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Reviews, Strategies to Save

BB&T CD Rates and Review

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.

Trying to find BB&T CD rates
Source: iStock

As you may know if you’ve done a search for BB&T CD rates, their website is not a helpful place to turn for information. Beyond a basic overview of their CDs on their website stating that they have CDs with terms ranging from seven days to five years, they do not give details on their current rates. BB&T did not respond to email and phone inquiries from MagnifyMoney asking why the bank does not publish its CD rates online.

When we called their customer service number, a representative said BB&T’s CD rates change on a daily basis and said the best way to learn about CD rates is to call or visit a local branch.

So that’s what we did.

We called BB&T branches on Dec. 1 and, on the same day, compared their CD rates to other banks and the national averages. After conducting this research, it’s not surprising BB&T makes their CD rates hard to find — they’re terrible.

BB&T CD rates and products

BB&T offers CD terms ranging from as short as seven days to as long as five years. They have eight CD options, each with different investment goals.

7-day to 60-month

For short-term investments, BB&T offers CDs ranging from seven days to 60 months. These personal CDs offer a fixed rate of return along with the flexibility to focus on developing either a short- or long-term investment.

BB&T CD Term

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

3 Months

0.03%

$1,000

6 Months

0.05%

$1,000

1 Year

0.10%

$1,000

18 Months

0.15%

$1,000

2 years

0.20%

$1,000

3 Years

0.40%

$1,000

4 Years

0.45%

$1,000

5 Years

0.50%

$1,000

Rates as of Dec. 1, 2017

Not only can you find better CD rates at other banks and credit unions for each of the terms BB&T offers, you can get those better rates with smaller minimum deposits. BB&T’s offerings are far from the best in every term length above — you can see some of the top options in our monthly roundup of the best CD rates.

With the seven-day to 60-month BB&T CDs, there are no penalty-free options for withdrawing your funds prior to the CD reaching maturity. The early withdrawal penalty is the lesser of $25 or 12 months of interest for longer-term CDs. So with smaller initial deposits, early withdrawal penalties will negate any interest you may have earned.

Can’t Lose

As the name of this CD implies, whether rates go up or down, you can’t lose. Well, actually, you can: The APY is so low, you’re almost certainly going to lose money to inflation.

At the 12-month mark of the CD’s term, you may make one withdrawal without paying any fees. So if the market rate is higher than what you’re currently getting, simply withdraw the money and reinvest at the higher rate.

If, however, the interest rate you’re receiving is better than what’s currently available, you also have the option of making a second deposit into the Can’t Lose CD, up to $10,000. This locks in the rate for the new investment amount for the remainder of the term. So whether rates go up or down, you’ll lock in the higher rate.

CD Term

APY

Minimum
Deposit Amount

Withdrawal
Penalties

30-month "Can't Lose"

0.25

$1,000

No penalty for one
withdrawal after 12 months

As of Dec. 1, 2017

Still, you can find many CDs with better APYs than BB&T’s Can’t Lose, whether you’re looking for a 12-month investment or longer.

Stepped Rate

Laddering is a way to stagger your CD investments so you’re able to take advantage of increasing rates. With the Stepped Rate option from BB&T, laddering is built into the CD product. The initial CD starts out at a lower rate and increases each year. For example:

Months

APY

12

0.30%

24

0.40%

36

0.55%

48

0.75%

As of Dec. 1, 2017

This product also allows you to make an additional deposit each year (up to $10,000). So if the interest rate you’re receiving is better than the market, you can invest more money into your existing CD to make a higher return. But if the current CD market is offering better rates than your existing CD, you can simply take advantage of that offer and still make a higher return.

In addition, you may make a withdrawal from what you initially deposited into your Stepped Rate CD after two years. So, again, if the market changes dramatically, you may withdraw your money with no penalty and reinvest in a better option.

Or you could create a CD ladder on your own, choosing CDs with better rates than BB&T’s — higher rates are certainly available.

Add-on

The Add-on CD option from BB&T offers a 12-month CD at 0.10% and an opening deposit of $100. You’ll need a BB&T checking account and a $50/month automatic deposit from your checking account into the CD. To get a personal account, you’ll just need to set up direct deposit or maintain a $1,500 balance.

CD Term

APY

Minimum
Deposit Amount

Withdrawal
Penalties

12-month Add-on

0.10%

$100

Greater of $25 or
6 months’ interest

As of Dec. 1, 2017

Home Saver

If you’re in the market for a new home, and you want to earn a little more interest on the money you’re saving, consider the Home Saver CD. Starting with as little as $100, you’ll be able to deposit money earmarked for your new home every month and earn 0.40% APY. With this CD, as long as you’re withdrawing the money for use toward the purchase of your new home, you won’t pay any penalties for the withdrawal. But you will need a BB&T checking account set up for a monthly deposit of $50 into your Home Saver CD.

CD Term

APY

Minimum
Deposit Amount

Withdrawal
Penalties

36-month Home Saver

0.40%

$100

No penalty for
home purchase

As of Dec. 1, 2017

College Saver

Similar to the Home Saver CD, the College Saver CD is meant for parents or students saving for college. It offers the benefit of starting at a higher APY (0.40%) with the flexibility of withdrawing the money up to four times per year to pay for the cost of attending school. As with the Home Saver, you’ll need to have a BB&T checking account with an automatic monthly deposit of $50. The College Saver offers terms of 36, 48, and 60 months.

CD Term

APY

Minimum
Deposit Amount

Withdrawal
Penalties

36-month College Saver

0.40%

$100

No penalty for
school costs

48-month College Saver

0.45%

$100

No penalty for
school costs

60-month College Saver

0.50%

$100

No penalty for
school costs

As of Dec. 1, 2017

Treasury

This CD offers the ability to make additional deposits of at least $100 into your CD at any time and one monthly withdrawal without penalty. The CD has a six-month term with a variable interest rate tied to the U.S. Treasury Bill — if the rate goes up, you’ll make more money, but if the rate declines, you’ll make less. Right now, rates start at 0.05% and adjust quarterly. Throughout 2016, Treasury Bill rates increased almost every month and have continued to rise in 2017, reaching 1.035% in August. So this is a great option if you have the $5,000 minimum deposit amount and want a short-term investment with the option to add or remove funds from the CD.

CDARS

CDARS stands for Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service and protects your principal and interest by making sure your money is placed into multiple CDs across a network of banks to keep your CDs insured by the FDIC (maximum limit for each CD is $250,000).

