Money canât buy love, but all the fancy Valentineâs date nights on your social media feeds may lead you to lose sight of this truth. Show your love this year without going over-budget with these at-home Valentineâs Day ideas that are guaranteed to please your main squeeze! Create an At-Home Spa Going to a spa [â¦]
The post Budget-Friendly At-Home Valentineâs Date Ideas appeared first on Apartment Life.
When it’s time to find a new apartment, you’ll likely come across 12-month lease apartments. For one reason or another, you may not want to commit to a full year in the same apartment. If you’re looking for a short-term lease, you possibly could find an apartment with six-month leases that will provide a little more flexibility with a shorter contract period.
Just like everything else, six-month leases have their pros and cons and they may or may fit your life â depending on where you’re at in life and what you need in an apartment.
Keep reading to see if a six-month lease apartment is right for you.
What are 6-month lease apartments?
A six-month lease apartment is an apartment that offers short-term leases that are only six months long rather than the typical 12-month lease or a pure month-to-month agreement.
The pros of 6-month lease apartments
There are lots of positive reasons to choose a six-month lease apartment over a typical 12-month lease. Here are some of the best things about them.
Flexibility for any situation
If you’re in a situation where you’re not sure how long you’ll be living somewhere, short-term apartment rentals are a great way to go.
You may move to a new city and want to feel it out before fully committing or maybe you’re looking to buy a house, but aren’t sure how long you’ll be looking before you find one. In any case, a six-month lease apartment makes it so you aren’t tied down for a whole year.
After six months, you can decide whether or not you like the apartment and the area and sign a new lease. Or if you don’t like it, you’re free to move onto greener pastures.
You may have found a place you like living in for the most part, but there are always a few things that could use changing in the lease terms. Once you’ve lived there for a few months, you’ll probably have a list of lease terms you’d like to change.
Maybe there’s something you’d like to add or remove from your rental contract, such as you’d like to see a few cosmetic updates or you’d like to get a pet.
You can re-negotiate the terms after 6 months, once you’ve gotten a feel for the apartment and know what else you want (or don’t want).
Easy to renew
Making a shorter commitment makes sense for some people. Even if you’re planning on living in the same apartment for a few years, just the thought of being able to move without worrying about breaking your lease makes it less stressful when apartment searching.
Cons of 6-month lease apartments
While there are many great things about six-month apartment leases, there are also some drawbacks.
Possibly more expensive
Since landlords know those looking for shorter-term leases are looking for flexibility, they also know that many short-term tenants are willing to pay for that flexibility.
You may end up paying a little more in rent each month for a six-month lease or you might have a higher deposit to pay upfront.
It is nice for you to ask about adding or removing certain terms from your contract if you decide to re-sign a six-month contract, but your landlord can also pose changes of their own, such as rent increases or new policies in the lease contract that they may decide not to negotiate about.
Frequent credit pulls
Some landlords will do a credit check every time you renew your lease, which can affect your credit score over time. After having your credit pulled, it usually takes at least three months for it to bounce back.
It can sometimes take a year or longer for credit scores to go back to normal, so if landlords are inquiring about your credit frequently, just know you might have a hard time keeping your credit score up.
Risk of not being able to renew
While most apartments will let you renew if you’re a good tenant, some reasons exist why they won’t let you.
Renovations or new building ownership often come into play when renewing is not an option. So if you were planning to renew for another six-month term, but your apartment won’t allow you to renew, you may find yourself moving frequently or suddenly scrambling to find a new place to live.
If you’re looking for a six-month lease apartment, they’re typically harder to find than those with 12-month leases.
Short-term apartment rentals have lower inventory and move pretty quickly on the market, so you may end up looking for a while before you find one that works for you.
Who should rent 6-month lease apartments
A six-month lease apartment might be the best option for you if:
You’re planning on purchasing or building a house and aren’t sure when you’ll be moving into your new home
You’re a student and will be studying in the area for only a semester
You recently relocated to a new city and want to explore the area before deciding on a place to call home
You don’t like living in the same place for long and enjoy exploring new areas
There are other reasons why a short-term apartment rental might be a good option, it will all depend on what’s happening in your life.
How to find 6-month lease apartments
Finding a six-month apartment lease is a challenge and take time, but finding the right one to fit your needs is still possible! So don’t waste any time â check out short-term apartments now and start planning your move!
The post 6-Month Lease Apartments: Pros and Cons of Short Term Rentals appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
Due to financial consequences of COVID-19 â and the broader impact on our economy â now is an excellent time to consider refinancing most loans you have. This can include mortgage debt you have that may be converted to a new loan with a lower interest rate, as well as auto loans, personal loans, and more.
Refinancing student loans can also make sense if youâre willing to transition student loans you currently have into a new loan with a private lender. Make sure to take time to compare rates toÂ see how you could save money on interest, potentially pay down student loans faster, or even both if you took the steps to refinance.
Get Started and Compare Rates Now
Still, itâs important to keep a close eye on policies and changes from the federal government that have already taken place, as well as changes that might come to fruition in the next weeks or months. Currently, all federal student loans are locked in at a 0% APR and payments are suspended during that time. This change started on March 13, 2020 and lasts for 60 days, so borrowers with federal loans can skip payments and avoid interest charges until the middle of May 2020.
Itâs hard to say what will happen after that, but itâs smart to start figuring out your next steps and determining if student loan refinancing makes sense for your situation. Note that, in addition to lower interest rates than you can get with federal student loans, many private student lenders offer signup bonuses as well. With the help of a lower rate and an initial bonus, you could end up far âaheadâ by refinancing in a financial sense.
Still, there are definitely some negatives to consider when it comes to refinancing your student loans, and weâll go over those disadvantages below.
