Credit Cards

6 Credit Card Perks You Should Know About

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Earning rewards is probably one of the most talked about benefits of using a credit card aside from being able to use it to increase your credit score.

While earning points and cash back that you can redeem for travel, gift cards, and other rewards is nice, that’s not the only benefit involved with choosing to use a credit card.

In many cases, a credit card can actually be safer than cash or a debit card or even provide you with additional savings. Here are six credit card perks you should know about if you want to make the most out of using your credit card(s).

Purchase Protection

If you need to purchase something valuable, you might want to do it on a credit card if the card offers purchase protection. Most credit cards offer purchase protection for items that are lost, damaged, or stolen as long as you paid for the item with the credit card.

Each credit card has different policies and may reimburse you up to different amounts. For example, American Express credit card holders can file a claim to report any theft, accidental damage, or loss of a product they purchased with their card within the past 90 days, and they can be reimbursed for the amount paid for the item up to $10,000.

Price Protection 

With credit card price protection benefits, you could receive a refund if the price drops on an item you purchased with your card. This can happen a lot around the holidays, so it’s a good benefit to have.

With most credit cards, there is a time limit to take advantage of price protection, which is usually anywhere from 30 to 90 days after you make the initial purchase. That being said, you won’t get price protection for an item you purchased last year that suddenly went on sale the other day.

With price protection, you can save quite a bit if you purchase a big item like an appliance or a TV on your credit card and the price suddenly drops. That’s why it’s best to hold onto your receipts for at least 30-90 days depending on your credit card’s price protection terms.

Extended Warranty 

An extended warranty offered by your credit card company can be very similar to a manufacturer’s warranty in that it can add up to a year of additional coverage for certain purchases.

With some purchases, getting an extended warranty is definitely worth it even if it costs a little extra money. However, if your credit card offers an extended warranty, you may not need to purchase one on your own.

All Discover cards have an extended warranty feature for up to one additional year for original warranties that are 36 months or less. Discover’s extended warranty covers most items, but may not protect you from a repair caused by normal wear and tear, a power surge, or if the item is covered by a product recall.

The maximum coverage is $10,000 / $50,000 (per item / per year). You must file your claim within 45 days of the loss or incident, and as long as you send the necessary paperwork, you will receive a reimbursement within 60 days.

Credit Monitoring 

Monitoring your credit is very important because it can help you know where you stand and help you avoid situations like identity theft. Monitoring your credit is a good habit to adopt so you can track your score and see how your spending and payment activity affects it.

Instead of having to pay a monthly fee to have your credit monitored by a third-party service, you can see if your credit card issuer provides this service as a courtesy to cardholders.

Chase Slate allows cardholders to view their FICO score monthly and use their Credit Dashboard for free to monitor their credit.

Select Citi credit cards also provide you with your FICO score for free.

Rental Car Insurance

If you’re traveling and need a rental car, most credit cards offer free rental car insurance coverage as long as you pay for the rental car with your card.

The rental car insurance provided by your credit card can include coverage for collision damage or theft, but there may be some limitations to the coverage so don’t assume certain things are covered like the loss of items during a collision or personal injuries.

Some credit cards with rental insurance options may not even cover cars that aren’t standard, like large trucks or luxury car rentals, so it’s important to thoroughly read your credit cards terms if you’re thinking of taking advantage of this feature.

Airport Lounge Access 

Why pay to access an airline’s lounge when many credit cards provide you with this option for free?

Airport lounges are a great amenity to check out when you’re traveling or have a long layover. They tend to offer exclusive amenities including Wi-Fi, desks, comfortable seating, personal assistance, arrival recovery, and more.

The Citi Prestige card and the American Express Platinum card are just two credit cards that include free airport lounge access.

Final Word

It pays to read the fine print when reviewing your credit card terms because you could learn more about additional free benefits you can take advantage of.

Carefully review the card agreement details for any new or existing credit cards you have. You may not need benefits like rental car insurance or purchase protection all the time, but when you do, you’ll know how to access them for free with your credit card.

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Credit Cards, Featured

How to Redeem Cash Back with Citi

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Citi is well known for offering quality credit cards with great balance transfer offers, but the Citi Double Cash card, in particular, is a strong contender for cash back rewards.

The Citi Double Cash card has no annual fee and offers unlimited 1% cash back on purchases plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases.

This card also has a variable interest rate of 14.24% to 24.24% and a balance transfer APR of 0% for 18 months.

Even though Citi doesn’t have the highest cash back rate, the fact that you can earn unlimited cash back sets this card apart from others.

In this post, we’ll touch on:

  • How to earn and track cash back rewards with your Citi Double Cash card
  • Navigating through Citi’s online portal to access cash back rewards
  • How to redeem cash back rewards

How to Access Cash Back with Citi

To access your cash back rewards with your Citi Double Cash card, you’ll need to log in to your account by visiting Citi.com/credit-cards. You’ll see a screen similar to the one below. Then, you can log in with your credentials.

screen shot of Citi homepage

Next, you’ll see the main dashboard and all your card information. You’ll also see your cash back balance off to the right.

I have two Citi credit cards so I scrolled down to show my Citi Double Cash card along with where you can expect to see your cash back amount.

screen shot of Citi account dashboard

How to Redeem Cash Back

If you have a cash back balance that you’d like to redeem, you’ll want to click on the button that says “View/Redeem Cash Rewards.”

Once you click that button, you’ll be taken to a page that shows you an entire summary of your cash back earnings per billing statement.

Your cash back earnings will be split up between cash back earned from purchases and cash back earned from payments.

I just signed up for the Citi Double Cash card and have yet to make my first purchase so my cash back amount is currently $0, but when you have a balance, you’ll click the green button that says “Redeem” to move forward with redemption options.

Screen shot Citi redeem cash back

Next, you’ll be taken to a page with different redemption prompts to choose from. You need a balance of at least $25 in cash back before you can successful redeem your earnings.

Citi cash back buttons

As you can see, there are four different ways to redeem cash back with your Citi Double Cash card, and here is an explanation of each of them.

Gift Card

If you choose to redeem your cash back for a gift card, you must click the gift card option, then you’ll be directed to Citi’s gift card marketplace where you can choose from retail, restaurant, entertainment, and electronic gift cards.

Screen shot of Citi gift card redemption

Gift cards are worth $25, $50, and $100, and once you select one, Citi will mail it to you.

Statement Credit

You can also opt to use your cash back earnings as a statement credit to lower the current balance you owe on your Citi Double Cash card. Your statement credit will post to your account within 2-3 business days and will appear on your next statement after it is posted.

It’s also important to realize that Citi does not count a statement credit as a payment even though it will reduce your current balance. You must still make at least your minimum monthly payment by the due date if you want to avoid getting charged a late fee.

Direct Deposit

You can redeem cash back by transferring it directly to your bank account whether it’s a Citi account or not. In order to use this redemption option, you must have either linked your Citi checking or savings account OR have paid a Citi credit card bill at least two times from a non-Citi checking account.

Once you’ve done either of these things, all you need to do is enter in the amount you wish to deposit along with your account information when you redeem cash back via this option. The direct deposit will post to your account within 1-2 business days in most cases.

Check

The final option you have to redeem your cash back is to do so by paper check. Just make sure Citi has the correct address on file for you, then allow 7-10 business days for the check to arrive in the mail.

Final Word

The Citi Double Cash card has one of the easiest online cash back redemption processes, along with plenty of options to accommodate your preferences.

