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Wedding Loans: Find Better Options with Lower Rates

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Frugal Wedding

Updated November 03, 2017
Did you know that the average cost of a wedding in the United States is around $31,200? That’s the number uncovered in a 2014 survey conducted by The Knot, a top resource for wedding planning. A figure that doesn’t even include the honeymoon.

If you’re planning a wedding, you’re probably well aware that your big day isn’t likely to be cheap, especially if you have a guest list that exceeds 100.

So what can you do if you can’t afford your dream wedding and aren’t willing (or ready) to compromise on cost? You may have already come across wedding loans, but it’s important to know a few things before you sign for one.

This guide is intended to walk you through the pros and cons of a wedding loan, what to look out for with lenders, other methods you can use to affordably finance your wedding, and finally, what alternatives are available if you realize that a loan isn’t the right option for you.

Wedding Loans Are Personal Loans in Disguise

When searching Google for “wedding loans,” you’ll find plenty of lenders offering them. However, you should know that a wedding loan is really just a personal loan that anyone can get. They’re not specifically meant for weddings. In fact, if you fill out an application for a personal loan and have to choose the purpose of the loan, you’ll likely have a few options to choose from.

Lenders are aware that people are searching for “wedding loans” just like they’re searching for “home renovation loans” and “vacation loans.” They create these specific pages you find for those keywords (so they get more search engine traffic), when they actually offer more than just wedding loans.

What this means is that you should broaden your search to all personal loan lenders. You don’t have to specifically search for wedding loans as, in most cases, you can use a personal loan for a wedding (or anything, for that matter). The good news is that there are plenty of personal loan lenders out there for you to shop around with.

What to Watch Out For

As with any loan, you want to get the lowest APR possible. Unfortunately, because lenders have these “wedding loan” pages, you may not be aware that other types of loans are offered at a lower APR. If you find yourself on such a page, try going to the lender’s homepage to see how the rates compare.

promo-personalloan-halfFor example, upon searching “wedding loans,” Karrot’s wedding loan came up in the results. The landing page says it offers APRs as low as 8.99%, but if you visit the main page, you’ll see that personal loans are available with APRs starting at 6.44%. For the most part, the APR you’re eligible for won’t depend on the purpose of the loan; it will depend on your credit history. It’s worth digging deeper so you’re not caught paying more than you have to.

As you go through search results, you may also find that there are sites specifically for wedding loans that are a bit misleading. For example, MyWeddingLoans.com looks like a legitimate site, but when you click “apply,” it leads to LendingClub’s website.

The URL of the application also contains a “partner ID,” which means it’s an affiliate of LendingClub and receives a commission every time someone applies through that link. MyWeddingLoan discloses this in the fine print on its “Terms of Use” page. It’s important to know that MyWeddingLoans isn’t the actual lender or the company you’ll be dealing with if you obtain financing.

Other “wedding specific” lenders, such as Promise Financial, claim there are no hidden fees and prepayment penalties. While its fees aren’t necessarily “hidden,” there are fees to watch out for, such as an origination fee. You need to make sure you read the fine print for any loan you’re considering; otherwise it may cost you more.

[Four Times You Shouldn’t Use a Personal Loan]

What Will a Wedding Loan Cost You?

Do you think weddings are expensive? Then you should know how costly personal loans are. You’re going to pay interest on your loan, which means you’ll end up paying more than what you borrow. Let’s look at an example.

Say you want to finance $20,000 of your wedding as you’ve already saved $10,000. $20,000 on a 3-year term at a fixed APR of 7.246% results in a monthly payment of $619.79. You’ll pay a total of $22,312.44. If you choose a 4-year term at a fixed rate of 8.247%, your monthly payment will be $490.58, for a total amount of $23,547.84.

Both of these are actual examples, and in each case, you end up paying a few thousand dollars in interest. The APR you’re eligible for is largely based on your credit score. Having a higher credit score and a longer credit history will make lower APRs available to you.

If you’re absolutely set on borrowing money for your wedding, then it literally pays to increase your credit score prior to applying for a personal loan. Do yourself a favor and check your score using a free tool like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame, and download your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com. Is your score below 700? Then have a look at 6 ways you can improve your credit score before you shop for a loan.

As you’ll see below, some lenders have APRs with a large range. To get on the lower end of that range, you should have a score close to 700. Having a score below 600 will put you on the high end of the range, which will make the loan less affordable.

Least Expensive Wedding Loan Options – Good Credit Required

These lenders are your best bet if you must take out a personal loan to afford your wedding. They have the lowest APRs, lowest fees, and the most flexibility. These are all online lenders for a reason – traditional banks tend to have pricier personal loans.

We recommend shopping around to all the lenders that make the most sense for your situation. Similar inquiries to your credit made within a 30-day period will only count as one inquiry, so your credit score won’t take too much of a hit.

SoFi: One of the leading online lenders in almost all categories, SoFi offers borrowers excellent terms. There’s no origination fee to worry about, and fixed APRs range from 5.49% to 14.24% if enrolled in autopay. Variable rates range from 5.29% – 11.44% with a cap of 14.95%. You can borrow a maximum of $100,000 (hopefully you don’t need that much for your wedding) on terms of up to 7 years. There’s no minimum credit score required, although your accounts should be in good standing.

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Earnest: Another good choice for personal loans, Earnest offers borrowers up to $50,000 on a 3-year term with no origination fee. You need a minimum credit score of 720 to be approved.

LightStream: You can borrow up to $100,000 on terms ranging from 2 to 7 years. APRs range from 5.99% to 15.69%, and there’s no origination fee. The minimum credit score needed to apply is 680. LightStream’s maximum APR is slightly higher than SoFi’s and Earnest’s, and it’s the only lender out of these choices that requires a hard credit pull.

Upstart: We recommend looking at SoFi and Earnest first, only because of the lack of an origination fee. However, if your credit isn’t the best, lenders such as Upstart can help. You can borrow up to $50,000 on a 3 or 5-year term with APRs ranging from 9.56% to 29.99%. Origination fees range from 3.655% to 8% depending on the terms of your loan, and a minimum credit score of 640 is required.

Prosper: This is a peer-to-peer marketplace where people can invest in your loan. As a result, requirements are a bit leaner, but you’ll pay for it with higher APRs and an origination fee. APRs range from 5.99% to 36.00%, origination fees range from 1% to 5%, and the maximum amount you can borrow is $35,000. You can borrow on 3 or 5-year terms, and need a minimum credit score of 640 to qualify.

LendingClub: Another great option is LendingClub, which has a minimum credit score requirement of 600. It works in much the same way as Prosper as it’s also a peer-to-peer marketplace lender. Again, you can borrow up to $40,000 for up to 5 years, and APRs range from 5.99% to 35.89%, with origination fees ranging from 1% to 6%. LendingClub is not available in Iowa or West Virginia.

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PenFed: Pentagon Federal Credit Union offers personal loans starting with a fixed interest rate of 9.99%APR for 36 months. You do need to be a member of the credit union, but anyone can become. You pay a one time dues to Voices for America’s Troops for $14 or National Military Family Association for $15 in order to become eligible for a PenFed membership.

As you can see, Upstart, Prosper, and LendingClub all have high APR caps. If your credit isn’t in the best shape, you’ll likely be approved for a rate on the higher end.

Also note that aside from LightStream and PenFed, all of these lenders allow you to apply for a pre-approval without a hard credit pull. That means you can see your potential terms before committing, and your credit score won’t be harmed in the process. Just remember that these rates and terms are estimated; those rates and terms may change after a hard credit pull.

[How to Create a Frugal Wedding]

Credit Card Options for Those With Good Credit

We wouldn’t normally recommend that you finance your wedding on a credit card, as purchase APRs are typically much higher than APRs on personal loans. However, if you have the means to pay off the debt quickly, then you might want to consider these 0% APR offers. This gives you a way to avoid paying interest on your debt for a short period of time.

Please keep in mind when using this method that you should be absolutely certain you could pay off the amount you finance within the 0% APR introductory period. If you don’t, you’ll be subject to very high interest rates after it expires, negating the entire point of this strategy.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to know how much you’re planning to finance beforehand. You can use that number to calculate how much you’ll have to pay per month to get your balance paid off. Make sure it’s realistic for your situation.

Citi Simplicity: This card has a 21-month 0% introductory APR. That means you have just shy of two years to pay off your balance before the regular purchase APR kicks in. The Citi Simplicity card also has no late fees, no annual fee, and no penalty APR if you’re late in making a payment. These benefits make it a great everyday use card after you’re done paying off your wedding charges.

Chase Slate®: With this card, you can save with no transfer fee and get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days. This is one of our favorite balance transfer offers.

If you don’t qualify for any of these offers, you can try checking around local credit unions and community banks for low interest credit cards. Many of our top recommendations have APRs ranging from 6.25% to 9%. While these aren’t ideal, they may be more affordable than a personal loan, depending on your credit.

Because credit cards are revolving debt, if you go this route, do not be fooled into making just the minimum payments. Do your best to pay extra and get the balance paid off within 3 years or less.

We also want to mention the possibility of using a 0% APR balance transfer offer. This should only be considered if you have strong credit (otherwise you might not be approved for one). If you must charge wedding expenses to your card and can’t pay them off right away, or you plan on using your credit card to finance most of your wedding, then you can still avoid paying interest with this option.

[Find the Best 0% APR Balance Transfer Offers Here.]

Top Wedding Loans for Those With Bad / Poor Credit

There are a few solutions available for couples with bad or poor credit that don’t qualify for any of the above offers, but they come with a hefty price tag. We’re hesitant to recommend going this route in the first place, but if your wedding can’t wait and you don’t have time to improve your credit score, these options might be worth looking at.

Avant: With no prepayment fee and APRs ranging from 9.95% to 35.99%, Avant could be a good option. You could borrow $2,000 to $35,000 and need a credit score of 580 to apply. Through Avant, you could get your money as soon as the next business day. Loans through Avant are available in all states except Colorado, Iowa, West Virginia, and Vermont.

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Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

OneMain Financial: This company is known for making loans to those with less than stellar credit, and its rates reflect that reality. You can only borrow a maximum of $10,000 on terms of 3 or 5 years. While there’s no origination fee, the APRs range from 17.59% to 35.99%, and you need a minimum credit score of 600 to apply.

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FreedomPlus: With APRs ranging from 4.99% to 29.99%, this loan is similar to Avant in that you’re probably looking at an APR closer to 29.90%. There’s also an origination fee ranging from 1.38% to 5% that you need to watch out for. You can borrow up to $35,000on a term of up to 5 years, and need a minimum score of 600 to qualify.

Note that with the exception of Avant, all of these lenders use a hard credit pull when you check your rate. (Avant does not use a hard pull to check your rate, but will complete a hard pull if you decide to take out the loan).

Consider Creative Alternatives to Borrowing

As you can tell, financing all or part of your wedding may cost a lot more than you anticipated. If it’s at all possible, we suggest using one of the alternatives below as opposed to going into debt for your big day.

