You may dream of owning your home or place of business, but renting is more affordable. Plenty of other people are in the same position, so this is a booming business. Part of a landlord’s responsibilities is creating a usable space for all tenants, which means complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The ADA became law in 1990 to protect both tenants and renters in cases that could involve disability discrimination. Before you sign your next lease for your home or business, check out what every tenant should know about ADA compliance. Renters are responsible for more than you might think, so it’s essential to fully understand what you’re walking into.
1. Both parties are responsible
People with disabilities are protected by the ADA, specifically when it comes to Title III. This requires landlords to make rental spaces accessible for anyone with a disability so they can access the property equally. They must modify their properties to meet current ADA regulations, which was last updated in 2010.
In the case of renting a commercial or residential unit, both parties are responsible for ensuring they meet ADA requirements. Before signing on the dotted line, discuss any needed additions or renovations and who’s responsible for paying for them. It’s supposed to be a team effort, which can result in liability exposure for the landlord if they don’t comply.
2. Auxiliary aids are included
Hearing and vision impairments sometimes get overlooked during building construction, but they’re part of Title III. Depending on the agreement with your landlord, they may cover most or half of the bill for aids like notetakers, Braille additions or signs in larger print.
3. Accessibility modifications may count
Your landlord may try to fight against paying for accessibility modifications if they want to cut corners. Still, they must pay the full bill if the changes count as reasonable modifications, like installing a ramp to get into the unit. Vertical lifts and elevators may also join the accessibility options list, depending on the renter’s disability.
Reasonable modifications are mostly defined by how inexpensive and quick the projects are, but the landlord should pay the total bill if they haven’t provided an accessible property.
4. Both parties designate responsibility
Most commercial leases leave room for tenants and landlords to allocate responsibility before they become official. Depending on the tenant’s financial capabilities, the two parties will decide what they’ll pay for regarding unmet ADA compliance. The finer details, if any, will vary depending on the lease.
Even after both parties agree on their responsibilities, tenants may have to go a step further. Read through your lease to see if there’s language indicating you need to provide your landlord with a lawyer if they’re the subject of an ADA lawsuit. They’ll still legally have to meet their agreed-upon responsibilities, but tenants could have to pay for their legal representation if it’s outlined in the lease.
5. Landlords deal with common areas
Even though your rental space may be ADA compliant, the areas surrounding it could be challenging to access. Because spaces like sidewalks and parking lots aren’t included in your lease, landlords are responsible for them.
If you have any issues accessing your rental unit because these areas don’t have the disability modifications you need, your landlord should fix them at no cost to you.
6. Injunctive relief is common
Some renters may seek financial compensation for their time or efforts in dealing with inaccessible spaces, but most of the time, that’s not possible. The majority of states won’t allow plaintiffs to receive monetary damages or compensation under Title III. Still, you may be responsible for attorney fees and costs after the case gets settled in court. The majority of cases end with injunctive relief, where one or both parties work to solve the issues at hand.
The only time plaintiffs might get damages at the end of a case is if the U.S. Attorney General files an action based on a pattern of discrimination on the part of the landlord. The fines then may include financial compensation or back pay as needed.
Get everything in writing
Both tenants and landlords should get everything in writing as they work to come to an agreement about who’s responsible for which ADA compliance issues. If something goes wrong in the future and one party files a complaint in court, documented terms and signed paperwork will help sort through the problem and come to the best solution for everyone.
The post ADA Compliance: What Renters Need to Know appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
Interest rates have generally remained stable because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but if they start moving up again, your credit card rate could rise as well.
If you do some digging, however, you might be able to find a credit card with a rate that’s locked in place – and many of these fixed-rate cards carry interest rates that are much lower than the national average, which is 16.15%, as of April 21, 2021.
“Our goal is to look out for our membership” by offering several fixed-rate, low-interest credit cards, said George De Leon, lending manager at Border Federal Credit Union in Del Rio, Texas.
“We want to be upfront with our members” when it comes to their card’s interest rate, De Leon added. With variable-rate cards, “you really don’t know where you’ll end up.”
What is a fixed-rate card?
With a fixed-rate credit card, your rate will typically remain the same for as long as you have the card.
And you might even be able to score a low introductory rate for a few months, however, before the rate rises.
For example, at Border Federal Credit Union, a Visa Platinum card has an introductory rate of 5% for six months and then jumps to a fixed rate of 9%. A Visa Gold card has a six-month introductory rate of 6%, then increases to a fixed rate of 11%.
Like other credit unions, Border is a nonprofit, “we are able to offer a little bit better rates,” De Leon explained.
“With a fixed-rate card, you know what your rate is expected to be and can budget and plan for that,” said Melinda Opperman, president of the nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency Credit.org.
“If you’re making a big purchase and won’t pay off the balance right away, knowing the rate lets you calculate exactly how much the purchase will cost with interest.”
If your financial institution decides to change the rate on your card, it has to give you 45 days’ written notice, Opperman said.
Your existing balances will remain at the original fixed rate. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the higher rate will apply only to transactions that occurred more than 14 days after the notice was provided.
Note that your rate also can increase if you’re more than 60 days late making your payment, said Jeff Arevalo, a financial wellness expert with GreenPath Financial Wellness.
Variable-rate cards are common
The vast majority of credit cards carry a variable interest rate.
With variable-rate cards, “the interest rate is tied to the prime rate. That can cause some variations” in the rates you pay, Arevalo said.
But “interest rates have been stable lately,” Arevalo added.
Rates are typically tied to the prime rate, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The prime rate is linked to the federal funds rate set by the Federal Reserve.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, the prime rate has remained at 3.25%, compared to 4.25% prior to the pandemic. For half of 2018 and much of 2019, the prime rate was above 5%, according to JPMorgan Chase.
The federal funds rate is currently 0% to 0.25% and is the interest rate at which banks and other depository institutions lend money to one another.
If those rates increase, your credit card rates could rise, too.
A variable-rate card “can be very enticing at the beginning, then can change,” De Leon said.
Some variable-rate credit cards, such as the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, the Discover it® Cash Back card, are currently offering a 0% introductory interest rate for either balance transfers or purchases or both for more than a year. Then the interest jumps.
The Discover it Cash Back card has a variable rate of 11.99% to 22.99%, while the Citi Diamond Preferred Card has a variable rate of 14.74% to 24.74%.
The rate you pay will depend on your credit score and credit history.
Do some digging
Fixed-rate cards aren’t easy to find, so it’s best to check with your local credit union or community bank.
You also need to check to see if the card that interests you carries annual fees or other fees, which can drive up its costs.
Tropical Financial Credit Union in Pembroke Pines, Florida, for example, has several Mastercard credit cards, with fixed rates starting as low as 8.99%.
