How to tell you’re a frequent flyer — without telling anyone you’re a frequent flyer

How to tell you’re a frequent flyer — without telling anyone you’re a frequent flyer

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Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


How to Get a Low-Interest Personal Loan

When you’re struggling financially, sometimes the best option is to get a personal loan. Unfortunately, “cheap loans” in the form of low-interest rates are hard to come by if you don’t have the right credit score. The interest rate is the amount you’ll pay over the life of the loan on top of the loan amount requested. The higher the interest rate, the more expensive the personal loan will be, and the more you’ll come out of pocket to pay for it.

In this article

What is a low interest rate on a personal loan? 

As of November 2020, the average interest rate on a 24-month personal loan is 9.65%, according to the Federal Reserve. Depending on your creditworthiness, your rate for a personal loan could be higher or lower than the national average.

Lenders use a risk-based model to determine individual interest rates on personal loans and other loan types. Financial institutions use several factors to determine your personal interest rate, including your:

  • Credit score
  • Payment history
  • Income information
  • Outstanding debts

The better your credit score and payment history and the less outstanding debts you have, the better your personal loan interest rates will be. However, if your credit score is lacking, you have trouble paying on time and maxed out your credit cards, don’t expect a low interest rate on your personal loan.

[ More: How to Raise Your Credit Score ]

How can I get a lower interest rate on my loan? 

If you’re looking for a cheap personal loan with a low interest rate, there are some things you can do before applying. If you can improve your creditworthiness, you can get a better-than-average interest rate on a personal loan, which can add up to big savings over the life of the loan.

Lower your debt to income ratio

The first thing to do before applying for a personal loan is to lower your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI. The DTI is the amount of debt you have compared to the income you bring in.

The higher the ratio, the less likely you’ll get a low interest rate on a personal loan. With a high amount of debt compared to your income, the risk of default is higher, which means the lender will want a higher amount of interest to take on the greater risk.

The easiest way to lower your debt-to-income ratio is to pay off some of your outstanding debt. If you have a lot of debt or aren’t sure about the best way to tackle your existing debt, there are debt relief options available.

Improve your credit score 

Your credit score is a three-digit number assigned to your debt and payment history that determines your creditworthiness. The better your credit score, the better chance you have of getting approved for a low-interest rate on your personal loan.

Here are some tips to use so you can quickly improve your credit score before applying for a loan:

  • Pay all your bills on time
  • Allow your utility and cell phone bills to boost your credit score
  • Pay off your debt
  • Keep low balances on revolving credit accounts
  • Only apply for new credit accounts if needed
  • Keep unused credit cards open and active instead of closing them
  • Avoid applying for new credit often, as inquiries can negatively affect your credit score
  • Review all your credit reports and dispute any inaccuracies

Shop around and compare rates 

Sometimes it pays to shop around. By getting multiple personal loan quotes, you can compare interest rates, fees and other terms to make the best decision.

When shopping, make sure the lender does a soft credit check, which won’t affect your credit score. Once you choose a lender, it will do a hard credit pull to verify your information and lock in the interest rate.

[ See: Three Ways to Build Credit Without Taking on Any Debt ]

Reach out to a credit union 

A credit union is much different from a bank or online lender. Credit unions are nonprofit entities owned by their members, so they can offer more competitive rates and better incentives than the big banks.

To apply for a personal loan with a credit union, you have to be a member first. Qualifying for membership varies by credit union, but you usually have to live in a certain area, work for a particular employer or be related to an existing member. If you belong to an organization, that may also be a qualifying factor that makes you eligible to join the credit union.

Pick a cheaper type of loan

Most personal loans available are unsecured loans, which means you don’t have to provide collateral to get approved. However, offering up a form of collateral could be a way to get a lower interest rate on a secured loan compared to an unsecured personal loan.

Lenders may allow the following forms of collateral for a secured loan:

  • Cash in checking or savings
  • Vehicle
  • House
  • Home equity

Though this route could get a better interest rate, proceed with caution. If you default on the personal loan, the lender can seize your collateral. If you end up down on your luck, losing your house or car could make your situation even worse.

[ Next: Secured Personal Loans vs. Unsecured Personal Loans ]

Get a co signer 

Some lenders offer the option of a co-signer, which can get you a low-interest rate personal loan. The co-signer should have excellent credit and a strong payment history to improve your chances of a better rate.

Make sure your co-signer agrees to taking on the responsibility. Once approved, the co-signer is equally responsible for the loan payments. If you default on the loan, they are on the hook to pay or risk damaging their own credit score.

