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Michael Pruser

In our 2018 Capital One Venture Rewards credit card review, we look at its 50,000 mile bonus and 2x rewards structure. Is it too good to be true?

Capital One Venture Rewards credit card review

I use four primary credit cards to buy just about everything. One for my purchases at the grocery store. One for purchases at the pump. Another to make all of my travel purchases (flights, hotels, etc.) and finally, a card for everything else. Yet when I look into my wallet, I see 11 credit cards. Why so many?!

Sometimes an offer is simply too good to pass up. One of the credit cards I signed up for earlier this year is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Right now, this card offers a 50,000 mile bonus for meeting a small spend hurdle, in addition to other benefits which make it very attractive. Let’s dive into the details and see whether or not this should be one of the 11 cards you find in your wallet!

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 50,000 Mile Bonus

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardWhen you sign up for a Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you stand to earn a 50,000 mile bonus. To receive that bonus, you must spend $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership. Those 50,000 miles equal $500 in travel. And you can fly any airline or stay in any hotel, anytime you want.

Spending $3,000 on a credit card in three months may sound like a lot of money. But when you consider all the things you can use a credit card to pay for, it’s not all that challenging. As a homeowner (and an automobile owner), I can use my credit card to pay for gas, groceries, insurance, and a variety of other household and life necessities. Between groceries, gas, and auto insurance, I’m already at $1,000 a month. Over the course of three months, I would meet that bonus threshold.

If you have received this bonus from Capital One in the past (for owning the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card), you are not eligible to receive this one.

Travel Rewards Program

There’s not much to be said about the travel rewards program. Every dollar you spend with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is worth 2 miles. That’s it. No caps, limits, hurdles, or rules to follow other than double miles for everything, always.

Miles do not expire for the life of the account (open or closed), and there are no blackout dates to speak of. When using your points to book a flight or hotel, every options is available to you. Consider your points as good as cash–no restrictions.

Venture Rewards APR and Fees

Unfortunately, there’s no intro APR with this credit card. The standard purchase and balance transfer APR is 13.99% – 23.99% variable. The APR for cash advances is also 23.99% (with a 3% cash advance fee), and there are a couple of fees to keep your eye on.

  • Up to a $35 late payment fee
  • $95 annual fee ($0 annual fee for the first year).

The annual fee of $95 is average for a quality travel rewards credit card. In fact, when you compare vs. that of Chase, Citi, and American Express–$95 seems to be the agreed-upon industry standard.

One added pricing perk of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is that there are no foreign transaction fees. A foreign transaction fee is charged by some issuers when you use your credit card to make international purchases. The issuer must first convert your US dollars into the local currency, then offer those funds to the merchant. Capital One offers this service, free of charge, for their full line of credit card products.

Visa Signature Benefits and Perks

Included with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card are Visa Signature perks. While the card issuer provides the rewards program and the bonus, it’s the processor that steps up the benefits an extra level. You can expect to receive the following:

  • Complimentary Concierge Service–If you need ANYTHING, you can give Visa Concierge a call and they will assist you. Help with changing a reservation; a flat tire; concert tickets–whatever. You’ll have a 24-hour hotline to secure the things you need.
  • Auto Rental Damage Collision Waiver Coverage–If you’ve ever rented a car, you know that there’s a damage insurance waiver you’re always asked to sign. In the event the car you rent is damaged, you might be liable for out of pocket expenses if you’re not properly insured. So long as you book with your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and rent a standard vehicle (check the terms), you’re always covered for damage.
  • Extended Warranties–After making a purchase, you may qualify for an extended warranty of up to one year. Depending on the length of warranty you already received from the manufacturer, Visa is willing to up it between three months and one year.
  • Shopping Discounts–When you shop at select online merchants, you’ll earn a discount.

Is This Travel Card Right for You?

So I opened this review by telling you the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card was one of the 11 cards currently in my wallet. But I also want to let you know that as of today, I rarely use it for purchases (if ever). That’s not because this isn’t a great credit card, but because I rarely travel. So it’s easier for me to use my Citi Double Cash Card and earn the 2% cash back, then earn miles.

The bonus is attractive enough where just about anyone can take advantage of 50,000 bonus miles. If you currently don’t own a travel rewards credit card and find yourself making airline and hotel reservations frequently, this card has a lot to offer. And with no annual fee for the first year, you have nothing to lose but a few points on your credit score.

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The Capital One Quicksilver card combines a $150 signup bonus with 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase. Oh, and no annual fee. Here are the details.

capital one quicksilver review

One of the most important rules of sound personal finance is using credit cards wisely. A good cash back credit card, when used for everyday purchases and paid off each month can save you hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars every year. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the good ones. And right now they’re offering a $150 cash bonus to new cardholders along with a bevy of other perks.

