Tag: Technology

 

What Are Money Orders and How Do They Work?

Money orders are a popular option to send money and make payments, but unless you have used them before, money orders may seem like a foreign concept. In practice, money orders are a way to turn cash into a check without a bank account. You can get a money order from a bank, some grocery stores and big-box retailers, and even the post office! Follow along to learn more about money orders, how they work, and when you may consider using them.

What is a money order?

A money order is a financial instrument that works like a check. But unlike a personal check, a money order is considered “guaranteed funds.” This is an important distinction for some businesses. Landlords, for example, don’t want to get stuck with bounced check fees from new tenants. Requiring money orders for a deposit or first months rent, or any rent after a history of bounced checks, is relatively common when renting a home.

Money orders are typically available for amounts up to $500 or $1,000. Over that amount, you’ll need to head to the bank for a cashier’s check, a similar instrument used as a guaranteed check for larger dollar amounts. Because they are guaranteed, you’ll need to fund a money order up-front. That usually means handing over cash or swiping a debit card. Most stores will not sell a money order to someone using a credit card.

Depending on where you grew up, money orders may be unfamiliar. For the most part, this may be because money orders are more common in low-income communities. The sad reality is that low-income or low-credit renters are more likely to hand their landlord a bad check. To compensate, a large portion of the low-income community may be forced to pay extra to use money orders to protect their landlords even if they have no personal history of writing bad checks.

Money orders cost anywhere from around 50 cents to a few dollars each depending on where you buy them.

Why would I use a money order?

In most cases, you shouldn’t need to use a money order. If you already have a bank account, you can do nearly the same thing for free when you use a check. Until my late 20s, I never needed a money order for anything! When a landlord asked for my rent and deposit in money orders when I moved to Portland about five years ago, I had to do a little legwork to figure out where to even get a money order, and I used to be a bank manager! That is how rare money orders are to some people.

Other situations where you may want to use money orders, if you don’t have a checking account, would be to send money to someone in the mail. If you don’t have a bank account, you can’t send money with a free transfer or payments app, so you’ll need a non-electronic payment method. Money orders are more secure than cash, are written to a specific depositor, and don’t include your bank account number if you are looking for a safer alternative to a personal check.

These features also make money orders common for scammers. If you are ever asked for a money order by someone you don’t know in person, don’t send it or hand it over unless it is a verified, reputable business.

Where can I get a money order?

You can usually get a money order at a bank, though banks tend to charge more for money orders than some other providers. If you need a cashier’s check, your only option is a bank. You may have to go to your bank, though some banks are willing to issue money orders to non-customers with cash for a higher fee. At a bank, you should plan on paying around $5 for a money order.

Outside of the bank, the best two places to get a money order are your local Walmart store or a local United States Post Office branch. Both Walmart and the Post Office offer money orders at some of the best rates out there. Walmart charges just 70 cents for a money order up to $1,000. The post office charges $1.60 or less depending on the amount.

You can also go to a money transfer agent like Western Union or MoneyGram. You can find these types of transfer centers at many retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores. Plan on spending around $1 per money order at these locations.

A cheap way to send funds

At the end of the day, money orders act as an inexpensive option to send money. Even if you have a bank account, money orders may come in handy on occasion. For $5 or less, you can send a secure, guaranteed check. That’s what these payments are all about.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

New Year’s Prep: Give Your Bills a Makeover

New Year’s resolutions get all the glory when it comes to planning out next year’s money. But, we’d like to highlight another less-talked-about way to help your money situation in the new year: lowering your bills.

The beauty of going this route is that you just have to make the switch to a cheaper option once, and then reap the savings month after month. Remember, though — savings are only really savings if you actually…well…save that money instead of spending it on something else.

It’s easy to think of bills as a fixed expense that you can’t change. But, believe me — you can. Don’t think it’s possible? Here are three different money-saving apps and websites you can use to give your bills a fresh makeover before the new year starts.

Bill Shark

Believe it or not, it’s totally possible to negotiate your bills. It can also suck to try to negotiate better deals.

We get it: Not everyone is comfortable playing the negotiation game. At the same time, if you’re unwilling to negotiate your bills yourself, you shouldn’t be penalized by paying high bills forever. This is where Bill Shark comes in.

Bill Shark is a unique new company that employs real, flesh-and-blood expert negotiators to haggle your bills with your service providers on your behalf – sort of like a personal consumer advocate. All you have to do is upload your bills through their online portal or take a picture with their app. They can then start negotiating on your behalf.

The service isn’t entirely free, but it has a consumer-friendly pricing model. Plus, if their expert negotiators can’t lower your bills for you, you pay nothing. Nada. And if they are successful? You’ll owe 40% of whatever savings they get for you for a maximum of two years. This amount will be due after they’ve finished their negotiations.

Say, for example, Bill Shark is able to permanently lower your Internet bill by $20 per month. This will save you $480 over a two-year period. The fee for this would then be $192, leaving you to come out ahead by $288. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask us.

Metromile

The cost of car insurance depends a lot on which state you live in. In 2017, residents of Ohio had the lowest estimated annual car insurance premiums at $926. Michigan residents, on the other hand, clocked in at a whopping $2,551 annually.

That’s a big chunk of change. And if you don’t drive very much, car insurance can cost you way more than it should. If this is the case for you, it may be worth your time to get a quote from Metromile.

Metromile actually charges you a per-mile rate based on how far you drive. It knows this because the company requires you to plug in a tiny device into your car’s OBD-II port (it’s not hard to find; we promise) that records and transmits your actual mileage to the company’s billing department.

Another handy money-saving feature of using Metromile? Since the device plugs into your car’s diagnostic system, if that pesky “check engine” light pops up, you can use the app to see what the exact problem is and research the cost before taking it to a mechanic.

Right now Metromile is only available in certain states: Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. But keep your eyes out for Metromile to expand into more states.

Lemonade

Lemonade is a new type of insurance company offering policies for urban homeowners and renters. It’s based on a different business model than typical big insurance companies.

