Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

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The Chase Freedom Flex℠, or the Chase Freedom Unlimited®? The card names sound similar, and, at a glance, the rewards look alike, too.

But not so fast: Although these two Chase cards have a lot in common, they feature a few key differences to keep in mind when deciding which is the best fit for you.

Both the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited offer hefty sign-up bonuses, along with bonus cash back on dining and drugstore purchases, as well as travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The main difference is in the highlights of their rewards structures: The Freedom Flex card offers 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a flat-rate 1.5% cash back on everything.

Read on to get a rundown of the pros and cons of each card, as well as which card is best suited for you, based on your spending habits.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Rewards rate
  • 5% rotating quarterly categories (upon enrollment, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, then 1%)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases through March 2022
  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases through March 2022
  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Sign-up bonus $200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months $200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
Annual fee $0 $0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend) $493 $353
Pros
  • No annual fee
  • High rewards rate on both specific categories year-round and on rotating categories
  • Large sign-up bonus
  • Can transfer rewards to other Chase cards
  • No annual fee
  • Large sign-up bonus
  • Can transfer rewards to other Chase cards
Cons
  • Requires some maintenance
  • Can be difficult to max out rotating categories (may not always align with spending)
  • Low cash back rate on general purchases
  • Not the highest rate available on general purchases
Who should get this card?
  • Rewards maximizers
  • People who want to collect Ultimate Rewards points
  • People who like cash back variety
  • People who want to earn Ultimate Rewards points without paying an annual fee
  • People who want to keep it simple
  • People who want to earn bonus cash back in both specific categories and general purchases
  • People who want to earn Ultimate Rewards points without paying an annual fee

Chase Freedom Flex overview

The Chase Freedom Flex card offers a combination of year-round and quarterly rotating bonus cash back categories. Each quarter, you can enroll in a new bonus category from the Chase cash back calendar and earn 5% back on the first $1,500 you spend in that category (then 1% back after you reach the $1,500 threshold). Throughout the year, you’ll also get 5% back on all travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 5% cash back on Lyft purchases through March 2022, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases and 1% back on all other purchases.

Upsides: The opportunity to earn bonus cash back in select categories year-round and in a variety of categories each quarter.

Downsides: The complex rewards program. To get the most out of the card, cardholders must track their spending, since the 5% rate only applies to certain categories that rotate frequently and is limited to $1,500 per quarter.

Furthermore, cardholders must log in to their Chase account and activate their rewards category by the deadline each quarter to earn the 5% rate. For example, to earn 5% cash back during the second quarter of 2021 (on gas stations and home improvement stores), you must activate the category by June 14, 2021.

Chase 5% cash back calendar 2021

Winter Spring Summer Holiday
January – March April – June July – September October – December
  • Select streaming services
  • Phone, cable and internet services
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Home improvement stores
  • Gas stations
TBA TBA

Chase Freedom Unlimited overview

Like the Freedom Flex, the Freedom Unlimited earns bonus cash back on Ultimate Rewards travel (5% back) and dining and drugstore purchases (3% back), plus Lyft purchases (5%) through March 2022. However, instead of rotating cash back categories, the Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% cash back on general purchases. There’s also no annual fee, and no interest on purchases for 15 months from account opening (after which a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74% applies). The card is currently offering a $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first three months.

Upsides: The Freedom Unlimited card offers a straightforward rewards program that allows cardholders to earn at least 1.5% on every purchase they make – with no earning caps or rotating categories.

Downsides: Although 1.5% cash back is a substantial amount to earn on general purchases, it’s not the highest rate out there.

cash back credit card: Chase Freedom Unlimited

Since the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a generous cash back rate on general purchases, it makes for a great all-purpose cash back card. Cardholders automatically receive 1.5% cash back on general purchases, with no rotating categories and no cap on the amount of rewards they can earn. For those who don’t want to have to deal with activating rewards categories each quarter, this card is ideal.

Taking into account the card’s bonus categories of Ultimate Rewards travel, dining and drugstore purchases, we estimate that the card carries an average rewards rate of just over 2.22% back based on typical consumer spending. As you can see from the table below, you stand to earn a fair amount of cash back each year by using the Chase Freedom Unlimited card for every purchase. We estimate that the average cardholder who spends around $1,325 on the card per month can earn around $353 in cash back per year.

However, if your goal is to earn the most rewards possible from your everyday spending, you have better options. Read on to see how you can maximize your rewards.

Scenario 1: Use Chase Freedom Unlimited for every purchase ($1,325 average monthly spend)

Average rewards rate Estimated cash back
2.22% $353

Best for someone who wants to maximize rewards: Chase Freedom Flex

For those who have the time and know-how to manage rewards categories, the Chase Freedom Flex card offers the opportunity to earn a higher rewards rate on their spending. In addition to bonus cash back in the year-round categories of Ultimate Rewards travel, dining and drugstore purchases, cardholders receive 5% cash back in lucrative rotating categories, such as grocery stores, gas stations, online shopping and wholesale clubs.

For a cardholder who spends an average amount in the Freedom Flex’s year-round categories, we estimate that it offers a 1.72% average earning rate. This is less than the Freedom Unlimited’s 2.22% average cash back rate, but the card’s rotating cash back categories also need to be considered.

If you max out these categories each quarter, you’ll earn at least $300 in cash back per year. Combined with the card’s year-round bonus categories, that gives you an average annual total of around $493, far exceeding the amount the average user would earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

Keep in mind, however, that it may be difficult to max out every quarterly bonus category. It all comes down to how well a given category lines up with your spending and how much effort you’re willing to put into planning your purchases to maximize each category.

Scenario 2: Maximize Freedom Flex bonus categories ($1,500 quarterly spend) and spend an average amount in year-round bonus categories (total annual spend $15,900)

Quarterly bonus cash back category earnings Average rewards rate in year-round bonus categories Cash back
5% back on your first $1,500 in spending = $75 per quarter ($300 per year) 1.72% $493

Best for someone who wants to collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points: Both

Since the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited carry the same rewards rate on Ultimate Rewards travel, dining and drugstore purchases, you may feel like you need to choose just one of the cards. But it doesn’t have to be “either/or.” The ideal answer to “which of these cards should I get” can be “both.”

You can use either card to cover Ultimate Rewards travel, dining and drugstore purchases, but to maximize your rewards earnings, use the Freedom Flex card to make purchases in the 5% cash back category and the Freedom Unlimited card to earn 1.5% back on general purchases. You can also earn $400 in sign-up bonuses within the first year by signing up for both cards and spending $500 on each within the first three months.

Even better, you can pair the Chase Freedom cards with other Chase cards. The secret sauce in this scenario is a Chase Sapphire card (either the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card* or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card), which allows point transfers from other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, including the Chase Freedom cards.