Keep in mind that payments based on balance transfers, interest, fees, and cash advances won’t earn 1%, but you will earn cash back on all other purchases plus additional cash back when you make at least your minimum monthly payment on time.

The Citi Double Cash card is unique in that it rewards you for paying your monthly credit card bill on time, which is a good habit to adopt.

While there is a minimum cash back balance required in order to redeem your rewards, you can track your progress regularly by logging into Citi’s online portal.

 

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Credit Cards, Featured, News

3 Ways to Get a Credit Limit Increase

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

In many cases, a credit limit increase can sound like a good idea. If you start out with a credit limit of $2,000, for example, it’s good to know that your limit can increase in the future so you can have more buying power and find it easier to maintain a low utilization rate.

Sometimes, increasing your credit limit will not always be in your best interest because it can tempt you to overspend. In that case, it’s also easy to drive up your utilization rate, which is how much you are spending versus how much available credit you have. If your utilization rate gets higher than 20%-30%, it can begin to hurt your credit score.

What’s worse, by overspending and not paying your credit card balance off in full each month, you can get into debt.

If you’d like to secure a credit limit increase for a credit card and you know that you’ll have a good sense of self-control over your spending, there are quite a few ways to obtain a credit limit increase.

In this article, we’ll go over your different options when it comes to obtaining a credit limit increase and what you might want as an alternative.

How to Ask for a Credit Limit Increase on Your Current Card

One of the most common ways to obtain a credit limit increase is to simply ask for one. Most credit card companies and banks allow you to request a credit limit increase online or you can do it by phone.

We’ve gone through the process of requesting a credit limit increase with various banks in detail, including Wells Fargo, Capital One, Discover, Barclaycard, American Express, and more, if you need specific instructions regarding the process.

When requesting a credit limit increase, it’s important to make sure you meet the criteria to be considered. Some banks have certain requirements and like to see your account paid off and in good standing, a good credit score, and recent spending activity on your end.

If you haven’t been consistent about paying your credit card bill on time, that may work against you when you decide to request a higher credit limit.

On the other hand, if you’ve been managing your card well and paying your bill on time and would like more buying power, you may want to consider requesting a credit limit increase just to see what the end result will be.

Sit and Wait (Automatic)

Some credit card companies will offer you a credit limit increase automatically so you won’t need to do anything on your end.

If you’ve been spending on your card regularly, paying your bill on time, and keeping your utilization rate low, you may receive an offer to increase your credit limit automatically.

In this case, you can either accept or deny the offer. In most cases, accepting the offer will be your best bet if you like the credit card and use it from time to time. Even if you don’t use the card often, having a higher limit will only help lower your utilization rate as long as your spending doesn’t increase significantly.

Consider a New Card

If you’re on the fence about getting a credit limit increase, you can always consider signing up for a new credit card instead. Adding a new credit card to your wallet can increase the number of accounts you have, which can be a positive move for your credit if you only have a low number of accounts total.

Some new credit cards also have great sign-up bonuses so you can take advantage of more cash back offers, an extended 0% APR rate, balance transfers, etc., and these are benefits you might not be able to receive if you only increase the limit on your existing credit card.

To find out if you’ll be approved for a new credit card without hurting your score, you can get pre-qualified, which typically allows banks to peek at your creditworthiness via a soft inquiry. Getting pre-qualified for a credit card can reduce your risk of getting denied, and it’s pretty simple. Find out how to do it here.

Also, another reason why you might opt to just get a new credit card instead of considering a credit limit increase is if you don’t like or use your current card often. If you have an annual fee, a high-interest rate, and little reward opportunities with your existing card, it won’t make much sense to increase your limit and buying power.

Instead, signing up for a new and better credit card can be more beneficial and help you save money, especially if it has no annual fee.

Get a Personal Loan

If you are thinking about a credit limit increase because you need the extra money but don’t want to obtain a hard credit inquiry, a personal loan is an alternative option.

There are quite a few internet-only personal loan companies that allow you to see if you are pre-approved for a loan without involving a hard credit inquiry. Personal loans also tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards, so if your main intention is to borrow money to cover an expense, this may be a better option.

To see if you qualify for a loan, use our online tool here. You just need to fill out one application, and MagnifyMoney will check your rate with multiple lenders (without harming your credit score) to help you find the best offer.

What to Do If You Get Denied

If you request a credit limit increase and get denied, you’ll usually receive a response explaining why you didn’t get approved. Once you know why you didn’t get approved, you can take the necessary steps to fix the issues outlined and request an increase again if you wish.

Be mindful that some banks will let you request a credit limit increase at any time, while others may require that you wait a few weeks or months before putting in a request again.

While waiting it out and correcting the issues that contributed to you getting denied should fix the issue, you can also try either of the alternative options mentioned above as well if you didn’t get approved for a credit limit increase the first time around.

Benefits of Requesting a Credit Limit Increase

Obtaining a credit limit increase can be a smart move and provide you with benefits like increasing your credit limit and having more buying power in the event that you need to use your card for a large expense or emergency. With a higher limit, you are less likely to max out your card.

A credit limit increase will also make it easier for you to keep your utilization rate low and preferably below 20%. The process may also be easier than applying for a brand new credit card, especially if you receive credit limit increase offers automatically.

Drawbacks of Requesting a Credit Limit Increase

Increasing your credit limit isn’t always the best option for everyone, so it’s only fair to go over some of the possible drawbacks of making this decision.

In some cases, you’ll receive an extra credit inquiry, which could be a hard credit inquiry when you request a credit limit increase. Increasing your limit can also increase the risk of overspending and getting into debt.

There’s also no guarantee that you’ll get approved for a credit limit increase, so your request can get rejected. Also, if you have a card with a high-interest rate and an annual fee, you might be better off signing up for a better credit card.

Final Word

Requesting a credit limit increase can seem like a good idea on the surface, but it’s not the best solution for everyone. You must determine your needs, current situation, and intentions before going through with your decision.

If you decide to move forward with obtaining a credit card limit increase, be sure to pay your credit card balance off in full each month and keep your overall utilization rate at 20% or lower.

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Credit Cards, Reviews

MasterCard Black Card Review: Is the $495 Annual Fee Worth It?

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The MasterCard Black Card is an industry-leading luxury credit card offering an array of rewards and benefits to cardholders, but it comes at a price to the tune of a $495 annual fee.

While luxury credit cards are certainly not a necessity, they can offer a number of perks for individuals with high credit scores, a solid credit history, and the ability to manage credit responsibly.

In this review, we’ll go over the features of the MasterCard Black Card, including the pros and cons, fees, and fine print, along with some more affordable credit card alternatives if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck.

Overview of the MasterCard Black Card

The MasterCard Black Card has a state-of-the-art patented design and construction with its stainless-steel front and carbon back. The card also has the latest chip technology (like many other credit cards on the market) to increase user security.

The card has a 15.49% variable APR and offers cardholder perks in categories like travel, cash back, gifts, unique experiences, and concierge services.

Travel

The MasterCard Black Card is a luxury card geared toward people who do a lot of traveling. Cardholders receive a $100 annual air travel credit, which can be used toward flight-related purchases, including airline tickets, baggage fees, and upgrades.

The card also provides users with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which offers access to over 900 airport lounges in more than 450 cities worldwide.

A Global Entry and TSA Pre? credit of $100 is also provided for card users who wish to enjoy expedited arrival into the U.S. from international destinations.