Lemonade is a public benefit corporation, which means that while it is still driven by profits (a flat fee is taken out of your premiums), it also gives back any other excess “profit” at the end of the year to a charity that you select. Since the company doesn’t operate on a never-ending quest to drain the contents of your wallet, insurance premiums for your home or rental can be less expensive than traditional insurance policies.

Filing claims and getting paid is also much simpler with Lemonade. The company expedites this process and pays claims super fast.

How much can you lower your bills for next year?

We’ve given you three different options for lowering your bills and starting the new year with a fresh makeover for your budget. Yet, you’ve got plenty of other options as well. All you need to do is research ways to lower your bills and then commit to making this a priority.

Here’s what we suggest for maximum impact: Start by going through your budget one line item at a time. Ask yourself: Is there any way to lower this? By switching to a lower-cost phone carrier, for example, you could save $30 per month or more. Over the course of a year, that’s an extra $360 in your pocket!

Now, we challenge you: How much can you save on your bills in the new year? And how much of that can you save into your bank account for your future?

 

If You Love Chime, Check Out These Three Other Fintech Apps

Back in the day, our parents relied on checkbooks and investment advisors to manage their money. Thankfully, these days we’ve got something a lot more convenient: our smartphones. These handy devices are smart enough to put a man on the moon, and that means they’re smart enough to help you reach your financial goals, too.

If you use Chime Bank’s mobile app, you’re already one step ahead of the game. Yet, there are also other apps out there that can help you manage your money and save up for future financial goals. Whether your goals are to save for retirement or take a great vacation, these apps will help you stay on track and sock more money away into your bank account. Check them out:

Metromile

Is your car mainly a grocery-getter? Do you take public transportation to work? If so, you may be overpaying for your car insurance.

That’s because traditional car insurance is typically paid for via monthly premiums that don’t factor in how much you actually drive. And if you don’t drive much, the per-mile cost of your insurance might be quite high.

Metromile gets around this conundrum by only charging you a low base rate (so your car is still covered even if it’s parked for a while), followed by a per-mile charge for each mile you drive per day. It gets sent this amount wirelessly from a small device you plug into your car’s OBD-II port.

The Metromile app is the hub to find out all sorts of other car information as well. For example, it provides useful features like a gas mileage tracker. It also alerts you with street sweeping notifications and when your car’s warning lights come on. Oh, and if you go on a road trip? No worries — Metromile only charges you for the first 250 miles you drive in a day.

Lemonade

Normally, getting any kind of insurance is a painful, expensive process. That’s because a lot of insurance companies are set in their antiquated, bureaucratic ways.

But what if you could purchase your insurance — and file claims — cheaply and easily with a well-designed app? You’re in luck. You can do this with Lemonade. With the Lemonade app, you can get a custom quote for renters and homeowners insurance by answering a few simple questions. If you like the quote, you can purchase the insurance through the app. And if you ever need to place a claim or ask questions, you can also do so right through the app.

Aside from its app-based insurance model, Lemonade is different from traditional insurance companies in that it’s a public benefit corporation. Its business model works like this: It takes out a flat fee from your payments, and pools the rest into a pot for paying out claims. At the end of the year, any of your leftover premiums go towards a charity that you select, rather than back toward Lemonade’s profits.

In this manner, the company hopes that fraudulent claims will be limited, as customers know that any unpaid amounts go towards charity versus the company’s coffers. This limitation of claims fraud — and a drive to help charities rather than focusing solely on profits — means that Lemonade can offer renters and homeowners insurance at a lower price than many old-school insurance companies.

Worthy

You’ve probably heard of Acorns, the app that rounds up your spare change and invests it into the stock market for you. But have you heard of Worthy?

Worthy operates on a similar principal. Each time you spend some money, the app rounds it up to the next dollar amount and calculates the difference. Except instead of investing that difference in the stock market, Worthy instead invests the money in bonds, earning a smokin’ hot 5% interest rate.

So, for example, if you buy a pint of beer at your local brewery for $5.50, that purchase will be rounded up to $6 and the extra $0.50 will be deposited into your Worthy account. When your balance reaches $10, it triggers an automatic purchase of a $10 bond. Then, when you’re ready, you can cash out your balance at any time. The entire process is run through Worthy’s spiffy app.

If investing in the stock market makes you a bit leery, this may be a more ease-inducing option for you since the bonds earn a flat 5% interest rate. Remember, though, bonds aren’t FDIC-insured like a savings account at a bank. At the same time, they are generally considered less risky investments than stocks.

What’s your favorite fintech app?

We’ve been seeing an explosion in fintech apps in the past few years, and frankly, we’re really excited about it. Having an app that can speak your language on your own terms is more likely to keep you engaged and interested in managing your money.

These three fintech apps are some of our favorites, but there are tons more out there. We challenge you: Go forth and find which fintech apps you prefer for your individual situation. Your wallet will thank you down the road!

 

5 Shopping Apps That Will Save You More Money Than Black Friday Deals

When it comes to saving money on purchases, Black Friday is like a national holiday. Prices are slashed and some of the best deals around are offered to eager consumers.

But can you save money like this year-round? Since we don’t think you should have to wait for one day a year to get the best deals, we’ve scoured the web to find the top shopping apps to save you money. Check out our 5 favs:

1. Zebit

Looking for the best prices on electronics? Interested in great financing offers to help you pay for your deals? Zebit may be your best money-saving sidekick. Here’s how Zebit works: You sign up and provide information on your employment and income. Once approved, you can access up to $2,500 in interest-free financing to shop at the Zebit marketplace. There is no credit score required and Zebit promises 0% interest on your purchases — forever.

At Zebit you can shop for items like TVs, laptops, headphones, video games, cameras and more. And that’s just their electronic section! Considering the fact that some electronic purchases are expensive, Zebit is a great way to pay over time without added interest costs. So, if an item is $500, you pay $500. Say goodbye to interest and hello to savings!

