Reviews, Small Business

Dealstruck Small Business Loan Review

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

Dealstruck Small Business Loan Review

Dealstruck is a unique direct online small business lender in that it takes a balance sheet approach to funding its loans, which includes funding the loan upfront itself and then finding institutional investors after the fact. It’s a relatively new company as it has only been lending to small businesses since 2013, but it has grown rapidly along with the small business lending industry as a whole.

Its mission “is to provide small business owners with unique, appropriate, and affordable capital with honesty and transparency.” Dealstruck is looking to help small businesses that are already established and have a proven track record of profitability, but are being turned away from banks for traditional financing. If this sounds like your business, read on for the details of its loan.

Dealstruck Small Business Loan Details

Dealstruck offers a business term loan, a revenue secured term loan, and a line of credit. For this review, we’ll be focusing on the business term loan.

You can borrow from $50,000 to $250,000 on a term of up to 4 years. The APR range isn’t published on the site, but according to Candace Klein, Chief Strategy Officer of Dealstruck, “APRs range from 10% to the low 20%’s.” The APR you receive depends on the type of loan you apply for.

This loan usually requires you to make payments once per month. If you borrow $65,000 on a term of 3 years with a 15% interest rate, your monthly payment will be $2,253.25.

The Pros and Cons of a Dealstruck Small Business Loan

Pro: Dealstruck offers decent terms and rates for small businesses that have only been operating for a year or more.

Con: Dealstruck’s website is not very intuitive to use. While its mission is transparency, finding information about specific loans is a bit challenging. Its “Loan Products” page doesn’t display unless you click on the “Contact” page first, and you must be on the login page to view the FAQ section.

Pro:Since Dealstruck’s loans are crowdfunded by investors after the fact (as it remains a direct lender), it’s able to offer lower rates and better pricing. Its risk appetite is a bit higher than that of other lenders, and much higher than a bank’s.

Con: Dealstruck doesn’t offer many details on its website for the business term loan. If you want to fill out the preapproval form for a quote, it won’t impact your credit score, so there’s no harm in doing so if you’re curious about what terms you might be eligible for.

Pro: If daily payments are too much for your business to handle, once a month payments might be better for your cash flow.

Con: The 2.99% to 5.99% origination fee is on the higher end, though the lower APR might make up for the fee.

What Businesses Are Eligible For a Loan With Dealstruck?

Your business needs to have more than one year of operating history and annual sales of at least $250,000 to qualify.

Dealstruck is looking to loan to businesses with a solid record of cash flow and profitability, with strong asset bases for collateral, and a history of being able to manage debt responsibly. Having good credit (above 600) also helps.

Its main goal is to help small businesses that have been turned away by banks, and eventually graduate those businesses into being “bankable” after paying back their loan. It aims to serve the gap between expensive, short-term loans and bank financing.

It also looks to help fund “riskier” industries that banks shy away from, such as janitorial services, hospitality, retail, and salons.

Dealstruck currently lends in 43 states. North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee, Hawaii and Vermont are excluded.

Application Process and Documents Needed

Dealstruck’s application process is simple. You fill out preliminary information about your business, and choose the loan option that will fit your needs the best. You’ll then be required to verify your business income with financial statements.

During the application process, you’ll be asked to provide certain information so Dealstruck can retrieve your tax returns for the last two years, your bank statements, and credit scores of the owners applying.

Note that you can choose to apply or get a preapproval. A preapproval won’t affect your credit score, though a hard pull will be used if you go through the entire application process.

Dealstruck requires a minimum of 3 months of your most recent business bank statements. You can log into your bank account via its portal, or manually upload them.

You’ll be able to get funded in as little as three days as long as you provide the necessary documentation.

The Fine Print

Dealstruck charges a 5.99% origination fee for its business term loan, though there’s no prepayment penalty.

A personal guarantee and UCC lien against business assets are required – this is standard for most small business loans.

Which Businesses Benefit the Most from a Loan With Dealstruck?

Dealstruck is mostly looking to lend to businesses that are already established and making a profit. Entrepreneurs and startups might not find the help they need here.

If your business has been gaining traction, and you need funding to expand and take your business to the next level, Dealstruck can help.

Popular reasons to apply for a business term loan include needing new inventory or new equipment, consolidating debt, business expansion, working capital, and hiring staff.

Dealstruck

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Other Alternative Small Business Lenders

Perhaps your credit isn’t good enough to qualify, or you’re in a state where Dealstruck doesn’t currently lend. There are a few other alternative small business lenders to consider.

OnDeck offers loans ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 on terms of 3 to 24 months. The origination fee is 2.50%. Your business needs one year in operating history and $100,000 in annual revenue to qualify. The minimum credit score needed is 500.

ondeck

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Swift Capital offers small business loans ranging from $5,000 to $200,000 on terms of 3 to 12 months. The origination fee is also 2.50%, and rates start as low as 9.99%. You need one year in operating history and at least $5,000 in monthly revenue to qualify. A minimum credit score of 550 is needed.

swift-logo

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Both lenders also require daily payments, instead of monthly, in case that’s more manageable for your business.

Shop Around for the Best Loan

Shopping around for a loan can be time consuming, but if you want to get the most affordable loan, it’s a must. Your credit score will only be minimally affected if you shop around within a period of 30 days. When doing so, make sure to read all the fine print and compare the total cost of the loans to each other. Some small business loans have factor rates (such as OnDeck and Swift), while others have APRs that are much simpler to understand (like Dealstruck). APRs tend to be less expensive in the long run. Don’t forget to include any fees being assessed as well.

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Best of, Credit Cards, Reviews

2017 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses

Advertiser Disclosure

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

Note from the Editor: The information related to Chase Ink Business Preferred Card credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

 

As a small business owner you know you need to manage your cash flow and plan for financing. Credit cards can be an ideal way to meet those needs. But business owners need to be savvy cardholders. Small business credit cards come with unique risks that personally affect entrepreneurs.

 

In this roundup we cover the risks and advantages of small business credit cards. And we’ll show you what card fits your business needs.

 

Best Cards for Financing

If credit cards are an important source of financing and capital for your business, then you need to be a savvy borrower. Look for cards with compelling terms, and take the time to understand the fine print. Remember, the card may be in the business’s name, but you’re personally liable for the debt. Don’t take on more debt than you can handle.

Best 0% Financing

The American Express Blue for Business card offers 12 months of 0% APR for financing. If you fail to pay back your purchases within 12 months, your interest rate will move to 11.74%-19.74%, depending on creditworthiness. You lose access to the introductory rate if you make a late payment.

The 12-month 0% APR window is one of the most generous offers available. On top of generous financing, you earn rewards for spending.

Rewards include 10x points per $1 spent on the first $2,000 in qualifying purchases at U.S. restaurants for the first six months. You can also earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after making your first purchase. Plus, you will receive 2x points on qualifying purchases on the first $50,000 in the first year. Every year, you’ll also receive a bonus of 30% of the previous year’s points earned.

