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RushCard Review: Heavy on Fees and Expensive to Reload

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements 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.

RushCard Review

The RushCard is a prepaid debit card you can load and reload with cash to make purchases, pay bills or withdraw cash at certain ATMs. Unlike a typical debit card, RushCard isn’t attached to a checking account and doesn’t require a credit or banking history check for account approval. It also has no minimum account balance.

Generally, prepaid card companies market to consumers who can’t qualify for a checking account because of a poor banking history. In that regard, they are a popular substitute for traditional debit cards, giving consumers the freedom to use them to pay bills, shop for groceries or deposit their paycheck like anyone else.

But these benefits can come at a steep price, usually in the form of various fees.

In this post, we took a closer look at the RushCard. We analyzed the fine print to out what the card has to offer and what red flags consumers should watch out for.

We’ll cover:

  • The RushCard basics
  • How to deposit, withdraw and transfer cash with a RushCard
  • The fine print and fees
  • How the RushCard protects your money
  • The pros and cons

How much it costs to use the RushCard

  1. There’s a one-time card fee of $3.95 or $9.95.

RushCard offers a variety of different personalized card styles. Depending on the style you choose, the one-time card fee can vary. Most of the cards cost $3.95. The fancier designs cost $9.95. The company is running a promotion now that will refund this fee if you meet certain qualifications: you have to apply for a card before Aug. 31, make a cash deposit, and activate the card before Sept. 30.

  1. The Rush Unlimited Plan costs $5.95 or $7.95 per month.  

Once you’ve set up your RushCard account, you can choose from two membership plans: Rush Unlimited or Pay As You Go.

Rush Unlimited Plan: $5.95 per month with direct deposit; $7.95 without direct deposit

Once you pay the upfront monthly fee, you are able to make unlimited purchases with your card without paying additional transaction fees.

Pay As You Go Plan: There is no monthly fee, but you must pay $1.00 per transaction. If you make more than a few purchases with your card each month, this plan can quickly become more expensive than the Rush Unlimited Plan. On the bright side, both the Rush Unlimited Plan and Pay As You Go Plan have a transaction and international fee cap of $10 per calendar month.

The best RushCard perk

Access your deposits two days early

One of RushCard’s major selling points is how quickly users can access their funds when they are deposited. By signing up for direct deposit, RushCard may credit those types of deposits two days earlier than most traditional banks would process them.

This is a huge boon for customers who live paycheck to paycheck and often have trouble stretching out their funds. However, RushCard’s fine print warns that early deposits of your paycheck are available on a case by case basis. It largely depends on how your employer processes your payroll.

If you direct deposit your tax refund onto the card, you may also be able to get your money as much as two weeks sooner than you would with a paper check.

But this perk comes with an obvious downside: Usage fees. Depending on which RushCard plan you sign up for, you will likely run into fees that can eat away at any funds that are deposited early.

Depositing, withdrawing, and transferring cash with a RushCard

Setting up direct deposit on RushCard is free and the best way to avoid some of the card’s more onerous fees. Besides direct deposit, you can load money onto the card by transferring funds from an existing checking or savings account.

You can also make or request RushCard-to-RushCard transfers to send and receive money from other RushCard customers. There’s no fee to transfer money between your own RushCards and you can use up to four cards at the same time.

Additionally, you can add cash to your account via PayPal or at participating retailers. You’ll pay hefty fees for this service, however, which we explain in the next section. Participating retailers include:

  • MoneyPak
  • Ace Cash Express
  • CVS
  • Dollar General
  • Family Dollar
  • MoneyGram
  • Rite Aid
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

To deposit checks, you can use the RushCard mobile app. Again, you’ll pay a fee for this service (1% to 4% per deposit). Another option is to deposit checks at Walmart, but again, there will be a fee. At the Walmart register, you’ll have to cash the check first (which can cost $3 to $6) and then add the cash to your card.

