11 Best Hotel Booking Apps of 2021 – Get Cheap Deals on Rooms

You have more choices than ever when it comes to booking hotels. And using a hotel booking app can help save you time, hassle, and money when planning your next trip. Here are the apps you should download for your next trip.

Independent Hotel Booking Apps

Independent apps are not affiliated with a specific hotel brand or chain. Instead, they aggregate options across a range of hotel chains and independently owned accommodations to provide you with a bevy of choices. Here are the heavy hitters among independent booking apps.

1. Booking.com

Arguably the most popular website for reserving accommodations, Booking.com has a robust, easy-to-use app that deserves a spot on your smartphone. One of its best features is the sheer number of options it offers, including accommodations in off-the-beaten-path locations around the world.

If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, the app makes it easy to view the address of your hotel in the local language. If you need to show a taxi or Uber driver where you’re headed, you can simply pull it up in the app and point.

Finally, the interface makes it easy to see all past, current, and future trips, and it highlights any loyalty discounts you’re eligible for at properties across the globe.

2. Hotels.com

Another major player in the online booking space, Hotels.com includes hundreds of thousands of properties in more than 200 countries and territories. One of the perks users like most about Hotels.com is that you get one night free for every 10 nights you book through it.

Redeeming reward nights incurs a $5 charge if you use the website to book. However, if you use the app to make a reward booking, you won’t be charged this fee. The app also lets you view or modify current reservations and view your reward progress toward free nights.

3. Priceline

Priceline was established in 1997 and is one of the longest-running hotel booking sites. The website is popular for its “Name Your Own Price” feature, which is now also available on the app.

You can book hotels, flights, rental cars, and even cruises through the Priceline app with a tap of your finger. The app includes exclusive discounts and promotions on hotels not found on the website. Priceline focuses on offering deeply discounted prices on travel but does not include a rewards or loyalty program.

4. Expedia

If you enjoy playing the travel rewards game and want to see just how steeply discounted a rate you can find, Expedia is the app for you. It often features exclusive app-only deals like double rewards points and extra discounts that may not be available on the Expedia website. You can also use the app to book other Expedia services like flights, rental cars, tickets, and tours.

5. HotelsCombined

A relative newcomer to the accommodation aggregate world, HotelsCombined sets itself apart from the rest in a few ways. It offers tons of pictures of potential hotels, which appeals to people who want to know exactly what they’re getting into when booking a room. It also has a “Price Alert” feature that lets you sign up for an email notification when a room you’re interested in drops in price by 10% or more. If there’s a specific hotel you want to stay in and you can plan ahead, this feature might be just the ticket for scoring a great deal.

Hotel Booking Apps For Last-Minute Deals

According to Business Insider, hotels have an average occupancy of about 65%. That means 35% of their rooms go unused each night. There are apps that take advantage of this fact, offering these vacant rooms for far less than their list price. If you enjoy the thrill of booking your nights’ accommodation at the eleventh hour, or if you need a place to stay in a strange city on the fly, these apps have you covered.

6. HotelTonight

Perhaps your Airbnb host cancels your reservation the day of your arrival, or you miss your flight and the first available connection isn’t until the next day. With HotelTonight on your phone, you can book a hotel for the same evening or up to seven days in advance.

HotelTonight aggregates a city’s empty hotel rooms in one place, and you can book one for up to 50% off the full price. Deals through the app go live at noon each day, and in some cities, you may have thousands of hotel rooms to choose from across multiple price points. The app is user-friendly and has a tiered loyalty program called HT Perks, which can net you even better rates the more loyalty credits you accrue. Even better, those loyalty points never expire.

7. One Night

If flying by the seat of your pants when you travel sounds appealing, One Night is the app for you. Using the One Night app, you can book a reservation only after 12pm for the same day in a select number of cities. Once you book a night, you can extend your accommodations for up to seven days.

The thing that sets One Night apart from other last-minute booking apps is that when you select your hotel, the app gives you hour-by-hour suggestions for fun, quirky things to do in your destination city. If you like to travel like a local, this is the app for you.

Hotel Chain Apps

If you take advantage of travel loyalty programs, it’s smart to have the app of your preferred hotel on your smartphone. With these apps, you can skip the line, choose your room, and unlock other member perks with ease.

8. Marriott

Marriott boasts more than 6,700 hotels in 130 countries. That means 1 out of every 15 hotel rooms in the world is owned by the Marriott group. So you definitely won’t be starved for choices if you book accommodations on the Marriott app.

Once you make your booking, you can request upgrades and late checkouts right from your phone. You can also request extras for your room, like a hair dryer or extra towels, from the app. If you frequently stay at Marriott or any of its 30 brands of hotel properties for work or play, keep this app on your phone.

9. Hilton Honors

If you’re a Hilton Honors devotee, you’ll love the app feature that everyone raves about: getting to choose your exact room ahead of time. At many hotels ,you can see a map of the property and pick the room you want via the app. This is especially popular with travelers who have a particular preference, such as a high floor with a view or distance from the elevator, or who want to be near a specific amenity like the pool or fitness center.

The app also has a digital key feature, so you can use your smartphone to unlock the door to your room at select properties. Finally, being able to check out of your room at the end of your stay via the app means you won’t be stuck in line at the front desk during checkout.

10. Hyatt

After a relaunch in August 2019, Hyatt’s mobile app, called World of Hyatt after their rewards program, is up and running with better functionality than the previous version. Among its features are the ability to stream personal entertainment content through the TV in your room with Chromecast, unlock your room door with your phone, and contact the hotel directly in real time through a new chat function both before and during your stay. You can view your progress toward rewards and see any points they’ve earned with previous stays at a Hyatt property.

11. IHG

Shorthand for InterContinental Hotels Group, IHG has almost 6,000 hotels across the world. Its app encourages customers to book travel directly with the chain instead of using a third-party site. It does this by offering a member-exclusive rate with savings of 3% on average if you book directly.

The app also features special rewards offers and discounts and lets you view your points balance toward a free or discounted stay. In addition to a user-friendly interface, the app also has a travel tools section with neighborhood guides and maps. Finally, it offers a white noise feature in case you don’t sleep well in hotels or suffer from insomnia.

Final Word

If you enjoy hunting out the best hotel deal to save money on vacation, or if you like racking up loyalty points you can trade in for free nights and other perks, it pays to download the above apps to your smartphone. From skipping the line at check-in to maximizing your savings to simply being able to view the property ahead of time, using hotel booking apps is an easy, free way to be a savvy traveler.

What’s your favorite hotel booking app? Why?

Source: moneycrashers.com

8 Ways to Save Money on Magazine Subscriptions

Even in the digital age, magazines have something to offer. They provide a weekly or monthly deep dive into a topic that interests us — something we can’t get from a quick skim of our Facebook feeds.

