Which Exactly Are Bank Loans ?

At a proper sense, it receives or borrows "residue" from businesses, companies, and (some times) authorities as well as on the foundation of those resources, either makes "loans" into purchases or others securities, which can be recorded as "investments." Generally, it insures its own expenses and generates its own profits by borrowing at a rate of lending and interest at a high speed.

A bank is under a duty to settle its clients' balances either on demand or if the numbers credited in their mind eventually become expected. Because of this, a bank needs to hold some dough (that for this purpose could consist of accounts at a bankers' bank, like a centralized bank) and maintain a additional percentage of its assets informs which may readily be changed to cash. It's just in such a manner that confidence in the banking system might be kept. In its own turn, confidence may be based on "credit." Considering that its promises are always respected (as an instance, to convert notes to golden or deposit accounts in to cash), a bank may "make credit" for use with its own clients--either by devoting additional notes or by simply making new loans (that consequently become fresh residue). Provided that they remain outstanding, these promises remain to reflect asserts contrary to that bank and will be moved by way of checks or other tools in 1 party to the next. Essentially, it is what's referred to as "deposit banking." With a few variations, it's the accepted basis for commercial banks as practiced in today's world. Truly, deposit banking can't be believed to exist provided that the resources held with a bank contain just of money payable by depositors. Once the balances of banks start to reveal more deposits compared to cash, section of those deposits must reflect loans which were made by means of a banker for his clients, in other words, deposits generated by the banking program.


How to Order Checks Without Getting Ripped Off

Your bank is the worst place to buy checks. Banks are way too expensive. Here are the best places to order checks without getting ripped off.

If you’ve signed up for a checking account at a brick and mortar bank, then you likely know the routine.  First show proper ID and sign the necessary paperwork. Then the bank CSR will ask you how many checks you’d like to purchase.   “So Mr. Pruser, are you thinking six books today, or eight?  If you buy eight, we’ll toss in a terrifically generic checkbook cover!”

You may not realize it at the time but the convenience of buying checks from your bank can be quite expensive.  In fact, the cost of checks through your bank can be twice or three times as expensive then if you purchased them elsewhere.  So where can you buy them?  And is it safe to purchase checks outside of your bank?

Best Places to Buy Checks Online

Even though you may not write a lot of checks, let’s assume you decide that you need 500 personal checks (w/ duplicate copies).  A small enough number where you don’t want to spend more than $50 but large enough where you won’t have to worry about this purchase for a long time.  Here’s a snapshot of what that would cost you, through four high quality retailers.

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club sells their standard personal checks in books of 180.  It will take you three books in order to fill an order of 500, and the cost for each standard book is just $5.98.  Multiply that out by three books, and you end up with a total cost of $17.94.  Sam’s Club offers free standard shipping, so no added fees on top of your total.  The small catch however, is that you must be a Sam’s Club member to take advantage of the pricing.

If you’re into more security, you can upgrade your checks to include a service called FraudArmor.  Think of it like an added layer of identity theft protection.  Should someone fraudulently sign your name to a check or commit fraud in some other way using your checks, they’ll step in and help.  Depending on the book of checks you select, there is either no charge, or a charge of up to $2.70 per pack.  The service lasts one full year.

Walmart

Walmart sells checks in packs of 150, so you’ll need four packs to reach the 500 number (with many left over).  Four packs of their standard blue security checks will cost you $29.84.  Walmart includes free standard shipping but you can rush the order for an additional $15.00

Like many other check printing outlets, Walmart will allow you to customize your checks, or select from a variety of designs and fonts.  CheckSafe is the fraud service you can include in your check purchase. The cost is $1.50 per 150 checks you order.  If your checks are used in a fraudulent manner (within the first 12 months), CheckSafe will provide you replacements at no costs and work with you to tackle the situation.  You can visit their site CheckSafeService.com to view the specifics of their protection.

Costco

Sticking with the blue security check theme, Costco sells their checks in boxes of 246 so buying two boxes of checks will run you a total of just $14.57.  If you’re a Costco Executive Member, the price is an even cheaper $11.66.   All checks are printed through Harland Clarke check printing; one of the largest payment solution companies in the United States.

Costco also provides a wide variety of other payment related stationary like address labels, tax forms, ink stamps etc.  The only thing that would keep Costco from being the obvious go-to stop for the cheapest checks is that you must be a Costco member.  Depending on your membership, that means either $50 or $100 a year.  If you shop Costco often then you’ll earn the membership fee back quickly.  If you’re joining Costco simply to take advantage of their cheaper checks, look somewhere else.

Checks.com

I’ve selected some very tasteful “Wonders of the Sea” checks, with what looks like clown fish on them.  Four boxes of checks (125 per box) totals $19.80.  Checks.com is kind enough to also offer free standard shipping.

In addition to buying checks, you can also find return labels, deposit slips, and routine stationery items.  The free standard shipping applies to all purchases and if you need items rushed, that can be done for a $5.95 fee.  Like others on this list, Checks.com offers identity theft restoration services should something happen.  Their service is called EZShield and it comes in the form of a Check Fraud Protection Program ($2.45 extra per box) and Identity Restoration (one time $6 fee).

Vistaprint

Vistaprint does things a little differently.  You can purchase checks in groups of 25 but when you look at their prices, you may be in a bit of sticker shock.  Fear not, this company is well known for offering a bevy of promo codes to bring down the price.  For example, promo code LABEL25 will cut the cost of your checks in half.  Still however, a full 500 checks will cost you $44.85 before shipping.

The most expensive option on our list, I’ve included Vistaprint because they offer the widest variety of checks.  You can customize them to just about any style or format you wish.  In addition, you can upload pictures to your check and/or create your own design.  If the look of a check is important to you

Is Ordering Checks Online Safe?

If you’re afraid to give your bank account or personal information to the companies above, you should know they’re no less safe than a bank.  In fact, banks like Chase, Citi and Capital One do not print their own checks.  They take your information and give it to the very same check printing companies a merchant like Walmart will.

In order to ensure your checks are printed properly, you’ll need to supply the following information:

  • Your banks routing number
  • Your account number (you’ll likely have to enter this information twice)
  • A check number you’d like to start with
  • Your full name and address.  (Phone number is optional)

If a check printing company is asking you for your social security number, it’s likely a scam.  If a check printing company is asking you for any personal documents, it is likely a scam.  The only additional step you may need to provide is to confirm small deposits into your checking account.  This is done to ensure you are the owner of the account, which prevents random people who have your account number from printing checks with your information.

Do your homework, and do your best to avoid buying checks at the bank.


34 Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

Working from home is a dream for many. We love it! Ditch the commute with these 34 legitimate ways to make money from home.

34 ways to make money from home

As I write this article, I’m making money from home. Well, technically, from Starbucks. But, still, as someone with a nearly 10-year history of working from home–sometimes full-time and sometimes part-time–I can tell you that it’s possible. The key is to find legitimate work opportunities.

Luckily, the internet abounds with amazing tools to connect far-flung teams. Because of these tools, more employers are hiring part-time and full-time employees to work remotely. Or if you’re looking for a side gig, you can do many from the comfort of your living room. (Preferably in your pajamas with a cup of coffee in hand, if you’re anything like me.)

We’ve worked to round up a huge list of legitimate work-from-home opportunities. I’ve divided them into different categories, so you can quickly click through to the ones that interest you most.

Before you jump to your favorite category, though, you might want to check out our quick disclaimers first.

Quick Disclaimers

The More Things Change…

First off, know that I’ve done my best to research these options and opportunities. But work-from-home options change rapidly. So do your own digging before assuming a particular hourly rate or type of work will be available.

This is also why I haven’t tried to highlight specific companies or work opportunities. Certain fields and types of jobs lend themselves well to working from home. We’ll focus on this instead of particular job opportunities. Otherwise, you’ll come back here in a month only to find the article is out of date!

This list should give you a jumping off point when it comes to looking for remote work.

You’ve Got to Put in the Work

You should also know that many of these opportunities will require hustle on your part. I’ve gone from making pennies per word to serious dollars per article as a freelance writer. But that didn’t just happen. I had to build my business over time.

Many of these opportunities are the same. They’re legitimate, but it’ll take you time to build up to a decent hourly rate.

Beware of Scams

Finally, understand that there are still plenty of scams out there. If a business opportunity requires you to put in money up front (other than standard business costs for assets that you own, like a website), beware. Some multi-level marketing opportunities can make money. But more often than not, those who start these businesses lose money.