The card offers perks including secondary car rental insurance, purchase protection, extended warranties, baggage insurance, trip accident insurance, and travel hotline help.

The Fine Print
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR financing for 12 months. You must pay on time, or you lose this rate.
  • APR: After 12 months, 11.74%-19.74%, depending on your creditworthiness
  • Penalty APR: 29.74%
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: Up to $38
  • Returned payment fee: $38
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $5 or 3%
  • Cash advance APR: 25.74%
  • Rewards: 2 points for every dollar you spend in the first year up to $50,000. 1 point per dollar spent. 10 points for every dollar you spend on dining in the first six months.
  • Bonus: 2 points for every dollar you spend booking travel at amextravel.com

Apply Now

Low Interest Rates

If you and your business have excellent credit, the Platinum Plus for Business MasterCard from Bank of America offers low ongoing financing. This is a great card for businesses with periodic short-term borrowing needs. Besides interest rates as low as 9.74%, it offers a seven-billing-cycle 0% APR promo rate and $200 statement credit if you spend $500 in the first 60 days.

Plus, the card offers travel accident insurance, secondary rental insurance, and automatic downloads to QuickBooks.

Remember, it’s not wise to use a small business credit card for long-term financing. Many credit unions will offer low rates on installment business loans.

The Fine Print
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR financing for seven billing cycles.
  • APR: 9.74%-20.74% variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness (after seven billing cycles)
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: $19-$49 (depending on your balance)
  • Returned payment fee: $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 4%
  • Cash advance APR: 24.74%
  • Sign-up bonus: $200 statement credit if you spend $500 in your first 60 days
  • Rewards: None

Apply Now

Cash Flow Management

Managing cash flow can be one of the most difficult problems facing small business owners. The Plum Card by American Express makes cash flow easier. The Plum Card is a charge card not a credit card. This means that it is designed to give you access to short-term working capital. However, it is not a good source of financing.

If you pay your bill within 10 days of statement closing, you’ll get a 1.5% discount on eligible charges. Otherwise you have a full 60 days without interest before you need to make a payment. Beware, these benefits come at a steep price. After one year, you’ll pay a $250 annual membership fee. Plus, carrying a balance on a charge card comes with huge penalties. The first time you go past due, you’ll be charged 1.5% of the balance. After that, they charge a late fee of 2.99%. The minimum fee is $38.

The Fine Print
  • Late fee: 1.5%, then 2.99%; minimum of $38
  • Returned payment: $38
  • On-time payment bonus: 1.5% discount if you pay balance within 10 days of statement closing
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, $250 thereafter
  • No cash advance
  • Rewards: None

Apply Now

Imperfect Credit

If you’re struggling to get approved for a small business credit card, the Spark Classic from Capital One offers an excellent option. The card has a high variable APR (23.49%) and mediocre rewards (1% cash back). But Capital One will approve business owners with just average credit.

This isn’t a great card for borrowing, even in the short term. However, the Spark Classic will give you some working capital, and it will help your business build its credit. Just remember to pay your bill on time each month and to keep your credit use low.

The Spark Classic also offers perks like purchase protection, free extended warranties, and travel and emergency assistance. These protections offer tremendous value to business owners.

The Fine Print
  • APR: 23.49% variable APR
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: Up to $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 3%
  • Cash advance APR: 23.49%
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases

Apply Now

Cards for Service Members

Former and current members of any branch of the military can join Navy Federal Credit Union and apply for these high-quality credit cards. The Visa and MasterCard have the same fees and conditions, but they offer different perks.

 

Navy Federal Credit Union’s Visa for Business credit card gives former service members access to low interest rates and rewards spending. This can be an excellent choice for service members with excellent credit who may have to borrow for short-term needs.

The card gives access to the Visa SavingsEdge program, which gives up to 15% off business purchases at qualifying retailers. However, the card doesn’t offer extended warranties or other protections, so it isn’t always the best choice.

The Fine Print
  • APR: 9.65%-18.0%
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: Up to $20
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $20
  • Cash advance fee: $0 at Navy Federal Credit Union branch ATM, 50 cents domestic, $1 foreign
  • Cash advance APR: APR + 2%
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent

Apply Now

Navy Federal Credit Union’s MasterCard for Business credit card gives former service members access to low interest rates and rewards. The low interest rates make it a compelling choice for service members with short-term borrowing needs.

The card gives access to the MasterCard Easy Savings program, which gives automatic 10% rebates at a network of gas stations, auto repair shops, and shipping companies. This can lead to significant savings. The card also connects to the MasterCard Business Network, which makes expense reports easy. However, the card doesn’t offer extended warranties or other protections.

The Fine Print
  • APR: 9.65%-18.0%
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: Up to $20
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $20
  • Cash advance fee: $0 at Navy Federal Credit Union branch ATM, 50 cents domestic, $1 foreign
  • Cash advance APR: APR + 2%
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent

Apply Now

Best Cards for Rewards

Many small business credit cards offer compelling rewards to cardholders. These rewards can allow you to reinvest in your business, or you can take them for personal use. If you choose to use a rewards credit card, try to avoid paying interest. Most of these cards are not good choices for short-term borrowing.

Travel Perks

If you’re a frequent traveler, these small business credit cards give you access to incredible perks. But be sure to read the fine print. These cards have a few gotchas attached.

 

The American Express Business Platinum Card is a charge card with a premium price tag ($450 per year) and premium benefits for some users. Please note, it is not a credit card; you should not plan to borrow money with this card. These are the most significant perks:

  • Global Lounge Collection access, which includes access to Delta Sky Club lounges and American Express Centurion lounges
  • $200 airline fee credit (for checked bags, inflight refreshment, etc.)
  • One free Global Entry or TSA Pre-check application fee (allows you to expedite security at select airports and U.S. Customs)
  • 10 free passes per year to inflight Gogo Wi-Fi and unlimited Boingo (land-based Wi-Fi) access
  • 50% airline points redemption bonus on first- or business-class tickets (if you spend 100,000 points on a business-class ticket, you’ll get 50,000 points back 6-10 weeks later)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Elite Status, which also gets you Marriott Rewards Gold status for room upgrades and free breakfast. It also gets you access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts Program (perks like in-room WiFi, complimentary breakfast, and other hotel perks at participating luxury hotels).
  • Elite status for National car rental for free upgrades whenever you rent a car.
  • This could be a great card for frequent Delta fliers; not only do you get access to the Delta Sky Club lounges but you can also convert the points you earn into Delta SkyMiles.
The Fine Print
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Late fee: 2.99% or $38, whichever is greater
  • Returned payment fee: $38
  • No cash advance
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 within three months of card membership. Earn 25,000 more points after spending an additional $10,000 within your first three months.
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent
  • Bonus rewards: 1.5 points per dollar for first $5,000 spent in a year; 2 points per dollar spent through amextravel.com.

