Everything You Need for Your Kitchen & Nothing More

Kitchens. They’re amazing spaces. They can be visually stunning. They must be total workhorses. They’re quite often the heart of the home. But they can also accumulate a lot of CRAP.

As I work to not only design but also fully outfit the kitchen for the Hood Canal Cottage, I’m starting completely from scratch. No hand-me-down casserole dishes, no knives I’ve carted around since college, no random herb scissors that I’ve never ever used. For once, I get to hand-select every tool and every object that comes into the space.

With that total blank slate, I find myself often thinking (ok, obsessing) about what I want this kitchen to have. As an avid cook, as we probably all are coming through Covid, I want kitchen tools that are really pretty, but also highly functional. And nothing else.

This kitchen, designed by Our Food Stories out of a refurbished old schoolhouse in the middle of the German countryside, is a total mood. Featuring deVol kitchen cupboards, tiles, shelves, light fixtures, hardware and more. This kitchen is certainly a showcase for the many of the pieces on my list of must-have kitchen tools – and of course, it does so beautifully.

This space immediately transports you to an idyllic rural retreat. I imagine walking through overgrown gardens, picking fresh roses and making multi-course Sunday lunches here.

I love how this kitchen keeps so many key kitchen tools close at hand. While I might not be doing quite as many open shelves at Hood Canal, there is a lot to be said for having key tools within arms reach.

There’s nothing that drives me crazier than a poorly outfitted kitchen. But an overcrowded kitchen can be equally crazy-making. You have to strike that balance.

For me, the key kitchen tools I turn to time and again include one good set of pots and pans, a cast iron skillet, a good set of wooden spoons and spatulas, a top notch cutting board (or several) and then all those little tools that you need when you’re in the middle of pulling together a recipe – measuring cups, knives, peelers, strainers, graters, zesters – all the speciality things that let you add the finer components of a dish.

Those speciality tools are the kinds of things that far too many kitchens lack. Or they’re the big bulky OXOX ones you get at a grocery store that feel chunky in my hand and will just clog up my limited drawer space in the new kitchen. She gonna be cute, but she’s not going to be big.

As the weeks have progressed, I’ve been slowly but surely amassing my ultimate kitchen wish-list. Each kitchen tool, appliance, or serving piece needs to have a very critical purpose and look damn good while doing it.

I thought I’d share my wishlist with you. It’s certainly not comprehensive. As I cook every evening some other thing in my San Francisco kitchen makes me think oh yes, I have to find the beautiful version of this for Hood Canal. But all the extraneous stuff I have in my SF kitchen also makes me want to pull my hair out. I’m constantly digging for my one favorite knife or pan or bowl.

I hope you find something below you’ve been searching for. If you spot a key kitchen tool that I’m still missing, please tell me in comments! I consider my ultimate quest to outfit the ideal kitchen.

I’m also regularly adding favorites for the kitchen in the Apartment 34 SHOP so be sure to check it out too!

all images by Our Food Stories


Source: apartment34.com

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record Drop In 2020?

In a weird pandemic plot twist, bankruptcies actually dropped in 2020, according to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

It seems counterintuitive, given what we know about the economic effects of the COVID-19 virus on American families and businesses. As I dig a little deeper, it’s easy to see some credit can be given to the CARES Act, which provided relief to people who are struggling.

But what do you do when the relief runs out? Will bankruptcies rise again? Let’s find out. 

What’s Ahead:

Bankruptcies for individuals and small businesses dropped in 2020; rose for large corporations

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - Bankruptcies dropped in 2020

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - Bankruptcies dropped in 2020

In early spring 2020, when cities and states began to lock down, experts predicted a calamitous effect on the economy. UCLA Anderson experts called it a “free fall” back in April, and indeed the U.S. GDP (gross domestic product – our total economic output) contracted by 9.5%. 

COVID-19 sparked a severe economic downturn nationwide, but it was unlike any other economic event in our history. Although the stock market plummeted, it soon rebounded, recapturing its losses on the way back up. Despite that good news, with the U.S. recording its sharpest quarterly drop in GDP, it was clear that the American economy was actually hurting. 

Big corporate bankruptcies increased 194% over the previous year – not unexpected given the economic volatility.

But what is weird is that individual bankruptcies and small-business bankruptcies, the mom-and-pop, Chapter 7 kind, actually fell, staying at least 20% below the year before (according to a Harvard Business School report). It was the opposite of what most experts had expected to happen to small businesses.

Why were there fewer small-business bankruptcies?

There are a few theories as to why bankruptcies among this group fell so sharply. First, it appears that the CARES act helped by providing relief to those who needed it. With Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan money coming in, that meant they could put off bankruptcy. And the moratorium on evictions likely helped, too, since oftentimes people don’t declare bankruptcy until their back’s up against the wall. Without being forced out of their homes, they could rely a little longer on pandemic relief.

Finally, with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is the kind typically filed by small businesses such as sole proprietorships, there are up-front costs involved. Filing fees and attorney fees can run you thousands of dollars, and for people struggling with money, that can be too far out of reach. Many people may have put off filing bankruptcy because they couldn’t afford it, or simply shut down their small business, quietly closing up shop.

What will happen when relief dries up?

Pandemic relief won’t last forever. The moratorium on evictions, which prevents landlords from throwing people out of their homes for nonpayment, was originally set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021. President Biden extended it to at least March 31, 2021, but there are still a lot of qualifications a renter must meet if they need to take advantage of this assistance.

And while there have been two Economic Impact Payments so far – also known as stimulus checks – they are hotly debated in Washington, and it’s unclear whether more stimulus money is forthcoming, how much it will be, and who will be eligible to receive it.

When Economic Impact Payments, eviction moratoriums, and other pandemic relief runs out, small business owners must be prepared to weather whatever happens next.

How small businesses can prepare for life after COVID

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - how small business can prepare for life after COVID?

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - how small business can prepare for life after COVID?

COVID-19 changed everything. Going forward, you’ll want to help your money stretch as far as possible. Here are three ways you can prepare.

Start or boost a business savings account

Hopefully, you already have a business bank account. These accounts are really helpful for managing your business finances, keeping your accounting straight, and preparing for tax time by separating business funds from personal funds.

Even if you already have a business checking account, you should also have a business savings account. Just like it’s a good idea to save up for emergencies in your personal life, make it a habit to save up for your business, too. Having cash on hand will help you during the lean times. 

If you already have a business savings account, perhaps to set aside money for quarterly estimated taxes, then start adding funds for savings, too. You could set aside a certain percentage of your income and route it right to your business savings account when you are paid. 

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From Record 2020 Drop? - Novo

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From Record 2020 Drop? - NovoNovo is an online bank that’s perfect for freelancers and small business owners, and it has been adding a bunch of features to its offerings lately. 

For example, Novo’s new Reserves function (launched January 2021) lets you set aside money right within your account to use later. It’s not a separate bank account; rather, you can think of it as a section within your existing account that puts up a wall around a certain portion of your cash to reserve it for later.

You can also invoice clients directly from Novo now, making it even easier to manage your business. Time is money, so everything you can do to simplify and streamline your processes now will help your bottom line down the road. 

Novo also lets you send and receive checks, make deposits with your phone, track your account balance from anywhere, and most importantly, save up for economic downturns.

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From Record 2020 Drop? - BlueVine

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From Record 2020 Drop? - BlueVine

If you’d like to earn a little interest on your business funds, check out BlueVine Business Bank. Their high-interest checking account gives a good return on your balance: 1.00%, which is higher than you can get almost anywhere else, including high-yield online savings accounts.

BlueVine is excellent for small business owners who hate hidden fees, too. There are no monthly, NSF, or incoming wire fees, so you can bank confidently. You don’t have to have a minimum balance, which is great for small businesses that are just starting out and starting to build profit. Plus, you can use 38,000 ATMs across the country to manage and deposit your money.

Opening a Blue Vine account will help you keep your finances straight and earn extra cash, too – both of which are important for small business owners, side hustlers, and freelancers.

