Featured, Strategies to Save

How to Use Truebill to Identify & Cancel Recurring Subscriptions

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.

 

Have you ever forgotten to cancel a subscription that charges you automatically each month? Me, too.

Thanks to Apple Music album exclusives, I’ve racked up quite a few charges from a subscription that I initially planned to cancel right after the free trial.

Truebill is an app that wants to make you aware of all the seemingly low-cost subscriptions that can add up to a lot of money spent. Truebill uses an algorithm to help you identify and cancel recurring payments made from your credit cards and bank accounts so you can find savings.

We tried out the app to see whether or not using it to cut costs is worthwhile. In this post, we’ll cover:

  • How it works
  • Truebill extra features
  • The cost
  • Pros and cons

How Truebill Works

You need to download the Truebill app from iTunes or GooglePlay to get started. The app lets you sign up for a Truebill account by email or Facebook.

Truebill mobile interface

After you create an account, the next step is signing into your credit card and bank accounts through Truebill so that it can review your account data. I signed into one bank account and one credit card account for this trial.

Truebill mobile interface connect accounts

The results of the Truebill statement scan

Truebill scan of bills

The results of the account scan will appear in your app dashboard within a few minutes.

Recurring transactions found are broken down into three categories — subscriptions, recurring bills, and miscellaneous recurring payments.

Here’s what Truebill found from my accounts:

For subscriptions:

  • A recurring Express Scripts prescription charge
  • Payments for monthly services I use to run a business including:
    • ConvertKit
    • FreshBooks
    • Grammarly
    • GoDaddy

For recurring bills and utilities:

  • An annual credit card membership fee
  • A Comcast bill
  • An insurance bill

For recurring miscellaneous payments: 

  • A Bluehost monthly service charge
  • An iTunes (Hulu) monthly subscription

All of the above are current recurring payments that I’m making periodically.

Truebill also has a section that lists your inactive recurring payments.

Inactive payments are for past recurring items that are no longer posting to your account regularly.

In my inactive section, Truebill has recurring transactions and subscriptions from as far back as 2013, including old student loan payments, car note payments, and more.

If you discover that Truebill is missing a subscription, there’s an option to enter the service name, and Truebill will perform another search on your account.

Truebill no results screen show

You can reach out to a customer service representative for extra help if Truebill still can’t locate a subscription after doing this search.

Does Truebill Find All the Sneaky Costs?

The current auto-payments that show up for me are ones I already know about. I’m also someone who pays pretty close attention to every account transaction so I didn’t expect any surprises.

Despite being aware of these auto-payments, I still find it impressive how many past and present recurring transactions the algorithm picked up on. I can see how this tool can be a shortcut for catching pesky auto-payments in one fell swoop for someone who monitors their statements a little less frequently.

I did learn something new related to very old charges.

Truebill found a questionable Home Depot Project Loan transaction from 2013 and was unsure whether or not to mark it as an old inactive recurring payment.

Truebill Home Depot loan

I’ve never taken out a Home Depot Project Loan, so that’s a charge I plan on researching.

How to Cancel Recurring Payments

The second key feature of Truebill is that it helps you cancel these services.

You’re able to terminate many subscriptions within the app itself. When you click on a specific subscription, there’s an “Options” link, and then a red button to “cancel” the subscription appears.

Truebill cancel ConvertKit

However, the option to cancel isn’t available for all services on auto-payment. This is the case for my Express Scripts recurring payment below.

Truebill cancel subscription

If cancellation isn’t an option, you can head over to the Truebill cancellation page for additional instructions.

On this page, there’s a mega list of companies with directions on how to cancel services from each one. The list includes insurance companies, telephone companies, music streaming services, gyms, and more.

You need to fill out more information about yourself for Truebill to move forward with the cancellation of Express Scripts. The site gives a phone number you can call to cancel on your own. For some companies, Truebill even has video instructions on how to cancel a service.

Truebill form to cancel subscriptions

Truebill Extras to Lower Your Bills

Canceling isn’t the only action you can take to cut costs. The app also notifies you of opportunities to renegotiate contract terms for bills like cable, internet, and insurance to save money.

According to the app, my Comcast bill is high, and it recommends using the BillShark service to negotiate a lower bill. BillShark is a partner of Truebill and renegotiates contracts for consumers. If BillShark can lower your bill, it takes a 40% cut of the savings as a service fee. You do not have to pay a dime if BillShark isn’t able to reduce your bill.

I got a notification that my insurance bill seems high as well. The app refers me to a third party called SolidQuote to shop for competitive insurance rates.

We’ll talk a little bit more about these recommendations in the next section.

The Cost of Truebill

The Truebill app is entirely free to download and use. The one extra service that you may have to pay for is BillShark if you choose to use it to renegotiate your bill contracts. Technically, you’re not paying out of pocket for this service either. You will only pay if BillShark is able to find you savings.

How Does Truebill Make Money?

On the terms and conditions page, there’s mention of Truebill having sponsored links to third parties and advertisements. Truebill may receive compensation from recommending other companies to you.

For example, under the suggestion to shop for competitive insurance quotes with SolidQuote, there’s a link to an advertiser disclosure stating Truebill can get paid for the referral.

Truebill advertiser disclosure

You do not have to sign up for any of these third-party offers to use the service for free. You can simply avoid offers throughout the app and still benefit from using it.

Truebill Security

Truebill uses 256-bit encryption and bank-level security to protect your information. The account history used from your financial institutions to manage auto-payments is read-only, and your information is not stored by Truebill servers. Find out more about Truebill security here.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Truebill is free for users.
  • The app is simple to use and reviews your accounts for subscription information quickly.
  • It shows you both active and inactive recurring payments.
  • You may be able to cancel bills with one click on the app. If you can’t cancel through the app, there are instructions on how you can terminate contracts with many companies on the website. Some cancellation instructions even include step-by-step video tutorials.

Cons:

  • There are advertisements to special offers on the app. These offers are not too distracting, but you should be aware that recommendations may be from paid affiliates.
  • The Truebill algorithm works by analyzing your account data. You need to sign in to your financial accounts for it to do its magic. If that’s a turnoff, you won’t get much use from this app.

The Final Verdict

The Truebill app is easy to use and definitely one to consider if you might be flushing money down the toilet with random subscriptions and services. The fact that it shows both current and past subscriptions is a highlight because it’s also helpful to review how much you’ve spent on these recurring payments in the past few years.

TAGS:

Featured, News, Strategies to Save

Are Discount Gift Cards Worth the Hassle?

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.

Gift card exchange sites are places where you can buy and sell gift cards. If you’re unfamiliar with the gift card exchange craze, here’s the rundown of how you can benefit:

  • Selling – You can sell unused gift cards on these sites for cash or other gift cards. According to estimates published by Market Watch, $750 million in gift cards were expected to go unused in 2014. Before your card is one of many that go to waste, you can sell it and get your hands on some money instead.
  • Buying – Gift card exchanges also sell gift cards for less than their value. Say you want to buy an iTunes gift card for your cousin Joe’s birthday. You may be able to find an iTunes gift card with $100 on it that’s selling for $95 or a 5% discount.

There are quite a few gift card exchange websites you can use to find deals.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the popular gift card exchange sites to compare savings and how each one works. We’ll also dig into the major gift card search engine, Gift Card Granny, to review the process of using it to shop for and sell gift cards.

Lastly, we’ll give you our take on whether or not the deals you can get from buying and selling cards are worth your time.

Buying and Selling Gift Cards

The how-to process of buying and selling gift cards is pretty similar for each gift card exchange site so we’ve broken down what you need to know in the following two sections.

Buying gift cards

Most sites allow you to buy both e-cards and physical gift cards. E-cards are delivered to you by email after purchase. Physical gift cards can take from several days to over a week to get to you through snail mail.

