Reviews, Small Business

Kabbage Small Business Loan Review

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

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Kabbage Small Business Loan Review

Kabbage was founded in 2008 and started lending to small businesses in 2010. According to its site, it has funded over $550 million to small businesses over the years, and it offers personal loans as well.

Kabbage offers small businesses a line of credit, rather than a traditional installment loan (paid over the course of a set period of time). This offers you more flexibility, and you only pay for what you borrow.

Additionally, Kabbage has optimized its application process so you can apply and get a decision on approval in minutes. Let’s take a look at the details.

Kabbage Small Business Loan Details

Kabbage’s revolving line of credit ranges from $2,000 to $150,000 and you can draw upon it any time you need the cash – as often as once per day. The length of the loan is 6 months.

Kabbage doesn’t charge you interest on the loan. Instead, you’ll be assessed a fee of 1.50% to 10.00% of your selected loan amount for the first two months of your loan. Each month thereafter, you’ll pay 1% of your selected loan amount.

As for the actual repayment amount, you be paying back 1/6th of the total loan amount each month, plus the fee you’re assessed.

A payment example might make it easier to understand (and Kabbage has a detailed repayment calculator you can use for your own estimates). If you borrow $55,000 on a 6 month term, you’ll pay a total of $61,600, as the fees total $6,600 ($2,200 for the first two months, and $550 for the remaining four months).

This results in a monthly payment of $11,366.67 for the first two months, and $9,716.67 for the remaining four months.

However, you can pay your loan off early without penalty and save on the cost of the loan.

The Pros and Cons of a Kabbage Small Business Loan

Pro: Since the loan is a line of credit, it’s extremely flexible for business owners. If you ever need more money, you can take it out, and if you don’t, then you can simply borrow the least amount possible and pay it back.

Con: Lines of credit aren’t for everyone, and Kabbage’s repayment process is a little confusing. Having an installment loan might be easier for your business to manage. You’ll likely be paying the most during the first two months of the loan, so you should make sure your business can handle the higher payments when you apply.

Pro: The application process is very quick. You can link your various business accounts to your Kabbage account, and it will pull the information directly from those accounts so you don’t need to send in any paperwork. In some situations, you can get funded the same day you apply.

Con: You must repay your line of credit in six months, which isn’t a lot of time, especially if you’re borrowing close to the $100,000 limit. There are other lenders who have longer repayment terms for six-figure amounts.

Pro: Kabbage has “perks” available through partnerships, so you can get discounts on certain services your business may benefit from. You also receive a $200 gift card when you refer a small business to Kabbage.

What Businesses Are Eligible For a Loan With Kabbage?

To be eligible for a loan with Kabbage, your business must have at least one year in operating history, and must have generated at least $2,000 in monthly revenue in the past 3 months.

Like most small business loan lenders, Kabbage doesn’t just take credit score into account (there’s no minimum specified). It looks at your time in business, average monthly revenue, transaction volume, and even customer reviews.

It says it works with “all small businesses” – brick-and-mortar, online, and service providers – and doesn’t specify any industries it doesn’t work with.

Application Process and Documents Needed

Kabbage’s application and funding process are very quick. If you submit all the information needed, and your bank information doesn’t need to be verified, you might even be able to get funded the same day you apply.

The application process is paperless if you want to link up all your business accounts to your Kabbage account. It offers support for QuickBooks, Sage, PayPal, Amazon, Etsy, Shopify, ebay, Authorize.net, and Yahoo.

Kabbage will directly deposit your funds into your bank or your PayPal account. PayPal is instantaneous, while it can take up to 3 business days for the funds to be deposited to your bank. In case you’re wondering, there are no fees for using PayPal. Kabbage states, “When you request a loan, you receive exactly that amount in your account.”

Applying for a small business loan with Kabbage won’t harm your credit score initially – it uses a soft pull when you apply. However, if you go on to accept the loan a hard pull will be used.

The Fine Print

There’s no penalty for paying your loan off early and no hidden fees associated with the loan.

As mentioned, there are fees assessed that you must pay each month in place of being charged interest. You should compare Kabbage’s loan against other lenders to see which one is more expensive.

If you draw on your line of credit, you won’t have a different due date each time. Your payments will all be rolled together.

Additionally, you won’t encounter fees with PayPal if you use it with Kabbage.

Which Businesses Benefit the Most from a Loan With Kabbage?

Due to Kabbage’s focus on technology during the application process, online businesses can benefit the most from a loan with Kabbage. The ability to link up any online store accounts you have is great, as you don’t need to worry about submitting statements for each.

Overall, just about any business can benefit from a loan with Kabbage, as its eligibility requirements are fairly simple to meet.

Kabbage

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Other Alternative Small Business Lenders

Kabbage is one of the few online small business lenders offering lines of credit as opposed to an installment loan. When compared with the other line of credit offerings out there, Kabbage looks to be one of the best choices.

OnDeck offers a revolving line of credit option in addition to an installment loan. You can only borrow up to $20,000, and the APR ranges from 29.99% to 49.00%. There’s also a $20 monthly maintenance fee (waived for the first 6 months if you draw $5,000 or more in your first week of opening the account), and you have to make weekly payments over the course of 6 months.

To qualify, your business must have at least one year in operating history, $200,000 in annual revenue, and one business owner with a 600+ credit score.

ondeck

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Another alternative, if it’s close by, is the Wells Fargo BusinessLine Line of Credit. You must apply in person, but you can get approved for $10,000 up to $100,000, and it’s a revolving line of credit. Your business must have at least 2 years in operating history to qualify. The rates are between the prime rate + 1.75% and prime rate + 9.75%. As of this writing, that’s 5% – 13%.

It’s an unsecured loan, though there is a $150 opening fee ($250 for lines over $25,000), and an annual fee of $150 after your first year.

wells fargo

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Always Shop Around

While Kabbage doesn’t charge interest, the fees assessed can equal around 27% – 40% APR. Small business loans from online lenders are quite expensive because of the convenience. It’s up to you to shop around to get the best (and cheapest) loan available to you. That might mean going with an installment loan over a line of credit. Always run the numbers to make sure the loan you’re taking on will benefit your business.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

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

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College Students and Recent Grads, Pay Down My Debt, Reviews

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance Loan Review

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

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CommonBond Grad Student Loan Refinance Loan Review

Updated June 26, 2017

CommonBond was founded by three Wharton MBAs who felt the sting of student loans after they graduated. The founders decided to provide a better solution for graduates, as they thought the student loan system was broken and in need of reform. As a result, they strive to make the refinance (and borrowing) process as simple and straightforward for graduates as possible.

CommonBond* began by servicing students from just one school, and has rapidly expanded. Today, CommonBond loans are available to graduates of over 2,000 schools nationwide. Although the business started servicing only students with graduate degrees, today CommonBond is also available to refinance undergraduate degrees as well.

CommonBond is one of the top four lenders identified by MagnifyMoney to refinance student loans.

As you might be able to tell by the name, CommonBond thinks of its community as family. There is a network of alumni and professionals within the community that want to help borrowers. This alone sets it apart from other lenders, as members often meet for events.

While these are all great things, we know you’re more interested in how CommonBond might be able to help you make your student loans more affordable. Let’s take a look at what terms and rates they offer, eligibility requirements, and how they compare against other lenders.

Refinance Terms Offered

CommonBond offers low variable and fixed rate loans. Variable rates range from 2.61% – 6.54% APR, and fixed rates range from 3.35% – 6.74% APR.

Note that these rates take a 0.25% auto pay discount into consideration.

There is no maximum loan amount. CommonBond will lend what you can afford to repay. CommonBond offers fixed and variable rates with terms of 5, 10, 15, and 20 years.

