If you’re out of work and making ends meet with the help of a $300 a week federal unemployment extension, that extra money could disappear sooner than you expected. Officials in least 11 states have announced they plan to opt out of unemployment benefits early, before the extra $300 weekly benefit offered by the American Relief Plan ends Sept. 6.
Many have cited large numbers of unfilled jobs in their states, along with widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
Is Your State Cutting Unemployment Benefits Early?
As of May 12, governors in the following 11 states have notified the U.S. Department of Labor that they plan to end extra jobless benefits early. More states are expected to follow.
Unemployed workers can still qualify for state benefits, but in some states, they’ll face stricter requirements. For example, many states are now requiring workers who receive benefits to document their job search, a mandate that was mostly waived at the start of the pandemic.
As states withdraw from federal unemployment programs, they won’t just be cutting the extra $300 a week. They’re also ending:
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 19. The maximum state benefit is $275 per week.
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 26. The maximum state benefit is $451 per week.
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 19. The maximum state benefit is $463 per week.
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 12. The maximum state benefit is $481 per week.
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 12. The maximum state benefit is $235 per week.
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 12. The maximum state benefit is $320 per week.
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 26. The state will substitute expanded benefits with a one-time $1,200 “return to work” bonus. The maximum state benefit is $552 per week.
8. North Dakota
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 19. The maximum state benefit is $618 per week.
9. South Carolina
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 30. The maximum state benefit is $326 per week.
Extra federal unemployment benefits end July 30. The maximum state benefit is $275 per week.
Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 19. The maximum state benefit is $508 per week.
What to Do if Your Unemployment Benefits Are Ending
If your benefits are ending soon, consider looking for a bridge job, which is pretty much anything that can help pay the bills. It probably won’t be your dream job, but you can continue searching for work that’s a better fit. Due to widespread hiring shortages, you may find that even low-wage gigs are paying better than they did in the past.
If you aren’t quite ready to leave your home just yet, whether due to COVID-19 concerns or caregiving duties, try searching for an online job. While some opportunities require a high level of expertise, there are plenty of entry-level remote jobs available. The Penny Hoarder has a portal of vetted work-from-home job opportunities.
While you’re searching for your next full-time job, try earning extra money with a side hustle. Uber and Lyft drivers are in big demand right now. Both companies are reportedly offering bonuses to get more drivers on the road. You also may find that some side gigs, like pet-sitting and house-sitting, are in greater demand as some sense of normalcy returns.
Even if your state isn’t on the list yet, don’t count on your extended benefits continuing through early September. It’s essential to ramp up your job search now so that you have the best chance of landing employment before extra benefits end. Be sure to keep records of each job you’ve applied for in case you need to prove to your state’s unemployment office that you’re looking for work.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]
If you do any of your shopping online, this is the week to do it. You can get 15% cash back on your online purchases.
We’re not kidding. Fifteen percent.
A free browser extension called Rakuten has the hookup with just about every website you shop on, which means it gives you a kickback every time you buy.
From May 10-17, it’s running a promotion called Big Give Week, where it’s offering 15% rebates from hundreds of stores, brands and services. This eight-day shopping bonanza covers a wide range of purchases including fashion and apparel, health and beauty, travel, electronics, home goods, subscription services, dining and more.
Another eye-opening offer: a whopping $30 referral bonus. If you refer a friend to Rakuten during Big Give Week, and they join and spend at least $30 on a qualifying purchase, both you and your friend receive a $30 reward. So between the two of you, you’d spend $30 to earn $60.
Once you download the browser extension (it’s safe and secure), it automatically does three cool things:
It gets you cash back on your online purchases from more than 2,500 stores, including Target, Walmart, eBay, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Petco, Sam’s Club, Best Buy and Lowe’s.
It automatically applies coupon codes at checkout. Ta-da!
It alerts you when a product you’re about to buy is available at a lower price somewhere else. Because really, why overpay?
Then you get your cash back via PayPal or check.
Finally, Rakuten is an official partner of the NBA, so here’s one more thing about Big Give Week: If you make a qualifying purchase of at least $25 at select stores, you’re eligible to receive a free Fanatics-brand player T-shirt and a New Era 9Forty team hat from top NBA teams.
It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account and start shopping. All you need is an email address, then you can immediately start shopping at your go-to stores through the site.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a giver.
Here is the scenario: You and your spouse are approximately the same age, and are asking yourselves and your financial guru about social security benefits. Chief in your minds is how to maximize social security benefits for a married couple.
You are approaching the age when you need to make decisions about taking Social Security payments. Neither of you are required to take such payments at any age, but you could certainly use one of the monthly payments for the expenses you have.
It is fairly common knowledge among people who are near or at the age when they can begin to accept Social Security payments that the longer they wait, the more they will receive in their monthly payment. In your situation, you probably know which spouse is in line to get the most money. That would be the one of you that made more money and thus contributed more.
So, let’s say you two have decided one of you needs to start taking Social Security benefits now. But which one of you? Do you take the higher earner’s benefits now and then add the lesser amount later, or do you let that greater amount grow and take the lesser amount now? How do you maximize Social Security benefits for a married couple?
A Couple’s Guide to Claiming Social Security
It’s a complicated question with a complicated answer. There are several points to consider before making the decision of whose benefits to claim first.
The Most Beautiful Part of Social Security
As federal entitlement programs go, Social Security is one of the most successful and most popular. Many senior citizens rely on their Social Security payments as their sole income, while others use it to supplement income from investments and savings. It’s a good idea to devise a retirement budget, considering all of the money you will have coming in — and how much will be going out.
But where Social Security best serves American citizens is in its treatment of married couples who likely have two Social Security accounts to consider.
Thanks to the creation of spousal benefits, married couples can employ some fairly complex mathematical equations to determine how best to maximize their benefits over time. Spouses who are going to hit full retirement age at the same time have an easier time with those complex mathematical equations because they are comparing oranges to oranges. This article will explain spousal benefits a bit later.
Terminology: A Reminder
There will be multiple references to “full retirement age,” which originally was 65 years of age, but has increased over time to 67 for workers born in 1960 or thereafter. Full retirement age is 66 years and 10 months for anyone born between 1955 and 1959, and 66 years for those born before 1955.
Once you turn 62, you can begin receiving Social Security benefits, but once you start, you are locked into that amount though you have 12 months to change your mind and halt payments. The longer you wait to start receiving benefits, the more money you receive monthly, up to the age of 70.
