If you’re looking for the most customer-friendly credit cards, Discover is hard to beat. It’s one of the most well-liked card issuers, consistently ranking at or near the top in customer satisfaction reports.
Why is Discover so popular with consumers? The answer is the combination of great perks that make Discover credit cards valuable and accessible to anyone.
1. Discover credit cards don’t charge annual fees
With Discover, you can be sure you won’t pay all kinds of fees. All its cards are no-annual-fee credit cards. You can pick any card in its lineup without worrying about how much it costs.
That’s not the only type of fee Discover doesn’t charge. There are also no foreign transaction fees on Discover credit cards. Although more card issuers have eliminated foreign transaction fees recently, Discover was one of the first.
Discover also waives your first late payment fee. To be fair, most card issuers waive one if you call and ask. But it’s more convenient with Discover, because the fee is waived automatically. Just remember that it only applies to the first late payment, so don’t make a habit of paying late.
2. Discover has credit cards for everyone
Some credit card companies only offer credit cards for a limited number of consumers, such as those with good or excellent credit.
That’s not the case with Discover, which has credit cards for every credit score and financial situation. It has popular rewards cards, such as the Discover it® Cash Back. It has student credit cards, so college students can start building credit. And it has a credit card for consumers with bad credit, the Discover it® Secured.
In fact, the Discover it® Secured is considered one of the best secured cards on the market. It even won that category in The Ascent’s 2020 credit card awards.
3. Every Discover card earns competitive, easy-to-use rewards
There are a few things you can be sure of when it comes to Discover credit card rewards.
No matter which Discover card you choose, you’ll earn rewards. Each Discover card offers a rewards rate competitive with the very best credit cards in that category. That’s true with its rewards cards, student cards, and its secured card.
When you’re ready to use your rewards, redemptions are simple and convenient. You can get cash back with all its cards, and there aren’t minimum redemption amounts — you can redeem as little as $0.01 in cash back if you want.
4. Discover doubles your rewards after the first year
Another feature all Discover cards have in common is one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses you’ll find.
After you’ve used your card for one year, Discover matches the rewards you earned. If you ended up making $300 in cash back, Discover will credit you another $300.
There’s no limit to how much Discover will match. This bonus is especially valuable if you prefer using one credit card for all your spending instead of carrying multiple cards. The more you put on your Discover card that first year, the more you get from the rewards match.
5. Discover is known for high-quality customer service
Good customer service is something you appreciate when you need help from your credit card company. This is another area where Discover excels.
Discover offers U.S.-based, 24/7 customer support. If you need to contact Discover, you can do so at any time by phone or by live chat on its website.
As for the quality of Discover’s customer service, the card issuer has ranked highest among U.S. credit card companies for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power studies for five out of the last seven years. And for those two years it didn’t top the list, it was a close second.
The best way to sum up Discover is that it makes credit cards easy. Discover cards and their benefits aren’t difficult to understand. They offer quite a bit of value without costing you anything in fees. And last but not least, the customer service is top-notch.
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5 Signs You’re Not Ready to Own a Home, According to a CFP
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The housing market has boomed over the last year, despite a global pandemic and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.
Many people are spending less on entertainment, clothing, travel, and other discretionary purchases during COVID. Federal student loan borrowers have seen temporary relief from their loan payments. These expenses will most likely rise again after the pandemic, and many people who committed to a new home with a large mortgage will struggle to keep up.
I often speak with clients and prospective clients who want to buy a home before they have a strong financial foundation. Buying a home is not only one of the largest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime, but it’s also a huge commitment that’s extremely hard to undo if you have buyer’s remorse.
It’s important to make a thoughtful, informed decision when it comes to a home purchase. Before you take the plunge into homeownership, check for these signs that you’re not quite ready to buy.
1. You have credit card debt
Credit card debt can be a drain on your monthly budget, and when combined with student loans and a car loan, it can lead to high levels of stress.
