“Location, location, location” is the most important phrase in real estate. But the mantra applies to education, too. Where you live doesn’t just affect the value of your property; it also reflects the worth of your college degree — the same degree that may have put you in debt. With 10.7 percent of all student-loan debts 90+ days delinquent or in default as of Q1 2018, graduates need to be selective with the places in which they choose to put their degrees to work. New York City, for instance, might have a high average salary for a certain profession, but the high cost of living could outweigh the gains.
Save for mortgages, student loans make up the largest component of household debt for Americans. And our collective debt keeps growing. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, total outstanding college-loan balances disclosed on credit reports stood at $1.41 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Most new credit cards issued nowadays are smart cards, as issuers are transitioning over to them. Europe started using smart credit cards in the 1990s, but the United States didn’t really start the move until 2014.
Credit card interest rates tell you how much it will cost to borrow money from a credit card company, by carrying a balance from month to month. Credit card issuers indicate that cost by displaying credit card interest rates as an annualized percentage of your balance, also known as an Annual Percentage Rate (APR). For example, if your interest rate is 20% and you carry a $500 balance, you would owe roughly $100 in interest after a year.
The Verdict: The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is one of the best rewards cards for people with excellent credit who like to travel and dine out (Bank of America is one of our partners). In fact, it ranked 7th overall in WalletHub’s 2018 Credit Card Rewards Report for the net value that the average person can expect to earn in two years: $1,503.
The premium rewards start with an initial bonus of 50,000 points after you spend at least $3,000 within 90 days of opening your account. That’s worth $500. And the perks keep coming, with 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining, plus 1.5 points per $1 on everything else. The average points card gives you just 1.17 per $1.
The Verdict: The BankAmericard® credit card is a very good tool for avoiding interest on credit card debt, whether you’re planning a big purchase or need a way to reduce the cost of an existing balance (Bank of America is a WalletHub partner). The stars of the show are BankAmericard’s $0 annual fee and its 0% introductory APRs, which apply to purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles. If you transfer a balance, you just have to do so within 60 days of opening an account to get that rate.
Those features compare favorably to most competing offers. The average 0% purchase APR lasts for about 10.5 months. And the average 0% balance transfer deal gives you about 12 months. But that is not to say BankAmericard’s financing offer is flawless. The most important imperfection for folks with expensive debt is the card’s 3% balance transfer fee. Not only is that above average for a balance transfer credit card, but it’s also a distinguishing factor between the BankAmericard credit card and its biggest competitors.
The Verdict: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a very good option for people with excellent credit who want to reduce the cost of travel without paying an annual fee. But it’s only a truly great choice for fairly low-spending Bank of America banking customers with a lot of cash saved (Bank of America is a WalletHub partner).
The party starts with a 25,000-point initial rewards bonus, worth $250 in travel, when you spend $1,000 or more within 90 days of opening your account. That’s well above average for a card offering a points-based bonus. Still, if you’re someone who spends $1,000 per month, rather than every three months, you can get at least twice as much dollar value from competing offers.
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles
No annual fee
Potential for a very high regular APR
3% foreign-transaction fee
The Verdict: The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is an attractive everyday spending vehicle for people with excellent credit (Bank of America is a WalletHub partner). Things begin on a positive note, with no annual fee to worry about and the ability to earn a $200 initial bonus for spending just $500 in the first 90 days after account opening. Plus, you’ll have access to 0% financing on new purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card even supplements its base 1% cash-back earning rate with 2% back on groceries and wholesale clubs and 3% back on gas. But there’s a catch. Those bonus earning rates apply to only the first $2,500 in combined grocery, wholesale clubs and gas purchases each quarter. So if you spend more than $833 a month on such everyday necessities, you will wind up hitting that limit and earning only 1% back — slightly less than the market average of 1.06% — on all your purchases for the rest of the quarter.
If you’re among the millions of HGTV viewers who’ve seen an episode of “Flip or Flop,” you’ve probably thought about the thrill of gutting a house and turning a five- or six-figure profit. But the process isn’t as easy as the professionals on television make it look. Any experienced home flipper would caution you that transforming a fixer-upper into a profitable property is a difficult process.
In other words, don’t get your hands dirty until you’ve learned a thing or two about real estate, construction and how much damage your project could do to your wallet. Breathing new life into a low-cost property won’t necessarily return your full investment and allow you to pocket another $68,143, the average gross flipping profit in 2017. According to RealtyTrac, though, the current homeownership rate is 64.2 percent (down from a high of 69.20 percent in 2004). That may translate to fewer potential buyers off the bat, depending on the location of your property.
The Verdict: Placing a deposit on the Citi® Secured Mastercard® Credit Card (Citi is a WalletHub partner) is neither an outright mistake nor an ideal decision. You see, it’s a solid credit-building tool with the potential to help you reach a higher credit tier without charging an annual fee, as long as you use it responsibly. But this isn’t the only option you have if you wish to avoid the burden of an annual fee.
So if a low-cost means of credit improvement is what you’re looking for, this middle-of-the-road offer might be for you. The only stipulation is that you can’t have gone through bankruptcy in the past two years. And you can learn everything else you need to know below.