The hybrid loan is only offered on a 10 year term – the first 5 years will have a fixed rate, and the 5 years after that will have a variable rate.

CommonBond has a great chart listing repayment examples based off of borrowing $10,000, which can be found on its rates and terms page.

To pull an example from that, if you borrow $10,000 at a fixed 4.74% APR on a 10 year term, your monthly payment will be $104.80. The total amount you will pay over the 10 year period will be $12,575.90.

The Pros and Cons

CommonBond is available to graduates of 2,000 universities. While that is a very long list, not all colleges and universities are included.

One pro to consider is the hybrid loan option available. It might seem a little confusing at first – why would someone want a variable rate down the road?

If you’re confident you’ll be able to make extra payments on your loan and pay it off before the 5 years are up, you might be better off going with the hybrid option (if you can get a better interest rate on it).

This is because you’ll end up paying less over the life of the loan with a lower interest rate. If you were offered a 10 year loan with a fixed rate of 6.49% APR, and a hybrid loan with a beginning rate of 5.64%, the hybrid option would be the better deal if you’re intent on paying it off quickly.

What You Need to Qualify

CommonBond doesn’t list many eligibility requirements on its website, aside from the following:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • You must have graduated

CommonBond doesn’t specify a minimum credit score needed, but based on the requirements of other lenders, we recommend having a score of 660+, though you should be aiming for 700+. The good news is CommonBond lets you apply with a cosigner in case your credit isn’t good enough.

Documents and Information Needed to Apply

CommonBond’s application process is very simple – it says it takes as little as 2 minutes to complete. Initially, you’ll be asked for basic information such as your name, address, and school.

Once you complete this part, CommonBond will perform a soft credit pull to estimate your rates and terms.

If you want to move forward with the rates and terms offered, you’ll be required to submit documentation and a hard credit inquiry will be conducted. CommonBond lists the following as required:

  • Pay stubs or tax returns (proof of employment)
  • Diploma or transcript (proof of graduation)
  • Student loan bank statement
  • ID, utility bills, lease agreement (proof of residency)

CommonBond also notes it can take up to 5 business days to verify documents submitted, so the loan doesn’t happen instantaneously.

Once your documents are approved, you electronically sign for the loan, and CommonBond will begin the process of paying off your previous lenders. It notes this can take up to two weeks from the time the loan is accepted.

Who Benefits the Most from Refinancing Student Loans with CommonBond?

Borrowers who are looking to refinance a large amount of student loan debt will benefit the most from refinancing with them.

Common Bond

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Keeping an Eye on the Fine Print

CommonBond does not have a prepayment penalty, and there are no origination fees nor application fees associated with refinancing.

As with other lenders, there is a late payment fee. This is 5% of the unpaid amount of the payment due, or $10, whichever is less.

If a payment fails to go through, you’ll be charged a $15 fee.

It’s also noted that failure to make payments may result in the loss of the 0.25% interest rate deduction from auto pay.

Transparency Score

Getting in touch with a representative is simple and there is a chat and call option right on the homepage. Some lenders have this hidden at the bottom, or they don’t offer a chat option at all.

CommonBond also lets borrowers know they can shop around within a 30 day period to lessen the impact on their credit.

It does not list its late fees on its website, unlike other lenders. However, after making a chat inquiry, the question was answered promptly.

CommonBond does offer a cosigner release and is ranked with a A+ transparency score.

Alternative Student Loan Refinancing Lenders

The student loan refinancing market continues to get more competitive, and it makes sense to shop around for the best deal.

One of the market leaders is SoFi. It’s always worth taking a look to see if SoFi* offers a better interest rate.

The two lenders are very similar – CommonBond offers “CommonBridge,” a service that helps you find a new job in the event you lose yours. SoFi offers a similar service called Unemployment Protection.

SoFi’s variable rates are currently 2.615% – 6.54% APR with autopay, and its fixed rates are currently 3.35% – 6.74% APR, which is in line with what CommonBond is offering.

SoFi also doesn’t have a limit on how much you can refinance with them.

SoFi logo

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Another lender to consider is Earnest. There is no maximum loan amount, and Earnest has a very slick application process. Interest rates start as low as 2.61% (variable) and 3.35% (fixed).

Earnest Credit Card

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Lastly, you could check out LendKey. It offers student loan refinancing through credit unions and community banks, but only offers variable rates in most states and fixed rates in a select few. The maximum amount to refinance with an undergraduate degree is $125,000, and the maximum amount to refinance with a graduate degree is $175,000.

All three of these options provide forbearance in case of economic hardship and offer similar loan options (5, 10, 15 year terms).

Lendkey

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Don’t Forget to Shop Around

As CommonBond initially conducts a soft pull on your credit, you’re free to continue to shop around for the best rates if you’re not happy with the rates it can provide. As the lender states on its website, if you apply for loans within a 30 day period, your credit won’t be affected as much.

Since CommonBond does have strict underwriting criteria, you should continue to shop around and don’t be discouraged if you are not approved. The market continues to get more competitive, and a number of good options are out there.

Customize Your Student Loan Offers with MagnifyMoney Comparison Tool

 

*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.

 

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

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

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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

Laurel Road (formerly DRB) Student Loan Refinance Review

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

Advertiser Disclosure

Students throwing graduation hats

Updated June 15, 2017

Laurel Road (formerly know as DRB – rebranded on June 15) is a division of Darien Rowayton Bank that offers a highly competitive student loan refinance product. In addition to a competitive interest rate, Laurel Road offers some decent loan perks that sets it apart from others.

According to Laurel Road, 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, the bank might completely forgive loans or allow for partial payments. Read on for the ins and outs of a Laurel Road loan to see if it’s the right refinance for you.

Loan Details

Laurel Road 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 3.63% 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, Laurel Road does not disclose its underwriting requirements. The requirements can change over time. However, Laurel Road 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. Laurel Road does not have an official co-signer release program. However, a representative of Laurel Road confirmed to MagnifyMoney that Laurel Road will consider a co-signer release upon request of the borrower on a case by case basis.

Laurel Road 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

Laurel Road 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. Laurel Road 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 Laurel Road. Loan benefits like forbearance, deferment and loan forgiveness are other advantages. Laurel Road 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, Laurel Road 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, Laurel Road may allow you to defer payments for up to 6 months.

There aren’t many disadvantages of going with Laurel Road 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 Laurel Road 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 Laurel Road. SoFi currently offers variable rates from 2.615% APR and fixed rates from 3.35% APR (if you sign up for autopay). However, the SoFi refinance does come with a benefit comparable to Laurel Road called unemployment insurance. If you’re laid off, SoFi will pause your payments and help you find a new job.

SoFi logo

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CommonBond has similar rates to Laurel Road. Fixed interest rates are available from 3.35% APR and variable interest rates are available starting at 2.61% 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, Laurel Road will refinance any loan (graduate or undergraduate) from an accredited program in the U.S.

Commond Bond bank

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Who Will Benefit Most From This Refinance?

The Laurel Road 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 Laurel Road 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.  

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

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

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Balance Transfer, Reviews

Review: Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Card Balance Transfer

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

Advertiser Disclosure

If you have credit card debt, you are probably paying a high (double-digit) interest rate. One of the best ways to get out of debt faster is to use a 0% balance transfer offer. At MagnifyMoney, our favorite balance transfers have no balance transfer fee. Alliant Credit Union — a credit union that anyone can join — is offering a no-fee 0% balance transfer for 12 months. Although there are longer 0% balance transfers on the market, this is a solid no-fee option that can help you save money and become debt-free faster.

One added perk: Once you become a member of the credit union to take advantage of the balance transfer offer, you will also be able to take advantage of Alliant’s other competitive products. They offer a savings account that pays 1.05% APY. They offer 2.5% cash back on a new credit card. And their mortgage and auto loan rates are some of the lowest in the country. Alliant, one of our favorite credit unions in the country, provides the value you expect from a credit union with the user interface and digital tools that you would expect from a bank.