Should You Refinance Now?
Do you have student loan debt at a higher APR than you want to pay?
If no: You shouldnât refinance.
If yes: Go to next question.
Do you have good credit or a cosigner?Â
If no: You shouldnât refinance.
If yes:Â Go to next question.
Do you have federal student loans?
If no: You can consider refinancing
If yes: Go to next question
Are you willing to give up federal protections like deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment plans?
If no: You shouldnât refinance
If yes: Consider refinancing your loans.
Reasons to Refinance
There are many reasons student borrowers ultimately refinance their student loans, although they can vary from person to person. Here are the main situations where it can make sense to refinance along with the benefits you can expect to receive:
Secure a lower monthly payment on your student loans. You may want to consider refinancing your student loans if your ultimate goal is reducing your monthly payment so it fits in better with your budget and your goals. A lower interest rate could help you lower your payment each month, but so could extending your repayment timeline.
Save money on interest over the long haul. If you plan to refinance your loans into a similar repayment timeline with a lower APR, you will definitely save money on interest over the life of your loan.
Change up your repayment timeline. Most private lenders let you refinance your student loans into a new loan product that lasts 5 to 20 years. If you want to expedite your loan repayment or extend your repayment timeline, private lenders offer that option.
Pay down debt faster. Also, keep in mind that reducing your interest rate or repayment timeline can help you get out of student loan debt considerably faster. If youâre someone who wants to get out of debt as soon as you can, this is one of the best reasons to refinance with a private lender.
Why You Might Not Want to Refinance Right Now
While the reasons to refinance above are good ones, there are plenty of reasons you may want to pause on your refinancing plans. Here are the most common:
You want to wait and see if the federal government will offer 0% APR or forbearance beyond May 2020 due to COVID-19. The federal government has only extended forbearance through the middle of May right now, but they might lengthen the timeline of this benefit if you wait it out. Since this perk only applies to federal student loans, you would likely want to keep those loans at 0% APR for as long as the federal government allows.
You may want to take advantage of income-driven repayment plans. Income-driven repayment plans like Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Income-Based Repayment let you pay a percentage of your discretionary income each month then have your loans forgiven after 20 to 25 years. These plans only apply to federal student loans, so you shouldnât refinance with a private lender if you are hoping to sign up.
Youâre worried you wonât be able to keep up with your student loan payments due to your job or economic conditions. Federal student loans come with deferment and forbearance that can buy you time if youâre struggling to make the payments on your student loans. With that in mind, you may not want to give up these protections if youâre unsure about your future and how your finances might be.
Your credit score is low and you donât have a cosigner. Finally, you should probably stick with federal student loans if your credit score is poor and you donât have a cosigner. Federal student loans come with fairly low rates and most donât require a credit check, so theyâre a great deal if your credit is imperfect.
Important Things to Note
Before you move forward with student loan refinancing, there are some details you should know and understand. Here are our top tips and some important factors to keep in mind.
Compare Rates and Loan Terms
Because student loan refinancing is such a competitive industry, shopping around for loans based on their rates and terms can help you find out which lenders are offering the most lucrative refinancing options for someone with your credit profile and income.
We suggest using Credible to shop for student loan refinancing since this loan platform lets you compare offers from multiple lenders in one place. You can even get prequalified for student loan refinancing and âcheck your rateâ without a hard inquiry on your credit score.
Check for Signup Bonuses
Some student loan refinancing companies let you score a bonus of $100 to $750 just for clicking through a specific link to start the process. This money is free money if youâre able to take advantage, and you can still qualify for low rates and fair loan terms that can help you get ahead.
We definitely suggest checking with lenders that offer bonuses provided you can also score the most competitive rates and terms.
Consider Your Personal Eligibility
Also keep your personal eligibility in mind, including factors beyond your credit score. Most applicants who are turned down for student loan refinancing are turned away based on their debt-to-income ratio and not their credit score. Generally speaking, this means they owe too much money on all their debts when you compare their liabilities to their income.
Credible also notes that adding a creditworthy cosigner can improve your chances of prequalifying for a loan. They also state that âmany lenders offer cosigner release once borrowers have made a minimum number of on-time payments and can demonstrate they are ready to assume full responsibility for repayment of the loan on their own.â
Itâs Not âAll or Nothingâ
Also, remember that you donât have to refinance all of your student loans. You can just refinance the loans at the highest interest rates, or any particular loans you believe could benefit from a different repayment term.
4 Steps to Refinance Your Student Loans
Once youâre ready to pull the trigger, there are four simple steps involved in refinancing your student loans.
Step 1: Gather all your loan information.
Before you start the refinancing process, it helps to have all your loan information, including your student loan pay stubs, in one place. This can help you determine the total amount you want to refinance as well as the interest rates and payments you currently have on your loans.
Step 2: Compare lenders and the rates they offer.
From there, take the time to compare lenders in terms of the rates they can offer. You can use this tool to get the process started.
Step 3: Choose the best loan offer you can qualify for.
Once youâve filled out basic information, you can choose among multiple loan offers. Make sure to check for signup bonus offers as well as interest rates, loan repayment terms, and interest rates you can qualify for.
Step 4: Complete your loan application.
Once you decide on a lender that offers the best rates and terms, you can move forward with your full student loan refinancing application. Your student loan company will ask for more personal information and details on your existing student loans, which they will combine into your new loan with a new repayment term and monthly payment.
The Bottom Line
Whether it makes sense to refinance your student loans is a huge question that only you can answer after careful thought and consideration. Make sure you weigh all the pros and cons, including what you may be giving up if youâre refinancing federal loans with a private lender.