Goldenwest Credit Union, based in South Ogden, Utah, has a fixed rate card with rates starting at 9.75%. Based in Hiawatha, Iowa, First Federal Credit Union has a fixed-rate card with a rate as low as 6.99%.
Credit unions often have strict membership rules, such as requiring members to live in a certain location or work for a certain business, so if you find a fixed-rate credit card you like, make sure you qualify for membership at that credit union.
Opperman said getting a credit card with a small local bank or credit union can give you the opportunity to build a relationship with a representative and ask detailed questions about the terms and conditions of the card you’re considering.
Creditors tend to prefer variable-rate cards, Opperman said, “because the lender is protected in the event of an interest rate hike. If they give you a low fixed rate, then the federal funds rate goes up, they can’t pass their extra costs on to you with a higher rate.”
Be careful with credit
Arevalo said for those who carry a balance month to month “a lower rate is better. It doesn’t matter if it’s fixed or variable.”
If you pay off your balance every month, interest rates are less of an issue, he added.
Because it is more likely you’ll be offered a variable rate credit card, Opperman recommended reading the fine print and finding out when penalty rates kick in – which would drive your interest rate up even higher.
Also, consider a credit card’s rewards program and annual fees. “Don’t let your interest rate be the sole factor that sways your decision,” Opperman warned.
If you’re struggling with credit card debt, Arevalo suggested contacting a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency to help you find strategies for dealing with your debt.
“Keeping healthy credit behaviors is going to the best way you don’t get overwhelmed with your credit card debt,” he said.
Understanding how much money you need to buy a house can give you an idea of how much you should expect to save.
You’re probably excited about the thought of buying your first home? If so, you have every right to be.
But how much money do you need to buy a house? A calculator can help you determine that. But the average cost of buying a $300,000 is typically around $17,000.
In this article, we’ll go over the main costs of buying a house including the down payment, inspection cost, appraisal cost, closing cost, etc.
Check Current Mortgage Rate
How much money do you need to buy a house?
Out of Pocket Cost of buying a house
The five main out of pocket costs of buying a house are 1) the down payment; 2) inspection cost; 3) the appraisal cost; 4) earnest money and 5) closing costs. These out of pocket costs or upfront costs are money yo need to pay before you become the owner of the property.
In addition, some lenders also require you have some cash reserves to cover 2 to 3 months of the mortgage repayments.
Determining how much cash needed to buy a house depends on the type of loan you’re using.
Let’s suppose you’re buying a $300,000 house with an FHA loan.
An FHA loan requires a 3.5% of the home purchase price as a down payment as long as you have a 580 credit score. So, for the down payment alone, you will need $10,500.
Here’s a quick breakdown for how much cash needed to buy a $300,000 house:
Down payment: $10,500
Inspection cost: $300
Appraisal cost: $300
Closing cost: $6000
So, $ 17,100 is how much money you need to buy a house.
Whether you’re buying a house with a 20% down payment or 3.5% down payment, you can certainly find a loan with both the price and features to suit your needs as a first time home buyer. You can compare First Time Home Buyer home loans on the LendingTree website.
The down payment
The biggest cost of buying a house is obviously your down payment. But that depends on the type of loan you are looking for.
For example, a conventional loan requires a 20% down payment. You can pay less than that, but you will have to pay for a private mortgage insurance – which covers the lender in case you default on your loan.
A 20% down payment however can also mean that you’ll get a better interest rate, which also means you’ll save money on interest.
For an FHA loan, you only need 3.5% down payment as long as your credit score is 580.
FHA loans are very popular these days. Not only it’s easier to get qualified (low down payment and low credit score), but also your down payment can come from a friend, a relative or your employer.
Using our example above, you only need $10,500 for a down payment for a $300,000 house.
If you’re using a VA loan then you pay $0 down payment.
Check to see if you’re eligible for an FHA loan or VA loan
How much money do you need to buy a house also depends on other factors, such as whether you are a first time home buyer or not. Your state may have a range of programs that may contribute toward your down payment.
So visit your local government office to find out if you are eligible for any down payment assistance for first time home buyers.
Another upfront cost of buying a home is the inspection cost.
It is highly recommended to perform inspection for your home for any defects so there are no surprises later on.
Inspections typically cost between $300 to $500, but it depends on the property and your local rates.
Compare home loans for first time home buyers with LendingTree
Before a lender can give you a loan to finance a house, they will want to know how much the house is worth. So appraisal means an estimate of the home’s value. A home’s appraisal usually costs between $300 to $500. A home appraisal will also determine what your property tax will likely be.
If you’re pay the home appraisal, it will be deducted from the closing cost. (see below).
Earnest money is a deposit you will have to pay upfront as soon as an offer is accepted, while you working on other aspects such as getting the home inspected, etc…
This deposit is part of the down payment, and it is usually between 1% to 3% of the final sale price. It is held by an escrow firm or attorney until the closing process is completed.
So if the sale is successful, that money is applied to your down payment. If it’s not, you get 100% of your money back.
The closing costs are fees by the lenders. They typically cost 2% to 5% of the final price. The costs include fees for homeowner’s insurance, title insurance, title insurance, property tax, HOA dues, private mortgage insurance.
It’s possible to lower these costs by comparing mortgage options.
Other costs of buying a home:
In addition to upfront costs, there are other recurring costs associated with buying a home. They include moving fees, repair costs, furniture, remodeling, etc. So consider these costs when making your budget to buy a house.
So how much money do you need to buy a house? The answer is it depends on the type of loans you’ re using. But if you’re buying a $300,000 house with an FHA loan, which requires a 3.5% down payment, $ 17,100 is how much money you need.
For more information about upfront costs of buying a house, check out this guide.
Read more cost of buying a house:
How Much House Can I Afford?
How Long Does It Take to Buy a House?
Buying a House for the First Time? Avoid these Mistakes
5 Signs You’re Not Ready to Buy a House
Work with the Right Financial Advisor
You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc). So, find one who meets your needs with SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
The post How Much Money Do You Need to Buy a House? appeared first on GrowthRapidly.