Other travel perks available with this card include:

  • Airport “meet-and-greet” services
  • Global luggage delivery (send your luggage ahead of time to almost any destination worldwide)
  • Personal chauffeur service
  • Car rental
  • Charter services
  • Cruise privileges
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel accident insurance
  • 2x rewards points when redeemed for airfare

Cash back

Card users earn 1 point for every dollar spent. You can redeem your points as a statement credit or by depositing it into a U.S. checking or savings account. The redemption rate is 1.5%. For example, you can redeem 5,000 points for $75 statement credit or cash back.

Gifts

Purchase luxury gifts from well-known brand names. Use your rewards points to purchase home items, electronics, sporting goods, and more.

Unique experiences

The MasterCard Black Card allows cardholders access to MasterCard’s Priceless program, which allows luxury card members to enjoy curated, invitation-only, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These unique experiences are available worldwide and include anything from sitting courtside to meet-and-greets with top experts or obtaining exclusive access to a tournament.

Concierge services

Card users can take full advantage of an elite group of consultants who offer local and global concierge services 24/7, whether you are looking to plan a trip, find the perfect gift, or maximize your rewards points.

Fine Print and Fees

While it’s no secret the MasterCard Black Card comes with a hefty annual fee of $495, you may not know adding an authorized user to your card will cost an extra $195 each year.

While there is no foreign transaction fee or penalty APR, there is a late fee of up to $37 if you don’t make your minimum payment on time and a minimum interest charge of 50 cents.

For cash advances, the APR is 25.74%.

If you redeem rewards points for travel, all bookings are final and nonrefundable. A fee of $35 will apply if you need to make modifications to your original booking.

If you redeem points for cash back and deposit it into a checking or savings account, it takes an average of 3-4 days for the deposit to come through, and there’s a daily limit of $500.

How to Earn Redeem Points

Card users earn 1 point for every dollar they spend on purchases.

You can redeem your points for travel (airfare, hotel, and car rentals), cash back direct deposit to a U.S. checking or savings account, statement credit, gift cards, or merchandise.

  • Airfare redemptions start at 50 points for $1.
  • Cash back direct deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account and cash back statement credit redemptions start at 67 points for $1.
  • Hotel stays and car rental redemptions start at 100 points for $1.

Your points are redeemed at a rate of 2% when redeeming for airfare. For example, 50,000 points will provide you with $1,000 in airfare redemptions.

To redeem your points, you must go to myluxurycard.com and log in to your account, or call the customer service number on the back of the card.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Variety of travel-related rewards.

Con: High annual fee and additional annual fee if you add an authorized user.

Pro: No limit to the total points you can earn as long as your account is open and in good standing.

Con: Can’t transfer points to other programs.

Pro: 24-hour concierge service.

Con: No introductory sign-on bonus to earn extra rewards points.

Other Options

While the MasterCard Black Card has its perks for users who do a lot of traveling, there are some more affordable credit card options on the market that provide even better rewards so you can get more bang for your buck.

The MasterCard Black Card had an introductory sign-on bonus when the card was first released, which practically paid for the annual membership within the first year. However, this promotion has since ended making it hard to justify paying a $495 fee every 12 months.

Cards offering double or triple rewards points for specific expense categories and providing introductory sign-on bonuses are a great option if you are looking to maximize your rewards, especially for travel.

Here are some great alternatives to the MasterCard Black Card.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is great for travel and everyday spending. With this card, you can earn 25,000 membership rewards points after you spend 2,000 on purchases within the first three months of signing up. Card users can also earn 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines, 2x points for purchases made at U.S. gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants, and 1x point on all other purchases.

There are also no foreign transaction fees, a $100 airline fee credit, and a $75 hotel credit for qualifying charges, and the $195 annual fee is waived the first year.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is another great travel card that is more affordable than the MasterCard Black Card but still provides competitive rewards. Cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus miles (which converts to a $500 travel credit) after spending $3,000 on purchases during the first 90 days after signing up.

Card users also earn 2x miles on all purchases and 5% miles back every time they redeem rewards. There are no foreign transaction fees, and miles don’t expire as long as the account is open and in good standing. The $89 annual fee for this card is waived during the first year.

Venture from Capital One

The Venture card from Capital One is an affordable option for people who wish to earn travel rewards without having to pay a high annual fee. The $59 annual fee for this card is waived during the first year.

The sign-up bonus for this card allows you to earn 40,000 bonus miles (equal to $400 in travel credit) after you spend $3,000 on the card during the first three months.

Cardholders also earn 2x miles per every dollar spent on purchases, every day. This card has added features and benefits like fraud coverage, travel protection and upgrades, and price protection. You can book travel for any airline, stay at any hotel, avoid blackout dates, and miles never expire.

Final Word

Luxury cards like the MasterCard Black Card come at a high cost that may not even justify the use of the card, which can leave consumers feeling underwhelmed.

Being able to carry around a stainless-steel card that is only available to the “elite” sounds nice, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Do you really need someone to greet you at the airport and chauffeur you around town?

Probably not, but you may need a $400 travel credit so you can fly out to see your family for the holidays.

While the MasterCard Black Card offers plenty of variety in terms of travel rewards, it focuses on the quantity of options as opposed to quality. The $100 annual airline credit is minimal when compared to other cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, which offers a generous sign-on bonus along with opportunities to earn double miles.

The $495 fee associated with this card seems astronomical when you compare it to other cards that offer similar or even better benefits and won’t cost you as much each year.

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Reviews

AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Debit Card Review: High Fees Make This Card a Last Resort

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

accountnow prepaid debit

AccountNow is marketed as a prepaid debit card that is safer than cash, easy to load and use, and an alternative to a traditional checking account. But a MagnifyMoney review finds AccountNow’s Gold Visa Prepaid Card carries fees that may make it too prohibitively expensive for most people to use.

The fees associated with this card make it a risky bet for cash-strapped consumers looking for a checking account alternative. While it’s free to signup and activate the card, the monthly maintenance fee ($9.95/month) alone adds up to $119.40 per year. The card has also received quite a few complaints from cardholders with the Better Business Bureau, which raises a red flag.

In this review, we’ll go over the features of the AccountNow prepaid debit card, including the pros and cons. We’ll also get to the bottom of the fee structure and expose any hidden fees this card may have.

Why you should use prepaid debit cards

If you’re worried about overspending or you have a poor history with traditional bank accounts, prepaid debit cards can be an ideal alternative. Prepaid debit cards work similar to bank-issued cards because you can deposit and withdraw money and use the card to make purchases.

However, since you can only spend what you have loaded onto the card, it eliminates the risk of overdrafts and spending more than you can afford.

It’s important to know that not all prepaid debit cards are created equally. There are dozens of options to choose from and some cards carry fees that can quickly become expensive.

Overview of the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card

With the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card, you can add money to your card through a variety of different methods, shop everywhere and access thousands of different ATMs, send money and pay bills, and earn discounts and rewards.

Fees

While the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card may help you avoid overdraft fees that traditional banks have, there are many different fees to consider before signing up. These fees include:

  • Monthly service charge of $9.95
  • ATM withdrawal fees
    • U.S. ATM withdrawals – $2.50 per transaction
    • Non-U.S. ATM withdrawals – $4.95 per transaction
  • Teller cash withdrawal – 3% of amount withdrawn
  • Balance inquiry at ATMs – $1.50
  • Reload at retail locations – up to $4.95 (varies by retailer)
  • Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit fee (charged each time funds are withdrawn from your card account using your account and routing number) – $2.50 per transaction
  • Monthly paper statements – $1 per statement
  • Additional debit card – $10
  • Expedited shipping of replacement card – $25
  • Expedited Bill Pay service – $9.95 (whenever you request to have your funds delivered 1-4 business days faster using the Bill Pay service)
  • Foreign currency conversion – 3% of total transaction amount

According to AccountNow’s listing with the Better Business Bureau, they have hundreds of customer complaints, and many of them are complaints about the fees associated with this prepaid card.

