apps come into play.

These apps help you keep track of your spending and your goals on the go. Many also offer a more robust online option you can use on a laptop or desktop.

Here are our top seven choices if you’re looking for a money management app.

1. Mint

When it comes to budgeting apps and sites, Mint consistently makes the top of my list. It’s easy to use and securely syncs with your bank accounts and credit cards. This means you don’t have to manually enter your transactions unless you make them in cash. It’s super handy for keeping track of your finances without spending hours each week doing it.

Mint has a nice visual interface that lets you categorize your spending, see when you’re about to overspend in a budget category, and even check out historical spending trends. It’s also helpful for tracking your net worth and investments.

What’s not so great about Mint? It’s not a robust option for investment tracking. For tracking investments, we recommend Personal Capital. And while you can set financial goals, sometimes they conflict with your budget categories in annoying ways. But it’s generally one of my favorite money management tools around. Plus, it’s free!

2. YNAB

If you like to plan ahead, YNAB is a better budgeting option than Mint. It operates on the principle that you should live on last month’s income. Basically, it helps you save up a month’s worth of income. Then each month, you draw from the last month’s income for your spending. It’s a powerful way to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

YNAB isn’t as robust as Mint in some areas. For instance, it’s not as sleek visually. But it does tell you where you stand with your finances, help you set goals, and get you on track with your spending.

The YNAB app interface isn’t as pretty as Mint’s. But if you want to follow this financial philosophy and have the ability to set budgets several months into the future, it’s a good option. YNAB does cost $5 per month, but it’s worth it if this is the best budgeting option for your needs.

3. GoodBudget

This very simple looking app is an envelope budgeting system gone digital. The app syncs your budgets between yourself and your spouse, or anyone else you want to add. This makes it helpful for maintaining the family budget.

GoodBudget lets you track financial goals, such as saving up for a down payment on a home. It helps you easily track your progress as you move towards these goals. With this budgeting system, when you overspend from one “envelope,” you’ll need to move money over from another category to cover the spending.

GoodBudget comes with two different tiered options. The free option gives you 10 regular and 10 “more” envelopes, one account, access through two devices, and a year of spending history. The upgraded version has unlimited envelopes, unlimited accounts, syncs across five devices, and gives you five years of spending history.

4. Dollarbird

This is a great app if your primary issue is with managing cash flow. Maybe you know that over the course of the month, you’ve got plenty of money to cover your expenses. But perhaps you struggle with knowing when those expenses are coming out.

Dollarbird gives you a calendar view of when your expenses are due. You can color code transactions for an at-a-glance view of what types of items are due. Once you put in all your recurring spending and bills, Dollarbird will give you a projected balance. That way, you’ll know how much you can safely spend at any given time.

5. Penny

This app is an interesting take in the world of personal finance apps. Instead of just giving you a screen where you can check out your progress, this app acts as a coach. Its interface looks like a texting app. Penny actually digs into your financial statements, and then she helps you make good choices.

You can ask Penny to do certain types of financial analysis for you. For instance, she can tell you where you might need to save more money. Or you can have her compare your spending from month to month. This app is also pretty smart about organizing your transactions. In all, it’s an excellent option if you want a more personalized touch for your financial management.

6. Wally

Looking for a budgeting app that works in a currency besides the U.S. dollar? Wally might be for you. It works in a huge variety of currencies. And it lets you save photos of receipts, so it’s helpful for tracking spending for business purposes, as well.

Wally helps you see how much you have left in your budget at any given point in the month. It has a slick user interface that includes several graph options, as well, including graphs to track your financial goals and savings. In all, it’s similar to the other apps we’ve covered here, but it’s another option worth checking out.

7. Spendee

Of the options we’ve covered here, Spendee may have the best user interface. It just looks nice and helps you figure out your finances graphically. It’s a great option if you’re a visual thinker and need a good grasp of your overall finances.

