Banking en-US Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="atm withdrawal" title="atm withdrawal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The average checking account has about <a href="">30 different fees</a>.</p> <p>So it's not a surprise that many Americans are considering dropping their banks and choosing a credit union instead. (See also: <a href="">9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank</a>)</p> <p>However, a total switch may not be necessary if you're able to significantly lower your banking and finance fees. Here are six fees that you really don't have to pay.</p> <h2>1. ATM Fees</h2> <p>Some ATM usage fees are just outrageous. For example, using a non-Bank of America debit or credit card for a withdrawal, transfer, or balance inquiry at a Bank of America ATM has a <a href="">$2.50 fee per transaction in the U.S</a>., and $5.00 in a foreign country. The same fees are applicable when you use a Bank of America debit or credit card at an ATM outside their network.</p> <p>Here are some strategies to avoid paying ATM fees:</p> <ul> <li>Know what ATM networks belong to your network. Most banks have a page that details this information on their websites. Bookmark it on your desktop and smartphone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use cashback. Several retailers, such as CVS and Safeway, allow you to get cash back when using your debit card to process payment. If your bank doesn't charge you fees for using your credit card (more on the next point), then you can take out money without any charges.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Look for banks that reimburse other bank fees. For example, USAA Bank <a href="">refunds up to $15 in other banks' ATM usage fees</a> each month. Also, Ally Bank <a href="">reimburses all other bank's ATM fees nationwide</a>.</li> </ul> <h2>2. Checking Account Fees</h2> <p>Most banks charge between <a href="">$10 and $20 every month</a> to maintain a checking account with them. That add ups to $100 to $240 per year in unnecessary banking fees! Follow these tactics to avoid checking account fees.</p> <ul> <li>Meet the monthly minimum or average balance requirements for your account. This amount varies per bank so make sure to check with yours.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find out if your bank waives checking account fees by signing up for direct deposit. Even if your bank doesn't waive the fees, this service helps you to meet the minimum balance requirements more easily.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Open a checking account with a credit union. Virtually all credit unions don't charge fees for checking accounts.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do your homework. Certain banks waive checking account fees to special demographics, such as <a href="">university students</a>, <a href="">senior citizens</a>, or <a href="">current armed forces service members and veterans</a>.</li> </ul> <h2>3. Overdraft Fees</h2> <p><a href="">About $31 billion</a> are paid every year in overdraft fees around the country. In theory, overdraft fees are there to protect you when your checking account or credit card hs $300 and you decide to make a purchase for $320. The problem is that financial institutions and lenders are selectively choosing when to charge overdraft fees, which range from $25 to $35.</p> <p>Let's imagine that you have a credit cards balance of $30. Throughout the day, you spend $5 in breakfast, $15 in lunch, and $20 in dinner. If the fees were to be charged chronologically, you would only pay one overdraft fee. Unfortunately, some credit card companies selectively charge the fees so that you get dinged with the fee more than once. Suddenly, you are on the hook for up to $70 in overdraft fees.</p> <p>To make matters worse, while <a href="">70% of checking account holders incur no overdrafts per year</a>, about 82% of checking accounts are hit with up to three overdraft charges per year. The conclusion? Do not sign up for any service labeled &quot;overdraft.&quot; Don't become part of the 8.3% of Americans that overdraft more than 10 times per year and opt out this service.</p> <h2>4. Fancy Checks</h2> <p>Do you really need to spend between $21.95 to $56.85 (before applicable taxes, shipping charges, and extras) for <a href="">Little Mermaid checks</a>? No, you don't.</p> <p>Generally, ordering a check through your own bank is not a good idea. For example, ordering <a href="">personal checks at Sam's Club</a> starts at $8.70, while ordering checks through your bank often starts at $20. The only time to order checks through your bank is when they are free, such as when opening a new account.</p> <h2>5. Credit Reports</h2> <p>You don't need to pay for a credit report. Ever.</p> <p>Under federal law, you can get a free credit report through <a href=""></a> every 12 months. This report includes all your credit history from the three main reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.</p> <p>It is a smart habit to order your free credit report every year so that you can go through it to find any inconsistencies. If you do find any issues, you can <a href="">create an online dispute</a>. Notice that you only need to notify one reporting agency because it will notify the other two for you.</p> <h2>6. Extra 0.25% to 1.00% in Loan Interest</h2> <p>Several financial institutions are willing to knock off from 0.25% to 1.00% of your interest rate if you set up an automatic monthly payment from your checking account. While this is not strictly a fee, the effect of this policy is to charge account-holders who do not opt for automatic payments a fee.</p> <ul> <li>Get up to <a href="">1.00% off from the APR of your auto loan</a> at the Fiscal Credit Union.</li> <li>Receive a <a href="">0.25% to 0.50% interest rate reduction</a> from your student loans.</li> </ul> <p>Make sure to double check with your bank if they offer rate discounts for automatic monthly payments.</p> <p><em>What are other banking and finance fees that you don't really have to pay?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking banking checking credit cards fees savings Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Damian Davila 1199895 at 12 Places to Keep Your Money Safe — And Growing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-places-to-keep-your-money-safe-and-growing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="mobile banking" title="mobile banking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Maybe you've heard a story like this: An entirely ordinary &mdash; and often reclusive &mdash; elderly person passes away, revealing the millions of dollars they have stashed away in their modest homes.<a href=""> One Nevada man died to reveal a fortune</a>, including gold bars and coins, worth more than $7 million. His bank account was found to be holding a meager $200.</p> <p>In an age when there are so very many options for saving, investing, and managing our money, the notion that people still really do put cash under their mattresses is a bit hard to imagine. Then again, if you've been faced with the task of deciding where to keep your savings, you've probably discovered it isn't an easy one, precisely because there are so many choices.</p> <p>So where can you keep your money safe but still earn a decent return? Here are some key options.</p> <h2>Savings Accounts</h2> <p>They're simple, they're convenient, they're easy to find and they're perfectly safe in terms of protecting your principal investment. Because there is so much competition, you can also find a decent interest rate if you shop around. Just be sure to choose an account with no fees. Who wants to pay to save? (See also: <a href="">Why Savings Account Interest Rates Are So Low</a>)</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who prioritize liquidity (the ability to withdraw your money whenever you want it without restrictions) above all other conveniences. If you're looking to save for shorter term goals, or for an emergency fund, a savings account is a great option.</p> <h2>Money Market Accounts</h2> <p>This type of savings account tends to provide higher returns than a typical savings account, but that also has more restrictions on withdrawals and minimum deposits. Some money market accounts even allow some check-writing privileges. These accounts are risk free in terms of losing your initial deposit and, like a simple savings account, are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which protects your deposits against bank failure.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who value safety and are willing to forego some convenience and accessibility for higher rates of return.</p> <h2>High-Yield Checking Accounts</h2> <p>Many checking accounts charge a monthly fee, but some checking accounts, often called &quot;high yield checking accounts,&quot; actually offer pretty solid interest rates instead. These accounts are typically offered by local credit unions and online banks and, as of July 2014, some offered interest rates as high as 5% &mdash; although there are quite a few caveats to scoring that kind of return. You can run a search of these types of accounts and what they offer at <a href="">CheckingFinder</a>.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who seek safety, reasonably good liquidity and don't mind jumping through a few hoops for a higher return.</p> <h2>Certificates of Deposit</h2> <p>A certificate of deposit, or CD, is a sort of IOU from a bank in which the bank agrees to pay back the amount you deposited plus a specific amount of interest within a certain time frame. For example, if you buy a $1,000 CD with a 5% interest rate, you'll be owed $105 when the CD matures. Generally, you can't withdraw this money before the CD's maturity date without incurring a penalty. However, CDs are very low risk and generally provide higher returns than a savings or money market account. (See also: <a href="">The Basics of CD Laddering</a>)</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who are seeking a long-term savings vehicle and don't expect to need to access their savings immediately.</p> <h2>U.S Savings Bonds</h2> <p>If you can afford to keep your money tied up for at least a year, U.S. savings bonds might be another option to consider. These super-safe investments are sold and backed by the U.S. government and they tend to provide competitive interest rates. As an added bonus, interest on government bonds (unlike corporate bonds) is accrued monthly and compounded semi-annually, helping your investment grow a bit faster. You may also get tax deferral or exemption benefits on the proceeds of government bonds.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>If you're seeking safety and plan to keep your money invested for between one and five years, government bonds may be a good bet for you.</p> <h2>Pay Down Debt</h2> <p>We often think of savings as money that we save, but you could also think of it as money that you spend to save you money. If you have a lot of debt that you're trying to pay off, it's probably best to save up an emergency fund and then put the rest of any money available for saving toward your debt. If you consider that some credit cards have interest rates of 20% or more, paying down your balance actually has a pretty great financial return.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who have what's called &quot;revolving debt,&quot; or debt that you aren't able to pay off at the end of the month and continues to compound interest charges. (See also: <a href="">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a>.)</p> <h2>Pay Down Your Mortgage</h2> <p>Just as paying off your credit card or line of credit can provide a return in the form saved interest expenses, so can paying down your mortgage. Plus, if you consider that a home is one of the most valuable assets many people own, paying into that asset can act as a bit of a savings account you can cash in when you downsize later in life.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Anyone with a mortgage &mdash; as long as you have other essential savings bases covered, such as an emergency fund and retirement savings.</p> <h2>Real Estate</h2> <p>Not everyone is a fan of watching the number of digits in their bank balance grow; some people prefer to invest in something concrete, and that often means investing in real estate. Yes, the real estate market in the United States has had some serious lows in recent years, but over the long term, <a href="">real estate has proved to have reasonable growth</a>.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who like concrete investments, who can handle some long-term risks, and who aren't interested in liquidity at all. Seriously &mdash; it can take months, or years, to sell a property.</p> <h2>Your Workplace Retirement Program</h2> <p>If you have a workplace retirement program, use it. It's as simple as that. Not only will contributions to a retirement plan such as a 401(k) reduce your taxable income, but your investment will also go to work immediately to help ensure that your golden years really are golden. Plus, any employer contribution represents free money, so at least contribute enough to your plan to maximize your employer's matching program.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Anyone who has access to one, particularly if your employer matches some of your contributions.</p> <h2>An IRA</h2> <p>Most types of IRAs are investment vehicles that allow you to save money and defer paying taxes on that money until you retire. The benefit of this arrangement is that savings can grow faster without the headwind taxes represent. It is also assumed that people's income will be lower when they're no longer working, putting them into a lower tax bracket and allowing them to withdraw their funds at a lower tax rate when they retire. (See also: <a href="">Choosing a Retirement Account</a>)</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>IRAs are suitable for most investors, but there are many different types with different rules and benefits. Therefore, it's best to do some research or consult with a retirement planner to help you decide what kind of IRA might work best for you.</p> <h2>A Flexible Spending Account</h2> <p>Medical and other health related costs add up very quickly. That's why some employers offer what are called flexible spending accounts, or FSAs. In an FSA, your employer will deduct pre-tax income from your paycheck and set it aside for you to use on qualifying health expenditures that aren't covered by your regular health insurance plan. Often, you get to decide how much you contribute up to a certain limit. FSAs are a good bet because they ensure you have some money set aside for unexpected medical expenses. Because they're funded with pre-tax income, they can also significantly reduce your income tax bill.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who are concerned about medical expenditures, have health problems or have a number of dependents on their health plan.</p> <h2>Educational Savings Account</h2> <p>If you have children, an education savings account (read: college fund) may be a great place to park your cash. You can contribute up to $2,000 per year, and interest is accumulated tax free. The only caveat to avoiding taxes is that your child has to use the money by the age of 30 for qualifying educational purposes. (See also: <a href="">3 Reasons Not Save For Your Kid's College Education</a>)</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>People with kids, especially if they're bound for the Ivy League &ndash; you're going to need all the money you can get!</p> <p><em>Do you have a great savings vehicle I missed? Let me know where you're keeping your savings in the comments.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Places to Keep Your Money Safe — And Growing" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking banking checking investing IRA money market safe investments saving Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:00:22 +0000 Tara Struyk 1180824 at How to Turn $25 a Week Into Almost $7000 in 5 Years <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-turn-25-a-week-into-almost-7000-in-5-years" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="investment consultant" title="investment consultant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to Bankrate, certificates of deposit with a 5-year maturity (as of 7/18/14) offer a meager 1.74% growth rate &mdash; hardly anything to brag to your friends about. What do you do if you want to make your money grow even more? (See also: <a href="">A Low Risk Investment Plan</a>)</p> <p>One option could be to invest in the stock market. But with such a short time frame as five years, stocks may not be your best option.</p> <p>Instead, a more suitable investment would be to invest in bonds.</p> <p>Specifically, to invest in <em>bond funds</em>.</p> <h2>Why Bond Funds?</h2> <p>Bonds are a more suitable investment than stocks for a shorter period (like five years) because they don't usually fluctuate in value as much as stocks in the short term. They're more conservative, but they won't crater your savings in the short term, either.</p> <p>All of this means that you have a smaller chance of losing your money, and a greater chance of growing your money steadily.</p> <p>So how much could your money grow by investing in bonds? (Bonds are just loans to the government or a company, where you get regular interest payments and the return of your money after a period of time.)</p> <p>According to author and Chartered Financial Analyst <a href="">Rick Ferri</a>, bonds are expected to grow at a rate of 5% over the next 30 years. <a href="">Historically</a>, they've grown at a rate of about 5% as well.</p> <p>With those figures in mind, by investing $25 every week for 5 years &mdash; at a growth rate of 5% &mdash; your money <a href="">will grow to $6,694.84</a> ($194.84 more than if you'd just stuffed it in a mattress) and more if you take the advice below to invest via a Roth IRA.</p> <h2>Choosing Your Bond</h2> <p>The first step is to find an investment company to partner with.</p> <p>These days, there are many companies to choose from. But with minimum requirements often ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, not many will let you invest with a relatively small amount of money.</p> <p>Fortunately, there is one that does, and that company is Schwab. Here's how you can get started investing with them.</p> <h3>Buying Bonds Through Schwab</h3> <p>The first step is to open an <a href="">investment account</a>. You can open your account online, or have someone help you through the process by calling an 800 number.</p> <p>If you're eligible, choose a <a href=",-Employee/Amount-of-Roth-IRA-Contributions-That-You-Can-Make-for-2014">Roth IRA</a>. That's because bonds are best held in a tax-advantaged account such as a Roth. (Check out the &quot;Tax efficiency of bonds&quot; section of this article on <a href="">fund investing</a> for a more in-depth explanation as to why). Doing so will allow your earnings to escape Federal tax and grow to $6,928.94.</p> <p>After you've opened up an account, your next step is to choose the bond fund. Although there are many to choose from, this one is probably your best bet: <a href="">Schwab Total Bond Market Fund</a></p> <p>This portfolio provides the proper asset allocation and diversification needed to build long-term wealth. It's the same fund recommended by the many Bogleheads who invest using a <a href="">Three Fund Portfolio</a>. The Bogleheads are a community of people dedicated to helping others achieve returns far greater than those achieved by the average investor.</p> <p>Now that you have both an account and an investment, the next step is to add money to it.</p> <h2>How Much to Invest</h2> <p>To invest in the bond fund, you need to start with $100. And to continue growing your money, each additional investment needs to be a minimum of $100.</p> <p>Here's how to do it.</p> <p>First, save $25 each week. (See also: <a href="">101 Ways to Save Money Around the House</a>)</p> <p>Need ideas on how to do this? Consider these:</p> <ul> <li>Buy your groceries in bulk and split the food costs with your friends.</li> <li>Rent a video instead of going to the movies.</li> <li>Carpool/walk/bike to work.</li> <li>Bring your own lunch.</li> <li>Make your own coffee.</li> </ul> <p>After one month, you'll have saved $100. Using this money, open your account, choose the bond fund, and start investing with that $100.</p> <p>The next step is to make this automatic, so that you no longer need to think about it. Set up an automatic monthly transfer of $100 (from the $25 you're saving each week). You can make this happen easily through direct deposit, using their Automatic Investment Plan.</p> <p>After your automatic system is set up, all you need to do is sit back and watch your money grow.</p> <p><em>So what would you do with $7,000 in five years? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Turn $25 a Week Into Almost $7000 in 5 Years" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Darren Wu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking Investment bonds direct deposit investing Thu, 07 Aug 2014 13:00:06 +0000 Darren Wu 1177364 at 9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="financial planner" title="financial planner" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I am huge believer in credit unions.</p> <p>When I first arrived to the U.S., I only had my savings and my dreams of completing a MBA degree. As an immigrant I didn't have a credit history or a U.S. bank account. This meant that many big names in banking were hesitant to give me a chance. This made qualifying for a credit card or becoming eligible for a car loan very challenging. Thanks to a local credit union, I was not only able to achieve these milestones, but also build my credit history and become financially independent. (See also: <a href="">How to Switch Banks</a>)</p> <p>Here are the 10 good reasons to choose a credit union instead of a bank.</p> <h2>1. Credit Unions Have Owners</h2> <p>While banks have clients, credit unions have part owners or members. When you open an account, your account is actually a share and provides you voting rights. Instead of a board of directors, decisions are made by vote from shareholders. Each member has a voice in how operations are run, no matter how small her share may be.</p> <p>On top of this, credit unions are not run for profit. Instead these institutions have the ultimate goal of providing their members better rates on loans and financial products. When a credit union makes a profit, it is used to provide better opportunities to the community that it serves.</p> <h2>2. Accounts Have Fewer and Lower Fees</h2> <p>When I was researching checking and savings accounts at banks, I was shocked at the fees they charged. Turns out that the average checking account from a bank has <a href="">30 different fees</a>, such as maintenance and excess withdrawal fees. Some banks have up to 50 unique fees for checking accounts!