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ClearOne Advantage Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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When you’re buried in debt, it can be difficult knowing the right way to handle it. You have numerous options for handling your debt, from debt consolidation to bankruptcy.

One option you may be exploring is debt settlement. Although you can settle your debt on your own, companies such as ClearOne Advantage may help make the process easier.

Learn more in this comprehensive review of ClearOne Advantage.

What is ClearOne Advantage?

ClearOne Advantage is a debt settlement company based in Baltimore. The company employs over 200 team members and has settled over $450 million in debt.

ClearOne Advantage helps customers create a personalized debt repayment plan that includes depositing savings monthly into a “dedicated account.” Funds saved in this account are used to pay off debt settlements negotiated on your behalf. There are no fees charged for the service unless your debt is resolved.

ClearOne Advantage is BBB accredited. The company is not in the business of credit counseling or credit repair. As a debt settlement company, the mission is to negotiate settlements to reduce your debt balances.

Breakdown of ClearOne Advantage

Here’s an overview of the ClearOne Advantage basics:

Services offered

ClearOne Advantage offers debt relief through debt settlement. A debt settlement is when a creditor agrees to settle your debt for less than what you owe. At ClearOne Advantage, a debt specialist reviews your debt and comes up with an amount that you should deposit into an account that’s set up for you as part of the ClearOne Advantage program. The amount you save up in the account is used to repay your settlements and fees once an agreement is reached.

Minimum debt required

$10,000

Soft or hard credit pull required

Soft Pull required

Time frame

The first settlement can happen within 3 to 4 months of signing up for the program, although, the timeline can vary. On average, it can take 24 to 48 months to complete the plan but it depends on your debt balances.

Consultation fees

N/A

Cancellation fees

N/A

Service fees

The fee may be 25% of the debt you enroll in the program on average but varies depending on your credit and balances.

Types of debt accepted

Credit cards, payday loans, medical bills and other unsecured debt is accepted. Private student loans may qualify. Federal student loans do not qualify.

Accreditations

BBB accreditation

Ratings

ClearOne Advantages gets an A+ rating from the BBB; ClearOne Advantage gets 3+ stars from customer reviews on the BBB website.

Service limitations

N/A

Free resources and tools

ClearOne Advantage offers a few articles and other resources to help customers determine the best ways to resolve debt.

Customer service

ClearOne Advantage customer service is available for enrollment questions 7 days a week. Existing clients can get help Monday through Friday during business hours.

Who’s eligible?

  • You need to have at least $10,000 in unsecured debt to qualify. Your credit report and debt balances will be reviewed to determine if you’re eligible. If you’re not sure whether a debt settlement is for you, learn more about how it compares with debt consolidation.

What are the benefits and risks of ClearOne Advantage?

Benefits

Risks

Settle your debt for less money. Undoubtedly the top benefit of working with a debt settlement company is the possibility that you’ll settle debt for less than what you owe. A settlement may save you money and having experts doing the work can save you time and stress.

Fees. This type of service can cost you quite a bit of money. You may pay around 25% of the original debt amount. This gives you another bill to keep up with on top of the debt that you’re paying off.

ClearOne Advantage offers guarantees. ClearOne Advantage has protections for customers. You can get back fees paid on a settlement within 30 days if you’re not happy with the agreement. You can also request to get a refund of fees within 7 days of your first settlement if the settlement amount plus fees are not less than your original debt balance.

Your credit can be destroyed and you could get sued. Debt settlement companies don’t make payments toward your debt. You may be encouraged to stop making payments as well until a settlement agreement is reached. This can do major damage to your credit report and score. Fees and interest will likely be added to your unpaid balances. You could also get sued for the unpaid debt. Working with a settlement company doesn’t put a stop to creditors doing what they are legally allowed to do to get money from you, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a settlement.

Settlements could speed up debt repayment. Lowering your debt balance with a debt settlement can help you repay debt faster. The timeline for debt repayment will vary depending on the debt you enroll in the program and how much you deposit into the account for repayment. The first settlement can take 3 to 4 months to come through. But you can speed this process up by adding additional money into the account if you get your hands on a bonus, tax refund or extra cash.

High balances are generally required. You need to have a relatively high amount of debt to be a good candidate for a settlement company. Creditors may be less willing to settle with consumers who have a debt balance that can be paid off in a relatively short time.

No fee charged unless a settlement is reached.You approve every settlement. No fees are charged until a settlement is reached and you agree to it.

Forgiven amount may be taxable. The money you save from a debt settlement can be taxed. Speak with a tax professional to understand what your responsibilities will be if you settle a debt for less than what you owe.

How much does ClearOne Advantage cost?

The cost of the program will vary depending on the debt balances you enroll in the program. According to ClearOne Advantage, a fee estimate is 25% of the original debt you enroll. Here’s how that may play out, assuming you’re looking to settle $30,000 in credit card debt:

Credit card debtSettled debt amountFee estimateTotal amount due

$30,000

$12,000

$7,500

$19,500

You may be able to pay the fee in monthly installments. However, customers reviewing the company on the BBB website note that their fee came out in a lump sum from the dedicated account. The remaining cash got distributed to the creditors. They had to continue depositing cash into the account to pay off the settlement.

How long does the program take?

It can take three to four months for you to get notification of your first settlement. According to ClearOne Advantage, on average customers complete the program in 24 to 48 months.

Is ClearOne Advantage safe to use?

ClearOne Advantage is accredited by the BBB and has an A+ rating. Customers report that employees are respectful and nonjudgmental. But there are some complaints about the service that you should consider carefully before signing up.

One big complaint is that the fee may be taken in one lump sum after you approve an agreement. As a result, a good portion of the saved money in customers’ dedicated accounts went to the fee, with minimal cash going to the actual creditor. If you decide to go with ClearOne Advantage, make sure you understand how cash will be allocated. Get conversations you have with the company in writing. There are a few complaints that representatives give conflicting information.

Other complaints filed with the CFPB state that customers may be pushed to accept settlements that they’re hesitant to sign, and that the ClearOne Advantage fees on top of the settlement payment can make monthly payments to resolve the debt unmanageable.

How do I sign up for ClearOne Advantage?

There are two ways to get started with ClearOne Advantage:

  • You can get a free consultation with a specialist first. You tell them about your debts, and they’ll perform an analysis that can take up to 20 minutes. The specialist will tell you how the plan works and how much it costs.
  • The other option for signing up is doing it online by giving basic information about yourself and the debt.

What to expect after signing up for ClearOne Advantage

  • Step 1: Establish a debt settlement plan. After signing up with ClearOne Advantage, you’ll receive a customized debt settlement plan and begin making regular deposits into a dedicated account.
  • Step 2: Negotiation. The company will negotiate a settlement for you.
  • Step 3: Review the settlement. When a settlement is reached, ClearOne Advantage will approach you with the agreement to sign off on.
  • Step 4: Approve the settlement. Read through all disclosures and agreements before authorizing. You need to know how much the settlement is going to cost you and how the payments are going to be made to creditors and ClearOne Advantage.

Alternative methods to pay down debt

Working with a debt settlement company for a fee isn’t the only way to resolve your debt. Here are a few other alternatives that can help you pay down debt:

DIY debt settlement

Instead of paying someone to settle your debt, you can do it on your own. Send settlement offers to each of your creditors in writing. All settlement deals you reach should be in writing as well. Once the debt is paid off, get confirmation that you’ve fulfilled the terms of the agreement and keep the record on hand should get asked about the debt in the future. Learn tips for managing and settling debt here.

Pros

  • DIY settlements can save you cash. Debt settlements that lower your balance can help you pay off debt faster.
  • It’s free. You don’t have to pay someone else a fee — in one lump sum or in monthly installments — for coming up with a settlement for you. You keep all the savings.

Cons

  • The damage to your credit. Bills may go unpaid while you negotiate a settlement agreement. Letting bills and penalties pile up will impact your credit report and score.
  • Settlements are not guaranteed. There’s no guarantee you or a settlement company will be able to come to an agreement with creditors.

Debt consolidation

Debt consolidation is when you take out a new form of debt to repay your other debts. A debt consolidation loan, also known as a personal loan or balance transfer credit card are examples of debt consolidation tools. Debt consolidation is a solution that’s best for consumers who are still pretty current on their debt. Lenders may be less willing to offer a debt consolidation product to someone who’s defaulting on debt left and right.

You can  click “see offers” in the widget below to explore lenders and loan offers. Simply enter basic information about yourself and what you’re looking for.

Pros

  • Savings. Using a low-interest personal loan or 0% intro APR balance transfer card can save you on interest.
  • Simplified payments that stay current. Turning all of your payments into one payment can make it easier to manage your monthly bills. If you use a balance transfer card, be careful not to make just the minimum payment. Divide your balance on the card by the number of months you have 0% APR and pay that amount monthly. If you still have a balance at the end of the 0% APR term, you can transfer the remaining balance to another low-interest product until your debt is repaid.

Cons

  • Credit inquiry. A debt consolidation product will likely require a hard credit inquiry. But many lenders let you do a soft pull at first to check personal loan rates before you complete a full application.
  • You pay what you owe. Debt consolidation doesn’t work like a settlement where you settle for less than the original balance. A consolidation is restructuring your present debt balance and not lowering it.
LendingTree
APR

5.99%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

Minimum 500 FICO

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

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on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

LendingTree is our parent company. LendingTree is unique in that you may be able to compare up to five personal loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online and you may be pre-qualified by lenders without impacting your credit score. LendingTree is not a lender.

Debt management plan

A debt management plan or DMP is a program offered by credit counseling services. You and a counselor meet to discuss your finances. They come up with a repayment plan. Once a debt management plan is set up, you make one payment to the credit counselor who disperses your payments to creditors until your debt is paid off.

Pros

  • Support from an expert. If you’re having trouble paying down debt on your own, a credit counselor can offer guidance. Working with a credit counselor also means you won’t have to communicate with your creditors. The debt counselor will take care of that for you. They can also negotiate lower interest rates and fees.
  • Additional credit services. Credit counseling organizations that offer debt management plans may also offer other education services. You can use these services to learn money management skills to avoid debt in the future.