A factor that can make shopping for gift cards tedious is finding a site that has the card inventory that you need. Gift card availability varies from seller to seller. Some sites have loads of cards you can buy, and others have very few on sale from restaurants and stores you may never visit.

One very important to thing to mention before we compare savings is that customers have complained about buying cards from popular gift card sellers that didn’t work or had no money on them when they arrived. This is why gift card exchanges have money-back guarantee policies.

If you buy gift cards, you must choose an exchange site that has a money-back guarantee that lasts at least several weeks. This way you have enough time to receive the card, test the card, and request a refund if it doesn’t work. We’ve included the guarantee period in our savings comparison below.

How gift card discounts compare from site to site

For our shopping example, we want to buy a Macy’s gift card and we want the card to have as close to $50 on it as possible because it’s for a gift.

We searched for deals on CardCash/ABC Gift Cards, Cardpool, GiftCardBin, Giftcard Zen, and Raise because each of these six exchanges has no fees, a money-back guarantee, a variety of cards for sale, and a user-friendly website.

Here’s what we found:

Gift-Card-Purchasing

*CardCash and ABC Gift Cards are the same company but can offer different savings rates on gift cards. For Macy’s the savings happens to be the same.

ABC Gift Cards and CardCash take the cake for the best percentage off discount in this example at 13.25% savings.

But GiftCardBin gives you a Macy’s gift card with exactly $50 on it. The person receiving the gift will probably be more appreciative of getting a full $50 on the card than $43.90 (unless it’s a gag gift).

Overall, in this example we can get between 5% to 13% off of our Macy’s gift card.

Savings will vary depending on the type of card you’re looking for. Even the inventory and discount can change for Macy’s cards from day to day, but this gives you an idea of what’s offered.

Selling gift cards

Now let’s move on to selling those gift cards you have piled up from Christmas and your birthday.

Some exchange sites will take both e-cards and physical cards. For sites that will take e-cards off your hands, you type in the e-code that’s on the e-card to go through with the transaction. The company will give you a free shipping label to send in physical cards.

How deals for gift card sellers compare from site to site

Let’s say you’re sitting on a $50 Macy’s gift card and you don’t intend to shop at that store.

We searched for trade deals from CardCash/ABC Gift Cards, Cardpool, GiftCardBin, and Raise.

Here’s what you can get for a Macy’s card:

Gift-Card-Selling

As you can see, the most value is given when you trade a gift card for another gift card.

At a quick glance, Raise appears to give you the most cash back for the trade, but you have to factor in the listing fee and whether someone will buy the card for that asking price.

You may notice Giftcard Zen doesn’t make our list for places to sell your Macy’s card when it made our list for places to buy a Macy’s card.

We went to Giftcard Zen to see what the site offers for a card trade and found the company is not currently accepting cards from Macy’s. Again, inventory and what a site will accept is ever changing.

This is where Gift Card Granny comes into the picture and tries to make your life easier.

Instead of having to search each and every gift card site for deals, Gift Card Granny is where you can compare buying and selling opportunities in one place.

Gift Card Granny — The Gift Card Exchange Aggregate

If you want to search a number of gift card exchange websites all at once, Gift Card Granny is a great source. The shopping experience on Gift Card Granny is like shopping for hotels and flights on Kayak.

You type in the gift card you’re looking to buy or sell, and the Gift Card Granny search engine pulls up deals from various gift card sites, including sites we mentioned above.

We went through a scenario with Gift Card Granny to weigh in on the recommended deals. Here’s what we found.

Finding places to buy cards using Gift Card Granny

Let’s go back to our initial scenario where we were buying our cousin Joe an iTunes gift card for his birthday.

Gift Card Granny came up with a bunch of options after we typed iTunes into the search bar.

gcg-options-iphone

We clicked on Card Kangaroo first since the check mark means it’s a Gift Card Granny Premier Partner. After getting redirected to the Card Kangaroo site, we discovered that there are no iTunes gift cards available even though the deal is listed on Gift Card Granny. It may be because Gift Card Granny has a lag in inventory updates.

This doesn’t come as a complete shock since Card Kangaroo was left off of our roundup from above for having a pretty slim gift card stock for buyers.

itunes-giftcards

So we decided to dig into two more options, GiftMe and Gift Card Spread. GiftMe has the highest savings percentage on the list, and Gift Card Spread is another Gift Card Granny Premier Partner.

GiftMe turns out to be an app that you need to download to your phone first before you can buy and sell your cards. We downloaded the app and found that there is indeed a $100 iTunes gift card available for $88.52.

GiftMe-App

To buy a card on GiftMe, you have to fill out your name and address. You also have to take a photo of the front and back of your credit card to be verified before purchase.

According to the app FAQ page, GiftMe will delete the photo after verification, and the app is PCI compliant. PCI is a security standard for transmitting credit card data, but to err on the side of caution, you probably shouldn’t be sending photos of your credit card to anyone.

That leaves the third and final top savings option that we looked into, Gift Card Spread. Gift Card Spread has iTunes gift card inventory for a little over 10% savings.

Gift-card-spread

You need to sign up for an account to buy a card from Gift Card Spread. In some cases, you may have to verify yourself as the credit card holder before purchasing by answering questions or going on a three-way call with the company and your credit card issuer.

Based on this experience shopping on Gift Card Granny, you’ll probably have to click around through several deals before you find a gift card seller that has the right stock and that doesn’t have a buying process that’s asking for too much of your personal information.

The exchanges we listed in our large roundup above appear on Gift Card Granny but not as one of the top savings options.

Finding places to sell cards using Gift Card Granny

Gift Card Granny will tell you the offers available for the type of card you want to sell.

The options will include places where you can sell your card instantly and others where you have to list your card for sale until someone buys it, such as Raise (we talked about Raise above) and eBay.

gcg-giftcard-sell

Be careful when selling cards on eBay because scams are rampant. You can even take a peek at the eBay community discussions here and here where someone shamelessly explains how they’ve scammed sellers out of gift cards.

A common way buyers seem to scam sellers is by asking for the serial number of a gift card to “confirm the amount” and then draining the card before paying. Scammers may also receive the card and then, to get a refund, complain to eBay that they never got it.

The bottom line is, proceed with caution when selling gift cards on eBay. It may be best to avoid the risk entirely.

Overall when it comes to buying and selling gift cards, Gift Card Granny does make it easier to compare options head-to-head even though you have to do some detective work to find good deals.

Gift Card Exchanges: A Much Better Deal for Buyers than Sellers

An honest opinion about the gift card buying process is that going through tedious sign-up forms and verifications for minimal savings (i.e., a $1.50 discount on a $15 iTunes gift card) may not be a good use of your time. Companies don’t want to get burned in the transaction, so they take extra precautions to confirm that your form of payment will work before releasing a gift card to you.

It’s an entirely different story if you can get something like 20% off of a $200 iTunes gift card. The $20 savings could be well worth the wait but only if the verification process is secure. Taking photos of your credit card or ID is still a little much even for $20.

As for the selling aspect, be aware again that this isn’t quick money (unless the site you exchange with has physical locations). The exchange website will need to confirm your gift card balance, which can take several business days, before they’re willing to send you cash or another card of your choosing.

TAGS:

Strategies to Save

How to Negotiate Your Bills With BillFixers

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.

If you have wireless, cable, or internet service, you’re probably familiar with irritating bill negotiations.

BillFixers wants to help you avoid waiting on the phone for hours or getting bounced around from department to department when trying to negotiate rates with your providers.

BillFixers is a service that reviews bills and then calls providers on your behalf to find you savings. The expert negotiators are familiar with deals and bundles that companies like Comcast offer, so they may be able to find discounts and specials you’re not aware of.