2. Poshmark

Finding affordable and fashionable clothes can seem like a shot in the dark. But, with Poshmark, this can be your new reality. Poshmark is an e-commerce platform where listers sell their personal used items that may just be hanging around in their closets. In turn, you can score some serious savings. For example, you can shop for a ton of different clothing and accessory brands with prices that are up to 70 percent off. You might score a great deal from a fashion brand like Louis Vuitton, Coach, Michael Kors and more. Think of it as your designer-style-on-a-budget app.

And if you’re like me and need a little fashion help, there are recommendations that are catered to you by stylists. You can download the shopping app and save money, all while also shopping for your next hot outfit. The benefits of using Poshmark include payment protection and fast shipping.

3. Honey

Have you ever shopped online and then hours later you find a discount code for the thing you just bought? Ugh. It’s frustrating to say the least. But you’re in luck: With Honey on your side, you don’t have to leave anything to chance. Honey is a shopping app that shows you automatic coupons to help you save money. Just download the Google Chrome extension and watch the savings come in! It’s free to install and when you’re shopping, Honey instantly applies any coupons and adds them to your cart. There’s literally nothing else you need to do. Honey does all the heavy lifting and saves you money automatically.

4. Ebates

Now you know that using Honey can help you get automatic discounts on your purchases. But, did you also know that using Ebates can earn you cash-back on your purchases? That’s right.

I have used the Ebates Google Chrome extension for a couple of years and every few months, I get a little PayPal payment from Ebates. The way it works is that each store offers a certain amount of cash back. About once a quarter, Ebates sends out a payment. It’s great! Ebates works with companies like Groupon, Macy’s, Amazon and others. The one thing to be aware of is that you do need to press the “activate cash back” button in the right-hand corner of your browser once Ebates alerts you that there’s a cash back opportunity. This way you’ll get the cash back credit!

5. RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot is another shopping app that can help you save money. The great thing about RetailMeNot is that it allows you to save money in different categories. For example, you can save at top stores like Fashion Nova, Old Navy, and more. But you can also check for other online codes, printable coupons and free shipping. In addition, RetailMeNot has an interesting strategy where you can buy retail gift cards at a discount and then use those gift cards through their portal and stack up even more coupons! It’s savings on savings!

We recommend that you use the RetailMeNot Google Chrome extension to make sure you never miss a savings opportunity. With RetailMeNot, you can save on all sorts of purchases, even prescriptions! Because this app offers a little bit of everything, it is considered a powerhouse in the shopping app community.

Bottom line

There’s no excuse not to save money using these 5 shopping apps. These apps make it easier than ever find deals and never miss an opportunity to save some cash. So, are you ready to start saving money right now instead of waiting for Black Friday to roll around? We thought so.

 

8 Free Apps to Download Before Holiday Shopping Begins

Although you’ve probably just had your first pumpkin spice latte of the year, stores are going to start playing Christmas carols any day now.

That means the holiday shopping season is officially underway. Whether that fills you with excitement or dread, one thing’s certain: Mobile apps can help you prepare for — and maybe even crush — your gift-giving efforts.

“Using tech during holiday shopping is huge for me,” says Collin Morgan, founder of savings blog Hip2Save. “It helps me get the best gifts at the best prices, all while keeping my budget in check.”

Wondering what apps you should download? Here are 8 money-saving apps that will prepare you for a productive and affordable holiday shopping season.

1. Santa’s Bag

Before it comes time to check your gift list twice, use Santa’s Bag to create your shopping list and note all of your gift ideas, as well as your budget.

“I like to start by getting my spending game plan together with budgeting apps,” says Morgan. “It takes the stress out of figuring out my funds last minute.”

Once you’ve completed your purchases for someone, you can use the app to record the gifts and their cost. The app will display who is still on your list and how much you have left to spend.

Download Santa’s List on iOS. If you have an Android device, Christmas Gift List is a similar app.

2. Chime

Writing out your gift list will reveal how much spending money you’ll need — and, in turn, how much you’ll need to save.

To break down your savings goal, divide your total gift budget by the number of weeks until your chosen holiday (or until the applicable credit card bill will be due). The result is how much you should save each week. If your gift budget is $500, for example, and you have seven weeks until Christmas, you’ll need to save $71 per week.

As we all know, however, saving is easier said than done. So we recommend using an automatic savings tool like the one available through Chime’s banking app.

Designate how much you’d like to save each week, and Chime will move that money from your checking account to a separate savings account. Using this strategy, you can be confident you’ll have saved enough money by the time the holidays roll around.

Download on iOS / Android

3. ShopSavvy

Picture this: you’re standing in an electronics store, and you see a laptop that’s 50 percent off. Is it really a good deal? Or just good marketing?

The ShopSavvy app will help you find the answer: Simply scan an item’s barcode, and the app will compare prices online and at nearby brick-and-mortar stores. It will also display information from its parent site TopTenReviews. This will help you determine whether that laptop is worth your hard-earned dough.

Based on app reviews, ShopSavvy sometimes has bugs. If you find glitches while using it on your device, then download the Amazon app instead. Although this route will only compare prices on Amazon.com, it will still glean the most competitive prices. Morgan, who’s a fan of the app, says: “Many stores will match Amazon’s prices, too.”

Just remember that prices shouldn’t be the sole factor when deciding where to make your purchases. Shopping locally, even if prices are slightly higher, is an excellent way to support your community and small business owners.

Download on iOS / Android

4. Google Maps

Google Maps beats Apple Maps every time. And, as it turns out, you can use it for more than navigation.

Sarah Hollenbeck, shopping and retail expert at BlackFriday.com, notes that Google Maps can be a handy holiday shopping assistant.

“If used correctly, it can be your best friend come brick-and-mortar shopping needs,” she says.

“You can easily save your parking location in the app, preventing a long search for your car in the crowded mall parking lot. You can also use it to check crowds in individual stores in real-time.”

Download on iOS / Android

5. Slickdeals

So, your daughter really wants an Xbox for Christmas… but it costs way more than you’re willing to spend.

While deciding whether you’ll just opt for a nice board game instead, why not at least track the Xbox’s price? Using the Slickdeals app, you can create a “Deal Alert” that will notify you if the price decreases.

To track prices on Amazon specifically, you can use the Chrome browser extension camelcamelcamel.