Find a credit card that can help

Another underused lifeline in the post-COVID era might be your credit card. Credit cards can be a lifeline between payments, helping you bridge the lean times until you are paid again. 

But if the pandemic has done a number on your credit score, you might have trouble getting credit. You’re not alone! Don’t panic. There are cards available for this exact situation, so there is help for you.

Apply Now

One unsecured credit card that can be an especially good fit for those with poor credit is the Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®. This card can approve you even with a previous bankruptcy, so if it comes to that, rest assured you’ll still have options. 

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® offers quick and easy pre-qualification. Pre-qualifying for the card is a great way to know if you’ll be approved without the credit card company doing a “hard pull,” which shows up on your credit report. It’s another way to keep your score as high as possible while exploring your options.

Your annual fee could be $0-$99 depending on your credit profile, but you won’t have to pay a deposit. Try to pay the balance in full each month, because the interest rate on this card is 24.90%

Bankruptcy may still be necessary

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - Bankruptcy may be necessary in the future

Will Bankruptcies Rebound From A Record 2020 Drop? - Bankruptcy may be necessary in the future

Even if you do all you can to prepare, sometimes a bankruptcy will be necessary to wipe the slate clean. In fact, some experts are predicting up to a 140% increase in bankruptcies in the coming year, as people who have put off the inevitable for as long as they could finally pull the plug.

If you do end up filing for bankruptcy, then know that there is help available for you.

The Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA)

One thing to be aware of is the Small Business Reorganization Act, which became effective in February 2020. This law created a subchapter, called Subchapter V, of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. It in essence makes it easier for small businesses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which is a reorganization that allows you to get your finances in order and stay in business. Subchapter V streamlines and speeds up the process by which you make a plan to repay your creditors and eliminates a lot of roadblocks that larger corporations have to jump through.

It’s different from Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where you basically sell-off (or “liquidate”) everything you can to pay off as much of your debt as possible. 

With Subchapter V, you can have up to $2.73 million in debts and still retain control of the operation as you reorganize. You’ll get a trustee who monitors your case and helps you create a repayment plan. Subchapter V also won’t require a smaller business to establish a “creditors committee,” which can be a complex and expensive task when filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Big corporations take advantage of the bankruptcy process to get out from under a crushing load of debt. Take the example of JCPenney, who filed for bankruptcy in 2020, as did J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, California Pizza Kitchen, and a host of others. Often, these companies are able to restructure, reorganize, and reopen better than ever.

You may be able to, too.


If the pandemic has battered your business, find every resource in your power to stay afloat. Whether it’s PPP loans, a bigger, better savings account, or a bankruptcy filing, there’s a way for you to emerge from this national disaster stronger than ever.

Small business is the backbone of the U.S. economy, and it’s businesses like yours that make communities stronger. If you need help weathering the post-COVID era, take the assistance that is available – it just might help you create a powerful new endeavor going forward.

Read more:

Source: moneyunder30.com

Can You Get Chase Referral Bonus For In-Branch Applications? (Maybe)

A question we’ve been getting often in the comments is:

Can I get referral credit when referring my friend to a Chase credit card when they plan on applying in-branch? They may be applying in-branch since they are more comfortable that way or because the in-branch offer is superior. 

This question has been asked many times recently due to the increased 80,000 points Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus. The bonus is the same in-branch and online, but the branch offer waives the first year’s $95 annual fee.

I’ve seen references in the past to be able to go into a Chase branch with the referral info, and the banker would then be able to give the superior branch offer and still have it track back to the referrer so that they get their bonus as well.

A recent Reddit thread mentions that idea as well, noting that you should come into the branch with the referrer’s signup link. I’d recommend also having the referrer’s name, address, and phone number in case the banker asks.

That thread seems to suggest that you can only get the branch offer and the referral offer in the case where it’s a matter of a waived annual fee. However, if the referral offer is lower than the branch offer, the thread suggest it won’t work.

If you try it either way, let us know how it goes.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

9 Best Online Checking Accounts: Mobile Banking That Works

Millennials are taking their banking online for all kinds of reasons. COVID-19 has curtailed in-person customer service at lots of establishments, and these days the Internet is where everything happens anyway.

Online checking accounts are getting increasingly popular, and they’re adding more perks to keep customers on board. Some of these accounts even earn interest — at enviable rates, too.

What’s Ahead:

Best online checking accounts overview


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Chime Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - ChimeMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: None.
  • Account minimum: $0.
  • Monthly fees: None.

Chime’s online-only Spending Account makes everyday spending easy with a Visa debit card. Overall spending on the card is limited to $2,500 a day, so this isn’t an account for bigger-ticket purchases — but it’s a great place to store money for regular use. 

No credit check is required to open an account. This is a huge Chime bonus, since it’s hard to find a legitimate checking account that doesn’t use credit reporting to screen new customers. If you have a history of closed accounts or less-than-great credit, you can start over with Chime.

Account-holders get a linked savings account with Chime as well. If you want to, you can set Chime to round up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and drop the remainder in savings; a “spare change” savings approach. 

With direct deposit, you can get paid two days early. Not everyone can access this feature — your employer needs to allow it — but it’s one of the best parts of Chime. Access your money as soon as the deposit is received, instead of waiting two days for the check to clear.

Open account/get details or read our full Chime review.

Discover Cashback Debit Account

  • 8 Best Online Checking Accounts: Mobile Banking That Works - Discover8 Best Online Checking Accounts: Mobile Banking That Works - DiscoverMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: None.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $0.

An online outpost of a well-established bank, Discover’s Cashback Debit account has a solid reputation. It’s remarkably low on fees — Discover doesn’t charge for checks, returned deposits, account inactivity, OR expedited replacement debit card delivery. 

As Discover hints in the account name, there are cashback rewards! The structure is simple: 1% on up to $3,000 worth of purchases a month (debit card purchases only, not ATM withdrawals, loan payments, or peer-to-peer transactions). You can earn up to $360 in cash rewards per year, and points don’t expire.

If you use cash — and sometimes you do need to use cash — another benefit to Discover is the ease of finding a no-fee ATM. Discover boasts over 60,000 branded ATMs around the world.

Discover also has easy paper check deposit, a well-rated mobile app, and award-winning customer service; you really can’t go wrong here.

Open account/get details or read our full Discover Cashback Debit review.


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Aspiration Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - AspirationMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: 0.25%-1.00% APY.
  • Account minimum: $10.
  • Monthly fees: Pay what you can (Spend and Save)/$3.99 (Aspiration Plus).

Aspiration checking accounts reward you for spending money at socially conscious companies. 

When you buy from the vendors on Aspiration’s list of Conscience Coalition partners, you’ll get pretty impressive cash back rewards — between 3% to 10% on each purchase, depending on the account you have. 

Aspiration’s fee model works on the honor system. You pay what you think is fair. Chipping in a small amount — which you can change at any time — is a good-faith gesture. There are a few other fees for things like wire transfers and expediting a debit card, but Aspiration keeps charges light.

A basic Aspiration Spend and Save checking account comes with 3% to 5% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases, no balance requirements, and an honor system fee. If you want to upgrade to Aspiration Plus, this high-yield account does have a fixed monthly fee of $3.99. But it comes with a starting APY of 0.25%, and you can qualify for a hefty 1.00% APY if you meet spending requirements — plus 10% cash back rewards for Conscience Coalition purchases.

There are cash back rewards for everyday spending outside of Conscience Coalition companies; 0.25% for all purchases, and 0.5% or more for purchases from vendors with a high social impact score on Aspiration’s “Impact Management” metric.

Open account/get details or read our full Aspiration review.

Radius Bank

  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Radius Bank Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Radius BankMinimum opening deposit: $100.
  • APY: 0.10% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $9 (Essential Checking)/None (Rewards and Superhero Checking).

Boston-based, online-only Radius Bank has one of the highest-yield online checking accounts out there. Deposits are unlimited, which is an unusual feature, and you can easily transfer money to and from any linked account.