Apply Now

As a business owner, little incidentals can add up in a big way. The Chase Ink Business Preferred Card mitigates these costs by providing high-value insurance protection to you and your employees. Not only will you earn rewards (outlined in the fine print), you’ll enjoy these perks, too.

Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather, or other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.

Trip Delay Reimbursement
If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.

Travel Accident Insurance
When you pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation with your card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary when renting for business purposes and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most cars in the U.S. and abroad.

Baggage Delay Insurance
You are reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for five days.

Lost Luggage Reimbursement
If you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.

Extended Warranty Protection
This warranty extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.

Cellphone Protection
Get up to $600 per claim in cellphone protection against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cellphone bill when you pay it with your Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. There is a maximum of three claims in a 12-month period with a $100 deductible per claim.

The Fine Print
  • APR: 16.49%-21.49%
  • Annual fee: $95 per year
  • Late fee: $15-$39, depending on balance
  • Returned payment fee: $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $15 or 5% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 25.49%
  • Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent, 3 points per dollar spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable or phone services, or online advertising (social media or search engines)
  • Bonus: Points worth 25% more when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase’s travel website)

Big Introductory Bonuses

Business owners who know they’ll spend a lot in a short period of time should take note of these cards. These bonuses provide excellent value if you can meet the spending requirements. But be wary: these cards have high interest rates. You won’t come out ahead if you end up financing a big purchase with these cards.

The Business Platinum Card offers excellent travel perks, but it offers an unparalleled sign-up bonus, too. Right now, you can earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 within three months of card membership. You’ll also earn 25,000 more points after spending an additional $10,000 within your first three months.

If you plan to spend $20,000 or more in the next three months, this bonus is worth the highest value when redeemed for travel rewards. Depending on which option you choose, this bonus may offset annual fees. You need to churn through a lot of money to meet the spending minimums, but this is a lucrative bonus.

Click here to see details including perks and the fine print.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred Card offers ideal perks for frequent travelers, but right now you can get a great sign-up bonus, too. By spending $5,000 in three months, you’ll earn 80,000 points. This bonus is worth $1,000 if you spend your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel or $800 if you redeem for cash back. You can also transfer the points to airline partners like United and Virgin Atlantic and hotel partners like Marriott and Hyatt.

In addition to the lucrative bonus, you can earn everyday spending rewards (including 3 points per dollar spent in certain categories) and valuable trip insurance.

Click here to see details including perks and the fine print.

Cash Back Rewards

Every business owner can benefit from more cash in their pocket. These cards give you the best cash back offers for everyday spending. You can find better rewards if you use multiple cards, but these have excellent rewards for those who don’t want to mess around with multiple cards. Plus, these cards have excellent protections, too. But be careful when you finance with these cards; they don’t offer great terms for borrowing.

 

The Spark Cash card from Capital One offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, and it is free for the first year. Plus, if you spend more than $4,500 in the first three months of holding the card, you get a $500 cash bonus. After the first year, you’ll pay $59 to hold the card. After the first year, if you spent more than $3,000 per year, it’s worth it.

The Spark Cash card also offers valuable protective features like purchase protection, free extended warranties, primary auto rental collision coverage, and more. Overall, the Spark Cash card gives straightforward rewards to business owners with excellent credit.

The Fine Print
  • APR: 17.49% variable APR
  • Penalty APR: 29.9% (applied if you make a late payment)
  • Annual fee: Free for the first year, $59 per year afterward
  • Late fee: Up to $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 3% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 23.49%
  • Sign-up bonus: $500 reward when you spend $4,500 in the first three months
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on all spending

Apply Now

The Spark Cash Select card from Capital One offers a rare combination of friendly financing terms and rewards. You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases, and you’ll receive a $200 sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 or more in your first three months.

On top of that, you’ll have a 0% APR financing rate for nine months, and an APR as low as 13.49% afterward.

This isn’t the most lucrative rewards card, but you won’t pay an annual fee. This makes it a great card for businesses that don’t spend as much on a credit card.

The Fine Print
  • Promo APR: 0% for nine months
  • APR: 13.49%-21.49%, depending on your creditworthiness
  • Penalty APR: 29.9% (applied if you make a late payment)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Late fee: Up to $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 3% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 23.49%
  • Sign-up bonus: $200 reward when you spend $3,000 in the first three months
  • Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all spending

Apply Now

Best Category Bonuses

If you and your employees spend a lot of money in a limited number of categories, you might want to consider a rewards card with heavy bonuses in those categories. These cards offer at least 3 points for every dollar you spend in a given category. That’s the equivalent of a 3% reward.

Remember, rewards cards aren’t usually a good choice for financing purchases. Look to pay off these cards every month.

Online Advertising

Businesses that regularly advertise on social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or via search engines (Google, Bing) can earn impressive rewards on their marketing spending. These are the best cards for heavy online advertisers.

 

You’ll earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on online advertising. In addition, you’ll be eligible for travel perks, sign-up bonuses, and more.Click here to see details including perks and the fine print.

The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card allows you to choose to earn 3 points per dollar spent on any one of the following categories: advertising in select online media, airfare from airlines, gas, shipping, or computers and cloud services from select providers. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar on the categories you don’t choose.

All other spending earns 1 point per dollar you spend.

As a sign-up bonus, you’ll earn 50,000 points if you spend $5,000 or more in your first three months of holding the card. In addition to the rewards, you get trip accident insurance, extended warranties, and purchase protection.

Since the Business Gold Rewards Card is a charge card, you shouldn’t plan to borrow with the card. But the rewards for online advertisers are excellent. Just watch out for the $175 annual fee that kicks in after the first year.

The Fine Print
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $175
  • Late fee: 2.99% or $38, whichever is greater
  • Returned payment fee: $38
  • No cash advance
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 within three months of card membership
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent
  • Bonus rewards: 3 points in one category (pick between advertising in select online media, airfare from airlines, gas, shipping, or computers and cloud services from select providers).
  • 2 points rewards on remaining four categories.

Apply Now

Dining and Travel

Dining and travel cost a lot, but these cards offer enticing rewards. The cards we recommend offer more than 3% cash back on restaurant spending, travel, or both. Plus, they have other compelling perks. But most of these cards aren’t great for borrowing, so check the fine print.

 

The American Express Blue for Business card offers the single best dining deal, at least during your first six months. During the first six months of holding the American Express Blue for Business card, you’ll get 10 points for every dollar you spend at a restaurant up to $2,000. Once the six-month offer period is over, you may want to turn to other rewards programs from the cards we outline below.

This is also one rewards card that has a decent financing option. Right now you can get 0% APR financing for the first twelve months.

Learn more here about the perks, rewards, and fine print before you apply.

Looking to thin down your wallet? A Sam’s Club Business MasterCard, doubles as your membership card. But it’s not just for wholesale shopping. Spending on the Sam’s Club Business MasterCard gives you the opportunity to earn 3% cash back rewards on all restaurant spending worldwide. It also gives 5% cash back rewards on gas (except when purchased at other wholesalers) and 1% on all other spending.

