Civic participation is a key ingredient of a well-functioning democracy, and voter turnout is one measure of the public’s trust in government. But there’s evidence to suggest a growing lack of political engagement among Americans.
Presidential elections tend to get citizens more energized than midterms. In 2016, a record 137.5 million Americans voted. Unfortunately, that number still only accounts for 61.4% of the voting-age population. The numbers are much worse for midterms. In 2014, for instance, 15 of the first 25 statewide primary elections reported record-low voter turnouts. Nationwide, only 36.4% of all eligible voters voted.
In recent years, many Americans’ personal information has become compromised by big data breaches. In 2018 alone, prominent companies like Adidas, Best Buy, Delta, Kmart, Macy’s and Sears have fallen victim to cybercriminals. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s most recent Data Breach Report, between January 1, 2005 and August 31, 2018, there have been 9,395 breaches. That accounts for over 1.1 billion records compromised.
The federal government and various businesses in recent years have taken more aggressive measures to build up our defenses. The Trump administration recently released a new cybersecurity plan, including taking more offensive measures toward foreign cyberattacks. Despite this, criminal strategies continue to evolve and grow in sophistication, keeping consumers vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
Identity theft occurs when someone gains unauthorized access to your personally identifying information – such as your name, Social Security Number (SSN), or bank account information – and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity thieves are opportunistic. They tend to exploit simple vulnerabilities in individuals’ personal information security practices, and each critical piece of information or account they garner access to can help them steal more. Signs of fraud can also take weeks or months to reveal themselves.
Consumers and merchants often rely on the security of cashier’s checks for major transactions such as the purchase of a home, car or jewelry. But “security” in this case simply means that cashier’s checks won’t bounce because the issuing banks take full responsibility for covering payment. They aren’t, however, secure from fraud and scams.
Printing technology has grown so advanced over recent years that it’s relatively easy for scammers to forge cashier’s checks in their own basements. As a result, even bank employees may find it difficult to detect a fake, and it can take weeks before a counterfeit cashier’s check is discovered. What’s more, if you spend the funds prematurely, you’ll be liable for the unpaid check (and the resulting fees) once the bank discovers it’s fraudulent.
The standard Chase Ultimate Rewards points value is 1 cent per point, but it can vary based upon which card you have and what you spend the points on. Unlike some credit card companies, Chase (a WalletHub partner) doesn’t discourage certain types of redemption, such as cash back or gift cards, by making points worth less when you choose them (e.g. half a cent instead of one cent). Rather, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are always worth at least 1 cent apiece when redeemed through Chase, and certain cards offer extra value when used for travel.
Chase Ultimate Rewards is the 5th best credit card rewards program, according to the top nine issuers’ cards, rules, limitations and assorted perks. Once known as Chase “Flexible Rewards,” the Ultimate Rewards program features some of the most popular credit cards on the market, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.
Energy is expensive. In fact, it’s one of the biggest household expenses for American consumers. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. family spends at least $2,000 per year on utilities, with heating and cooling of spaces alone accounting for more than half the bill. In 2018, the average consumer spent another $1,968 on motor fuel and oil, up $59 from last year.
The Department of Energy estimates that adopting energy-efficient measures in the home could reduce a family’s utility costs by as much as 25 percent. It pays to conserve, especially during a time of increasingly warmer temperatures. As for transportation, the agency found that a more fuel-efficient vehicle could save the average driver about $708 per year.
Discover (one of our advertising partners) claims to treat you like you treat you. But it’s still fair to wonder which Discover card – if any – you should treat yourself to. Because let’s face it: You don’t want the best Discover card; you want the best overall credit card for your individual needs.
So WalletHub’s editors compared Discover cards and selected the top offers for a handful of common consumer needs. Based on this analysis...
People choose to adopt plant-based diets for various reasons, some ethical, others health-related. According to a 2016 Harris Poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, about eight million U.S. adults are vegan or vegetarian.
But finding meatless options at restaurants and supermarkets can be a challenge, depending on where you find yourself hungry in America. And though some experts contend that forgoing animal products could save the average person at least $750 per year, certain specialty foods can be expensive.
2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment (1 point per $1 on everything else)
No foreign-transaction fees
No initial rewards bonus
$95 annual fee starting year two
No 0% intro rates
Above-average regular APR
This offer is no longer available through WalletHub.com but is available on the Citi website.
The Verdict: Whether it’s truly a premier option is a matter for debate, but the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card certainly represents a solid way to subsidize your travel expenses, assuming you have excellent credit.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card – 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer
4 / 5
0% on balance transfers for 21 months
0% on purchases for 12 months
No annual fee
5% balance transfer fee
3% foreign transaction fee
High regular APR
Please Note: This card is no longer open to new applications. Information listed here is accurate as of Oct. 11, 2018.
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 5% (min $5) balance transfer fee for the pleasure of avoiding interest for 21 months.
The Verdict: The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever is a very good 0% credit card for people with good credit. Citi Simplicity offers 0%* for 21 months on balance transfers, 0%* for 12 months on new purchases and has a $0* annual fee. The interest-free period that the Simplicity Card provides for balance transfers is nine months longer than average (Citi is a WalletHub partner). That gives you plenty of time to pay off credit card debt without it getting more and more expensive along the way.
The downside is that Citi Simplicity charges a balance transfer fee of 5% (min $5). Plus, its regular APR is pretty high, at 15.99% to 25.99%* (V), depending on your creditworthiness. Simplicity might still be the best balance transfer credit card for you. It all depends on how big your balance is and how much you can afford to pay per month.
Up to $100 back on U.S. restaurant purchases in the first 3 months
25K bonus points (worth roughly $213) for spending $2K in the first 3 months
Up to $100 in credits per year for fees charged by one airline
4 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants
4 points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25K spent per year, then 1 point)
3 points per $1 spent on eligible flights
No foreign transaction fee
$250 annual fee
Points worth less than 1 cent, on average
Limited ability to carry a balance from month to month
The Verdict: The American Express® Gold Card offers lots of rewards, especially on travel and dining purchases. But it costs a pretty penny, too.
Amex Gold gives 20% back in statement credits at U.S. restaurants for the first three months (up to $100 saved), an initial bonus of 25,000 points for spending $2,000 in the first three months, up to $10 per month for dining with Amex dining partners, and up to $100 per year for fees charged by one airline. That’s not all, either. Amex Gold cardholders also earn 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent each year), 3 points per $1 spent on eligible flights, and 1 point per $1 on everything else (American Express is a WalletHub partner). That’s the good news.
Having health insurance is vital to the well-being of your family and your wallet. It not only ensures that you have access to the care you need, but it also can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket medical expenses, the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S.
After the passage of the Affordable Care Act — dubbed “Obamacare” — the uninsured rate for all adult Americans dipped to a historic low of 10.9% in the last quarter of 2016, according to Gallup. But the uninsured rate is back on the rise and was 12.2% in the fourth quarter of 2017. According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund it now sits at 15.5%.
The national uninsured rate is on an upward trend this year, at 15.5% compared to 12.7% just two years two, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. But how widely do the rates differ from city to city?
With the uninsured rate climbing yet the Affordable Care Act remaining in place, WalletHub measured the uninsured rates for 547 U.S. cities and broke them down even further by age, income level and race. In addition, we conducted the same analysis at the state level. Read on for the complete ranking, a ranking by city size and a full description of our methodology.
Credit card companies are the banks and credit unions that issue credit cards to consumers and small business owners. They also service cardholders’ accounts by billing for purchases, accepting payments, distributing rewards and more. Examples of major credit card companies include Bank of America, Barclays, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and Wells Fargo. Credit card networks play a different role. They dictate where credit cards can be used, facilitate payment processing at the point of sale and administer secondary credit card benefits, such as rental car insurance, travel insurance and extended warranties. The four major card networks are Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.
The names of both a credit card’s issuer and its network are listed on the front of the card. The only exceptions are store credit cards, which don’t belong to a card network and can only be used at the retailers they’re affiliated with.
“Green” living means a choice to engage in cleaner, more sustainable habits in order to preserve the planet as much as possible. Nearly three in four Americans believe that “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” And a majority of Americans think the government is currently doing too little to improve water and air quality (69% and 64%, respectively).
The Trump administration has recently changed standards for the coal industry, rolling back regulations on coal plant emissions. On the other hand, while many people expected solar power to struggle under new tariffs aimed at goods manufactured abroad, one of the largest solar power companies recently received an exemption. As a result, its stock has soared.
Americans today apply the term “foodie” to anyone who loves gourmet dining. But foodie culture isn’t limited to restaurants. More importantly, far fewer than the many who claim to be foodies truly deserve the label. “Authentic” foodies, according to experts, not only crave new and different flavors but also savor the exploratory experience of eating, learning and discovering food.
Naturally, the foodie lifestyle can be quite expensive, considering that restaurant prices rose 2.8% just between July 2017 and July 2018. And in 2015, Americans spent more money at food establishments than at grocery stores for the first time. In 2018, restaurants have been able to profit from relatively stable wholesale food prices, especially with beef and pork. And while people may view dining at home to be more cost-effective, eating at home still can be pricey, depending on the local cost of living as well as the type and quality of ingredients used.
Credit card miles work by rewarding you for making purchases using your card and then allowing you to use your stockpiled miles for travel, gift cards, cash back or other options. Credit card miles are one of the three major types of credit card rewards, the other two being cash back and points. Points and miles basically function the same way, but miles are more closely tied to travel, especially air travel.