We live in an age where technology is constantly evolving, and newer and more advanced smartphones seem to come out on a weekly basis.
When you bought your iPhone, it was the cream of the crop – the best available on the market. While it still works just fine, you’re in love with the newest iPhone that was just released with that fancy new feature that you just can’t live without. (Sound familiar?)
The only problem? That new smartphone is expensive, and you’re not sure you can justify the expense.
If your old phone is still relatively new and in demand, you may be able to offset the cost of that new device by selling your old one.
There are a lot of places where you can sell your old smartphone for a decent amount of money. Some places you can even sell your broken phone for parts and still make a decent amount! Today I’d thought I’d list a few of the more popular ones.
SellCell.com: SellCell.com is the US’s largest price comparison site for selling old mobile phones and tablets – they compare all of the key BuyBack companies in the market, saving the user the time of visiting lots of other websites to get the best deal for an old device. They guarantee that the user will always get the maximum cash when selling an old device on SellCell.com and offer users a Best Price Guarantee – if they spot a higher price on another site, they will refund the customer double the difference. They also show each BuyBack company’s user ratings from sites likes ReSeller Ratings, Trustpilot & BBB for peace of mind. As I write this Apple is expected to announce the release of the new iPhone 12 in early October. With the release, many people will be selling their iPhone 11s and Xs in order to fund the purchase of the new model. In fact, 40% of iPhone owners plan to purchase the new model according to one recent survey. The earlier you sell your older iPhone, the better off you’ll be. Once the new phone comes out and more and more people flood the market with old phones, the value of your phone goes down each day, especially after the big announcement. Top cell phone buyer and seller Gazelle has discussed the trend. Trade-ins typically spike around each iPhone cycle as consumers seek to get maximum value for their old phone and take advantage of special offers. This year, consumers can lock in their best price with Gazelle on an iPhone, Galaxy, or any unwanted phone starting 9/5 to 9/22, and will have until 10/22 to mail it in – plenty of time for their new iPhone to arrive. But the earlier you lock in the better, because the value of your phone goes down each day – and especially after Apple’s 9/12 announcement. So to get top dollar on your old phone, sell before the market is flooded after a new phone is released! The last time I sold an old smartphone I had purchased an Android phone and used it for a couple of years. The phone was no longer state of the art but was still usable on a national network. I searched for completed listings on eBay, but the phone was going for next to nothing there because it was so common. I searched phone buying sites. Those sites gave me at most $10-15. In the end, I sold the phone on Amazon.com for about half of what I originally bought it for. The buyer was happy because it was less than what the phone cost new, and I was happy because I got more than I would have through other venues. It took a little while to sell, but in the end, the wait was worth it. One thing you must keep in mind when selling your old smartphone, the amount you receive for your phone will be directly correlated to the demand for that phone on the current market. If it’s a high demand phone like an iPhone from a recent generation, you may do better than you will for an old Android phone from 6 years ago. It’s all about demand, and how much the phone is still desired by buyers on the marketplace. Your best bet is to shop around, figure out what forum will give you the best return for your device, and then go for it. Finding Out What Your Phone Is Worth To get an idea of what your phone is worth I suggest doing the following: Once you find the place that you think will give you the best return for your phone (when taking into consideration the amount of time you have, how much you want to get for your phone, and how much hassle you want to deal with), go for it! Do your research, and you’ll likely come out with a nice chunk of change to help pay for your new phone. Good luck! [embedded content] If you’re selling your phone and looking for a new mobile provider, there are a ton of great low-cost providers out there. Here are some of the best that I’ve found: Source: biblemoneymatters.com
Get Top Dollar By Selling Before An iPhone Launch
Selling My Old Smartphone
Get Top Dollar By Selling Your Old Smartphone ASAP
Just Sold Your Old Phone, But Need New Service?
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As I write this Apple is expected to announce the release of the new iPhone 12 in early October. With the release, many people will be selling their iPhone 11s and Xs in order to fund the purchase of the new model. In fact, 40% of iPhone owners plan to purchase the new model according to one recent survey.
The earlier you sell your older iPhone, the better off you’ll be. Once the new phone comes out and more and more people flood the market with old phones, the value of your phone goes down each day, especially after the big announcement.
Top cell phone buyer and seller Gazelle has discussed the trend.
Trade-ins typically spike around each iPhone cycle as consumers seek to get maximum value for their old phone and take advantage of special offers. This year, consumers can lock in their best price with Gazelle on an iPhone, Galaxy, or any unwanted phone starting 9/5 to 9/22, and will have until 10/22 to mail it in – plenty of time for their new iPhone to arrive. But the earlier you lock in the better, because the value of your phone goes down each day – and especially after Apple’s 9/12 announcement.
So to get top dollar on your old phone, sell before the market is flooded after a new phone is released!
The last time I sold an old smartphone I had purchased an Android phone and used it for a couple of years. The phone was no longer state of the art but was still usable on a national network.
I searched for completed listings on eBay, but the phone was going for next to nothing there because it was so common.
I searched phone buying sites. Those sites gave me at most $10-15.
In the end, I sold the phone on Amazon.com for about half of what I originally bought it for. The buyer was happy because it was less than what the phone cost new, and I was happy because I got more than I would have through other venues. It took a little while to sell, but in the end, the wait was worth it.
One thing you must keep in mind when selling your old smartphone, the amount you receive for your phone will be directly correlated to the demand for that phone on the current market.
If it’s a high demand phone like an iPhone from a recent generation, you may do better than you will for an old Android phone from 6 years ago. It’s all about demand, and how much the phone is still desired by buyers on the marketplace.
Your best bet is to shop around, figure out what forum will give you the best return for your device, and then go for it.
Finding Out What Your Phone Is Worth
To get an idea of what your phone is worth I suggest doing the following:
Once you find the place that you think will give you the best return for your phone (when taking into consideration the amount of time you have, how much you want to get for your phone, and how much hassle you want to deal with), go for it!
Do your research, and you’ll likely come out with a nice chunk of change to help pay for your new phone. Good luck!
