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Has anyone else noticed how it seems like after we graduate from college we're expected to know how to do and understand all things financial? From balancing a checkbook, to budgeting, to maintaining credit cards (all while paying off student loans!). After years of fumbling my way through and googling the money terms, I've finally begun to get a grasp on credit cards and the benefit of them in building credit.

Below, I've listed the 5 top credit cards I feel are an excellent start for beginners, and if you already have a few in your name, this list may help you better understand the key factors when shopping for a new card.


Bank of America's Best Newbie Card

  1. BankAmericard Credit Card- This is an excellent choice for a newbie. It's a simple card with straightforward benefits as it has a 0% intro APR for 15 months, no annual fee, low intro balance transfer fees and has one of the lowest interest rates on the market.

Chase's Best Newbie Card

  1. Chase Slate- This is Chase's version of a simple card. Just like the BankAmericard, it has a 0% intro APR for 15 months, no annual fee and no balance transfer fee.

Longest 0% Intro APR

  1. Citi Simplicity Card- This card is good if you've been known to be late on payments because there are no late fees or penalty rates ever. This card has the longest intro APR at 0% interest for 21 months and has no annual fee.

First Card for the International Traveler

  1. Wells Fargo Platinum Visa- This card is a great one for the young traveler because it has benefits like travel and emergency assistance, emergency card replacement, zero fraud liability, and cell phone protection. In addition to this protection, this card offers a 0% intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers and no annual fee.

Best Introduction-to-Rewards Card

  1. BankAmericard Cash Rewards- This is an excellent choice if you're looking for a card with rewards and want to familiarize yourself with the reward process. This card earns 1% cash back on every purchase as well as other cash back offers. It has a sign-up bonus of $150 when you spend $500 in the first 90 days, 0% intro APR for the first 12 months, and no annual fee.

Once you get a hang of the process: swiping, receiving your monthly statement, and paying each month, you'll start to understand the system and hopefully see your credit score increase. And you may find yourself shopping around for credit cards with more perks, points, and travel rewards in no time!

Talk to your financial adviser or banker for more info.

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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

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