Refinancing your student loans can make sense if you have a plan to pay them off, but this strategy works best if you create a debt repayment plan you can stick with for the long-term.
The post Should You Refinance Your Student Loans? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
One of the lessons Iâve learned as I continue to work my way out of debt is that you need to treat yourself and celebrate your little successes along the way so you can avoid debt fatigue down the road. Celebrating small milestones, like getting another $1,000 knocked off your debt total, starting to put money aside for retirement or paying off a credit card balance, is important for both your sanity and your familyâs sanity.
Find out now: How much money do I need to save for retirement?
I donât have kids, but several of my personal finance blogger friends do, and they have talked about how kids donât always understand how they can contribute to the family financial goals since they donât earn any money. Plus, sometimes kids donât understand why there is a sudden need to cut back on expenses they have come to know as normal- things like going out to eat or having a night out at the movies with friends. Allowing yourself and your family to celebrate your financial wins as you work your way out of debt will help them understand that while your family is now living on a different budget, itâs still okay to enjoy the present.
With that in mind, here are five frugal ways you can celebrate your financial successes, so you donât erase all your progress!
1. Go out for Dessert
As a kid, whenever weâd go out for dessert after a home-cooked meal, it felt like a real fancy treat. Now I know that this was mom and dadâs way of having a celebration without spending a lot of money on paying for a whole meal.
2. Rent a Movie
This may not seem like a treat if you rent movies all the time, but if you are living on a very strict budget and donât often rent movies, this could be a treat for you and your family. Make it the full experience â popcorn, candy, etc. Renting a movie and making popcorn at home is a fun way to celebrate, and itâs still a lot cheaper than going to the theater.
12 Affordable Ways to Have Fun on a Tight Budget
3. Hit a Matinee
Wait, didnât I just say to avoid the theater to save money? Yes, but sometimes movie theaters offer cheaper matinee movies earlier in the day. Often showings before noon can be as little as half price. This is a more budget-friendly way to enjoy a new movie.
4. Buy a Book or Magazine
One of the first things that got cut from my budget when I started focusing on financial goals was my magazine subscription. Most of the time I donât miss it as I have plenty of things to keep me busy, but sometimes itâs nice to somewhat mindlessly flip through a magazine in the evenings. Buying yourself a new book â maybe one of these investing books â or magazine is a fairly cheap way to entertain yourself and if itâs a rare occasion, it can serve as a reward too.
Frugal Summer Fun for Adults
5. Go on a Day Trip
If you arenât traveling too far, the most expensive part of the trip is usually the overnight accommodations. By taking a day trip instead to the beach or somewhere else, you can get out of town and away from the norm without having to shell out for an expensive hotel room.
What other frugal ways can you think of to celebrate your debt successes?
Whether itâs fear of getting sick, worry for a loved oneâs health, job anxiety, the stress of juggling parenting and career in a pandemic, or all of the above, sky-high stress seems to be the new normal.
While free sleep apps wonât solve your big-picture problems, they could help you fall asleep faster, so you can tackle lifeâs stressors feeling refreshed. Here are the best ones weâve found.
1. White Noise
White noise free sleep apps are must-haves for travel, when you need a consistent noise to block out the sounds of other hotel guests, city noises, etc. The âliteâ version does the trick with free sleep sounds and nature sounds. For $4.99, you get 50 sounds plus the ability to create your own track that includes binaural beats, aka different frequencies that cue your brain to relax.
Find White Noise in the Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon.
2. Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis
Hypnosis usually costs several hundred dollars, but youâll pay $0 for this hypnotherapy sleep app with four recordings of meditation and hypnosis. Additional hypnosis tracks are available as app purchases for $2.99 apiece. This one made Healthlineâs 2019 list of the best sleep apps, so if youâre skeptical of hypnosis, their stamp of approval may persuade you to download hypnotherapy sleep apps.
Find Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis in the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Headspaceâs guided meditation app is the perfect way to wind down for bed: Andyâs soothing British accent will lull you into a state of total relaxation where it seems like nothing could ever go wrong. While itâs $60 a year, Headspace often makes the best sleep apps lists. Students can pay $9.99 for annual access, and Netflix subscribers can watch the Headspace series for no extra cost. Each episode focuses on one style of meditation, so by the time you finish the season youâll have a whole arsenal of relaxation techniques to try before bed.
Sign up for a free trial of Headspace or watch on Netflix.
Are you turning more to apps for wellness? Try these cheap or free meditation apps.
4. Deep Sleep With AJ
Deep Sleep With AJ is a cheaper alternative to Headspace, with a one-time cost of $2.99 and similarly dreamy Scottish accent. Developed by a mindfulness expert and therapist, the sleep app includes mindfulness and inspirational talks, bedtime relaxation techniques to help you wake up feeling refreshed, meditations for anxiety and panic attacks and more. You can cue up meditations to repeat a set number of times, so it ideally plays through until youâve caught those Zs.
Find Deep Sleep With AJ on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
5. Relax Melodies
Combining relaxing sounds, free sleep stories and guided meditation for sleep, lucid dreaming, or relief from medical conditions like tinnitus (ringing in the ears that often gets worse before bed), free sleep app Relax Melodies has thousands of fans. It comes with 52 sounds including white noise, nature sounds, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response, or that warm tingle associated with sounds like whispers) and binaural beats. Premium sounds are available as app purchases for $4.99.
Find Relax Melodies on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
6. Nothing Much Happens
Think of free podcast Nothing Much Happens as adult sleep stories designed to help you relax into a peaceful slumber. As the title suggests, the stories are fairly low-stakes. Podcast host Kathryn is a meditation and yoga teacher, so think of this as an extended savasana where itâs actually awesome if you end up snoring after five minutes.