Most customers complained that AccountNow didn’t disclose any of their fees when they signed up and the fees were very inconvenient. Imagine needing to withdraw cash from an ATM or wanting to expedite their Bill Pay service and being faced with an extra fee.

A quality prepaid debit card shouldn’t cost you much money each month.

Direct Deposit

While AccountNow states you can get your paycheck up to two days earlier when you sign up for direct deposit, that is not a guarantee.

How soon you receive your paycheck depends on your employer’s payment processing system and how soon they notify the bank of direct deposit paychecks. Prepaid card holders with AccountNow do receive account and routing numbers to set up direct deposit with an employer, but you will have to verify with your specific employer to make sure you can set up direct deposit. Speaking with them directly may also give you a better idea about how soon you’ll receive your funds.

Options to Load Money onto Your Card

Direct Deposit

Direct deposit is free to set up, and you can get paid up to two days faster (depending on your employer’s payroll process and timing). When you sign up for direct deposit, you may also qualify for a $15 bonus.

Use a Loading Network

You can also add cash by using a cash load network like Green Dot’s MoneyPak and Reload at the Register, Western Union, Visa ReadyLink, or MoneyGram. You can find many of these loading networks at locations like Walmart, 7-Eleven, CVS, Kmart, Walgreens, UPS, and more.

With any of these methods, your money will be available within 30 minutes. However, it’s important to keep in mind some stores may charge a small fee to load your card with one of these networks.

Using MoneyGram may be the most affordable option because most stores that offer MoneyGram only charge $3.95 to load your card.

Deposit a Check

If you have a government, payroll, or personal check, you can deposit it for free from your smartphone by using the Ingo Money App. When you use the app to deposit a check, funds are available immediately for a small fee or within 10 days for free.

Making Purchases and Withdrawing Money

You can use your AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card to make purchases anywhere Visa cards are accepted. You can use your card to shop online, reserve rental cars, pay for travel, and more.

AccountNow has a Visa Zero Liability policy. As long as you carry this card, it protects you from unauthorized purchases that can occur as a result of identity theft.

When it comes to withdrawing cash from your card, you can select any ATM, but you may be subject to a fee.

To reduce ATM fees, AccountNow suggests visiting surcharge-free ATMs, or you can request cash back when making purchases at the store.

Options to Send Money and Pay Bills

Paying bills is easy with the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card because cardholders can simply log on to their bill company’s online portal and enter their card number to pay bills online, or they can use the AccountNow Bill Pay feature to plan ahead and create a list of monthly bills and the due dates so they can be automatically paid each month.

Discounts and Rewards

If you set up direct deposit, you can get $15 credited to your account. In order to qualify for this offer, within six months after being approved for your AccountNow prepaid card, you must have at least $500 deposited into your account via direct deposit for two consecutive months.

AccountNow also has a refer-a-friend program where you can earn $20 and your friend can earn $10 when they sign up for an account using your referral code and add at least $10 to their card within 60 days of applying and signing up.

How to Get Approved

To open an account for a prepaid debit card with AccountNow, you need to be at least 18 years old. You can go to their website to sign up online or call the company at 866-925-2036 to sign up by phone.

The application process is free, and you need the following information: your name, phone number, email, address, mailing address (not a P.O. box), and Social Security number.

AccountNow also states on their website there is a 100% approval rate (subject to verification), and there are no credit checks or activation fees.

How to Access Your Account

Once you open an account and receive your prepaid Visa card, you can go to the Customer Center to view your account balance, transaction details, and user information.

You can also get information about your account on your cell phone via SMS alerts. Carrier message and data rates may apply, but you can set up automatic notifications to receive text messages any time money is deposited into your account.

Fine Print

The terms of this card come with quite a bit of fine print, and you’ll want to review all of it before opening an account.

Fees

Applying for and activating your card is free. It takes 5-7 days for your card to arrive after you sign up. There is no minimum balance requirement, but there is a monthly fee of $9.95, which is high compared to other leading prepaid cards. AccountNow also provides free monthly statements, but charges $1 for paper statements.

Loading Money onto Your Card and Making Withdrawals

The maximum daily limit is $10,000 for direct deposit and $1,500 for cash loads. Third-party money transfer services used to load funds to your card may have their own daily, weekly, or monthly limits on the frequency or amount of cash you can load.

AccountNow encourages cardholders to view their specific cardholder agreement for specific details.

There is a daily limit on how much you can withdraw from your card as well. AccountNow says these limits may vary and recommends cardholders refer to their specific cardholder agreement for more details.

Transaction fees and usage limits can also change without prior notice, except as required by law.

Using Bill Pay

Cardholders can make payments to anyone in the U.S and U.S. territories. However, AccountNow discourages people from making the following payments:

  • Tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service or any state or other government agency
  • Court-ordered payments, such as alimony or child support
  • Payments to insurance companies

Fees may apply for expedited requests.

If you are setting up automatic Bill Pay, you can choose from the following options:

  • Weekly
  • Every other week (payment will be made 14 days apart)
  • Twice a month (your first payment will be the same day every month, with the second payment 15 days later)
  • Monthly
  • Every two months
  • Every three months
  • Every six months

Pros and Cons

Pro: 100% approval rate and no credit check as long as you can verify your identity.

Con: Monthly fee of $9.95.

Pro: No minimum balance requirement, but if you don’t at least have enough money in your account to cover the monthly fee, it will go negative.

Con: Low ATM withdrawal limits.

Pro: Using the card is safer than cash because your purchases are protected.

Con: Expedited fees to pay bills faster or clear deposited checks quicker can be inconvenient and costly.

Pro: Ability to set up direct deposit and receive a $15 bonus.

Con: ATM fees are unavoidable unless you get cash back or find a surcharge-free ATM.

Pro: Automatic Bill Pay.

Con: Many different fees to consider that can add up, such as calling customer service or checking your balance.

Pro: Referral bonuses for signing up friends.

Con: Daily limit for direct deposit and cash deposits.

Other Prepaid Card Options

Given the pros and cons of the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card, their high fees overshadow most of the benefits leaving much to be desired in terms of a good prepaid card. Below are two alternative options with much lower fees.

Kaiku Visa Prepaid Card

Kaiku is a prepaid Visa card that allows you to load money onto your card easily and even transfer funds from PayPal and Amazon. The Kaiku card has a $3 monthly maintenance fee that is waived as long as you load at least $750 onto the card each month.

There are also no ATM fees when using this card as long as you use in-network Allpoint ATMs.

American Express Serve

American Express has three different Visa prepaid cards, including a cashback card that provides cardholders with unlimited 1% cash back for every dollar spent in-store and online.

American Express Serve’s basic card provides free early direct deposit, free online bill pay, and free ATM withdrawals at over 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs, along with helpful tools to help you manage your money.

While the American Express Serve cashback card has a $5.95 monthly fee, the basic American Express Serve prepaid card has a $1 monthly fee that is waived as long as you set up direct deposit for at least $500 every month.

Final Word

The AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card seems like a last resort option for people who don’t qualify for a regular checking account at a traditional bank and want to control their spending.

If you want to deposit money for a large purchase or withdraw cash from the ATM, you may not like encountering some of their daily deposit or withdrawal fees either.

Overall, the fact that cardholders can pay their bills easily on time, set up direct deposit, earn small rewards, and use their prepaid card just like a bank debit card to make purchases at their favorite stores and online can make this card look attractive.

