Americans are obsessed with deals. Why else would we camp outside our favorite stores after a big holiday feast or force ourselves awake in the early morning to browse the virtual shopping aisles? Truth is, many of us find pleasure in buying merchandise at the deepest discounts and knowing we beat our fellow sale-addicted shoppers to the punch.
But while Black Friday is traditionally associated with the best prices, we should pause from our spending and ask: How good of a deal am I really getting? According to WalletHub’s holiday shopping survey, 51 percent of consumers said they don’t think Black Friday offers the most unbeatable bargains of the year.
The Verdict: One of the market’s elite everyday offers, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (American Express is a WalletHub partner) provides an impressive rewards package aimed at some of the most common consumer-spending categories. In addition to a $200 initial bonus for spending at least $1,000 during the first three months your account is open, you will earn 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarket purchases that you make each year (1% thereafter), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and 1% cash back on everything else.
Blue Cash Preferred has financing chops, too, offering 0% introductory interest rates on new purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. But it does come at a cost, charging a 3% balance-transfer fee and a $95 annual fee. This steep fixed cost means that the Blue Cash Preferred® Card is ill-suited to someone who infrequently pays with plastic, as it would be difficult to earn enough rewards to cover the annual fee. But if you’re prepared to make it your primary spending vehicle, and groceries and gas are among your biggest expenses, then Blue Cash Preferred®certainly warrants a closer look. And though it’s not necessarily an offer to seek out for financing purposes, it’s far from a liability and actually lends itself quite well to helping you both earn rewards and avoid interest on a big-ticket purchase that will take more than a few months to pay off.
Black Friday shopping is one of America’s most treasured holiday traditions. But there’s always a bit of hassle involved: Shoppers have to get up early, stand in endless lines at stores and try to find deals through hordes of other shoppers — all in the name of savings.
That tradition is changing, however. Black Friday sales are starting earlier, weeks ahead of the actual shopping holiday at some stores. And many retailers are offering even steeper price cuts or other discount promotions, both in store and online, just to stay ahead of their competitors. That’s good news for shoppers, especially those who prefer to shop from home. So which stores offer the best discounts and for which items?
Besides bringing good cheer, the holidays also can invite seasonal stress, a primary source of which is our addiction to spending. The National Retail Federation predicts the average per-person tab this holiday season will reach $1,007.24, up 4.1 percent since 2017.
Although a few extra bucks might seem negligible, it’s important to put it in the context of American spending, and credit card debt, as a whole. In 2018, the average household credit card debt is $8,332, according to WalletHub’s data. At the beginning of the year, there was over $1 trillion in total credit card debt, which only dipped slightly lower to around $979 trillion in the second fiscal quarter.
Credit card purchase protection covers eligible items against damage and theft in the months after you buy them. So if you have the right card and follow the proper protocol, your misfortune could be reversed with a full refund or a repaired/replaced item.
When might credit card purchase protection come in handy? Well, there were 15.9 million cases of property crime in 2016, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. And in 2017, more than 1.3 million fires resulted in an estimated $23 billion in direct property loss, according to National Fire Protection Association. So it’s worth having an extra layer of protection.
We’ve all heard about retailers offering price-match guarantees. But what most people don’t realize is that roughly 41% of credit cards from major issuers do the same thing, perhaps even better. So-called credit card price protection enables you to get a refund for the difference between what you pay for an item and a lower price advertised in the following 60-120 days. In other words, credit card price protection can eliminate your fear of missing out on a better deal, allowing you to both buy with confidence and save money.
But credit cards with price protection are not created equal. Coverage amounts and exclusions vary widely, as do claims procedures. So to help you better understand what the most popular cards bring to the table, WalletHub’s editors compared the 10 largest credit card companies’ price protection policies from top to bottom.
Finding love can be tough — if you look for it in all the wrong places. Some cities might encourage dating by offering plentiful nightlife options and daytime attractions. But going on dates can be costly, with the average cost of a date at $102.32. It certainly pays to live in a place where dating activities, such as dining out or watching a movie, are relatively cheaper.
More entertainment choices and low cost of living don’t matter much, however, if the number of potential mates to meet are limited in your area. Around 45 percent of the U.S. adult population is unmarried (never married, divorced or widowed), according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates. But the share may be higher or lower in every city, and the ratio of women to men also will differ in each.
Gift cards are supposed to make gift-giving simpler, reducing the need to worry about the recipient’s tastes and what specific items he or she might already have. But not all gift cards are created equal, which might help explain why nearly $1 billion in value went unused in 2015, despite gift cards being the most popular type of present for the 12th consecutive year.
So in the interest of helping you find the best gift cards for any occasion – whether a birthday, holiday, graduation, etc. – we compared the 50 most popular options across five major categories: 1) how popular the cards are; 2) how much of a discount you can buy them for; 3) how much you can sell them for; 4) how much people like the retailer; and 5) shipping fees. Below, you can check out the resulting top picks.
Concerns over the proper role of taxation lie at the very foundation of American history. They haven’t gone away, either. In fact, President Donald Trump signed a new overhauled tax plan into effect in December 2017, which will affect earnings in the 2018 fiscal year. One of the largest changes in the plan is that the federal corporate income tax rate was permanently lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent. Republicans champion the tax plan as beneficial to business and consumers and Democrats claim it will only increase the wealth of the already wealthy.
With businesses looking forward to a large tax cut in the future, WalletHub analyzed annual reports for the S&P 100 — the largest and most established companies on the stock market — in order to determine the federal, state and international tax rates they paid in 2017. You can find the results, our detailed methodology and additional expert commentary below.