Find Nothing Much Happens on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.
Perfect for the multitasker, Endel offers âpersonalized soundscapesâ for relaxation, better sleep and better focus. The app pulls data from your environment (like weather, location or time of day), then moderates sounds to match your mood: focus music for daytime work and chill sounds to help you sleep. The app comes with a 7-day free trial, after which point youâll need to buy a subscription ($5.99 per month or $49.99 per year, at present) or use the free, browser-based version.
Find Endel in the Apple App Store, Google Play, or on Twitch.
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8. Rise: Sleep & Energy Tracker
For those wanting a scientific approach to a good nightâs sleep, the Rise sleep tracker app is worth checking out. Itâs free to download with membership upgrades as app purchases beginning at $6.99 per month. Unlike sleep-tracking apps which just gauge your sleep cycle, Rise looks at âsleep debtââ aka how much sleep you should get but donât. The sleep app works backward from your sleep debt numbers, drawing from sleep data and health information to help you improve sleep quality and quantity. Rise fans include pro sports teams and Fortune 500 leaders who find the price worth it to sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed.
Find Rise in the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Most people experience sleep problems for a range of underlying causes, thus it can be helpful to have multiple free sleep apps on your phone. Armed with nature sounds, bedtime stories, guided meditation, science-backed sleep habits and hypnosis for lifeâs most pressing worries, you can stop counting sheep and cue up whatâs mostly likely to help you get a good nightâs sleep.
Lindsey Danis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Buying a house is a big decision, but it can feel especially overwhelming to place an offer on a home less than 24 hours after seeing it for the first time. Plus youâre under pressure to outbid several other buyers â or risk losing the house.
While these circumstances might sound extraordinary, theyâre not. With housing inventory nationwide at an all time-low â down 22% from last year according to the National Association of Realtors â itâs no wonder buyers are competing for the same few houses.
I was in this exact position last fall. Here are seven key takeaways from my experience buying in a sellerâs market.
Get a Pre-Approval Letter
In order to be competitive in a hot sellerâs market, you will need to line up your financing in advance.
Besides all the usual suspects, like saving up for a down payment and improving your credit score, youâll also want to get a pre-approval letter from your bank. It states that a bank would approve you for a mortgage of a certain amount, and acts as a guarantee to the seller that you can actually afford to buy their house.
This is where it helps to know your budget up front.
âItâs important to understand that the strength of financing is a key consideration a seller takes into account when selecting an offer,â said real estate developer Bill Samuel.
No seller wants to risk accepting an offer that might fall through. Aand since pre-approval letters can take some time to get, have one ready before you find your dream house.
Be Friendly With Neighbors
This might sound crazy, but making a good impression on your new neighbors can actually make a difference when it comes time for a seller to review offers.
Since youâll likely be visiting the home at least once before making an offer, be prepared to talk to any neighbors you might run into. In close-knit neighborhoods, or ones where people share resources (like an HOA), sellers might care a bit more about the type of person they sell the house to.
If you happen to meet a neighbor when visiting the home, introduce yourself and make a good impression. You never know how much their opinion of you might factor into any final decisions.
Submit an Offer Quickly
After youâve seen a house, and decided you love it, be prepared to submit an offer quicklyâÂ as in, ASAP.
Work with your real estate agent to determine how many other offers the seller already has (or expects to get) and then be prepared to draft something up that day. In our case, we toured our home for the very first time at 11 a.m. on a Monday â it came on the market the evening before â and made an offer by 4 p.m. that same day.
If that sounds fast, it is. But by the time we submitted our offer, the seller already had three others. This is where it helps to have a great real estate agent on your side.
âHaving a realtor who can get your offer submitted quickly is crucial,â said Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers. âYou want to get your offer in front of the seller first, and make it strong. Purchase price is the obvious factor and in a competitive market, houses often go for over asking price. However, a strong offer has several factors and it depends on whatâs most important to the seller.â
Work with your real estate agent to find out what matters most to the seller â is it money, closing quickly, something else entirely? Then make sure your offer addresses their needs.
Minimize Your Contingencies (Within Reason)
Another way to win over your seller (and prevail in any bidding wars) is by keeping your contingencies to a minimum.
Contingencies are the contractual stipulations buyers and sellers must meet before the deal can close. Unsurprisingly, sellers donât like to have too many of them to deal with. Contingencies can include such things as requesting a seller to make certain repairs, getting a home inspection, or even the fact that youâll need to sell your old house before being able to buy the new one.
âIn a really aggressive sellerâs market, a home buyer who has to sell a current property should do so before placing an offer on another home,â said Jason Gelios of Community Choice Realty. âDonât always assume that the seller will take the highest price. Other conveniences can play a factor in gaining the sellerâs attention, especially things like faster closing times and less restrictions.â
While my partner and I didnât make the highest offer on our house, we did have the fewest contingencies âÂ mainly, we didnât ask too much of our seller in the way of repairs, or have another house to sell in order to afford the new one.
All that said, there are certain contingencies you should never forgo, and a home inspection is one of them. Getting your home inspected is hugely important, since inspectors will often find things even the sellers werenât aware of. No matter how much you love a house, donât be afraid of exercising your right to an inspection.
According to buyer protection laws in most states, sellers are required to report any findings in home inspections to subsequent buyers. In other words, if an inspector finds something wrong with the house, the seller will have to deal with it one way or anotherâÂ either with you, or the next buyer should you choose to drop out of the deal.
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Make a Generous Earnest Money Deposit
When trying to woo your seller in a competitive market, it helps to make a generous earnest money deposit. An earnest money deposit is a good-faith deposit requested by the seller when you enter into a contract to buy the house and typically run anywhere from 1% to 3% of the sale price of the home.
