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Outgrown a Student Credit Card? Here Are 5 Worthy Upgrades for New Grads

Thanks to student credit cards, secured credit cards and a little something called “the authorized user,” plenty of college seniors will be graduating with some credit. And, if you’re one of them (you can check via your free credit report summary on Credit.com) you might want to consider a plastic upgrade.

Starter credit cards are great for building credit, but they don’t usually tout the best terms and even if there’s a $0 annual fee or base rewards program, that plastic likely carries a low credit limit — which might not help in case of an emergency or if you want to further boost your credit. (Remember, a low limit makes it harder to maintain a solid credit utilization rate — how much debt you’re carrying versus how much credit is available to you. For best scoring results, you’ll want to keep your charges below at least 30% and ideally 10% of your total credit limit.)

If you’ve outgrown your starter credit card, or think you’re about to, here are five credit cards worthy of your consideration.

1. Discover it — 18-Month Balance Transfer

Purchase APR: Variable 11.74% to 23.74%, depending on your credit

Annual Fee:  $0

Why You’ll Want to Consider it: Because the Discover it is a solid rewards credit card with some built-in training wheels. Cardholders get 6-months of 0% financing on purchases and a full 18-months 0% financing on balance transfers (the annual percentage rate after that will be a variable 11.74% to 23.74%, depending on your credit). There’s also no late fee for a first missed payment (which you should still avoid at all costs) and no penalty APR.

Plus, if you use your card right, you’ll earn some serious rewards. The Discover it offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in revolving bonus categories each quarter and 1% cash back everywhere else — plus, Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. And there’s an added bonus for new grads getting ready to move out of their parents’ house: Now through June, you can get 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases at home improvement stores.

2. The Citi Double Cash Card

Purchase APR: Variable 14.24% to 24.24%, depending on your credit

Annual Fee: $0

Why You’ll Want to Consider it: Rewards credit cards can be tricky. Points, miles and cash back are nice, but they can easily entice someone to overspend. Charge more than you can pay off each month and any interest you pay on the balance will wind up eating those rewards — and then some. But here’s the thing about the Citi Double Cash Card: It rewards you for paying the bills. Cardholders earn 1% cash back on purchases, then another 1% back when they pay that purchase off. That means you can earn a full 2% cash back on every dollar you spend, which is pretty tops for a cash back credit card, especially since there’s no annual fee. There’s also a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers for your first 18 months. (You’ll pay a variable 14.24% to 24.24% after that.)

3. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Purchase APR: Variable 24.99%

Annual Fee: $39

Why You’ll Want to Consider it: Available to people with average credit, the QuicksilverOne is a solid alternative for any new grad who had a credit misstep (or two) while they were in school. Yes, you’ll pay an annual fee ($39) and its 24.99% APR will sting if you wind up carrying a balance (expert intel: avoid carrying a balance), but you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. You’ll also have access to a higher credit limit after making your first monthly payments on time and receive a few ancillary benefits that’ll come in handy if you need to purchase some stuff for your first apartment. Those bennies include an extended warranty that doubles the original manufacturer warranty up to a maximum of 12 months on most purchases and price protection that reimburses you the difference in price on eligible items charged to the card if you find a lower price for the same item within 60 days of purchase (see card agreement for full details.)

Plus, if you use the card responsibly, you may be able to upgrade to the QuicksilverOne’s no-annual-fee big brother: the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card — which we’ve got a full review of right here.

4. Barclaycard Ring Card

Purchase APR: Variable 13.74%

Annual Fee: $0

Why You’ll Want to Consider it: If you’re worried about overspending for rewards, are looking for an in-case-of-emergency card or you need to make a big purchase soon that you might not be able to pay off right away, the no-frills, low-cost Barclaycard Ring Card will probably fit right into your wallet. There’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and no balance transfer fee. Plus, the card comes with a 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening — after which, you’ll pay a reasonable variable 13.74%. So, if you need to pick up a few necessities for your first apartment, this is the kind of card you’ll want to put those on. Not to mention the Barclaycard Ring lets cardholders drive: You’ll be invited to share your opinions and vote on product changes in Barclaycard Ring’s online community.