So just be aware of all the terms and conditions of a job, opportunity, or website before you sign up!

Great Unskilled Work-From-Home Jobs

If you don’t have a huge amount of experience in any one field, you might want to start working from home with one of these types of jobs. Generally, the companies hiring in these areas will provide the training you need. So you won’t have to show major skills up front.

Note that these jobs may require you to have a certain speed of internet connection or a certain type of landline phone connection. I wouldn’t consider these scam-related asks, as long as the requirements are reasonable.

Call Center and Chat Jobs

If you can work regular hours and like to talk people through problems, a virtual call center job might work well for you. If you type quickly, multitask well, and don’t prefer talking on the phone, you can get a similar job as a chat-based customer service representative.

These jobs typically require that you have uninterrupted work-from-home time. So they’re not a good option if your goal is to work from home with your children. The hours may also be less flexible than other work-from home jobs.

With that said, this can be a good way to make decent money without having to leave home. Glassdoor puts the national average salary for at-home customer service call center representatives at just over $29,000 per year. Some companies may even hire you full-time and provide benefits.

Data Entry Jobs

Most companies looking to hire someone for at-home data entry will hire you as a contractor. This job may be considered semi-skilled. You may need to be able to accurately type a certain number of words per minute to make it work.

Scams abound with this particular type of job. If a company promises to give you work only if you purchase a certain type of non-standard software, beware. You should be able to do data entry with a solid internet connection and some basic computer software, such as Excel.

This type of job may be fairly flexible. Instead of working certain hours, you may just need to meet certain deadlines with the work you’re given. This makes it ideal as a side gig or for a work-from-home parent.

According to Indeed, data entry jobs range from $13 per hour to about $20 per hour, depending on your job description and experience.

Search Engine Evaluation

Are you great at finding things on Google and other search engines? This may be the work-from-home job you’re looking for. With this job, companies hire individuals on a contract basis to make sure search engine results are accurate and comprehensive.

For this job, you basically need to be familiar with search engines and the local language. Many of these jobs are geared towards bilingual applicants who can check results in multiple languages.

Glassdoor puts the average national salary for a search engine evaluator at just over $33,000 per year. With that said, many are hired on an hourly basis and work less than full time. You can expect to make $10+ per hour on an hourly basis, however.

Website QA Testing

One of the banes of most web developers’ lives is that you don’t always know how your code will work on various browsers. That’s why companies hire quality assurance testers for their websites. You can also get QA testing jobs for apps and even physical gadgets.

Most of these jobs are on a first-come, first-served basis. You need to know where to find the gigs and how to get them quickly to benefit. You can make a few bucks per test, and your feedback will help brands and companies do what they do better.

This is the type of flexible job that is great to pick up when you have some extra time. You won’t likely make a living doing QA testing like this. But it can put a few extra bucks in your bank account.

Social Community Manager

These jobs vary widely and normally hire independent contractors. With these jobs, you’ll moderate forums or social pages in particular topic areas. You might contract to monitor a particular company’s social media presence in various platforms, and to make sure that followers are abiding by company guidelines when commenting and interacting.

Community manager and moderator jobs are great for people who are familiar with social media already. Certain jobs may look for experience in community-related areas, as well.

It’s difficult to find consistent pay statistics on this particular work-from-home job. It’s not the same as being an actual social media manager–who is responsible for developing and deploying a brand’s strategy on social. But you can likely expect to start out at around $10 to $12 per hour.

Virtual Assistant

As more and more companies move online, they’re hiring online admins, as well. These jobs normally go to independent contractors, but some companies may hire full-time work-from-home assistants.

These job listings can vary widely. Some are looking for an executive assistant with years of experience. Others give you the ability to learn on the go. These jobs are likely to include tasks like responding to emails, scheduling meetings, distributing business-related documents, and more. Some jobs may also verge into the creative and include tasks like creating content and running social media channels.

According to PayScale, virtual assistants can make anywhere from $10 per hour to $30 per hour.

Mystery Shopping

Here’s another job area where scams abound. But there are plenty of legitimate mystery shopping companies around. Some require you to go to a store in person, which makes the from-home element shaky. But others are now hiring work-from-home mystery shoppers to shop or test customer service by phone or online.

Mystery shoppers are typically paid on a per-assignment basis. But some salaried positions are also available for true professionals. JobMonkey says you can expect to make $8 to $25 per hour or about $10 to $75 per assignment most of the time.

Deliveries, Errands, and Ride Sharing

These are actually all quite different, but I’m going to throw them into the same category for one major reason: they all involve driving, which is obviously outside of the home. I’m including these jobs because they meet the flexibility requirements many “work-from-home” job hunters need.

Uber and Lyft are both excellent ways to earn some money on the side. In some areas with enough demand, you may even be able to drive for these companies full time. Another option is to run deliveries for a company like Instacart or DoorDash. These involve picking up groceries or takeout, respectively, and delivering on demand.

You can also check out jobs that let you run personal shopping errands for locals. Or start your own business as a personal assistant and errand runner. This type of business could fold in some of the tasks of a virtual assistant, combined with tasks like picking up dry cleaning, purchasing groceries, or even dropping pets off at the vet.

Income from these types of jobs will vary wildly. It’ll depend on demand in your area, the types of services you offer, and whether you decide to hang your own shingle or work for an existing company.

Jobs for Word People

If you like words–writing them, editing them, translating them, whatever–you’re in luck. Because words are so easy to create and edit online, there are tons of work-from-home opportunities for people who like words. Here are many of them.

Freelance Writer

Writers like me make a living doing a variety of types of writing. I specialize in blogging about personal finance, but I also do some journalism for trade publications. I’ve also written emails and web copy for local small businesses.

Working as a freelance writer is great because it’s super flexible. I’m able to maintain a robust side gig because I am rarely tied down for specific hours of the day. Instead, I just have to meet my deadlines. It’s a great option for people with a day job and/or kids.

Finding gigs as a freelance writer can be tough. The market is competitive. But you can start with job boards, sites like Upwork, and local publications. Then build up your portfolio as you work to land higher-paying jobs.

Pay for jobs like this varies dramatically. You could make anywhere from $10 per hour to $150 per hour or more, depending on the types of writing you do and your clients.

Social Media Manager

The social media moderator jobs we mentioned above generally involve taking direction from someone else. But as a social media manager, you can help a brand execute its vision on various social media platforms.

This type of job requires a deep understanding of social media platforms and how they work. They often involve setting strategy, running ads within a certain budget, creating and scheduling posts, and monitoring metrics to ensure you’re successful.

Many companies these days are buying into the importance of social media. You may be able to find a full-time work-from-home job in this field. If not, you can always cobble together a business of your own by running social media for several smaller companies. This difference makes it hard to pin down pay, but PayScale puts the median full-time salary at $48,200.

Marketing Manager

Do you have a broader background in marketing, including creating long-term marketing strategies? In this case, you might fold in some of the tasks of a writer, editor, and social media manager into a higher-level marketing manager role.

More modern companies that run entirely or mostly online these days are hiring work-from-home employees on a full-time basis. You’re more likely to command a high salary and benefits in this case. But you can also run marketing campaigns and strategies for a variety of smaller businesses as a contractor.

The average salary of a marketing manager is about $80,000. Of course, you can turn this into a side gig that makes less or a full-time job that makes more. Or you can run your own business and make substantially more.

PR Professional

Public relations professionals are word people with a slightly different focus–helping individuals, campaigns, and or companies present their best face to the public. A good PR professional will help key contacts at the company present the best messaging. They’ll also draft and release press releases, and act as a go-between for the media and the company.

Like many of these other word nerd jobs, PR professionals can usually have flexible hours. But unlike many of these other jobs, they’re the go-to guys in a crisis. That can mean middle-of-the-night calls to tackle emergency public relations issues. If you’re prepared for that, though, you could have a great career that makes around $62,000 on average. Many companies contract our their PR work, making this an accessible work-from-home opportunity.

Editor

Do you like to polish other people’s words more than creating them yourself? Editing actually involves a whole different set of skills compared to writing. But it’s essential.

You can still get a full-time job as an editor. And more companies these days are willing to let you work from home, even if you’re on the payroll with benefits. But you can also look at editing as a side gig or a work-from-home business that lets you work with a variety of clients.

Again, pay varies dramatically here. You should expect to make at least $20 per hour, though. If you can boast industry-specific knowledge for jargon-heavy industries like pharmaceuticals, though, you should command a much higher hourly rate.