According to BillFixers, the service saves customers on average $300 per year on their monthly bills. We tested it to see how the process works. In this post, we’ll cover:

  • The types of bills that BillFixers can reduce
  • How BillFixers works
  • The cost
  • A trial of the BillFixers service
  • The billing process
  • The pros and cons

Types of Bills BillFixers Can Reduce

BillFixers can negotiate recurring bills for the following types of services:

  • Cable
  • Cellphone
  • Home security/alarm systems
  • Internet
  • Landline
  • Newspaper or magazine subscriptions
  • Satellite television

BillFixers doesn’t currently negotiate the following services:

  • Car payments
  • Credit cards
  • Debt services
  • Insurance bills and claims
  • Legal fees
  • Medical bills
  • Rent/mortgage payments

How BillFixers Works

To get started, you head to the website and sign up for an account. The sign-up page includes a space to upload files of the bills you want BillFixers to review and negotiate.

After adding your bills, BillFixers asks for the account pin, zip code, or password the provider may request when they call in to negotiate.

BillFixers also shares on this page what happens next after you submit a bill.

Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know:

  • Step #1: Analysis – BillFixers reviews your bill to see if there’s an opportunity for savings.
  • Step #2: Negotiation – BillFixers will reach out to the service providers to negotiate. If a change to your coverage is necessary for savings, they will get your permission first.
  • Step #3: Email results – BillFixers will email you the savings they find.

The Cost

BillFixers is risk-free. You pay nothing if the service can’t find you savings. If BillFixers is able to reduce your bill, you pay them 50% of the first year’s savings. You receive an invoice from BillFixers and have the option to pay a lump sum or to make monthly payments.

The BillFixers Trial

Moving on to the test run. We submitted an AT&T bill to BillFixers for negotiations.

This bill was an unusual one because it was for an AT&T account that was grandfathered into a plan with unlimited data. If you’re unfamiliar with this scenario, many years ago AT&T stopped offering unlimited data to new customers.

Users who already had the unlimited plans were able to keep them. Many AT&T customers have held onto these unlimited plans for nearly a decade to avoid newer plans that have data caps and expensive overage fees. My husband is one of these customers.

Although unlimited data is great, AT&T over the years began increasing the cost of this unlimited plan every so often making it less and less appealing and pushing customers toward other options.

This year, AT&T popped back up on the scene with new and more affordable unlimited data plans.

I figured this would be a perfect opportunity for BillFixers to dig into the new plans for us to make sure there are no hidden catches. And to see if it was finally time to say goodbye to the grandfathered unlimited plan.

The process

The experts at BillFixers seemed to be familiar with the AT&T bill situation, which was very helpful.

All communication about the bill negotiations happened through email. They initially had trouble accessing the cellphone account. We emailed back and forth to provide them the information necessary to negotiate.

It took a little over one month for BillFixers to come up with results. That time included some delays where we had to pass on information.

They did find us savings in one of AT&T’s new unlimited plans.

The old AT&T plan we had was a Nation 450 Plan with rollover minutes, unlimited messaging, and unlimited data for $99.99 excluding taxes and additional fees.

BillFixers sent us an email with the proposed plan.

The new plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data under the AT&T Unlimited Choice plan for $65 per month excluding taxes and fees. This is a savings of almost $400 per year.

Before making any changes, BillFixers asked for permission to move forward with the deal. Before agreeing to the change, we double- and triple-checked that this service still includes unlimited data.

Here’s the update:

The Billing Process

Again, there’s no upfront cost commitment with BillFixers. Our bill review would have been completely free if they couldn’t find us a comparable plan for a better price.

You can pay BillFixers 50% of your savings upfront or monthly. We plan on paying the invoice monthly. Then, after the first year, we get 100% of the savings from this new AT&T plan.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • You don’t have to pay any money up front.
  • BillFixers takes the frustration out of getting the runaround when negotiating bills.
  • BillFixers has experience working with many major service providers so they may find you discounts, credits, and deals that you aren’t aware of.

Cons:

  • You have to give up part of your savings for a year, which takes away from how much money you’re actually saving from reducing your bills.
  • All communication happens through email. There isn’t a BillFixers portal where you can stay up to date on negotiations or to review and approve your bill options. An account management feature on the site could make the process a little easier.

The Verdict

The best scenario is to lower your own bills to keep all of your savings. In our case, we’ll save about $200 instead of over $400 from AT&T this year because we’re sharing the savings with BillFixers.

That’s an extra $200 that could be in our savings account had we worked on the bill ourselves. Take a stab at negotiating contracts and bills first to keep your savings. If you run into trouble or prefer not to deal with the hassle, BillFixers is a good second resort.

TAGS:

Strategies to Save

How to Cut Sneaky Subscriptions and Recurring Expenses with Trim

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.

 

It’s easy for small expenses to add up and burn straight through our cash. Especially since there are so many subscription and membership services available to sign up for that automatically bill accounts after a free trial.

Trim is a website that wants to help you identify and cancel these recurring costs to save money. You can connect your accounts to Trim, and it searches transactions for recurring payments to merchants that you can cut off.

According to Trim, the service has saved its users $8 million in sneaky expenses, so we’re putting it to the test. In this post, we’ll review the site to see what expenses Trim can identify.

We’ll discuss:

  • How Trim works
  • How much Trim costs
  • Pros and cons

How Trim Works

First, you need to go to asktrim.com to create an account. You can sign up for an account by email or through Facebook. For this review, I chose the email option.

 

Authenticating and setting up your account

After you input your email, first name, last name, and phone number, the website will send you a text message to confirm your phone number.

A confirmation of your phone number is necessary because the website corresponds with you via text message. You can also choose to receive messages from Trim through Facebook Messenger if you prefer. There currently isn’t a Trim app.

Trim needs to connect to your bank and/or credit card accounts to locate recurring subscriptions for cancellation.

Trim supports over 20,000 U.S. financial institutions. If you don’t see yours on the list, you can email Trim for support. Although I find tweeting a company usually gets a faster response.

The syncing of your financial accounts to Trim takes just a few seconds.

You’ll get a text message with the subscriptions Trim has found once the connection is complete. The identified recurring costs will also populate in your account dashboard on the website.

Here are a few of the subscriptions it found for me:

The dashboard breaks down your recurring charges into three different sections. There are subscriptions, utilities, and frequent charges.

Altogether, Trim found:

  • A car insurance payment
  • A Comcast bill
  • A banking account fee
  • Work-related expenses (Bluehost, Grammarly, and Freshbooks)

You’ll probably find like I did that not all charges found will be ones you can cancel or need to cancel. The purpose of Trim is to seek out any surprises.

How Trim cancels accounts

The cancellation aspect of Trim is what I consider the highlight because of how much of a pain it can be to terminate your subscriptions and memberships.

To cancel a service using Trim, you hit the red “Cancel this subscription” link on the website.

You can also message “Cancel (insert service)” to authorize cancellation from your phone.

Trim will contact the company by sending an email or calling. In some cases, like a gym membership, Trim may send out a certified letter.

I’ll be honest, I’ve moved from one city to another and completely forgot to cancel my gym membership before. This feature is one I can appreciate since gym memberships can be a huge hassle to cancel remotely.

Does Trim catch all recurring charges?

I went into this review with a pretty good grasp of the recurring charges that I pay. I was mostly curious to see how many of them the website algorithm would catch.

Trim found many of the biggies instantly.

But I was a little disappointed it didn’t catch items like my Hulu subscription through Apple iTunes.

The FAQ page states that Trim first identifies popular merchants like Netflix that use recurring payments. Then, it goes back through your bills monthly. The algorithm may pick up on other merchants after a few billing cycles.

I reached out to Trim via Twitter to see if there’s a reason Apple iTunes didn’t appear. I figured that would be one of the more popular merchants.

They got back to me the same day. It seems as though Apple charges can be hit or miss.

Extra Trim features

Trim has a few additional bells and whistles. You can review recent transactions of your financial accounts by merchant and category time.

