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

avatar You are viewing an archive of articles by Stephanie Colestock. Stephanie is the managing editor at Consumerism Commentary, as well as a contributing writer. She graduated from Baylor University with a Biology degree, but has since found a passion for personal finance. She also writes for a number of other sites -- including Dough Roller, Five Cent Nickel, and allCards -- in addition to running her small business, Pink Orchid Press. Stephanie lives in Washington, DC with her two sons and a German Shepherd.

Stephanie Colestock

Shopping on Amazon can be a great approach to saving money in the most convenient way possible. Before you click that order button, read our tips below to find out how to save on your next Amazon purchase.

save money on amazon

If you’re like 80 million other Americans, you shop on Amazon at least a few times a year. In fact, if you belong to one of the roughly ⅔ of all households in the country, you’re likely to even be an Amazon Prime member.

The popular website–known for its two-day shipping, and now same-day delivery, options–offers everything from toilet paper and diapers to big screen TVs, food, clothing, and more. If you want it, chances are high that you can buy it on Amazon. With the website giant making it easy to purchase everything you need in one place, often with one click, it begs the question: Are there ways that you can save money when shopping on Amazon?

You’re in luck, because there certainly are. Below, we’ve laid out our favorite 14 Amazon hacks, all of which can save you a pretty penny every time you shop online. Let’s take a look.

1. Get a Prime Membership

If you already shop on Amazon but don’t have a Prime membership, it’s worth looking into. Yes, you’ll pay $99 annually (or $12.99 a month, if you’d rather go that route), but the savings can be substantial.

On shipping alone, you can expect to save approximately $5-$12 per order. Members receive complimentary two-day shipping on most items sold from Amazon, with some items even being offered with Prime one-day or same-day delivery (also for free). If you want expedited shipping, a Prime membership can save you even more, giving you options like $2.99 one-day delivery.

Prime members also enjoy a number of other perks, outside of just saving on shipping. For instance, you can access a large library of movies, shows, and music through the website, your phone, or even your smart TV. Instead of getting a movie on-demand or at Redbox, I often browse Amazon Prime’s library through my Firestick. I always find interesting shows, new releases, and movies worth watching, without paying a penny.

2. Save on a Prime Membership

If $99 a year sounds too pricey, don’t fret. There are plenty of ways to save money on your Prime membership.

If someone else in your home already has a Prime membership (or is considering one), ask if they’d want to go halvsies. Prime members can share their membership with another adult in their household, free of charge.

If you’re a student (or anyone with a .edu email address), you can get a free six-month Prime membership. Once that trial is up, you’ll get a 50% discount on a Prime membership, which will give you access to discounted textbooks, school supplies, and anything else that is sold on Amazon.com.

3. Discounted Gift Cards

Ok, now that you have your Prime membership and can get free shipping, it’s time to save on the things you actually buy. The first way to do so is by utilizing discount Amazon gift cards.

You can snag discounted gift cards to sites like Amazon through websites such as GiftCardGranny.com. Since Amazon is a popular option, you won’t save as much as you would buying gift cards from other stores; however, you can easily trim anywhere from 1-5% off of your total spending price by buying a discounted gift card to start.

Another way to get discounted gift cards is through your credit card rewards program. Some cards will allow you to redeem your cash back earnings for gift cards, often offering a bonus redemption. For instance, you can occasionally get a $25 gift card for only $20 worth of rewards.

Since your rewards are technically free money anyway, this is like a double bonus!

4. Use a Cash-Back Site

If you shop online (through Amazon or any other store), you can use cashback websites to net you even more on the things you’re already buying. Companies like Ebates and Swagbucks will offer you as much as 10% back on your Amazon purchases, just for clicking through from their site.

This is a great way to save money on your Amazon purchases, as well as everything else you buy online. The cash back can add up quickly!

5. Use the Amazon Credit Card

If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, you may want to consider applying for the Amazon Rewards Signature Visa. This nifty card will not only snag you a $50 Amazon gift card just for signing up, but you’ll earn cash back on every single thing you buy through the site.

For purchases made at Amazon.com or Whole Foods, you’ll get 3% back. Restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores earn 2% back on every dollar spent, and you’ll earn 1% back on everything else. If you upgrade to the Amazon Prime Rewards Signature Visa, you’ll bump that up further and earn 5% back on your Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.