Translator

If you’re bilingual, you can probably find work as a translator. Some translation jobs are over the phone or via video conference and take place in real time. These jobs will require that you be available for certain hours of the day. Other jobs are on-paper translation, which will likely let you go at more of your own pace.

Good translation is tough. If you have a knack for capturing the sense of the words in both languages, though, you could make really good money. These jobs pay anywhere from $20 to $100 per hour.

ESL Teacher

I’ve recently come across loads of ads for online ESL teachers. Sometimes these jobs are as simple as talking with a non-native speaker for a certain amount of time per week. Other times, these jobs require actual teaching credentials. It all depends on who you work for and the credentials you bring to the job.

Many of these jobs are paid on an hourly basis, and you count as a contractor. Most of the time, these jobs will require you to be available for certain hours. Although you can sometimes work these jobs as a side gig. Due to time differences, some of the available hours are at odd times, like late into the evening.

How much might you make as an online ESL teacher? It depends. Many companies currently advertising are paying between $10 and $20 per hour for qualified teachers.

Blogger

Do you like to write, have a passion for a particular topic, and have an entrepreneurial streak? Blogging may be for you. As a bootstrapper, you’ll likely tackle the tasks of many of the other jobs listed here, including social media manager, PR professional, and, of course, writer.

Blogging can be difficult to break into these days in such a saturated market. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Some bloggers use their blog as a way to bring in business for other ventures. For others, the blog is the money-making venture.

Whether you make just a little bit of side income or a full-time income, blogging can be a great creative outlet that also earns money.

Jobs for Tech People

Are you good with hardware or software? Or do you have training or expertise in web development? These skills are in high demand. Many companies will hire you as a contractor for specific projects, while others are looking for these employees on a full-time basis.

Software Developer

Increasingly, tech-related jobs are allowing for individuals to work from home on a full-time or contract basis. As a software developer, you could work on a variety of projects as a contractor. Or you could find a company who is hiring a full-time, remote developer.

It can be a good idea to have a specialty as a software developer. This might include mobile development or integration, for instance. The average software developer salary is over $78,000 per year. Even as a part-time side gig, this can be a lucrative option.

Web Developer

Web developers bring website designs to life. They make websites function, and use a variety of programming languages. The most common are Javascript and HTML. You don’t need specific training to become a web developer, but you do need plenty of experience.

These days, many developers specialize in certain types of programming. But it’s a good idea to be able to develop a basic website from end-to-end. You can start by creating your own to advertise your expertise!

Again, some companies hire web developers to work from home full time. But you’re more likely to get contract work for this job. Many smaller companies who can’t afford a full-time developer will hire one to build their site, and then pay a monthly retainer for ongoing support. The median web developer salary is $58,000.

Email Developer

At one time, web developers were able to develop both websites and emails. These days, though, email coding is getting much more complicated. So email development is breaking off into a field of its own.

Most companies don’t need a full-time email developer, but agencies may hire you to work from home full-time as an email developer. Another option is to offer these services as a freelancer. Either way, you could tackle some challenging projects while managing flexible hours in an interesting field.

Again, email development as its own career is less common than web development. But the average salary for an email developer is $70,000.

CRM Administrator or Developer

Customer relationship management (CRM) softwares like Salesforce are incredibly complicated, but they’re capable of some amazing stuff. If you know a CRM software really well, you might be able to work from home as a CRM administrator or developer.

CRM consultants aren’t typically going to be doing the day-to-day management of a company’s CRM. But as a consultant, you might set up new workflows, help streamline the system, or implement new processes for a business. Then, you’ll likely help document what you’ve done and train the staff on how to use these processes.

You can find freelance gigs as a CRM administrator or developer. Or you can work for a CRM consulting company as a full-time consultant working from home. A CRM consultant’s average salary is $79,000 per year.

Jobs for Artsy People

Illustrator

Even with all the technology around these days, people still need old-fashioned illustrating. You might find gigs as an illustrator for books or games, or for marketing campaigns. Breaking in as a freelance illustrator can be tough, and many full-time artists market other skills, as well.

Depending on the jobs you take and your level of expertise, you could earn anywhere from $20 to $100+ per hour as a freelance illustrator.

Photographer

Digital photography is a really competitive field these days. A quick Google search of your hometown will likely turn up a dozen or more family and wedding photographers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t break into this fun and rewarding field. If you have an eye for the artful, a good camera, and editing software and skills, you can do photography for local businesses and families.

Freelance photographers may also shoot work to sell professionally, or work for magazines or other publications on an ad hoc basis.

On average, freelance photographers make about $25 per hour, including the time it takes to edit photos after a shoot. But photographers can make up to $100 per hour or more.

Web/Email Designer

The developers, which we talked about earlier, are the ones who make email and web design actually work. But they’re not usually the ones who make things look nice. For this, you need a web or email designer.

These designs are often built on the same platforms. So you may be able to build both into your career. Sometimes designers learn a bit of code, as well, so that they can develop, or at least troubleshoot, basic designs. As with web and email development, formal education is less important than experience and an impressive portfolio.

As with many of the creative jobs listed here, this one is likely to be paid on an hourly or per-project basis. You may be able to work whatever hours suit you best just as long as you make meetings and meet deadlines.

The average salary for an both email and web design is around $48,000.

Videographer

If you like the idea of photography but want to give it a little more life, consider getting into videography. The equipment to start may be a bit more pricey, since you have to pay for sound equipment. You should also know how to edit your own footage if you’re going to work as a freelancer.

Like photographers, videographers have a variety of available options. They can shoot weddings and other family events, or work for businesses. As social media platforms place more emphasis on video content, more businesses than ever are using video as part of their marketing efforts. This opens up the field for videographers to find gigs.

Since videography depends on having someone there to video, this job will be less flexible than some others. But you can still schedule sessions around your whims, within reason. Salaries for videographers range all the way from less than $40,000 to more than $90,000 nationwide.

Graphic Designer

If you want to design beautiful things for print or for static web images, check out graphic design. As more businesses rely on image-heavy blogs and social media, one-off gigs as a graphic designer abound. These jobs are likely to be on a per-project basis. But some companies have enough design work to hire a full-time work-from-home designer or to keep one on an ongoing contract.

Graphic designers typically use programs like the Adobe suite to create images or beautiful text for print marketing, book covers, online ads, and more. The average graphic designer salary is about $47,000.

Jobs with Specific Training

The majority of the jobs we listed above do require training. You don’t just wake up one morning knowing how to code HTML or streamline workflows in Salesforce. But the jobs in this category are a little different. They will, for the most part, require specific degrees or certifications. This is different from the jobs above where you can get a certification, but can also just make your way based on proving your experience.

Accountant

Many accountants and bookkeepers work from home. In fact, this is probably one of the earlier legitimate work from home opportunities. As businesses increasingly move their accounting information and processes to the cloud, it’s easier than ever to turn this into a work from home job.

As an accountant, you could work from home for a single company, run a business doing bookkeeping for several companies, or work for an accounting firm. Regardless, you’re likely to be able to make a good living, since accountants earn an average of $50,000 per year.

Insurance Inspector

This is one of those work-from-home jobs where you’re really based at home, but do much of your work elsewhere. Insurance inspectors can often work out of a home office, but they travel a lot. They help investigate insurance claims for insurance companies. Many insurance companies hire third-party companies or independent inspectors for this.

You’ll likely need to become licensed in your state to work as an insurance inspector. To get licensed, you may need a bachelor’s degree in a related area. However, “related area” can be defined fairly broadly. All that training can be worthwhile, though, for the average $58,000 salary.

Medical Transcriptionist

Like accounting, medical transcription is one of the older work-from-home jobs. These positions are often full-time telecommuting positions. This was once a way to make a decent, steady living from home. And it still can be. But be aware that computing technology and industry changes are making it more difficult to maintain a career in this field.

Medical transcription requires specialized knowledge. That’s because transcriptionists don’t just copy down information. They actually interpret it. You’ll need to go through some postsecondary training, normally a certificate, to handle this job. The average hourly wage is about $15 per hour.

Online Teaching

As online schools become a popular option for students, online teaching is becoming a more popular option for teachers. These jobs are available for both K-12 teachers and postsecondary teachers.

Depending on your state and the type of online school for which you’re teaching (public, private, or public charter), you may need a degree and a formal teaching license for this job. At the postsecondary level, you may need a master’s degree or higher, or years of industry experience.