Road warriors and frequent business entertainers will love this card. Plus, the $45 statement credit (if you spend $100 the day you open it) pays for your annual Sam’s Club membership.

The Fine Print
  • APR: 15.15%-23.15%
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% (applied if you make a late payment)
  • Annual fee: $0 (requires $45 Sam’s Club membership)
  • Late fee: Up to $39.99
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $5 or 3% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 20.15%-26.15%
  • Sign-up bonus: $45 statement credit when you spend $100 on your first day (applying in-store makes this easy).
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all spending. Maximum of $5,000 back in a given year.
  • Bonus rewards: 3% on dining and travel expenses. 5% on gas (up to $6,000 in gas purchases). Gas cannot be purchased from other wholesale clubs.

Apply Now

If you prefer Costco to Sam’s Club, the Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card offers similar terms. Their 4-3-2-1 program includes 4% on gas purchases (up to $7,000 per year), 3% cash rewards for all dining and travel expenses, 2% on Costco purchases, and 1% on all other spending.

While the rewards are sweet, the terms can be expensive. This is not a good card for borrowing, so be sure to pay it off each month.

The Fine Print
  • APR: 0% for seven months, then 15.74%
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% (applied if you make a late payment)
  • Annual fee: $0 (requires $55 Costco membership)
  • Late fee: Up to $37
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $37
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 5% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 22.49%
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all spending.
  • Bonus rewards: 4% on gas (up to $7,000 in gas purchases). Gas cannot be purchased from other wholesale clubs. 3% on dining and travel expenses. 2% rewards on all purchases from Costco and Costco.com.

Apply Now

If you’re a frequent business traveller, Chase Ink offers the best rewards. You earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on travel, but you get a travel bonus. Every point is worth 1.25 points when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Travel perks also include trip insurance, auto rental collision damage waivers (this is primary coverage), and more.

Click here to see details including perks and the fine print.

Gas

 

As a small business owner, you know that driving can be an economical choice, but you can also earn rewards for all those miles on the road. Sam’s Club Business MasterCard gives 5% cash back rewards on gas (except when purchased at other wholesalers), and 1% on all other spending.

Even if you don’t frequent Sam’s Club, this is the best category for rewards for gas purchases.

Click here to see details including perks and the fine print.

Learn More

Risks of Using Small Business Credit Cards

Many business owners see credit cards as an easy solution to their capital needs. But small business credit cards have unique risks. Savvy entrepreneurs will consider the risks before opening a new line of credit. These are the most important considerations.

 

1. Personal Liability

As a small business owner, you’re personally liable for credit card debt. Business bankruptcy won’t protect you. Whether your business succeeds or fails, you have to pay back the debt.

The only way to get rid of small business credit card debt is to declare personal bankruptcy. Bankruptcy destroys your credit history for a few years, and it stays on your report for 7-10 years.

Don’t treat a credit card like venture capital. It’s not. You need to repay it.

2. Credit Bureau Reporting

Small business cards don’t report to the credit bureaus the same way personal cards do. Depending on which card you choose, if you pay your credit card on time, you may not see any information on your personal report. For most business owners, that is a good thing. It will keep your personal credit utilization low.

However, an unpaid bill will show up on your personal credit report. A bill that goes unpaid for 60 days will generally appear on your personal credit report. Some banks offer more generous reporting and some less. You can speak with a banker to determine your bank’s reporting standards. Still, your personal credit score can take a hit at the same time that your business credit runs afoul.

When you take out a business credit card, put precautions in place to protect yourself. You can limit employee spending, and remove authorized users. You can also set up automatic payments each month.

3. Not Protected by the Credit CARD Act

In 2009, Congress passed the Credit CARD Act. The act curtailed predatory lending behaviors, including raising interest rates on existing balances. It also required credit cards to be more transparent about rates and fees.

This act does not apply to business credit cards. With a small business card, banks can raise the interest rate on your existing balance at any time. A higher interest rate means a bigger minimum payment and a longer time to pay off your debt. If you’re using your small business credit card to finance something, you could be at risk.

Still, many banks will not raise your rate if you have an excellent history of on-time payments. It is simply a risk to understand.

Another risk related to the Credit CARD Act is the possibility of double-cycle billing. Business credit cards do not require an interest accrual grace period. This means you may begin accruing interest on purchases right away. We only recommend cards that have a grace period of at least 23 days built in. If you choose a different card, be sure to check for this in the rates and fees schedule.

4. Employee Risk

Small business credit cards make it easy to watch employee spending. Still, they pose serious risks. You’re personally liable for any employee spending on a credit card. If you wouldn’t trust an employee with your wallet, don’t trust them with a company card. Employees can rack up debt and leave the company. That leaves you with a bill and no recourse to get the money back.

The Best Ways Use Small Business Credit Cards

Once you understand the risks of small business credit cards, you can also understand their best uses. Over 65% of small businesses use credit cards on a regular basis. Some use them for rewards, and some for financing. In fact, close to 10% of all small business financing comes from credit cards.

Here are some of the best ways to use a small business credit card.

 

1. Earning Rewards and Protection

If you pay your small business credit card in full each month, you can earn substantial rewards. Many business credit cards offer perks, including cash back, travel rewards, extended warranties, trip insurance, and more. As a business owner, you can reinvest the rewards into your business or take them for personal use.

2. Managing Cash Flow

Cash flow problems destroy small businesses, but credit cards provide short-term working capital. If you have a sales cycle that lasts 30 days or less, a credit card can fund inventory purchases. By the time your bill comes due, you’ll have money to pay it off. If you follow this practice, you’ll pay no interest, and you’ll manage your cash flow.

Credit cards can simplify employee monitoring, too. Most business credit cards allow you to place individual restrictions on employee use. That means you can limit how much and where employees can use company cards. But your employees may manage to misuse the cards. If they do, you will be stuck with the bill.

3. Building Business Credit

Businesses have credit reports just like people. Business credit cards can help you build your score. To build your business credit, hold the card under your employer identification number (EIN).

When your EIN establishes a record of paying its bills on time, it makes your business creditworthy. That means you’ll have an easier time finding long-term loans at great rates.

63% of all small businesses carry debt. Having a lower interest rate on that debt could make the difference between success and failure. This means every small business should take their credit history seriously from the outset. Small business credit cards may allow you to build that history without paying interest or fees.

4. Short-Term Borrowing

Small business credit cards have high interest rates, but they can work for short-term borrowing. If you know that you’ll only carry debt for a few months, you may want to finance something with a credit card.

Credit cards do not have origination fees or prepayment penalties. Sometimes this means that they offer the best terms for short-term borrowing. Just be careful when you borrow, and pay it back quickly. High interest debt compounds over time.

If possible, borrow on a card with a 0% introductory offer. Remember, failing to pay off 0% interest purchases may result in back interest. Be sure you understand the risks before you borrow.