So, now let’s start figuring out which spouse should take Social Security benefits first when both spouses are approximately the same age.
Deciding Factor: Health
If one spouse earned much more money in their career than the other, their monthly Social Security payments will be significantly higher. But a couple must decide if the higher amount is needed for living expenses, because that higher amount is only going to grow up to age 70 as long as you don’t take the benefits early.
If your budget can allow you to wait, there are two other key determining factors to consider when deciding who should accept Social Security first: each spouse’s personal health prospects and each spouse’s desire to continue working past the age of 62.
Here is how health plays a role: If a spouse dies before they reach their full retirement age and have not started taking SS benefits, the surviving spouse will receive what the deceased spouse would have received at their full retirement age.
If a spouse dies after their full retirement age without taking benefits, the surviving spouse gets the full retirement benefit plus a Delayed Retirement Credit. If a spouse takes benefits before their full retirement age and then passes away, the surviving spouse gets the lower monthly amount rather than the larger full retirement amount.
This effectively causes citizens who have reached 62 years of age to hold off taking their SS benefits at their first opportunity. It also makes couples play a form of Russian Roulette; a spouse who might be considered most likely to die before reaching their full retirement age should NOT take their SS benefits early. (That will make for pleasant dinner conversation.)
Deciding Factor: Work Intentions
Now let’s consider work intentions. If one spouse wants to continue working past age 62, he or she should not take Social Security benefits because every dollar earned over a certain amount each month decreases their Social Security benefits. The amount you can earn each month is dependent on when the working spouse will (or did) reach their full retirement age.
However, if one spouse wants to continue working and NOT take their Social Security benefits yet, they are still contributing tax dollars to their Social Security account and their eventual monthly Social Security payments will be that much larger.
(This stipulation has become increasingly significant as life expectancy among men increases. Some people who need their Social Security payments do not want to retire completely, so they are allowed to make up to a certain amount a month without cutting into their monthly benefits.)
Now, About Those Spousal Benefits
Marriage is often touted as a great financial decision (two can live as cheaply as one; the married status for filing taxes) but it really comes in handy when it is time to collect Social Security benefits.
There are several factors involved, but the basic benefit is that when one spouse files for benefits, the other spouse may receive up to half of the first spouse’s benefits as well. The spousal benefit is only for those spouses who are also at least 62 years old, which works for the scenario this article is based upon.
Spousal benefits are also reduced if the first spouse takes his or her benefits before full retirement age.
The federal website for the Social Security Administration has a wealth of information as well as benefit calculators. There are also more than 1,200 field offices around the country with knowledgeable staff able to help you navigate your Social Security decisions with a focus on maximizing your benefits.
At least in the case of Social Security, the federal government really wants citizens to receive what they deserve as long-time members of the American workforce.
Kent McDill is a longtime journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Public records are information pertaining to legal matters that have a direct impact on your finances. They list things like paid and unpaid debts, legal liabilities, and your payment history.
They tell a creditor if you are a good risk for a loan. When you are taken to small claims court and a judge makes a ruling against you, this judgment is considered a public record.
Foreclosures, bankruptcy, tax liens, civil judgments, and lawsuits are all types of public records that the government is required to file and keep available for the public. Most public records stay on your credit report for seven years.
However, bankruptcies may remain as long as 10 years and unpaid tax liens can stay on your credit report indefinitely.
How to Remove a Public Record from Your Credit Report
Removing a public record from your credit report requires filing separate disputes with all three major credit bureaus.
If you have a public record on your credit report, you can attempt to dispute the negative information with the credit bureaus to have it removed. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives consumers the ability to dispute incomplete and inaccurate information contained in their credit reports with the credit bureaus.
The credit bureaus decide whether or not a dispute is frivolous solely based on your communication and any proof that you can provide. Public records also involve government agencies and courts, some additional steps may need to be taken in addition to disputing the information with the credit bureaus.
This is one of the reasons that many people hire a credit repair company when it comes to repairing their credit and removing public records from their credit reports.
Get Public Records Removed Now!
If you’re looking for a reputable credit repair company to help you with public records and repair your credit, we HIGHLY recommend Lexington Law.
They can help you dispute (and possibly remove) the following items:
Call them at (800) 220-0084 for a free credit consultation. They have helped plenty of people in your situation and have paralegals standing by waiting to take your call.
Bankruptcy (Public Record) Removed from Credit Report Report
Discount for Family Members, Couples, and Active Military!
They are now offering $50 off the initial set-up fee when you and your spouse or family members sign up together. The one-time $50.00 discount will be automatically applied to both you and your spouse’s first payment.
Active military members also qualify for a one-time $50 discount off the initial fee.
Do public records affect your credit score?
Having a public record on your credit report negatively impacts your credit score. Public records can be a deciding factor when a lender is making a financial decision.
Having a tax lien, civil judgment, or bankruptcy removed once they are on is a time-consuming job. If you have records that are dragging your credit score down get professional help to have them removed. If you’re able to remove any kind of negative information from your credit report it should definitely improve your credit score.
What kind of information is included in a public record?
If you file for bankruptcy, the amount the court found you legally responsible to pay will be listed. There will also be an exempt amount. This is the amount the court says you are not responsible to pay.
Lastly, there will be an asset amount for the number of personal assets the court used to make its decision. These will all be listed under the bankruptcy and are the kind of public records that can significantly lower your credit ratings and affect your borrowing power.
Some other things that you might find in your public records might be things you consider personal, things like if you have had financial counseling, a financial statement, garnishments, and financial marital claims from a divorce. However, all of these things affect your income and so they affect your credit.
What information is not part of your public record?
You may feel like your whole life is on display, but it’s not entirely. There are a few categories of strictly confidential records that are protected by law. Confidential records include welfare benefits, income tax, education level, and medical and criminal records.
These records are kept confidential because they contain Social Security numbers, your contact information, health history, and your financial information.
How are public records made public?
The government takes making public records available to the public very seriously. It runs a service called PACER that is provided by the federal judiciary. PACER is short for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.
This is an electronic public access service. It lets users get case and docket information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts, via the Internet.
The federal website for PACER says that it currently hosts over 500 million case file documents. These are available immediately after they have been electronically filed.
This is one of the ways your records become public records. This also allows your information to be reported to the three credit reporting agencies.
Keeping Information Off of Public Records
If you are facing small claims court or some other kind of financial dispute, it would be beneficial for you to settle out of court and avoid a public record on your credit report.
It is usually better to deal with your creditors directly if possible. Adverse records can affect your credit whether they are paid or unpaid.