Some of us know it as I.R.A while others pronounce it âeye-ruh.â No matter if youâre team âI-R-Aâ or team âeye-ruhâ, you should definitely know what it means!Â
These letters stand for Individual Retirement Account.Â
Donât roll your eyes! I know âretirementâ sounds like something you should only worry about when youâre much older, but I promise, youâll be thankful you learned all about this. Itâll help you learn a couple tips on smart tax moves and ultimately help out your future self!Â
You probably have a bank account where you put your money, right? So this is still relevant to you! Now, the question is: how much is the money sitting in your account growing each year? If youâre lucky, the answer is somewhere around 2% in the year 2020 (for a high yield savings account). But most people donât have that. Most people have a checking account that doesnât pay them any interest at all or a traditional savings account that offers an average of 0.09% in interest per year. That may not sound like a big difference – 2% versus .09% – but trust me: IT IS!Â
After 10 years of saving $100 every month (or $50 from each biweekly paycheck), a bank account with .09% interest rate or annual percentage rate (also called APR) will have a total of $12,059.56, while a high yield savings account growing at a 2% APR will have a total of $13,402.46. Thatâs a difference of over $1,000 of FREE MONEY! And, whatâs even more eye-opening is that the longer you invest and the more the interest compounds, the bigger the effect. So over a 40 year period of time, which is a typical American working career, the difference is more than $25,000!
What does any of this have to do with that Individual Retirement Account I mentioned earlier? Patience, weâre getting there!
When it comes to money, growth is key. How much can you grow your money in a year? In 10 years? In your working career? With a bank, your money is safe and protected, but it doesnât really grow that much. Thatâs where the stock market comes in! Itâs a good idea to put the money you may need for an emergency into a bank account for easy and guaranteed access, but also consider putting at least 5% of your earnings into an investment account for long term goals such as retirement.Â
For example, a 401k through your job allows you to invest your money in the stock market. If you donât have access to a 401k through your job, then you can open up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that also allows you to invest your money in the stock market. Similarly, a pension plan (if you can even get one of those in the 21st century!) also invests your money in the stock market.Â
So why do all of these fancy accounts put our hard-earned money in the stock market? The answer is: over the long term, (not just one year, but over many, many years) the stock market has a history of providing higher rates of return, thereby growing peopleâs money much faster than any bank!Â
When your job doesnât offer any workplace retirement benefits, then you can open an Individual Retirement Account on your own. Let me break down the basics for you:
What: Opening an IRA
Where: At a brokerage firm of your choice
When: Anytime you want
Why: Because your money can grow more in an IRA than it would in the bank over the long run
Now, letâs talk about the âhow.â First, choose whether you want to pay taxes on the money youâll be investing when you file your taxes next or if youâd rather pay them in the future when you file taxes for the year you took the money out. That will determine whether you open a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA.
Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA
Roth IRA: Investment account that lets you put money away for your retirement. Money invested here is after taxes have been paid, so you donât have to worry about paying taxes ever again. Also, any profits you earn over time will never be taxed, and thatâs a BIG deal! Available only if you earn under a certain income level.Â
Traditional IRA: Investment account that lets you put money away for retirement, but claim a tax break on the amount invested when you file your taxes. Since you get a tax break now, when you take the money out in the future youâll have to pay taxes on your invested dollars and the profits earned. Available no matter what income level you fall under.Â Â
People who earn too much money for a Roth IRA tend to choose a traditional IRA (the limits for how much you can earn to have a Roth IRA changes every year.) Also, people who predict that they will earn less money in the future (at retirement) also like to choose a Traditional IRA because they like the idea of paying less in taxes as a result of being in a lower tax bracket.Â
Once youâve chosen the IRA type that you prefer, youâre ready to choose a brokerage firm. Choosing a brokerage firm is similar to choosing a bank. Make sure that you know what the fees are, what the customer service experience is like, what account types they offer, and what in-person versus web-based services or platforms they have. You can call them up or go online and create your account. Heads up: Youâll have to link the investment account (the IRA) to your bank account so that you can transfer money and begin to invest in the account you created.Â
What Do I Put Into My IRA?
Now, the toughest question of them all: What investments do I invest the dollars within my IRA into? The short answer is that it really depends on what your goals are. If youâre not trying to retire anytime soon, then you can afford to be risky. You can have mostly stocks and little to no bonds in the IRA. If you plan on retiring very soon, youâll want to make sure you have most of your money in more secure investments that donât change unpredictably in the market, such as bonds. The general rule of thumb when it comes to deciding how much to put in stocks versus bonds looks like this:Â
120 – your age = percentage of investment that should be stocks
So for example, A 30-year-old in 2020 should have 90% stocks in their IRA and 10% in bonds because 120 – 30 = 90.Â
Keep in mind that this can vary if youâre comfortable being more aggressive (more stocks) or more conservative (more bonds) with your investments. Itâs simply a good rule of thumb to get you started.Â
One final analogy to help you remember how this works, and then youâre on your way! The brokerage firm is kind of like your bank. Itâs where you open the account and do business. Your IRA is like the type of account you open at that bank. It has rules you need to follow and the rules change each year, so do your research. (When can you touch the money? How much money are you allowed to invest per year? Are there income limits on this account?) If you break the rules, then you may pay fees or maybe even penalty taxes. So make sure you understand the rules!Â
Stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFâs are what your dollars can buy and are held within the account. Finally, the annual rate of return is like your APR. While at the bank, the rate of growth or APR is offered to you upfront, thatâs not really possible with an IRA or any other investment account because the stock market is highly unpredictable. But remember, historical data shows that it averages much more growth than bank accounts do over the long run, so donât be afraid to put money aside for the long term if you can afford to.
Now, off you go! Youâre ready to open that IRA if you donât already have one!Â
The post IRA: #RealMoneyTalk, What Is That? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Summer camp is a rite of passage. A place where traditions begin and memories are made. A unique venue with a structured opportunity for kids to grow and learn new skills. As enriching as it may seem, embarking on the process each year can be intense: How do I choose a camp? Should it have a philosophy? How do I know my child will have fun? But often the question at the top of the list is, “How do I budget for summer camp?”
Whether you’re scrambling for camp arrangements for this year or getting a jump-start on next summer, you’re in need of a working budget for summer camp. “As a parent who sent several kids to summer camp for many years, I know how expensive it can be,” says Leslie H. Tayne, author and founder of debt solutions law firm Tayne Law Group.
Read on for expert budgeting tips for summer camp and how to save money on summer camp so you can make the best decisions concerning your wallet and your child’s wish list:
1. Get a handle on camp tuition
According to the American Camp Association, sleep-away camp tuition can range from $630 to more than $2,000 per camper per week. Day camp tuition isn’t too far behind, ranging from $199 to more than $800 per week.
One of the best ways to budget for summer camp and prepare for tuition costs is to understand your needs for the summer as well as your child’s interests. This will help you determine ‘how much’ and ‘what type’ of camp you want: Is day-camp coverage important all summer because of work? Does your child want to experience sleep-away camp for a portion of the time? Is a camp with a specific focus (say a sport or hobby) on the list?