While it’s undoubtedly a day you want to remember forever, starting out married life with a bunch of debt (especially if you already have consumer debt or student loans to deal with) doesn’t feel great. It also doesn’t bode well for your relationship, considering arguments about money are a top reason for divorce.

Instead of taking chances with debt and your sanity, try these alternatives instead.

Hold off on the wedding: According to another survey conducted by The Knot in 2014, the average length of an engagement is 14 months. That’s not a long time to save up $10,000, let alone $30,000 (the estimated average cost of a wedding). That would take a monthly savings of $714 and $2,142 respectively. Instead of rushing to the altar, try lengthening your engagement to lessen the financial burden. Giving yourself more time to save is a wise idea; what’s the rush?

“Crowdfund” your honeymoon: We don’t literally mean asking strangers on the internet to fund your honeymoon, but you could ask your family and friends to “crowdfund” your honeymoon by using sites like Honeyfund. It’s a honeymoon registry that allows you to ask for cash from your wedding guests in a classier way, and hopefully, they feel more comfortable giving it. Remember, that $31,000 figure didn’t take the honeymoon into account. Now isn’t the time to go further into debt for your dream vacation.

Side hustle for extra money: If you’re really hurting for money, you need to find a way to earn more of it. Side hustling can be a great option if you have marketable skills that are in demand, especially online. These extra jobs should also be flexible – what’s better than working from home? You can also try picking up extra shifts at your job, working overtime, or getting a part-time job temporarily to cover costs. This doesn’t have to be forever; you just need enough stashed away in your wedding savings fund to cover your needs.

Reevaluate your wedding budget: Speaking of needs, are you going over your original wedding budget? Something might have to give. It’s time to take another look at it. For example, maybe you need to narrow your guest list down. Perhaps you need to reconsider your dream venue if it’s costing you an arm and a leg. Can you have DIY decorations and invitations? Postage often costs couples much more than they thought; classy invitations from Paperless Post can help offset that cost. The Knot has a list of common wedding expenses and what percentage of your budget can be expected to go toward each here if you need a comparison.

Know how to deal with deposits: Many items, such as the venue, food, and photography, will require a deposit. That means you don’t need to pay an overwhelming amount in one lump sum, but it does mean that you need to come up with something to reserve these things. If you have anything saved for your wedding, you should earmark it for deposits first to ensure you can pay the upfront cost.

You can pay for deposits with cash or check, but some advice says to pay via credit card to cover you in case something happens. As most deposits are non-refundable, if you’re unhappy with the services provided, or if services aren’t provided, you can contact your credit card company and dispute the charge as long as you do so within 60 days of the event. Some vendors and merchants might do wrong by you, and miscommunication can occur. Using your credit card gives you a better chance of recovering your money.

Of course, you should only charge expenses that you have the cash to cover. Putting your wedding expenses on a credit card and then not paying it off in full can be extremely expensive – the average credit card APR is 15%!

Remember to keep in mind that the deposit is only one portion of what you have to pay. You’ll need to come up with the rest of the funds prior to your wedding. Do your best to save up before then. If it helps, create a separate “wedding expenses” savings account so you won’t be tempted to raid it for another reason.

[How to Effectively Combine Income and Debts After Marriage]

Be Realistic and Create a Plan

You now have all the information you need to create a plan to fund your wedding. You might find that it’s not as easy as you thought it would be, but don’t let that dampen your spirits. If your wedding means that much to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Whether you take on side jobs to earn more, slash everyday expenses (such as cutting cable and brown-bagging lunch), or work toward improving your credit score, you can make room in your regular budget for your wedding.

Just stay realistic on costs and include your future spouse in all discussions pertaining to your finances. Now is the time to work as a team, not to surprise each other by going into debt to afford certain aspects of your wedding. Talk it through –your future spouse may have a great idea on how to lessen the financial burden of your wedding

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Erin Millard
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Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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The Best Credit Union CD Rates – December 2017

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The top credit union CD rates
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Certificates of deposit (CDs) are a great way to safely store your savings at a financial institution, as they offer a guaranteed rate of return, and CD rates tend to be higher than those on traditional savings accounts. Maybe you’ve even heard that credit union CD rates offer higher returns—but is that really the case?

On average, yes. As of September 2017, the average one-year credit union CD had a 0.63% annual percentage yield (APY), compared to the 0.51% APY average among one-year bank CDs. (You may also want to view our picks for the overall best CD rates.)

Using data from DepositAccounts.com, another LendingTree company, we identified the top one-year credit union CD rates, as of Dec. 6, 2017. We then eliminated any credit union with a health rating lower than a B and identified the top three offerings in three categories: restricted, no cost, and best banking app. If there was a tie by APY, we went with the product with the lower minimum deposit. Here are the best one-year credit union CD rates.

Best CD rates for credit unions with no cost to join

The thing about credit unions is that they’re not usually just open to anyone. You usually need to meet some membership criteria in order to get in and get access to all of their really nice products. These credit unions, however, will let you in for free regardless of your personal details. (Note: Only two credit unions met our criteria for this list.)

Unify Financial Credit Union – 1-Year Share Certificate, 1.00% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Certificates of Deposit Unify FCU offers the highest interest rates on CDs (which it calls share certificates) of any credit union with no cost to join. The interest rate on their 12-month CD, for example, is 1.00%, compared to the national average of 0.64% in August. You would earn $8.50 on a $1,000 deposit. If you withdraw your money early, however, you’ll face a penalty of 90 days’ worth of interest.

NASA Federal Credit Union – 1-Year Share Certificate, 0.55% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Share Certificates If the rigid inflexibility of CDs makes you leery, NASA FCU might be your best bet. They have a lot of flexible certificates, such as add-on certificates that let you start with as little as $250, and bump-rate certificates that let you opt for a one-time interest rate increase if rates go up. You can even take out a loan from your certificate should you need the cash before it’s matured. You can join NASA FCU with a complimentary membership to the National Space Society.

If you do need to make an early withdrawal, you will face a penalty of 180 days’ worth of interest.

Best credit union CD rates with restricted memberships or membership fees

Each of these credit unions have restricted membership criteria, but don’t let that scare you away. If you don’t meet their membership criteria, it’s possible to make a small donation to their charity of choice in order to become eligible for membership. Furthermore, these credit union CD rates offer some of the highest-returning share certificates out of any category.

USAlliance Financial – 12 Month CD, 1.71% APY, min. deposit $500

USAlliance Financial Membership to USAlliance Financial is open to anyone who lives, works or worships in certain counties of Massachusetts, the city of West Haven, Conn., and a few districts in New York. However, if you don’t qualify by location, you can qualify by giving USAlliance authorization to make you a member of various organizations, including the American Consumer Council, if you aren’t already a member of these organizations. Keep in mind that these organizations may request fees.

Once you’re a member of USAlliance Financial, you can open a 12-month CD with a minimum of $500. Their early withdrawal penalty equals 180 days’ worth of interest earned on the amount you withdraw.

CapEd Credit Union – 12 Month CD, 1.70% APY, min. deposit $500

CapEd Credit Union
CapEd Credit Union supports teachers in the state of Idaho, but they don’t just serve teachers. Those who are willing to support education with a one-time $20 donation to the Idaho CapEd Foundation can become members of the credit union. Also, if you live in the state of Idaho and work for, volunteer with, or are retired from the industry of education, you are qualified for membership.

After becoming a member of CapEd Credit Union, you may open a 12 month CD with a minimum deposit of $500. Just make sure that you can afford to keep your money in the CD for one year because the early withdrawal penalty is 90 days’ worth of interest.

PenFed Credit Union – 1-Year Money Market Certificate, 1.61% APY, min. deposit $1,000

PenFed Credit Union CDs PenFed tops this list with an APY of 1.61%. With a minimum deposit of $1,000, you could earn $16.10 in one year. Interest is compounded daily and posts to accounts monthly. However, be aware of the steep early withdrawal penalty. If you withdraw funds before the year is up, you may forfeit all interest accrued up to that point.

Eligibility for this credit union is mainly based on military status, governmental employment status, affiliation with certain associations and organizations or relation to eligible members. However, if you don’t qualify through those criteria, getting a membership to this credit union is not difficult if you’re willing to pay a one-time fee of $17 to either Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association.

Air Force Federal Credit Union – 1-Year Certificate, 1.56% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Share Certificates Members and family members of the military, civilian contractors, and certain employees are eligible to join the Air Force FCU, along with anyone willing to join the Airman Heritage Foundation ($25 annual membership fee).

This credit union comes in first place overall for highest interest rates for 12-month CDs. You can earn $15.60 by depositing a minimum of $1,000 in a 12-month CD, with an APY of 1.56%. You can also use your CD as collateral to earn a lower interest rate on a loan, and membership comes with a host of discounts for parks and businesses in the San Antonio, Texas area. Watch out for the early withdrawal penalties, however, worth half of whatever you would have earned between when you withdrew the funds and when it would have matured.

Latino Credit Union – 12-Month CD, 1.55% APY, min. deposit $500

Latino Credit Union Latino Credit Union is open to anyone willing to join the Latino Community Development Center with a one-time membership fee of $10. You don’t have to be Latino to join this credit union.

With a small deposit of $500, you can earn an APY of 1.55% on a 12-month CD. If you decide to withdraw funds early, you’ll face a penalty of 90 days’ interest or all interest earned, depending on which is less.

Best CD rates for credit unions with the best mobile apps

By their very nature, CDs aren’t something that require constant attention, poking, and prodding. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it kind of a deal, so you won’t need any spiffy banking apps to use CDs.

But, if you’d like to switch all of your banking to the same institution that holds your CDs, it might be a wise idea to consider one of these credit unions if you’re a digital junkie. Most credit unions lag behind their bank compatriots in terms of mobile banking apps, but these credit unions offer top-notch mobile apps, according to MagnifyMoney’s 2016 mobile banking app analysis.

Wright-Patt Credit Union – 1-Year Certificate, 1.74% APY, min. deposit $500

Share Certificates Unlike many credit unions, you can’t just make a simple donation to join Wright-Patt CU if you fail to meet their membership criteria. You need to live in certain areas of Ohio, be associated with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, or be an employee of their select employer group, among other options.

You can earn $8.70 on a 12-month CD with just a relatively small $500 deposit. Early withdrawal penalties vary depending on the original term of your CD, however they’ll be anywhere between 5-12 months’ worth of dividends.

Delta Community Credit Union – 1-Year Certificate, 1.50% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Certificate of Deposit There are many ways to join Delta Community CU, such as living in certain parts of Georgia, being a member of one of their select employers, or being a member of one of their partner organizations. Interestingly, citizens of many countries like Argentina, France, and Peru are also eligible to join.

Delta Community CU used to be the lowest-earning credit union on our list, but recently increased the APY on this product from 0.75% to 1.50%. The early withdrawal penalty is 90 days’ worth of interest on a 12-month CD.