5. Citi Costco Anywhere Visa

Purchase APR: Variable 15.99%

Annual Fee: Technically $0, but you’ll need a Costco membership to apply — and that’ll cost you at least $55

Why You’ll Want to Consider it: Because the card offers big-time rewards on all the stuff you’ll be purchasing once you leave the nest. That includes 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on Costco and Costco.com purchases and 1% cash back everywhere else. Plus, there’s a 7-month 0% introductory purchase APR (after that, your APR will be a variable 15.99%). Of course, only Costco fans should apply: While the rewards are plentiful, they’re issued as an annual credit card reward certificate on February billing statements and are redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco stores.

Remember, no matter what credit card you choose, smart spending habits should apply. Sign up for alerts or set your bill to auto-pay so you never miss a payment, keep your balances low (or, ideally, pay them off in full) and avoid signing up for every credit card on the market that catches your eye — too many inquiries can damage your credit standing.

In the meantime, if you’re also looking for some new digs, we’ve got a rundown on the 19 mistakes college grads tend to make when looking for their first apartment that you’ll want to read. 

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

8 Money Moves to Make Before Baby Arrives

If you’re expecting a child, probably the last thing you need is another to-do list, but hear us out. Preparing yourself financially for a baby involves a slew of things. And, while we wouldn’t pretend to know what that means for each individual who is expecting, there definitely are a few major things that, if you can check them off your list before your baby comes, will make things a bit easier when the baby arrives.

Here are eight money moves an expectant parent should consider making.

1. Create the Perfect Registry

It might seem trivial to include this in a list of important financial things to do before your baby arrives, but trust me. Creating a registry full of items you’ll actually use and need, rather than items you just covet, will help in the long run. Don’t be afraid to put big-ticket items on there since many baby stores offer completion discounts on items that don’t get purchased.

2. Update Your Budget

This’ll probably elicit a big, fat “duh” from many would-be parents, but it’s worth a gentle reminder. Until you crunch some numbers, you have no idea how much baby might cost in those first few months, and that ominous “babies are so expensive!” catchphrase might play itself over and over in your mind. If you sit down and look at your budget, you could be pleasantly surprised.

In my case, looking at our preliminary budget for baby included making sure I had enough in savings (outside of our emergency fund) to cover maternity leave, since, as a freelancer, if I don’t work, I don’t make money. It also included researching what child care costs in our area and factoring that into our monthly fees after I went back to work. After that, we estimated some extra expenses for diapers and wipes. The surprising part came when we realized that, because of the generosity of others (see above regarding the perfect registry), we barely needed anything for the nursery or any clothes for our child’s first few months — and believe me when I say that was helpful.

3. Figure Out Your Kid’s Health Care

As much as this should be part of your regular budget, it deserves its own bullet point. If you haven’t already, you and your partner (if you have one) should figure out where health coverage for your child will come from. You’ll also need to consider how you’ll pay for immediate deductibles since you won’t be the only one to come out of your delivery with hospital bills. Your baby will have some, as well. Also, consider co-pays for the many doctor visitors your baby will make in the first few months. (Remember, unpaid medical bills can wind up hurting your credit. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

4. Start Thinking About Work

If you’re certain you want to go back to work, skip ahead to No. 5. If you’re less sure, think about what life as a stay-at-home parent might look like — both financially and emotionally — before baby comes. Once you’ve put together a new estimated budget and thought about how to provide your kid with health care, you might have a better idea of whether staying home with your kid is feasible.

5. Create a Will & Name a Guardian (or Guardians)

As uncomfortable a thought as it might be, it’s smart to put together a will and name a guardian for your child as soon as possible. Remember, you can always name two separate types of guardians — one who will physically watch over your child and one who will be in charge of their finances — if that’s better for your particular situation. You can find a primer on estate planning here.