One unique piece of Spendee is that you can share “wallets” with family members or friends. So you can connect only certain pieces of your budget to others. This is helpful if you’re splitting expenses with roommates, for instance. Or if you want someone to hold you accountable for a certain part of your spending, this is a great option to use.

Clearly, there are more than seven good budgeting apps on the market. We’ve featured our top reliable favorites, along with some newer or lesser-known apps with unique features. You can also check out our list of the best budgeting tools for those who aren’t always on the go.

Have you used one of these apps to manage your money? Tell us about it in the comments.

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J.D. Power recently issued its annual study of the best credit cards. Not surprisingly, cash back cards are still the most popular.

American Express, Discover, and Capital One topped the charts for customer satisfaction. Yet J.D. Power also found that customer satisfaction varied based on the cardholder’s age.

While these surveys are helpful, nothing beats a detailed analysis of the best credit card offers available today. So we’ve conducted our own research, the results of which are below. We’ve included a brief explanation as to why each credit card made the list.

Cash Back Credit Cards

Discover it® Card-Cashback MatchTM

Discover It® CardThe Discover it® Card-Cashback MatchTM credit card offers up to 5% cash back on categories that change every three months. In addition, Discover will double your cash back the first year, making this card one of the most rewarding available today.

In addition to the cash back rewards, Discover provides its members with free access to their FICO score and the new New Freeze It® on/off switch. With Freeze It, you can effectively turn off your card should you have misplaced it or suspect that it was stolen.

  • Cash Back: 5% on categories that change each quarter, up to $1,500 in purchases. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Sign up bonus: Discover will double your cash back rewards at the end of your first year.
  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Introductory APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months.
  • Other Benefits: Discover gives you free access to your FICO score.

Find out how to apply for the card here.

learn_more


Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is best known for its 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets. What many don’t know is that it also pays 3% on gas and department stores. Add to that a $150 cash bonus when you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months, and this card tops our list. Here are the cash back details:

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
  • 3% cash back at select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on other purchases

Find out how to apply for this card here.

learn_more


Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

As a final cash back card to make the list, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card pays 1.5% on all purchases. There are no rotating categories or sign ups required. Capital One also pays a $150 cash bonus if you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. There is no annual fee.

  • Cash Back: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Sign up bonus: Get a $150 bonus when you spend $500 on the card in the first three months.
  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Introductory APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 9 months.
  • Other Benefits: Every 10th Uber ride is free up to $15 when you pay with your Quicksilver card through March 31, 2017

Find out how to apply for this card here.

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Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Discover it® Miles

Discover it Miles

The Discover it® Miles card takes the famous Discover cash back features and turns it into a travel card. You’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. On top of that, Discover will double your miles the first year. And there is no annual fee.

  • Travel Rewards: 1.5x Miles on every dollar spent on purchases
  • Sign up Bonus: Discover automatically matches all Miles earned at the end of your first year. You could turn 50,000 miles into 100,000
  • Annual Fee: None

Find out how to apply for this card here.

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Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardThe Capital One Venture card is effectively a 2% card. You’ll earn 2 miles on every purchase. When you use those miles to pay for travel, they are worth 1 cent each. Thus, $50,000 in purchases will earn 100,000 miles. These miles are worth $1,000 when used to pay for travel expenses. On top of that, you can earn a 40,000 mile bonus when you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

  • Travel Rewards: 2 miles for every $1 in purchases
  • Sign up Bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that

Find out how you can apply for this card here.

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Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest American ExpressArguably the best hotel rewards card, the Starwood offers 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Starpoints can not only be used for hotel stays at Starwood properties, but they can also be transferred to many airlines and other travel partners.

  • Travel Rewards: Get up to 5 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® hotels – that’s 2 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as a Card Member in addition to the 2 or 3 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as an SPG member. Get 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • Sign up Bonus: Get 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.

learn_more


Balance Transfers Cards

Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer

Discover it 18 MonthDiscover offers a version of its Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer card that comes with a 0% balance transfer feature for 18 months. The card also comes with all of the same cash back rewards of the standard Discover it card, charges no annual fee and still offers free access to your FICO score.

