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Banking

Blast App Review: Grow Your Savings By Playing Games

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

If you’ve been reading about the gig economy and side hustles, you’ve probably heard more than a few times about monetizing your hobbies. Whether it’s selling your crochet masterpieces on Etsy or hopping around the city with TaskRabbit, side hustles work best when you turn your personal interests into money-making ventures.

For gamers in search of a side hustle, the Blast app is here to help. Blast pays you to play Android games, such as Words with Friends and Diner Dash, on its app. Don’t expect to rake in the big bucks, however, as you’ll likely only earn a few cents each time you play. For a few high scorers, your shot at the big money is getting your name on the competitive leaderboard.

Blast also includes a high-yield savings account to store and grow your earnings at 2% APY. While this is certainly an added perk to a fun gaming app, it’s not made for serious savings. The account imposes low limits on your deposit and withdrawal capabilities, keeping the account confined to the app’s earnings.

Blast features

Via blast.com
  • An extensive list of games and Missions (more below) from which to choose
  • The chance to earn bonus cash by topping leaderboards
  • A high-yield savings account
  • Further automatic savings opportunity through Game-Based Savings

Blast offers a variety of games to play, from “casual to hardcore,” as it puts it. Everybody should be able to find a game that suits their tastes. You can see your options right from the app’s homepage, clocking each game’s earning potential at a glance.

Each game has a set of Missions, or objectives, to complete, such as completing the game’s tutorial or passing a difficult level. You earn your cash rewards, or Mission Rewards, by completing these Missions. Cash rewards aren’t huge, paying out between 5 cents and a few dollars, depending on the Mission. For example, completing the tutorial of an “Easy” game can rake in 25 cents, while beating level 10 in a “Hard” game could reward you with $5.

Missions change periodically, so be sure to check back in to find new ones you haven’t tackled yet.

The chance to earn more than a few cents comes with ranking on the leaderboard. You can do this by collecting eXperience Points, or XP, for every dollar you earn or by completing certain Missions. Each week, a new leaderboard winner is chosen. Each winner is rewarded with an extra $50. Those ranked lower can still win a bit of extra prize money, too, depending on how high up the board they land.

Blast savings account

To take your savings a little further, all the money you earn through Blast Missions is deposited into a Blast account that earns at 2% APY.

While this is a relatively competitive rate, paired with the minimal earnings you get from Missions, it doesn’t yield much savings. Say you start with 50 cents for completing a Mission or two and each month you earn $1 more. In five months, your total savings would equal a whopping $5.53.

You can take a bit more advantage of the APY by setting up recurring deposits, either weekly or monthly, from a linked external checking account. However, even here, Blast limits your savings abilities. The minimum daily deposit amount is $5, while the maximum is only $50. This doesn’t offer much ease or convenience if you’re trying to move around bigger sums of money.

Further, all deposits cannot exceed a combined daily maximum of $100. This includes any recurring deposits and deposits from Blast’s Game-Based Savings feature. This optional feature allows you to save 1 cent for every minute you spend playing any Blast game on your Android. This isn’t a cash reward paid by Blast, though. The money comes out of your personal checking account. You have to earn at least $5 for a Game-Based Savings transaction to go through — which equals more than eight hours of gameplay. However, transfers cannot exceed $10 in a seven-day period. All Blast transfers take one to two business days to fully settle.

You can also transfer money from your Blast savings account to a linked checking account or PayPal account. The minimum daily withdrawal amount is $5. Transfers out of a Blast account will take four to six business days.

Blast fees and fine print

It’s pretty free to open and use Blast. There are no monthly or annual fees.

The only fee you’ll have to keep an eye out for is the 30 cent PayPal transaction fee when you make transfers from your Blast account into a PayPal account.

There are a few steps you have to successfully complete when using the Blast app to earn your Mission rewards. Once you’ve chosen a Mission, you’ll have to hit the “Connect” button. You have to connect through the Blast app before a Mission expires to be eligible to receive Mission rewards. You must also start and finish a Mission on the same device for it to count.

Additionally, to earn Mission rewards, you must not have previously installed or played the game on your device outside of the Blast app.

You can use Blast with almost every game in the Google Play Store, offering the chance to earn just by having an Android. Compatibility with the Apple App Store, Steam and other PC and console titles is not yet available, but it is planned in the future.

As for security, Blast doesn’t play around, implementing bank-level security — provided by Plaid — and maximum FDIC — through a Wells Fargo For the Benefit Of (FBO) account — insurance for a fun and secure experience.

Opening a Blast app account

Blast is only available for Android users. You can sign up online to be placed on the iOS waitlist.