And we have thousands of magazines to choose from. From science to sports to celebrity gossip, there are choices in every category and for every demographic, including magazines for kids.

The biggest downside of magazines is their cost. The cost per issue is significantly lower with a subscription than it is when you simply grab a magazine off the newsstand, but it still isn’t trivial.

At Discount Magazines, subscription prices for popular magazines range from around $1.50 to $5 per issue. Some weekly magazines cost as much as $190 per year.

Ways to Spend Less on Magazine Subscriptions

If you’re trying to save money on a tight budget, your first impulse might be to slash out all unnecessary “extras,” including magazine subscriptions. But cutting your budget to the bone this way can actually backfire by causing frugal fatigue.

A much better idea is to find ways to enjoy your favorite magazines for less.

1. Ask the Publisher

The first place to look for a better deal on your favorite magazine is with the publisher. For instance, many magazine publishers charge you significantly less per issue if you subscribe for more than one year.

This is a good way to save on a favorite magazine you know you’ll want to keep reading for at least a couple of years. Check your renewal notice or the little subscription cards tucked inside the magazine for offers.

Another way to save is to call up the subscription office and negotiate the price. If you’ve been subscribing to the same magazine for several years, you’re probably paying quite a bit more now for your subscription than you did when you first signed up.

Magazine publishers tend to offer their best rates to new subscribers in the hope they’ll get hooked on their content. They pay less attention to long-term subscribers because they assume they’re committed already.

However, you don’t always have to be a new reader to get the introductory rate. In many cases, all you have to do is call and ask to have your old rate reinstated.

This strategy tends to work best if your subscription is up for renewal, since you can threaten to cancel if you don’t get the cheaper rate. There’s a good chance the publisher will give it to you rather than risk losing your business.

To give yourself this leverage, make sure not to sign up for the “auto-renew” option when you first subscribe to a magazine. If you do, your automatic renewal will likely come with the highest possible rate.

2. Seek Daily Deals

From time to time, daily deal websites such as Groupon and LivingSocial offer magazine subscriptions at extraordinarily low rates. You can save as much as 90% off the regular price for a one-year subscription.

Typically, you can find deals on only a few magazines at any given time. You probably won’t be able to snag discounts on your particular favorites the first time you look.

However, if you check these sites regularly, you can spot deals on the magazines you love as soon as they pop up and snap them up before they disappear.

3. Use Your Rewards

If you use rewards programs and apps such as Swagbucks or Ibotta, you can often cash in rewards for magazine subscriptions. You can earn rewards points from these programs in a variety of ways, including shopping online, searching the Web, taking surveys, or even playing games.

Since many of these are things you’d do anyway, you might as well earn your way to a free magazine subscription at the same time.

You can cash in rewards from other sorts of programs for magazines as well. For instance, some credit card rewards programs allow you to redeem your points for a magazine subscription.

And if you’ve earned a bunch of frequent flyer miles you haven’t had a chance to use, you can visit MagsForMiles to exchange them for a magazine subscription. The site accepts unused miles from multiple major airlines: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, Spirit, and United.

4. Check Magazine Discounters

The subscription price listed on the little cards inside the magazine or on the magazine’s website isn’t necessarily the best price you can get. There are various outlets that sell magazine subscriptions at discounted rates.

Sites to check include Magazines.com, Discount Magazines, DiscountMags.com, and Magazine Values.

If you don’t want to check all those sites individually, you can save some time by going to Magazine Price Search. This site doesn’t sell magazines directly. Instead, it compares subscription prices from a dozen magazine sellers and tells you where you find the lowest rate.

It’s also sometimes possible to find magazine deals on Amazon and eBay. However, some users warn to use caution when ordering from eBay or smaller online sellers, which can take six to eight weeks to process a magazine order.

If your magazine doesn’t arrive as promised when that time period is up, it’s usually too late to cancel the charges on your credit card. Still, if the price is low enough, it can be worth the risk.

5. Look for Free Offers

Discounted subscriptions are great, but free ones are even better.

The discount site ValueMags has a whole page devoted to the most special deal of all: subscriptions of up to a year long for absolutely no cost. Most of these free offers are for digital versions of a magazine, but occasionally you’ll find one for a print subscription.

Of course, like many things that are “free,” these subscriptions come with a catch. To get them, you have to sign up for promotional emails from the website.

If you actually want to receive emails offering discounts on magazines and various other products, that’s not a downside. But if you don’t, it’s up to you to decide whether the free subscription is worth its cost in spam email.

Another site that offers free subscriptions is FreeBizMag. All the magazines here are specialty publications focused on specific professions, from education to beverage manufacturing. These can be useful for business owners, but they’re not of much interest to the general public.

The site also provides access to free research reports and e-books. Along with reports on specific businesses, there’s some general-interest material here, such as shopping guides.

6. Go Digital

Part of what makes magazines expensive is the cost of printing and mailing them. Publishers can avoid these costs by releasing their magazines in digital form, and they pass on these savings to customers.

So, if there’s a magazine you love but don’t love the price of, check to see if there’s a digital version of it you can view on your phone or tablet. If there is, you can probably save a nice chunk of change by switching your subscription from pages to pixels.

Digital magazines have other perks besides their lower price. For instance, because they don’t have to go through the mail, they’re likely to be delivered sooner than a paper copy. They can also include extra features, such as links to videos, that a printed magazine doesn’t have.

Another nice feature of digital files is they’re easier to search. You can just type in a keyword to look for specific topics or terms that interest you. It’s also easier to bookmark a digital article for future reference than it is to tear some pages out of a printed magazine and try to find a place to store them where they won’t get lost.

As a final perk, subscribing to a magazine in digital form saves paper. This makes it a way for you to save money while going green.

7. Swap With Friends

Do you have a friend or neighbor who subscribes to all the same magazines as you? Do you love getting together and discussing the articles from the latest issue? If so, you can do more than just chat about your favorite magazines — you can share your actual subscriptions.

For instance, suppose you both read two magazines every month: Better Homes & Gardens and Family Handyman. In that case, you could decide to drop your subscription to Better Homes & Gardens and keep Family Handyman, while your neighbor does the opposite.

When you get your copy of Family Handyman each month, you read it first and then pass it on to your neighbor, who gives you the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens in exchange. Each of you gets to read your two favorite magazines while only paying for one of them.

Another way to share your magazine subscriptions is to start a magazine swap at your workplace.

Choose a central location, such as the break room, to drop off copies of your magazines when you’re done reading them. Then encourage all your coworkers to do the same. You’ll get access to your own magazines and all the ones your coworkers read as well, at no extra cost.

If you commute to work by bus or train, you can even set up a magazine swapping station at the local bus or train station.