</p> <p>Unlike big banks, credit unions aim to minimize account fees. For example, credit unions are well known for not charging monthly maintenance fees, which are about $12 to $14 at big name banks.</p> <h2>3. Clerks Talk With You</h2> <p>This is a major advantage of working with a credit union. Credit unions have a much smaller client base, and they work very hard to keep them happy.</p> <p>For example, on my first year I miscalculated an incoming paycheck and wrote a check that was $10 over my bank balance. Instead of charging me an overdraft fee, a rep from my credit union gave me a call and informed me of the situation. He asked me if I could make a deposit to cover the $10 difference by 11 a.m. Also, my credit union gave me a one-time overdraft fee waiver because they understood that it was a rookie mistake.</p> <p>Every time that I need help I know that I can count on talking over the phone with an actual person that works at my credit union &mdash; no redirects to distant call centers. Some clerks even know me by name after so many years. This gives me the confidence of handling matters over the phone and knowing that any issue can be resolved.</p> <h2>4. Lower Financing Costs and Higher Payouts</h2> <p>Data from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) consistently shows that <a href="">credit unions outperform banks</a>. For example, in <a href="">March 2014</a>:</p> <ul> <li>Credit unions had a national average rate of 4.75% for home equity loans, while banks had a 5.33% average rate<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A $2,500 money market investment would have paid an average 0.16% at credit unions and an average 0.12% at banks<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A $10,000 5-year CD yielded a national average 1.32% at credit unions and 1.14% at banks</li> </ul> <h2>5. Access to Financing for Low-Income Individuals</h2> <p>Credit unions do not only offer cheaper financing options, but also provide low-income or financially distressed individuals a chance to qualify for financing. Here are some examples:</p> <ul> <li>Virginia State employees, who are paid on a monthly or semi-monthly basis and have held employment for over 12 years, are eligible for <a href="">loans in $100 increments</a> through the Virginia Credit Union.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Since 2001, the <a href="">North Carolina State Employee's Credit Union</a> has helped over 111,800 of its members to borrow $1.5 billion through $500 salary advance loans at a 12% rate payable within a month. The program enjoys a default rate of less than 0.1%.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>During the 2009-2010 state employee furlough, the <a href="">Hawaii State Federal Credit Union</a> provided a special rate for those members affected by the furlough to borrow up to $5,000. The credit union continues to offer this assistance to members affected by <a href="">federal budget cuts and furloughs</a>.</li> </ul> <h2>6. Friendly Credit Card Terms</h2> <p>Credit unions are well-known for providing some of the most attractive credit cards. Some of the features include:</p> <ul> <li>No annual fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>No introductory rates.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rates start at 7.75%. (The national average for credit union issued credit cards is 11.56%, according to the NCUA.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>State Employee's Credit Union: <a href="">7.75%</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>University of Hawaii Federal Credit Union: <a href=";DRAWER=Products+and+Services&amp;FOLDER=Loans+and+Lines&amp;SubFolder=Credit%20Card">8.50%</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The same APR applies to purchases, cash advances, and <a href="">balance transfers</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Most credit union members enjoy the same APR, regardless of <a href="">credit score</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>No interest periods are often provided during the summer, December holidays, and special occasions.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cash advances can be deposited directly into your checking account at no extra charge.</li> </ul> <p>My very first credit card was through my credit union and I still keep it until this day. I have not been able to find a credit card that matches the great terms that my credit union offers. (See also: <a href="">The PenFed Promise Visa Card Offers a Way to Escape Your Big Bank</a>)</p> <h2>7. Car Loans</h2> <p>When it comes to providing car loans, credit unions have the local advantage over large banks.</p> <ul> <li>As of March 2014, a <a href="">new car 48-month loan</a> stood at a national average of 2.69% at credit unions, and of 4.94% at banks. For used cars 48-month loans, the average rate was 2.87% for credit unions was 5.48% for banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>They often run car loan pre-approval events, so that you have a pre-approval letter from your credit union before you visit a car dealership. Shop with confidence by being 100% sure about your financing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Credit unions often partner with local dealerships for giveaways, such as gift cards for gas stations. For example, forms may be available at your credit union branch to take with you the next time you visit participating dealerships. You can receive free gas cards just for window shopping at a car dealership. The dealer fills out the form to confirm your visit and sends it back to the credit union. A couple days later a gas card is mailed to you.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If your credit union has a gas card partnership with a local dealership, it may also provide an even bigger gas card for financing a new car purchase through your credit union.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The more, the merrier: Some car dealerships may run &quot;credit union days.&quot; At these events, you can browse financing offers from other credit unions, and, if you find a better one, inquire if you're eligible.</li> </ul> <h2>8. Private Lines of Credit for College Students</h2> <p>Most credit unions partner with <a href="">Credit Union Student Choice</a> to offer a private line of credit to supplement college education costs. The main advantages from these private student loans are:</p> <ul> <li>Zero fees: no origination, application, or prepayment fees.</li> <li>Lower interest rates than comparable private lines of credit.</li> <li>Flexible repayment plans including school deferment.</li> <li>Loans start at $1,000.</li> </ul> <p>Almost 2,000 colleges across the U.S are eligible for loans from Credit Union Student Choice. To apply you must be enrolled at least part-time in a four year degree program at a participating public or private college.</p> <h2>9. Christmas Savings Accounts</h2> <p>Several people end up with a financial hangover from the Black Friday and Christmas &quot;deals&quot; because they rack up their store and credit cards. Shopping for gifts on plastic is a dangerous habit. (See also: <a href="">Best Credit Cards for the Holidays</a>)</p> <p>While almost no banks run &quot;Christmas Clubs&quot; any more, nearly 72% of credit unions do. Christmas Clubs are special savings accounts that encourage saving for the holidays. The main objective of these accounts is to stash this money away from yourself and make the funds grow until the first days of the holiday season. By saving throughout the year with a Christmas Club, you have a higher chance of actually saving and decreasing your credit card use.</p> <p>On top of that, most credit unions do something fun when they deliver your Christmas Club check. If you're having a hard time saving and love anything Christmas-related, then this may be the right savings vehicle for you!</p> <p><em>What are other good reasons to choose a credit union instead of a bank?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking banks credit cards credit unions Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:36:36 +0000 Damian Davila 1158334 at Capital One 360: A Competitive Banking Option <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/capital-one-360-review" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple using laptop" title="couple using laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="171" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's been a few years since <a onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'capone360']);" target="_blank" href="">Capital One</a> bought ING DIRECT</a>, the popular bank that conducted most of its operations online. (See also: <a href="">7 Banks Still Offering Free Interest-Bearing Checking Accounts</a>)</p> <p>For most people looking to centralize their banking and find competitive rates, <a onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'capone360']);" target="_blank" href="">Capital One 360</a> is a viable option. Capital One 360 makes it easy to access all of your accounts, including your investment accounts, from your account summary.</p> <h2>Features and Benefits of Capital One 360</h2> <p>Capital One 360 offers a variety of banking products and services.</p> <h3>360 Savings</h3> <p>This is the classic account that started it all. There are no fees, no minimum requirements, and no catches. Right now, the yield is <a href="" target="_top"><script src=""></script> <script>document.write(type_3000_apy);</script></a>%<img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0"/>, which is reasonably competitive, especially when you consider that there are no minimums and no fees. It&rsquo;s easy to link your account to other banks and set up automatic transfers to make saving easy.</p> <h3>Kids Savings Account</h3> <p>My son&rsquo;s savings account at Capital One 360 offers the <script src=""></script><script>document.write(type_3010_apy);</script></a>% yield that kicks the crap out of the 0.20% he was getting at the local credit union. It&rsquo;s easy to monitor the account from your own dashboard and to teach your child the value of saving early on.</p> <h3>360 Checking</h3> <p>You can open a checking account with Capital One 360 and earn a yield on the balance. Current yields range from 0.20% to 0.80%, depending on how much money is in the account. There are 2,000 Capital One ATMs in addition to 38,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs account holders can use.</p> <ul> <li>This account has no fees and no minimums, and you can use P2P Payments to send money to family and friends for free.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bill pay is free, even when you have paper checks sent.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can use CheckMate to deposit checks remotely, and the account comes with overdraft protection.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you overdraw your account, you won&rsquo;t end up paying a fee. Instead, you are just charged an interest fee (currently 11.25%) on the overdraft until it&rsquo;s paid off.</li> </ul> <p><a onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'capone360checking']);" target="_blank" href=""><strong>Click here to apply for a Capital One 360 account now.</strong></a></p> <h3>MONEY (Teen Checking)</h3> MONEY is an account created specifically for the teen user. Teach your teen to manage her money with this no fee and no minimum account that earns 0.25% interest. </p> <h3>CDs</h3> <p>The yields on the CDs from Capital One 360 are not as competitive as they could be, ranging from 0.40% to 0.90%. You can choose your term, and you can also choose when you want to receive your interest payments.