Choose a shorter repayment period 

Longer loan terms means more risk for the lender, which translates to higher interest rates. Choosing a shorter repayment period can lower the interest rate, but it also increases the monthly payment. Be sure the higher payment fits into your budget over the life of the loan so you don’t default.

Sign up for an auto pay discount 

Some lenders offer incentives like an autopay discount to win over borrowers. With autopay, you attach a checking or savings account to the loan and the lender debits the monthly payment automatically. Not only does this ensure you pay on time each month, it lowers the risk of defaulting on the loan, which is why lenders offer it.

Most lenders offer a 0.25% discount on the personal loan interest rate. It sounds small, but the savings can add up over the life of the loan. Be mindful to have enough money in your account each month to avoid overdraft fees on your account and a returned payment fee with the lender.

Avoid fees 

Fees on loans are the difference between an interest rate and an annual percentage rate (APR). If the APR is higher than the interest rate, there are fees attached to the loan.

One of the biggest fees is the origination fee, also called an administration, processing or underwriting fee.. The origination fee can vary from 1% to 8% of the loan amount. Not all lenders have this fee — lenders including SoFi, Lightstream and Citizens Bank all do not charge this fee.

When shopping for personal loan quotes, check to see what fees, if any, apply to the loan. Just because a lender offers a low-interest rate doesn’t mean it’s always the best option available.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at with comments or questions.


Selling? Increase Your Home’s “Screen Appeal”

With home showings going online during COVID-19, learn how to make your listing stand out on screen.

If you were counting on crowded open houses (or any open houses, for that matter) to sell your home, you’ve probably been rethinking your strategy. With many people staying home, online for-sale listings have taken on more importance than ever, and it all starts with increasing your home’s screen appeal.  

Stage your space

The first step in staging your home is aggressive decluttering. Put away all the kids’ and pets’ toys, store or recycle loose magazines and box up your picture frames and mementos for now. You don’t want to erase all the personality from your home, but you do want it to feel neutral so potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Plus, the less random stuff on display, the more spacious your rooms will look. 

Next, consider the layout. You may love how your rooms are arranged, but your furniture placement might not maximize space on screen. Take some test photos to see if the current layout photographs well. If you’re planning on creating a recorded or live video tour, do a video chat walkthrough with a friend and see if you have a clear path between furniture pieces. You definitely want to avoid tripping over an ottoman while doing a live tour.

Finally, clean and dust every surface in sight, and replace all the lightbulbs so that rooms are as bright as they can be — even the most beautiful spaces won’t read well on camera if they’re too dark.

Consider virtual staging

If your current home is empty, you have a few options: 

  • You can leave it empty. (But staged homes tend to sell faster.) 
  • You can purchase furniture, if you’re able to have it safely delivered to your home. You just need a few key pieces to show the scale of a room — a couch, coffee table and rug establish a living room’s size, for instance. You can always resell or donate the pieces to charity later if you don’t want to keep them. 
  • You could try virtual staging, which digitally adds furnishings to your space. It’s come a long way and can make a home look very attractive. There are many online services as well as DIY apps to choose from. 

Your home looks great now share it

There are a few ways of showcasing your home online to generate more interest, even when having an agent or professional photographer doing the legwork is not an option or involves creative solutions.

For still photographs, see our comprehensive photography guide for home sellers

For guidance on creating recorded or live video walkthroughs, check out these tips

And finally, consider trying out the free Zillow 3D Home® app, an easy way to create a virtual tour on an iPhone and post it to Zillow, Trulia your social accounts and beyond.


Bodnar of MMG: Stimulus Plan Brings 3 Things Rates Don’t Like

2021 has ushered in plenty of market turbulence, according to Bill Bodnar of The Mortgage Market Guide (MMG). Rates have been on the rise due to escalating inflation expectations.

Another $1.9T stimulus plan brings three things Bonds/rates don’t like.

Hear Bodnar’s thoughts on Stimulus, the Fed and more answers in the video below.

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Travel News and Headlines – The Points Guy

Travel, Credit Card & Aviation News | The Points Guy

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


What You Need to Know When Buying Car Insurance for the First Time

Adulting sneaks up on everyone at one point or another. If you just purchased your first car, congratulations and welcome to the club! Now, it’s time to deal with all the tedious aspects of driving your new car, like getting car insurance for the first time. First-time car insurance is as exciting as going to the dentist, but it’s necessary to protect yourself financially. If you feel overwhelmed or confused about how it all works, don’t fret. We break it down for you — especially first-time driver insurance cost.

