Free Money! The Best Way to Get Your Cash Back

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners once they become available here — Blue Cash Preferred from American Express ]

Free money is always useful, especially when it comes from your cash back credit cards. Although the U.S. government has reported the personal income rate to be increasing for many Americans, this winter might still get expensive, considering the holidays and heating bills. But before you cash in on your cash back to make ends meet, there are some questions you should be asking your card company to make sure you’re not losing any of your points. Sometimes, there are better ways to retrieve your bonus cash. You can usually reach a representative by calling the number on the back of your card, or on the card’s application website. Here are a few questions to ask.

Is There a Deadline to Get My Cash Back?

Some cards have a redeem-points-by-this-date-or-lose-your-money provision in their fine print, and it isn’t categorized by the bank. It’s categorized by the type of credit card you have. For example, an older card that was offered a few years ago, the Bank of America Visa Signature Rewards card, has points that expire in 5 years if they’re not cashed in, but the newer BankAmericard Cash Rewards cards have points that “never expire,” Bank of America spokeswoman Lucie Fernandez said. Other related questions to ask are if your points are ever in jeopardy of being lost, and how, and if there is a minimum number of points you need to start getting cash back.

Is there a Higher Cash Back Percentage After I Spend a Certain Amount?

Sometimes, your points will increase in value the more that you spend, so you might not want to cash them in too soon. For example, if you have a Bank of America Visa Signature Rewards card, you’ll want to get beyond 25,000 in points before cashing them in, because you’ll get $1 in cash back for every $100 spent. At the lower spending plateau —for less than 10,000 points — your cash back will only be worth 50-cents per $100 spent, Fernandez said.
(It may not sound like a lot of money, but if you throw all of your expenses on your credit card, every few years, you might get an extra $500 in cash back, depending on your spending habits.) But cards differ. Compare that to the newer BankAmericard Cash Rewards cards, which offers from 1-3% back immediately for anything you buy with the card. (The 3% is usually for gasoline purchases, and means $3 per $100 spent.)

Will I get more value by transferring my points to other things?

Some cards, such as the Bank of America Visa Signature Rewards card offer a 10% bonus if you deposit your cash rewards directly into your Bank of America checking account. And even if you have an airline miles card, and not a cash card, in some cases, it pays to ask. A Southwest Airlines Visa Plus card, for example, offers the option of converting your airline miles to gift cards, hotel stays and car rentals in addition to flights. (66,000 points, for example, are redeemable for 21 gift cards to Amazon, Macy’s, Lowe’s and other stores, each worth $25 each or $525 altogether, according to a Chase card representative. ) You can also transfer the miles to another rapid rewards account, so some family members might use flight miles as holiday gifts.

What are my most lucrative spending categories?

This answer can also usually be found on the card’s website, but you’ll need to know the exact name for your card, and not just the brand. Your bonus will vary per card. The Citi Double Cash Card, for example, offers 1% cash back on purchases, and another 1% when you pay for your purchases on your statement balance. The QuicksilverOne From Capital One offers 1.5% for every purchase, while other cash back credit cards run calendar-driven promotions for their cash back or points. If you have a Discover It card for example, in December you can get a generous 5% back on up to $1500 spent on Amazon, department stores, and Sam’s Club.
The Chase Freedom credit card’s 5% bonus category in December is for purchases at department stores, wholesale clubs and drug stores, and you can score an extra $150 after you spend $500 in your first three months. (source: https://creditcards.chase.com/credit-cards/chase-freedom) But both cards require you to activate them for each rewards category, and the rewards vary per calendar month or quarter.
Other cards, such as the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, offer cash back application incentives. If you apply for the Blue Cash card by January 11, for example, you’ll earn 10% on Amazon purchases in the first 6 months, up to $200, and if you spend $1,000 or more on anything within your first three months, you’ll earn another $150. Couple that with the whopping 6% you get back on grocery store purchases (including gift cards,) and this card can give you some serious rewards. Be aware, however: The cash is given to you as a statement credit and the annual fee for the card is $95. (Source: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/personal-card-application/blue-cash-preferred-credit-card/26129-10-0?intlink=us-CCSG-CardDetail-BCP-Apply-Mid)

What does the card offer beyond earn rates?

  “Earn rates are important, but in today’s marketplace that’s one of many considerations   When choosing a new credit card, it’s important to find one that helps you save time and money, and also helps you take control of your finances,” said Alli Sherman, spokeswoman for Capital One.

Even with lucrative cash back opportunities available, it’s also prudent not to overspend and to check the interest rates associated with each card. Revolving balances can accrue interest charges that gobble up the value of your rewards, and hurt your credit score, which will keep you from getting other lucrative offers, lower interest loans and mortgages. To keep an eye on how your spending is reflected in your credit history, you can see a free snapshot of your credit report, updated every two weeks, on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, Citi Double Cash Card, Discover It and QuicksilverOne From Capital One are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post Free Money! The Best Way to Get Your Cash Back appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Credit Cards for Flipping a House

Earn maximum profit and rewards when using the best credit cards for flipping a house!

