• Cash cards – Types and best options

    A cash card helps you carry digital money for making payments at stores or online. It is a secure and convenient alternative to carrying cash and does not necessarily need a bank account, with the exception of debit cards. A tool for electronic payments, cash cards typically use the funds you already have to make payments, unlike credit cards. Here is a look at free cash cards you can get and use for day-to-day transactions:

    Types of cash cards
    Cash cards can be linked to a bank account or are registered directly on payment networks with the option to top up your balance. Here are the common types of cash cards you can find:

    Prepaid debit cards: Prepaid cards are one of the most popular types of cards. The card here stores a digital balance that can be accessed to make payments at all popular merchants. It works in a way similar to recharging your phone balance every month, but instead, you top up your debit card to make e-payments.

    Payroll cards: Payroll cards are employer-issued cards with a prepaid balance to facilitate scheduled payments. Employees get immediate access to funds deposited by the employer as their salary without having to worry about having a bank account, as the card is linked to the payroll account.

    Other prepaid cards: Digital merchant banking and payment apps also offer free cash cards that can be ordered online. These accounts do not require a minimum balance, maintenance charges, or any interest on the amount. You can digitally transfer funds to the linked cash card via an app and use the funds for payments at stores or online shopping platforms.

    Gift cards are also cash cards that come with pre-loaded balance to be spent on a purchase.

    Top free cash cards
    You can apply for one or more of the following cash cards linked to payment networks, merchant services, or even apps that offer financial services. 

    CashApp Cash Card
    If you already have an account registered with CashApp to enable merchant banking and in-store transactions, you can order a free Cash Card. The card is compatible with the Visa network. You can apply for the card on CashApp, and the prepaid chip-enabled card will be delivered within a few weeks to your residence. Once you receive the physical card, simply activate the same using the QR code on the card and start using it as you would normally use any prepaid debit card. Applicants as young as 13 years old can apply for the card with parental approval. And those who are over 18 can apply without any restrictions or limitations to avail of the free cash card facility.

    Square Cash Card
    If you own a business and are in need of digital money to access funds, consider applying for the Square Prepaid card. You can open the account without worrying about recurring fees or obligation to maintain a monthly balance. The card can also be used to withdraw cash from the nearest ATM. The funds are stored digitally in the square balance account and can be easily tracked to know exactly how much is being spent or collected to operate the business. The card comes with a two-step verification process and is synced to your checking account. You can also activate or lock your card using the Square application to prevent unauthorized access. The basic account features a free cash card with no monthly fees necessary. But you can also check out the premium account with services for business owners starting at $35/month for advanced features. Large-scale enterprises can even get a custom quote for enterprise-level solutions for managing inventory receipts and payments.

    Mastercard® cash cards
    Mastercard® is one of the top two premier payment networks used by banks and financial institutions for introducing free cash cards. Its electronic chip card enables easy money storage and can be conveniently used for payments across popular merchants. There is no comprehensive credit check or bank account required, as you will be able to spend only the value stored on the card. Branch App, Credit Sesame, H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard, Netspend Prepaid, PayPal Prepaid, Revolut, and Venmo Mastercard are among the top prepaid cards. You can apply to use these cards for payments and merchant banking transactions.

    Visa cash cards
    Visa is another network partner to consider, with multiple banks and financial institutions being part of its payment gateway. Visa’s ONE VIP, Netspend, smiONE™ Prepaid, ACE Elite Prepaid, CUMONEY® Visa® Everyday, Cashpass Visa, and Commerce Bank are among the top prepaid cards on the payment network. These free cash cards can be obtained without a comprehensive background check for payment at offline and online merchants. The application procedure is straightforward. These cards are great for students and homemakers who want to avoid carrying cash or maintaining a credit score and bank account with a high minimum balance.

    There are several alternatives for individuals and businesses to get free cash card facilities to simplify their transactions. Digital payments are increasingly becoming secure and usually come with two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access. Cash cards are the perfect way to pay for products and services without the hassle of paperwork.

