Buy Power Capital One Card Review


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Buy Power Capital One Card Review

Thinking of using a credit card for more than cash rewards or a free hotel stay? What if a credit card could help you save for something more substantial, like a new car or a flexible lease?

It is possible. The BuyPower Card from Capital One® card gives users 5% back on their first $5,000 worth of purchases without any opt-ins or rotating categories and then 2% thereafter. You can redeem rewards against the lease or purchase of a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac car or truck.

[See a full review on CardRatings.com]

There are other perks that make this a card to consider for anyone in the car market: 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months.

Let’s dive in:

The Pros

  • Rewards never expire. This is a big deal because you can really take advantage of the fact most people plan their new car purchases well in advance. Expect to buy sometime in the next five years? This could be a good addition to your wallet if you plan to use it frequently.
  • No rotating categories, no limit on how much you can earn or redeem, and no required opt-ins, which can pose a problem for someone who forgets to check on such things. With those cards if you forget to opt-in you miss out on that quarter’s reward.
  • There are actually several car makers to choose from: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac. GM is the #1 car maker in the U.S. currently according to data from Edmunds.com.
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • You can combine your Buy Power rewards with dealer offers, which could be lucrative if you are willing to shop around. You can use your rewards at any dealer in the country.
  • A great card for General Motors brand loyalists.

The Cons

  • If you don’t use your card very often, the rewards might not be all that impressive. Ditto if you are in the market for a car in a hurry – you’ll need to use the Buy Power card for a while to really bulk up on the rewards.
  • For example, you spend $5,000 out of the gate and earn the full 5% — that’s only $250. But then you put an additional $3,000 a month for the rest of the year on your card at the 2% unlimited, and net another $720. Perhaps not enough to take you from base model to completely tricked-out, but plenty to justify a fancier navigation system or higher-end finishes.
  • This is not the card for balance transfers. There is an initial 0% on purchases, but not balance transfers. That APR is quite high considering the great zero balance transfer options for those with solid credit, such as with the Chase Slate. The cards says balance transfers receive a variable rate of 13.15%, 17.15%, 20.15% or 23.15%, based on your creditworthiness. Same for cash advances – which you should never use a credit card for anyway – are around 25%. Also good to know: If you are a part of the GM Employee Purchase Program, earnings from the card don’t count against that program.

The Takeaway

Capital One has made the Buy Power a strong addition to their existing line-up of cards, which are generally positively reviewed for their customer service.

Some consumers have questions about what credit score you need in order to be approved for this card. In general, this card is tiered toward those with good to excellent credit. That is generally considered to be around a 660 FICO score or higher, but your credit score is not the sole factor in credit decisions.

Get Rich Slowly experts recommend you pay attention to your credit health and get your free report yearly to check for any mistakes.

Related content: A step-by-step guide to getting your free credit report online

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company.



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Best Cities for Retirement


Best Cities for Retirement - Get Rich Slowly

Retirees may have different tastes in culture and recreation, but there are some basic aspects of a retirement living environment that have fairly universal appeal. Getrichslowly.org ranked the 20 best cities for retirement to help you decide where to spend your golden years, coming up with a diverse list, with choices that span across the country. There are some names on the list you might expect, and some that will probably come as a big surprise.

Methodology

Getrichslowly.org took into account the following criteria when deciding where retirees may want to put down roots:

• Personal safety
• Low property taxes
• An affordable cost of living
• A moderate climate

The study looked at where 113 major U.S. cities ranked on each of those criteria, and then averaged those rankings to come up with a list of the 20 best cities for retirement.

With reputations misleading at times, the quantitative approach taken for this study and objective look at the data might cause you to consider a location you would not otherwise think of as a retirement haven.

Best Cities for Retirement 2017

Here is the top 20 list and why each place is great for retirees to settle:

1. Norman, Oklahoma

Best Cities for Retirement: 1. Norman, Oklahoma

A college town like the home of University of Oklahoma might not be an obvious choice for a retirement destination. However, an influx of young, well-educated people provides both economic stimulus and cultural diversity to add life to a community. But why did Norman in particular win the top spot on this list? It was above average in each of the four categories examined, and outstanding in two of those categories: cost of living, where it was the second most affordable, and safety, with one of the 10 lowest crime rates.

2. Raleigh, North Carolina

Best Cities for Retirement: 2. Raleigh, North Carolina

As part of North Carolina’s thriving Research Triangle, Raleigh offers healthy growth and a lively cultural and recreational environment. Quantitatively, it placed in the top quartile for safety, affordability and its moderate climate. Also, North Carolina’s property taxes are generally well below average.

3. Tampa, Florida

Best Cities for Retirement: 3. Tampa, Florida

This is one of the more traditional retirement locations on this list, offering a warm climate and proximity to beaches. With its major league sports and plenty of cultural options, Tampa also offers a big-city feel. In terms of the data looked at for this study, Tampa had the most moderate climate statistics, as measured in terms of avoiding extremes of temperatures and rainfall. It also ranked in the top 15 percent for safety, based on violent and property crime rates.