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

When you flip houses for a living, cash flow and a consistent source of financing are very real concerns. You’ve got to buy your fixer-upper and pay for the cost of renovations, which may include materials, equipment and contractor bills. When you’re short on cash and have immediate renovation costs, credit cards can help you move your project forward.

Credit cards with 0% intro annual percentage rate (APR) offers can help you afford those expenses and give you time to pay them off interest-free. Here are four credit cards for house flippers.

1. Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

Rewards: None
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for qualifying purchase types, then variable 17.99% to 26.99%
Why We Picked It: If you make frequent trips to Home Depot, this card offers many financing opportunities.
For Your Flip: Home Depot purchases of $299 to $998 get six months of 0% APR. Purchases $999 to $1,998 get 18 months of 0% APR. Purchases of $1,999 or more receive 24 months of 0% APR. The home improvement retailer also offers 0% APR for periods ranging from 12 to 24 months on various purchase types including building materials and HVAC systems.
Drawbacks: If you don’t frequently shop at Home Depot, this card isn’t right for you.

2. Discover it

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter for rotating bonus categories, 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: Discover will match all cash back earned in the first year.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for six months on purchases and 18 months on balance transfers, then variable 11.99% to 23.99%
Why We Picked It: Cardholders earn cash back and get 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
For Your Flip: This card earns 5% cash back on bonus categories that rotate every quarter and 1% cash back on everything else. Discover will match all cash back you earn in the first year. You’ll also get 0% APR for six months on purchases and 18 months on balance transfers.
Drawbacks: The home improvement bonus category has already come and gone for 2017.

3. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Signup Bonus: $150 when you spend $500 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for 15 months, then variable 15.99% to 24.74%
Why We Picked It: The card offers a flat cash back rate and 15 months interest-free.
For Your Flip: All purchases earn unlimited1.5% cash back so you can save on all renovation expenses. Plus, you’ll get 15 months to pay off purchases and balance transfers without interest.
Drawbacks: There are better cash back rates available with other cards.

4. Citi Simplicity

Rewards: None
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for 21 months, then variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Why We Picked It: The length of the 0% intro APR period makes this card a strong contender. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
For Your Flip: Purchases and balance transfers alike are interest-free for 21 months. That’s a long time to pay off your flip.
Drawbacks: There are no cash back rewards with this card.

Choosing a Card to Help Flip Houses

Try choosing a card that fits your specific renovation needs. If you want to earn cash back as you purchase supplies and pay contractors, a card with a flat cash back rate may be a good fit. If you tend to spend in one place, a brand-specific card (like the one offered by Home Depot) may be a better choice.

If you intend to use a 0% intro APR offer to avoid interest on future purchases or a balance transfer, you’ll want to look carefully at the payback period. Make sure you can realistically pay off your balance transfer or renovation purchases before the offer expires. Otherwise, interest charges will hit your credit card statement like a ton of bricks.

What Credit Is Required for a House Flipper’s Credit Card?

Credit cards with cash back rewards or 0% intro APR offers generally require good to excellent credit. Before you apply, you’ll want to be fairly confident you can get approved. You can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com to learn where your credit currently stands.

Image: Highwaystarz-Photography

At publishing time, the Discover it, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Citi Simplicity credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post 4 Credit Cards for Flipping a House appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Credit Cards to Help Pay Off Your Vacation Spending

Credit cards with strong balance transfer offers can help.

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

Vacations are expensive affairs, with costs including lodging, transportation and car rentals adding up to a large bill. But they can get even more expensive while you’re traveling, because the vacation mindset can lead you to spend on excursions, fancy dinners and gifts for your loved ones back home.

If your recent vacation splurge left you with a spending hangover and a big credit card balance, you may be worried about all the interest you’ll accrue as you pay off your trip. Credit cards with strong balance transfer offers can help, providing a way to transfer your balance to a new card and pay off your balance interest-free.

To do this effectively, you’ll want to check your budget and see how long you think you’ll need and then compare different cards offerings to find the one that could benefit you the most. To help you get started, here are five credit cards that can help you pay off that vacation splurge.

1. Citi Simplicity

Rewards: None
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% intro APR for 21 months, then variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Why We Picked It: Citi is currently offering one of the longest 0% intro APR periods in the business. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
To Pay Off Your Vacation: With 21 months with no interest, you’ll have nearly two years to pay off your vacation. Plus, there are travel protections, including car rental insurance and emergency assistance, for the next time you take a trip.
Drawbacks: There are no rewards programs with this card, and you’ll pay a balance transfer fee.

2. Discover it Card

Rewards: 5% cash back on rotating purchase categories, 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: Discover will match all cash back you earn in the first year.
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the transfer amount
APR: 0% intro APR for 14 months, then variable 11.99% to 23.99%
Why We Picked It: You can pay off your vacation balance over time and earn cash back on purchases.
To Pay Off Your Vacation: You’ll get 14 months to pay off your vacation with no interest. You’ll earn 5% cash back on quarterly rotating spending categories and 1% cash back on everything else.
Drawbacks: If you don’t want to keep track of spending categories for cash back, this card requires too much effort.