Visa® Platinum Card from Alliant CU

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On Alliant CU’s Website

Visa® Platinum Card from Alliant CU

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
$0
APR
9.99%-21.99%
Transfer Period
12 months
Credit required
Average

Average

  • As low as 0% introductory rate for 12 months (After the introductory period, a low standard variable rate applies, ranging from 9.99%-21.99%)
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee (unless associated with a promotional offer)
  • Generous credit lines
  • $0 fraud liability guarantee

How the Card Works

The Alliant Visa Platinum Card is a very simple, straightforward credit card. There is no annual fee, and there are no rewards. You will probably be given a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months that you have the card (more on that later). Even better — there is no fee for the balance transfer. After 12 months, the APR will range from 9.99% to 21.99%, depending upon your credit score.

Unfortunately, there is one part of this card that is a little complicated — and could lead to disappointment. You are not guaranteed the 0% interest rate for the 12 months. Depending upon your credit score, the interest rate during the 12-month promotional period could be as high as 5.99%. While a 5.99% rate (especially for someone with a less than perfect credit score) could be a good deal — it is certainly not the 0% intro APR being advertised.

In order to get the credit card, you will need to become a member of the credit union. There are a number of ways that you can become a member. Some of the ways are free (for example, you live in a community in Illinois that is covered). But for most people, the easiest way to join is to make a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success. This is an organization that serves foster teens across the U.S. that are “ageing out” of the system. Once you make that contribution, you will be eligible to join the credit union and get the credit card (along with other credit union products). The application process is easy — you just need to select “not a member” at the beginning of the process, and it will walk you through the membership process as part of your credit card application.

The credit card does offer some standard credit card perks, like $0 fraud liability and rental car insurance. However, the real value is the low interest rate that can help you become debt-free fast.

If you want to earn rewards, Alliant does offer another card — the Visa Platinum Rewards Card. This card has the same balance transfer offer (0% for 12 months with no balance transfer fee). But with this card, you also earn rewards. You can earn 2 points for every $1 spent on the card. However, the APRs (after the balance transfer period) will be higher. In general, we advise people to separate their spending from their borrowing. Cards that offer no rewards tend to have lower interest rates, and cards with rewards have higher interest rates — as we see in this case. If you are looking to become debt-free, it is probably better to ignore rewards and get the lowest interest rate possible.

How to Qualify for the Card

Alliant targets people with good or excellent credit. In general, that means you have a decent chance of being approved if your score is in the mid-600s, but you have a much better chance of being approved if your score is above 700.

In addition, Alliant (like all lenders) will need to be comfortable that you will be able to afford your payments. That means you will need to have a steady source of income. In addition, the lender will likely look at your total debt in relation to your income. If you have too much debt, you will find it more difficult to get approved.

What We Like About the Card

No fee for the balance transfer.

There is nothing better than free. And with no balance transfer fee and no interest for 12 months, that is exactly what you get. Pay down as much of the debt as possible during the promotional period — because every dollar of every payment will go toward principal.

It is from a credit union.

At MagnifyMoney, we like credit unions — in theory. As member-owned organizations, credit unions do not need to worry about shareholders and should be able to offer better value and lower interest rates. Unfortunately, far too many credit unions have websites that look like they were designed in the 1990s. With Alliant, we finally have a credit union that has made the application process easy, and has a great website. Alliant is delivering on the true potential of a credit union.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

It is not the longest balance transfer.

There are a number of longer no-fee balance transfer options on the market. You can get a no-fee balance transfer for as long as 15 months from some of the leading banks in the country.

You are not guaranteed a 0% intro offer — the rate could be higher.

In the fine print, Alliant makes it clear that you might not get a 0% intro rate. The intro rate could be as high as 5.99%, depending upon your credit score. The only silver lining: Alliant is willing to give intro rates to people with less than perfect credit. But we still find it a bit annoying that you could apply for a 0% intro rate and end up with a 5.99% rate instead.

Joining the credit union costs money.

If you can’t find a free way to join the credit union, you will have to make a $10 donation. We certainly like the cause that you would be supporting. However, it is still additional money that you would need to spend in order to get access to the product.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

Completing the balance transfer is easy. During the application process, you can provide the credit card number of your existing credit cards (where the debt is located now). Alliant will then make a payment to your existing credit card companies.

Alternatively, you can call Alliant once you have the card to complete the balance transfer on the phone.

Just remember these tips:

  • If you start the balance transfer close to the payment date, you might want to make the minimum payment to ensure you don’t get hit with any late charges. Although balance transfers usually process quickly — they can take a couple of weeks. And you would not want to get stuck with a late fee.
  • Get the transfer done as quickly as possible. The 0% is for 12 months from when you open the account — not from when you transfer the debt. The faster your transfer the debt, the more money you can save.

Alternatives to the Card

If You Want a Longer Intro Period and No Balance Transfer Fee

Chase is the largest credit card issuer in America. It offers a great balance transfer on its Chase Slate credit card. Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Just remember that you cannot transfer debt from other Chase products — including co-brand credit cards for airlines (like United and Southwest) or hotels (like Marriott or Hyatt).

Barclaycard is the American credit card division of Barclays Bank. Barclays is a large British bank. With Barclaycard Ring, you can get 0% intro APR for 15 months on a balance transfer and no intro balance transfer fee — so long as you complete the transfer within 45 days of opening the card. Just remember: Barclaycard only accepts people with excellent credit.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you have credit card debt that you think you can pay off in a year, this is a great option. With no balance transfer fee and 0% interest for one year — you can pay down your debt quickly. If you think it will take longer to pay off your debt, you might want to consider a longer balance transfer from a more traditional bank.

FAQs

Yes, anyone can join. During the application process, you will be asked if you are already a member of the credit union. Just select “not a member” and you can join during the application process.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

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Balance Transfer, Reviews

Citi Simplicity Review: Now 0% Balance Transfer for 21 Months

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

Advertiser Disclosure

Citi Simplicity has one of the longest 0% balance transfer offers on the market. If you transfer credit card debt to Simplicity, you will get a 0% intro APR for an incredible 21 months. There is a 3% balance transfer fee. You should do the math (and we will help you later in this post) — but for most people the fee is worth paying. As the name implies, Citi has tried to make this card “simple.” That means no late fees, no annual fee, and no penalty APR. It also means no rewards. If you have credit card debt at a high interest rate, Simplicity can help you save a lot of money and become debt-free faster if you use it wisely.

Citi Simplicity® Card

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On Citibank’s Website

Citi Simplicity® Card

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
3%
APR
14.49%-24.49%
Transfer Period
21 months
Credit required
Good

Good

  • The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.49% - 24.49% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.

How the Card Works

The card gets its name, Citi Simplicity, from its effort to keep things simple. There is never an annual fee, late fee, or penalty rate. There is an introductory offer of 0% for 21 months which includes balance transfers made within the first four months of opening the card and all purchases made during the 21-month period. After 21 months your rate will depend on your creditworthiness. Additionally, after the introductory rate ends, you will see the same interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.

The Introductory Offer

This is the longest 0% purchase offer that we have found on the market. If you need to finance a purchase, it will be hard to find a better deal. What we particularly like about this 0% APR is that the interest is waived, not deferred. Most store credit cards only defer the interest (and for far fewer than 21 months), and you would be hit with a big penalty if you don’t pay the balance in full before the promotional period is over. That is not the case with Citi Simplicity.