Class formats also vary. Sometimes, you’ll need to work during normal school hours because you’ll do direct instruction via video or chat. Other times, you’ll moderate class discussion in a forum and grade posted assignments on your own time frame.

Often, K-12 teachers are paid a salary for this job. As an online college professor, though, you’re more likely to get paid on a per-class basis. The average salary for an online teacher is about $35,000 per year.

Realtor

Like an insurance adjustor, a realtor can often work based out of a home office. But this job involves lots of driving around and interacting with people. It can be a great option for extraverts who want to have control over their own schedules. However, realtors’ schedules often revolve around their clients’ schedules, and that may mean lots of evening and weekend hours.

Training requirements for realtors vary depending on where you live. But you’ll likely need to take a pre-licensing course and a licensing exam. Then if you want to technically become a realtor–rather than just a real estate agent–you’ll need to join the National Association of Realtors and join a brokerage.

Working as a realtor can be interesting and fun. And you can make a median salary of $58,000, with the potential to earn a whole lot more.

Paralegal

Paralegals do research and draft documents for attorneys. They still typically work in a law office, but many now work flexible hours or even work from home full-time. That all depends on your employer. In some cases, you can even pick up temporary paralegal work that allows for telecommuting.

To become a paralegal, you’ll need an associate’s degree. The median paralegal salary in the U.S. is about $46,000 per year.

Project Manager

Project managers are increasingly necessary in this world where various fields collide into huge company-wide projects. These are the people responsible for keeping the whole project in line and under budget.

Some project managers get into the field on a lower level. They might specialize in analysis or coordination. These jobs put you into big projects without putting you in charge. But project managers typically wind up with a certification of some sort. Some also specialize by focusing on projects in certain fields or industries.

Project managers can often work remotely, though they may need to be on site for key meetings with stakeholders. As a project manager, you might work as a contractor for multiple businesses or work full-time for a consulting agency. Project managers make an average of $78,000 per year.

Miscellaneous Jobs

I didn’t want to leave out any of the great work-from-home jobs in this category. But they don’t fit cleanly into the others. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth pursuing!

Airbnb Host

This is not only a work-from-home job, but it also allows you to make money with your home. Whether you rent out for a single weekend every year or for several nights a month, Airbnb can be a great way to make a side income.

My own family has been renting a room in our home through Airbnb this year. And i can tell you this: more months than not, it pays the mortgage.

As an Airbnb host, you’re responsible for cleaning and maintaining the rented area and for communicating with guests. You’ll also need to follow all your local laws in regard to home sharing. But it’s a fun way to make a side income, for sure.

Travel Agent

This is yet another field where you need to be on the lookout for scams. If a questionable company is asking you to pay a lot of money to become a travel agent, avoid them. There may be a call to pay for some education in this area, though.

But more than training, what you need to be a successful travel agent is an entrepreneurial spirit. This is really one of those jobs that is what you make of it. That’s why travel agents can make anywhere from $25,000 to $54,000 per year.

Consultant

This is such a broad term that it’s difficult to define. But many people leverage their day job skills and expertise to become consultants on the side. Or you might decide to partially retire to do consulting. For some, though, consulting is a viable full-time job.

Think of it this way: As a consultant, you can help businesses who can’t afford a full-time employee with your skillset get work done. Or you can come in as a fresh set of eyes to help others in your field solve a particular problem.

Consulting can be quite lucrative, depending on your skills and experience. Since you’re getting paid on a per-project basis without the benefits of a regular employee, you can command quite a high hourly rate. But you can also work from home for a consulting company as their full-time employee.

Either way you slice it, consulting is a great way to leverage skills you already have into an even more lucrative, flexible career or side gig.


20 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays (#3 is our secret weapon)

All of us, I’m sure, are busy shopping and planning for gifts for all the people we care about. In the process, though, we need to take some precautions. We don’t want to end up in a situation where we are happy for a month, but are left paying December’s credit card bill throughout the next year.

ways to save money during the holidays

So, here is my list of money-saving tips for the holidays. A lot of us have smart phones and there is an app for pretty much everything. With a little planning, you can save money, reduce stress, and have a fun-filled holiday.

  1. Make a budget and stick to it: If you have already made a holiday budget and been saving for it throughout the year, excellent! If not, make a budget now and include everything. While this tip is obvious, it’s amazing how many people end up in credit card debt every January. If you are new to budgeting, check out our guide to budgets for those who hating budgeting.
  2. Make a gift plan: Create a gift plan with the list of all recipients and ideas for gifts. If you don’t have ideas, write down their interests, which might lead you to find something. Include a maximum dollar amount. As with everything these days, there are many apps for creating and tracking a gift list. One of our favorites is the Wunderlist.
  3. Give gifts only for the kids in the family. This may require a frank conversation with friends and family, but it accomplishes two important things. First, it helps you reign in spending during the holidays. Second, it makes the holidays a lot less frantic as you reduce the time you spend shopping.
  4. Comparison shop: Know prices before you get out of the house. If you have to go on a “pre-shopping” trip, so be it. Don’t buy anything on this pre-shopping trip. Just note down the prices for all the gifts in your list and go home. There, you can check the prices online, along with how much it costs for shipping. This will give you a better idea of the price range and the best place to buy. There are several websites that allow you to track the price for the items on your list. I use Camel Camel Camel to track prices. Don’t forget to get points either using your credit card, or using an app like Checkpoints that offers points for just checking in.
  5. Look for deals and sales: If you are buying online, Google [store name + “coupon”]. You will almost always end up with some coupons for online or in-store purchases. Even if it is just for free shipping, you are saving money. Shop on Free Shipping Day or plan your purchases to meet any minimum order requirements to get free shipping. Make use of the holiday events like the Babys’R’Us first Christmas, to score some free stuff for yourself or to gift. And if you do buy online, use to get cash back on just about every purchase.
  6. Buy in bulk: For commonly used items like holiday treats or baking supplies, try to buy in bulk along with a neighbor, family member, or a friend.
  7. Homemade gifts: Instead of buying gifts,  make your own.
  8. Don’t be afraid to re-gift: This is a very personal decision. If you feel comfortable with the idea and you have a perfectly good gift that is just not for you, consider gifting it to someone who will make use of it. Save all your receipts in one place in case you have to return something. Apps like Shoeboxed can help you keep your receipts organized.
  9. Give time: Give your time instead of money or a gift. This can be ideal for teenagers and college students who are short on money but can offer elderly relatives much-needed help around the house.
  10. Get a part time job: If you can spare some time, consider getting a part-time job in a department store. You could make some money for the holidays and also make use of the employee discounts for all your gifts.
  11. Wrapping paper: Instead of buying wrapping paper, make your own with your kid’s artwork.
  12. Make ornaments: Similar to wrapping paper, instead of buying expensive ornaments, make ornaments from your kid’s artwork or with some meaningful photos.
  13. Food drives: Instead of office gift exchanges, suggest a food drive where you can bring canned and non-perishable food for the local food bank. This won’t save much money, but at least you are not stuck with buying a lame gift for a coworker you don’t even know very well.
  14. Potluck: For parties (whether you are attending or hosting) suggest potluck instead of one person doing all the cooking and cleaning. It can save serious time and money.
  15. Pick your parties: Attend only the parties that are more meaningful to you. Skip the ones from an acquaintance or coworker you don’t know well. This will save you time as well as money for a hostess gift or bring-along dish.
  16. Plan your vacations: Traveling a day earlier or later can save a lot of money. If you fly, use Google Flights to find the best deals and to be alerted when fares go up or down.
  17. Skimp on outdoor lighting: Consider going easy with the holiday lighting. You can also use LED lights which have significantly lower energy consumption. That way, you won’t get stuck with a humongous power bill in January. You could also change regular bulbs to colored ones to add a festive effect and leave it at that.
  18. Don’t replicate your parents’ festiveness: This is one of the mistakes I make — not with just holidays, but in general. I forget that it took my parents probably 50 years to collect all the stuff they have. I am just starting out, so there is no need to have every conceivable holiday decoration the first time.
  19. Buy throughout the year: It is not possible to do this for this year, but the best time to shop for Christmas is the week after Christmas. That’s when everything Christmas-related goes on clearance. Stock up on stuff that won’t get spoiled — decorations, ornaments, gift wrapping, and even gifts.
  20. Buy gift cards using the holiday deals and give yourself a gift, too: Holidays are a great time to buy gift cards at a discount. I stock up on gift cards for myself during this time, to use the following year. Two great options for discounted cards are and .