4. Savannah, Georgia

Best Cities for Retirement: 4. Savannah, Georgia

The coastal city of Savannah is so well-regarded for its beauty and architectural landmarks that it has become a popular locale for filming movies and television programs. As for what it can offer to retirees, the greatest strengths identified by this study were its safety and moderate climate, with Savannah ranking in the top 20 percent in both categories. It also is an affordable place to live, with Georgia’s property tax burdens and the overall cost of living in Savannah being lower than average.

5. Shreveport, Louisiana

Best Cities for Retirement: 5. Shreveport, Louisiana

Whether your vision of how you like to spend time in retirement involves a leisurely stroll through a rose garden, checking out some live music, or sampling some distinctive local cuisine, this Louisiana city has something to offer a variety of lifestyles. The study’s statistics show Louisiana generally has some of the lowest property tax burdens of any state. In addition, the cost of living in Shreveport is well below the national average. One caution though: Shreveport’s overall crime rate is a little higher than that of most cities in this study.

Related -> How much do you need to save for retirement?

6. Durham, North Carolina (tie)

Best Cities for Retirement: Durham, North Carolina

Since Durham is generally thought of as a sister city to nearby Raleigh, it is no surprise that it should also earn its way onto this list. Naturally then, Durham shares many of Raleigh’s favorable characteristics, though its higher crime rate (while still below that of most cities studied) pushed Durham further down in the rankings.

6. Round Rock, Texas (tie)

Best Cities for Retirement: 6. Round Rock, Texas

Most readers will probably find this to be one of the more obscure names on the list. However, that is one of the merits of crunching the numbers – it can unearth some previously unlikely retirement possibilities. Round Rock is very close to Austin, so it shares many of the latter’s attractions, but with a much lower crime rate and a lower overall cost of living.

8. Charleston, South Carolina

Best Cities for Retirement: 8. Charleston, South Carolina

History buffs will appreciate Charleston’s colonial architecture, while outdoors types will enjoy the fact that Charleston is convenient to both the Atlantic Coast and Francis Marion National Forest. Statistically, what stands out about Charleston for retirees are its low crime rate coupled with South Carolina’s generally low property taxes. Be advised though that despite those low taxes the overall cost of living in Charleston is a little higher than in most of the cities studied.

9. Los Angeles, California

Best Cities for Retirement: 9. Los Angeles, California

The first West Coast city on this list, L.A. has many well-known attractions. Still, you might think that L.A. is too big a city to be very retirement-friendly, but the stats show it has a few things going for it. Perhaps surprisingly, it ranked in the top 5 percent for safety due to its low crime rates. Naturally, the Southern California climate is another plus, and L.A. also benefits from California’s generally low property tax burdens. Those low taxes come in handy because, as you might expect from a city of its size, the cost of living in L.A. overall is among the most pricey found in this study.

10. McAllen, Texas

Best Cities for Retirement: 10. McAllen, Texas

Arts and technology come together to enliven the McAllen community, and it benefits from its proximity to both the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico. It scored well primarily on the strength of having the most affordable cost of living out of any city in this study.

Related -> 11 things you may not know about retirement accounts

11. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Best Cities for Retirement: 11. Fort Wayne, Indiana

It’s not a warm-weather site, nor is it located on one of the coasts. So what does Fort Wayne have to recommend it to retirees? Primarily affordability, as Fort Wayne was in the top 10 percent of most affordable cities in this survey. It also scored fairly well for safety.

12. San Diego, California

Best Cities for Retirement: 12. San Diego, California

In contrast to Fort Wayne, San Diego is one of those cities many people would think of as a natural retirement choice. So why does San Diego rank below Fort Wayne on this list? Cost of living is the main issue as San Diego is one of the most expensive of the 113 cities studied. However, if you have the wealth to afford it, you might enjoy the fact that San Diego not only ranks in the top 10 percent for climate, but also for safety.

13. Charlotte, North Carolina

Best Cities for Retirement: 13. Charlotte, North Carolina

North Carolina has the distinction of being the only state with three cities to make the top 20. Charlotte combines a moderate climate with reasonably good rankings for safety and property taxes. The only flaw is the overall cost of living, which is a little on the high side.

14. Lexington, Kentucky

Best Cities for Retirement: 14. Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington is close to the state capitol of Frankfort, and is also reasonably convenient to Louisville and Cincinnati. The primary thing that helped Lexington make the top 20 is the city’s overall affordability, which is in the cheapest 20 percent of cities studied. Property taxes are relatively reasonable as well, and Lexington also ranked well on the basis of safety.

15. New Orleans, Louisiana

Best Cities for Retirement: 15. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is well-known as one of the world’s premier party places and for being a veritable gumbo of multi-culturalism, but is it really a suitable place for retirees? Specifically, what about the high-profile crime issues New Orleans has had over the years? Surprisingly, the average crime rate in New Orleans is toward the safer end of the spectrum compared with other major cities, and New Orleans also has a cheaper-than-average cost of living. Most of all, retirees might appreciate Louisiana’s low property taxes.

Related -> How to open a Roth IRA

16. Boise, Idaho (tie)

Best Cities for Retirement: 16. Boise, Idaho

This is one of the more surprising names on the list, and of course its climate ranks near the bottom. However, this is offset by a very reasonable cost of living and low property taxes, and most of all by safety. Boise’s low crime rate put it in the safest 10 percent of cities. There are plenty of warm weather cities on this list if that’s your priority, but Boise might be an off-beat choice if affordability and safety are more what you are after.