</p> <h3>Mortgages</h3> <p>The Capital One 360 mortgage offers fixed and variable rate options for a new purchase or a refinance. The closing costs are very straightforward, and right now the rates are still quite low. You can also get a home equity loan with a variable rate starting at 4.0%, or lock in a slightly higher rate for 15 years.</p> <h3>ShareBuilder</h3> <p>With ShareBuilder you can invest in stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs, as well as trade options. There is no account minimum, and you can choose between paying a $12 monthly fee and getting a lower price on trades, or just opening the account with the Basic version. I have this version, in which regular purchases are $9.95 a transaction. However, since I have an automatic investment plan set up, I only pay $4 a transaction. It&rsquo;s easy, straightforward, and the pricing is competitive with the automatic investing.</p> <h3>IRAs</h3> <p>You can choose to open a savings IRA, or you can use ShareBuilder to open an investment IRA. With the savings IRA, you have all the money in CDs and savings accounts; you need to go the ShareBuilder route if you want to invest in stocks, mutual funds, or ETFs. You can also rollover your 401(k) into an IRA from Capital One 360.</p> <h3>Business Account</h3> <p>Capital One 360 also offers business banking products. You can open a business savings account, or a business CD. The current yield on the business savings account is lower than what you get with personal savings, though.</p> <p>You can also use the ShareBuilder 401(k) to set up a retirement plan for your small business. It&rsquo;s fairly easy to set up, and you can offer this benefit to your employees.</p> <h3>Bottom Line</h3> <p>Overall, <a onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'capone360']);" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Capital One 360</a>&nbsp;is a viable competitor. The products offered remain fairly competitive. Additionally, the low-fee, low-hassle structure of the bank makes it easy to open accounts, and avoid watching your wealth erode due to hidden fees and complicated requirements.</p> <p><a onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'capone360']);" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><strong>Click here to apply now</strong></a></p><a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Capital One 360: A Competitive Banking Option" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Miranda Marquit</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking banking banks Capital One ing direct Mon, 30 Jun 2014 14:46:35 +0000 Miranda Marquit 959668 at 10 Reasons Why Bank Vaults Are Much More Interesting Than You Thought <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-reasons-why-bank-vaults-are-much-more-interesting-than-you-thought" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="bank vault" title="bank vault" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For most of us, our exposure to bank vaults probably doesn't extend beyond the clever bank heists we've seen in movies like &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00005NTNR&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=INLM74W2QRX7ZZAM">Ocean's 11</a>&quot; and &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00000JGHM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JR65NLK2ZTZA7NI3">Heat</a>.&quot; In reality, of course, those types of crimes are very, very rare. That's because bank vaults and other covert bunkers that hold valuable goods use some pretty amazing technology to keep things secure. In fact, these ultra-exclusive enclaves of riches have a lot of secrets. (See also: <a href="">The Best and Worst Places to Stash Cash in Your Home</a>)</p> <p>Here are 10 things you probably didn't know about them.</p> <h2>1. They Were Invented as a Result of the Gold Rush</h2> <p>At least in the U.S., bank vaults as we know them today emerged during the Gold Rush of 1849, when unsuccessful prospectors gave up on finding their gold in the ground and decided to get it the easy way &mdash; by robbing a bank. At that time, banks used safes to protect their goods, and bank robbers took to heaving these out the window, hauling them off, and breaking them open in a secure location. Banks quickly decided they needed a secure solution that couldn't be carried off by a determined thief. As a result, safes got ever larger and heavier until, by the 1920s, most banks were using huge, built-in vaults, with walls and doors that were several feet thick.</p> <h2>2. There's a Technological Arms Race With Burglars</h2> <p>Of course, for every genius who can invent a lock, there's another one who can learn to pick it. That sort of technology arms race is ever-present in bank security.</p> <p>Enterprising burglars have cleverly used gunpowder, nitroglycerin, and acetylene torches to pry open the tiny vulnerabilities each new bank vault provided. Today's most secure bank vaults include more technology than ever, including things like heat sensors, motion detectors, and alarms. The very most secure vaults even include things like 22-ton vault doors, machine-gun wielding guards, three foot keys, and robots. When you're guarding trillions of dollars, you can't be too careful.</p> <h2>3. But They've Stuck With a Clever and Innovative Type of Lock</h2> <p>When bank robbers learned to blast through safes with key locks, inventor Linus Yale Jr. introduced a combination lock. But it wasn't long before burglars learned to drill holes in the lock's case and peer inside at the gears to open the lock. And, of course, the simplest way to get into any lock is simply to hold the bank manager hostage until he agrees to open it. So, a man named James Sargent came up with a combination lock that wouldn't open until a set number of hours had passed. Time locks and time delay locks are still used in bank vaults as theft deterrents. Of course, for <a href="">those who work at the bank</a>, not being able to open the vault when you want or need to can occasionally prove to be most inconvenient.</p> <h2>4. They Are Built to Withstand *Almost* Anything</h2> <p>Although the latest bank vaults are built to be disassembled more easily (while still being ultra-secure), historically, bank vaults were built to last. Forever. As a result, some of them will survive almost anything. Even a nuclear blast. In fact, it was two Mosler bank vaults at the Teikoku Bank &mdash; and only those two bank vaults &mdash; that were <a href="">left standing after Hiroshima</a> was hit by an atomic bomb in 1945. In 1957, the U.S. also blasted a bank vault during nuclear testing in Nevada. The 37-kiloton nuke merely loosened the vault's trim.</p> <h2>5. But People Get Through Them Anyway</h2> <p>Most bank robbers don't even bother with the bank's vault; according to the FBI, the <a href="">vast majority of crimes happen at the counter</a>. Of course, that isn't to say that there aren't a few clever criminals who make carefully planned attempts against a bank vault's security features. Sometimes it even works.</p> <p>In 2003, what was believed to be the most impenetrable diamond safe in the world, the Antwerp Diamond Vault in Belgium, was quietly opened during the night. The thieves took so much loot &mdash; $100 million worth &mdash; they couldn't even carry it all away. They set off no alarms. To this day, no one's entirely sure how they pulled it off. You can read about what's now known about the heist in this Wired piece about <a href="">one of the men who was finally convicted</a> of the crime. It's better than fiction.</p> <h2>6. They're Used to Hold Some Unusual and Unexpected Things</h2> <p>Generally, bank vaults are used to hold what we'd typically imagine as valuable goods: Cash, gold, jewels and the like. However, many of the privately owned vaults and depositories are just as impressive, although they hold some unexpected treasures.</p> <ul> <li> <p>The <a href="">Granite Mountain Records Vault</a> in Salt Lake City holds the world's largest collection of genealogical records and records of importance to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="">The Pionen Bunker</a> deep under Stockholm houses a data center that rents secure server space and bandwidth to a number of clients, most infamously WikiLeaks.</p> </li> <li> <p>The Vatican also secures a vault of secret archives in Rome. Its labyrinthine vaults and tunnels hold all kinds of <a href="">relics of Catholic history</a>, many of which have been kept secret from the public.</p> </li> <li> <p>There's also the <a href="">Svalbard Global Seed Vault</a>, a repository of crop seeds from the around the world.</p> </li> <li> <p>There's even a vault just for Colonel Sanders' secret recipe. That's right, <a href="">KFC's secret seasoning is hidden</a> in a super-secure vault in Louisville, Kentucky.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>7. Some Use Natural Protection</h2> <p>Drilling or blasting through bank vault walls has long been a concern in terms of security, which is why some of the most secure vaults are located underground &mdash; or under mountains. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault would certainly survive Armageddon in its cozy space buried 390 feet under a Nordic mountain. The Granite Mountain Records vault is under, well, Granite Mountain. And, in Germantown, New York, a <a href="">former limestone mine below Iron Mountain</a> houses historic records, a data center, and all kinds of mysterious things held by confidential tenants.</p> <h2>8. Some Are So Secure, No One Knows Where They're Located</h2> <p>There's one security feature that cutting-edge technology, armored guards, and impenetrable walls can't beat: secrecy. In Iran, the country's gold reserve remains impenetrable because no one <a href="">can say for sure where it is</a>. And that's about as much as I could find out about it.</p> <h2>9. Some Are So Private, No One Knows Who Owns the Goods</h2> <p>The Swiss are known for their banks &mdash; and their banks' secrecy. That includes top-notch bank vaults securing fortunes from people all over the world. The problem is that some of these people wish to remain so anonymous, that they won't allow their Swiss bankers to contact them. In fact, they don't leave any contact info at all. As a result, Swiss banks now hold <a href="">billions of dollars of unclaimed money</a> that goes dormant when these anonymous clients die.</p> <h2>10. Because They're So Hard to Destroy, They're Often Repurposed</h2> <p>Because many of the older bank vaults are almost impossible to destroy, they're often repurposed and incorporated into the new businesses that take over former bank buildings. You can find bank vaults, and their big, clockworks-like doors, worked into <a href="">stylish hotels, restaurants, and board rooms</a>, among other things. Well, that's one way to find yourself on the inside of a bank vault.</p> <p><em>Have you ever seen the inside of a bank vault? How'd you get there? Share your secret in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Reasons Why Bank Vaults Are Much More Interesting Than You Thought" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking Technology bank vaults hideouts safes storage Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:00:36 +0000 Tara Struyk 1142089 at The Simple 5-Step Plan to Complete Money Management <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-simple-5-step-plan-to-complete-money-management" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="money stress" title="money stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="158" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you struggle with managing your money? Is staying on top of your finances complicated and time-consuming for you?