3. Barclaycard Ring Mastercard

Rewards: None
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: $0
APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 13.99%
Why We Picked It: Balance transfers cost nothing with this card.
To Pay Off Your Vacation: Balance transfers get 15 months interest-free. You’ll also save on fees, as this card has no balance transfer fee.
Drawbacks: There is a profit-sharing feature called the Giveback program, but you have no control over it and there are no binding obligations for the card issuer.

4. BankAmericard Credit Card

Rewards: None
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: $0 for balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account. After that, the fee is $10 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater.
APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 12.99% to 22.99%
Why We Picked It: This card is another strong choice for avoiding balance transfer fees.
To Pay Off Your Vacation: If you transfer your vacation balance over in the first 60 days, you’ll avoid all transfer fees. After that, you have 15 months to pay off your trip with no interest.
Drawbacks: If you don’t transfer your balance in 60 days, you may end up with a higher balance transfer fee than some competing cards.

5. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Signup Bonus: $150 bonus cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $0
Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 5% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater
APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 15.74% to 24.49%
Why We Picked It: There’s a strong interest-free intro period and you’ll earn cash back on all purchases.
To Pay Off Your Vacation: You’ll get 15 months to pay off your vacation balance without interest. And, you’ll get 1.5% cash back to help you save for a future trip.
Drawbacks: Depending on your balance, the balance transfer fee may be higher than some other options.

Choosing a Card To Pay Off Your Vacation

With any balance transfer card, you’ll need to check the APR that activates after the 0% intro period. If it’s greater than the interest on your current credit card, you’ll have to be careful. If you don’t pay off your vacation before the intro period expires, a card with a higher APR will hit you with worse interest than you already have.

You’ll also want to evaluate the balance transfer fee. Some cards don’t have balance transfer fees, while others will charge a flat fee or a percentage of your transfer amount, whichever is greater. Depending on the cost of your trip, these fees can get expensive. If the card only offers free balance transfers for a short time frame, you’ll want to make sure to transfer your balance immediately.

Paying off your entire vacation within the intro period is what is likely to save you the most money, so you may want to calculate the monthly payment needed to do that. Using your card for everyday spending will add to your balance, so if your priority is to pay off your vacation, you’ll want to limit purchases on your card until the trip is fully paid off.

What Credit Is Required For a Card To Pay Off a Vacation?

Cards with strong balance transfer offers may require good to excellent credit. You should know your credit score before you apply to get an idea of if you’ll qualify. You can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com so you have a better idea and don’t get hit with that inquiry just to get denied.

Image: mapodile

At publishing time, the Citi Simplicity, Discover it, Barclaycard Ring Mastercard and Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post 5 Credit Cards to Help Pay Off Your Vacation Spending appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Credit Cards Bargain Hunters Will Love

These cards can help sweeten the deals you find even more.

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

There are so many ways to find great deals today. Deal websites will do the legwork for you, delivering deep discounts on a range of products right to your inbox. But old-school bargain hunters know the thrill of finding a great deal yourself isn’t easily replicated.

Certain credit cards can help sweeten a deal or even guide savvy sales seekers in the right direction. Here are five.

1. Discover it

Rewards: 5% cash back on quarterly rotating purchase categories (on up to $1,500 per quarter), 1% cash back on all other purchases
Signup Bonus: Discover will match all cash back earned in the first year
Annual Fee: None
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Intro 0% APR for 14 months, then variable 11.99% to 23.99%
Why We Picked It: Quarterly rotating purchase categories will continuously give you new types of deals to hunt down.
Benefits: The card earns 5% on purchase categories like gas stations, dining and wholesale clubs that change every quarter. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. Plus, Discover will match your cash back the first year, so the bargains you find will be even more valuable. Price protection guarantees the lowest price, with Discover reimbursing you if you find a lower price on a purchase within 90 days.
Drawbacks: You have no control over which categories earn 5% cash back.

2. Chase Freedom

Rewards: 5% cash back on quarterly rotating purchase categories (on up to $1,500 per quarter), 1% cash back on all other purchases
Signup Bonus: $150 bonus cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 15.74% to 24.49%
Why We Picked It: Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on rotating purchase categories, offering an extra incentive for hunting down certain deals.
Benefits: Quarterly rotating purchase types like gas, groceries and drug store purchases earn 5% cash back. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. Chase will refund you the difference if you find a purchase listed for a cheaper price within 90 days.
Drawbacks: If you’re not interested in the 5% cash back category for a quarter, you’ll have to wait it out.