16. Montgomery, Alabama (tie)

Best Cities for Retirement: 16. Montgomery, Alabama

With little or no employment income, many seniors find their biggest tax worry is property tax. That could be a reason to consider retiring to Alabama, which on average has one of the lowest property tax burdens of any state.

18. Richmond, Virginia

Best Cities for Retirement: 18. Richmond, Virginia

While not outstanding in any one area, Richmond made the list by being above-average in all four categories of this study: safety, property taxes, cost of living and climate.

19. Gainesville, Florida

Best Cities for Retirement: 19. Gainesville, Florida

Gainesville scored well for its climate, which being in the northern part of Florida is less rainy than what you are likely to find in the southern part of the state.

20. Columbus, Georgia

Best Cities for Retirement: 20. Columbus, Georgia

Columbus scored well for affordability and its moderate climate. Be advised, though, that it is in the bottom half of the rankings for safety.

Again, there are some surprises on this list, along with more conventional retirement locales. That diversity is a benefit for retirees – not everybody’s priority is to move near a beach, so this list provides you with solid candidates representing a variety of very different lifestyles.

Comment: Did your city land on the Best Cities for Retirement? Where are you planning to retire?

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.



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Best Checking Accounts for 2017


Best checking accounts

Checking accounts are notorious for just sitting there and doing nothing for you except holding onto your cash until you need to pay a bill. But there are accounts out there that do pay interest – albeit minuscule – and offer other benefits and enticements! We’ve done the research for you.

Several things to look for in a checking account:

• No minimum to open
• No minimum to earn interest
• No ATM fees (plus a large network)
• No monthly maintenance fee
• Free checks
• Mobile check deposit and transferring

Here are the best checking accounts for 2017:

360 Checking Account

Capital One 360

With its large network of no-surcharge ATMs, Capital One 360 offers a free checking account that is attractive for consumers looking to avoid common fees while earning interest. There is no minimum to open a 360 Checking account and customers have a variety of tools to manage their finances. These include online and mobile banking, including bill pay and mobile check deposit. Additionally, customers can easily access their money through a network of more than 40,000 free ATMs.

Interest Checking Account

Ally Bank

Online checking accounts provided by banks like Ally Bank give traditional brick-and-mortar institutions a run for their money in terms of annual percentage yield (APY). Not only do Ally Interest Checking account customers earn at least .10% interest on their balance, they could earn up to 0.60% for daily balances $15,000 or more. The high interest checking offered combined with no maintenance fees make Ally a great online bank for customers to grow their money.

High-Rate Checking Account

Alliant Credit Union

Alliant has one of the highest interest rates among the financial institutions featured on this list, advertising a rate 10.8 times the national average. To qualify for a High-rate Checking account, customers must sign up for eStatements and set up one or more monthly electronic deposits to the account. After, they have access to more than 80,000 free ATMs and even qualify for up to $20 per month on rebates when they are charged for using an ATM out of the Alliant network.

Total Checking Account

Chase Bank

Customers who want the benefits of both online and brick-and-mortar checking accounts frequently choose Chase for good reason. Chase has a wide network of 16,000 ATMs combined with 5,200 branches in addition to 24/7 customer support to meet your banking needs. This long-standing bank is also well-known for its online and mobile banking tools, including a popular mobile app. There is a $25 minimum deposit to open an account with a chance to waive a monthly service fee through any of the requirements listed on its website. Unlike some of the other banks listed, the Total Checking account does not earn interest.

Hybrid Checking Account

Radius Bank

If you’re willing to deposit $2,500 or more in a Hybrid Checking account, you can take advantage of up to 0.90% APY advertised by Radius. Checking account balances under $2,500 do not earn interest. To open an account, customers must deposit $10, but Radius does not require a minimum balance after depositing this amount. The bank offers free ATMs, not charging a fee when withdrawing from an ATM belonging to another bank and rebating out-of-network fees at the end of the statement cycle.

High-Interest Checking Account

Bank5 Connect

While Bank5 Connect’s online checking account is not a widely known compared to other banks’, it has features and an interest rate that makes it competitive in the market. Bank5 Connect has an APY of 0.76% and customers only need $100 to start earning this high interest rate. This high-yield checking account has other perks, like not having a monthly maintenance fee and a debit card rewards program, that distinguish the bank.

Online Advantage Checking Account

Mutual of Omaha Bank

In exchange for a $1,500 daily balance, Mutual of Omaha’s online-only checking account provides an advertised rate of 0.50% to gradually build your balance. Customers can open an Online Advantage Checking account with $100 and eligible to receive free checks for their first order. There is a $10 monthly maintenance fee, but for a low average balance of $100, the bank will waive the fee.

Compare Best Checking Accounts for 2017

Bank/Credit Union Account Interest Rate (APY) Monthly Fee Balance to Waive Fee
Capital One 360 360 Checking 0.20% Free N/A
Ally Bank Interest Checking 0.10% Free N/A
Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking 0.65% Free N/A
Chase Bank Total Checking N/A $12 $1,500
Radius Bank Hybrid Checking 0.90% Free $10 Opening Deposit
Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking 0.76% Free N/A
Mutual of Omaha Bank Online Advantage Checking 0.50% $10 $1,500

 

Comment: Do you have a checking account from our Best Checking Accounts list? What accounts would you add?

