Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

How To Make Money With Your Credit Card

credit cards

It is possible to use your credit card to make some extra money if you know how. While credit cards are usually associated with the thought of debt, they can actually make you profit.

In order to make money using your credit card you’ll have to always use it wisely and use self-discipline when you spend with it. If you are able to keep these things in check, you have the potential right now, as a credit card holder, to start turning a profit.

Make money with your credit card

Here are some ways that you can use your credit card to make money.

Get a credit card that offers a cash back program

If you make an application for a credit card that has a cash back program attached to it, you will get paid for using your credit card. You’ll have to use your card often and for big items in order to see much profit, but if you plan on doing some spending in the near future it will definitely pay off.

The thing you have to watch when you have this credit card, however, is to always pay the bill in full every month. If you don’t, you’ll be hit with a high interest rate that you’ll have pay. This can cut into your profits so much that it is not worth getting a cash back card if you’re not sure if you can pay off the balance every month.

You also need to read the fine print before applying for a cash back card to find out if there are any limits as to how much you can get back in a year. Some cards will only pay out $300 or less on a yearly basis.

You also need to find out if you can get cash back on any type of purchase. If the purchase types are limited, this card may not work for you if it is a type of spending you plan on doing with the card.

A problem can also arise if you become a careless spender just to get the cash back. As long as you use this card properly, it can be a little money maker for you.

Get a balance transfer card

Start by opening an account for savings and begin to see interest accumulate. Next, apply for a balance transfer card with a 0% interest rate. Once you have transferred the balance over to the new card you’ll be able to pay off your debt without having to worry about any interest being added.

The interest that you save can be put directly into your savings account so that you start seeing more interest added to your savings.

Starting a new business with a credit card

If you are sure that the business you’re going to start up is going to give you immediate profits, the best way to get started is by using a credit card. While there is always a risk in beginning any new business, it is one worth taking if you have done some research and know that the profits will be there.

Finding a low interest card

If you can find a credit card that only charges 5% to 6% for a cash transfer or withdrawal, and a savings account with a 7% interest rate or more, you can transfer money to the account and profit from it. You’ll have to make sure that you don’t use your card for any spending if you follow this practice. Only use the card for this use and you will definitely end up with more money in your savings account every month.

While you may have never before thought it possible, a credit card can be used to earn income. As long as you use the credit card following the advice above, you will end up with more cash at the end of the month, every month.

This article was written by personal finance writer Timothy Ng from Sydney, Australia. He is genuinely passionate about helping people compare credit cards and helping them through researching to find the best credit card.

5 Reasons to Refinance

refinance

As the economy grows stronger and out of the financial crisis, for homeowners it’s a great time to refinance. With the market place changing and new opportunities available – many consumers do not realise how much they could benefit from refinancing their home loan.

Here are some new opportunities or reasons why refinance would assist you in growing your funds and moving forward.

1: Improve your Credit and Debt

Using refinance to control your debt will help you through some rough months and can help increase your credit history. By addressing the debt to income ratio before it gets reported on your credit history, you will be securing your chances of receiving credit in the future. Consolidating your credit cards into your home loan could decrease the interest you are paying by 10%, which would free up a lot of funds every month for you.

2: Take Advantage of Interest Rates

There are many consumers who don’t realise they can reduce their interest rate or get a fixed interest rate by refinancing. Switching to a fixed interest rate from a variable, will assist you in repaying your loan back sooner and secures you against industry interest increases.

3: Renovate

Expanding your home or renovating is a great investment as it adds value to your greatest asset. Refinancing now can assist you in taking advantage of low construction costs and will boost your equity for future use.

4: Change Lenders

Many consumers are frustrated with their lender for various reasons. By refinancing you are able to pay out fully your current lender and choose a new lender with features that suite your wants and needs.

5: Start a Business / Business Investment

As the economy is evolving, now is a great time to start your own business or invest some funds into another entrepreneur. By refinancing you can pull out money on top of your home loan that will provide you with the start up funds necessary to initiate a successful business. By investing in another person’s business you will essentially buy a share and be able to make a return on their success.

Refinancing your home loan can assist you in various ways to free up funds for personal projects or to open up that dream business.

– Andrew Black has been working in the home loan industry for several years. He helps people to refinance their home loans.

Pros and Cons of Email Personalization

Posted by Rebecca Swayze

To personalize, or not personalize? That is the question du jour.

Personalization – sending an email that contains the recipients personal information making it look the email was sent to only them – is an easy enough task in most email marketing programs these days. But should you use it?

Most experts waver back and forth between the answers yes, no and maybe so. Some vehemently protest: “No! It’s a thing of the past!” Others believe, “Yes, there’s a certain level of familiarity that can’t be obtained otherwise!” And still more fall into the “maybe, sometimes” category.

Even though we see an incredible amount of emails on a daily basis, our own team members are divided on whether or not personalizing email is a good idea. Find out what they think!

The Pros

Personal details can still grab a reader’s attention.

“When it’s just my name, I tend to roll my eyes. But send me an email based on my past activity, whether it’s events I’ve attended or things I’ve bought, and you’ve totally got my attention.”