3. PayPal Extras MasterCard

Rewards: Three points for every dollar spent on gas and dining, two points for every dollar spent with eBay and PayPal, one point for every dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 20.74% or 24.74%
Why We Picked It: Those that love the thrill of the auction can earn points as they hunt for eBay bargains.
Benefits: Dining and gas purchases earn three points per dollar, eBay and PayPal purchases earn two points per dollar and every other purchase earns one point per dollar. Points can be redeemed for gift cards, cash back in your PayPal account and more.
Drawbacks: The APR is high right off the bat.

4. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Rewards: 5% back on Amazon purchases with a Prime member (3% without Prime), 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, 1% back on everything else
Signup Bonus: $70 Amazon gift card upon approval
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 14.99% to 22.99%
Why We Picked It: Amazon is the definitive online retailer, and Amazon bargain hunters will get extra 5% cash back with a Prime membership.
Benefits: The percentages you earn back on purchases can be redeemed for Amazon orders, cash back and more. With 5% back at Amazon, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores and 1% back on everything else, you’ll be saving on a wide range of purchase types. For the frequent online shopper, this card could be valuable.
Drawbacks: You’ll have to pay for a Prime membership to get the most value out of this card.

5. Blue Cash Preferred Card From American Express

Rewards: 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in spending at supermarkets, 3% cash back at gas stations and select department stores, 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: $250 bonus cash back when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $95
APR: 0% intro APR for 12 months, then variable 13.99% to 24.99%
Why We Picked It: If you scour the supermarket aisles for sales and scan gas station signs for the lowest price, this card is for you.
Benefits: With 6% cash back at supermarkets, 3% cash back at gas stations and certain department stores and 1% cash back on everything else, you’ll always have a way to supercharge a bargain.
Drawbacks: There’s a $95 annual fee.

How to Choose a Card for Bargain Hunting

To choose a card that helps you find and extend bargains, examine the types of deals on which you’re most focused.

If an incentive will motivate you to find a bargain on any purchase type, you might be better off with rotating purchase categories. If you frequently hunt down bargains of the same variety, like gas or online purchases, try to find a card that rewards those purchase types most.

A credit card that provides bargains on purchases you don’t make won’t do you any good. Choose the card that rewards the deals you love to find.

What Is Required to Get a Card for Bargains?

Cards that bestow rewards upon deal lovers may require good to excellent credit. As a savvy shopper, you should know where your credit stands before you apply. A hard inquiry from a credit card application can cause your credit score to dip a few points. If you aren’t sure about your credit, you can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: DragonImages

At publishing time, the Discover it, Chase Freedom and Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post 5 Credit Cards Bargain Hunters Will Love appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Credit Cards With Great Security Features

These credit cards help protect you from identity theft and fraud.

[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Discover it, Blue Cash Everyday from American Express and Citi ThankYou Preferred. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

Thieves lurk in the physical and virtual world, looking for ways to access your credit card number or commit identity theft. Whether you shop online or in brick-and-mortar stores, it’s wise to take steps to protect yourself against fraud.

Credit card companies have many tools to help combat credit card fraud, and sometimes offer additional security features to protect against identity theft.

Here are four credit cards with great security features.

1. Discover it

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in quarterly rotating categories like gas stations or restaurants, 1% cash back on everything else

Signup Bonus: Discover will match the cash back you earn in the first year.

Annual Fee: None

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0%  intro rate for 14 months, then variable 11.74% to 23.74%

Why We Picked It: Discover’s Freeze it feature gives you peace of mind if you’ve lost track of your card.

Security Features: With Freeze it, cardholders can freeze their card within seconds using Discover’s website or mobile app. This way, if you can’t locate your card, you can freeze it and look around before reporting it lost or stolen. If your card is misplaced, Discover offers free overnight card replacement. Cardholders also won’t be held liable for any unauthorized purchases.

Drawbacks: To maximize cash back, you’ll have to do the work of activating and tracking rotating purchase categories.

2. Blue Cash Everyday from American Express

Rewards: 3% cash back on up to $6,000 spent at supermarkets, 2% cash back at gas stations and select department stores, 1% cash back on everything else

Signup Bonus: $100 statement credit after spending $1,000 in the first three months of card membership

Annual Fee: None

APR: 0% intro rate for 12 months, then variable 13.99% to 24.99%

Why We Picked It: Cardholders can control available spending for authorized users.

Security Features: If you have multiple cards for authorized users on your account, you can set a spending limit for each card’s billing period. That way, your authorized user (or a conniving friend) can’t rack up a huge balance. American Express won’t hold you accountable for any unauthorized charges.

Drawbacks: If you don’t spend a lot at supermarkets or gas stations, you may want to look for another cash back card.

3. Citi ThankYou Preferred

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment, one point per dollar spent on everything else

Signup Bonus: 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months

Annual Fee: None

APR: 0% intro rate for 12 months, then variable 14.49% to 24.49%

Why We Picked It: Citi has an impressive range of security features that help you fight fraud and identity theft. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Security Features: If your credit card is lost or stolen, Citi will send you a new card for free and provide an emergency cash advance. To protect you online, Citi can issue temporary credit card numbers for secure online purchases. Finally, if you become the victim of identity theft, a Citi specialist will help you contact TransUnion to put a fraud alert on your credit reports and help you complete a police report. Cardholders aren’t held liable for any unauthorized purchase.