Trim also offers other savings tools. For auto insurance, there’s a section on the site where you can type in your car’s make, model, and year to shop for cheaper insurance rates. You can also look for better Comcast deals through the account dashboard to potentially negotiate a better contract.

How Much It Costs

The Trim website is currently free to use. You’re probably wondering — what’s the catch?

Trim is really free. There are plans to roll out a paid financial advising component. But the basic Trim subscription review and cancellation service is supposed to remain free of cost.

Trim Security

According to Trim, the service uses Plaid security to connect to your financial institutions. This means Trim does not store the usernames and passwords used to access your financial accounts.

Instead, the credentials are sent through Plaid directly to your bank or credit card issuer to retrieve your transaction history. The transaction data Trim uses is read-only so that no changes can be made to your accounts. Trim also uses 256-bit SSL encryption for its own site and databases.

Pros and Cons

Now, for the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • The service is free.
  • Trim finds monthly recurring costs that you may have forgotten.
  • You can delete your Trim account at any time.
  • You can connect Trim to over 20,000 financial institutions.
  • You can correspond with Trim via messaging, which makes managing your account easy.
  • The Trim Twitter account responds quickly if you have questions.

Cons:

  • Trim may not pick up on all sneaky expenses right away.
  • Although there are security measures in place, connecting your financial accounts could be a deal-breaker if you’re extra cautious.
  • Ideally, you want to pay enough attention to your bank and credit card accounts to spot sneaky charges on your own. Trim is a nice shortcut to see if you’re missing anything, but for the long term, try to get into the habit of monitoring your statements.

The Final Verdict

Overall, Trim is an easy-to-use tool that can help you make sure there are no subscriptions from many moons ago still posting to your account.

However, Trim did not catch my iTunes Hulu membership initially, so I suggest you plan to keep your account open for at least a few months to give the algorithm time to identify money leaks.

TAGS: ,

Reviews

Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings Account Review: 0.01% APY, $25 Minimum Deposit

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.

Wells Fargo is a major bank with 6,000 physical branch locations and 13,000 ATMs. It acquired Wachovia for $15 billion dollars in 2008 and now serves 70 million customers globally. You’ve probably seen Wells Fargo make headlines recently for news that’s a little less pleasant than the huge acquisition.

In 2016, Wells Fargo accepted responsibility for employing sales associates and managers who were opening fake debit and credit card accounts under customer names without their consent to meet sales goals.

Wells Fargo was fined $185 million dollars for the account fraud. The bank refunded $5 million dollars to customers affected and terminated 5,300 employees tied to the misconduct. Wells Fargo announced the removal of sales goals at retail branches to dial back on the aggressive sales culture that led to fraud. And executives went on an apology tour at the end of 2016 to restore consumer faith.

Despite the scandal, Wells Fargo is still one of the largest U.S. banks and offers many products, from savings accounts to mortgage and education loans.

In this post, we’re going to dive into the Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings account to review the terms and how this account could fit into your savings strategy.

Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings Account Basics

The Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings account has the traditional fees and terms that you can expect from a brick-and-mortar bank. There’s a monthly fee if you don’t follow certain rules and a minimum balance required to open the account.

Here’s an overview of the account fees and terms:

  • Minimum deposit required to open an account – $25
  • Annual percentage yield (APY) – 0.01%
  • Monthly fee of $5, unless:
    • You maintain a $300 daily balance, or
    • You set up and maintain monthly automatic deposits of $25 or more into the account
    • You are under the age of 18 or 19 in Alabama

Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings Account Tools

Extra features of the Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings account include tools that encourage you to save more money.

If you sign up for the Save As You Go transfer tool, Wells Fargo will move $1 from your checking account to your savings account every time you:

  • Pay bills through Wells Fargo Bill Pay
  • Make a debit card purchase
  • Make automatic payments from the connected checking account

Let’s say you make 20 qualifying transactions a month. In this scenario, $240 per year will be transferred into your savings account automatically. That can add up.

You can also set up monthly or daily transfers from a linked checking account to your savings account. If you set up monthly transfers, the minimum you can transfer each month is $25.

If you do daily transfers, you have to transfer at least $1.

How to Apply for the Way2Save Savings Account

To apply for a Wells Fargo savings account, you’ll need your:

  • Social Security number
  • Valid ID (driver’s license, state ID, or Matricula card)
  • $25 to deposit (If you already have a Wells Fargo account, you can transfer $25 from it; you can also use a debit or credit card, or check for this deposit.)

Filling out the application gives Wells Fargo permission to pull your credit history. Your application can be denied if you have negative history from other bank accounts like unpaid overdraft fees.

A Comparison of Fees and APY Against Our Top Choice for Savings

The APY offered by Wells Fargo for the Way2Save Savings account is nothing to write home about.

Wells Fargo offers the Way2Save Savings account with just 0.01% APY when other online-only and credit union savings accounts offer as much as 1.05% APY.

We have a roundup of the best savings accounts that we update regularly here for you to check out.

As for fees and account terms, there are also several savings accounts in the roundup we mention above that have the Way2Save Savings account beat.

Wells Fargo charges $5 per month in the event that you can’t maintain the minimum $300 daily balance and you don’t have enough money to set up $25 monthly automatic transfers from checking to savings.

Let’s be real here, life happens, and there may be a situation where you’re in a financial pinch and can’t meet these conditions.

In comparison, the High Yield Savings account from Synchrony is currently our top recommendation and doesn’t have the same fine print. The Synchrony High Yield Savings account offers 1.05% APY with no minimum account balance required and no monthly fees.

APY of the Way2Save Savings account from Wells Fargo vs. High Yield Savings from Synchrony

Both accounts compound interest daily and pay out monthly.

If you keep $1,000 in a Wells Fargo account for 12 months at 0.01% APY, you’ll earn just $2 in interest for the year. Barely enough for a coffee.

If you put $1,000 in the Synchrony High Yield Savings account for a year at 1.05% APY, you’ll earn about $21 in interest. That’s a few mornings worth of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

APY-Way2save-2

Of course, this is savings you shouldn’t be using for a caffeine fix, but you get the idea. When your money is sitting in a savings account, it should be earning you as much money as possible.

Downside of Having Savings Connected to Checking

Wells Fargo touts the ease of connecting your Wells Fargo checking account to a savings account as one of the Way2Save Savings account benefits, but that’s not always ideal.

Keeping all of your cash in accounts that are connected to each other may cause you to rely on savings more often than you should. If you’re already a Wells Fargo checking account customer, keeping a Way2Save Savings account for emergencies in addition to an online-only account could be a good savings strategy.

In fact, it’s the strategy that I use as a Wells Fargo customer. I put money that I may need more urgently into the Wells Fargo savings account. The rest I put in a savings account that’s harder to reach. It can be easier to resist temptation and grow savings when money isn’t sitting pretty in an account you have access to instantly.

Should You Open a CD Instead?

To answer this question, CDs can be a good choice. A CD with Wells Fargo — not so much.

A certificate of deposit is an account that you put money into for a certain term, and the money earns interest. During the CD term, you’re not able to deposit any money into the account. You can get charged a fee if you withdraw money before the CD matures. The longer you hold money in a CD account, the more interest you’ll earn.

This type of account is one you may want to open instead of another savings account if you have extra funds that you do not need for a long period of time.

Wells Fargo offers standard and special CDs requiring a minimum deposit of $2,500 to $5,000. These accounts earn 0.01% APY to 0.50% APY plus an interest bonus if you have the CD linked to a Portfolio by Wells Fargo product. Find out more about Wells Fargo CDs here.

Interestingly enough, the APY for Wells Fargo CDs is lower than what you can get from one of the regular high-yield savings accounts we have in our “best of” roundup. You can check out that roundup here.

If you’re shopping for a CD with a more competitive rate and a minimal initial deposit, Ally Bank is a good place to start. Ally Bank has a CD that requires no minimum balance to open and pays out 1.20% APY.