6. Apply for Life Insurance

Getting a life insurance policy is right up there with creating a will when it comes to unsavory topics, but again, it’s the responsible thing to do. A life insurance policy will ensure your child is taken care of financially should something happen to you, and the peace of mind that provides can be valuable.

7. Start Thinking About College

Even if you don’t set up a college savings account before your baby is born, it helps to start considering if, and how much, you’ll pay towards your child’s college education. Remember, saving for your kid for college should never detract from your own retirement savings — after all, loans are available for college, but not for retirement. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to considering your kid’s college plans, check out this piece about whether or not a 529 might be right for you.

8. Make a List of Things You’ll Need to Do After Baby Is Born

There are a few important financial things you won’t be able to take care of until after your baby is born because you’ll need things like the birthdate and Social Security number. It’s a good idea to make that list prior to your baby’s arrival, though, since things afterwards can get hectic (and sleepy). Updating your beneficiaries, for example, is something you’ll likely want to include.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

10 Biggest Scams Of The Year

MoneyTips

It all looks so obvious in hindsight. Make a $500 deposit and your money will grow 18% in 10 days. You can receive a $1,500 loan by MoneyGram if you pay $170 for fees and insurance. A driveway sealer happens to be driving by and offers to coat your driveway for a low price. You deposit a check and are requested to send a portion of it back by wire transfer. Eventually, after you realize you've been had, you say to yourself, "What was I thinking?" It's easy to let your guard down and be caught by the above scams, all of which were reported by real victims in the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker Risk Report. BBB uses a "Scam Risk Index" to calculate the top ten most risky scams. The index combines the exposure to a scam, susceptibility to a scam, and the monetary risk involved. The top 5 2016 scams in order are: home improvement scams fake check/money orders fake employment online purchases fra...

10 Biggest Scams Of The Year

MoneyTipsIt all looks so obvious in hindsight. Make a $500 deposit and your money will grow 18% in 10 days. You can receive a $1,500 loan by MoneyGram if you pay $170 for fees and insurance. A driveway sealer happens to be driving by and offers to coat your driveway for a low price. You deposit a check and are requested to send a portion of it back by wire transfer. Eventually, after you realize you've been had, you say to yourself, "What was I thinking?" It's easy to let your guard down and be caught by the above scams, all of which were reported by real victims in the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker Risk Report. BBB uses a "Scam Risk Index" to calculate the top ten most risky scams. The index combines the exposure to a scam, susceptibility to a scam, and the monetary risk involved. The top 5 2016 scams in order are: home improvement scams fake check/money orders fake employment online purchases fraudulent loans charging "advance" fees. Rounding out the top ten are: investment scams fake romances false tech support demands (such as fake on-screen computer warnings demanding payment) alleged emergencies by friends/family the classic fake sweepstakes prize. Your best defense against these swindles is staying alert for typical signals and applying common sense. Personal Finance Authors David Auten and John Schneider, aka The Debt Free Guys, provide two useful guides: "If their offer is too good to be true, there's a good chance that it probably is...if there is an upfront fee then there is a good chance that it's a scam as well." The use of wire transfers, prepaid cards, and any other form of payment that lacks traceability or protection is another danger sign. Scammers have generally done their homework, so it's important to do homework on them as well. Recognize the common signs: a sense of urgency or panic, a time-limited "good deal" allegedly based on chance or opportunity, money required up-front without anything more tangible than promises in exchange, untraceable payment methods, and unwillingness to go into detail about who they are and what they represent. Meanwhile, it's wise to take steps to limit the amount of information scammers have on you. If you don't protect your personal information through strong passwords, encryption, and limited use of open computers or public Wi-Fi hot spots, scammers will have enough information about you to make a background story sound convincing — or they may just skip the scam altogether and move to outright theft through identity fraud. Why convince you to give them money when they can just take it for themselves? Tax ID fraud is a growing symptom of this disease. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate.com, notes that once thieves have enough of your information to file a form, "they file a tax return very quickly, claim a bogus refund under your name, and then when you go to file your legitimate tax return before the tax deadline, it gets rejected." Along with keeping your information private, McBride suggests filing your return as soon as possible to beat scammers to the punch. If you would like to prevent identity theft, try our credit monitoring service. Any form of identity theft can do massive damage to your accounts before you realize it. "In order to avoid identity theft or prevent it", says LaTisha Styles, Millennial Finance Expert and Founder of Financial Success Media, LLC, "It's important to keep an eye on your credit report." If you suspect you may be vulnerable and don't plan to open a new credit account soon, Styles suggest placing a credit freeze on your account so nobody can open a fraudulent account in your name. Vigilance is the key to protecting yourself against scams and theft. Scammers are looking for the slightest hint of vulnerability to attack. Make it hard for scammers to fool you, and they will seek easier victims. It's analogous to the old story of two hikers being chased by a bear: "I don't have to outrun the bear; I just have to outrun you." If you would like to monitor your credit to prevent identity theft and see your credit reports and scores, check out our credit monitoring service. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/SteveLukerOriginally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/10-biggest-scams-of-the-year/605What Identity Thieves Do With Stolen Credit CardsHow To Set Up A Credit FreezeCredit Freeze vs. Fraud Alert