Drawbacks: If you use your credit card for “meat and potatoes” spending and rarely use it on a night out, this card won’t deliver as much value.

4. Bank Americard Credit Card

Rewards: None

Signup Bonus: None

Annual Fee: None

APR: 0% intro rate for 15 months, then variable 12.74% to 22.74%

Why We Picked It: Online shopping is safer with Bank of America’s ShopSafe service.

Security Features: With ShopSafe, you can receive temporary credit card numbers to safely shop online. If abnormal spending patterns are detected, Bank of America will block the card’s use and contact you to discuss potential fraudulent activity. You’ll never be held accountable for unauthorized transactions.

Drawbacks: This is a very basic card without any rewards to speak of.

Choosing a Card With Strong Security Features

Federal law states that you can’t be held accountable for more than $50 in unauthorized purchases if your card is stolen. But cardholders concerned with security should look for card issuers that offer zero liability for unauthorized charges.

To further protect yourself, consider cards that go above and beyond in the realm of security and protect you in areas where you may be particularly vulnerable.

If you frequently shop online, you may want a card that offers temporary credit card numbers for limited time use, which stops digital thieves from gaining access to your real card number. If you tend to misplace things and you’re scared of losing your card, you may want a card that lets you easily freeze all activity.

Of course, if your only credit card requirement is security, you should pick a card with the most enhanced protections. But if you also want a card that rewards spending with points or cash back, you’ll want to consider your spending habits and how a card can reward your purchasing behavior.

What Is Required to Get a Card With Security Protections?

Any legitimate credit card should have some security features. Cards with strong security could be available for consumers with credit ranging from poor to excellent. No matter what card you choose, you should know your credit score ahead of time to gauge your chances of approval. Before you apply, you can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Discover it, Blue Cash Everyday from American Express and Citi ThankYou Preferred credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: kali9

The post 4 Credit Cards With Great Security Features appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Credit Cards to Help Fund Your Summer Renovations

Big home projects come with a lot of upfront expense, but the right credit card can help you finance the work.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

Home renovations and updates come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they have in common is a lot of upfront expense. Whether you’re landscaping your yard, replacing your hot water heater or remodeling your kitchen this summer, you may need help financing your project.

The right credit card can help you do that. With that in mind, here are five card options worth considering.

1. Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

The Draw: Discounts and special interest-free financing offers

Signup Bonus: None

Annual Fee: None

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% intro APR for qualifying purchase types, then variable 17.99% to 26.99%

Why We Picked It: Home Depot’s credit card can help you fund your project and give you time to pay it off interest-free.

Benefits: For Home Depot purchases of $299 and up, you’ll get six months with no interest. Home Depot also regularly offers promotions of up to 24 months with no interest for various project types, such as garages or water treatment purchases. There are special discounts available for certain products as well. Finally, cardholders get a year of hassle free returns, nine months longer than Home Depot’s standard return policy.

Drawbacks: The card is tied to Home Depot, so if you want to purchase your project materials elsewhere, keep looking.

2. Lowe’s Consumer Credit Card

The Draw: 5% off Lowe’s purchases, 0% intro APR for qualifying purchase types

Signup Bonus: None

Annual Fee: None

APR: 0% intro APR for qualifying purchase types, then 26.99%

Why We Picked It: Lowe’s customers get a 5% discount and long intro periods to pay off their purchases without interest.

Benefits: Purchases of $299 and up qualify for six months interest-free if they’re paid off in that time period. Lowe’s also offers 10% discounts and 24 months interest-free on specific purchase types like patio furniture and grills. Cardholders get 5% off all eligible purchases, but that discount can’t be combined with most other offers.

Drawbacks: Once the interest kicks in, it’s quite high. Those who don’t shop at Lowe’s will see no benefit from this card.

3. Discover it

The Draw: 5% cash back on quarterly rotating purchase categories, 1% cash back on all other purchases

Signup Bonus: Discover will match all cash back earned in the first year.

Annual Fee: None

APR: 0% intro APR for 14 months, then variable 11.74% to 23.74%

Why We Picked It: If you move fast, you can earn 5% cash back on your home improvement purchases.

Benefits: The card earns 5% cash back on rotating purchase categories on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter. Right now, the bonus category includes home improvement stores, but you’ll have to act quickly because the category will roll over in July. The card also offers 0% intro APR for 14 months, a long time to pay off your project. Plus, as we mentioned, Discover will match your earned cash back for the first year.

Drawbacks: If you don’t want to track rotating purchase categories, this card will be a headache. You also need to move quick to take advantage of 5% cash back on home improvement store purchases.

4. Citi Double Cash

The Draw: 1% unlimited cash back on purchases and an additional 1% as you pay off those purchases

Signup Bonus: None

Annual Fee: None

APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 14.24% to 24.24%.