  • 0% on Balance Transfers: 18 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of amount transferred
  • 0% on Purchases: 6 months
  • Annual Fee: None.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.

learn_more

It’s always important to read the issuer’s terms, but the 0% introductory APR that applies to purchases and balance transfers would be a good option for buying a larger item. If you’ve saved up to purchase some furniture, for example, you can use an introductory purchase APR of 0% to use the credit card issuer’s money to improve your cash flow — however, this leverage technique is risky. If you end up using the credit card for an emergency, you can make it more difficult to repay your balance before the introductory period is complete. On the other hand, it could leave you with more cash in your bank account.

Comparing and Using the Best Credit Cards

Even the best credit cards won’t fulfill their potential if used incorrectly. With that in mind, consider the following tips when comparing and using a credit card:

Pay off the balance in full each month: If you use credit cards as a tool for convenience, pay your bills in full every month, and are otherwise financially self-aware, consider some of these credit cards. If you use credit cards to pay for things you can’t afford, paying interest every month, then start thinking about paying off debt.

Consider your spending habits: Many of the above cards pay increased rewards for certain categories of spending. Therefore, consider how you’ll use the card before selecting the best option for your spending patterns.

Consider how you’ll redeem your rewards: Earning credit card rewards is just half the battle. Once earned, you should consider how you will use them. Many cards offer increased rewards when you use points or miles for travel. If you don’t travel frequently, a cash back card is probably best.

Enjoy the signup bonus: Signup bonuses are a great way to increase miles or points quickly. In some cases, they put cold hard cash in your pocket. But make sure you will meet the spending requirements to earn the bonus. And keep in mind that bonuses are just one feature to consider.

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying. This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

 

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A 60-Second Guide to Term Life Insurance

by Abby Hayes

So you’re looking for information on term life insurance? You’ve come to the right place! Here’s your quick and not-so-dirty guide to term life insurance: what it is, how it works, why you need it, how much it costs, and how to buy it. What is Term Life Insurance? Term life insurance is a little […]

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How Mint Can Revolutionize Your Budget

by Abby Hayes

When it comes to budgeting, life has never been easier. Today, you don’t have to revert to an old-fashioned spreadsheet or pen and paper. (But go for it, if that’s your jam!) Instead, budgeters have access to a huge variety of apps and websites, including one of my favorites: Mint.com. Mint has been in the […]

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How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt… For Good

by Adam Luehrs

Credit card debt doesn’t have to crush your budget. Take the proper steps and you can get out of credit card debt once and for all. Here’s how how to pay off your credit card debt. Credit card debt is a national epidemic. According to one survey, the average U.S. household with credit card debt […]

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How to Know if You Need Life Insurance

by Luke Landes

Not everybody needs life insurance. For others, it’s a critical part of financial security. Here’s how to determine if you need life insurance. It’s no secret that insurance companies make money primarily by not providing benefits to their customers. This is why insurance gets expensive if you’re risky to insure. The more likely an insurer is […]

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How to Choose Between a Fixed-Rate and Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

by Adam Luehrs
fixed-rate vs adjustable-rate mortgage

Mortgages come in two types: fixed-rate and adjustable-rate. When buying or refinancing a home, understanding the pros and cons of fixed and variable rate mortgages is critical. In this article will cover how these two types of mortgages work. We’ll also look at the pros and cons of each. The goal is to help you […]

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Authorized User vs Joint Account – How to Add a Cardholder

by Adam Luehrs
authorized user vs. joint account holder

When adding somebody to an account, a common question is whether to add them as an authorized user or joint account holder. Here’s the difference. Are you looking into the options for sharing a credit card with another person? There are actually two main options to consider when making the decision to share a credit […]

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