Download on iOS / Android

6. Raise

Raise, which allows you to buy and sell discounted gift cards, is useful for holiday shopping in several ways:

  • You can sell your unused gift cards so you have extra cash to buy gifts
  • You can buy discounted gift cards for stores you know you’ll shop at
  • You can purchase discounted gift cards to give as gifts (before sending, you should reload to create even balances: from $46.39 to $50, for example)

“I use [Raise] every time I’m waiting on a checkout line,” says Adrienne Girard, copy chief at O, The Oprah Magazine, which publishes a range of holiday shopping content.

“It’s so easy — in under a minute I can look up the store I’m in, estimate what my total at the register might be, and buy a discounted gift card worth almost that amount.”

By the time she gets to the cashier, the credit will have loaded, and she can show its barcode to pay for her purchase. She’s used this strategy at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Nordstrom, and Sephora.

Though Girard only saves a small percentage using this shopping strategy, every little bit adds up. Since 2016, she has saved $76.

“When waiting in line, I might as well use my phone to save a couple dollars instead of scrolling through social media over and over,” she says.

Download on iOS / Android

7. RetailMeNot

While you’ve hopefully used RetailMeNot to find online coupon codes before, did you know you can use it when shopping in person, too? The mobile app reveals deals and coupons at stores near you, and also offers the opportunity to earn cash back.

Even if RetailMeNot’s app isn’t the right fit for you, alternatives abound.

For in-store shopping, Carson Kohler, a staff writer at personal finance site The Penny Hoarder, says: “I’ve been a long-time fan of Ibotta — whether I’m ordering from Amazon or gifting an experience like flights or hotels. Also, I always check the Target app and JOANN app for coupons and savings.”

For online shopping, you can also try Honey, which automatically finds and applies eligible coupon codes. Another option: Invisible Hand, which works in the background while you’re browsing and alerts you if it finds lower prices elsewhere.

Download on iOS / Android

8. Charity Navigator

If you’d like to opt out of the consumer frenzy this year, or would simply like to include charitable giving in your plans, then this app is a must-download.

Charity Navigator performs in-depth analyses of nonprofit organizations across the United States, rating them based on financial health, transparency and accountability. When you select one of its highly-rated charities, you can feel confident your money is going to a good cause.

Charitable donations also make great gifts. If you’re stumped on what to buy for the person who has everything, contributing to a charity that aligns with their values might be the best gift of all.

Download on iOS / Android

It’s Time to Deck the Halls…With Apps

No matter which apps you choose to download this holiday season, be sure to check out all the available options.

“Using technology while shopping is no longer an option, it’s a necessity,” explains BlackFriday.com’s Hollenbeck.

“To save money, consumers need to be smarter — and that means taking advantage of every possible deal.”

 

Get Paid Faster Using a Mobile Banking App

Tired of waiting for that paycheck to come in? Then worry no more. Employees who are sick of having their paychecks get lost or stolen now have a way to be assured that it will not happen again. No more waiting, no more wondering when their pay will come through. With the use of a mobile banking application, money will be right at people’s fingertips in an instant. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Struggles of living paycheck to paycheck

Employees sometimes have to wait for their checks to be cleared before getting their hard-earned money. The time spent on waiting could have been used to pay bills on time or have easy access to money in case of emergencies. It is frustrating when there’s no cash in hand and something needs to be bought or paid.

A lot of people are also struggling to budget their money for important things while they wait for their paychecks. With limited time on their hands, everything gets piled up and people scramble with what to set aside their money for. Finances tend to be all over the place without proper money management. Sometimes living paycheck to paycheck means people are spending more rather than saving money. The question now is how to avoid these kind of problems.

How to start getting paid early:

People now have the opportunity to receive their pay two days early in just a few clicks. Chime Account is an online banking app which offers a feature that would be beneficial for employees. This feature allows its users to receive earlier pay than those who don’t use this. When employers release salaries, it is automatically deposited in the employee’s bank account. No more waiting for days to receive a check.

Banking consumers that would like to receive pay early just need to follow these steps simple steps:

  1. Download the Chime app and apply for an account
  2. Fill out the pre-filled direct deposit form, print, and give it to employer and;
  3. Wait for it to be approved and then enjoy an early pay.

With this, consumers don’t have to worry about their money getting lost in the mail. The app allows people to have direct access to their money anytime, anywhere. It’s very convenient for those who do not have the time to deposit checks personally at the bank or ATM. The Chime app also alerts its users whenever their employers have deposited their salaries. So whether the user is at work, relaxing at home, or out getting groceries, a notification will be sent to their phones when the money is received.

See? The steps to make a convenient and hassle-free way of receiving pay early is fairly easy. With the help of the mobile banking app, it is easy to control finances and plan how much one should save. It’s also less headache for people who have a busy life by allowing them to access their money quickly and easily. This could be an effective solution to money handling problems.

 

Pay Friends Just Got Friendlier

Today, we’re excited to announce that you can now use our Pay Friends feature to instantly send money to anyone, even if they’re not a Chime Member! Now it’s even easier to square up the rent with your roomie or split that last round of drinks with your BFF. All you need is their phone number or email address. 

At Chime, we work every day to find more ways to simplify your finances so that you can manage all of your expenses in one place. We hope this new Pay Friends update makes your life a little bit easier by eliminating the hassle of dealing with cash or checks. 

Why Choose Chime Pay Friends vs. Other P2P Payment Apps

Nowadays, splitting the bill is as easy as sending money through your phone. In fact, 49% of millennials and 44% of Gen Xers now prefer digital payments to cash, which has given rise to many very popular peer-to-peer payment apps (P2P). Here at Chime, we’ve processed over 3.2 million Pay Friends transactions to date. That’s approximately $237 million dollars sent back and forth between friends and family; $30 million of those were just in the last month. It probably makes you wonder, what makes Chime’s Pay Friends so different?

The main difference between Pay Friends and other P2P apps is that Pay Friends is connected to your Chime Spending Account so you’ll have instant access to spend it with your Chime Visa® Debit Card. 