Why We Picked It: The card earns 1% cash back on your renovation expenses, then gives you an extra 1% incentive to pay your balance down quickly. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Benefits: By the time you’ve paid off a purchase, it’s earned you a total of 2% cash back, significant for an expensive home renovation project. Plus, Citi Price Rewind automatically searches for a lower price on items you register, and will issue a reimbursement if a lower price is found within 60 days of the date of purchase.

Drawbacks: Because you don’t get a full 2% cash back rate until you pay, this card isn’t a good fit for those that tend to carry a balance.

5. Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Draw: Unlimited 1.5% cash back

Signup Bonus: $150 when you spend $500 in the first three months

Annual Fee: None

APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 15.74% to 24.49%

Why We Picked It: The card earns an automatic 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and has a lengthy 0% intro APR period.

Benefits: All purchases earn 1.5% cash back, with no purchase categories to track or hoops to jump through. Cardholders also won’t incur interest for 15 months, a substantial time frame to pay off your project.

Drawbacks: This isn’t the highest cash-back rate available.

How to Choose a Credit Card for Your Home Project

The type of renovations you’re doing could determine the right card for your project. For instance, if you’re installing a shed in your backyard, and Home Depot is offering a deep discount on sheds, that might be enough of a draw to choose that card.

However, if your project requires many different purchase types spread across multiple stores, or if you also want a card that you can use for everyday spending, you’re likely better off with a general spending card with cash back rewards.

If you’re looking to take advantage of a 0% intro APR offer, you’ll want to estimate the cost of your project and find a card with a payback period long enough for you to pay off the project in full. Otherwise, you’ll wind up getting hit with interest once the intro period expires.

What Is Required to Get a Card for My Home Project?

Cash-back rewards cards generally require good to excellent credit to qualify, while store branded credit cards may have looser requirements. No matter what card you wind up choosing, you’ll want to be confident you can qualify before you apply. You can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com to get an idea of where your credit stands and which cards you may be eligible for. Need to improve your scores? You can read more about how to do so here.

Image: shironosov

At publishing time, the Discover it, Citi Double Cash and Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post 5 Credit Cards to Help Fund Your Summer Renovations appeared first on Credit.com.

These Balance Transfer Credit Cards Can Help You Pay Down Debt

When considering a balance transfer card, be sure to check the introductory APR and any transfer fees.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

If you’re trying to pay down a large credit card balance and you feel like you’re getting nowhere, one potential solution is to move your debts to a balance transfer card. Balance transfer cards often offer introductory periods of 0% interest, giving you time to pay down your balance without accruing additional debt.

If you’re looking for a balance transfer credit card, you should be examining the introductory period, transfer fees and any additional benefits the cards provide to help you decide which one is right for you. To help you get started, check out these cards, which all offer solid intro periods for you to pay down your balances interest-free. (Paying your debt down means you’ll be on the path to improving your credit utilization and, in turn, your credit scores. You can see two of your scores free on Credit.com.)

Chase Slate

Balance Transfer Fee: $0 for 60 days, then $5 or 5% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 15.74% to 24.49%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: This card has a lengthy 0% intro period and cardholders can avoid balance transfer fees for 60 days.

Benefits: Fifteen months is a solid intro period, and you can save further by completing your balance transfers within 60 days to avoid transfer fees. There’s also no penalty APR if you make a late payment.

Drawbacks: After the initial 60-day window, balance transfers incur a $5 or 5% transfer fee, which is higher than many competing cards.

Citi Simplicity

Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater

APR: 0% intro APR for 21 months, then variable 14.24% to 24.24%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: Citi’s 21 months of interest-free financing is impressive. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Benefits: With 21 months interest free, Citi Simplicity sets the bar high for balance transfer cards. That’s almost two years to pay down your balance. There are no late fees or penalty APRs.

Drawbacks: There are no rewards policies.

Alliant Visa Platinum Rewards Card

Balance Transfer Fee: None

APR: 0% to 5.99% intro APR for 12 months, then variable 13.99% to 23.99%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: Alliant Credit Union’s rewards card offers no balance transfer fees and a year with no interest. Plus, cardholders earn rewards points for valuable redemptions.

Benefits: Qualifying cardholders get a year of 0% APR and no balance transfer fees. They’ll also earn two points for every dollar spent in purchases and 5,000 bonus points when spending $500 in the first three months. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, cash back and more.

Drawbacks: You’ll have to be an Alliant Credit Union member to access this card, although a simple $10 donation to Foster Care to Success can make you eligible. Beyond that, you need the right credit to qualify for the 0% intro APR offer. If you don’t, Alliant may impose an intro APR up to 5.99%.

Discover it

Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the transfer amount

APR: 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers (6 months on purchases), then variable 11.74% to 23.74%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: Discover it offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transers and earns cash back with a nice bonus the first year.