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.



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Best Online Brokers for Small Investors and Beginners 2017


Best online brokers

Investing for the first time is a lot like taking that plunge into a new activity – you are intimidated by everything you think you don’t know and you don’t want to appear clumsy in front of others. With the plethora of online brokerages, the opportunities for first-time investors are wide open. However, this wide variety of investment options means you do need to be educated before you begin. You don’t want to put your money in the wrong hands when you start to invest.

Keith McGurrin, Certified Financial Planner and a lead financial planner at T. Rowe Price has some tips for newcomers.

“Investing has the potential to build funding for long-term goals,” McGurrin said. “But, investing can also be risky, especially in the short-term. Having a plan can help – here are considerations for investors starting out.”

Assess readiness to invest: Since there is a possibility to lose part or all of an investment, starting from a strong financial foundation is important. Do you have money in a safe account to support your needs in case of an emergency (3-6 months’ worth of expenses)? Would you be better off paying down an outstanding debt rather than investing this money? If eligible, are you already contributing to a tax-deferred retirement plan? Will you be able to add to your investments on an ongoing basis?

Watch the costs: High costs can lower investment returns. Costs might include trade charges, account fees and the costs of the underlying investments such as fund management fees. Taxes can be another cost of investing. An effective strategy to lower costs and taxes over time can be to buy and hold and avoid unnecessary short-term trading.

Research the risks: The research capabilities available through a brokerage platform should help in understanding the risks of various investment opportunities. Generally, but not always, investments with the potential for higher reward also come with a higher risk of loss. Can you hold on to an investment if it begins to lose value?

Diversify: Spreading money across different investments can provide an effective way to manage risk. A mutual fund, for example, can provide effective diversification. Does your investment portfolio rely on the prospects of a single company, industry or investing style?

Best Online Brokers for New Investors 2017

We’ve compiled a chart of some of the most well known and best reviewed online brokerages for new investors:

Betterment

As you invest money into your account, Betterment automatically purchases exchange traded funds (ETFs) on your behalf, based on your previously set asset allocation. There are no trade or transfer fees. Betterment charges a 0.25% to 0.50% annual fee, depending on your desire to be connected to a team of financial experts. The plus brokerage account features an annual call with licensed financial experts and requires a $100,000 minimum balance. In exchange for a $250,000 minimum balance, the premium account offers unlimited calls with CFPs and financial advisors.

Trade King

This broker provides a unique combination of investment and trading tools and services, along with some of the lowest trading fees in the industry, and generally no required account minimums. TradeKing was the first online broker to have an online trading network to connect with other investors and has tools like its Trade Note to help you make investment decisions. The broker also has a live chat feature to get answers to your investment questions immediately.

Scottrade

Scottrade is for investors who want to be able to invest in individual stocks with an online discount broker but have many of the same benefits you’d get working with a full-service broker. The broker has a variety of online trading and investing tools, such as Scottrade Streaming Quotes, to get market data fast. Scottrade will also refund account transfer fees up to $100 when transferring an account worth $10,000 or more from another broker to Scottrade.

TD Ameritrade

A leader in the industry, TD Ameritrade offers a wide array of investments that are suitable for new and experienced investors alike. This broker is better suited for long-term investors than to active traders. TD Ameritrade’s web platform provides free access to independent third-party research and financial news. There is no initial deposit requirement and it offers more than 100 commission-free ETFs.

Motif Investing

While it stands to be a powerful investing tool, Motif is not for beginners as “motifs” are groupings of stocks that are based on a single idea. Users can trade stocks and ETFs in bundles of up to 30, each based on the specific theme, idea, sector, industry or trend. Motif offers investors customized portfolios built in seconds. There is the option for automated trading and rebalancing via a monthly subscription with Motif BLUE, with subscriptions between $4.95 and $19.95 per month depending on the number of motifs you would like to auto-invest.

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab offers a lower fee for online equity trades compared to its major competitors. It also offers a Satisfaction Guarantee where investors will have eligible fees refunded if they are not satisfied. There is no fee to open an individual or joint brokerage account and accounts are free of maintenance fees. Investors can expect no transaction fees per executed trade for Mutual Fund OneSource Funds for online trades and no commission fees per trade for Schwab ETF OneSource for online trades.