Other things to know about BB&T CDs

Does BB&T allow customers to take advantage of rising rates once they’ve opened a CD?

BB&T has two CD options that allow you to take advantage of rising rates: the 30-month Can’t Lose CD and the 48-month Stepped Rate CD. Both allow you to make a withdrawal before the CD comes to maturity in case rates increase (terms apply). They also allow additional deposits in case rates drop and you want to invest more at the existing rate of your CD. However, the current rates on those products are very low, negating the value of their flexibility.

About BB&T

BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust Co.) is a North Carolina-based bank with locations in 16 states and the District of Columbia, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

BB&T offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android. While their website is easy enough to use, finding specific information, particularly about rates, is impossible. Their customer service number isn’t much help in that regard either, with most questions answered with a suggestion to visit a branch location. As a result, if you don’t live in an area with a branch, we don’t recommend using BB&T’s CDs. To find the BB&T branch closest to you, use their branch locator.

Pros and cons of CDs

A certificate of deposit (CD) may offer a higher return than you’ll get with your savings accounts, without the risk of loss that accompanies other investment options with higher return rates. The drawbacks associated with CDs are the inability to access your funds during the term of the investment without suffering a penalty and the risk of interest rates increasing while your money is locked into a CD for a specified term.

The bottom line: Are BB&T CDs right for you?

BB&T does offer some flexible deals to its customers, but in general, better CD rates can be found at both banks and credit unions with comparable terms. You can find them on our list of the best CD rates, which we update every month.

Ralph Miller
Ralph Miller |

Ralph Miller is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ralph here

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Auto Loan, Reviews

The 6 Best Auto Loans for Buying a Used Car

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.

Source: iStock

Shopping for used cars can be tricky. Not only are you trying to avoid buying a lemon, you are looking for just the right model year, mileage, and price.

While all of these variables can make car shopping stressful, there are a couple of things you can do to simplify the process.

First, decide exactly how much you can afford to spend on a used car. Look at your budget and determine the absolute maximum your monthly payment can be. Also be aware of your total debt payments when compared to your income. Generally speaking, the total of all your debt payments – auto loans, student loans and mortgage – should not exceed 50% of your income. Make sure to factor your auto payment into the calculation.

Next, shop online for the best used-auto loan rates and get preapproved for the most attractive offer for which you are eligible. In order to strike the best deal possible on your used auto, it is best to walk into the dealership with financing already in hand.

Once you get to the dealership and find the car you want, negotiate the price of the car before telling the salesperson that you are approved for financing.

[Borrow Before You Buy a Car]

How To Apply

When shopping online for a used auto loan, the application process is very similar to that of a brick-and-mortar bank, but more streamlined. In general, be prepared with:

  • Your contact information: Name, address, phone number, email address
  • Vehicle information (if known – required for lenders that do not offer online preapproval) Make, model, mileage, VIN, dealership information.
  • Financial Information: employment information, gross income and expenses

The Best Auto Loans for Used Cars

LendingTree

With LendingTree, you can fill out one short online form and see real interest rates and approval information instantly. There are hundreds of lenders on LendingTree ready to compete for your business.

It is important to note that some lenders will do a hard pull on your credit and this is normal within the auto lending space. Keep in mind that multiple hard pulls will only count as one pull, so the best strategy is to have all your hard pulls done at one time.

Disclosure: LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney.

LendingTree

LEARN MORE  

LightStream

LightStream offers auto loans for used cars online with APRs ranging from 2.49% to 9.04%. It’s terms range from 24 to 84 months, it can finance up to $100,000, and it charges no origination fee. It does offer the ability to obtain preapproval online, before setting foot in a dealership, and if you are approved, you could receive funds into your bank account in as little as 1 business day. The funds can be used on any vehicle, from any dealership, with no restrictions concerning the year, make, model, or mileage of the vehicle you buy.

The 2.49% APR is dependent upon enrolling in AutoPay. If you choose not to enroll in AutoPay, your rate will be 0.50% higher, starting at 2.99%. While rates from LightStream start at 2.49%, they do depend upon the amount financed, and the financing term.

Because LightStream offers no telephone customer support, it offers a guarantee that you will love its service, from start to finish. If you aren’t completely satisfied with your experience, $100 will be deposited into your account, provided you fill out a questionnaire about your experience within 30 days of closing on your loan.


PenFed

Pentagon Federal (PenFed) Credit Union offers rates as low as 2.49% on used auto loans up to $100,000. It will finance terms of 36 to 72 months and charges no origination fee. Rates are dependent upon the amount financed, and the terms financed for, as shown in the chart below:

APR as low as*

Term

Loan Amount

Approx.
Loan Pmt.($20,000 Loan)

2.49% APR

36 months

$500 to $100,000

$577.14

2.74% APR

48 months

$7,500 to $100,000

$440.39

3.49% APR

60 months

$10,000 to $100,000

$363.75

3.99% APR

72 months

$15,000 to $100,000

$312.81

Because PenFed is a credit union, you will need to join in order to apply for an auto loan through it, but anyone can join by making a one-time donation to Voices for America’s Troops ($14) or National Miliary Family Association ($15). Also important to note is that even though the loan is entirely online, PenFed does not offer online preapproval.

In order to apply, you’ll need the following information about the vehicle you will be purchasing:

  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Mileage
  • VIN
  • Dealer or private party information

Once approved, the loan proceeds will go directly to the vehicle’s seller, rather than into your bank account.


Capital One

Capital One offers auto loans with rates as low as 3.24% for new vehicles and 3.64% for used vehicles. Their terms range from 36 to 72 months. It can finance up to $40,000, and has no origination fee. Capital One also offers online preapproval through its Auto Navigator. You can then use the funds at any of 12,000 approved dealers. Proceeds from the loan will be sent directly to the seller, rather than deposited into your bank account.

Rates are dependent upon the financing terms, and subject to credit approval, as seen in the chart below:

Financing Type

36 or 48 or 60 mos

66 or 72 mos

Purchase New Vehicle

APR as low as

3.24%

3.24%

Purchase Used Vehicle(Dealer)

APR as low as

3.64%

4.14%


NEFCU

NEFCU is a credit union offering auto loan for used cars with rates as low as 2.240% for used vehicles. It can finance up to $70,000 for 12 to 84 months with no origination fee. NEFCU does not offer online preapproval.

NEFCU offers a $300 coupon offer valid at select dealers on your new or used auto.   You can apply online, at a branch or by telephone by calling 1-800-99-NEFCU. Your rate will be determined by creditworthiness, loan amount, year of the vehicle, and loan term, as per the rate chart.

In order to apply for an auto loan from NEFCU, you must be a member. You are eligible for membership with NEFCU if you:

  • Live in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Work in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Worship in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Attend school in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Regularly conduct business in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Family Sponsorship – An existing NEFCU member can sponsor in an immediate family member (mother/father, brother/sister, child, grandparent or grandchild) or any household member
  • Membership is not open to individuals who live, work, worship, attend school and do business exclusively in East Hampton, Southampton and Shelter Island.
  • If you have any questions on membership or eligibility, please contact us at 516.561.0030 or at 800.99.NEFCU outside LI/NYC or send an email to info@myNEFCU.org. 

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union offers auto loans for used cars with rates as low as 1.99% with terms of 12 to 96 months. It can loan up to $100,000 and charges no origination fee. Navy Federal Credit Union does offer online preapproval.

Rates from Navy Federal Credit Union are determined by the car’s model year, as well as the loan term, as seen in the chart below:

Auto Loan Rates

As of: December 5, 2017, 1:00 AM EST

Loan Type

up to 36 mos.
APR as low as*

37-60 mos.
APR as low as*

61-72 mos.
APR as low as*

73-84 mos.
APR as low as*

85-96 mos.
APR as low as*

New Vehicle

1.99% 

2.39% 

2.69% 

4.09% 

4.89% 

Late Model Used Vehicle

1.99% 

2.79% 

3.49% 

Used Vehicle

3.79% 

3.99% 

5.29% 

In the rate chart, new vehicles are year models 2016, 2017, and 2018 with 7,499 miles or less, and the minimum loan amount is $30,000 for terms 85-96 months. Late model used vehicles are described as 2016, 2017, or 2018 models with 7,500 – 30,000 miles. Used vehicles are vehicles (up to 20 years old) with 30,001 miles or more.

In order to apply for an auto loan from Navy Federal Credit Union, you must become a member. You are eligible if you are Active Duty Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Army or Air National Guard, a member of the Delayed Entry Program, a Department of Defense (DoD) Officer Candidate/ROTC, a DoD Reservist, or a retiree from any of these service branches. You are also eligible as a civilian if you are a DoD civilian employee, a U.S. government employee assigned to a DoD installation, a DoD contractor, or a DoD retiree. Finally, if you are the immediate family member of anyone eligible to join, you are also eligible to become a member.

After loan approval, the proceeds will be sent directly to the dealership, rather than deposited into your bank account.


 You Should Shop Around

Often concerns arise about the effect of shopping around for auto loans on your credit score. However, all inquiries within a 30-day period count as one inquiry on your credit report, so as long as your shop used auto loan rates within a 30-day period, those inquiries will only have a minimal impact on your credit score

Check other auto loan offers here.

Gretchen Lindow
Gretchen Lindow |

Gretchen Lindow is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Gretchen at gretchen@magnifymoney.com

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Best of, Reviews

10 Best NO ANNUAL FEE Rewards Credit Cards of December 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee

$0*

Cashback Rate

1% when you buy, 1% when you pay

APR

14.49%-24.49%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Citibank’s secure website

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

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

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

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

2% on all spend

APR

14.99%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Fidelity’s secure website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uber Visa Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

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

APR

15.99%-24.74%

variable

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

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

AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee

None

Rewards

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

APR

13.24%-23.24%

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

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

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

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

APR

10.25%-15.25%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Fort Knox Federal’s secure website

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

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

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

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

3% at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 2% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. department stores, 1% on other purchases

APR

13.99%-24.99%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

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

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

Golden 1 Platinum Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

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

APR

7.79%-13.79%

APPLY NOW Secured

on Golden1’s secure website

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

5% Cash Rewards in Rotating Categories: NO FEE

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

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

Chase Freedom<sup>®</sup>

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else

APR

15.99%-24.74%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Chase’s secure website

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

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

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

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

5% on certain categories, 1% on everything else

APR

11.99%-23.99%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover’s secure website

Rates & Fees

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

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

Platinum Rewards Card from Nusenda CU

Annual fee

$0 For First Year

$0 Ongoing

Cashback Rate

5% cash back on purchases in quarterly rotating categories

APR

10.00%-14.00%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Nusenda ’s secure website

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

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

Honorable mentions for travelers

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

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Cashback Rate

1.5%

APR

13.99%-23.99%

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

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

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

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Annual fee

$0

Rewards

2X points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 1X on other purchases

APR

13.99%-23.99%

APPLY NOW Secured

on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

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

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

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Rewards

1.5 points per dollar spent

APR

15.74%-23.74%

Variable

APPLY NOW Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

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

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

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

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

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

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Best of, Credit Cards, Reviews

Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses December 2017

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Best Cards for Financing

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

Best 0% Financing

The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express

The Blue for Business® Credit Card

The American Express Blue for Business card offers an introductory 15 months of 0% APR for financing. If you fail to pay back your purchases within 15 months, your interest rate will move to a variable rate 12.24%, 16.24% or 20.24%, depending on creditworthiness. You lose access to the introductory rate if you make a late payment.

The 15-month 0% intro APR window is one of the most generous offers available. On top of generous financing, you earn rewards for spending.

You can also earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after making your first purchase on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Every year, you’ll also receive a bonus of 30% of the previous year’s points earned.

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

The Fine Print
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR financing for 15 months. You must pay on time, or you lose this rate.
  • APR: After 15 months, a variable rate 12.24%, 16.24% or 20.24%, depending on your creditworthiness
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees

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

Low Interest Rates

If you and your business have excellent credit, the Platinum Plus for Business MasterCard from Bank of America offers low ongoing financing. This is a great card for businesses with periodic short-term borrowing needs. Besides interest rates as low as 10.24% variable, it offers a seven-billing-cycle 0% APR promo rate and $200 statement credit if you spend $500 in the first 60 days.

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

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

The Fine Print
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR financing for seven billing cycles.
  • APR: 10.24%-21.24% variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness (after seven billing cycles)
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: $19-$49 (depending on your balance)
  • Returned payment fee: $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 4%
  • Cash advance APR: 25.24% variable
  • Sign-up bonus: $200 statement credit if you spend $500 in your first 60 days
  • Rewards: None
APPLY NOW Secured

on Bank Of America’s secure website

Cash Flow Management

The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN

The Plum Card® from American Express

Managing cash flow can be one of the most difficult problems facing small business owners. The Plum Card® from American Express makes cash flow easier. You can pay no interest if you take up to 60 days to pay the balance in full. You effectively get a 0% working capital line of credit if you can make your payments within 60 days. And if you are able to pay back your balance sooner – within 10 days – you get a 1.5% early pay discount.

This card is one of our favorites because (a) it has one of the most generous grace periods in the market (60 days), which can really help businesses that have customers who pay on a Net-60 basis. But it is also our favorite because (b) if you pay the balance in full and on time, you are still able to earn really good rewards (a 1.5% discount).

The Fine Print
  • On-time payment bonus: 1.5% discount if you pay balance within 10 days of statement closing
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, $250 thereafter
  • Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees.

The information related to The Plum Card® from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

 

Imperfect Credit

If you’re struggling to get approved for a small business credit card, the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business offers an excellent option. The card has a high variable APR (23.99%) and mediocre rewards (1% cash back). But Capital One will approve business owners with just average credit.

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

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

The Fine Print
  • APR: 23.99% variable APR
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: Up to $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 3%
  • Cash advance APR: 23.99% variable
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases
APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

Cards for Service Members

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

 

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

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

The Fine Print
  • APR: 9.99%-18.0% variable
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: Up to $20
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $20
  • Cash advance fee: $0 at Navy Federal Credit Union branch ATM, 50 cents domestic, $1 foreign
  • Cash advance APR: APR + 2%
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent
APPLY NOW Secured

on Navy Federal Credit Union’s secure website

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

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

The Fine Print
  • APR: 9.99%-18.0% variable
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Late fee: Up to $20
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $20
  • Cash advance fee: $0 at Navy Federal Credit Union branch ATM, 50 cents domestic, $1 foreign
  • Cash advance APR: APR + 2%
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent
APPLY NOW Secured

on Navy Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Best Cards for Rewards

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

Travel Perks

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

 

Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

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

  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points.1.5 Points per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. Up to 1 million additional points per calendar year. 1 point for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Global Lounge Collection access, which includes access to Delta Sky Club lounges and American Express Centurion lounges
  • $200 airline fee credit (for checked bags, inflight refreshment, etc.)
  • One free Global Entry or TSA Pre-check application fee (allows you to expedite security at select airports and U.S. Customs)
  • 10 free passes per year to inflight Gogo Wi-Fi and unlimited Boingo (land-based Wi-Fi) access
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Elite Status, which also gets you Marriott Rewards Gold status for room upgrades and free breakfast. It also gets you access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts Program (perks like in-room WiFi, complimentary breakfast, and other hotel perks at participating luxury hotels).
THE FINE PRINT
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Rewards: Earn Membership Rewards® points
  • Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees.

The information related to The Business Platinum® Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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

  • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance: If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather, or other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement: If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: When you pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation with your card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary when renting for business purposes and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most cars in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance: You are reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for five days.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: If you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Extended Warranty Protection: This warranty extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • Cellphone Protection: Get up to $600 per claim in cellphone protection against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cellphone bill when you pay it with your Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. There is a maximum of three claims in a 12-month period with a $100 deductible per claim.
The Fine Print
  • APR: 16.99%-21.99% variable
  • Annual fee: $95 per year
  • Late fee: $15-$39, depending on balance
  • Returned payment fee: $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $15 or 5% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 25.99% variable
  • Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent, 3 points per dollar spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable or phone services, or online advertising (social media or search engines)
  • Bonus: Points worth 25% more when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase’s travel website)

Big Introductory Bonuses

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

The Business Platinum Card offers excellent travel perks, but it offers an unparalleled Welcome Offer, too. Right now, you can earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 within three months of card membership. You’ll also earn 25,000 more points after spending an additional $10,000 within your first three months (See Rates & Fees).

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

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

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

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

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

Cash Back Rewards

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

 

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

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

The Fine Print
  • APR: 17.99% variable APR
  • Penalty APR: 30.4% (applied if you make a late payment)
  • Annual fee: Free for the first year, $59 per year afterward
  • Late fee: Up to $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 3% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 23.99% variable
  • Sign-up bonus: $500 cash bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first three months
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on all spending
APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

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

On top of that, you’ll have a 0% APR financing rate for nine months, and an APR as low as 13.99% variable afterward.

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

The Fine Print
  • Promo APR: 0% for nine months
  • APR: 13.99%-21.99% variable, depending on your creditworthiness
  • Penalty APR: 30.4% variable (applied if you make a late payment)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Late fee: Up to $39
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 3% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 23.99% variable
  • Sign-up bonus: $200 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months
  • Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all spending
APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

Best Category Bonuses

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

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

Online Advertising

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

 

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

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card allows you to choose to earn 3 points per dollar spent on any one of the following categories: airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. advertising in select media, U.S. gas stations, U.S. shipping, or U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar on the four remaining categories.

All other spending earns 1 point per dollar you spend.

As a Welcome Offer, you’ll earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card membership. In addition to the rewards, you get trip accident insurance, extended warranties, and purchase protection.

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

The Fine Print
  • Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year,
    then $175
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent
  • Bonus rewards: 3 points in one category (pick between airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. advertising in select media, U.S. gas stations, U.S. shipping, or U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers).
  • 2 points rewards on remaining four categories.
  • Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees.

The information related to The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Dining and Travel

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

 

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

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

The Fine Print
  • APR: 15.90%-23.90% (assigned upon aproval)
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% (applied if you make a late payment)
  • Annual fee: $0 (requires $45 Sam’s Club membership)
  • Late fee: Up to $39.99
  • Cash advance fee: Greater of $5 or 3% of transaction
  • Cash advance APR: 20.90%-26.90%
  • Sign-up bonus: $45 statement credit when you spend $45 on a single-receipt purchase the same day you open your account.
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all spending. Maximum of $5,000 back in a given year.
  • Bonus rewards: 3% on dining and travel expenses. 5% on gas (up to $6,000 in gas purchases). Gas cannot be purchased from other wholesale clubs.
APPLY NOW Secured

on Sam's Club’s secure website

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

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

The Fine Print
  • APR: Introductory 0% for seven months, then 16.24% variable
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% variable (applied if you make a late payment)
  • Annual fee: $0 with your paid Costco membership
  • Late fee: Up to $37
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $37
  • Cash advance fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Cash advance APR: 26.24% variable
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on all spending.
  • Bonus rewards: 4% on gas (up to $7,000 in gas purchases). Gas cannot be purchased from other wholesale clubs. 3% on dining and travel expenses. 2% rewards on all purchases from Costco and Costco.com.
APPLY NOW Secured

on Citibank’s secure website

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

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

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

Gas

 

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

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

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

Learn More

Risks of Using Small Business Credit Cards

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

 

1. Personal Liability

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

 

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

 

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

 

2. Credit Bureau Reporting

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

 

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

 

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

 

3. Not Protected by the Credit CARD Act

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

4. Employee Risk

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

 

The Best Ways Use Small Business Credit Cards

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

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

 

1. Earning Rewards and Protection

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

 

2. Managing Cash Flow

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

 

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

 

3. Building Business Credit

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

 

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

 

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

 

4. Short-Term Borrowing

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Worst Ways to Use Small Business Credit Cards

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

1. Personal Expenses

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

 

2. Long-Term Financing

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

 

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

 

3. Cash Advances

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

 

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

 

4. Financing a Failing Business

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

 

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

Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah at hannah@magnifymoney.com

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3 Reasons Emigrant Bank Might Not Be the Best Place to Save

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.

Emigrant Bank Review

Emigrant Bank, through its internet bank subsidiaries (DollarSavingsDirect, MySavingsDirect and EmigrantDirect), offers highly competitive interest rates. However, before deciding to open an account with Emigrant, here are three concerns that every potential customer should consider:

1. Emigrant Bank has a regular history of introducing “America’s Highest Rate” to attract customers, only to decrease the rate later. Emigrant Bank is fully within its legal right to do so (because savings account rates can change at any time). But other leading internet banks pay much more consistent rates, and so the pattern starts to feel a bit like bait-and-switch.

2. Emigrant Bank has a C+ health rating from DepositAccounts.com (which, like MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree). All deposits at Emigrant are insured by way of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). However, if you want to deposit more than the FDIC-insured limit, the health of your chosen bank is an important consideration. Emigrant was hit hard during the 2008 financial crisis, and some of its health indicators continue to flash warning lights

3. The digital experience of Emigrant Bank is lacking. There is no mobile banking app. The website has a look and feel better suited to the 1990s than to 2017. If digital experience is important to you, Emigrant will disappoint.

I will review each of these concerns in more detail below, while including a brief background of the bank.

What is Emigrant Bank?

Emigrant Bank was founded in 1850 by Irish immigrants to New York. Very quickly, the bank became one of the largest in the country and helped finance iconic buildings like St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Fast-forward, and today Emigrant Bank (which is technically owned by its holding company, New York Private Bank & Trust Corporation) is the largest privately held bank in the country. Howard Milstein owns the bank, which now has $6.4 billion in assets. Emigrant is not tiny, but it is far from the 7th largest bank (which today has more than $300 billion in assets).

Although the bank’s physical footprint remains in New York, it has a nationwide internet deposit business to fund its operations. Emigrant’s internet-only savings brands include the aforementioned DollarSavingsDirect, MySavingsDirect and EmigrantDirect. These brands are part of Emigrant (and your FDIC insurance limit is for your total relationship balance, not each individual brand).

Beware of the bait-and-switch (a high rate to attract, and then a rapid dropoff)

Leading internet-only banks, like Ally and Synchrony, consistently pay very high rates. Emigrant has a different strategy. It has created different sub-brands. These brands will come out with the highest rate in the country to attract deposits, and then the rates will be decreased. This occurs consistently, across brands.

With a savings account, the interest rate can change at any time. But although it’s perfectly legal, this feels a bit like a bait and switch. Here are some examples:

EmigrantDirect: It once paid 1.10% APY. Now it’s 0.50% APY

When 1.10% was America’s Highest Rate in 2010, EmigrantDirect was paying it to depositors. However, the rate has consistently and dramatically dropped, and the rate is only 0.50% APY now. If you opened your account in 2010, you would have seen your rate fall by more than 50%, even though the market interest rates have been increasing, and it is now easy to get at least 1.30% APY. Here is a chart of the deposit history, from DepositAccounts:

MySavingsDirect: It once paid 1.25% APY – now 1.00% APY

In 2015, MySavingsDirect had America’s Highest Rate. In fact, it was featured prominently on MagnifyMoney because of the healthy interest rate. However, the rate started to drop dramatically and swooned as low as 0.85% APY in less than a year. We can only guess that people started leaving in droves — because the rate bounced up a bit to 1.00% APY. This rate is far from America’s Highest, however, and MagnifyMoney readers who signed up in 2015 probably feel a bit sore about the rapid drop in rates.

Look at the chart below to see the bumpy road depositors have been on:

DollarSavingsDirect: Now America’s Highest Rate

DollarSavingsDirect now has America’s Highest Rate, and is paying 1.50% APY. We can’t argue with the rate. But when you look at DollarSavingsDirect’s rate history (below), and consider what Emigrant Bank has done with the other brands, you would be safe in betting that this rate will probably come down soon:

Source: Depositaccounts.com

Health warning: Emigrant’s risks

Emigrant was hit particularly hard during the 2008 financial crisis and required a financial bailout. The bank is now very well capitalized and has a 19.34% Tier 1 capital ratio (as of June 2017). The Tier 1 capital ratio is one of the highest in the banking universe, and it received an A+ from DepositAccounts for capitalization.

However, there are two reasons to be cautious. First, the bank continues to struggle with profitability. According to the FDIC, Emigrant’s Return on Assets (ROA) for the first six months of 2017 was only 0.70%. For banks, 2017 has been an excellent year for profitability. FDIC-insured institutions achieved an average ROA of 1.14%, which is the highest in 10 years. In a period of record earnings and low losses, Emigrant Bank is only able to achieve its much lower figure — which means a future downturn or recession will be more difficult.

In addition, the Texas Ratio of the bank is 20.23%. The Texas Ratio looks at the book value of all nonperforming assets as a percentage of the equity capital and loan-loss reserves. This ratio measures a bank’s likelihood of failure by comparing bad assets to available capital. If the ratio is above 100%, a bank is highly likely to fail. At 20%, Emigrant Bank’s Texas Ratio is flashing yellow (and received a B from DepositAccounts).