By juggling the Chase Freedom cards with a Chase Sapphire card, you can earn the highest rate on Ultimate Rewards points:

  • 5% on Ultimate Rewards travel with either Freedom card
  • 5% on rotating quarterly categories with the Freedom Flex
  • 3% on dining and drugstore purchases with either Freedom card
  • 2% or 3% respectively on general travel with the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards
  • 1.5% on all other spending

When it comes to travel rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are extremely valuable because of the large array of redemption options: You can redeem points for statement credits for travel purchased from outside sources, for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (for a 25% to 50% increase in point value depending which card you use) or transfer points at a 1:1 rate to many of Chase’s travel partners.

The table below shows the value of combining the Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards. By leveraging the bonus categories on each card, a cardholder who manages to max out the 5% quarterly bonus categories and spends an average amount in other categories can earn around 50,295 Ultimate Rewards points per year.

This comes to an impressive $503 in cash back. But if you transfer the points to Chase’s travel partners, you make out even better. Due to the high value of points on partners such as United and Southwest, those same Ultimate Rewards points can get you $750 to $800 more worth of airfare, or even more if you know the ins and outs of airline loyalty programs.

Scenario 3: Combine three Ultimate Rewards cards

Chase Freedom Flex + Chase Freedom Unlimited + Chase Sapphire Reserve Average rewards rate Estimated points/year Sample redemptions: estimated value
  • 5% back in rotating categories (maxed out categories, with Chase Freedom)
  • 5% back on Ultimate Rewards travel (with either Freedom card)
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases (with either Freedom card)
  • 1.5% back on all other purchases (with Chase Freedom Unlimited card)
2.05% 50,295
  • Statement credit: $503
  • Ultimate Rewards travel (with Sapphire Reserve): $754
  • Southwest Airlines transfer: $804
  • United Airlines transfer: $764

Bottom line

The Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards are both great cash back cards that appeal to different audiences. The Freedom Flex card is a great option for cardholders who want to maximize their rewards and the Freedom Unlimited card is a great way to go if you want to keep things simple. However, if you like travel rewards and you want to get the most bang for your buck, you should really consider applying for a trio of Ultimate Rewards cards.

*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. 

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Source: creditcards.com

Bank of America Cash Rewards vs. Chase Freedom

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card and Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit cards share several different features. They are both cash back cards that come with no annual fee, a healthy welcome offer and an introductory APR option on initial purchases. They also both have the ability to get an additional 25% or even more value from your cash back if you have an additional relationship with either Bank of America or Chase.

There are also a few important distinctions that you’ll want to be aware of if you’re considering applying for one of these two cards. Although they both have categories where you can earn bonus cash back, the way you earn that cash back is quite different. You’re able to choose your 3% cash back category with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, while with the Chase Freedom Flex, your rotating quarterly bonus categories are set by Chase.

Let’s take a closer look to see which one might make the most sense for you.

Bank of America Cash Rewards vs. Chase Freedom Flex

Here is a comparison of some of the features of the Bank of America Cash Rewards vs Chase Freedom Flex cards.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Rewards rate
  • 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants
  • 3% cash back at drugstores
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus $200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days $200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
Annual fee $0 $0
Other things to know Bank of America Cash Rewards cardholders who also have a checking or savings account can enroll in the Preferred Rewards program to get 25% to 75% more value from their cash back Chase Freedom Flex cardholders who also have a premium Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card  can combine their cash back as Ultimate Rewards for 25 to 50% more value

Intro bonus

When comparing the Bank of America Cash Rewards versus Chase Freedom Flex in terms of their introductory bonus, both cards offer a healthy bonus amount. This is especially true when you compare them to other no annual fee cash back cards, like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which doesn’t offer a welcome bonus at all.

With the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you can earn a $200 welcome bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases on your card in the first 90 days of having your account open. This welcome bonus comes in the form of rewards that can be applied as a statement credit to your account.

The bonus on the Chase Freedom Flex is also $200 – this time after spending $500 in the first three months of having the account. When considering both the introductory bonus and ongoing rewards that you earn with the Freedom Flex, it’s important to know that it actually is issued as Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

If the Chase Freedom Flex is the only credit card that you have that earns Ultimate Rewards points, then these points are valued at 1 cent per point. This makes the Freedom Flex equivalent to a true cash back card. But if you have a premium Chase credit card like the Ink Preferred or Sapphire Reserve, you can combine your Ultimate Rewards points to get 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point for each dollar you spend with your Freedom Flex.

Earning rewards

If you look at the Bank of America Cash Rewards versus Chase Freedom Flex cards in terms of their rewards earning rates, they have a similar structure. Both cards have bonus categories that can change, additional fixed bonus categories and a flat 1% rate that they earn on all other purchases. But the way that these two cards earn is slightly different.

With the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you will earn 3% cash back in a category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings). You can change your 3% bonus category once each calendar month. You will also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. The bonus categories (both 2% and 3%) are limited to the first $2,500 in spending each quarter. All other spending earns 1% cash back.

Another important thing to realize is that with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you can also join the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. Depending on the amount of money you have deposited or invested with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, you can get a 25% to 75% bonus on the rewards that you earn.

This applies only to ongoing rewards that you earn and not the $200 introductory bonus on the Bank of America Cash Rewards card. Still, this can be an amazing perk for this card. With enough deposited to earn the Platinum Honors level of Preferred Rewards, you’d earn a rate of 5.25% cash back on up to $2,500 of spending each quarter (if you focus in on your chosen bonus category).

The Chase Freedom Flex also has changeable bonus categories, but they are set by Chase and rotate each quarter. Unlike with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you have no ability to control the 5% quarterly bonus categories with the Chase Freedom Flex.

You’ll earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent in the bonus category each quarter, upon enrollment, and 1% on those categories after you reach the spend cap. You’ll also earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants as well as drugstores and 1% on all other spending.

Redeeming rewards

The rewards that you earn with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card do not expire, and you can redeem them at any time. You can redeem them for any amount via statement credits, deposits made directly into a Bank of America checking or savings account or for credit to an eligible account with Merrill.

Redemptions with the Chase Freedom Flex can be a bit more complicated – but also potentially more lucrative. With the Freedom Flex, the cash back you receive both for your initial welcome offer as well as ongoing spending is given in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you only have the Freedom Flex, then those points are equivalent to 1 cent each, making this a true cash back card.

See related: Chase Ultimate Rewards points value

However, if you have a premium Chase card, you can combine your Ultimate Rewards points into one account. When combined with the Ultimate Rewards from a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card, you can then redeem the Ultimate Rewards you earn from the Freedom Flex with a 25% or 50% bonus if you redeem for travel or via Chase Pay Yourself Back.