  • FHA home loans – Requirements, process, and benefits

    Property prices are eternally on the rise. Therefore, the demand for home loans is almost always high. To get a home loan, seekers must maintain a good credit score and overall loan repayment behavior. These criteria may seem simple, but fulfilling them becomes challenging for several loan receivers. Due to that reason, many people find it challenging to get conventional loans approved. Pre-approved FHA home loans are the solution for such situations.

    What is an FHA home loan?
    The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) approves and backs these loans under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Although the FHA pre-approves these home loans, private lenders provide the money directly to loan seekers. These lenders can be credit unions, banks, or even some nonbanks, such as online lenders, who are FHA-backed and licensed to be part of the partnership. FHA home loans are known for their low down payment and interest rates. Usually, first-time home buyers and people with credit payment challenges opt for these loans due to their accommodating and lenient nature.

    While the federal government does not directly issue FHA loans, it pre-approves and insures them to safeguard the private lenders who offer them to home loan seekers. The insurance bit comes in handy for the lenders when people who take these loans default on the repayments. FHA home loans help buy or refinance several types of homes, such as two-to-four-unit multifamily homes, condominium units, single-family houses, and precisely manufactured homes attached to permanent foundations.

    While people who receive this loan can use it to build new constructions or renovate existing homes, all properties built using them must undergo FHA appraisal.

    Requirements to get an FHA home loan
    Individuals looking to receive an FHA home loan need to tick certain boxes, such as:

    The loan will only be provided if the home being built or bought is a primary residence and not a second home or an investment property.

    As specified earlier, the home built or bought with FHA home loans must be appraised by an FHA-approved appraiser beforehand.

    Loan seekers will have to let FHA officials inspect the property. After the evaluation, a report can be created regarding the same. This report will contain detailed information about whether the home meets minimum property standards.

    Apart from these, aspects of the loan, such as the down payment amount, credit score, mortgage insurance, loan limits, and income requirements, will also be carefully considered before the loan is handed out to seekers.

    The FHA holds the authority over the approval or rejection of these loans. Also, this body can add or remove criteria for specific scenarios.

    Process of getting an FHA home loan
    The loan criteria is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to FHA home loans. Here’s the complete process of how these loans work:

    Show valid documents to confirm that loan seekers meet the minimum requirements, which include a credit score of at least 580 (which is comfortably lower than the 620 that most banks demand in return for conventional home loans), proof of income, records showing no recent bankruptcies, residential address, social security details, and other personal information for verification purposes.

    The second step involves choosing an FHA-approved lender to receive the money. Lenders need to have experience in loan origination, possess licensing in each state the lender serves, have a positive net worth, have a bond, a completed application and incorporation papers, and maintain detailed credit reports for loan officers as well as the lender themselves.

    While looking for lenders, loan seekers can compare terms, rates, and fees each lender offers before zeroing in on one. Individuals looking for FHA home loans can also consider factors such as the lender’s customer service, physical location, and typical customer.

    The next step involves applying for and getting pre-approval from the FHA for a loan. A Pre-approval is the process of a lender reviewing loan-seekers financial documents and credit history before letting them know about their eligibility for an FHA loan. While pre-approval does not guarantee the reception of a loan (there needs to be a further evaluation before that), it speeds up the process.

    The subsequent step is to provide documents and officially apply for a loan. That includes submitting the following information: income sources, income amounts, housing expenses, details about previous and current employment, and recurring debts.

    The next step involves property inspection and appraisal by a certified FHA appraiser. After this, the FHA will perform the underwriting and approval of the loan. The final step involves signing the loan documents and paying the closing fees and costs of the lender and FHA’s services.

    Benefits of FHA home loans
    Low creditworthiness requirement
    As alluded to earlier, the credit score requirements to receive these loans are much lower than that of conventional loans. This alone makes it easier for people with less-than-perfect credit history (a large majority) to get the loans to build or buy the house of their dreams.