If all of this sounds confusing, let’s offer a simple recap:

  • Emigrant Bank was hit hard in 2008.
  • To repair itself, the bank raised lot of capital (to buffer against future losses).
  • Unfortunately, the bank still struggles to generate earnings. In a period of record bank earnings, it lags industry averages.
  • There are still a relatively high number of bad loans on the books, given the high Texas Ratio

In fairness, the bank has been around since the 1800s and has made it through every crisis, including the Great Depression and the recent Great Recession. However, Emigrant is not the strongest bank in the market, and you should think long and hard before depositing more money than the FDIC limit.

A poor digital experience

If you open an account with a bank that does not have branches, your expectation for a strong digital experience should be high. Sadly, Emigrant Bank does not deliver. Its website has a very dated look and feel, and there is no mobile banking app. If digital experience is important to you, Emigrant will not deliver.

Bottom line

If you want to open a savings account with a bank that consistently pays a market-leading rate, Emigrant Bank (along with its various internet brands) is probably not the bank for you.

If you want a bank where you plan on depositing significantly more than the FDIC maximum, you should do some extensive homework before entrusting your funds to Emigrant.

And if digital experience and mobile banking apps are important to you, you should avoid Emigrant.

However, if you are willing to do work, and don’t mind regularly moving your money around, you will probably be able to find America’s Highest Rate at one of Emigrant Bank’s brands at any given point in time. Just watch that rate carefully, because it will likely go down.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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Discover Customer Service Review

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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These days, financial companies need to have impeccable customer service. Not only are there a significant amount of competitors, but consumers now go to social media to air their grievances. With this in mind, it’s important for financial companies to take the time to listen to their customers and serve them well.

One financial company that has a particularly good customer service reputation is Discover.

Discover’s customer service reputation

Discover has an award-winning customer service team and is known for high customer satisfaction rates. It has won numerous industry awards and has been in the top rankings on several customer satisfaction surveys in recent years. It ranked high in several studies, multiple years in a row, which indicates a continued dedication to customers.

Below are some examples of recent praise and awards Discover earned:

What’s impressive about this list is that Discover wins awards in multiple categories. Not only does the financial industry recognize its excellence with credit cards and banking, but it also gets top honors in new customer service categories, like with its mobile app.

How Discover compares

Although Discover ranked the highest in customer satisfaction with credit card users in J.D. Power’s 2016 rankings, it came in second place behind American Express in 2017.

Still, Discover has several standout features when compared with other major financial companies, especially with its app. You can communicate with Discover’s customer service team through the app 24/7. Another noteworthy feature is that you can “freeze” your account through the app if you lose your card. Discover also touts its 100 percent U.S.-based customer service, though the effect that has on the bank’s customer service quality is hard to measure.

Also, Discover is what’s called a branchless bank, which means there are no physical locations. Among branchless banks, Capital One 360 ranks the highest in customer satisfaction, whereas Discover Bank ranks second, followed by E*TRADE Bank. J.D. Power noted in its direct banking study. (The rankings in this category were extremely close.)

However, if you’re the kind of person who likes the ability to go into a bank branch to resolve account issues, this sort of bank structure may not appeal to you.

How to get in touch with Discover customer service

You can get in touch with Discover customer service in the following ways:

Mail

Payment Address

Discover Financial Services
P.O. Box 6103
Carol Stream, IL 60197-6103

Customer Service – General Inquiries

Discover Financial Services
P.O. Box 30943
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0943

Discover Gift Cards

P.O. Box 52145
Phoenix, AZ 85027-2145

Phone

U.S. Calls

1-800-DISCOVER

Outside U.S. Calls

1-801-902-3100

TDD (for the hearing impaired)

1-800-347-7449

Live chat

In order to speak to a Discover customer service representative via live chat, you need to log into your account first on the top right of the Discover homepage.

Self-service

There are also numerous places where you can get help with specific Discover products. Find answers to frequently asked questions, redeem rewards, learn how to find out your FICO score and more at the links below.

Credit Card Help Center

Make payments, register your account,
report a lost or stolen card, activate your card, get a cash advance,
live chat, call 24 hours a day

Credit Resource Center

Read content about credit card tips, credit health, saving money,
debt management, credit scores, budgeting, and more.

Banking Help Center

A homepage that lists several different ways to contact
Discover to talk about their banking products, like opening an
account or reporting fraudulent activity.

Home Equity Help Center

Use this page to access financial calculators, learn how you can use
your home equity, find loans and rates, and of course apply
for a home equity loan.

Student Loans Help

Use this page to log into your student loan account and email
Discover specific questions. You can also use this page to pay your
student loans, learn how to apply for student loans, and access student
loan calculators.

Personal Loans Help

Use this page to find out the types of personal loans Discover offers.
You can also access resources, calculators, make payments, and see
if you qualify for a personal loan in just a few minutes
(with no impact to your credit score.)

Business Card Help

This page leads to the same general “Credit Card Help Center”
page mentioned above.

Gift Card Help

You can use this page to get contact information related to
Discover gift cards. You can also activate the card, check your balance,
and see a list of FAQs.

Discover card options to consider

Discover has several different credit card options to consider. Below are some of the most popular Discover it cards.

Keep in mind that one of the best perks among these cards is no annual fee. Additionally, there is significant protection for shopping and purchases. For example, Discover covers your purchases up to $500 if they are stolen or damaged. It also offers extended product warranties and will refund the difference if you find a lower price on one of your purchases elsewhere within 90 days.

Discover it® 18-Month Balance Transfer Card

The best part of this card is definitely the introductory 18-month balance transfer offer. Keep in mind that you will have to pay a 3 percent fee on the transfer, but then you get 0 percent interest for 18 months. This card is best for people with good credit scores who want to get out of credit card debt. Keep in mind you cannot transfer a balance from another Discover card to this card. You can read our full review here.

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® Secured Card

This credit card is for people who have no credit or bad credit. Cardholders put down a minimum deposit of $200 to secure a credit line so they can work on improving their credit scores. There is no annual fee but there is a high APR, which should not be a problem if you pay your card off every month. The card stands out from other secured cards in that it offers rewards and automatic account reviews after eight months, to see if you can “upgrade” to an unsecured credit card and get your deposit back. You can read our full review here.

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® Miles

Like the other Discover cards on this list, this card comes with no annual fee. The biggest benefit is that you’ll earn 1.5 points on every dollar you spend, which you can use toward travel. This card is best for those who love to travel and would rather all of their points go toward that. What sets it apart from other popular travel credit cards is that Discover will also match all of the miles you earn at the end of your first year.

Discover it® Miles

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® chrome

This card is similar to other Discover cards except it’s perfect for people who enjoy dining out. Discover will give you 2 percent cash back at restaurants and gas stations up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter — no sign-ups required. Plus, it’ll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. Like the others, there is no annual fee.

Discover it® chrome

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover’s secure website

Rates & Fees

To see other types of Discover credit cards and find the one that fits you best, check out all of the Discover cards, which includes student cards. Don’t forget you can also get your FICO score for free.

Check out all the other cardmember benefits here.

Cat Alford
Cat Alford |

Cat Alford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Catherine at cat@magnifymoney.com

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Everything You Need to Know About ChexSystems

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.

Most consumers are aware that they have a credit score and credit report, used by lenders to decide if you represent a borrowing risk.

But did you know that banks and credit unions have their own method of determining if you’re a good prospective customer — or a potential problem? It’s called ChexSystems and it’s a reporting system that tracks your closed checking and savings accounts. Many people who have had a bank account at one point in time will have a ChexSystems report. Accounts stay on ChexSystems for up to five years after closure.

What is ChexSystems and how does it work?

The information ChexSystems tracks is used to create your Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) report. Think of this as a sort of banking version of your credit report.

chexsystems
When you apply for a new checking or savings account, the financial institution will often run your ChexSystems report to see if you have any negative marks. These can include overdrawn accounts, negative balances, closed accounts and more.

It takes five years for negative marks to leave your ChexSystem report. However, if you find incorrect information, you can dispute it and ask to have to it removed.

Like a credit report freeze, you can freeze or place a security freeze on your ChexSystems report so no bank or credit union can view it. This could block someone from stealing your identity and opening a new account in your name. It can also make it more difficult for you to open a new checking or savings account. (You’ll need to thaw your report first.)

4 reasons you might be denied for a checking or savings account

#1 Not paying your fees.

When you overdraw your account, the bank will usually charge you a fee. Overdraft fees can be as high as $35 at some banks but the national median is $30, according to the research firm Moebs Services. Even if you’re only overdrawn for one day, you can end up owing significantly more than that if you continue to spend money before you realize the account is overdrawn. It can be difficult to repay these fees, especially if you can’t afford to bring your account current.

However, if you end up closing the account with a negative balance or if the bank decides to close the account for you, ChexSystems will list this on your report. This is one of the most common reasons a bank or credit union will deny your application, since your report reflects that you may struggle to pay your debts.

If you do get a fee on your account, call your bank as soon as possible. Sometimes it’ll waive (or reduce) fees for good customers. At the very least, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away and can cause you to get a negative mark on your ChexSystems report. Usually banks will give you a deadline to pay your fees before closing your account and reporting to ChexSystems.

#2 Overdrafting too many times.

Even if you pay your overdraft fees when you go over your account balance, you can still be denied a new account if ChexSystems shows that you overdraw too often. Doing it too many times can signal that you’re irresponsible and aren’t aware of how much money you have in your account.

Consider setting up safeguards to prevent overdrafting:

  • Keep all of your money in one account that you use solely for daily transactions
  • Allow your bank to decline purchases if you don’t have enough available funds (which may mean declining to enroll in overdraft protection).
  • Speaking of which, we highly recommend you use caution with overdraft protection. With this service, banks will allow transactions to go through even if you have insufficient funds, but they will almost always hit you with overdraft fees at the same time.
  • Avoid using checks, which may be cashed at a later date.
  • Set up bank alerts so you’re notified if your balance dips below a certain amount, such as $50.

#3 Committing fraud

It’s one thing to write a check for $100 and assume you have $100 in your bank account, only to have that check bounce. But it’s quite another to write a check knowing that you don’t have the funds in your account. That constitutes fraud and is a serious offense, sometimes resulting in criminal action. Other types of fraud include opening an account with someone else’s information, and trying to write a check to yourself from another person’s account.

#4 Bouncing checks

A bounced check is when you write a check for an amount that you don’t currently have in your account. When the recipient tries to deposit the check, the bank will reject it and charge you a fee for nonsufficient funds.

Too many bounced checks and it’ll show up in your ChexSystems report; that could cause you to be denied for a new account. Bouncing checks makes it seem like you’re not on top of your finances, especially if it continues to happen over a long period of time.

How to get your free ChexSystems report

what to know about chexsystem
iStock

To get your free ChexSystem report, go to www.chexsystems.com and click on “free FACTA report”. As with a credit report, you’re legally entitled to one free copy of your report every 12 months.

However, unlike with your credit report, which you can access online after answering a series of questions, you have to wait for your ChexSystems report to be sent to you through by mail. You should receive the report within five business days after submitting your application.

You know how people have both credit reports and credit scores? Well, consumers also have ChexSystems reports and ChexSystems scores. You may request your ChexSystems Consumer Score by mailing or faxing this form. It can take up to 15 business days to get your score back. Scores range from 100 to 899. The closer you are to 899, the better you look to potential banks.

Disputing and reporting errors

To dispute and report errors in your ChexSystems report, you may submit a form via this website, by fax at 602-659-2197, or by mail at the following address:

ChexSystems Inc.
Attn: Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125

ChexSystems recommends you include the following information when you submit your dispute:

  • Full name
  • Social Security number
  • Current and mailing address
  • Consumer ID number if available

Also, identify the information being disputed and provide the specific nature of your dispute

It usually takes 30 days for the investigation to be finalized, and the results will be mailed to you.

Alternatives to checking accounts

If you’ve had a hard time keeping track of bank accounts in the past and your ChexSystems report is a less-than-spotless one, you may have trouble qualifying for a traditional bank account

Unfortunately, that leaves you in a precarious position. There are many ways to get around not having a traditional checking account, but many of those options can be time-consuming and loaded with fees that can eat away at your earnings.

“A bad ChexSystems report can mean paying more for banking services if you’re unable to switch,” says Jason Vitug, a former retail banking executive and author of “You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and aa Second Chance account Purposeful Life.”

“It can also mean relying on nontraditional services such as cashing your paycheck at check cashing outlets [which can easily] cost you more,” Vitug says.

If this describes your situation, you have a few other options. Here are some alternatives to checking accounts that can work until you improve your ChexSystems report.