Criminal history is not a public record that will be included in your credit report. It is illegal for credit reporting agencies to use your past criminal history in deciding your credit score.
Have you been taken to small claims court and lost? If so, you probably have a public record of some sort on your credit report usually in the form of a judgment.
One pint of blood can save three lives. That alone is what drives people to roll up their sleeves and get that needle prick. But there’s another good reason to sign up to be a regular blood donor: Gift cards.
You get a lot more than a T-shirt and some peanut butter crackers these days when you donate blood. Blood collection organizations routinely give out $20 worth of gift cards to Amazon, restaurants and major retailers at blood drives. You can give blood every 56 days, or six times a year.
So, a couple can average $240 in perks and save 36 lives in one year. For a family of four with kids above 16 and old enough to donate, that’s about $500 in gift cards per year and 72 lives saved.
“One time we went to Kohl’s and there was a blood drive in the parking lot,” said Beverly Mattis of Wake Forest, N.C. “They gave us each a $20 Kohl’s gift card so my daughter and I went in and did some shopping afterward.”
Exavier Jones gave blood recently at a OneBlood mobile collection bus outside casual dining restaurant Carrabba’s Italian Grill in St. Petersburg.
“I’m type O. That’s always needed, so I try to give as often as I can,” he said, explaining that any blood type can accept type O blood. He received a $10 Carrabba’s gift card and a $10 e-gift card to use at one of a variety of retailers.
How to Get the Perks of Being a Regular Blood Donor
If you register to be a blood donor with the blood collection organization in your area, you will receive texts or emails with dates of upcoming blood drives and the perks. There are many blood collection organizations around the country. Here are three of the biggest, and how to register:
There’s no requirement that you give a certain number of times a year, but there is encouragement.
OneBlood, which collects blood in the Southeast, partnered with Carrabba’s to give $10 gift cards each time someone donated between January and April. Those who gave twice received an additional $25 gift card along with the two $10 cards.
“I got $10. I’m going to go inside and have a lasagna dinner tonight,” said Bill Howard after donating at the Carrabba’s in St. Petersburg.
The gift cards are nice for sure, he said, but the main reason he gives regularly is because he was stabbed during the Vietnam War and needed a lot of blood to survive. He wants to save others like a stranger’s blood once saved him.
“I would say most of the time at almost all of our drives our intention is to have a donor gift,” said Pat Michaels, OneBlood director of media relations. “It could be Carrabba’s, Publix, Red Lobster. We have built up some wonderful partners,” he said.
OneBlood also gives out tickets donated by the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, the Daytona 500 and Carowinds amusement park near Charlotte, N.C.
Along with gift cards and tickets, many blood collection groups also give out swag such as beach towels, fleece blankets, car sun shades and insulated water bottles.
Vitalant, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., is the largest nonprofit blood service provider in the country serving 40 states. It hosts more than 30,000 blood drives a year and offers a variety of perks and incentives for blood donors.
Vitalant is partnering with the Arizona Diamondbacks to encourage high school students there to organize blood drives at school. The team will host more than 1,000 students from blood drive committees. Organizers from the two schools who achieve the most donations will share a party suite at a Diamondbacks game.
Vitalant is also encouraging women to organize a blood drive with friends the same as they might host a party at their homes selling jewelry or clothes. An organizer can invite eight friends to a private party at a collection center that’s catered with fun food where donors receive gift cards and other swag.
For donors with a sweet tooth, Vitalant recently promoted a pint-for-a-pint offer. Donors who gave a pint of blood received a voucher for a free pint of frozen custard at Culver’s.
The American Red Cross recently offered $5 Amazon gift cards to some donors, and their names were entered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2022 Indianapolis 500. Winners will receive pit credentials, airfare, hotel accommodations and a $500 gift card. Other Red Cross blood drives enter donors’ names in a drawing for a chance to win a $1,000 e-Gift card to one of several stores.
More Perks for Donating Platelets
Platelets are small cells that stop bleeding by forming clots. Donated platelets are used for cancer patients, transplants, burn patients and traumatic injuries.
When someone donates platelets, a machine extracts them from whole blood then returns the rest of the blood back to the donor. The process takes about three hours.
Because it takes longer than donating whole blood, more perks are offered for people who give platelets, which can be donated every seven days. OneBlood recently challenged platelet donors to a two-month program offering gift cards valued at $25 for their second donation, $50 for their third and $75 for their fourth.
It is also promoting a three month challenge, offering gift cards valued at $25 for the second donation, $50 for the third, $75 for the fourth, $100 for the fifth and $125 for the sixth. That’s a total of $375 in gift cards in three months.
Constant Need Increased During the Pandemic
Even in typical times, blood collection organizations are constantly trying to recruit more donors. Only 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, and less than 10 percent of those people do so at least once a year, according to Givingblood.org.
Numerous impacts of COVID-19 made it even harder to reach and encourage donors, according to Michaels at OneBlood.
“There has been every reason for there to be a shortage of blood drives,” he said. Blood drives at colleges, high schools and office buildings were cancelled for months on end because they were closed.
“We had to recover by creating new partnerships,” Michaels said. OneBlood worked with county elections offices across the country as well as hundreds of homeowners associations to connect with groups of people who would sign up for blood drives, he said.
For many Americans, it’s difficult to escape college without accumulating some degree of student loan debt. In fact, the average debt for a Class of 2019 graduate was $28,950.
Not only does your student loan payment affect how much money you have leftover from your paycheck each month, but it also takes a toll on your credit.
This is important because your credit report, and your accompanying credit score, have a huge impact on your future financial success. They affect what kind of credit cards you’ll be approved for and what your interest rate will be on other loans and mortgages.
By understanding your student loans and how to manage them successfully, you’ll set yourself up for a bright future and strong credit. Below we’ll explain the positives and negatives of how student loans affect your credit score.
How Student Loans Affect Your Credit Score Positively
Owing debt might automatically seem like a bad thing on your credit history. While it certainly can be detrimental to your credit score in some ways, it can actually be helpful in others.
Your payment history’s timeliness and consistency on all debts account for 35% of your credit score — the most important factor contributing to that magical number. So every time you make a payment on time, you’re contributing to a positive history that helps improve your credit score over time.
As long as you can make your student loan payment each month, you can rest easy knowing that you’re building a solid credit history and score. Plus, when future lenders look at your credit, they’ll note that strong payment history because it indicates you’re likely to pay back any new loans as well.