Eastman Credit Union – 1-Year Investment Certificate, 1.25% APY, min. deposit $1,000

Investment Certificate - 365 to 1,826 days Eastman Credit Union also has pretty restrictive membership requirements. You’ll have to be an employee (or a family member of an employee) of one of their select employers, or live in certain parts of Tennessee, Texas, or Virginia.

Eastman CU is another one of the rare credit unions that allow you to withdraw your dividends penalty-freebefore the maturity date, although again, doing so will lower your total returns. Currently, you can earn an interest rate of 1.25% on a 12-month CD. With a minimum deposit of $1,000, that translates into earnings of $12.50 after one year. If you withdraw your money before the CD matures, you’ll owe a penalty fee of anywhere between seven days’ worth of dividend earnings or all of your dividend earnings.

3 questions to consider before opening a credit union CD

Banks are more likely to call their products certificates of deposit, while credit unions often refer to them as share certificates. Aside from the name, the biggest difference between the two is that credit unions have higher average annual percentage yields (APYs), as of September 2017. That’s good news: It means more money back in your pocket when the CD matures (i.e., reaches the end of its term and is available for withdrawal).

There really is no difference in safety between depositing money in a CD with a credit union versus a bank, as long as they participate in either the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for credit unions, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for banks.

According to Neal Frankle, a Los Angeles-based Certified Financial Planner with Wealth Pilgrim, deposits of up to $250,000 per financial institution are “backed by the full faith and credit of United States Government, so it’s pretty solid.”

For the most part, choosing a CD at a bank or a credit union boils down to your preference as a consumer: Do you want to be a bank customer or a member of a credit union? Here’s a primer on the differences.

The biggest advantage of credit union CDs over bank CDs is that you can likely earn more interest. But with both products, the longer the CD term, the more interest you will earn. And with a CD laddering strategy, you can have the best of both worlds: frequent access to your money, yet you can still keep it locked away in high-interest, long-term CDs.

Beyond that, the disadvantages of opening a credit union CD are the same as if you’re opening a CD with a bank. You can’t access that money without paying an early withdrawal penalty until the CD matures. While CDs do offer some of the highest rates for any financial product you’re likely to come across at a bank or credit union, they still don’t really earn great interest. If you’re investing for the long-term (like retirement savings), your money is better invested in the riskier (but higher-earning) stock or bond market.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
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Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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The Top IRA CD Rates – December 2017

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.

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Top IRA CD rates
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Perhaps you’ve decided to build a CD ladder within your IRA, or maybe you’re looking for a safe way to store your retirement cash for a specific period of time. Whatever the reason, you’re interested in getting an IRA CD and, understandably, want to know what products will give you the best rate of return.

You can get an IRA CD with terms ranging from three months to more than six years, with interest rates generally increasing with the term length. There are lots of options, so we’ve rounded up the top IRA CD rates that are available right now for a variety of terms. You’ll select your IRA CD terms based on your CD-ladder master plan or whenever you’ll need access to your money.

Every month, we choose the top IRA CD rates using data from another LendingTree company DepositAccounts.com, a database of offerings at more than 17,100 banks and credit unions. On Dec. 6, 2017, we sorted the products by APY, then eliminated institutions with a health rating below a B. We then eliminated products that are not available nationwide. From there, we chose the IRA CD with the highest APY among products with a minimum deposit no greater than $5,000. Here are the best options. (Average CD rates referenced below are based on DepositAccounts.com data as of Dec. 6, 2017.)

The top IRA rates in December 2017

3 Month IRA CD – EverBank, 3 Month Yield Pledge IRA

3 Month IRA CD Three-month IRA CDs typically offer the lowest interest rates of any IRA CD term. EverBank offers the best rate of 1.01% APY and a minimum deposit of $5,000. That rate is well above the national average.

6-Month IRA CD – Nationwide Bank, 6-month IRA

6-Month IRA CD Six-month IRA CDs typically earn a little bit better, but they’re still not great. Nationwide Bank offers the highest interest rate at 1.20% APY for deposits less than $100,000. That translates into an earning of $5.98 on a $1,000 deposit. Compare that to the average of all regular 6 month CDs, at 0.41%.

1-Year IRA CD Rates – EverBank, 1-Year Yield Pledge IRA (Traditional, Roth)

1-Year IRA CD Rates – EverBank Regular one-year CDs earn an average interest rate of 0.64% APY. EverBank, however, is offering a one-year IRA CD at 1.72% APY. You’ll need a $5,000 minimum deposit to earn $86 in interest once the CD matures.

18-Month IRA CD Rates – First Internet Bank of IN, 18 Month IRA (Traditional, Roth)

2-Year IRA CD Rates – First Internet Bank of Indiana Two-year regular CDs earn an average interest rate of 0.90% APY. Nationwide Bank, on the other hand, is currently offering 1.90% APY on a 2-year IRA CD. This would translate into an earning of $38.36 with a minimum $1,000 deposit.

2-Year IRA CD Rates – Nationwide Bank, 24 Month IRA (Traditional, Roth)

6-Month IRA CD Two-year regular CDs earn an average interest rate of 0.88% APY. First Internet Bank, on the other hand, is currently offering 1.85% APY on a 2-year IRA CD. This would translate into an earning of $37.34 with a minimum $1,000 deposit.

3-Year IRA CD Rates – EverBank, 3-Year Yield Pledge IRA (Traditional, Roth)

3-Year IRA CD Rates – EverBank Three-year regular CDs are earning an average interest rate of 1.11% APY currently. EverBank is nearly doubling that, with an interest rate of 2.10% APY with their 3-Year Yield Pledge IRA CD. With those interest rates and a $5,000 minimum deposit, you would earn $321.66 when the certificate matures.

4-Year IRA CD Rates – GTE Financial, 48-Month IRA Certificate – Member Advantage

4-Year IRA CD Rates GTE Financial Four-year regular CDs are currently earning an average interest rate of 1.30% APY. GTE Financial again claims the top interest rate for these IRA CDs, with an interest rate of 2.27% APY. You would earn $46.97 on this CD with a $500 minimum deposit.

5-Year IRA CD Rates – Mountain America Credit Union, 5 Year IRA

5 Year IRA CD Rates Five-year IRA CDs hold the top spot for interest rates out of any category on our list. National averages for a regular 5-year CD is 1.57% APY, however Mountain America Credit Union outperforms the average with a 2.80% APY on its 5-year IRA CD for members. The minimum deposit is $500

6+ Year IRA CD Rates – Air Force Federal Credit Union, 7 Year IRA

6 Year IRA CD Rates Interestingly, these very-long-term IRA CDs don’t offer higher interest rates than the shorter-term five-year IRA CDs. Air Force Federal Credit Union offers the highest term for their seven-year IRA CD, at 2.50% APY. That’s still a lot less than Mountain America Credit Union which offered a 2.80% APY for a five-year IRA CD. Still, with Air Force Federal Credit Union’s seven-year IRA CD, you would earn $471.71 on a minimum deposit of $2,500 when the IRA CD matures.

3 questions to consider before opening an IRA CD

Opening an IRA CD generally requires filling out a form or talking to a banker. You’ll have to have a way to fund your IRA CD, whether that’s rolling over an existing retirement account into an IRA CD or depositing cash into the product. The same limits that apply to IRA contributions apply to IRA CDs: $5,500 per year ($6,500 if you’re over age 50) of your own money across all your IRA accounts each year, and you can do a rollover once per year.

Unless you’ve invested in a bump-up IRA CD, you won’t be able to take advantage of a higher rate until your CD matures. Withdrawing funds from an IRA CD before they mature will result in a stiff penalty. Bump-up IRA CDs give you a chance to increase your interest rate to a higher level if it’s available, but you’re generally only allowed to do this once or twice during the life of the CD.

You can either use the the direct-transfer method or the indirect-transfer method. The direct transfer method requires setting up your new IRA account filling out a form authorizing the bank or credit union to transfer money from the old account into the new account. The indirect transfer method involves you asking for a check from your old IRA account. You have up to 60 days to deposit that check into your IRA CD to avoid incurring a penalty.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

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Best of, Earning Interest

The Top 6 Month CD Rates for December 2017

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.

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The top 6 month CD rates
Source: iStock

Short-term certificate of deposit (CD) accounts offer investors a safe opportunity to squirrel away money for a future expense. If you’re looking for a brief solution for storing your cash and want to earn more interest than a typical savings account will offer, a 6 month CD can make a lot of sense. (It’s also a good place to start if you’re building a CD ladder.)

Using information from DepositAccounts.com, another LendingTree company and a database of offerings at more than 17,100 banks and credit unions, we found the five banks and five credit unions with the top 6 month CD rates. If there was a tie, we chose the institution with the smaller minimum-deposit requirement. We pulled these rates on Dec. 4, 2017, and we excluded promotional offerings. The national average APY on 6 month CDs (among banks and credit unions) is 0.41%, according to the DepositAccounts.com database. These options outperform that average by a long shot. (You may also want to view our picks for the overall best CD rates.)

Banks with the best 6 month CD rates

M.Y. Safra Bank

M.Y. Safra Bank

6 month CD APY: 1.42%
Bank information: M.Y. Safra Bank has been around since 2000, offering a wide variety of banking products to their customers. Although their physical location is in New York, they provide online banking to customers located outside of New York.
Where to open CD account: Online
Minimum balance to open: $5,000
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: Credited interest or 90 days’ interest — whichever is greater

Certificates of Deposit

First Internet Bank of Indiana

6 month CD APY: 1.41%
Bank information: A subsidiary of First Internet Bancorp, this online bank founded in 1999 has no branch locations, but offers service online in all 50 states.
Where to open CD account: Online
Minimum balance to open: $1,000
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: 90 days’ interest

Security State Bank

Security State Bank

6 month CD APY: 1.36%
Bank information: Security State Bank is located in Scott City, Kan., but anyone can open an account online.
Where to open CD account: Online
Minimum balance to open: $25,000
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: 90 days’ interest

ConnectOne Bank

ConnectOne Bank

6 month CD APY: 1.31%
Bank information: ConnectOne Bank opened its doors in 2005 in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. ConnectOne Bank serves customers all over New Jersey and recently expanded to New York City. It also serves all U.S. residents and citizens online.
Where to open CD account: Online
Minimum balance to open: $500
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: 90 days’ interest

eCD Accounts

VirtualBank

6 month CD APY: 1.29%
Bank information: VirtualBank is a subsidiary of Louisiana-based IBERIABANK Corp., offering 24/7 digital or telephone access on eCDs, open to applicants anywhere in the U.S.
Where to open CD account: Online (paperless account options)
Minimum balance to open: $10,000
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: 30 days’ interest

Credit unions with the best 6 month CD rates

Share Certificate

Service Credit Union

6 month CD APY: 1.30%
Credit union information: Founded in Portsmouth, N.H., in 1957, Service Credit Union originally served employees of Pease Air Force Base. Today, it has grown to serve over 200,000 people throughout New Hampshire, North Dakota, Massachusetts, and even Germany.
Membership details: To become a member, you must live or work, or have family members that live or work in New Hampshire or Falmouth, Bourne, Mashpee, and Sandwich, Mass. Current members of the military, veterans, retirees, and reservists of the U.S. Armed Forces along with their families are also eligible for membership.
Where to open CD account: You can open an account online or at one of their many branches.
Minimum balance to open: $250
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: Determined by credit union.