Compare Online Brokers

Broker Commissions/Fees Other Fees Account Minimum New Account Bonus
Betterment No transaction charges 0.25% to 0.50% annual fee No minimum initial deposit or balance requirement Open with $10,000 & get 1 month free
Tradeking $4.95 for stock and ETF trades See website for regulatory fees No minimum initial deposit or balance requirement Open with $500 & get $500 in free trade commission
Scottrade $7 per online trade for stocks and ETFs $7 + $0.70/contract for options online $2,500 minimum initial deposit Open with $25,000+ & get up to $2,500 cash bonus
TD Ameritrade $9.99 for online stock trades
More than 100 commission-free ETFs
$9.99 + $0.75 fee/contract for options online No minimum initial deposit, $2,000 for margin and options privileges Open & get up to $600 & 60 days of free trading
Motif Investing $9.95 per portfolio trade, $4.95 per stock trade $4.95 per stock/ETF to buy/sell outside of motifs owned $300 to invest in a motif, $2,000 to trade on margin Open with $2,000+ & get $150 cash bonus
Charles Schwab $6.95 per online stock trade $6.95 per online trades of ETFs other than Schwab ETF OneSource $1,000 minimum initial deposit, waived with automatic monthly deposits of $100 Open with $10,000+ & get up to $500 cash bonus

Readers: Do you invest with any of the online brokers above? Which online brokers should be added to the list?

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.



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Best Savings Accounts for 2017


Best Savings Accounts, list of accounts with best savings rates

Most Americans aren’t saving much these days, but if they knew how to better grow their money with high savings rates, they may change their mind. One recent survey found 62 percent had less than $1,000 in a savings account, and only 29 percent had over $1,000 put aside for emergencies.

Many will point to low interest rates as the reason they are not saving in an account, adopting an almost “why bother” attitude. But having a savings account is smart for several reasons:

  1. In case of emergency, there’s actual money to cover the cost, so you don’t end up overloading credit cards or having to take out a loan.
  2. It makes you more aware of your overall financial picture, especially if you set up a schedule to make deposits into the savings account.
  3. Saving money up front also saves you on interest if you do need to cover an unexpected cost or save for something specific like a new car or a vacation.
  4. If you lose your job or find your hours reduced, a savings account is a nice addition to whatever severance or unemployment you receive.

With all the reasons to open a savings account, where do you turn to for the right one?

Here are the best savings accounts for 2017:

Online Savings Account

Ally Bank

With a high savings rate of 1.00% annual percentage yield (APY), Ally Bank customers benefit from no monthly fees or minimums. Using the Ally Bank mobile app, customers can pay bills, perform money transfers and make deposits via mobile check deposit or other methods like electronic transfer, direct deposit or mail.

High Yield Savings Account

Synchrony Bank

In addition to a top-rated APY of 1.05%, Synchrony Bank offers a rewards program to get more out of your savings account. Synchrony Bank customers are automatically enrolled in its Perks program when they open a savings account (or other account like a certificate of deposit or individual retirement account). Synchrony Bank Perks gives customers a chance to earn rewards like ATM fee reimbursements and travel discounts.

Discover Savings Account

Discover Bank

While Discover Bank is a big name among credit cards, its savings account is also deserving of attention, featuring no monthly maintenance charges. There is no minimum to open an account with Discover and after opening your savings account, there are no other minimum balance requirements to earn a high APY of 0.95%.

Online Savings Account

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank offers an online savings account that has no minimum balance to open and a small minimum of just 1 cent to grow your money with an APY of 1.00%. The bank’s mobile app has various features to manage your account like reviewing balances, transferring money and more.

MySavings Account

MySavingsDirect

For a no frills online savings account, look to MySavingsDirect with its MySavings Account with no minimums to earn APY. Although MySavings Direct does not have a mobile app to oversee finances, customers can access their account information via online banking.

High-Interest Savings Account

Bank5 Connect

Though Bank5 Connect has minimum balance requirements unlike some of the other banks on the list, it still has a similarly high savings rate. The bank has a minimum opening balance of $10. To earn the advertised APY of 0.90%, customers must deposit $100.

High Yield Savings Account

CIT Bank

True to its name, the High Yield Savings account offered by CIT Bank has one of the highest savings rates among the Best Savings Accounts with 1.05% APY. This free savings account has a low minimum opening deposit requirement of $100 to get this rate and no minimum daily balance requirement.

Compare Best Savings Accounts for 2017

Bank/Credit Union Account Interest Rate (APY) Monthly Fee Minimums Mobile Banking
Ally Bank Online Savings 1.00% Free None Mobile App
Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings 1.05% Free None Mobile Browser
Discover Bank Discover Savings 0.95% Free None Mobile App
Barclays Bank Online Savings 1.00% Free $0.01 To Earn APY Mobile App
MySavingsDirect MySavings 0.85% Free None No App
Bank5 Connect High-Interest Savings 0.90% Free $100 To Earn APY Mobile App
CIT Bank High Yield Savings 1.05% Free $100 Opening Deposit Mobile App

Comment: Do you have a savings account featured on our Best Savings Account list? What other accounts should make the list?

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.



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How to Watch NCAA March Madness Basketball Without Cable (and Save Big)


NCAA March Madness basketball tournament without cable

While the cost of pay-TV service is going up and draining savings accounts, something as popular as the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament can be easily live streamed, even if you don’t have a cable subscription.

The average monthly cable bill had reached $103.10, according to a 2016 study by Leichtman Research Group. Let’s take a step back and realize this is just the average, so that means there are plenty of people paying well over $100 per month for a cable package.

Some people can’t live without cable, but others are hanging on for all the wrong reasons. One of the biggest reasons for the reluctance to cut cable is the concern about missing live sports. Admittedly, just three years ago, this was an incredibly valid reason and there weren’t many alternatives, but times have changed.