Another way student loans help your credit score is that it’s considered “good debt” in your score calculation. Good debt includes installment loans that are likely to add value to your finances and net worth.
A mortgage, for example, has an asset (the house) tied to it that ideally grows in value over time, despite having a loan attached to it. When you go to sell it, you’ll hopefully be able to pay off the remaining mortgage balance and maybe even have some equity leftover for yourself.
Similarly, student loans indicate to lenders that you are more employable and have the potential for income growth. After all, the average college graduate earns over $450 more each week than someone with just a high school diploma.
So-called “bad debt” includes revolving credit such as credit card debt, because whatever you purchase on your credit card loses value over time — you’ll never get more money selling it than you paid for it.
The same holds true for car loans since the value of any vehicle depreciates so quickly. Consequently, your student loans aren’t weighted as heavily when your credit score is calculated.
How Student Loans Affect Your Credit Score Negatively
Now, just because student loans are considered “good debt” in general, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for you specifically. Here’s why. Remember that 35% of your credit score depends on paying your bills on time.
If for some reason you can’t pay your student loan anymore (like you lose your job, or incur some other major expense you can’t avoid), your score will quickly drop. Keep a padded savings account in order to make your student loan payments on time, no matter what happens in other areas of your life.
While student debt is viewed as “adding value” to your income potential, it still counts as debt. So if you’re applying for a mortgage or personal loan, the lender will review your debt-to-income ratio.
If you owe too much each month compared to your gross income, then you probably won’t get approved for a loan. Plus, the second highest category in your credit score is “amounts owed” — how much debt you carry.
Your credit score also takes a ding when you have high levels of debt, even if it is “good debt.” Look at your levels of debt holistically to make sure you’re not working yourself into a corner when it comes to future borrowing.
How Deferring Your Student Loan Impacts Credit Score
Graduates with federal student loans have the option to temporarily defer their payments under certain circumstances. You might be eligible if you lose your job, are undergoing economic hardship, or enrolled in another college or graduate program.
If you truly cannot make your monthly payments but expect to be back on your feet in the near future, a student loan deferment might be a good option for you. However, make sure you understand all of the repercussions before you make the decision.
First, it’s essential to know what type of federal student loan you have. The government will pay for your interest during the deferment period if you have a Federal Perkins loan, a Direct Subsidized loan, or a Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan.
Unsubsidized or PLUS Loans
Any unsubsidized loan or PLUS loan does not qualify for this benefit, meaning your loan will continue to accrue interest while it’s deferred. You can either pay that interest alone during the deferment period, or it can be added to the principal amount once you start making payments again.
So if your interest payments aren’t subsidized, you’ll either be accruing more debt during the deferment period or still be paying interest without actually lowering your loan principal amount. When you apply for a personal loan or mortgage during deferment, a lender can interpret your financial situation in one of two ways.
The first is that they see your student loan is deferred and deny the loan, especially if your loan is unsubsidized and the balance is growing.
Alternatively, the lender could remove your student loan payment from your debt-to-income ratio because you’re not required to make payments at the time. In that scenario, it would actually help your chances.
Don’t make up your mind on deferment based on either of those situations alone, just know that you have options. Shop around for lenders if you need to, and hopefully, you’ll find one who is willing to help.
The Effects of Defaulting on Your Student Loans
Student loan deferment is always better than going into delinquency or default. A delinquency is reported to the three major credit bureaus after your payment is past 90 days due. The loan goes into default if your monthly payment is 270 days late.
Once the loan is in default, it will likely be sold to a collection agency, who can take legal action against you to recuperate the money owed. Plus, the negative item stays on your credit report for seven years and can lower your credit score by 100 points or more.
As if trashing your credit score wasn’t bad enough, defaulting on your student loan can have more serious consequences depending on where you live.
Some states have passed laws to suspend your driver’s license in the event of student loan default. Other state laws suspend professional licenses, such as health care and cosmetology.
While those decisions don’t seem to help someone who has trouble paying student loans, they still, unfortunately, exist in many places. Several state legislatures are working to repeal these laws, so you need to fully research your exact location to understand potential consequences relevant to you.
See also: What Happens If You Default On Your Student Loans?
Why Bankruptcy Is Not the Solution to Your Student Loan Problems
Sometimes people with overwhelming debt consider filing for bankruptcy if it looks like they simply won’t ever be able to repay what they owe. And while this has severe financial consequences, there are some extreme circumstances where this might be the best option available.
The problem with both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that neither one allows for the dismissal of student loans. So even if you successfully file for bankruptcy, you will still owe your student loans — they will not be discharged.
The only exception to this rule is if you can demonstrate undue hardship.
You’ll need to prove three things:
poverty — that you won’t be able to afford basic living standards if you have to repay your student loan.
persistence — that your financial situation probably won’t change for the rest of the student loan repayment period.
good faith — that you have done your best in trying to repay your loans.
This exception is very difficult to achieve, so don’t enter into bankruptcy automatically assuming you’ll qualify to have your student loans discharged. It’s always wise to talk to a lawyer before taking any action.
How to Successfully Remove Late Student Loan Payments From Your Credit Report
Even if you have some student loan late payments on your credit report, it is possible to have them removed so they won’t hurt your credit scores. You can do this by sending the lender a goodwill letter.
The basic premise is to explain why the payment was late and requesting that the item be removed from your credit history. You’re most likely to succeed if you can demonstrate extenuating circumstances and have otherwise been a good customer.
Disputing Student Loans
Student loans can be difficult to successfully dispute, especially if you have federal loans, but they can be disputed. One common mistake on the credit bureaus’ part is listing the same loan more than once. Even if your student loan is from the government, it’s serviced by a private student loans company.
These companies can sell your loan to another servicer at any time. In some instances, borrowers have reported multiple listings for the same loan on their reports — one for each loan servicer.
That’s why it’s important to check your credit report at least once a year. You can easily file a dispute with the credit bureau and have little trouble getting them removed.
Whether you have federal or private student loans, both can significantly impact your credits score if you don’t manage them well. Knowledge is half the battle, so now you can focus on making those loan payments regularly to avoid any negative consequences that can come with student loan debt.
Everyone knows how important your credit score is — from getting approved for a credit card to getting lower interest rates on loans. It’s important to keep your credit score up so you can get the best credit offers.
Even if you don’t need to access that credit right now, you should be prepared for when an emergency arises and you could use some extra funds.
While checking your credit score helps you know where you currently stand and how you’re improving over time, some types of credit inquiries can cause damage. Learn the differences between each type of credit check so you can keep your credit score as high as possible.
