Young adults nationwide and beyond are headed off to campus for the start of a new school season. For many of these college-age students, this will be a time for financial independence, which means learning to budget and save as well as making smart choices when it comes to selecting credit cards and establishing checking accounts.
With so many options available, the decision can be daunting for a student, particularly if this is their first experience with establishing credit and creating a checking account on their own. That's why a recent study put forth by the personal finance site, WalletHub, is a useful resource for parents and students seeking 2017's best student credit cards and checking accounts.
By reviewing and assessing more than 1,750 accounts, WalletHub chose their top picks for credit card companies and banks to determine which were best suited for students to leave them with the least financial burden as they launch into adulthood.
When it comes to credit cards, WalletHub compared and contrasted fees, rewards, and interest rates of hundreds of cards. The top two were Journey Student Rewards from Capital One and BankAmericard Cash Rewards for Students. Capital One's card offers 1% cash back for all purchases and an additional .25% when bills are payed on time. Plus, there is no annual fee. BankAmericard was a favorite thanks to their $150 sign-up bonus, 3% cash back on gas, 2% on groceries, and 1% on all other purchases. This card has no annual fee as well. For more of WalletHub's top credit card selections, see the full report.
In the arena of checking, WalletHub dug deep into rates, fees, and other features and ultimately named Northpointe Bank UltimateAccount and Bank of Internet USA X Checking as the standouts. Northpointe has no monthly fee and offers $10 in ATM fees reimbursed monthly. Bank of Internet USA also has no monthly or overdraft fee and all U.S. ATM fees are fully reimbursed. Learn more about these checking accounts and some other recommended picks from WalletHub.
Along with their picks for the best cards and checking accounts, WalletHub offers important advice when it comes to picking the right credit card(s) and bank accounts as well as money-saving tips from a general perspective. From ruling out cards with annual fees to making a budget to taking advantage of on-campus financial resources, WalletHub gives a broad picture of what it takes to be financially sound as a student.
Parents can help their children become money-savvy as well, and starting early is imperative. Teaching teens about money management should be a parental duty. Here are 4 tips that parents can use to help their kids learn about money and how to save and spend wisely.
For those who are off to college… good luck! Use WalletHub's insight to help you become financially intelligent and keep on top of the rest of your studies too!
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.