When deciding how much of an earnest money deposit to include in your offer, keep in mind that whatever amount you give comes off the price of the home (and is returned to you if the deal falls through). In other words,Â thereâs no reason to be cheap. If you can, go slightly above the sellerâs requested deposit amount. Even if itâs just a little more than what theyâre asking, that gesture of good faith might just be what gets you the house.
Offer Above Asking Price
Wait. Why would anyone make an offer thatâs above asking price? Because the competition did it first, and in a hot sellerâs market, offering above asking price is often what it takes to even be considered.
Upping your offer may not break the bank as much as youâre fearing. âWith interest rates so low these days, offering more than what the seller is asking may not make a drastic difference in your overall monthly payments,â real estate agent Pavel Khaykin of Pavel Buys Houses said.
Letâs say the listing price on your dream home is $320,000 and youâre able to put down a 6% down payment. That leaves you with a mortgage of roughly $301,000. For a 30-year fixed mortgage at an interest rate of 3%, that translates into $1,269 monthly payments. Now letâs say you decide to bid a little higher on the home and offer $10,000 over asking price. This would only bump up your monthly payment (assuming you qualify for that low interest rate) by $42.
Lace Up Your Running Shoes
In a hot sellerâs market, youâve got to be ready to move fast. Often this is more of a change in mindset than anything else. When my partner and I first started looking at homes, we considered ourselves casual buyers â that is, until our dream home came on the market late one Sunday night. From there, things moved quickly. We saw the home, made an offer, were under contract by morning, and spent the next month and a half going through the process of closing on the house.
If youâre serious about finding your dream home in the next few months, the best thing you can do is know what you want from the outset, and get your ducks in a row to make a compelling offer when you find it. Maybe this means making a list of your must-haves in a house, and working to improve your credit score. It might also mean reaching out to a real estate agent before you need one, and getting that pre-approval letter in place.
Although inventory is low, new houses come on the market all the time.
Larissa Runkle is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned here.
The Apple credit card launches this summer, and it pairs the high-tech, app-based culture of the brand with some favorite credit card user perks. Before you join the flock likely to flood Apple with credit card applications, do your homework to make sure this card will meet your needs. Check out the details about the Apple credit card below, as well as some alternative credit cards you might apply for.
Whatâs the Apple Credit Card?
The Apple credit card is a payment card offered by Apple and issued by Goldman Sachs. Despite the Apple name on the card, whether or not a consumer is approved and the day-to-day financial management of accounts is handled by Goldman Sachs.
The design of the card and all its cash-back credit card perks, however, are courtesy of Apple and include:
Integration with Apple Pay and Apple Wallet
Integration with your iPhone or another iOS mobile device to support phone-based payments and access to accounts
Apple’s customary security and privacy levels
Cash back offers that are especially useful to Apple fans
Basic facts to know about the new Apple credit card include:
It comes with a 49% to 23.49% variable APR (as of 12/19/2019) depending on your creditworthiness.
You earn 1 to 3% cash back on purchases.
The Apple credit card doesn’t come with any feesâthat includes no annual fee, late payment fees, foreign transaction fee and over-limit fees.
Though you do receive a physical card whose number you can use in Google Wallet, the Apple credit card also comes as a virtual card number designed to live in your Apple Wallet.
The wide range APRs suggest so some that the card may be available to people with a fair credit score.1 No one will know until the card actually launches though.
Benefits and Perks of the Apple Credit Card
While interest rates and credit limits are important, most consumers also choose a card based on the perks its rewards program affords them. Intelligent use of perk-related cards, such as travel rewards cards, can help you save money or earn extra pennies on cash you already plan to spend. Here’s a look at how Apple credit card perks stack up for users.
Expense and Spending Organization in One Place
Apple is making a big deal out of the user experience element of this credit card, which involves heavy integration with iPhones. The card itself is housed in the Apple Wallet app on your iOS device. Since you can only use the digital version of the card where Apple Pay is accepted, you also get a unique physical card that’s as sleek and high-tech as any Apple device.
The cardâs digital component offers specific benefits:
You can apply for the card and, if approved, it’s immediately in your Wallet app. You can start using it the same day without waiting for a card to arrive in the mail.
Without using a physical card, you don’t have a card number or other elements that can be stolen, which increases the security of your account.
Apple also provides an app that lets you manage your spending and account in a single location. You can view charges based on a map to figure out where money was spent, get a color-coded breakdown of your expenses to help you budget and view visual and numeric information about how various payment amounts impact the total owed. Log in to the app when you’re ready to make a payment on your account, and youâre also provided with estimates on how much interest youâll be charged and can see how much interest youâll pay if you pay your card off sooner than later and vice versa.
Cash Back and Daily Cash Back with Some Purchases
The card gives account holders the chance to earn cash-back rewards too. And you get even more cash back rewards when you spend with Apple.
You get 3% cash back on all purchases from Apple. That includes purchases at apple.com, Apple stores, iTunes and the Apple app store. You earn cash back on the game, app and in-app purchases, including music, storage plans and books.
You get 2% cash back on anything else you purchase and pay with using Apple Pay.
If you have to break out the physical Apple Card to make a payment, you still earn 1% cash back.
Cash back is always a great perk for a credit card, but it’s especially nice when the card doesn’t have an annual fee. The Apple credit card makes cash back even more of a perk by awarding it to you the day after you spend rather than waiting for the statement cycle to close.
To make use of cash back the next day, you do have to have an Apple Cash card, which is how Apple transmits rewards to you. If you don’t have an Apple Cash card, then the cash back rewards are applied as a statement credit on your Apple credit card account.