What’s the difference between hard inquiries and soft inquiries?
A credit inquiry happens when you, a lender, or other third party requests a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.
They can then use the data on your report to generate customized credit offers, confirm your personal information, and more. Exactly who can access your credit report is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You can also authorize others to view your credit report if you wish.
There are two different types of credit inquiries: hard and soft. The difference comes from who exactly is accessing your report and why.
Typically any application for credit you make will result in a hard credit inquiry.
This can include credit card, personal loan, mortgage, and car loan applications. Collection agencies may also access your credit report to try and find your location, resulting in a hard inquiry.
A soft inquiry, on the other hand, typically occurs as part of a background check rather than a full credit analysis. Applying for a pre-approval from a creditor to get a rate quote is one of the most common reasons for a soft inquiry.
However, soft inquiries can also be performed even if you aren’t applying for credit. For example, they can be used as part of the screening process for potential landlords and employers.
Insurance companies, utility companies, and cell phone providers, for example, may also check your credit However, those inquiries don’t result in accumulating new debt. They’re considered soft inquiries.
Finally, checking your own credit score only counts as a soft inquiry. Checking your credit score does NOT hurt your credit score as long as you are not actually applying for a loan.
You don’t ever want to apply for credit just to check your credit score. If you do, it counts as a hard inquiry. However, if you buy your credit score from myFICO or get it for free at any of the sites offering free credit scores, it will not count against you.
See also: 13 Credit Cards Offering Free FICO Credit Scores
Potential creditors can perform a soft inquiry to help tailor customized credit offers for you based on your credit profile. That’s how you end up with pre-approval offers in the mail for credit cards, personal loans, and refinancing.
If you don’t want those creditors accessing your information and filling your mailbox with junk mail, you can opt-out by visiting OptOutPrescreen.com.
How do inquiries affect your credit score?
Hard inquiries impact your credit score in a few different ways. First, all hard pulls stay on your credit history for two years. They’re individually listed in a section towards the end of your credit report.
Each one causes a slight dip in your credit score, though usually no more than five points or so. Credit inquiries stay on your credit report for up to 2 years. However, the damage only lasts for about a year.
Recently, credit scoring models have changed to accommodate consumers’ tendencies to shop around for offers. For example, if you’ve made several car loan inquiries within a short period of time, usually within 30 to 45 days, they will only count as a single hard inquiry.
Lenders still see each inquiry, but this typically doesn’t cause alarm since it appears you’ve only been shopping around for the best rates.
Do credit card inquiries hurt my credit score?
Too many credit card inquiries, can raise a red flag when a potential lender is reviewing your credit report during the application process. This is true for a couple of different reasons.
First, credit card inquiries aren’t usually lumped together as part of rate shopping. The other worrisome part for lenders is that it can take time for a new line of credit to show up on your credit report. Lenders may not feel confident that all of your current accounts and balances are listed on your credit report.
You could potentially have new credit cards and outstanding balances, making the lender’s debt to income ratio calculations inaccurate. There’s just no way for them to know. So, it’s ideal to stop applying for credit cards well before you need to apply for other types of loans.
The good news is that soft credit inquiries don’t have any effect on your credit score at all. That’s why shopping for credit through pre-approvals is a safe way to find the best rates and terms. It allows you to get rates from as many lenders as you’d like without hurting your credit.
Future potential lenders can’t see soft inquiries on your credit report. They don’t use that information when evaluating your application.
Can you dispute a hard inquiry?
Yes, hard inquiries can be disputed if you think one or more have been inaccurately listed on your credit report. According to the FCRA, creditors must receive your authorization before conducting a hard inquiry. If you’re considering disputing any inquiries, start off by checking all three credit bureaus.
Not all creditors report to all three bureaus, so the information could be listed differently on each one. Plus, each credit bureau has its own dispute process. So, successfully disputing an inquiry on one report will have no effect on the other two.
Contact the Creditor First
If you don’t recognize one or more of the inquiries listed on your credit reports, start by contacting the creditor directly. It’s best to write a formal letter and request a return receipt via certified mail. That way you can keep extensive records and time the company’s responsiveness.
They are required by law to provide proof that you authorized the inquiry through a credit card application or some other type of documentation. If they can’t, they must instruct the credit bureau to remove the inquiry from your credit report.
File a Credit Bureau Dispute If Necessary
Often, the credit card company may just remove it rather than going through the hassle of digging up old paperwork. If you have difficulty working with the credit card issuer, you can also file a dispute directly with the credit bureau.
When deciding whether or not to dispute hard inquiries, look at your overall credit situation. It may not be worth your time if you only expect to get one or two inquiries removed. After all, that will probably only result in an increase of a few points.
If you have significant negative items on your credit report, your time may be better spent concentrating on getting some of those removed.
Still, you might want to remove inaccurate hard inquiries if you are about to apply for a major loan and want your credit history as clean as possible. That way you don’t have to worry about the lender seeing so many inquiries listed over the last two years.
How can you safely monitor your credit score?
When you’re trying to raise your credit scores, it’s important to check it regularly to see which of your financial behaviors are having a positive impact and which ones are causing damage.
Checking your own credit report doesn’t affect your credit scores and neither does signing up for a credit monitoring service. You get regular updates on your progress. Plus, you can also feel safe knowing that you’ll quickly be able to detect any potential identity theft or fraud.
For a comprehensive list of the best credit monitoring services available, check out our reviews.
If you’re simply interested in getting your credit score on a regular basis, ask your bank or credit card company if they offer a free credit check service. You might get access to your credit scores each month as part of your member benefits.
Understanding how credit inquiries work can save you a lot of grief and aggravation when it comes time to apply for new credit. Check your credit reports at least once a year to make sure you stay on top of any inaccuracies or errors, then follow up with any incorrect information you find.
By keeping your credit report and your credit score clean and up to date, you’ll have an easy time the next time you need to get a loan or new credit card.
Saving money is great, but it won’t make you rich.
No matter how many dollars you put into a savings account, the national average .05% interest you’d earn won’t expedite your millionaire status.
And cutting your costs can only go so far, explains Certified Financial Planner Robin Hartill (who is also an editor and financial advice columnist here at The Penny Hoarder).
It can definitely help with your short term goals, she says, but if you want to be truly richer, sometimes you need to spend money to make money. By diverting some of your cash into these assets, you’ll be on a faster path to your financial goals.