$150 Cash Bonus

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The most attractive feature of the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is the $150 cash bonus. All new cardholders can earn the $150 after spending just $500 in the first three months. If you are an existing Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Cardholder, you are not eligible for this bonus. If you own a different Capital One credit card, you’re likely eligible. But you should call in before applying online to make sure.

Capital One Quicksilver Rewards

You won’t find a simpler rewards program than this one. Every single purchase you make with your Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 1.5% cash back. Many other credit cards offer you a higher cash back for select purchases during select months but a low cash back rate everyday. This credit card lures you in with a great everyday rate, in the hopes that you’ll use it to buy everything.  A few important points to make about the cash back you earn:

  1. You must redeem your cash back. It is not automatically credited to your statement.
  2. Cash back never expires. If you decide to close your account and the account is in good standing, Capital One will mail you a check for the balance.
  3. There is no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn.

That last point is important when you compare this card to the Chase Freedom and Discover it – Cashback Match. Both of those cash back credit cards have 5% rotating categories each quarter, but the maximum you can spend is $1,500 a month.

Quicksilver Pricing Details

Immediately after receiving your card, you’ll receive a 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for nine months. After the intro rate expires, the ongoing APR becomes 13.99% – 23.99% variable (which is a little better than average). If you decide to make a balance transfer with this card, there is a 3% balance transfer fee. I would recommend avoiding this and instead looking at some of the best balance transfer credit cards.

There is NO annual fee to own the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. Should you need a cash advance, the APR is 23.99% and there is a 3% (or $10) cash advance fee.  All Capital One credit cards have the added benefit of charging no foreign transaction fees. Use this credit card abroad, and you’ll incur no currency fees. If you miss your payment, Capital One will charge a $35 late fee.

Cash Back Credit Card Savings

I mentioned in the beginning of the article that a good cash back credit card can save you hundreds of dollars a year. I use one for as much spending as I can. Below is an example of the annual amount I put on my credit cards, and what the savings would be at 1.5%.

  • Groceries – $7,000
  • Gasoline – $1,500
  • Health Insurance – $12,000
  • Auto Insurance (2 cards) – $1,400
  • Winter Heating Oil – $2,500
  • Cable / Internet – $2,200
  • Garbage Pick-Up – $360
  • Home Security – $400
  • Cell Phone(s) – $500

Add it all up, and the total spent on food, gas, utilities and insurance every year for my family of four is $27,860.  At 1.5% cash back I would save $418.  Add the $150 cash back bonus year one, and I’m over $500 without having purchased anything I don’t already have to spend money on.

Quicksilver Bottom Line

I have the pleasure of actually owning two Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Cards. One I signed up for and one was converted from a Capital One Classic Platinum card I signed up for while in college. Admittedly, I do not use this card for all transactions. But I do use it often.

The $150 sign-up bonus is a great way to get a paid test drive and the high cash back rate and intro APR are two more reasons why owning the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a good idea. Compared to other cash back credit cards it’s a great card to have in your wallet without the worry of an annual fee.

  • Learn more about this card and other cash back credit cards.

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Is Betterment a smart way to invest your money? Our detailed Betterment review gives you everything you need to make a sound investing decision.

Betterment Review

Betterment is a different type of brokerage. Most discount brokerages want to get customers to trade as frequently as possible. But Betterment is looking to be your asset manager.

Currently, the brokerage is offering an incentive for new customers. But the way they do business is a bit different than most brokerages you may be familiar with. This uniqueness is evident as early as the account sign-up process.

When you apply for an account with a typical discount brokerage, the application asks about income, net worth, and investment experience. Betterment asks about the goals and purposes of your investments. The service encourages each new account holder to designate a main account goal, like retirement, a major purchase, or a vacation. Betterment will also ask how many years you expect to take to reach that target or the age at which you’d like to achieve a goal.

What is Betterment All About?

The core philosophy for investing with Betterment is the asset allocation. This is the type of simplicity that I’ve seen with 401(k) accounts. These retirement investments often try to take an important concept of investing–asset allocation–and make it simple. This way, busy employees can simply submit a risk profile, and the investment will use this information to determine their ideal mix of stocks and bonds. Betterment takes this concept further, making the process incredibly simple.

Fees

Because of this simplicity, Betterment’s fees can be lower than other forms of investing. Although you could have a free account with a discount brokerage and never pay a transaction fee, you may still be subject to fees built into the investments, like expense ratios or front-end load fees. Betterment’s approach is to charge a percentage of your account’s value–or assets under management. This is the custom among professional asset managers who generally work with high-net worth clients.