However, there are much better prepaid cards on the market with lower fees and less limitations even if you have a poor banking history.

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Reviews

Trulioo Review: The Global Identity Verification Company Helping Businesses Fight Fraud

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Trulioo Review

Having the proper level of online security in place to guard against fraud is something your customers expect of you. In the digital space, trust and security are very important to your customers, but it’s also important for you to verify customers’ identity to keep your business safe.

Trulioo is a global identification verification company that provides advanced identification verification analytics and helps businesses prevent the risk of fraud and comply with cross-border anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) rules.

Trulioo’s service offers comprehensive identity intelligence data from more than 100 trusted sources all over the world, and the company has the ability to verify over 4 billion people in more than 60 countries.

In this review, we’ll go over the features of Trulioo’s solutions, along with how their service works and how it stacks up against other identity verification companies in the industry.

Overview of Trulioo’s Service

Trulioo’s main goal is to help their clients build a framework of trust and security online. They focus on trust, privacy, and inclusion. There are three main solutions Trulioo provides, which are highlighted below.

Identity Verification – Trulioo’s identity verification solution is called GlobalGateway, an international electronic identity verification product designed to meet anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) rules and compliance requirements. GlobalGateway minimizes the risk of online fraud with its identity and age verification features, and it has flexible integration options.

Data Exchange – Trulioo’s Data Exchange solution allows their customers to safely select data partners and clients who are interested in providing access to consumer data for electronic identification verification (eIDV).

Customers can search through the database to see which potential partners are verified or not verified and earn new revenue by monetizing their data through hundreds of global customers.

AML Watchlist Services – The AML (anti-money laundering) watchlist is a list of individuals who are suspected (or convicted) of various financial crimes and restricted from doing business in certain countries. These lists originate from government sources, international regulators, and law enforcement agencies.

Trulioo’s comprehensive global AML watchlist allows financial service providers and financial institutions to meet compliance rules with real-time watchlist checks against known or suspected entities and individuals that are associated with risky activities like money laundering, terrorism, financial fraud, arms proliferation, drug trafficking, or politically exposed persons (PEPs).

How Trulioo Works

Trulioo uses quality sources, including government, credit, utility, and telco, to fuel the data for their solutions. They work with leading data source providers to ensure the integrity of their service.

Companies interested in trying out Trulioo’s solutions can request a demo at any time. There are two main ways to use Trulioo’s service.

Online Portal – Trulioo has an online portal for their GlobalGateway product that allows customers to easily verify people from the customer’s own web browser. The portal provides instant identity and address verification in more than 60 countries, and customers can access information from up to 200 data sources around the world.

The portal also provides automated watchlist checking and won’t take up any space on your computer since there is no software to be installed.

Open APIs – An API, or application program interface, is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building a software application. This allows Trulioo customers to implement the GlobalGateway platform into their own online environment.

How Much Trulioo Costs

Trulioo offers free 7-day trials for their services with limited access so customers can give their software a try before committing to making a purchase. They also allow you to book a demo directly from their website.

There are three levels of pricing for the GlobalGateway product:

National – $19 per month

International – $79 per month

Enterprise – Contact Trulioo for pricing

Transparency Levels

Trulioo openly shares a lot of information about their products right on their website, including their prices, with the exception of their enterprise level monthly subscription. In-depth brochures, product videos, reference papers, and more can also be easily accessed from their website.

They invite companies to reach out to them with questions, comments, or concerns and have support teams available 24/7 in many countries.

For additional information, Trulioo has a helpful FAQ page with information about their products, how they collect data, and more.

Alternative Identity Verification Services

Identity verification services like Trulioo create a safe and secure environment for businesses and their customers. Here are two other companies that offer similar solutions and products to Trulioo.

Jumio

Jumio offers digital identity verification services to businesses so they can complete transactions safely and securely. They service a wide variety of industries, including finance, retail, travel, and gaming, and authenticate identification credentials issued by more than 130 countries.

Veridu

Veridu provides identity verification solutions to prevent fraud and solve all issues faced by e-commerce companies like verified onboarding, verified transactions, and verified activity. Veridu has free demos available on their site so potential users can test their services and view what it looks like from a customer’s perspective.

Final Word

Trulioo offers a comprehensive identification service that solves online identity verification challenges and fraud risks that businesses face. Trulioo uses real and reliable data sources, and their GlobalGateway product is easy to implement.

 

Unlike other identification verification companies, Trulioo openly offers a free trial on their site along with pricing information for their services so potential customers can test out their product and obtain a realistic idea of how it will fit into their budget.

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Earning Cashback

How to Redeem Cashback with Capital One

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

How to Redeem Cashback with Capital One

Capital One offers a credit card option for everyone, whether you’re a student, consumer looking to earn rewards, or a business owner. If you’re looking for a flexible cashback card with no annual fee, the Capital One Quicksilver card is an excellent choice because the card allows you to receive cashback on everything you purchase.

In this post, we’ll touch on:

  • How to earn and track cashback rewards with your Quicksilver card
  • Navigating through the Capital One online portal to access cashback rewards
  • How to redeem cashback rewards

Since you can earn cashback on every purchase you make, it’s very easy to rack up cashback rewards with the Capital One Quicksilver card. Cardholders receive 1.5% cashback, which isn’t the highest rate on the market, but it’s unlimited and there are no quarterly, rotating categories you need to sign up for. The only way you’ll ever lose rewards is if your account is closed. 

How to Access Cashback with Capital One Quicksilver

To access your cashback rewards, you’ll log in to your account by going to capitalone.com/sign-in. You’ll see a screen like the one below, where you can click ‘Sign In’ in the US Credit Cards column in the Credit Cards category.

capone1

After you log in to your account, you’ll be taken to the main dashboard. If you have more than one Capital One credit card, you’ll need to look at the account that says “Quicksilver” or “QuicksilverOne,” which will display a preview of your cashback rewards amount. 

Earned rewards are usually visible online within 10 days, but may take up to two statement cycles to post to your account.

capone2

The amount you have in cashback is clickable and will take you to the My Rewards page that shows more details about earning and receiving cashback. 

How to Redeem Cashback Rewards

You can view all your options to redeem your cashback rewards on the My Rewards page. Cardholders can set up automatic redemption preferences for their cashback or request it manually.

capone3

If you use your card every day and regularly earn cashback, you might find it convenient to set up an automatic redemption option, and you can even set up your account to redeem cashback when you reach a certain threshold like a $25 or $50 in cashback.

Setting Up Automatic Redemption for Cashback Rewards

Step 1: To set up automatic redemption for your cashback, click on “Set Auto Rewards Preferences” at the bottom of the My Rewards page (as seen in the screenshot above). 

Step 2: After you click on it, a pop-up window will appear, and you’ll need to click the green “Let’s Get Started” button to set your preferences. capone4

Step 3: Next you’ll choose where you’d like your rewards to go. You can choose from a credit to your account or a check by mail.

capone5

Step 4: Now you’ll choose when you want your cashback rewards to be redeemed. Since the amount of cashback you receive depends on the amount of purchases you make and how often you use your Quicksilver credit card, it might be tricky to pinpoint when you’d like to redeem cashback rewards, but you can always change your preference later.

capone6

If you prefer to redeem your cashback when it reaches a certain amount, you can choose between the following thresholds: $25, $50, $100, and $200.

If you choose to have it redeemed by date, you can choose your month, and you’ll receive whatever cashback you earned on the fifth of every month.