Who Benefits Most from This Credit Card?
Because of its heavy integration with iOS technology and the Apple Wallet, the Apple credit card is more likely to be useful to Apple customers. Individuals who carry Android or other devices won’t be able to access many of the features available with this card. And if you’re not shopping with Apple or using Apple Pay, you miss the top tier cash-back rewards.
You might benefit from this card if:
You have an iPhone, especially if youâre prone to or like the idea of handling your finances via a single app on your device.
You’re an avid user of Apple technology and have already adopted Apple Pay and Apple Wallet.
You make a lot of purchases at Apple’s stores or using Apple subscriptions or the Apple app stores.
Alternatives to the Apple Credit Card
The Apple credit card is obviously not right for everyone. If you don’t have an iPhone, prefer Android or arenât interested in using any or much technology for your financial management, you may want to opt for a different kind of credit card account.
For those who don’t fit the target audience for the Apple credit card, plenty of other rewards cards are available. Here are a few you might consider.
The Chase FreedomÂ®Â Unlimited cardÂ comes with 3% cash back on your first $20,000 in purchases your first yearÂ as a cardholder. After that, you can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase.The extra cash back your first year makes this card idealÂ in orderÂ to maximize your rewards. And the 1.5% after that is nothing is nothing to sneeze at.
The American ExpressÂ® Gold card, which does require decent credit but offers some spectacular perks for those who love a fine dining experience or are always chasing the next fun foodie adventure. This card is also known as a great travel rewards card.
The Capital OneÂ® QuicksilverÂ® card, which offers unlimited 1.5% cash back without limits. That makes this card an ideal daily swiper. And an APR of 0% intro on purchases for 15 months lets you double your rewards by making a large purchase and paying it off without interest in the first year or so.
The Credit One BankÂ® Platinum VisaÂ® with Cash Back Rewards is a rewards card option for people with bad, poor or fair credit. It lets cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchase (some terms apply).
Apple isn’t the onlyâor firstâcompany to enter the market of branded credit cards. If you like the idea of rewards that are brand-based, but you don’t use an iPhone or spend a lot at the Apple store, consider some of the options below.
The Montgomery Ward credit card that lets you buy now and pay later for hundreds of brands at Montgomery Ward.
The Kroger REWARDS Prepaid VisaÂ® card that lets you earn rewards to use for free groceries and to save on gas.
The Official NASCARÂ® Credit card from Credit One BankÂ® that pays you double cash back on items purchased from the NASCAR.com Superstore (terms apply) and 1% cashback on all other purchases too.
Ultimately, thereâs a credit card option for almost any spending or financial goal. Browse the selection of offers on Credit.com to find a card that works for your needs and preferences, including:
Cards for building or repairing credit, which usually start with lower limits that grow as you handle the account responsibly.
Balance transfer cards, which let you move balances from higher-interest accounts and pay them down faster to save money.
Rewards cards, which let you earn money on expenses you would be paying anyway, including travel, utilities, food and clothing.
Cards with no annual fee that let you avoid paying the card issuer to use your credit card.
Whether or not you’re approved for the Apple credit card or any of these other card offers depends on your creditworthiness. Review the information about each credit card carefully, ensuring you understand the offers, fees and rewards structures. Then, check your credit scoreâfor freeâand apply for a credit card on Credit.com.
Note: Itâs important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
The post What You Need to Know About the New Apple Credit Card appeared first on Credit.com.
If youâre looking to repair your credit, you may have come across websites that advertise a credit privacy number, credit protection number or CPN. These numbers are nine digits like a Social Security number (SSN), and sellers claim that you can use them instead of your SSN. However, these CPNs are often actual SSNs lifted from real people, reportedly children, prison inmates and the deceased â and you can never legally buy a new SSN. In other words, a CPN is no solution to your credit rating problem. Under no circumstances should you try to buy a CPN.
Why a CPN is No Credit Fix
Websites have sprung up all over the internet, offering CPNs to people with bad credit or low credit scores. They advertise that this number can serve as a âget out of jail freeâ card for your bad credit. In theory, you can use a CPN instead of your SSN on credit applications to hide the poor credit associated with your personal SSN. If you have bad credit but still need a credit card or loan, this can seem like the solution, assuming you can pay anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
That price might seem worth it for a chance to wipe the slate clean. However, these offers are essentially a big scam. The CPNs you can buy online are not legally assigned credit protection numbers. Instead, they are usually stolen Social Security numbers, taken from children, the deceased or inmates.
Also, using a purchased CPN puts you in some hot water, too. Credit agencies can easily spot discrepancies if you try to use a CPN on an application instead of your SSN. Not only will this fail to help your credit, but itâs also committing fraud which is punishable by jail time.
How to Avoid CPN Scams
If youâre dealing with some bad credit, donât turn to a CPN. Only scammers sell CPNs, and they in turn may cheat you out of your personal information as well as hundreds or thousands of dollars. Using a purchased CPN can also put you in jail, even if you didnât know the number was fraudulent. This is why itâs important to be aware of this popular scam.
If you really need a CPN or new SSN, it will be free. The process will go through the Social Security Administration Office, since a new number would be tied to your old SSN. That said, it is very hard to qualify to receive a new number. Having bad credit is never a qualifying reason.
How to Get a Legal CPN
With so many fraudulent websites and companies trying to sell you a way to reset your credit, itâs hard to know how to get a legal CPN. Unfortunately, thereâs a lot of misinformation out there. Some experts say that you can speak with an attorney to obtain a legal CPN. The attorney can then contact the Social Security Administration Office on your behalf. However, others maintain that all CPNs are illegal.