Depending on your circumstances and child’s expectations, it’s not unusual to be looking at a combination of campsâand tuition costsâin one season. If you have multiple kids at different ages, with different interests, creating a budget for summer camp and understanding how much you’ll need to dish out in tuition becomes especially important.
Once your camp plan is in place, assess how much you’ll need to pay in tuition for the summer months with school out of session. The sooner you’ve arrived at this figure, the easier it will be to work the expense into your household budget, says Heather Schisler, money-saving expert and founder of deal site Passion for Savings. “It’s much easier to set aside $30 a month than it is to come up with $300 to $400 at one time,” Schisler says.
Sleep-away camp tuition can range from $630 to more than $2,000 per camper per week. Day camp tuition ranges from $199 to more than $800 per week.
2. Plan for expenses beyond tuition
One of the biggest budgeting tips for summer camp is planning for the many costs outside of tuition. Tayne points out that sleep-away camp usually comes with a longer supply list than day campâsuch as specific clothing or gear and toiletries to cover the length of stay. If your child is heading to a sleep-away camp far from home, your budget for summer camp may also need to factor in the cost of transportation or the cost to ship luggage. Day camps can also have fees for extended hours or transportation if your child rides a camp bus each day.
Once you’ve selected a campâday camp or sleep-awayâcheck its website for camper packing lists and guidelines. Most camps offer checklists that you can print out, which can be good for tracking supplies and costs as you go. After you enroll, your camp may provide access to an online portal that can help you manage tuition and track additional expenses, like canteen money, which is cash your child can use for snacks and additional supplies while away.
3. Create a year-round savings strategy
By calculating the necessary expenses ahead of time for the camps you and your campers have chosen, you’ll be able to determine an overall budget for summer camp. A budgeting tip for summer camp is to save money monthly throughout the year. To determine a monthly savings goal, divide your total summer camp costs by the amount of months you have until camp starts. If camp is quickly approaching and you’re feeling the budget crunch, you may want to start saving for next year’s costs once it’s back-to-school time so you can spread out your costs over a longer period of time.
Once you start saving, you’ll need a place to put it, right? When it comes to budgeting tips for summer camp, consider placing your cash in a dedicated account, which will keep it separate from your regular expenses and help you avoid tapping it for other reasons. “Then you can have your bank set up an auto draft [for the summer camp money] so it automatically goes into your account each month and you will have the money you need when summer rolls around,” Schisler says. If you use a Discover Online Savings Account for this purpose, you’ll also earn interest that can be put toward camp expenses.
âIt’s much easier to set aside $30 a month than it is to come up with $300 to $400 at one time.â
4. Find ways to fund your summer camp account
To boost cash in your summer camp savings account, consider asking relatives and family friends to gift your children cash for camp in lieu of birthday and holiday gifts, says Tracie Fobes of budget blog Penny Pinchin’ Mom. “If your child has his or her heart set on sleep-away camp, they may be willing to forgo a gift or two,” Fobes says.
Another budgeting tip for summer camp is to put your cashback rewards toward your budget for summer camp. For example, if you open a checking account with Discoverâcalled Cashback Debitâyou’ll earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.1 You can enroll to have that cashback bonus automatically deposited into your Discover Online Savings Account so it remains designated for camp costs (and can grow with interest).
Say hello to cash back on debit card purchases.
No monthly fees. No balance requirements. No, really.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
Lastly, if you don’t have your tax refund earmarked for another financial goal, you could use the windfall to kick-start your summer camp savings fund. Depending on the refund amount and your total camp costs, it could reduce your monthly summer camp savings goal significantly.
5. Reduce camp-related costs
Despite having your budget for summer camp in full view and planning in advance, camp can still be expensive. Here are some ways to save money on summer camp by cutting down on camp costs:
Ask about scholarships and grants: “Some camps offer scholarships or discounts for children and families,” Fobes says. Research your camp to see if they have anything similar to help offsetâor even pay forâthe cost of tuition.
Use a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA): A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account is a pre-tax benefit account that can be used to pay for eligible dependent care services. You can use this type of account to “cover dependent care [costs], and camp may qualify,” Fobes says.
Negotiate price: “Many people don’t think about negotiating the cost of summer camp, but it is possible,” Tayne says, and more and more camps are open to it.
See if there’s an “honor system”: Some camps have what’s known as an honor system, where the camp offers a range of costs, or tiered pricing, and parents can pay what they can comfortably afford. Every child enjoys the same camp experience, regardless of which price point, and billing is kept private.
Take advantage of discounts: Attention early birds and web surfers: “There are sometimes discounts offered when you sign up early or register online,” Fobes says.
Volunteer: If your summer schedule allows, “offer to work at the camp,” Fobes says. If you lend your servicesâperhaps for the camp blog or cleaning the camp house before the season startsâyour child may be able to attend camp for free or a reduced rate.
Don’t let summer camp costs become a family budget-buster. Plan ahead and look for money-saving opportunities and work your budget for summer camp into your annual financial plan.
To save money on summer camp, remember that you only need to focus on camp necessities. “Don’t spend a lot of extra money on new clothing, bedding, trunks or suitcases,” Schisler says. “Remember, summer camp is all about the experience, not the things.”
1 ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as VenmoÂ® and PayPal, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
The post Your Guide to Budgeting for Summer Camp appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
It amazes us how quickly our girls are growing up. Next month when school starts up again, weâll have a fourth-grader and a kindergartener.
Even though we have some time before they are ready to move out of the house, we want to spend time now prepare them for the big transition. As a parent, you probably feel the same way too.Â
One crucial piece of a financial foundation kids and in particular, teens, need to master is learning to budget (and sticking with it),
While theyâre home now, you have a fantastic opportunity to get them comfortable with handling their money.
If youâre not sure where to start, here are some tips from fellow parents and experts in the personal finance space to make teaching this life skill a bit easier less stressful for you and your teen!
Teach Your Teen to Budget for Real Life
Teens or not, whenever most people hear the word budget, they also hear the word ânoâ. To them, budgets feel like a strict diet. Just as fad diets fail, an unrealistic or extreme budget will more than likely discourage your teen and they will quit.
The first step before you even talk about the numbers is to discuss exactly what a successful and sustainable budget should be. When done right, a budget is something that helps you move your money towards your goals. Explain to them that at its root, budget is simply a plan about what theyâd like to do.
You want a budget that can cover:
Â Â Essential bills
Â Â Future goals
Â Â Discretionary expenses
When your teenâs budget covers those goals, theyâre not only putting their finances in a good spot, but theyâre moving closer to their specific long term dreams.
Creating a Doable Budget (Theyâll Actually Enjoy!)
Once your teen(s) understands how a budget works, itâs important for them to create a budget that they can use in the real world. You can honestly budget however you want, but an easy budget to get your teen started is the 50/20/30.
Quite simplify, the 50/20/30 budget puts money into those three main buckets:
Â Â 50%Â goes towards essentials
Â Â 20% towards savings (or investing)
Â Â 30% for fun and discretionary expenses
I appreciate how easy and flexible this budget can be. You can adjust the percentages for your teenâs needs, but it gives them some ballpark idea of how to portion their finances when they are out on their own.
How do you start them out on this budget?
With teens, you may have expenses like clothing or their cellphone bill count as essentials, or you may want to give your child the experience of being responsible for a small, shared family bill while they are still at home.
For older teens, you could even charge them a nominal ârentâ to offset their portion of the bills. In some cases, parents give that money back to their child as a gift to help with moving expenses (like for their security deposit) or use as additional savings.Â
However you decide, talk it over so your teen understands why youâre doing it this way.
Share Your Family Budget
Creating a budget isnât complicated, but it can difficult if your teen has no idea what to expect. Knowledge can be empowering.
While we may take it for granted since have to deal with the numbers, but your teen may not be aware of how much it takes to keep the lights on and roof over their heads. If you havenât already shared your own budget already, now is the time.
Not knowing also puts them at a disadvantage when they start searching for a place or are comparing prices on expenses. Being armed with the numbers makes your teenager a more informed consumer.
When Your Teen Breaks Their Budget
Will there be times where your teenager will mess up with their budget? Probably so. However, thatâs not necessarily a bad thing. As parents, we tend to want to protect our kids, but we also have to prepare them for the real world. As Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, pointed out we should let our kids make financial mistakes.Â
Wouldnât it be better for your child to break the clothing budget while theyâre still at home allowing you to help guide them through rather than having break their monthly budget while they are on their own and have bills to pay?
Mistakes will happen, theyâre a part of life so giving your teen time to work those them and adjust their budget is a blessing for their future selves.
Essential Accounts for Your TeenÂ to Have
Since weâre talking about budgets, we should also mention some essential accounts youâd want your kid to have so they can practice managing their money.
Opening up student checking and savings accounts (usually free low on fees as well as not having minimum balance requirements) are good foundational accounts for your teen. They can deal with real-world situations pending charges, automatic transfers, and direct deposits.
As Family Balance Sheet founder Kristia Ludwick pointed out, teens should have the skill of balancing a checkbook even if they decide to go all-digital with their banking.
If they work, talk it over together and see if they can open up an IRA and start contributing. It doesnât have to be much. The idea is to get them familiar and comfortable with the basics of investing.
Even if they put in $25 a paycheck, having them practice setting aside money in their budget for both long and short term goals is an invaluable lesson. You can also encourage them to contribute by offering a match for what they put in.
How Teens Can Easily Stay on Top of Their Money
With several accounts to keep tabs on, your teen is going to need an easy system to track their budget and goals.
With Mint, they can link up their accounts in one secure spot. They can also add their budget along with any savings goals they want to hit and make sure they stick with them.
Hopefully, these ideas and tips will make it easier to help your teen transition into a self-sufficient adult.
The post How to Teach Your Teen to Budget Like a Pro appeared first on MintLife Blog.
The best student loans can help you earn a college degree that will lead to higher earnings later in life. They also come with low interest rates and reasonable fees (or no fees), which will make it easier to keep costs down while youâre in school and once youâre in repayment mode.
For most people, federal student loans are the best deal. With federal student loans, you can qualify for low fixed interest rates and federal protections like deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment plans. To find out how much you can borrow with federal student loans, you should fill out a FAFSA form. Doing so can also help you determine if you qualify for any additional student aid, and if so, how much.
While federal student loans are usually the best deal for borrowers, many students need to turn to private student loans at some point during their college careers. This is often the case when federal student loan limits have been exhausted, or when federal student loans are no longer an option due to other circumstances. We’re providing the top 8 options, at least according to us, as well as a guide to help you get the best rate.
Apply now with our top pick: College Ave
Most Important Factors When Applying for Student Loans
Start with a federal loan. Fill out a FAFSA form prior to applying for a private loan to make sure youâre getting all the benefits you can.
Compare loans across multiple lenders. Consider using a comparison company like Credible to do so.
Always read the fine print. Fees arenât always boasted on the front of a lenderâs website, so take time to learn about what youâre getting into.
Start paying as soon as you can to avoid getting crushed by compound interest.
Best Private Student Loans of 2021
Fortunately, there are many private student loan options that come with low interest rates and fair terms. The best student loans of 2021 come from the following private lenders and loan comparison companies:
Best for Flexibility
Best Loan Comparison
Best for Low Rates and Fees
Best for No Fees
Best Student Loans from a Major Bank
Best Student Loans with No Cosigner Required
Best for Fair Credit
Best for Comprehensive Comparisons
#1: College Ave â Best for Flexibility
College Ave offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students as well as parents who want to take out loans to help their kids get through college. Variable APRs as low as 3.70% are available for undergraduate students, but you can also opt for a fixed rate as low as 4.72% if you have excellent credit. College Ave offers some of the most flexible repayment options available today, letting you choose from interest-only payments, flat payments, and deferred payments depending on your needs. College Ave even lets you fill out your entire student loan application online, and they offer an array of helpful tools that can help you figure out how much you can afford to borrow, what your monthly payment will be, and more.
Qualify in Just 3 Minutes with College Ave
#2: Credible â Best Loan Comparison
Credible doesnât offer its own student loans; instead, it serves as a loan aggregator and comparison site. This means that, when you check out student loans on Credible, you have the benefit of comparing multiple loan options in one place. Not only is this convenient, but comparing rates and terms is the best way to ensure you get a good deal. Credible even lets you get prequalified without a hard inquiry on your credit report, and you can see loan offers from up to nine student lenders at a time. Fixed interest rates start as low as 4.40% for borrowers with excellent credit, and variable rates start at 3.17% APR with autopay.
Compare Dozens of Rates at Once with Credible
#3: Sallie Mae â Best for Low Rates and Fees
Sallie Mae offers its own selection of private student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents. Interest rates offered can be surprisingly low, starting at 2.87% APR for variable rate loans and 4.74% for fixed-rate loans. Sallie Mae student loans also come without an origination fee or prepayment fees, as well as rate reductions for students who set up autopay. You can choose to start repaying your student loans while youâre in school or wait until you graduate as well. Overall, Sallie Mae offers some of the best âdealsâ for private student loans, and you can even complete the entire loan process online.