The Worst Ways to Use Small Business Credit Cards

Small business credit cards aren’t always the best tool to get the job done. These are a few times when you should avoid using credit cards.

 

1. Personal Expenses

Bad accounting sinks many entrepreneurs. Always keep your personal spending off of your business credit cards. This will simplify bookkeeping, and it will keep your business credit utilization low. If you need to borrow for personal expenses, look for a low-interest credit card instead.

2. Long-Term Financing

Due to the high interest rates, most businesses should not finance long-term commitments using credit cards. Instead, consider an installment loan from a local credit union or a bank.

Applying for an installment loan can be a pain, but the lower interest rate will be worth it in the long run. Keep money in your pocket and avoid small business credit cards for long-term financing.

3. Cash Advances

Cash advances are the most expensive way to use a credit card. Banks begin charging interest right away, and the advance has a higher interest rate. Cash advances also have high fees of up to 10% of the amount you withdraw.

If you need cash, withdraw it from your business checking account instead, or take out a traditional loan.

4. Financing a Failing Business

Do not use credit cards to help a failing business limp along. Too many people will not give up on their idea even when the execution doesn’t work out. Credit card debt will bury a failing company and erode your personal wealth.

Remember, negative credit behavior will show up on your personal credit report. Plus, courts hold you liable for all credit card debt your business incurs. Use an objective lens to decide whether you need to shut down your business.

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Credit Cards, Reviews

Walmart Credit Card and Walmart MasterCard Review

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

If you are a regular shopper of Walmart, you’ve probably also seen their ads plastered in the store for the Walmart Credit Card.

Walmart offers two types of credit cards: the Walmart MasterCard offered by Synchrony Bank, which can be used wherever MasterCard credit cards are accepted; and the Walmart Credit Card, which can only be used at Walmart stores, Walmart Supercenters, Walmart Neighborhood Markets, Walmart.com, Walmart and Murphy USA gas stations, and Sam’s Clubs.

For heavy Walmart shoppers who can pay their balance in full each month, either card’s rewards might be sweet enough to justify signing up. Neither has an annual fee, and you’ll earn cash back in Walmart stores (3%). The regular Walmart Credit Card, however, can be especially appealing to those with low or fair credit scores who have trouble getting approved for other credit cards. In that case, the Walmart credit card can be a useful way to build credit, so long as you spend carefully and pay your bill in full each month.

But before you apply for a Walmart MasterCard or Walmart Credit Card, there are a few things you should be aware of as the Walmart Credit Card may not necessarily be the best choice for your spending habits.

Promotional Offers and Rewards

Dangling a sign-up bonus is a clever way to entice shoppers to sign up for the credit card at checkout. But given how high retail credit card interest rates can be, it’s never a good idea to sign up for a card because of the sign-up reward alone. The Walmart MasterCard and Walmart Credit Card are not exceptions. Unless you’re able to use and pay off your card in full each month, the cards’ painfully high interest rates (we’ll get to that later in this review) can easily eat away at any tangible cash back or sign-up bonus offers.

Walmart offers different promotional offers for cardholders and new accounts throughout the year.

Weak Sign-up Bonus

Currently, Walmart is offering a one-time 10% discount on purchases if you are a new cardholder. Before you get too excited, there’s a caveat: it’s only good on purchases up to $250 because there’s a $25 limit on the discount. It may also be confusing to new cardholders as it says “10% discount,” but you don’t actually get a discount at the register. Instead, it’s applied later as a statement credit.

To take advantage of this discount, you must make a purchase on the same day you are approved for your new credit card. The discount cannot be used for cash advances, gift cards, money orders, or gas purchases.

If you don’t receive immediate approval at a kiosk or online at Walmart.com, but are later approved after the company does more research into your credit history, you will receive a 10% certificate in the mail with your new credit card package. This offer is valid until April 30, 2017.

3-2-1 Save Rewards Program

The 3-2-1 Save Rewards Program allows you to save 3% on Walmart.com purchases, 2% at Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations, and 1% at Walmart and anywhere your card is accepted if you are Walmart MasterCard holder.

If you’re a heavy Walmart shopper, their 3-2-1 rewards program might be just tantalizing enough to justify signing up for their credit cards. There really isn’t another credit card on the market that can get you a 3% return at Walmart; however, there are certainly other cash back credit cards for people who shop at a range of supermarkets looking for a wider range of benefits.

The American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card, for example, has no annual fee and gets you 3% cash back at all supermarkets. However, if you do your grocery shopping at a store like Walmart or Target that is not specifically a stand-alone supermarket, you will only early 1% cash back. You also get 2% back on gas and 1% on everything else. So if you’re not a heavy Walmart shopper, the Blue Cash Everyday Card may be a better idea.

Walmart Credit Card and Walmart MasterCard holders are automatically enrolled in Walmart’s 3-2-1 Save Rewards Program. Walmart Business and Community accounts are not eligible.

You are eligible to earn these rewards as long as your account is open and in good standing, and there are no limits on the rewards that can be earned. Rewards never expire, and you can check your balance by logging in to your account here.

These savings are paid as a statement credit each month on net purchases after adjusting for any possible returns. Cash advances, quick cash advances, fees, and interest do not qualify for these savings rewards. Unfortunately, these benefits also cannot be stacked with the 10% discount for the first purchase for new cardholders.

The Fine Print

The Walmart Credit Card and Walmart MasterCard do not have an annual fee. However, the interest rate on the Walmart Credit Card is where it gets scary. The current APR is 23.15% based on the prime rate plus 19.65% and is subject to change as the prime rate fluctuates. The Walmart MasterCard interest rates range from 17.15% to 23.15%, depending on your creditworthiness.

You can avoid paying interest on your charges by paying your entire balance in full every month. Your due date will be at least 23 days after the close of each billing cycle.

Other fees are fairly standard. Late payment fees are up to $37. There is a foreign transaction fee of 3% on the Walmart MasterCard, which means you definitely don’t want to rely on this card overseas. Cash advances for the same card cost $5 or 3%, whichever is greater. The interest rate for cash advances ranges from 20.15% to 26.15%.

Applying for the Walmart Credit Card

You can apply for a Walmart Credit Card or Walmart MasterCard at any Walmart store register or jewelry kiosk, or online at Walmart.com. When you choose to apply, Synchrony Bank will pull your credit score and look at other factors, like your income level, debt level, employment, and more.

Applying for the Walmart Credit Card is pretty simple, and most of the time you can get an instant answer. But like any other credit card application, applying for a new card does require a hard pull on your credit, which will ding your credit score.

There is no preset credit score requirement listed to qualify. But many cardholders report qualifying for this credit card with a low credit score. The high interest rate is also an indicator that those who are working to build credit may qualify.

Applying in-store and being approved means you will receive a Temporary Shopping Pass that is only good for 24 hours in that particular Walmart store location.

Pros and Cons

Pro: There’s no annual fee to worry about.

Con: A high interest rate. Carrying a balance on your account will quickly outweigh the savings benefits of this credit card.