Bank of America Cash Rewards: Best for those who like to choose their own bonus categories or have existing Bank of America accounts

If you have a significant amount of money deposited with Bank of America and are already a member of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, then adding the Bank of America Cash Rewards is a no-brainer. When you add the BoA Preferred Rewards program on top of solid earning options, all with no annual fee, it makes it easy to rack up a ton of cash back.

Others that might be interested in the Bank of America Cash Rewards card are people who like to set their own bonus categories. Rather than be reliant on the whim of Chase to set bonus categories that you may or may not be able to use, you can set your own bonus category and earn 3% wherever you spend the most.

Chase Freedom Flex: Best for people that have other Chase credit cards and like to travel

The Chase Freedom Flex really shines along with the Freedom Unlimited and Sapphire Reserve as part of the Chase trifecta. That lets you earn up to 5% cash back on spending and then redeem it for up 1.5 cents per point. That means in the rotating bonus categories or on travel booked through Chase, you’re getting a 7.5% rebate on your spending.

That’s hard to beat and a great reason to pick up the Chase Freedom Flex card.

Bottom line

Both the Chase Freedom Flex and Bank of America Cash Rewards card are very solid credit cards with no annual fee. Offering cash back that you can stack with other programs is a very attractive value proposition, especially considering that you’ll pay no fee to ear these competitive rates.

A big factor in deciding between the two might be whether you already have existing relationships with Bank of America or Chase. If not, then you can’t go wrong with either card – just take a look at bonus categories to see which better aligns with your spending.

Source: creditcards.com

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InboxDollars Review: A Legit Way To Make Extra Money In Your Spare Time

If you’re looking to make some extra money in your spare time, then you may want to consider giving InboxDollars a try.

The platform advertises that it has paid out over $59 million in cash rewards over the years, so you know they’re a legit site.

In this article we’ll explore how you can sign up for InboxDollars and get your piece of this pie.

InboxDollars Review

Quick Summary

  • $5 signup bonus.
  • Multiple ways to earn cash.
  • Payments via PayPal, check, gift card.
  • Good way to waste some time and earn.
Quick Navigation

What Is InboxDollars?

InboxDollars is a platform that allows consumers to get paid for doing surveys, watching ads, and redeeming cash back offers. Take your extra time and earn some extra money on the side. 

You can access InboxDollars through their website or by using their app, so you can make money on the go, or even while you’re standing in line. 

The premise of InboxDollars is simple. They invite brands to pay members for information. When you fill out a survey, shop through a cashback portal, or provide feedback on a video, you will earn cash, and the participating company gets the information they need to build or adjust their marketing campaign or product. 

The company is a legitimate company, founded back in 2000 with a solid Trustpilot rating and thousands of positive reviews. InboxDollars even has an A rating at the Better Business Bureau. The company doesn’t share or sell your personal information for marketing purposes, and many reviewers talk about making money with the site almost immediately.

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How To Sign Up For InboxDollars

To get started with InboxDollars and start to earn money online, you’ll need to create an InboxDollars account. 

InboxDollars will reward you with a $5 bonus for signing up and confirming an email address through our link here: 

InboxDollars Signup Page $5 Bonus

To complete your account sign up, however, you will need to fill out the questions on a profile survey.

This survey consists of 30 questions and asks about your demographic information such as your age, geographic location, and gender.

InboxDollars Signup Information Profile

While this may take up to ten minutes to complete, you’ll not only receive a 50 cent bonus, but it will enable InboxDollars to tailor future surveys to your specific demographics.

How To Earn Money With InboxDollars

One of the most attractive benefits of Inbox Dollars is that you can make money in a variety of ways.

Not only do you get paid to sign up, but you can choose activities to suit your personal preferences. 

Get Paid For Doing Surveys

With InboxDollars you can get paid for doing surveys. Depending on the complexity of the survey, you could earn up to $5 for a survey. Most surveys will pay anywhere from $0.25 to $1.

For higher paying surveys, you can expect to spend 10-20 minutes taking the survey. Although this may not seem like much, the surveys are designed to be completed in a relatively short time, so they can easily fit into your daily schedule. You can complete the surveys at any time.  Stuck waiting in line or waiting to pick the kids up from school?  Fill out a survey or two and monetize your time!

InboxDollars Fill Out Surveys For Cash

If you’re part of a demographic group in high demand, your potential earnings can dramatically increase. If a company is desperate to hear the opinions of your particular group, you could earn as much as $20 for a completed survey. 

If you want to maximize your earnings filling out surveys, you need to check out the “My Surveys” page to check which are the best surveys. These are indicated with stars next to them as an indication that you are most likely to qualify for these particular surveys. It’s a good idea to start with these surveys, as you will earn the most, before working through any others. 

You can also rack up some points by completing all of the profile surveys if you didn’t complete them during sign up. 

Get Paid Watch Videos

InboxDollars also allows you to make money watching videos. You earn by watching short video snippets in their video player.

InboxDollars Get Paid To Watch Videos

These snippets can be related to almost anything, from cooking demos and commercials to movie trailers and celebrity talk shows. You can earn approximately $0.02 for each video you watch.

So, if you need a break from your latest Netflix binge, watch an InboxDollars video and earn a little extra cash as wait for your popcorn. 

Play Games

According to some users, playing games is one of the hardest ways to earn some money through this platform. It is still possible to earn a few extra dollars to your account balance. 

InboxDollars is partnered with GSN (the Game Show Network) to offer paid games. Unfortunately, you need to spend money to earn cashback on this “casino.”

If you already enjoy playing paid online games, it could provide a great way to earn some cash back, but this likely won’t appeal to everyone. You can expect to earn $0.18 for every dollar you spend on GSN games. If you’re not a gaming enthusiast, however, you could quickly eat through your InboxDollars balance.  So be careful.

Shop Via The InboxDollars Portal

If you’re already shopping online, you can use InboxDollars to earn cash back.

Cash back portals aren’t anything new, but if you’re already signed up to InboxDollars, you can use the platform to shop and earn cash back. 

One advantage of InboxDollars is that the platform will also help you to locate discounts, cashback deals, and free samples. There are rotating deals, so you’re not likely to run out of deals and options. The company will even send you an email to explain the deal, so you can assess them to check if they are right for you before you start shopping. 

InboxDollars Cash Back Shopping Portal

The InboxDollars coupons section is powered by coupons.com, so you can find some excellent deals on the items you were going to purchase anyway.

There is a coupons tab on the platform, so you can search for coupons on home goods, food, and other categories. So, whether you earn $1 off mouthwash or a couple of dollars off baby food, you can save money on items you normally buy.

InboxDollars Coupon Section

Just select the coupons that you want to clip and print, and when you’re done hit the “print coupons” button. You’ll earn $0.01 per coupon, up to $0.25 per day. 

Of course, you’ll need to have some discipline to not use coupons for items you wouldn’t normally buy, as you’ll end up spending more than you save. 

Other Ways To Earn

There are also some other ways that you can add to your InboxDollars balance. One of the easiest is by answering emails.

Most of us have a full inbox, but you’re not likely to be overly taxed by a couple of additional emails. The platform allows you to earn cash back just by reading those emails from InboxDollar’s partner companies. 

To get the points, you need to either read the email and click a button or link or take up the offer in the email. 

If you find that you’re getting too many emails, you can always “roll up” your email notifications, so that everything is compiled into one message. However, InboxDollars does make a promise “not to flood your inbox,” but this is subjective. Some people find an email a day a pain, while others are unfazed by multiple messages. 

InboxDollars App

You can choose to use the InboxDollars website or the app. The app is available for Apple devices or Android through the Google Play store. It has a high rating on both the App Store and Google Play. 

InboxDollars mobile app

The app allows you to continue making money online, completing “my surveys” and other microtasks while on the go. So, you’re not tied to your laptop or desktop computer, making it easy to make some extra cash in those spare moments that you have throughout the day. 

The app has a clean layout and is easy to navigate, but some users have reported glitches in the app, which may mean you need to close the app and restart it.  

How To Get Paid With InboxDollars

As we’ve touched on above, you can earn anywhere from $0.50 to a few dollars for each task, and your earnings will be added to your account balance. Fortunately, InboxDollars makes it easy to convert this balance into cold, hard cash. Once you reach the minimum $30 balance, you can cash out with a gift card, check, or PayPal payment. 

To request a payment, you just need to click on the “Request Payment” link in the “My Account” tab. You will need to check your name, mailing address, and account details to ensure that your payment is correctly processed. You can then select your preferred payment option. 

InboxDollars Payment Options

First payments are processed approximately ten days after your first request and occur on each Wednesday. The first payment takes this long due to the verification process that needs to be completed before the payment can be issued. However, once you’ve had your first payment processed, future payments will be quicker.

After your first payment, your payments will be processed each week, but you will need to request it before Sunday 12 am, so it can be processed the following Wednesday. 

The payment options include ePayment, which allows you to use your Tango Card to bank your earnings. However, you can also request a check payment that should be received within two weeks or request a PayPal payment or gift card. 

Pros And Cons Of InboxDollars

As with every platform, nothing is perfect, and there are some pros and cons associated with InboxDollars.

The platform does offer a number of different ways to earn money, so if you have some spare time on your hands, you can switch between completing surveys, playing games, watching videos, and redeeming coupons. This diversity means that if you get bored with completing surveys or there are no surveys available for your demographics, you can still earn money by completing other tasks. 

The downside of InboxDollars is how long it will take you to cash out. There is a minimum threshold of $30, which can be challenging unless you’re using the platform each day. Additionally, some users have complained that it takes a while to find surveys that they qualify for. This can be discouraging if you have limited time and are struggling to find surveys that are appropriate for your circumstances. 

Alternatives To InboxDollars: Swagbucks Vs. InboxDollars

If you’re still unconvinced about whether InboxDollars is the right option for you to earn money online. Online surveys are not a new concept, and there are quite a few alternative platforms that allow you to complete surveys and other tasks as a side gig.

One of the most well know alternatives is Swagbucks. Like InboxDollars, Swagbucks is primarily a survey platform, but you can also earn watching videos, playing games, and online shopping. 

Swagbucks was established in 2008 and has paid out over $379 million in rewards to its 10 million users. 

The most obvious difference is that each task is rated according to how many Swagbucks or SBs you will earn. One SB is roughly worth one cent, so you’ll need 500 SBs to earn a $5 gift card or PayPal transfer. This does make Swagbucks a little more complicated to use. You can earn anywhere from 40 to 100 SBs for completing a survey, which sounds more impressive than $0.40 or a dollar, so it is easy to be lulled into the sense that you’re earning more. 

Swagbucks is a legit company, and it does offer more partnerships compared to InboxDollars. For example, you can use Swagbucks Watch to watch random YouTube videos, but you’ll only earn a point or two for every half hour. 

This does make Swagbucks a viable alternative, and there is nothing stopping you from using both platforms to make some extra cash. Check out our full Swagucks review for more about the service.

Is InboxDollars A Scam? Is It Worth It?

InboxDollars is a legitimate site, and it is not a scam.

As with all of these types of platforms, you’ll only get out of InboxDollars what you put in. The earning potential is there, but it may not be as effective as platforms that solely focus on one area. 

For example, SurveyJunkie pays more for surveys, while TopCashBack may be a better alternative for cashback. 

InboxDollars does provide a good all round platform, however. This allows you to complete surveys, or if you’re not in the mood, you can mix things up by watching a video, playing a game or doing a little online shopping. 

Although the minimum cashout threshold is a bit high at $30, if you’re completing tasks each day, you should find this to be simple to accomplish on a regular basis.

InboxDollars Review

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Best credit cards for grocery shopping

Americans spend on average $4,464 in groceries every year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Shopping for groceries is one of the main weekly expenses in every American household.

That’s why the credit cards tying reward points to grocery shopping are getting more numerous and their offers are getting increasingly more competitive. In 2020 you have a whole new lineup of cards ready to reward you for the purchases you make at grocery stores.

Here are the best cards whether you like those premium rewards, are an everyday shopper, are building credit, you’d rather skip the prep and go straight to the meal or you like to buy groceries at superstores.

See related: Best cash back cards

American Express® Gold Card: Best for earning Membership Rewards points on groceries

Amex Gold gives you an unprecedented rewards rate whether you’re dining in or out. If that weren’t enough, paying at certain restaurants (see terms for qualifying merchants) after enrollment can get you up to $10 a month in statement credit. You also get up to $120 in Uber Cash every year ($10 per month) that can be applied to Uber Eats orders – a big plus for those who order their groceries through the platform.

The intro bonus of 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first six months is excellent, and there are many redemption options, including gift cards, merchandise and travel with no blackout dates.

American Express® Gold Card should appeal to frequent ride-share users and takeout lovers alike. Cardholders enjoy $120 in Uber Cash each year, which can be used for Uber rides, Uber Eats delivery and more. Enroll by Dec. 31, 2021 and you’ll also get a complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership for 12 months, which comes with discounts and $0 delivery fees on eligible restaurant and grocery purchases.

The card charges an annual fee of $250, but if you take advantage of both the Uber Cash and the dining credit, keeping the Amex Gold card will essentially cost you $10 every year.

If you are OK with only redeeming travel directly through Amextravel.com or Amex’s airline partners to maximize the value of the Membership Rewards points you’ll earn, this is a great card for foodies and travelers.

