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Jason Steele
Jason has been writing about personal finance, travel, and other topics on blogs across the Internet. When he is not writing, he has a career in information technology and is also a commercially rated pilot. Jason lives in Colorado with his wife and young daughter where he enjoys parenting, cycling, and other extreme sports.

What to Look for When Buying a Laptop Computer – Specs Explained

By Jason Steele

man holding laptop computerLaptop computers used to come with a prohibitive price tag compared to the cost of mainstream desktop computers. Over the past few years, however, the desktop’s cost advantage has vanished, making a laptop the overwhelming favorite if you have limited desk space or just think you have the slightest chance you might use your computer outside of your home.

At the same time, technological advances have brought about laptops that are smaller, faster, lighter, and easier to use. The only downside to these developments is that now you have a lot of options, and choosing the right laptop is increasingly difficult. Here are the factors that you need to consider:

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6 Reasons to Buy a Car with Cash and Avoid Car Loans

By Jason Steele

buy car cashDo Americans love their cars too much? Even as a car lover myself, I would argue yes. There is no other explanation for our behavior. Most of us who wouldn’t consider financing furniture or appliance purchases will take out a loan to finance our vehicles without a second thought.

Every time I fill out an application that inquires about my family’s finances, there is always a section that asks how much my car payment is. Ever since I bought my first car, my answer has always been the same: zero. Yet, I invariably see friends and co-workers driving around in new cars bragging about the great terms they got on financing. As you will see, great financing is always an illusion and you actually should never borrow money to buy a car. Cash is still king when it comes to purchasing your car.

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Chase Continental Presidential Plus Credit Card Review

By Jason Steele

This card has been discontinued since the merge of United and Continental Airlines. See the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card for the new version.

The quest to earn additional frequent flyer miles has disillusioned many travelers. Banks and airlines have started to take notice, offering non-mileage rewards and perks, including free checked bags, priority check in, and discounted tickets.

The Continental Airlines Presidential Plus Card from Chase exemplifies this trend. The card offers plenty of frequent flyer miles, and many other non-mileage benefits.

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The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN – Review

By Jason Steele

american express business gold cardBanks offer a range of credit cards targeted towards businesses. Sole proprietors, who wish to keep their company expenses separate from their personal charges, can also benefit from these cards. Businesspeople want to earn rewards for using their credit cards, and receive travel perks.

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (a Money Crashers partner) is ideal for companies and individuals willing to pay an annual fee in order to receive benefits and rewards.

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Key Features

  • Sign-up Bonus. Get 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in purchases with the card in the first three months.

HSBC Advance Online Savings Account Review

By Jason Steele

In this day and age, online savings accounts have taken the reins in the industry. Online accounts provide the flexibility of anytime banking with a high annual percentage yield (APY).

The main attraction of online banks is that they can provide higher interest rates because they don’t have the added costs of running many traditional brick-and-mortar banks. They also tend to boast no maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. Online savings accounts have the capability to link to external bank accounts, which makes transferring money easy.

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Chase Continental OnePass Plus Credit Card Review

By Jason Steele

This card has been discontinued since the merge of United and Continental Airlines. See the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card for the new version.

Airline-affiliated travel rewards credit cards have evolved to the point where customers are now expecting far more than just frequent flyer miles. Every year, banks and airlines strengthen their symbiotic relationship in order to generate more revenue from their mutual clients. In order to entice these passengers to use their products, the airlines’ credit card offerings now contain baggage fee waivers, bonus miles, and even cash back.

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How to Redeem Delta SkyMiles Rewards for the Most Valuable Flights

By Jason Steele

delta skymiles logoDuring the last few years, Delta Airlines exited bankruptcy, acquired Northwest Airlines, and emerged as a global powerhouse. But despite their transformation, one lingering frustration for customers has been attempting to redeem their Delta SkyMiles without giving up an absurd amount of miles.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported on a survey of frequent flyer award availability and found that Delta ranked the worst among the majors with a mere 13% success rate in finding affordably priced awards. Delta even admitted its problem and promised to change, but observers have not noticed anything yet.