</p> <p>If so, follow the simple five step plan below &mdash; and the calculators and tools suggested for each &mdash; to get in control. With these simple tools, you have everything you need to make sure you're achieving your financial goals. (See also: <a href="">Painless Ways to Manage Money With a Partner</a>)</p> <h2>1. Create a Debt Elimination Plan</h2> <p>This is the most important tool. You can't build wealth and win the money game as long as you're in debt.</p> <p>This tool lets you track all your debts in one place, so that you have a good grasp of your overall financial picture. The beauty of this tool is that you can run different payment scenarios, such as determining the order you want to off your debts. This lets you see how fast you can get out of debt, and how much money you can save in interest payments.</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href=";mode=public">Debt Elimination Calculator</a> (Google Sheets)</p> </li> </ul> <h2>2. Develop a Budget</h2> <p>The next tool you need is a budget. This lets you see how much money you're bringing in and how much you're sending out.</p> <p>With this tool, you can tell if you're overspending, which leads to debt. But it'll also show you if you're spending within your means, which creates a cushion to help you get ahead financially.</p> <p>If you're overspending, you can instantly see where you may want to cut expenses. And if you're spending within your means, you can think about the many possibilities you have for spending the extra money (such as the occasional splurge).</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href=";category=14&amp;type=spreadsheets&amp;sort=user&amp;view=public">Budget Spreadsheets</a> (Google Sheets)</p> </li> </ul> <h2>3. Improve Your Credit</h2> <p>If you're like most people, you need to get around town with a car, and you think about owning a dream home. Unless you have the cash to pay for these in full, you'll probably need to take out a loan. And that means you'll pay interest.</p> <p>To save the most amount of interest, you'll need a good credit score. Let's say you take out a 30-year mortgage on a $200,000 house. Comparing the difference between a score in the best range with the worst range (According to <a href="">myFICO</a> as of May 2014), you'd save over $68,000.</p> <p>There are several &quot;free&quot; sources of credit scores (you've heard the jingles and seen the commercials). While those services may provide some value, they do not actually report the credit scores kept by the <a href="">three major reporting agencies</a>.</p> <p>To get those scores, visit <a href=""></a>. You're entitled to one free report from each of the three bureaus per year.</p> <h2>4. Create an Investment Plan</h2> <p>Investing is one of the best ways to build financial security for your future.</p> <p>And the biggest determinant of your investing results is your asset allocation, which is how you decide to split your money between stocks and bonds. (See also: <a href="">The Basics of Asset Allocation</a>)</p> <p>So how do you decide on yours?</p> <p>Most of the major investment services offer lots of calculators and tools to help you figure it out, but here's one:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="">Vanguard Investor Questionnaire</a></p> </li> </ul> <p>With this knowledge, you can make investing decisions for accounts such as your 401(k) and IRA. Better yet, you can revisit this tool when circumstances in your life change, and see if this changes your proposed asset allocation.</p> <h2>5. Track Your Net Worth</h2> <p>The last tool you need is one that'll keep track of your net worth. This is important because it'll show you how you're doing overall in the money game. It'll help you stay focused.</p> <p>For instance, if your goal is to leave your day job once you become a millionaire, this tool will show you when you've reached that target. Then you can stop working and enjoy more time with your family and friends!</p> <p>Here, you have two options.</p> <p>If you want your net worth calculated automatically and don't mind storing your personal account information online, a site like <a href="">Mint</a> will do the job for you. It can also help with budgeting, and paying your bills on time, and preparing your taxes.</p> <p>But if you don't want your personal details kept on the web, here's a spreadsheet you can use:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href=";mode=public">Basic Net Worth Calculator</a></p> </li> </ul> <p><em>What tools do you find most helpful in staying on top of your finances? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Simple 5-Step Plan to Complete Money Management " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Darren Wu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking Debt Management Investment debt financial calculators money management Thu, 29 May 2014 08:48:32 +0000 Darren Wu 1140874 at Online Savings Account Face-Off: Ally Bank vs Capital One 360 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/online-savings-account-face-off-ally-bank-vs-capital-one-360" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="piggy banks" title="piggy banks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="206" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most personal finance experts &mdash; including Dave Ramsey, Ramit Sethi, and Suze Orman &mdash; talk about the importance of saving money. Whether it's for an emergency fund in case you lose your job, or you're saving for a specific purchase so that you don't get into debt &mdash; a savings account will definitely keep you out of trouble.</p> <p>But with the myriad banks that exist today, it can be a daunting task to find one that has a savings account that meets your needs.</p> <p>Luckily, you don't have to compare the features offered from every single bank. Two of the most well-known banks today are <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'bank_ally']);">Ally Bank</a> and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'bank_capone360']);">Capital One 360</a>. So I'm going to weigh the pros and cons of each of their savings accounts.</p> <h2>Interest Rate</h2> <p>Ally Bank's rate is currently 0.86 percent. Capital One 360's rate is currently <a href="" target="_top"><script src=""></script> <script>document.write(type_3000_apy);</script></a> percent<img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0"/>. Since both of these rates are so low right now, it doesn't make a huge difference in making your money grow.</p> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> Ally Bank</p> <h2>Compounding Frequency</h2> <p>This refers to how often your money grows and earns interest. The interest you earn is reinvested in your account, which gives you even more interest in the future. In other words, you earn interest on your interest.</p> <p>So the more often your interest compounds, the more money you'll make.</p> <p>With Ally Bank, your interest is compounded every day. With Capital One 360, your interest is compounded on a monthly basis.</p> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> Ally Bank</p> <h2>Bonus Sign-up Offers</h2> <p>Sometimes, banks will offer you a bonus to entice you to open up for an account. At this time, Capital One 360 is offering a $25 bonus &mdash; if you open an account with at least $250 (through an invitation from a current customer, or via <a href="">Capital One 360's referral signup page</a>).</p> <p>That works out to an immediate 10% return on your money. Ally Bank doesn't offer a bonus at this time.</p> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> Capital One 360</p> <h2>Sub-Savings Accounts</h2> <p>Saving for the specific things you want &mdash; such as a vacation to Hawaii, Christmas gifts, or a new outfit &mdash; will help you stay focused on your goals. Having sub-savings accounts at the same bank lets you do this easily.</p> <p>Both banks allow you to open sub-savings accounts, and even name them after the things you're saving for.</p> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> Tie</p> <h2>Fees</h2> <p>Nowadays, there's no need to open an account with a bank that charges fees just to hold and use your money. Luckily, both banks come with zero monthly maintenance fees, and no minimum balance requirements.</p> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> Tie</p> <h2>Depositing Checks</h2> <p>Since both bank accounts are online accounts, do you wonder what you'd do if you received a paper check? How would you deposit it?</p> <p>Well, the good news is that both banks allow you to conveniently deposit a check from anywhere, using either a smartphone app, or by scanning it through your computer.</p> <p>What if you prefer mailing your checks instead? Both banks will also let you mail your checks for deposit. But Ally Bank provides postage-paid envelopes, so that you can mail them for free.</p> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> Ally Bank</p> <h2>Accessing Your Money After You're Gone</h2> <p>Lastly, if you're going to open an account, you'll want to be sure that your loved ones are able to get to your money easily if anything happens to you.</p> <p>Payable on Death accounts let you do this without any hassle. Ally Bank offers this benefit with their accounts, but Capital One 360 doesn't.</p> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> Ally Bank</p> <h2>My Thoughts and Recommendation</h2> <p>The thing I like best about <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'bank_capone360']);">Capital One 360's account</a> is the sign-up bonus. And the thing I really love about <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'contenttext', 'bank_ally']);">Ally Bank's account</a> is the Payable on Death feature.</p> <p>But honestly? You can't go wrong with either.</p> <p><em>Which online savings account do you like best?</em></p> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'bank_capone360']);">Click here to apply at Capital One 360</a></strong></p><a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Online Savings Account Face-Off: Ally Bank vs Capital One 360" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Darren Wu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking ally bank bank reviews capital one 360 savings accounts Wed, 13 Nov 2013 09:48:04 +0000 Darren Wu 1083926 at 5 Things Your Teen Needs (or Doesn’t Need) in a Bank Account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-your-teen-needs-or-doesn-t-need-in-a-bank-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="teen" title="teen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Teens taught to save from an early age may gain an advantage over kids with no parental direction concerning finances. How you handle your money matters will have a <a href="">strong impact on your child's view of money</a> and the values they hold into adulthood. While many people across the county are still struggling to put away cash from each paycheck they receive, teens that learn healthy financial habits will likely struggle less with their money management. (See also: <a href="">Helping Your Teen Understand Money</a>)</p> <p>In addition to prioritizing savings, teens also should start learning the basic fundamentals of personal money management such as being responsible for balancing their checkbook and paying any financial responsibilities on time. As a teen's financial responsibilities increase, they will need to establish a savings account and a checking account. (See also: <a href="">Top 5 Prepaid Debit Cards</a>)</p> <p>Here are 5 things every teen needs in a bank account.