    Low down payment
    While receiving FHA loans, one can access financing for their home with only 3.5% needed as a down payment. This figure is considerably more affordable than the 20% figure that most other loan providers demand from seekers.

    Low DTI requirements
    A person’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio compares their monthly debt to their income. There are many people who earn low incomes and have inherited huge debts from their families. For such individuals, the low DTI requirements of FHA home loans are a welcome relief while looking for financing or refinancing avenues for their houses.

  • Top 6 buy now, pay later apps to save money

    Online buy now, pay later (BNPL) offers can help you save money as you shop. It becomes easier with apps that help you do this. You buy something today and then split up the payments over some time. Essentially, you only have to pay it back in installments. These work the same as credit cards, usually minus the interest, as long as you make the payments on time.

    So here are some of the top buy now, pay later apps you can use when you make your next big-ticket purchase.

    Available on the Apple App Store, Android, and Google Play, Affirm is one of the most popular buy now, pay later apps. Its popularity is due to the wide range of payment options for all types of purchases, whether online or in-store. For example, for smaller everyday purchases, you can split your interest-free payments into four to be paid every two weeks. For big-ticket purchases, such as home appliances or furniture, you can pay through monthly installments spread over three, six, or 12 months. There are no hidden fees, and you can directly make automatic payments in the app. However, there will be soft credit checks, and interest rates can range from 0% to 36% APR, depending on the retailer.

    Apple Pay Later
    With Apple Pay Later, you can divide the payment of any of your purchases into four equal installments. Each installment will be due two weeks apart, with the first payment due immediately at checkout. For instance, if you’ve made a $700 purchase with Apple Pay Later, you’ll have to pay $175 at the checkout. The remaining three installments of $175 each can be paid every two weeks. You can do this with zero interest and zero fees. You can apply for Apple Pay later through the Apple Wallet.
    There is no minimum credit score requirement yet, but Apple does a soft credit check during the application, and this app is available only for Apple devices.

    Previously known as Quadpay, Zip is a great choice if you are looking for online buy now, pay later offers through this app. It is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play; Zip does not do hard credit checks but only soft credit checks during the application process. In addition, it doesn’t report to any major credit bureaus. So if you have low credit, Zip is a good option. Moreover, it is versatile since you can shop using this app wherever Visa is accepted. However, Zip does have interest rates on every payment based on a soft credit check. Also, you will be charged a $1 fee for every installment payment.

    PayPal Pay in 4
    If you make most of your purchases online, PayPal Pay in 4 must be your top choice for a buy now, pay later app. Although it is not available for in-store purchases, the app is directly integrated into the online checkout of several merchants and retailers. So the transactions are secure as well as fast. In addition, the payments you make later are free of interest without any hidden fees, even for late payments. Like most other apps, the payment schedule is standard: you pay the first installment at checkout and the rest of the three every two to six weeks. There will be a soft credit check during the application, but it won’t affect your credit profile. The only drawback is that this app is unavailable in select places such as Missouri, Nevada, and New Mexico.

    Afterpay is a good option for those on a budget. It has an easy-to-use and intuitive interface that allows you to keep track of your purchases. Moreover, you can also plan for any payments you need to make in the future. The app lets you set up payment reminders so you don’t have to pay any penalties. It is quite convenient, as you can use it for in-store and online purchases across major retailers and brands. There is no interest on the payments; you can pay across four payments. The first is at checkout; the remaining payments are due every two to six weeks. In case you miss a payment, your account will be paused automatically.

    When you want to earn rewards while saving on your purchases, Klara is the app for you. It allows you to earn one point for every $1 you spend with Klarna. It allows you to choose the stores where you want to redeem your rewards. Moreover, these rewards give you exclusive access to deals, discounts, and other perks. Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, this app can be used for online and in-store purchases. It is directly integrated into the payment gateways of several major retailers. It works just like another buy now, pay later app, wherein you make the first interest-free payment at checkout. The rest of the three payments can be made every two weeks. In addition, longer-term payment options are offered on schedules ranging from 6 to 36 months. However, these have an APR ranging from 0% to 28.99%.

