Banking 
37
comments

Best Online Checking Accounts

A few years ago, if you told someone that you put your savings into an online bank, people would look at you funny. They ask whether or not your money was safe and secure, as if your dollars were actually locked away in a vault at the local bank. They’d ask whether you could talk to a human being if you needed to or if the banks themselves were safe (“because they’d heard stories”).

Well, years later, after enjoying yields of 5% or more, the general public is starting to pick up on the fact that just like buying books and CDs online, you can find better prices for your savings by shopping online.

It’s only natural that after savings and certificates of deposits, the next bank deposit product to start percolating the interwebs would be checking accounts. Most checking accounts do not bear any interest and often cost consumers money in various fees, from overdraft to ATM fees.

So what if I told you that you can get an online checking account, pay virtually no ATM fees, and increase your interest rate all at the same time? Well you can… online checking accounts offer just that.

In fact, some of the online checking accounts I list below may give you a higher interest rate than your brick and mortar savings account!

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 Credit 
11
comments

MyFICO Coupon Code: SURVEY30

MyFICO is offering a 30% off coupon if you take their customer survey. I’m not sure how long the survey takes but at the end they give you a new 30% off coupon code for myFICO products. If you want, you can take the survey or just keep reading for the code:

SURVEY30

For my thoughts on myFICO, check out my myFICO review. If you just want your credit report, you can request your credit reports for free every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com.

The code is valid until December 30th, 2009.

You can look here for more MyFICO promo codes.


 Reviews 
11
comments

Frequent Flyer Master Review

Frequent Flyer MasterFor what seems like years, JD Roth has sung the praises of one Chris Guillebeau, author of the Art of Non-Conformity blog. For months, I’m pretty sure every conversation we’ve had (and we talk almost every week in preparation of the Personal Finance Hour), the Guillebeau name comes up. I don’t really know much about him but I do know he has the audacious goal of visiting every country in the world. Every single one of the 192 countries in the world… and he’s already scratched 122 off the list.

Knowing nothing else about him, other than scanning his blog a few times, I knew that at the very least he’d be an expert on travel and squeezing every bit of value out of his dollar. You see, Chris isn’t rich. He makes a living as a blogger but he’s not the heir to a vast fortune he taps to fund an extravagant lifestyle. He’s someone who has decided what he wants to do with his life, designed it in a way that makes his goals achievable, and explains the whole mentality in a totally free ebook called A Brief Guide to World Domination. I think it gives you great insight into who he is and a taste of his writing style, which takes me to his latest piece of work – Frequent Flyer Master.

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 Credit 
158
comments

What Is A Good Credit Score?

Credit Repair SignEver wonder what a good credit score is? Of course, we all do. It’s one of the most important numbers in our adult life, whether you agree with it or not.

You can check your score at a variety of places that offer free FICO credit scores but how do you really know whether your score is good or bad? Is a 700 good? Or do you need an 800? How’s a 600?

I think it comes down to what you plan on doing with that number.

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 Credit 
24
comments

Slate(SM) from Chase Review

Chase Slate(SM) Proprietary Sites Only (Private)Chase really made a splash a couple months ago with their Blueprint payment program and their headline card with that program was their Slate from Chase card, which replaced their Chase Platinum Card. I thought the Blueprint program was certainly an interesting take on the recent “responsible credit card use phenomenon” that’s taken hold lately, so I wanted to take a closer look at their flagship card.

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 Credit 
18
comments

Responsible Credit Card Use Phenomenon

Is it just me or have credit card companies been on a big “responsible credit card use” bandwagon lately? I think credit card companies, with the pending credit card legislation, have been on this responsible use kick because they see consumers in a bit of a revolt.

For years, cheap credit has fueled American consumption and lenders have been eager to feed that hunger. Now that the average household credit card debt has become less of a trivia statistic and more of a sobering reminder of our economy’s fragility, I think credit card companies are responding to what the climate is demanding – more financially responsible credit cards.

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 Your Take 
51
comments

Your Take: Charity Solicitations at Stores

With it being the holidays, a lot of stores have partnered up with local charities to solicit donations from customers. If you donate a dollar, you get your name on a balloon or a star that gets plastered behind the registers of a store. It’s always voluntary and optional and only in a few cases have I ever heard of someone “donating” without their consent (the recent Radio Shack – Livestrong debacle).

I have no qualms with these types of arrangements, as long as the retailer isn’t too pushy about it, but I almost never donate money. I don’t donate for a couple reasons:

  • It wasn’t part of the plan. I don’t have some grandiose philanthropic plan but there are several charities we support and while a dollar or two here or there doesn’t derail anything, part of me feels a bit ambushed when I’m solicited at a grocery store.
  • Donating direct is more efficient. The store gets something for their involvement (at least the charity has to pay for the promotional materials), I’d rather donate via a website or sending a check so that the charity gets 100% of the money.

There are, however, exceptions to my general feeling towards these solicitations. For whatever reason, if it has to do with kids and if the promotional push is one of their “big” ones for the year, we’ll usually buy a balloon or star or whatever. The prime example is Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s partnership with Rita’s Water ice.

What’s your take on this? Hate them? Indifferent?


 Investing 
26
comments

Why Dividends Stocks Rock

If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. . . . The world will be yours and everything in it, what’s more, you’ll be a man, my son.

That’s a famous line from Rudyard Kipling’s If and if you followed that advice the last year (the first part anyway), especially in the stock market, you would’ve done very well and kept a few gray hairs at bay. Since the S&P hit its low in March of 676.53, it’s come roaring back a stunning 63.4% since then. While it’s still down from where it was before the recession (it was 1251 on Sept 19, 2008, down 11.64%), you have to admit it’s a pretty amazing recovery in such a short period of time.

We benefited from being young, with decades until retirement, and one thing we’ve been looking into is dividend yielding stocks in our regular non-retirement brokerage accounts.

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