Pro: No cap on regular rewards. You can earn as many rewards as you want for your purchases.

Con: Rewards cannot be stacked with other offers, like the 10% discount for new cardholders.

Pro: Those with low credit may be able to qualify and use this card for everyday purchases to help improve their credit score.

Con: Because there are so many stores and so many items, having a Walmart Credit Card could be a nasty temptation if you don’t have a handle on your finances.

Other Rewards Cards

The Walmart Credit Card limits you to purchases only at Walmart stores, Walmart Supercenters, Walmart Neighborhood Markets, Walmart.com, Walmart and Murphy USA gas stations, and Sam’s Clubs. This is why store cards may not be the best choice if you are looking to earn rewards. But even if you qualify for the Walmart MasterCard so you can use it to save on purchases at locations other than Walmart, there are still better rewards credit cards available.

Citi Double Cash – With the Citi Double Cash card, you’ll earn 1% cash back on purchases, just like the Walmart MasterCard. But with this card, you’ll get another 1% cash back when you pay off your credit card statement. Plus, the Citi Double Cash card has no annual fee. But, you can use this card to earn rewards at superstores and warehouse stores like Walmart and Target.

Discover it – The Discover it credit card gives 1% cash back, but you can also earn 5% cash back in revolving categories each quarter, up to $1,500 of purchases. For the first quarter of 2017, the categories are gas stations, ground transportation, and wholesale clubs. The second quarter of 2017 includes home improvement stores and wholesale clubs. Also, Discover it matches all of your cash back, dollar for dollar, at the end of the first year.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card: The American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card, for example, has no annual fee and gets you 3% cash back at all supermarkets. However, if you do your grocery shopping at a store like Walmart or Target that is not specifically a stand-alone supermarket, you will only early 1% cash back. You also get 2% back on gas and 1% on everything else. If you’re not a heavy Walmart shopper, the Blue Cash Everyday Card may be a better idea.

Who Will Benefit Most from the Walmart Credit Card?

While store cards are not usually a good idea for staying on budget, the Walmart Credit Card can be used for things like groceries and household necessities. The card may also be good for someone who is looking to rebuild their credit and can’t qualify for other credit cards as the required credit score to qualify for a Walmart Credit Card is typically low, although a specific score needed is not stated on their website.

On the other hand, it’s worth being cautious if you decide to apply for the Walmart Credit Card. With its high interest rate, carrying a balance will do more harm than good.

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College Students and Recent Grads, Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review

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

LendKey Student Loan Refinance Review

Updated February 9, 2016

Could you imagine trying to find the best student loan refinancing rate from community banks and credit unions on your own? How would you do it? Would you call every bank and credit union and ask for help? What a nightmare.

LendKey has relationships with 300+ community banks and credit unions all over the United States. LendKey* can issue loans to residents in any of the 50 states. This keeps you from having to pound the pavement by your lonesome. LendKey’s website will show you the best rate for refinancing your student loans.

Since 2007, LendKey has been a one stop shop for student loan refinancing. It also offers other types of loans. But for the sake of this review we’ll be focusing on how LendKey takes care of graduates looking to improve their debt situation. Fixed APRs range from 3.25% – 7.26%. Variable rates start as low as 2.22%. LendKey is one of the top four lenders in MagnifyMoney’s survey of where to refinance your student loan.

Who can benefit from using LendKey? Anyone hoping to refinance their student loans should consider LendKey. It is easy to apply:

Lendkey

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If you’re on the fence about refinancing, here are some of the benefits to be gained:

Lower Payments

Refinance your way to a more manageable monthly payment.

Lower Rates

Spend less on interest by getting a lower rate than the aggregate of all individual student loans.

Simplified Finances

Making payments on multiple loans to multiple institutions at different times of the month can be quite the hassle. It’s much easier to remember just one payment. Many lenders even let you consolidate both private and federal loans.

Different Repayment Options

Different lenders offer different repayment options. It’s wise to explore all the options to determine what makes the most sense for your particular situation.

Pros of Using LendKey

A Unified Application Process

This is hugely important. With LendKey, you’re not shuffled through tons of screens on different domains – all using different logons and different (confusing!) user interfaces. Within 5 minutes, a person can navigate through LendKey’s application process. This means after 5 minutes, you can see how much you can save by refinancing. You can even choose what loan you want.

Cosigner Release Available

Yes, you can secure a low interest rate and then cut loose your cosigner. Once you prove you are responsible – LendKey no longer needs a cosigner tied to your account. This may help convince a cosigner to work with you initially. They won’t need to be on the hook for long. Once you’ve made 12 full and consecutive on-time payments, your cosigner may be released. LendKey does a credit check and examines your income to see if you are free to go it alone.

No Origination Fee

This is helpful since it means you are free to shop around without feeling committed.

Further Interest Rate Reduction

1% interest rate reduction once 10% of the loan principal is repaid during the full repayment period. This is subject to the floor rate.

0.25% ACH Interest Rate Reduction

Many lenders reduce interest rates by a quarter percent for borrowers who agree to automatic payments.

Federal and Private Loans Can Be Consolidated Together

However, you lose some federal benefits in doing so. Things like free insurance (provided with federal loans if you are killed or severely disabled), public service forgiveness and military service forgiveness as well as income-based repayment plans. Grace periods will likely be omitted when writing the new consolidated loan.

Over 40,000 Borrowers Serviced

As of January 2016, 40,000 people have used LendKey’s services.

Excellent Customer Support

According to cuStudentLoans (which LendKey owns so take this with a grain of salt), 97% of customers are satisfied. Customer support comes out of New York and Ohio. Phone support is available each day from 9AM to 8PM EST.

For what it’s worth, I called into support 5 times at random. The support I received from the sales team was really great. Even the gentleman with only 6 months of experience was quite knowledgeable.

Eligible Schools

This list of eligible schools is 2,200 and growing. Chances are your school is on the list. However, LendKey doesn’t encourage students to submit eligibility requests as other student loan refinancers do.

Return Policy

Yes, you can ‘return’ your loan. LendKey offers a 30 day no-fee return policy to allow you to cancel the loan within 30 days of disbursement without fees or interest. That’s pretty incredible.

Cons

LendKey Doesn’t Give You the Complete Picture

LendKey doesn’t help a lot with stacking institutions against each other. I suppose this is meant to not to play favorites. However, it would be nice to be able to read about each institution within the LendKey interface. I’d still advise opening up another tab to research the banks you are considering.

The Fine Print You May Miss

Since LendKey is a loan matchmaker, there isn’t a lot of fine print on the site. This means a person still needs to review the fine print of each institution before finalizing his or her loan as mentioned before. LendKey does a fantastic job of getting you 90% of the way. But that last 10% of fine print is between you and your lending institution. Read through everything before signing up for a new loan.

I read the Better Business Bureau complaint log for LendKey. There are only 11 complaints in the past 3 years. SoFi (a competitor) has 18 and another competitor, Earnest, has no complaints. These complaints were mostly small misunderstandings between the LendKey support team and the borrowers.