Here’s a closer look at the features:

  • 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first six months
  • 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases – 1 point thereafter
  • 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide (including Uber Eats orders)
  • 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly through airlines or on amextravel.com
  • Up to $120 annual dining credit (up to a $10 statement credit monthly) when you pay at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required)
  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash per year ($10 per month)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Even though it has fewer features than the Amex Gold, it gives you perhaps the highest cash back rate available on groceries, and it has a lower annual fee – $95. Plus, running errands like groceries is way easier when you get cash back on gas for the commute. Take a closer look:

  • $250 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu or HBO Max
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
  • 3% on transit purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best for earning cash back on groceries and everything else

For those who don’t want to have to choose a spending category but still want no annual fee, Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a consistent rate of at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

  • 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • $200 bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months
  • Cash back rewards do not expire
  • No annual fee

Target REDcard™: Best for earning cash back on Target purchases

The Target Redcard has no annual fee. This, combined with its standard offer of 5% off in-store purchases applied right at the checkout counter and 5% off at Target.com with free shipping, makes it a great card for frequent Target shoppers, especially since the 5% discount is applied in perpetuity. You can also stack your discount with others available through Target’s Cartwheel app and in-store.

Though most people don’t need 120 days to return an item, you get that with this card when its extra 30 days is combined with Target’s standard 90-day return policy. The extra time could allow a greater piece of mind on those large ticket items you buy.

However, if you’re known to carry a balance, this isn’t the right card for you. The high variable APR can far outweigh the 5% discount, so pay the card off after each billing cycle.

Here’s a snapshot of all the benefits of this card: 

  • 5% off eligible Target purchases in-store and online at Target.com (except pharmacy purchases)
  • Can be used together with Target Circle and other discounts
  • Free two-day shipping on orders from Target.com with no spending minimum
  • An extra 30 days to return items on top of the standard 90-day return policy
  • Early access to special events, products and promotions
  • No annual fee

This card is great because, unlike Target’s Redcard, it offers some cash back outside of Walmart purchases, including 2% cash back at restaurants and travel and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

However, while Target’s Redcard offers its in-store 5% discount with no limit, the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard only offers the same discount in-store for the first 12 months and you have to use Walmart’s mobile wallet on your purchases to get it.

Where this card really shines is online, especially if you do a lot of grocery pickup or delivery orders from Walmart.com.

It’s very easy to apply for and, like the Redcard, it carries no annual fee, as well as some smaller benefits you’ll see below:

  • 5% cash back on Walmart purchases online, including grocery and delivery orders
  • 5% cash back on in-store purchases in the first year when you pay using the Walmart Pay digital wallet
  • 2% cash back on restaurant and travel purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fee
  • Easily apply via text message
  • Card is automatically transferred to Walmart Pay digital wallet on approval
  • Fraud alerts and the ability to freeze your account

Comparing the best cards for grocery shopping

Card Grocery bonus Other rewards Annual fee
American Express® Gold Card 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases – 1 point thereafter

 

  • 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first six months
  • 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide (including Uber Eats orders)
  • 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly through airlines or on amextravel.com
  • Up to $120 annual dining credit (up to a $10 statement credit monthly) when you pay at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required)
  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash per year ($10 per month)
$250
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%
  • $250 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu or HBO Max
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
  • 3% on transit purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
$95
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • $200 in online cash rewards when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • 3% cash back on a category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvements and furnishings)
  • $2,500 combined quarterly limit on 2% and 3% cash back categories
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
Chase Freedom Unlimited® n/a
  • 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • $200 bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months
$0
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • 8% cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats (offer ends January 2022)
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • $300 bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
$95
Target REDcard™ 5% discount at Target and Target.com n/a $0
Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®
  • 5% cash back on in-store purchases for the first 12 months when using Walmart Pay
  • 5% cash back on Walmart.com purchases, including grocery pickup and delivery orders
  • 2% cash back on in-store Walmart purchases after the introductory period
  • 2% cash back on restaurant and travel purchases
  • 2% cash back on the purchase of gift cards at Walmart (online, app, Walmart Pay or in stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0

Honorable mentions

There is no shortage of credit card options that reward grocery spending, so in addition to our top picks above, consider these alternatives.

  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card – A no-annual-fee alternative to the Capital One Savor Card, the SavorOne offers the same 2% cash back on grocery store purchases. While it offers a slightly lower rate on dining and entertainment than the Savor card, the SavorOne is a good alternative for those wary to pay an annual fee.
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card – The newly launched U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card offers a competitive rewards rate on both dining and grocery purchases – 4 points per dollar on dining and food delivery and 2 points per dollar on groceries, to be exact. It also offers 2 points per dollar on gas and streaming service purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Plus, it doesn’t charge an annual fee.
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card – If you prefer to do your grocery shopping at Whole Foods, you can’t beat the rewards rate on the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card. In addition to 5% cash back on Amazon.com purchases, the card offers the same 5% rate at Whole Foods locations. You’ll also earn 2% back on restaurant, gas station and drug store purchases and 1% on everything else. You have to be a Prime member to qualify for the card, but if you spend a significant amount on Amazon orders or at Whole Foods, your rewards can help offset the cost of membership.
  • Apple Card – The Apple Card is best known for its high rewards rate on Apple purchases, but it can also be a great choice for grocery shopping. When you make a purchase via Apple Pay, the card offers 2% back on all qualifying purchases. This is on par with some of the highest flat-rate credit card offers. Just make sure your preferred grocery story accepts the mobile wallet before you work this card into your rewards strategy.

How to pick the right card for grocery shopping

For most of us, using a credit card at a grocery store simply involves taking it out in the checkout line. But if you want to up your grocery shopping game and save some serious money, here are some tips and secret strategies from credit card experts and the most seasoned shoppers we could find.

When picking the credit card you’ll use at the grocery store most experts recommend either a card with a high cash back rate that can provide a percentage off every time you shop or a tiered rewards card that offers specific rewards every time you use it for groceries.

“When you use a cash back card, it’s like having a coupon to save a certain amount off your total purchase each and every time you buy groceries. This savings isn’t limited to grocery stores – a flat-rate rewards card will apply the same cash back or miles to all of your purchases,” says Ashley Dull of CardRates.com.

However, if you’re picking a tiered rewards card with a grocery store category, they often have a limit on how much you can earn annually.

For example, American Express limits the 6% cash back rate spent at U.S. supermarkets annually on its Blue Cash Preferred Card to $6,000 in purchases (after that, it’s 1%), so be mindful of those restrictions.

Apple Card gives you cash back every day.

You also want to pick a card where rewards don’t expire, there are multiple options for redemption and you can transfer rewards between accounts. Always keep track of the terms of your credit card and compare card features vigorously before making your final selection.

How to earn the most rewards while grocery shopping

If you really want to maximize your rewards at the grocery store, stack your savings with a cash back app such as Ibotta, Fetch Rewards or Checkout 51. Your grocery store’s loyalty app is also a great way to double-dip on savings.