-Awesome Amanda

Customary personalization can inspire recognition.

“While having a user’s name in a subject line or email body may seem cliche, there is no denying it’s power. Users instantly recognize their name, which in turn makes them more prone to open your message. It’s a simple way to get noticed in a sea of nameless cookie cutter messages.”

-Enthusiastic Eric

Personalization sets expectations and leads to stronger engagement.

“Using personalization can lead to better engagement with your list. People respond to tailored content.”

-Nice Nick

Nontraditional personalization makes messages truly custom.

“It’s not just about personalizing with first names anymore. With email analytics, you are able to see so many stats for your messages, so you can say with certainty that an individual visited a particular page on your website, or clicked a particular link in your last email. I mean, a lot of these things really fall under segmentation, but it’s just as easy to customize emails with stats as first and last name.”

-Kool Kelly

It’s helpful for split testing messages.

“Personalization is a great tool to use when split testing broadcast subject lines. If you want to see if your subscribers are more likely to open messages with their name in the subject line, you can create one broadcast with personalization and one without in a split test. In turn, this can help you increase opens.”

-Lovely Lindsay

The Cons

People provide false information all of the time.

“If people are not consistently entering names, or entering something other than a true name like “Test,” then it could have the adverse effect of proper personalization.”

-Jive Jeff

It’s a tactic widely used by spammers.

“I can’t even tell you how many emails in my spam folder right now include my first name in the subject line. It’s a tactic that many spammers use – why would you want to identify with spammers? Instead, I’d suggest using a branded subject line: something that identifies your company and serves as a recognizable message in the inbox.”

-Tyrannical Tracey

It can show how poorly you know your subscribers.

“Let’s say Robert signed up for your email list and entered his full name in your form because he always uses Robert for business stuff. But what if they go by Bob? They might see Robert in your subject line and be turned off.”

-Mean Matt

It’s 2010. Most people know that marketing messages aren’t individually sent.

“Sometimes it comes off as fake, transparent and “markety.” As a reader, most of the time I realize I’m subscribing to a newsletter that will also be sent out to a lot of other people. So for that newsletter to try and play it off as if its being sent specifically to me seems almost cheesy and ironically impersonal.”

-Brash Bob

Weighing Your Options

Personalization tactics aren’t bad in and of themselves, but a truly personal email will address a subscriber’s needs, desires, fears and preferences.

Does populating an email with the data you already have available take those things into consideration? It’s not a question that we can answer for you – it’s, well…personal.

Let us know how you feel about personalization in the comments below. We’d love to discuss it further with you!

Is Your Bank Ripping You Off?

ATM fee bank ripoff

Conspiracy theories and gripes with The Establishment aside, it is possible that your bank or financial institution is raking in hundreds of dollars in fees from your hard eared cash every year, simply because you are unaware of how your bank fees are allocated. You’re being ripped off by not knowing how and when your transactions attract fees, and you’re being ripped off by not understanding compounding interest and why your interest free days don’t apply anymore.

Instead of being ripped off, educate yourself about common bank fees, how they’re charged and how they can be avoided. Then take a look at the fine print on your financial products to see exactly how much you’re being charged, and use these tips to help you compare banks and products to find the best ones for you and your needs.

1 – Annual or monthly fees

Many banks and financial institutions will charge you just for the privilege of having an account with them, before you have even used any of the funds in the account. This can be in the form of an annual or monthly fee and it is important to note that even if you don’t hold a credit card account for a full year for example, you are still charged a full annual fee, as it is taken out when your card is activated.

You can also be easily fooled by account keeping fees because many banks run introductory offers, especially on their credit card annual fees, where you receive the first year fee free. As a result you tend not to notice what the annual fee reverts to and can then be hit with hundreds of dollars the following year. In the case of transaction accounts, a fee may be applied if your balance drops below a certain amount, otherwise you can enjoy a fee free account.

2 – Withdrawal and transaction fees

You can then be charged for how and where you use and access your money and transaction accounts often have a certain number of free transactions included each month, after which you pay a transaction fee each time you access your account at an ATM, through EFTPOS or a branch. Therefore, make sure you know how many transactions your account includes, and how many you have used at any one time.  You can then ration your transactions if you need to, knowing that on the 15th of the month you’ve already used eight of your 10 free transactions. Instead you can start taking out cash when you make an EFTPOS purchase as this counts as just one transaction.

You should also plan your spending to avoid ATM fees as many banks will charge you a fee to withdraw money from a rival bank’s ATM.

3 – Interest charges

One of the nastiest types of bank account fees, credit card interest is also one of the least understood, allowing banks to rip you off and you don’t even know where your money is going.

There are a number of ways you can be charged interest on your credit card, and interest charges accumulate so quickly because you are being charged compounding interest. This means that you are charged interest on existing interest charges, for example, interest for a statement period is calculated on your balance, plus your fees, plus any interest not repaid in the previous month. While compounding interest is good news for growing your savings, it is bad news when you are trying to stem the flow of credit card costs.

It is also important to understand that your interest free days only apply if your balance has been repaid in full the previous month, otherwise you start being charged interest from the time of the purchase. This is also true for balance transfer credit cards because your transferred balance is still outstanding and interest free days do not apply to new purchases on the card.