Capital One Quicksilver cardholders who don’t want to set up automatic redemption preferences for their cashback rewards can redeem cashback easily by doing it manually from the My Rewards page after signing in to their online account.

Plus, there are more options available when you choose to redeem your rewards manually.

Redeeming Your Rewards for Cash

capone7

If you’d like to redeem your cashback for cash, you can choose between getting an account credit, receiving a check in the mail, or applying your rewards to purchases you’ve made with your Quicksilver card.

If you are carrying a balance, the option to redeem cashback for purchases may come in handy by helping you pay down your balance and avoid some interest charges.

Gift Cards

capone8

There are more than 80 gift cards you can receive for retailers, restaurants, online stores, and more when you redeem your cashback rewards. Some gift cards are only available in certain amounts, so if you only have $10 in cashback, for example, you’ll be able to get an Amazon gift card but you won’t have enough to get an Applebee’s gift card. 

Donate

capone9

If you want to donate your cashback, you can start that process by clicking on the “Donate Now” button on the My Rewards page dashboard.

Clicking on that button will direct you to capitalone.com/give, where you can search for charities and nonprofits and redeem your cashback so you can donate it to a cause you support. 

Transfer Rewards to Another Account

capone10

You may be able to transfer your cashback rewards if you have another Capital One account. Rewards transfers are only permitted between certain Capital One accounts, so you’ll need to check eligibility by typing in the account number and your last name to see if this option is available to you.

If you are able to transfer your rewards to another Capital One account, it’s free to do, and you can transfer your rewards to friends’ or family members’ accounts so you can redeem them faster.

This is a great option if you are planning a trip with family or friends and want to use credit card rewards to supplement the travel costs.

The rewards you transfer don’t expire. 

Final Word

Earning cashback with a Capital One Quicksilver card is as easy as making a purchase. When it comes to redeeming your rewards, the process is also simple and you have plenty of redemption options.

Cardholders who use their card regularly should set up automatic rewards redemption preferences for added convenience. The simplified process of redeeming rewards along with the various options available and the fact that rewards never expire (as long as your account is in good standing) make it easy for cardholders to enjoy the benefits of earning and redeeming cashback.

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Investing, Reviews

Stockpile Review: A No-Hassle Way to Give the Gift of Stock

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

You can now give the gift of stock ownership through stock gift cards.

In October 2015, Stockpile started offering physical gift cards in stores and for order online for people to present their loved ones with $25, $50, or up to $1,000 of stock ownership in their favorite companies, such as Apple, eBay, Yahoo, Facebook, and more.

The idea behind the stock gift cards is to allow anybody to give, receive, or purchase their own stock in their favorite companies.

Stockpile has nearly a thousand stocks, exchange traded funds (ETFs), and American depositary receipts (ADRs) to choose from. When you buy a gift card for yourself or redeem one someone gave you, you’ll have stock in a real brokerage account.

In this review, we’ll go over how to use Stockpile, prices and fees you’ll need to look out for, the fine print, and the pros and cons of using this unique brokerage for investment.

How Stockpile Works

Stockpile gift cards are available in stores, but you can also shop on their website and pick out the card you want, depending upon which company you’d like to hold a share in. If you’re buying a stock gift card for someone else, when the recipient redeems it, they’ll get fractional shares of real stock in a real brokerage account.

Stock holders can hold onto their stock and track its progress, buy more, or cash it out by selling it at any time.

Stockpile GiftChildren and teens can own their own stock as long as an adult is on the account with them, but they will be referred to as the beneficiary until they turn 18. Minors can set up their own login on Stockpile separate from the adult on their account and place trades with the adult’s consent.

It’s also important to note that there is no expiration date on the stock gift card, and the value of the card doesn’t change until the card is redeemed for stock. Then, the value of the stock will fluctuate based on the market. Redeeming the card and getting the stock is as easy as entering the code on the back of the card at stockpile.com and signing up for an account on the website.

Stockpile has a short form that needs to be completed before opening an account, which usually takes about three to four minutes to complete. Then, your information will be verified electronically, and you can set up your account instantly in most cases.

Costs and Other Fees

Stockpile prides itself on having affordable fees that are also clear to understand so customers don’t have to feel like they are buying and trading stock on Wall Street.

Customers can purchase e-gift stocks, which are stock ownership gifts delivered via email, that range from $1 to $1,000 plus fees. There are a few fees to consider, depending on how much stock you buy. For stock gift cards that are purchased for $100 and under, there will be a $1.99 fee charged per gift card.

For gift cards over $100, there will be a $1.99 fee plus 3% per gift card. If you want to trade or sell your stock, a $0.99 fee will apply per trade.

Most cash transfers are free, including linking to your bank account and incoming and outgoing Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions. There is no minimum balance requirement or monthly fees, and electronic statements, trade confirms, and tax forms are all free.

On the other hand, there are a few fees that might come as a shock if you’re not prepared, such as the their $30 returned check/ACH/stop-payment fee. If a customer wants to transfer their account to another brokerage, there is also a $75 fee to consider.

Fine Print

Stockpile has pretty straightforward information on its website about how to purchase and use its stock gift cards, but overall, the company has introduced a Stockpile giftcardnewer concept by allowing customers to purchase stock gift cards as opposed to doing it through a brokerage firm so it’s important to be aware of the fine print.

Stockpile Investments is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and insures customers’ accounts for up to $500,000. You can transfer your stock to another brokerage, but Stockpile does charge a fee, and it recommends you check with the other brokerage to make sure you meet their minimum balance requirements (if any) and check for any other fees they might have.

While Stockpile gift cards are capped at $1,000, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy more than one. Stockpile sets the limitation due to federal regulations that indicate closed-loop gift cards (cards offered and redeemed by one company) can’t exceed $2,000.

When selling or trading your stock(s), timing is everything. If you place a trade before 3 p.m. EST, your trade will take place that day at the stock’s closing market price, and your stock will be in your account by 6 p.m.

If you are selling a stock and place a trade before 3 p.m. EST, your trade will take place that day at the stock’s closing market price minus the $0.99 commission charged by Stockpile, and the funds will show up in your account within three business days.

If you have tax liability concerns, Stockpile addresses them by providing you with an annual 1099 form that will be posted to your account. While the company doesn’t provide any tax advice, the 1099 will show information about the stocks sold and cash dividends received during the calendar year.

For customers who buy a gift card for others, their taxes will be unaffected and treated as if they were simply buying a gift card with prepaid value. For those who receive a stock gift card, their taxes will remain unaffected until they sell stock or receive any dividends.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Simplified stock buying and trading process. Stockpile’s process is very simple compared to other online brokers. It allows customers to send the gift of stock or to invest in large, well-known companies that they might not have had the option to invest in with other brokers due to the cost and complexity of the overall process.

Con: Variety of fees to consider. While we didn’t find any hidden fees, there are quite a few fees to look out for, including the $75 transfer fee if you want to change brokerages.

Pro: It’s easy to convert to a regular gift card. If gift-givers purchase a card for someone who doesn’t want to get into the stock market or won’t find it useful, the recipient can always opt out of using it for stock and use it as a regular prepaid gift card at the retailer or company.

For example, if you purchased a share of stock through a Stockpile gift card for a loved one with a company like Apple, Amazon, or Burger King and the recipient didn’t want the stock, they could redeem it for cash instead. Kids need an adult’s permission to do this. This way, the money spent initially doesn’t go to waste.