Here are 3 reasons to use Pay Friends vs. other P2P apps:

  • Money is deposited into your account instantly for transfers between Chime Members.
  • No need to cash out or wait for days for funds to arrive in your bank account.
  • Chime will never charge you hidden fees to make a mobile P2P transfer or to access the funds from the transfer. Many P2P platforms charge a fee to get your money instantly. Fees can range from a flat fee of .25 cents to 1.5% of the total amount. 
  • If you pay a friend who is not a Chime member already, you are both eligible to receive a $50 referral bonus when they set up and receive a direct deposit of $200 or more within 45 days of opening a Spending Account.* 

How to Start Paying More Friends

  1. Just log in to your Chime app and tap ‘Pay Friends’.
  2. Input your friend’s information or select them from your contacts.
  3. Send them the amount you owe.

A piece of cake, right? 🍰 Your friend will receive a message with directions on how to sign up for a Chime Spending Account and claim their cash if they don’t have a Chime Spending Account**.

Who knows, you just might become better friends afterward.

 


*In order for both parties (the referred friend and the referring Chime member) to qualify for and receive the $50.00 referral reward, the following conditions must be met: the referred friend must open a new Chime Spending Account using the referring Chime member’s unique referral link after June 1, 2008 and receive a payroll direct deposit of $200.00 or within 45 days from when the Chime Spending Account was opened. The payroll direct deposit of the referred friends must be made by their employer, payroll provider or payer by an ACH deposit.  Bank ACH transfer, Pay Friends transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, transfers from PayPal or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits do not qualify as a payroll direct deposit. Referring Chime member must be part of the $50.00 for Payroll Direct Deposit referral reward campaign in order for both parties to be eligible for the $50.00 referral reward. The referral reward per the calendar year (January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018). Referred friend acknowledges that payment of the referral reward may result in the referring Chime member’s knowledge of you establishing an account with us. Chime reserves the right to cancel or modify the referral reward terms or terminate the member’s eligibility, at any time with or without prior notice.  This offer is neither sponsored nor endorsed by The Bancorp Bank. Credits of $10 or more must be reported on tax form 1099-INT. Each eligible referring Chime member may earn no more than $500.00 in referral rewards per the calendar year (January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018).
**In order to complete the payment, the non-Chime member must apply and be approved for a Chime Spending Account within fourteen (14) days to complete the transfer and access the transferred funds. If the non-Chime member does not apply and get approved for a Chime Spending Account within fourteen (14) days of initiating the payment, then the payment will be canceled, and the Friend Transfer dollar amount will be returned to the existing Chime member’s Chime Spending Account.
Pay Friends and any transfers made with Pay Friends are subject to the Deposit Account Agreement.

 

Banks and Early Direct Deposit

Early direct deposit proves to be very beneficial and convenient for a lot of employees. Who doesn’t want their money to be available as soon as their employer releases their pay? Many banks support this system since people are now choosing to have their pay directly deposited to their accounts, rather than waiting for their checks to come in. This provides a healthy competition among banks, and it is up to them to show how they compare with one another.

Different options for different people

Because of the direct deposit option, consumers are wise to open bank accounts. Without an account, people would not be able to get their pay early. Opening an account is the first requirement before enjoying this efficient payroll system. Banks, in return, take this as an opportunity to provide direct deposit features.

While early direct deposit is very appealing, there are numerous banks to choose from that provide this offer. Examples of these banks that have a direct deposit feature are Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase. These are well-known names and have competitive offers but what they don’t have in common, though, are their own monthly banking fees such as maintenance fees, overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, and foreign transaction fees. These are the things that a consumer needs to consider before opening an account. That being said, it is best for consumers to determine the type of bank account that is suitable for them.

If consumers don’t like the idea of too many fees and don’t have the time to go to an actual bank, they could try opening an online banking account such as Chime. With Chime, consumers:

  1. Don’t have to worry about monthly fees and hidden charges
  2. Can enjoy early direct deposit and;
  3. Save time by not having to visit a bank location to deposit their paychecks.

The Bottom line

Banks are becoming competitive because of the need to respond to consumers’ needs. Early direct deposit provides consumers an easy way to get their pay early without waiting for paychecks to come in the mail. While a lot of banks offer an early direct deposit feature, it all boils down to their banking fees. Surely, some people do have the capacity to pay for these fees, but for those who can’t, there are alternatives to traditional banks like Chime.

No monthly fees, no personal appearance to a bank. Chime is an online banking option that is very convenient and accessible for consumers. Not to mention that people can save money when they have a Chime account. Without the monthly fees, the money they get from their early direct deposit is in their hands, which means more money can be saved for other purposes.

With all of the bank competition, a person should first think carefully about a bank’s services before getting an account. The consumer needs to think about taking care of their finances in the long run, and part of this is determining the best option for keeping their money safe and secure.

 

Banks With Free Checking and No Minimum Balance

Bank Fees

It is a fact that banks earn a huge amount of money on fees. A lot of them apply to the checking account and it is one of the most overlooked things in our finances. From opening a checking account, paying monthly maintenance fees and overdraft fees, banks can take more than $350 a year per average household. Some households have reported that after reviewing how much they spend on extra fees they gave away more than $700. Just think of what you could do with that extra money, is it really worth giving it away? With that in mind, it is clear that this is not only stressful but it can be quite a burden, especially for those stuck with stagnant wages and outstanding debt. Aside from the fees mentioned above, there are card replacement fees and ATM fees. There are also penalties for exceeding the daily withdrawal limit on ATMs and additional charges for overdraft if an account has insufficient funds after 5 days. All of these things have to be considered when choosing the correct checking account.