Cons

  • The cost. Debt management plan services can have a one-time enrollment fee or a monthly fee that can be $25 to $35.
  • Doesn’t decrease the amount you owe. A debt management plan isn’t intended to settle your debt. The debt management plan can lower your interest rate or fees, but it won’t lower your principal balance. You pay what you owe.

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy can be a solution when the situation is dire. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are the types most commonly used by individuals. Chapter 7 is when your assets (excluding some exceptions) are liquidated to repay your debts. Chapter 13 is when a repayment plan of three to five years is established and you pay a portion of your debts. After the repayment period, unsecured debts may be discharged.

Pros

  • Bankruptcy gives you a new start. Filing can give you a clean slate if your debt is insurmountable. Bankruptcy should put a stop to lawsuits and collections calls.
  • Bankruptcy can save your home. Depending on your case, filing bankruptcy can stop a foreclosure. You may also be able to keep certain assets as part of the agreement.

Cons

  • It’s not free and your credit will take a hit. There are filing and attorney fees to consider. Bankruptcy can do a number on your credit. It can stay on your report for seven to 10 years.
  • Not all debts can be discharged. All isn’t forgiven. Student loans, for example, are a form of debt that may not be discharged. Speak with an attorney to learn which of your debts can be discharged if you decide to move forward with bankruptcy.

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Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Personal Loans

Should You Finance Dental Work With a Personal Loan?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. You may or may not be matched with the specific lender you clicked on, but up to five different lenders based on your creditworthiness.

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First impressions are lasting impressions. So if you’re self-conscious about your smile, or you’re in need of dental work to resolve a health issue, you may be considering a dental loan. A dental loan is basically a personal loan you can take out to cover dental work.

In this post, we’ll discuss dental loans and other methods for financing your trip to the dentist, plus the pros and cons of borrowing money.

Financing your dental work with a personal loan

Dental coverage may be part of your health plan or purchased as a stand-alone plan — but what’s covered by insurance varies.

Annual check-ups and cleanings may be covered in full, along with preventative maintenance. Fillings, crowns and orthodontic services can have out-of-pocket costs. Elective cosmetic dental work like veneers may not be covered at all — and veneers can cost a staggering $500 to $2,000 (or more) per tooth.

If you can’t afford out-of-pocket costs, a personal loan may be used to cover the expense. The process of using a personal loan for dental work is pretty straightforward. You apply for a personal loan; once approved, you use the funds to pay your dental bills. Afterward, you make installment payments on the loan until it’s paid off. If you’re considering a loan for dental work, here are the pros and cons:

Pros

  • The speed. A personal loan may get you the cash you need fairly quickly. This will be helpful if you want to get dental work done within the next few months. The application process for a loan — especially if you get that loan online — can take just a few business days.
  • The fixed term and predictable costs. Personal loans are installment loans that have a set interest rate and set loan term. You’ll know exactly when the loan will be paid off.
  • The options. There are personal loans for borrowers with excellent credit and not-so-good credit. There are short-term loans of 12 months and long-term loans of up to 84 months. Check out a sampling of the personal loans available below.

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Cons

  • You’ll have another debt payment. Personal loans can be an affordable debt vehicle, but debt is still debt. If your dental work is a voluntary cosmetic procedure, you need to decide whether it’s worth the additional financial responsibility. There may also be upfront fees to take into consideration depending on the lender you choose. Upfront origination fees to process the loan can range from 1.00% to 8.00%.
  • Loans offer a set amount of cash. A personal loan gives you cash in one lump sum — so you could be out of luck if the dental work ends up costing more than your loan. In this case, you may need to pay some in cash, borrow more money or charge the balance to a credit card.
  • Higher rates for lower credit scores. You may be able to qualify for a loan will less-than-stellar credit, but the increased credit risk could increase your interest rate and fees. Shop around with multiple lenders locally and online to see where you can get the best deal.

How to get a personal loan

You should explore all options at local banks, credit unions, and online lenders when shopping for a loan. Financial institutions that you already have a relationship with may be able to offer you a competitive rate. The online lending marketplace is booming, too; many online lenders are offering low rates and easy online application processes.

LendingTree’s personal loan tool may be able to match you with personal loan products from up to five different lenders. Check out a few of the products available below:

Company
APR
Terms
Credit Req.
LendingTree

5.99% - 35.99%

24 to 60

months

Minimum 500 FICO

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on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

Disclaimer

3.34% - 16.99%

24 to 144

months

660

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on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

Your APR may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates under the invoicing option are 0.50% higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 3.34% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $292.31.
SoFi

6.99% - 14.99%

36 to 84

months

680

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on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

Fixed rates from 6.99% APR to 14.99% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.26% APR to 14.10% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of November 30, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.26% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.33% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.

See Consumer Licenses.

SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.

Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

6.99% - 24.99%

36 to 72

months

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information.To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans).Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions.

5.99% - 29.99%

36 or 60

months

660

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

*The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and ranges from 5.99%-29.99%, which may include an origination fee from 0.99% - 5.99%. Any origination fee on a 5-year loan will be at least 4.99% and is deducted from loan proceeds. The APR offered will depend on your credit score, income, debt payment obligations, loan amount, loan term, credit usage history and other factors, and therefore may be higher than our lowest advertised rate. Requests for the highest loan amount may resulting an APR higher than our lowest advertised rate. You need a minimum 700 FICO® score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for our lowest rate.

Best Egg loans are unsecured personal loans made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. "Best Egg" is a trademark of Marlette Funding LLC. All uses of "Best Egg" on this site mean and shall refer to "the Best Egg personal loan" and/or "Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan," as applicable. Loan amounts generally range from $2,000-$35,000. Offers up to $50,000 may be available for qualified customers who receive offer codes in the mail. The minimum individual annual income needed to qualify for a loan of $50,000 is $130,000. Borrowers may hold no more than two open Best Egg loans at any given time. In order to be eligible for a second Best Egg loan, your existing Best Egg loan must have been open for at least six months. Total existing Best Egg loan balances must not exceed $50,000. All loans in MA must exceed $6,000; in NM, OH must exceed $5,000; in GA must exceed $3,000.

Borrowers should refer to their loan agreement for specific terms and conditions. A loan example: a 5–year $10,000 loan with 9.99% APR has 60 scheduled monthly payments of $201.81, and a 3–year $5,000 loan with 5.99% APR has 36 scheduled monthly payments of $150.57. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Upon loan funding, the timing of available funds may vary depending upon your bank's policies.

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you.

6.95% - 35.89%

36 or 60

months

600

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Our Commitment We'll receive a referral fee if you click here. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations.

9.95% - 35.99%

24 to 60

months

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

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

16.05% - 35.99%

24 to 60

months

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our standard credit criteria (including credit history, income and debts) and the availability of collateral. Loan amounts subject to state specific minimum or maximum size restrictions. Collateral offered must meet our criteria. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered by the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral. CA minimum loan amount is $3,000. GA minimum loan amount is $1,500 for present customers and $3,100 for others.

PenFed Credit Union

Starting at 6.49%

60

months

700

SEE OFFERS Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

7.98% - 35.99%

36 & 60

months

640

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

We'll receive a referral fee if you apply for this loan. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations.

4 alternatives to a dental loan

Personal loans aren’t the only way to pay for dental work. Here are a few alternatives along with the pros and the cons of each:

Use a credit card

Credit cards are one of the most common ways to borrow cash when you’re in need of funds. You can apply for credit cards on the card issuer’s website. Some credit card issuers even allow you to pre-qualify with a soft inquiry that doesn’t affect your score.

Pros

  • Credit cards can have introductory deals and special member rewards offers. Some credit cards offer 0% APR on purchases as an introductory deal. You can technically borrow money interest free if you can charge dental work to the card and pay if off before the intro period ends. There are also credit cards with sign-up bonuses that may reward you for spending.
  • You can use and pay back cash as needed. Credit cards offer a bit of flexibility. If your dental work costs more or less than what you expected, you can use what you need up to the credit limit.

Cons

  • Credit cards may have a higher interest rate than a dental loan. The average credit card interest rate is 14.38%, according to the Fed’s most recent data, but credit card interest rates can go beyond 20%, depending on your credit score.
  • You may not qualify for a 0% rate. Introductory 0% APR deals are only available for a limited time. Your rate jumps up to the standard rate after the period ends.
  • You can get caught in the minimum payment trap. Credit cards are not like personal loans, where you have a structured repayment schedule. Instead, there’s a minimum payment you have to make that’s likely a fraction of your balance. Debt can spiral out of control if you get into the habit of making just minimum payments. Be sure to develop a strategy to pay off the credit card otherwise the debt can linger.

Try a health care credit card or dental office payment plan

Health care financing options such as CareCredit and iCare Financial help patients cover out-of-pocket costs for dental and medical procedures. These financing options may be recommended to you by dental offices if you’re not able to pay for the procedure upfront. Dental offices themselves may also offer payment plans where you pay incrementally until the bill is paid off.

Pros

  • Credit check may not be required. Some financing products don’t have credit checks and have quick approval processes.
  • 0% introductory financing terms. Products like CareCredit offer promotional financing with no interest if you pay off the debt in 6, 12, 18 or 24 months.

Cons

  • Fees. There may be down payment, administrative fees and application fees involved.
  • The possible deferred interest. Be careful to read the fine print of any financing product pamphlet you get from a dental office. Financing options that have low interest starting out may have a deferred interest policy. This means that you get charged retroactive interest from the initial transaction date if you don’t pay off the balance within the low interest period.

Borrow from your home equity

If you have sufficient equity in a home, you may be able to tap into the home equity to pay for your dental work.

Pros

  • You have options when borrowing from home equity. One option is the home equity loan which gives you a lump sum that you pay back in installments. If you prefer a credit line, the home equity line of credit (HELOC) gives you an account that you can draw money from when you need it. LendingTree, which owns MagnifyMoney, has a marketplace where you can shop for HELOCs and home equity loans.
  • A better interest rate may be possible. Home equity loans and HELOCs are backed by your home. The collateral securing the loan may be able to land you a better interest rate compared to an unsecured personal loan.

Cons

  • The fees and interest. Lenders may charge draw fees when borrowing from home equity. HELOCs can also have a variable interest rate. Shop around for products with the most competitive rates and fees. Talk to your lender about rate caps and if there’s a way to lock in your rate.
  • The consequences of nonpayment. You could lose your home if you’re unable to pay back the HELOC or home equity loan.