If you’re selling your phone and looking for a new mobile provider, there are a ton of great low-cost providers out there. Here are some of the best that I’ve found:
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
My husband Travis and I paid off $78,000 of debt in less than two years.
We paid off $53,000 alone in ONE YEAR!
Today I’m sharing 20 ways you can change things up, save money, etc, for how to pay off student loans faster… and what I would change if I had a do-over.
How to Pay off Student Loan Debt
Let’s start with some baseline facts. Throughout our debt payoff, our combined income was roughly $88K meaning we lived off $35K and put 60% of our income towards loans.
While we put $53K toward debt the first year we only put $25 toward it the second. That’s because we also bought a house around six months before we became debt-free. It’s not the order I’d recommend doing things but we were forced out of our rental and decided we’d rather put off our debt-free scream a few months than wait another year to buy.
Now for the hard truth: It was really easy signing for these loans but it was not easy paying them off.
Over $12,000 of my personal income alone was from side jobs and I (no lie) contracted shingles early on in the process from how stressed I was about the task at hand.
What’s also true, aside from the discipline it took to turn down trips to Disney and dinners out, is that I had a great year. I had fun, went out, and we even took a vacation. Even though sometimes I felt deprived in the moment, looking back I wasn’t deprived at all. Every “no” made me a stronger person.
There are countless stories on the Internet about how people paid off massive amounts of debt in short amounts of time and they mostly say the same thing. So I wanted to give you something a little different and tell you what I think are the 20 most important things we did to tackle this big problem as quickly as possible.
1. Determine Your “Why”
This is the first and most important step we took. We decided we want to travel and buy a home big enough to foster children (one of my side jobs was at a foster group home.) Every time it got hard I reminded myself of why we’re doing this and it influenced every financial decision I made. You’re gonna need this one to succeed.
2. Have Clarity
You can’t finish a race if the route’s not laid out. The next thing we did was take inventory of our debt, savings, income, recurring bills, etc. to have a clear picture of our financial situation. Some couples don’t combine their finances, for us it was necessary to be transparent with each other since his earned income would be paying off my loans and vice versa.
3. Make a Budget
You’re gonna need a specialized budget. It’s 100% necessary to have a written budget before every month begins. We do ours in EveryDollar, it’s the easiest user interface I’ve worked with. We’ve never made a perfect budget, we’re always tweaking throughout the month but we always spend less than we bring in. We’re able to meet and exceed our loan payment every month because of the budget.
4. Change How You Shop
I traded Publix for Aldi, Target for Walmart, and the mall for Goodwill. Some changes were better than others (LOVE Aldi, hate Walmart) but it’s all for the sake of saving money.
While getting out of debt we committed to not paying full price for anything. I sit in my car or stand in line looking for coupons before I make a purchase. Here are some of the ways I save on full-priced items
- Groupon and LivingSocial for deals on activities.
- Shopping through Rakuten when making any purchases online will get you cash-back from virtually any retailer. (I never get a Groupon without getting Rakuten cash back!)
- Use Blink to save on prescriptions.
- EyeBuyDirect to save on prescription eyewear.
- Energy saving methods like buying low-flow showerheads to reduce our utility bill or using wind power through Arcadia (it doesn’t save me money but it’s better for the environment!
- Sites like Restaurant.com for dining deals.
- ThredUp for nice secondhand clothing at steep discounts from retail.
- I take advantage of free trials at gyms.
- Apps like ibotta to save at grocery stores and other big box retailers.
5. Pick Up Extra Jobs
There are only so many things you can cut out of your life but there’s virtually no limit to the amount of money you can bring in. We started with hourly side jobs and since starting this blog I’ve had opportunities to freelance that have given me much more flexibility with my time.
You have to start somewhere and I am convinced bringing in extra income is the key to paying off large amounts of debt fast. If you can’t work any extra then negotiate a raise or find a higher paying job. This is that vital of a step.
I’ve laid out some 21 ways to make extra money and if you’re interested in blogging you can start here or check out my post about how to start and monetize a blog in any niche.
6. Drive Old Cars
We both drive Toyota Corollas and will drive them until we need something bigger. IMO, you don’t deserve a new car if you’re in debt, you don’t even deserve a nice used car. I don’t care how shiny it is.
You need something to get you back and forth from your 2 jobs and when you can pay cash for an upgrade then you deserve whatever you can afford.
7. Buy Used or Find Free
I don’t buy new clothes anymore and half of our furniture we got for free next to dumpsters and repainted. New doesn’t always mean better. We’ve saved a lot of money this year by not falling into that trap.
8. Meal Plan
I’m so passionate about this I wrote a book on it.
Meal planning is essential to saving money on food. I worked in restaurants during college and they did inventory every week and planned specials around it to minimize food waste and save money. So I do the same in my kitchen. I plan meals around what I have and the grocery budget has become the one section I never exceed because of it.
If you need help:
- Making a simple DIY meal plan
- Buying less and saving money at the grocery store
- Preparing food once you plan it
- And reducing the food waste in your house
Then check out my book Meal Planning on a Budget (It’s available on Amazon!)
If you’re bad at doing stuff like this or don’t have a lot of time, Cook Smarts is the meal planning I recommend. It’s the best value out there and I always say work smarter, not harder.
9. Celebrate Milestones!
Every time we pay off a loan or hit a milestone we have a little celebration. It’s usually dinner out (using Groupon or Restaurant.com) or a glass of whiskey and a movie on Netflix. If you have big loans that don’t have little milestones, make your own. $3K and $5K increments are a good start.
10. Sell Stuff
We didn’t have any big things to sell but we got a few nice appliances from our wedding so we sold the old stuff and made enough for gas for the month. We regularly sell clothes at Plato’s Closet and random stuff on OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace.
11. Find Cheap Housing
We own our house now but living in something small and cheap was clutch while we were paying off debt. You get smaller utility bills and have less room to buy “stuff” for. We live in a growing city in a pretty nice neighborhood and I’ve kept no secret that we paid $800 for a 1/1 in a duplex.
As the housing market rises so do rent prices so you have to get creative while looking. My husband went for runs in different neighborhoods and found it on one of those. It wasn’t listed. We also negotiated adding water & sewage into the rent.