With people from all over the country tuning in to watch the NCAA tournament, you can likely watch every single March Madness game for a fraction of the average monthly cable bill.

Low-cost and free options to watch March Madness basketball

Check out the guide below to learn about what are the best and most cost-efficient options for watching the NCAA tournament without cable.

Sling TV: $20 per month

The most affordable setup will be subscription streaming service Sling TV combined with a TV antenna. Not only is it inexpensive, it lets you watch nearly every single March Madness game live via TBS, TNT and CBS.

Sling TV costs $20 per month for the Sling Orange package for access to the games on TNT and TBS. There’s also almost 30 other popular cable channels to live stream in the package, including several ESPN networks. Check out this Sling TV review for more details.

The cost for the antenna is entirely dependent on which antenna you choose. There are several different options to choose from, like a Mohu, with a wide cost range. But, the only cost included is the purchase of the antenna as watching TV with the antenna is free. This can be your option to get CBS, but make sure it’s available in your location.

CBS All Access: $5.99 to $9.99 per month

If you can’t get live access to CBS with your antenna, then CBS All Access might be the next best thing. It’s a subscription streaming service that lets you live stream everything that CBS is broadcasting in your area. This means anytime there’s a game on CBS, you can live stream it on the service without needing a cable subscription. Plus, it only costs $5.99 per month to start or $9.99 per month if you want live streams without commercials.

PlayStation Vue: $29.99 per month

Streaming service, PlayStation Vue, is another option to watch March Madness games. Depending on your location, you may even be able to watch every single game. This means potentially getting streaming access to CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.

No matter where you live, the starting package will get you TBS, TNT and truTV. But, in around 80 markets in the U.S., you’ll also get CBS live streaming. This package costs only $29.99 per month and ultimately gets you around 45 cable channels to live stream.

One more way to watch NCAA tournament games with a PlayStation Vue subscription is through the March Madness Live app. A PlayStation Vue subscription can be used as authentication on the app to stream tons of games during the tournament.

How to watch March Madness for free

Theoretically, you can watch almost the entire NCAA tournament if you utilize the free trials offered by the multiple streaming services on the market. Sling TV, CBS All Access and PlayStation Vue all offer week-long free trials. Plus, another service, DIRECTV NOW, also has free trials and includes TBS, TNT and truTV in its streaming package.

You could move from one to the other and watch nearly all of the games without having to pay a dime. And, it’d give you a good sense of which service you liked best for future televised events.

There’s clearly no reason to miss March Madness games. Even if you don’t have cable, you’ll still have plenty of options to watch without having to break the bank!

Chris Brantner is the founder of the largest cord cutting resource on the web, CutCableToday.com. He also contributes to Business Insider, VICE and more. 

Readers: Do you plan on watching the March Madness basketball tournament? How will you watch the games?

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.



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7 Tricks That Helped Me To Become Financially Secure in College


saving money in college

Do you ever feel like debt and homelessness are going to overwhelm you? Me, too, or at least I did. Ever since I was accepted into college, I’d been struggling to utilise my government support effectively and managing my funds from freelance gigs and casual work was an absolute nightmare. That was until I figured out how to save money successfully, and actually make some along the way.

7 Tricks That Helped Me To Become Financially Secure in College

I’ve compiled a list of nifty tricks that boosted my income, and helped me to stay out of the poor-house.

Avoid cafeterias at all costs

I know that sometimes a slice of pizza is almost too good to resist.  But, when I checked my expenses after a week in college, I realised I was losing $20-$30 a week simply by eating in at college. A great way to save a few bucks here or there is to prepack lunch or take a walk to a nice eatery nearby.

Takeaway meals both healthy and greasy are often far cheaper, and offer food that in most cases is more enjoyable than the usual college offerings.

Hunt down discounts

It is well known that if you’re on a budget as a college student, you need to take advantage of every student discount and coupon at your disposal.  But I didn’t just stop at student discounts.

Take a look in the newspaper, both local and otherwise, and hunt out as many coupons and discounts you can find. You’ll be amazed at the deals you can snag, and how much money you’ll save from this venture.

Create a budget plan

I’m not talking about making an extreme budget plan that only allows you to spend $5 on Wednesdays. I’m talking about a budget plan that leaves you room to spend a little, but still allows you to save a few bucks here or there. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to put away in savings accounts, and how much you want to spend.

My typical save to spend ratio is $200 put away every fortnight, and $100 of what I like to call “play money.” Often than not, I don’t spend my play money so that adds up, too.

Manage your time

It does sound like a weird tip, telling someone they need to manage their time in order to save money. But, it really does work. The more I organised myself and allotted time for completing tedious tasks and essays – even giving myself a moment or two to brush up on some of my “Game of Thrones” knowledge – the more time I had to apply for freelance jobs and casual work.

Look for work on the side

With good time management, and a strict study schedule, any student can find a few hours in their week to spend job hunting or freelancing. There are so many neat ways you can make money in college, and you don’t even have to work a part-time job if you don’t want to.

All you need is a bit of tenacity, and to do your research. The more you try, the more successful you’ll be. For instance, I’m a freelance writer so I apply to job boards every chance I get. Writing a blog post or an article here or there doesn’t hinder grades, nor does it take much time out of my day. If I can get steady work doing odd writing jobs, you can do the same with your own personal set of skills, be that writing or otherwise.