Wedding Gone Wrong? Insurance Could Help Set Things Right

When Dan Gerecht bought a wedding insurance policy for his daughter Yvonne’s big day last year, he did it because the event was scheduled during hurricane season and he was worried that weather might force them to cancel.

But it turned out the Gerechts needed the policy for a different reason: The venue, the Winery at Elk Manor in North East, Maryland, shut down just two months before Yvonne’s 2016 Labor Day wedding, Gerecht says. They found themselves scrambling for a new location — and out the $30,000 Gerecht had already paid to Elk Manor.

Vendors who can’t fulfill contracts are the most common cause of wedding insurance claims. Here’s how insurance can help.

Wedding disaster No. 1: Vendor fails

Vendor issues, like the venue going out of business, make up 30% of wedding insurance claim dollars — the largest share — paid by Travelers Insurance. Wedding insurance policies will often reimburse you if you have to book a last-minute vendor or reschedule the wedding if a vendor backs out.

Gerecht says he was tipped off that something was awry when the caterer emailed and told him the venue hadn’t paid as promised. Fortunately, the $355 policy he’d bought from Travelers covered the venue closing.

Wedding insurance “is such a small cost compared to what you could lose if something goes wrong,” says Anne Chertoff, wedding trends expert at WeddingWire.

The Gerechts were lucky; they found another venue for the same day. “Some families sued [the venue], but thankfully we didn’t have to” because we had wedding insurance, Gerecht says.

Wedding disaster No. 2: Someone gets injured

Weddings are fun. Often they’re so much fun that someone gets hurt. If there’s an injury at your wedding, you could be held liable — and that’s what wedding liability insurance is for. Wedding liability insurance is typically a separate policy from cancellation insurance, though they can be purchased in a bundle.

“As you might expect, we do see many injuries that occur on the dance floor,” says Steve Lauro, vice president at Aon Affinity, parent company of WedSafe, a seller of wedding insurance. Among claims to WedSafe, 28% are for injuries or accidents that occur at weddings.

In some cases, you could also be held liable if someone drinks too much and causes an accident. Liquor liability coverage may be sold as add-on coverage for wedding liability policies or included at no charge.

» MORE: Life Insurance for married couples

Wedding disaster No. 3: Extreme weather

When you’re booking the venue months beforehand, you cross your fingers and hope for good weather. Of wedding claims to Travelers, 16% of dollars paid out are due to extreme weather.

Coverage typically doesn’t include a rain shower or a blustery day that might ruin your party’s updos, because the wedding can still go on. But if there’s a tornado, hurricane or other destructive weather that prevents guests or vendors from arriving, a cancellation policy pays for costs to reschedule.

Wedding disaster No. 4: Medical emergency in the family

If someone close to you gets sick or injured right before your wedding, the last thing you want to worry about is the money lost canceling or rescheduling the event.