The Essential Checking account is a no-frills option for anyone without the credit or banking history to qualify for Radius’s fancier accounts. There’s a steep $9 monthly fee and a daily $500 debit card limit, so this is ideally a temporary account to build a positive banking record. After 12 months you’ll be able to upgrade.

Rewards Checking (formerly Hybrid Checking) is the real draw of Radius. There are no monthly fees, a decent 0.10% APY, and unusually high cash back rewards of 1.5% if you maintain at least a $2,500 balance. 

You can also opt for a Superhero Checking account, which has most of the perks of rewards checking. The APY is a bit lower at 0.05%, but Radius matches your earned interest and donates the matched amount to the March of Dimes monthly.

Radius Rewards and Superhero account holders get unlimited ATM rebates, which extend to foreign ATMS. And Radius, like Chime, lets direct deposit recipients access their paychecks two days early.

Open account/get details or read our full Radius Bank review.

FNBO Direct

  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - FNBO Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - FNBOMinimum opening deposit: $1.
  • APY: 0.65% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: None.

FNBO Direct is the online extension of the brick-and-mortar First National Bank of Omaha. Account-holders get a free bill-pay system and direct deposit as well as free fraud monitoring. 

The standout feature is FNBO Direct’s 0.65% APY. It’s uncommon to find an interest-bearing online checking account at all, let alone one that doesn’t have a balance requirement or tiered interest rates.

All account holders get a Visa debit card, but with good credit you can apply for the ExtraEarnings Visa. This upgrade gets you cash back rewards on a points system — 2% on all purchases in the first 12 months and 1% afterward — which you can redeem for credit.

If you opt in to overdraft protection, you’ll get a $33 fee each time you overdraw the account (though FNBO Direct waives your first overdraft fee in a calendar year). If not, any transactions that exceed your account balance will be declined.

Open account/get details or read our full FNBO Direct review.


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Novo Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - NovoMinimum opening deposit: $50.
  • APY: None.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: None.

Bank Novo accounts are designed for business use, not personal funds — they don’t earn interest. You’ll need to prove you’re working as a freelancer or operating a small business before qualifying for Novo online checking. 

But once you get approved it’s a great resource for everyday cash flow. The only fees you’ll pay are the $27 “Insufficient Funds” charges in case you send or deposit a bad check.

Novo partners with a few popular business platforms like Slack, Xero accounting, and TransferWise for easy digital integration. You can communicate with clients, transfer funds, and review your business finances without skipping a beat. 

Though Novo lacks its own branded ATMs, it reimburses you for domestic and international ATM fees. And you can move funds back and forth between Novo and personal accounts, which can be especially helpful if you’re paying yourself a salary from your earnings.

Open account/get details or read our full Novo review.

Capital One 360

Bad Credit? It Won't Stop You From Getting A Car Loan With These 5 Lenders - Capital One

Bad Credit? It Won't Stop You From Getting A Car Loan With These 5 Lenders - Capital One

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: 0.10% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $0.

Big bank service providers like Capital One are getting in on the online checking account craze. This gives customers a few more options — you can do everything digitally, or you can go analog with a paper checkbook. There are other perks to using an established bank, like plenty of fee-free Capital One ATMs to choose from.

Capital One 360 does have a few fees other online banks don’t charge, including fees for stopped payments, physical checks, overdrafts, and overnight debit card delivery. But as long as you keep fee-based transactions minimal, you’ll earn some serious interest with an 0.10% APY.

This account offers three overdraft options, more than most of its competitors.

Auto-Decline simply declines any transactions you can’t afford (this is the default of most banks).

Next Day Grace gives you one business day to add enough funds to cover the overdrawn balance, with a $35 charge.

Free Savings Transfer applies if you have a linked Capital One 360 savings account. Transfer money from checking to savings automatically to cover any overdrafts.

Open account/get details or read our full Capital One 360 review.


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Simple Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - SimpleMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: 0.01%-1.00% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $0.

Simple online checking accounts, as the name suggests, are pretty simple—no fees, no physical branches, no complex rewards systems. The no-fee model extends to overdrafts, incoming wire transfers, stop payments, and closed accounts.

The basic Simple Account offers a modest 0.01% APY. After you open a Simple Account, you can apply for a high-yield Protected Goals Account and earn much more interest — up to 1.00% APY with no minimum balance required. Protected Goals Accounts are designed to make it easier to save up for — you guessed it — big goals. 

The big draw of Simple is that it helps you budget; it’s a checking account and a money management app rolled into one. Plugin savings goals and scheduled payments, and Simple will calculate how much money you have leftover, giving you a “Safe to Spend” sum. 

Open account/get details.


  •  Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - Ally Mobile Banking That Works: Nine Top Online Checking Accounts - AllyMinimum opening deposit: $0.
  • APY: 0.10%-0.50% APY.
  • Minimum balance: $0.
  • Monthly fees: $0.

Ally’s interest-earning online checking account is easy to fund and use. Transfer to and from an external account for free, use eCheck Deposit to enter a check (you can upload a photo of physical checks), use a wire transfer (with a fee), or enable direct deposit.

They do have some fees, but they’re upfront about it — you’ll pay for expedited debit card delivery, stop payments, same-day payments, and returned deposits.

Balances under $15,000 earn an 0.10% APY. If you can maintain a $15,000 balance or above, you can really earn high yields at 0.50% APY.

Allpoint ATMs are free for Ally checking account holders, and Ally even reimburses you for using out-of-network ATMs up to $10 per statement cycle.

Ally’s overdraft fee is $25, but you’ll only get hit with one fee per day, and there are no extra fees for extended negative balances. If you have another linked Ally account (savings, for instance) you can use Ally’s free overdraft transfer service.

Open account/get details or read our full Ally Bank review.

Summary of the best online checking accounts

Checking account Best for APY Overdraft fees Account minimum Withdrawal limits Rebates for out-of-network ATM charges Cash back rewards Physical branches
Chime No credit check N/A None None $500/ day ($200 daily transfer limit) No No No
Discover Fee-free ATMs N/A None None $510/ day No 1.00% (up to $3,000/month) Yes
Aspiration Social impact 0.25% -1.00% (with fees) None $10 $1,000/day (after first 30 days) Yes 0.10%-0.50%; Conscience Coalition purchases earn 3%-10% No
Radius Bank Cash back rewards 0.10% ($2,500 minimum) $25; $5/day after five days $100 to open account; no minimum balance $500/day (for essential checking) Yes 1.00%-1.50 Yes (Boston only)
FNBO Direct Interest rate 0.65% $33 (with overdraft protection) $1 $10,000 (bill payment limit) No 1.00% (only with ExtraEarnings card) Yes
Bank Novo Freelancers and small business owners N/A $27 $50 to open account; no minimum balance Varies by account No No No
Capital One 360 Overdraft options 0.10% $35 No minimum to open (deposit required within 60 days) $1,000/ day No No Yes
Simple Budgeting tools 0.01%-1.00% None None $500/ day No No No
Ally Fund transfers 0.10%-0.50% $25/day None $1,000/ day Yes No No

How I came up with this list 

I looked for online checking accounts that were easy to set up and maintain. Convenience and simplicity are priorities for each of these banks. 

If you’re new to online banking or managing money through mobile apps, an online checking account will get you started without the stress of moving hundreds of dollars around—that’s why I picked accounts with smaller opening deposit requirements. 

And if you’re an expert at banking via smartphone, these accounts will integrate seamlessly into the rest of your financial life. Most will link to online payment systems like Google Pay and Apple Pay. 

Best of all, each account offers some perk or reward that stands out from the competition. FNBO Direct and Aspiration offer competitive interest rates, Radius, and Discover reward you for spending with cash back, and Simple comes with a built-in budgeting system…just to name a few. 

How to use online checking accounts

You can set up your account from any device with an Internet connection. Going forward, though, it’s easiest to download the mobile app associated with the account. Most platforms can be accessed in a web browser if necessary, but the apps often have more features and make transactions faster.