Just put out a small box or rack labeled “Take one, leave one” and use it to drop off the magazines you’re done with instead of tossing them in the recycling bin. Other passengers will get to enjoy your old magazines during their commute, and you can hopefully pick up the ones they leave behind.

8. Visit a Library or Bookstore

If you only tend to read through a magazine once before discarding it, maybe you don’t need your own subscription at all. If your local library subscribes to your favorite magazines, you can simply read them there.

Usually, there are comfy chairs and couches to sit in, so you can stop in and curl up with a magazine whenever you have a free hour.

Many bookstores also allow you to peruse their magazine offerings to your heart’s content without paying. Here, too, there are often cozy chairs to sit in as you read. Some bookstores even have cafes, so you can enjoy a snack or a drink to go with your reading material.

The one catch with this strategy is that you can’t take the magazines home. You can only stop in to browse through them when the store or library is open. This isn’t much help if you like to spend a few minutes paging through a magazine to decompress before bed.

However, there are ways around this problem too. For instance, libraries typically keep only the two or three most recent issues of a magazine on their racks and discard the older issues. If you ask, there’s a good chance the library will let you take these back issues home rather than simply tossing them in the bin.

Some libraries also provide digital access to the magazines they subscribe to, so you can download them to read on your tablet or e-reader.

Final Word

When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, even a few extra dollars a month for a magazine is sometimes more than your budget can handle. If you’re in that situation, you may have no choice but to let your magazine subscriptions lapse for a while.

Painful as it can be to give up your celebrity gossip or sports coverage, giving up on being debt-free would hurt even more.

Fortunately, dropping your subscriptions doesn’t have to mean giving up your favorite reads entirely.

You can browse through them at the library or borrow them from friends and neighbors. You can also get some content for free on the magazines’ websites. These freebies can tide you over until your budget loosens up and you’re able to subscribe again.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Blanket Mortgage Loans – Definition, Pros & Cons of Using for Real Estate

For real estate investors, juggling multiple property deals and loans can get complicated.

Blanket loans often help simplify matters. Borrowers take out a single loan to cover multiple properties.

Even so, blanket loans come with their own quirks and have their pros and cons. Before entering into a blanket loan as an investor, make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

What Is a Blanket Loan?

A blanket loan is simply one loan that attaches to several real estate investment properties.

For example, if you buy a portfolio of five properties, a blanket loan allows you to take out one mortgage that covers all five buildings. The lender attaches a lien against each property, so if you default on your loan, the lender can foreclose on all five properties to recover their money.

Lenders do typically include a release clause, allowing the borrower to sell individual properties held as collateral as part of a blanket loan. However, they require the borrower to either repay a portion of the loan at the time of sale or put the money toward another investment. The lender then attaches a lien to the new investment property as a replacement for the sold collateral property.

That keeps their collateral — your remaining properties secured by the blanket loan — sufficient to cover their loan risk.

Who Takes Out Blanket Loans?

Blanket mortgages are exclusively for real estate investors and developers, not homeowners.

Investors can use blanket loans in many ways to invest in real estate. Landlords can take out a blanket mortgage to buy a portfolio of turnkey rental properties, as outlined above. Flippers could do likewise, to buy several fixer-uppers to renovate and flip, all with one loan. As they sell off properties, they typically repay a proportion of their loan.

Real estate developers use blanket loans to buy large swaths of land that they plan to subdivide into many units. As they build and sell off those units, they can either repay portions of the loan or put the money toward adding more properties to the portfolio.

Businesses with multiple locations and commercial properties can also use blanket loans. That could mean refinancing multiple existing loans into one blanket loan, or using a blanket loan to buy several new locations in one sweep.

When You Should Use a Blanket Mortgage

As touched on above, you can either use a blanket loan at the time of purchase or you can refinance to consolidate multiple mortgages into one loan.

It makes sense to use a blanket loan at the time of purchase if you plan to buy multiple properties simultaneously. You may also be able to negotiate staggered funding if you buy multiple properties in rapid succession but not quite simultaneously.

Another possibility with blanket mortgages includes buying only one new property, but securing the loan against other properties you own for additional collateral. Real estate investors sometimes do this in lieu of making a down payment on the new property.

For example, say you own a property worth $100,000, but you only owe $50,000 on it. You want to buy another property for $100,000, and the lender demands a $20,000 down payment.

Rather than cough up the $20,000 in cash, you offer your existing property as additional collateral for the new mortgage loan. The lender agrees to fund the full $100,000 for you to buy your new property, but puts liens on both properties. They now hold the first (and only) lien against your new property, and they have a second lien against your old property.

Advantages of Blanket Loans

Blanket mortgages come with several upsides for real estate investors.

To begin with, they can save on lender fees and settlement costs by holding one combined closing rather than having to pay separately for several. Lenders charge flat fees in addition to points, and those flat fees add up quickly. Title companies also charge many flat fees for each closing. With blanket loans, borrowers can pay those flat fees once, rather than at each settlement.

Aside from saving money, combining financing for several properties into one loan can also keep your finances and cash flow simpler. Rather than keeping track of 20 mortgage payments and loans, you need only track one or two.

When buying new properties, blanket mortgages can potentially reduce or eliminate your down payment if you use equity from an existing property for a cross-collateralized loan. Consider it one more way to pull equity out of your properties — and one that doesn’t require a totally separate settlement with its attendant costs.

Larger loans often mean more negotiating room for you as the borrower as well. Lenders don’t need to charge as many points on a $1 million loan to make it worth their while, compared to five $200,000 loans. Similarly, borrowers can often negotiate lower interest rates as well.

Downsides of Blanket Loans

Blanket mortgages come with their share of risks and disadvantages.

To begin with, it can be hard to find lenders that offer these loans. Up to this point in your real estate investing career, you may have established relationships with two or three lenders — none of whom might offer blanket loans. That forces you to go out and build new relationships with lenders who do.

Expect more intensive scrutiny by the lender for these larger, more complex loans. Rather than using a garden variety underwriter, bank managers might underwrite these larger loans themselves. Lenders might ask more probing questions and require more extensive documentation and paperwork from you. They may require higher credit scores than their typical loan products.

Blanket loans often come with shorter loan terms than traditional mortgage loans. Rather than the 25- or 30-year loan terms you’re used to, lenders often limit blanket loans to 10 to 15 years. That could come in the form of a balloon payment, or the loan could be entirely amortized over those 10 to 15 years. In the case of short-term amortization, that means higher monthly payments.

Finally, blanket loans pool your risk for many properties into a single loan. If you default on that loan, you could lose all the properties secured by it to foreclosure, not just one. In contrast, if you hold separate loans for each property, in a crisis you could isolate your losses to one property as long as you can afford to make your other monthly payments.

Where You Can Borrow Blanket Loans

Conventional mortgage lenders don’t typically allow blanket loans. Commercial lenders, portfolio lenders — who keep loans on their own books rather than selling them — and hard money lenders often do allow them.