  • 8 common questions about Employee Retention Credit

    The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was enacted to provide relief to individuals and businesses as the world grappled with a healthcare emergency. This Act is an expansion of the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) that was introduced under the CARES Act. Due to the complex nature of the policy, there has been a lot of confusion regarding who is eligible for the ERC payroll retention credit. The questions listed below may help determine your eligibility.

    1- What businesses or employers are eligible for the ERC?

    To be eligible for the Employee Retention Credits, the organization must be carrying on business in 2020 and meet either of the following criteria

    1. Complete or partial suspension due to a government order
    2. Significant decline in gross receipts

    2- How is a ‘significant decline’ in gross receipts defined?

    1. ERC 2020- During this period, a ‘significant decline’ implies a quarterly revenue decline of more than 50%. This comparison is based on the revenue generated in the previous year.
    2. ERC 2021- For companies applying for ERC 2021, a quarterly revenue decline of more than 20% should be noted. This decline is also compared to the revenue from 2019.
    3. For companies that became operational in 2019, the period (quarter) during which the business started functioning is considered the basis for determining quarterly revenue decline until the company reaches one year of operations.

    3- Who can the business claim ERC for?

    Small employers can claim ERC on all employee wages. For others, this credit can only be claimed on the salaries paid to employees for not working.

    In addition, wages paid to certain related parties and owners are limited, and family members such as children, siblings, parents, and grandparents are ineligible for this credit. This is also detailed by the IRS under their FAQ section, according to which the following entities are ineligible for ERC-

    1. A brother or sister 
    2. A child or grandchild
    3. Step-brother or step-sister
    4. The father, mother, or an ancestor of either
    5. A stepfather or stepmother
    6. A niece or nephew
    7. An aunt or an uncle
    8. Individuals the employee is related to by marriage

    4- How is a ‘small employer’ defined under the ERC policy?

    To gain retention credits under the 2020 ERC rules, a ‘small employer’ was defined as having 100 or fewer full-time equivalents (FTE) on your payroll. Under 2021 ERC, this definition was extended to include up to 500 FTEs. The comparison in both scenarios is 2019 employment.

    In any case, a full-time employee is defined as an employee who, on average, works at least 30 hours per week or at least 130 hours of service during a particular month.

    5- What are the wages eligible for ERC?

    Qualified wages under this rule include gross wages and employer health costs. For 2020, the qualified wages were capped at $10,000 per year per employee, and this cap was extended under the 2021 rules to $10,000 per quarter per employee.

    Additionally, wages that were used to claim ERC could not be used for other credits such as Research & Development Credit (Section 41), Work Opportunity Tax Credit (Section 51), Employer Wage Credit for Active Duty Members (Section 45P), Indian Employment Credit (Section 45A),  Employer Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave (Section 45S), and Empowerment Zone Employment Credit (Section 1396).

    6- How much ERC can be earned per year (2020 and 2021)?

    According to the rules for ERC in 2020, the credit amount was 50% for qualified wages up to $10,000 for the entire year. The maximum credit employers earned during this time was $5,000 per employee.

    With the cap increase in 2021, the credit amount rose to 70% of qualified wages up to $10,000 each quarter. However, this credit only applied to the first two quarters of the year that ended on June 30, 2021. Thus, according to this rule, employers qualified for up to $14,000 credit per employee.

    7- How is ERC claimed?

    The ERC should not be considered an income tax credit. Rather, it is a payroll tax credit that directly reflects on Form 941. For individuals who still have not claimed the ERC tax credit in 2023, it can be claimed retroactively in the form of a refund from the IRS by filling out Form 941-X (Modified Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Returns or Request for Refund) for the applicable period. This form records your qualified earnings and accompanying credits for each calendar quarter that you qualify for.