12. Stop Eating Out Alone
We still eat out, even when we don’t have a gift card, but we stopped grabbing food out of laziness. I used to get tacos every Wednesday after work (not on Tuesday? Gasp.) and grits on Saturday before I went in.
For millennials, eating out is part of our culture, it unites us, but these taco and grits trips weren’t bringing me closer to anything but my fork. So now I only eat out if it’s with friends or my husband.
We had a 4 ft paper thermometer on our wall (next to our thermostat, lol) that we fill in after we’ve made our loan payment for the month. I used to just watch numbers get smaller in all my accounts but with this corny visualization trick, It’s been fun to see that red bar go up and the white space above it get smaller and smaller.
I made a free printable debt thermometer for you here if you want to try it!
Seems a little counter-intuitive doesn’t it? We could be making an extra $500 payment on our loan, shave a month or two off our total repayment. Only 67% of households give to charity & religious organizations.
It’s over half but Americans still get a D in social justice. It’s important to me to give what we can now so in the future giving more will be a natural progression.
15. Chill Out
Where all my Type A brothers and sisters at!? Let me hear you say “Ahhh. Omg. This is too much. I’m freaking out…” I used to live somewhere on that level.
It’s gotten a lot better since my Shingles outbreak (at the ripe age of 26) but I still have to remind myself to just go with the flow. Whatever happens, will happen and it’ll all work out in the end.
16. Unfollow Your Friends on Social Media
Confession: I unfollowed two of my best friends on Instagram and I didn’t tell them. I love them but they’re always traveling to cool places, eating great food, buying new stuff, and I just couldn’t handle it.
In no way has it affected our relationship (it’s probably improved it) and I can scroll a little safer now.
Also Read: Why Unfollowing my Friends Helped my Finances
17. No-Spend Challenges
I’ve done a few no-spend challenges and they’ve all taught me more about my spending habits. I still bought groceries and went out to eat but I didn’t buy any personal non-necessities. The beauty of a no-spend challenge is that it can look different for everyone and you’re guaranteed to save money for as long as you do it.
If you want to learn how to do a no-spend challenge that transforms your habits and causes you to spend more intentionally you can check out my other book on Amazon, The No-Spend Challenge Guide. (#shamelessplugs)
18. Check Your Bills
Whenever it’s time to renew or we see an ad for a good offer (on something we already pay for) we call to negotiate a better deal. It’s unfortunate that companies take advantage of their customers like they do but that’s how it is and it’s on us to keep our necessities affordable.
19. Ditch Cable
We never signed up so this one is a no-brainer. I don’t care how much you love sports or how many kids you need to keep occupied. There are cheaper, if not free, ways to do it than cable. Try Fire TV Stick or Roku to fill your cable sized void.
Our friend knows our budget is tight while paying off debt so she let us use her Netflix account for free. You never know, maybe one of your friends will do the same while you’re getting your finances together. And football isn’t going anywhere.
20. Stop Investing
I wouldn’t stop for more than a year or two but it motivated us to go that much faster. I know we missed out on future compound interest but the fire it lit under us helped pay way less in interest.
And now we max out a 401k, two Roth IRA’s, and an HSA. Which is way more effective than just $50 or $100 a month toward these accounts.
If you want to pay off your loans fast, then pile on the money you would be investing to your loan. And remember it’s not forever.
You Can Pay off Student Loan Debt!
So what would I do differently? I would’ve chilled out a little more but that’s really it. I’m proud of how flexible we were able to be and still stay motivated to get the job done so quickly. But there are still things I missed out on that I wish I would’ve spent the money and done.
Whew! That’s a lot, right? Don’t expect to start all these at the same time. We worked up to doing all these things. Start with the first four and work your way down, you’ll be surprised at how naturally they all come over time.
Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.
- Get Out of Debt
The debt snowball and debt avalanche methods can help you pay your debts quickly and with minimum fuss. They are relatively simple strategies that all debtors can employ and they work for multiple types of debt, including credit card debt, student loan debt, and personal loans.
But how do these methods differ from one enough, is a debt snowball plan better than a debt avalanche one, how can they help with debt reduction, and are these debt payoff methods the only ones available?
What is the Debt Snowball Method?
The debt snowball method focuses on repaying the smallest bills first. These bills are the proverbial “low hanging fruit”, and clearing them can improve your financial situation, give you a morale boost, and gradually increase your credit score.
You can use a debt snowball calculator to better understand how it will benefit you, but in simple terms it’s a payoff strategy that aims to help you build momentum, focusing more on the accounts that will clear with the least amount of effort as opposed to the ones doing the most damage.
What is the Debt Avalanche Method?
The debt avalanche method focuses on the debt with the highest interest rate. As with debt snowball, you still need to meet your monthly payment obligations, but any extra money you have should then be used to reduce the debt with the highest interest rate.
This may be medical debt or credit card debt, it all depends on your circumstances.
As an example, let’s imagine that you have a $5,000 car loan with 5% interest; a $10,000 debt consolidation loan with 8% interest, and a $3,000 credit card balance on which you’re paying 20%. Although the credit card balance is the smallest of these debts and likely requires the lowest monthly payment, it has the highest interest rate and should be your priority.
Pros and Cons of Debt Avalanche vs Debt Snowball
On the surface, it makes more sense to focus on the highest interest rate debts first, which means debt avalanche is a better option than debt snowball. It should help you to save more money in the long run—reducing minimum payments and bringing the total interest down—and will allow you to get the most troublesome debt out of the way.
But if that’s the case, what’s the point of the debt snowball method? Why does it exist and how can it possibly be more beneficial then debt avalanche?
Debt snowball works because it clears small debts quickly, which gives you the motivation you need to continue. The power of that motivation should never be underestimated, as it could be the difference between paying off your debts in a couple of years or struggling with them for decades to come.
Let’s imagine that you’ve been unwell for a few weeks and have spent most of that time in bed. You have accumulated an endless number of chores and while you don’t feel like doing any of them, you know they need to be done to get back on track.
What do you do?