Benefits: Eighteen interest-free months is a solid time frame to catch up on debt. Cardholders also earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases for quarterly rotating spending categories such as gas, dining and home improvement. All other purchases get unlimited 1% cash back. Discover matches all earned cash back for the first year of the card.

Drawbacks: Earning cash back requires spending on the card, which may be counterproductive if you’re trying to pay down debt.

Barclaycard Ring MasterCard

Balance Transfer Fee: $0

APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then variable 13.74%

Annual Fee: None

Why We Picked It: This card has 15 months with no interest, no balance transfer fees and a decent APR once interest kicks in.

Benefits: For 15 months, cardholders can pay down their balances with no interest. They’ll also pay nothing for balance transfer fees. Once the interest kicks in, it’s a decent rate.

Drawbacks: The card’s Giveback rewards program is a profit-sharing feature that offers cardholders little control.

Choosing & Using a Balance Transfer Card

Assuming you intend to use your balance transfer card to pay down large balances, there are some things you should know about selecting and using these cards.

Before you apply for any card, you’ll want to check the APR that kicks in after the 0% intro period. If it’s higher than the APR on your current cards, think twice about applying. If you don’t manage to pay off your balance transfers before the intro period runs out, a card with a higher APR will slap you with a worse interest rate than you currently have.

The balance transfer fee also requires close attention. Some balance transfer cards won’t charge a fee on transfers, while others will charge $5 or 3% to 5% of the transfer amount. Depending on your current balances, this could wind up costing hundreds of dollars.

When you open a card, transferring your balances immediately will pay off. That’s because you’ll get the full intro period to pay down your balance interest-free. Also, if your card only offers free balance transfers for a limited time, you’ll want to take advantage while you can.

Finally, you’ll want to use the card in the most fiscally responsible way. Paying off your entire balance within the intro period will save you the most money, so you may want to figure out the minimum monthly payment required to accomplish that. Using the card for everyday spending will add to that balance, and if your focus is reducing debt, you’ll probably want to limit or completely avoid using the card for purchases until the balance reaches zero.

Image: Geber86

At publishing time, the Chase Slate, Citi Simplicity, Discover it and Barclaycard Ring MasterCard credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

The post These Balance Transfer Credit Cards Can Help You Pay Down Debt appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Credit Cards That’ll Cut You Some Slack

Some credit cards won't penalize you for every mistake you make (though it's still best to use your plastic wisely).

[Full Disclosure: Cards for our partners are mentioned below.]

Mismanaging your credit cards can really cost you. Go over your credit limit and you’ll get hit with a fee. Need to transfer a high-interest balance? You’ll pay a fee. Miss a payment? Incur a fee — and a penalty annual percentage rate (APR).

Some credit cards, however, will give you a pass from time to time — at least as far as fees and those pesky penalty APRs are concerned. Credit scoring consequences will still apply, which is why you’ll want to do your very best not to get into trouble. (You can see how your card use is affecting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.) Still, it’s nice to know that not every mistake will cost you. Credit card late fees, after all, can run you $25 to $37 and penalty APRs are no joke — industry standard is around a variable 29.99%.

Expert Intel: Some issuers will forgo reporting a first missed payment to the credit bureaus, too, if you call them up and plead your case. (Accidents happen, you know?) Habitual offenders, however, shouldn’t expect their issuer to acquiesce.

With that in mind, here are four credit cards that’ll cut you some slack.

1. PenFed Promise Visa Card

Why We’re Mentioning it: Because when it comes to fee-free credit cards, the PenFed Promise Visa is king. There’s no annual fee, no late fees, no balance transfer fees, no over-the-limit fees, no cash advance fees and no foreign transaction fees. Plus, there’s no penalty APR. All that and you can earn a $100 statement credit if you spend $1,500 in your first 90 days. One note: PenFed is a credit union open primarily to military members and their families, though there are other ways to qualify for membership. See its website for full details.

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 9.24% to 17.99%, depending on your credit

2. Discover it — Cashback Match

Why We’re Mentioning it: On top of being a solid rewards credit card, the Discover it completely forgoes over-the-limit fees, and a late payment won’t incur a penalty APR. You’ll also get a free pass the first time you miss a payment. (Remember, though, you’ll want to avoid skipping a due date at all costs, as doing so can seriously muck up your credit.) You won’t have to pay an annual fee either. As for the rewards, Discover it cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in revolving quarterly bonus categories, plus 1% cash back everywhere else. They’ll also get a dollar-for-dollar match on all the cash back they earn in their first year at the end of it (hence the name.)

Annual: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 13.74% to 23.74% depending on your credit, after 14-month 0% introductory APR expires

3. Citi Simplicity

Why We’re Mentioning it: The Citi Simplicity’s big selling point is its balance transfer offer: Cardholders get a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for a whopping 21 months (after that, it’s a variable14.24% to 24.24%, depending on creditworthiness). On top of that, the card’s also relatively cheap to carry. It skips late fees and forgoes a penalty APR. Plus, there’s no annual fee to start with. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 14.24% to 24.24%, depending on your credit, after a 21-month introductory APR expires.