Make no mistake, these lenders usually charge more than your personal home mortgage lender. But they also allow far more flexibility, and as a real estate investor, that flexibility is often necessary.

Call up your local community banks to ask whether they offer blanket loans for real estate investors. You can also reach out to portfolio lenders such as Lending Home and Rental Home Financing to inquire about them. For commercial loans, make sure you choose a commercial lender, because even many portfolio lenders only handle residential (single-family and 2-4 unit multifamily) properties.

Word to the wise: start building these connections now, before you actually have a time-sensitive deal on the line. Real estate investors need to be able to move fast and close deals quickly, else they risk losing the deal entirely.

Final Word

The average mom-and-pop property owner with a couple units on the side of their full-time job will probably never need to take out large blanket loans. But for real estate developers and full-time real estate investors, blanket loans can help them scale their investment portfolios faster and cheaper.

Start expanding your network of lenders now, before you have a hot deal at risk of falling through. Think in terms of building a financing toolkit of many different options for buying your next investment property — or portfolio of properties.

Source: moneycrashers.com

14 Target Shopping Tips & Tricks to Save Money (Online & In-Store)

Target is one of the top 50 companies by revenue in the United States, and the retail giant has been following its “Expect More, Pay Less” slogan since 1994. If you’re a member of the 75% of U.S. households that live within 10 miles of a Target, you probably do a fair amount of shopping at Target as well.

Shopping at Target is a convenient way to enjoy a massive selection at great prices. And if you want to take your frugality one step further to really save money on groceries and household essentials, a number of Target hacks can help cut down on your spending.

Ways to Save Money at Target

Be sure to use at least one of the following Target money-saving tips on your next shopping trip to help keep more money in your wallet.

1. Sign Up for a Target REDcard

The most powerful option shoppers have to save money at Target is signing up for the Target REDcard Debit Card or Target REDcard Credit Card.

Target wants shoppers to visit its stores. So it offers two generous rewards cards that make shopping in-store and online even more affordable.

The Target REDcard Debit and Credit cards are fairly similar and provide the following perks:

  • No Annual Fees. Neither version of the Target REDcard has an annual membership cost or hidden fees, making them the perfect tools for frequent or occasional shoppers to save money at Target.
  • Great Discount Rate. Both cards grant 5% off most in-store and online Target purchases. This discount also extends to clearance items, Target sales, and in-store Starbucks cafes. Pharmacy charges, optical purchases, and nonspecialty gift cards aren’t discounted. However, a 5% discount is better than many cash-back credit cards, and almost every Target purchase is eligible.
  • Unlimited Discounts. Big spenders don’t have to worry about discount limits with a Target REDcard.
  • Free Two-Day Shipping. REDcard holders get free two-day shipping from Target.com. This is perfect if you enjoy shopping online at Target and don’t subscribe to other free-shipping options like Amazon Prime.
  • Extended Return Period. Target REDcard members have an additional 30-day return period for items they purchase. That’s especially useful for big-ticket items such as appliances or furniture. Optical purchases and nonreturnable items aren’t included.
  • REDcard Exclusives. Cardholders receive a 10% discount at Hotels.com, which beats the discounts offered by many hotel rewards cards. Members also receive a one-time 10% discount anniversary bonus one year after opening their account.

The main drawback of both cards is they don’t work outside of Target. However, the unlimited discount potential makes signing up for a REDcard the most lucrative Target hack there is.

The Target REDcard Credit Card requires a credit check when signing up. If you want to build and improve your credit, this card is worth considering. If you’re only interested in discounts and special offers and don’t want another credit card, Target’s REDcard Debit Card is a better pick.

2. Take Advantage of Target Circle

Target Circle is the new version of Target’s previous membership saving program, Cartwheel. Target Circle is free to use. If you already have a Target.com account, previous Cartwheel account, or REDcard, you’ll use the same membership details. Otherwise, you’ll create a Target.com account or share your phone number the next time you check out at Target to join Target Circle.

The main perks of this program include:

  • Cash Back. Target Circle members earn 1% cash back when making in-store and online purchases at Target. This cash back applies to future purchases and doesn’t stack on the 5% discount from a Target REDcard. However, REDcard members still gain the other perks included in this loyalty program, and Target Circle is perfect for shoppers who don’t want another debit or credit card.
  • Target Circle Offers. Circle members receive personalized offers and discounts based on their purchase history. There are hundreds of products on sale at a given time, with many discounts ranging from 10% to 50% off.
  • Birthday Discount. Circle members enjoy 5% off in-store or online purchases on their birthday.
  • Manufacturer Coupons. Circle Members can easily find manufacturer coupons for products at Target by using the mobile app.

There’s no reason not to use this free loyalty program. Combining Target Circle coupons plus cash back from a REDcard is the ultimate Target hack to save money, and this program doesn’t require much additional effort.

3. Use the Target App

Target Circle is one main money-saving feature of the Target app. However, Target’s app also provides other ways to save money and time.

The Target app makes it easy to browse Circle offers, a Weekly Ad section of current promotions, and exclusive REDcard deals all in one place. Plus, the app lets you check specific product availability at nearby Target stores, streamlining the shopping process from planning to checkout.

The app also has a Drive Up feature, which lets you save time by ordering ahead and having your order brought out to your vehicle. You can also use the Order Pickup feature to ensure your order is waiting for you once you arrive in-store.

4. Shop for Clearance Items

Everyone loves a good deal or discount, and that’s why buying items on clearance is so satisfying. In-store shoppers can find Target deals by carefully browsing aisles for products on clearance. However, the fastest way to find clearance deals at Target is to look online.

Target’s online clearance section is very easy to use. Shopping filters allow you to sort by department or to find products with a 50% discount or more. Plus, REDcard members still have free two-day shipping. Alternatively, free in-store pickup is available.

5. Shop on Specific Days for Markdowns

One of the sneakiest Target hacks to cut down on costs is to only shop on specific days to take advantage of weekly markdowns on specific product categories.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Target stores follow this markdown schedule each week:

  • Monday: Electronics, kids’ clothing, books, baby supplies, and accessories
  • Tuesday: Pet supplies, food, and women’s clothing
  • Wednesday: Health and beauty products, men’s clothing, furniture, and lawn and garden items
  • Thursday: Shoes, toys, home decor, sporting goods, luggage, and housewares
  • Friday: Cosmetics, jewelry, auto products, and hardware

This markdown schedule is not 100% accurate for every Target location. However, it’s worth paying attention to your local store to see when product categories go on clearance and plan future shopping trips accordingly.

6. Get Creative With Coupons

Saving money with coupons doesn’t have to require hours of weekly planning. If you use a variety of coupon apps and take time to understand a store’s coupon policy, you can easily cut down on your monthly spending.