In addition to the 0% purchase offer, there is also a very strong 0% balance transfer offer. You will pay no interest for 21 months, but will need to pay a 3% balance transfer. If you think you can pay your debt in full within 6 months, a balance transfer is usually not worthwhile. However, if you think it will take longer than 6 months, the fee is usually worth it and you can use this calculator to see how much you can save.

Here is an example to help understand the math. If you are making a monthly payment of $300 on $10,000 of credit card debt at a current interest rate of 17% and you transfer it to the Citi Simplicity card, you will be charged a $300 upfront fee. However, during the 21-month promotional period you would save over $2,000 — making the $300 fee worthwhile.

What Happens After 21 Months

Even if you still have a balance at the end of the 21 months, interest will start to accrue on your remaining balance on a go-forward basis. There is no penalty, and no retroactive interest will be applied.

No Late Fee

Most credit cards charge a late fee of around $30 when you miss paying at least the minimum payment by the deadline. However, the Citi Simplicity does away with this fee and will let you choose your payment due date when you sign up.

However, just because Citi doesn’t charge a late fee doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for making a late payment. If your payment is more than 30 days late, Citi would report that information to the credit bureau. This can have a negative impact on your credit score that can result in higher interest rates when you later apply for new lines of credit.

No Penalty Rate

Most credit cards in addition to charging a late fee will penalize you with an increased interest rate when you are late with a payment. This rate could be somewhere in the 30% range for purchases moving forward. The Citi Simplicity Card promises no penalty rate, meaning even if you are late with a payment, after all mistakes happen, you won’t be gouged with your credit card interest rate. However, if you bounce a check for payment, then you can be charged $35.

Same Interest Rate No Matter What You Use Your Card For

The Citi Simplicity card, keeping things simple, makes the interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances all the same. Many other credit cards will have different interest rates for each.

Price Protection

It’s already been mentioned that the Citi Simplicity card does not offer any rewards programs. However, they do offer some price protection. It’s called Citi Price Rewind. After you make a purchase with your card, you can register that purchase with Citi. Then Citi will search for lower prices across hundreds of online retailers. If Citi finds it at a lower price within 60 days, you will receive the difference between what you paid and the lower price found, up to $500 per purchase and $2,500 per year.

The only downside is this benefit only applies to certain purchases. For example, it doesn’t apply to purchasing a car, but can apply for tires purchased. You can view the full list of what qualifies here. If you find a lower price yourself, then you can submit a Price Rewind Benefit Request.

How to Qualify for the Card

You need to have good or excellent credit in order to be approved for the credit card.

In addition to a strong credit score, you will also need to demonstrate your ability to repay the debt. Citi will look at your total debt relative to your income to ensure that you are not too deep into debt. This product is not a way for people in trouble to get a lower rate — it is a way for Citi to get borrowers with a good profile who want a lower interest rate.

What We Like About the Card

A very long 0% period.

At a 3% balance transfer fee, this is the longest balance transfer on the market. Time is money — and every additional month at 0% can represent considerable savings.

Fewer “gotcha” fees.

Although we hope you never need to take advantage of these benefits, the card has no late fees and no penalty APR. In order to avoid even the risk of a late fee, we strongly recommend that you automate your monthly payments. However, mistakes can happen — and we do applaud Citi for removing some of the most annoying fees.

Price Rewind — it is actually a nice feature.

Price Rewind is a feature that is not used enough. Citi will look for a better deal — and give you the difference if you overpaid. This isn’t just a promise — we have spoken with people who have benefited from this feature.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

There is a balance transfer fee.

In most cases, and for most people, the fee will more than pay for itself. However, there are other balance transfer deals on the market that don’t have a fee. Just make sure you do the math to ensure that the fee is worth paying in your situation.

The rate after the 0% intro offer is not low.

After the intro period is over, the go-to purchase APR is not low. It ranges from the teens to the 20s, depending upon your credit risk. Hopefully, the 21-month period is long enough to eliminate your debt completely.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

After receiving your card, you should call the number on the back of your card to initiate the balance transfer. You will need to give the credit card number of the credit card that has the debt. You cannot transfer debt from another Citi credit card (including its co-brand cards).

Although it can take less time, Citi warns that a balance transfer takes at least 14 days to complete. And you will remain responsible for making all payments on your card until the transfer is complete. We recommend paying close attention so that you do not end up with any late fees on your existing cards.

Alternatives to the Card

If You Want to Avoid a Balance Transfer Fee

There are two options if you want to avoid a balance transfer fee: Chase and Barclaycard. Both are good options.

Chase is the largest credit card issuer in America. It offers a great balance transfer on its Chase Slate credit card. You can get 0% interest (on transfers made within 60 days of opening the card) for 15 months. There is no intro balance transfer fee and no annual fee. Just remember that you cannot transfer debt from other Chase products — including co-brand credit cards for airlines (like United and Southwest) or hotels (like Marriott or Hyatt).

Barclaycard is the American credit card division of Barclays Bank. Barclays is a large British bank. With Barclaycard Ring, you can get 0% for 15 months on balance transfer and no balance transfer fee — so long as you complete the transfer within 45 days of opening the card. Just remember: Barclaycard only accepts people with excellent credit.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you have a lot of credit card debt that will take a long time (more than 15 months) to pay off, this card is a great option. Over 21 months, the savings can be incredible. Just make sure you take advantage of the 0% period to attack your debt as quickly as possible.

FAQs

No — you do not need excellent credit. Citi will approve anyone with good or excellent credit.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

TAGS: ,

Balance Transfer, Credit Cards, Reviews

Review: Aspire Credit Union Platinum MasterCard Balance Transfer

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

Advertiser Disclosure

When you have a less than stellar credit score, and you’re battling credit card debt, it can seem like a steep uphill battle. You want a balance transfer, but finding a card that you qualify for and that has a low introductory rate for balance transfers can be tough. This is where the Aspire Platinum MasterCard (from a credit union) comes into play.

It offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first six months. It also doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee during the introductory period. There is no annual fee, and the standard purchase APR is much lower than the competition. This is the best balance transfer for fair credit that we could find on the market.

MasterCard Platinum from Aspire FCU

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On Aspire Credit Union’s Website

MasterCard Platinum from Aspire FCU

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
2%
APR
9.15%-18.00%
Transfer Period
6 months
Credit required
Average

Average

  • No annual fee
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 6 months
  • After intro period variable 9.15%-18.00% APR
  • 2% balance transfer fee, waived during the intro period
  • 1% foreign transaction fee
  • Generous credit limits

How the Card Works

In order to apply for this credit card, you need to open a savings account and maintain a minimum deposit of $5, and you will need to be a member of the credit union. Fortunately, anyone can join the credit union. During the credit card application process, you can elect to join the American Consumer Council (at no cost), which will make you eligible for all credit union products.

The credit card itself is relatively simple. The Platinum MasterCard has been created for people with fair to good credit. The card has a good intro balance transfer offer and much lower ongoing interest rates than traditional credit card companies.

The balance transfer offer is relatively simple. You will get a 0% introductory APR for six months with no balance transfer fee during this period. Although there are much longer balance transfer offers in the market, most of those are not available to people with fair credit. So, although this is a relatively short balance transfer, it might be the best offer for someone with fair credit.

The card has no annual fee. After the 0% intro offer the interest rate will revert to the standard purchase APR, which is from 8.90% to 18%. Most credit card issuers tend to start in the teens and end in the 20s (14%-24%, for example). These are very good rates — and for people with fair credit, these could be excellent rates.

Just remember: You can only transfer debt from other credit card issuers. That is probably not an issue (because you most likely do not already have debt with Aspire), but it is something to remember. Also, the 0% offer lasts for six months from the date you open the card, not six months from the date you transfer the debt. So you should get the transfer done as soon as possible.

How to Qualify for the Card

The Aspire Platinum MasterCard is designed for those with a fair to good credit score, somewhere between 600 and 700. If you fall in this range, you are likely to qualify.