Try selling old stuff or starting up a business

There are so many success stories out there talking about college students who have made an absolute killing with start-up businesses and selling old junk. Sure, that’s a goal most of us are too afraid to reach for, but it’s always worth a shot. As the old adage goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

I did fairly well for myself selling old Xbox games when I was strapped for cash one month — I ended up making a hundred dollars simply registering items on eBay and selling locally.

Stay positive

I know all too well that gut-wrenching feeling nearly every college student faces. There’s no money for food, and all your money has been used to pay rent or board. When everything starts to get super tough and overwhelm you, remember to chill out and breathe. There’s always a way to get out of the hole you’re stuck in. And there will always be a guardian angel round the corner, waiting to lend you a hand.

Never be afraid to ask for help, and never be afraid to tackle mighty monetary goals.

Elly Shirvell is a freelance writer using various tactics, sneaky whims and wiles, and a whole lot of tomfoolery, to stay above student debt. She is currently working on providing quality articles to all who will publish her, and attempting rather fearfully to create a fantasy novel out of thin air. Check out her writing blog for more of her stuff: writersnbloggers.wordpress.com

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.



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5 Ways to a Lower Mortgage Payment, According to a Realtor


lower mortgage loan payment

Are you buying a home soon? If you are, then you probably want to get the most for your money at the lowest cost, including your monthly mortgage.

Since mortgage loans are the way most people buy homes today, it’s important to know how to get the lowest mortgage payment possible.

5 Ways to a Lower Mortgage Payment, According to a Realtor

What many home buyers may not understand is that until a mortgage is finalized and closed, most home buyers have some control over what their monthly mortgage payment will be.

Shop Around for a Mortgage

Lenders tend to look at a lot of similar factors when they consider a home loan application. They examine your income, assets, debt, employment history and credit record to decide what kind of candidate you are for a mortgage loan.

However, you would be mistaken to assume that every lender will offer you the same loan terms. Many would-be home buyers seem to make this erroneous assumption, 77 percent of borrowers only apply to one lender.

If you want to know what is the best loan you can get, invest the time and a little money into researching and applying to a few different lenders. You may save thousands by getting a loan with a lower interest rate, or other more favorable terms.

The tale of two mortgage pre-approvals

A successful real estate agent tells the story of how he worked with a couple to help them buy their first home and they went to their local bank to secure a mortgage. The couple had a checking account at the bank and had occasionally received notices about the bank’s mortgage department. After visiting with the mortgage banker, and supplying her with certain documents, the couple received a mortgage pre-approval from the bank.

However, after forwarding the pre-approval to their real estate agent, the agent commented that the rate and closing costs seemed a bit high. He suggested the couple visit a local mortgage broker for a second quote.

The agent further explained that mortgage brokers are not the same as mortgage bankers as they must be licensed and often have access to a greater variety of mortgage products than those offered at a bank.

After visiting with the new mortgage broker, and supplying the same information, the couple received a lower interest rate — and with fewer closing costs — than the large national bank offered.

Consider Different Loan Types

Most home buyers have probably heard from friends and family members that the 30-year fixed-rate loan is the only way to go. While it is nice to know that you will have the same predictable monthly payment for the duration of the loan, it is not the sole viable option for prospective borrowers.

Depending on your current assets and income, and if you expect a long career of increasing pay, an adjustable-rate loan may be just as practical as a fixed-rate mortgage in some situations.

Related >> Use a mortgage calculator to find out your monthly mortgage payment.

Adjustable-rate loans start at a typically lower rate for a term of a few years, then they can fluctuate over time. A lower initial interest rate than a fixed-rate loan could allow you to get into a better home at first.

Once your income has reached a higher level, you may refinance into a fixed-rate loan, if that works better for you. Discussing your options with your lender will help you understand how each kind of loan will be structured in your specific situation.

TIP: If you plan on only staying in the home less than 5 years, consider the lowest interest rate product for the first 3-5 years. Be sure and check that there is no pre-payment penalty or additional interest charges should you sell the home before your mortgage interest rate begins to rise.

Watch Interest Rate Trends and Lock It In

Mortgage interest rates have been fluctuating around 3.5 to 4 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate loan since 2013. However, certain actions, such as the Federal Reserve raising the federal funds rates, can slowly increase mortgage interest rates. When the difference from week to week is only a few hundredths of a point, you might not see much effect in locking in a rate.

Historically, the loan market is hard to predict, however. If you can see that rates are going up over a long period of time (and many experts say that they will be), you may want to submit your application and lock in an interest rate as soon as you can. Rate locks usually last only about 60-90 days, so you should be prepared to buy a home when you arrange the lock.

Consider Paying Discount Points

Even if you are very well-qualified and receive the best mortgage loan the lender has to offer, you can still take your interest rate down by a little by paying discount points. In this scenario, you pay a percentage point of the total loan at closing in exchange for the lender dropping your final interest rate.

The standard drop is a quarter of a percent, but the lender may have some flexibility in its terms related to discount points. If you are trying to decide between a 30-year fixed-rate loan and a 15-year loan, a lower interest rate would drop your monthly payment. That may make it easier to choose the quicker payoff.

