Times Square might be the most hashtag-worthy spot for ringing in the new year, but it's certainly not the best if you're a frugal partier seeking an equally grand experience.
Local businesses are notorious for hiking up their prices when big crowds are in town for a major event. The cheapest hotel rates in New Orleans and Atlantic City, for instance, can rise in excess of 300 and 500 percent, respectively, on New Year’s Eve compared with their normal prices. The last thing you want to do in the final hours of 2017 is ruin your finances over one night of entertainment.
Credit card debt statistics speak to the financial health of American households. They can also foreshadow over-borrowing bubbles, changes to lending standards, and other trends with the potential to impact our wallets.
Following the worst year for credit card debt since the Great Recession, we started 2017 with a $30.5 billion first-quarter paydown. But we borrowed it back and then some during Q2, racking up $33 billion in new debt and another $22.2 billion in Q3. So it’s not a question of whether consumers are weakening financially, but rather how long this trend toward pre-recession habits will last and just how bad it will get.
It’s possible to improve your credit score in a matter of weeks. For example, you could successfully dispute errors on your credit report, pay down credit card debt, or pay off collections accounts. Each of those steps could remove negative information from your credit report or add some positive info, either of which may benefit your credit score. Simply paying your monthly bills on time will help, too, though a single on-time payment probably won’t improve your score very much. You need to consistently pay on time.
A good APR for a credit card is anything below 18%, which is roughly the average among new credit card offers. But paying 18% interest on credit card debt still isn’t very good for your wallet. Consider, for example, the average American household, which owes over $8,000. They’d spend more than $2,000 in interest repaying that balance over 36 months if it were subject to an 18% APR. Fortunately, you might be able to do better than a good APR.
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 or other type of assistance. By one estimate, elder abuse affects as many as 5 million people per year, and 96 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.
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.
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 29 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.
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 30 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.
Las Vegas isn’t the only sinful place 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 badly. No place is innocent. We all have demons.
But at some point, we all have to pay for our sins. Gambling addiction, for instance, costs society an estimated $6 billion per year, mostly in criminal justice and health care. In 2015, global credit- and debit-card fraud took a toll of nearly $22 billion. And every year, smoking burns a $300 billion hole in Uncle Sam’s wallet.
The Verdict: The HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card (HSBC is a WalletHub partner) is a great option for people with good or excellent credit who want to pay for big-ticket purchases over time, offering an 18-month interest-free introductory period that puts it firmly within the top tier of 0% credit cards on the market right now. It doesn’t have an annual fee, either. In contrast, the average card charges about $16 per year. And the average 0% purchase period lasts for slightly less than 10 months.
The HSBC Gold card gives you 0% on balance transfers for the first 18 months, too. But that’s not quite as good of a deal, largely because HSBC Gold charges a fee equal to 4% of the amount transferred, or $10 if you transfer $250 or less. But it’s still very good compared to most of the competition. The average 0% balance transfer card gives you an 11-month break from interest and charges a transfer fee of less than 3%.
The Verdict: The HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card (HSBC is a WalletHub partner) is among the top cash back credit cards on the market, especially early on. You get a $150 initial bonus for spending $500 within three months of account opening. And for a limited time, you’ll also earn 2% cash back on every purchase for the first six months. Once that six-month promotional period ends, your earning rate drops to 1.5% cash back on all purchases. But that’s still very good – around 50% better than average, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report.
The HSBC Cash Back Credit Card’s top-notch rewards also have a solid supporting cast, so to speak. Most importantly, there’s no annual fee. That makes it about $16 per year cheaper. than the average card. Its lack of a foreign transaction fee should also be welcome news for anyone planning international travel or spending.
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. And we spend, on average, nearly 8 hours per week tuning in to our favorite sport or about 11 hours playing it.
But we also cheer on our favorite teams with our wallets. The North American sports industry is expected to rake in about $69.4 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 $75 billion by 2020. That’s not mentioning the lucrative fantasy-sports market in North America with 59.3 million players, each spending an average of $556 per year, or nearly $33 billion collectively.
’Tis the season for giving. And the latest World Giving Index shows that Americans are among the world’s most generous people, ranking No. 5 out of 140 countries. U.S. donors in 2016 gave more than $389 billion to charity, with 72 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.
They say home is where the heart is, and the heart of America lies in Missouri. While that quality doesn’t automatically make this state the perfect place to put down roots, growing families gravitate toward Missouri for many reasons.
Combining Midwestern sensibility with Southern charm, Missouri balances urban and rural traits well with its richly diverse culture, economy and landscape. Two major U.S. cities, Kansas City and St. Louis, border the eastern and western sides of the state, while a popular tourist destination, the mountainous Ozark region, dominates its southern half. The plains to the north are perhaps what many outsiders imagine when Missouri comes to mind. But each of these areas serves an important role and contributes heavily to the state’s strong economy.
The 50 largest U.S.-based hedge funds on the Barron's Penta Top 100 Hedge Funds boast more than $6 trillion in assets. For comparison, that’s more than the GDP of the 35 smallest U.S. states combined. Furthermore, the roughly $11 billion that the 25 richest hedge-fund managers made in 2016 is enough to end family homelessness within a decade.
So it makes sense that people pay attention to what they’re buying, selling and holding. We want to replicate their success. Hedge funds’ quarterly public disclosures, mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, give us a window into their recent activity.
Americans are obsessed with deals. Why else do we camp outside our favorite stores after a big holiday feast or force ourselves awake at ungodly hours 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, 53 percent of consumers said they don’t think Black Friday offers the most unbeatable bargains of the year.
Store credit cards for bad credit are few and far between. In fact, there’s only one available right now: the Fingerhut Credit Account. All of the other store cards in WalletHub’s database of 1,000+ credit card offers require at least fair credit for approval. So you should check your latest credit score (for free on WalletHub) before applying for most store plastic in order to avoid making a “bad” situation worse.
The term “corporate credit card” can mean slightly different things to different people. Technically, a corporate credit card is a special type of business credit card account that’s issued to a corporation (generally one with $10+ million in annual revenue), rather than an individual representing a business. As a result, individuals are not liable for corporate credit card debt, unlike balances on traditional business credit cards. And approval decisions aren’t based on the CEO’s personal credit history. Issuers instead review a company’s financial track record and use some of its assets as collateral.
Black Friday shopping is one of America’s most treasured holiday traditions. But there’s always a bit of hassle involved: Shoppers have to fight their drowsiness and stand in endless lines at stores following a hearty Thanksgiving dinner — 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?