Find out more about Ally Bank CDs here and a roundup of our other favorite CDs here.

TAGS: ,

About MagnifyMoney

Credit One Bank Review: Average Credit Welcome But Complicated Terms

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.

Credit One Bank (not to be confused with Capital One Bank) specializes in credit card products that come with free credit score monitoring and cash back rewards perks. The Credit One Bank product line also includes credit-building cards that you can qualify for with less-than-perfect credit.

The potential drawbacks of choosing a Credit One Bank credit card are the fees and conditions that can apply to your account, depending on your creditworthiness.

Credit One Bank Credit Card Terms

Credit One Bank Credit Card TermsCurrently, Credit One Bank offers three main credit cards including the Cash Back Rewards Visa, the Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit, and the Official NASCAR Visa.

However, the account terms for each card above including the interest rate, annual fee, and rewards program varies, depending on your creditworthiness. This means Credit One Bank will take a look at your credit history and income before offering your credit card terms and conditions.

There are 26 available credit card agreements you may be offered by Credit One Bank after applying. You can find them here. Fortunately, you can prequalify to review which specific terms you will receive, and the good news is this prequalification won’t impact your credit score.

Interest Rates, Fees, and Fine Print

Credit One Bank does provide an easier to read terms-and-conditions disclosure document with a range of the possible fees, interest rates, and terms you may encounter as a cardholder. You can find the condensed terms and conditions here.

We’ve also put together a quick overview of the facts:

  • The minimum credit line is $300
  • Variable interest rates start at 15.90% to 24.40% APR when you open an account
  • Accounts may or may not have a payment grace period
  • The annual fee ranges from $0 to $75 the first year
  • The annual fee after the first year is $0 to $99
  • If you add on an authorized user, the fee is $19 annually
  • The late payment fee is up to $37
  • The returned payment fee is up to $35

As you can see from the terms above, the cost of borrowing from Credit One Bank can vary greatly, specifically when it comes to the annual fee. You can pay no annual fee at all or up to $75 the first year and $99 for each following year. That’s no small amount of money.

For the first year, the annual fee is charged to your account right away. This means when you first receive the card the annual feel will be subtracted from your available credit line. After the first year, the annual fee may be charged all at once or split into 12 monthly payments.

The payment grace period

Another area besides fees to draw attention to is the payment grace period. The account you qualify for may or may not have one.

A payment grace period is a certain amount of days that credit card issuers give you to pay the bill before applying interest. Credit cards that don’t have a grace period begin charging interest on the day the purchase hits your account. For example, if you were to buy a nice, new couch on a credit card today, interest would start applying to that purchase today.

Again, terms vary, depending on creditworthiness, so it’s possible you can get the best terms that Credit One Bank has to offer, including the lowest possible interest rate, no annual fee, and an account with a payment grace period. But you should be aware of the most expensive scenario.

Cash Back Rewards and Card Benefits

Credit One Bank offers five cash back rewards programs and a few additional card benefits.

There are three cash back programs that reward you for everyday spending like gas, groceries, and dining, and two other programs that reward you for auto and NASCAR.com related purchases.

Here are the the five rewards programs:

Cash Back Rewards Program

  • 1% cash back on eligible gas, groceries, mobile phone service, internet service, and cable and satellite TV service; OR
  • 1.1% cash back on eligible dining purchases and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases; OR
  • 1% cash back on all eligible purchases.

NASCAR Cash Back Rewards Program

  • 1% cash back on eligible gas and automotive purchases, double cash back on NASCAR.com purchases; OR
  • 1% cash back on all eligible purchases, double cash back on NASCAR.com purchases.

If you qualify for a cash back program, the cash back that you earn each month will be credited to your account statements. The cash back credited to your account doesn’t count as a payment, so you’ll need to make your regular minimum payment to keep your card in good standing.

Additional card benefits

As mentioned, free credit score tracking and a credit report summary are included. Visa Zero Fraud Liability is another benefit and means you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Visa account if you report them in a timely manner.

How to Prequalify for Credit One Bank Credit Cards

On the Credit One Bank website, you can prequalify for a card without a hard inquiry. You just need to type in your address, Social Security number, birthdate, and income.

Make sure to read through the terms you receive after prequalification for the interest rate, the fees, and whether you get a payment grace period before thinking about moving forward with the full application.

The Cost of Using a Credit One Bank Card

So, what’s the cost? That’s always the most important question.

Taking a look at the cost of cash back rewards first, the interest rate range offered by Credit One Bank is slightly higher than other rewards cards with similar cash back offers.

Here are a few cash back alternatives with lower interest rates and no annual fee:

  • The Citi Double Cash offers 2% cash back and interest from 13.49% to 23.49% APR with no annual fee
  • The Quicksilver from Capital One offers 1.5% cash back and 0% intro APR for nine months; 13.49%-23.49% variable APR after that. There is no annual fee.

For the most part, the cheaper cash back rewards cards listed above are also ones that require decent credit, which may be a reason why you would try applying with Credit One Bank instead.

However, Credit One Bank cards can come with fees you need to be mindful of before thinking they’re an ideal alternative. You may qualify for Credit One Bank with less-than-perfect credit, but the catch is you may also get approved for less-than-desirable credit card terms like high interest and a high annual fee.

Example of what it costs to borrow

To analyze the cost of borrowing from Credit One Bank, let’s take the terms and conditions of the very first card that appears on the Credit One Bank account agreement list. (You can find it again here.)

This card has:

  • 24.15% variable APR
  • $75 annual fee the first year
  • $99 annual fee the following years
  • No payment grace period
  • 1% cash back on gas and grocery spending

If you charge $500 of furniture to this card as soon as you get it, it’ll cost you about $62 in interest to pay the balance off in 12 months with regular payments of $51 per month.

The exact interest cost will vary, depending on interest rate fluctuations and when you make the purchase during the month. (Remember, there’s no grace period.)

Payment Interest Principal
$51 $10 $459
$51 $9.23 $417.23
$51 $8.39 $374.62
$51 $7.53 $331.15
$51 $6.66 $286.81
$51 $5.77 $241.48
$51 $4.86 $195.34
$51 $3.93 $148.27
$51 $2.98 $100.25
$51 $2.02 $51.26
$51 $1.03 $1.29

In total, you would pay about $137 (interest plus the $75 annual fee) to borrow $500 during your first year as a cardholder. The next year, you also have another $99 in annual fees ($8.25 per month) to look forward to paying before even swiping your card on new purchases.

From this example, you can see fees play a big role in costs and are a factor you want to measure if you prequalify for a Credit One Bank credit card.

Another caveat to this is if you planned to use this card for cash back specifically, you would need to pay off your balance the same day you make a purchase. Otherwise, interest charges from having no grace period can eat away at the cash back earned.

Other Ways to Borrow Money and to Build Credit

The big advantage of Credit One Bank is that you can prequalify without a hard inquiry so it doesn’t hurt to find out what terms you will receive. There are a few other credit card issuers that offer the same convenience. If you’re not sure whether you can qualify for cards with lower fees, you can search for providers that offer prequalification here.

To build or rebuild credit, you can also turn to store cards or secured cards. Learn more about how to build credit with a secured card here. It’s worth mentioning that not all store cards and secured cards are cheap either. You need to review the fees and interest rates to find the most affordable option just like you would with the Credit One Bank accounts.

Finally, if your focus is solely getting your hands on cash, a personal loan may offer you a better deal when you need to borrow money than a credit card. You can also prequalify for personal loans without impacting your credit score. You can shop for personal loans here.

TAGS:

Credit Cards, Reviews

Gap Credit Card Review: Earn 5 Points Per Dollar at Gap Brands

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.