Online advice on how to save money in banking

The real goal is to show how and in what way a person can save some extra cash without paying all of these unwanted fees. The advice offered online is not always good, and it just does not work in real life situations. Many banks offer advice on how to avoid ATM fees and overdraft fees, but be careful. Bank advice is to withdraw money from an ATM less often, withdraw large amounts of cash so it lasts longer, carefully monitor and visit the bank branches to check on your financial status so you avoid overdraft fees and so on… This, in fact, does the trick, but it works only on paper and only a minority of people can do this. For this to work everything must always be constant and if anything unpredictable were to happen, this plan would fall apart and you would still end up paying for fees. Imagine a situation where you have just picked up cash from the ATM for that week and suddenly you realize you forgot about an upcoming event for that weekend. Or if you withdraw your entire paycheck from your checking account at once and then misplace that money somewhere. In this case, you also risk of not maintaining the minimum balance requirements on your account, which would then initiate the monthly service fees. As you can see, it is a constant loop of problems where all of this is certain to cause a lot of headaches for many account holders.

Traditional Banking System

Since the 2008 recession, many things have changed. The economy slowly recovered and the banking system stabilized. The main problem that remains is the traditional way in which the banks operate. The large number of fees, including ATM, that are all connected to the bank account only work in favor of the bank and all the rules created to avoid the fees are complicated and well-designed so the average person will incur additional charges on their checking account. The banks should not be the ones taking our money this way. When you choose a checking or banking account, the bank has plenty of ways to earn money by investing it and turning it to profit, so why all the fees? Easy, answer… More profit. It is on rare occasions we hear the bank has gone broke, especially the large traditional ones. More often is that we read about billions of profit they earn. It is an established fact that the banks earned over $22 billion during the 2016 just from additional banking fees implemented.

Minimum Balance

One way for banks to apply fees is to set a minimum balance requirement for the checking account. This way, if account holders do not meet the minimum required, additional fees like monthly maintenance fee activate. Traditional banks still use fees like this and instead of helping, they are punishing people who do not have the ability to reach their minimum balance. Thankfully, there are new options out on the market that can help us choose an account that has none of the fees we mentioned so far and offer an account with no minimum balance. Online banking is becoming a big thing and it is constantly growing and improving. With mobile banking apps, support, easy to use interface and quality services, new systems are starting to become popular. To go with the tide, traditional banks have also implemented all of the above mentioned, but the thing that remains unchanged are the fees on which these banks so heavily rely on, and very few have a minimum balance requirement for opening a checking account, or off a free checking account with no minimum balance.

Let us compare some of the banks and see what they provide

Options for Wells Fargo Accounts:

Wells Fargo is one of the top 5 largest banks in the US. To open a checking account, you need $25 and there is a monthly maintenance fee of $10. There is a $35 overdraft fee when account has insufficient funds. There are some ways to waive the fees but be careful to read all of the rules on how to do this. One way to waive the monthly checking maintenance fee is the $1500 minimum daily balance and for a student, or someone with debt issues this is not an easy thing to do. There is one positive thing, Wells Fargo gives an option to avoid this fee if you are of age 17-24. The number of ATMs for Wells Fargo is 13,000, but you should always double check if there are ATMs near your home and the places you regularly visit. If this is not the case, you may end up paying an additional withdrawal fee of $3. As for international ATM fee, most of the banks including Wells Fargo have this set to $5 plus 3% from the transaction.

Options for Chase Banking and Checking Accounts:

Chase, one of the Big Four Banks, checking account has a $12 monthly checking maintenance fee and you need a $25 opening deposit. The overdraft fee is $34. With this account, you will have access to 16,000 ATMs connected to Chase checking. When using an ATM that is not from the Chase branch system, the fee is $2.50 and the international ATM is $5 and 3%. Similar to Wells Fargo, Chase offers options to waive the monthly maintenance fee. Consumers can do this by either making a direct deposit of $500 each month, or having a $1500 minimum daily balance, or having a $5000 combined on all your Chase qualifying accounts.

Banking Options for Bank of America:

Bank of America has similar options as Chase. It has 16,000 ATMs, $25 opening deposit and a $12 monthly maintenance fee. The monthly maintenance fee can be waived by making a direct deposit of $250 for each statement cycle, by having a $1500 minimum daily balance or by being a student under 24 years of age enrolled in college. The same as the previously mentioned banks, there is an overdraft fee of $35, a $2.50 ATM fee for using an ATM outside of the branch system and an international ATM fee of $5 and 3%.

Free Bank Account Options for Chime:

Last, we will look at the options for Chime. A Chime account is an online spending account with none of the fees mentioned above. It has no monthly maintenance fee and no minimum balance requirements. With Chime, you also get access to 38,000 fee-free MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. Chime has a $2.50 ATM fee when not using an ATM machine from its own branch, but this does not occur often. As mentioned above, Chime as many other banks has a great mobile app and search system. This helps find an ATM near you that you can safely use without the fear of getting charge for the service. In addition to this, Chime also has the largest number of ATMs free of fees and spread across the state so wherever you go, you do not need to worry. As for saving money with Chime, the system rounds up the change from every purchase and adds to the savings account, and you can opt for 10% of every paycheck to go to the savings account. We all know that it is a good feeling when we have an additional bundle of cash that we can spend on whatever we please every couple of months.

Banking Account Results

What we see listed above is that all of the traditional, large banks have a $25 opening deposit, $10 or higher monthly maintenance fee, $35 overdraft fee. They all have banking fees for using the ATM outside of its original bank that is either $2 or $3 and an international ATM fee of $5 and 3% of transaction value. As for the number of ATMs, that number is around 15,000. When we compare these stats to the free Chime account, we can see the clear picture. Chime has twice as many ATMs without fees, has no minimum deposit, no monthly maintenance fee, no overdraft fee. The Chime account does have a $2.50 ATM fee but with Chime, there is no international ATM fee. One thing we did not mention in the lists above is the fee for receiving a new card if you happen to lose one. All of the traditional banks have this fee set at $10, sometimes going as high as $25, but Chime issues a new card free of charge. Out of all mentioned above, Chime account is the only option with a checking account that is free. It does not matter if this is the first time you are opening an account or if you are switching to a new account because you were not satisfied. The only thing that is important is to get to know your facts before choosing so you can be certain that you made the best possible choice.

WHAT IS THE BEST CHECKING ACCOUNT OPTION?