Though most of these picks don’t have minimum balance requirements, you do need some funds to get started. You can transfer from another account or deposit a check.

In many ways, online checking accounts aren’t that different from traditional checking accounts (some even come from banks with physical branches). You’ll get a debit card and free access to in-network ATMs. Some accounts, like Discover, add a handy ATM locator.

And most accounts will let you set up online bill pay for easy electronic transfer. If anyone’s still mailing checks to the landlord or the electric company, online payments might simplify your life and save you money on stamps.

What to look for in an online checking account

FDIC insurance and security

Some of the options here, like Aspiration and Chime, aren’t traditional banks themselves. If that’s the case, they partner with a bank to give customers FDIC insurance and keep your money secure against theft. A good account also has strong encryption to protect information privacy.

Low or minimal fees

A low-fee guarantee helps keep online banks competitive in a growing marketplace. Though most providers charge some fees in the fine print, the big ones—like monthly maintenance—are absent. The fees you’re willing to accept may depend on your account use. If you’re concerned about overdrawing your account, a bank without overdraft fees (or better yet, overdraft protection) might be a good choice.

Good customer service

All banks claim they have great customer service, and many offer this support 24/7 through phone, email, and messenger. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Look for quick response, representatives who take time to listen and solve your problems, and strong follow-up.

Pros of online checking accounts

They’re accessible 24/7

You can bank online anywhere you have an Internet connection. This means you can deposit checks as soon as you get them, which is essential since checks often take some time to clear. And you can see your balance immediately so you know what you’re working with.

They make automated payments simple

Have you ever been charged a late fee because life got busy and you forgot to pay a bill? Me too. Automatic payments are a saving grace, especially if you’re paying multiple bills. Set up auto-transfers from checking to savings if you want to hit savings goals faster.

They have low (or no) minimum balances

On the other hand, if you don’t have the cash to cover those auto-payments, you can keep your account humming along without a fee or cancellation (don’t forget to cancel the auto-payments, though). Low minimum balances are great if you’re starting small or planning to keep most of your earnings in a higher-yield account.

Cons of online checking accounts

They don’t have in-person customer service

If you prefer to take your banking queries to a human being, or if you want to get to know the staff at your bank, choose an account from a provider with physical branches. When a bank is wholly online, you never see the faces at the other end of the phone, which can be alienating.

They don’t accept cash deposits

Most online checking accounts don’t take cash deposits — this could be an inconvenience if you work in an industry where cash payments are the norm. You may be able to take the long way around by converting the cash into a money order.

They’re vulnerable to internet outages

Websites and apps do crash, and Internet service is almost — but not quite — everywhere. If you can’t access the Internet, you can’t access your bank.

Source: moneyunder30.com

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking – Which Is Better For You?

When it comes to deciding where to put your money, it can seem like the sky’s the limit. There are so many banks out there, with new ones popping up all the time. But where you decide to do your banking can have important effects on your financial life, so it’s important that you don’t just pick the next bank that comes along. You need to pick the right bank for your financial needs.

Here’s an overview of online banks and traditional banks, as well as why you might want to use one over the other, so you can decide which is a better fit for you. 

What’s Ahead:

The difference between online and traditional banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - The differences between online and traditional banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - The differences between online and traditional banks

Although both traditional and online banks take care of your money for you, they do differ in a lot of their features and capabilities. Here are some of the differences at a glance:

  Fees Interest Service Online access
Online banks Lower fees or even free Higher APY for savings; some offer interest on checking, too Online and some phone customer support Automatic online and mobile app access
Traditional banks Higher fees, and more of them Lower APY, even close to zero In-person, online, and phone support Online and mobile app access usually available if you want it

Online banks

  • No physical locations – Online banks don’t have physical locations you can visit, you’ll do all of your banking via the web, or a mobile app.
  • Speedy account opening process – Opening an account at an online bank can be a quick and easy process. You’ll need to provide some personal info, but once you identify yourself, your new account can be up and running in a matter of minutes.
  • A slick online process – Online banks focus on the user experience, making banking as easy as possible via their online platform.
  • Some ATM fees – Online banks may offer ATM access, but you’ll want to make sure you find out what in-network fees you might encounter, and what cash limits your account imposes. 
  • Higher interest rates – Online banks usually offer better interest rates. They don’t always have the expenses that traditional banks do — no buildings and so on — so they can pass a little more of the savings on to the customer. 
  • Few to no fees – Online banks are the clear winner when it comes to fees. Just as many online banks don’t need to shave your interest yields down to nearly nothing, they also have the wiggle room to charge less for fees.
  • Phone or online customer service – While online banks definitely have customer support teams, you’ll also find yourself scrolling for answers in support forums or chatting with an online bot to get the help you need. 

Traditional banks

  • Local branches are available – Banks like Chase have actual buildings, called branches, that you can visit, either on foot or via a drive-through. These branches are staffed with bank tellers and other employees who can help you complete all your banking needs.
  • Opening an account can take a while – At a traditional bank, you’ll likely have to bring documentation with you and visit a branch during normal business hours. You could find yourself waiting anywhere from five minutes to an hour for your account to be completely set up.
  • Some online banking options – Traditional banks frequently offer a banking website or mobile app for you to conduct your transactions. However, oftentimes, those apps aren’t as robust as online banks. 
  • Large ATM network – Since traditional banks have bank branches, they’ll also offer ATM access at their network of ATMs.
  • Lower interest rates – You might get 0.10% APY (or even 0.01% APY) on a savings account at a traditional bank, but it’s much easier to find higher yields at online banks.
  • Typically come with fees – A traditional bank might charge $10 or even $15 per month just to have a checking account.
  • In-person customer service – Here’s where traditional banks definitely have the edge. After all, part of all that overhead that keeps them charging more is staffing bank branches with friendly faces.

The difference between personal and business banking

Before I tell you the pros and cons of online banking, it’s important to make a distinction between personal banking and business banking.

Personal banking

  • Meant for personal transactions – Personal banking is the banking you do for your personal life.
  • Direct deposit options – A personal bank account is where you’ll likely have your paycheck direct deposited.
  • Meant for personal savings goals – You may put your vacation savings or your emergency fund in your personal savings account.
  • Lower fees – Personal bank accounts typically have lower fees and are not designed for frequent business transactions.

Business banking

  • For businesses only – You might use a business bank account if you’re an entrepreneur with your own small business, a freelancer, or an independent contractor who needs to keep business money separate from personal money.
  • Lower interest rates, typically – You’ll often find business banking and personal banking offered at the same institution, but rates offered for business accounts won’t necessarily be the same as what’s offered for personal accounts.

Why you should use online banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - Why you should choose online banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - Why you should choose online banks

Online banks may seem like a new invention in the banking world, but there’s a reason they grew so quickly and are, in many ways, more popular with younger bankers in particular. Plus, online banks are typically every bit as safe as traditional banks, and their funds are FDIC-insured, too.

Online banks have a few other benefits, as well.

Better rates

One of the biggest benefits of most online banks is that they typically offer much better interest rates on your savings accounts. After all, with no bank branches to pay for, online banks have lower overhead, and they can pass those savings on to the customer.

Online banking interest rates can be as much as 10 times higher than standard banks’. During these times of rock-bottom interest rates, it might not be much — say, 1.0% APY — but that still beats the 0.10% APY of typical traditional banks.

Online convenience

The beauty of online banking is 24-hour convenience. Need to make a deposit — at 3 a.m.? No problem. Just snap a pic of the check with your phone and securely upload it to your account. Or if you have a bundle of cash, you may be able to use an ATM, prepaid card, or bank transfer.

Wondering if your check cleared? Just visit your banking website and check the status. You can make transfers, withdrawals, and bill payments at most online banks, too.

Low fees

In addition to competitive interest rates, online banks also tend to offer their customers very low fees compared to traditional banks. Some online banks offer fee-free checking accounts or savings accounts, perks that can save you about $10 or $15 a month depending on the bank. You might even find a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees, transfer fees, or most other fees, either.