    8- How to claim credit for payroll retention?

    The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is a tax credit for companies that lost income in 2020-2021 due to a public health emergency. Under this rule, eligible employers can get up to $7,000 for each employee per quarter for four quarters, bringing it to $28,000 per employee. The credits may be claimed by reducing employment tax contributions by the projected credit amount.

    The initial date for the ERTC retroactive period was January 1, 2022, but was pushed back to October 1, 2021. Although it offers multiple benefits to organizations, only a few companies applied for these credits. However, those who did not apply for credit earlier can claim a retroactive refund now. This applies for up to three years after the initial filing date.

  • Top 7 banks that offer six-month term deposit rates

    When it comes to investing your money in a term deposit, choosing the right bank can make all the difference. It is important first to explore the top banks that offer the best term deposit rates, allowing you to maximize your savings and earn attractive yields. Look at established banks that offer competitive rates, low minimum deposits, and additional perks, and start small with six-month deposit terms and comparing rates. Learning about each bank’s perks can be beneficial.

    TAB Bank
    TAB has come a long way in establishing itself as a trusted banking organization. What started in truck stops is now one of the most frequented full-service online banks. TAB Bank has several banking products to offer, including a handful of accounts that will bring you high-yield interest. However, its competitive CD yields come at a minimum deposit of $1000. It might seem like a pricier affair as compared to banks that have no minimum deposit. However, it is still a low minimum asking, especially when you take into consideration the APY of 4.76%.

    Ally Bank
    Ally Bank is one of the best places to invest in a term deposit and get a decent interest rate out of your trouble. It is a full-service bank that can help you with all your banking needs. This includes opening deposit accounts, money market and savings accounts, and high-yield checking accounts. With a minimum deposit of $0, you stand to gain an APY of 3.50% over a six-month term. Other benefits of forming a CD alliance with Ally Bank include zero monthly maintenance fees, loyalty rewards for renewing the CD, and a guaranteed highest rate if you manage to fund your CD within ten days of opening the account.

    Sallie Mae Bank
    Sallie Mae is among some of the best CD rate providers in the country. Its rates are considered highly competitive when you compare them to some other top online banks. Plus, with no hefty monthly fees, you are the sole earner of whatever the account holds. But you do have to keep in mind the minimum deposit requirement that comes with starting a six-month term plan with Sallie Mae. The $2500 minimum deposit comes with a host of terms, most of which might work out in your favor. People also prefer Sallie Mae’s CDs since they automatically renew on maturity. However, if you want to opt out of the 4.0% APY plan, you can alert the organization or do so in the provided grace period of 10 days.

    Synchrony Bank
    There is a reason for Synchrony Bank’s CDs being one of the best in the country, and that is not just the attractive APY percentage. The bank allows you to start your CD account with no minimum deposit clause. To add to the cream, you are free to withdraw your interest earnings without being penalized for it. Nor do you have to wait for the term maturity to withdraw your interests. With a 5% APY Synchrony Bank provides one of the best interest rates on a six-month term deposit available via any online bank. And if you manage to fund your CD within 15 days of opening, you might be able to lock in an even higher APY rate.

    TIAA Bank
    If you are more interested in making your money work for you instead of working for money, the TIAA CD rates are a great option to do just that. Their term deposit rates are some of the best available in the market. However, they require a minimum deposit, which might not make them the right choice for everyone looking to venture down the CD path. Their six-month term deposit rate is set firmly at 4.0% APY and increases with the term. Their competitive rates are a perfect fit for long-term savings plans. You want to measure the pros and cons against the minimum deposit requirement of $1000 before concluding.