In this article

How do I get car insurance for the first time?

Getting car insurance for the first time starts with how much you need. Each state has different requirements. Most insurance companies will know how much you need depending on where you live. The requirements are typically labeled as 25/50/10 liability insurance. This means that you’ll need liability insurance just in case you were at fault in an accident. The 25/50/10 stands for:

  • $25,000 in bodily injury coverage to pay for each person’s medical bills/injuries if you’re at fault in a crash.
  • $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident. This means your insurance will only pay up to $50,000 in medical bills for others you hurt in an accident. 
  • $10,000 in property damage to cover the costs of repairs and replacement of cars, fences, poles and any property you struck and damaged.

You can legally drive with the state’s liability minimums, but you may want to buy more than that. Think of the state’s requirements as the no-frills version of car insurance. The problem is that liability insurance only takes care of other people, also known as third parties. If your car was damaged or you were hurt, minimum liability insurance won’t cover you — you’d have to pay for them yourself.

In addition, a state’s liability minimums are usually not enough if you cause a more serious crash. Think about it this way, if you rear-end a new Tesla, do you think a state’s $10,000 property minimum coverage is enough to fix the Tesla you hit? If the bill for the repair is more than $10,000, your insurance will only pay up to that limit and you’d have to pay the rest out-of-pocket.

It’s best to shop around for car insurance by getting a few online quotes to find the best price. When you do, aim for liability coverage of 100/300/100. This should cover you in case of an accident with injuries involving newer, more expensive vehicles. Besides shopping around for liability insurance with the higher minimums, consider adding the following optional coverages:

Comprehensive insurance

As mentioned, liability insurance only pays for other people’s damages. Comprehensive will pay for repair or replacement of your car if it’s stolen, vandalized, lost in a fire or damaged by a falling tree limb or bad weather events such as hail and flooding. It also covers you if you strike a deer or animal while driving.

Collision insurance 

Add collision coverage to get reimbursed for repairs if your car is damaged because of the accident you caused. In addition to mandatory liability insurance, drivers typically buy comprehensive and collision coverage together. Comprehensive and collision car insurance join forces as wonder twin powers, also known as full car insurance. You’ll have coverage for the damages you cause to others and yourself.

Gap insurance

You probably know the moment you drove your sweet ride off the new car dealer you lost money. But if your car was totaled in a serious accident soon after you bought it, the trouble begins.

Your car insurance company will cut you a replacement check for your lost car based on its current market value and not what you paid for it, which is probably less than what you owe on the car loan. Meaning, the $40,000 car you’re making payments on that’s destroyed may only be worth $32,000 months later because of depreciation. Your insurance company paid you $32,000 to go get a new car, but once you hand that check over to the finance company, you still owe them another $8,000. Gap insurance pays the difference between what you owe and what your car was worth at the time it was totaled. And the coverage is way cheaper than the shortfall you could get hit with.

Do first-time insurance customers pay more?

Just because it’s your first time buying car insurance doesn’t mean it’s more expensive. Your rate depends on your age, driving record, where you live and a handful of other factors. According to the Insurance Information Institute, younger drivers pay more for car insurance. If you’re between the age of 16 to 25, be prepared to pay a little extra for car insurance.

The reason why first-time insurance may be higher for young adults is tied to the number of deadly accidents. The age group of 16- to 24-year-old drivers are responsible for 66.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes. A lack of driving experience, more risk-taking, texting and drinking are some of the reasons young adults pose a higher risk of causing a serious crash. Therefore, drivers under 25 are more expensive to insure.

[ See: What’s the Average Cost of Car Insurance in the U.S.? ]

Where to find cheap car insurance for first-time drivers

If the cost of first time insurance could be a dealbreaker on whether you can afford your first car, consider the following tips to find cheap car insurance for first-time drivers.

Choose a more affordable car

Some cars are cheaper to insure than others. For example, a Honda will cost less in car insurance than a Tesla or a sports car. Do your research on insurance costs before you buy a car.

Stay on your parent’s car insurance

You may get a better deal on your car insurance if a parent can add you to their existing auto insurance. They may have loyalty discounts and a long-standing relationship with an insurance carrier and adding your vehicle to their policy could be cheaper than a first time insurance policy.

Shop around for quotes

The best and easiest way to find the best cheap car insurance for first time drivers is to get online quotes from a few car insurance companies. You’d be surprised at how much your car insurance could vary in cost for the same coverage, from one carrier to another.