Certificates

Evansville Teachers Credit Union

6 month CD APY: 1.10%
Credit union information: Headquartered in Evansville, Ind., Evansville Teachers Credit Union was created in 1936 by teachers who wanted to help their colleagues get back on their feet after the Depression. Decades later, this credit union has continued to live by their “People Helping People” philosophy by extending their financial services to groups and organizations outside the educational realm.
Membership details: If you are employed, retired from, or have a relationship with someone affiliated with their eligible groups, you are eligible for memberships.
Where to open CD account: Open an account online or one of their branches.
Minimum balance to open: $1,000
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: The credit union imposes penalties based on withdrawals made before maturity.

Certificates

Chevron Federal Credit Union

6 month CD APY: 1.05%
Credit union information: Founded in 1935, the Chevron Federal Credit Union is a private, nonprofit institution with branches in California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Utah.
Membership details: Membership is open to Chevron Corp. employees, retirees and affiliates, residents of San Francisco, and residents in Frederick County, Md.
Where to open CD account: Branch locations and online
Minimum balance to open: $500
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: 90 days’ interest

Certificates of Deposit

Northwest Federal Credit Union

6 month CD APY: $250,000+, 1.05%; $100,000-$249,999, 0.95%; $1,000-$99,999, 0.85%
Credit union information: Founded 70 years ago, Northwest Federal Credit Union currently serves approximately 200,000 members.
Membership details: Government employees, retirees and household members affiliated with the National Reconnaissance Office, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and member companies.
Where to open CD account: Online banking, branches, or phone: 703-709-8900 (844-709-8900 toll-free).
Minimum balance to open: $1,000, $100,000, and $250,000.
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: The credit union uses an APY calculation that reduces interest earnings based on the amount withdrawn prior to maturity.

PenFed Credit Union CDs

PenFed Credit Union

6 month CD APY: 6 month Sapphire, 0.90%; 6 month Gold, 0.65%; 6 month Silver, 0.40%. (Interest-rate rewards — Sapphire, Gold and Silver — are calculated based on length of membership.)
Credit union information: PenFed is a credit union that serves military and government personnel as well as individuals willing to support the military. It was established in 1935 and currently serves people in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, Okinawa, and Portugal.
Membership details: With a $17 donation to Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association, anyone is able to join PenFed. Membership is also available to active or retired Military personnel, employees of the U.S. government, family members or roommates of eligible individuals, as well as employees, affiliates, and residents of several locations and organizations. Check their application page to see the organizations and locations that are eligible for free membership.
Where to open CD account: Over the phone or in person at a PenFed branch.
Minimum balance to open: $1,000
Maintenance fees: $0
Early withdrawal penalties: 60 days’ interest

Pros and cons of using 6 month CDs

Pros:

  • The CD rates offered by banks and credit unions are generally higher than those on savings accounts.
  • The rates are fixed and guaranteed for the length of their term.
  • The discipline of keeping the funds in the CD means the money will be available upon maturity. (Note: Most banks offer a seven-day grace period to reinvest or withdraw the investment, after which the funds will roll over into a new CD. However, you are not guaranteed the same rate.)

Cons:

  • Six-month CD rates are lower than those offered on longer CD investment terms.
  • To tap into the CD funds — even for emergencies — consumers must accept a loss through penalties, which can include a percentage of the funds, a percentage of the earned interest, or a combination of both. A typical penalty on a short-term CD is between 30 and 90 days’ worth of interest earnings.
  • If you’re not confident you can do without access to the funds for six months, you may be better off putting your money in a traditional savings account, which is likely to earn less interest than a CD.
  • Since CD rollovers may reset at a different percentage rate, consumers must speak with the bank before the grace period ends to ensure they are getting the best deal.

Using a 6 month CD for laddering

A CD ladder comprises small-amount CDs with varying terms and respective interest rates that contribute to a long-term investment strategy. After the 6 month CD matures, investors can withdraw the funds for a predetermined expense. Or, they can reinvest the money into a longer-term CD with a better rate. By staggering the maturity dates on short-term CDs, consumers have access to their cash on a regular, predictable basis.

Where can you open a CD account?

Consumers can open 6 month CD accounts (or longer) from banks and credit unions. Bank and credit union CD rates are based on Federal Reserve rates, and there may be strategic times to pursue these short-term instruments following a rate increase.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Gabby Hyman
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Gabby Hyman is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Gabby here

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Best of

The Best Business Savings Account Rates in 2017

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

Are you looking to start or grow a business? Opening a business savings account can offer federal protection for the funds you deposit (up to $250,000) and provide a source of liquidity should inevitable expenses arise. You can earn interest while setting aside money for capital improvement or income taxes. A commercial savings account can add credibility to your business, arm you with a business debit card and help your cash flow.

The best way to choose an account that fits your needs is to start by comparing the annual percentage yield offered by banks and credit unions. Then look for benefits that might make the account attractive based on your needs. Is there a monthly maintenance fee or a minimum deposit to open? Does the bank provide ample access to ATM and online account services?

Deciding which business savings account is best for your needs can be a difficult process, but hopefully this roundup of our picks for best savings accounts will help give you a head-start.

The best business savings account rates — December 2017

Institution

APY

Minimum balance amount

Live Oak Bank

1.05%

None

BofI Federal Bank

1.01%

$25,000

First Internet Bank of Indiana

1.00%

None

Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)

1.00%

$25,000

Community Bank of Pleasant Hill

0.98%

None

Community Bank of Raymore

0.98%

None

Presidential Bank (Maryland)

0.50%

$5,000

UniBank

0.35%

$2,500

Andrews Federal Credit Union

0.31%

$100

SaviBank

0.30%

None

Source: Deposit Accounts, Dec. 1, 2017

1. Live Oak Bank, 1.05% APY, No minimum balance

Live Oak Bank claims the 1.05% APY rates on its business accounts are eight times the national average. There is no minimum opening balance or deposit required to open a business savings account.
The business savings account is open to deposits of up to $5 million and is free of monthly maintenance fees. You may make up to 6 withdrawals from your Live Oak Bank Savings account per statement cycle, including preauthorized, automatic and telephone transfers. After that there’s a $10 fee per withdrawal. Live Oak Bank, established in 2008, holds assets of $2.12 billion.
The bank is in Wilmington, N.C., and is a member of the FDIC. Learn more about business savings at Live Oak Bank.
Small Print: The bank may verify credit and employment history at its discretion, meaning you may receive a pull against your credit report.
Restrictions on joining: none.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Live Oak Bank’s secure website

2. BofI Federal Bank: 1.01% APY, $25,000 minimum balance, ATM access

BoFI Federal Bank offers the top APY rate in the DepositAccounts nationwide survey of business savings accounts. The bank’s Business Premium Savings Account with a high-yield 1.01% APY can be opened with a $25,000 minimum deposit.

There is no monthly maintenance fee for the account and no average daily balance requirement.

BoFI also makes it easy to access your funds when you need it. Customers have ATM access to their accounts along with free online banking. However, ATM withdrawal limits are $1,010 per day and there’s a daily purchase limit of $5,000. BofI is an FDIC-insured bank based in San Diego and publicly traded online. Other products include Business Interest Checking and Business Money Market accounts.

LEARN MORE Secured

on BofI Federal Bank’s secure website

3. First Internet Bank of Indiana, 1.00% APY up to $250,000, ATM services

First Internet Bank offers an FDIC-insured savings option for businesses with a relatively good 1.00% APY. However, if you have more than $250,000 to put in their business savings account, they’ll award you with a 1.26% APY. Unfortunately, the FDIC only insures up to $250,000. So, if you deposit more than $250,000 into the savings account, the excess deposit amount will not be insured by the FDIC.

It costs $100 to open your business account and you must maintain an average daily balance of $1,000 to avoid a $2 monthly maintenance fee.

There is no minimum balance to open or maintain the account. Unlimited deposits can be made each month and six transfers or withdrawals are allowed without charge.

The First IB ATM cards are offered to sole proprietors only. There is no charge for ATM transactions or electronic statements. Founded in 1999 by the First Internet Bancorp, First IB offers remote banking in all 50 states.

Fine print: Only six preauthorized, automatic, PC, or telephonic transfers are allowed each month. This restriction is common among most of these institutions, however, First Internet Bank will charge you $5 per item if you go beyond the allotted six.

Restrictions on joining: none.

LEARN MORE Secured

on First Internet Bank Of Indiana’s secure website

4. Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU), 1.00% APY, $25,000 minimum balance

Digital Federal Credit Union offers a solid 1.00% APY rate through its Business DCU Ltd Savings Account with a minimum $25,000 balance.

Businesses participating in the DCU Ltd Savings Account receive 24/7 online banking, mobile banking through the DCU Mobile Banking App, access to DCU ATMs, deposits, transfers or balance verification. Watch out for their ATM fees, though. They charge $0.75 per withdrawal from a non-DCU ATM, which will surely add up if you make regular withdrawals. Created by the Digital Equipment Corporation in 1979, DCU is the largest credit union in Massachusetts by assets. Federally insured by NCUA, DCU is based in Marlborough, Mass.

Restrictions on joining: To join, you must meet eligibility requirements within the field of membership for employers, organizations, participating communities or condominium associations.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)’s secure website

5. Community Bank of Pleasant Hill, 0.98% APY, No minimum balance

With its 0.98% APY, the Business Premier Money Management Account at Community Bank of Pleasant Hill offers highly competitive rates to explore. You need only put down $25 to open the account and maintain a minimum balance of $10,000 to avoid a $10 monthly service charge and $4 paper statement fee.

ATM access is offered surcharge-free when using ATMs in the MoneyPass® network. Community Bank began operations on Dec. 6, 2006, and is a member of the FDIC. Members can search for partner ATMs online or through mobile access.

Fine print: Just watch out for hefty withdrawal fees. You can make free withdrawals on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month; on other days, there’s a $25 withdrawal fee. If you plan to make regular in-person withdrawals, this probably isn’t the best account for your needs.

Restrictions on joining: none.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Community Bank Of Pleasant Hill’s secure website

6. Community Bank of Raymore, 0.98% APY, $25 minimum deposit to open

The Community Bank of Raymore created its Premier Money Management Account specifically for business customers who carry high balances and are looking for security. It costs $25 to open your account but you’ll earn a solid 0.98% APY.