Want to redeem your earnings? Easily apply them at checkout the next time you buy something on Amazon.com, or even cash them in for a statement credit.

6. Use a Card With Price Protection

Not to be confused with purchase protection, some cards offer a great perk called Price Protection. This feature allows you to file a claim if an item you purchase with the card drops in price during a certain time frame (30-90 days, depending on the product).

Amazon product prices change all the time. If you utilize a card with price protection every time you shop on the site, you can easily take advantage of the lower prices that may come around after you buy.

Want to make the process easier? Use an app like Sift to track your purchases and the listed price, alerting you to eligible price drops. The app will even facilitate the claims process for you!

7. Track Prices With Sites

Don’t have a card offering price protection? Then use a site like CamelCamelCamel to track your planned purchases and alert you to price drops.

Simply enter the product name or URL in the search bar and set up a price alert. Say you want to buy a certain DVD player but refuse to pay more than $60 for it. You can set up a $60 alert on CamelCamelCamel, and they will email you as soon as Amazon drops the price to $60 or below.

The website can be used to track all of your repeat or planned purchases, ensuring that you pay exactly what you want to pay for each item.

8. Be Flexible

If you’re willing to be a little flexible in your purchases, you can easily save some dough on Amazon.

Many products on the site are posted with various options. Whether this means opting for a different pattern, another color, or even an alternate size, you can usually find a cheaper price (by at least a few dollars) if you’re willing to be a bit flexible.

9. Sneaky Shipping

Even if you’re a Prime member, overnight shipping often comes at a premium. Ranging anywhere from $2.99 to $10.99 per item, expedited shipping options on Prime products can get your order to you in a snap, but they’ll do it for a price. Oh, and if you want your entire order to arrive ASAP? You’ll pay the upgraded shipping fee for each and every item in the order. Or will you?

Some Amazon shoppers have reported a potential shipping hack, where you can upgrade only one of the items in your cart to overnight shipping, leaving the rest with default shipping. When Amazon packs your shipment, there’s the chance that they save themselves the effort (and cost) of a second box/postage by sending everything to you expedited.

Now, this isn’t a guaranteed method, but it is worth a shot. If you would like for your order to arrive a bit sooner, you can give this a try. Who knows… for only $2.99 more, you might see your entire order arrive the next morning.

10. Get Credits for Slower Shipping

Not in a huge rush for your item? Going out of town and won’t get to open the box for a few days anyway? Then consider the no-rush shipping option that’s often offered to Amazon buyers.

When checking out on a Prime item, you’ll often have a few options: standard Prime shipping, expedited shipping, and a no-rush option. If choosing the latter, you can expect your item to arrive later than the usual Prime two-day service. However, in exchange for the slower speed, you’ll see your account credited with a dollar amount.

This credit can usually be applied to Amazon Pantry purchases or even media downloads. It’s easy to save quite a bit of cash on your next order by building up some of these no-rush credits.

11. Take Advantage of Lightning/Daily Deals

Every single day, Amazon offers special deals on select items. Whether you’re looking for toys, electronics, household goods, clothing, craft supplies, or anything else, you can find a daily deal to match.

These deals, offered on the Amazon Daily Deals page, are available for a limited period of time each. There’s often a limited number available at the promotional pricing, so once they sell out, you’ll have to pay the “normal” price.

Some deals, called Lightning Deals, are offered for even less time. Luckily, you’ll usually be able to preview these deals before they go live so you can plan your purchase.

12. Take Advantage of Amazon Prime Day

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can take advantage of Amazon Prime Day. This exciting sale day, often held in the summer, means flash sale after flash sale of exciting deals and discounts.

Members can preview the deals before they go live, snagging incredible bargains like 33% off a Roomba or $0.99 magazine subscriptions (and everything in between).

13. Use Coupons

Did you know that Amazon offers coupons? Simply visit the Amazon coupon page to see which offers are currently available. You can search by product, by category, or just browse the newest discounts available. You can then “clip” the coupons, and they’ll be applied to your cart when you go to purchase the item.