Who should use online banks

Those already living their life online

Online banking will require you to be comfortable with using an app or a website to make deposits, check balances, and transfer funds.

If you can confidently open an app and follow directions and hate making a special trip to visit the bank, you’re going to love online banking.

Chime is a perfect example. When you sign up for a free Chime account, you get access to their Spend and Save accounts (roughly equivalent to traditional checking and savings), but instead of a checkbook, you get Chime’s easy-to-use app. It’ll show you your balance, your recent transactions, even real-time notifications and alerts. Lose your card? Just freeze it from within the Chime app, and whoever finds it won’t be able to use it. Hate writing checks? Me too. Just send one using Chime. They’ll write it out and mail it for you! 

Those who hate paying for things

One of the best things about online banks is that you can almost always find one for free.

For instance, you can get a free checking account at BBVA. For a checking account at a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, you could be looking at $120 a year just in monthly fees to use the account, but not at BBVA.  

If you like free things, you’ll love the banks that pay YOU for banking with them. Radius Bank is one of the banks that pay interest if you maintain a certain balance. Their Hybrid Checking Account will pay you 1.00% APY if you keep $2,500 in your account — compare that to what you’ll get at a major traditional bank, which is just 0.01%. (Not a typo: the national average savings account interest rate is one one-hundredth of a percent. Ouch).

Freelancers or side hustlers

As mentioned above, bank accounts come in not just online or traditional flavors, but personal and business, too. If you’re a freelancer or side hustler, I encourage you to check out the benefits of using an online business bank account for your biz. It keeps your business funds separate from your personal money, which helps you treat your efforts as a legitimate business. (It also makes things way easier at tax time). If you are used to doing most, or all, of your business online, you will probably enjoy doing your business banking through an online bank as well.

Not every business bank account is made for the freelancer life, though. Even business bank accounts designed for small businesses can require high daily balances or large monthly fees, and that often doesn’t fit with operating a freelance business.

You’ll be much better off with a free online account in these situations. Novo, for instance, is a great bank to do business with. It is free to open an account with Novo and they do not charge monthly fees, either. You can link your personal checking account and arrange for invoices to be paid to your Novo business account, then transfer some of your earnings over to your personal account. You can protect some of your business earnings for paying taxes later and it’s easy to keep records, too. Plus, if you sign up with Novo, they’ll help you with discounts for apps and services you’ll actually use in your business: think Slack, Stripe, or Quickbooks.

Novo offers a robust app that lets you monitor your balance, send and receive money, pay bills, and transfer funds to linked accounts.

You should also consider BlueVine – a company that offers both a business checking account and loans for small businesses. The BlueVine Business Checking account provides unlimited transactions, live support, and no monthly fees. Plus, you can earn 1.00% APY.

The business loans side comes with either a line of credit or invoice factoring. With the line of credit, you can get up $250,000 in credit, with rates as low as 4.8%. With invoice factoring, you can get a factoring line up to $5 million, with rates as low as 0.25%/week.

Why you should use traditional banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - Why you should use traditional banks

Online Banking Vs. Traditional Banking - Which Is Better For You? - Why you should use traditional banks

So, with all that being said, there are still some benefits to using traditional banks. If that’s what you’re used to, you might be inclined to carry on as you always have been.

Personal service

For instance, traditional banks will be able to offer you more personal service. Depending on the bank you choose and the tellers that staff your local branch, you might wind up banking at the kind of place where everybody knows your name. The employees can help you set up banking products such as loans and credit cards and explain how they work. If you prefer a personal touch to your banking experience, traditional banks are definitely in your favor.

Powerful features

With a traditional bank, you might have access to more powerful features than you would with a bare-bones online bank. In addition to personal service at in-person locations, you might have a more robust banking website with more features, including ones that will help you save money. Traditional banks also tend to be more involved with the communities that they service and some can even provide business account holders with networking opportunities. 

Who should use traditional banks

Those who want a little hand-holding

Traditional banks are going to better for those who are looking for a personal touch to their banking. You’ll be able to just pop over to your local branch and see a smiling face (instead of going crazy in the multiple-choice labyrinth of a customer service call). 

In fact, a lot of traditional banks offer more than just checking or savings, allowing you to do a lot of different banking tasks under one roof. HSBC is a UK-based bank making their way across the pond, and they offer CDs, credit cards, mortgages, investing, and insurance in addition to a wide variety of checking and savings accounts. You’d never need another bank if you chose to route all your financial activities through them.

CIT Bank is another one that offers a full-service selection of banking and borrowing, with credit cards and CDs rounding out their checking and savings selections. They even offer a 0.40% APY on their CIT Savings Builder account, though you’ll need either a $25,000 balance or you’ll need to deposit $100 monthly to see those yields.

Those who need to bank like a boss

If it’s business bank accounts you’re after, traditional banks can help you bank like a literal boss. Chase Business Complete BankingSM is a popular choice for small businesses. There’s no minimum to open an account, and there are thousands of bank branches across the U.S. Plus, there are still robust online options like the Chase website and mobile app for when you need to accomplish your banking tasks right away. 


Overall, whether you go with an online or a traditional bank depends a lot on your banking needs, not to mention your preferences and budget. For the low-cost, independent route, online banking might fit the bill, and for the high-budget but high-features path, traditional banks may be more your speed.

Remember, there’s no law that says you can have only one account — you might prefer to have your checking at a traditional bank, but use an online savings account for the great interest rates. It’s up to you. Either way you slice it, you’ll be stashing your cash in a safe, dependable place so it can grow — which is the whole point of a bank account, no matter where you put it.

Read more:

Source: moneyunder30.com

Credit Card Rewards – Are They Really Worth It?

These last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about our credit cards, and whether or not we should just close the rest of our credit accounts. My philosophy is becoming more and more anti-debt, and the idea of going credit card free is appealing, albeit a bit scary. It’s becoming less scary as we get closer to having a fully funded emergency fund.

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Other rewards cards may have good terms, but charge an annual fee. This makes it unlikely that the consumer will come out ahead if they don’t spend a large amount of money on their card.

Still other rewards cards may be generous with their rewards, but they have an annual cap or limit which means you can’t fully realize the benefit of having the card.

Another problem is that a good percentage of people who have rewards credit cards don’t even bother to use their rewards that they’ve earned. From CNNMoney:

More than 41 percent of reward cardholders either rarely or never even bother to use their rewards, said a 2006 survey by GMAC Mortgage and Harris Interactive.

That seems like an awfully large number of people who sign up to get rewards, but then never even bother to use them. What a waste! Could it be just another indicator that our culture just doesn’t value saving as much as it does spending?

Avoid The Pitfalls Of Rewards Cards

To avoid the pitfalls and get the most back from your card, Consumer Reports offers these tips:

  • Consider where you shop. Get rewards cards that fit your lifestyle and shopping patterns. In other words, if you don’t travel very often, don’t sign up for a travel rewards card. You might be better off using one that gives you cash back for gas, groceries and home purchases.
  • Project your spending. Figure out how much you think you’ll spend in a given year, and then find out how much you’ll gain for every dollar you spend. Subtract any annual fees or penalties and find out if the card is worth your time. If not, move on and find another one.
  • Favor cash back. Points vs. Cash back. Consumer reports found that cash back cards tend to offer better rewards. On top of that the cards that give points, often the points end up going un-used. Get a cash-back card to optimize your returns.
  • Skip credit if you carry a balance. If you don’t pay your bills of in full, you may want to pass on the rewards cards altogether. Because rewards cards often have higher interest rates, you may end up paying much more in interest than you reap in rewards. I know my wife and I only use the credit card when we know we can pay it off within a week or two.
  • Do the math on do-good programs. Some people are tempted to get a rewards card so that they can have the rewards sent directly to a charity of their choice. When doing this make sure you look into how much is being given because you’ll often find you can give more to the charity if you just get a cash back card and send the money to the charity yourself.
  • Use airline miles fast. If you use an airline miles card, make sure to use your points as soon as you can. Airlines will often change redemption rules, and sometimes you’ll even lose your points if you haven’t used them in time.
  • Avoid temptation. Don’t justify spending on your credit card just because you want to get that “reward” of a new Ipod or digital camera. You’ll usually find that you end up spending more than you would have in the first place – enough that you could have just gone out and bought your own reward.