Pull from savings

You could use cash you already have or you could put away money biweekly or monthly until you have enough for the procedure. Saving in a health Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) for dental work can offer tax benefits. Learn more about the HSA and FSA.

Pros

  • Using cash means no debt payment. You don’t have to worry about adding another debt payment to your budget.
  • You avoid financing costs. No need to shop for interest rates or read through fine print. In some cases, offices may even give you a discount for paying upfront in cash.

Cons

  • The high cost of dental work could drain your savings account. Dental work shouldn’t dry up all of your liquid savings. It’s a good idea to keep a cushion of rainy day savings in an account at all times in case you lose your job or an emergency happens.
  • The timing. Saving up can take some time if your savings for dental work is currently $0. If you need to get dental work done next month, saving up the cash may not be possible.

Final word

Borrowing money for dental work is not something you should jump into without some serious thought. Can you manage another debt payment? Is dental work something that can wait?

If it can wait, saving up cash can help you avoid the costs of financing and the responsibility of managing another debt product. If it’s a procedure that cannot wait, be sure to explore all options.

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Credit Cards, Reviews

Blispay Credit Card Review: 2% Cash Back Card, if You’re Careful

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Credit Card Review

When it comes to cash back cards, the competition is fierce. Blispay is a new Visa credit card that offers 2% cash back with no restrictions and a financing option for large purchases. Although 2% cash back with no cap is decent, the special financing promotion incentive could easily do more harm than good. In this post, we’ll help you determine if the Blispay credit card should be in your wallet.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • The Blispay Visa® Card offer
  • How cash back works
  • The fine print details
  • The pros and cons

The Offer  

1. Enjoy 2% Cash Back on all purchases!

There’s no revolving categories or spending limits. The Blispay Visa® Card gives you unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, no spending caps and no strings attached.

2. Special financing for 6 months

Beyond the 2% cash back deal, Blispay offers a financing option for big spending. You get an introductory 0% on all purchases over $199 if paid in full in 6 months. However, if the balance of that purchase is not paid off within 6 months, retroactive interest will be charged at 19.99% APR from the day the transaction posted to your account. That’s a big catch: you’re interested isn’t waived, it’s retroactive. Failing to pay off the purchase in 6 months means the 19.99% APR that’s been accumulating will all get tacked onto your balance.

Blispay Visa® Card

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on Blispay’s secure website

A Closer Look at Blispay 2% Cash Back

How to earn cash back

Cash back can be earned at any merchant where Visa is accepted. Purchases made through Apple Pay, PayPal or a digital wallet with a Blispay credit card will count for 2% cash back as well. Occasionally, Blispay may offer special cash back promotions where you can earn even more from your spending. For an example, if you spend $5,000 on your card for the year, you have the potential to earn $100 in cash back, which is a 0.02% cash back value.

How to redeem cash back

The draw of the Blispay cash back program is you won’t need to do anything beyond pay for a purchase to earn and redeem cash back. Each month, the cash back tallies up and automatically applies as a credit to your statement balance when the billing period ends. The application process is also quick. You can apply online and start using your account right away.

The Fine Print

Simple way to earn rewards: The 2% cash back on all purchases with no cap is an uncomplicated way to earn a reward from using the Blispay Visa® Card. However, the fine print comes in with the special financing. The “no payment, no interest” promotion seems like a deal upfront, but it can really be a trap if you’re not careful.

Understand the consequences of deferred interest: This special financing is really just deferred interest and means interest accruing on your balance will be charged at a later time. If you rely on the promotion to avoid making payments right away on many purchases, you can easily run into trouble when 6 months expires on each one. The way Blispay includes the interest-free period as a promotion alongside the 2% cash back deal could be a way to lure you into spending more money than you can pay off before interest hits.

Cash back is worthless if you don’t pay off your bill in full: If you choose to use this card, understand that earning 2% cash back is worthless if you keep getting charged 19.99% APR later on. You want to avoid interest entirely to get the most benefit from a cash back card. Otherwise, you may pay more in interest than you even earn in cash back.

The Blispay Fee Structure

The Blispay Visa® Card has a $0 annual fee. So, if you choose this card and pay off your balances diligently, it is possible to earn cash back for free. But, you will have to pay more for purchases made internationally since there’s a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction after it is converted to US dollars. Lastly, there’s a minimum interest charge of $2.00 and the late payment fee is $35.

Pros and Cons

Pro: No restrictions on the 2%. You can earn 2% cash back without adjusting your spending habits or paying attention to categories. There’s also no cap. You’ll earn 2% cash back no matter how much you purchase.

Con: Special financing is retroactive interest. If you rely on the financing for many large purchases, you can fall behind on payments and get charged retroactive interest. When that happens you won’t see much, if any, return from 2% cash back. The no-interest financing option could be a trap, so be cautious.

Pro: $0 annual fee. You won’t need to earn a certain amount of cash back to compensate for an annual cost of this card because there is none.

Con: High fees. Although there’s a $0 annual fee, the interest rate and other fees such as the 3% of each transaction after it is converted to US dollars foreign transaction fee are ones that need your attention. If your credit score is good to excellent, you may be able to get a lower interest rate with another card that doesn’t have the special financing element. For instance, the APR on the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is 15.49% - 25.49%* (Variable) as opposed to19.99% APR.

(No matter what cash back card you decide on, it’s best to pay off your balances entirely to skip interest altogether. But a lower interest rate is ideal in case you do need to revolve a balance.)

Pro: Automatic statement credit. Each statement period your cash back will appear as a credit on your account. You won’t have to initiate the redemption of cash back. This card requires hardly any maintenance.

Alternative

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 12 months
Intro BT APR
0% for 12 months
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

If you need to finance new purchases or transfer a balance from another non-Amex card, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers an intro 0% for 12 months on purchases and an intro 0% for 12 months on balance transfers (after, 14.99%-25.99% Variable APR). This is a decent amount of time for your to finance purchases interest-free and can save you money on interest payments, compared to carrying a balance on a high interest card. This card also comes with a rewards program where cardholders earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases. Take note that there is a $95 annual fee with this card, but it may be worthwhile.

Who Will Benefit Most from the Blispay Visa® Card

The Blispay Visa® Card gets a low score from us because of the financing angle included in the promotion. Reeling you in with deferred interest can hurt you more than 2% cash back can help if you fall off track. But, if you plan to avoid the 6 month special financing, you may be able to reap the benefits of cash back while steering clear of the pitfall.

Why trust us...

Fact Checked By: Alexandria White

Reviewed By: Alexandria White

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Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Reviews

Victoria’s Secret Angel Credit Card Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Victoria’s Secret Angel Credit Card Review

If you’re a big Victoria’s Secret shopper, the Angel credit card may be one you’ve considered signing up for especially since the holidays are right around the corner. The Angel card gives members the opportunity to earn Victoria’s Secret rewards, free shipping, and other gifts.

You can swipe the Angel card at Victoria’s Secret and PINK stores and Bath & Body Works (in-store only). But, you’re only able to earn and redeem points at Victoria’s Secret and PINK stores.

The Angel Rewards Program has three rewards tier levels including Angel, Angel VIP, and Angel Forever. A rewards level is assigned to you based on the points you earn from the card. We’ll discuss the benefits of each tier in this post along with:

  • The credit card basics
  • How to redeem points
  • The fine print details
  • How to qualify for the card
  • The pros and cons
  • The basics of the Angel credit card
  • Victoria’s Secret Angel Credit Card Basics

1. Earn 1 point per dollar when you purchase non-bra items.

Victoria’s Secret stores sell perfume, clothes, panties, and many other items besides bras. For these items, you earn 1 point for every dollar you spend.

2. Earn 3 points per dollar on bra purchases.

Victoria’s Secret gives you a special bonus when you shop for bras. On bras, you earn 3 points per dollar including ones that are on sale.

3. Extra benefits such as free shipping.

Cardholders also get free standard shipping for orders that include a bra purchase. All cardholders get a birthday gift as well. According to Angel credit card services, the birthday gift is a $10-off shopping coupon.

Redeeming Victoria’s Secret rewards

The Angel Rewards Program is multifaceted. You get extra opportunities to earn more points than the basic 1 point per dollar spent, and there’s a tiered rewards system that determines what exclusive offers you qualify for.

How to earn bonus points

Besides earning 3 points per dollar on bras, cardholders will be notified of special promotions where they can earn extra points for other items.

In addition, each cardholder can choose a triple point day or days. Triple point days are days you select throughout the year where you will get 3 points per dollar on all purchases, no restrictions.

The number of triple point days you can choose depends on your rewards tier.

Angel Rewards Program tiers

The Angel card has three rewards tiers:

Angel – no point requirement

Angel VIP – cardholders must earn 500 points to reach this level

Angel Forever – cardholders must earn 1,000 points to reach this level

You’ll be bumped up automatically to the next tier if you earn the amount of points required during the 12-month Angel Rewards Program year. The program year goes from February 1 to January 31.

If you get moved up to the second level, Angel VIP, you stay on that level until you earn enough points to reach Angel Forever status. You will never be demoted back to the Angel tier.

If you attain Angel Forever status, you’ll stay there for the entire program year you earned 1,000 points and one year after. However, the following year, you need to requalify by earning another 1,000 points. Otherwise, you’ll be taken down to the Angel VIP tier.

Cardholders at the very lowest tier (Angel) can choose 1 triple point day per program year. Angel VIP cardholders can choose 2 triple point days per year. Angel Forever cardholders get to choose 3 triple point days per year.

Exclusive benefits for Angel VIP and Angel Forever members include access to exclusive event invitations (like store promotions). Angel Forever cardholders also get a special thank-you gift each year.

Redeeming points

Every time you earn 250 points you receive a reward that’s essentially a store coupon. Angel and Angel VIP members get a $10-off reward. Angel Forever members get a $15-off reward.

The reward will be mailed to you within 3 to 6 weeks of earning it. It expires 90 days after it’s issued, so be sure to use it right away.

You cannot use points earned for statement credit, for cash redemption, or to purchase gift cards.

The fine print and fees

The Angel card has no annual fee. However, the red flag is in the interest rate. The interest rate is 25.99% variable APR, which is pretty high. Carrying forward a balance on this card will be counterintuitive if you want to benefit from the rewards program because you’ll pay quite a bit in interest charges.