Do you choose the biggest chore first, such as scrubbing the toilets clean or painting your house, or do you focus on the smaller ones, such as taking the bins out? In the first instance, you’re beginning with the biggest and hardest chore, which means it will take you longer, require more willpower and perseverance, but will ultimately make life easier for you. In the second instance, you’re getting the little things out of the way so you can work towards the bigger ones.
This is essentially how the debt snowball and avalanche methods work—the latter makes more sense in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re struggling, the former seems more achievable.
How Do These Methods Work?
These methods only work if your debts are manageable and you’re able to meet more than the minimum payments every month. After all, you can’t make extras payments if you don’t have extra money.
Unless your debt to income ratio is maxed out, you should have some additional funds at the end of the month to put towards the debt. This is true for the vast majority of debtors. The issue is not that the money doesn’t exist, but that they don’t see a point in using it to pay off debt.
Paying more money towards your debts can feel like throwing good money after bad. If you’re only required to pay $200 a month then why give them $600? You could put those additional funds into a savings account or even use them to prepare for three months of minimum payments.
How Additional Payments Help to Pay Off Debt
To understand why this strategy is essential you need to understand how debt works. If you have a $10,000 loan or credit card debt and you’re making a $400 monthly payment, more than $300 of that will go toward interest, which means you’re barely making a dent in the principal. The older the debt is, the greater your principal payments will become in relation to interest, but if you increase those monthly payments from the outset, you could reduce that principal immediately.
If you have a $10,000 loan with a 7% interest rate and a term of 7 years, you can expect to pay $166.23 a month and over $4,100 in interest over those 7 years. Pay just $50 extra a month and you can reduce the total interest by over $1,400 and shorten the loan term by 2 years. Increase the monthly payment by $150 and you’ll drop 4 years from the loan term and save $2,500 in interest.
Every time you pay more than the minimum monthly payment, you’re clearing more of the principal, which reduces the interest and the compounding interest and greatly decreases the total cost of the loan.
How to Choose Between the Two
If you have a mathematical mind, you can run some calculations to determine which debt pay off strategy will suit you best. Will debt snowball create higher minimum payments, will debt avalanche be more effective at clearing the debts that have the most impact on your credit score?
Calculate your projected earnings and minimum payments over the next few years and see which one will help you to pay off debt with the least interest and fuss.
There are many other debt payoff methods as well, including everything from debt consolidation to bankruptcy and more. Take a look at our Debt Payoff Strategy guide to learn more and discover which option is right for you.
When people receive their tax returns, they are quick to spend this money on frivolous purchases that may bring them temporary joy. Even though people know there are ways to spend their tax return responsibly, the temptation to splurge on things they don’t need is too strong.
Ultimately, you can spend your tax return on whatever you want, but you should really consider what you should be using it for.
Pay Down Debts
Between student, home, and auto loan and credit card debt, people can easily find themselves owing thousands of dollars. Consumers often have no choice but to pay down their debts little by little over time, but if it is possible to make an extra payment or two using your tax refund, the debt can be repaid much faster.
Keep in mind that it would be most helpful to pay down your debts based on interest. High-interest rates should take priority since they are the most expensive. If you pay them down sooner, you will save money because you can shorten the repayment period and pay less interest.
Start or Add to an Emergency Fund
How prepared are you for the unexpected? If your car needed a major repair tomorrow, would you have the money to cover the cost? When emergencies happen people need to be prepared if they don’t want to take a big financial hit.
Emergency funds are designed to cover the cost of the unexpected. If you don’t have an emergency fund, use your tax refund to start one. And if you already have one, add to your fund. If and when something happens, you don’t have to stress about how this unexpected expense will set you back because you’ll have a financial safety net in place.
The traditional age of retirement is 65, although some people may choose to retire earlier than that. Your retirement may not be in the near future, but it is never too early to start saving for this phase of your life.
Just because you are retired, doesn’t mean you won’t have expenses. Between rent or mortgage payments, gas, food, utilities, and other monthly expenses, you will need to have a lot saved up since you will no longer be working. The money you save over the years will add up, so allocating some of the funds you receive from your tax return for your retirement savings will only help future you.
Homeowners are responsible for their own home maintenance and improvements. It is a well-known fact that maintaining a home can be costly. Landscaping your front yard, insulating your attic or remodeling your kitchen may all be on your list of things to do, but with the cost of these home improvements being high, you haven’t been able to afford either.
Your tax return, regardless of how small or large it is, can be used to create the home you deserve. Even if you can’t tackle all of your projects at once, getting one done is better than none. Additionally, consider using the money to start a home improvement fund that can be used specifically for any home expenses you may have in the future.
Not everyone considers how they can help someone else. And when they do, they may focus on material items, such as clothes and shoes, but if there is an organization that you would like to support, why not make a monetary donation? You’ll feel good about having helped those in need, but another bonus to donating is that depending on the donation, it is tax-deductible.
People view their tax return as free money that they can throw away. If there is work that needs to be done to improve your life or financial health, this money shouldn’t be wasted. When you receive your tax return, consider the many responsible ways to use this money that can positively impact your life.
Unhappy with your credit score or financial situation? Give Credit Absolute a call today for a free consultation!
[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Amazon.com offers several credit cards for its customers, but one of its best is the Amazon Prime Store Card. Offered through Synchrony Bank, the Amazon Prime Store Card combines a hefty 5% back offer with promotional financing options for orders starting at $149.
If you already have Amazon Prime and routinely make big purchases on the site, the Amazon Prime Store Card could make your shopping life easier while rewarding you with a decent rewards rate.
How Does the Amazon Prime Store Card Work?
You’ve undoubtedly encountered other store credit cards through traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. You usually get a discount when you sign up, as well as exclusive offers or rewards. These cards are best for customers who don’t carry a balance on their card every month and who frequently shop at a specific retailer.
The Amazon Prime Store Card works the same way as traditional store cards, with some defining extra features. Namely, you have to subscribe to Amazon Prime to be eligible. Non-Prime Amazon customers can get the Amazon.com Store Card and access promotional financing offers, but they won’t get 5% back.