It is understandable that things are not always black and white. What works for one group of people does not necessarily apply for another group. There are many examples of this. One person that has a high income and may not be burdened by debt and has no problem with choosing a traditional checking account because they can easily reach all of the requirements to have their fees waived. This way, they can even apply for special checking account programs that offer a lot of benefits with a decent interest rate. The problem is, not all of us have $100,000 just laying around and waiting to be placed in a checking account. So, if you are just starting with your financial independence, it is wise to consider a free account that is not full of so many fees and rules. These may end up complicating your balance if you miscalculate. Chime has a lot more pros when compared with other traditional banks and their systems, it erases all of the problems with online checking and banking advice given on saving money and it automatically saves you some extra cash when you make purchases. In conclusion, the best choice for someone searching for a checking account that is free of charges and has no minimum balance is the Chime account.

 

Best free checking accounts of 2019

Checking accounts

Most people use their checking account as a main tool to receive income, pay bills and make purchases. For many, it represents the foundation of personal finances. The checking account has a link to other financial accounts that people use for money transfers. What people tend to forget is the fact that in the beginning, most of the checking accounts were fee-free. However, this changed and today, account holders from almost every large bank face a hefty amount of fees. These fees cover monthly maintenance, overdraft, card replacement, ATM and international ATM transfers and many more. Here, we will cover the details of what makes a free-checking account free and explain how the banks are actually taking our money to give us our money. As strange as it sounds, this is the way banks function and that is why billions of dollars of profit are reported each year by those same banks just from fees alone. This article will research and compare several fee-free checking accounts that might look best and could be a good account option for the upcoming year of 2019.

Advantages of a free checking account

The banking system in the US currently seems to be using the old traditional ways of banking. Burdening the common consumer with unnecessary fees is one of the things banks do to increase their profit. The only way to avoid the fees is if you have thousands of dollars in your account. Because this is not acceptable to many people, there came a need for alternative ways people can use and manage their finances. Monthly maintenance, overdraft and many other fees are becoming outdated as free checking accounts are making their way to the market. These free checking accounts are designed to have zero fees and have no hidden charges or conditions that complicate your financial life. Some of the benefits provided by the traditional banking system are still tempting to people but after reviewing the terms and conditions, one might come to the realization that it is just not worth it. The need for a free checking account is real, and it is only a matter of time until these types of accounts replace the ones burdened with fees. If you are searching for an account that you can use for paying bills, receiving paychecks, transferring money across accounts, withdrawing cash from a large number of fee-free ATMs and receiving cash-back rewards from several thousands of locations without all the fees, then you need to read this article to examine the best available options.

Highest Annual percentage yield (APY)

Before we begin the comparison, it is important to mention APY and what it represents in the world of banking. You earn this interest by having money in your debit account, or in your savings account. It does require a bit of complex math to do the real calculations but the focus should be on one thing. If the APY is bigger, you earn more money. There are people who judge this as a valuable advantage for a bank, but truthfully, for a checking account, this is not very important. A checking account is a core structure for our in and out flow of cash. With it, we pay our expenses, we receive paychecks, so it is not exactly a main tool we would use to increase our financial balance. There are many different savings accounts and options where we can deposit our money and slowly watch it grow. Searching for a checking account that has the highest APY only makes sense if we can keep the balance on that card around $20000 or more. This means only a minority of people should actually pay attention to the highest APY while most should focus on which banks offer accounts with no fees or those with easily avoidable fees.

Bank offers for checking accounts in 2018

Let us look at options from several large US banks that offer for fee-free checking accounts. It is not rare to see that one bank offers two or even more checking accounts, each with unique specifications that a customer would need. Below, in the offers for Citibank and PNC, you can see that these are not completely free checking accounts but there are great benefits for elderly citizens, so take note if you are of age 62 or older and additionally, check on these two banks.

Chase

Based on the latest research from September 2018, Chase Total Checking Account gives customers many benefits. Because of the $12 monthly maintenance fee, it is not exactly free, but Chase Bank does offer ways to avoid this fee. For the bank to waive the fee, the account holder must have monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more made to this account or keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more in your checking account. One more way to waive this monthly maintenance fee is to keep an average daily balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of qualifying Chase checking, savings and other balances, but this implies that the person already has accounts affiliated with Chase. Pros for Chase are 5000+ physical branches, solid mobile app for banking online and a $200 sign up bonus. As for the ATMs, the 16000 ATMs does not sound bad, however, always check if there are ATMs available near your place of residence. The APY is low and similar to the rest of traditional banks so the chance to earn through interest with this account is not great.

BBVA Compass

The BBVA Compass ClearConnect Free Checking account has a minimum opening deposit of $25. There is no monthly maintenance fee, but to avoid the $3 fee for this service, be sure to opt out the Paper Statements. In addition, with this account you have access to over 55000 AllPoint and BBVA Compass ATMs worldwide so this would be a great choice if you are looking for a checking account with the most fee-free ATMs available.

The BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checking account is more suitable for customers who still need access to physical branches. Of course, this means they will be limited to only a portion of states as BBVA Compass has branches in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. This account has additional features that all come at a cost but if you choose to opt out, these features of your account will remain with no monthly fee. The number of fee-free ATMs you can use with this account is 12,000 but there is an option for opting to use non-network ATMs free. This comes with a price of $5 per month and returns us to a loop of paying money to get our money. Neither one of these offers any APY rates, so there is no ability to earn interest using the BBVA Compass free checking accounts.

Chime

One of the best free checking accounts available is the Chime account. It is widely popular with the generation that wants to do as much as they using their smartphones. It has great online banking options and easy to use mobile apps. With a Chime account, you actually have a checking account and a savings account. There is access to over 30,000 fee-free ATMs and there are over 30,000 cash-back locations you can use. The pros for Chime are numerous. There is no monthly maintenance fee, no minimum balance requirements, no overdraft fees and no minimum opening deposits. Same as the banks mentioned above, Chime provides a low APY of 0.01% for the saving account but as we mentioned before, this should come secondary when looking for an optimal fee-free checking account. Still, even without earning interest and increasing balance, Chime does have a way to help account holders to save through each purchase by rounding up the remaining cents to a dollar and sending them to a savings account. Additionally, there is a free option to transfer 10% of the paycheck to the savings account each month automatically. One more thing worth of mentioning is the ability to receive your paycheck up to 48 hours earlier.