Couponing at Target is no exception. In fact, Target encourages saving money through its generous coupon policy:

  • Stackable Coupons. Combine one manufacturer coupon, one Target coupon, and one Circle offer per item.
  • Coupon Limits. Use a maximum of four identical coupons per household per day.
  • Internet Coupons. Target accepts valid Internet coupons with scannable barcodes. However, coupons must have a purchase requirement.
  • Storewide and Category Coupons. Target allows one category or storewide coupon per guest per transaction.
  • Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) Coupons. Shoppers can’t combine BOGO coupons to get both products for free.

The only weakness of Target’s coupon policy is that it doesn’t grant cash overages. However, the ability to stack discounts from manufacturers, Target coupons, and Circle offers is an amazing way to score heavily discounted items.

7. Shop At Target.com & Earn Free Gift Cards

Shopping on Target.com is a savvy way to enjoy free shipping and find clearance items. You can also earn free gift cards by shopping online under the GiftCard with Purchase category.

Many items in this category award between $5 to $20 in free gift cards. Gift card rewards vary depending on your order quantity and offer terms, such as “Buy three, get $5.” Target’s Current Promotions page outlines ongoing GiftCard with Purchase rewards.

You generally have to spend around $75 to $100 on a specific category to unlock a $20 gift card reward. However, stocking up on household essentials should make this threshold easy to accomplish.

Current promotions are subject to change. Visiting the GiftCard with Purchase section on Target.com is the easiest way to quickly find deals, but you must read the current promotions page to understand eligibility requirements.

8. Install a Shopping Browser Extension

There are different types of shopping browser extensions. Some award cash back for shopping at retail partners, while others offer automatic coupons or price comparison features at checkout.

Using one or more of the following browser extensions is another great way to save money when shopping on Target.com. Plus, these discounts or cash-back rewards are stackable with your Target REDcard or other credit card rewards:

  • Capital One Shopping. You can add the Capital One Shopping browser extension and it will automatically apply available coupon codes to your purchase before you check out.
  • Rakuten. Create a free Rakuten account and visit Rakuten before shopping at Target to earn 1% cash back. Rakuten pays quarterly through PayPal, provided you’ve accrued more than $5 in your account.
  • TopCashback. TopCashback is similar to Rakuten. Target shoppers earn 2.25% cash back from TopCashback.
  • Honey. Honey is a free browser extension that automatically applies any eligible coupons at checkout to find savings. Honey awards cash back in the form of Honey Gold points. Honey Gold is redeemable for free gift cards to a variety of merchants, including Target.com.

A bit of cash back and free coupons might not seem significant. However, there’s no harm in installing these shopping extensions to test out how much money you save per year.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.

9. Always Look for Price-Matching Opportunities

Target is one of several massive U.S. retailers that offer price matching. However, price matching is only useful if you understand the terms and actually ask for price matching at checkout.

Target has a fairly simple price-matching policy:

  • Broad Price Match Eligibility. Target matches in-store prices for identical items from Target.com or local print ads. Additionally, Target also matches select competitors’ prices online. Amazon and Walmart.com are two of these competitors, so you should be able to find price match opportunities with some searching.
  • Time Frame. Price match requests are eligible for 14 days after the original purchase.
  • Excluded Items. Clearance; liquidation; damaged, used, or refurbished items; and items advertised as percent or dollar off aren’t eligible for price matching. Pricing errors or member-only prices are also exempt. Finally, special Target offers, such as Circle offers, gift card offers, or Target coupons, aren’t eligible.

In other words, you can’t price match against products that already have discounts from programs like Circle or many in-store deals. While this limits price matching potential, price matching is still a great way to save money at Target on nondiscounted purchases.

10. Use Target’s Registry Program

Target’s gift registry program lets you easily create a registry for any occasion. Weddings, kids’ wish lists, housewarming events, and baby registries are popular options, but you can also create custom registries to suit your needs.

Most registries don’t come with any perks outside of making it easier for friends and family to purchase gifts together and  track what other gift-givers have already bought. However, Target’s wedding, baby, and college registries let registry owners save up to 15% on unpurchased registry items.

  • Wedding Registry: Receive a coupon for 15% off everything left on your registry the week of your event date.
  • Baby Registry: Receive a 15% off coupon eight weeks before your expected arrival date. Your registry must contain items and be active for 14 days before the expected arrival date to receive this coupon.
  • College Registry: This 15%-off coupon is valid for one online purchase sent to a single address. You must use this coupon before the registry expiration date or your college move-in day.

Registry coupons don’t apply to certain categories, such as gift cards, alcohol, cameras, gaming systems, and certain brands of televisions. However, if you fit into any of the registry categories that grant a 15% coupon, there is massive saving potential for a larger Target bill.

11. Trade In Old Electronics & Gift Cards

There are numerous ways to donate unused electronics or sell old phones and devices for cash. But if you want to save money at Target, the Target Trade-in Program is your best bet.

The process works in four steps:

  1. Find Your Device. Browse Target’s accepted trade-in product list to see if your product qualifies.
  2. Get a Quote. Answer questions about your device’s condition and any accessories to get an instant quote.
  3. Ship for Free. Use a prepaid shipping label to send your device to Target for free.
  4. Earn Target GiftCards. You receive a Target GiftCard within two weeks of Target receiving your device.

Eligible categories for trade-in include smartphones, tablets, consoles, wearable technology, and voice speakers.

The Target Trade-In Program also lets you exchange unwanted gift cards. You can trade in gift cards from dozens of participating brands in exchange for Target GiftCards or PayPal cash. Gift cards must have a balance, and this program is only available at select Target locations. Target GiftCards are redeemable online or in-store, making this an excellent option to turn your unused electronics or unwanted gift cards into another opportunity to save money at Target.

12. Buy Discounted Gift Cards

People receive unwanted gift cards all the time. And there’s an entire industry that focuses on buying and selling them.

If you have a large shopping trip coming up, purchase discounted Target gift cards to save money. Some popular Target gift card exchange websites include:

  • Card Cash. Save up to 9% on Target gift cards.
  • Raise. Save up to 4.05% on Target gift cards.
  • Cardpool. Save up to 8% on Target gift cards.

Target gift cards aren’t always in stock, and discount rates change based on supply and the value of specific cards. Typically, the larger the gift card amount, the larger the discount.

These websites are useful if you want to purchase a big-ticket item at Target, such as an appliance, or if you have an expensive shopping trip coming up.

Discounted Target GiftCards are only redeemable on Target.com, so keep this in mind.

13. Earn Free Gift Cards With Fetch Rewards

There are plenty of mobile coupon apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 that let shoppers save money on groceries by shopping at certain stores. However, Fetch Rewards, a relatively recent entrant to the world of cash-back apps, makes the process of saving money even easier.