1. Spend $1 to Own a Piece of Amazon, Google or Other Companies
Investing is a smart way to make you richer. “Spending money by investing it in the stock market and earning returns can compound into even more money,” Hartill says.
While the stock market does go up and down over days, weeks and months, over time, the returns tend to rise.
If you haven’t started investing and have some money to spare, you can start small, then build your way up. In fact, you can get started with as little as $1 with an app called Stash.
We like Stash because it lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. But it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. Want to invest conservatively right now? Totally get it! Want to dip in with moderate or aggressive risk? Do what you feel.
Plus, with Stash, you’re able to invest in fractions of shares, which means you can invest in funds you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.
It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2
Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*
2. Spend as Little as $16/Month to Secure Up to $1 Million in Life Insurance For Your Family
This is one of those occasions when spending a little bit of money each month can pay off later.
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? How they’d pay the bills? Send the kids through school? Now’s a good time to start planning for the future by looking into a term life insurance policy.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application can take minutes — and you could leave your family up to $1 million with a company called Bestow.
Rates start at just $16 a month. The peace of mind knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.
If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
3. Invest in Your 401(k) — But Use This Company’s Money, Instead
Setting aside money from your paycheck to put into your 401(k) is literally one of the smartest things you can do for your future. And if your employer matches each contribution, that could mean hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in your account when you retire. It’s free money!
But if you can’t take advantage of this employer benefit because you need all of your paycheck every month, a company called Lendtable will give you the cash.
We know it sounds too good to be true. But if your employer has a 401(k) match program, this is money they already have earmarked for you. By using Lendtable, you’ll be able to unlock that free cash.
Let’s say you make $50k a year and your employer matches your 401(k) contribution up to 4%. If you put $0 in your retirement account this year, you get $0 from your boss. If Lendtable lends you the 4% of your salary your employer is willing to match, you get $2,000 from your boss, minus Lendtable’s fee. (This comes from the extra money you’ve earned, so there’s no sacrifice on your part.)
It takes three minutes to answer a few questions about your eligibility and sign up for an account.
Once you’ve gotten your full match amount from your employer, LendTable will take the money they lent you back, plus a small share of your profit. If there’s a penalty from your retirement account provider for taking money out, Lendtable will cover that, too.
The risk for you is basically nonexistent, so not taking advantage of your employer match with Lendtable’s offer would make Future Millionaire You bow your head in shame. Get started here.
4. Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt Faster — But Cheaper
To stay out of debt, you need to spend less than you earn, but if you’re already battling credit card balances, Hartill says a debt-consolidation loan can help you shed that debt faster.
You might be wondering how it makes sense to get a loan when you already have out-of-control credit card balances. The answer lies in lower interest rates — way lower than the 36% some credit cards charge — and a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could help you pay off your debt years faster.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.
2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.
For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash.
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.
Most of us have probably taken a deep, exasperated breath while surveying our homes, wondering how we managed to accumulate so much clutter. But there might be a way to turn that clutter into cash. It comes down to one word: Craigslist.
8 Tips for Selling on Craigslist
Selling on Craigslist seems easy, but it requires some know-how to get the intended result and money in your wallet. We scoured the Internet for the best tips.
So list that chair you’ve always hated. We’re here to help you find success and sell more of your items on Craigslist.
1. Take Photos That Work
Ever seen a Craigslist listing with an object you can’t quite make out? Is that a nightstand or a coffee table? Are they selling the whole dining room table set or just one chair?
A good photo can make your listing stand out while a bad photo has the potential to shut down any business. Take a good photo by posing your object in a well-lit spot, whether it’s in natural light or a warm artificial glow, and focus on the details that make your object special. Only photograph what you’re selling — leave extraneous things out of the picture.
2. It’s In the Details
Your listing can’t simply be a photo and the name of the object. You need a description and any relevant details — think dimensions or number of items or even age of the item, if relevant. It’s ideal for your listing to answer all of the questions a potential buyer might have so they don’t have time to really agonize over their purchase.
3. Tell the Truth
That being said, it’s important to be honest in your listing. If your couch has stains or your wooden dresser is chipped, add images that show the damage. Point that out to potential buyers in your description. People will be more likely to buy an item when they feel they are getting an upfront understanding of it.
One example: do not post the catalogue image of your piece of furniture from when it was brand new. (People do this.) Take a photo of your furniture piece as is — after all, that’s what you’re selling.
4. Be Simple
While you should absolutely share relevant details, there’s no need to tell the story of how your kids bounced around on these couch cushions or how the table was passed down in the family generation after generation. Potential buyers know they’re browsing for a used object, but they don’t want the legacy that comes with it. They want it to feel like their own.
And stick to simplicity in your listing title. Potential buyers often search for specific objects — trash cans or mirrors — and they likely won’t be searching with various adjectives.
5. Offer Delivery
Potential buyers love it when Craigslist sellers offer delivery. It’s an added perk and makes things easier, especially when the site caters to people from all over. Make sure to add a higher cost for delivery — whatever seems worth it to you based on location — and be safe. Bring someone along with you when you go to deliver.
6. The Price is Right
It really does boil down to whether the asking price is right. Craigslist is known for sellers that practically give items away, so it’s better to price your listing lower rather than higher. Interest is always key, and if you price it too high, you may have no takers.
But make sure you price your item at a level with which you’re comfortable. It’s not worth giving something away if it has sentimental value and you think it can go for more.
7. Reach Out to Your Network
Word of mouth is a powerful tool. If you think you might know someone in your social network — whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or more — who might be interested in what you’re selling, share it on those forums.
And better yet, if you have a specific buyer in mind, feel free to be direct and share your listing with friends and family. If it doesn’t work for them, they may know the right person.
8. Always Be Safe
Always remember that you are dealing with strangers online on Craigslist. If someone is coming to your house or you are going to theirs, have a friend with you. Don’t assume that you will be fine if you are alone. Entering a stranger’s house or allowing a stranger to enter yours always comes with risk. It’s better to be prepared and meet in a public place if that is the only way the meeting can take place.
Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.
Storing your cash in a duffel bag under the bed has its perks — immediate access when you need it and the feeling of completely controlling your own finances.
But hoarding hard-earned money in your own home puts it at risk of theft or loss to natural disasters, and it’s doing you no favors in terms of interest.
Savings accounts at an FDIC-insured bank, on the other hand, keep your money secure and can earn you more money in the process.
Nowadays, the best savings accounts are typically with online banks due to higher interest rates, but brick-and-mortar banks still have some (though not many) benefits.