The Angel card is standard in regard to other fees. The late fee is up to $37, and the returned payment fee is up to $25.

Qualifying for the Angel credit card

You can apply for the Angel card at a Victoria’s Secret or PINK store. You can also apply online. A credit check will be performed to determine your creditworthiness. Like most store cards, you can apply and get approved within minutes at the store checkout counter. Just know that any time your credit is run for a new credit card application, it will ding your credit score. 

However, there is a way to see if you are pre-qualified for a Victoria’s Secret credit card without hurting your credit. Getting pre-qualified is simply a company’s way of telling you that you could qualify for a credit card if you decide to apply for it. You are not actually signing up for a credit card if you are pre-qualified. This is simply a way to make sure you will qualify for the offer if you apply, so you don’t ding your credit score for nothing.

Here’s how: 

 

Step 1: Go to checkout with an item in your cart (you don’t need to buy anything in order to get pre-approved).

Step 2: Enter your name, address and phone number. Be sure to use the address you typically use for bills so they can match it up.

step1

Step 3: Continue to the payment and offers page

Step 4: If you’re pre-approved for a credit card, you will see a pop-up message with your initial credit limit and a link to apply (for real this time). You can then go on to open an account.

step4

If additional information is needed to make a decision, you may have to wait up to 30 days before you’re officially approved for the card. Victoria’s Secret doesn’t have a preset credit score requirement that’s used to qualify (or disqualify) applicants.

Current cardholders report getting approved for the card with a credit score in the mid-500s and higher. The high interest rate is also an indicator this card may be open to those with fair credit.

Pros and Cons

Pro: No annual fee. There’s no annual fee, so Victoria’s Secret shoppers will get rewarded for spending without having to worry about that extra expense.

Con: The interest rate. The interest rate for this card is high. If you carry an account balance, any reward earned (free shipping, coupons, or gifts) will be diminished by the amount you pay in interest charges.

Pro: No cap. You can earn an unlimited amount of points. You’ll automatically get a coupon whenever you reach the 250 point threshold.

Con: The restrictions. Even though there’s no cap, there are a few restrictions in other areas. Points expire 12 months from the date that you earn them. You’re also restricted in how you can use points. There’s no way to cash out other than making a new purchase with your rewards coupon.

Pro: Extra benefits. Beyond the $10 and $15 rewards given for points earned, you get free shipping on purchases that include a bra. Victoria’s Secret may occasionally offer more points for certain purchases as well. You also get a special birthday gift.

Other rewards cards

Ultimately, a store card won’t be worthwhile if you don’t have a reason to spend in that store often. Here are a few cards that will reward you for all spending:

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 12 months
Intro BT APR
0% for 12 months
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Chase Freedom®

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on Chase Bank’s secure website

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Chase Freedom®

Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
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.
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Chase Freedom® – The Chase Freedom® card is a cash back card with revolving quarterly categories. 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.

For 2018, the bonus categories are:

January to March – Gas stations & Internet/Cable/Phone Services

April to June – Grocery Stores (not including Walmart & Target), PayPal and Chase Pay

July to September – Gas Stations, Lyft, and Walgreens

October to December – Department Stores, Wholesale Clubs, and Chase Pay®

The quarterly maximum for the bonus category is $1,500. All other purchases on your Chase Freedom® card earns unlimited 1% cash back. You can use cash back for statement credit, direct deposit into a savings or checking account, gift cards, or travel.

Who will benefit the most from the Angel credit card?

Unless you shop heavily at Victoria’s Secret and PINK stores, getting a card that will only reward you for spending at these retailers is not a good idea. And since the credit card reward is a coupon for more shopping, taking part in the program may even cause you to spend more than necessary.

Be careful if you’re thinking about opening this credit card just for holiday shopping. Buying now with the intent to pay later can cost you. Accumulating interest charges may outweigh any benefit that you would get from free shipping, rewards points, or birthday gifts. 

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Taylor Gordon
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Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Pay Down My Debt

Freedom Debt Relief Review: How This Debt Settlement Company Works

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Struggling to repay debt isn’t something you have to do alone. Consumers can turn to solutions such as credit counseling or even bankruptcy (if the debt is too much to handle).

Another option that can offer you some savings is working with a debt settlement company. Debt settlement companies negotiate with creditors to settle your debt for less than what you owe.

Freedom Debt Relief is one company that’s in the business of helping consumers get rid of debt. In this post, we’ll review what Freedom Debt Relief has to offer, including how much it costs, whether it’s safe and what to expect when you sign up.

What is Freedom Debt Relief?

Freedom Debt Relief was started in 2002 by Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh to offer debt resolution services and financial education to consumers. The mission of Freedom Debt Relief is to operate with integrity and support clients in their journey to paying off debt. With offices in San Mateo, Calif., and Phoenix, Freedom Debt Relief employs over 2,000 people.

Freedom Debt Relief is a leader within the debt settlement industry. The company is a member of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC). According to Freedom Debt Relief, the company resolves an average of 43,891 accounts per month and has settled over $9 billion in debt.

Breakdown of Freedom Debt Relief

Here’s a look at what you need to know about Freedom Debt Relief and its services.

Services offered

Debt settlements: The Freedom Debt Relief service is a settlement program for people who are struggling to repay debt. You make monthly deposits into a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-insured account set up by Freedom Debt Relief. As the account grows, debt consultants negotiate settlements with your creditors. The money to pay off the settlement is taken from your account. Most settlements are structured settlements where you pay off the debt in installments.

Minimum debt required

You must have $7,500 or more in unsecured debt.

Soft or hard credit pull required

A soft pull is required.

Time frame

It can take 4 to 6 months to get your first settlement agreement. Clients typically pay off 70% to 75% of their debt over 24 to 60 months.

Consultation fees

Fees are only charged when a settlement agreement is reached. Fees typically range from 15.00% - 25.00% of the original debt amount, but they can vary by state. The average fee is 21.5%. Each settlement agreement will show the fees to be charged. You have to approve the offer before it goes into effect.

Cancellation fees

N/A

Service fees

N/A

Types of debt accepted

Debts accepted include credit cards, medical bills, department store cards, personal loans and other unsecured debt. This program cannot help you with federal student loans, auto loans, mortgages and other debt that has collateral backing it. Freedom Debt Relief may be able to help with certain private student loans.

Accreditations

Freedom Debt Relief is a member of the AFCC. Consultants are certified by the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.

Ratings

4-plus stars on Better Business Bureau (BBB); no complaints about the company in CFPB consumer complaint database

Service limitations

N/A

Free resources and tools

Freedom Debt Relief has an education area on its site that breaks down different debt repayment strategies (such as debt consolidation or debt management) and how they compare to debt settlements.

Customer service

Customer service is available seven days a week, including evening hours. Freedom Debt Relief is available by phone and email.

Who’s eligible?

  • You need to have at least $7,500 in eligible debt. Eligible debts include unsecured debt such as credit card debt, medical bills and personal loans. According to Freedom Debt Relief, higher debt balances are required for settlements because creditors are less willing to make deals on small amounts that you can pay relatively quickly.
  • You also need to have enough disposable income each month to put away cash into an account set up by Freedom Debt Relief. This savings account is what’s used to pay off your debt and fees when a debt settlement is reached.

What are the benefits and risks of Freedom Debt Relief?

Benefits

Risks

You get to work with expert negotiators. The edge that these negotiators have is experience. If you’re unable to reach an agreement with creditors on your own, they may be able to reach one for you.

The forgiven amount may be taxed. The amount you save through a debt settlement can be considered income and taxed as such. Speak with a tax professional about how forgiven debt will impact you.

Settlements reduce how much you owe. The purpose of a debt settlement company is to settle your debt for less than the balance. Freedom Debt Relief may be able to settle your debt for as low as 50% of what you owe.

The fees. All this isn’t free. Freedom Debt Relief charges you a percentage of your original debt amount when a settlement is reached. The average fee is 21.5%. You could negotiate settlements on your own or with the help of a credit counselor, possibly at a lower price.

No fee is charged until a settlement is reached. You don’t owe any money until you agree to the settlement. You’ll see how much the fees are in the settlement agreement that you have to approve.

You risk racking up fees and getting sued. You may not get a settlement for several months. During this time, the settlement company won’t be making minimum payments on your debt. Interest and other fees still apply to your balances. If you don’t make payments, you can continue getting calls from collectors or sued for nonpayment. Your debt can grow exponentially during this period, putting you in a jam if they aren’t able to reach a settlement. Not paying your bills can do some major damage to your credit report.

A loan isn’t required. The program through Freedom Debt Relief does not require a loan, so you’re not taking out more debt. Instead, most clients save incrementally to pay off each settlement.

There’s no guarantee. There’s a chance the company won’t be able to reach a settlement with creditors. Freedom Debt Relief does not guarantee settlements.

How much does Freedom Debt Relief cost?

Fees from Freedom Debt Relief only apply when you approve a settlement. The fee is broken down into a monthly fee that’s paid from an account created when you start the program.

Freedom Debt Relief can save you money through a settlement, but it comes at a high cost. You should also consider other options (we’ll talk about some below) before you work with a debt settlement company.

Service

Cost

Debt settlement

15% – 25% of your original debt amount, but the amount may vary depending on your state

How long does the program take?

The negotiation and settlement process doesn’t start right away. You have to save up money in a dedicated account before debt negotiators start working their magic. It can take four to six months for you to get your first settlement, but the timeline will vary and there are no guarantees.

If you do get a settlement, you may be able to settle your debt for as little as 50% of your balance, according to Freedom Debt Relief. But the typical amount saved is 15% to 35%. Clients who keep up with the program by making monthly deposits into their dedicated account typically pay off around 70% to 75% of their debt over 24 to 60 months.

Is Freedom Debt Relief safe to use?

Freedom Debt Relief isn’t BBB-accredited, but the company has decent reviews on the BBB website. Customers report that customer service and consultants are helpful and respectful. The consensus is that customers are pleased with the service and how their debt is being resolved.

But there was a lawsuit filed against Freedom Debt Relief by the CFPB in November 2017. The complaint states that Freedom Debt Relief misled consumers on how the service works and that the company charges fees even if there isn’t a settlement reached. Freedom Debt Relief has refuted such claims. If you use Freedom Debt Relief and it charges you a settlement fee without a settlement, report it to the FTC. This practice is prohibited.