If you already have the Amazon.com Store Card, a Prime subscription will automatically upgrade you to the Amazon Prime Store Card. You also get an Amazon gift card loaded onto your account when you sign up for the card. Remember that because this is a store card, you can use the card only at Amazon.com. In other words, you can’t use it at restaurants, gas stations, or drugstores—or anywhere else for that matter.
Once you have the Amazon Prime Store Card, you immediately get 5% back on every Amazon.com purchase, which means you get back 5% of the purchase’s value in rewards points. You can cash out points on Amazon directly—if you have rewards available, Amazon will give you the option to apply them at checkout.
How Does the Promotional Financing Work?
The promotional financing kicks in on orders of $149 or more, and you don’t need the Prime card specifically to access them. Promotional financing is the main benefit of Amazon’s regular Amazon.com Store Card. But if you’d rather have the Prime card for the extra 5% back on purchases, you still get the financing features.
Amazon has 6-, 12-, and 24-month financing offers with zero interest, as long as you pay off the item completely within the allotted timeframe. This is important, because if you don’t complete all your payments, Amazon will charge you interest accrued from the date of purchase at a variable APR of 26.99%, completely voiding the zero-interest offer.
Amazon Store Card Financing Offers:
- Interest-free 6-month financing: orders of $149 or more
- Interest-free 12-month financing: orders of $599 or more
- Interest-free 24-month financing: select items sold by Amazon
Keep in mind, you can’t get 5% back and promotional financing on the same order—it’s one or the other.
Other Credit Cards with Amazon Savings
The Amazon Prime Store Card isn’t the only credit card out there that will get you rewards with Amazon.com. Amazon and other providers have several options that will make your online purchases work for you—and we cover five of the best credit cards for Amazon purchases below.
1. Amazon.com Store Card
As we’ve mentioned, Amazon with Synchrony Bank offers the Amazon.com Store Card. This card gives you the same promotional financing offers as the Amazon Prime Store Card, but it does not require a Prime membership.
You miss out on the 5% back, but if you make big purchases on Amazon, those financing offers can still prove useful.
2. Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card from Chase Bank has a lower rewards rate than the Amazon Prime Store Card, but it makes up for it with the ability to shop anywhere. This card gives you 3% back on Amazon.com; 2% back on everyday purchases from drugstores, restaurants, and gas stations; and 1% back on everything else.
With no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, this card is a great everyday and travel card for frequent Amazon shoppers.
3. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Also from Chase Bank, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is similar to the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card but with two main differences:
- It offers a higher, 5% back rate on Amazon purchases.
- It requires a Prime membership.
Just like the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, you get 2% cash back at drugstores, gas stations, and restaurants and 1% cash back on everything else. And you still don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees or an annual fee.
This card is similar to the Amazon Prime Store Card, except it can be used anywhere and offers rewards at more places than just Amazon. However, you don’t have access to any financing offers.
4. American Express SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card
If you’re looking for a decent Amazon business credit card, this could be an option. The SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express gives you 5% cash back on purchases from US office supply stores. And guess what? Many US office supply stores sell Amazon gift cards. If you’re fond of the Amazon 5% back rate and make frequent purchases at office supply stores for your business, the SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card can give you the same cash back rate as an Amazon rewards card, plus office supply store rewards. Along with no annual fee, this card offers a decent 3% cash back rate on a category of your choice (from a list of eight). For everything else, you get 1% cash back.–>
4. American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card
American Express’s Blue Cash Preferred Card gives you a whopping 6% cash back on up to $6,000 a year for purchases at U.S. supermarkets. Just like office supply stores, many U.S. supermarkets sell Amazon gift cards, which would allow you to get an even better cash back rate than an actual Amazon rewards card. (Click here for rates and fees.)
The rewards rate for supermarket purchases drops to 1% cash back after the $6,000 annual limit, so keep that in mind as you make your purchases. You’ll also have to pay an annual fee of $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. . But in addition to the 6% cash back rate for U.S. supermarkets, you’re entitled to 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, as well as 1% cash back for any other purchases.
Before you apply for any credit card, you should know your credit standing so you can determine which credit cards best fit your credit range. Get your credit scores for free on Credit.com. They’re updated every 14 days so you always know where you stand.
Getting started on rebuilding your credit may seem like a long task with little light at the end of the tunnel. But really, a few strategic steps can make a noticeable difference in your credit score.
Whether you want just a few ideas to rebuild credit or the full enchilada, we’ll walk you through your options. Plus, you’ll even find a few bonus tips on what not to do in order to get that number growing.
Let’s get started.
8 Strategies to Rebuild Credit
There are actually quite a few ways you can jumpstart your credit score. Pick one, pick them all, just remember that the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll start seeing results.
1. Address Any Credit Report Errors
First things first, you need to check your credit reports to see what’s actually on there. You can get a free copy from the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months, just submit a form at AnnualCreditReport.com.
It’s sponsored by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and is authorized by federal law; in other words, accessing your free credit report is your legal right!
Check for Inaccuracies
Once you have your reports, you need to scour each one for accuracy. Don’t just look to see if the credit accounts are yours — check the amount owed, payment history, and other details to make sure that information is accurate. Pay careful attention to negative information because it does the most damage to your credit scores.
If anything looks incorrect or outdated, send a dispute letter. If the listing is outdated or erroneous, it should be removed within a few months.
After any change is made to your credit report, the bureau should send you a new copy for free so you can view the updates. Depending on the importance of the negative item removed, you could see an increase in your credit scores at this point.
2. Keep Your Debt Low or Pay Down Existing Debt
Debt plays a huge role in determining your creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders and other creditors. Having too much can be a red flag, but not having enough can result in lenders not having enough information to go on.
The key is to not overburden any one specific account. If you’re approaching your credit limit on a credit card, your credit score will take a hit.
If you’ve already maxed out some of your credit cards, it’s time to start paying those down. And if you need to make some major purchases on a credit card in the near future, think about spreading it out over different accounts.
Need some comparison benchmarks for how much credit you should utilize?
Typically, you want to keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit. That credit utilization ratio (in addition to how high of an interest rate you’re paying) can help you determine which debts to pay off first.