What are your favorite money-saving tips? Do you have a weakness or do you always plan well?


Top Ten Web-Based Money Management Tools

Many of the best budgeting software tools are totally free. We list the top 10 options for paid and free apps. The #1 budgeting app is totally free.

Each decade brings new and innovative ways to manage your money. In the 1990s, you could use simple PC-based software to track basic income and expenses. These later evolved into reporting and analyzing powerhouses.

In the 2000s, connectivity with the internet made PC-based software easy to synchronize with bank and investment websites. The connectivity, in turn, provided access to detailed account information right at home.

With the arrival of the 2010s, the next phase is to manage the information that already resides out on the internet. We accomplished this through web-based software that will provide data security, keep the records protected against loss, and allow the user access their information from virtually anywhere.

Here’s a list of ten of the best web-based solutions for managing your money.

1.

Emphasis: Tracking your wealth
Price: FREE!
Description:  offers a wide variety of tools that allow you to track your banking, investing and retirement accounts. Perhaps their greatest feature is the retirement planner, which can point you in the right direction to secure your future. Personal Capital also has a great cash flow tool which you can use to track returns and dividends on your investments.

2. Wela

Emphasis: Online financial management + advice
Price: FREE!
Description: A lot of personal finance management software allows you to track your accounts.  Wela is a little bit different in that it actually provides you advice based on your financial situation.  Through an app, with a robot named Benjamin, Wela will look at your accounts and make suggestions.  “Perhaps you should be saving your money with Ally, which has a high interest rate” (for example).  Users can choose to listen or ignore the advice, but if you’re looking for actionable steps, look no further.

3. ClearCheckbook

Emphasis: Balancing your checkbook
Price: FREE!
Description: ClearCheckbook provides analysis tools for evaluating and tracking your expenditures. Your bank data is imported, and you can then analyze expenses by category and closely monitor your balance to avoid overdrafts. Uncleared and cleared balances are provided with alerts that can be set to any dollar amount.

4. MorningStar

Emphasis: Virtual portfolio tracking
Price: $18.95/month (or free)
Description: MorningStar offers a bunch of excellent premium content to paid subscribers. They also have a great portfolio tracker tool for the investor who sits at a computer all day. Quick glances at your portfolio will alert you to buying and selling opportunities.

Note from Nickel: Google Finance also offers a nice portfolio tracker, and it’s also free. I’m also not a fan of tracking my portfolio on a minute-by-minute basis, but… To each their own. Personally, I use the Vanguard portfolio tracker for a “big picture” view of our investments.

5. Buxfer

Emphasis: Tracking shared expenses
Price: FREE!
Description: Buxfer is great for people who share expenses with roommates. Instead of guessing at fair portions of bills and tracking things in your head, the software does the math and tracks who has paid for each of their expenses.

6. HelloWallet

Emphasis: Online financial management
Price: $8.95/month
Description: HelloWallet is a unique service in that, for every five users who sign up, an account is offered to a person who cannot afford this service. The site offers all the money management functionality necessary to manage and budget and monitor financial investments.

7. Mvelopes

Emphasis: Virtual envelope budgeting
Price: $129.60/year (equivalent to $10.80/month)
Description: Mvelopes is a virtual envelope-budgeting tool. When the bills must be paid, the dollar amount in each envelope is applied to the bill electronically. In other, budgeting and bill payment are combined into one handy tool. You can also track discretionary spending in a dedicated envelope.

8. Moneystrands

Emphasis: Manage cash flow and avoid surprises
Price: FREE!
Description: Moneystrands allows you to create a budget from the ground up, and then it monitors your performance. Alerts are provided automatically when the bank balance drops below a certain level. When bills must be paid, the user is alerted to the tasks that must be completed. They also have an iPhone app.

9. Mint

Emphasis: Complete financial management
Price: FREE!
Description: Mint can track virtually any financial activity. You can create a budget, track monthly expenses, evaluate investment performance, etc. This is by far the most well-known of all the web-based software packages. It’s so good, in fact, that Intuit bought it as a replacement for their own “Quicken Online.”

10. BudgetPulse

Emphasis: Budget planning
Price: FREE!
Description: If writing down a new monthly budget isn’t your thing, BudgetPulse can help to make it easier. Users can import and export their personal finance data, create graphs and charts for category spending, and bring in any financial statement. The primary downside to this easy to use software is that as of today, nothing syncs with your financial institution. The data needs to be input manually.

Do you track your finances online?

Even with the horror stories of website breaches and identity theft, my view is that the benefits of online personal financial management software far outweigh the risks. These services all work hard to protect your information, and some even allow anonymous signups. If you’re not already managing your money online, my advice is to test out a few of these sites and see if they meet your needs.


5 Alternatives to High Yield Online Savings Accounts

Savings account interest rates have been plummeting. Here are five of the best alternatives to a savings account to make the most of your money.

alternatives to a savings account

Putting your money away in a high yield savings account is one of the smartest and safest moves you can make. The first $250,000 is insured per account holder and at 2% interest, the money will grow over time. The problem is that it’s been some time since online savings accounts yielded a rate north of 2%.

Here’s a sampling of current savings rates (as of September 1, 2017)

  • Yield Pledge Money Market – 0.86% APY (1.31% first year introductory APY is available for first-time Yield Pledge Money Market account holders on balances up to $250,000.)
  • Online Savings Account – 1.20% APY
  • Money Market Account – 1.20% APY
  • Online Savings Account – 1.35% APY

While rates have improved quite a bit over the last six months, 1.30% is just not something to get excited about. This all begs the question of what you should do when your high-yield savings account no longer qualifies for the “high-yield” moniker. Assuming you don’t want to tie your money up indefinitely, your options are somewhat limited.

Let’s take a look at five alternatives to stashing money in a high yield savings account.

1. Look Toward Your Local Bank or Credit Union

Online banks typically offer significantly better rates than the average brick-and-mortar bank. You can, however, find some great deals by looking locally. Consider both local banks and credit unions, and also look into high yield checking accounts. You might have to jump through some hoops, such as signing up for direct deposit and/or using your debit card a minimum number of times per month, but there are still deals to be had.

When I moved to Connecticut, I was 40 miles from the closest Chase, Citi, or Bank of America. I had no choice but to open a savings and checking account with Citizens Bank. In addition to the convenience of having a brick-and-mortar bank just down the street, I also learned about the wide variety of products they offer. I was able to take out a home equity line of credit with the bank at a fantastic rate (with no closing costs). I was also to open an 18-month CD at 1.75% APY, which I challenge you to find online.

2. Build a CD Ladder

Another possibility would be to put your money in CDs. If you won’t need access to the full amount at the drop of a hat, you can build a CD ladder. With a CD ladder, a portion of your savings will be available to you on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.

CD ladders are a simple concept. Instead of plunking your money away all in one long-term CD, you spread it out over the course of several years. For example, I put $5,000 into a 5-year CD this year. I do the same next year and so on so that I have five CD’s totaling $25,000. Then, every year after that, a CD matures, and I can either reinvest that money into another 5-year CD, or use it if needed.

  • currently has some of the best online CD rates. Featured are their 2-year CD rate at 1.50%, their 5-year CD rate at 2.25%, and their 10-year CD at 2.35%.

3. Purchase Series I Savings Bonds

While rates on Treasury securities have fallen dramatically since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, savings bonds from the U.S. Treasury are still very secure. For example, Series I Savings Bonds are currently paying a composite rate of 1.96%.

The rate is subject to change on a semi-annual basis because it is a composite rate that depends in part on the CPI-U, which is the value of the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers. The current rate is good until the end of October, at which point a new rate will be generated.

Every year, you have the ability to purchase up to $10,000 in I Bonds, and you can make your purchase online to the penny.  If you want a bond for $777.77, you go right ahead and do you. Keep in mind that I Bonds mature after 30 years.

4. Consider paying off debt

While you always need to maintain a cash cushion, there’s no point in earning a pittance on excess savings if you’re carrying debt. Instead of settling for 1 to 2 percent interest, why not throw some extra cash at your outstanding debts? Note that this breaks the liquidity rule, but it’s still worthwhile if you can swing it.

Most US families carry a variety of debt, all of which is going to be higher than the 1.30% APY you can get by putting your money in a high yield savings account. For example:

  • Home mortgage rates for even the most qualified of buyers is 3.25%
  • Credit card interest rates average 15% and can be as high as 27% for those with average credit
  • Auto loans can offer 0% for a short period of time, then increase to an average of 5%
  • Student loans can cost you between 4% and 11 % depending on whether they’re federal or private

Why have money sitting in a non-interest bearing account when you can take a bite out of your much higher-interest debt?

5. Invest in Loans with Lending Club

If you’re looking for a better return and don’t mind taking on a bit of risk, check out . It’s not FDIC-insured, but returns have averaged between 5 and 8 percent historically. It is free to , and you can get started with as little as $25.

Lending Club is a peer-to-peer network where you can invest in loans that are taking out by other users. Lending Club will rate the loans. The riskier the loan, the greater the return. They boast that 97% of all loans on their network yield positive returns, so choose your loans wisely.

Peer-to-peer lending is something that has taken off in recent years as banks have tightened their lending practices. For borrowers, places like Lending Club offer short-term notes for necessary cash flow. For investors, the opportunity to routinely clear 8-10% annually is a welcomed change to the savings account rates you see above.

Last but not least, you could always just choose to suck it up and deal with the low rates. While low rates are frustrating, you have to consider how much you’re actually losing by sitting on your hands. If you don’t currently have a lot of money in savings, then you’re not missing out on much in terms of real dollars. Your time might be better spent figuring out other ways to earn extra money or otherwise improve your financial situation.

If you have any other suggestions, please share them in the comments.


What Is Vesting and Why Should You Care?

Vesting refers to the act of becoming fully entitled in an employer’s retirement fund, pension plan, stock options, or other related assets. The vested assets that you have can never be taken away from you. Money that has not vested, however, is lost when you leave the company. So it’s critical that you understand the difference.

vesting

Employers offer employees certain perks to incentivize them to remain loyal and deliver premium work. Giving employees non-forfeitable ownership of employer-sponsored retirement and pension assets is one of the main ways companies do this.

If your employer offers a pension plan, stock options, or matching contributions for a 401 (k) account, it’s important to pay attention to the vesting schedules for participating. Not paying attention to vesting means that you could forfeit the funds you’ve accrued if you leave a company before you reach key vesting milestones. Here’s a look at the three scenarios for vesting schedules.

Immediate Vesting

Some companies offer immediate vesting. This means that employer contributed funds are yours immediately. This also means you won’t have to worry about forfeiting the employer-matched portion of your funds when you leave a company.

Cliff Vesting

A company that uses cliff vesting transfers ownership of assets and matched contributions to employees once a specific period of employment has been reached. For instance, it may take a year before an employee is able to have full rights to their matched contributions.

Leaving before that one-year mark means  that you cannot keep any of the employer-matched funds. The federal government caps the amount of vesting time for 401(k) and 403 (b) accounts at three years.

Graded Vesting

Some companies release ownership of matched contributions to employees through multiple tiers. This is called graded vesting.

A company might, for example, release 20 percent of ownership to an employee in increments over the course of five years. This means any employee who leaves before the five-year mark will only receive whatever percentage has vested up until that point. The federal government caps the amount of vesting time for graded schedules at six years.

How Not to Leave Money on the Table

You probably already know that you should contribute the maximum amount to an employer-sponsored retirement or 401(k) plan. However, you risk losing the funds by timing your exit unwisely.

Knowing the specific vesting timeline of your employer is important. Especially, if you plan to switch careers or companies at some point. Leaving before you’ve hit a vesting benchmark could cause you to walk away from a nice chunk of retirement savings.

When does staying with a company just for the sake of becoming fully vested become worth it? It doesn’t make sense to stay put just for the sake of becoming fully vested. Especially if you’d like to pursue a better opportunity and vesting is years away. However, it’s a different story if you’re on year four of a five-year schedule and you’ve faithfully contributed to your employer-matched 401 (k) plan.

You should also know that vesting only involves the portion of funds your employer has contributed to your accounts. Any money you’ve chosen to contribute to an account like a 401(k) is yours, regardless of when you change employment. But it’s still worth doing the math if you’re considering leaving an employer before you’re fully vested.


Review of Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless claims to offer excellent phones and service at rock bottom prices. In this Republic Wireless review, we put these claims to the test.

review of republic wireless

Mobile devices were supposed to free us from the tethers of landlines. Unfortunately, many wireless plans can leave us tethered to expensive contracts and oppressive terms. This is why contract-free mobile plans have become so popular in recent years.

One of the big stars of the contract-free world is Republic Wireless. Are you thinking of making the switch to this way of talking, texting and browsing?

Republic Wireless Coverage

The first step is determining whether you have coverage in your area. This link takes you to a tool that detects your location and determines your coverage. I tested it in Springfield, MO and had full coverage.

As the map below shows, Republic Wireless covers most of the U.S.

Republic Wireless Pricing

Republic Wireless’ pricing is a breath of fresh air compared to other carriers with complicated pricing layers. The entry price point is $15 per month for the company’s basic plan. How does Republic Wireless offer such low rates while still providing reliable service?

The service is unique because it actually defaults all phone usage to available Wi-Fi. If Wi-Fi isn’t available, it uses the Sprint and T-Mobile networks as backups. Here’s a quick rundown of the essential facts to know about Republic Wireless when comparison shopping:

  • All plans include unlimited talk, text, and Wi-Fi data
  • There’s no international calling
  • Monthly plans range in price from $15 to $45 (see below)
  • The carrier uses a unique Wi-Fi calling technology that switches between Wi-Fi and cell usage based on what’s optimal in any particular location
  • Customers can usually transfer their phone numbers to and from the provider easily

Republic Wireless Plans

offers four plans:

  • $15/month: No cell data
  • $20/month: 1GB of cell data
  • $30/month: 3GB of cell data
  • $45/month: 4GB of cell data

It also offers other plans of up to 10 GB of data. It does not offer an unlimited data plan.

Republic Wireless App and Plan Switching

Republic Wireless offers a free app that tracks data usage every month. You have the option to instantly upgrade to a more expensive tier if you reach your data limit before the month is over. However, it will be your responsibility to switch back to the lower price tier at the end of the billing cycle to avoid the higher rate for the following month.

What We Like About Republic Wireless

Without question the low prices are the best feature. Compared to the big four carriers, . We also like that you can switch back and forth between plans. This helps when you need a little extra data in one month, or a little extra cash in another.

What Could Be Better

This provider’s biggest strength also happens to be its biggest weakness for some customers. Republic Wireless is able to offer rock-bottom rates because it defaults each phone to Wi-Fi. This means you can’t automatically bring your own phone or transfer over a phone from another provider without first checking to see if your device is compatible.

Unlike most other commitment-free carriers, Republic Wireless does not sell refurbished phones. The company only sells new phones via its online store.

The absence of any type of family plan also detracts from the appeal of Republic Wireless a little bit. While this won’t concern you if you’re looking for a plan on your own, families looking for an easy and affordable way to divide usage between several people could be disappointed by a lack of options when signing up with Republic Wireless. However, you can manage several individual plans under one main account.

Is Republic Wireless a Good Fit?

Republic Wireless isn’t the best provider for super users. You’re really only getting a great deal if you opt to sign up for one of the bottom-tier plans that are available. The larger data plans that are available offer slightly less than what you can get with other contract-free options for what works out to be slightly more money per month.

Republic Wireless is a great option for a person who is a low data user. This would be someone who uses their phone primarily at home while connected to their own Wi-Fi network.

One thing to remember is that the coverage you experience with Republic Wireless could vary depending on where you’re located. This means that super users or people who are counting on their phones while on the road for business might be frustrated by the fact that they won’t be relying on one consistent network to access calls, texts, and data at all times.

The silver lining is that this is a commitment-free option that you can leave without facing any fees or penalties. The Republic Wireless 14-day guarantee makes it possible to end service and return your phone without penalty if it turns out that this ultimately isn’t the right option for you.

  • To get more details, .

The Best Small Business Credit Cards of 2017

A terrific way to earn some extra cash when running a business is by using the right business credit card. Depending on how much your business spends, the potential savings could be thousands of dollars.

best small business credit cards of 2017

Small business credit cards are valuable when used properly. In addition to earning rewards, you can use them to track spending and manage employee cards. You can also earn a nice initial signing bonus. Below, you will find a list of the best small business credit cards available to you today.

Pay close attention to the details of each card. Try to match your spending habits to the card that will earn you the best rate of return.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have about business credit cards in the comments section. We are happy to help!

The Best Small Business Credit Cards

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express – Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $5,000 in the first six months of owning the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express. Earn another $200 if you spend an additional $10,000 in the first year. All together that means a $400 statement credit for spending $15,000. You earn 5% cash back at office supply stores and on wireless telephone service. You’ll also earn 3% cash back on a category of your choice and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

If you’re in need of a little interest free purchasing, this card gives you the first 9 months on the house. Once the 0% intro offer for 9 months expires, the standard APR becomes 13.24% – 20.24% variable. There is no annual fee to own the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, and if you need to spend a little bit over your credit card, American Express is happy to offer expanded buying power.

  • Biggest PRO – Pick from eight categories to earn 3% cash back
  • Biggest CON – Foreign transaction fees of 2.7% are charged. Keep this card in the United States!

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business – Big cash back bonus alert! When you spend $4,500 in purchases during the first three months, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business will give you a $500 cash bonus. A no-nonsense small business credit card, you’ll earn 2% cash back on EVERY purchase. No categories, no tier levels, no expiration dates. The amount of cash back you can earn in a calendar year is unlimited and so long as the account is open, the cash rewards are available to you.

There is no foreign transaction fee to use the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business abroad but there’s also no intro APR to speak of. The biggest negative to owning this card is that it charges a $59 annual fee. Thankfully, however, Capital One waives that fee for all first-year cardholders

  • Biggest PRO – Huge $500 cash back bonus
  • Biggest CON – $59 annual fee after year one.

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® – After opening up a Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® and spending $500 in the first 60 days, you’ll earn a $200 statement credit. The two month time-frame is quick, but the $500 spend hurdle is the smallest on this list when it comes to initial bonuses. Bank of America is well known for their 3/2/1 cash back platform, and this business card is no different. Earn 3% cash back at the gas pump and at office supply stores, 2% cash back at restaurants, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There is a $250,000 max spend limit on the 3% cash back tier (so you’ll earn 1% cash back after you’ve reached that amount in spending).

Two additional perks to mention for the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard®: There is a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first nine billing cycles, and there is no annual fee.

  • Biggest PRO – 3% cash back on gas; largest rate on our list
  • Biggest CON – $200 initial cash back bonus; smallest on our list

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express – 25,000 bonus Starpoints are awarded after spending $5,000 in the first three months using the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. The ongoing rewards program offers up to 5 Starpoints per dollar spent at SPG Hotels. You earn two Starpoints per dollar spent on participating Marriott Rewards hotels. You’ll also earn a single Starpoint on all other purchases.

The  Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers access to the Sheraton Club lounge for free, a 5,000 Starpoint transfer bonus (when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program), and free on-site Wi-Fi. There is a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for everyone the first year.

  • Biggest PRO – Up to 5 Starpoints on every dollar spent at SPG hotels
  • Biggest CON – $95 annual fee after the first year of $0

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN – Who wouldn’t love to start off with 75,000 Membership Rewards points? Well if you decide to own the Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, that’s exactly what you can do. 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points are earned if you can spend $10,000 in the first three months, and another 25,000 Membership Points are earned if you spend another $10,000. That means $20,000 in three months, so hopefully your business has a lot of spending to do early!

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN’s main attraction comes from its travel rewards. Five points are earned for every dollar spent on flights and hotels when you book through American Express. You’ll also earn a 35% redemption bonus when you use your points to to pay for an airline fare and a 50% point bonus on all purchases over $5,000. You earn one point for every dollar spent otherwise.

Cardholders will also earn a $200 credit every year for baggage fees and other airline fees. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN also provides access to over 1,100 global airport lounges. Keep in mind that this is a charge card, so you must pay off your purchases every month and no interest is charged.

And the fee for all of these perks? A hefty $450 so make sure you’re taking full advantage of everything you see above.

  • Biggest PRO – 5x points on all travel purchases through American Express
  • Biggest CON – 1x points on all non-travel purchases under $5,000

Ink Business Cash(SM) Credit Card – After spending $3,000 in the first three months, you’ll earn a $300 cash bonus on your new Ink Business Cash(SM) Credit Card. In addition to a great up-front bonus, you’ll earn a great tiered cash back rewards program. 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores and utilities. 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants and 1% cash back on everything else.

An introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers is also provided to new cardmembers with employee cards coming at no extra cost. The Ink Business Cash(SM) Credit Card has no annual fee.

  • Biggest PRO – Fantastic $300 up front cash bonus
  • Biggest CON –  Low 1% cash back on most purchases

The Best Gas Credit Cards of 2017

Don’t look now, but gas prices are slowly on the rise. Admittedly, the last few years have been really nice from a gas price perspective.  Most of the country is paying in the low $2 range for their gas. In some locations, we’re talking a buck ninety.

best gas credit cards

Low gas prices reduce the benefits of the best gas credit cards.  The lower cost of gas reduces your savings.  With prices inching their way back to the $3 range, a gas credit card is a crucial savings tool.   I work from home, rarely leave the house during the week and still save $50+ a year on gas purchases.

Below you’ll find a list we’ve compiled which feature the best gas credit cards available to you today.  Some favor heavy spenders, some light spenders. But they all qualify as having a great rewards program and terrific gas buying perks.

The Best Gas Credit Cards of 2017

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi – If you’re a member at Costco, then owning the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is a necessity.  This credit card offers a whopping 4% cash back on gas purchases. It gives you 3% cash back at restaurants and on travel. You earn 2% cash back on all other purchases at Costco and 1% cash back everywhere else.  The 4% cash back offered on gas is good for the first $7,000 spent annually. If you spend more than that, the cash back rate becomes 1%.  At $2.50 per gallon, $7,000 spent breaks down to around 2,800 gallons.  For an individual, non-truck driver, it would be extremely difficult to pump that many gallons in one year.

New cardholders will also be provided a 0% intro APR on purchases for seven months.  The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi charges no annual fee but you MUST be a Costco card holder in order to gain approval.  This means keeping a paid Costco membership every year, which is a small price to pay for the rewards you see.

  • Biggest PRO – Great 4%/3%/2%/1% rewards program, no tier level or spend requirements
  • Biggest CON – No initial bonus

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card – PenFed is not a credit card issuer you’ve likely heard of, but that doesn’t stop them from providing terrific rewards to it’s members.  The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card gives cardholders 5 points per dollar spent on gas, 3 points per dollar spent on groceries and one point per dollar spent elsewhere.  They even rewards new cardholders with a $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days.

The five points per dollar spent on gas is year round, no spend limits or rotating categories.  A 0% intro APR on balance transfers is also awarded (3% balance transfer fee) and there is no annual fee.  The one caveat to owning the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card is that you must be a member of PenFed credit union.  That means being directly or indirectly involved in the Us Military or making a simple one time $17 donation.

  • Biggest PRO – 5 points per dollar rewarded on purchases at the pump, highest on our list
  • Biggest CON – Exclusive to PenFed credit union members only

Chase Freedom® – After applying and being approved for the Chase Freedom®, you’ll earn $150 in cash back after spending $500 in the first three months.  Get another $25 if you add an authorized user to your account when they make their first purchase.  Similar to the Discover it® Cashback Match™, cardholders will earn 5% cash back on select categories (including gas) each quarter and 1% cash back on everything else.  Discover and Chase typically try to avoid matching categories in a quarter, so owning these two cards likely covers you for 5% cash back in gas for six moths of the calendar year.

The Chase Freedom® also has a great 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, longest on our list.  There is no annual fee to own this gas rewards credit card.

  • Biggest PRO – 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Biggest CON – 1% cash back rate when you can’t tap into 5% categories each quarter

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card – Bank of America has perhaps the most trusted brand in credit cards and their strongest rewards card is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card.  New cardmembers will earn a $150 statement credit after spending $500 in purchases during the first 90 days.  You earn 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back at the grocery store and at wholesale clubs. You net 1% cash back everywhere else.  On the 2% and 3% levels, a combined maximum of $2,500 per quarter can be spent.  When that amount is reached, 1% cash back kicks in.

When you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account, you get a 10% bonus (effectively making your rewards rate 3.3%/2.2%/1.1%).  Also included is a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.  The finishing touch is that this card does not charge any annual fee.

  • Biggest PRO – 3.3% cash back rate on gas purchases for Bank of America checking/savings customers
  • Biggest CON – $2,500 spend maximum on all higher cash back categories

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express – This is my preferred gas card of choice, not only because it earns 3% on all gas purchases but also because new cardholders earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 in three months.  The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express also has a crazy 6% cash back on grocery buys (up to $6,000 annually spent). You earn 3% cash back at select department stores and 1% cash back on everything else.