You can find the Blast app in the Google Play Store. To create an account, you’ll need to provide your email. You don’t need to link an external checking account right away, but you’ll need to eventually if you want to transfer your Blast rewards out.

Now, you’re ready to play — and earn.

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.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

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Banking

Things You Didn’t Know About the $10 Dollar Bill

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury (source: iStock)

With the musical “Hamilton” conquering Broadway (and the rest of the world), Alexander Hamilton is back in vogue. Did you realize that besides inspiring the musical, Hamilton’s portrait graces the $10 dollar bill? OK, fine. Everybody knows that, but what else about this iconic piece of U.S. currency might you be missing?

There are over 2 billion $10 bills currently in circulation, each of which typically lasts four and a half years before they’re replaced. Today, money coming out of circulation is recycled, although this didn’t use to be the case. Up until 2010, two-thirds of the old money being taken out of circulation would end up in landfills.

Who makes the $10 bill?

It’s no accident that Alexander Hamilton’s portrait appears on the $10 dollar bill today. After all, he served as the first secretary of the treasury from 1789 to 1795, and played a leading role in building the First Bank of the United States, which acted as a proto-central bank for the young nation. The bank distributed the first U.S. banknotes at this time — although the country would have to wait until 1861 for its first federally-issued $10 dollar bill.

Today, the Federal Reserve is responsible for controlling monetary policy in the U.S., which it does by setting interest rates. The Fed was established back in 1913, and one common misconception is that the Fed prints money. This is not the case: the Department of the Treasury is actually responsible for printing the currency, including the $10 dollar bill.

The 1913 Federal Reserve Act called on the Fed to preserve the economic stability of the country. On a day-to-day level, the Fed sets the level of short-term interest rates, as well as, the cost and availability of credit. Meanwhile, the Treasury prints and controls currency in circulation, and collects taxes via the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Early history of the $10 dollar bill

The $10 bill was originally nicknamed a “sawbuck” because of the X featured on early versions of the bill, which looked like sawhorses. Before the Federal Reserve was created, it went through many iterations.

The first $10 note issued by the federal government was printed in 1861, and featured a portrait of former President Abraham Lincoln. His face remained on the bill up until 1863, when Benjamin Franklin took over what is known as the First Charter $10 bill. Congressman Daniel Webster was the face of the $10 bill from 1869 to 1880. This bill is also sometimes referred to as the “jackass note” because the eagle shown on the front of the bill, when turned upside down, looked like the head of a donkey.

1903 $10 dollar national currency, issued by the First National Bank of the City Of New York (source: iStock)

From 1863 to 1929, the government let individual banks issue their own notes, referred to as “national bank notes.” Apart from federally issued notes, there were multiple national bank versions of the $10 bill. Some of these versions include the ten dollar silver certificate featuring former Vice President Thomas Hendricks, the $10 bison note featuring Lewis and Clark, as well as the Red Seal 1902 bank note, which carried Gen. William McKinley on the face of the bill.

1901 $10 dollar bison note, featuring Lewis and Clark (source: iStock)

Ironically, Andrew Jackson, who was a fierce critic of central banking in the U.S. and paper notes in general, was the face of the $10 note from 1914 to 1929. These bills were quite large, measuring in at 7.375” x 3.125” inches. The back of the original Jackson $10 bill did not include a portrait of the Treasury building, as later versions did. Instead, it featured a plow and horses, as well as, smokestacks in the distance to symbolize agriculture and commerce.

Variations on the Hamilton $10 dollar bill

Alexander Hamilton’s face did not show up the $10 dollar bill until 1929. The size of the bill was reduced to 6.12” x 2.14” after 1929. This bill remained largely the same by design up until 1990, when a few slight modifications were made. The Treasury’s seal on the right front side of the bill was layered under the word “ten” on the newer bills. The word “ten” was also layered on top of the two numerical 10s on the bottom of the bill.

The 1990 bank notes also included a thread on the left front side of the bill that, when held up to light, spelled out “USA” and “TEN”. Changed as a security measure, this thread would glow orange when illuminated by an ultraviolet light. Additionally, the 1990 series notes had the words “The United States of America” in very small type around the outer edge border of Alexander Hamilton’s oval portrait

Changes to the $10 bill with the 2000 redesign

In 2000, a revised version of the $10 bill was unveiled to combat counterfeiting, which had seen a spike since the rise of digital printers. One of the main design changes was a revised portrait of Hamilton. The portrait was also moved slightly to the left side of the bill. The threading of “USA” and “TEN” included on the 1990 series was moved to the right side of the bill. As an added security measure, the 2000 note also included a faint portrait of Hamilton in the blank space to the right of the main portrait. This faint portrait that can only be seen when held up to the light and is along the same plane as the Secretary of the Treasury’s signature.