Gap Credit Card Review: Earn 5 Points Per Dollar at Gap Brands

The Gap store credit card is one that you can use at multiple brand stores including Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta. There are two types of Gap credit cards. There’s the store exclusive GapCard that you can only use at the Gap Inc. brand stores listed above. The Gap Visa Card has the same rewards benefits of the GapCard, but it can also be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

In this post we’ll discuss:

  • The Gap rewards program
  • Interest and fees
  • How to apply for the card
  • The hazards of store cards

Gap Credit Card Reward Basics

When you are approved for a Gap credit card, you get $15 off your first credit card purchase made at Gap or Gap Factory stores.

You earn 5 points for every dollar spent at Gap Inc. brand stores, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta. Gap Visa Card members earn 1 point per dollar at other stores where Visa is accepted as well.

Both GapCard and Gap Visa Card members receive special promotions to earn extra points and birthday savings throughout the year. Cardholders can also take advantage of 10% off Tuesdays at Gap and Gap Factory stores.

How to redeem points

There’s no cap on the number of points you can earn. Every time you reach 500 points, you’ll receive a $5 reward. You can use this reward to get $5 off your next purchase of greater value.

Points earned cannot be redeemed for cash or used for statement credit or gift cards.

If you don’t make enough to earn the $5 reward during a billing period, you can roll over the points you have to the next month. Points expire 24 months after your last purchase on the card, so you don’t want your card to go completely inactive.

Gap Silver status

Gap has a second rewards tier that’s exclusive to cardholders who spend big bucks.

To obtain Gap Silver status, you need to earn 5,000 points within a calendar year (e.g. spend at least $5,000). You must also requalify each year to stay on this rewards tier.

The benefit of being a Gap Silver member is that you get 20% extra bonus points at the end of each quarter.

For example, if you were to earn 1,000 points (by spending $1,000) in a quarter, you’d get an additional 200 bonus points.

In addition, Gap Silver members get:

  • A sales day of their choosing for additional store discounts.
  • Free online shipping with no minimum purchase required.
  • Free basic alterations on Banana Republic purchases.

Interest and Fees

The Gap credit card has no annual fee. However, like most store credit cards, it comes with a staggeringly high interest rate — 25.24% APR. This rate is right on par with other popular retail branded credit cards, but about two points higher than the average APR for store credit cards today.

If you get the Gap card, it’s crucial to pay it off in full each month to avoid racking up tons of interest charges. Interest is charged when you carry a balance instead of paying it off. Like any other credit card, you can avoid interest by keeping your credit card balance low and manageable for each billing cycle.

Applying for a Gap Credit Card

Applying for a Gap Credit Card

You can apply for the Gap credit card online or in any Gap brand store. You’ll be assigned the type of Gap credit card at application.

There isn’t a specific credit score guideline used to determine which applicants get approved or denied. Although the qualifying criteria is more strict for the Gap Visa Card than it is for the GapCard.

According to a representative from Gap credit card services, you may get approved for the Visa card if your credit score is in the good or excellent range (a score of 700 or above). You may get approved for the GapCard instead if your credit score is fair (a score in the 600s).

Keep in mind, other factors from your complete credit history may disqualify you from a credit card, so having a score within these ranges does not guarantee approval.

Hazards of Store Credit Cards

A store card may be easier to qualify for than other major credit cards because you can get approved with fair credit. But these cards do come with their fair share of downsides.

We’ve already mentioned the high interest rate. You never want to carry a balance on a store rewards card because the interest charges can exceed what you earn in rewards.

The other negative of this store rewards program is that rewards earned can only be used on brand merchandise.

With other major rewards credit cards, you can earn more points (or cash back) in multiple ways and you have more redemption options such as cash back or statement credit.

Other Cards That Can Be Used for Retail Spending

Above we covered some reasons that a store card may not be the most valuable and flexible card to have in your wallet. Here are two low-interest cards with no annual fee that can reward you for diverse spending.

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card rewards program allows you to choose bonus categories. You can earn an unlimited 2% cash back on an essential category of your choosing like grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

There are also two 5% categories on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases per quarter.

In these categories, you can choose from retail stores, department stores, and more. (Find out the other 5% bonus categories here.)

This U.S. Bank card lets you use cash back as a statement credit or deposit funds into a U.S. Bank savings, checking, or money market account. There is currently a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles. After that, your interest rate is 13.49% to 23.49% APR.

The Citi Double Cash card is a no-fuss rewards card that gives you 2% cash back for all spending. There’s no need to select bonus categories each quarter. You simply earn cash back on whatever you buy and then use the cash back for checks, statement credit, or gift cards. The interest rate is currently 13.49% to 23.49% APR.

Who Will Benefit the Most from a Gap Credit Card

If you often shop at Gap and Gap Inc. brand stores, a store card is probably one you have considered or have at least been asked to apply for at the register. While it does reward you for spending, this store card has high interest and a rewards program that can be limiting.

Before applying, think about whether you spend enough money at these retail stores and if you could be better served by the rewards program of another credit card.

TAGS: ,

Reviews

Buckle Store Credit Card Review: High Interest and Fine Print

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.

Buckle Store Credit Card Review: High Interest and Fine Print

Buckle is a retail store that sells women’s and men’s clothing along with footwear and accessories. If you’re a shopper who frequently shops at Buckle stores, there’s a store credit card program that will reward you for patronage.

Buckle has a three-tier credit card program that starts with the basic Buckle Classic card. There are also two exclusive tiers, Buckle BLACK and Buckle EXCLUSIVE.

Cardholders must spend a certain amount of money during the Buckle rewards year to get upgraded to the exclusive tiers. The perks of the top tiers are extra benefits like free domestic shipping.

In this post we’ll cover:

  • Card details and card benefits
  • Interest rates and fees
  • How to apply for the card
  • How to make the most of the card

Buckle Store Credit Card Details

Comenity is the company that manages the Buckle Credit Card program. You may be familiar with this company because it manages many retail store credit card programs.

The Buckle rewards program gives you 1 point per dollar spent at the store. Occasionally, there are special promotions where you can earn more than 1 point per dollar on merchandise as well.

Here are the Buckle Credit Card tiers and how to obtain them:

  • Buckle Classic – Has no spending requirement
  • Buckle BLACK – Requires $500 of annual spend (excluding tax and shipping)
  • Buckle EXCLUSIVE – Requires $1,000 of annual spend (excluding tax and shipping)

The Buckle rewards year goes from January to December. You will upgrade to the next credit card tier automatically if you meet the spending requirement during the rewards year.

To maintain Buckle BLACK or Buckle EXCLUSIVE status, you need to continue to spend $500 or $1,000 during program years. Otherwise, your account can be downgraded.

Redeeming Points Earned

There are three Buckle rewards point earning periods. Buckle will give you a $10 B-Rewards Card for every 300 points you earn during a rewards earning period.

The periods are:

  • January 1 – April 30
  • May 1 – August 31
  • September 1 – December 31

Here’s where the fine print comes in. Points expire at the end of each earning period, and you’re only allowed to roll over 200 or more points to the next one.

In addition, the expiration date for the $10 B-Rewards Card is about five weeks after being issued, so if you earn it, you need to use it right away at a Buckle store or online.

Additional Buckle Credit Card Card Perks

The Buckle store card program offers additional benefits by cardholder tier.

Buckle Classic

Aside from the opportunity to earn a $10 B-Rewards Card, Buckle Classic cardholders get a $5 birthday reward each year and other store mailings and exclusive offers.

Buckle BLACK

Buckle BLACK cardholders get a $10 birthday reward and other exclusive offer mailings.

Buckle BLACK members also get an extended redemption period for the $10 B-Rewards Card. As mentioned, the standard expiration date of the B-Rewards card is about five weeks after being issued. However, Buckle BLACK cardholders get seven weeks to use the card.

Buckle BLACK cardholders also get free domestic ground shipping on merchandise.