    Capital One
    The 3.30% APY being offered by Capital One might not seem like much of a gain, but when you add the other perks to the picture, it is a catch. Capital One is especially a great choice for people that are just starting on their CD journey and want to do so without being burdened by deposit requirements. Even for the low deposit amount, the bank’s APY rates are respectable and can let you save and earn without pressure. It is a great option for pursuing savings goals and has a range of term lengths if you want to consider any other term plans.

    CIT  Bank
    CIT is another bank that will let you reap the fruit of its high-term deposit APY with a minimum deposit of $1000. The bank has a range of term plans to offer to people looking forward to making their savings work for them. It has the trifecta that makes any CD attractive, high-yield plan, no-monthly maintenance, and upgrades available. Although, you might be charged a penalty of anywhere between three to six months of interest for early withdrawal. But before you head out, remember that CIT does not have any offline outlets available, and all the work and management you want to do will have to be done online. This might not make CIT Bank an ideal choice for independent seniors that aren’t well versed with the Internet and technology.

  • 6 things to check before buying health insurance

    Health insurance is one of the best ways to be prepared for unexpected health emergencies and expenses. Although the jargon and technicalities may seem confusing at times, it is important to prepare yourself mentally and read through all terms before making a big decision, such as finalizing your insurance provider and agreeing to their conditions. To make this process easier for you, here are six things you must know before buying health insurance:

    Waiting period
    The waiting period is the time where one cannot raise a claim against the health insurance plan. Generally, insurance providers have a 30-day waiting period, during which they may not accept claims. This period may be even longer for pre-existing conditions, maternity benefits, and certain other ailments, and will differ from company to company.

    Coinsurance and copay
    Coinsurance is the percentage of the claim that is borne by the policyholder. Copay is a flat fee paid every time you receive a health care service. When shopping for health insurance, it is important to find the right percentage of premium and coverage, as a lower monthly premium could mean higher out-of-pocket costs, and vice versa. Checking these details and choosing a policy carefully could significantly lower your healthcare costs over time.

    Summary of benefits
    Visit your insurance provider’s website for details about their various plans and the services they cover. Compare these benefits with other plans to find the right one for you and your family. You may find key differences in plans in areas like physical therapy, fertility treatments, and mental healthcare, so be sure to factor this in when making a decision.

    Your family’s healthcare needs
    Consider the amount and type of treatment you and your family members have received over the past. Some of these conditions may require regular intervention, making them a recurring expense. Weigh these needs against the list of benefits offered by your insurance provider. This may help you make a more informed decision, and reduce your bills in the future.

    Health Plan Networks
    When looking for a new health insurance plan, it is key to look for one with a larger network. This is because there is a significant difference in costs when one goes to an within-network provider, as opposed to one outside the network, as the insurance agency has already negotiated lower prices. If you already have a doctor you would like to continue seeing, ask them if they accept your new insurance plan.

    Opting for a plan with a larger directory will give you more flexibility and more options to choose from, and switch between doctors if needed. Avoid opting for healthcare plans that do not have any local in-network doctors.

    Comparing available insurance plans
    Generally, there are four managed healthcare plan types to choose from – Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO), and Point of Service Plan (POS). The main differences between these plans lie in their network coverage, requirement of referrals, and the cost.

    You have the least amount of flexibility here, and must choose between in-network providers, except for emergencies. It generally requires referrals and has low out-of-pocket costs.


    While there is more flexibility with these plans, staying within the network leads to lower treatment costs. Out-of-pocket expenses for such plans are generally high.

    With an EPO plan, you can directly choose between the in-network providers, without having to work with a primary care physician. Out-of-pocket expenses for these services are lower than PPO.

    With a POS plan, you are required to visit a primary care physician and get a referral from them, before you can visit a specialist. Although referrals are mandatory, this allows you to have access to more provider options, and a primary care physician to navigate all your healthcare needs.

    How to choose your health insurance policy?
    When buying health insurance, the federal health insurance ‘Medicare’ is perhaps the most popular option. It has two coverage options: Traditional Medicare (Part A and Part B, and Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C). Those looking for additional coverage may also opt in for Medigap.