Most insurance companies make it easy to get a quote. You’ll need an address, details about your car, such as make, model and year, and the type of coverage you’d like. Getting a quote is free and no-obligation. You’ll have an estimate to compare in just a few minutes.

Take advantage of car insurance discounts

Most car insurance companies entice new customers with discounts for a variety of reasons. The best part is, you can take advantage of more than one discount at a time. Some worth considering include:

  • Bundled coverage: Insure your car and your home or apartment with the same insurance company to get a discount on both.
  • Good student: If you’re enrolled in school, you could receive a discount on your car insurance while you study.
  • Military: Enlisted personnel get an automatic discount from most insurance carriers.
  • Telematics: Sign up for an insurance company’s driver tracking program and you could get as much as 25% off your car insurance premiums, based on your driving. You’ll need to download an app that monitors your mileage, speed and other factors to determine how safe of a driver you are and the size of your discount.
  • Defensive driving courses: Most carriers offer a decent discount of 10% or more if you complete an online defensive driving course. The courses can typically be completed over a weekend and can earn you savings over two to three years.

[ For You: Eight Ways to Save on Car Insurance ]

How to buy your first car insurance policy

Ready to buy first-time car insurance? Follow these steps to make sure you get it right.

  1. Get several online quotes: To find the best deal, get quotes from a few carriers and choose the one you like the best.
  2. Round up information: You’ll need your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) located on your title or on your driver side’s lower dashboard when looking from outside. Besides the VIN, have your vehicle’s mileage, driver’s license, contact information and home address ready. Have your bank information handy to set up automatic payments, as well as a debit or credit card to pay your first premium.
  3. Choose your policy: Enter details about the policy you’re buying, including liability insurance, dollar limits and add ons such as gap, comprehensive and collision coverage.
  4. Pick a deductible amount: The deductible is how much you’ll pay out-of-pocket in case of an accident or claim and before the insurance company steps in to pay the rest. A typical deductible is $500 or $1,000.
  5. Set an effective date: The effective date is the day your insurance starts. It can be as soon as the same day you buy the policy, although you should confirm it with the insurance company.
  6. Choose the length of your premium payment: You can pay your car insurance monthly or every six or twelve months. You could qualify for a small discount for prepaying six or twelve months or by signing up for automatic payments.
  7. Review your information: Make sure the policy, vehicle description and all the information you provided is correct.
  8. Pay for the policy: You can pay for your policy online using your banking information including routing number and bank account number. Or you could pay using a debit or credit card. Once you pay, your policy will be official, effective as of the date you chose. You’ll receive an insurance declaration page by email for your records, or you can download one.
  9. Print out your insurance card and place it in your vehicle: Print out a copy of the insurance declaration and digital insurance card and keep it in your vehicle. You may get a hard copy in the mail, but to be safe, print out a copy. You’ll need it in case of an accident or if you’re pulled over, to show as proof of insurance.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at with comments or questions.


How to Set a Home Renovation Budget

Before you start picking out tile and paint chips, be sure you know how much it will cost to remodel your house.

Have you just moved into a new place and want to spruce it up? Or maybe you’ve been in your home for a while and feel ready for a change. The easy part is knowing your goal for home remodeling — whether you’re trying to keep up with your growing family, add office space, modernize dated features or generally increase your home’s value.

Even if you’re ready for a kitchen renovation or anxious for a bathroom remodel, figuring out how to plan a home renovation that doesn’t break the bank can be tricky.

Here are five key steps in planning your home remodeling project.

1. Estimate home renovation costs

As a general rule of thumb, you should spend no more on each room than the value of that room as a percentage of your overall house value. (Get an approximate value of your home to start with.)

For example, a kitchen generally accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the property value, so spend no more than this on kitchen renovation costs. If your home is worth $200,000, for example, you’ll want to spend $30,000 or less.

Something else to keep in mind: Contrary to popular belief, kitchen renovations offer among the lowest return on investment. Every dollar you spend on a kitchen remodel increases the value of your home by approximately 50 cents.

The highest return on investment? A mid-range bathroom remodel.

2. Consider home remodeling loan options

If you plan on borrowing money to fund your home renovations, there are a number of loans out there to help with just that.

  • Refinancing. Depending on your current interest rate, you might be able to refinance your mortgage at a lower rate and/or for a longer loan term, which could lower your monthly payments and help you save up for your renovations.
  • Cash-out refinance. If you have enough equity, you could also consider a cash-out refinance, which means refinancing your existing loan for an amount that’s higher than what you owe. Going this route, you pay off your original mortgage and have cash left over. Use a refinance calculator to see if refinancing makes sense for you.
  • HELOC. If refinancing sounds like too big of a leap, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) might work better. A HELOC works a lot like a credit card in the sense that it has a set limit that you can borrow against.
  • Home equity loan. Although it sounds similar to a HELOC, a home equity loan is a bit different. This loan requires you to take out all the cash at one time. They’re often referred to as “second mortgages” because homeowners get them in addition to their first mortgage.