Just remember that credit score is only part of the underwriting decision. Most credit card issuers, including this credit union, will want to know that you can afford to repay the debt. That means you will need to have a job and sufficient income.

What We Like About the Card

Finally, a balance transfer for people with fair credit.

If you have fair credit, it can be impossible to get approved for a balance transfer offer. This is one of the only (and by default, best) deals that we could find to get a 0% balance transfer. Just remember: This offer is for people with fair to good credit. If you have good credit, you can find a much better deal with someone else (with a longer balance transfer). But if you have fair credit (low 600s), this is probably one of the best deals out there.

Low ongoing APR.

Because this balance transfer offer is only for six months, you will probably still have debt remaining after the balance transfer is over. Fortunately, Aspire offers credit union rates. There are no rewards on the card — but that helps to keep the interest rate low.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

Short introductory period.

The Aspire card has a very short introductory period of only six months. This is low compared to other cards that have intro periods around 15 months and can be as many as 21 months (or more). If you have good credit, you can find better deals elsewhere.

No rewards program.

You might also take note that the Aspire Platinum MasterCard does not include any rewards program. Aspire offers the Platinum Rewards MasterCard and World Rewards MasterCard as rewards card options. However, they both require a good to excellent credit score.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer

To transfer your existing credit card debt to a new balance transfer credit card, you need to call your new credit card company and give them your old account number. Then they will pay off that credit card for you and tack that debt onto your new card. There are a few things to make note of before you complete a balance transfer to ensure the most benefit:

  • Note that you can’t transfer balances between cards from the same bank.
  • Make sure you request a balance transfer within six months of receiving your new credit card or receiving an offer.
  • Check to make sure the terms of the balance transfer match the offer you received.
  • Make sure you always pay your bill on time or you may lose your balance transfer offer.

Alternatives to the Card

If you have fair credit (low 600s), this might be one of your only options. However, if you have good or excellent credit, there are much better balance transfer deals on the market.

Many cards offer an introductory period of at least 12 months, and some offer introductory periods of 21 months or longer. These cards also do not charge an annual fee or new member fee.

If You Want a Longer Intro Period (And Are Willing to Pay a Transfer Fee)

The Citi Simplicity Credit Card has a 0% introductory period for 21 months. This is one of the longest intro periods we have seen and can be extremely beneficial. There is a 3% balance transfer fee that isn’t waived during the intro period, unlike Aspire. However, the length of the intro period may save you money if you have a large amount of debt and need time to pay it off. Besides no annual fee, Citi Simplicity boasts no late fees and no penalty rate. The APR for Citi is higher than Aspire, ranging from 14.24% to 24.24%, but if you plan on paying off your debt before the end of the intro period and pay each statement on time, the APR won’t be a major point.

If You Want a Longer Intro Period and No Balance Transfer Fee

The Chase Slate card is another option for balance transfers. Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free. Just make sure you complete your balance transfer within 60 days of opening the account.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

The short introductory period makes the Aspire Platinum MasterCard a good option for people with a fair credit score who have a debt to pay off. Not only do you get a nice low intro rate, but the ongoing APR will likely be lower than your current credit card.

However, if you have good credit, then you could easily get a balance transfer card with a longer introductory period.

FAQs

Yes, anyone can join at no cost. When you apply for the card, you will also be asked to register as a member of the credit union, at no additional cost. All that is needed is for you to deposit $5 in a savings account. Note that the $5 must remain in the account during the length of time you have the credit card.

Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.

In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.

Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

TAGS:

Balance Transfer, Credit Cards, Reviews

Barclaycard Ring Review: 0% Balance Transfer Until 2018

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

Advertiser Disclosure

If you are looking for a balance transfer, this is one of the best offers available in the market. Barclaycard Ring has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within the first 45 days of opening the card. Even better — there is no intro balance transfer fee. There is also no annual fee, so this is a great choice for anyone looking to get out of credit card debt cheaper and faster.

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard<sup>®</sup>

APPLY NOW Secured

On Barclaycard’s Website

Barclaycard Ring™ MasterCard®

Intro Rate
0%
promotional rate
Fee
$0
APR
13.74%
Transfer Period
15 months
Credit required
Excellent

Excellent

  • 0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 13.74%
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score

How to qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard is only for people with excellent credit. If you have good (but not excellent) credit, consider the Chase Slate® card — another card with a very good balance transfer offer. Although banks keep their approval criteria to themselves, here is a good idea of what it takes to get approved by Barclaycard:

  • Have an excellent credit score.
  • Don’t have too much credit card debt.
  • You should be current on all of your accounts — no delinquency.

Credit card companies tend to reject people with high debt burdens. You calculate your debt burden by adding up all of your monthly fixed expenses and dividing the number by your monthly income. Your main expenses will be your housing, then any auto payments, student loan payments, and payments for any other credit lines or loans that appear on your credit report. If your debt burden is above 50%, you will find it difficult to get approved. Ideally, your debt burden should be below 40%.

If your debt burden is too high to get approved, or your score hasn’t quite reached “good” yet, you may want to consider applying for a personal loan instead. You’ll have an easier time getting approved and might get a lower APR than your high-interest card. You can use the loan to pay off your credit card debt, then make regular payments on the loan, which will help build your credit score over time.

You can shop for a personal loan from multiple lenders — without hurting your score — here.

Who is Barclaycard?

Barclaycard is the credit card division of UK-based Barclays PLC, one of the world’s largest multinational banking and financial services companies. If you’ve never heard of Barclays, it’s probably because the bank isn’t as big in the United States; however, the bank is no small fish. Barclays is also active in retail, wholesale and investment banking, wealth management, and mortgage lending. The bank is secure — it is the only big UK bank that didn’t require a bailout from the government.

Why we like the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

Not only does the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard offer one of the best no-fee balance transfer options on the market — but it also has a much lower go-to APR after the balance transfer period is over.

With the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard you won’t pay any interest on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the card for the first 15 months. After that period, Barclaycard applies a 13.74% variable APR to the remaining balance. There is no balance transfer fee, and the card has no annual fee.

Barclaycard waives the interest during the balance transfer period. You do not need to worry about deferred interest charges. If you still have a balance after the promotional period is over, there will be no retroactive charges or penalties. You will only pay interest, at the 13.75% rate, on the remaining balance on a go-forward basis.

The go-to APR is unique for two reasons. First, the 13.74% rate is pretty low compared to the 15% or higher APR consumers pay to use most credit cards, and significantly less than the more than 20% APR charged on most store credit cards. Even better — everyone approved will get the 13.74% interest rate. There is not a wide range of interest rates, which you typically find with other credit card issuers. However, this rate may vary with the market based on the prime rate.

Barclaycard has another interesting feature — charity giveback. A portion of Ring’s profits will be given to charity. And, as a Ring cardholder, you can vote on which charities get the money. We like that this card offers a great financial deal — and tries to give back to the community at the same time.

What to watch out for:

  1. You need to have “excellent” credit to qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard, so most people might not make the cut.
  2. Once you have the card, take care not to miss a payment or you’ll be hit with a $27 late payment fee.
  3. The introductory balance transfer offer is only for the first 45 days after you open the account. Don’t miss this window, or you’ll lose the balance transfer offer.
  4. Barclaycard still has high cash advance charges, so you should do your best to avoid taking one. You shouldn’t take a cash advance on a credit card anyway, as interest starts accruing immediately, and it can quickly become an expensive way to borrow money.

How to complete a balance transfer with Barclaycard

Completing a balance transfer with Barclaycard is easy. While applying for the product, you can provide the credit card number of the card you want paid off.

We have put together a step-by-step guide to help you through the process. The online process should take fewer than five minutes. If you have trouble completing the transfer online, you can always call the bank.