So which savings account should you choose? We’ve ranked the very best savings accounts available today to get you started.
What is a Savings Account?
A savings account is a bank account where you store your money until you need it. To see a detailed explanation to how it differs from a traditional checking account, visit our checking vs savings account comparison.
The best savings accounts are secured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for up to $250,000. That means that if you store your money with a bank and it goes under, you won’t lose your money.
Savings accounts are perfect for achieving your savings goals — for a car, a house, a wedding, vacations, you name it. More importantly, they are the best tool to build your emergency fund.
Most experts agree your emergency savings should total six months’ worth of necessary expenses in the case of job loss or another unpredictable emergency. Necessary expenses might include rent/mortgage, car payments, insurance, medical bills, utilities and groceries.
Don’t sweat it if you don’t have six months’ worth saved up. It takes time to build up your savings. Even if you can deposit $50 a month, you will eventually reach your goal.
One thing a savings account is not is an investment account. Savings accounts have historically low interest rates (or APY — annual percentage yield), but they are inherently low risk.
After you have padded your savings account with enough cash to cover emergency expenses and your other savings goals, you’d be better off opening an IRA or 401(k) or investing in stocks.
Common alternatives to savings accounts include certificates of deposit (CDs), where you store your money for a fixed term for a slightly higher interest rate, and money market accounts, which typically offer a higher APY but have significantly higher minimum balance requirements.
So just how much interest will you earn in a savings account? That depends on the amount you’ve saved and your APY.
Online Banks vs. Brick-and-Mortar Banks
Before the advent of the internet, brick-and-mortar banks (and credit unions) were the only place to store your money, if not in your duffel bag.
But over the last couple decades, online banks have transformed the way we think of safely storing our money, and because of their low overhead (fewer staff and few or no physical locations), they can offer much better interest rates on savings accounts.
Pros of Online Savings Accounts
When online savings accounts first surfaced, bank customers were hesitant to store their money with companies they had never heard of and were fearful of internet security issues.
Today, many of these same customers now see far more pros to online savings accounts than their traditional physical banks.
Higher Interest Rates
This is easily the most important distinction between brick-and-mortar banks and online banks. The national average APY for a savings account is 0.70%, but many brick-and-mortar banks offer just 0.01% interest rates on their savings accounts.
Online banks, on the other hand, tend to offer savings rates that are better — sometimes a lot better
Online banks are always open. The most competitive online banks offer around-the-clock service over the phone or online, and typically have more user-friendly apps and websites.
Some national banks and credit unions may offer 24/7 service, but their physical locations are typically limited to the 9-to-5 business hours.
Pros of Brick-and-Mortar Savings Accounts
There are advantages to brick-and-mortar banks. However, if these benefits do not hold massive weight for you, we highly recommend an online savings account.
Easy Access to Account Funds
Emergencies wait for no one. If you have an unexpected need for $10,000, it would be nice to be able to immediately access that.
Many online savings accounts take several days to get you your funds via ACH deposit or a written check, though wait times for ACH deposits have dramatically decreased in recent years.
(You can also speed up the process by opening a checking account with your online bank or choosing an online savings account with ATM benefits. Prioritize online banks that offer free checking accounts or ATM convenience cards.)
Brick-and-mortar banks, however, can allow major withdrawals at any of their locations. No waiting necessary.
Some people prefer to resolve their issues over the phone or online, but many others find comfort in face-to-face communication. By opening a savings account with a bank that offers physical locations, you’ll be able to get in-person help from financial experts during regular business hours.
… And a Toss-Up
When it comes to access to ATMs, there is no clear winner. Obviously, brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions offer ATMs at all their locations, where you can easily withdraw your money.
Many online banks, however, offer fee-free withdrawals at select ATMs, and the best online banks will reimburse you for fees incurred out of network.
Best Savings Accounts of May 2021, Ranked
So what are the best savings accounts of May 2021? That depends on what you value most.
In determining our top nine, we reviewed more than 20 popular savings accounts and considered what elements seem to be most universally important:
Best savings rates
Stellar mobile app and/or web experience
Convenience of transfers (easy access to funds)
We considered only savings accounts that were FDIC-insured or NCUA-insured and had no monthly fees.
Because physical branch access is becoming increasingly less important, all accounts on our list are online or hybrid (online with some brick-and-mortar bank locations).
So what didn’t we consider when making our list that you might also want to look for?
Bonuses: Because banks regularly add, remove or replace their bonuses, we did not include them in our criteria. If you’re stuck between two or three comparable savings accounts, see which one offers the best sign-on bonus. We highly recommend checking out our current bank promotions list to help earn bonus cash or incentives when signing up for a new savings account.
Customer service: Quality of customer service is subjective. Read reviews and ask friends and family about their experiences when considering banks.
To truly determine how you feel about the level and quality of customer service, give the bank a call and ask some questions about the account. From that interaction, you should be able to feel out how much each bank values customers and prospects.
1. Synchrony Bank High-Yield Savings Account
We ranked Synchrony’s account as the very best savings account of May 2021 because it has the perfect combination of the most important elements of a bank.
Monthly fees: None.
Minimum balance requirement: None.
Additional fee for withdrawals: None.
ATM card: No fee for in-network ATMs, $5 monthly reimbursement for out-of-network ATM fees
Access to funds: ATM, electronic transfer to an external account, wire transfer or a paper check in the mail.
Mobile app: Yes. At the time of this writing, the app has a 4.5 rating on the App Store and 3.7 on Google Play.
Details: Synchrony Bank High-Yield Savings account.
2. CIT Savings Builder Account
CIT Savings Builder is another solid account option, but you have to meet certain conditions to earn it:
APY: To earn up to 0.40% APY, either your account needs $25,000 in it, or you must make a monthly minimum deposit of $100 to the account. The latter option should be more feasible and is a good incentive to save each month.
Minimum balance requirement: $100.
Additional fee for withdrawals: None.
ATM card: None.
Access to funds: Electronic transfer, wire transfer (free if you have $25,000 or more in the account) or paper check.
Mobile app: Yes. At the time of writing, the app has a 4.6 rating on the App Store and 4.2 on Google Play.
Details: CIT Savings Builder.
3. Ally Online Savings Account
Though savings accounts are different from checking accounts — and thus should not be thought of as a place to quickly and easily get money — Ally does make it easier than most to access your funds when you need them. Just open a free checking account (ranked 5th in the best online checking accounts of 2020), and you can easily transfer your money over.
Minimum balance requirement: None.
