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Best credit cards 2021: What should you get

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A CREDIT card can help you clear debts or spread the cost of a big purchase.

Here is how to choose the best deals.

A credit card can be used to clear debts, spending or to earn rewards

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A credit card can be used to clear debts, spending or to earn rewardsCredit: Reuters

There are a few different types of credit card.

You could get a credit card that offers interest-free purchases.

This means you are given credit that you can spend each month and you don’t have to pay any interest on your repayments for a set period.

There are also balance transfer cards that will clear old credit card debts and move them onto a new product where you make interest-free monthly repayments.

What’s a good credit score?

FICO, the most widely known credit scoring system, and its rival VantageScore both use a range of 300-850 points.

Below we list what’s considered a good and bad credit score, according to both systems.

FICO

  • Poor: 300-579
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Good: 670-739
  • Very good: 740-799
  • Exceptional: 800 or above

VantageScore

  • Very poor: 300-499
  • Poor: 500-600
  • Fair: 601-660
  • Good: 661-780
  • Excellent: 781-850

 

You could even earn cashback or other perks when you spend by using a rewards credit card.

It is important to make your monthly repayments each month or you will be charged interest.

This is known as the annual percentage rate (APR) and ranges from 14% to 25%.

It may also be tempting to only make the minimum repayment if you are in an interest-free period, but make sure your balance is cleared by the end of the deal term or you will be charged interest on what is owed.

You won’t definitely be offered the advertised credit limit or rate and some applicants may be rejected as providers will consider your credit score before approving a card.

Missing payments can damage your score and make it harder to access the best deals.

Here are some of the best credit card offers.

Best for balance transfers

A balance transfer card lets you clear debts on an old card and focus on repaying them interest-free on a new one for a set period.

You usually have to pay a transfer fee to move your money to a new provider.

This clears your old debt and you can focus on making interest-free repayments on your new card.

You won’t pay any interest as long as the debt is cleared by the end of the interest-free period.

A credit card can be used to spread the cost of purchases in-store and online

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A credit card can be used to spread the cost of purchases in-store and onlineCredit: Getty

Citi’s Diamond Preferred Card has an interest-free balance transfer period of 18 months.

There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, whichever is larger.

You also get interest-free purchases for the same period.

The rate charged at the end of the term is 13.74% to 23.74% depending on your credit score.

Discover also has an 18-month interest-free balance transfer product but it pays 1% to 5% cashback on your spending as well.

The APR moves to between 11.99% and 22.99% at the end of the term.

Best for spending

A purchase credit card lets you spread the cost of your big spending.

You can use your credit limit to make a purchase and then spread the cost over a few months.

Using an interest-free purchase credit card means you only focus on repaying what you spent.

The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card offers 0% interest on purchases for 12 months.

You can also earn 6% cashback at supermarkets on spending of up to $6,000 per year, 3% at gas stations and 1% on other purchases.

There is no fee for the first year and it then increases to $95.

Its APR ranges from 13.99% to 23.99%.

Alternatively, the Citi Custom Cash Card has no fee and offers interest-free spending and balance transfers for 15 months as well as 5% cashback on the first $500 that you spend.

Best for rewards

A rewards credit card can either pay you cashback when you spend or give you points that go towards special offers and exclusive deals.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards card gives you 5% cashback on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

You can also earn unlimited 1.5% cashback on all other purchases.

Make sure you pay your credit card bill each month or you could be charged interest

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Make sure you pay your credit card bill each month or you could be charged interestCredit: Getty

Purchases can also be made interest-free for 15 months after which it moves to an APR ranging from 14.99% to 23.74%.

Similarly, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card pays 2% cashback and has an interest-free spending period of 15 months.

The APR move to between 4.99% and 24.99% after this.

The Bank or America Customized Cash Rewards card will let you choose the categories that you earn cashback for, giving you 3% back.

Users also earn 2% on grocery store spending of up to $2,500 each quarter.

Its APR ranges from 13.99% to 23.99%.

Best for bad credit

It can be harder to access the best credit card deals if you have a history of bad debts.

Missed payments and bankruptcies will show up on your credit file and will reduce your score, making providers nervous about giving you the best deal.

You can boost your score by showing you are a reliable borrowers and making repayments on time.

A credit builder card can help with this.

These provide basic credit cards with lower limits that help build your credit score as long as you make the monthly repayments on time.

The Discover it Secured Credit Card will let you do a six month balance transfer for a relatively low APR of 10.99%.

You can also earn 2% cashback at gas stations and restaurants as well as 1% elsewhere.

Users need to put down a security deposit of at least $200.

The APR is 22.99% if you miss payments.

Alternatively, the First Progress Platinum Secured Credit Card doesn’t offer cashback but has a low APR of 9.99%, which means the interest will be lower if you do miss repayments.

You can secure a credit line with a deposit ranging from $200 to $2,000.

Check out your refund rights if you made a purchase on your credit card during the July 4 sales.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo plans to axe personal lines of credit affecting thousands of struggling customers.

In December last year, new rules were introduced for debt collectors. We explain how they affect you.

Credit card debt incurred during lockdowns will take months to pay back for many Americans

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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