How do I sign up for Freedom Debt Relief?

  • If you’re interested in Freedom Debt Relief, the process starts with you completing a form on the website or contacting a certified debt consultant for a free evaluation. Get started here.

What to expect after signing up with Freedom Debt Relief

Here’s how the Freedom Debt Relief process works:

  • Step 1: Receive your customized plan and start saving in your dedicated account. You’ll work with Freedom Debt Relief to come up with a debt plan that works for you. This plan includes deciding the monthly deposits you can make into your dedicated account. You may also be asked to complete some forms, including a form that gives Freedom Debt Relief permission to speak with your creditors. Each month, you deposit money into the FDIC-insured account to grow the funds you have available for debt repayment. The reason for the account is that creditors are more willing to make deals when there’s proof of funds available.
  • Step 2: Negotiation. Freedom Debt Relief will negotiate with creditors to try to settle your debt as you continue making deposits into your account.
  • Step 3: You approve settlements. You will be contacted to approve and authorize each debt settlement.
  • Step 4: Fulfill the settlement agreement. After paying off the settlement, creditors should report to the credit bureaus that you’ve settled your debt. You keep depositing money into your dedicated account and Freedom Debt Relief will keep negotiating until your debts are paid off.

Alternative methods to pay down debt

Debt consolidation

Debt consolidation is when you take out a new installment loan to pay off your other debt. A debt consolidation loan with a competitive interest rate could save you money. The average credit card interest rate is 15%. You may be able to find a personal loan for debt consolidation that has an interest rate as low as 5.99% APR (depending on your credit).

Pros

  • It simplifies your debt. A debt consolidation loan makes it so that you have fewer payments to worry about each month. All the debts are rolled into one payment.
  • It gets you out of the minimum payment trap. Making just the minimum payment on credit card debt (or none at all) will hurt you. Minimum payments don’t put a real dent in your balance and interest will make your balance steadily increase. An installment loan is designed for you to pay it off within a set time frame. It will force you to make more than small $20 or $30 minimum payments here and there so you can speed up repayment.

Cons

  • Poor credit may cause a problem. If you’ve gotten to a place where you have many unpaid debts and poor credit, you may not be able to qualify for a debt consolidation loan. But there are a few lenders who may be willing to work with people who have less-than-stellar credit. Learn more here.
  • Credit inquiry. Applying for a new loan typically requires a credit check. But the benefits of consolidating debt with an affordable loan may outweigh any minor hit that your credit will take because of an inquiry.
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5.99%
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Credit Req.

Minimum 500 FICO

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

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Debt management plan

A debt management plan is a program typically offered by nonprofit credit counseling services. To create a debt repayment plan, a counselor goes over your income and debt to come up with a repayment strategy. They also speak with your creditors to negotiate lower fees and lower interest rates. You send one payment for the plan to the credit counselor and they disburse payments to creditors for you.

Pros

  • The guidance and debt management from experts. Working with a counselor can be worthwhile if you’re struggling to come up with a plan. They pay bills for you so that you have less interaction with your creditors. Nonprofits that offer debt repayment plans may also offer other credit counseling services that can teach you how to manage your credit in the future.
  • Faster payoff. You can get a lower interest rate and a break on fees negotiated, making it possible to repay debt faster.

Cons

  • The cost. Debt management plans are not free. There may be an enrollment fee and a monthly fee that can range from $25 to $35 on average.
  • It’s only for certain debt. The debts you can add to a debt management plan include unsecured debts such as personal loans, credit cards, medical bills and other debt in collections. Typically, you can’t include your mortgage, second mortgages, car loans or federal student loans.

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is usually looked at as a final resort because of what it can do to your credit. There are many types of bankruptcy, but individuals typically file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is a complete liquidation of your assets to repay your debts, and this form of bankruptcy generally does the most damage to your credit. Chapter 13 sets a repayment plan where you pay part of what you owe instead of liquidating all your assets.

Pros

  • You can get a clean slate. Bankruptcy can be a saving grace if you’re dealing with unmanageable debt and you’re close to losing your home. Some debts may be discharged completely, and bankruptcy may be able to save your home from foreclosure.
  • You can stop collections calls and litigation. Filing for bankruptcy should put a stop to collection attempts and lawsuits when your financial situation has gotten out control.

Cons

  • The fees and credit hit. There are filing, administrative and attorney fees. Bankruptcy stays on your credit and can negatively impact you for seven to 10 years.
  • Bankruptcy isn’t a quick fix. Bankruptcy is more than signing off on a few documents. Your assets will be reviewed closely to determine if you qualify. You need to take pre-filing and post-filing counseling classes. Some debts typically can’t be discharged, such as federal student loans. You also need to change your habits after filing to avoid going into deep debt again once your case is over.

DIY debt settlement

A do-it-yourself debt settlement will work much like a debt settlement service like Freedom Debt Relief, except you negotiate with your creditors to settle the debt for a lesser amount on your own.

Pros

  • You keep all the savings. If you land a deal with creditors on your own, you’re able to keep the money saved instead of paying some of it to debt negotiators. As part of the settlement, you may also be able to get a creditor to remove an account from your credit report. This is called “pay for delete.”
  • You’re incentivized to be aggressive. Debt settlement companies generally charge a fee that’s a percentage of your original debt amount. With this approach, there’s less incentive to get you the most savings possible. When you take the lead, you can push for the lowest settlement possible because it’s in your best interest.

Cons

  • The process may not be easy. Professionals are professionals for a reason. They may be able to get a settlement — and at a lower amount than you. Dealing with creditors and negotiating can be stressful. The CFPB has some tips for getting debt settlements on your own here.
  • There are still taxes to think about. Your creditor can report the forgiven amount to the IRS, and your savings is taxable. Speak with a tax adviser about your debt to avoid getting a surprise tax bill.

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

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Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Resources for Repairing Your Home After Hurricane Michael

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Hurricane Michael devastated communities in Florida and southern parts of Georgia in October 2018. Since then, federal agencies have committed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to people affected by the storm.FEMA has approved more than $100 million in housing assistance, and the Small Business Administration has approved over $157.2 million in disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses.

If you’re a Hurricane Michael survivor living in a designated disaster area, there’s still time to submit an application for federal aid. The deadline for individuals and households to apply for Hurricane Michael disaster assistance is Dec. 10.

Money from FEMA doesn’t take the place of insurance and is not meant to completely rebuild your home, but the aid could help you get back on your feet. Review your insurance policy to find out what’s covered for repairing and replacing damaged property. Damage that won’t be covered by your insurance could be restored with a low-interest disaster relief loan.

Here are some more resources that can help.

If you’re looking for more general information on options for repairing your home after a hurricane, see our guide here.

Answers to insurance questions after Hurricane Michael

Home and wind insurance

Home insurance covers loss or damage to your home and personal property after events like theft or fire. A home insurance policy may cover accidental injury or death as well. Home insurance policies typically do not provide coverage for damage caused by floods.

Flood insurance is a policy that specifically covers flood-related loss. Flood insurance can be bought through private insurers or the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance comes in two parts — building coverage and contents coverage. Building coverage insures the foundation, electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning, furnaces, some appliances and more. Contents coverage covers personal property like furniture, electronics and other valuables.

Flood insurance isn’t required for all homeowners, but it is required for homes in high-risk flood zones that have mortgages from federally regulated lenders.

Florida has many moderate to high-risk flood zones, so many homeowners affected by Hurricane Michael likely have at least the minimum coverage required by law.

The National Flood Insurance Program has several resources available to help you understand how flood insurance works. If you have insurance through the NFIP, you can learn about the coverage and start the claims process at FloodSmart.gov.

Hurricane and windstorm deductible

For areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, a deductible for hurricanes and windstorms may be part of your home insurance policy. A deductible is the amount of money you pay before insurance kicks in and starts paying for damages.

A hurricane and windstorm deductible is often a percentage of your home’s value instead of a flat rate like other deductibles. The storm deductible is separate from the deductible for other perils (like theft, fire, etc.).

This deductible should not be confused with flood insurance. Unlike flood insurance, the hurricane or windstorm deductible offers protection when rain, snow, sleet, hail, sand or wind causes damage to your exterior or interior. Flooding is a separate issue.

Who can I call for insurance assistance?

Florida Consumer Helpline
1-877-693-5236

Georgia Office of Insurance helpline
1-800-656-2298

Florida residents can call the Florida Department of Financial Services Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236 with insurance-related questions. The state of Florida has quite a bit of information online to help residents recover from Hurricane Michael as well. The disaster preparedness resources page on the Florida’s Department of Financial Services website explains what to do after a disaster, what to expect when you file a claim, where you can find shelters and other information.

Georgia residents with insurance questions or complaints about a policy can visit the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner website or call the office at 1-800-656-2298.

Learn more about how flood insurance and disaster relief work in our complete guide.

Answers to financing questions after Hurricane Michael

A loan can help you finance repairs and damages that are not covered by insurance and other resources. SBA disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters and business owners in eligible counties to repair or replace real estate and personal property.

For business owners specifically, the Florida Small Business Emergency Loan Program in Florida was established after Hurricane Michael to offer short-term, interest-free loans to business owners waiting for insurance claims or federal assistance. The deadline to apply for this program is Dec. 7. Business owners can learn more here.

There’s also FHA Disaster Relief available for homeowners who can’t make payments on their FHA-insured mortgage in Florida’s Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor or Wakulla counties. FHA Disaster Relief may offer a 90-day moratorium on foreclosure. Call FHA’s Resource center at 1-800-304-9320 for details.

Other financing options for homeowners after Hurricane Michael include FHA 203(h) loans, FHA 203(k) loans, USDA Home Repair program, VA rehab loans and Fannie Mae HomeStyle® Renovation mortgages. Learn more about how these options help you after a natural disaster here.