Generally, it seems that you cannot get a legal CPN unless you actually need one. These situations include celebrities, government officials and people under witness protection. You can also apply in other specific instances, like if youâre a victim of abuse, stalking or identity theft. A real CPN would be attached to your SSN, so itâs still not an escape from the credit tied to your SSN.
You may also stumble upon offers to obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number. The IRS does issue EINs, but only businesses can use them for business costs. This means that you cannot legally obtain an EIN as an individual looking to improve your credit. You also cannot make up a home business, apply for an EIN and use that new number for a credit reset. It is a federal crime to obtain an EIN under false pretenses. In any case, the credit profile for your EIN is still tied to your SSN.
You shouldnât ever, under any circumstances, try to purchase a CPN. These offers are fraudulent and donât provide any credit repair or relief. At the very least, buying a CPN wastes money you should put towards repaying your loans in the first place. At worst, you could go to jail for fraud. There are better, more constructive ways to repair your credit. If youâre truly in a situation that calls for a CPN, contact your lawyer for assistance.
Tips on Rebuilding Your Credit
Of course, the best way to legally clean up your credit is to pay back your debts and improve your credit practices. A good place to start is to pay off your credit card debt with the highest interest.
Sometimes youâll just have to wait for your bad history to fall off your record. Generally, negative info stays on your credit report for seven years. If you canât get a debt collection removed from your credit report, for example, itâll stay there for seven years. However, as time goes on, the toll it takes on your report lessens.
Donât go it alone. If you have a good income, but youâre just bad at managing your money, a financial advisor can help. With guidance, you can make smarter choices â and even start growing your wealth. To find an advisor, use our free, no-obligation matching tool. It will connect you with up to three advisors in your area.
Credit cards for foodies are the latest trend, with more and more rewards programs and additional card benefits catering to both dining in and eating out. Restaurant and grocery bonus categories are becoming commonplace â letting cardholders rack up a few extra points or cash back on those purchases.
But what about those who prefer to order delivery? If you like to take advantage of popular food delivery services like DoorDash or Uber Eats or simplify cooking with a meal kit subscription, there are plenty of credit card rewards and benefits you can leverage to save a little money.
Finding the best card for your favorite services
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Finding the best card for your favorite food delivery or meal kit service depends on a variety of factors, including the cardâs yearly credits, special perks or rewards rate. For example, many dining cards offer bonuses that are tailored to a specific delivery service, as a monthly Uber credit.
See related: Food delivery perks on luxury travel cards
For meal kit services, matching rewards is a little more complicated. You could opt for a rewarding grocery card, as many meal kit brands are now partnered with major supermarkets â so you can buy them in the store.
Alternatively, a card that earns rewards on dining or online shopping can help you get rewards on both food delivery and meal kits. Earning dining rewards can be complicated, as not all delivery services have a merchant category code that qualifies for a point or cash back bonus. You can test it by making a small charge to your card and seeing what rewards you earn.
Online shopping rewards, on the other hand, are much more flexible. They apply to both web and app purchases, so whether your order from your phone or computer, you can rack up bonus points or cash back.
Best cards by delivery service or meal kit subscription
With all this in mind, here are some of our favorite cards for some of the most popular food delivery and meal kit subscription services.
Why we like it
Chase Sapphire Reserve
10 points per dollar on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
3 points per dollar on travel and restaurants (excluding purchases covered by $300 travel credit)
1 point per dollar on general purchases
Generous rate on dining purchases
Receive a yearly statement credit for DoorDash purchases ($60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021)
Get at least one free year of DashPass when you enroll with your card (activate by Dec. 31, 2021)
The Platinum CardÂ® from American Express
10 points per dollar on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months of card membership
5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year)
5 points per dollar on eligible hotels booked with amextravel.com (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year)
1 point per dollar on general purchases
Get up to $200 in Uber credits per year ($15 per month, plus an extra $20 in December), which can be applied to Uber Eats
Up to 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass when you enroll before Dec. 31, 2021
Automatic Uber VIP membership (where available) without ride requirements
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
8% cash back on Vivid Seats tickets (through January 2022)
4% cash back on dining and entertainment
2% cash back at grocery stores
1% cash back on all other purchases
Top-tier cash back on restaurant delivery, including most delivery services
Grocery bonus category includes eligible grocery delivery services, including Instacart
As a Mastercard, offers complimentary a 2-month Instacart Express membership if enrolled before March 31, 2021
American ExpressÂ® Gold Card
4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide, including Uber Eats orders
4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1 point)
3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
1 point per dollar on other purchases
Enroll to receive up to $10 in statement credits per month (up to $120 per year) to use at participating restaurants, including Grubhub, Seamless and Boxed
Up to $120 in Uber Cash per year ($10 per month), which can be applied to U.S. Uber Eats orders (Gold card must be added to the Uber app)
Up to 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass when you enroll before Dec. 31, 2021 (Uber Eats Pass will auto-bill starting 12 months from initial enrollment in this offer, at then-current monthly rate)
Excellent rewards on grocery delivery services, such as Instacart
Blue Cash PreferredÂ® Card from American Express
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)
6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit purchases
1% cash back on general purchases
Generous rate on U.S. supermarket purchases (HelloFresh meal kits are sold in supermarkets such as H-E-B and Giant Food) and eligible grocery delivery services, such as Instacart
Unlimited 3% cash back on delivery purchases from ride-share services, like Uber and Lyft
Blue Cash EverydayÂ® Card from American Express
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
1% cash back general purchases
Generous rate on U.S. supermarket purchases (Home Chef meal kits are sold in select Kroger locations)
Other delivery services
Bank of AmericaÂ® Cash Rewards credit card
3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvements and furnishings)
2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
$2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
1% cash back on other purchases
Generous rate on online shopping purchases (if you select it as your 3% category) and good rate at grocery stores
Can swap choice 3% category monthly to account for different delivery services. For instance, the dining category rewards Grubhub purchases and the travel category rewards ride share purchases from services like Uber
If you donât have a delivery service you prefer â or if you like to switch back and forth based on restaurant availability â a card with rewards on online shopping is your best bet.