Additional fee for withdrawals: After the six permitted withdrawals a month, you’ll pay $10 per transfer with Ally.
ATM card: None.
Access to funds: You can transfer money via direct deposit, electronic transfer, wire transfer or paper check.
Mobile app: Ally’s mobile app is highly rated at 4.7 stars on the App Store and 3.7 on Google Play.
Details: Ally Online Savings account.
4. Alliant High-Rate Savings Account
The Alliant High-Rate Savings account is offered via the Alliant Credit Union, so instead of FDIC insurance, it carries insurance through the National Credit Union Administration, but the benefits are the same.
Because it is a credit union, joining Alliant can be a little more challenging. You need to fulfill one of these four requirements:
Be a current or retired employee of a business that is partnered with Alliant.
Have an immediate family member or domestic partner who banks with Alliant.
Be a member of an Alliant-related organization/association.
Become a member of Foster Care to Success, Alliant’s partner charity.
Live in one of the communities near the Alliant headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
APY: 0.55%. You need an average daily balance of $100 for the APY to kick in.
Minimum balance requirement: $5.
Additional fee for withdrawals: Hard limit on six federally regulated withdrawals.
ATM card: Money access is super convenient with a free ATM convenience card that qualifies at more than 80,000 ATMs nationwide.
Access to funds: If you live in the Chicago area, you’ll even have access to brick-and-mortar locations.
Mobile app: It’s got a solid app (4.7 on the App Store and 4.6 on Google Play)
Details: Alliant High-Rate Savings account
5. Discover Savings Account
The Discover Savings account offers a substantial APY and easy access to funds via a rewards checking account.
Minimum balance requirement: None.
Additional fee for withdrawals: The bank may refuse to pay transactions that exceed the six monthly permitted withdrawals.
ATM card: While Discover doesn’t offer an ATM card for its FDIC-insured savings account, you can sign up for the Discover Cashback Debit (it’s free!), which earns up to 1% cash back on up to $3,000 a month.
Access to funds: The linked debit account provides an easy way to transfer funds; otherwise, you can rely on electronic transfers, wire transfers and paper checks.
Mobile app: Discover’s app has a 4.8 rating on the App Store and a 4.5 rating on Google Play.
Details: Discover Savings account
Learn more: Discover Bank review
6. Capital One 360 Savings Account
While it’s certainly not the savings account with the best interest rate, it makes up for it with no monthly fees, easy integration with other Capital One 360 accounts (including a checking account for easy funds transfer) and a killer app.
Minimum balance requirement: None.
Additional fee for withdrawals: Hard limit on six federally regulated withdrawals.
ATM card: None.
Access to funds: If you don’t open a linked checking account for the easy ATM access, you can still access your funds via the traditional (but slower) means.
Mobile app: In 2018, the Capital One 360 mobile app was ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction in the banking category for the second year in a row in J.D. Power’s U.S. Banking App Satisfaction Study.
The app has a 4.8 rating on the App Store and a 4.7 rating on Google Play.
Details: Capital One 360 Savings account
7. Barclays Online Savings Account
Barclays has its cons, like challenging access to funds, but its high APY and strong mobile app earned it a spot on this list.
APY: Barclays is one of three banks on this list to offer the competitive 0.40% APY.
Minimum balance requirement: None.
Additional fee for withdrawals: Withdrawals that exceed the monthly limit will result in a fee.
ATM card: None.
Access to funds: You can deposit and withdraw funds in a number of ways, through direct deposit, an electronic transfer, paper check and more.
Mobile app: Yes, but the Barclays US Online Savings mobile app is not the most user-friendly based on its ratings: a 3.7 on the App Store and a 2.4 on Google Play.
Details: Barclays Online Savings account
Learn more: Barclay’s Bank review
8. American Express Personal Savings Account
You might rely on American Express for your credit card, but the bank offers an online savings account worth your consideration as well.
Minimum balance requirement: $1.
Additional fee for withdrawals: Hard limit on nine withdrawals, though this is more than most of its competitors.
ATM card: A major drawback of the American Express account is the lack of ATM card.
Access to funds: Electronic transfer, wire transfer and paper check are the only ways to access your money.
Mobile app: It currently has a 4.9 rating on the App Store and a 4.2 rating on Google Play.
Details: American Express Personal savings account
9. Marcus Online Savings Account by Goldman Sachs Account
Our final online savings account is by Goldman Sachs. It offers a competitive APY and fairly new mobile app.
Minimum balance requirement: None.
Additional fee for withdrawals: Due to a change in federal law, Goldman Sachs currently doesn’t impose a limit on withdrawals.
ATM card: None.
Access to funds: Withdrawals are limited to electronic transfer and wire transfer (you also cannot deposit checks via the app).
Mobile app: Yes. It has a 4.9 rating on the App Store and a 3.9 rating on Google Play.
Details: Marcus Online Savings Account
6 Tips for Choosing a Savings Account
You should be aware that banks can change interest rates, develop better apps and update their bonuses, so it is important to understand how to determine the best savings account for yourself.
Here are a few tips:
1. Consider Your Needs
We prioritized high savings rates, ease of funds transfer and mobile apps in our rankings, but maybe for you, two-factor authentication and customer service are top considerations.
Build your own ranking system based on your top two or three criteria. You won’t find a perfect bank that offers everything, but at the very least, you’ll find banks that can meet all of your top needs.
2. Stick With Online
Put your money in an online savings account, unless you have a good reason not to, such as a high interest savings account at a brick-and-mortar credit union or a regular need to get in-person help.
3. Save Only With Insured Banks
Do not put your money into any bank that is not insured by the FDIC. Or, if you go the credit union route, make sure it is insured by the NCUA. We did not include any banks on our list that were not insured.
4. Don’t Be Tempted by Sign-on Bonuses Alone
Earning cash for starting an account with a bank feels awesome, but don’t let the appeal of $100 now prevent you from putting your savings into an account that will earn you $500 over a couple years.
5. Find a No-fee Account
Be wary of accounts with monthly maintenance fees, statement fees or any other miscellaneous charges. You’re more likely to find these fees with a brick-and-mortar bank.
Ideally, find a bank that has an associated free checking account for easy and fast funds transfers.
6. Read the Fine Print
Know what you are signing before you sign it.
If an APY sounds too good to be true, it’s possible there are strings attached — or that the rate is only temporary.
Ask questions and do research when you are confused by any of the terms and conditions, and don’t deposit your savings until you are satisfied with the agreement.