Not only do credit card offers regularly fluctuate in value, corresponding to changes in the economic climate and issuer strategy, but market-wide trends also reveal a great deal about the health of the U.S. consumer. Monitoring this information is therefore essential to finding the best deals and truly understanding the financial climate.
WalletHub aims to provide the requisite insights by tracking interest rates, rewards and fees across credit segments and highlighting the most important trends in our quarterly landscape reports. Below you can check out our latest findings, including a breakdown of how rates are reacting to recent Federal Reserve activity.
After years of historically low, near-zero interest rates, the Federal Reserve opened the door to better banking returns this past December by increasing its target rate for the first time in nearly a decade. But while credit card companies have responded in kind, raising the rates that consumers must pay on revolving balances, we have yet to see a corresponding increase in the rates that we earn on deposit accounts. And with global economic uncertainty throwing a wrench into the Fed’s plans for a steady stream of rate increases to close the year, it’s fair to wonder what we should do with our cash.
In the hope of answering that pressing question and providing strategic guidance to frugal consumers, WalletHub analyzed the rates, fees and features associated with more than 2,300 checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs from banks and credit unions of all shapes and sizes from across the country. Check out our findings below, and use the trends and tidbits we unearth to make the smartest possible financial decisions.
Ever since Starbucks democratized caffeine in 1971, a coffee culture has emerged in America — and throughout the world, for that matter. According to a Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults today drink coffee, and each averages 2.7 cups of joe per day. Some estimates even place Americans in the lead of global coffee consumption, at 146 billions cups per year, earning us the status as the most caffeinated — and wired — humans on the planet.
When searching for a new place to call home, most people share a common set of priorities such as affordability, ample job opportunities, quality schools and a variety of activities. People with disabilities, on the other hand, often have a longer list of considerations. Factors such as accessibility of public facilities, quality of health care or even cleanliness of the air can take precedence over others.
That said, good credit is generally thought to be a credit score of at least 660 but below 720, which is the start of the “excellent credit” range on the standard 300 to 850 scale. Just remember that lenders individually determine what constitutes “good” (or at least good enough) credit, so there isn’t one standard definition that you can rely on universally.
Most educators don’t pursue their profession for the money. Despite their critical role in shaping young minds, teachers across the U.S. are shortchanged every year. In fact, education jobs are some of the lowest-paying occupations that require a bachelor’s degree, and their salaries consistently fail to keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, the law demands better student performance without providing educators much guidance or incentive to improve their own effectiveness in the classroom.
In the latest Gallup poll on the most important problems facing the U.S. today, the highest share of respondents identified the “economy in general” as their biggest concern. Asked which political party would best handle America’s problems, 42 percent of those who identified an issue chose the Republican Party, compared with 37 percent in favor of Democrats.
Checking your credit score has become very easy and quite safe. For example, you can check your latest credit score for free in less two minutes on WalletHub and get daily updates, with alerts to tell you when anything important changes. You just have to quickly confirm your identity (we don’t want your neighbors snooping on your finances, after all), and you’ll be on the road to top WalletFitness.
A credit score of 700 on the standard 300 to 850 scale is generally considered “good.” In fact, it’s almost excellent, as the good-credit segment ranges from 660 to 719. So if your credit score is 700, something as simple as reducing your credit utilization could quickly put you over the top. And that would help you save hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of dollars more each year.
“FICO Score” is the generic name used to describe the many different credit scores produced by the Fair Isaac Corporation. An individual can have as many as 49 different FICO scores, according to credit expert and former Fair Isaac employee John Ulzheimer, among more than 1,000 scores overall.
It’s common for parents, employers and couples to add authorized users to their credit card accounts, giving these individuals the ability to make purchases without assuming payment liability or having to qualify for their own cards. This unique type of financial relationship has pros and cons as well as important implications for both parties’ credit standing.
Coming to America can be a challenge for immigrants. Adapting to a new way of life is another — and sometimes more painful. The process involves far more than learning the dominant language and counting money in the local currency. But subsequent generations often are able to skip those difficult steps. “Full integration into U.S. society and economy generally takes more than one generation, with children of immigrants reliably outperforming their parents in educational attainment, occupational status, wealth, and home ownership,” according to the Migration Policy Institute.
California once drew legions of fortune seekers to its short-lived Gold Rush. Although few newcomers are likely to strike gold in the literal sense today, the Golden State continues to charm big dreamers — not just aspiring actors and tech-preneurs, either. California’s many other riches are a magnet for families in search of opportunity.
Everyone likes to have fun. But we all prefer our personal brand of a good time. Some of us like going to bars and clubs, trying new restaurants, watching movies or playing outdoor sports. Others enjoy riding roller coasters, gambling, or catching and training Pokémon.
With such different preferences, what makes a fun city? At WalletHub, we define such a place as one that packs a little bit of everything for everyone — except maybe Johnny Knoxville and his extreme-thrill-seeking posse. In a city with enough variety, you won’t have to compromise with your amigos, your family or even yourself about the next fun activity to do alone or together.
The most popular credit-scoring models use 850 as their maximum credit score. Although only 0.5% to 1% of people have hit that ceiling, according to score providers, part of what makes this highest possible credit score so tantalizing is the fact that surprisingly many of us are within shouting distance. More than 20% of consumers had scores in the 800 to 850 range during 2015, according to WalletHub data.
Bankruptcy is bad news for your credit report. It’s the most derogatory of all notations, wreaking havoc on your credit standing and leaving in its wake significant damage from which you’ll be lucky to recover in less than a decade — the longest sentence for any credit-related transgression.
If Americans were obliged to say danke schön for Germany’s most valuable gift to society, we’d unanimously agree on Oktoberfest as that gift. BMW would come in close second, followed by hard syllables — for writing good poetry or letting off steam. But that’s just our guess at WalletHub.
Tax policy is an ever-changing landscape. As such, questions of fairness regularly find their way to the forefront of politics and public discourse. Who should pay for what and how much are among the questions that everyday Americans grapple with while struggling to navigate an increasingly complex tax code.
Can money truly buy happiness? Most people might be inclined to say no, based on moral principles. But some researchers beg to differ, suggesting that money can indeed contribute to happiness — but only up to a certain dollar amount. According to their findings, life satisfaction, one of the two main components of happiness, increases as income rises — to a maximum of $75,000 a year. Beyond that figure, money makes little difference in a person’s overall contentment with life.
With the global economy in flux and debate raging over the timing of Federal Reserve rate hikes, data that speak to the financial health of the average American household can be quite telling. Credit card debt statistics, in particular, reflect consumer sentiment and can foretell overleveraging bubbles that may trigger constriction across lending markets.
The fact that U.S. consumers racked up a record-setting $34.4 billion in credit card debt during the second quarter of 2016 therefore represents serious cause for concern. Not only was this the largest second-quarter debt build-up since at least 1986, when quarterly statistics first were logged, but it also comes on the heels of two equally foreboding financial feats, appearing to solidify a very ominous trend. Last year, we added the most credit card debt to our tab ($71 billion) since 2007. And last quarter marked the smallest Q1 pay-down ($27.5 billion) since 2008.