This is an easy way to save dollars by buying online, in addition to the money you’re saving in gas by not trekking out to the store.

14. Subscribe & Save

There are some things that we buy on repeat. Diapers, paper towels, vitamins, contact lens solution, and even ketchup–all of these are consumables that we buy time and time again. Well, if you’re willing to subscribe to those items (saving yourself the time and energy of remembering them at the store when you run out), Amazon will reward you in price.

Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program can save you as much as 15% per item, simply for scheduling future shipments in advance. You can set the frequency of the shipments and cancel at any time. The more items you subscribe to, though, the more money you’ll save on the shipment as a whole.

Considering the number of people who shop on Amazon.com every single day, it’s no wonder that folks are always looking for ways to save money. While some of these Amazon shopping hacks can take a bit of effort and finesse, they also grant you a great way to get the things you need (fast!) while also trimming the final bill down a bit.

What’s your favorite way to save money when shopping on Amazon? Sound off below!

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As we near the summer travel season, finding cheap flights has never been more important. We’ve reviewed the best websites for cheap airfare, including tools to track flight costs and alert you to the best deals.

best websites for cheap airfare

Whether you’re planning a trip for one or for ten, there’s no reason to pay more for airfare than you have to. Luckily, we live in the technological age and can easily access flight deals and discounted airfare. We can even set alerts to let us know when the perfect price pops up.

There are a few excellent websites that can help you locate the cheapest flights online. Here’s a look at some of our favorite sites and how they work.

Airfare Watchdog

A versatile fare-finder and price alert site, Airfare Watchdog helps you find exactly what you need. Whether you want to travel next week or “anytime this summer,” AW is able to search available seats, find the lowest prices, and even alert you when fares drop.

I use this site myself, and it’s my first go-to whenever I’m looking for cheap flights. Beyond that, though, I have Fare Alerts set up for upcoming trips that I might want to take (but have some flexibility).

For instance, I know that I want to take my kids somewhere fun in September. As a freelancer, I’m not really constricted to a specific itinerary. So, I have an Airfare Watchdog alert set up that will let me know when the right price is available from Washington, DC to a fun city–then, I can plan our trip around it.

My mom also uses Airfare Watchdog for planning her grandbaby-visiting trips. She has her SAT>DCA route established. Anytime cheap fares come up, she buys and comes to see me and my kids. This is a great option for leisure travel, when you’re not confined to a specific itinerary.

Hipmunk

Whether you’re looking to create an entire vacation package or simply book a long flight, Hipmunk can make the process easier and cheaper than ever.

As expected, you can use Hipmunk to scour available airlines for the best available airfare. Unlike many other aggregate flight sites, you can use Hipmunk to compare Southwest Airlines flights, too. Typically, Southwest is excluded from these discount search engines, so you have to go to the airline’s site separately to compare fares. With Hipmunk, however, you only have to enter your search info once to see everything that’s available (including Southwest!).

Beyond that, though, you can also use the Price Graph feature, if you have flexible travel plans. Price Graph allows you to see the lowest fares for a specific route over the next 90 days.

Momondo

Looking for a colorful, fun site that will search high and low to find you cheap airfare? Then look no further than Momondo.

The site looks through airlines’ direct fares to find you great seats at even better prices. That may very well mean taking a different airline coming versus going, and Momondo will help you book it if that’s the case. If you want, you can even see how Momondo’s search measures up to other engines, like CheapOair and Travelocity.

Once you have your route set, Momondo will then show you exactly how fares compare from one day to the next. You might be able to save yourself hundreds of dollars just by shifting your trip down a day or two, if plans allow. Simply hover over the bar on each day to see just how much you could save.

If you know that you want to get away but don’t know exactly where or when, the Momondo Trip Finder can act as inspiration. Just enter your location and how much you want to spend to see various travel options. You can also choose the type of vacation you seek–such as a beach getaway–and enter your budget to see available options.

No matter your preferences or restrictions, this can help you create travel plans that work with your schedule, budget, and desires.

FlightFox

If you want to find a cheap flight with a more concierge-like service, FlightFox might be just the answer.

This consultant-based website is different than your average online search engine. With FlightFox, you will enter your itinerary and traveler info, as well as the maximum amount you wish to spend. FlightFox’s industry experts will then get to work finding the perfect flight deal for you.