Conclusion – Be Careful

When it comes down to it I think it is clear – if you already have credit card debt and you’re trying to find your way out, DON’T use your credit card. Period. Lock it up and throw away the key.

But if you are debt free and are able to pay off your card every month without any problem, go ahead and take advantage of the rewards programs. But be careful which one you choose. Find one that fits your needs and spending patterns. Also, be careful that you’re not getting caught in the “spend to earn” trap. Studies have shown that people will often spend more just because they’re getting rewards. Don’t be a sucker, buy only what you need and what you would have bought anyway.

Do you have a rewards card? Do YOU think it’s worth it? Let us know in the comments.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work?

Have you ever heard of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)? They’re kind of a big deal. 

If you’re currently in the market for a new bank account then you definitely want to make sure that the bank you choose is an FDIC member. If you’re not sure why an FDIC membership is important, read on and I’ll shed some light on what the FDIC is, what they do, and why they may be important to you. 

What’s Ahead:

What is the FDIC?

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - What is the FDIC?

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - What is the FDIC?

This FDIC is an independent agency that was created by Congress in 1933 to ensure stability and public confidence in the country’s financial system. The reason the FDIC came to be is because, in the 1920s and 1930s, banks kept failing. 

When a bank fails it means that it’s unable to meet its obligations to its depositors and, as a result, it has to close. Back in the 1920s and 1930s when a bank failed, people lost a lot of money.

The goal of the FDIC was to provide economic stability and prevent a repeat of what happened in the 1920s and 1930s. Since its creation, the FDIC boasts that “no depositor has lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds.” That’s a pretty good track record! 

How is the FDIC funded?

If you’re wondering where the FDIC gets all of the money it needs to cover its depositors in case of a bank failure, that’s a great question. 

The FDIC is not funded by congress. Instead, the FDIC is funded by collecting premiums from the banks and thrift institutions that it insures. It is also funded by earnings from its investments in U.S. Treasury securities.

What does the FDIC do?

The FDIC has several responsibilities including: 

  • Insuring deposits.
  • Supervising financial institutions (banks).
  • Resolving bank failures.
  • Managing receiverships.

What do all of these things mean? Let’s take a closer look.  

Insuring deposits

The FDIC standard insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category. This means, if your bank was to fail and you had FDIC deposit insurance, then you would receive your money (up to $250,000) plus any interest accrued up to the date that your bank defaulted. This allows you to rest easy knowing that even if your bank goes belly up, your money is protected. 

It’s important to be aware of what accounts are covered by FDIC deposit insurance and which ones are not. 

FDIC deposit insurance covers the following accounts: 

  • Checking accounts.
  • Savings accounts.
  • Money market deposit accounts.
  • Certificates of deposits.

The FDIC does not cover some of the other financial products or services offered by banks including:

  • Stocks.
  • Bonds.
  • Mutual funds.
  • Life insurance policies.
  • Annuities.
  • Securities.
  • Safety deposit box.

If you’re wondering, “hmmm, how do I get my hands on some FDIC deposit insurance?” It’s really quite easy. You don’t need to apply for FDIC insurance, you automatically gain coverage when you sign up for a deposit account at an FDIC insured bank.

So, your job is to make sure that you put your money in a financial institution that is FDIC insured. 

Supervising financial institutions

The FDIC is also responsible for supervising many banks to ensure their safety and soundness. They have monitoring programs set up to identify any potential issues and the FDIC also helps to ensure that your rights as a consumer are protected. 

Resolving bank failures and managing receiverships

When a bank fails, the FDIC is often appointed as a receiver and is responsible for disposing of the failed bank’s assets and settling their debts.

What does this mean for you? Well, if your bank fails the FDIC will reimburse your insured deposits usually within one business day. On the other hand, if you have uninsured deposits and your bank fails it can take months or even years to reclaim your money. 

Examples of FDIC insured banks

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - Examples of FDIC insured banks

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - Examples of FDIC insured banks

As of April 2020, there are 5,132 FDIC insured institutions. If you’re curious to know if your bank is FDIC insured, or you want to search for a bank that is FDIC insured, you can use the FDIC’s BankFind service to search for various institutions. You can find the FDIC BankFind feature here.  

If you’re currently looking for a new bank and you want one that is FDIC insured, I recommend the following banks. 

CIT Bank

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - CIT

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - CITIf you want to ensure the safety of your deposit, check out CIT Bank – they are a proud member of the FDIC. CIT bank offers a range of services from checking and savings accounts to money market accounts and CDs (certificate of deposit). 

I love the CIT Savings Builder account. It’s an online, higher-yielding, savings account. To open a CIT Savings Builder account you need a minimum $100 deposit. To achieve their highest APY, you need to make a monthly deposit of $100 more or maintain a balance equal to or greater than $25,000. With these options, you get an APY of 1.45%


What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - Chase

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - Chase

Chase is a well-known bank that has been providing financial services to customers since Aaron Burr founded it in 1799. In fact, they now serve over half of American households! With over 4,700 branches, 16,000 ATMs, and a large array of financial products available, Chase has a financial product for just about everyone! And of course, they are FDIC insured, so you can rest easy knowing that your money is safe.

One of the best things about Chase is that they are a bank that can truly help you take care of all of your financial needs, including credit.

One of Chase’s credit cards, which I love to recommend, is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. This card offers a generous cash back structure, including 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining at restaurants and purchases made at drugstores, and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. And you won’t have to worry about your cash back getting eaten up by pesky annual fees, as the Chase Freedom Unlimited® does not charge one.

Bank Novo

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - Bank Novo

What Is The FDIC And How Does It Work? - Bank NovoBank Novo is another FDIC backed institution. Bank Novo is proudly built with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers in mind. 

Bank Novo is super convenient. You can apply for a Novo account in a matter of minutes and Bank Novo allows you to conduct all of your banking tasks from the comfort of your home using your phone.

They also offer no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, free transfers, mailed checks, and incoming wires. To sweeten the deal even more, they will refund any ATM fees.

Is the FDIC really a safe bet?

The FDIC is a pretty safe bet. Remember, the FDIC says that “no depositor has lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds” since the organization was started in 1933. While you might be thinking, “Yeah, but how many banks really fail nowadays?” Well, think back to the Great Recession. 

Between 2008 and 2013 the FDIC reported 489 bank failures. This included the failure of Washington Mutual, which was a $307 billion institution and represents the largest failure in the history of the FDIC. Despite the challenges brought to the FDIC by this size of failure, they were able to protect all of their insured depositors. 

Of course, you can’t predict the future of the economy, and you don’t know there will be a large number of bank failures moving forward. But, all of us can hope that the popular maxim, “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” holds true when it comes to the safety and reliability of the FDIC. 


There you have it, a quick rundown of the FDIC. If you’re in the market for a new bank account do a quick search to ensure that your bank has FDIC insurance.

While it is rare for a bank not to have FDIC insurance, there are some out there. Most banks will include this information on their websites. If you can’t find this information on the bank’s site you can also use the BankFind tool that was mentioned previously, or you can contact the FDIC directly.  

Read more:

Source: moneyunder30.com

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze

It’s never been easier to start a small business, with all the information we need just a few clicks away. But there are still a few basics you’ll need, including a bank account and a reputable card to keep in your wallet.

Brex is designed to let you skip traditional banking while still managing your money. You’ll get fee-free transfers and a reward-earning charge card to handle your purchases. With Brex, being a business owner is an even more rewarding experience (literally). 

Let’s dive into all the features Brex has to offer.

What is Brex?

Brex got its start in 2017 when two engineers had a vision of a small business banking alternative. The founders previously founded Pagar.me, which is one of the largest payment processors in Brazil. 