Fetch Rewards lets users earn cash back by shopping for dozens of brands in the United States. Shopping at specific stores doesn’t matter with Fetch Rewards; as long as partner brands appear on your receipt, you earn cash back. All you have to do is scan your receipt with the Fetch Rewards Android or iOS app within 14 days of purchase to earn cash back.

Fetch Reward points are redeemable for a wide variety of gift cards, including gift cards to Target.com. Fetch Rewards has a $3 minimum cash-out threshold, unlike apps like Ibotta that have a $20 minimum. This makes Fetch Rewards a fast and low-effort way to cut down on your grocery bill and save on future Target purchases.

14. Shop Off-Season

Target offers plenty of ways to save money with its annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. However, if you’d rather avoid the crowds, buying presents for the holidays throughout the year is another way to snag some great deals. Similarly, shopping off-season or at the end of a season is a great way to save money on clothing.

Final Word

Target already offers affordable prices and wide selection. However, if you want to maximize your savings rate, every little bit counts.

The next time you shop at Target, remember to try out one (or more) of these useful saving hacks. Even something as simple as signing up for a Target REDCard or using the mobile app to look for coupons will help you cut down on your next shopping trip.

It might seem trivial at first, but over the course of a year, you might be surprised at how much money you end up saving.

Source: moneycrashers.com

17 Ways to Dig Yourself Out of a Financial Hole

 At age 47 I was jobless, emotionally broken after an abusive marriage, and running through savings to keep a divorce attorney in my corner. Grieving my mother’s death and terrified that my disabled adult daughter and I would end up homeless, I couldn’t see any kind of future for myself.

Within five years I had earned a university degree on scholarship, found a new career as a personal finance writer, paid off divorce-related debt, and started rebuilding my cash reserves. In the next four years, I would open a Roth IRA and a SEP-IRA. I never was homeless, and I’ve never carried any debt since then.

Dig out of a financial hole

It’s possible to dig yourself out of a financial hole if you’re willing to do the work. But you can’t stop there. It’s absolutely crucial to establish smart money habits in order to build your financial future — and to keep from winding up back in the hole.

Maybe you’ve stalled financially because you never learned how to manage money. Or maybe you’re mired in debt due to circumstances beyond your control, such as job loss or serious illness.

It doesn’t matter how you got there. What matters is that you get yourself out. Use these basic tactics to get a handle on your finances.

The best time to have started getting your finances together was 20 years ago. The second-best time is right now.

If you’re in debt, quit adding to it. Easier said than done, I know: My divorce attorney charged by the minute, for heaven’s sake, yet I couldn’t do without representation.

What could I do without? Almost everything else. I’d always been fairly thrifty, so it wasn’t as hard for me as it might be for others. However, I hadn’t done such a deep dive into frugality since my single-mom days, when I did all the laundry (including diapers) on a scrub-board in the sink. Not everyone can (or wants to) go to the lengths I did, such as living mostly on dry beans and homemade soups, using coupon/rebate deals to stretch my budget, buying almost no new clothing for years, recycling cans picked up on walks around the neighborhood, looking for any possible side gig (babysitting, participating in medical studies, shoveling snow) to add a few dollars to debt payoff.

If you find it tough sledding at first, welcome to the club of being human. Then think about your spending in this way: Adding more debt doesn’t just mean paying extra interest, but also something called “opportunity cost.” Every dollar you spend is a dollar that can’t work for you any other way.

While you’re still in the hole, this means dollars that can’t help you dig your way back out. And once you’re debt-free? It means dollars that can’t help you meet new financial goals: retirement savings, paying off your mortgage, a trip to your family reunion, or whatever will make your life better.

To be clear: Your tolerance for frugal hacks is as unique as you are. I can’t force you to wash out Ziploc bags or to shovel snow for that matter. What I can do is urge you to adopt the main attitude that helped get me through those five years — something I call the Frugal Filter:

  • Do I really need this whatever-it-is?
  • Is there something I already have that might work?
  • If I absolutely must get this item, is there a way to do so for free (borrowing it from a friend, using Freecycle)? And if not, how can I make it as affordable as possible? (Some examples: thrift store, yard sale, cashing in rewards points for gift cards to pay for it.)

Start by adding up all your income sources. Next, list all your obligations, including but not limited to mortgage, minimum credit card payments, utilities, insurance car note, and legally mandated payments (e.g. alimony or child support).

Subtract the second number from the first. If your monthly expenses are lower than your current income, that’s a good sign. But keep in mind that these are your anticipated expenses. You’ll also need money for irregular expenses such as home repair or a replacement vehicle, as well as for vacations, gift-giving, and other things that make our lives richer.

Tracking spending means you’ll know where you stand. The next thing to do is look for the best ways to use your money.

A lot of people swear by the 50/30/20 plan: Spend no more than half your after-tax income on needs, 30% on things you want, and 20% on savings and debt repayment.

Arrange your current spending into those categories. If you’re spending more than you should in any given department, find ways to bring costs down. For example, you might be able to refinance the mortgage and cut grocery costs (more on that in a minute) to get your “needs” spending under 50% of your take-home pay.

The categories can be flexible, though. For example, if debt repayment is more important to you right now than going out to eat, you could use some of your “wants” dollars toward paying down your credit cards.

Speaking of which, you also need to…

Earlier you added up your basic monthly expenses. But what’s the total amount owed? A lot of people honestly don’t know, because they never added it up. Full disclosure: I still don’t know how much my divorce cost, because I don’t want to know. (Hint: It was a lot.)

Don’t be like me. Add up your credit card balances while seated, because the total might make you feel a little faint (especially when you consider how much interest you’re paying). Let that Big Number inspire you to get real about paying it off.

First: If you’re making extra payments on your current mortgage, stop for now and put that money against your credit card balance. Talk with a mortgage specialist about the possibility of refinancing; your loan would be longer, but the money you’d save each month can be used against higher-interest debt.

Next, call your credit card issuers and ask for lower interest rates. There’s no guarantee you’ll get them, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Some people swear by the “debt snowball.” You pay minimum payments on all your credit cards except for the one with the lowest balance (but not necessarily the lowest interest rate); for that one, make the biggest payment you can. Once it’s paid off, you attack the card with the next-lowest balance, and so on.

The theory is that paying one card off quickly encourages you to keep going. Then again, you’re paying more interest on the other cards. That’s why some suggest it’s better to pay off the cards with the highest interest rates first.

Do what works best for you. If you need that encouragement, go with the debt snowball.

Another option is a 0% balance transfer credit card: moving all your debt onto a new card that offers 0% interest for 12 to 18 months. You’ll pay a balance transfer fee, typically about 3% of the total debt. However, if you pay the card in full during the introductory period, you won’t owe any interest.