Buckle EXCLUSIVE

Buckle EXCLUSIVE cardholders get a $15 birthday reward. Like the Buckle BLACK card, the Buckle EXCLUSIVE card gets you an extra two weeks to use the $10 B-Rewards Card. It also comes with the free domestic shipping perk.

The “exclusive” aspects of this card level are bonus points and annual gifts. You get to choose your own Bonus Points Day during the rewards year where you earn more than 1 point per dollar. You also get an annual “Thank You” gift.

Interest Rates and Fees

The Buckle store cards have no annual fee, but a high interest rate. The interest rate is 25.24% APR, which is higher than most other major credit cards. We’ll discuss a few later in this post.

The late fee is up to $37, and the returned payment fee is up to $25.

Applying for the Buckle Credit Card

You can sign up for the Buckle Credit Card online or in the store. New applicants get 10% off of the first purchase made after getting approved.

Cardholders report getting approved with credit scores in the 500s and above. To see if you qualify, there is a way to get pre-approved without a hard inquiry on the Buckle website.

Here’s how:

1. Go Buckle.com.

2. Add an item to the shopping cart and hit “checkout.”

Buckle Online Checkout Page

3. Fill in your name and billing information.

Online Form at Checkout Page

4. When you move forward to “continue payment,” the website will pre-qualify you for the credit card with a spending limit. The actual credit limit and terms will be subject to final approval.

Buckle Credit Card Online Pre-Approval

Tip: If the pre-approval doesn’t work the first time, double-check your billing address. Then, go back to your shopping cart and press “checkout” again. This refreshes your billing address, which needs to be exactly right to pull your records for pre-approval.

Is a Store Card Worthwhile?

At a minimum, the Buckle Credit Card offers about 3% back in rewards for spending if you meet the point balance threshold each earning period (300 points earned divided by the $10 B-Rewards Card equals 3.33% back).

You may get even more back per dollar depending on the type of promotions you qualify for such as bonus point days if you’re a Buckle EXCLUSIVE cardholder.

Earning 3% back from shopping and a $5 to $15 birthday reward isn’t terrible.

However, a store card has major restrictions, with the biggest one being you can only earn and redeem rewards for spending in one place.

Do you need to spend $200 to $300 at Buckle each earning period to get the rewards card? Will you be inclined to shop more than necessary to receive the elusive $10 B-Rewards Card?

These are two important questions you’ll want to consider before taking out this store card.

Alternatives that may offer more value than a store-specific card

The Chase Freedom and U.S. Bank Cash+ are two other credit card options to think about that will reward you more in various areas.

With Chase Freedom you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. You can enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. 

You get unlimited 1% cash back on other purchases. 

You also get 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74%-24.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum. 

If you’re looking for a little more control over your cash back, the U.S. Bank Cash+ card lets you choose the quarterly 5% and 2% cash back categories. One of the 5% categories you can select is department stores. There are also other categories for every day and specialty spending such as:

  • Bookstores
  • Cellphones
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Specialty clothing stores
  • Sporting goods stores

The interest rate on the U.S. Bank Cash+ card offers interest of 13.49% to 23.49% APR. It also has a 0% introductory period for 12 months.

Who Will Benefit Most from the Buckle Credit Card?

Faithful Buckle shoppers will get the most use from this card. However, even loyal customers should consider the value they’ll be receiving. The interest rate is high, and your ability to earn rewards is restricted.

The Buckle Credit Card is not one you should sign up for just to receive 10% off on a big purchase that you can’t pay off right away. Paying the balance off slowly will mean paying interest costs that can surpass the rewards and benefits you get from the card. 

TAGS:

Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

DRB Student Loan Refinance Review

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.

Students throwing graduation hats

Updated January 24, 2017

DRB is a bank that offers a highly competitive student loan refinance product. In addition to the low rate, DRB offers some decent loan perks that sets it apart from others.

According to DRB, someone who refinances $100,000 has the potential to save up to $15,000 over the life of a 10 year loan. And in special circumstances like disability or financial hardship, DRB may completely forgive loans or allow for partial payments. Read on for the ins and outs of a DRB loan to see if it’s the right refinance for you.

Loan Details

DRB will refinance up to 100% of Federal, private and Parent PLUS loans. The minimum amount you can refinance is $5,000 and loan terms are available for 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Fixed interest rates are available from 4.20% to 7.20% APR. Starting variable interest rates are available from 3.64% to 6.29% APR. If you choose a variable interest loan, the rate will fluctuate throughout the loan term depending on market conditions. Only consider variable interest if you can pay off your student loan refinance quickly. Otherwise, you might be taking too much interest rate risk since your interest has the potential to increase over time.

The interest rates above include a 0.25% discount for using auto-pay. You just need to set up automatic payment from any checking account in order to get the auto-pay discount.

[Look into refinance options on our table here.]

Loan Qualifications

You must be a working U.S citizen or permanent resident with a degree from an accredited U.S. school program to be eligible. In terms of creditworthiness, DRB does not disclose its underwriting requirements. The requirements can change over time. However, DRB is targeting people with good credit.

To have the best chance of approval, your existing student loans should be in good standing. You should be able to demonstrate affordability and have limited negative marks on your credit report.

A cosigner is not required to be eligible for refinancing although you’ll probably need one if you only meet the minimum credit score or income requirements above. DRB does not have an official co-signer release program. However, a representative of DRB confirmed to MagnifyMoney that DRB will consider a co-signer release upon request of the borrower on a case by case basis.

DRB will ask for documents to backup the details of your application like photo ID, pay stubs, proof of graduation and student loan pay off statements.

Fees & Gotchas

DRB is very transparent with fees. There are no fees for origination or loan prepayment. There’s a late fee of 5% or $28 (whichever one is less) for payments that are over 15 days late. DRB also charges $20 for returned checks or electronic payments whether it’s due to insufficient funds or a closed account.

Pros and Cons

Low interest is the major pro of refinancing with DRB. Loan benefits like forbearance, deferment and loan forgiveness are other advantages. DRB may forgive loans if you die or if you can prove a significant reduction in income due to disability. Hopefully these situations don’t occur, but it’s good to know you and your family is covered if it does.

On a less morbid note, DRB offers full or partial forbearance of payments if you can prove that you’re going through financial hardship. You may also qualify to pay just $100 per month while you complete a full-time post-graduate training program like an internship, fellowship or residency. If you graduate less than 6 months before refinancing, DRB may allow you to defer payments for up to 6 months.

There aren’t many disadvantages of going with DRB other than it not having an official co-signer release program with explicit qualification terms. This may be a turnoff for cosigners since your loan will likely appear on his or her credit report until it’s repaid.

DarienRowaytonBank

Apply Now

Student Loan Refinance Alternatives

How does DRB stack up to other available student loan refinances?

SoFi has a higher rate cap for fixed interest and a higher starting rate cap for variable interest than DRB. SoFi currently offers variable rates from 2.355% APR and fixed rates from 3.375% APR (if you sign up for autopay). However, the SoFi refinance does come with a benefit comparable to DRB called unemployment insurance. If you’re laid off, SoFi will pause your payments and help you find a new job.

SoFi logo

Apply Now

CommonBond has similar rates to DRB. Fixed interest rates are available from 3.37% APR and variable interest rates are available starting at 2.35% APR (if you use autopay). Although to qualify for the CommonBond refinance you must have obtained a degree from one of the graduate programs on its eligibility list. On the other hand, DRB will refinance any loan (graduate or undergraduate) from an accredited program in the U.S.

Commond Bond bank

Apply Now

Who Will Benefit Most From This Refinance?

The DRB refinance may work out really well for people who need to complete a post-graduate training program before finding a job in their profession. Since DRB allows for reduced payments in this circumstance, you’re given some leeway until you can earn your full professional salary. Still, you should compare the benefits of any Federal loans you have to the benefits of a refinance before making a decision.Customize Student Loan Offers with MagnifyMoney tool

 *We receive a referral fee if you click on offers with this symbol. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations. You can learn more about how our site is financed here.  