You must maintain a balance of at least $10,000 or you’ll be assessed a monthly $10 charge. You may only make free withdrawals on the second and fourth Wednesdays or face a $25 fee.
Electronic statements are free of charge. Nationwide ATM service without charge is available through the MoneyPass® network.

The Community Bank of Raymore was chartered in Missouri in May 15, 1979. According to the bank website, the idea of the bank originated at a community meeting at Raymore Elementary School in 1976.

Fine print: You’ll be restricted to two days a week for making free withdrawals in Raymar, too, on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Other days, you’ll have to cough up $25.

Restrictions on joining: none.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Community Bank Of Raymore’s secure website

7. Presidential Bank (Maryland), 0.50% APY, $5,000 to open, ATM services

Presidential Bank’s Commercial Premier Savings account offers a 0.50% APY, making it a decent — if not extraordinary — bet for business owners.

Business customers are not required to maintain a minimum balance on the account in order to receive all ATM privileges. So long as you use one of their ATMs you won’t incur fees, but there is a $0.75 ATM fee for non-network ATMs. Free online banking, mobile banking and ATM card come with the account.

Established in 1985, Presidential Online Bank was one of the first lenders to offer online banking. Located in Bethesda, Md., it currently lists assets in excess of $550 million.

Restrictions on joining: none.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Presidential Bank’s secure website

8. UniBank, 0.35% AYP, $25,000 minimum balance, $500 to open, ATM services

The Business Regular Savings account at UniBank currently pays out 0.35% AYP for all accounts starting at $2,500. It costs $500 to open your business account and the monthly service fee is $12.

You can have that service fee waived by maintaining a $2,500 minimum daily balance. Customers have online, telephone and ATM access to their business accounts. There are more than 25,000 surcharge-free UniBank ATMs available through the MoneyPass® network.

Established in 2006, the bank is located in Lynnwood, Wash. While its business savings account rates leave much to be desired, the bank’s strength may lie in its current money market rates, which Deposit Accounts says are 70 percent higher than the national average.

Restrictions on joining: none.

LEARN MORE Secured

on UniBank’s secure website

9. Andrews Federal Credit Union, 0.31% APY, ATM banking

The Business Base Share Savings account at Andrews Federal Credit Union offers a 0.31% APY. You can open the account with as little as $5 and there is a $100 minimum balance requirement to earn the APY.

The account comes with free online banking, free eStatements and a debit card. Transactions are free at Andrews Federal & CO-OP ATMs. However, there is a $25 charge for withdrawals that result in overdrafts.

Founded in 1948 in Suitland, Md., Andrews Federal Credit Union has assets over $1.5 billion and offers a range of banking services to 120,000 members worldwide.

Restrictions on joining: $5 fee to join the credit union. Open to field of membership including nationwide membership eligibility through the American Consumer Council.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Andrews Federal Credit Union’s secure website

10. SaviBank, 0.30% APY, $250 minimum daily balance, $100 to open, ATM services

Rounding out the top 10, the business savings accounts at SaviBank offer a decent 0.30% APY. It costs $100 to open the account. If you keep a minimum daily balance of $250, the bank dismisses a $5 monthly service charge.

Checks and third-party withdrawals are limited to six for each calendar month.

Established in Burlington, Wash., in 2005 as Business Bank, SaviBank offers 24-hour access to accounts through online banking and surcharge-free ATM locations nationwide over the MoneyPass® network.

Restrictions on joining: none

LEARN MORE Secured

on SaviBank’s secure website

Learn more about business savings accounts

How we ranked the best business savings accounts

To come up with this list, we first used data from DepositAccounts.com, which tracks rates on a range of deposit accounts across thousands of banks in the U.S. Note: DepositAccounts is also owned by MagnifyMoney’s parent company LendingTree.com.

We eliminated any institutions that were given a health rating below a B by DepositAccounts. We also weeded out any credit unions that have very restrictive membership requirements. From there, we chose the top 10 business savings accounts with the highest APY. And lastly, all the banks on our list offer FDIC or NCUA insurance.

Business savings accounts vs personal savings accounts

Business and regular savings accounts may offer many of the same features ,such as 24/7 online banking, free electronic reporting, debit cards, fund transfers and ATM machines.

The trade-off in choosing a business account is that you’ll get services focused on business planning and spending in exchange for a less-desirable APY.

When you compare the interest earned on a business savings account with the best APY rates offered on savings accounts, it may not look like opening a business account is a wise strategy. The top business savings account APY right now is 1.05%. The top APY among personal savings accounts is 1.50% with no minimum deposit and ATM access. You can weigh the services, charges and minimum account fees between the top business and top personal savings accounts to decide which is best for you.

There are other benefits to offset any differences in earnings, particularly if your business is incorporated. It’s considered sound business practice to separate your personal saving and checking accounts from your business saving and checking accounts. A business account can help you manage cash flow, accounting, recordkeeping and working capital. At income tax time, separate accounts can help you differentiate business from personal expenses.

Paired with a business checking account, your business savings account can add professional branding, since all payments and correspondence with clients will bear your business name.

Or you can create savings in your business account to pay quarterly income taxes or purchase equipment.

Finally, business savings accounts are secure when you open accounts with banks and credit unions that are insured up to $250,000 per account by the FDIC or the NCUA.

North Shore Bank of Brookfield, Wis., says that a business savings account can boost your credit ratings and make it easier to obtain a business loan, since the lender can see you have an account dedicated to your company.

Choosing the right business savings account

When evaluating a financial institution for your business, there’s more than just finding a good APY.

Many of the banks on our Top 10 list look great on the APY front but carry fees that can eat into any of the returns you might make. Particularly, watch out for fees for ATM or bank withdrawals, monthly service fees and ATM fees.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has identified the key factors to consider when searching for the right bank or credit union. These include:

  • Customer service reputation
  • Access to branches or no-surcharge ATMs
  • Benchmarks to have fees waived
  • Automatic FDIC insurance

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Gabby Hyman
Gabby Hyman |

Gabby Hyman is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Gabby here

TAGS:

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Best of, College Students and Recent Grads, Credit Cards

Best Student Credit Cards December 2017

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

Getting a credit card while you’re in college might seem dangerous or confusing. But if you are able to use a student credit card responsibly, you do not need to be afraid, and you can set yourself up for financial success after you leave school.

Fortunately, learning how to choose and use the right student credit card is relatively simple. Make sure you avoid annual fees and go with a bank or credit union you can trust. When you get the card, make sure you use it responsibly and pay the balance in full and on time every month. If you do these things consistently over time, you can leave school with an excellent credit score. And if you want to rent an apartment or buy a car, having a good credit score is very important.

Our Top Pick

Discover it® for Students

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® for Students

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
up to 5%
APR
13.99%-22.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair

Best for Commuter Students

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students

APPLY NOW Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
APR
13.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit

Average OK

Best Flat-Rate Card

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

Read Full Review

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
up to 1.25%
APR
24.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit

Average Credit

Best Intro Bonus

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Wells Fargo Bank’s secure website

Read Full Review

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
up to 3%
APR
11.90%-21.90%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair Credit

Best Credit Union Card

Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa

APPLY NOW Secured

on Altra’s secure website

Read Full Review

Altra Federal Credit Union Student Visa

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
1 point per dollar spent
APR
14.90%

Fixed

Credit required
zero-credit
New to Credit

Best for Studying Abroad

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students

APPLY NOW Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Rewards
1.5 points per dollar spent
APR
15.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
fair-credit
Fair Credit, Limited Credit history

Best Secured Card

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
APR
23.99% APR

Variable

Credit required
bad-credit
Bad

Best for No Credit History

Deserve Edu Mastercard

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on Deserve’s secure website

Deserve Edu Mastercard

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
1% on all purchases
APR
19.74%

Variable

Credit required
zero-credit
New to Credit

Also ConsiderAlso Consider

Golden 1 Platinum Rewards for Students

Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards for Students:

This credit card offers a snazzy rewards program: rather than accumulate points, you’ll get a cash rebate instead. All you have to do is make a purchase. At the end of the month, you’ll get a rebate of 3% of gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases, and 1% of all other purchases deposited back into your Golden 1 savings account at the end of the month. You can join Golden 1 by joining the Financial Fitness Association for $8 per year and keeping at least $5 in a savings account.

What should I look for in a student credit card?

The most important thing to consider when looking for a student credit card is that it charges no annual fee. You should never have to pay to build your credit score. Fortunately, most student cards don’t charge you an annual fee, but it’s still something to watch out for.

The second most important thing you should keep an eye out for are tools that help you learn about credit or even promote good credit-building habits. For example, some student credit cards will give you a free monthly FICO score update. You can use this freebie to see in real time how your credit score changes as you build credit history by keeping the card open, or paying down your credit card balance, for example.

The last thing you should be considering when picking out a student credit card is the rewards program. I know, I know, it seems counterintuitive. But stick with me — I’ll show you why in the next question.

Why shouldn’t I be concerned about maximizing my rewards while in college?

Rewards cards are nice to have. But if you’re a college student, here’s the truth: you probably won’t spend enough to earn meaningful rewards.

Why? With a good rewards program, you can earn points or cash back. A small percentage of your monthly spending can add up quickly. However, given the tight budget that most college students live on, it will probably take a while to earn meaningful rewards. For example, if you earn 1.25% cash back and spend $300 a month on your card, you would earn $45 of cash back during the year.

College students are very good at making good use of $45. And our favorite card offers a great cash back rewards program. Just don’t expect to earn a lot of cash back, given the tight budget of a college student.

Why should I get a credit card as a college student?

There are a lot of great reasons why you should get a credit card, as long as you can commit to using it responsibly.

The single biggest reason why you should get a credit card as a college student is because you can start establishing a credit history now. When you graduate from college, you will need a good credit score to get an apartment. And your future employer will likely check your credit report. Building a good credit history while still in college will help prepare you for life after graduation.

Getting a credit card while in college can also train you to develop good credit habits now. But you need to be honest with yourself. If you find that you can’t avoid the temptation of maxing out your credit card, you might want to switch to a debit card or cash.

Finally, getting a credit card now can be the motivation you need to start learning about credit. These skills aren’t hard to learn, and they could save you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars later in life (when you want a mortgage, for example).

What is the CARD Act and why should I care about it?

Many years ago, credit card companies would market on college campuses. You could get a free beer mug or t-shirt in exchange for a credit card application. And you would be able to qualify for a credit card without having any income. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act was signed into law in May 2009 to change a number of practices.

How did the CARD Act change student credit cards?

The CARD Act made a lot of changes in how credit card issuers do business with students. One of the biggest changes was requiring students to be able to demonstrate an ability to pay. If you are under 21 and do not have sufficient income (a campus job, for example), you would need to get a co-signer.

In addition, colleges must now limit the amount of credit card marketing on campus. The days of free t-shirts and pizzas in exchange for credit card applications are gone. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible for a college student to get a credit card. Some highly reputable banks and credit unions still offer student cards. And building a good credit score while still in college is still highly recommended.