The catch is that you will pay for the FlightFox service. Fees start at $50 (of which the “winning” consultant will receive 75%), but the company also guarantees to save you more than that fee in discounted fare. If they can’t, their services are free.

You can use FlightFox for corporate or personal travel, and they will help you create the itinerary that is perfect for you and your wallet, guaranteeing a discount on your fare.

Adioso

This travel site will help you find cheap flights whether you’re looking for a specific trip at a specific time, or just feel a sense of wanderlust coming on in the near future. You can create a flight search that is as broad or defined as you want–even going “anywhere” at “anytime”–which is perfect for flexible travelers.

If you know that you want to go on a specific route soon but aren’t restricted to certain dates, you can see fares for anytime in the future, the next month, a date range, or specific dates.

Then, you can also see how much you could save by shifting your travels in either direction. For instance, I want to take my kids to Disney and I’m flexible on dates. Thanks to Adioso, I know that I can save almost $70 each way per ticket, just by moving our departure date from Friday to Tuesday.

Credit Card Portals

The downside to using online flight search engines is that you have to pay for the flights in full. What if you have miles or points saved up, and want to utilize them for your next trip?

Thankfully, there are a number of credit card portals that will allow you to do just that. Portals like Chase Ultimate Rewards will allow you to redeem your earned points (from everyday cash back purchases) toward hotels, rental cars, and yes, even flights. You will often snag a discounted fare, too, by going through the portal.

If you carry a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get an added bonus. Each point that you use through Ultimate Rewards will receive an extra percentage in redemption. With the Sapphire Preferred, each point is worth 25% more (meaning 1 point is actually worth 1.25 points). With the Sapphire Reserve, each point will earn 50% more (or 1.5 points per).

As you can see, through the portal I’m offered a flight for $370.10 with American. However, if I use my points, I can get this same ticket for only 29,608 points–which have a cash value of $296.08. This saves me $74 per ticket!

Credit card portals are often the best possible way to stretch your credit card rewards and get great deals at the same time.

Buy With Points

Another way to use your accrued points for cheap flights is to transfer them to the airline of choice in the form of miles. This is a great way to boost your miles balance in order to qualify for award travel, save your miles balance from expiring, and use earned miles toward completely free flights.

Optimizing this process will depend on the airlines you’ve earned miles through, their award partners, your itinerary, and the credit card you use to earn points. However, it’s worth considering if you have a number of accrued points/miles anywhere or with a particular airline.

By putting a little bit of time and energy into searching for your next flight, you can easily find the cheapest fares out there. If you are flexible–either in your travel dates, destination, or even the airports you utilize–you can save even more.

What’s your best way to find cheap flights? How much have you saved in the past using one of these sites or a credit card portal?

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Find the best home phone service plans based on price and service. We cover both traditional land line companies and internet phone services that offer extremely low prices.

best home phone service

These days, it seems like everyone has forgone the home phone. Landlines have been on the steady decline for many years as the prevalence (and price) of cell phones has gone down. But what if you still want or need a home phone? Who has the best service and price around?

No matter whether you want a home line for your security system or simply like a phone on the kitchen wall, plenty of providers still offer home phone service. Let’s take a look at the best options out there, based on price.

VoIP

If you have internet service, you can have a low-cost VoIP phone line. VoIP service–which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, or simply an internet-based phone – is an affordable option. You can choose a phone number, call long distance (and in some cases, internationally) without an added cost, and usually get the same benefits of a typical landline.

You can add features like voicemail, caller ID, and even access to your messages via email. But VoIP does have some limitations.

First, in order to have a VoIP phone line, you’ll need to have a high-speed internet connection. Of course, this isn’t an issue if you already have high-speed internet in your home. However, it’s not cost-effective to add internet to your home simply to purchase VoIP service.

Second, because VoIP phones run off of your internet connection, they will not work in the event of a cable service or power outage. Some services won’t allow for 911 dialing, either, as they’re unable to determine your location. If you’re planning to keep a home phone line around for emergencies, this can be limiting. However, if you also have a cell phone available, you may be willing to take the risk in exchange for the low price.