    Part A of this insurance plan covers inpatient care in a hospital, skilled nursing facility care, nursing home care, hospice care, and home health care. Part B covers necessary, as well as preventive services like clinical research, ambulance services, durable equipment, in-patient care, outpatient care and partial hospitalization for mental health services, and limited outpatient prescriptions. These plans require the payment of a deductible and coinsurance, which is usually 20% of the cost of the approved service.

    Part C or Medicare Advantage is rolled out by a private company and may offer extra benefits like vision, hearing, and dental services. It also sets a limit on what you will have to pay out of pocket each year for covered services, making it a more attractive option for many.

    Anyone can join these plans during these enrollment periods.

    Initial Enrollment Period
    You can join a plan when you first become eligible for it.

    Open Enrollment Period
    You can join, switch, or drop a plan between October 15 – December 7 each year. Coverage for the new plan begins on January 1.

    Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
    Those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan may choose to switch to another, or go back to the Original Medicare Plan between January 1 – March 31 every year.

  • 11 common credit card mistakes to avoid

    A credit card allows one to make purchases and pay later to the bank or lending institute covering immediate costs. Many variables, including salary and debt, come into play when applying for a credit card. But credit cards come with some terms and conditions, and using them carelessly or defaulting on repayments may lead to a bad credit score. Therefore, here are some common credit card mistakes one can avoid.

    Not reviewing billing statements
    Before making credit card payments, one’s advised to run through the billing statements. Confirming the accuracy of the transactions on one’s billing cycle can help detect fraudulent transactions. One can review the statement monthly and report to the bank or the financial institution in case of any suspicious activities.

    Credit cards are convenient and can make one rely too much on them while shopping. One must remember that when one uses a credit card, one borrows from a financial institution that charges interest on the amount. It’s a type of loan that one is required to repay as per the terms. Losing track of where the money goes is a common mistake cardholders make. This allows the payments to be settled in full within the same billing cycle to avoid overspending.

    Making only minimal necessary payments
    One may prevent late fees and penalties by paying only the minimum monthly amount, ensuring good standing. But continuing to do so for months can lead to payment delays and accrued interest, which in the long run can pile up. The best way to avoid this is to create a payment plan and manage monthly finances. This will allow one to make timely payments and avoid piling up on more payment obligations.

    Ignoring introductory 0% APR offers
    Some credit card issuers offer introductory 0% APR deals. An Annual Percentage Rate (APR) deal offers the cardholder no interest on new purchases or debt transfers for a predetermined period. Using this deal can help one to save significantly on bigger purchases. Since these deals are usually offered to new cardholders, one may miss out on excellent savings by simply being unaware of them. One can find out the start and end date of the initial 0% APR deal and its conditions before opting for it.

    Missing a payment
    FICO estimates that one’s credit card score dips by 17 to 83 points if one misses a payment for 30 days. Missing payments for 90 days or more can lead to one’s score decreasing by 27 to 133 points. Late payments add on the interest charge and significantly affect one’s credit score, which is detrimental to one’s financial standing in the long run. One way of dealing with this is to automate the regular monthly bills or set reminders a couple of days before the due date.

    Carrying a balance
    Carrying a small balance from month to month instead of paying everything off does not necessarily give one’s credit score a boost. Any revolving debt may accrue interest. To reduce the negative impact that high balances might have on one’s credit score, borrowers are advised to maintain their revolving debt below 30% of their available credit.

    Taking cash advances
    A cash advance is a cash withdrawal from one’s credit card account. Borrowing money from one’s credit card comes with fees and withdrawal restrictions. While this is a useful credit card feature in emergencies, it’s best to avoid cash advances for ordinary purchases. Unlike credit on one’s card, cash advances accrue interest right after withdrawal. So, in addition to the hefty interest, one is also likely to pay a withdrawal charge or fees. Overall, cash advances are costly affairs. One can instead consider a personal loan, borrowing from family or friends, collateral loan, or salary advance.