How can I protect myself from racking up debt?

When used properly, credit cards are a very convenient method of repayment. However, when not used properly, you can end up deep in credit card debt. It is important to establish a healthy relationship to credit now, with your first credit card.

You should try to ensure that you pay off your credit card bill in full and on time every month. Ideally, you should set up an automatic monthly payment. And to keep yourself on track, take advantage of alerts offered by most credit card companies. You can even get daily text messages reminding you of your balance.

How can I automate my credit card usage?

If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry. There’s actually a way you can automate your payments so you never even have to bother with the hassle of using a credit card. All it takes is a few minutes of upfront work.

First, you’ll need at least one recurring monthly bill of the same amount, such as Netflix or Spotify. Log in to your account and set up an automatic payment each month using your credit card. Make a note of how much your monthly bill costs.

Next, log in to your bank account. Set up a second automatic payment to go to your credit card each month for the same amount as the bill. If your bank doesn’t offer the option to set up automatic payments, you may also be able to set up your credit card to automatically withdraw the amount of the bill from your bank.

Because you know this bill will be for the same amount each month (barring any price increases), you can literally just leave this running in the background each month on autopilot. You don’t even have to carry your credit card in your wallet if you don’t want to. Then, when you graduate, you’ll automatically have an improved credit score!

What happens to my student credit card when I graduate?

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the finish line. But what about your student credit card? You will have a few options once you graduate.

First, you can simply keep it. You will want to keep the credit card open, because it helps you build a long credit history. However, you might want to call your credit card company and ask if you can migrate to a standard (non-student) credit card.

But if you have been using your credit card properly, you will have an excellent credit score when you graduate – and you will be able to get any credit card that you want.

Here is a summary of our favorite cards:

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Good Credit December 2017

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

If you’re someone with good credit you should be able to qualify for a variety of credit cards. There are cards if you want to earn cash back, earn travel rewards or complete a balance transfer. MagnifyMoney has reviewed our database of over 2,000 credit cards to find cards you can qualify for with good credit. Here are our favorite cards for people with good credit.

Best cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards can be great tools to boost your financial position. They basically make your life just a few percentage points cheaper — who wouldn’t want that?

Watch out for the pitfalls with these rewards cards, though. Don’t talk yourself into spending more because you’ll receive cash back. If you opt for a cash back card that offers you up to 5X more points on certain categories, make sure you understand that you often have to activate the bonus categories and set up reminders for yourself if necessary.

Best flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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on Citibank’s secure website

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0*
Cashback Rate
1% when you buy, 1% when you pay
APR
14.49%-24.49%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Best 5% cash back

Discover it® - Cashback Match<sup>TM</sup>

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® - Cashback MatchTM

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else
APR
11.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit
Good / Excellent

Also Consider

Platinum Rewards Card from Nusenda CU

Nusenda Credit Union Platinum Rewards

This card is a great choice for forgetful people who want cash back rewards. It’s one of the only cards offering revolving categories each quarter that you don’t have to opt in for; you will get these rewards automatically. This card would also be a great choice for those who want cash back rewards and don’t mind working with a credit union.

Best for big spenders in gas

Commuting can be a huge cost, especially if you live far away from your work and don’t use public transportation. If you spend a lot of money on gas each month, consider getting a cash back rewards card that gives you higher rates of return for these purchases. It’s like having an instant coupon for gas with you all the time.

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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on Fort Knox Federal’s secure website

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
5% back on all gas station spending, 1% on all other purchases
APR
10.25%-15.25%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Best for big spenders in groceries

Groceries can be one of your biggest budget-busters, especially if you have a large family, a specialized diet, or live in certain parts of the country. The good news is there are certain credit cards that offer great rewards for grocery purchases. Here’s our top pick for a credit card to maximize your grocery cash back rewards.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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on American Express Bank’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Annual fee
$95
Cashback Rate
6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 1% on other purchases
APR
13.99%-24.99%

Variable

Best travel rewards credit card

Travel can seem like a pipe dream to a lot of people. Even if you do have the cash, it still stings to see that much hard-won money leaving your bank account. But with a travel rewards credit card, you can have a sort of de facto savings account specifically for travel. And with a sign-on bonus like the one for our top pick, you can be jet-setting somewhere fun and interesting as soon as a few months from now.

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Rewards
2 points on travel and dining, 1 point on all other spending
APR
16.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good/Excellent

Best airline credit cards

One of the biggest travel expenses is airfare. Even if you don’t have specific goals to travel regularly, surprises like cross-country family emergencies or get-togethers can take a big bite out of your budget.

Before signing up for an airline-specific card, it’s helpful to know what airline options you have near you. Different airlines tend to congregate more in different parts of the country; you won’t see any Alaska Airlines planes if you live in Maine, for example.

The information related to the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Plus Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Best for Southwest frequent flyers

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Annual fee
$69 For First Year
$69 Ongoing
Rewards
2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchase
APR
16.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

The information related to the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Best for United frequent flyers

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card from Chase Bank

Annual fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
Rewards
2X miles on tickets purchase from United, 1 mile on everything else
APR
16.99%-23.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Best for American Airlines frequent flyers

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard<sup>®</sup>

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on Citibank’s secure website

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Annual fee
$95, waived for first 12 Months*
Rewards
2 AAdvantage® miles on American Airlines purchases, 1 AAdvantage® mile on everything else
APR
16.74%-24.74%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

Best for Delta frequent flyers

 Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card From American Express

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on American Express Bank’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card From American Express

Annual fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Rewards
2 miles on Delta purchases, 1 mile on everything else
APR
16.74%-25.74%

Variable

Best luxury credit card

Even though traveling is fun, it can still be a stressful experience. In between fighting throngs of crowds and cramming into airline seats, it can be enough to drive even the most ardent travel-lover insane sometimes.

The good news is you can avoid all of that with a luxury credit card. These credit cards will give you an across-the-board better travel experience, from the moment you arrive at the airport until you make it back home. Here is our top pick for a luxury credit card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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on American Express Bank’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee
$550
Rewards
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com
APR
-
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

0% APR credit cards

If you really need to buy something moderately expensive but don’t have the cash for it yet, 0% APR purchase cards can be a great way to go. They’re basically like free short-term loans. These cards are similar to 0% balance transfer cards, but not all of them also offer you the ability to make new purchases with the free promo rates.

It’s recommended to only use these cards to buy things that you absolutely need rather than a new big-screen TV. For example, I used a 0% APR card to purchase the very computer I’m typing this on. I didn’t have $800 to spend at the time, but within a couple of months I had made enough money to pay it off in full — without having to pay a penny of interest. These cards offer great opportunities to better your life, without the extra cost — if you can pay off the card before the promo period is over.

21 months, 0% intro APR, 3% BT fee

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
14.99%-24.99%

Variable

Duration
21 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

15 months, 0% intro APR, $0 intro BT fee

Chase Slate<sup>®</sup>

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on Chase’s secure website

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Chase Slate®

Intro BT APR
0%

Introductory rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$0 intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open. After 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5.
APR
15.99%-24.74%

Variable

Duration
15 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

14 months, 0% intro APR, 3% BT fee

Discover it® - Cashback Match<sup>TM</sup>

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® - Cashback MatchTM

Intro BT APR
0%

promotional rate

Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
APR
11.99%-23.99%

Variable

Duration
14 months
Credit required
good-credit
Good / Excellent

Learn more

You don’t need a perfect credit score to qualify for the best financial products. You’ll still get access to virtually all of the things an 850 credit score would unlock as long as you have a credit score of at least 760.

Good credit scores don’t happen by accident. Whether you deliberately aimed for your score or not, you have good financial management skills. However, this isn’t enough to guarantee your approval for a large number of financial products.

It’s actually possible to have a good credit score yet still be a high financial risk. For example, your credit score doesn’t take your salary into account. You could have a perfect credit score yet be unemployed with no income, in some cases.

When you apply for financial products, banks will look at your entire situation beyond just your credit score. Each bank will have their own approval criteria, and you might not pass one of them even if you have a good credit score.

Take heart, however; in general, you will be approved for most good financial products and services if you have a good credit score. But if the bank is very picky or something uncommon has happened to you (such as a recent job loss), it’s not surprising to be rejected.

Potential creditors don’t like to see a string of recent credit inquiries on your report because it might be a sign that you’re going on an out-of-control credit binge. Your score will be docked a few points per credit inquiry. This is a relatively small cut compared to more major transgressions like late payments and foreclosures, however.

When you have a poor credit score (600-648), you need every point you can get. The difference between a poor and a fair credit score is just 48 points; you need to do everything you can to gain those points and move up into the next bracket. Having a hard credit pull on your credit report will set you back even longer.

If you’ve got good credit, though, you don’t need to worry as much. You have 150 points between 700 and the maximum score of 850. That’s plenty of room to pay for small dings on your credit. You can have a hard inquiry on your credit report and still have a good credit score, unless you’re starting with a borderline good score of 700-705.

You’ve worked hard getting your score to this point, now how do you keep it there? Luckily, it’s not hard; basically, continue doing the good things you’re already doing.

Paying all of your statements on time and in full is one of the best things you can do to maintain your high credit score. A single late payment on your mortgage could set you back 60 points or more, downgrading you from good credit to average. Make sure all of your debt accounts are set up on autopay to avoid this potentially costly error.

Credit utilization (the percentage of available credit you’re using) is also one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score. The less available credit you’re using, the better. In general, a credit utilization ratio of 10% or less will boost your score the most. This means that you’ll have a credit card balance of $1,000 or less for each $10,000 of credit you have available to you.

A few minor factors will also boost your credit score, but not as much as having a good payment history and a low credit utilization ratio. Keep credit inquiries to a minimum. In order to avoid a slew of inquiries that will be reflected in your credit score, make sure companies use soft pulls if you need to shop around for the best interest rates.

Also consider keeping your oldest credit cards open and closing any newer ones you’re not using. This will increase your average credit age. In general, an average credit age of five years or more is considered best and will boost your credit score.

You don’t want to be juggling around a ton of cards you’re not using. Closing old cards sounds like a good idea until you consider one factor: It may ding your credit score.

Creditors like to see that you can effectively handle credit accounts over long periods of time. That’s why average credit age is one factor included in credit scoring models.
If you close out an old card, your average credit age might drop. This would cause a corresponding dip in your score. The effect wouldn’t be huge (not as large as a late payment, for example), but it could be there nonetheless, especially if your average credit age is five years or less (over five years is the optimal average credit age).

That’s why most experts recommend keeping your oldest credit card open. If you want to juggle fewer accounts, close any newer ones that you’re not using. Of course, if your oldest credit card charges an annual fee and you’re not using it, then go ahead and close it anyway. Paying an annual fee for a card you’re not using likely outweighs any benefits from keeping the card open for the sake of boosting your average credit age.