Get Access to Chegg Study FREE with Sallie Mae
#4: Discover â Best for No Fees
While Discover is well known for their excellent rewards credit cards and personal loan offerings, they also offer high-quality student loans with low rates and fees. Not only do Discover student loans come with low variable rates that start at 3.75%, but you wonât pay an application fee, an origination fee, or late fees. Discover student loans are available for undergraduate students, graduate students, professional students, and other lifelong learners. You can even earn rewards for having a 3.0 GPA or better when you apply for your loan, and Discover offers access to U.S. based student loan specialists who can answer all your questions before you apply.
Apply for a Loan with Discover
#5: Citizens Bank â Best Student Loans from a Major Bank
Citizens Bank offers their own flexible student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students, and parent borrowers. Students can borrow with or without a cosigner and multi-year approval is available. With multi-year approval you can apply for student funding one time and secure several years of college funding at once. This saves you from additional paperwork and subsequent hard inquiries on your credit report. Citizens Bank student loans come with variable rates as low as 2.83% APR for students with excellent credit, and you can make full payments or interest-only payments while youâre in school or wait until you graduate to begin repaying your loan. Also keep in mind that, like others on this list, Citizens Bank lets you apply for their student loans online and from the comfort of your home.
#6: Ascent â Best Student Loans with No Cosigner Required
Ascent is another popular lender that offers private student loans to undergraduate and graduate students. Variable interest rates start at 3.31% whether you have a cosigner or not, and there are no application fees required to apply for a student loan either way. Terms are available for 5 to 15 years, and Ascent even offers cash rewards for student borrowers who graduate and meet certain terms. Also note that Ascent lets you earn money for each friend you refer who takes out a new student loan or refinances an existing loan.
Get a Loan in Minutes with Ascent
#7: Earnest â Best for Fair Credit
Earnest is another online lender that offers reasonable student loans for undergraduate and graduate students who need to borrow money for school. They also offer a free application process, a 9-month grace period after graduation, no origination fees or prepayment fees, and a .25% rate discount when you set up autopay. Earnest even lets you skip a payment once per year without a penalty, and there are no late payment fees. Variable rates start as low as 3.35%, and you may be able to qualify for a loan from Earnest with only âfairâ credit. For their student loan refinancing products, for example, you need a minimum credit score of 650 to apply.
Learn Your Rate in Minutes with Earnest
#8: LendKey â Best for Comprehensive Comparisons
LendKey is an online lending marketplace that lets you compare student loan options across a broad range of loan providers, including credit unions. LendKey loans come with no application fees and variable APRs as low as 4.05%. They also have excellent reviews on Trustpilot and an easy application process that makes applying for a student loan online a breeze. You can apply for a loan from LendKey as an individual, but itâs possible youâll get better rates with a cosigner on board. Either way, LendKey lets you see and compare a wide range of loan offers in one place and with only one application submitted.
Pay Zero Application Fees with LendKey!
How to Get the Best Student Loans
The lenders above offer some of the best student loans available today, but thereâs more to getting a good loan than just choosing the right student loan company. The following tips can ensure you save money on your education and escape college with the smallest student loan burden possible.
Consider Federal Student Loans First
Like we mentioned already, federal student loans are almost always the best deal for borrowers who can qualify. Not only do federal loans come with low fixed interest rates, but they come with borrower protections like deferment and forbearance. Federal student loans also let you qualify for income-driven repayment plans like Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Income Based Repayment (IBR) as well as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
Compare Multiple Lenders
If you have exhausted federal student loans and need to take out a private student loan, the best step you can take is comparing loans across multiple lenders. Some may be able to offer you a lower interest rate based on your credit score or available cosigner, and some lenders may offer payment plans that meet your needs better. If you only want to fill out a loan application once, it can make sense to compare multiple loan offers with a service like Credible.
Improve Your Credit Score
Private student loans are notoriously difficult to qualify for when your credit score is less than stellar or you donât have a cosigner. With that in mind, you may want to spend some time improving your credit score before you apply. Since your payment history and the amounts you owe in relation to your credit limits are the two most important factors that make up your FICO score, make sure youâre paying all your bills early or on time and try to pay down debt to improve your credit utilization. Most experts say a utilization rate of 30% or less will help you achieve the highest credit score possible with other factors considered.
Check Your Credit Score for Free with Experian
Get a Quality Cosigner
If your credit score isnât at least âvery good,â or 740 or higher, you may want to see about getting a cosigner for your private student loan. A parent, family member, or close family friend who has excellent credit can help you qualify for a student loan with the best rates and terms available today. Just remember that your cosigner will be liable for your loan just as you are, meaning they will have to repay your loan if you default. With that in mind, you should only lean on a cosignerâs help if you plan to repay your loan amount in full.
Consider Variable and Fixed Interest Rates
While private student loans offer insanely low rates for borrowers with good credit, their variable rates tend to be lower. This is why you should always take the time to compare variable and fixed rates across multiple lenders to find the best deal. If you believe you can pay your student loans off in a few short years, a variable interest rate may help you save money. If you need a decade or longer to pay your student loans off, on the other hand, a low fixed interest rate may provide you with more peace of mind.
Check for Discounts
As you compare student loan providers, make sure to check for discounts that might apply to your situation. Many private student loan companies offer discounts if you set your loan up on automatic payments, for example. Some also offer discounts or rewards for good grades or for referring friends. It’s possible you could qualify for other discounts as well depending on the provider, but you’ll never know unless you check.
Beware of Fees
While the interest rate on your student loan plays a huge role in your long-term loan costs, donât forget to check for additional fees. Some student loan companies charge application fees or prepayment penalties if you pay your loan off early, for example. Others charge origination fees that tack on a few additional percentage points to your loan amount right off the bat. If you can find a student loan with a low interest rate and no additional fees, youâll be much better off. Since loan fees may not be prominently advertised on student loan provider websites, however, keep in mind that you may need to dig into their fine print to find them.
Make Payments While Youâre in School
Finally, no matter which loan you end up with, it makes a lot of sense to make payments while youâre still in school if you’re earning any kind of income. Even if you make interest-only payments while you attend college part-time or full-time, you can save yourself from paying thousands of dollars in additional interest payments later in life. Remember that compound interest can be a blessing or a curse. If you can keep interest at bay by making payments while youâre in school, you can squash compound interest and keep your loan balances from growing. If you let compound interest run its course, on the other hand, you may wind up owing more than you borrowed in the first place by the time you graduate school and start repayment.
What to Watch Out For
A private student loan may be exactly what you need in order to finish your degree and move up to the working world, but there are plenty of âgotchasâ to be aware of. Consider all these factors as you apply for a new private student loan or refinance existing loans you have with a private lender.
Interest that accrues while youâre in school: Remember that subsidized loans may not accrue interest until you graduate from college and enter repayment mode, but that unsubsidized loans typically start accruing interest right away. Since private student loans are unsubsidized, youâll need to be especially careful about ballooning interest and long-term loan costs.