4 – Overdraft fees

Overdraft fees are charged when your account becomes overdrawn due to lack of funds. Banks will process a transaction or honour a direct debit payment even if there are insufficient funds in your account, to spare you the embarrassment, and of course to collect on overdraft fees. Banks will also typically process larger cheques or transactions before smaller ones to increase the opportunity to charge overdraft fees.

There are several ways you can protect yourself from overdraft fees:

  • Monitor your balance and automatic withdrawals. If possible, have all of your direct debit payments made from your account on the same day, as close as possible to the day your wages are credited to your account. This reduces the likelihood that you will forget about a payment and over spend.
  • Track your spending yourself. Checking your balance in your statements and online is not always immediate enough to give you an accurate account balance. Sometimes a transaction from the morning may not show up until the following day, leaving you to overdraw your account that afternoon without realising.
  • Leave room in your budget spending. To make sure you have more than enough funds in your account at all times, don’t cut your spending so fine to the edges of what you can afford within your budget. Instead, budget to have funds spare to cover all withdrawals.
  • Link your account to a safety net. Some banks will allow you to link your transaction account to a savings account, so that if your transaction account does not have enough funds to cover a withdrawal, the funds are taken from your savings account, rather than overdrawing your account.
  • Ask for overdraft protection to be removed. If you want to avoid overdraft fees all together, ask your bank to remove the protection of honouring payments when you have insufficient funds. If you can monitor your spending and your budget, and wear the embarrassment if you miscalculate, you can save on overdraft fees.

5 – Late payment fees

Late payment fees can be charged when you miss the payment on your credit card, home loan or personal loan and defaulting on a repayment can jeopardise a promotional interest rate, lead to significant fees which are added to your balance and then attract interest, and can harm your credit rating and credit history.

Instead, make sure you know your accounts and your repayment amounts so that you can pay your bills first, before spending on luxuries. If you don’t think you have the discipline, set up a direct debit from your account on the day your wages come in to make the payments automatically.

How To Compare Bank Accounts and Fees

If you have looked at your bank accounts and credit cards and found high transaction fees, monthly fees or unfair interest charges, then start a comparison of the top financial products to find ones which suit your needs. To choose the best bank accounts:

  • Compare products for the way you use your money. If you know you regularly attract overdraft fees, look for an account which allows you to opt out of honouring payments and you will quickly learn to be more organised. At the same time if you know you like to make a lot of ATM transactions look for an account with free ATM transactions.
  • Compare on a level playing field. When you are comparing financial products, look past the promotional offers and the flashy features and read the fine print which applies to the account. When you understand the fees for each transaction and how they are charged you can more easily avoid being ripped off.

Alban is a personal finance writer at Home Loan Finder, which offers home loan comparison services.

10 Ways to Lower Your Monthly Bills

green dollar sign

One simple way to make money is to save it. If you’re maximizing your money-making power in the workplace and at home, putting in long hours and working over the weekend, you should make sure that your hard-earned dollars aren’t being thrown away on bills. Try out some of these personal finance tips to make sure that you’re retaining as much income as possible.

Energy

1. Compare electricity prices. In most areas, there’s more than one option available, so shop around to find out how you can get the best possible rate. You might consider asking frugal friends and neighbors which electricity providers they’ve chosen to help you make the best decision. If you find a cheaper option but want to stay with your current company, call and let them know that you’ve found a competitive rate. Often, you’ll be able to get the same lower rate from your current company.

2. Use energy efficient light bulbs in your home. Look for the Energy Star seal and keep your eyes open for good deals. You can often buy in bulk online or find extra-low discounts at Salvation Army stores or outlets.

Insurance

3. You can lower your car insurance bill if you pay by the year rather than by the month. You’ll get a discounted rate for paying up-front because you’ll be saving your insurance company the trouble of monthly billing. Another way to lower this bill is to take a defensive driving class. This costs $25 in most states, but you might want to call your insurance company and verify that the discount will be worth your while.

4. Compare insurance prices, then bundle your insurance. Insurance companies offer multi-policy discounts, so take advantage of this by using the same provider for both car and homeowner’s insurance.

Phone/Cable

5. Cancel your home phone line and use your cell phone exclusively. Just check to make sure that it supports your local emergency services before you disconnect your home line.

6. If you’d rather keep your home phone line, call your provider and ask for help reducing the cost of your phone plan. Most companies are happy to help you find and cancel superfluous charges because it’s better business than losing a customer.

Other

7. Cancel your gym membership and walk or run instead. You can also purchase your own free weights and other exercise equipment, which will save you money over time. A one-time purchase is almost always preferable to repeated charges.

8. Limit your credit card use. Keep only one or two cards, using them for large purchases, emergencies, and travel only. Make sure you pay them off every month to avoid being charged interest.

9. Cancel monthly subscriptions that you can do without. Even if you’d like to keep a few, you can get a better rate by subscribing to online versions.

10. Pay all of your bills online to save on postage and checks.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident education blogger and performs research surrounding College Scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.