As an added limited time bonus, the normal $95 annual fee is waived for all first year cardholders.  Tack on additional benefits like extended warranties, purchase protection (for items like laptops and cell phones) and travel accident insurance and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express qualifies as perhaps the best year round gas rewards credit card.

  • Biggest PRO – 6% cash back at the grocery store / 3% cash back at the pump.  Year round
  • Biggest CON – $95 annual fee after the first year

Discover it® Cashback Match™ – For the very first full year, you’ll earn double the cash back rewards with the Discover it® Cashback Match™.  The standard cash back rate is 5% on select categories each quarter (like restaurants, Amazon.com and on gas purchases). You earn 1% cash back on everything else.  In the first year, for one-quarter (three months) you can earn a whopping 10% cash back on your gasoline buys.  The maximum you can spend each quarter on the 5% cash back category is $1,500. After that, you’ll earn the 1% rate (or 2% if it’s your first year owning this card).

There is no annual fee to own the Discover it® Cashback Match™ and also included is a 0% intro APR on purchases for 14 months.  That will give you over a year to make purchases without having to worry about interest.

  • Biggest PRO – Double cash back for the first year which means 10% on gas for three months
  • Biggest CON – 1% cash back on gas purchases most of the year

7 Ways to Evaluate the Best Online Savings Accounts

I’m a huge fan on online banking. In fact, I opened our first online savings account with ING Direct (now Capital One 360) over ten years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.

how to choose an online savings account

Sure, I still have a local brick and mortar bank for convenience, but I keep the vast majority of our savings online. Why? Because online banks offer significantly higher interest rates than do their local competitors.

I’ve opened more than my fair share of accounts over the years. In part it’s because I enjoy rate-chasing. And in part because I like reviewing them here on FiveCentNickel. With that in mind, I wanted to talk a bit about what I look for when evaluating an online bank. Here are seven main criteria I think about when deciding whether or not to open an online savings account. Depending on my current financial situation, I may weight them differently. (Interest rates current as of 08.29.2017)

Interest Rates

One of the biggest factors that I consider when evaluating an online bank is its interest rate. While online savings rates can fluctuate dramatically over time (just in the last few months, rates have increased substantially), certain banks are consistently among the best (or worst) of breed.

For example, Capital One 360 is typically among the first to lower their rates and the last to raise them when the interest rate landscape changes. Thus, while they’re quite popular, they’re not at the bleeding edge rate-wise. In contrast, banks like Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, and CIT Bank have always stood at the top of the interest rate game.

  • – CIT Bank is currently offering 1.35% APY on all savings accounts balances of up to $100,000. CIT Bank offers a wide variety of CDs, home loans, and small business loans, as well. The minimum deposit to open a savings account is $100.

Try Lending Club – If you’re looking for a higher yield than a regular bank can offer and you don’t mind taking on some additional risk, you might want to check out . It’s not FDIC-insured, but annual returns have averaged 9.05% APY over the past 18 months. It’s free to , and you can get started with as little as $25.

Bank Safety

Whenever I evaluate a new bank, I always check out their safety ratings. To be completely honest, I’m not sure why I bother because, as long as they have FDIC insurance, I’m perfectly happy putting my money there. Case in point… I recently opened an account with DollarSavingsDirect. They have a 1-star Bankrate rating, but I’m still perfectly comfortable having money with them, as long as my balance stays below the FDIC insurance limits.

Perhaps more important than bank stability, especially for online banks, is security. The good news here is that most of the major online banks have fairly similar (and secure) login procedures, etc. Honestly, the biggest thing you can do to ensure the security of your money is to choose a strong password and then avoid falling for a phishing scheme.

  • – Barclays bank currently sports 1.30% APY, which is 15x the national average. In addition savings and CD options, Barclays is also one of the premier credit card issuers in the United States. They offer cards great for travel, cash back, and balance transfers. Barclays currently offers an online savings account with no minimum opening deposit requirement.

Minimum Balance Requirements

Many online banks don’t have a minimum balance requirement, but some do. Fall below it, and your interest rate will likely tumble. You might also find yourself subject to monthly fees. If you’re not in a position to keep a large amount of cash in your account on an ongoing basis, be careful to choose one without a high minimum. WT Direct is an example of a bank with a relatively high balance requirement ($10,000 minimum).

  • – Discover Bank’s interest rate currently sits at 1.20%. Customers pay no monthly fees or minimum balance fees on the account, and it has no minimum opening deposit amount. For CDs, Discover Bank is one of the best, and I can attest to that first hand. I have a 10-year IRA CD opened up at 2.70% (when I signed up years ago). Also, their customer service is top-notch.

Online Interface

I’m not terribly picky when it comes to bank interfaces. As long as the site is secure and functional, I’m pretty happy. That being said, some sites are certainly slicker than others. One of my favorites in this regard is an online savings account you may not have heard of. SmartyPig offers a clean interface with easy management. I’ve yet to encounter a single bug in its system.

  • SmartyPig – Here’s another place I have a savings account. SmartyPig offers 1.15% APY on balances of $25,000 or more (1.05% APY on smaller balances). Their interface is my favorite of any bank. I’ve set up an automated deposit feature where every two weeks, I’m making sure money is coming from my checking. SmartyPig also offers the ability for others to deposit into your account. Unfortunately, SmartyPig only offers an online savings account.

Other Account Types

If you want more than just a savings account, be sure to check what other account types your bank of choice offers, as well as your options for linking them together. For example, Capital One 360 offers an online checking account that that you can link directly to your savings account. Taking this a step further, offers checking, savings, and money market accounts, as well as a wide range of CDs that you can purchase in a wide range of currencies.

Another possible consideration is access to a brokerage account. Here again, Capital One 360 doesn’t disappoint, as you can link your account directly to a Capital One investing (previously ShareBuilder) account. Likewise, E*Trade offers both high-yield savings accounts and access to their brokerage accounts.

  • Capital One 360 – The current APY on the Capital One 360 Savings Account is 0.75%. Let’s be honest … that stinks. But what they lack in APY, they make up for with other options. Online checking account, overdraft line of credit, money market account, and investment account are just some of the other ways you can be earning interest with Capital One (and their rates for those accounts are much more competitive).

Customer Service

Customer service is sort of a funny thing when it comes to online banking. If all goes well, you’ll never need to interact with a real, live person. But if something goes wrong, you’ll likely want to get someone on the line. While many banks have 24-hour customer service lines, some don’t. If this is important to you, be sure to check it out (and maybe call to test their hold times) before selecting a bank.

Another factor that I’ll lump in here with customer service is the time it takes to transfer money in and out of the bank. Some banks are quite good at this (like Ally Bank for example), consistently completing your transactions in two days, whereas others (HSBC Direct for example) drag their feet a bit and take a full three days. Not a huge deal, but it’s something to consider if you’ll be shuffling money around on a regular basis.

  • – When Ally Bank changed their brand (from GMAC bank), they put an emphasis on customer service. If you need to get a hold of them, they have an online chat feature available 24/7, plus email and phone support. Ally Bank’s online savings APY is 1.20%, and they’ve gone a bit outside the box with their CD offerings. If standard CD’s aren’t your thing, you can invest in a raise-your-rate CD or a no-penalty CD.

ATM Access

This one has never really been an issue for us, as we keep enough money in our local bank to avoid needing regular ATM access to our savings. Nonetheless, it’s an important consideration for some customers. Beyond asking whether or not your bank of choice offers an ATM card, you also need to consider fees. Some, such as CapitalOne 360, offer free ATM access via specific networks. But others do not. also offers free access to a specific ATM network (Circle One), and both E-Trade and reimburse you for ATM fees for any transactions outside their ATM network.

  • – If you have at least $5,000 in your EverBank account and are charged an ATM fee, EverBank will reimburse you. Every single time. While EverBank does not have a traditional savings account, they do offer a money market account with 1.31% APY for the first year. After the first year, the APY shifts to a paltry 0.86%. But where EverBank shines is with their online checking account and CD offerings. One of those CD’s is their foreign currency CD’s. Where else in the US can you open up a CD in shekels?

Closing Thoughts

As with most consumer decisions, selecting the best online savings account is all about trade-offs and finding a happy medium. What’s more important to you: interest rates or safety ratings? Online interface or minimum balance requirements? Every bank you see recommended above is a quality bank. Your money is always FDIC insured, and the interest rates are among the best anywhere.

Depending on your own personal needs, picking any one of them to put money away is a good decision.