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What to Do with Unwanted Gift Cards – Sell, Trade, or Exchange

By Jason Steele

unwanted gift cardIf you have unused gift cards lying around collecting dust, don’t let them go to waste. The gift card industry is worth an estimated $60 billion, and experts say that at least 10% to 15% of gift cards are not redeemed. That’s $6 to $9 billion dollars that consumers never use.

The retailers are counting on this, since unused gift cards equate to company profits. However, unused gift cards don’t have to go to waste. There are several websites, including eBay, where gift cards are being traded, and even sold, for cash.

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Delta SkyMiles Classic & Options Credit Card Review from American Express

By Jason Steele

amex delta skymiles classic options cardAs gas prices rise, one of the few business strategies keeping airlines afloat is selling their frequent flyer miles to banks. This way, the banks can offer them as rewards to their credit card customers.

Of all the airlines, Delta is in a class by itself because of its relationship with American Express. There are five distinct Delta-Amex products that you can use to earn SkyMiles.

While very frequent flyers may benefit from the perks offered by the Delta Gold, Delta Platinum, and Delta Reserve cards, Delta doesn’t ignore the occasional travelers who want to get in on the rewards and miles. For their entry-level market segment, they offer two of their least expensive credit cards: the SkyMiles Options card and the classic Delta SkyMiles card (a Money Crashers partner).

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American Express® Gold Card Review – Benefits & Rewards

By Jason Steele

american express gold cardIf you pay your credit card balance in full and on time every month, a credit card is merely a method of payment, not a method of financing.

There is a credit card designed for those who never carry a balance. The American Express® Gold Card (a Money Crashers partner) is a charge card that must be paid in full every month. The card offers considerable rewards, but they do come at a price.

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Key Features

  • Pay Your Balance in Full. This is a charge card, not a credit card. Failing to pay your balance in full means the account is delinquent and penalty interest rates will apply.

How to Choose a Credit Card That’s Right for You

By Jason Steele

man choose credit cards handIn spite of the dangers of excessive credit card use, we are still fortunate to have a very competitive credit card market that offers a nearly limitless choice of products. In fact, choosing the best credit card can be an overwhelming task. The key to finding the right one is to determine what kind of person you are when it comes to managing your personal finances.

Are you the type to pay off your balance in full every month? Or is your balance so big that you can only afford minimum payments? Do you use your credit card to provide yourself short-term loans? Or do you regularly transfer balances to avoid expiring introductory APRs?

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11 Effective Negotiation Strategies & Tactics to Score a Great Deal

By Jason Steele

negotiation shake handsThroughout most of human history, people gathered at traditional markets to trade goods. The amount paid for those goods was always determined through the process of negotiation. In fact, the price tag is a relatively recent invention.

Today, negotiation is a lost art as few modern Americans remain skilled at the practice. We see a price and expect to pay that amount, with the exception of negotiating when buying cars and homes. But even in those instances, you may end up paying more than you should, if you don’t know how to drive a hard bargain. The bottom line is, if you want to save money, you need to learn how to become a skilled negotiator. Here are 11 ways to do just that.

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Gift Cards 101: How to Buy, Sell & Redeem Different Types of Gift Cards

By Jason Steele

gift cardGift cards, both cash cards and store specific ones, have become popular for birthdays, graduations, and all other “gift giving” occasions. They present a handy way to personalize an individual gift, while still allowing the recipient to pick out what they like.

In this article, we’ll go over the different types of gift cards, why retailers offer them to customers, and how you can get the most for your money when buying them or using them for yourself.

Gift Card Basics

First, make sure you understand the two different types of gift cards:

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7 Things to Consider When Using Credit Cards Overseas

By Jason Steele

credit card on mapI always use my credit cards when I am traveling internationally. They offer convenience, security, and protection that just isn’t available when using traveler’s checks or foreign currency.

In addition, I receive generous cash back and travel rewards of 2% or more every time I use my credit card.

Using a credit card when you travel internationally is a wise choice, but there are also many important factors you must consider when using credit cards in foreign countries.

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How to Impress Your Boss at Work Without Sucking Up

By Jason Steele

men boss at workIt would be nice if we lived in a world where our bosses judged us solely by the quality and quantity of our work. However, the reality is that personal impressions are very important.

In the workplace, impressing your boss can often make the difference between maintaining your position and getting a promotion. In a down economy, it can even be the deciding factor between keeping your job and getting laid off.

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