Beware: The balance transfer may take as long as four weeks to post to both of your accounts. Continue making payments to each creditor until you receive confirmation that the old balance has been paid off.

2 alternatives to the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

You won’t qualify for the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard if you already have your debt with Barclaycard. Also, if you don’t have “excellent” credit, you will find it difficult to get approved. Here are a few good options to consider.

A similar offer for people with good credit

Chase has a similar balance transfer offer. A $0 introductory balance transfer fee with 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

For people who need more time to pay off their debt.

If you think you might need a few more months to pay off your credit card balance interest-free, you should consider the “Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer.” If you have good or excellent credit, you have a good chance of qualifying for the Discover it card. You will have an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee.

Frequently asked questions about the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

You will have 45 days from when you open the account to complete a balance transfer that qualifies for the 0% interest introductory period. Any balance transfer completed after the 45-day period will not be subject to the promotional 0% intro-rate.

If you don’t pay off the balance transfer during the introductory period, you will be charged 13.74% APR, varied based on the prime rate, on the remaining balance on a go-forward basis.

Yes, the introductory interest-free period applies to all charges made in the first 15 billing cycles as well as to balance transfers made within the first 45 days of opening the account.

You can transfer debts from MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover Card accounts. If the debt you want to transfer is not on a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover Card account, you’ll need to call the number on the back of your card to make the balance transfer once you are approved for the card.

If you miss a payment, you will be charged a late payment fee up to $27.

The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard is a great option for those seeking to ditch high-interest credit card debt. It makes no sense to put your hard-earned money toward paying interest on your debt when you don’t have to. So, if you have excellent credit and high-interest debt to pay off, consider the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard.

Brittney Laryea
Brittney Laryea |

Brittney Laryea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brittney at brittney@magnifymoney.com

TAGS:

College Students and Recent Grads, Reviews

Review: Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

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

Advertiser Disclosure

If you are a college student looking to build credit, Capital One’s Journey Student Credit Card could be a good option. Most important, there is no annual fee and Capital One is willing to accept people with limited (or no) credit history. Although your credit limit will start out very low, Capital One promises a review of the limit after a short five short months — and good behavior can be rewarded with a higher credit limit. Cash back rewards are a nice added bonus, making this a good first credit card choice. Just make sure you don’t borrow with this card — at 20.74%, the interest rate is high.

Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One

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On Capital One’s Website

Journey Student Credit Card from Capital One

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
up to 1.25%
APR
20.74%
Credit required
Average Credit
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • There’s no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards don't expire
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Pay no annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you

How the Card Works

Capital One is one of the largest credit card issuers in the country. With Journey it has created a credit card specifically designed for students looking to build their credit score and have access to the convenience of paying by credit card.

Capital One created the concept of “low and grow.” That means you will receive a very low credit limit at first (that could be as low as $500). If you demonstrate good behavior, your credit limit will grow over time. Capital One promises a review after just five months. If you make your first five monthly payments on time, you will be rewarded with a higher credit limit quickly.

The card also comes with a decent cash back rewards proposition. You will earn 1% cash back on all of your purchases. So long as you make your payments on time, you will get a bonus of 0.25%. That means responsible cardholders will earn 1.25% cash back. In general, MagnifyMoney does not get excited about rewards for student cards. Because the limit is so small, the amount of cash back that you can earn will be limited. However, 1.25% cash back on all purchases is a nice added bonus for students.

There are a few extra perks with this card. There is no foreign transaction fee, which is great for any student looking to study abroad or backpack across Europe. You will also be able to see your CreditWise credit score for free. CreditWise offers free access to your TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score. Almost every credit card issuer now offers access to a free credit score (making the benefit less exciting). However, because the goal of a student card is to build your credit score, being able to watch it improve in real time is a nice benefit. We also like that, with CreditWise, you have access to interactive tools that let you see how your behavior will impact your score over time.

Just remember: your goal with a student card is to have an excellent score (above 700) when you graduate from college. To do that, you should focus on three steps. First, use your card every month. Second, try to keep your statement balance below 10%-20% of your credit limit. That means if you have a $500 credit limit, don’t spend more than $50-$100 a month on the card. That keeps your utilization low. Third, pay your statement balance in full and on time every month. By doing this, you avoid paying any interest. With this card — you also get the full 1.25% cash back. And, most important, you build a strong credit history.

How to Qualify for the Card

Although this card targets students, you do not actually need to be a student in order to get the card. Capital One makes it clear that this card is for people with “average credit.” In particular, people with average credit have limited credit history. If you have had a credit card for less than three years, you would be considered “average.” If you have no credit or are new to the country, you would also be considered average by Capital One.

In order to be approved, you will need to have income. Because students are being targeted with this card, the income requirements will be much lower than for a normal card. However, if you don’t have a way of repaying your card, you will not be able to get one. And a parental allowance is not considered income.

Just remember: Because Capital One will accept people with limited or no credit history, the credit limit will be low and the interest rate will be high.

What We Like About the Card

We believe this card could be a great choice for a college student looking to build credit. Here is what we like most.

No annual fee.

As a college student, every penny counts. And no college student should have to pay a fee to build their credit score. Fortunately, there are a number of credit card companies willing to offer student credit cards with no annual fee, and Capital One Journey is one of them.

No foreign transaction fees.

Although the primary reason you get a student card is to build your score, having a card can be particularly helpful — especially if you are studying or traveling abroad. Foreign transaction fees of 3% or more can end up costing a lot of money. Fortunately, Capital One does not charge foreign transaction fees, and you can use your card overseas without worrying about annoying fees.

Rewards good behavior.

With your first credit card, it is important to start building responsible money habits. This card rewards good behavior. If you make your payments on time, you get a 25% boost in the cash back that you earn. And if you consistently make your payments on time, your credit limit will be increased (which can help you with your credit score, when used responsibly).

And yes, you get rewards.

When selecting a credit card, paying no annual fee is the most important feature. Although we wouldn’t recommend selecting a student credit card based upon cash back or miles, it is a nice added perk for the Capital One card. If you have a $500 limit and do not spend more than $100 a month on the card, you will only earn $15 of cash back per year (at the 1.25% rate). And we do not recommend spending more money to get more cash back — that is a bad strategy.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

Very high interest rate.

The credit card charges a 20.74% interest rate to everyone who is accepted. College students have enough to worry about with student loans — they shouldn’t be taking on additional debt as very high, double-digit rates of interest. If you max out a $500 limit and pay only the minimum due, you would end up spending $84 of interest during the first year alone, and would still have a $284 balance remaining. In other words, most of your money would go toward the interest. Just beware: a student credit card is a very expensive way to borrow.

Expensive late fees.

If you miss a payment, you will be hit with a late fee of up to $35. That is a steep price to pay for anyone, let alone a college student. To avoid late fees, make sure you set up automatic monthly payments.

Alternatives to the Card

There are a number of other options out there. We think you should avoid any student card that charges an annual fee. But here are two good options that don’t charge a fee.

If You Want to Earn More Rewards

If you want to earn more cash back, Discover is our favorite option. Discover it® for Students does not charge an annual fee and provides free access to your FICO score. And it does something we really like: it offers a “Good Grades Reward.” You will get $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years. That is on top of a cash back rewards program that pays 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like Amazon.com, restaurants, ground transportation and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. And you can get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

If You Want an Intro Bonus

If you would like to earn a nice intro bonus, consider the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students. You will earn 2,500 ThankYou points after spending $500 during the first three months. You will also be able to earn 2 points for every $1 you spend on dining and entertainment. Plus, you get 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else. Depending on how you redeem, 100 points could equal $1.

Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you are a college student looking to build your credit history, this is a great card. You do not have to pay an annual fee, and your credit limit will increase after just five months of on-time payments. The card also has a decent reward structure and no foreign transaction fee, making this a solid choice. You could probably earn more rewards at Discover (with its good grade bonus) or at Citi (at least in the first year with its sign-on bonus), but any of these would be solid options so long as you keep your balance low and pay it in full and on time every month.

Student Credit Card FAQs

Yes, you will need to demonstrate that you have income in order to qualify for the credit card. The credit card company needs to know that you will be able to make the monthly payment.

No — there is not a limitation based upon which school you attend.

Yes — it is never a good idea to max out your credit card, even if the credit limit is very low. As a general rule, never use more than 10%-20% of the credit limit. You can make payments before the statement date to help keep your statement balance low.

You should work hard to make sure you make payments on time every month. A missed payment will lead to a late fee. It could also lead to interest accruing on the balance and ultimately a negative mark on your credit report.

When you graduate from college and get a job, you should (if you used your card wisely) have a good credit score. At that time, you will have plenty of options available to you.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne at brynne@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, Reviews

Wells Fargo Student Credit Card Review: 3% Cash Back

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

Advertiser Disclosure

Wells Fargo has a student credit card — but applying online is only available to people who already have an existing relationship (a checking account) with the bank. The card has no annual fee, which we like a lot. If you pay your monthly cellphone bill with the card, you get free cellphone protection insurance, with generous coverage up to $600 per incident (subject to a $25 deductible and limited to $1,200 per year). There is a decent cash back intro bonus — you can earn 3% on gas, grocery, and drugstore spending for the first six months. However, the rest of the card leaves us underwhelmed. A steep 3% foreign transaction fee makes traveling abroad more costly than it needs to be. A flat 1% cash back rate is very low. And with interest rates up to 21.90% this is not a cheap way to borrow.

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card

Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card

Annual fee
$0
Cashback Rate
up to 3%
APR
11.90%-21.90%
Credit required
Fair Credit
  • Build Credit history while you are in college
  • Earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drugstore net purchases (purchases minus returns/credits) for 6 months and 1% cash back on all other net purchases.
  • Earn unlimited cash rewards with no complicated calculations, no minimum purchase requirements and no expiration dates.
  • Flexible rewards redemption options. Cash rewards are redeemed in $25 increments and you can choose to have them automatically deposited into your Wells Fargo savings account or apply rewards as a credit to a qualifying Wells Fargo product. Request a paper check or redeem in $20 increments at a Wells Fargo ATM with a Wells Fargo Debit or ATM card. Redeem rewards for travel, gift cards, and more
  • Extra cash rewards earning potential and deals at your favorite stores when you shop the Earn More Mall®
  • Free access to Wells Fargo Online® credit education and tools

How the Card Works

In order to apply online, you need to be an existing Wells Fargo customer — which means you should have a checking account. (Note: If you have a Wells Fargo student checking account, you could probably get a much better deal somewhere else, especially from internet-only banks — you can find our list of the Best Online Checking Accounts here — which pay much higher interest rates and charge much lower fees than Wells Fargo.)

You can still apply for the Wells Fargo student card if you don’t have a checking account with them, but you will need to go to a branch in person to apply for the card. Just be prepared for them to try to sell you a checking account while you’re there.

The credit card is fairly straightforward. It has no annual fee, and it offers a mediocre cash back rewards program. During the first six months, you will earn 3% cash back for all gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases. There is no limit to the bonus. However, you only earn the bonus cash back at merchants which are coded as gas stations, drugstores, or grocery stores. If you buy your gas at Costco or your groceries at Wal-Mart, you will not get the bonus — because these “big box” retailers do not have that merchant code.

With all other purchases, you will earn 1% cash back. After the six-month intro period, all of your purchases will get you 1% cash back.

Our favorite feature is the free cellphone insurance. If you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo credit card, you will get up to $600 of protection (with a $25 deductible). This is great coverage for damage or theft of your cellphone, and you can make a claim up to two times each year. Just remember that this does not cover lost phones. This is a great, free way to protect your phone and avoid the financial pain of replacing or buying a new phone after an accident.

Like most student credit cards, Wells Fargo’s is a very expensive way to borrow. In fairness, Wells Fargo does offer a range of APRs (from 11.90% to 21.90%). However, given that most college student will have no or limited credit history, they can expect to pay much closer to 21.90%.

And if you are looking to study abroad or backpack across Europe, your Wells Fargo card is an expensive way to do it. With a 3% foreign transaction fee, the costs of using your card abroad could add up quickly.

How to Qualify for the Card

This card is for college students. However, you will need to have sufficient income to pay your bill each month — so be prepared during the application process to be asked about where you study and how much you make from campus (or other) jobs. Because this card is targeting college students, you are not expected to have a long history of credit, a great score, or high income.

However, if you have already defaulted or missed payments on other accounts, you will likely find it difficult to get approved at Wells Fargo. This card is targeting people who are new to credit, not people with bad credit histories. And if you don’t have any income (or just an allowance from your parents), you will also find it difficult to be approved.

What We Like About the Card

Although this is a relatively simple credit card, there are two standout features to the card.

No annual fee.

We strongly believe that building your credit while in college should be free. Fortunately, this card charges no annual fee — making the card a safe choice. So long as you pay your statement balance in full and on time every month (avoiding interest charges), the card can be completely free.

Free cellular phone coverage.

This feature is unique — and a great asset for college students. So long as you make your monthly cellphone payment with your Wells Fargo credit card, you will get free cellphone coverage. You can get up to $600 (with a $25 deductible) if your cellphone is stolen or damaged. You can make up to two claims per year, for up to $1,200. We know that every college student has a phone — and wants to avoid the steep expense of fixing a broken phone or replacing a stolen phone. This insurance policy is a great feature.

Rewards (Kind Of)

You have the opportunity to earn cash back. We don’t think you should select a credit card based upon cash back — and Wells Fargo does not pay the best cash back rate on the market. But it is still a nice bonus to have.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

You have to be a Wells Fargo customer to apply online.

If you do not have a checking account, you will need to go to a Wells Fargo branch, where they will likely try to sell you a checking account. Because of this feature, Wells Fargo is really limiting the card to their existing customers.

Very high interest rates.

Credit cards come with high interest rates. Wells Fargo is not alone (in fact, the low end of its APR range is actually better than a lot of the competition). However, the rates are still double-digit. And if you end up going into debt, interest expenses will be high.

“Gotcha” fees are very high.

If you miss a payment, expect to pay up to $37. If you travel overseas, you will be hit with a 3% foreign transaction fee. And cash advance fees are equally painful. If you make a purchase in the U.S. (and pay it off in full and on time), you will get a good deal. Any other purchase or mistake will cost you dearly.

Alternatives to the Card

Wells Fargo offers a decent student credit card. But it does not offer the best cash back rewards, and it charges a steep foreign transaction fee. Here are some other options.

If You Want to Earn More Rewards

If you want to earn more cash back, Discover is our favorite option. Discover it® for Students does not charge an annual fee and also provides free access to your FICO score. And it does something we really like: it offers a “Good Grades Reward.” You will get $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years. That is on top of a cash back rewards program that pays 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like Amazon.com, restaurants, ground transportation and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. And you can get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

If You Want to Travel Abroad

If you want to travel abroad, you should find a Visa or MasterCard option that does not charge a foreign transaction fee or annual fee. Capital One does just that with its Journey Student credit card. In addition to no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, you can earn up to 1.25% cash back. You earn 1% when you spend, and another 0.25% if you make your payment on time.

Bottom Line: Who Benefits Most from the Card

If you are a college student and existing Wells Fargo checking account customer, this could be a good option. By charging no annual fee, it is cheap and easy to build your score. And with the cellphone benefit on top, you can get some great value. If your goal is to earn rewards or travel abroad, there are better options out there.