TAGS: ,

Earning Cashback, Reviews

Is the Amazon Rewards Visa Card or Amazon Prime Store Card Better for Your Amazon Purchases?

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.

Review - Amazon Rewards Visa Card or Amazon Prime Store

For loyal Amazon shoppers, a credit card that will give you money back for spending only makes sense. There are now three options:

  • New: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card (from Chase) – 5% back, and our top choice
  • Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card (also from Chase) – 3% back
  • Amazon Prime Store Card (from Synchrony, can only be used at Amazon) – 5% back

The good news: if you are an Amazon Prime member, it is easy to get 5% cash back from all of your Amazon spending all year long. And if you spend a lot of money at Amazon, the savings can be significant.

Note: The information related to the Amazon Prime and Rewards Visa Credit Cards has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

5% at Amazon: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card 

This is a new credit card that has just launched. If you are an Amazon Prime member, this is the best way to get the most cash back from your spending at Amazon.com.

With this credit card, you get 5% back at Amazon.com with an eligible Prime membership.

You also earn 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores. And you will earn 1% back on everything else.

There is no annual fee, no earning caps and no foreign transaction fees.

How the points work

When you use your card, you will actually be earning points.

You would earn 5 points for every $1 you spend at Amazon.com, 2 points for every $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores and 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.

You can choose to redeem those points at Amazon (during checkout) or through Chase.

When you check out at Amazon, you will see your point balance and would be able to apply those points to your purchase. Every 100 points = $1.

But you can also redeem those points through Chase and get cash back, gift cards or travel. If you want cash back or gift cards, the value is the same as using the points at Amazon to shop. Every 100 points = $1.

There is also a lucrative sign-on bonus of $70. You will receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card instantly upon approval. Unlike many other sign-on bonuses, you do not have to spend a certain amount of money in order to get the offer.

If you are already enjoying the benefits of Amazon Prime, this card is an obvious choice.

But if you are thinking about Amazon Prime, this card is a great way to try it out.

If you spend $99 for Amazon Prime membership and then apply for this card, you will immediately get $70 of it back in the form of an Amazon gift card. You can learn more about the card at Amazon.

3% at Amazon: Amazon Rewards Visa Card

Amazon RewardsThe Amazon Rewards Visa Card is also brought to you by Chase and gives you 3% back for Amazon.com purchases including digital downloads, gift cards, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Prime Membership and other items sold by third-party merchants on the Amazon marketplace. You do not need to be an Amazon Prime member to get the 3% cash back at Amazon.

You can also get 2% back at gas stations, drugstores and restaurants. On other purchases you get 1% back. So everything is the same as the Prime Rewards card, except you earn only 3% at Amazon instead of 5%.

Just like the Prime Rewards credit card, cash back is tracked with a point system. 1 point equals $0.01. For example, if you spend $100 on Amazon.com, you’ll get $3 in cash back, which equals 300 points. You can trade in points for statement credit, travel or gift cards. Points never expire unless your account is closed and there’s no rewards cap.

The card doesn’t have an introductory deal. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid transferring a balance to a card you want to use for rewards. This card has an exceptionally high balance transfer fee (5%) and no introductory deal; two major red flags for a balance transfer.

For a sign on bonus, the card gives a $50 Amazon.com gift card loaded to your Amazon.com account once your application goes through. The Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card has no annual fee and you can learn more here.

5% at Amazon: Amazon Prime Store Card

amazon store cardSynchrony Bank issues the Amazon Prime Store Card. If you’re already an Amazon Prime Member, you can apply for the regular Amazon Store Card and be automatically upgraded to the Amazon Prime Store Card, which gives you 5% cash back on eligible purchases. Those interested in the card and not currently Prime members can apply for the store card and then get the Prime membership to be upgraded.

The card can be used on Amazon.com and on other merchant sites that have the Amazon Prime Store Card option activated for payment. However, the card can’t be used to buy digital newspapers and magazines, games or software downloads on Amazon.com.

You can redeem cash back for statement credit until instructed otherwise. In the fine print, Amazon reserves the right to change the cash back program into a rewards program where you redeem points for products instead.

If you end your Amazon Prime Membership, your Amazon Prime Store Card will become a regular Amazon Store Card that doesn’t earn 5% cash back. There’s no annual fee on the card, but Prime membership does cost $99 per year.

Pros and Cons

Amazon.com Rewards Visa Cards

Pro: Multiple bonus categories. Sure, you shop on Amazon.com, but you probably shop elsewhere too. With this card you’ll get an extra bonus for shopping online plus cash back in other areas that fulfill everyday needs like filling up your gas tank. You also have flexibility to redeem cash back in multiple ways.

Pro: No annual fee. Earning cash back from each category is free, no annual fee.

Pro: A sign on bonus. When you get approved you’ll get either a $70 (Prime Rewards) or $50 (Rewards) gift card right away you can use to shop.

Pro: 3% or 5% cash back when you pay for Amazon Prime Membership. Amazon Prime Membership comes with free two-day shipping and unlimited TV and movie screening with Prime Video. What devoted Amazon shopper doesn’t want that? An added benefit with this card is double-dipping. You get the Prime perks and cash back for paying for them.

Pro: High cash back for Prime members. If you’re a Prime member, you can get 5% cash back. You likely won’t be able to beat that rate.

Con: No intro APR. Since most credit cards have some type of introductory interest rate, a card that doesn’t have one stands out. You’ll need to pay off the balance each month starting from the very beginning to benefit from rewards earned.

Con: Tougher approval. You may need better credit to get these cards from Chase than the Amazon Store Card from Synchrony, which has a much higher interest rate.

Amazon Prime Store Card

Pro: 5% cash back. This is a huge amount of cash back for faithful Amazon shoppers. You’ll get rewarded handsomely for spending. And the redemption process is easy; your cash back is used for statement credit. One thing to keep in mind is it may take up to two billing cycles for the money to appear on your account.

Pro: Easier approval. This is a store card limited to Amazon purchases, so you might find it easier to get approved for this card with less than perfect credit.

Pro: No annual fee. The Amazon Prime Store Card doesn’t have an annual fee.

Con: A very high APR for everyone: This card charges a 26.24% APR for everyone, regardless of credit score. Yes, even an 850 FICO would still get you a horrible 26.24% interest rate. Never borrow with this card.

Con: Fine print. The fact that you can’t use this card for software downloads on Amazon sticks out as a negative. Amazon sells software downloads including TurboTax, QuickBooks and Norton Security. These products aren’t cheap and purchases you would want to get 5% cash back on.

Con: Requires Amazon Prime Membership. To use this card you have to be an Amazon Prime Member so in some respects there is a fee involved even though it’s not an annual fee specifically for the card. Amazon Prime Membership costs $99 per year. If you’re not already a member and want to become one for the card, you must spend enough to pay for membership.

Con: Exclusive to Amazon. A gift and a curse. You’ll have to follow up with another card for cash back on other things like groceries, gas, dining or travel.

Other Cards for Amazon Spending

Chase Freedom is another excellent option.

With the Freedom, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. In the past, Amazon has been included as one of the 5% categories, typically around the holidays. 

Discover itDiscover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer gives you the chance to earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter.

You’ll get 5% back in categories like gas stations, restaurants, Amazon.com, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.

From January until March 2017, the bonus categories are gas stations, ground transportation and wholesale clubs

All other purchases get an unlimited 1% cash back. You can redeem cash back for gifts cards, statement credits, charitable donations, deposits to an account or merchandise.

Which Card Should You Choose?

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa is a good one to consider if you already have an Amazon Prime account. It’s not worth getting an Amazon Prime account just to get this card unless you plan on spending big in the future on the site. If you spend moderately throughout the year, the basic Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card is a better choice between the two. You’ll get rewarded for more diverse spending in addition to your online shopping.

TAGS: ,