Getting a cosigner: Make sure you only apply for a private student loan with a cosigner if youâre entirely sure you can repay your loan over the long haul. If you fail to keep up with your end of the bargain, you could destroy trust with that person and their credit score in one fell swoop.
Youâll lose out on some protections: Also remember that private student loans come with fewer protections than federal student loans. You wonât have the option for income-driven repayment plans with private loans, nor will you be able to qualify for federal deferment or forbearance. For this reason, private student loans are best for students who are confident in their ability to repay their loans on their chosen timeline.
In Summary: The Best Student Loans
Best for Flexibility
Best for Loan Comparison
Best for Low Rates and Fees
Best for No Fees
Best Student Loans from a Major Bank
Best Student Loans with No Cosigner Required
Best for Fair Credit
Best for Comprehensive Comparisons
The post Here Are The Best Student Loans of 2021 appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Credit cardÂ billsÂ can be confusing. If everything was straightforward and clear,Â credit cardÂ debtÂ wouldn’t be such a big issue. But it’s not clear, and debt is a massive issue for millions of consumers.Â
One of the most confusing aspects is theÂ minimum payment, with few consumers understanding how this works, how much damage (if any) it does to theirÂ credit score, and why it’s important to pay more than the minimum.
We’ll address all of those things and more in this guide, looking at howÂ minimumÂ credit cardÂ paymentsÂ can impact yourÂ FICOÂ scoreÂ and yourÂ credit report.
What is aÂ Credit CardÂ Minimum Payment?
TheÂ minimum paymentÂ is the lowest amount you need to pay during any given month. It’s often fixed as a fraction of yourÂ total balanceÂ and includes fees and interest. Â
If you fail to make thisÂ minimum payment, you may be hit withÂ late feesÂ and if you still haven’t paid after 30 days, your creditor will report your activity to the majorÂ credit bureausÂ and yourÂ credit scoreÂ will take a hit.
When this happens, you could lose up to 100 points and gain a derogatory mark that remains on yourÂ credit reportÂ for up to 7 years.Â MakingÂ minimum paymentsÂ will not result in a derogatory mark, but it can indirectly affect yourÂ credit scoreÂ and we’ll discuss that a little later.
Firstly, it’s important to understand why you’re being asked to pay aÂ minimum amountÂ and how you can avoid it.
How Much is aÂ MinimumÂ Credit CardÂ Payment?
Prior to 2004,Â monthly paymentsÂ could be as low as 2% of the balance. This caused all kinds of problems as most of yourÂ monthly paymentÂ is interest and will, therefore, inflate every month so that every time you reduce the balance it grows back.Â
Regulators forced a change when they realized that some users were being locked into a cycle ofÂ credit cardÂ debt, one that could see them repaying thousands more than the balance and taking many years to repay in full.
These days, a minimum payment must be at least 1% of the balance plus all interest and fees that have accumulated during that month, ensuring the balance decreases by at least 1% if only theÂ minimum paymentÂ is met.
Do I Need to Make theÂ Minimum Payment?
If you have a rolling balance, you need to make the minimumÂ monthly paymentÂ to avoid derogatory marks. If you fail to do so and keep missing those payments, your account will eventually default and cause all kinds of issues.
However, you can avoid theÂ minimum paymentÂ by clearing your balance in full.
Let’s assume that you have a brand-newÂ creditÂ cardÂ and you spend $2,000 in the first billing cycle. In the next cycle, you will be required to pay this balance in full. However, you will also be offered aÂ minimum payment, which will likely be anywhere from $30 to $100. If this is all that you pay, the issuer will start charging you interest on your balance and your problems will begin.
If you spend $2,000 in the next billing cycle, you have just doubled your debt (minus whatever principal theÂ minimum paymentÂ cleared) and your problems.
This is a cycle that many consumers get locked into. They do what they can to pay off their balance in full, but then they have a difficult month and thatÂ minimum paymentÂ begins to look very tempting. They convince themselves that one month won’t hurt and they’ll repay the balance in full next month, but by that point they’ve spent more, it has grown more, and they just don’t have the funds.
To avoid falling into this trap, try the following tips:
Only Spend What You Have:Â AÂ credit cardÂ should be used to spend money you have now or will have in the future. Don’t spend in the hope you’ll somehow come into some money before the billing period ends and theÂ credit cardÂ balanceÂ rolls over.
Get an IntroductoryÂ Interest Rate:Â ManyÂ credit cardÂ issuersÂ offer a 0% intro APR for a fixed period of time, allowing you to accumulate debt without interest. This can help if you need to make some essential purchases, but it’s important not to abuse this as you’ll still need to clear theÂ full balanceÂ before the intro period ends.
Use aÂ Balance Transfer:Â If you’re in too deep and the intro rate is coming to an end, consider aÂ balance transfer credit card. These cards allow you to move yourÂ full balanceÂ from one card (or cards) to another, taking advantage of yet another 0% APR and essentially extending the one you have.
Pay the Minimum:Â If you can’t pay the balance in full, make sure you at least pay the minimum. AÂ missed paymentÂ orÂ late paymentÂ can incur fees and may hurt yourÂ credit score.Â
Why Pay More Than the Minimum?
You may have heard experts recommending that you pay more than the minimum every month, but why? If you’re locked into a cycle ofÂ credit cardÂ debt, it can seem counterproductive. After all, if you have a debt of $10,000 that’s costing you $400 a month, what’s the point of taking an extra $100 out of your budget?
Your interest and fees are covered by yourÂ minimum paymentÂ and account for a sizeable percentage of thatÂ minimum payment. By adding just 50% more, you could be doubling and even tripling the amount of the principal that you repay every month.
What’s more, your interest accumulates every single day and this interest compounds. Imagine, for instance, that you have a balance of $10,000 today and with interest, this grows to $10,040. The next day, the interest will be calculated based on that $10,040 figure, which means it could grow to $10,081, which will then become the new balance for the next day.Â
This continues every single day, and the larger your balance is, the more interest will compound and the greater theÂ amount will be dueÂ over the term. By paying more than yourÂ minimum paymentÂ when you can, you’re reducing the balance and slowing things down.
Does Paying the Minimum Hurt MyÂ Credit Score?
Paying theÂ minimum amountÂ every month ensures you are doing the bare minimum to avoid hurting yourÂ credit historyÂ or accumulating fees. However, it can indirectly reduce your score via yourÂ credit utilizationÂ ratio.