Businesses that qualify for a Brex account can enjoy limits that are up to 20 times those seen at traditional lenders. Best of all, since Brex 30 is linked to your Brex Cash Account, your personal credit is protected.

How does Brex work?

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Open an account

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Open an account

To get started with Brex, simply visit Brex.com and click “Open an account”. If you need help, the chatbot in the bottom-right corner can walk you through the process.

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Name and password

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Name and password

You’ll have to input some basic contact information, as well as your work email address. This is where you’ll set up a password.

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Business name

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Business name

Next, Brex wants your company information. If you don’t have a website yet, simply check the box that reads “We don’t have a website.”

Provide some information about your business, including the number of employees and your funding source. 

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Account type

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Account type

Now it’s time to decide what type of account you want for your business. Here are your options:

  • Cash. This type of account serves as a money management account for your business, giving you the ability to accept and send funds via ACH and wire for free. You can also set it up so that employees can access your Brex Cash Account. Comes with a Brex Daily card, a daily payment card with rewards.
  • Cash and card. Upgrade to this bundle and you’ll get the Brex 30 card, linked to your Cash Account to make managing your money easy. You’ll get plenty of perks with this bundle, including a one-time bonus of 50,000 reward points if you link a payroll or revenue account to your card. You’ll need a balance of more than $100,000, or $50,000 with professional investors, to qualify for this option.
  • Card. Businesses that merely need a credit card should choose this option. You’ll get the Brex 30, which includes 30-day terms, higher limits than other cards, and points for your purchases. Brex 30 comes with a variety of reward options to help you save money. You’ll need at least $100,000 or $50,000 with professional investors to qualify for Brex 30.

I chose the Cash option since I don’t have $100,000 in funding at this point. I went directly to a screen that asked for more information about my business.

Next, I had to verify whether I was a controlling officer at my company. If you choose “No,” you’ll be asked for contact information on your company’s controlling officer.

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Business details

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Business details

From there, you’ll provide legal details about your business and verify your identity. Once Brexit has successfully confirmed that you are who you say you are, your account will be set up. All in all, this whole process takes just five minutes!

Pricing for Brex

The best thing about Brex is its lack of fees. There are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees. Brex makes all its money from the fees it gets from merchants where you use your card.

With that being said, it’s important to note that Brex 30 is not a traditional credit card. In fact, it’s a charge card. When you get the Brex 30, you’ll need to set the card up so your balance will automatically be paid off each month. If you don’t have the funds right then and there, Brex will give you a 30-day payoff period to gather the funds.

Brex features

If you’re looking for a money management solution for your well-funded startup, you likely have no shortage of options. Here are a few reasons to consider Brex.

No fees

Both the Brex 30 and Brex Cash Account come with no fees. You’ll pay no annual fee for the Brex 30, and you can even make purchases internationally without foreign transaction fees.

Bonus points

You’ll see the benefits of Brex (you will receive these points with Cash only too because it comes with a Daily card) right away with 50,000 in reward points when your card is approved. You can redeem your points, and any other points you earn, as a statement credit, trade them for a gift card, book travel through the travel center, or convert the points to airline miles.

Rewards points

Brex 30 issues points for a variety of categories. You’ll earn 7x points on any rideshares you pay for using your card, as well as 4x points on flights and hotels you book through Brex Travel. Use your Brex 30 card while dining out and earn 3x points, as well. Finally, to top their rewards structure off, you’ll also earn 1x points on all other purchases. So you’re truly getting rewarded in every category your business likely spends in. 

Cash management

Even if your startup capital is limited, you can qualify for Brex’s cash management app. This app lets you transfer funds and send checks, all without fees. You can also invest your cash into money market funds to earn a little interest on it.

Higher credit limits

If you’re approved for Brex 30, you’ll enjoy credit limits that are 10 to 20 times higher than traditional credit cards. Your credit limit will be based on factors like your monthly sales and how much money your business has in its account. 


For any business, solid accounting practices are essential. Brex integrates with some of the top business finance apps, including:

  • Quickbooks.
  • NetSuite.
  • Concur.
  • Xero.

This will ensure that your transactions are accurately logged without having to worry about manually entering them, which is a huge time-saver for those trying to get their business off the ground.

Accounting tools

In addition to integrating with your bookkeeping tools, Brex also helps you with your accounting on its end. You’ll get built-in expense management and automatic receipt matching. You can also access virtual cards for each member of your team.

Separate from personal accounts

All activity on your Brex 30 card is connected to your business, from the time you apply to making purchases and paying your bills. Your card is connected to your business account, with payments made directly from there. All of this means that your personal banking information never enters into the equation, keeping your private account truly separate.

My experience researching Brex

There are many challenges business owners face when it comes to transferring and receiving money.

First, there’s the cash option. If you don’t have the required $100,000, or $50,000 with investors lined up, you’ll qualify for this option. In minutes, you’ll have all the benefits of business banking without an actual bank account. 

Once you’ve gotten started with their banking, you’ll be able to see in the dashboard your available balance and your transactions. You can easily export the information for bookkeeping or tax purposes.

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Easy way to pay

Brex Review: A Company That Makes Managing Your Startup A Breeze - Easy way to pay

When it’s time to pay someone, the app will walk you through the process. Simply input the name of the business, some basic details, and the amount you want to send. For business owners, this is about as easy as it gets.

If you qualify for an account, you can also add the Brex 30 to your wallet. This is where I was very impressed. This card provides enhanced benefits, including rewards of up to 7x points per dollar spent and credit limits that are 10-20 times higher than average. 

Brex 30 uses a 30-day payment cycle to calculate your payments. This means that once a month, your expenses will be taken out of your bank account in one lump payment. This can be both a drawback and a perk. If you have the capital to support paying off your card this way, it takes the headache out of having to make minimum payments for months. But, if you don’t, you’ll need to scrounge up the money in 30 days. It’s something to think carefully about.

All in all, I find Brex to be a great way to build business credit and manage your business finances without dealing with the complications of traditional banking.

Who is Brex best for?

Highly-funded startups

Brex was designed for startups with plenty of cash. Your startup can be funded through a variety of sources, but you’ll need at least $100,000 to qualify for the Brex 30 unless you have professional investors, at which point you can get in as low as $50,000.

Even if you lack the capital required, however, you can still use Brex. You just won’t be eligible for Brex 30. The Brex Daily is a credit card you get with your Cash Account comes with plenty of benefits of its own, though, including fraud protection and discounts on certain services. 

Businesses with big expenses

Brex 30 is ideal for businesses that deal with hefty expenses each month. You and your team members can charge everything to the card, earning rewards as you go, and have it all automatically debited from your Cash Account once a month. The much higher than average credit limits will ensure you won’t deal with the card being declined due to exceeding your balance.

Who shouldn’t use Brex?

Early-stage startups

If you’re just getting your business off the ground, you may find better options for making payments. Only once you’re more established will Brex begin to offer the biggest benefits. They can use Brex Cash though, as there is no minimum cash balance and it comes with a Daily card.

Financially-strapped startups

Brex 30 doesn’t work like a credit card. You can’t carry a balance from one month to the next. While this is great for avoiding interest charges, the fact that the funds are taken from your account once a month could put it out of the running for some businesses. If you need the ability to delay payment beyond 30 days, this might not be the best card for you.

Source: moneyunder30.com

Idea to Steal: A Corner Office

Do you ever have problems finishing things? Taking a project over that last 10 percent to consider it complete? Yeah, me too. Hence, why instead of finishing off my master bedroom and bath design (that still continue to languish more than a year after renovations), I’m distracted by other little problem spots in the house that have been bugging me. Like wanting to redo my home office. Again. Since I’m usually chained to it ought to be pretty dang good, don’t you think??

My current inspiration – the wrap around desk.

There are three reasons I really love this look. First, it’s beautifully minimal and when done right (yes, there are plenty of really wrong examples), a well-made wrap around desk can serve as a beautiful focal point of space – rather than just a utilitarian, functional thing taking up space in the corner.