Lastly, if you are setting up a home phone line for your security system, be warned: many companies will not work with a VoIP line, or strongly recommend against it. Since you’re at the mercy of the internet provider (and power lines), a VoIP home phone can cause a delay if you have a home security event.

However, if you aren’t planning to use the line for your home security system and simply want an affordable home phone option that has plenty of features, VoIP might be the perfect (low-cost) choice for you.

Ooma

  • Equipment cost: $79.99 through Amazon
  • Ongoing cost: ~$4-10 a month

If you’re looking for a plug-and-go system that works with your existing phone equipment and even your current phone number, look no further than Ooma. The system is up and running mere minutes out of the box. And the only expense you have to pay for the service is the initil equipment purchase. After that, you can opt for the free service (paying only $3-4 a month in required FCC pass-through fees) or upgrade to the premier service for $10 a month.

Both levels include voicemail, caller ID, 911 service, call waiting, and free calls within the US or other Ooma users. If you want international calling, you’ll get unlimited calls with the $10/month service, as well as additional features like call forwarding, an instant second line, and spam call blocking.

Straight Talk Wireless

  • Base station equipment cost: $50+shipping
  • Ongoing cost: $15-30 a month

Another VoIP service, Straight Talk wireless is also a plug-and-go option that’s cheap and easy. The equipment is cheaper than Ooma. But you’ll see a higher monthly cost depending on the service you require.

Both the Nationwide and Nationwide+Int’l plans include caller ID, voicemail, call waiting, 411, 3-way calling, and call forwarding. With the $15/month plan, you’ll get unlimited nationwide calling each month. Opt for the $30/month plan and you’ll get unlimited nationwide calling plus unlimited calls to Canada, Mexico, China, and India.

You can use your existing corded or cordless home phone with the system. If you need to call 911, the base station has a built-in GPS chipset. This will give responders an idea of your location, but you will still need to provide your actual physical address when you call.

PhonePower

  • Equipment cost: Free to lease
  • Monthly cost: $8-50 a month

This VoIP option may be a great choice if you don’t want to purchase home base equipment up front. Instead, PhonePower will lease the hardware to you free of charge for as long as you maintain service.

You can choose between nationwide and international plans, ranging in price from $8 to $50 a month. For USA/Canada plans, you’ll pay $19.95 if you pay month-to-month. Or you can pay $9.95 a month if you sign up for a 12-month term, and $8.33 a month if you prepay for a year’s service.

For international plans, Unlimited World runs $19.95 (for calls to 28 countries), Unlimited World Plus is $24.95 (for 75 countries), and Unlimited World Premium is $49.95 a month (for 87 countries). There is no contract for the international plans.

You’ll enjoy caller ID, call waiting and forwarding, enhanced 911, voicemail, a free second line, speed dial, a block list, and much more with whichever plan you choose. You’ll also be able to keep your current phone number and equipment.

True Landline

If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned landline–complete with a dial tone and all–you’ll be hard-pressed to find one these days. Plain old telephone service is quickly becoming obsolete. In fact, AT&T has decided to eliminate landlines altogether, switching all of their customers to internet phone service.

Depending on your state (and even your county) rates will vary wildly for true landline services. Your best bet is to reach out to the providers in your area to get quotes for basic monthly service, if you do not wish to use an internet-based home phone. Some ZIP codes will not be able to receive services from certain companies, as the company doesn’t own the actual phone lines in that area.

CenturyLink

  • Equipment costs: None
  • Ongoing costs: $60 a month

One of the few companies still offering traditional landline services, CenturyLink is available in 40 states. You’ll get unlimited nationwide calling with your home phone plan, as well as basic features like caller ID, voicemail, call forwarding, call waiting, and more.

The price tag can be a bit more prohibitive than VoIP services. You’ll pay $60 /month for CenturyLink’s home phone service, plus applicable fees and taxes.

Of course, you can choose your own phone hardware, and you’ll have the security of a non-internet/non-cell based phone line. If the power goes out or the cell towers go down, you’re likely to still have communication. This is beneficial for emergency calls, too, as 911 will be able to pinpoint your exact location with a landline.

Can’t Afford It?

