It used to be something quite common: bereavement fares for flights. But over the last decade or so, they’ve slowly gone extinct. There are still some airlines that offer a bereavement fare, like Delta and Alaska Airlines, but most airlines have done away with them. And even if you can find a bereavement fare, oftentimes you’ll have to jump through hoops to get them (annoying for someone that didn’t just lose a loved one, let alone someone who is in a grief filled haze).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Chase Freedom is one of my favorite cards to use. Not only is it a no-annual-fee card, but it also offers a 5x bonus on rotating categories every quarter (up to $1,500 in spend). In order to take advantage of these bonuses, you need to activate it. If you do the math, this means you can earn $300 every year if you max out each quarter. It gets even better if you pair the Freedom with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which can turn that $300 into an amount much closer to $600.
Who doesn't like free money? The thing is not everyone has enough free time to get a second job, or do a side hustle. If that pretty much describes you, rest easy! That’s because making extra money doesn't always have to include work. One of the easiest ways you'll ever see that dough rise in your bank account is to open another bank account. That's right. Banks try to lure customers by offering perks. All you need to do to take advantage - is to open an account. Easy. As. That.
It’s called chasing sign-up bonuses and some people do this kind of thing on a regular basis. You can do it with credit cards and bank accounts. I’ve done both, and neither one takes much time. As of late, I’ve been focusing more on chasing credit card sign-up bonuses, but I recently started thinking about opening another bank account to reap the rewards.
It only takes about 30 minutes (give or take a few) to open up a bank account, so time really isn’t a factor here. And most bonuses you’ll get after three, or six months are more lucrative than keeping that same amount of money in a savings account for the same amount of time. For example, if you open an account with $1,500, and get a bonus of $100 after six months you’ll close that account with $1,600 in your pocket. If you left that same $1,500 in a savings account you’d get less than $10 in interest in six months. Which one would you pick?
Anyways, I figured I’d write this to help me (and hopefully you) decide which banks have the best deals right now. Listed below are some of the better deals I found:
This will probably be the easiest $300 you'll make every frickin' year! And that's not even the best part. What is? It's free. I know what you're thinking: there's gotta be a catch. Well, yes and no. That's because I'm talking about a rewards credit card. But it's one of the best out there, in my opinion. I'm talking about the Chase Freedom Credit Card. It has no annual fee, and is very easy to get for most people out there. According to Credit Karma, if you have a credit score of at least 585 you can get approved. The Freedom was my very first adult credit card out of college! And let me just say, when I graduated college, I had a crappy paying job with very little credit.
Investing your money is not always easy. If you're just getting into it you probably are thinking about nightmare scenarios where the stock market crashes and you lose all your money. Is that kind of thing possible? Sure. Likely? No. That's why it makes headlines when it happens. Because it doesn't happen very often.
By investing your hard earned money you're taking more of a risk, but the reward is far greater. For example, if you keep your money in a normal savings account (we'll pick on Chase today), you'll actually lose money. Chase has an interest rate of 0.03%. That's embarrassingly pathetic. The reason you're "losing" money is because of inflation. In other words, your money (however much you "saved") will buy less this year than last year. Even a savings account that has a better interest rate (like Capital One 360, which I use) is more than likely less than the yearly inflation rate.
On the other hand, if you had any money in, say, an investment account that puts your money into ETFs (which is similar to an index fund) last year, it probably would have grown by about 11%. That's some good growth! Over the long term, you can expect a 6-7% return on their money. This, according to Warren Buffett in a Bloomberg article. I would argue he knows what he's talking about, no?
You can (and should) have both a savings and investment account. I think of an investment account as more of a semi long term thing. As an example, if you have cash you don't plan on spending right now, and you want it to grow, an investment account is the way to go.
Let's say you've decided to open an investment account. Where do you start? There are several ways you can go about opening one. I'll go through three different ways you can get your money invested.
When it comes to loyalty programs this could be a game changer. Come sometime this spring, American Express will be launching Plenti, a cross-brand loyalty program that includes some of the biggest companies in the country. The program will basically allow you to earn Plenti points at one place and redeem them at another. Right now, a total of eight companies are part of the program: AT&T, Exxon, Macy's, Mobil, Nationwide, Rite Aid, Direct Energy, and Hulu. In addition, American Express says they expect to add more companies (what's not clear is whether it'll be before or after the launch).
Gas prices are still cheap. They'll stay that way as long as oil prices are low. Recently, crude oil prices have gone up from the $45-range to about $55 (which is still low. I would argue a price at around $80 is good for everyone, but that's for another blog).
Why are cheap gas prices good?
That's an easy one. Everyone who buys gas for their cars already knows why cheap gas is good. It means immediate extra cash in your pocket. Instead of paying $50-$60 to fill up, you're paying $25-$35. That's big savings!
As far as I'm concerned travel and money go hand in hand. You can't do one without the other. Unfortunately, those that have the worst reputation when it comes to finances are those who are my age. They're in their 20s and early 30s. For the most part, I'd agree with that assessment. No doubt, my generation (millennials) has had it rough. However, what generation hasn't?
I'm new to travel hacking with credit cards. Some may consider it "churning," where you open a bunch of new credit cards all at once every three months or so, and then cancel them about 11 months after opening them to avoid an annual fee (as an example). One of the most common questions I'm asked is "does it hurt your credit score?"
Has my credit score taken a hit?
No. It's actually the opposite. Since I've started building more credit, my score has gone up about 15 points (and now above 800) in 6 months. Why? Well, your credit score is based on several factors. FICO, one of the companies that determines your credit score, for example, bases credit scores on: