Men and women are simply different animals when it comes to spending money. From what they buy to when they buy it, sociologists have mapped out the differences extensively over the years. But the gender gap extends beyond what they are buying; men and women also utilize their credit cards differently. Men are more likely to take out a cash advance, while women are more likely to carry a balance. Where else do they differ? This graphic paints a picture of the key differences between men and women when it comes to credit cards.
Q: My kid keeps bugging me about the new Justin Bieber prepaid card? Is it worth it?
A: It depends on what kind of debit card you are looking for. The SpendSmart prepaid card, the card that Justin Bieber is promoting, is a solid debit card, especially for kids. There is no setup fee, like other prepaid cards, and the monthly fee is only $3.95. It also boasts a low ATM withdrawal fee of $1.50, which is cheaper than most other prepaid cards.
The biggest advantage for parents is that the SpendSmart card lets parents block kids from making purchases in places they shouldn't like liquor stores and online gambling sites.
Looking for a prepaid card with even fewer fees? Check out Serve from American Express. It has no setup fee and no monthly fee, which could save you around $50 a year. You also get one free ATM withdrawal a month, and the fee after that is only $2. The only issue with the Serve card is that it is only accepted where American Express is accepted, which cuts down on the number of place you can use it.
Q: Can I direct deposit my paycheck onto a prepaid debit card?
A: Most of the prepaid debit cards we review let user direct deposit their paycheck free of change. There are several advantages to this, including convenience and the speed with which you get your paycheck funds – especially if you normally get your check mailed to you. Additionally, some cards charge to add funds so if a card offers free direct deposit you can save a substantial amount of money over time.
These are the debit cards we review that offer free direct deposit:
Serve® from American Express: Our number one rated debit card features free monthly fees, mobile apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone, and great American Express perks like purchase protection, roadside assistance and entertainment access. Users can add money to their card via direct deposit, linked bank account, debit card, credit card, or cash using a MoneyPak.
PayPalTM Prepaid Mastercard®: Best for current or soon-to-be PayPal customers as it requires a PayPal account to access its online account tools and other features. However, if you want to be a PayPal initiate they offer a linked savings account with a high 5% APY. You can add money to the card with direct deposit, the NetSpend Reload Network, bank transfers and reload packs.
PrePaid Visa® Classic RushCard: Good all-around card with extra perks like a free prescription discount card and discounted health care plans. This card is also features a full-fledged website and mobile apps for the iPhone and Android. You can add money with direct deposit, PayPal, cash deposit, check/money order and bank transfer.
Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card: Offers users great online and mobile tools (iPhone and Android) along with up to 55% in prescription savings and a limited rewards program. Users can add money via direct deposit, bank account transfers, PayPal, another NetSpend card or cash/check at a partner location.
Account Now Gold Visa® Prepaid Card: A basic debit card that provides online account access (but no mobile apps) and features a $15 bonus for using direct deposit. The extensive fee structure means that depending on how you use this card it might be costly over time. You can add funds via direct deposit, or with cash at an eligible store.
READYDebit Platinum Visa® Prepaid Card: A more expensive monthly fee than other cards we review, but it offers a free credit score and score tracking with direct deposit. The credit information is a nice add-on, but you must use direct deposit to get it and the credit score brand isn't mentioned, so it's hard to say how valuable the data is. You can add money with direct deposit, savings/checking account transfer, MoneyPak, or from another READYDebit card.
While most consumers know that APR stands for "Annual Percentage Rate" and APY stands for "Annual Percentage Yield," there is still confusion pertaining to what these are used for. When applied to loans and savings accounts, APRs are interest rates that require you to pay extra money, and APYs indicate a rate of return that makes you extra money, respectively. We break it down below:
An APR is the yearly interest rate you will pay if you carry a balance on your credit card, student loan, mortgage, etc. Since many of our readers come to the site to read our thorough credit card reviews, I will now discuss how APRs work for credit cards:
- One credit card may have a few different APRs. There may be one percentage rate for purchases, a different rate for balance transfers and another for cash advances.
- A credit card may offer a different APR for a user with average credit than for a user with a good or excellent credit history. Those with better credit histories are generally considered more creditworthy and qualify for a lower APR. These APR ranges are displayed as "x% – y% APR" in the card information and Terms and Conditions.
- Many credit cards offer an introductory APR, like a 0% APR for the first few months. If you get a card with a 0% introductory APR, you won't be paying any interest on your balance during the intro period. Keep in mind that this introductory APR will generally go up after the introductory rate expires.
- Consumers with good/excellent credit can usually qualify for these low introductory rates.
- There are "fixed" rate APRs that rarely change in credit cards, as well as "variable" rate APRs that change more often.
- Credit card companies are required to notify you if your fixed rate APR changes; however, they are not required to do so with a "variable" rate card, so you should always be paying attention to your interest rate.
- Learn more about credit cards and try our free credit card chooser to see which card is best for you.
On the other hand, APYs are much simpler to understand. An APY is the rate at which you will earn money on the balance in your savings account over the course of a year. Here's the lowdown on APYs and savings accounts:
- The higher your APY, the more money you will earn on the money you've put in your savings account.
- Different accounts pay interest in different ways. For example, with the American Express online savings account interest is compounded daily and credited monthly, while the Capital One 360 account compounds interest monthly and credits monthly as well.
- Some accounts offer higher APYs for people with higher balances, like the Everbank savings account which has an introductory APY of 1.25% for 6 months, and 1.01% thereafter, but your balance must be at least $5,000 in order to dodge their monthly fees.
- Online savings accounts offer higher APYs than regular banks because they don't need to spend as much money on employees and branches.
- Most of the top ranked online savings accounts also offer zero fees and no minimum balance requirements.
- Compare all of the top online savings accounts here and try the free online savings account calculator to see which savings account will make you the most money.
Q: Which secured credit card is best for international travel?
A: The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a great card for traveling outside the U.S. because it does not charge any foreign transaction fees. A foreign transaction fee is a charge that many credit card issuers add onto the tab when you make a purchase outside the U.S., and can add an extra 2% – 3% onto the price. When you use the Capital One Secured Mastercard though, you won't have to pay this charge — a great way to save money when you travel.
A secured credit card like the Capital One Secured Mastercard is a terrific choice for anyone with a limited (or no) credit history, or for those who have past or current credit issues. It works and looks just like a regular credit card, except that it uses a security deposit made by the user as collateral for the credit line. And the Capital One Secured Mastercard automatically reports your payment history to each of the 3 credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and Transunion — which means that if you make your payments on time you can help improve your credit score.
All of these features make the Capital One Secured Mastercard our #1 pick for anyone with poor credit. Or you can take a look at all of our Bad Credit Credit Card Reviews and pick a secured card that fits your needs.
Need a little extra spending cash for the summer months? We are giving away a total of $500 to 4 of our lucky Google+ followers! We will be drawing 4 winners over the course of a month. The first winner, picked March 22, will win $50. The second winner, picked on March 29, will win $100. The third winner, picked on April 5, will win $150. And the last winner, picked on April 12, will win $200. You must follow all instructions below to enter. Good luck!
First, follow us on Google+:
Next, answer a few questions for us:
(OPTIONAL) Enter your email to sign up for our newsletter
Terms and Conditions for NextAdvisor $500 Giveaway
- To be eligible, participants must fill out the survey by the closing date, April 11, 2013 at midnight PST.
- No purchase is necessary to participate in this contest. Participants who don’t have Facebook or Internet access can send a postcard with their name and address to 1110 Burlingame Ave. Suite 201, Burlingame, CA 94010
- Anyone over the age of 18
- Each participant may enter only once. All additional entries will be disqualified
- Participants must be citizens of the United States and must have a valid ID and U.S. mailing address to apply.
- Contest opens: March 13, 2013
- Contest closing: April 11, 2013
- Drawing of winner: March 22, 2011; March 29, 2011; April 5, 2011; Grand Prize: April 12, 2011
- There will be a $50 prize (March 22), a $100 prize (March 29), a $150 prize (April 5) and a $200 prize (April 12). (All prizes are in USD.)
- The Sponsor and Promoter of this Contest is NextAdvisor Inc.
- Participants may not be employees of NextAdvisor, connected advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates or such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees reside.
- NextAdvisor retains the right to extend or alter the contest including closing date without prior notification.
- Incomplete entries will be disqualified.
- Proof of identity must be produced on request.
- Decision of the winner is final. No correspondence will be entered into except with the winning entrants.
- By claiming the prize, the winners authorize the use, without additional compensation, of his or her name for use in promotional/advertising efforts in any medium (including and without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications in television or film releases, slides, videotape, and distribution over the internet) which NextAdvisor may deem appropriate.
- In accepting the prize, the winner acknowledges that NextAdvisor may not be held liable for any loss or damage associated with accepting or using the prize.
- By submitting an entry, participants acknowledge their acceptance and understanding of these rules.
- Any false information provided within the context of the contest by any participant concerning identity, mailing address, telephone number, email address, ownership of rights or non-compliance with these or the like may result in the immediate elimination of the participant from the contest.
- NextAdvisor reserves the right in its sole and unfettered discretion at its sole discretion to choose winners.
- NextAdvisor further reserves the right to disqualify any entry that it believes in its sole and unfettered discretion infringes the rights of any third party, otherwise does not comply with these Official Rules, or violates law.
- NextAdvisor further reserves the right to disqualify any participant who tampers with the submission process or any other part of the contest. Any attempt by a participant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the contest is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made and NextAdvisor reserves the right to seek damages from any such participant to the fullest extent of the applicable law.
- NextAdvisor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the contest.
- This contest is subject to all federal laws of the United States of America. These rules shall be governed by, subject to, and construed in accordance with federal laws. If any provision(s) of these Rules are held to be invalid or unenforceable, all remaining provisions hereof will remain in full force and effect.
The FTC released some surprising numbers last month, showing that 26% of consumers (around 52 million people) have at least one error on their credit report. Credit report errors can cause your credit score to go down, preventing you from getting the lowest possible interest rates, and causing you to pay more money than you need to each month. Something as simple as a misunderstanding with a lender or mixed up paperwork can cause an error to occur. And of course, credit report errors can be caused by more serious events such as identity theft, like someone using your social security number to open credit accounts.
If you've looked at your credit report and found an error, don't panic — there is a way to fix it, just follow these steps:
1. Contact the credit bureau where you found the mistake. Each credit bureau (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) has a website where you can get directions on how to file a dispute and where you can fill out the dispute form itself. After the bureau receives the dispute, it will be noted on your credit report that the item is being investigated.
2. Follow up with the credit bureau. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the credit bureaus have 30 days (or a “reasonable” amount of time) to research your dispute. After the 30 days are up, they can either verify the item (meaning it was correct and no changes will be made), modify the item to make it accurate or delete the item. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can ask them to include a statement of the dispute in your credit report and to make it available to anyone who views your report, although this will cost a fee.
3. Contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you are still unsatisfied with the credit bureau's decision in respect to the credit report error, you can file a complaint with the CFPB at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/.
4. Continue to monitor your credit. Not only do credit report monitoring services send you your credit reports and scores every couple of months, and even every month with services like PrivacyGuard, they will also monitor your credit report daily and alert you of any changes that may occur. This can help you prevent long-term credit errors, help you get the highest possible rates and is also an effective way to protect against identity theft.
Compare all of the top credit monitoring services and read full reviews of each one here.
This week is National Consumer Protection Week, and we're giving tips on how to protect your credit and identity as a consumer. Do you know how to monitor your credit to make sure that you're the only user? Or, how to know if your identity is stolen? Well you're in luck, because if you practice these tips then you'll be prepared for any identity theft that may be coming your way.
Enroll in a credit report monitoring service: Knowing your credit is beneficial for many reasons including keeping track of your credit history, checking for errors and catching potential fraud. Our two top-rated credit report monitoring services — Identity Guard and PrivacyGuard — both monitor your credit for all 3 bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to make sure that your get a thorough credit report. Identity Guard comes with a free 30-day trial and costs $14.99 per month for quarterly credit reports — among other services — while PrivacyGuard comes with a 30-day trial for $1 and costs $14.99 per month and offers monthly credit reports — among other services.
Sign up for an identity theft protection service: Identity theft is one of the the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. Identity thieves are using your personal information to gain access to money, credit and goods and services in your name — that's why identity theft protection is important. Identity theft protection services work hand-in-hand with credit monitoring services because when your identity is stolen usually the thief attempts or opens a credit card in your name. That's why most of our identity theft protection services also offer credit monitoring services — including Identity Guard, TrustedID, Lifelock, PrivacyGuard, SmarterCredit, ProtectMyID.com and Equifax. The prices of the services vary depending on which service you choose to sign up for.
Practicing these tips in your everyday life can help you to become a well-educated consumer as well as protect you from future possible identity thefts or errors on your credit score.
Face it, America, we are not being very smart about our credit. We are paying billions in penalty fees. We are spending more money than we make. We don’t even know our own interest rates or credit scores. And the country as a whole is almost a trillion dollars in credit card debt. So how do we fix it? For starters, it is time to start monitoring our credit for mistakes, to make sure we aren’t paying higher interest rates for no reason. We need to start looking for credit cards with lower APRs and penalties, such as most balance transfer credit cards that offer an introductory period of zero percent APR, so we can start paying off that trillion dollars. And we need to stop using our credit cards as extra income that we don’t have and start using them as tool that works hand and hand with our income. Check out the graphic below to see what mistakes you might be making with your credit and how you can go about fixing those mistakes.
Q: I want to apply for a credit card but feel uncomfortable entering my social security number online. Is there a way to check the security of the application?
A: This is a great question and we applaud you for your caution; it is always important to be aware when entering personal information online. In general, financial institutions that host these online applications use top-tier security measures like SSL encryption to make sure that your data, for example your social security number, is secure.
Whenever you are unsure whether the site you are using to enter personal information is secure or not, there are a couple of things you can look out for:
1. Most browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer, just to name a few you may be familiar with, now include a color-change on the left side of the address bar to show that the site has been verified as legitimate. For example, Chrome highlights the first part of the URL in green and surrounds it with a little green box.
2. Still looking at the left side of the address bar, check for a little lock sign on most browsers, which indicates that the webpage is secure.
3. Check the URL for 'HTTPS' at the beginning, which is much more secure than a 'HTTP' URL.
Want to take extra precautions when entering personal information online? Many Internet security software suites are offering a feature that spotlights a "secure environment." For example, the top-rated BitDefender's SafePay feature opens browsers in a secluded environment where you can enter private information worry-free. Many Internet security software suites also offer a feature that checks the reliability of sites you are using. Compare the top Internet security software suites here.
If you are worried about someone stealing your social security number, or are already a victim of identity fraud, consider signing up for an identity theft protection service, which monitors public records and the Internet's black markets for use of your social security number and changes in your credit report. Many of these services also offer Internet security software included in the plan. Read all of our identity theft protection reviews here.
Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.