Filing for federal disaster assistance after Hurricane Michael

Currently, FEMA.gov lists the following counties in Florida and Georgia as disaster areas where individuals may be able to get disaster assistance:

Florida

  • Bay
  • Calhoun
  • Franklin
  • Gadsden
  • Gulf
  • Holmes
  • Jackson
  • Leon
  • Liberty
  • Taylor
  • Wakulla
  • Washington

Georgia

  • Baker
  • Calhoun
  • Clay
  • Crisp
  • Decatur
  • Dougherty
  • Early
  • Grady
  • Laurens
  • Lee
  • Miller
  • Mitchell
  • Randolph
  • Seminole
  • Sumter
  • Terrell
  • Thomas
  • Tift
  • Turner
  • Worth

You can apply for assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or over the phone. The Disaster Assistance Helpline number is 1-800-621-3362 and it’s open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern, seven days a week. Disaster Recovery Centers are available for in-person assistance, as well, if you have questions about your case. Search for the nearest center on the FEMA.gov website or text DRC and your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA). The deadline for individuals to apply for disaster assistance is Dec. 10.

Final thoughts

Residents of Florida are no strangers to hurricanes, but that doesn’t make the damage any less catastrophic. Fortunately, there’s insurance, financial assistance, disaster loans and other support to help you recover.

The DisasterAssistance.gov is a main hub for disaster relief information. Florida offers a wealth of information about Hurricane Michael and how to handle insurance claims at the Chief Financial Officer’s website. You can learn more about disaster assistance in Georgia here.

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

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Reviews

Northpointe Bank Reviews: Savings, Checking, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Year Established1999
Total Assets$1.2B
LEARN MORE on Northpointe Bank’s secure websiteMember FDIC
Northpointe Bank is a financial institution that got its start 19 years ago. The bank has several physical locations, but still serves customers from anywhere in the U.S. thanks to online banking. At first glance, Northpointe Bank no doubt shines where fees are concerned. There are fee-free checking, savings, money market and IRA savings accounts.The news isn’t as favorable when we looked at the annual yield on those accounts, which puts Northpointe at the middle of the pack when it comes to fee-free, high-interest bank accounts. Banks like Ally Bank, Bank of Internet USA and Synchrony Bank offer higher interest rates on checking and savings accounts with no fees. We’ll get into more detail on where the interest is lacking when we do an evaluation of each product.
Northpointe Bank’s Most Popular Accounts

APY

Account Type

Account Name

Compare Rates from Similar Accounts

1.95%

Savings

Northpointe Bank Ultimate Savings

2.00%

American Express National Bank High Yield Savings Account

on American Express National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

2.00%

CD Rates

Northpointe Bank 12 - 17 Month CD

2.65%

Goldman Sachs Bank USA High-yield 12 Month CD

on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

Member FDIC

1.75%

CD Rates

Northpointe Bank 36 - 47 Month CD

2.85%

Synchrony Bank 36 Month CD

on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

3.60%

CD Rates

Northpointe Bank 60+ Month CD Special

3.10%

Goldman Sachs Bank USA High-yield 5 Year CD

on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

Member FDIC


Northpointe Bank savings account options

Ultimate Savings

The Ultimate Savings account has no monthly service fee or minimum deposit requirement.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

1.12% APY

$0.01-$2,499.99

1.95% APY

$2,500-$99,999.99

1.12% APY

$100,000-$999,999,999

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: None
  • Overdraft fees: $29

The Ultimate Savings account comes with online banking capabilities and offers a decent amount of interest on your savings. One thing the Ultimate Savings account does not come with is an ATM card. Northpointe Bank can give you a free ATM card if you ask for it, but you won’t get a fee reimbursement on the account if you get charged ATM fees from other banks. A lack of ATM refund fees isn’t such a deal breaker in this case. The savings account is intended for saving and not regular transactions. You should be depositing more money than you’re withdrawing at an ATM anyway.

Any transaction you make per month past six may incur a fee, which is standard for this type of account. Under Regulation D, the Federal Reserve sets guidelines for how many transactions financial institutions are allowed to offer you on accounts designated for saving.

Banks may dissuade you from making more than the allotted six transactions by charging a fee or downgrading your account from savings to checking. Be mindful of your transactions throughout the month so you can batch withdrawals and avoid the excessive transaction fee. They’ll charge $15 for excessive transactions.

Taking into consideration the transaction limit, you’ll benefit the most from the Northpointe Bank Ultimate Savings account if you plan to put away cash you won’t be moving often. For example, rainy-day savings that you rarely dip into can find a nice home in the Ultimate Savings account. On the other hand, a checking account is likely a better option if you need to transfer money in and out frequently.

You can complete the entire application for the Ultimate Savings account online. You’ll need to have basic information like your name, address and identifying documents, such as your driver’s license to move forward.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Northpointe Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Kid’s Savings

The Kid’s Savings account boasts a high interest rate, but can’t be opened online. Plan to call customer service or visit a physical location to open an account for your minor.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

1.50% APY

Up to $1,000

1.11% APY

$1,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: No card
  • ATM fee refunds: No card
  • Overdraft fees: $29

The Northpointe Bank Kid’s Savings account has a two-tier interest rate offer. This account for kids actually has the highest interest rate of their basic savings accounts. It does not come with an ATM card.

The same Federal Reserve Regulation D transaction rule applies here as with other savings accounts. Your child’s account will be charged a fee if you do over six outgoing transactions in a month.

Northpointe Bank Kid’s Savings accounts are for minors up to 18 years old.

The Kid’s Savings account is one of the accounts that you can’t set up online with Northpointe Bank. You must call to complete the application or visit a local branch.

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Health Savings Account (HSA)

A Health Savings Account is a savings account with tax benefits that people with a high-deductible health plan can use to stash away cash for health expenses.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.50% APY

$0

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: None
  • Overdraft fees: $29

The benefit of opening an HSA for medical expenses is that contributions reduce your taxable income.

Tax benefits are a clear pro for this account. The Northpointe Bank Health Savings Account is interest-bearing as well — and free. An HSA debit card will be given to you, which makes it convenient to pay medical expenses whenever necessary.

There are some guidelines for this and any other HSA account. You can only sign up for the HSA if you have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). According to the IRS, 2018 HDHP accounts are generally those that have a deductible of at least $1,350 for individuals and $2,700 for a family.

You can contribute up to $3,450 into an HSA for yourself and $6,850 for a family. Thankfully, this isn’t a use-it or lose-it situation. You can roll over your HSA money into another year. Be aware that they charge a steep $50 fee to transfer your HSA funds to an account with a different bank.

Anyone who qualifies for an HSA account should at least review what it has to offer. Making contributions now can come in handy when you hit retirement. You can use money contributed to the HSA account on qualified medical costs including premiums, medical services, equipment, transportation and long-term care.

Review IRS guidelines carefully before withdrawing cash from the HSA account. You can encounter tax penalties if you don’t use the account properly.

The Northpointe Bank Health Savings Account is one you can apply for online. You select the option to open an account at the top of the page. There’s a choice to select the Health Savings Account further into the application.

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How Northpointe Bank’s saving accounts compare

First in this review we took a look at all three of the Northpointe Bank savings accounts. The question now is, how do they stack up against the competition overall? The Kid’s Savings account is leading the pack with the highest interest rate.

The Ultimate Savings account for adults isn’t quite as “ultimate” as it could be. The bottom line is, you can get better rates on savings accounts elsewhere. There’s stiff competition when it comes to online-only savings accounts.

Northpointe Bank checking account options

Interest Checking

The Interest Checking account requires a pretty high balance to earn a so-so interest rate.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.00% APY

Up to $2,499.99

0.15% APY

$2,500 - $24,999.99

0.25% APY

$25,000 - $99,999.99

0.30% APY

$100,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: Up to $15
  • Overdraft fees: $29

Northpointe Bank Interest Checking comes with online and mobile banking capabilities. The account also has a wide interest rate spread depending on your balance. You can look forward to getting reimbursed up to the monthly limit if you use ATMs from other financial institutions.

For other fees, the Interest Checking account has an overdraft fee ($29), which isn’t unusual for a checking account. Keep tabs on your balance, and you won’t run into much trouble here. One thing to remember for this and any other checking account is that financial institutions are prohibited from overdrafting your account unless they get your consent. They can get your consent by explaining the terms in the disclosure documents.

When you attempt to make a transaction that will overdraft your account, some banks will cover the balance and charge a fee. The overdraft is essentially a courtesy — the institution is covering the transaction for you because you didn’t have the cash. Northpointe mentions in their disclosure agreement that they may honor withdrawal requests at their discretion that will put you into overdraft and a fee can be assessed.

The alternative is that some banks will just decline the transaction resulting in no fee. Of course, the no-fee course of action is ideal. Northpointe also has an option where you can connect your checking to savings to avoid overdraft fees.

You must be able to maintain the daily balance necessary to earn interest from the Interest Checking account. You won’t earn interest otherwise, and your money should always be working for you when it’s sitting in an account.

You can apply online for this account right from their website. You’ll need to provide identifying documents, such as your government-issued ID.

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on Northpointe Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Free Checking

No fees or minimum balance required; no interest earned either.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: Up to $15
  • Overdraft fees: $29

The Northpointe Bank Free Checking account is an all around free account. You even get ATM reimbursement up to a limit when you get charged from other banks.The lack of fees is great news. The lack of interest is where the news isn’t so great. There are just too many other online bank accounts at this point that offer you no fees with interest for you to go with this option.

The Free Checking account is also one of the many accounts that you can sign up for online through their website.

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How Northpointe Bank’s checking accounts compare

Northpointe Bank’s checking accounts overall leave much to be desired in interest. Competitors offer higher rates and require a lower minimum daily balances on checking accounts. The Interest Checking account which does offer interest makes you maintain a pretty high average daily balance to get any reward for being an account holder.

Northpointe Bank CD rates

Fixed Rate CDs

Northpointe Bank has fixed-rate, fixed-term CDs with decent interest rates, although not the highest around. The CD requires a high balance to earn APY, watch out for this piece of fine print.

Term

APY

7-91 Days

0.30% APY

92-182 Days

0.90% APY

6-11 Months

1.00% APY

12-17 Months

2.00% APY

18-23 Months

2.05% APY

19 Month CD Special

2.30% APY

24-29 Months

2.10% APY

30-35 Months

1.65% APY

35 Month CD Special

2.50% APY

36-47 Months

1.75% APY

48-59 Months

2.25% APY

60+ Months

3.60% APY

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • CD term 7 to 179 days — 30 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 180 to 364 days — 60 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 1 to 3 years — 90 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 3 to 5 years — 180 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 5 years or more — 365 days’ interest penalty

A CD or certificate of a deposit is a place to park your money for a set period where it earns fixed interest. After it matures, you have a certain amount of time to withdraw that money before the account renews. Pay close attention to the minimum balance to earn APY here; a much higher balance is required to earn APY than is necessary to simply open the account.