“By taking a few minutes to scan in your grocery receipts, a family of four can easily earn over $25 a month in rewards,” says Nermeen Ghneim of The Savvy Dollar personal finance blog.

Finally, if you’re choosing a store-branded credit card because you tend to shop at the same store all the time, make sure you pay off the balance before the billing cycle resets because store cards tend to have very high interest and fees.

“Many people know that making a habit of paying off high interest credit cards will actually have a slightly negative effect on their credit,” says Dan Gallagher, author, retired financial planner and personal finance expert at ScoreSense.com. “But some grocery credit cards are in-house credit extensions, especially the ones that are valid in-store only. The in-store-only variety does not harm your score for avoiding interest and paying balances off early, so do not fear a grocery store credit card.”

*All information about the Capital One Savor card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. 

Source: creditcards.com

Should You Help a Family Member in Debt? – SmartAsset

Should You Help a Family Member in Debt? – SmartAsset

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Watching loved ones struggle with their personal finances is never fun, especially when you’re doing relatively well yourself. But before you rush to the aid of your mother, your brother or your favorite cousin, it’s a good idea to consider how that might impact your own financial situation. Check out some of the pros and cons of loaning money to a family member in debt.

Check out our personal loans calculator.

The Pros

Being able to support a family member who’s facing a financial difficulty can make you feel good about yourself. You’ll have the opportunity to work together to implement good financial strategies and in the process, you might learn something that can help you manage your own money more effectively. And since you can never be completely sure about your own financial future, helping your relative get back on track might provide you with a safety net that you can rely on if you need help from that same relative later down the line.

It’s important to take the time to sit down with your relative and discuss what has worked well for you financially in the past. You can help him or her create a tighter budget (with loan repayments to you built in) and connect him or her with a professional financial advisor or credit counselor if need be. The more comfortable your family member is with talking about money, the better the experience is likely to be.

The Cons

When it comes down to it, helping family members out of debt is a big deal financially speaking. Before you make that move, it’s best to think about how it could affect your relationship. You run the risk of turning your personal relationship into a business transaction, and you might feel like money is all you talk about. Eventually, it might create tension or lead a serious disagreement.

You could also make yourself financially vulnerable by lending a family member a portion of your wealth. If you choose to let someone borrow your money, keep in mind that you don’t want to lend any amount that could get you into trouble.

Related Article: 5 Tips for Lending Money to Friends or Family

Important Questions to Ask Yourself

As you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of lending money to a relative, there are several things you’ll need to clear up. Will this be a temporary situation or an ongoing arrangement? A gift or a loan? Can they afford to pay you back at some point? What will you do if they can’t?

You’ll also have to consider whether providing someone with a loan is a good use of your money. Instead of relying on you, could your family member turn to debt management, debt settlement or bankruptcy? Are there other ways you can help?

Related Article: 4 Signs It’s Time to File Bankruptcy

Final Word

Deciding how to assist a family member in need isn’t easy. As an alternative to becoming your relative’s sole source of financial support, (or turning down his or her request) you can always offer to fund part of the debt repayments. Managing your expectations and finding a happy medium that won’t jeopardize your chances of achieving financial success are key.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Ocskaymark, ©iStock.com/Christopher Futcher, ©iStock.com/SoumenNath

Liz Smith Liz Smith is a graduate of New York University and has been passionate about helping people make better financial decisions since her college days. Liz has been writing for SmartAsset for more than four years. Her areas of expertise include retirement, credit cards and savings. She also focuses on all money issues for millennials. Liz’s articles have been featured across the web, including on AOL Finance, Business Insider and WNBC. The biggest personal finance mistake she sees people making: not contributing to retirement early in their careers.
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Source: smartasset.com

Should You Help a Family Member in Debt?

Should You Help a Family Member in Debt? – SmartAsset

Tap on the profile icon to edit
your financial details.

Watching loved ones struggle with their personal finances is never fun, especially when you’re doing relatively well yourself. But before you rush to the aid of your mother, your brother or your favorite cousin, it’s a good idea to consider how that might impact your own financial situation. Check out some of the pros and cons of loaning money to a family member in debt.

Check out our personal loans calculator.

The Pros

Being able to support a family member who’s facing a financial difficulty can make you feel good about yourself. You’ll have the opportunity to work together to implement good financial strategies and in the process, you might learn something that can help you manage your own money more effectively. And since you can never be completely sure about your own financial future, helping your relative get back on track might provide you with a safety net that you can rely on if you need help from that same relative later down the line.

It’s important to take the time to sit down with your relative and discuss what has worked well for you financially in the past. You can help him or her create a tighter budget (with loan repayments to you built in) and connect him or her with a professional financial advisor or credit counselor if need be. The more comfortable your family member is with talking about money, the better the experience is likely to be.

The Cons

When it comes down to it, helping family members out of debt is a big deal financially speaking. Before you make that move, it’s best to think about how it could affect your relationship. You run the risk of turning your personal relationship into a business transaction, and you might feel like money is all you talk about. Eventually, it might create tension or lead a serious disagreement.

You could also make yourself financially vulnerable by lending a family member a portion of your wealth. If you choose to let someone borrow your money, keep in mind that you don’t want to lend any amount that could get you into trouble.

Related Article: 5 Tips for Lending Money to Friends or Family

Important Questions to Ask Yourself

As you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of lending money to a relative, there are several things you’ll need to clear up. Will this be a temporary situation or an ongoing arrangement? A gift or a loan? Can they afford to pay you back at some point? What will you do if they can’t?

You’ll also have to consider whether providing someone with a loan is a good use of your money. Instead of relying on you, could your family member turn to debt management, debt settlement or bankruptcy? Are there other ways you can help?

Related Article: 4 Signs It’s Time to File Bankruptcy

Final Word

Deciding how to assist a family member in need isn’t easy. As an alternative to becoming your relative’s sole source of financial support, (or turning down his or her request) you can always offer to fund part of the debt repayments. Managing your expectations and finding a happy medium that won’t jeopardize your chances of achieving financial success are key.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Ocskaymark, ©iStock.com/Christopher Futcher, ©iStock.com/SoumenNath

Liz Smith Liz Smith is a graduate of New York University and has been passionate about helping people make better financial decisions since her college days. Liz has been writing for SmartAsset for more than four years. Her areas of expertise include retirement, credit cards and savings. She also focuses on all money issues for millennials. Liz’s articles have been featured across the web, including on AOL Finance, Business Insider and WNBC. The biggest personal finance mistake she sees people making: not contributing to retirement early in their careers.
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Source: smartasset.com

The Best Cities for Motorcycle Owners – SmartAsset

The Best Cities for Motorcycle Owners – SmartAsset

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According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of 2012 there were at least 8.4 million registered motorcycles in the United States (a number that has likely risen in the past four years as the economy has strengthened and auto sales have ballooned). That’s a lot of hogs – about one for every 37 people in the U.S. 