Generally, more debt means higher fixed expenses and little opportunity to save for long-term financial goals. Your financial situation will only get worse with the addition of a mortgage. I always recommend that clients be free of credit card or other high-interest debt before they consider buying a home.
To rid yourself of credit card debt, take some time to get a good handle on your cash flow. Take an inventory of your spending over the last six to 12 months and see where you can cut back. From there, develop a realistic budget that includes aggressive payments to your credit cards.
There are several strategies to help you knock out credit card debt fast. Regardless of the method you choose, stick with the plan and track your progress along the way. Once you pay off your credit cards, you can allocate your debt payments to savings, which can help you avoid this situation in the future.
2. You have bad credit
Bad credit is not only a sign that you may not be ready to take on a mortgage, it can also signal a high risk to
. A high-risk status results in higher interest rates and more strict requirements to qualify for a loan. A mortgage is one of the largest loans you’ll take out in your lifetime, and if you get behind on payments, you could lose your home.
Just as with credit card debt, bad credit could be a result of past financial mistakes. Dedicating the time to repair bad credit and improve your credit score will help you beyond purchasing your dream home.
Start by pulling a recent credit report from each of the three credit bureaus so you can review it for errors. Dispute any errors, address past-due accounts, and bring your overall debt balances down. It’s helpful to learn what has a negative effect on your credit score so you can avoid these mistakes in the future.
3. You don’t have an emergency fund (or an inadequate one)
If you’re unable to save for a rainy day, you probably don’t have enough money to buy a house. Owning a home is a big responsibility, and unexpected expenses pop up all the time. In addition, you could lose your job, have a medical emergency, or another unexpected expense unrelated to the home. Maintaining an emergency fund is a good sign that you have discipline and are prepared for the responsibility of homeownership.
Many financial experts recommend saving at least six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. If you have variable income, own a business, or own a house, you should save more. To build an emergency fund, set money aside from each paycheck and automate transfers to make the process easier. Give your emergency fund a boost when you receive lump sums such as bonuses or tax refunds. Start by saving one month of living expenses and build from there.
4. You don’t have separate savings for your home
I always advise clients to set aside savings for a home in addition to an emergency fund. It’s a bad idea to start homeownership with no savings. Whether you have unexpected expenses related or unrelated to the home, having no emergency fund after a home purchase will lead to unnecessary stress — and possibly more debt.
When purchasing a home, you’re responsible for a down payment and closing costs. While a 20% down payment is ideal to avoid private mortgage insurance, a down payment of at least 3.5% is typically required. Closing costs can range from 2 to 5% of the home’s value.
Also, you will have moving costs, costs to spruce up your new place (like new furniture or light cosmetic updates), and any initial maintenance and repairs. Be sure to budget for these items to know how much to save on top of your emergency fund. It doesn’t hurt to boost your emergency fund, too, in preparation for homeownership.
5. You have a low savings rate
It’s much easier to develop good savings habits before you have a lot of responsibilities. To get on track for financial independence, several studies show that you should save at least 15% of your income. The longer you wait, the more you’ll need to save.
If your savings rate is low before you purchase a home, it will most likely worsen after becoming a homeowner. Even if your mortgage is similar to your rent, ongoing maintenance and repairs, higher utilities, and homeowners association fees can wreak havoc on your budget.
Take a look at your current savings rate and see if you’re on track for financial independence. If you’re saving less than 15 to 20% of your income, work to improve your savings rate before you consider buying a home. A strong savings habit can help you build your home savings fund faster and ensure that a home purchase doesn’t impede your long-term financial goals. Finally, understand how much house you can afford so you can avoid being house poor.
Buying a home can be rewarding, and when done the right way, it’s a way to build wealth. Before you decide to buy a home, it’s important to understand your numbers and ensure that you’re ready for the commitment. Without preparation, your dream home could be detrimental to your long-term financial goals.
Chloe A. Moore, CFP, is the founder of Financial Staples, a virtual, fee-only financial planning firm based in Atlanta, Georgia and serving clients nationwide.
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