Securing a child’s academic success begins with choosing the right schools. But how can parents decide where to enroll their kids? Because children develop and learn at different rates, the ideal answer to that question varies based on each student’s needs. Unfortunately, most parents can’t afford to place their children in exclusive, private or preparatory schools that give their students greater individual attention.
For the majority of U.S. families, public education is the only option. But the quality of public school systems varies widely from state to state and is often a question of funding. Public elementary and secondary education money usually flows from three sources: the federal, state and local governments. According to the U.S. Department of Education, states contribute nearly as much as local governments, while the federal government supplies the smallest share. Some researchers have found that more resources — or taxes paid by residents — typically result in better school-system performance.
Extra rewards on travel, gas stations & restaurants
No annual fee
0% intro rates for 12 months
Above-average regular APR
1 point per $1 on most purchases
3% intro balance transfer fee for 12 months (5% after)
The Verdict: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has a lot going for it, including a $300 initial bonus, 0% APRs on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, and great bonus-category rewards (Wells Fargo and American Express are WalletHub partners). You get 3 points per $1 spent on all types of travel as well as at gas stations and restaurants. Wells Fargo Propel doesn’t charge an annual fee or a foreign transaction fee, either.
In other words, Wells Fargo Propel isn’t your average credit card.
The Verdict: The American Express® Green Card might seem luxurious, given its uniqueness as a charge card and the fact that many people see cards from Amex (a WalletHub partner) as status symbols. But the Amex Green Card requires excellent credit for approval and doesn’t offer anything special compared to many of the other cards that qualified applicants can expect to get. Amex Green could actually hold you back in a few important ways.
The Amex Green Card has a $0 fee the first year but charges $95 after that – 498% more than the market average. Amex Green rewards you with 2 points per $1 spent on travel, plus $1 point per $1 on everything else. But you have to book your travel through American Express to earn those double points, which limits your ability to shop around for the best deals. American Express points are also worth less than a penny each on average.
Understanding the credit card climate is important for two reasons. First, credit card offers change regularly, based on the health of the economy and issuers’ business objectives. So being able to see the bigger picture – averages, trends, etc. – gives you a baseline against which to compare offers. And that will help you find the best credit card deals as well as ultimately save more money.
Monitoring the credit card landscape can also tell you a lot about the health of the U.S. consumer. For example, 0% introductory APRs and initial rewards bonuses dried up during the Great Recession. And the decline in consumer credit quality during that period was a big reason why.
Taking good care of your cash is essential to reaching top WalletFitness®. But with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates from historical lows and the stock market regularly reaching record highs, it’s fair to wonder where to put your money.
To help answer that question, WalletHub analyzed the rates, fees and features associated with more than 2,250 deposit accounts. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs from banks and credit unions across the country. You can check out our findings below.
Homeownership isn’t for everyone. Roughly 43 million American households have opted to rent rather than buy their homes because of convenience, cost or both. But renting isn’t always a cheaper or better alternative to owning a property. The right road to take depends on a variety of factors, including an individual’s or family’s financial means and how well the local real-estate market is doing.
One reason this is such an important decision financially is that rental prices have soared over the years, jumping 2.8% in 2017 alone. And with demand for affordable housing exceeding supply, more than one-quarter of all renters – 11.1 million people in total – spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. They are classified as “severely cost-burdened” by federal housing agencies as a result.
You can forget Christmas in July. A number of states across the country are offering sales-tax holidays primarily during the dog days of August. Seeing as state sales taxes can be as high as 7%, these newfangled holidays offer a great savings opportunity for back-to-school shoppers, perhaps also giving those planning to wait for sales following the start of school reason enough to move up their timeline. This is especially true since After all, most sales-tax holidays specifically target for popular back-to-school items such as clothing, footwear, electronics and sports equipment.
Cities want to attract highly educated workers to fuel their economic growth and tax revenues. Higher levels of education tend to lead to higher salaries. And the more that graduates earn, the more tax dollars they contribute over time, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In turn, educated people want to live somewhere where they will get a good return on their educational investment. People also tend to marry others of the same educational level. Already having a large educated population may be a good way to draw in even more people with degrees.
Not all highly educated people will flock to the same areas, though. Some may prefer to have many people with similar education levels around them for socializing and career connections. Others may want to be a big fish in a little pond. Not every city will provide the same quality of life to those with higher education, either.
Many Americans prefer to live in rural areas, but far more call cities their homes. Though urban settings are less than 3 percent of the U.S. landmass, they contain around 80 percent of the total U.S. population.
There are many factors that make highly-populated areas great to live in. Big cities represent opportunity, economic and otherwise, which appeals to people of all walks of life – especially young professionals seeking advancement in their careers and social lives. Another main draw is easy access to diverse dining and entertainment options that are comparatively scarce in more rural settings.
Growing up can be hard. Without a stable home, positive role models and tools for success, many young Americans fall behind their peers and experience a rocky transition to adulthood. Today, about one in nine individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.
Such issues not only affect young people later in life, but they also prove harmful to society as a whole. For instance, more than 70 percent of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military because they fail academic, moral or health qualifications. Research shows that when youth grow up in environments with economic problems and a lack of role models, they’re more at risk for poverty, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood.