As the clock struck midnight on the 45th president’s first year in office, the United States government shut down for the 19th time in history. And right on cue, both sides of the political aisle began attempting to assign blame and assume the moral high ground with the aid of hashtags and tales of children at risk. But this isn’t just another soap opera from the swamp, for the swamp. History and hard data tell us the gears of government grinding to a halt will have nationwide consequences, hurting red states and blue states alike.
To determine whose homes a government shutdown strikes closest to, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across six key metrics. They range from each state’s share of federal jobs and contracts to the percentage of kids covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). You can check out the findings below, followed by the complete methodology used.
Airline loyalty is hard to come by. Most travelers are willing to jump to another jet for the slightest of discounts. Yet roughly 7% of flights are paid for with points or miles, according to PWC. So there’s obviously value in committing to a carrier. You just have to find the right one.
To help you earn more free flights and other assorted perks, WalletHub compared the 10 largest domestic airlines’ loyalty rewards programs across 23 key metrics, ranging from the value of a rewards point or mile to blackout-date policies.
Smoking doesn’t just ruin your health. It can also burn a nasty hole through your wallet. Tobacco use accounts for nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. each year and is the leading cause of lung cancer, according to the American Lung Association. Even those around tobacco smokers aren’t safe from its harmful effects. Since 1964, smoking-related illnesses have claimed 20 million lives in the U.S., 2.5 million of which belonged to nonsmokers who developed diseases merely from secondhand-smoke exposure.
However, the economic and societal costs of smoking are just as huge. Every year, Americans spend more than $300 billion, which includes both medical care and lost productivity. Unfortunately, some people will have to pay more depending on the state in which they live.
The Verdict: If you’re planning a big balance transfer and have good or excellent credit, you should definitely consider the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card - 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer (Citi is a WalletHub partner). Diamond Preferred doesn’t charge an annual fee and offers 0% on balance transfers for the first 21 months your account is open, as long as you complete the transfer within the first four months. That’s just about the longest 0% term on the market, giving you ample time to get out from under your forthcoming debt before a regular APR takes effect. The bad news is you have to pay a 3% balance transfer fee for the pleasure of avoiding interest for 21 months.
Citi Diamond Preferred also offers 0% on new purchases for the first 12 months your account is open. That’s a bit longer than the average 0% card gives you but still nothing special.
The Verdict: You don’t need to be a civil engineer to enjoy Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever. Rather, urban planning jokes aside, you need to have good or excellent credit to qualify and either big-ticket spending in your plans or a significant balance already accruing interest at a high rate in order to benefit. That’s because the Citi Simplicity® Card is most notable for offering 0% introductory interest rates on new purchases and balance transfers for 18 months (Citi is a WalletHub partner).
When you further consider that it does not charge an annual fee, Simplicity clearly is an amazing offer for new-purchase financing and a pretty great way to reduce the cost of existing debt. You just need to make sure to incorporate its 3% balance transfer fee into your debt payoff plan.
Retirement might be the end of your career, but it doesn’t have to be the end of financial security or life satisfaction. Timing is often a primary concern with retirement, as it generally coincides with the age at which we may receive Social Security or pension benefits. Not everyone can retire when they want to, though. Almost 30 percent of non-retired adults haven’t saved any money for retirement, though not necessarily through any fault of their own.
But in addition to when you want to retire, a good question to ask is where. That can be difficult to decide without doing lots of research. Even in the most affordable areas of the U.S., most retirees cannot rely on Social Security or pension checks alone to cover all of their living expenses. Social Security benefits increase with local inflation, but they replace only about 40 percent of the average worker’s earnings.
Child identity theft is when someone uses a minor’s personal information to assume his or her identity and commit fraud. This could be applying for credit in the child’s name or using his or her Social Security number to claim a tax refund, for example. Children are attractive targets because the younger a person is, the more time fraudsters have to commit crimes before their victim begins using his or her personal info and discovers the problem. Children also are vulnerable due to their dependence on adults. Family members are among the most common perpetrators of child identity theft simply because they have access to the child’s personal information. Plus, the promise of a clean slate can be a powerful motivator for someone with a history of financial problems.
"My mother was the one who stole my identity when I was a kid," said Allison Betz, an assistant professor of consumer studies at Eastern Illinois University and a victim of child identity theft. "Looking back, my mother did a very good job of isolating me and my father from friends and family, and she had total and complete access to our mail. So you can have a family member who has stolen your identity living in your house and not know it.”
An Identity Theft Report, or Identity Theft Affidavit, is an individual’s official statement reporting fraud and/or identity theft to law enforcement. It’s generally all you need to get your complaint on record and the ball rolling toward a solution.
“In most cases, you can use your Identity Theft Report in place of a police report to clear your account and credit records of transactions that resulted from the identity theft,” the Federal Trade Commission advised consumers in April 2017. “That’s because when you use IdentityTheft.gov, you’re reporting the crime to the Federal Trade Commission, a federal law enforcement agency.” So an Identity Theft Report carries some weight.
A credit card number is usually 15-16 digits long, but it could be as many as 19 digits or as few as 13 in some cases. Each of these individual credit card numbers has meaning. And understanding the significance of each makes it easier to spot fraud, in addition to giving you an inside look at how credit cards work.
To get you started, we’ll give you a quick overview of the four major parts of a credit card number, before analyzing each in more detail.
You don’t need a certain credit score to lease a car. The average credit score among new lessees has ranged from 715 to 722 over the past five years, according to Experian. But people with credit scores below 580 have taken out roughly 13% of the auto loans and leases over the past decade, according to data from Equifax. And more than 7% of new leases go to people with credit scores of 300 to 600. Such scores are firmly within “bad credit” territory, which just goes to show that a low score won’t completely prevent you from leasing a new set of wheels.