For the 37th time in the past 40 years, charitable giving increased year over year in 2017, according to Charity Navigator, with Americans giving a total of $410.02 billion – nearly $287 billion of which came from individual donors. And while some forecasts call for a drop in charitable giving in 2018, much depends on how generous we feel this holiday season. ’Tis indeed the season for generosity, as a significant portion of all charitable donations are usually made in the month of December.
There is no shortage of noble causes in need of support this year. But no one wants their money to go to waste. So it’s fair to wonder which charity will make the best use of your donation.
“Fat” is becoming the new normal in America. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than seven in 10 U.S. adults aged 20 and older are either overweight or obese. Rates are lower for children and adolescents but have risen drastically in the past few decades. So prevalent has America’s obesity problem grown that the weight-loss industry continues to expand. In 2017, the U.S. weight loss and diet control market was valued at $66 billion. The U.S. spends in total nearly $200 billion in annual health care costs related to obesity.
New findings by the Physical Activity Council suggest a need for more aggressive efforts to combat the issue. According to the report, 82.4 million Americans aged 6 and older were completely inactive in 2017. Lack of physical activity is a leading cause of obesity, in addition to genetics, emotional instability and sleeplessness.
According to the Veterans Association, there are over 19.6 million veterans currently living in the U.S. These veterans often face a host of challenges when re-entering civilian life. Despite Uncle Sam’s promises to provide health care as well as housing, employment and educational assistance upon their return from service, some cannot secure healthcare, jobs or shelter.
Where veterans live can contribute to the problem. Although unemployment and homelessness have declined nationally for this group, such issues are simply worse in certain parts of America. Throughout the U.S., 40,000 veterans still find themselves without a home. However, there is some good news on the healthcare front. 71 percent of V.A. hospitals have improved their conditions over the past year. Plus, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently ruled that chronic pain without a clear medical diagnosis still qualifies veterans for disability benefits. This will provide over 11,000 veterans previously denied coverage with some much-needed assistance.
With the expensive holiday shopping season fast approaching and credit card debt again reaching historical levels, financing offers figure to be especially tempting in the weeks to come. And that makes “deferred interest,” a feature commonly found in the fine print of retailer payment plans, particularly dangerous. Deferred-interest financing is like a wolf in a sheep’s clothing, pairing an enticing offer – something like “no interest if paid in full” or “special financing” – with a clause that allows the deal to turn ugly if you make the slightest mistake.
Deferred interest means you pay no interest or a reduced rate for a period of time, but allows for the possibility that a high regular APR could retroactively apply to your entire original purchase amount – as if the low intro rate never existed. Paying one month’s bill a day late or owing even $1 when the promotional period ends could trigger the deferred interest clause, activating high interest charges. Deferred interest is common with 0% store financing offers. And since many retailers don’t disclose deferred interest clearly enough, it can lead to some expensive post-holiday shopping season surprises.
Store cards occupy a very interesting niche within the broader credit card market. For one thing, they tend to have more lenient approval requirements than general-use cards with comparable terms. That’s largely because they can only be used to make purchases with the retailers they represent, which limits the risk for the issuer. As a result, store credit cards are a great way to build credit at a low cost.
But store cards aren’t only for the limited-and-fair credit crowd. Their sign-up bonuses and ongoing rewards provide savings at affiliated stores that even the market’s best overall rewards cards can’t match. So they’re especially attractive to people with good and excellent credit who employ the Island Approach, which involves using multiple cards for various specific purposes.
Discover’s new-look credit card rewards program – branded Cashback Bonus – offers members the ability to earn cash back on every purchase, as well as to choose from a variety of redemption options, ranging from statement credits to gift cards and online merchandise.
When the mercury drops, some Americans welcome the chill while others follow the sun. But fewer travel options may be available to cold-weather fans this winter season — at least domestically — considering forecasts of above-normal temperatures across the country, along with higher than normal rain levels but less snow than usual.
To help Americans plan their travels over the colder months, WalletHub developed a ranking of the cheapest U.S. destinations that are also the easiest to reach. In total we analyzed nearly 70 of the largest metro areas — grouped as “warm” or “cold” — based on 36 key metrics, including two weeks of flight data, safety indicators and weather predictions.
We’re each projected to spend about $1,007 on presents this holiday season. Plus, the average household already owes more than $8,000 in credit card debt – nearly a record amount and still rising. So it will be very important to keep a watchful eye on your wallet during this expensive time of year.
With that in mind, WalletHub’s editors prepared six holiday shopping tips to help you give more, spend less and worry about money as little as possible.
The holiday season has become a commercial bonanza in which billions of dollars are spent on gifts and billions are added to our credit card debt tab. But that’s not what it’s really all about, and there’s no reason to feel pressured into spending more than you can afford. Because if your holiday budget isn’t as big as you’d like, there are plenty of presents you can give that cost absolutely nothing or close to it.
Below, you can find 16 low-cost or free holiday gift ideas that are sure to spread cheer without giving your wallet anything to fear. Happy holidays!
Tuesday, November 6 is midterm election day in the U.S., and it’s your chance to have a say in who calls the shots in government— and on your wallet.
With the population of the U.S. eligible to vote estimated at over 227,000,000, it’s easy to wonder how much your individual vote counts. Although the U.S. gives all citizens age 18 or older the right to vote (aside from felons in most states), ballots carry different weights based on the state in which one lives. Take California, for instance. Its estimated population is nearly 66 times greater than Wyoming’s, yet each state has two seats in the Senate. In this case, less is more: California’s votes are weakened exponentially because each of its senators must represent tens of millions more residents.