To withdraw cash or to check your account balance, you can visit any MoneyPass in-network ATM for free. Using an out-of-network ATM will cost you $2.50 per transaction and $0.50 per balance check on top of the fee charged by the ATM operator.

The RushCard bill pay service is free.

The fine print and fees

We’ve touched on a few of the RushCard fees, but let’s dive further into some of the details of the fine print.

Reloading fees

One area that deserves attention is the cost of loading cash on to your RushCard with the third-party merchants that we discussed above. It can get expensive if you go to these third-parties every time you need to refill a card. The fees range from $3.74 on the low end and go as high as $5.95.

Here’s a fee breakdown for a few of the merchants we discussed above:

  • MoneyPak: $5.95
  • Walmart: up to $3.74
  • MoneyGram: up to $4.95
  • Western Union: $3.95

Check deposit fees

Remote check deposits from the app aren’t free either, unless you don’t mind a 10-day wait to access your deposit. Ingo Money handles remote check deposits for the RushCard. If you want your funds immediately (within an hour), you will be charged from 1-4% of the check’s value.

There is no fee if you opt to wait 10 days to access your funds.

Other sneaky fees

RushCard charges fees for inactivity, international transactions, and currency exchanges. The fees vary depending on your plan.

Pay As You Go Plan: If you don’t use your RushCard for 90 consecutive days, there’s a $1.95 maintenance fee per month until you use the card again. It’s also a pretty terrible deal if you plan on using your card abroad. The plan carries a $2.00 international transaction fee and a currency conversion fee of 3%.

Rush Unlimited Plan: No international transaction or maintenance fees. However, there’s a currency conversion fee of 3%.

RushGoals

RushGoals is an optional account offered by RushCard as an option for saving toward certain financial goals.

This account may sound like an online savings account, but it really isn’t. In fact, the RushCard website takes care to avoid referring to RushGoals as a savings account. Unlike most savings accounts, these accounts earn no interest at all and they are not FDIC-insured, which means any funds set aside there will not be protected in the event of a loss.

The main perk of RushGoals is a break on RushCard fees. So long as you keep an average $500 balance in the account, you will receive $24 per year ($2 per month) as a refund for your RushCard fees. Considering it can cost about $3 to $6 just to reload your card and $2.50 to use an out-of-network ATM (on top of the ATM surcharge), the $2 per month earned is unlikely to make a remarkable dent in your card fees.

Ultimately, RushGoals is not the best option if you’re looking for a place to keep your savings. If you start off with a balance below $500 in your account, you won’t see a benefit at all.

There are far better ways to save than with RushGoals. For a list of high-interest online savings account alternatives that don’t require a minimum balance, check out this post.

How RushCard protects your money

Are prepaid cards like RushCard a safe place to store your money?

You may have noticed RushCard in the news recently. Last October, thousands of RushCard members were unable to access money on their RushCard for several days due to a system upgrade glitch. Social media erupted with complaints from cardholders unable to pay bills or access to their money. The debacle led customers to file a class action lawsuit against UniRush (the parent company of RushCard).

The suit has now been settled. RushCard founder Russell Simmons apologized to users publicly, although UniRush admitted no wrongdoing. All of this brings to light how important it is to make sure your money is safe with your financial institution. After all, anything can happen.

An issuer of a prepaid card may not be a bank or an FDIC-insured company. If you lose money with a company that’s not FDIC-insured, you may not get all of your money back. Fortunately, the RushCard is FDIC-insured through MetaBank. So, if UniRush went out of business, up to $250,000 of your money on the RushCard would be insured.

However, the fine print states the RushGoals offer is not a product of or endorsed by MetaBank, meaning those funds will not be covered by FDIC insurance in the event of a loss. That’s one more reason to skip RushGoals and try opening a savings account elsewhere.

Pros and cons

Con: The one-time card fee and monthly fees. You need to pay $3.95 or $9.95 just to get the card. Then you’ll fork over at least $5.95 monthly or $1.00 each time you swipe it until you reach the $10 cap.