Furthermore, if you close your old credit card before you apply for a new card, it’s possible that your credit score will drop enough that your application will be rejected, especially if you have a borderline good credit score. In this case, it’s better to wait until after you’ve applied and been approved for the new credit card before closing your old card, if you decide to do so.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Best of, Earning Cashback

10 Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards for December 2017

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

Cash Back Credit Cards for 2017
iStock

Credit card reward programs come in so many varieties that it can be difficult find the best cards for your spending habits. A basic, flat-rate card that earns you a certain percentage cash back on all purchases is probably the simplest bet out there. Typically, rates range from 1-2%. Not shabby, especially if you use that card exclusively. But it’s not exactly something to call home about either.

There are even better cash back rewards offerings out there, some as high as 5%. But with these high rewards cards, there’s almost always a catch. Most of the cards don’t offer 5% cash back across the board. Every few months, they pick a few select shopping categories that can earn 5% cash back. Once those few months are up, the categories change. For example, a card could offer 5% cash back on groceries, gas and airfare from January to March, then switch those categories to whole sale stores, restaurants and gyms from April to June.

Additionally, there are sometimes caps on how much of your spending can qualify for the 5% reward. So if the cap is $1,500, for example, everything past that amount won’t qualify.

The key to maximizing these great cash back card offers is to find the cards that offer cash back in categories you use the most. We can help there.

We dug around and found 10 cards that offer at least 5% cash back in some of the most common spending categories including: gas, groceries and entertainment.

Access to Bonus 5% Categories: Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom<sup>®</sup>

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else

APR

15.99%-24.74%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Chase’s secure website

How it works: The Chase Freedom® card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. This translates to a maximum return of $75 per quarter on the 5% bonus category. You earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases outside of the bonus categories. You can also earn a $150 Bonus $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

The 5% category changes every quarter.

Another area where the Chase Freedom® shines is in how it allows customers to redeem their rewards. The cash you’ve earned converts into Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Every $1 equals 100 points. You can easily use the cash and apply it to your monthly statement. Or you can convert them into points and use them on travel, gift cards, merchandise, and other services through the Chase Freedom® rewards dashboard.

They make it super simple to redeem points on the go through the Chase Freedom® Mobile app. While you’re shopping, you can pick the merchant from the list on of eligible merchants on your app (popular ones include Nike, Regal Cinemas, Lowe’s, Starbucks and Best Buy). Then tell the app how much cash you want to use. You’ll get a custom e-gift card that you can present at checkout to pay for your purchases.

chasefreedommobileapp

Plus, you can stack the points earned on your Chase Freedom® card with your points on other Chase rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. That just increases the spending power of your points.

The Fine Print: You can’t beat 5% cash back for your spending, especially with no annual fee. The downside is you have to remember to activate the category each quarter by subscribing to the program. But, if you set a reminder to do so, you can earn money without too much effort.

The Original 5% Cash Back Card: Discover it® Cashback Match™

Discover it® - Cashback Match<sup>TM</sup>

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else

APR

11.99%-23.99%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

How it works: With the Discover it® Cashback Match™ you earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. ($1,500 of spend). You need to activate every quarter to get the 5% cash back rate. All other purchases get 1% cash back.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2017:

  • January to March: Gas stations, ground transportation, and wholesale clubs.
  • April to June: Home improvement stores and wholesale clubs.
  • July to September: Restaurants.
  • October to December: Amazon.com and Target

Using your rewards: Cash back from the Discover it® Cashback Match™ is tracked in dollars and cents. You can immediately apply your cash back earnings to your bank account or as a statement credit toward your bill (note: your minimum payment will still be due).There’s also no minimum rewards value if you want to redeem them for charitable donations.

The fine print: You can only earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spend each quarter you activate. Once you’ve hit that cap, you’ll earn 1% on the rest of your purchases. This adds up to a $75 maximum return on your rotating bonus categories. There is no annual fee.

Extra perks: As an Intro Offer, Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically..

Best for Gas and Restaurants in 2017: Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards

Cash Rewards Card from Nusenda CU

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

5% in revolving categories up to $1,500 and 1% on all other purchases

APR

12.00%-14.00%

APPLY NOW Secured

on Nusenda ’s secure website

How it works: The Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards card gives 5% in revolving categories up to $1,500 and 1% on all other purchases. Notably, it offers both gas and restaurants in two quarters. As a bonus in the first 90 days, new cardholders will earn 2% instead of just 1% on purchases outside of the 5% category.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2017:

  • January to March: Groceries and gas expenses.
  • April to June: Movies, restaurants and home improvement.
  • July to September: Gas and education expenses.
  • October to December: Restaurants, hotels, and airfares.

Using your rewards: This offer stands out as a decent companion card for maximizing cash back. When coupled with the Chase Freedom or Discover it, you can maximize cash back in different areas during one quarter.

For an example, you can turn to the Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards card for 5% on gas and school expenses in Q3. Then pull out the Discover it for home improvement purchases for another 5% the same quarter.

The Fine Print: Once again, you’ll need to monitor your spending habits to get the most cash back from a revolving category card. If you choose to use this card along with another one, a good practice would be labeling the cards in your wallet to ensure you use the right one for the right purchases in a given quarter.

One final caveat: While there is no annual fee, Nusenda is a credit union, so you will have to go through the process of applying for membership.

Pick Your Own Cash Back Categories: U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

5% on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose, 2% on one everyday category, 1% on all other eligible net purchases

APR

14.99%-23.99%

APPLY NOW Secured

on US Bank’s secure website

How it works: The U.S Bank Cash+ card has a revolving cash back program that’s unique in comparison to the others above because you get options.

Earning cash back: You can earn 5% cash back in two categories of your choosing each quarter limited to the first $2,000 of spend. Then you can choose another category with no cap to earn 2% cash back. On all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back.

The categories for an unlimited 2% cash back (choose one each quarter) are:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores

The categories for 5% cash back up to $2,000 (choose two each quarter) are:

  • Select clothing stores
  • Cell phones
  • Electronic stores
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Bookstores
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Furniture stores
  • Movie theaters

Using your rewards: You can redeem cash back for gift cards, statement credit or a deposit into a U.S. Bank Savings, Checking or Money Market account. The first time you redeem $100 in cash back in a single transaction, you get a $25 Cash+ Bonus.

The Fine Print: Same opt-in revolving category spiel applies here except you must also remember to choose your categories. There is no annual fee. The U.S. Bank Cash+ is another good example of a card you may want to couple with another that gives you higher cash back for necessities i.e. groceries. But, for diverse spenders who can benefit from the 5% category options, the U.S. Bank Cash+ is worth considering.

Ideal for Typical Business Expenses: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

How it works: The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card* gives 5% cash back on office supply and wireless telephone provider services. You also get 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of eight**, including:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

**Terms and Conditions Apply.

Earning cash back: You have to choose your 3% category within two months of signing. If you don’t choose one, the default is gas stations. The combined annual cap for the 5% and 3% categories is $50,000. On all other purchases, you get 1% cash back.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear as a credit automatically on your statement. This American Express card has no annual fee, so you’ll earn cash back with a generous cap at no cost (see Rates & Fees).

The Fine Print: You must remember to choose your 3% cash back category every year. If you select one this year and forget to do so next year, you’ll be locked into the same 3% category for another 12 months until you make a switch. There is no annual fee.

*The information related to the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

5% Cash Back for the Amazon Prime Enthusiast: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

5% back on all Amazon purchases, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, 1% back on other purchases

APR

15.24%-23.24%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Amazon’s secure website

How it works: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card is open to Amazon Prime Members, so it’s somewhat exclusive. The perks of this card is 5% cash back on eligible purchases made on Amazon.com. Buying items on other merchant websites that have the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card payment option enabled will not earn you 5% cash back.

Using your rewards: The cash back you rack up will apply as a credit to your statement.

Do the math: If you’re not already an Amazon Prime Member, it’s probably not worth signing up to become one just for the card unless you intend to spend big bucks on the site. You need to spend $1,980 per year at Amazon.com for the 5% cash back to cover the $99 annual membership fee.

The Fine Print: The fine print of what you can and can’t buy to earn 5% is the only gotcha here. But, if you shop on Amazon.com often and stick to the rules, you’ll see a nice return from this card. There’s not an annual fee for the card, but you must be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $99 a year.

Good Fit for the Regular Target Shopper: Target REDcard

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

5% at Target & Target.com

APR

23.90%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Target’s secure website

How it works: For Target shoppers, there’s the REDcard. It gives you a 5% discount on your purchases at Target (minus any other discounts or promotions). Purchases that won’t earn 5% cash back include:

  • Target eye exams
  • Target gift cards and prepaid cards
  • Previous purchases
  • Target credit account payments, Target Debit Card cash back and cash advances on the Target MasterCard
  • Gift wrap and shipping and handling on Target.com purchases
  • Wireless protection program purchases and deposits required by mobile carrier

Earning and using rewards: The program is pretty simple as far as how Target gives you money back. Your 5% will apply to eligible purchases in your shopping cart at checkout. In addition to 5% cash back, this program includes free shipping from Target.com and 30 extra days for returns.

The Fine Print: No red flags with the REDcard other than watching out for the purchases excluded from cash back listed above. For faithful Target shoppers, this no annual fee card with the 5% discount may be a no brainer.

Most Straightforward 5% Rewards Card Just for Gas: Fort Knox Visa Platinum Card

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

5% back on all gas station spending, 1% on all other purchases

APR

10.25%-15.25%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Fort Knox Federal’s secure website

How it works: The Visa Platinum Card from the Fort Knox Credit Union makes our list with the most straightforward, no cap rewards program. You can earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear on your statement as a credit.

The Fine Print: This rewards program is offered by a credit union in Kentucky. You’ll have to take a few extra steps to qualify for membership. If you don’t live in Kentucky or have family in Kentucky, membership is open to anyone that joins the American Consumer Council. There is no annual fee for the card, but you will need to become a member of the credit union.

6% Cash Back for the Heavy Grocery Shopper: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

How it works: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is our top pick for cardholders that want to maximize cash back on groceries. With this card, you get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets excluding superstores and warehouses up to $6,000 per year. You also earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% cash back on everything else. Terms Apply.

Welcome offer: $200 statement credit after you spend $1000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

Using cash back: Cash back builds as Rewards Dollars you can redeem for statement credit in increments of $25.

The Fine Print: There is an annual fee of $95 per year. See Rates & Fees.

Only Advantageous for Military Service Members Living On-Base: USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

5% cash back on gas and military base purchases on your first $3,000 in annual purchases in these purchase categories combined (After that, earn 1% for the remainder of the year), 2% on groceries on your first $3,000 in annual purchases in these purchase categories combined (After that, earn 1% for the remainder of the year), 1% on all other purchases

APR

12.90%-26.90%

APPLY NOW Secured

on USAA Bank’s secure website

How it works: The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card gives 5% cash back on gas and military base purchases including commissaries, exchanges, and shopettes. The cap for the 5% category is $3,000 per year.