Secondly, I strongly believe that not having drawers makes you keep less stuff. Easier said, than actually put into practice of course, but that lack of storage certainly gives you the incentive.

Finally, the corner desk gives you much more surface area. I realize that kinda subverts the less stuff goal, but if you’re constantly editing images on a massive desktop, or are constantly surrounded by books, magazines and other sourcing material as I typically am, then a place to spread out can be rather helpful. I’ve also come to realize I no longer need a fancy acrylic stapler or that cute little bowl of paperclips. And if you float your corner desk you can actually give the appearance of taking up less space.

There are few other key components necessary to complete this look. A stellar desk chair (I will be prepared for the comments about the lack of ergonomics, I’m ok with that), a scatter of your favorite ceramics, a really good task light and some framed art for that must-have visual inspiration.

I’m lucky that I have the perfect little corner for this type of set up in my office. Now let’s see if I actually see this idea to the finish line.

Would you like to see that??

for the Idea to Steal archive, CLICK HERE.

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Source: apartment34.com

How To Open A Business Bank Account – A Full Guide

If you run a business, it’s always smart to keep your personal and work life separate with a business bank account. It will allow you to organize your business records and prepare for tax season while lending your company instant credibility. Best of all, most accounts are free and fast to open.

Get a business bank account with no fees and a suite of professional features when you bank with BlueVine

In this article, I’ll cover how to open a business bank account and help guide you through the different types of accounts, required documents, and tax considerations. Let’s dive right in.

What’s Ahead:

Who should open a business bank account?

How To Open A Business Bank Account - Who should open a business bank account?

How To Open A Business Bank Account - Who should open a business bank account?

Having a business account is essential if you have, or are starting, a business, however big or small. If you have a sole proprietorship, I highly recommend keeping your business funds separate from your personal funds for accounting, record-keeping, and cash-flow management. 

If you plan to register as an LLC or a corporation, you’re legally required to maintain a separate, dedicated bank account for your business finances.

You should consider opening a business bank account if:

  • You’re planning to incorporate your company as an LLC.
  • Your business handles a lot of transactions.
  • Your income and expenses are complicated enough that filing an accurate tax return will be challenging.
  • You’re planning on taking out a business loan or credit card.
  • You want to accept credit and debit card payments from clients.

What do you need to have ready before you open a business bank account?

The paperwork you need to open a business bank account varies from bank to bank. Most financial institutions list their required documents online, which can help you prepare your documents ahead of time. 

Let’s use Novo as an example. At Novo, business owners can open a business bank account, though paperwork will depend on your company’s registration. If your company has the proper registration, you’ll need the following basic information to open your account:

  • Your name and date of birth.
  • Your business address.
  • Your Social Security or Tax ID number.
  • Driver’s license or another government-issued ID.
  • Business registration information, such as company bylaws and articles of incorporation.

Bank Novo, like other banks, will also want basic information about your company. That includes things like the number of employees and your annual sales. The information and requirements will change depending on your company’s structure.

For instance, if you operate a sole proprietorship, only you or an authorized representative must be present when opening an account. You’ll also need to have the company trust or an assumed name certified. If you’re not incorporated, an authorized representative must bring additional paperwork, such as documents with your company masthead.

How do you open a business bank account?

How To Open A Business Bank Account - How do you open a business bank account?

How To Open A Business Bank Account - How do you open a business bank account?

Now that you have a better understanding of whether or not you should open a business bank account, let’s take a look at how to actually open one (it’s surprisingly easy these days).

Make sure your business has a name and that it is registered

If you haven’t done so already, at this point, be sure to establish an official company name. It lets you operate the account in your company’s name rather than your own. The exception is if you’re a freelancer or your company has your personal name attached (i.e., Chris Muller’s Bakery.)

Check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office before filing your name. It has a searchable database of trademarked names, so you can find out if your preferred name is already taken. 

Visit your state office or county clerk once you select a company name. You’ll have to pay a small fee, usually around $100. If you want greater legal protection, you can apply for a trademark, which costs $275 to $375.

Find the right type of account

The first step in opening a business bank account is deciding what type of account you want or need. For starters, make sure you’re looking at a variety of factors when deciding on a particular account, including:

  • Fees.
  • Number and proximity of ATMs and branches.
  • Website quality.
  • Mobile app quality.
  • Bookkeeping integration.
  • Annual percentage yields.
  • Other financial products and services, such as credit cards and loans.

Now, here’s a quick overview of your banking options.

Free business bank account

Free accounts are an entry-level option that provides access to essential banking tools. Financial institutions typically do not charge a monthly maintenance fee, though the ones that do charge fees will often waive them if you maintain a set minimum balance each month.

A free business bank account is a great option for small companies, freelancers, and startups. Platforms like BlueVine let you make electronic deposits, transfer money, and write checks. BlueVine also doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement, so you can earn interest as soon as you make your initial deposit. They also have a 1.00% APY, so you can earn quite a bit of interest. 

Traditional small business bank account

A traditional small business bank account makes it easy to separate your work and personal finances. You can send or receive money, withdraw or deposit funds, and write checks. Most accounts come with low introductory fees and multiple branch locations.

Chase Business Complete BankingSM Account is the gold standard. It offers small companies the flexibility they need along with the resources they can only find at the largest bank in the U.S. 

Online business bank account

Online business bank accounts are ideal for any e-commerce organization. These platforms do not require physical overhead, which means the financial institution can pass savings on to customers through competitive APY and sign-up bonuses. Some online banks partner with ATM providers so that clients can deposit cash, if necessary.

Business savings account

If you run a company, you’ll want a business savings account. It lets your funds earn interest each month. The extra income provides some financial cushion in case of unexpected expenses. You can find many different types of business savings accounts, including high-yield savings, which is my most-recommended option.

Contact your chosen bank

Now you’ve reached the easy part. Most companies will let you open your business bank account online. Some require customers to go to a brick-and-mortar branch to get started. An in-person visit has some upsides, as you can get company debit cards immediately.

Open a merchant services account

You should open a merchant services account if you plan to accept credit or debit cards for payment for products or services. For instance, signing up with a credit card merchant lets your customers pay for your products and services with credit cards.

Be sure to do your due diligence before settling on a merchant. Some of the factors worth considering include minimum monthly fees, discount rates, and fraud detection services. Large banks, such as JPMorgan Chase, offer both business bank and merchant accounts, so you can get all the services you need under one roof.

Alternative payment processing services have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Companies like PayPal and Shopify help businesses accept payments online. You will also find point-of-sale merchants like Square, who let you complete in-person transactions. 

Deposit funds

The final step to open a business bank account is to deposit funds. Most banks let you deposit funds online, in-person, or via your mobile device. Even digital banks, like Novo, partner with ATM companies, so you can deposit funds physically.

Why is setting up a business bank account different from setting up a personal one?

How To Open A Business Bank Account - Why is opening a business bank account different from opening a personal one?

How To Open A Business Bank Account - Why is opening a business bank account different from opening a personal one?

A business bank account is used to manage and track revenue and expenses. It offers many of the same perks as traditional personal accounts, which may include complementary debit cards, fraud protection, and check handling.

Business bank accounts give companies an air of professionalism. Customers can make payments directly to a professional account with a business name instead of one in your name. Business bank accounts are appropriate for organizations of all sizes, including entrepreneurs and freelancers.

The process of opening a business bank account and personal account is similar, except with a business account, you also need your business registration information.

Are all business bank sign-up processes similar?

Sort of. While the process will feel the same, the exact documentation required may vary from bank to bank and even by account type. You can find this information on most bank business account information pages, or simply call and ask the bank you’re interested in.

Deposit minimums and fees may also vary between banks. Make sure you understand the financial requirements of the account you intend to open.


Multiple options are out there for you to consider regarding how to open a business bank account. You’ll want to keep your company’s type and needs at the forefront when looking at different providers. Make sure that your selected bank has the dynamic services and knowledgeable employees you need to advance your business.

Read more:

Source: moneyunder30.com