Prepaid cards

A prepaid card works like a gift card. You load it with money and then use it wherever cards are accepted. Some popular providers include the American Express Serve card, which also provides 1 percent cash back to consumers.

You can send money with your prepaid card, pay bills online and set up direct deposit. In many ways, it acts like a debit card you’d get with a checking account.

However, there are downsides to these cards, mostly fees. Some prepaid cards charge a fee for buying the card, while others also have a monthly fee. They can also charge every time you withdraw money or reload the card. If you use the card often, you can face high fees every month that cut into your ability to save and improve your finances.

Prepaid cards have been targeted by consumer watchdogs like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has gone after companies that charge consumers exorbitant fees.

In our review of the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Debit Card, we found that consumers could spend more than $100 in fees per year just to maintain the card.

Fresh start/second chance bank accounts

Typically, Fresh Start or Second Chance checking accounts are a better option than a prepaid card. That’s because they often have many of the typical features found in a traditional checking account, like ATM access.

Like prepaid cards, these accounts sometimes have extra fees. For example, the BBVA Compass Easy Checking account comes with a $13.95 monthly fee as well as a $10 fee for opening a debit card. Most traditional checking accounts have smaller monthly fees that can be waived if you have direct deposit or a minimum account balance.

If you decide to use a Second Chance account, try to find one that offers to upgrade you after a certain time period. For example, BBVA will allow you to request an upgrade after 12 months if your account has a positive balance and is in good standing. Because of this, it may make more sense to open one of these accounts than to set up a prepaid debit card.

Just watch out for fees associated with these accounts, as they can be significant.

If you already have a bank in mind, call them and ask what information they use to verify new accounts. Not all banks use ChexSystems; some use Early Warning System or Telechek.

Axiom

Axiom is a regional bank in central Florida and it offers a second chance checking account called Opportunity Checking. It charges a $10 monthly fee but has no minimum balance requirement. And like many fresh start checking accounts, the bank requires a minimum opening deposit of $25.

Bank of America

Bank of America’s SafeBalance Banking Account has some of the lowest fees for all Second Chance accounts, at $4.95 a month and a $25 minimum opening deposit. Because these accounts don’t allow you to spend more than your current balance, you’re not likely to overdraw your account and face heavy fees.

You can even enroll in the popular Keep the Change program which will round up purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the difference in a savings account. However, this account does not provide paper checks so if you need to write checks on a regular basis, try applying for another account.

BBVA

BBVA’s Easy Checking Account has fewer fees than some Second Chance checking accounts. Mobile banking and bill pay are free and the only mandatory fee is a $13.95 monthly charge. Plus, you can earn cash back on certain purchases.

PNC Bank

PNC Bank does not advertise its second chance checking account, but it’s called Foundation Checking. According to ValuePenguin, PNC offers this account with a minimum opening deposit of $25 and monthly fees of $9.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade doesn’t check your ChexSystems account; however, in order to qualify for a bank account, you must open a brokerage account with the firm. Fortunately, it’s possible to open a brokerage account with TD Ameritrade without a minimum deposit; however, a lot of people might not want to go through so much trouble just for access to a checking account.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo’s Opportunity Checking accounts allow users to avoid the $10 monthly fee with a few easy methods, including 10 debit card purchases, qualifying direct deposits of $500 or more or a $1,500 minimum daily balance. Fees related to this account include $2.50 for non-Wells Fargo ATM withdrawals, $35 overdraft fees and $12.50 each time a transfer is made to avoid a direct deposit.

How to avoid negative marks on your ChexSystems report

Having a good ChexSystems report is like having a good credit report. All it takes is creating good habits, staying on top of your finances and being patient.

If you’re trying to repair a poor ChexSystems report, the best thing you can do is to avoid any overdrafts or bounced checks. If your account is negative, try to rectify it as soon as possible.

Communicate with your bank or credit union as soon as you anticipate a problem. Customer service representatives are more likely to be lenient if you’re attempting to find a solution.

Zina Kumok
Zina Kumok |

Zina Kumok is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Zina here

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Earning Cashback, Reviews

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

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

Review - Amazon Rewards Visa Card or Amazon Prime Store

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

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

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

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

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card5% at Amazon: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card 

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

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

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

How the points work

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

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

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

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

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

You will also receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card instantly upon approval. The best part is you do not have to spend a certain amount of money in order to get the gift card.

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

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

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

Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card from Chase Bank 3% at Amazon: Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card

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

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

The card doesn’t have a 0% introductory promo period. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid transferring a balance to a card you want to use for rewards. This card has an exceptionally high balance transfer fee ($5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater) and no 0% introductory promo period; two major red flags for a balance transfer.

After approval, the card gives a $50 Amazon.com gift card loaded to your Amazon.com account. The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card has no annual fee and you can learn more here.

Amazon Prime Store Card 5% at Amazon: Amazon Prime Store Card

The card can be used on Amazon.com and on other merchant sites that have the Amazon Prime Store Card option activated for payment. However, the card can’t be used for the following: textbook rentals, digital and print + digital subscriptions (including newspapers and magazines), cell phones associated with a plan, purchases on Amazon subsidiaries, digital add-on subscriptions (e.g. Starz, Hulu, GameFly, etc.), Prime Now items.

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

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

This card offers special financing on all orders of $149 or more. You will pay no interest if your balance is paid in full within 6, 12, or 24 months as applicable. If you don’t pay off your balance within the promotional period, interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date. Minimum monthly payments are required. Learn more about the terms on here.

Pros and Cons

Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Cards

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

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

Pro: A gift card once approved. When you get approved you’ll get either a $70 (Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card) or $50 (Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card) gift card right away you can use to shop.

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

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

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

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

Amazon Prime Store Card

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

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

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

Con: A very high APR for everyone: This card charges a 26.99% APR for everyone, regardless of credit score. Yes, even an 850 FICO would still get you a horrible 26.99% interest rate. Never borrow with this card.

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

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

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

Other Cards for Amazon Spending

Chase Freedom® is another option to consider, especially if you don’t want to spend the money for a Prime membership but still want to earn 5% on Amazon purchases.

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

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

From September until December 2017, the bonus categories are Walmart and select department stores.

All other purchases get an unlimited 1% cash back. You can redeem cash back for gifts cards, travel, experiences, statement credits and deposits to an account.

Which Card Should You Choose?

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

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

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

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