FAQs

Yes, you will need to demonstrate that you have income in order to qualify for the credit card. The credit card company needs to know that you will be able to make the monthly payment.

No — there is not a limitation based upon which school you attend.

Yes — it is never a good idea to max out your credit card, even if the credit limit is very low. As a general rule, never use more than 10%-20% of the credit limit. You can make payments before the statement date to help keep your statement balance low.

You should work hard to make sure you make payments on time every month. A missed payment will lead to a late fee. It could also lead to interest accruing on the balance and ultimately a negative mark on your credit report.

No, you do not need to be an existing Wells Fargo customer. However, only existing Wells Fargo customers can apply online. Otherwise, you will need to go to a branch to apply.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne at brynne@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, Reviews

Review: Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

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

Advertiser Disclosure

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students is a decent credit card that can help you build your credit history and earn rewards without having to pay an annual fee. It has a nice bonus offer (2,500 points after spending $500 in the first three months) and has a decent ongoing rewards proposition (2 points on restaurant and entertainment purchases, with 1 point on everything else). Unfortunately, ThankYou points don’t have great redemption value, and Citi charges a 3% foreign transaction fee when you use the card overseas. And with a high APR range of 14.99%-24.99%, you would want to avoid borrowing on this card.

 

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

APPLY NOW Secured

On Citibank’s Website

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

Annual fee
$0
Rewards
up to 2 points per dollar spent
APR
14.99%-24.99%
Credit required
Good Credit
  • Earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $500 within the first 3 months of cardmembership.
  • 2 ThankYou® Points per dollar spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment.
  • 1 ThankYou® Point on other purchases.
  • Points earned with this card do not expire and there is no limit to the amount of points you can earn.
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with Chip Technology
  • No annual fee*

How the Card Works

This credit card charges no annual fee and reports to all three credit reporting agencies. If you handle the card responsibly, you should be able to build your credit history while in school and have a good credit score by the time you graduate. We recommend using the credit card every month, but never spending more than 10%-20% of the credit limit. Make sure you pay your statement balance in full and on time every month — and you will see your score improve over time.

The card comes with an intro offer. You will be charged 0% interest on purchases for the first seven months, and there is no retroactive interest penalty (this is not deferred interest). If you were already planning on making a big purchase, the 0% interest rate can help you minimize or reduce the cost of borrowing. However, you should be careful. Sometimes a 0% purchase rate can encourage people to spend more than they should — and you don’t want this to be a temptation to go into debt. After the intro offer, the interest rate increases dramatically, to a high double-digit rate. Student cards are great ways to build your credit, but they are terrible ways to borrow money.

With this card, you have the chance to earn ThankYou points from Citibank. With ThankYou, you can turn your points into gift cards or cash, or even use the points to book travel. ThankYou points are not particularly valuable. Here are a few examples of how ThankYou points can be redeemed:

  • For cash back: 100 points = $0.50, minimum redemption is 10,000 ($50) or 20,000 ($100).
  • For a statement credit: 100 points = $0.50, minimum redemption is 2,000 points ($10).
  • For gift cards: you can get up to 100 points = $1 (although it can vary by gift card), minimum redemption is 2,500 points ($25).
  • You can transfer your points to airline and hotel partners. However, as a college student, you might not have a lot of frequent flier miles, making this option a waste.

You can earn 2,500 ThankYou points if you spend $500 within the first three months of opening the card. In addition, you will earn 2 points on purchases for dining at restaurants and 1 ThankYou point on all other purchases. If you use those points for cash, you are only getting 0.5% on your everyday purchases — a pretty lousy deal. You can do much better elsewhere.

How to Qualify for the Card

Citi is targeting students with this card, which means they do not expect you to have excellent (or any) credit. However, they do expect that you will have a job and income. You need to be able to prove that you can afford to make your monthly payment on time, and a parental allowance is not sufficient.

Citi will likely approve people with a thin or no credit history. However, if you already have negative items on your credit report — like missed payments or unpaid medical or mobile phone bills — it could be harder to get approved. If that is the case, you might need to start your credit-building journey with a secured credit card.

What We Like About the Card

No annual fee.

Students should not have to pay a fee to build their credit score. Fortunately, with Citi there is no annual fee. And so long as you pay your statement balance in full and on time every month, you will never pay any interest either.

A nice ThankYou bonus offer.

You can earn 2,500 bonus points when you spend $500 within the first three months of opening the card. If you turn that into cash, it would be worth $12.50. With some gift cards, you could get up to $25 of value. That is not terribly exciting — but it is still free money.

What We Don’t Like About the Card

The ongoing rewards proposition is weak.

For most college students, cash is king — and earning cash back is a nice benefit of a credit card. Cards from competitors can earn from 1.25% up to 5% cash back (in some categories). If you use your ThankYou points for cash, you will only get 50 cents for every 100 points earned. Plus, cash back can only be redeemed in increments of $50.

There is a foreign exchange fee.

If you plan on studying abroad, a credit card is very useful. Unfortunately Citi will charge you 3% every time you use your card abroad — making this the wrong card for international travel.

The interest rate is high.

After the intro period is over, you will be stuck with a high, double-digit rate. Unfortunately that is the case with most student credit cards — so you would be very wise to avoid credit card debt completely.

Alternatives to the Card

We like that the Citi card has no annual fee. However, if you want rewards or a card for overseas travel, there are much better options out there. Here are two of our favorites.

If You Want to Earn More Rewards

If you want to earn more cash back, Discover is the best option. The Discover it card for students does not charge an annual fee and also provides free access to your FICO score. But it does something we really like: It offers a $20 cash back bonus every year (for up to five years) for good grades. If you get a 3.0 GPA or higher, you will get a $20 bonus. That is on top of a cash back rewards program where you can earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like Amazon.com, restaurants, ground transportation and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. And you can get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

If You Want to Travel Abroad

If you want to travel abroad, you should find a Visa or MasterCard option that does not charge a foreign transaction fee or annual fee. Capital One does just that with its Journey Student credit card. In addition to no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, you can earn up to 1.25% cash back. You earn 1% when you spend, and another 0.25% if you make your payment on time.

Bottom Line: Who Benefits Most from the Card

If all you care about is building credit, and all of your spending is in the U.S., this is a good card. With no annual fee, Citi reports to all three credit bureaus — which should help you build your score quickly. However, if you want to earn rewards or travel overseas, you can find better deals elsewhere.

Student Credit Cards: FAQs

A student card is a credit card specially designed by a lender to get college students started with credit. The major difference between a student credit card and a regular credit card is that the student card will likely have a higher interest rate. Regular cards tend to average about 15% annual interest. In a recent MagnifyMoney study, we found the average student credit card carries an interest rate of 21.4%.

Your goal with your student credit card is to build your credit so that by the time you graduate, you have a healthy credit score in the high 600s to mid 700s. That way, when you graduate, you’ll be in a great position to make larger purchases like a new car or your first home. At that point you may actually want to earn rewards, and you’ll qualify for the best cards because you have a great score.

You should really only get a credit card if you want to build your credit score, not because you need extra money to make ends meet. If you can’t afford your monthly expenses as it is, a credit card might only make things worse.

The easiest strategy is this: Set up one recurring bill (like your Netflix or Spotify account) on your card. And pay it off in full each month. Follow that advice while you’re in school and you will absolutely graduate with a great credit score.

You can still build up your credit without having to open a card on your own. Ask you parents if you can become an authorized user on their account. All of their good credit behavior will be reported on your credit report as well. Also, consider opening a secured credit card. It’s a tool that’s meant precisely to help build credit but doesn’t have the same risks as a regular credit card. Read more about secured cards here.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

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

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