If you are a low-income consumer, the FCC has established the Lifeline Program. This program provides communications services to those individuals who meet income threshold requirements.

While the Lifeline has shifted to providing cell phone service to qualified participants, they do still provide landline service in some areas. You can get more information about the program here.

Another Option: Your Cell Phone

If you want a phone option that is affordable and easy to set up, you may want to consider using your current cell phone account as a home phone line. In fact, it’s usually cheaper to add an additional line to the account than to set up a separate home phone.

Most phone companies will allow you to add a line (with a non-smartphone device) to your account for around $10 extra a month. You can then keep this phone at home, allowing you to provide a source of communication for your kids or a babysitter in case of emergencies. In this case, you won’t have to worry about 911 service, either, as the phone will already include enhanced emergency service features.

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Having a car in college can be a huge benefit. It can also be expensive. So we put together a list of the five best cars for college students.

best cars for college students

Before heading off to college, you have many decisions to make. What should you study? Should you take out student loans? How much can you budget for monthly expenses? You may even be considering a new car for getting to and from class or back home to visit the parents. But which vehicles are a wise choice for college students?

Let’s take a look at some of the most economical cars on the market today. These cars are both reliable and budget-friendly.

Vehicle Expenses

There are many costs to consider in college. Tuition and fees can run tens of thousands of dollars, on top of room and board, books, and even fun money. When you consider that most college students are working part-time (if at all) and strapped for cash, it makes sense to minimize expenses where you can.

Owning a vehicle can be a considerable expense. First you have to consider the actual cost of the car, of course. But you also have to consider its fuel efficiency, insurance premiums, and maintenance costs. If you plan to park a vehicle on campus, you also need to think about the added fee for parking permits. And don’t forget about the potential for citations for speeding or improper parking.

Of course, you also want a vehicle that meets your needs. Beyond simply getting you from point A to point B, you need a car that is reliable, safe, and has the features you use most often. Considering that some of these high-tech features like hands-free Bluetooth, USB ports, and GPS are standard in many of today’s vehicles, there’s no reason you can’t find exactly what you need.

With all these factors in mind, let’s explore five of the best, most cost-effective vehicles for students today.

Honda Civic

Honda has been a popular vehicle with the younger crowd for decades, largely because it’s affordable and fuel-efficient. Today’s Civics, though, also boast incredible safety ratings as well as a high-tech interior. All combined, it’s an excellent vehicle choice for college students.

The base model sedan has an MRSP of only $18,840, yet comes with an impressive list of tech features. Backup camera, bluetooth phone, bluetooth audio, and USB ports come standard. You can also add features like real-time traffic and

navigation, voice recognition, weather, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, heated and cooled seats, side mirror cameras, and more.

The 2018 Civic gets an impressive 40 MPG on the highway and 28 MPG in the city. This makes it easy to get to and from class or back home to visit, without spending a ton on gas.

Lastly, and most importantly, the new Honda Civics are incredibly safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2018 model an overall five out of five stars, the highest possible safety rating.

  • Sedan base price: MSRP $18,840
  • Standard features: backup camera, bluetooth, USB ports
  • Fuel efficiency: 40 MPG (highway) / 28 MPG (city)
  • Safety: 5-star NHTSA rating

Kia Forte

Another incredibly safe, yet affordable, college car is the Kia Forte. This little gem is fuel-efficient and sporty, while also giving you all of the newest features standard.

If opting for the most affordable model, the LX, you’ll see a starting MSRP of only $16,800. With that comes a backup camera, standard on all vehicles beginning with the 2018 model year. It also comes with heated mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, an audio- and phone-controlling steering wheel, and USB port. Upgrade to the S model (with an MSRP of $19,400) and you’ll also get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 7” touch-screen display, and dual 12V outlets. There are also additional options like a Smart Trunk, blind spot detection, and lane change assist.

You won’t spend an arm and a leg for fuel with the Kia Forte, either. This car gets an impressive 37 MPG highway and 29 MPG city, while still bringing along between 147 and 164 horsepower.

Of course, it’s also a safe vehicle, getting a full five-star safety rating from the NHTSA.