If your APR is comparable across credit cards, work on getting each one below that 30% threshold. For example, if you owe $4,000 on an account with a $5,000 limit, keep paying it off until your balance is under $1,500. Not only does keeping your debt low save you money, but it can also help fix your credit.
3. Make Your Monthly Payments On Time
We can never stress enough how important it is to pay your bills on time each month. And this doesn’t just refer to your credit cards, but all of your bills as well, including loans, utilities, and cell phones. Don’t stress if you’re a few days late.
How long do you have before your late payment is reported to the credit bureaus?
The limit is 30 days. After that, it’s likely your missed payment will be reported and your credit score will drop. But here’s the catch: you’ll receive a new negative entry for every 30-day period afterward that you haven’t paid.
And if you still haven’t worked something out with your creditor after a few months, your account could be sent to collections. That creates an entirely new negative entry on your credit report that can cause a huge drop in your credit score, not to mention scare away potential new creditors.
Not only does this tip help prevent new bad credit entries, but it’ll also help improve your credit score over time. Consider setting up automatic payments or payment reminders and you’ll start seeing positive results soon.
4. Avoid Closing Existing Credit Accounts
Account age is another determining factor used in your credit score. While you may think it’s better to close an account, consider a few things before you do.
First, understand how the age of the account actually affects your credit. Any new credit account could cause a slight dip in your credit score, so it’s important to keep older credit accounts open to balance out new financial products.
But there’s a myth in the personal finance sphere that closing a credit card automatically removes that history from your credit reports.
That’s not true. Each closed account stays on your report for an additional ten years.
When is it smart to close a credit card account?
The answer is anytime you’re paying an annual or monthly fee that isn’t offset by other benefits received from the account. If you have a travel rewards card, for example, you may accrue enough points that save you more than you pay for the annual fee.
Take a good look at how you’re using your credit cards to figure out if they really deserve a place in your wallet.
5. Use a Secured Credit Card or Credit Builder Loan
When you have a shaky financial past, it may be difficult to get new credit. But you may need it for either a monetary emergency or simply to have an account that reports your on-time payments and help your credit.
Luckily, there are two products that can help you in these situations — but they do come with some caveats.
Secured Credit Cards
The first is a secured credit card. They’re common with banks and credit unions, although you can find some online options as well.
In order to receive a secured credit card, you’re required to make a security deposit that serves as collateral in case of missed payments. In exchange, however, the creditor should make regular reports to the credit bureaus so you can begin to rebuild your credit history.
Credit Builder Loans
The second financial product is a credit builder loan. Again, you make a deposit in the loan amount to the financial institution, then make monthly payments (with interest). It may seem unproductive to pay for money you already have, but the bank provides the service of reporting your payment history.
Once you’ve successfully used either of these products for a certain period of time, you can usually upgrade to a better credit card or loan.
How can you rebuild your credit fast?
It’s no secret that rebuilding credit takes time. But there are a few ways you can speed up the process.
6. Make payments twice a month
Even if you pay your credit card balance in full each month, your credit scores could be suffering if you charge a lot.
Credit bureaus don’t look at your balance in real-time. Instead, they typically receive monthly updates from the credit card companies.
That means even if your balance is $0 after you pay off your statement, your credit report may look different. In fact, you could appear to have a 100% credit utilization ratio even though you’re not carrying a balance each month!
You can avoid this problem by making more than one payment each month. That way, you’re reducing your balance for when the credit card company chooses to take a snapshot of your account and send to the bureaus.
If you ever charge a large amount and are able to pay it off right away, you can do that even before your statement comes due.
7. Increase your credit limit
When you don’t have the means to pay down your debt in a large bulk but are making on-time payments each month, it is still possible to improve your credit score. You can do this by requesting an increase in your credit limit from your credit card issuer.
That automatically lowers your credit utilization. Here’s how.
Let’s assume again that you have a $4,000 balance on a $5,000 credit card. That’s a credit utilization ratio of 80%. But if you’ve been a loyal customer with a strong repayment history, you could call customer service and ask for a larger line of credit.
Say you raise your available credit limit to $8,000 and don’t add any new debt to the account. Your $4,000 balance now only account for a 50% credit utilization ratio. It’s a great start and makes it much more manageable for you to get that number down to 30%.
8. Request to Be an Authorized User
If you’re close to someone with a positive credit history, consider becoming an authorized user on one of their existing credit card accounts. When you do, you’ll automatically get the age of the account and payment history added to your credit report. It’s basically a shortcut to rebuild credit.
The downside, of course, is that any negative history associated with their account will also be included on your credit reports. And if you get access to the card and charge a lot or don’t pay on time, their credit will also be affected.
This can be an extremely effective tool to quickly build credit, but it definitely requires a close relationship and an upfront conversation about expectations.
Be honest about your intentions and ask the person for total transparency in their own credit habits. After all, if they hit a financial bump, it could affect you as well.
Still, becoming an authorized user is definitely a viable option, especially if you can have an open dialog with someone like a parent, spouse, or lifelong friend.
How long does it take to rebuild your credit history?
Rebuilding your credit history is definitely a process. Some negative marks, like late payments, can stay on your report for up to seven years. Bankruptcies can last as long as ten years. Of course, negative items can be removed much sooner. But even if they’re not, their impact on your credit score begins to wane as time goes by.
Once you start diving into some of the tactics we’ve discussed, you’ll likely start seeing results in your credit score within a few months.
After that, it could still take years to completely repair your credit depending on what specifically is on your report. Luckily, the things you need to do to build your credit are also things that are really beneficial to your overall financial health.
It’s worth making some lifestyle changes to pay off your debt, make your payments on time, and regularly stay on top of your credit report.
After all, repairing your credit is just the first step. Once you’ve got that underway, you can begin thinking about financial goals as well, whether it’s buying a house, going back to school, or saving up for a major purchase. With good credit, you will have access to the best interest rates.
The best thing about having good credit is that it opens the door to more possibilities for your life. When you start acting on ways to repair your credit, you’re taking the first step in a journey full of potential.