YourÂ creditÂ utilizationÂ ratioÂ is a score that compares theÂ credit limitÂ of allÂ availableÂ creditÂ cardsÂ to the total debt on those cards. It accounts for 30% of yourÂ credit scoreÂ and is, therefore, a very important aspect of theÂ credit scoringÂ process.
The moreÂ credit cardÂ debtÂ you accumulate, the lower yourÂ credit utilizationÂ rateÂ will be and the more your score will be impacted. If you only pay the minimum, this rate will become stagnant and may take years to improve. By increasing theÂ payment amount, however, you can bring that ratio down and improve yourÂ credit score.
You can calculate yourÂ credit utilizationÂ score by adding together theÂ totalÂ amountÂ ofÂ creditÂ limitsÂ and debts and then comparing the latter to the former. A combinedÂ credit limitÂ of $10,000 and a balance of $5,000, for instance, would equate to a 50% ratio, which is on the high side.
CanÂ Credit CardÂ Fees Hurt MyÂ Credit Score?
As withÂ interest charges,Â credit cardÂ fees will not directly reduce your score but may have an indirect effect. Cash advance fees, for instance, can be substantial, with manyÂ credit cardÂ companiesÂ (includingÂ Capital One) charging 3% with a $10 minimum charge. This means that every time you withdraw cash, you’re paying at least $10, even if you’re only withdrawing $10.
What many consumers don’t realize is that these fees are also charged every time you buy casino chips or pay for some other form of gambling, and every time you purchase money orders and other cash products.Â
Along with foreign transaction fees and penalty fees, these can increase your balance and yourÂ minimum payment, making it harder to make onÂ time paymentsÂ and thus increasing the risk of aÂ late payment.
Does Paying the Minimum Hurt Your Credit Score is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Foreign transaction fees are irritating little charges that every traveler has faced, and most credit card users have questioned. They are the bane of a frequent flyerâs life and if not managed carefully, could result in some serious charges. But what are these charges, why do they exist, whatâs the average fee, and how can you avoid them?
What is a Foreign Transaction Fee?
A foreign transaction fee is a surcharge levied every time you make a payment in a foreign currency or transfer money through a foreign bank. These fees are charged by credit card networks and issuers, often totaling around 3%.
For example, imagine that youâre on holiday in the United Kingdom, where all transactions occur in Pound Sterling. You go out for a meal and use your credit card to pay a bill of Â£150. Your credit card issuer first converts this sum into US Dollars and then charges a foreign transaction fee, after which the network (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) will do the same.
If we assume that Â£150 equates to exactly $200, this will show on your credit card statement first followed by a separate foreign transaction fee of $6.
When Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees?
If youâre moving money from a US bank account to an international account in a different currency, thereâs a good chance you will be hit with foreign transaction fees and may also be charged additional transfer fees. More commonly, these fees are charged every time you make a payment in a foreign currency.
Many years ago, foreign transaction fees were limited to purchases made in other currencies, but they are now charged for online purchases as well. If the site youâre using is based in another country, thereâs a good chance youâll face these charges.
It isnât always easy to know in advance whether these fees will be charged or not. Many foreign based sites use software that automatically detects your location and changes the currency as soon as you visit. To you, it seems like everything is listed in dollars, but you may actually be paying in a foreign currency.
Other Issues that American Travelers FaceÂ
Foreign transaction fees arenât the only issue you will encounter when trying to use American reward credit cards abroad. If we return to the previous example of a holiday in the UK, you may discover that the restaurant doesnât accept your credit card at all.
In the UK, as in the US, Visa and MasterCard are the two most common credit card networks and are accepted anywhere you can use a credit or debit card. However, while Discover is the third most common network in the US, itâs all but non-existent in the UK.Â
Discover has claimed that the card has âmoderateâ acceptance in the UK, but this is a generous description and unless youâre shopping in locations that tailor for many tourists and American tourists in particular, it likely wonât be accepted.
There are similar issues with American Express, albeit to a lesser extent. AMEX is the third most common provider in the UK, but finding a retailer that actually accepts this card is very hit and miss.
Do Foreign Transaction Fees Count Towards Credit Card Rewards?
Foreign transaction fees, and all other bank and credit card fees, do not count towards your rewards total but the initial charge does. If we return to the previous example of a $200 restaurant payment, you will earn reward points on that $200 but not on the additional $6 that you pay in fees.
How to Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees
The easiest way to avoid foreign transaction fees is to use a credit card that doesnât charge them. Some premium cards and reward cards will absorb the fee charged for these transactions, which means you can take your credit card with you when you travel and donât have to worry about extra charges.
This is key, because simply converting your dollars to your target currency isnât the best way to avoid foreign transaction fees. A currency conversion will come with its own fees and itâs also very risky to carry large sums of cash with you when youâre on vacation.Â
Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees
All credit card offers are required to clearly state a host of basic features, including interest rates, reward schemes, and annual fees. However, you may need to do a little digging to learn about foreign transaction fees. These fees can be found in the credit cardâs terms and conditions, which should be listed in full on the providerâs website.
To get you started, here are a few credit cards that donât charge foreign transaction fees:
Bank of America Travel Rewards Card: A high-reward and low-fee credit card backed by the Bank of America.
Capital One: All Capital One cards are free of foreign transaction fees, including their reward cards, such as the Venture card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: A premium rewards card aimed at big spenders. There is an annual fee, but not foreign transaction fees.
Citi Prestige: One of several Citi cards that donât charge foreign transaction fees, and the best one in terms of rewards.Â
Discover It: A solid all-round credit card with no foreign transaction fees. However, as noted above, the Discover network is rare outside of the United States.
Wells Fargo Propel World: An American Express credit card with good rewards and low fees, including no foreign transaction fees.
Summary: One of Many Fees
Foreign transaction fees are just some of the many fees you could be paying every month. Credit cards work on a system of rewards and penalties; youâre rewarded when you make qualifying purchases and penalized when you make payments in foreign currencies and in casinos, and when you use your card to withdraw cash.
Many of these fees are fixed as a percentage of your total spend, but some also charge interest and you will pay this even if you clear your balance in full every month. To avoid being hit with these fees, pay attention to the terms and conditions and look for cards that wonât punish you for the things you do regularly.
What is a Foreign Transaction Fee and How Can You Avoid It? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Get 25,000 bonus miles when signing up for the Capital One VentureOne card after spending $500 within three months. You also get a 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months.
Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
No annual fee
No foreign transaction fees
Standard bonus is $200; I don’t think we’ve ever seen $250. Probably smarter to sign up for the Venture with 60,000 points bonus, but this is an option for someone who can’t meet the $3,000 spend or who is allergic to annual fees.
Bear in mind that Capital One pulls all three credit bureaus. Check out these things to know about Capital One credit cards before applying.