</p> <h2>1. Money, Money, and More Money</h2> <p>Opening a bank account with or for your teen isn't enough to teach a savings lesson. Parents would be wise to sit down with their child and talk about the benefits of savings and the best methods for hanging on to their cash.</p> <p>Ideally, establishing a <em>must-follow</em> rule of savings, such as 10% of all money they earn or receive, will help a teen get into the habit of heading to the bank first rather than the mall. The savings account should never be touched for any purpose so it can be allowed to grow and earn interest for long-term financial stability. Checking accounts will need to have sufficient amounts of cash for checks written. (See also: <a href="">Advice From a Financially Savvy Teen</a>)</p> <h2>2. More Benefits Than Fees</h2> <p>Banks have been <a href="">capitalizing on the many fees</a> they are creating to keep making huge profits. When it comes to a new account for teens, it is best to shop around at different banks rather than just head to your preferred branch. Your teen should have a bank account that doesn&rsquo;t charge a ton of excessive fees for administration or transactions. Be sure to review the associated fees with your teenager.</p> <h2>3. Avoid Flashy Incentives</h2> <p>There is still a lot of competition in the banking industry, so it is important for teens to understand what makes an account suitable for them. Banks often offer incentives that seem great on the surface but could leave the customer dissatisfied with the other account terms. Teach your teen to look past the <a href="">free stuff and focus on the bank's conditions</a>, fees, and limitations. They should find a bank that offers low-cost or free accounts that do not limit transactions including at the ATM and through checking accounts.Take time to read the fine print with your teenager and if you don't understand the terms, visit with the bank's manager for an explanation.</p> <h2>4. Accessible Banking</h2> <p>There is a good mix of brick and mortar banks and online banks offering great deals on bank accounts. However, some online banks or smaller institutions are not as accessible as a teen needs them to be. If they plan to use an ATM card for withdrawals or need to make cash deposits, they will need to be able to access a bank in person. Consider the accessibility of both the bank and its ATM locations when helping teens make a decision. If you anticipate in-person visits to the bank to cash or deposit checks, an online bank may not make as much sense as opting for a bank with a local branch.</p> <h2>5. Seek Out Banks With Educational Resources</h2> <p>Since your teen is just entering the world of personal finance, finding a bank that also offers free resources for financial education is a wise move. Many of the major banks offer online tools and guides for learning the basics of money. As parents can find it difficult to get lessons across to their kids, online tutorials can help close the gap in learning. Phone apps and other technologies offered by banks can be a very effective teaching tool for today's teens. (See also: <a href="">Money Tools and Toys for Every Age Group</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Wells Fargo offers <a href="">Teen Checking (SM)</a> that include parents in alert messages and account management.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bank of America offers a lot of free information on their <a href="">Student Bank Accounts and Solutions</a> page.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Chase also offers a <a href="">High School Checking Accounts</a> program for teens to help them manage their money.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you set up a savings or checking account for your teen (or younger child)? Has it been educational?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Things Your Teen Needs (or Doesn’t Need) in a Bank Account" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tisha Tolar</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking banks checking accounts savings accounts teen saving Wed, 18 Sep 2013 09:36:07 +0000 Tisha Tolar 986755 at Why You Should Consider an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-should-consider-an-adjustable-rate-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="house" title="house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, may <a href="">be coming back into style</a>.</p> <p>If interest rates rise as they are expected to, ARMs, also sometimes called variable-rate or floating-rate mortgages, may become more popular among both <a href="">homebuyers and homeowners who missed fixed-rates</a> at their record low. ARMs received a bad rap in recent years, since many home loans that defaulted in the housing crash were ARMs. However, many of those loans were subprime mortgages given to borrowers with poor credit, little home equity, and questionable incomes, while today's lending standards are much stricter. (See also: <a href="">7 Financial Must Haves for the First-Time Home Buyer</a>)</p> <p>Maybe ARMs deserve a second chance.</p> <h2>&quot;Arm&quot; Yourself With Financial Basics</h2> <p>First, some ARM basics. The interest rates of ARMs change periodically usually based on an index, such as the Prime Rate or a Treasury bond rate. That means your monthly payment may go up or down. Is that risky? Yes. But the trade-off is the introductory low rate that can help you qualify for a home loan and move into the home you want.</p> <p>Most ARMs today are technically &quot;hybrid ARMS.&quot; They entail an introductory period with a low fixed rate, typically between two and seven years. After that initial period, the rate adjusts periodically based on its index.</p> <p>Common hybrid ARMs are the 3/1, 5/1, or 7/1. The first number indicates how long, in years, the initial fixed rate lasts. The second shows how often the interest rate changes. When the loan adjusts &mdash; usually upward &mdash; after the initial period, it is said to be fully indexed.</p> <p>ARMs offer lower interest rates and smaller monthly payments over the near term and the risk of higher rates in the future. Generally speaking, the shorter the initial fixed-rate term, the lower its rate.</p> <h2>Important Terms to Know</h2> <p>Before we look at seven reasons to choose an ARM, let's look at a few key terms.</p> <p><strong>Index</strong></p> <p>The index is a benchmark measure for rates in general. Lenders have used the one-year constant-maturity Treasury (CMT) securities, the Cost of Funds Index (COFI), and the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).</p> <p><strong>Margin</strong></p> <p>The margin is added to the index to determine your mortgage rate. It depends on the lender, but it usually stays the same. For instance, if the index was 3% and your margin 1%, your rate would be 4%.</p> <p><strong>Cap</strong></p> <p>The cap is how much the rate can increase when it adjusts.</p> <p><strong>Lifetime Cap</strong></p> <p>The lifetime cap is how much the rate can increase over the life of the loan. Look at this to consider the worse-case scenario. A common rate cap for a 5/1 ARM is 2/2/6, which means it could increase up to 2% in the first adjustment, up to 2% in following adjustments, and up to 6% over the life the loan.</p> <p><strong>Payment Shock</strong></p> <p>Payment shock is what happens when your mortgage payment jumps when the rate is adjusted. Before signing the loan documents, run through the numbers by talking to a loan officer or using an online calculator at <a href="">BankRate</a> or <a href="">Zillow</a> to get an idea of how rate increases will impact your monthly payment.</p> <h2>7 Reasons Homeowners Might Choose an ARM</h2> <p>Despite the negative press, an ARM might be the right choice for many homeowners.&nbsp;Consider these seven reasons why.</p> <p><strong>1. You Expect to Earn More</strong></p> <p>If the loan resets into a higher rate, you'll be able to easily afford the larger monthly payment with your increased earnings.</p> <p><strong>2. You Expect to Sell Before the Rate Increases</strong></p> <p>Perhaps you expect a job relocation or plan to renovate the home and sell it for a higher price. While you're living in the home, you can take advantage of the lower ARM rate without worrying about where rates will head in a few years.</p> <p><strong>3. Your Family is Growing</strong></p> <p>Your family will grow within a few years, so you will <a href="">move into a larger home</a> anyway.</p> <p><strong>4. You have Poor Credit, but You Are Fixing It</strong></p> <p>If you repair your credit in a year or two, you can refinance into a new mortgage and qualify for a lower rate.</p> <p><strong>5. You Expect Home Prices to Rise Out of Reach</strong></p> <p>You want to grab the home of your dreams before the price is out of reach but can't qualify for a fixed-rate loan.</p> <p><strong>6. You Have a Crystal Ball</strong></p> <p>You've peered into the future and you know that interest rates will drop or remain low when your loan adjusts.</p> <p><strong>7. You Expect a Windfall</strong></p> <p>Your intention is to pay off the loan early because you have an inheritance coming or a plan to <a href="">win the lotto</a>.</p> <p>Of course, those last two aren't prudent financial decisions. Nevertheless, if rising rates do make your payment unbearable, and it turns out that you don't win the corner office, and your scheme to win the lotto doesn't work out, you can always refinance into another loan as long as home values don't crash. And that's not likely to happen, is it?</p> <p><em>Have you considered an ARM? Would you ever consider an ARM after the housing bust?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Why You Should Consider an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Michael Kling</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking Real Estate and Housing adjustable-rate mortgages home loans interest rates mortgages Thu, 15 Aug 2013 10:24:30 +0000 Michael Kling 980813 at Discover Bank Review: You Know the Card, but What About the Bank? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/discover-bank-review-you-know-the-card-but-what-about-the-bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When many of us think of Discover, we think of credit cards (including the new <a href="">Discover it card</a>). However, Discover offers standard banking services as well as credit cards. In fact, Discover Bank features competitive yields on savings products and some loan products.</p> <p>Discover markets is its savings account as &quot;over 5X the National Savings Average,&quot; although the yields aren't the highest available. But they are high enough to justify considering an account with <a target="_blank" href=";fot=1085&amp;foc=1" rel="nofollow">Discover Bank</a>.</p> <h2>A Little History Behind Discover Bank</h2> <p>The Discover card was launched in 1986, but the bank is a more recent invention. The company likes to push that fact that the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index has ranked Discover (the card) #1 in customer loyalty for 17 years in a row.</p> <p>Discover Bank cropped up during the boom in online banking that occurred a few years ago. The online aspect provides Discover with the ability to offer savings products to consumers, in addition to credit cards.</p> <p>For the first quarter of 2013, Bankrate gave Discover Bank its 5-Star Safe &amp; Sound rating. Even though Discover Bank is FDIC-insured, many consumers still like to see that their bank has good health.