Need a boost to get that bike? Find out what loan options are available to you.

In some states, the concentration is even greater. South Dakota, for example, has one registered motorcycle for every 11 residents.

There are numerous factors that might make some places better for motorcyclists than others. Weather is an obvious one. Going for a ride is a lot more pleasant if it isn’t pouring rain.

Likewise, frigid temperatures can push even the most die-hard motorcycle owner to consider an alternate means of transportation. For many motorcyclists, access to the open road is also important. A few hours of traffic can suck the fun right out of an afternoon joyride.

So what are the best cities for motorcycle owners? To answer that question, SmartAsset analyzed data on every U.S. city with a population of at least 150,000. Along with the weather and traffic congestion in these cities, we also looked at such metrics as the state max speed limit on highways and the number of registered motorcycles per capita. (Read our full methodology below.)

Try SmartAsset’s personal loan calculator to find out how long it would take you to pay off a personal loan.

Key Findings

  • Best rides out west. With its many natural wonders and its long stretches of open road, the American West is something of a playground for motorcycle enthusiasts. It probably comes as no surprise that seven of the top ten cities in SmartAsset’s analysis are out west.
  • Southern California has best motorcycling weather. Seaside cities like Oxnard and Chula Vista have weather that is warm and dry year round. Incredibly, San Diego records zero days a year in which the average max temperature is less than 40 or higher than 90.

1. Fort Collins, Colorado

Why is Fort Collins the best city in the U.S. for motorcycle owners?

First, take a look at the location. Along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and 40 miles south of the Wyoming border, Fort Collins is surrounded by breathtaking scenery and opportunities for great rides. For instance, a loop through the Roosevelt National Forest, up to Laramie, Wyoming, and back down to Fort Collins would cover 220 miles of mountains and valleys in about four and a half hours.

Next, check out the traffic (or lack thereof). Motorists in Fort Collins spend an average of less than 20 hours per year sitting in traffic, making it one of the 20 least-congested cities in SmartAsset’s analysis. Colorado also has some of the lowest gas taxes in the country, with a state tax of just 22 cents per gallon.

2. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

South Dakota, which is one of the top states for an early retirement, may also be the best state for motorcyclists. Drive along I-90 on any summer day and you are sure to see numerous packs of motorcycles zipping along. The state is home to what may be the world’s largest annual gathering of motorcycle owners, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which in 2015 drew an astonishing 739,000 people.

While that rally is located across the state from Sioux Falls, there are plenty of reasons motorcycle owners will be happy in South Dakota’s largest city. (Sturgis and nearby Rapid City were not included in SmartAsset’s study as their population is less than 150,000.)

The average motorist in Sioux Falls spends just 15 hours per year in traffic, ninth-lowest among the cities we analyzed. Likewise, given the city’s strong economy and low housing costs, motorcycle owners should have some spare income to spend on the upkeep and improvement of their motorcycle collection.

3. Boise, Idaho

Located in central Idaho’s Treasure Valley, Boise is within a day’s ride of many of the country’s most beautiful regions. It is less than eight hours from Yellowstone National Park, less than eight hours from Lake Tahoe and less than eight hours to Oregon’s Cannon Beach. Utah’s Arches National Park is about eight hours and 15 minutes away from Boise.

4. Santa Clarita, California

Santa Clarita is located in Los Angeles County, but unlike in the City of Angels, traffic in Santa Clarita is not a major problem. In fact the average commuter in Santa Clarita spends less than 15 hours per year sitting in traffic. (LA motorists, in contrast, spend 80 hours in traffic.)

While bypassing the bad traffic, motorcycle owners in Santa Clarita still get to enjoy Southern California’s scenic mountain roads and warm weather. The city averages just 23.9 days per year in which precipitation exceeds 0.1 inches.

5. Overland Park, Kansas

Overland Park is the second largest city in the state of Kansas. Of the 171 cities in SmartAsset’s analysis, it has the 14th highest income after housing costs (like mortgage payments and insurance). That means motorcyclists should have spare money to spend on motorcycle repairs and improvements.

Overland Park also has the 16th lowest property crime rate of the cities in SmartAsset’s analysis. There were just 279 auto thefts in the city in 2014, 1.5 for every 1,000 residents.

6. McKinney, Texas

McKinney is about 30 miles north of Dallas, but when it comes to traffic it is a world apart. In fact, the average motorist in McKinney spends just nine hours a year in traffic congestion, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. That is lowest of any city in our study. For motorcyclists, it means less time waiting for the car ahead to move and more time on the open road.

Thinking about borrowing money? Here are a few things you should and shouldn’t do.

7. Santa Rosa, California

Located in the heart of one of America’s top wine regions, Santa Rosa is surrounded by beautiful scenery. Motorcyclists have numerous options, whether they want to go for a quick afternoon joyride or take a longer weekend tour. Potential destinations include the Pacific Coast Highway, which is less than an hour away, and Redwood National Forest, which is about four hours away.

8. Oxnard, California

If you love the beach and love your motorcycle, Oxnard may be the place for you. It is located along the Pacific Coast, west of Los Angeles. The city’s weather is stunning. Average maximum temperatures never fall below 60 or exceed 80. In fact, on average the city has just one day a year in which the temperature gets over 90 degrees.

9. Cary, North Carolina

This North Carolina city is the number one city on the East Coast for motorcycle owners. Like the rest of the East Coast, it is wetter than most cities in the west, averaging 76 days per year in which it receives at least 0.1 inches of rain. On the other hand, the climate in Cary is fairly temperate. Maximum temperatures fall below 40 degrees an average of 15 days a year, and rise above 90 degrees an average of 33 days per year.

The area is not lacking for beautiful routes. For instance, the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s favorite drive,” is located about three and a half hours from Cary. The North Carolina coast is less than three hours away.

10. Chula Vista, California

Take a ride through the Sonoran Desert or down the Coast of Baja California. Check out Cleveland National Forest or Joshua Tree National Park. All of these destinations are just a few hours from Chula Vista. The city also has some of the best motorcycling weather of any city in the U.S. It ranked in the top 15 cities in our study for both its limited rainfall and lack of extreme temperatures.

Methodology

To reach these results, SmartAsset analyzed data on 171 U.S. cities with a population of more than 150,000. Specifically, we looked at the following seven metrics:

  • Precipitation: the average number of days per year in which precipitation exceeds 0.1 inches.
  • Temperature extremes: the number of days per year in which average maximum temperatures are either lower than 40 degrees or higher than 90 degrees.
  • Traffic: the average hours per year lost to traffic congestion for auto commuters.
  • Property crime: the annual number of property crimes (including but not limited to auto theft) per 100,000 residents in each city.
  • Discretionary income: the median income after typical housing costs in each city.
  • Maximum speed: the maximum speed limit on highways of the state in which each city is located.
  • Motorcycle registrations: the number of residents per registered motorcycle for the state in which each city is located.