If the bride, groom, their parents or someone in the wedding party is sick or injured shortly before the wedding and can’t make it, cancellation policies typically cover the costs to reschedule. These represented about 6% of wedding cancellation claims to WedSafe in 2016, Lauro says.

» MORE: Cost of raising a child tops $260,000 — just for basics

Wedding disaster No. 5: Lost or ruined attire

Attire represents just 2% of wedding claim dollars paid by Travelers. However, tuxes and gowns are such an important part of weddings that they are commonly included in wedding cancellation policies.

Avoiding vendor issues

Chertoff recommends getting references from recent weddings that vendor has done and asking the references what their experiences were like.

Lauro recommends that you get all agreements in writing, read contracts thoroughly and check vendors on the Better Business Bureau.

Gerecht says the wedding insurance policy “was a great investment.” And he’s already purchased another one: He has another daughter getting married this year.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today. Lacie Glover is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lacie@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LacieWrites.

State Of Credit 2016 (Infographic)

MoneyTipsHow does your credit score measure up? According to Experian, the average credit score is 673, up 4 points from 2015 to last year. The infographic above shows the highlights of Experian’s latest report, including a comparison of the average credit profiles for each generation, and a list of the cities with the best and the worst credit scores in the nation. See where you rank; you can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. To learn more about credit, download our free eBook, Give yourself Credit.Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/state-of-credit-2016-infographicCan Landlords Really Check Your Credit?Errors On Credit Reports Widely ReportedVideo: The Many Ways Your Credit Score Matters

State Of Credit 2016 (Infographic)

MoneyTips

How does your credit score measure up? According to Experian, the average credit score is 673, up 4 points from 2015 to last year. The infographic above shows the highlights of Experian’s latest report, including a comparison of the average credit profiles for each generation, and a list of the cities with the best and the worst credit scores in the nation. See where you rank; you can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. To learn more about credit, download our free eBook, Give yourself Credit.

Luxury retailer Jimmy Choo up for sale 

Luxury retailer Jimmy Choo is on the market.

>> Read more trending news 

The BBC reports the high-end shoe brand is seeking offers, but has not yet received any bids. 

Jimmy Choo believes a sale would “maximize ... value for its shareholders,” a company statement said Monday.

Right now, the British brand has a market value of nearly $900 million and operates more than 150 stores worldwide. 

According to Business Insider, its shares slumped last summer, but have since rebounded, increasing 35 percent over the last year.

JAB Holdings Inc., a long-term investment company, currently holds 68 percent of Jimmy Choo. While it is “supportive of the process,” it also said there is “no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer will be made.”

JAB Holdings, which also holds ownership in Krispy Kreme and Caribou Coffee, purchased Panera Bread earlier this month.

>> Related: Krispy Kreme owner buys Panera Bread for $7 billion

Jimmy Choo was co-founded in 1996 by former “Vogue” editor Tamara Mellon and Choo, who once worked for Princess Diana.

The brand received global attention after its shoes appeared in films “Sex and the City” and “The Devil Wears Prada.”

A single pair of Jimmy Choo shoes can sell for more than $1,000.

Traditional retailers have faced recent tough times. Many iconic brands, from Bebe to Ralph Lauren, are closing stores and taking other drastic measures to stay afloat. Department stores, including Macy’sSears, and J.C. Penney, are shuttering mall locations nationwide. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett blamed the trend in part on the rise in popularity of e-commerce companies, such as Amazon.

>> Related: Wet Seal closing all stores

>> Related: Payless ShoeSource to close 400 stores, files for bankruptcy

Nintendo’s NES Classic on sale at Best Buy for Monday only

Best Buy announced Sunday that it will sell Nintendo's NES Classic for one day only on Monday.

The game system has been discontinued by Nintendo, and Best Buy says it has only “limited quantities” available for sale.

According to the chain, customers can buy only one NES Classic, and it is on a first come, first-served basis. There will be a ticketing system for those who are waiting in line when the stores open. There will be only as many tickets as there are games, the chain said.

The NES Classic was released last year and has a retro game unit look. It sold for $60.

You can find out when your local Best Buy opens by clicking here.

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