2006 series $10 dollar bill (source: iStock)

The $10 bill that is in circulation today is from the 2006 series. The most distinct change is the bill’s subtle background colors of orange, yellow and red. The portrait of Hamilton no longer has a border around it, and the watermark portrait of him was moved to the upper right-hand side of the bill underneath the new red “We The People” text that was added. In this series of bills the Fed added some patriotic symbols of freedom throughout. There are two depictions of the Statue of Liberty’s torch on the bill, one big and one small. The lower right “10” on the front of the bill now shifts from copper to green when titled.

The future of the $10 bill

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced in 2015 that a fresh face would be featured on a new $10 bill to be introduced in 2020. Secretary Lew suggested that the new $10 note should feature a woman who was a “champion of our inclusive democracy.” While the decision to launch a new $10 bill was based on security needs due to counterfeiting, the 2020 date also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The Treasury asked the public to submit candidates for the new $10 dollar bill portrait, and received over a million responses.

In April 2016, the Treasury reversed course and said that instead of a new $10 bill, a new $20 dollar note would be introduced in 2020 featuring a portrait of Harriet Tubman. This decision was triggered by strong public support, as well as legislation introduced by New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. It was also announced that Alexander Hamilton would remain on the front of the $10 bill, and a tribute to the heroes of the women’s suffrage movement would be included on the back of the bill instead of a portrait of the Treasury building.

In May 2019, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delayed the launch of the Harriet Tubman $20 dollar bill to 2028, citing anti-counterfeiting features as the primary reason for the delay. The choice of Harriet Tubman had earlier been criticized by President Trump, who, in 2016, said during a live town hall event that he’d rather keep Andrew Jackson on the $20.

Despite the delay of the new $20 bill, new $10 and $50 notes are still expected to be released in 2020. The final design has yet to be released to the public. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing did not respond when asked to comment on the new $10 bill design.

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.

Jackson Wise
Jackson Wise |

Jackson Wise is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jackson here

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Banking

How to Send a Remittance

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

America has long been a land of opportunity, where people could come from other parts of the world to build a better life. Many of these newcomers work hard to provide money and support for their families back home, boosting both countries’ economies in the process. When you send money this way, it’s known as a remittance.

Global remittances reached an all-time high of $689 billion in 2018, according to the Migration and Development Brief from The World Bank and KNOMAD. The majority of that total — $529 billion — was sent to low- and middle-income countries. In 2017, the U.S. sent the most money at around $68 billion. In 2018, India was the largest receiver of remittances at $78.6 billion.

We’ll tell you a bit more about remittances and the different ways you can send one.

What is a remittance?

A remittance is when you send money to a person or a company as payment, including to someone in another country. Remittances usually take the form of electronic transfers, checks or money orders. Most often, remittances are sent by a worker in one country to their family in their home country. When work cannot be found at home, it’s a way to share wages to support those left behind — often in low-income, disadvantaged countries.

Dilip Ratha, lead economist at The World Bank and an author of the brief cited above, sees remittances as much more than just sending money.

“Remittances are a proven way of sharing prosperity between different places,” he said. “They are a highly visible and tangible benefit of international migration for remittance-receiving countries.”

How remittances affect source and receiving countries

For receiving countries, Ratha points to remittances playing an important role in reducing child labor in disadvantaged households across several developing countries. Remittances have also been linked to higher expenditures on education, school enrollment and years of completed schooling.

Not only that, but a 2017 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report demonstrates that immigration is not a fiscal drain for the remittance source countries. “There is a common belief in many countries that immigrants are net beneficiaries of social services, and thus have a negative fiscal impact,” the report states. In fact, the OECD found the opposite to be true. Immigration and remittances have provided a net positive fiscal effect for these countries.

“For remittance source countries, the remittances are derived from the labor, innovation and entrepreneurship income of migrant households,” Ratha said. “In almost every country, the self-employment ratio of immigrants is higher than that of natives with similar education levels.”

Immigrants are also more likely to be represented among inventors and innovators, helping boost the economy. Plus, the immigration of young workers can help ease countries’ strained pension systems.

What are my options for sending remittances?

You have a variety of options for sending remittances, including online services and money transfer services with retail locations that take cash.

Let’s take a quick look at what these services might cost. For example’s sake, let’s say you’re sending $100 from your U.S. bank account to someone in the Philippines, who will receive it in Philippine pesos.