Refinancing, getting a HELOC or taking out a home equity loan are all big decisions, and it can be tough to know which one makes the most sense for you. As with any new loan, consult with a lender to see which option is best for your situation.

3. Get home renovation quotes from contractors

Some contractors will give you an estimate based on what they think you want done, and work completed under these circumstances is almost guaranteed to cost more. You have to be very specific about what you want done, and spell it out in the contract — right down to the materials you’d like used.

Get quotes from several contractors, but don’t necessarily go for the the lowest estimate. A bid that comes in much lower than the others could be a sign of a contractor who cuts corners — which can lead to extra costs in the long run.

4. Stick to the home remodeling plan

As the renovation moves along, you might be tempted to add on another “small” project or incorporate the newest design trend at the last minute. But know that every time you change your mind, there’s a change order, and even minor changes can be costly. Strive to stick to the original agreement, if possible.

5. Account for hidden home renovation costs

Your home may look perfect on the outside, but there could be issues lurking beneath the surface. In fact, hidden imperfections are one of the reasons renovation projects often end up costing more than anticipated.

Rather than scramble to come up with extra money after the fact, give yourself a cushion upfront. Factor in 10 to 20 percent (or more) of your contracted budget for unforeseen expenses, as they can — and do — occur. In fact, it’s rare that any project goes completely smoothly.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published June 2015.


Good riddance 2020; What I’m hoping for from travel in 2021

Good riddance 2020; What I’m hoping for from travel in 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Real Estate Market 2020 Recap & 2021 Forecast Greater Phoenix Metro Area, AZ

One year ago, as 2019 came to a close, experts were predicting a highly competitive Arizona housing market for 2020. A few months into the year, however, there was some doubt cast on those predictions as the COVID-19 pandemic created uncertainty as to whether or not the housing market would stay strong.

Those doubts proved to be unnecessary, however, as the Arizona market performed even better than expected throughout 2020.

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Hot Competition in the 2020 Market

Average sale price trended steadily higher throughout 2020, ending with a year-over-year increase of 18%. Monthly sales trended higher and higher throughout the year, as well. After a slight dip in during April and May, June jumped right back up with a 38.6% increase from previous months.

The average number of days homes spent on the market also dropped down to 41, compared to the 2019 year-end number of 60. Homes in Arizona continue to sell faster and faster.

2021 Forecast, Higher Prices & Continued Demand

A Strong Sellers’ Market

According to the National Association of Realtors, the Phoenix Metro Area is expected to be in the top 10 U.S. housing markets in 2021. This is great news for sellers in the area as homes will likely sell quickly and for good prices.

When a housing market is especially beneficial to home sellers, it’s called a sellers’ market. This is often caused by decreasing inventory and increasing demand, which is what we’re seeing in the Phoenix metro area.

In fact, the final months of 2020 saw record-low numbers of homes listed for sale, and yet the number of homes selling is at record-highs. This creates a limited supply of homes for prospective buyers, causing homes to sell faster and home values to rise. This sellers’ market is expected to continue throughout the upcoming year.

Increasing Home Prices and Home Sales predicts Arizona home values will increase by 7% during 2021. The number of home sales in Arizona is also expected to rise in 2021. With an 11.4% predicted increase, you can expect this housing market to stay hot.

A hot market like this one has benefits for both buyers and sellers. Homeowners can expect home values to increase, which allows for greater profits during a sale. On the other hand, prospective homebuyers can be confident that their new home’s value will appreciate sooner rather than later.

Why Work With an Agent?

Real estate agents are your number one resource when it comes to buying or selling a home. Agents, like the pros at Homie, know all the ins and outs of the market. They have experience recognizing details that other people may not see.

Whether you’re looking for your perfect starter home or you’re selling in preparation for a big move, your agent can help you get the best deal possible. You won’t want to navigate the red hot Arizona real estate market without one!

Talk to A Homie in 2021

If you’re looking to make the most of the strong sellers’ market in 2021 by selling your home, click here to get in touch with us and start your listing.

If your 2021 plans include finding an awesome deal on a new home, let one of our buyer’s agents help you find the home that’s perfect for you. Click here to start the process!

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