  • LX base price: MSRP $16,800
  • Standard features: backup camera, bluetooth, heated mirrors, steering wheel controls, USB ports
  • Fuel efficiency: 37 MPG (highway) / 29 MPG (city)
  • Safety: 5-star NHTSA rating

Chevrolet Sonic

If you’re looking for a fuel-efficient car that offers plenty of storage space for your weekend adventures without being too big, the Chevy Sonic is for you. This car comes in three trim options, each with neat features standard and excellent gas mileage.

The base trim model, the LT, starts with an MSRP of $17,395. It comes standard with features like steering wheel controls, OnStar, power outlets and auxiliary jacks, and a rear vision camera. Bump up to the next trim, the LS, and you’ll also get a standard remote start system, SiriusXM, and heated mirrors. This model starts at only $19,295. All models boast 138 horsepower and get 37 MPG highway and 28 MPG city.

You’ll get a complimentary two years’ scheduled maintenance with the Sonic, as well as a 3 year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty. This gives you the peace of mind that you won’t have to worry about any mechanical failures or added expenses for quite a while!

Yet again, we have another car with a perfect 5-star safety rating from the

NHTSA, so you can feel safe and secure in the Chevy Sonic.

  • LT base price: MSRP $17,395
  • Standard features: backup camera, bluetooth, OnStar, steering wheel controls, USB ports
  • Fuel efficiency: 37 MPG (highway) / 28 MPG (city)
  • Safety: 5-star NHTSA rating

Hyundai Elantra

This next vehicle comes with six trim options, giving you many choices for finding the perfect combination for your needs. The 2018 Hyundai Elantra is a sporty sedan with good gas mileage, reliability, and a ton of tech features.

The base model (SE) has a starting MSRP of only $17,950 and comes with standard features like steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth audio and phone capability with voice recognition, as well as USB and auxiliary jacks. Upgrade to the SEL trim (MSRP $18,850), and you’ll also get a 7-inch touchscreen display, SiriusXM, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, heated side mirrors, and individual tire pressure indicators.

All trims come with a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, 5 year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and 5 year/unlimited miles 24/7 roadside assistance. This added security can be invaluable, especially when a college student is living far from home.

The SE trim gets 38 MPG highway and 29 MPG city, while the SEL drops slightly to 37 MPG highway and 28 MPG city. The 2018 Elantra also scores well for safety, getting a 4-star rating from the NHTSA.

  • SE base price: MSRP $17,950
  • Standard features: backup camera, bluetooth, steering wheel controls, USB ports
  • Fuel efficiency: 38 MPG (highway) / 29 MPG (city)
  • Safety: 4-star NHTSA rating

Mazda 3

Last but not least, we have the sleek Mazda 3. This sedan comes in three trims (Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring), all of which have an MSRP under $25,000.

The Sport is the base model but brings with it an impressive 155 horsepower for an affordable $19,145 price tag. It also comes standard with a high-end suite of features, like a 7-inch touchscreen display, Pandora/Stitcher/Aha radio integration, SMS text message audio delivery/reply, steering wheel controls, rear view camera, E911 automatic emergency notification, power side mirrors, USB ports and auxiliary jacks, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, push-button start, 12V outlet, and a voice command system. That’s a pretty impressive list for a base model’s standard features.

It’s estimated fuel efficiency is 37 MPG highway and 28 MPG city, even though it has a SKYACTIV transmission with sport mode. But don’t worry, it’s also a safe car: it scored 5 out of 5 stars from the NHTSA.

  • SE base price: MSRP $19,145
  • Standard features: backup camera, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, USB ports, 12V outlet, online radio integration, voice command system, 7-inch touchscreen, power side mirrors, push-button start, and more
  • Fuel efficiency: 37 MPG (highway) / 28 MPG (city)
  • Safety: 5-star NHTSA rating

Going off to college brings with it many new considerations and expenses. One of them might be a new car. That way, you can ensure that your child has a safe, reliable vehicle for getting to and from class, or back home to visit (and do laundry!).

These five cars are perfect for getting around campus, finding parking before class, and staying safe while on the road. They all have excellent safety ratings, high fuel efficiency, and a reasonable price tag, while still offering the features that young kids want most.

Is a new car a consideration for your new college student? What are your biggest priorities, if so?

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