PNC

The PNC Standard Checking account has a $7 monthly service fee, but if you can meet a certain requirement, you avoid this fee. These requirements include making a $500 amount in direct deposits per statement year, or has a $500 average monthly balance on the standard checking account; or if they are of age 62 or older. The overdraft fee is similar as other banks $36 and there is an option for overdraft protection but this feature comes at a price. When opening the standard account, there is a $25 dollars deposit. With this account, you have access to around 9000 ATMs from the PNC network that are fee-free so be sure to check if you live in a place where you can easily find an ATM machine connected to your bank.

Citibank

Citibank gives people an option to open a basic banking package called Simple Checking. This account has a $12 monthly service fee and there are three options to avoid it. To waive this fee, make one qualifying direct deposit and one qualifying bill payment per statement period, or maintain a $1500 combined average monthly balance in eligible linked accounts. The final option is to fulfill the 62+ age requirement. There is an overdraft fee of $34, but there is a $10 per month charge option to activate the overdraft protection system. Citibank has a large amount of ATMs all across the US and with close to 35,000 ATMs, there should be no problem in finding one.

Bank Checking Comparison

Chase Total Checking Account

Monthly service fee: $12 (none if you fulfill one of the needed requirements)

Overdraft fee: $34 (Chase will not charge this insufficient funds fee if the account balance at the end of the business day is overdrawn by $5 or less, and the overdraft fee can be avoided if the account holder makes a deposit or transfers funds to cover the overdraft before the business day ends)

Mobile app: iOS & android (rated good)

Minimum opening deposit: $25

Earn interest (APY): 0.01%

Access to ATMs: 16000 ATMs and 5000+ physical branches

The BBVA Compass ClearConnect Free Checking

Monthly service fee: none

Overdraft fee: $38 (there are overdraft safety measures but these all come at a price)

Mobile app: iOS & android (rated solid)

Minimum opening deposit: $25

Earn interest (APY): none

Access to ATMs: No ATM fees at 55,000 AllPoint and BBVA Compass ATMs worldwide

The BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checking

Monthly service fee: none

Overdraft fee: $38 (there are overdraft safety measures but these all come at a price)

Mobile app: iOS & android (rated solid)

Minimum opening deposit: $25

Earn interest (APY): none

Access to ATMs: 12000 BBVA Compass fee free ATMs (available option for $5 per month to use non-network ATMs)

Chime Account

Monthly service fee: none

Overdraft fee: none

Mobile app: iOS & android (rated excellent)

Minimum opening deposit: none

Earn interest (APY): 0.01%

Access to ATMs: 30,000 fee free ATMs (interesting to note that Chime will not charge for using an ATM out of its network, but there is chance the ATM service provider will)

PNC Standard Checking

Monthly service fee: $7 (waived if account holder meets one of the requirements)

Overdraft fee: $36 (price account holders can activate overdraft protection)

Mobile app: iOS & android (excellent for iOS, average for android)

Minimum opening deposit: $25

Earn interest: 0.01%

Access to ATMs: 9000 ATMs from PNC fee-free network

Citibank Simple Checking

Monthly service fee: $12 (waived if account holder meets one of the requirements)

Overdraft fee: $34 (option available to activate overdraft protection for $10 per month)

Mobile app: iOS & android (rated very good)

Minimum opening deposit: none

Earn interest: 0.01%

Access to ATMs: 3500 ATMs from the Citibank network (as mentioned above, special perks for elderly citizens ages 62 or older – no ATM fees for non-network transactions)

No Monthly Fee Results

From this, we can see that for the year 2018, there is a clear difference between traditional banks and their alternatives. More online banking accounts are becoming available and Chime is one of them. From the beginning, Chime stands out as an account with zero fees and no hidden charges. Compared to many others where you must meet loads of requirements, there are options that do not force us to calculate until our head starts to hurt. As time goes by, more and more free checking accounts will become available and in the future even traditional banks will have to turn to completely free checking accounts. For now, however, they are slowly starting to catch up to the new and improved banking systems. Among the online banking accounts, new options are appearing and will need to be researched further. For Chime, it is clear it has solidified a strong position in the world of online banking with no fees, which will continue into the next year where the Chime account will definitely remain in the top 10 free checking accounts.

Free Checking Comparison

For the comparison and choosing of the best option for a free checking account for the following year, we used several services that the banks provide for their checking accounts. We did however mention that some banks have special no banking fee offers for citizens that are age 62 or older but there are many more we did not mention. Bank offer these specific accounts that apply and provide benefits only for a selected group that do not represent the majority. Certain banks offer great bonuses and higher APY for local residents of a specific state or part of the state. Others offer possibilities to waive all fees for military veterans. Some even offer special treatments for those enlisted in certain colleges or have sport scholarships. To include all of these would complicate things and make the research impractical. It is already hard enough to determine which option is actually best for each individual, but with this comparison above, we can observe the pros and cons of alternative banking options compared to the traditional ones.

CHECKING ACCOUNTS CONCLUSION

Even though we are in an era of vast technological breakthroughs, there is still a large window for banking expansion and improvement. The banking system should be working for the people and not using tricks and hidden fees to take money from a person that chose it. Better options are arising, new financial systems are appearing and people are not limited to pick one out of only five existing national banks. Truth is, we can never be completely certain if we make a good choice, but if we do our research, we can lessen the damage. Always make sure you know what your priorities are and choose your account according to that. Pick the best bank account that suits you and always plan ahead. It is not the worst thing if you are not satisfied with your initial choice, the worst thing is not trying to correct the mistake. Just be careful not to switch to a new bank too soon as some of the large traditional banks like PNC still have a $25 fee for closing their account before the first 180 days from opening. Good luck!

Banking Services provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Chime and The Bancorp Bank, neither endorse nor guarantee any of the information, recommendations, optional programs, products, or services advertised, offered by, or made available through the external website ("Products and Services") and disclaim any liability for any failure of the Products and Services.