    Applying for too many credit cards too quickly
    Each time one applies for a new credit card, one faces a hard inquiry into one’s credit history. Lenders who see multiple credit card requests can view a cardholder as risky and deny future applications. It’s best to keep a gap of at least six months before applying for a new credit card.

    Adding on to the late fees
    If one expects a late payment, one’s advised to contact the credit card company immediately. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently stated that a late fee might cost up to $30 the first time and up to $41 afterward. Sometimes, the financial institution may alter one’s due date or offer financial hardship programs. Opting for a debt management plan can eliminate fees or reduce interest rates for a short while.

    Maxing out the credit card
    Using up all of the allotted credit can lower one’s credit score. The credit rate is influenced by the credit usage rate, which is the number of times one uses a credit card. One can contact the issuer and get a credit boost if one routinely maxes out the credit limit but has no defaulting history.

    Closing a credit card
    The average credit history of a cardholder is impacted when one closes a credit card. Closing the oldest card can drop one’s credit age by the number of years between the oldest and the second oldest card. That said, one can close a credit card under some valid circumstances. For example, if one sees that the card’s advantages don’t justify the annual fees of a credit card, it’s best to forgo the card and opt for a more beneficial one.

  • Factors to consider while choosing a Medicare plan

    Choosing a health insurance plan and the provider is complicated, as the industry is saturated with many options. Therefore, it is essential to conduct extensive research to find the best Medicare Advantage plan. Also, a clear understanding of the requirements makes it easier to narrow down the options. For some, the importance lies with the network of doctors under the insurance provider; for others, it might be the cost and procedure coverage the plan promises.

    The deductibles and premium costs associated with the plan can impact your decision. So while you are at it, find out different cost-related aspects like out-of-pocket expenses, yearly coverage limits, deductibles, and copayments, all of which could affect your financials.

    Medicare plans cover expenses made in the doctor’s office, hospitals, and health care centers. The main medicare coverage is done under Part A or Part B. However, if you have a medicare advantage plan, you stand to gain more. These plans provide all the coverage an original Medicare plan will provide, along with additional coverage options. Some plans might even offer coverage for dental, vision, and hearing treatments. 

    Are you planning to sign up for a prescription plan? Or do you already have an existing prescription coverage plan available? Does your insurer levy a fine to join a subscription plan at a later stage? Make sure you get the answers to these questions, as they are crucial to avoid any discrepancies or arguments in the future. If you are ever put on a prescription treatment plan, you might need your Medicare plan to provide some coverage, if not in full. 

    Choice of doctor
    Another thing you want to take a look at when opting for Medicare plans is the in-network doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare centers and services. You will also want to check whether your doctors are covered under the Medicare plan. However, some Medicare Advantage plans offer certain out-of-network coverage options too. 

    One of the top Medicare providers in the country is Humana. The company offers a variety of healthcare plans with different price points that help users decide upon a plan based on their specific needs and budget. The company covers Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Special Needs Plan (SNP) plans, and others that come with or without prescription coverage. 

    Two of its notable Medicare Advantage plans are:

    HumanaChoice PPO
    With zero monthly premium and out-of-pocket expense coverage of up to $4,900, this plan is an excellent choice for you looking to add to your existing Medicare plans and for new insurance seekers alike. It covers vision and dental and may even include prescription treatments. Another benefit of the plan is the SilverSneakers® Fitness Program, a service the insurer provides at no additional charges.

    Humana Honor PPO
    This plan is designed in order to benefit the veterans. However, people that meet the plan’s eligibility criteria can also sign up for it. It provides annual out-of-pocket coverage of $6,700 with no monthly premium. The copay coverage is provided for doctor and specialist visits aside from hospital stays. The plan cover eye and dental treatment. It also gives you access to their SilverSneaker® Fitness Program and might provide free transportation for your doctor’s visit. 

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