Ordering food can be expensive, but using the right rewards card can help you alleviate some of that cost by racking up points or cash back. With some cards, you might even get a few extras that cover your next couple of meals.
Imagine finding your dream home, then, a week before closing the deal, losing your jobâand the house. House hunting during the coronavirus pandemic is no picnic.
COVID-19 has caused seismic changes not only to real estate markets, but also to the lives of home buyers hit with layoffs, furloughs, and other financial challenges. Just ask Katerina Rieckel, a digital strategist, knitwear designer, and first-time home buyer who, with her husband, was set to close on a glorious farmhouse in upstate New York in March.
But about a week before sealing the deal, Rieckel was laid off, which meant that she and her husband, a claims adjuster, could no longer afford the place.
As a part of our new series, “First-Time Home Buyer Confessions,” we asked Rieckel to share her story, and the hard-won lessons she wants to share with other first-timers.
Let her experiences show that even unemployment doesn’t need to spell the end of a house huntâalthough it may require you to dust yourself off after a loss and try, try again.
Location: Troy, NY House specs: 1,544 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms List price: $249,900 Price paid: $245,500
2020 has been a wild one. How did you end up buying a home in the middle of a pandemic?
We started looking for a house a year ago, about halfway through the summer. At the time, both my husband and I had recently got new jobs, so the first issue we ran into was getting pre-qualified for the mortgage without a long track record at those companies. We also both felt pressure, as our jobs were very new.
What were you looking for in a house, and what was your budget?
We were looking for a house in the country that was move-in ready, private with at least 5 acres. We started off with a small budget, max $200,000, which made our choices more narrow.
Our search continued well into the winter, and around January 2020, we finally saw a house that was all we ever dreamed of and more. It was over our budget, at $229,000, but it had been listed for over a year, so we felt there was a good chance we could get it for less than the asking price.
What did you love about this house?
It was a beautiful, slate-blue farmhouse sitting on top of a hill, surrounded by woods. The house was warm and inviting, with chickens running around, as well as a big diving pool, and a workshop in the basement connected with a two-car garage. We got along with the owners really well, and we were going to keep the chickens. Everything went very smoothly, until just over a week before closing.
So what went wrong?
It was March, and COVID-19 hit hard. The digital marketing agency I worked for had clients pause their work for unknown time. I was laid off, which meant we couldn’t afford the house anymore, and had to back out of the deal.
I was crushed. We didn’t know what was going to happen, and the country was under a lockdown. We had plans for my parents to come visit us in our new house, but instead, I ended up with no job, no house, and I couldn’t see my family, since they live in Europe.
In the summer, I was very fortunate to get my job back. So we resumed our house hunt and began to search for a new contender.
When you started the search again, how had COVID-19 changed the market?
The housing market in upstate New York got totally crazy. I heard there were houses being sold within hours. The market was just incredibly competitive, and not many houses were being listed, as a lot of people didn’t want to let strangers in their house during the pandemic.
We saw about seven to 10 houses in person, but they usually ended up disappointing us, with some strange arrangements. For example, one house had around 25 acres, but half of that acreage was on the other side of the road, behind other people’s houses, which made it almost impossible to use.
With such a competitive market, how did you end up finding the right house?
Finally, around halfway through the summer, I saw a house listed that I hadn’t noticed before. I called on it right away and set up a showing that evening.
The real estate agent told me we were really fast, as he had just relisted this house. Someone had been buying it, but backed out of the process because of personal reasons.
How did you know this house was the one?
The house had over 10 acres, it was in the country, and about 35 minutes to Troy. It was move-in ready, but definitely needed upgrades, as it looked like it got stuck in the ’80s.
Even though we didn’t like the style that much, we felt instantly comfortable and decided to put in an offer that same evening. It was partly due to the pressure of the market, but in the end, we are really happy we made this decision.
What surprised you most about the home-buying process?
Nothing prepares you for the amount of aggravation you have to go through. Buying a house is like getting a second job for about three months.
What’s your advice for aspiring first-time home buyers?
Don’t trust the photos! The photos got me a few times. For example, a lot of times, the photos of the house are taken so that you can’t see the neighboring houses.
You think, “Wow, that looks so private!” Then you drive there, and you realize there’s a house sitting right next to it. Since privacy was very important to us, we got disappointed a few times by this. We started doing drive-bys first, before going in with a real estate agent, whenever possible.
Anything else home buyers should look out for?
Call the real estate agent and ask a lot of questions before you even go see the house, like what the property and school taxes areâvery important around here.
You also want to know what kind of heating the house has, as electric bills can really add up over the winter.
The driveway can also be a huge issue, which is why I think the first house we were buying was for sale for such a long time. It had a pretty steep driveway, which was definitely an all-wheel drive kind of thing in the winter.
We also changed who we were financing with while we were going through closing. We needed someone well-informed about the economy, who knew what they were doing and was ready to act fast.
Our first mortgage broker didn’t tell us as soon as interest rates started to go upâand basically sat on the information for a while. This is when we stopped trusting this person and went to work with a bank instead.
Maybe the best advice is not to fall in love with a house too quickly, since there can be so many setbacks that you will not see coming.
The post ‘I Lost My Jobâand My Dream House’: How This First-Time Home Buyer Bounced Back appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.