Always remember that a CD account is a place to put money that you don’t regularly need because the cost of early withdrawal can be pricey. There are pros and cons to locking into a fixed rate. You’re in the clear if rates should decrease. Your money will continue to earn the interest rate you signed up for initially. On the other hand, you’re stuck with your CD rate until the end of the term if APY increases.

You’ll get the most from their CD account the longer you keep it in. The short-term CD rates are nothing to write home about, and are probably not worth the hassle of opening. Take a closer look and you’ll see that currently, a regular Northpointe Bank Ultimate Savings account beats the Northpointe Bank CD rate until the 12-month mark.

There’s a link to apply for CDs online but the option may not be available when you’re asked to choose the type of account you want to open. In this case, you can just call them to open the account.

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How Northpointe Bank’s CD rates compare

The interest rates at Northpointe Bank being less than stellar is a common piece of feedback so far in this review. The CD rates are no different. Their rates are lower than the CD rates you can get from other financial institutions. Other accounts let you deposit a lower balance while still earning interest as well.

Northpointe Bank Money Market rates

Liquid Money Market account

The Liquid Money Market account doesn’t come with an ATM card, but you can purchase checks.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.20% APY

Up to $2,499.99

0.25% APY

$2,500 - $24,999.99

0.40% APY

$25,000 - $99,999.99

0.50% APY

$100,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: No Card
  • ATM fee refund: No Card
  • Overdraft fee: $29

If you’re looking for a money market account with an ATM card, this isn’t going to be your first choice. The account has no monthly maintenance fee though, which is a plus.

Keep in mind, there’s a limit to how many transactions you can make with this account as well. The limit is six transactions due to government regulations. Surpass six transactions and you’ll be charged a $15 fee per item. Take care to avoid this and you can enjoy this account with no fees.

The Liquid Money Market account may be a good place to put savings that you need to have easily accessible because you can use checks. Be mindful of the starting minimum balance required.

The Liquid Money Market account is another one offered by this bank that you can open online. You need to have the minimum deposit ready to get started.

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How Northpointe Bank’s Money Market account compares

Northpointe Bank’s Liquid Money Market account has an interest rate spread that’s not in line with competitors — it’s lower. Other money market accounts available also let you deposit less cash initially. If having an ATM card is important to you, then there are better options for you.

Northpointe Bank IRA accounts

IRA CD Rates

The IRA CD is a secure investment option to stash some retirement cash.

Term

APY

7-91 Days

0.30% APY

92-182 Days

0.90% APY

6-11 Months

1.00% APY

12-17 Months

2.00% APY

18-23 Months

2.05% APY

19 Month CD Special

2.30% APY

24-29 Months

2.10% APY

30-35 Months

1.65% APY

35 Month CD Special

2.50% APY

36-47 Months

1.75% APY

48-59 Months

2.25% APY

60+ Months

3.60% APY

  • Minimum opening deposit: $500 for fixed IRA CDs and $1,000 for IRA special CDs
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $500 for fixed IRA CDs and $1,000 for IRA special CDs
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • CD term 7 to 179 days — 30 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 180 to 364 days — 60 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 1 to 3 years — 90 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 3 to 5 years — 180 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 5 years or more — 365 days’ interest penalty

Northpointe Bank’s IRA CDs offer a wide spread of interest rates that get higher the longer you keep money in the account. The minimum balance listed above to open the account is less than the balance required to earn APY. Be sure to put at minimum the balance necessary to earn APY. Withdrawing money from an IRA before you reach the age of 59 ½ can cost you a pretty penny in income tax and other penalties.

You must keep your money in the IRA CD account for the entire term to avoid a penalty from Northpointe Bank and the IRS. There is one exception for IRA early withdrawal penalties: You may catch a break if you have to withdraw money for hardship or medical expenses. Even with the possible loopholes for IRS related penalties, people who will benefit from the IRA CD the most are those who will leave the money in for the entire period. Keep in mind, the maximum you can deposit into an IRA for 2018 is $5,500 (or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older).

The IRA CD is a savings vehicle for retirement that earns a set amount of interest for an assigned period. An IRA CD may be the right addition to your retirement plan if you’re looking for a safe and predictable place to put your savings.

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How Northpointe Bank’s IRA CD rates compares

Most of Northpointe Bank’s products have lower interest rates than competitors. Again, the IRA CD account is no exception. Competitors offer comparably higher fixed interest rates for the shorter term IRA CDs. You can also find IRA CDs that let you earn better rates with a lower balance.

Liquid IRA Savings

A place with potential tax benefits to put your retirement savings. IRS penalties can apply if you withdraw early.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.20%

Up to $2,499.99

0.25%

$2,500 - $24,999.99

0.40%

$25,000 - $99,999.99

0.50%

$100,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: No Card
  • ATM fee refund: No Card
  • Overdraft fee: $29

The IRA Liquid Savings account is another place to put cash for retirement that comes with potential tax benefits.

The IRA CD we discussed above has fixed interest for a fixed term. The Liquid IRA Savings account does not have a fixed interest rate or term. The rate can change at any time. The Regulation D six transactions per month limit applies here as well. Go over six transactions per month and you’ll encounter a $15 fee per item.

Ultimately, money you contribute to an IRA is money you don’t plan to touch until retirement age to avoid penalties. Retirement could be years or even decades away for you. The interest rate on this account is pretty low if your money is going to be baking for quite a while. An IRA CD would probably be a better option to consider if you prefer to put some of your nest egg in a place that’s low risk.

The Liquid IRA Savings account is one that you can’t apply for online. You can call the bank to set up this account instead.

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Our overall review of Northpointe Bank

Northpointe Bank gets high marks with its lack of fees, the variety of account offerings and user experience. The lack of fees on most accounts is a highlight for a bank that happens to have several physical locations across the country. And if you’re not located near a branch, you can apply for many of the accounts online from your own home.The accounts that can’t be applied for online can be done over the phone. Someone who wants to be loyal to one bank will likely benefit the most from doing business with Northpointe since there are so many account types available. You can fulfill all of your banking needs in one place.

The interest rates are where Northpointe Bank doesn’t quite stack up against the competition. The highest rate for a basic savings account is offered to kids. There’s nothing remarkable about the adult account rates that should sway you to bank here instead of other online banks that also have no fees and top-notch online services.

Thanks to online banking, there are too many options for you to settle on just any old account.

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

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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10 Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards for December 2018

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Cash Back Credit Cards for 2017
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Credit card reward programs come in so many varieties that it can be difficult find the best cards for your spending habits. A basic, flat-rate card that earns you a certain percentage cash back on all purchases is probably the simplest bet out there. Typically, rates range from 1-2%. Not shabby, especially if you use that card exclusively. But it’s not exactly something to call home about either.

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

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

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

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

Access to Bonus 5% Categories: Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

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Chase Freedom®

Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
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.

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

The 5% categories change every quarter.

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

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

chasefreedommobileapp

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

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

The Original 5% Cash Back Card: Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

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Rates & Fees

Discover it® Cash Back

Regular APR
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

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

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2018:

  • January to March: Gas stations and wholesale clubs
  • April to June: Grocery Stores
  • July to September: Restaurants.
  • October to December: Amazon.com and Wholesale Clubs

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

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

Extra perks: As an Intro Offer, Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

Best for Gas and Restaurants in 2018: Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

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Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Regular Purchase APR
10.75% - 14.75% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter).

How it works: The Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union lets you Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter). Notably, it offers both gas and restaurants in two quarters. As a bonus New card holders earn 10,000 bonus points for $500 in purchases during first 90 days.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2018:

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

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

For an example, you can turn to the Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union for 5% on gas and school expenses in Q3. Then pull out the Discover it® Cash Back for dining out for another 5% the same quarter.

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

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

Pick Your Own Cash Back Categories: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

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U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.99%-24.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose, 2% cash back on one everyday category, like gas or groceries and 1% cash back on all other net purchases.

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

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

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

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores

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

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

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

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

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

How it works: The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express* gives 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores, 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of eight, 1% cash back on other purchases. 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% applies thereafter. The eight categories are**:

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

**Terms and Conditions Apply.

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

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear as a credit automatically on your statement. The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express card has No annual fee, so you’ll earn cash back with a generous annual maximum of $50,000 (see Rates & Fees).

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

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

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

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

The information related to Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

How it works: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card is open to Amazon Prime Members, so it’s somewhat exclusive. Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. Buying items on other merchant websites that have the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card payment option enabled will not earn you 5% cash back.

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

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

The Fine Print: The fine print of what you can and can’t buy to earn 5% is the only gotcha here. But, if you shop at Whole Foods Market or on Amazon.com often and stick to the rules, you’ll see a nice return from this card. There’s no annual fee for the card, but you must be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $99 a year ($49 for students).

Good Fit for the Regular Target Shopper: Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

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Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
24.65% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% at Target & Target.com

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

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

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

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

Most Straightforward 5% Rewards Card Just for Gas: Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Regular Purchase APR
11.25% - 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

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

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

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

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

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases.

How it works: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is our top pick for cardholders that want to maximize cash back on groceries. With this card, you get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases.

Welcome offer: $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

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

The Fine Print: There is an annual fee of $95 per year.

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

USAA®Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

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USAA®Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Regular Purchase APR
13.90% - 27.90% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined. Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

How it works: The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card lets you Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combinedEarn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per yearUnlimited 1% cash back on all other purchasesUSAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members.

Earning cash back: You Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined. Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can redeem cash back in increments of $1 through the USAA Rewards Service Center online or over the phone.

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

The Key to Earning from Any Cash Back Card

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

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

Taylor Gordon
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Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Best of, Reviews

10 Best NO ANNUAL FEE Rewards Credit Cards of December 2018

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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 2018 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 – 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Regular Purchase APR
15.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay

Citi offers you rewards twice. First, you Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. All with a $0 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 – 18 month BT offer.

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: Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card, $0 ANNUAL FEE

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

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Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Unlimited 2% cash back on everyday purchases.