This could save you a ton of money. (Wish I’d known about it back when I was paying off my divorce debt.) However, you shouldn’t get a 0% balance transfer card unless you have an ironclad plan to pay it off. Otherwise, you’ll wind up paying a ton of interest anyway, in addition to the transfer fee.

Another credit card debt tactic is a personal loan, that is if you can get a decent rate. You’d need an ironclad payoff plan for this option, too. And no matter how you pay off your debt, you absolutely need a plan to keep you from running up the credit cards all over again.

Our consumerist culture tells us that if we want something, then we should have it. This is why some people shop for fun, I guess, even if they don’t technically need anything.

“Need” is the operative word. Food, shelter, basic clothing, and utilities are needs. Everything else is a parade of wants.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting things. But there’s a whole lot that’s wrong with buying things we can’t actually afford. So if you shop for fun, stop doing that. Stop it right now. Un-bookmark your favorite shopping sites. Avoid brick-and-mortar stores.

Delete your stored credit cards, and remember that “one-click” shopping is of the devil.

Sound harsh? Reframe that thought right now: This is prudence, not punishment. It’s part of your plan to meet financial goals, including getting out of debt.

Since we get a nice dopamine rush whenever we find that Really Good Deal, our brain will try to trick you into “just looking.” Look for other ways to feel good, whether that’s The New York Times crossword puzzle or bingeing your favorite shows on an affordable streaming service.

Find a friend who’s also trying to get out of the financial hole, and the two of you can support each other. (“I just saw the most amazing price on cheese straighteners and I really want to get one! Talk me out of it!”)

Here’s what worked for me: Thinking about what I did have, rather than obsessing about what I didn’t. Sounds corny, but hear me out. While living on about $1,000 a month (and still helping my daughter), I made an actual list of my advantages: decent health, a university scholarship, a library card, a part-time job, a 99-cent radio from the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, and the absolute conviction that I would one day be back in the black.

The only person who can help me is me,” I said out loud, more than once, developing a stoic pride in — once more! — making do on nothing. I was dirt-poor but I was not dirt. I had a plan. (I also still had the scrub-board, and even used it sometimes.)

Sure, sometimes I still wanted stuff I couldn’t afford. Most of the time, my attitude of gratitude helped me power through. After all, I had things that were important to me and I knew if I just kept working at it, my debt would be gone. It wasn’t easy. But as my dad used to say, “That’s why they call it ‘work.’ If it were fun, they’d call it ‘fun.’”

Be an adult. Own your mistakes or your misfortunes. And do the work.

Part of the reason I went broke was the financial support I gave to my daughter, whose disability benefit was minuscule. Ultimately she got married, found a job she could do from home, became self-sufficient, and moved to a different city. I kept giving, though: treating them to multiple meals out when I visited, sending numerous “just because” gift cards throughout the year, forgiving them a decent-sized loan (as a wedding gift).

Maybe you do this sort of thing, too. Keeping your grown kids on the family phone plan. Paying for their health insurance. Covering some (or all) of their rent. A financial planner told me some clients routinely buy extra stuff at Costco to bribe their children to drop by.

Perhaps your own kids don’t have to drop by because they’re already there: boomerang offspring who came back due to job issues, or who live with you so they can save up for their own homes. Or maybe your kids never launched in the first place — and why should they? Mom and Dad have a comfy home, a well-stocked fridge, and all the streaming platforms.

It’s natural to want to give our children the best. But here’s the thing: You cannot finance retirement. Your kids have many decades to build their financial lives. You, on the other hand, have a finite number of years to make the right money choices.

If you are in debt and/or have an underfunded retirement, do not set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. Doing so could leave you out in the cold, financially speaking.

To be clear: I would have helped my daughter forever if necessary, but I’m very glad it wasn’t. Those dollars wound up going to retirement savings, my emergency fund (more on that below), and some cash reserves. I refuse to put my daughter in the position of having to support me if I run out of money in retirement. Don’t put that burden on your kids, either.

This may sound counterintuitive. Why save for retirement while I still have balances on 18% credit cards?

Because you can’t finance retirement, remember?

Retirement isn’t a question of simple-interest savings. It’s about growth, and growth takes time. The years you spend not contributing will be felt keenly when you retire — especially if you, like me, got something of a late start.

As noted, the 20% part of the 50/30/20 budget includes saving for the future. Ideally, you’ve already got some retirement savings from your current (or recent) job, and it will continue to grow as you figure things out. Resist the temptation to raid it early; the longer it stays there, the better your chances for its lasting throughout your retirement.

For some people, a 10% (or higher) contribution to their house of worship is absolute. If that’s you, know that it still may be possible to keep tithing at that level — but the money has to come from somewhere else in your budget. As noted above, you can find other ways to cut in order to keep the tithes coming.

If need be, talk to your religious leader about temporarily cutting back or even pausing your contribution. You could always promise to restart and to make up for the lost time.

Even when things were pretty dire for me I gave $20 a month to my church. Sure, that money could have gone toward my credit card debt. But giving to others got me out of my own head. That $240 a year reminded me that not only were my basics covered, I could even afford a little help for others who needed it. Never underestimate the satisfaction and peace this knowledge can bring.

I kept a certain amount of liquid cash while paying off the divorce-related debt. It was tempting to throw every dime I had toward the balance. But I also wanted cash on hand so I could pay for utilities, car insurance, and food in case my job went away.

Some money experts suggest having a year’s worth of expenses banked. Others say that amount discourages people from even trying to save. Instead, they suggest one to three months’ worth as an initial goal, with additional contributions when possible.

I’m in the latter camp. Rather than pressuring yourself to come up with tens of thousands of dollars, aim for a single month’s worth. Go back to that household budget and look for places to cut. Canceling a subscription box you’ve stopped being thrilled by, skipping that automobile detailing you normally get every couple of months, dropping the gym membership that you haven’t been using anyway — these and other budget trims can help plump up the EF faster than you would have thought possible.

Food is the budget category with the most flexibility. You probably can’t negotiate your car payment or your son’s college tuition, but you can cut down on meals outside the home and be choosier about shopping.

Accustomed to stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts? You might be surprised by the organic options available at regular grocers and even discount markets. Take an hour a week to browse different stores, and plan future shopping accordingly.

If you eat most of your meals away from home, gradually change your ways. Buy good-quality coffee and breakfast ingredients so you aren’t tempted to grab takeout every morning. Batch-cook and freeze breakfast sandwiches on weekends, or buy premade ones from a warehouse club (still more affordable than breakfast out).

Carrying your lunch just one day a week could likely save you $10 to $20, or $520 to $1,040 a year. Over time, work your way up to brown-bagging it at least three times a week, and put the thousands of dollars you save toward some other financial goal. In the four years it took to get my degree, I never once bought a single meal at school. An occasional snack or drink, maybe, but I carried all my meals. Again, I’m hardcore and looked at lunch as the fuel I needed to get through the day. Your mileage may vary. Just make sure it’s something you actually like to eat — and again, start slowly so that you don’t set yourself up to fail.