</p> <h2>Features and Benefits of Discover Bank</h2> <p>As you might expect, Discover offers credit cards, including the Discover it card, a version of the Discover it for students, and business credit card options. All of these credit cards are considered reasonably competitive and offer access to Discover's cash back program. In addition to the well-known credit card offerings, Discover Bank offers a range of savings products, as well as three loan products.</p> <p><strong>Online Savings</strong></p> <p>As of September 2014, Discover Bank offers 0.85% APY on its online savings account. This is high enough to remain competitive and be a top tier offering, but it's not the highest yield you'll find out there. There is no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fee. However, you do need $500 to open an online savings account.</p> <p><strong>Money Market Account</strong></p> <p>Discover Bank also offers a money market account. As of this writing, the APY on a money market account is 0.70% on deposits of between $2,500 and $99,999. Balances of over $100,000 pay a yield of 0.80%. You need $2,500 to open a money market account, and there is a $10 fee for months in which your average daily balance dips below $2,500. You can access funds via check, debit card, or online. However, this is still considered a savings account, so you are limited to six withdrawals a month.</p> <p><strong>CDs</strong></p> <p>Discover Bank offers competitive CD rates, with a one-year CD at 1.00% as of this writing. If you are willing to lock up the money for a longer period of time, the rates are above 1%. You need a minimum of $2,500 to open a CD account. There are also renewal options that make it easy <a href="">to build CD ladders</a> and renew your CD when the term is up.</p> <p><strong>Retirement</strong></p> <p>You can include your retirement planning with Discover Bank. Discover Bank can help you rollover your 401(k) to an IRA, or to transfer your IRA. You can also include CDs in an IRA, and Discover Bank can help you do that, too. Although Discover Bank touts its IRA CD, the reality is that the virtually the same APYs are offered, and you don't get any truly special perks; you just hold the CD account in an IRA.</p> <p><strong>Loan Products</strong></p> <p>You can choose from three different types of loans with Discover Bank:</p> <ol> <li>Mortgages</li> <li>Student Loans</li> <li>Personal Loans</li> </ol> <p>Discover Bank touts its personal loan as one that can be used to consolidate debt as well as to finance larger purchases. There are also a variety of student loans to choose from, including those intended for graduate students as well as undergraduate students. It's even possible to get a bar exam loan designed to help law students pay for prep and the cost of the exam.</p> <p><strong>Mobile Banking</strong></p> <p>Discover Bank offers a mobile banking app that makes it easy to access your account from anywhere. You can manage your account from your mobile app, including taking a look at how much interest each account has earned. The mobile banking app from Discover also includes remote deposit. This is a convenient feature that many banks are adopting. It's also possible for you to schedule your bill payments using this app. There is a handy ATM locator that can help you access your money in the &quot;real world&quot; &mdash; no matter where you are.</p> <p>It's also worth noting that Discover is compatible with Google Wallet, so you can add your credit card information to your digital wallet without too much trouble.</p> <h2>Educational Resources and Customer Service</h2> <p>You will find a number of educational resources on the <a target="_blank" href=";fot=1085&amp;foc=1" rel="nofollow">Discover Bank</a> website. There is a retirement planning center, as well as a number of helpful articles on financial management. You can also find an extensive help center that features FAQs related to various products and services. You can find contact information as well, including online contact, phone contact, and even snail mail contact information. Discover claims that it offers 24/7 assistance, so you can call anytime.</p> <h2>ShopDiscover</h2> <p>Discover offers its own shopping portal, which you can access from the Discover Bank website. If you have a credit card, you can get &quot;super-charged&quot; cash back at more than 200 retailers. For frequent shoppers, this can be a way to build up cash back even faster.</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>Discover Bank isn't particularly outstanding when it comes to online banking, but it is a solid choice. On savings products, you receive yields that are considered top tier. You can also get access to a different loan products that provide you with a range of options.</p> <p>Hard-core rate chasers will probably find Discover Bank a bit tame. However, if you are looking for a reliable online bank with easy-to-use features and a mobile app, Discover Bank is a reasonably good choice.</p> <p><strong><a target="_blank" href=";fot=1085&amp;foc=1" rel="nofollow">Click here to apply now.</a></strong></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Discover Bank Review: You Know the Card, but What About the Bank?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Miranda Marquit</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking banking CD credit cards IRA online bank savings accounts Fri, 02 Aug 2013 10:36:38 +0000 Miranda Marquit 980983 at Would You Dance to Avoid a Fee? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/would-you-dance-to-avoid-a-fee" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="dance" title="dance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="604" height="340" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>That's the question Fidelity asked...sort of. More specifically, they asked ATM users &mdash; while they were at the ATM &mdash; if they'd rather pay a fee or dance to get their cash. The video below shows those who danced. I don't know if these are real ATM users or if the video was casted (I always assume these things are casted, but hey, I can be kind of a cynic). Either way, it's fun to watch people bust out some sweet dance moves on the street &mdash; and it's always good to avoid an ATM fee.</p> <p>Video Link: <a href=";list=PL33712C953961F6BB">Would You Dance Instead of Paying ATM Fees?</a></p> <p><em>So...would you dance to avoid paying ATM fees?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Would You Dance to Avoid a Fee?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Meg Favreau</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking Lifestyle ATM bank fees Fidelity Mon, 29 Jul 2013 09:48:32 +0000 Meg Favreau 980895 at Buy the Same House Twice for Less Than Buying It Once <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/buy-the-same-house-twice-for-less-than-buying-it-once" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="refinance" title="refinance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Earlier this year, my husband and I refinanced our house. The entire process took just a shade more than six weeks. It was our first-ever refinance, on our first-ever mortgage. While nothing totally unexpected happened, the experience was instructive. (See also: <a href="">Will 4.5% Mortgage Rates Jumpstart the Housing Market?</a>)</p> <p>If you are preparing to refinance, here are some of the basics you should know.</p> <h2>A Refinance Is Another Loan</h2> <p>The first thing to understand is that a refinance is actually another loan.</p> <p>When you refinance, you are getting a new mortgage to pay off your old mortgage. The new loan, though, has (or should have!) a lower interest rate. And, if you get a 30-year loan, <a href="">you end up starting over again</a>. Generally, your refinance is only for the amount you still owe on the house, so the loan amount is smaller than your original mortgage amount.</p> <p>So, since the interest rate is lower, you have another 30 years to pay off the loan, and the mortgage is for a smaller amount than your original loan, you usually end up with a lower payment. This can help with your cash flow now, and if the interest rate is low enough, you often pay less over the life of the mortgage, even though it's stretched out to another 30 years.</p> <p>Because a refinance is a new home loan, you need to jump through a lot of the same hoops you cleared to get your mortgage in the first place.</p> <h2>Required Documents and Info</h2> <p>Since you are getting a loan &mdash; and a pretty big one at that &mdash; you need many of the same things required for your original mortgage.</p> <ul> <li>If you want access to the best rates, <a href="">you need to have good credit</a>. The lender will check your credit score and offer you an appropriate rate. You're not in the clear after the initial pull, either. The lender will check your credit again before the loan closes, so don't rack up additional debt on your credit cards or open new lines of credit.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You will also need to provide proof of income (tax returns, pay stubs), as well as copies of your bank statements for the last two months and statements for other asset accounts (such as a retirement or savings) you own. Because most of my family's income comes from my business, I also sent PayPal statements, since the lender wanted to see where the large, periodic deposits on sometimes odd days were coming from.</li> </ul> <p>The lender will have a lot of paperwork for you to sign at the outset, including the Good Faith Estimate, which outlines the terms of your loan and the out-of-pocket expenses you can expect to pay. Make sure you read everything carefully before you sign.</p> <h2>Patience and More Documentation May Be Required</h2> <p>Once you get the ball rolling, you will be presented with the opportunity to &quot;lock in&quot; your interest rate. If you are concerned that mortgage rates will rise before your loan closes, locking your rate is a good idea. Things can change quite a bit in the four to eight weeks that it can take for your refinance to close, and you want to make sure that you still have access to the good rate you were quoted.</p> <p>Throughout the process, you will be presented with updated Good Faith Estimates, and requests for documentation. At one point during my refinance, I was shocked to see that my out of pocket expenses rose dramatically partway through. I was concerned, but my loan team assured me that the final numbers would be closer to what I was originally quoted (and they were).</p> <p>One of the issues is that your final numbers depend, in part, on how quickly your new lender can get a payoff amount from your current lender. Additionally, when the closing happens matters as well. Normally, your lender will give you a target closing date so that you can prepare. If you want to hit that closing date, it's vital that you respond to requests from your lender immediately.</p> <p><a href="">My refinance was handled by Quicken Loans</a>, and it took place entirely over the Internet. It was fairly easy to scan and upload all of my documents, and the online interface was easy to manage. If your refinance takes place locally, find out how the lender prefers to receive your paperwork (you might have to take it to the branch). Since the huge stack of papers does need to be signed in person, Quicken sent a notary to our house, and he took care of everything. You might have to go into the bank, or receive the packet in the mail and find your own notary to witness your signature.