Things are looking good for job seekers in California. This past September, the Golden State added 339,600 new jobs, the third largest increase among thirty-seven states that saw their employment numbers go up. And the state’s come a long way since the financial crisis. California’s unemployment rate peaked at 12.2 percent — the highest point in nearly seven decades and far exceeding the national average of 9.7 percent at the time — but has declined to a healthy 4.1 percent today.
Since that precarious time in its history, California has experienced much growth in the technology sector and other high-wage industries. Altogether, the state boasts a $2.6 trillion economy which is larger than the individual economies of all but five countries.
Wallet Fitness is about turning one of Americans’ top stressors, money, into one of your biggest strengths. It means building an excellent credit score and never again overpaying for financial products. It means minimizing debt and protecting yourself with adequate insurance coverage. Most importantly, it means spending modestly while saving aggressively for retirement and emergencies.
But Wallet Fitness levels vary widely across the U.S. As we prepare to make resolutions for self-improvement, it’s fair to wonder who’s best positioned for financial success and who has the most work to do. To find out, we compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 32 key indicators of Wallet Fitness. You can find the results below, followed by WalletHub’s 6 Tips for Reaching Top Wallet Fitness and a Q&A with a panel of money-management experts.
The best hotel rewards programs provide a wide range of free perks. Members receive special amenities such as free Wi-Fi, late check out and bar credits. But that’s just the beginning. Most importantly, the top hotel rewards programs let you quickly earn free nights, redeem them with ease, and go about your business without worrying about fine-print restrictions.
Every major hotel chain has its own loyalty rewards program, you see, which anyone can join for free. But these hotel rewards programs are not equally rewarding for everyone. They all have different rules, earning rates and point values, plus a variety of other perks. And much ultimately depends on where you travel, how often you stay in hotels, and how much you’re comfortable spending per night.
Abuse happens every day and takes many forms. But vulnerable older Americans are among the easiest targets for this misconduct, especially those who are women, have disabilities and rely on others for care. By one estimate, elder abuse affects as many as 5 million people per year, and more than 95 percent of all cases go unreported.
Unless states take action to prevent further abuse, the problem will grow as America becomes an increasingly aging nation. The U.S. Census Bureau expects the population aged 65 and older to nearly double from 43.1 million in 2012 to 83.7 million in 2050, much to the credit of aging Baby Boomers who began turning 65 in 2011. And by just 2030, 1 in 5 U.S. residents will be retirement age.
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.
The Verdict: The Chase Freedom® (Chase is a WalletHub partner) brand name connotes fun, excitement and independence – primarily the financial variety. But instead of freeing you from budgetary concerns, this card requires hands-on account maintenance to live up to its potential and, even then, would provide less value than numerous other available credit cards for people with excellent credit.
The card’s 5% maximum earning rate on rewards applies only to purchases made in select bonus categories, which rotate on a quarterly basis and users must sign up for each time they change. What’s more, only the first $1,500 you spend across these bonus categories each quarter will accrue rewards at a 5% clip. So, if you are a relatively heavy spender or you forget to sign up for the bonus categories or these categories don’t happen to complement your spending habits, you’ll be stuck earning just the market average of 1% on most of your transactions.
People encounter hazards every day, some serious, others rare and innocuous. But we fear certain kinds more than others. According to Gallup, four in 10 Americans “fear being a victim of a mass shooting,” while 24 percent of U.S. adults are concerned about terrorism. Many also worry about falling victim to hate crimes or sexual assault. The list goes on, and these sentiments often are expressed in response to recent headlines.
But people can feel unsafe in other ways, too. Besides the types of hazards that can cause bodily injury or other physical harm, taking out an unaffordable second mortgage, forgoing health insurance or even visiting unsecured websites are also ways people run into danger. At the top of the list of worries is cybercrime, which 71 percent of Americans worry about.
To say that Americans love sports is an understatement. It’s in our blood. We value sports as much for their personal and social benefits as for the thrill and drama of the game. In the U.S., nearly three quarters of all adults claim to be sports fans. In 2017, 86 of the top 100 telecasts watched live or the same day were sports events.
But Americans also cheer on their favorite teams with their wallets. The North American sports industry is expected to rake in about $69.3 billion from ticket and merchandise sales, media rights and sponsorship fees, according to the latest sports outlook from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The firm estimates that figure to reach upwards of $78 billion by 2021. That’s not mentioning the lucrative fantasy-sports market in North America with 59.3 million players, each spending an average of $653 per year, or nearly $39 billion collectively. And eSports, or competitive video games, was a $655 million market in 2017 and is projected to reach around $900 million in 2018.
USAA (a WalletHub partner) offers nearly 30 different credit cards to current and former members of the military, as well as their immediate family. That means determining whether you meet the organization’s membership requirements is only step one. After that, you’ll still need to identify the right credit card for your needs from the many available offers.
To help make the process as painless as possible, we compared all of USAA’s cards to find the best offers for the most common consumer needs. You can find our selections below, along with the best alternative from other issuers for each usage scenario. If you would like a personalized credit card recommendation or to check your latest credit score, just sign up for a free WalletHub account.