The Application Process

There are four steps to the simple application process. Step 1 is for estimating monthly payments for a private student loan. It’s simple. You identify the amount you’d like to borrow and fill in a radio button indicating your credit is fair, good, or excellent. The last part is where you enter which state you live in. This is because many programs are state specific. Step 1 takes 1 minute.

Step 2 takes 2 minutes. This is the step where you compare the rates and offers available to you. Choose what works best for your unique situation.

Step 3 again only takes 1 minute. This is the actual application. As mentioned earlier in this article, this process is done through the LendKey interface. And don’t worry, information inputted into LendKey is safe (privacy policy).

Step 4 takes 10 minutes. This is the step where a person verifies identity, school, and income (screenshots/pictures work so there’s no hassle with scanning!). You will know if you are approved during this step.

As with any company, there are competitors. Here are two worthy rivals also worth considering:

Alternatives to LendKey

SoFi

SoFi stands out with a job placement programs, free wealth management for borrowers and even a dating app. More importantly, SoFi has low interest rates, with variable rates starting at 2.355% and fixed rates starting at 3.375%.

SoFi logo

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Earnest

If you have a low credit score but have potential to earn a good income, Earnest will treat you well. Earnest looks beyond a simple credit score. The application process examines employment history, future earning potential and overall financial situation.

Earnest seems to take a very personal approach to each customer. A customer states an amount they can pay each month and Earnest will give them a loan, accordingly. Earnest also lets borrowers skip a payment each year. This could come in handy if money gets tight around the holidays. Just keep in mind, this can increase your future payments to compensate for the missed on.

Fixed interest rates start at 3.75% and variable interest rates start at 2.55%.

However, Earnest isn’t available for all US residents.

Earnest

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Final Thoughts

LendKey runs a fantastic student loan refinancing division. The company offers many, many customizable options with very few downsides. With no application fee, it’s worth seeing what this student loan refinancing powerhouse can do for you.

Lendkey

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

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Credit Cards, Reviews

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

Advertiser Disclosure

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

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

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

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

Overview of the MasterCard Black Card

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

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

Travel

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

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

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

Other travel perks available with this card include:

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

Cash back

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

Gifts

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

Unique experiences

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

Concierge services

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

Fine Print and Fees

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

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

For cash advances, the APR is 25.74%.

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

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

How to Earn Redeem Points

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

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

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

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

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

Pros and Cons

Pro: Variety of travel-related rewards.

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

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

Con: Can’t transfer points to other programs.

Pro: 24-hour concierge service.

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

Other Options

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

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

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

Here are some great alternatives to the MasterCard Black Card.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

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

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

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

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

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

Venture from Capital One

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

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

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

Final Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Credit Cards, Reviews

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

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

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

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

In this post we’ll discuss:

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

Gap Credit Card Reward Basics

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

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

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

How to redeem points

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

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

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

Gap Silver status

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

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

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

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

In addition, Gap Silver members get:

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

Interest and Fees

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

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

Applying for a Gap Credit Card

Applying for a Gap Credit Card

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

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

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

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

Hazards of Store Credit Cards

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

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

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

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

Other Cards That Can Be Used for Retail Spending

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Will Benefit the Most from a Gap Credit Card

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

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

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Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan Review

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

LightStream Auto Loan Review

Updated January 25, 2016

Automobile shopping can be stressful. Besides trying to find just the right car for you or your family, there is the additional stress of finding the right price, the right financing, as well as factoring a monthly payment into your budget.

But with more online-only banks offering auto loans at extremely competitive interest rates, the auto loan game is changing. Today, your best bet is to obtain financing before setting foot in a dealership so you have a budget to stick to and you know exactly what your monthly payment will be.

The Offer

LightStream offers both secured and unsecured auto loans from $5,000 to $100,000 and rates as low as 2.19%. LightStream can get money in your account in as little as one day in some cases, and always with no fees whatsoever.

How To Apply

You can complete your LightStream auto loan application online, but you must 1) acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s Statement on the Use of Electronic Records, 2) agree to receive electronic records, and 3) agree to use electronic signature to sign your loan documents.

In order to apply, you will need:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

During business hours, LightStream will email you regarding your application. If you are approved, you will be able to then go online, electronically sign your loan agreement, provide any additional information, as well as choose your funding and due dates. The funds will be transferred to your bank account on the funding date that you chose, on the same day in some cases.

To qualify, you must have either excellent or good credit. LightStream lists the following as criteria for excellent credit:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save evidenced by some or all of the following; liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings, and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Good credit is essentially the same criteria as excellent credit, as seen above, but with fewer than 5 years of credit history.

Satisfaction Guarantee

LightStream does not provide any phone customer support for loans. Instead, it offers email support in an effort to keep costs low. Because the lack of phone support is unorthodox, it offers a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience. If you are not satisfied and wish to claim the $100 guarantee, you must contact customer service within 30 days of your loan and fill out a questionnaire.

The Fine Print

Your APR will be based on creditworthiness, loan amount, and loan term, as seen in the chart below for an auto-loan on a new car:

The Fine Print

Rates in the chart above are shown inclusive of a 0.50% AutoPay Discount. If you choose not to enroll in AutoPay, your rate will reflect a 0.50% increase. AutoPay payments will come directly out of your bank account. Otherwise, you can choose to pay by invoice, which must be returned by mail. You cannot make payments at a SunTrust Bank branch.

LightStream does not charge any closing or disbursement fees. It also does not charge fees for prepayment. You can prepay principal on your loan by logging into your online account.

Pros

  • Rates as low as 2.19%
  • Can borrow as little as $5,000 or as much as $100,000
  • You can borrow for a new or used car
  • Terms from 24 to 84 months
  • No prepayment penalties
  • No closing or disbursement fees
  • Secured and unsecured loans

Cons

  • APRs as high as 6.29%
  • APR will increase 0.50% if you don’t enroll in AutoPay
  • Excellent or good credit required for financing

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How It Stacks Up

If a low APR is your priority, consider looking into an auto loan from Capital One. It offers APRs from 1.99% to 2.49% and terms of 36 to 72 months on new vehicles.  There is no origination fee, but it only offers loans up to $40,000, with the option to get pre approval online before shopping.

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New England Federal Credit Union is another option for an auto loan with rates from 1.45% to 13.99% and terms from 12 to 96 months on new vehicles and 84 months on used cars. NEFCU can loan up to $70,000 with no origination fee, but there is no option for pre approval.

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LightStream offers a fairly straightforward auto loan experience whether you’re buying a new or used auto with low rates, long terms, and no fees for closing, disbursement, or prepayment. As with any loan, make sure that you are getting the lowest rate possible, as even one percentage lower can save you thousands of dollars in interest.

Finally, make sure that you can afford the monthly payment. Auto loan terms are getting longer, and you do not want to have an auto loan payment that is more than you can afford for 6+ years.

Find other auto loan options here.

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Reviews

Buckle Store Credit Card Review: High Interest and Fine Print

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

Buckle Store Credit Card Review: High Interest and Fine Print

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

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

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

In this post we’ll cover:

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

Buckle Store Credit Card Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redeeming Points Earned

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

The periods are:

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

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

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

Additional Buckle Credit Card Card Perks

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

Buckle Classic

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

Buckle BLACK

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

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

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

Buckle EXCLUSIVE

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

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

Interest Rates and Fees

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

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

Applying for the Buckle Credit Card

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

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

Here’s how:

1. Go Buckle.com.

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

Buckle Online Checkout Page

3. Fill in your name and billing information.

Online Form at Checkout Page

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

Buckle Credit Card Online Pre-Approval

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

Is a Store Card Worthwhile?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.

You get unlimited 1% cash back on other purchases. The rewards categories for each quarter in 2017 can be found here.

If you’re considering the Buckle Credit Card to buy apparel, the Chase Freedom card could be worthwhile when they allow you to earn 5% cash back at department stores. Other past quarterly revolving categories have included restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.

The interest rate on the Chase Freedom card is also more competitive, with a range of 15.49% to 24.24% APR. It has a 0% introductory APR period for 15 months.

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

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

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

Who Will Benefit Most from the Buckle Credit Card?

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

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

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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

DRB Student Loan Refinance Review

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

Students throwing graduation hats

Updated January 24, 2017

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

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

Loan Details

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

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

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

[Look into refinance options on our table here.]

Loan Qualifications

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

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

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

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

Fees & Gotchas

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

Pros and Cons

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

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

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

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Student Loan Refinance Alternatives

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

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

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

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Who Will Benefit Most From This Refinance?

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

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

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Reviews

How BioCatch Uses Behavioral Biometrics to Help Keep Cyber Criminals at Bay

Advertiser Disclosure

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

 

There’s a pressing need for innovative cyber security systems. Analysis from Juniper Research found the rise of professional cyber criminals could result in more successful attacks in the future. The firm estimates that data breaches could cost businesses over $2.1 trillion by 2019.

Founded in 2011 by former Israel Defense Forces intelligence officer Avi Turgeman and cyber security expert Uri Rivner, BioCatch is one example of innovation. The company offers a variety of user authentication and fraud prevention services to businesses based on its use of behavioral biometrics. The company has a portfolio of 34 patents, seven of which have been granted, raised $1 million in seed funding in September 2013, and brought in another $10 million in a series A round in 2014.

What is behavioral authentication?

BioCatch offers cloud-based behavioral authentication services for mobile and web applications. Using behavioral biometric data is one of the cutting-edge ways companies are authenticating users, and it’s potentially one of the best ways to keep your system secure.

Greg Hluska, a web developer and self-described hacker, explains traditional authentication methods differ from behavioral authentication in one key way. Typical authentication methods rely on something the user knows, like a password or passcode. Newer two-factor authentication methods rely on something the user knows and something they have, such as a password and a code that’s sent to their phone or an email account.

Behavioral authentication, on the other hand, changes things up by adding a verification layer based on how a user acts rather than what they know or have.

When companies like BioCatch try to track behaviors of people as they use mobile devices, they typically look at three different types of activity, explains Jason Sinchak, co-founder and CTO of mobile security company Sentegrity.

 

  • User interaction: How users touch the screen and type on the keyboard can be used to identify them or detect fraud.
  • Environment: Input from environmental sensors on the device, such as GPS, time, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Device movement: How a user holds a device and activity associated with the device prior to an authentication attempt, such as running or walking.

Similar tests are implemented for computer-based systems. For example, if someone steals your information and logs in to your account, a behavioral authentication system might be able to detect the potential fraud based on typing patterns or how the cursor moves.

How does BioCatch’s behavioral authentication work?

BioCatch isn’t the only company in the behavioral biometric and authentication space, but it is one of the industry leaders. The company currently has clients in the banking and e-commerce space in North America, Latin America, and Europe and analyzes over a billion transactions each month.

Hluska says he’s familiar with BioCatch primarily because of the co-founder Turgeman’s previous service in Unit 8200. Unit 8200 is a decades-old intelligence unit within the Israeli Intelligence Corps. “They’re extremely hardcore,” Hluska says. “It’s like the Jedi Academy of the InfoSec world.”

According to its website, BioCatch uses more than 500 parameters to create unique user profiles. Once you log in to an account, such as your online bank account, the software starts to build a “signature” for you based on how you interact with the site, the device you use, and other identifying information. In the future, when someone tries to log in to your account, their actions can be compared to your normal usage to help detect fraudulent activity.

To build and strengthen its profile, BioCatch creates “Invisible Cognitive Challenges” (ICC) for users to complete. They’re invisible because the user might not even realize they’re taking place. For example, on a mobile device the user might be prompted to input a date, and BioCatch could detect how quickly the person spins each wheel, how they stop, and how they handle corrections if they spin a wheel too quickly. On a computer, ICC could make a user’s cursor disappear after they complete a task and detect how the user goes about “searching” for the cursor.

Even without a user’s profile, BioCatch can help detect and prevent cyber crime by matching a user’s actions with known indicators. For example, cyber criminals tend to use keyboard shortcuts and copy and paste more often than other people.

In addition to helping authenticate users, BioCatch’s platforms offer a variety of protections against malware, bots, and social engineering. As a client, you can log in to a web portal to access a real-time assessment and easy-to-understand visualization of current sessions and associated risk scores based on the user’s biometrics.

Is implementing a behavioral authentication system always a good idea?

“Humans are the weakest link in many organizations’ cyber defenses,” says Joshua Crumbaugh, CEO of cyber security firm PeopleSec and a professional hacker. Cities, casinos, Fortune 500 corporations, and the U.S. government have all hired Crumbaugh to try and find weaknesses in their cyber security systems. Crumbaugh draws his conclusion from the ideas that humans can be “hacked” and can’t be updated or patched, and often people don’t think before they click. “This easily allows attackers to get a foothold within the network and bypass key protections such as multi-factor authentication,” says Crumbaugh. He also thinks that using behavioral biometrics could be a positive game changer for cyber defense.

While he may be right, there could be more to the picture than security. Thomas P. Keenan, a professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design and an adjunct professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary, points to the “creepiness” factor inherent in collecting biometric data. “Monitoring things like how we hold our phones may indeed give people reason to dislike the company that is doing this to them,” says Keenan. “If another company makes a point of not tracking you in this way, that may constitute a competitive advantage.” However, a customer also likely won’t be happy if their account gets hacked or their personal information is stolen, so it’s a trade-off that could be worthwhile.

Should you give BioCatch a shot?

While no cyber security system is failproof, BioCatch’s behavioral biometric, authentication, and malware services are worth considering if you’re trying to protect mobile or web applications. The company has expertise working with banks, software vendors, and e-commerce clients and appears to have a good track record. Still, you may want to interview several companies to find the one that best meets your needs and budget.

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