ServiceCost for Online Bank TransferCost for Cash Pickup
TransferWise$3.67n/a
Xoom$1.99$4.99
Remitly
  • Economy: $0

  • Express: $3.99


  • Economy: $0

  • Express: $3.99


Western Union$0$3.99
MoneyGram$0$4.99
Ria$0$0

How to send remittances online

Technology has given us several different platforms to send money. Plus, it allows you to send money much faster than sending some cash in an envelope across the globe.

TransferWise

TransferWise allows you to send money to your recipient’s bank account in almost 50 countries around the world. Each transfer can be completed within seconds or a few days, depending on your payment type, the country you’re sending to and the country from which you’re sending. You can send a maximum of $50,000 per day with TransferWise.

TransferWise is pretty transparent about what it charges. It notes when it raises prices (last done in June 2019) and breaks down where your money goes. Like other services, TransferWise also offers a pricing calculator to indicate what your transfer will cost from the start. Plus, TransferWise guarantees getting you the best exchange rate it can. You’ll need to create a TransferWise account to use the service.

Xoom

Xoom, a service from PayPal, operates entirely online. Still, along with international bank transfers, it also allows for cash pickup and even cash delivery. Xoom services are available in over 70 countries.

Xoom’s transfer fee will depend on your payment method, how much money you send, where you send the money and which currency you select for disbursement. You can pay with your bank account, credit or debit card or your PayPal account.

Remitly

Remitly is a mobile-focused service that offers several options for sending and receiving money. If you’re sending money, you can choose between Express, which uses your debit or credit card to send money in minutes for a fee, and Economy, which sends money within three business days from your bank account at its lowest rate.

If you’re receiving money through Remitly, you can get money sent directly and immediately to your bank or mobile money account, instantly pick up cash at thousands of locations or have money delivered to your home within one to two days.

Remitly connects U.S. users to more than 40 countries.

How to send remittances with cash or money orders

If you’d rather send cold, hard paper, that’s still an option, too. Plus, there are remittance services that make it way faster and much safer now than sending an envelope through the mail.

We looked at what these services cost when sending money from your bank account. Using the same example — sending $100 from the U.S. to the Philippines — here’s a closer look at their fees when you send cash in person.

ServiceCost for Account DepositCost for Cash Pickup
Western Unionn/a$4
MoneyGram$6$9.99
Ria$5$4

Western Union

Western Union has been a big name in the remittance space for decades. While you can transfer money between bank accounts online (and on the Western Union app), you can also visit over 550,000 Western Union agent locations in more than 200 countries to pay for your transfer in cash — and to pick up a payment.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram has over 350,000 locations worldwide, reaching over 200 countries. You’re able to send and receive money both online and in person. Look for MoneyGram money order signs at many supermarkets, financial institutions and check cashers. You can also use its fee estimation tool to determine the exact cost of your remittance transfer.

Ria

Ria provides access to over 369,000 locations in 149 countries. At its locations and online, you can send money through your bank account, debit or credit card and with cash. Your recipients can then receive payments in their bank accounts, as a cash pickup or delivered to their home.

How (not) to send remittances through banks or credit unions

You may want to steer clear of using your bank or credit union to send a remittance. On average, banks are the costliest channel for sending remittances. In the first quarter of 2019, banks charged an average of 10.9%, according to The World Bank and KNOMAD.

Using your bank may seem convenient, especially since you don’t have to create an entirely new account with a different service. But not all banks even offer this service, so check whether your bank allows you to make international transfers directly from your account, perhaps with a service such as Zelle. Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers typically don’t come with fees, but you might lose some money with the bank’s high exchange rate.

Another bank option is to send a wire transfer. However, these tend to have really high fees and exchange rates.

Which is the best way to send a remittance?

The best service will largely depend on your resources and preferences. If you’re looking for the cheapest options, sending an online bank account transfer might be your best bet.

“Improved technology is likely to have had a positive impact on formal remittance flows,” Ratha said.

They’re able to lower costs and offer better exchange rates. He adds that the online remittance industry could benefit further from “harmonized regulation and adoption of innovative technologies,” which could lower remittance costs.

Of course, online transfer services have their drawbacks. TransferWise and Xoom aren’t great options if you’re dealing with cash since they don’t accept cash payments. Xoom can be good if you’re sending electronically, but your recipient needs to pick up the cash. The same is true for services including Western Union and MoneyGram.

Using Western Union, MoneyGram and other services like them are handy if you don’t have a bank account. They allow you to make your payment in cash easily at a participating location. Plus, these services have a much wider network than TransferWise and Xoom.

With such a wide selection of remittance services, you’re bound to find one — or two — that you favor over the others. Figure out what it is that you need from a service, whether that’s cash delivery or instant payment. That way, you can better weigh your options and find the right remittance service for you.

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.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here