We ranked each of the 171 cities in our analysis according to those seven metrics. (For state-level metrics, cities in the same state received the same ranking.) We then averaged those rankings, giving half-weight to the two measures of weather and full weight to all other metrics.

The overall index was calculated based on that average ranking. The city with the best average ranking received an index score of 100, while lower average rankings correspond with lower index scores.

Data on temperature and precipitation comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Data on traffic congestion comes from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Data on maximum speed limits comes from the Governors Highway Safety Administration. Data on the number of motorcycle registrations comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Data on property crime rates comes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement agencies. Data on discretionary income comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Questions about our study? Contact us at blog@smartasset.com

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/pick-uppath

Nick Wallace Nick Wallace studied Economics at the University of Washington. He enjoys getting people thinking about finances by looking at the numbers. Nick is a freelance journalist and data analyst living in Michigan. He still lends his economic and analytic expertise for SmartAsset’s studies.
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Source: smartasset.com

How Interest Rate Hikes Affect Personal Loan Investors

How Interest Rate Hikes Affect Personal Loan Investors – SmartAsset

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In December 2015, the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point. That was the first time the Fed had raised rates in nearly a decade. While federal funds rate changes don’t directly impact peer-to-peer (P2P) loan interest rates, lending platforms may begin increasing their rates. If you’re investing in peer-to-peer loans, it’s important to understand how that may impact your portfolio.

Rising Rates May Mean Better Returns

Personal loan investors make money by claiming a share of the interest that’s paid on the loans, in proportion to the amount that’s invested. If the platform you’re using raises rates for their borrowers, that means you’ll likely see higher returns.

That’s especially true if you’re open to funding high-risk loans. Peer-to-peer platforms assign each of their borrowers a credit risk rating, based on their credit scores and credit history. The loans that get the lowest ratings are assigned the highest rates. For example, Lending Club’s “G” grade loans (the loans that go to the riskiest borrowers) have interest rates of 25.72%.

Assuming borrowers don’t default on their payments, these investments can be more lucrative than lower-risk loans. Using Lending Club as an example again, F and G grade loans historically have had annual returns of 9.05%, which is nearly double the 5.22% return that investors earn from low-risk “A” grade loans.

The Downsides of a Rate Increase

While rising interest rates may put more money in investors’ pockets, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. For one thing, it’s possible that as rates rise, borrowers could decide to explore other lending options. If that happens, there would be a smaller pool of loans for investors to choose from.

To compensate, peer-to-peer lenders may resort to issuing lower-quality loans as rates rise, but that could be problematic for investors who prefer to steer away from riskier borrowers. If the platform you use no longer offers the kinds of loan products you want to invest in, you’ll have to reallocate those assets elsewhere to keep your portfolio from becoming unbalanced.

Finally, rising interest rates could result in a higher default rate. Increased rates mean that borrowers have to pay a lot of money for taking out personal loans. If the personal loan payments become unmanageable, a borrower may end up defaulting on their loan altogether. Some platforms refund the fees that investors have paid, but they usually don’t refund their initial investments after borrowers default.

What Investors Ought to Consider

If you’re an active P2P investor or you’re thinking of adding P2P loans to your portfolio, you can’t afford to overlook the risk that’s involved. Financing the riskiest loans is a gamble, so it’s important to consider the consequences of putting money into those kinds of investments.

A good way to hedge your bets is to spread out your investments over a variety of loan grades. That way, if a high-risk borrower defaults you still have other loans to fall back on.

If you want more help with this decision and others relating to your financial health, you might want to consider hiring a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with top financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Ondine32, ©iStock.com/Tomwang112, ©iStock.com/xijian

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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The Millennial Guide to Getting a Personal Loan – SmartAsset

The Millennial Guide to Getting a Personal Loan – SmartAsset

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Personal loans have made something of a comeback over the last few years thanks to the rise of online lending. According to TransUnion, the number of consumers who are using personal loans jumped by 18% between Q3 2013 and Q3 2015. Millennials, in particular, are increasingly relying on them to consolidate debt or finance big purchases. Here’s a rundown of what 20-somethings need to know about applying for a personal loan.

Online Lenders and Traditional Banks Aren’t the Same

In the past, if you needed to borrow money you had to head to a brick-and-mortar bank to do it. The online personal loan industry has changed all that and millennials have more choices when they need loans. There are, however, some differences to keep in mind.

Because online banks tend to have fewer overhead costs, they can often afford to offer the most credit-worthy borrowers lower interest rates than traditional banks. They may also charge fewer fees. With a regular bank, however, you’ve got the advantage of dealing with a loan officer face-to-face, which may come in handy if you have a question or a problem later on.

Many online lenders also take a different approach when it comes to underwriting. Upstart and SoFi, for example, cater to millennial borrowers and both consider not just your credit score and your income but your long-term financial outlook when making lending decisions. With a traditional bank, your personal merits are less likely to factor into whether or not you’re able to get approved.

Check Your Credit Before You Apply

Even though online lenders may be a bit more flexible, they’re still going to take a look at your credit score when you apply. Considering that some online lenders charge interest rates as high as 36%, you need to know what kind of deal you can expect to get.

Take a look at your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to make sure your accounts are being reported properly. If you see an error, it’s best to dispute it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could pull your score down and you could end up with a higher interest rate on a personal loan.

If you’re still in your 20s and you don’t have a substantial credit history yet, you might face an uphill climb to getting a loan. Paying your student loans and other bills on time each month and applying for a secured credit card with a low limit are two effective ways to establish credit. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score so it’s a good idea to focus on that area if you’re aiming to get a personal loan with the best rates.

Crunch the Numbers on the Payoff

Personal loans aren’t open-ended, which means you have a fixed amount of time to pay them back. Depending on the lender, the loan term may last anywhere from one to five years.

If you’re in your 20s and you’re not making a lot or you’re balancing student loan payments, you need to be sure that you can afford the monthly personal loan payments. Missing a payment could do serious damage to your credit. Doing the math is also important where the interest is concerned.

For example, let’s say you want to borrow $5,000 to consolidate credit card debt. Bank A offers you a 3-year loan with a 12% simple interest rate while Bank B is offering you a 5-year term at a 10% simple interest rate. On the surface, the lower rate seems like the better deal but if you go with Bank B, you’ll end up paying at least $700 more in interest.

If you’re on the lookout for a loan, using our personal loan calculator can help you figure out the true cost of borrowing.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Lorraine Boogich, ©iStock.com/filo, ©iStock.com/GlobalStock

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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