The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card provides a $0 annual fee and unlimited 2% cash back on everyday purchases. Only 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 – 18 month BT offer 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® Rewards Visa Signature® Card over the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is that its foreign transaction fees are just 1% versus 3% for the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. But setting up the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card and rewards is more cumbersome than the dead simple Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. 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® Cash Back, Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union
  • Restaurant spending: Uber Visa Card – 4%
  • Travel spending: AAA Member Rewards Visa® Card – 3%
  • Gas spending: Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card – 5%
  • Grocery shopping: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – 3% (up to $6,000 of spend annually, then 1%), 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

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The information related to Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Uber Visa Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else.

If you frequently dine out, the Uber Visa Card offers a great 4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else. To learn more about the Uber Visa Card, check out our review.

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

AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card

The information related to AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.24%-25.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
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.

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. You earn 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. Learn about the AAA Member Rewards Visa® Card here.

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

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Regular Purchase APR
11.25% - 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Spend a lot of cash at the pump? The Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card lets you Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Anyone can join the Fort Knox Credit Union by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council for $5.

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

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

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Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases.

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases. Read our review of the card for more detail.

7. Honorable Mention: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card – 5% at Whole Foods Market

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

The information related to Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

If you frequently buy groceries at Whole Foods Market, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card earns a great rate on your purchases there. You Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. This cash back program is very competitive and earns loyal Amazon and Whole Foods Market shoppers great rewards. Keep in mind that while there is no annual fee, this card requires a Prime membership — annual plans cost $99 or $49 for students.

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®

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Chase Freedom®

Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
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.

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® Cash Back – 5% in rotating categories, $0 ANNUAL FEE

Discover it® Cash Back

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Rates & Fees

Discover it® Cash Back

Regular APR
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

With the Discover it® Cash Back, 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. Earn 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases. 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 you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. – only for new cardmembers. Our review explains the other features of this card.

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

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

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Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Regular Purchase APR
10.75% - 14.75% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter).

Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter). 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® Cash Back, 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

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card gives you 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day. 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 – 18 month BT offer or Fidelity American Express, this card is a better option for your international spending, since you avoid fees of 1 to 3%. To learn more, read our review.

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

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

Beyond the rewards program, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has the longest 0% intro period for purchases of any no-fee travel card on this list at intro 0% for 15 Months (after, 14.99%-25.99% Variable APR). This gives you the opportunity to not only pay for new purchases over the course of many months without accruing interest, but also earn rewards on those purchases that can be redeemed in a wide variety of ways, like the real airline miles mentioned earlier.

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

Points for travel on any airline: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer

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Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer

Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer allows you to Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, and you can use the points to erase travel purchases from your statement. Every 10,000 points is worth $100 when you use them for travel, so each point is worth one cent. Where the card gets interesting is if you’re a Bank of America customer with a checking, savings, or IRA account. If you are, you’ll get a 10% bonus on what you earn each year, so the card effectively earns you 1.65x points per dollar. Even better, if you’re a Platinum level member of Bank of America® Preferred Rewards (which you get by keeping a lot of your money with them), you can earn up to 2.625x points per dollar, which is an incredible deal. There are also no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

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

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

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

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

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Personal Loans

How Payday Loans Work — And Why You Should Avoid Them

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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how payday loans work
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You’ve probably heard that payday loans are bad news. There are plenty of reasons for the stigma surrounding this product. Filling in financial gaps with payday loans can lead to a vicious debt cycle.

According to a report released by Pew, the average borrower who takes out a payday loan is in debt for five months and spends an average $520 in fees while repeatedly borrowing $375. Similarly, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that over 80% of payday loans roll over or borrowers take out another payday loan within 14 days.

In this post, we’ll discuss what exactly a payday loan is, why it’s dangerous and alternatives to consider when money is tight.

What is a payday loan?

A payday loan is a short-term loan of a small amount, typically $1,000 or less, that you’re meant to pay back the next time you receive a paycheck. Payday loans can also be called cash advance loans or check loans. If you can’t pay the loan by your next payday, the lender may allow you to roll over the loan into a new term for an additional fee. You can often find payday loans at check cashing places in strip malls.

Payday loans are typically used by low-income borrowers who need access to quick cash to pay everyday bills. A Pew survey found that payday loan borrowers typically earn less than $40,000 per year.

The fees and interest are where the red flags appear: “I’ve seen [interest rates] upwards of 700%,” said Natalie Fountain, a financial wellness expert at GreenPath, Inc., a financial wellness nonprofit.

The cost of a payday loan isn’t always expressed as a percentage. Instead, it may be called a “finance charge,” but when calculated as an APR, it can be astronomical. The average fee, according to Pew, is $55 per loan from a storefront lender and $95 on average for a payday loan offered online.

Fees can vary from lender to lender. Fountain, based in Farmington Hills, Mich., has seen instances where borrowers have to pay a fee per dollar amount. For example, the borrower pays $15 to $40 per $100.

Let’s say you borrow $500, there’s a $20 fee per $100 and you renew at the end of the two-week period for another $50 fee. The loan would cost you $150 in one month. Imagine you kept renewing. After just five months, the total fees would surpass the original $500 loan.

Fees should be stated in the contract you sign. Read all documents with an eagle’s eye. Some states set a maximum fee for payday loans. Other states prohibit payday loans entirely.

Why payday loans are dangerous

Payday loans are often advertised as products to help you cover unexpected bills. However, a majority of borrowers use them for everyday expenses to solve an income gap.

“Most of what I see is people rolling over or renewing the loan. That’s when people get caught in the cycle of the loan and never get out of it,” said Fountain. Over the years, she has found that some people are able to pay it back in two weeks or maybe a month, but many become trapped in debt.

The real danger of payday loans is getting into the pattern of only paying the renewal fees when the loan is due because that fee is all you can afford. The fees may not seem problematic for a short term when you’re in a pinch. But repeatedly borrowing can turn it into a long-term situation that digs you into a deep hole.

Payday loans are easy to get

Payday loans don’t have many requirements, which is what makes them so easy to access. “You can get [payday loans] almost immediately. There’s really no wait, and almost everyone can get one,” Fountain said. A credit check may not be required. In fact, Fountain has worked with borrowers who have payday loans that don’t show up on their credit reports at all. Payday lenders may not report accounts to bureaus.

The one requirement payday lenders do typically have is that you write a post-dated check for the balance or give them direct access to your bank account for the payment. Giving a lender authorization to make bank withdrawals is another area that can cause problems.

A withdrawal can trigger an overdraft if you don’t have enough money when the payment is due. On top of struggling to repay a loan, you could have overdraft fees and a negative account balance to rectify with your bank.

How to resolve your payday loan woes

We’ve driven the point home about the dangers of payday loans. What if you already have payday loans that you’re trying to recover from? There are solutions.

Fountain recommends slowly backing down on the loan. If you have a loan that you keep renewing, try to borrow less each time you renew. For example, if you have a $1,000 payday loan that you keep paying just a renewal fee on, borrow $800 on your next go around and so on until the debt is paid off.

Another option is signing up for a debt management program with a credit counseling organization. Counselors can possibly negotiate better terms like a monthly payment as opposed to one lump sum that’s challenging to pay off.

If you’re buried under multiple debts, you may also consider debt consolidation. That’s where you get a new loan to pay off your existing debts. The new loan should have a lower interest rate and better terms to make repayment easier — or at least lower your overall debt costs. You can see offers from up to five different lenders by using this personal loan tool from LendingTree.

Learn more about how to dig your way out of payday loan debt here.

5 better alternatives to payday loans

Below are some alternatives to review before you settle with a payday loan:

1. Consider peer-to-peer (P2P) lending

Don’t shy away from long-term loans. Short-term loans may seem better because it’s marketed as a shorter commitment. But when you take into account factors like high interest, high fees and unmanageable lump-sum payment requirements, a long-term loan is likely a better solution.

Peer-to-peer loan products can have flexible qualifying criteria for those with less-than-stellar credit. LendingClub and Peerform are examples of P2P online marketplaces where you can get a loan funded by peer investors if you have a credit score of at least 600.

Interest rates for these products currently range from 5.99% to 35.89% APR. You can shop for P2P loans online with a soft inquiry. It’s possible to apply and get funding within a few business days. A P2P loan works like a traditional installment loan where you pay a set amount monthly for a term that can be 36 to 60 months. Shop for P2P loans and other personal loans here.

2. Try a credit card

Credit cards get a bad rap because excessive use of them can also land you in a debt trap. But when used responsibly, credit cards can be a more affordable way to borrow money than payday loans. The average credit card interest rate is currently 14.38% compared with the triple-digit interest rates that you can find with a payday loan.

Credit cards may offer a cash advance option as well, although cash advances may have a higher APR and can come with a cash advance fee of 3% or 5%. However, there are some credit cards that don’t have a cash advance fee.

The application for credit cards is fairly quick. You can apply online and get an instant response. It can take a few weeks for the physical card to come in the mail to activate the account. Compare credit card offers here.

3. Work with your local bank or credit union

Sometimes a local bank or credit union may be willing to lend you a small amount if you’re a loyal customer or member. Speak with your financial institution to see if there are affordable products available.

One product to ask your credit union for is the payday alternative loan or PAL. PALs are small loans that may be offered as a solution for members when money is tight. PALs are typically $200 to $1,000 and can have loan terms of one to six months. These products may come with administrative fees of up to $20.

4. Borrow from friends and family

If you need quick cash and you can’t wait for a loan or credit card, asking friends and family for a favor can get you out of a tough spot. Set up a repayment agreement to avoid awkward conversations about when you’ll pay the money back.

5. Work out bill arrangements and lower your expenses

Jump on the phone before bills get out of control. Try to contact companies you owe money instead of leaning on payday loans to bridge the gap between paychecks. You could ask for bill extensions or a payment plan.

Another proactive step is to lower your monthly bills where you can. Cut the cord on cable. Negotiate a lower rate for your telephone bill and other services. Take on a roommate. Start a side hustle. Reducing expenses and increasing your income can help you avoid short-term loan products for everyday living expenses.

Shop around before making a decision

When bills are due, it’s understandable that you look for the quickest way to solve the problem. Take a deep breath and consider alternatives before going to your local check advance storefront for money. Weighing your options can help you avoid taking a course of action that can put you in even more financial trouble.

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

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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