Con: Limited purchase amount. Some customers may view the limited purchase maximum as a disadvantage if they want to buy more stock than allowed. While the limit is put in place to avoid situations like money laundering and other types of fraud, it’s not necessarily cut out for someone who wants to purchase lots of stock. When a customer initially tries to purchase stock for certain companies, Stockpile may even post a stricter limit in an attempt to help customers avoid high debit and credit card fees. For example, customers can only purchase a maximum of $200 in Amazon stock on the website, but they will have the opportunity to purchase more when they link up their bank account. This two-step process can seem tedious.

Who Stockpile Is Best For

Overall, Stockpile is not best for people looking for a long-term investing strategy. That’s because it is widely considered unwise to invest in individual stocks as part of a long-term investing strategy. If long-term investing is your aim, then you should explore better long-term investing options such as opening a low-cost brokerage account or contributing to your employer’s 401(k). We have tips on finding a low-fee brokerage firm and a simple guide to setting up a 401(k) here.  We’ve also reviewed several roboadvisors, which are firms that offer low-cost access to the market and mostly allow members to invest in mutual funds and exchange traded funds.

That being said, Stockpile can be used if you’d like to give a loved one a gift of stock, which they can watch grow and learn about investing along the way. The low purchase and sharing fees make buying stock gift cards simple and affordable. For that reason, Stockpile might be a good option for adults who would like to give children in their family an easy way to begin their investing education.

Investing early is important in order to build wealth. Minors who receive stock gift cards for their favorite companies, such as Disney and Mattel, can log in to their account whenever they want and learn more about placing trades and check on the value of their stock with the account’s adult custodian.

However, if you are looking to encourage long-term investing, Stockpile can be an expensive tool to use. If the gift card recipient wants to transfer their stock to a low-cost brokerage firm, where they could diversify their holdings and build a long-term investing strategy, Stockpile will charge them a hefty $75 fee to do so.

For that reason, Stockpile should best be considered an additional way to invest in stocks alongside a more traditional investment portfolio through a brokerage firm, IRA or 401(k).

TAGS:

Investing, Reviews

Blooom Review: A Check-up for Your Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plan

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Blooom Review

While robo-advisers that manage your taxable investment accounts are plentiful throughout the market, companies that focus on managing your 401(k) have been more scarce.

Blooom is trying to change that.

Blooom is a Registered Investment Advisor service that specializes in managing employer-sponsored retirement plans. Blooom uses technology to analyze the health of a customer’s employer sponsored retirement plan (a401k, 403b, or TSP).

In this review, we’re going to discuss important aspects of Blooom’s service, including prices for its services and other fees, the fine print, and pros and cons to consider before signing up for an account.

What Blooom Does

Blooom is available to all investors with employer-sponsored plans whether they are just starting to contribute to their 401(k) account or they have been long-time contributors. There is no minimum account balance required.

Once you sign up for an account, Blooom suggests and makes adjustments that can improve your portfolio and grow your account. Blooom will always send you an email whenever it makes investment adjustments.

Once you sign up for an account with Blooom and connect your retirement account(s), its automated system and licensed advisers will:

  •    Analyze your fund options
  •    Adjust allocation as you get closer to retirement
  •    Make sure you’re on track to meet your retirement goals

How Much Blooom Costs

Since Blooom is a fiduciary, that means the company is required by law to act in your best interest in terms of managing your account.

Blooom charges customers a monthly fee based on the size of their account. Blooom offers a free analysis for accounts of any size and an affordable flat fee each month to continue its services, which you can cancel at any time.

  • $5 per month to manage accounts with less than $20,000
  • $19 per month to manage accounts between $20,000 and $500,000
  • $99 per month to manage accounts larger than $500,000.

Blooom fees are based on a “pay as you go” structure, so you can cancel at any time. As long as you cancel 48 hours before the end of the month, you won’t be charged for the following month.

Blooom doesn’t charge any hidden fees, but it reminds customers that the investments in their 401(k) have underlying expenses.

comparison between current and ideal

Fine Print

Blooom says it will adjust your 401(k) within the first 30 days after you sign up to be a client and will continue to adjust it every 90 days. Clients who use Blooom still have full control over their 401(k) account and allocations and can make or request changes at any time.

Blooom can assist clients with old 401(k)s, but it cannot change your contribution amount or initiate any withdrawals since that is outside the scope of the service it provides. While Blooom manages employer-sponsored plans like 401(k), 457, 403(b), 401(a), and TSP, it does not manage IRAs or Roth IRAs at this time.

Clients can think of Blooom as the middleman providing sound management advice and guidance for their employer-sponsored accounts.

You’ll still house everything with your broker and maintain control over contributions, but Blooom will lend a professional helping hand to make sure your account grows properly and you don’t miss out on any beneficial opportunities to improve wealth.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Extensive 401(k) management. Blooom provides a much-needed service since. There are many robo-advisers available for taxable accounts but few available to manage employer-sponsored accounts like 401(k)s, which are the most common retirement savings accounts among people who have a traditional employer.

Con: Monthly fee. While the monthly fee starts off small, it can add up once your account balance grows, and it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough value out of the service to justify paying the monthly fee.

Pro: Free analysis. A trial run is always nice. Blooom provides complimentary account analysis services so potential clients can get a feel for Blooom’s service and determine how beneficial it can be to them.

Con: Blooom only manages select employer-sponsored plans. While Blooom is a suitable option to manage your 401(k), if you have an IRA or a Roth IRA, you’ll have to get it managed with another robo-adviser.

Pro: No account minimum. This makes Blooom available to a wider range of investors who may not have large account sizes just yet.

Con: Simple service, but even simpler profile risk categories. While Blooom provides a streamlined management service for employer-sponsored plans, it also only determines your asset allocation by two categories: your age and stock/bond ratio. Some clients may seek more in-depth research or a more specific strategy from a company that charges a monthly fee for its service.

Pro: No contracts and full control. Clients can cancel at any time since the service is month-to-month, and they can also make allocation changes if they want to alter Blooom’s strategy.

Con: No mobile app. Since Blooom doesn’t have a mobile app, clients can’t check their accounts on the go and will need to log on to the site from a desktop or laptop each time.

Competitors

While Blooom offers a unique and somewhat rare service, it isn’t the only one offering to manage 401(k) accounts. Some employer-sponsored plans come with perks like 401(k) advice and guidance, so you can check with your brokerage firm first before paying a third-party company to assist with managing your 401(k).  Let’s look at what some of Blooom’s  competitors offer.

Feex

Feex is a free service that highlights the fees associated with your investment brokerage accounts like your IRA, 401(k), 403(b), and helps you reduce them. Feex is dedicated to make sure you keep as much of your own money as possible.  Feex provides a concierge service to help you rollover your old 401(k) which includes a free analysis service to determine how to reduce your fees and whether or not you should do a rollover.

FutureAdvisor

FutureAdvisor manages college savings plans and many Fidelity 401(k)s. It also manages IRAs and other taxable accounts for a fee. Unlike Blooom, FutureAdvisor has an investment minimum that currently sits at $10,000. However, its free college savings and Fidelity 401(k) management services are free aside from annual management fees of 0.50%. There is also a maximum age requirement, so the company doesn’t accept clients over the age of 68.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a popular wealth management platform that provides asset allocation and performance services upon request. It also provides fee analysis services, which calculate your total fee percentage and how the fees you pay compare to a fee benchmark. Personal Capital is a handy app to use to view the full picture regarding your investment portfolio, but it only offers guidance in regard to your actual 401(k) and employer-sponsored plans as opposed to the direct management service that Blooom offers.