</p> <p>One of the scariest things about a refinance is that, once you get things moving and the initial steps are taken, it can be two or three weeks before you hear anything from a lender. The underwriting process can take a while, so be prepared. If you are concerned, you can always contact your lender and get an update on your status.</p> <h2>Fees and Rights</h2> <p>As with other loans, you normally have fees to pay with a refinance. Our fees amounted to a little more than $1,700. With our savings of more than $300 a month, we've already almost broken even on the fees. Fees that you might have to pay with a refinance include an appraisal fee, inspection fee, attorney fee, and title search fee. Your old mortgage might also have a prepayment penalty, or you might want to pay points in order to reduce your interest rate.</p> <p>Depending on the refinance you are eligible for, however, you might not have to worry about some of those fees. My refinance was done through <a href="">HARP</a> (which is scheduled to end December 31, 2013), and I wasn't required to have <a href="">an appraisal or an inspection</a>. This made the process a little easier.</p> <p>Before you get too far in, make sure that you understand exactly what fees you will pay and when they need to be paid. Also, realize that a &quot;no cost&quot; refinance might actually involve rolling your fees into the mortgage. There's no cost to you up front, but you pay over time. Find out if you are paying the fees that way, or if the lender is truly covering your costs. And, finally, know your rights. You usually have three days to change your mind on a refinance after you close.</p> <p><em>Have you refinanced recently? What was the process like for you?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Buy the Same House Twice for Less Than Buying It Once" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Miranda Marquit</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking Real Estate and Housing home buying mortgage real estate refinance Thu, 25 Jul 2013 10:24:31 +0000 Miranda Marquit 980835 at SavedPlus Giving Away $3,000 to Wise Bread Readers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/savedplus-giving-away-3000-to-wise-bread-readers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>Editor's Note</strong>: The contest is over! Thanks for participating. We're emailing the winners Dan K, Susan H, and Kimberly R right now so be sure to check your mailboxes!</p> <p>SavedPlus, a <b>free</b> savings tool that automatically deposits a small percentage of your purchases into your savings account, is doing a huge giveaway for Wise Bread readers! They are offering two big giveaways:</p> <ol> <li>$1,000 giveaway: &nbsp;A random drawing exclusive to Wise Bread readers.</li> <li>$20 for first 100 Wise Bread readers who try out SavedPlus features.</li> </ol> <p>SavedPlus works a lot like your bank&rsquo;s &ldquo;keep the change&rdquo; programs &mdash; except it is even better! SavedPlus is completely free and even more flexible. On average, SavedPlus users save an extra <b>$205 a month</b>. names it one of the <a href="">Top Three Apps for reaching your savings goals</a>. See how SavedPlus works:</p> <div align="center"> <p><object width="560" height="315"> <param name="movie" value="//;hl=en_US" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed src="//;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p> </div> <h2>How to Enter the Two Giveaways</h2> <h3>Giveaway 1: $1,000 Giveaway</h3> <p><strong>Follow these three easy steps to enter:</strong></p> <ol> <li>Download the free SavedPlus App for <a href="">iPhone</a> or <a href="">Android</a>.</li> <li>Go to the SavedPlus website and <a href="">register your account</a> (click on the &ldquo;register&rdquo; tab).</li> <li><a href="">Leave a comment below</a> this post saying &ldquo;I registered!&rdquo; Make sure to enter your email address in the &ldquo;E-mail&rdquo; box (see <a href="">example</a>). Please enter the same email address you used for the SavedPlus registration so we can track you down when you win!</li> </ol> <p>The $1,000 prize will be divided among 3 winners:</p> <ol> <li>$500 grand prize winner.</li> <li>$300 second prize winner.</li> <li>$200 third prize winner.</li> </ol> <h3>Giveaway 2: $20 for First 100 Readers Who Try SavedPlus</h3> <p>We&rsquo;re especially excited about this second giveaway. Instead of a giveaway based on luck or skill, this is simply a generous <b>free $20</b> from SavedPlus to thank you for trying out their program.</p> <p>To enter, simply follow the <b>same three steps described above</b> &mdash; and then add one additional step: Link a savings or checking account to your SavedPlus account. Your $20 will be deposited within two weeks of the accounts being linked.</p> <h3>Giveaway Rules</h3> <p><b>Ends at 08/15/13</b> 11:59 pm PST. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years or older. Winners will be randomly selected and announced on Wise Bread before end of September, 2013. Void where prohibited. If we cannot contact winners within three business days we reserve the right to pick new winners. $20 giveaway is limited to first 100 registered users. This is a giveaway hosted by SavedPlus. Wise Bread is not legally responsible for the prize distributions.</p> <h2>About Our Giveaway Sponsor</h2> <p>Saving money takes a lot of will power. Anything that can make the process <b>automated</b> and <b>painless</b> can make a huge impact. With just a few clicks you can set up SavedPlus to create an emergency fund, save for a mortgage payment, or even set aside donations for charity. In fact, SavedPlus has teamed up with local charities like <a href="">United Way of Silicon Valley</a> to offer customized donation options.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="">BarbainBabe</a> &mdash; the blog founded by LA Daily News reporter Julia Scott &mdash; sums it up best:</p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;Once set up, SavedPlus allows you to set a savings percent (5-20%) to be transferred to your savings every time you make a purchase. SavedPlus offers flexible savings, putting the choice into your hands. SavedPlus allows you to save often, by transferring money into your savings with every purchase; save a little, by transferring a percentage set by you; and save without thinking because SavedPlus automates your savings!&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </blockquote><a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="SavedPlus Giving Away $3,000 to Wise Bread Readers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking Budgeting Giveaways Fri, 12 Jul 2013 10:36:33 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 980559 at Charged With an Overdraft Fee? Get Your Money Back! <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/charged-with-an-overdraft-fee-get-your-money-back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="cash" title="cash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Picture this: You login to your checking account to review your transactions &mdash; and BAM!</p> <p>You've been hit with a $35 overdraft fee. Your account has a negative balance, and it's showing in bold red font. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">Banks Can Manipulate Your Transactions, Then Charge You 1750% Overdraft Fee</a>)</p> <p>What do you do now?</p> <p>Two things: Get your money back, and make sure it never happens again.</p> <p>I'll show you how to do both. Let's start with getting your money back.</p> <h2>Getting Your Overdraft Fee Refunded</h2> <p>Banks spend lots of money trying to earn your business. Your deposits are used to lend money to other customers, in products such as a mortgages or business loans. They profit by charging interest and end up pocketing millions of dollars.</p> <p>So once they get you as a customer, the last thing they want to do is lose your business. You mean a lot to them.</p> <p>Knowing this, you're now in a position of power &mdash; negotiating power.</p> <p>To get your overdraft fee refunded, just call customer service and ask for the fee to be removed. Be polite, but firm.</p> <p>Tell the representative what you want, and why it's in their best interest to give you what you want.</p> <p>Don't get angry, but be persistent. If you've been a responsible customer, you'll get the waiver sooner or later.</p> <p>If you need more guidance, follow this simple script on <a href="" target="_blank">negotiating out of bank fees</a>. Trust me; it works. I know, because I've used it myself!</p> <p>It'll be the quickest, easiest $35 you'll ever save.</p> <p>Yet you should only need to do this once. Because after you get your money back, you'll move on to the next step.</p> <h2>Make Sure It Never Happens Again</h2> <p>Once you get your money refunded, you should set up your finances so that <a href="" target="_blank">overdraft fees</a> will be a thing of the past for you. Here's how.</p> <p><strong>Put Your Bills on Your Card</strong></p> <p>First, charge everything you can to your credit card. This includes routine expenses such as your cable, internet, and cell phone bills, plus other stuff such as eating out, groceries, and gas purchases.</p> <p>By putting these charges on your card, overdraft fees will no longer be an issue.</p> <p>Why?</p> <p>Because you can set up automatic payments to be sent from your checking account to your credit card before your bill's due date, so that you don't get hit with a late fee. Better yet, since you're charging purchases to the card <a href="" target="_blank">that you'd normally make anyway</a>, you'll get more <a href="" target="_blank">bonus points</a> or cash back.</p> <p>But what about other bills that can't be charged to your credit card? Some expenses must be paid directly from your checking account. These can include your monthly electricity and gas bills, your rent or mortgage, and other expenses such as DMV fees.</p> <p><strong>Plan and Manage Your Expenses</strong></p> <p>Here's how to manage both your credit card and non-credit expenses.</p> <p>Since many of us get paid twice a month, the first thing to do is to wait for your second payday of the month.</p> <p>Let's say you get paid at the end of May. Your credit card bill will likely be due in the beginning of June, for purchases you made in the April and May timeframe.</p> <p>Knowing this, just perform this simple calculation &mdash; since your paycheck goes into your checking account, enter your checking account balance first. Then subtract your upcoming credit card balance that you'll be fully paying off. After that, subtract the upcoming expenses that can't be charged on your card.</p> <p>Lastly &mdash; and most importantly &mdash; leave $200 as a buffer in case unexpected expenses pop up before your next pay period. Then you're free to do whatever you want with the money that remains &mdash; save it, invest it, or splurge with it (okay, don't splurge with it).</p> <p>That's it. Once you set up this process, maintaining it will be easy, like second nature, and you'll never have to worry about getting hit with an overdraft fee again.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been socked with an overdraft fee? Did you fight it and win? Tell us about it in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Charged With an Overdraft Fee? Get Your Money Back! " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Darren Wu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking General Tips bank fees checking accounts negotiate overdraft fees Wed, 19 Jun 2013 10:36:33 +0000 Darren Wu 978034 at