Dinners can be tough since most people arrive home as tired as they are hungry. A little weekend planning or some monthly batch cooking — especially with an Instant Pot — can change the way you eat, and will certainly change how much you spend.

Don’t know how to cook much, or at all? Do an online search for “easy affordable recipes with [your favorite ingredients].” Remember, you didn’t know how to use a smartphone until you made it your business to learn. The same is true of cooking.

It is worth it to shop around for something like car insurance.

Ask me how I know. When I arrived in Seattle, fresh out of my horrible marriage, I used the insurance agent a relative recommended. And wound up paying about $700 more a year than I needed to, for five years. Still shake my head sometimes about that $3,500 worth of opportunity cost, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Look for better deals on Internet, phone, and cable service, too. This can save you some serious bucks, especially if you bundle services.

Note: Many people have ditched cable entirely in favor of streaming services. If you haven’t investigated these lately, you’ll be surprised by the options — and the potential savings.

All of it. You won’t get out of the financial hole overnight, so it’s essential to note individual steps along the way. For some, a spreadsheet makes things easier.

Or use my daughter’s method, which is to list debts on a whiteboard. Each time you make a payment, you get to amend the total to reflect the change — and oh, my, how satisfying it is to literally wipe the debt off the board.

Once you’re back in the black, keep those savvy money moves in place. Spend less than you earn. Contribute to retirement regularly. Build an emergency fund to guard against the unexpected.

Source: newretirement.com

How to Avoid Paying Credit Card Interest – Lexington Law

credit card interest

Technology has advanced at nearly light speed over the last few decades, causing the bulk of the industrialized world to go from analog to digital almost overnight. And while it seems no industry escaped being caught up in the flood of digitization, few have been as completely enveloped as finance.

In many ways, consumer credit has shown some of the most obvious signs of the new digital era. Indeed, between the rise of online banking, the finance-app revolution, and plastic replacing cash as king of purchases, the consumer credit world of today looks very different from its ancestors of just a few generations ago.

But for all the convenience brought on by new technology, some old problems remain. The credit card is the perfect example. Credit cards allow you to make purchases in-store or online with a simple swipe or insertion into a chip reader, often providing profitable purchase rewards in the process.

At the same time, all that contemporary convenience can come with some antique strings, primarily in the form of interest fees. With the average credit card charging double-digit interest rates, your futuristic payment method could end up costing you hundreds in old-fashioned interest fees if you’re not careful. Thankfully, several methods exist for avoiding those outmoded interest charges and making the most of modern payment technology.

Pay in Full During the Grace Period

One of the easiest ways to avoid paying interest fees on your credit card purchases is to simply pay off your balance before you’re charged interest. For most credit cards, the time between when you make a charge and when the bill for that charge comes due is known as the grace period. So long as you pay off any charges before the end of the grace period (i.e., your bill’s due date), most credit card companies won’t charge you any interest on those charges.

For consumers seeking unsecured credit cards for bad credit with no deposit, utilizing a credit card’s grace period can ensure that high APR is all bark and no bite. Even if you have a low-APR credit card, interest fees can add up quickly on large balances.

An important thing to remember when it comes to grace periods is that they typically only apply to new purchases. That means other transaction types, such as balance transfers and cash advances, generally don’t qualify for a grace period and will start to accumulate interest charges as soon as the transaction hits your account.

Additionally, failure to pay off your entire balance before the end of the grace period means you’ll be charged interest as usual per your average daily balance over the course of the billing period. So, even if you make more than the minimum payment, you’ll be charged interest on your balance unless you pay off the entire amount.

Transfer Your Balance

If you’re already stuck with a balance on one (or more) of your credit cards and have been, or will be, charged interest on that balance, you can potentially avoid paying more interest fees by transferring the debt to another credit card. Called a balance transfer, this process literally transfers your debt from credit card to another credit card—preferably, one with a lower interest rate.

Since credit card issuers like balance transfers, many companies have started offering introductory offers designed to draw in these customers, and qualified applicants can find introductory deals for zero percent APR on balance transfers. Even better, the intro offers provided by the best balance transfer cards allow you to carry a balance interest-free for 18 months or more.

Keep in mind that introductory offers are temporary by nature, and your zero percent APR deal will expire at the end of the offer period. Once your offer ends, any remaining balance from your balance transfer will be subject to the default balance transfer APR, which is typically the same as—or higher than—the card’s new purchase APR. You can find the balance transfer APR listed in your cardholder agreement.

Another thing to consider before making a balance transfer is the potential balance transfer fee. The receiving credit card (the card to which you transfer your balance) will typically charge a balance transfer fee for the service, which usually runs between three and five percent of the total transferred amount. Depending on your interest rates and balance, a balance transfer can easily be worth the fee, but do the math for your own situation before proceeding.

Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt

While balance transfers can be a great option for reducing—or avoiding—credit card interest fees, they may not be an option for everyone, particularly for consumers whose credit won’t qualify for a quality balance transfer offer. In this case, the best way to lower your interest rate may be to consolidate and refinance your credit card debt with a personal loan.

Credit cards operate on a revolving credit line, which is designed to provide consistent, reusable, short-term financing. Due to their potentially volatile nature, credit cards tend to have high interest rates. Personal installment loans, on the other hand, are intended to be longer-term financing, and are repaid through a series of predetermined payments. Since loans have a certain measure of built-in profit (and security), they often have much lower interest rates than credit cards.

This means that, even with less-than-excellent credit, many consumers can find a personal loan with a much lower interest rate than they’re being charged by their credit card companies. That’s not to say you’ll wind up in the single-digits with a personal loan; you probably won’t, unless your credit is excellent. However, even a relatively hefty 15 percent interest rate on a personal loan is a fair sight better than the 25 percent likely being charged for a credit card at the same credit range.

A great way to make the most of your consolidation loan is to make multiple loan payments each month (i.e., paying more than you’re required to pay, and not splitting your required payment into two). Not only will this ensure you’re never late, but it will also allow you to pay off your debt faster and will cost you less interest over the life of the loan.

The Most Expensive Interest Payments Are Late Ones

No matter which method you choose, always make sure you make at least the minimum required payment each month by the due date. Late payments come with late fees, which can negate any cost savings from lowering or eliminating your interest rate.

Additionally, late payments won’t qualify for the interest savings of your card’s grace period, and may result in a penalty APR or void an introductory APR offer. And that’s not to mention the potential damage a delinquent payment can cause to your credit scores; your payment history is worth 35 percent of your FICO credit score, so each late payment can mean a significant credit score drop.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com