Who Will Benefit from Using Blooom

Blooom’s service is ideal for individuals who’d like to take a hands-off approach when investing in their employer-sponsored retirement plan and who don’t mind paying a monthly fee to ensure better results. Blooom’s ability to analyze and manage employer-sponsored accounts no matter where they are held will make it that much easier for clients to sign up and benefit from the service. Just do the math to be sure it makes sense to be paying the monthly fee and that it isn’t just eating away at your gains.

Photos courtesy of Blooom press kit

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Investing, Reviews

Fidelity Investment Review: One of the Biggest Names in Investing – But is it Right for You?

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Fidelity Investment Review

Fidelity Investments is one of the largest investment companies in the world and known for its comprehensive brokerage service. Fidelity aims to be your one-stop shop for all financial services and provides a plethora of investment products, including mutual funds, retirement accounts, stocks, exchange traded funds (ETFs), bonds, 529 plans, and more.

In this review, we’re going to cover Fidelity and what it offers you, the investor.

You’ll learn about:

  • How Fidelity investment works
  • How much Fidelity costs
  • The fine print
  • Pros and cons
  • How Fidelity stacks up against the competition

Getting Set Up and Transferring Accounts

Opening a new account with Fidelity is designed to be a quick and efficient process. The process can be completed online, and it takes only a few minutes to fill out your basic information, assign a beneficiary, and set up ACH information to transfer money to and from your bank.

After everything is set up, you’ll be able to easily make deposits and trades.

If you need to transfer a brokerage account or roll over an existing IRA, or need another type of account, you can also set up everything online. You can speak with a customer service representative if you need additional assistance. The transfer process should take about a week on average if you are prompt about submitting all your documents and information.

Fidelity currently has an offer in which new customers who roll over their IRA to Fidelity can receive up to a 10% match. The match starts at 1% for transfers ranging from $10,000 to $49,000 and goes up from there.

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Costs and Other Fees

There is a minimum deposit of $2,500 to open a brokerage account with Fidelity. There is no minimum deposit requirement for IRA rollovers. To open a Roth or traditional IRA, customers must either meet the minimum deposit requirement of $2,500 or set up monthly recurring deposits for a minimum of $200.

Options trades are $7.95 per trade plus $0.75 per contract.

Commissions for stock trades are $7.95 per trade (with unlimited shares and unlimited trades) and $32.95 for broker-assisted stocks and ETFs. Fidelity has more than 85 commission-free ETFs.

Fidelity also has more than 10,000 mutual funds. NTF (no transaction fee) non-Fidelity funds are $0 on purchase and $49.95 upon redemption (if held for less than 60 days). Some non-Fidelity funds come with transaction fees of $49.95 per purchase and $0 upon redemption. The mutual fund annual low-balance fee is $12 per fund if your mutual fund balance falls below $2,000.

Fine Print

Fidelity’s costs and fees are pretty clear and easy to find on its website, but it’s important to read the fine print and understand some of the firm’s specific rules and requirements.

For example, there is a $100 fee per stock certificate transfer and shipping. While there is no annual fee or inactivity fee, there is a $50 fee for closing your account.

There are also trading platform restrictions to consider. Fidelity has a few trading platforms and tools that may restrict some customers. For their Active Trader Pro platforms, customers need to trade at least 36 times in a 12-month period. There are other advanced tools on that platform, such as Recognia, which is only available to traders who place at least 120 trades per year.

Investors interested in online trading have quite a few options with Fidelity, but they need to make sure they fully understand the requirements and restrictions so they can optimize the platform they choose.

Fidelity Mobile

Like other online investment brokers, Fidelity has a mobile trading app that allows you to connect your mobile devices. With the mobile platform you can monitor and manage your portfolio on the go, manage your workplace accounts, trade, contribute to your IRA, and more.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Affordable trades. Even though they aren’t the lowest prices, Fidelity offers affordable pricing on trades.

Cons: Requirements and restrictions for traders. If you don’t trade often, you may not find Fidelity’s advanced platforms like Active Trader Pro (that requires you to make 36+ trades per year) useful.

Pro: Mobile platform. The mobile platform is convenient and allows you to manage your account on the go.

Cons: Investment minimum. Fidelity’s $2,500 minimum investment for a brokerage account is higher than other competitors, making it more difficult for investors to get started if they don’t have a lot of money.

Pro: Commission-free ETFs. Many of Fidelity’s funds are commission-free, and it has a wide variety of more than 85 ETFs. On the other hand, commissions are high ($49.95-$75) to purchase other non-Fidelity mutual funds.

Con: Annual fee. Customers who aren’t as active need to make sure their mutual fund balance doesn’t fall below $2,000 or they’ll be subjected to a $12 low-balance fee. It’s not much, but it can be avoided.

Pro: Great customer service. Fidelity has scored great reviews regarding their customer service, which is important to customers who have questions or may need support in the future. Fidelity offers phone support 24/7, a live chat feature, email support, and more than 180 branches. Customers who qualify for Fidelity’s Active Trader Services also get 24/7 support from trading specialists.

Other Online Investment Brokers

Scottrade

Scottrade is another online investment broker with more than 500 local branches. They offer services similar to Fidelity, except they charge a flat fee of $7 per trade, which is lower than Fidelity’s $7.95 per trade. If you place a trade through a broker, the commission is a flat $32. The opening minimum investment is the same as Fidelity at $2,500, and the minimum opening balance for a retirement account is $500.

Scottrade doesn’t charge for streaming quotes, and they offer more than 14,500 mutual fund options – 3,000 of which do not carry a transaction fee. Gaining access to Scottrade’s advanced platform (ScottradeELITE) requires meeting some steep requirements. For example, investors must have a $25,000 account balance or more than 9 stock/option trades during the previous three months.

TradeKing

TradeKing is another low-cost broker that provides flexible investment opportunities to customers. It offers $4.95 commission stock trades and $0.65 per contract. TradeKing also offers Forex trading, along with a $50,000 virtual account that lets you try it out before you take the reins on your own.

The best thing about TradeKing is that there is no minimum amount to open an account. On the other hand, the service charges an annual inactivity fee of $50 if your account is left dormant and no trades have been made for 12 months, and the combined value of your household accounts is less than $2,500. Both criteria need to be met in order for TradeKing to apply the $50 annual fee, but it is something to watch out for.

Vanguard

Vanguard is a leading provider of mutual funds and ETFs that are high-quality and low-cost. There are no commissions when you buy and sell low-cost Vanguard mutual funds and ETFs. However, if you buy and sell the same Vanguard ETF in a Vanguard Brokerage Account more than 25 times in a 12-month period, you may be restricted from purchasing that particular ETF for the next 60 days.

To open an IRA with Vanguard or roll over an existing IRA, the minimum deposit requirement is $1,000.

Vanguard’s Standard account, which is available to those with less than $50,000 in Vanguard accounts, charges $7 for the first 25 trades and $20 for subsequent trades. You need to have $50,000 to $500,000 in your Vanguard accounts in order to take advantage of unlimited trading.

Low-cost Online Investment Platforms

If you’re a novice investor looking for a way to experiment at a low cost, check out our review of low-cost and free investing platforms.

Who Fidelity Investments Is Best For

Fidelity is a top contender for online brokerage services. It’s a great option for more advanced traders who can take advantage of Fidelity’s platforms like Active Trader Pro, along with beginners, who will be able to rely on Fidelity’s quality and dependable customer service.

The retirement account matching program is an added perk if you choose to roll over your IRA.

If the minimum investment of $2,500 is doable for you and you prefer a large range of investment options and affordable trading fees, Fidelity is certainly worth looking into further.

 

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