reviews

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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Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card Review – 0% APR for 18 Months

citi diamond preferred cardThe Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card does not offer rewards in the way of cash back or miles, but instead provides the longest 0% introductory APR available. Non-rewards credit cards such as this one provide benefits in the way of savings and elimination of debt rather than cash back or points, and depending on your own financial situation, they may be a better deal.

By transferring existing balances to the Citi Diamond Preferred card with a 0% promotional balance transfer offer, you can gain an additional 18 months to pay off your debt without incurring additional interest charges.

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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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Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students Review

citi thankyou preferredThe Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students offers an opportunity to earn rewards on purchases while establishing a positive credit history. It combines the opportunity to reduce your APR, which was offered by the Citi Forward for College Students (which is no longer available), with the ThankYou rewards program that Citi cards are known for.

This card falls a bit short of being the best all-around credit card for students, but depending on your personal spending habits – especially if the majority of your purchases fall into the dining and entertainment categories – it could still be a great option.

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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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TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express – Review

american express trueearnings cardMany credit cards provide rewards for purchases made at supermarkets, but specifically exclude those made at shopping warehouses and superstores.

The TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express (a Money Crashers partner) is an exception. It provides minimal rewards for such purchases, and if you shop frequently at Costco or want to earn cash back on gasoline purchases, you may want to give it serious consideration.

Key Features

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Chase Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Review

chase southwest premier cardSouthwest Airlines offers three credit cards through Chase: the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card, the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card, and the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card. Of the two cards available to consumers, the Premier version offers better bonuses and charges no foreign transaction fees, while the Plus version carries a lower annual fee.

Even considering the recent changes made to the Rapid Rewards program, such as offering points based on ticket price rather than number of flights purchased, the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card provides more opportunities to earn points, likely making it a better value for frequent Southwest Airlines customers.

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