Mindy Kaling just got herself a new home in Malibu, and boy is it one for the history books! According to the Los Angeles Times, the actress bought Frank Sinatra’s former Malibu home for $9.55 million.
After selling two other homes in the Los Angeles area in the past three years, Mindy Kaling seems to have settled on Malibu as a place to call home, and will be moving into her new place on Broad Beach with her adorable toddler, Katherine. And it only makes sense that the Sinatra beach house was the one to lock her down, as Frank Sinatra rightfully once called it “the happiest place on Earth”.
A coastal estate with seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, 5,824 square feet, and plenty of outdoor spaces to soak in the vast ocean views, it’s easy to see why the oceanfront estate served as a frequent hangout for Sinatra’s star-studded crew.
When we first reported on the listing (back in December 2018, when the property first came to market), and got in touch with one of the real estate agents in charge of the listing, I was humbled to learn that Leonard Rabinowitz (of Hilton & Hyland) was a real-life friend of the Sinatras. One that has actually passed through the doors of their home as a guest, and one that can help tell the story of the home where “The Voice” had spend his final years.
“I met Mr. & Mrs. Sinatra in the early 90’s when mutual friend and poker pal Angie Dickinson invited me to their beach house for a Sunday afternoon” Leonard Rabinowitz said. “When you enter the front door of the Sinatra Beach House there is an expansive view straight through the house and grounds to the ocean. As spectacular as the ocean view is, I was just as struck by those seated in the living room. There were Mr. & Mrs. Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon, Dick Martin, Robert Wagner, Louis Jourdan, Steve Lawrence, Edye Gorme, and Dick Van Dyke. A room full of legends!”
The story of how Frank Sinatra made Malibu his home
According to Mr. Rabinowitz, at the beginning of the 1990s Frank Sinatra and his wife Barbara would often visit their friends Steve and Eydie (Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé.) The Grammy Award-winning husband-and-wife duo were close friends of the Sinatras and would often invite them over to their Broad Beach home.
That’s how the two fell in love with the area and bought a lot there in 1990, lot that they used to built what was later on their ‘happiest place on earth’: a 7-bedroom, 9-bathroom dream beach home that opens up to the ocean.
With lots of space for entertaining, the 5,800-square-foot Sinatra Beach House comes with a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen, endless dining and living spaces (fit for a world-class entertainer), a stunning indoor-outdoor bar, and a patio overlooking a grassy lawn out to the ocean. There’s also a sauna, a hair-salon, and an elevator with leopard-print design. Don’t know how Mindy Kaling feels about all that, but I do know is that one Mindy Lahiri would be ecstatic about the leopard-print elevator!
The Sinatra house of love
Working with designer Edward “Ted” Grenzbach — who also designed homes for the likes of Johnny Carson, Barbara Streisand, Rupert Murdoch and Cher — Barbara and Frank Sinatra saw their dream home come to life.
And they were so happy with the results that, according to Mrs. Sinatra’s autobiography, “Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank“, they decided to renew their vows in the house’s backyard in 1996.
In an intimate setting, with friends and family attending, the Sinatra Beach House stood witness to a ceremony celebrating renewed commitments of love and friendship from Frank and Barbara Sinatra. Now isn’t that a wonderful story to tell visitors when they come visit Mindy Kaling’s house?
After his death in 1998, Frank Sinatra’s house was passed on to a trust linked to Mrs. Sinatra. Following her own death in 2017, the house was brought to market by her son from a previous marriage, Robert Oliver, and initially priced at $12,900,000.
Agents Leonard Rabinowitz and Jack Friedkin with Hilton & Hyland, and Chris Cortazzo with Coldwell Banker were in charge of the listing, with Cortazzo also representing Kaling in the transaction.
More celebrity homes:
Sir Anthony Hopkins is Selling His Malibu Home Perched on a Cliff’s Edge
Shaquille O’Neal is Selling his L.A. Home… on Instagram
Inside Supernatural Star Jensen Ackles’ ‘Very Hip’ Lake House in Austin
The Mysterious Allure of Stephen King’s House, the Beating Heart of Bangor, Maine
When you’re leaving your job and possibly starting a new one, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the changes taking place in your life and forget about your 401(k). However, if you don’t follow the IRS’s 401(k) rollover rules, you may incur large penalties and lose a significant chunk of the hard-earned money you’ve set aside in your retirement fund.
Penalties Are Big
If you withdraw your money from your old employer’s retirement fund or move it into another non-qualified investment vehicle, such as a regular savings account, you may incur penalties, and the amount of money you receive may be far less than the balance of your retirement fund. First, your previous employer will withhold 20% for federal income taxes; additional funds may be withheld for state income taxes. Second, if you’re under 59½ years old, you’ll probably see an additional penalty applied. Consult your tax advisor.
As an example, if you have worked for 10 years and have $50,000 in your current 401(k) account, you could receive only $35,000 if are under 59½ years old and you elect to take a cash withdrawal rather than rolling over the funds into a qualified plan. Also, the money you receive could potentially bump you up into a higher income tax bracket, increasing the overall amount you are required to pay in income taxes.
Complying With 401(k) Rollover Rules
These rules are in place partly to motivate taxpayers to save for retirement. It is important to think seriously about taking money out of your retirement account before you reach 59½ years of age. When you leave your job, you have a number of options to manage your 401(k) savings without incurring a penalty. These options include:
- Leave your 401(k) with your old employer. This can be an easy short-term option. Your old employer is obligated to continue managing the money and provide communications just as they have in the past. You can change your mind later and move the money to your new employer or a different eligible account. However, don’t assume you can always follow this path.
- Make a 401(k) rollover to a plan with your new employer. You have 60 days to complete this transaction before penalties kick in. Contact your new employer’s benefits office when you’re hired so you can set up the rollover transaction on both ends without a last-minute rush.
- Invest in a non-employer retirement account, generally an IRA. You have many choices here: Roth or traditional, IRA savings or IRA CD. These options may be worth researching if you’re leaving a job and don’t yet know where you’ll eventually end up. This should be done within 60 days to avoid penalties.