4. Chase Slate

Why We’re Mentioning it: The Chase Slate also forgoes a penalty APR, and it also sweetens its 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (variable 15.74% to 24.49%, after that) by waiving the balance transfer fee during the first 60 days after account opening. (After those 60 days, the balance transfer fee will run you 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum fee of $5.) And, like all of the other cards on our list, there’s no annual fee.

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase APR: Variable 15.74% to 24.49%

At publishing time, the the PenFed Promise Visa, Discover it — Cashback Match, Citi Simplicity and Chase Slate credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: courtneyk

The post 4 Credit Cards That’ll Cut You Some Slack appeared first on Credit.com.

Discover It Balance Transfer Review

Balance Transfer Review

Updated March 1, 2017

Credit card debt is a burden weighing down the budgets of many Americans. If you’re motivated to unlock the shackles of consumer debt, then a balance transfer may be right for you. But finding the right one can be overwhelming. “Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer” is an excellent option for people with debt. You will have an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee.

Key Credit Card Features

For people with credit card debt, the most important feature is the generous balance transfer offer. If you transfer debt from any other credit card company, you will pay a one-time fee of 3% of the amount transferred. But you will then pay no interest for 18 months. You could save hundreds of dollars (and potentially more) during the interest-free period. Just make sure you get your transfer completed as soon as the account is opened and that you make your monthly payments on time. 0% for 18 months is one of the best balance transfer credit cards on the market today.

In addition to charging no interest on balance transfers for 18 months, the card charges 0% interest on purchases during the first six months. You will be able to earn cash back on your purchases as well. However, we strongly recommend using a balance transfer credit cards only for balance transfers so that you can get out of debt faster.

Do You Need a Balance Transfer?

Most people who are paying down credit card are subjected to interest rates north of 15%. Reducing interest rates on debt with a balance transfer can slash both the time and money it takes to pay it all down.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, a balance transfer isn’t right for everyone.

[Find out how much you’ll pay in interest on credit card debt here.]

How Do You Qualify For a Balance Transfer?

Banks will only offer balance transfers to people with good credit. Typically, the ideal candidate will have:

  • Customers with a good credit score. Your score does not have to be perfect, but your chances are much better if your score is above 680.
  • Your debt burden will be considered, and the lower the better. In our experience, it becomes difficult to be approved if your debt burden starts to go above 40%.
  • Very few, if any, accounts that are currently delinquent

Note: Your debt burden is calculated by adding up your monthly fixed expenses and dividing that by your monthly income. The expenses should include your monthly rent or mortgage payment, auto payment, student loan payments and the monthly payment on any other credit cards or loans that appear on your credit bureau. If your total payments are more than 50%, you will likely be declined.

Also take into consideration why you’re in debt. Don’t get another credit card if you’re swipe happy and won’t be able to help but spend on the new credit card. A balance transfer credit card needs to go right into the metaphorical (or literal) freezer.

Is Discover It the Balance Transfer Right for You?

promo-balancetransfer-halfThe Discover It balance transfer is only right for you if your credit card debt is with another bank. You cannot do a balance transfer from one card to another within the same bank.

Discover It currently offers an introductory 0% APR balance transfer for 18 months. There is a 3% fee associated with this balance transfer, but the fee often pays for itself — depending on your balance.

If you were approved for a balance transfer of $5,000, a 3% fee would equal $150. That shouldn’t sound like a lot, because leaving $5,000 at a 17% interest rate (with a payment of $250 a month), you’d pay the bank $153.16 of interest in just four months.

The Discover It balance transfer would save you $741, including interest and fees.

Should the Discover It be Your First Balance Transfer Card?

While Discover It does offer a competitive balance transfer, there are other option out there.

With Chase Slate®, you can save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

Citi Simplicity offers 0% with a 3% fee for 21 months, which also tops this Discover deal.

The higher the debt, the more attractive Discover’s balance transfer offer becomes.

Fine Print Alert: What to Watch Out For 

If you do complete a balance transfer with Discover, make sure that you:

  1. Complete your balance transfer as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you can lose the offer.
  2. Continue to pay on your old credit card until you see that the balance transfer has been completed. It can take two to three weeks for the balance transfer to complete, and you don’t want to be hit with late fees on your old credit card while waiting for the transfer.
  3. You can only move debt to Discover from another bank. You cannot transfer debt between two credit cards with Discover.
  4. Make your payments on time, every month. They charge a late fee of up to $37, and a returned payment fee of up to $37. Discover does state they waive your first late payment fee on the Discover It card, but that isn’t a benefit you should plan on using.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer with Discover

We’ve created an entirely separate post featuring screenshots and explanations on how to complete a balance transfer with Discover. You can find it here.

If you run into road blocks or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email (info@magnifymoney.com) or on Twitter @Magnify_Money.

The post Discover It Balance Transfer Review appeared first on MagnifyMoney.