Everyone knows it's important to build credit, but where do you start?
If you've never had a credit card before, the number of options can be intimidating. Luckily, there are plenty of cards designed specifically for first-timers. Some reasons you may want one of these cards are if you've never had a U.S. loan or credit card under your name, have had one for less than 3 years, or irresponsibly handled your credit in the past. While these cards function the same way as other credit cards (you borrow money from a financial institution to make purchases, then you pay off your debt after a specific period of time), there are a few things that set them apart:
- Low credit limits
- High interest rates
- Limited (if any) rewards
- Upfront fees or deposits
Essentially, these cards are designed to help you learn about credit, build credit, and prove your ability to pay back your credit card company. Here are a few of the best starter credit cards available.
This card offers a cash-back earning rate that's nearly 50% higher than the market average, though it does charge an annual fee, so it's best for people who intend to use it regularly.
- 1.5% cash back for all purchases
- $39 annual fee
- No fee for international use
- Available to people with limited/fair credit
We love this card because it doesn't charge any of the fees for first timers that so many credit cards do. Also, in the first six months of opening this card, you earn 3% cash back on up to $2,500 of gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases.
- APR: 12.65% - 22.65% variable
- Intro purchase APR 0% for first 6 months
- No annual fee
- Foreign transaction fee: 3%
- 1% cash rewards for each $1 spent on non-everyday purchases
- Must have a Wells Fargo bank account and be a student to apply
This is a great option if you're worried about not being approved for a credit card, because no credit check is required to get this card. All that's required is that you're at least 18 years old and can afford a $200+ security deposit, a $35 annual fee, and monthly bill payments.
- 3% foreign transaction fee
- $200 minimum security deposit
- $35 annual fee
- Average APR
This card is specifically designed for people with no credit or very little credit. It's a no frills option that's a very solid choice for building credit.
- No annual or monthly fees
- Potential for a higher limit after 5 months
- 0% introductory APRs
- No foreign transaction fees
This is another simple card great for building credit. Unfortunately, this card does require an initial $200 deposit upon opening.
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- Security deposit of at least $200
- Features a dollar-for-dollar match program for all cash back rewards
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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 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.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.