At the end of the year you’ll receive a 1099-R statement saying that you’ve had a retirement fund distribution. When you reconcile your taxes be sure to show the appropriate destination for your money as a 401(k) rollover so the IRS doesn’t erroneously apply penalties. Check with a tax advisor if you have specific questions and to be sure you are aware of any changes in IRS rules.
Last updated on August 25th, 2020
It’s time for another mortgage match-up, with the latest in the series pitting the lesser known “deed in lieu of foreclosure” vs. the more popular short sale.
Nowadays, there are plenty of options to get rid of your home and avoid foreclosure, even if you owe more than the property is currently worth.
By avoiding the full-blown foreclosure process, you can reduce the negative impact to your credit score and ensure the lender won’t come after you for any deficiency balance.
Additionally, you may be able to purchase real estate and qualify for a mortgage much sooner if you go with one of these foreclosure alternatives.
What Is a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure?
- As the phrase “deed in lieu” suggests
- Instead of the lender pursuing foreclosure and taking your home
- They will allow you to voluntarily deed back your property
- It’s basically a preemptive forfeiture of the home in exchange for some benefits
In short, a deed in lieu of foreclosure is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of foreclosure, you agree to voluntarily deed your property to the lender.
In exchange for this transfer of ownership, the lender will release the associated lien (mortgage), allowing you to move on with your life.
However, banks will only agree to a deed in lieu if you keep the property in good shape and meet some sort of hardship requirements.
The trade-off is that the bank gets a property free from damages typically associated with foreclosure, and they don’t need to deal with costly foreclosure proceedings.
Of course, with home prices much lower now than they once were, properties are often being dumped for less than what is owed on the mortgage.
As a result, the lender may be able to come after you for the deficiency balance, or the shortfall between the current property value and the loan balance, depending on state foreclosure laws.
If this is the case, you may be on the hook for all or part of the shortfall, which clearly isn’t ideal if you can’t even afford your mortgage payments.
It certainly won’t make your tax returns any more pleasant, especially after surrendering the property to the lender.
This is why it’s imperative that you negotiate with the lender to forgive any deficiency balance before agreeing to one of these deed in lieu of foreclosure agreements. And to get it in writing!
You must also do this with any junior liens, or second mortgages (or thirds). If you don’t, those lenders can come after you for any shortfall in certain situations.
Finally, you’ll want to determine if the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act applies to your situation.
Even if the lender doesn’t come after you for any money, Uncle Sam still might by way of tax liability. So there are two potential pitfalls you must try to avoid.
Why Choose a Deed in Lieu?
- There are several possible advantages to a deed in lieu
- Including less credit score damage (see chart below)
- A shorter waiting period to get another mortgage in the future
- And less required work (compared with a short sale)
Aside from avoiding an outright foreclosure, a deed in lieu may be the quickest option to part with your home if you don’t qualify for some other form of relief, such as a mortgage refinance or a loan modification.
Instead of being tasked with selling your home and waiting for the bank to accept the short sale offer, you can have the bank take care of it.
However, the bank may still ask that you list the property for a period of time before agreeing to a deed in lieu.
Also, a deed in lieu may not be nearly as bad as a foreclosure with regard to your credit score. It will still hurt your credit, but the impact could be less, assuming there is no deficiency balance.
Credit Score Impact of a Deed in Lieu
Check out the credit score impact of a deed in lieu as opposed to a foreclosure, according to FICO. It’s still not great, but it probably won’t do as much damage as a foreclosure.
On top of that, you’ll be able to qualify for a new home loan in a shorter period of time.
Instead of waiting up to seven years after a foreclosure, you may only need to wait as few as two years if you have extenuating circumstances, or four years under normal circumstances.
Lastly, you may be able to stay in your home with a deed in lieu if the lender offers a “Deed-for-Lease” option, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now do (along with Bank of America). Or you may receive some spending money for relocation costs.
For example, Fannie Mae has a so-called “Mortgage Release” program that provides options such as vacating a home immediately, staying for up to three months rent-free, or leasing the home at fair market rates for up to a year. This can be especially helpful if you have limited monthly income.
They may also provide relocation assistance (up to $3,000 to help you move and find a new residence), while also eliminating your remaining mortgage debt. That sounds a lot better than a foreclosure, doesn’t it?
What About a Short Sale?
- The downside here is that you actually have to do some work
- As the name suggests you’ve got to sell the place
- And you need to do so with the approval of your lender
- This can be time-consuming and a major burden during what is probably already a stressful time
I’ve already written extensively about short sales, which are probably the most popular foreclosure alternative available today.
Put simply, you must convince the lender to allow you to sell your property for less than the associated mortgage balance.
The downside is that you must list your home for sale, which obviously takes work, results in people tracking mud through your home, dealing with annoying real estate agents, and can take many (many) months to finalize.
First off, you need the bank to approve the sale, and secondly, you need to close the deal. It’s a lot more difficult to sell homes these days, so it can be quite a pain.
It’s basically a home sale without the profits at the end, but it might beat the foreclosure process.
However, new rules have sped up short sales, and now that they’re so commonplace, the process can be a lot more effortless.
The result is similar to a deed in lieu in that you are released from the loan once the home is sold, and you avoid foreclosure.
Again, you must ensure that there isn’t a deficiency balance to avoid owing any money on your tax returns after the deal is done.
And if there are second or third liens, they must also be dealt with.
Tip: If you complete a short sale or deed in lieu via the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program, the deficiency balance must be waived.
The advantages of a short sale are like a deed in lieu in that you can reduce the credit score impact and get a new mortgage sooner. You may also be offered a financial incentive to short sell.
The drawback is that a short sale may be more time consuming and tedious. However, banks are probably more willing to approve a short sale than they are a deed in lieu, especially if there is another mortgage loan is involved.
Though beginning in March, Fannie and Freddie will allow borrowers with illness or the need to relocate for a job apply for a deed in lieu, even if current on their mortgages. This just so happens to be taking place when home prices are on the rise…
In either a short sale or deed in lieu, there are also potential tax consequences, so consult a CPA and/or a lawyer before deciding which choice is best for you, if either. And pay attention to any legal updates on foreclosure laws, as they can change over time.
Read more: Foreclosure vs. short sale