Earning cash back: In addition to the 5% back on gas and military base purchases, you’ll also earn 2% cash back on groceries up to $3,000 annually. On everything else, there’s 1% cash back. You can redeem cash back in increments of $1 through the USAA Rewards Service Center online or over the phone.

The Fine Print: The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is light on the fine print. Just remember, the 5% category cap is $3,000 for combined gas and military base purchases per year and not per quarter. There is no annual fee.

The Key to Earning from Any Cash Back Card

In closing, regardless of which cash back card you choose, be sure to pay off your bill in full each month. That’s one underlying trap of any card rewards program. If you carry a balance over time, adding interest into the equation means you may end up paying the credit card company more than what you’re making in cash back.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Advertiser Disclosure

Best of, Reviews

10 Best NO ANNUAL FEE Rewards Credit Cards of December 2017

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

There are an abundance of no fee rewards credit cards available, so how do you best determine which one to keep in your wallet? Most earn a measly 1% on your spending, while others have no rewards at all. To help, we’ve dug deep into our database of thousands of rewards cards to find the very best no annual fee rewards credit cards of 2017 for each category.

While you might find rewards credit cards with an annual fee can give you the best rewards, we’re sticking to no fee cards that are available even if you don’t have truly excellent credit (good credit should be fine for most of these).

The first cards we list here offer unlimited double rewards on everything you purchase, while the remaining offer 3% or better rewards on spending in popular categories so you can mix and match to maximize your rewards, or they offer the chance for better earning if you use your rewards for travel.

1. Double Rewards on Everything, NO FEE – Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee

$0*

Cashback Rate

1% when you buy, 1% when you pay

APR

14.49%-24.49%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Citibank’s secure website

Citi offers you rewards twice. First, you get 1% cash back when you make a purchase. Then, you get another 1% cash back as you pay it off. All with no annual fee and no spending cap. This lets you earn rewards twice as good as standard reward cards. Read our review for more details on the Citi® Double Cash Card.

If you like to maximize things and want to earn more rewards in special spending categories, consider pairing this with one of the no fee cards we list below.

2. Honorable Mention: 2% Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature, NO FEE

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

2% on all spend

APR

14.99%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Fidelity’s secure website

Fidelity provides no annual fee 2% cash rewards on purchases if you deposit the cash you earn into a Fidelity account. But you don’t need to have any stocks or investments to have an account. Fidelity has no fee cash accounts where you can deposit your rewards, then withdrawal when you’re ready to spend. Be aware this card is designed for people with excellent credit, while the Citi® Double Cash Card might be easier to get.

Both cards offer you the flexibility to earn double rewards on anything you purchase; so either one of these is a nice addition to a rewards strategy. The advantage of the Fidelity card over the Citi® Double Cash Card is that its foreign transaction fees are just 1% versus 3% for the Citi® Double Cash Card. But setting up the Fidelity card and rewards is more cumbersome than the dead simple Citi® Double Cash Card. Read our review of the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card.

If you want to earn more than 2% rewards here’s a rundown of the best no fee rewards credit cards that earn 3% or more in the most popular categories. You can click on each category for our take and details:

  • Rotating 5% categories: Chase Freedom®, Discover it® Cashback Match™, Nusenda Platinum Cash Rewards
  • Restaurant spending: Uber Visa Card – 4%
  • Travel spending: AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card – 3%
  • Gas spending: Fort Knox Credit Union Visa Platinum – 5%
  • Grocery shopping: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express– 3% (up to $6,000 of spend annually), Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards – 3%

And if you’re interested in traveling, here are the best no fee rewards credit card deals:

If you like to dig, we also have a complete (and long) list of cards that earn more than 3% on purchases in many more special categories, including cards with an annual fee.

3. Restaurant Spending: Uber Visa Card – 4% Rewards, NO FEE

Uber Visa Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else

APR

15.99%-24.74%

variable

If you frequently dine out, the Uber Visa card offers a great 4% back on dining purchases which includes restaurants, takeout, bars and UberEATS. You also get 3% back on hotel and airfare, including vacation home rentals; 2% back for Uber, online shopping, video and music streaming services; and 1% on everything else. To learn more about the Uber Visa card, check out our review.

4. Travel Spending: AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card – 3% Rewards, NO FEE

AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee

None

Rewards

3 points for eligible travel & AAA purchases, 2 points on gas, grocery store, and drugstore purchases, and 1 point per $1 for all other purchases

APR

13.24%-23.24%

No need to be an AAA member to take advantage of this rewards card. You earn points when you shop at travel merchants including airlines, car rental agencies, hotels, cruise lines and travel agencies. Along with the 3 points for eligible travel & AAA purchases, you earn 2 points on gas, grocery store, and drugstore purchases, and 1 point per $1 for all other purchases. Learn about the  AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card here.

5. Gas Spending: Fort Knox Credit Union Visa Platinum – 5% Rewards

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

5% back on all gas station spending, 1% on all other purchases

APR

10.25%-15.25%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Fort Knox Federal’s secure website

Spend a lot of cash at the pump? The Fort Knox Credit Union Visa Platinum offers 5% cash back for gas. On all other retail purchases, you get 1% cash back. Anyone can join the Fort Knox Credit Union by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council for $5.

Another option to consider is the NRA Complete Rewards® Visa® Card which also offers unlimited 5% cash back on gas purchases. You do not need to be an NRA member to apply.

6. Supermarket Shopping: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – 3% Rewards

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers 3% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases up to $6,000 per year. You also get 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. On everything else you earn 1% rewards. Read our review of the card for more detail. Terms Apply.

7. Honorable Mention: Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards – Unlimited 3% Grocery Rewards

Golden 1 Platinum Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

3% cash-rebate on gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases, plus 1% cash rebate on all other purchases

APR

7.79%-13.79%

APPLY NOW Secured

on Golden 1 Credit Union’s secure website

If you live in California, the Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards card will give you 3% cash rewards for purchases on groceries without the caps on the Blue Cash Everyday, along with gas and restaurants and 1% rewards on all other purchases. Also in California, the JCB Marukai Premium card offers unlimited 3% cash rewards on all purchases after your first $3,000 in spending each year. The catch is there’s a $15 annual fee on the card.

5% Cash Rewards in Rotating Categories: NO FEE

Cards with a rotating reward program can give you 5% cash rewards with no annual fee, but you’re limited to spending in special categories each quarter and there’s a cap on how much spending earns the 5%. You also have to opt into the 5% cash back rewards program each quarter.

8. Chase Freedom® – 5% in rotating categories, $0 ANNUAL FEE

Chase Freedom<sup>®</sup>

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else

APR

15.99%-24.74%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Chase’s secure website

Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Check out our review for more benefits of the Chase Freedom®.

9. Discover it® Cashback Match™ – 5% in rotating categories, $0 ANNUAL FEE

Discover it® - Cashback Match<sup>TM</sup>

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else

APR

11.99%-23.99%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

With the Discover it® Cashback Match™, earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. All other purchases get 1% cash back. You can redeem your cash back for any amount at any time. And your cash back never expires. Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically – only for new cardmembers. Our review explains the other features of this card.

10. Platinum Cash Rewards Visa from the Nusenda Credit Union – 5% in rotating categories, NO FEE

Platinum Rewards Card from Nusenda CU

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

5% cash back on purchases in quarterly rotating categories

APR

10.00%-14.00%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Nusenda ’s secure website

5% cash rewards on groceries, gas expenses, movies, restaurants, home improvement, education and travel. This quarter, cardholders will earn cash back on restaurants, hotels and airfare purchases. There’s a cash back cap of $1,500 per quarter. Anyone can join the Nusenda Credit Union by donating $10 to the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance; contact a customer representative for details. The advantage of this card is that its categories tend to be more broad, and not store-specific like those on the Chase Freedom® and Discover it® Cashback Match™, so it’s a great way to get you closer to 5% rewards on everything you spend.

If you’re going to go through the effort of enrolling in a rewards program, consider all three cards to see which categories will benefit you the most. But, if you’re looking for freedom to spend without restrictions, sticking with the Citi® Double Cash Card may be your best simple bet.

Honorable mentions for travelers

No foreign transaction fees with plain cash back: Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card – 1.5% Rewards

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

1.5%

APR

13.99%-23.99%

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. And like all Capital One credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees. Even though you earn less rewards than the Citi® Double Cash Card or Fidelity American Express, this card is a better option for your international spending, since you avoid fees of 1 to 3%. To learn more, read our review.

Real airline miles: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is a $0 annual fee rewards credit card that earns Amex Membership Rewards points, which you can turn into real airline miles with several airlines, including Delta SkyMiles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, JetBlue True Blue, and Virgin America Elevate. It’s the only no annual fee card you can apply for online that can net you real Delta SkyMiles. When you want to convert points to Delta miles, just go to the Amex site, and transfer your points to Delta or the other participating airline programs any time. Read our review for more information. Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees.

Points for travel on any airline: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Rewards

1.5 points per dollar spent

APR

15.74%-23.74%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card earns a base 1.5 points per dollar spent, and you can use the points to erase travel purchases from your statement. Every 10,000 points is worth $100 when you use them for travel, so each point is worth one cent. Where the card gets interesting is if you’re a Bank of America customer with a checking, savings, or IRA account. If you are, you’ll get a 10% bonus on what you earn each year, so the card effectively earns you 1.65x points per dollar. Even better, if you’re a Platinum level member of Bank of America Preferred Rewards (which you get by keeping a lot of your money with them), you can earn up to 2.625x points per dollar, which is an incredible deal. There are also no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

How can you get the most value from a rewards credit card?

In order to best benefit from no annual fee rewards credit cards, follow these tips:

  • Narrow your focus: Before choosing a no annual fee rewards credit card (or cards), take a look at your budget and several months’ worth of bank statements. Then, pick cards that’ll offer you the most cash back for things you already buy. You shouldn’t change your spending habits to match a rewards program.
  • Give your rewards cards a job: Don’t spread out your spending onto too many cards without a purpose or you risk making less cash back overall. Choose a few cards and assign them a job so you know what purchases to make on each one to maximize your cash back.
  • Don’t get overzealous: Rewards shouldn’t justify overspending, especially if you’re struggling with debt. It’s a reward for making legitimate purchases. After all, you won’t make enough back to put a big dent in your monthly statement. For instance, $2,500 spent on the Fidelity American Express card equals a $50 deposit. It’s a great perk, but it shouldn’t be your sole reason for buying something.
  • Read the fine print: Understand the implications of each rewards program. For the rotating category cards, you get a huge amount of cash back, but you’ll have to strategize your spending each quarter to earn it. And you have to enroll into the program by the deadline to qualify. Set a reminder on your smartphone or calendar if necessary. You don’t want to miss out on a cash back category for an entire quarter.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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