Eliminate Private Mortgage Insurance

If the percentage of your loan in relation to the home’s value exceeds 80 percent, you may have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). This insurance protects the lender in the event that the borrower defaults, and could cost you as much as 1.5 percent of the total loan each year. On a $200,000 loan, that could be an additional $250 payment added to your mortgage each month.

TIP: Avoid PMI by making a larger down payment of at least 20 percent of the home’s purchase price or by getting a second mortgage for the remaining percentage above 80 percent. If neither of these are possible, then plan to refinance as quickly as possible once your equity rises above the 20 percent mark.

Your home purchase is a major investment, but that does not mean you will have to empty your bank account to make the mortgage payment each month.

By using any or all of these different approaches and tips, you can give yourself as much flexibility as possible to lower the monthly payments on your mortgage loan.

Gary Ashton is the CEO/Owner of The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage and the official real estate agent for the Tennessee Titans. Originally from England, Gary moved to Nashville by way of a brief stopover in Florida to pursue a career in music. He soon changed his focus back to his original interests of real estate and marketing. In 2004, Gary decided to make the move to real estate company RE/MAX. In 2016, at the RE/MAX convention in Las Vegas, The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage, was named as the #4 RE/MAX team in the world, as well as the #4 RE/MAX team in the USA and #1 RE/MAX team in Tennessee.

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.



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A Home Owner’s Guide to Refinancing Your Mortgage


mortgage loan refinancing

Low mortgage rates unleashed a massive wave of refinancing that was a windfall for millions of consumers, but what will happen once those unusually low mortgage rates are gone? Will refinancing mortgage loans effectively be sidelined as a financial resource for home owners?

While the opportunity to lower your interest rate may be the most compelling reason to refinance, it is just one of several. Refinancing can accomplish different things for different people, and the more you are aware of what refinancing can do, the more likely you are to be able to use it to your advantage.

5 compelling reasons to refinance your mortgage

Here are five good reasons to refinance:

1. Reduce interest rates

A drop in market rates can create a compelling opportunity to refinance. However, even if interest rates generally are not lower than those on your current mortgage, you still may be able to lower your rate by refinancing. Rates on shorter mortgages and on adjustable rate mortgages are generally much lower than those on 30-year mortgages.

So, if you can afford the higher payments that come with a shorter mortgage, you might be able to lower your interest rate by refinancing from a 30-year to a 15-year loan. As for adjustable rate mortgages, the drawback with them is that the rate is subject to vary, so you won’t necessarily be lowering your interest rate for the life of the loan.

However, if you only anticipate being in your current home for a few years more, you might be able to benefit from an adjustable rate mortgage without the long-term risk of rate fluctuations.

2. Lower long-term interest expenses

Shorter mortgages don’t just carry lower rates. They also mean paying interest for fewer years. Even if conditions are such that you can’t lower your mortgage rate, you might find you could achieve significant long-term savings by switching to a shorter mortgage.

3. Eliminate mortgage insurance premiums

Mortgages like loans from the U.S. Federal Housing Administration that allow low down payments also typically require that you pay for mortgage insurance. Once you have built more equity in your home though, you might qualify for a type of loan that does not require mortgage insurance, so that could represent a potential savings if you refinance.

4. Make monthly payments more affordable

Stretching your remaining payments out over a longer period can result in reducing those payments. Lengthening your loan is also likely to result in paying more total interest in the long run. But if it is the only way to make your mortgage affordable, this can be a good reason to refinance.

5. Switch from an adjustable rate to a fixed-rate loan

You may have chosen an adjustable rate mortgage for a variety of reasons, but if you plan on being in your home for the long-term it would reduce your financial risk to stabilize your monthly mortgage payments. You could do this by switching from an adjustable rate to a fixed-rate loan.

What you need to refinance

To take advantage of your refinancing opportunities, it helps to have the following:

1. Equity – and the more the better

While government programs temporarily made refinancing available to some home owners with little or no equity in their homes (due to the collapse in home prices following the housing crisis), generally you are going to need a solid amount of equity in your home in order to qualify for refinancing. If you have 20 percent or more, you may be able to qualify for a loan that does not require you to pay mortgage insurance.

2. A good credit score

Keeping your credit healthy means keeping your refinancing options open – and you never know when the right conditions might arise.

3. Steady employment

If you are thinking of refinancing, you might want to do it before you make a change in jobs. Lenders like applicants who have held their jobs for a long time.

4. Closing costs

Closing costs will probably total at least a couple thousand dollars, and very often much more than that. You can finance this, such as by adding the closing costs to the amount you are borrowing in the new mortgage. But this will be more expensive in the long run and could eat into your equity balance. As noted previously, less equity (or what’s known as a higher loan-to-value ratio) can negatively impact your ability to qualify for refinancing. Or it could result in you paying more in mortgage insurance premiums.

Consider a low interest rate environment as the low-hanging fruit among refinancing scenarios. However, it is not the only worthwhile reason to refinance. Getting the most out of the potential benefits that refinancing presents requires knowing the different things it can accomplish, and being prepared to act on your refinancing opportunities.

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and more.



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