Although it’s clearly possible to lease a car with pretty much any credit score, the lower your score is, the fewer options you’re likely to have and the more expensive they’ll be. Just consider how those low rates you see advertised on television are “limited to well-qualified lessees.” Whether you opt for a lease or a loan, you’ll also have to get car insurance. And the cost will also depend on your credit standing, with people who have excellent credit capable of saving a great deal.
STEM workers are in fierce demand and not just in the global epicenter of high tech known as Silicon Valley. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — professions grew at over twice the rate as non-STEM workers did between 2009 and 2015. And most types of STEM jobs will expand faster than all occupations until 2024.
Given their growing demand, STEM careers today comprise some of the most lucrative employment, paying higher salaries and boasting far fewer threats of unemployment compared with other types of jobs. STEM workers in 2015 earned an average annual wage of $87,570, nearly double the national average of $45,700 for all non-STEM jobs, according to the most recent figures from the BLS.
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared with the world his dream of a colorblind society — one that focuses on his children’s character, not on their complexion. America has certainly come closer to realizing Dr. King’s vision. But segregation and discrimination continue to persist.
Views on systemic racism also differ sharply across racial lines. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of blacks said that “whites benefit a great deal or a fair amount from advantages that blacks do not have.” In contrast, only 46 percent of whites agreed with that statement.
Returns are a fact of retail life, especially after holidays and other major celebrations. For example, nearly 1 in 4 people plan to return a holiday gift this year, according to a recent WalletHub survey. But returning an item that you’ve purchased or received as a gift isn’t always so easy. A variety of factors have the potential to turn this minor inconvenience into a waste of your precious time. But retailers’ strict return policies are among the biggest impediments.
Stores have several reasons for being rigid with returns, including trying to prevent fraud: returning a used or stolen item, for instance. That impacts roughly 3.5% of all returns. But where does that leave honest people who, for one reason or another, can’t meet a particular store’s return requirements? The answer might already be in your wallet.
Raising a healthy, stable family sometimes requires moving to a new state. And the reasons are often similar: career transitions, better schools, financial challenges or perhaps a general desire to change settings.
But wants and needs don’t always align in a particular state, which might offer, for instance, a low income-tax rate yet subpar education system. Consequently, a family must make unnecessary sacrifices — the kinds that are easily avoided by knowing which states offer the best combination of qualities that matter most to parents and their kids.
If you plan to move your family to Illinois, you’ll want to rub Abe Lincoln’s “lucky” nose for good fortune. The state’s economy — the fifth largest by GDP — has been in chronic hot water. For two years, Illinois struggled to pass a budget and today owes billions in past-due bills. But some cities will feel the financial pinch more than others.
To the Prairie State’s credit, many of its cities still offer plenty of incentives for new and growing families. Rising home values, the 11th best school system in the U.S. and a prestigious roster of employers that includes 36 of the Fortune 500 companies are among the state’s strongest qualities — and many of the highlights that parents look to cross off on their list of priorities. And while Illinois winters can be quite harsh, families have ample indoor and outdoor opportunities for fun throughout the year.
We all aspire to become the best and fittest versions of ourselves. To achieve that goal, we must maintain an active lifestyle. But that’s easier said than done, partly because where we live may be failing to promote a healthy way of life. Some cities, for instance, lack sidewalks or neighborhood parks while others encourage few fitness centers to open for business.
It’s no wonder “lose weight and exercise more” consistently ranks as both the No. 1 most popular and most commonly broken New Year’s resolution in America.
Understanding the credit card climate is important for two reasons. First, credit card offers change regularly, based on the health of the economy and issuers’ business objectives. So being able to see the bigger picture – averages, trends, etc. – gives you a baseline against which to compare offers. And that will help you find the best credit card deals as well as ultimately save more money.
Monitoring the credit card landscape can also tell you a lot about the health of the U.S. consumer. For example, 0% introductory APRs and initial rewards bonuses dried up during the Great Recession. And the decline in consumer credit quality during that period was a big reason why.
With 2017 behind us, it’s time to think about fresh starts again. But whether that means a small change or a complete life overhaul, finding a new or better job will be a top resolution.
If that’s your mission for the new year, it’s a good time to be on the job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent jobs report, the national unemployment rate has fallen to a 17-year low of 4.1 percent while hiring is up.
3% intro balance transfer fee for 15 months (5% after)
The Verdict: The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Credit Card (Wells Fargo is a WalletHub partner) is one of the best 0% credit cards on the market right now. It offers 0% introductory APRs on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, trouncing the market averages for 0% cards in those categories: roughly 10 months for new purchases and 11 months for transfers.
However, Wells Fargo Platinum’s balance transfer fee (3% intro for the first 15 months) is above average, too. Similarly, Platinum’s regular APR could be 25%+, while the average among credit cards for people with good credit (which you need for approval) is just above 19%. So you may want to think twice about transferring existing debt. And you definitely shouldn’t carry a balance from month to month once the 0% intro rates have come and gone.
The Verdict: A name like Chase Freedom Unlimited® (Chase is a WalletHub partner) puts a lot of pressure on a credit card, hinting at boundless spending power and invaluable perks while building high expectations that are hard to live up to. But the only limitless aspect of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card is your ability to earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There’s no cap on how much you can earn, and those earnings won’t expire until account closing.
The rest of the offer is pretty strong, if not completely free or flexible. You have to spend $500 within three months of account opening to qualify for Freedom Unlimited’s $150 initial bonus. There’s a 15-month clock on the card’s 0% introductory rates, which apply to both new purchases and balance transfers. And if you transfer a balance, carry a balance from month to month after the 15-month mark or spend money abroad, you’re going to pay big.