This fee might depend on how much you invest with Betterment. For those looking to have a hands off approach, the annual fee is 0.25% (digital plan).  For those looking to take advantage of the premium service ($100,000 account minimum) the fee is 0.40%.  The premium service includes everything in the digital package plus in-depth advice on investments outside of Betterment and access to their CFP professionals.

And now for a limited time, Betterment is offering a promotion of up to 1 year managed for FREE.  Six different levels and timelines are available for the bonus; outlined below.

  • $5,000 – $24,999 – 1 month free
  • $25,000 – $49,999 – 2 months free
  • $50,000 – $99,999 – 3 months free
  • $100,000 – $249,999 – 6 months free
  • $250,000 – $499,999 – 9 months free
  • $500,000+ – 1 year free

Investment Management

With Vanguard investing, you’re mostly on your own. You alone decide your asset allocation, and many investors do not consider asset allocation at all. Betterment can be more expensive, but they are also providing a service that, depending on your needs and interests, may be worth the extra cost. At the same time, it’s less expensive than having a dedicated asset manager while offering many of the same features.

You’d have to be a hands-off individual to like the type of service offered by Betterment. You don’t choose your own investments like you would with a typical full-service or discount brokerage. Betterment chooses the investments for you, and their selections are based on a mix of index exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Betterment reinforces the idea that individual investors should not try to beat the market. For the most part, investors fail when they try. And their investments would have fared better had they remained diversified across a broad selection of investments and refrained from changing their risk profile.

Betterment Investments

Betterment‘s investments include baskets. Each basket represents exposure to a type of assets. To help an investment portfolio match a risk profile, the portfolio could include a combination including a stock market basket and a treasury bond basket. Betterment will rearrange the balance between the different stock index ETFs as it sees fit, but investors control the relationship between stocks and treasury bonds through the risk profile.

The treasury bond basket is split evenly between two investments, TIP: iShares Barclays TIPS Bond Fund and SHY: iShares Barclays 1-3 Year Treasury Bond Fund. The stock market basket includes these investments:

  • (VTI) Vanguard Total Stock Market
  • (VTV) Vanguard US Large-Cap Value Index ETF
  • (VOE) Vanguard US Mid-Cap Value Index ETF
  • (VBR) Vanguard US Small-Cap Value Index ETF
  • (VEA) Vanguard FTSE Developed Market Index ETF
  • (VWO) Vanguard FTSE Emerging Index ETF

Betterment IRAs

Previously Betterment’s investing plans were limited to the form of a standard brokerage account. But the service now offers IRAs. You can now use the government-designated accounts for saving for retirement through Betterment’s service. Some of the benefits of owning a Betterment IRA are:

  • IRA fees are a fraction of a standard 401(k) provider
  • You choose your personal risk strategy
  • Betterment regularly rebalances your portfolio

Opening a Betterment Account

Opening my account at Betterment was easy, and they approved my account right away. Like any new financial account accepting electronic deposits from other banks, I needed to confirm my ownership of the linked account through the familiar process of verifying test deposits. I’m waiting for my external checking account to receive the test deposits so I can begin investing with Betterment.

Betterment is a fairly new player in the word of finance. This is an industry where the major companies have been around for a century or more. But Betterment protects your assets just like any other major investment firm. Betterment is a Registered Investment Advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is regulated by FINRA and the SEC. Accounts are insured by SIPC up to $500,000 per owner.

This doesn’t protect investors from having their investments lose value, but it does protect the value if the brokerage were to fail. If Betterment were to go bankrupt or to go into receivership, the insurance coverage would allow you to access your account.

Why Use Betterment?

For the micro-manager, Betterment might not be the perfect way to invest. It’s also not the appropriate service for someone who wants to trade their investments frequently or delve into investing in individual companies. Betterment’s services may be right for investors with the opportunity to save for their future outside of retirement accounts who want the simplicity of diversified investments, risk-based asset allocation, and a buy-and-hold-and-rebalance investing philosophy.

Their published returns are nothing to scoff at, and their fee structure works especially well for smaller investors who are looking to avoid day to day interaction.

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It’s the only card that pays you 3% cash back on every purchase the first year. And with no annual fee. The details are in our Discover it Miles review.

Discover it Miles review

Some time ago, Discover made the conscious decision to re-brand its entire line of credit cards. Previously known as “More” credit cards, Discover decided to go even shorter. Discover “it” is now the brand name and it encompasses credit card categories like cash back, balance transfer, student, and travel.

The travel version of the Discover it brand comes in the form of the Discover it® Miles. A somewhat nondescript, blue credit card with all of your personal information on the back, the Discover it® Miles packs one heck of a punch for its cardholders. From triple miles, to enhanced security features and no fees of any kind, this credit card gets high marks for just about everything.

Here’s a full look at what the Discover it® Miles has to offer.

Discover it® Miles Rewards Program–3% Cash Back

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For the first year you’re a Discover it® Miles cardholders, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar spent. You see, Discover’s usual rewards rate on this travel rewards card is 1.5%. For the first year, however, Discover doubles all of the miles you’ve earned.  On your anniversary date, Discover will do a “Miles Dump”. All of the miles you’ve earned for the first year will appear again on that day. So if you earned 50,000 miles the first year, you’ll see another 50,000 show up on day 366.

Miles can be redeemed in the following ways:

  • Credit to your account for travel purchases made within the last 180 days
  • Electronic deposit into an account you designate
  • Pay with miles at merchants through Discover.com/paywithmiles

In all scenarios, the value of your Miles is one mile = one penny. There are no transfer options for miles, so in effect, this card acts as a cash back rewards card. Discover simply puts the moniker “miles” on it and BAM, you think travel rewards.

Miles never expire so long as your account is open and not used for any illegal transactions. You will not earn any miles for balance transfers, cash advances, or illegal transactions. If you close your account with Discover and have a miles balance, they’ll automatically credit your account for the rewards you’ve earned.

Feel Secure with the Discover it® Miles

Unlike many other credit cards, the Discover it puts a lot of focus on credit security. From free FICO scores to credit freezes, here’s a look at what the Discover it® Miles has to offer to protect your credit profile:

  • Free social security number alerts
  • Free FICO score every month
  • The ability to freeze your Discover account is seconds.
  • Free credit account alerts
  • Free overnight shipping to replace any lost or stolen credit card

Discover is now offering free social security number alerts. Anytime your social security number pops up on a risky website which Discover monitors (thousands), they’ll let you know. You also have the ability to freeze your account at a moment’s notice. A quick click of the mouse and no one will be able to use your card to make purchases.

Your FICO score will also be available every month you receive your Discover statement, either by mail or online. The score can always be visible when you log into your Discover it® Miles account, but it only updates once a month.

Discover it® Miles APR and Pricing Details

New cardholders will receive a 0% intro APR on purchases for a full 14 months. Once that intro rate expires, the ongoing APR becomes 11.99% – 23.99% variable. The other interest rates and fees you need to be aware of if applying:

  • 25.99% APR for cash advances
  • $10 or 5% cash advance fee
  • 3% balance transfer fee

Discover also boasts one of the great perks of owning a Discover it® credit card. The first time you miss a scheduled payment, no fee is charged. When you go over your credit limit, no fee is charged. Discover also won’t raise your APR to the penalty level if you are a habitually late payer. No pay-by-phone fees or foreign transaction fees to speak of. And last but not least, no annual fee.

All of this is to say if Discover charges you a fee outside of interest, you must have done something pretty awful!

How Much Can You Earn

We got out our calculator to see just how much money you might earn with this card. According to the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average family spends $63,784.

Not all of this could be charged to a credit card. For example, 11% of this total is paid in taxes. And you can’t typically pay your mortgage and certain other debt with a credit card.

We’ve assumed, however, that you can put 50% of your spending in the Discover it® Miles card. This would include food, clothing, travel, entertainment, and many monthly bills.

Now to the math. Half of $63,784 gets us to $31,892 charged to the card. At a 3% reward rate the first year, you would earn $956.76 in rewards. Earning almost $1,000 in year one for using a credit card is one of the best deals we’ve found.

When to Take Advantage of the Discover it® Miles

Whether you’re in need of a cash back credit card or travel rewards credit card, the Discover it® Miles can help. During the first 12 months, getting an effective rate of three miles for every single dollar you spend is unmatched. When you consider that the first 14 months of purchasing are interest free, there’s really no better option available for everyday spending.

And perhaps the best feature of the Discover it® Miles is that it comes to you fee free. I’m always annoyed when I miss a payment date by a single day, and a $35 fee shows up. Chase, Citi, Capital One … they all take advantage of the late payment fee. But Discover let’s it slide, and let’s it slide often.

No annual fee, no interest early on and triple miles for every dollar spent for the first full year. What more can a credit card provide?

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Comment Policy: We love comments! However, the comments below are not provided or commissioned by this site or its advertisers. Comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by this site or its advertisers. It is not this site or its advertisers' responsibility to ensure all comments and/or questions are answered.

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I created my small business in 2010. One of the very first things I did was sign up for a business checking account. Living in Miami at the time, there was a brick-and-mortar Citi location just a half block away. So, that is the bank I signed on with. The “green” business checking account was […]

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