Pro: You can get paychecks from your job direct deposited two days early. You may or may not qualify for this benefit depending on when your employer reports payments. According to the RushCard terms, it’s possible to get your money up to two days earlier based on a review of how traditional banks typically handle authorizing deposits from employers. Early deposits seem to happen on a case by case basis.

Con: The service fees to load money on the card. If you add cash to the card at stores you can expect to pay for it.

Pro: No international transaction fees for the Rush Unlimited Plan. This isn’t a reason to go out and sign up for the card, but it is one of the better terms.

Con: The remote deposit fine print. The convenience of remote deposit is made inconvenient by the amount of time you have to wait for funds unless you pay a fee.

Pro: Free bill pay. RushCard does offer a bill pay service that is free. You can also use bill pay for free.

Con: The RushGoals account. Using an account for savings that just earns credits for your prepaid card isn’t the best option for long-term savings.

Who will benefit most from the RushCard?

The RushCard and other prepaid cards are closest that customers with poor banking histories can get to a traditional bank account. But you shouldn’t fall back on prepaid cards unless you’ve considered other products first.

For instance, the Opportunity Checking account from Wells Fargo gives customers with a bad banking history a second chance. BBVA Compass Bank also has a second chance banking product. Find out more about second chance banking products here.

If you must use the RushCard, enroll in the Rush Unlimited Plan, sign up for direct deposit to fund your account, stick to in-network ATMs, and use bill pay to avoid unnecessary fees.

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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Review of Netspend Prepaid Card

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements 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.

If you cannot get a traditional bank account, you may have few options but to manage your money via a prepaid card. That’s where companies like Netspend come in. Netspend issues prepaid cards which allow you to receive your paycheck, government benefits and tax refunds via direct deposit. You can also use Netspend to pay bills, conduct financial transactions online, track your spending automatically via Netspend’s app and complete most other tasks you would be able to with a traditional checking account. In this review, we’ll explain what Netspend has to offer, fees and fine print and how it compares to other prepaid options out there.

Netspend Prepaid Card features

Your name is embossed on your card. If a cashier ever asks you for an ID to match to your card, but your card says “Valued Customer” or something of the like on it in lieu of your name, you could be denied the purchase. It would also prevent you from receiving funds via MoneyPak, and could cause other disruptions in your financial life. The fact that the Netspend Prepaid Card has your name printed on it alleviates a lot of friction.

Free direct deposit. If you want to receive your paycheck, government benefits or tax refund on your Netspend card, you can do so at no cost.

You will also be able to use the app to send money to anyone with Netspend FlashPay. While the app does offer mobile check deposit, there may be fees charged by the service provider Netspend partners with in order to enable this feature. That being said, Netspend does not charge any fees for this service directly.

Cashback rewards. Netspend issues these rewards when your spending lines up with sponsored offers, which are preselected for you based on your spending habits.

NetSpend also has a refer-a-friend feature which rewards you both with a $20 when your friend uses your referral link to open a new card and loads at least $40 onto it.

High-yield savings account. As long as you’re not currently subject to IRS backup withholding, another perk Netspend offers is access to a savings account with an APY of 5.00% for balances under $1,000. This can be a huge perk for those who are having trouble opening a bank account as it could potentially establish a more positive banking history. Beyond that, the APY is phenomenal.

Netspend Prepaid Card fees and fine print

Monthly fees range from $5 to $9.95 per month. Although the Netspend Prepaid Card comes with a lot of benefits, it comes with a lot of fees, too. Different plans will incur different monthly fees. For example, the FeeAdvantage Plan, which allows you to circumvent a $1 charge for every purchase requiring a signature and a $2 fee for every purchase requiring a PIN, will run you $9.95/month. If you have a regular direct deposit of at least $500/month set up, you qualify for the Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan, which does the same thing at a much lower price point of $5/month.

Reload fees can sting. While there are no activation fees or check deposit fees charged by Netspend, you will have to contend with reload fees everytime you want to put cash on your card.

Lots of miscellaneous fees. There are fees if your purchase is declined, fees if you want to stop a pre-authorized payment, ATM fees, foreign transaction fees and account inactivity fees should you let your account sit for 90+ days without any transactions, withdrawals or deposits.

Checking your balance via text, email or your online account center is free. However, checking via ATM or a customer service agent will incur a $0.50 fee. You will also be charged this fee if you make a balance inquiry via the automated telephone service, though the $0.50 fee is waived in this instance if you have a Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan.

Overdraft protection plan is limited. While you can opt into overdraft protection to protect yourself from declined purchase fees, you will have to go through the steps of enrollment in the program first. You will only be allowed three overdrafts per calendar month, and each one will cost you $15. Unless you’re getting your purchases declined 15 times or more per month, this service may not be worth it.

Try not to lose your card. If you lose your card, there is a $9.95 fee to replace it. If you need your replacement card within less than seven business days, you will have to pay $20 to $25 in shipping costs depending on how quickly you need it.

NetSpend Prepaid Card Fees
Activation feeNone
Monthly Plan FeePay-As-You-Go Plan: None; FeeAdvantage Plan: $9.95/month; Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan: $5/month
Reload feeVaries depending on location and deposit type.
Check deposit feeNone
ATM fees$2.50 at domestic ATMs; $4.95 at foreign ATMS
ATM decline fee$1.00
Foreign transaction fee3.5% of withdrawal or purchase in USD, in addition to the $4.95 foreign ATM fee
Account-to-account transfer fee$4.95 when initiated by customer service representative
Bill payment feeVaries
Stop payment fee for ACH debit/preauthorized payment transactions$10
ACH debit/Preauthorized payment transaction decline fee$1
Card replacement fee$9.95
Balance inquiry fee$0.00 to $0.50 depending on plan and modality of deposit.
Account inactivity fee$5.95/month after your account has been inactive for 90 days

Using the Netspend Prepaid Card mobile app

Netspend’s mobile app allows you to deposit checks via mobile, send or receive money from anyone with Netspend’s FlashPay and find the lowest-cost reload locations near you.

If you’re looking for the more advanced budgeting features some financial institutions offer to their mobile users, you’re out of luck. But you will still be able to monitor your account balance and transaction history.

Opening a Netspend Prepaid Card Account

Ordering a card is easy and can be done online You simply provide your name, address and email and your card will be shipped to you in 7-10 days.

However, in order to activate your card, you’ll have to meet some eligibility requirements. First, you must be 18 years of age and not live in Vermont. You will also be required to verify your identification by supplying your name, address, date of birth and government-issued ID number. In some cases, Netspend will require you to provide your actual ID in order to verify your identity.

Your credit history and checking history will not be run as a part of the application process.

Overall review of Netspend Prepaid Card Account

There is no way around it: Netspend Prepaid Cards are loaded with fees that will eat into your paycheck or any other source of income. If you can get a traditional checking account, you should as it is extremely likely that it will be leagues cheaper to manage your money.

However, Netspend isn’t built for those who can easily get a bank account. It is built for those who have been shut out of the traditional financial system. If you need a way to get your money into digital form to conduct financial transactions, cards like Netspend’s can be one of the few ways to take care of business, despite the dramatic fees. A better option would be to find a prepaid card option with lower fees, like Walmart’s Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Debit Card or the Chase Liquid Prepaid Card.

Do note that if your employer offers to pay you via a prepaid card, you do not have to accept. Specific laws vary by state, but regardless of where you live, your employer must give you the option of either a paper check or direct deposit. If you have access to a bank account, it’s likely not to your advantage to accept your paycheck via prepaid card. If you don’t, you may still choose to use cash checking services if they end up being cheaper than the fees on a card like Netspend’s Prepaid Card.

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.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

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Acorns Spend Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements 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.

