Blue Sky from American Express® – Credit Card Review

american express blue sky cardMany travel rewards credit cards are specific to a certain airline or hotel, which may limit your use of the card and the rewards that you receive. The Blue Sky from American Express® (a Money Crashers partner) is one of the few credit cards that provides rewards for generalized travel purchases, including hotels and airfare with virtually every provider. However, whether this is a better option than more targeted travel cards is likely to hinge on how often you travel and how much you value flexibility.

Key Features

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GE Capital Bank Review – Online Banking for Savings & CD Accounts

ge capital bankFrom Ally Bank to Capital One 360, online banks have made FDIC-insured banking more accessible to regular consumers and business owners. Offering savings accounts and CDs – but not offering loans – GE Capital Bank is one such online bank. It’s worth noting that GE Capital Bank is distinct from GE Capital Retail Bank, which offers its own suite of products, including loans.

GE Capital Bank, which is headquartered in the Salt Lake City area, provides FDIC insurance – up to a maximum of $250,000 per individual – on its clients’ deposit accounts. It lacks physical bank branches, but enables its customers to bank online or over the phone.

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SoFi Review – Refinance Your Student Loans Peer-to-Peer

Even college graduates who find great jobs can struggle with debt for years after leaving school, especially if they have expensive private student loans. And, for borrowers who can’t make ends meet, it’s nearly impossible to discharge student debts in bankruptcy. The result is an unending cascade, possibly decades long, of financial repercussions.

Social Finance, Inc., known as SoFi, looks to change this glum reality. Using peer-to-peer lending between members of the public and qualified student borrowers, it provides student loan refinancing for graduates of more than 2,000 U.S universities. Recently, SoFi has also delved into peer-to-peer personal loans, mortgages, and primary student loan markets.

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FreshBooks Review – Online Invoicing Software for Painless Billing

freshbooks logoIf you work as a freelancer or run your own small business, you probably can’t afford a full-time accountant – but you also can’t trust your finances to manage themselves. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. With about five million global users, FreshBooks is one of the most popular cloud-based accounting programs available. It provides intuitive, non-technical tools to help with invoicing, expense tracking, timekeeping, and basic project management.

FreshBooks has many competitors in the crowded online accounting space, including Kashoo, Zoho Books, Xero, and Wave. With versatile payment options and automated accounting functions, unlike some of its cheaper competitors, it’s especially useful for busy entrepreneurs who can’t afford to devote time to manual accounting activities.

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Ally Bank Review – Online Bank With No Minimum Balance Required

Online banks are powerful personal finance tools that offer convenient access to funds – but, not all are created equal. As one of the first online-only institutions, Ally Bank has developed a reputation for responsive customer service, high interest rates on checking and savings accounts, and reasonable fees. Like many online banks, it has no physical branches, but it is an FDIC member, which means its customers’ deposits are insured up to $250,000.

Since its spinoff from GMAC in 2009, Salt Lake City-based Ally has accumulated nearly a million customers. With $54 billion in total deposits, it’s currently the 29th largest U.S. bank.

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OptOutPrescreen Review – Stop Credit Card Offers in the Mail

credit card offers mailJunk mail – that ubiquitous nuisance that shows up everyday, usually boasting pre-approved offers for credit cards and insurance rates – poses a very real problem. These offers can be scooped from your mailbox, opened without your knowledge, and used fraudulently under your name without permission. While this may not be the most popular form of identity theft out there, it does happen and it’s a real risk. Add to that the fact that junk mail usually just ends up in the trash, representing a huge waste of paper and resources, and there’s simply no reason you need to continue receiving it.

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Mvelopes Review – Envelope Budgeting Software

mvelopes logoThe envelope budgeting system has been around for a long time, and because it works, it remains popular, despite its “old school” methodology. If you’re not familiar, the concept is simple: Separate your budget into different categories, such as entertainment, groceries, rent, and gasoline. Create an envelope for each category, label it, and withdraw cash from your account to place in each envelope representing the total amount you’ll spend in that category for the month. Use the cash from your envelopes to make your purchases, and when the money’s gone, stop spending in that category until the next month.

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EverBank Review – Full Service Online Banking and Mortgages

everbank logoEverBank is a Jacksonville, Florida-based bank that serves Florida customers through its network of physical branches and national customers through its online bank. The company offered its first product, the extant Yield Pledge Checking Account, in 1999. Since then, it has dramatically expanded its offerings to cater to retirement savers, high-asset clients, business owners, and advanced investors who want access to currencies and precious metals. It offers a robust lineup of banking services, as well as brokerage accounts for investors through EverTrade Direct Brokerage.

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Sharebuilder Review – Discount Broker for Long-Term Automatic Investing

sharebuilderThe Internet age has radically changed the nature of investing, giving rise to low-cost online brokerages that cut out the middleman and allow nonprofessional retirement investors to buy and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange traded funds, options, futures, and commodities. Sharebuilder is one such online brokerage.

As one of the oldest online trading platforms, Sharebuilder has been in operation for nearly 20 years, and is now a subsidiary of Capital One 360. Like other brokerages, Sharebuilder is a member organization of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), a public corporation that compensates investors for losses of cash and securities in the event that their brokerage declares bankruptcy. SIPC provides $250,000 in insurance for cash balances held in your brokerage account, and $500,000 in insurance for securities, with a total insurance cap of $500,000 in combined cash and securities.

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Capital One 360 Review – Online Checking & Savings Accounts

Capital One is a well-known financial institution that made its name in the credit card business. Capital One 360, one of its major divisions, offers a related, if less sexy, suite of products: online banking and personal lending services. If you’re not satisfied with the brick-and-mortar banking options in your area – or you want to cast as wide a net as possible during your search for an attractive mortgage – then this institution should be on your radar.

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