’Tis the season for giving. And the latest World Giving Index shows that Americans are among the world’s most generous people, ranking No. 4 out of 140 countries. U.S. donors in 2017 gave more than $410 billion to charity, with 70 percent of the funds coming directly from individuals, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.
But Americans do more than reach in their pockets to help others. They also contribute their time — and plenty of it. Nearly 63 million people volunteer in the U.S., serving a combined total of 7.9 billion hours per year, the equivalent of $184 billion of service.
Las Vegas isn’t the only “Sin City” in America. In other cities, bad things happen and stay there, too. From beer-loving Milwaukee to hedonistic New Orleans, the U.S. is filled with people behaving illicitly. No place is innocent. We all have demons.
But at some point, we all have to pay for our vices. Gambling addiction, for instance, leads to $100 billion in losses for U.S. consumers every year. In 2017, identity theft and fraud took a toll of $16 billion. And every year, smoking burns a $300 billion hole in Uncle Sam’s wallet.
You have to be at least 18 years old to get a credit card account. But there is no minimum age requirement for authorized users to have a credit card from most major banks. So an adult could even add a baby as an authorized user on a credit card, giving the baby a card with his or her name on it and the ability to begin building credit before learning how to walk to the store to make a purchase. But while there’s no legal minimum age for authorized users, individual issuers may add their own restrictions.
The Verdict: The Deserve® Classic Mastercard is a starter credit card designed for people with limited or no credit history. Deserve Classic will help you build credit if you pay your bill on time every month, but it doesn’t bring much else to the table, save for the opportunity to earn refer-a-friend bonuses. You get $30 for every person you refer who is approved for an account. And if 10 referrals are approved, you get an extra $200, for $500 total. That’s it, though.
You won’t earn points, miles or cash back with each purchase you make. Instead, you’ll be the one doing the paying. If you don’t pay your bill in full every month, you’ll have to pay interest at a pretty high rate: 24.99% (V).
The Verdict: The Deserve® Pro Mastercard has a work hard, play hard vibe, catering to people with good credit or better who like to travel, dine out and generally have a good time. You get 3% cash back on travel and entertainment, plus 2% cash back at restaurants. That’s a pretty good deal, but it only applies to the first $500 you spend in those bonus categories each month. All other purchases yield just 1% back. So you might want to consider using Deserve Pro solely for bonus-category spending. There’s no annual fee, which means you don’t have to spend a certain amount for it to pay off. And 1% back is just average for a cash rewards card.
The Deserve Pro Credit Card certainly isn’t perfect. It doesn’t offer either an initial rewards bonus or a 0% introductory APR on new purchases. Its regular APR is likely to be well above average. And it doesn’t even allow balance transfers or cash advances. But that just means it’s not for everyone.
The Verdict: The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students is a solid choice for anyone who’s currently enrolled in a U.S. college or university, particularly international students and fans of Amazon.com. Deserve Edu doesn’t charge an annual fee, as is the norm with student credit cards, and it offers rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases. That’s roughly average among all rewards credit cards, not just those for students. Deserve also gives you a year’s membership in Amazon Prime Student, which offers savings on everything from textbooks and electronics to music and movies. And while many student credit cards require you to have a Social Security number (SSN), Deserve Edu is available to students who were born abroad. International students simply need a passport, U.S. bank account and Student Visa.
Whether you’re a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or international student, you don’t need any prior credit experience to get the Deserve Student Credit Card. Just be prepared to pay your balance in full every month. There’s no 0% introductory APR. The regular rate is above average for a student credit card, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report. And balance transfers aren’t even allowed.
Potentially High Regular APR Makes It Costly To Carry A Balance
The Verdict: Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® (Barclays is a WalletHub partner) is the best travel rewards credit card on the market, largely because cardholders accrue maximum earnings on all purchases and have the freedom to redeem miles for any travel-related expense. It’s everything a 21st Century traveler needs in a credit card: straightforward, unmatched earnings with a no-strings-attached redemption policy that actually adds flexibility. So you should make sure to check it out if you haven’t already started packing your bags.
Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® offers more value per dollar than any other travel rewards card on the market (excluding co-branded offers, which lack flexibility yet may provide greater earning potential for certain brand-loyal consumers). Highly profitable, relatively unrestrictive travel rewards are thus the Arrival Plus Card’s bread and butter. And while it does ostensibly have some financing value, there are a few potentially costly qualifications to consider in this regard (explained in the next section).
When people think of Florida, they probably imagine a sunny paradise with palm trees and white sand along a wraparound coastline. But the Sunshine State attracts folks from across the globe for more than its natural beauty and balmy climate. As the fourth largest economy in the U.S., one of the largest job creators and the address of the world’s most famous theme park, Florida has also cultivated a reputation as one of the best states in which to raise kids.
Since December 2014, Florida has been the third most populous state in the U.S. But although Florida is growing and has a strong economy, there are some drawbacks. For example, parts of Florida are susceptible to hurricane damage. The most recent to make landfall in Florida, Hurricane Michael, caused an estimated $1.5 billion in damages.
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.