Acorns Spend is the third product offered by popular micro-investing tool Acorns. Spend is a checking account integrated with the firm’s two existing products, Acorns Core and Acorns Later. Combined, the three products are designed to get people saving and investing on an automatic basis.

Acorns Spend has all the features of a traditional checking account, including a debit card and ATM access. The Acorns twist is that purchases made using the account are rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the excess money being invested in six different exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.

When you pay the $3 monthly fee for Acorns Spend, you’re automatically enrolled in Acorns Core and Acorns Later, although you’re not required to fund or use these products.

If you’re curious about Acorns Spend, we’ll take a look at the features and benefits of the account, along with its associated fees and drawbacks to see if its a good fit for you.

Account features

No minimum balance or overdraft fees. You don’t have to fund an Acorns Spend account to open it, and you don’t have to worry about ever overdrawing the account.

Includes Acorns Core and Acorns Laterfor no additional fee. Although some online checking accounts don’t charge a monthly fee at all, the Acorns Spend account is part of a financial universe that rounds up your money and invests it for you; the $3 monthly fee also includes IRA services through the Acorns Later program.

Unlimited free or reimbursed ATM withdrawals nationwide. With out-of-network ATM fees often topping $2.50, unlimited fee reimbursements alone may make the $3 monthly charge for Acorns Spend a bargain.

A host of mobile banking services. The account includes free bank-to-bank transfers, digital direct deposit, mobile check deposit, and check sending.

Found Money rewards program. When you shop with specific merchants, they will credit your Acorns account with rewards cash within 90 to 120 days after your purchase.

Integrated with the Acorns ecosystem. Acorns Core already has over 3 million customers, meaning its being used by lots of people. Acorns Spend is an easy add-on service for those already familiar with how Acorns works.

Money invested according to Modern Portfolio Theory. Your spare change is invested in one of five ETF-based portfolios that Acorns has developed in line with Modern Portfolio Theory, which aims to generate the highest possible returns with the lowest possible risk.

Fees and fine print

Acorns is pretty transparent when it comes to its fees and pricing structure. With no overdraft, ATM or minimum balance fees, your monthly service charge is the only fee you’ll have to worry about. This account is the most expensive product available from Acorns, but the fee remains modest.

Pricing

The original Acorns product, now named Acorns Core, charges $1 per month. If you add on the IRA services of Acorns Later, that fee jumps to $2. Acorns Spend, which includes all three products, is $3 per month.

There are a few small twists in the pricing structure. Students do not have to pay the $1 fee for using Acorns Core, so they can access the complete Acorns Core + Acorns Later + Acorns Spend package for just $2. If you’re a millionaire, the fee structure jumps quite a bit, with Acorns charging $100 per million invested.

Other fees and fine print

Although fees for this account are low, they are flat; this means that customers with lower balances can see a significant percentage of their balances eaten away by the monthly fee. For example, if you have just $100 invested via Acorns Spend, the $3 monthly fee amounts to 3% of your balance every month.

ATM fees$0, with unlimited nationwide reimbursements of any non-preferred ATM fees
Withdrawal limits$500 per day
Overdraft fees$0
Card replacement fee$0

Pros and cons

The main pro of the Acorns Spend account is that it “forces” you to save and invest. Like the Acorns Core account, your purchases using the Spend debit card are rounded up and placed into an investment portfolio matching your investment objectives and risk tolerance. The idea behind Acorns Spend – and indeed, the entire Acorns investment philosophy – is that while you’re not likely to miss the additional $0.23 you’ll be charged on your $3.77 cup of coffee, over time, those $0.23 deposits add up.

Another prime benefit of Acorns Spend is its low cost. Yes, there’s a $3 monthly fee, but you are getting a lot for that cost. While some checking accounts charge fees just to provide basic services, the account automatically invests your money for you; not only that, but Acorns Spend invests your money for you in small increments. When was the last time you called your broker and asked him to buy $0.23 of an ETF? At most firms, that’s not even possible, and if it is, commissions will likely eat a large portion of your investment.

The unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement is another significant feature of the Acorns Spend account. Although some firms, such as Charles Schwab, offer unlimited international ATM fee reimbursements, many banks charge their own additional fees for out-of-network ATM transactions, on top of the fees that are imposed by ATM operators themselves.

There aren’t a lot of obvious “cons” to this account; ironically, the same features that are “pros” for many customers can end up being “cons” for others.

For example, some customers may not enjoy the “forced savings” method that Acorns employs; these customers may prefer to choose their own investments and may not like the portfolios that Acorns creates for customers. After all, Acorns only has five investment options, and they are categorized generically as “Conservative,” “Moderately Conservative,” “Moderate,” “Moderately Aggressive,” and “Aggressive” — and all five portfolios use the same six ETFs, in varying measure.

Another “pro” that may end up being a “con” for some customers is the $3 monthly fee. For those integrated into the Acorns ecosystem, paying this fee makes sense. For those that aren’t interested in the Acorns investment philosophy, or for those who don’t make a lot of reimbursable ATM transactions, the $3 fee could outweigh the benefits, especially when considering that plenty of online banks, from Discover to Capital One, offer no-fee checking accounts.

Overall, this account is a bit different than some of its major competitors, such as the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® and the Venmo debit card.

The Acorns Spend account is primarily focused on saving and investing, with round-ups automatically finding their way to predetermined investment portfolios. The Venmo and PayPal cards, on the other hand, are primarily focused on money transfer/access to and from Venmo and PayPal accounts, respectively, although they also operate as debit cards for purchases.

The Acorns Spend account has another advantage over these cards in that it is a fully functioning checking account, rather than just a money transfer or investment portal.

However, things are changing a bit in the competitive landscape, and PayPal and Acorns have recently formed a financial partnership. Now, you can use your PayPal account to open an Acorns account and begin funding your investments, starting with as little as $5.

How to open an Acorns Spend account

Log in to your existing Acorns account. The fastest way to sign up for Acorns Spend is if you are already an Acorns customer. If you log in to your account, you can pre-order the Acorns Spend debit card in a few clicks. The first 100,000 Acorns Spend debit cards sold out in four days, but the company is still accepting pre-orders for additional cards as of February 8, 2019.
Open an Acorns account online. If you’re not already a customer, you’ll have to sign up for an Acorns account to access Acorns Spend. You can access the application at this link. Once there, click “Don’t Have an Account?” You’ll need to provide your email address and create a password to open an account.

To finish opening your account, you’ll need to connect your spending cards, such as your debit and credit cards, so that Acorns can set up the “round-up” portion of the process. Next, you’ll provide personal information, such as your address and Social Security number. The last step of the process is to choose your investment allocation.

Overall review of Acorns Spend

Acorns Spend was a smart idea for Acorns itself because it’s something of a no-brainer for its existing three million-plus strong customer base. For those that already have Acorns Core and Acorns Later, Acorns Spend is just an additional $1 per month, and it provides access to a feature-packed checking account. For existing customers, Acorns Spend is another easy way to keep rounding up purchases into an investment account.

For potentially new customers, whether or not to switch from an existing checking account to Acorns Spend is an open question. On the plus side, Acorns Spend combines the key benefits of the best online checking accounts, such as mobile check deposit and no minimum deposit requirements, to the low fee structure most customers want, with no ATM fees, overdraft fees or card replacement fees.

One of the few outright negatives of the Acorns Spend account is the $3 monthly fee; although it’s lower than what many traditional, national banks charge, it’s $36 more per year than the $0 charged by many online banks.

For many customers, the unlimited ATM fee rebates will more than compensate for the monthly fee. However, for customers that have limited a need for out-of-network ATM withdrawals, or for those that aren’t interested in the Acorns ecosystem, this may not be the right product for them.

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.

John Csiszar
John Csiszar |

John Csiszar is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email John here

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