Incenter Diligence Solutions, a provider of due diligence and document management services for the mortgage industry, announced on Wednesday that it has expanded offerings for the mortgage servicing rights (MSR) trading market.
These new offerings complement the trading services provided by Incenter Mortgage Advisors, which is another member of the Incenter LLC family of companies focused on improving mortgage operations.
“In an active trading market, participants must be able to quickly identify and manage their short-term and long-term risks so that they can transfer assets with agility and seize new revenue opportunities,” said Pamela Hamrick, president of Incenter Diligence Solutions. “Incenter Diligence is streamlining obstacle-ridden diligence processes without making them cookie-cutter. We are customizing each engagement to address the unique goals, strategies, and best-execution practices of every client.”
Incenter Diligence’s due diligence team creates a tailored review scope for each buyer or seller based on factors such as seasoning, geography, performance, and other key portfolio attributes. The firm also offers individualized reporting and document delivery services.
These services encompass various MSR-related tasks, including acquisition reviews, data to document validation, compliance reviews, document inventory, trailing document reconciliation, servicing boarding audits, and pay history reviews.
In situations where loan servicing institutions are selling the servicing rights to thousands of loans at once, it becomes crucial to identify any potential issues that could affect the long-term collectability of these assets. Incenter Diligence addresses this need through its document management solutions, which involve scanning and automated data extraction using advanced technology.
This process allows for the rapid ingestion of all loan files, scraping critical data from the documents, and identifying discrepancies and omissions.
“Buyers and sellers need a diligence firm that can customize reporting in a timely manner. Sellers also benefit from a system for maintaining data consistency to ensure that they have all the elements regulators require—for CCAR purposes, for example. Our clients consider Incenter Diligence an invaluable partner in both these areas,” Tom Piercy, managing director of Incenter Mortgage Advisors, said.
Additionally, Incenter Diligence aims to enhance sellers’ visibility into their assets by transforming “information blobs” that contain hundreds of pages of variously formatted loan documents into one clearly indexed, easy-to-search resource in a single format.
Incenter Diligence Solutions provides due diligence and document management services for the mortgage industry, enabling originators and investors to streamline operations, reduce risks, and capitalize on growth opportunities with speed and agility. The firm specializes in supporting the MSR trading ecosystem and tailors its review scope and document delivery services to clients’ unique requirements.
This content was generated using AI, and was edited and fact-checked by HousingWire’s editors.
A credit union is a nonprofit institution that’s owned by its members. Compared to a traditional bank, a credit union tends to offer more personalized service.
You can turn to a credit union for a variety of financial products, like checking and savings accounts, credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. Some regional and federal credit unions also offer wealth management services and other extras.
A typical credit union only accepts members who live in a specific region or work for an eligible employer. For example, they may require that you’re a resident of Atlanta, Georgia or work as a teacher.
The good news is some credit unions require less and make it easy for just about anyone to join. If you’d like to join a credit union but don’t want to worry about the strict membership requirements at most institutions, you’ve come to the right place.
38 Best Credit Unions Anyone Can Join
There are hundreds of credit unions that anyone can join, but we’ve done the heavy lifting and found the best ones for you. The credit unions below, which are overseen by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) may be an option for you, regardless of what you do for a living or where you’re located.
Just keep in mind that you may have to make a donation, join an organization, live in a certain state, or meet some other eligibility requirement. We encourage you to explore this lengthy to list of credit unions anyone can join so you can hone in on the ideal credit union for your unique situation.
1. Alliant Credit Union
Alliant Credit Union made its debut in 1935 to serve the employees of United Airlines. It stands out for it high-interest savings and checking accounts with low minimum opening deposits as well as excellent customer service.
You’ll also receive access to more than 80,000 free ATMs across the U.S. and get reimbursed up to $20 in out-of-network ATM charges per month. Since it only has two brick-and-mortar locations, you should feel comfortable with online banking. If you’d like to join Alliant Credit Union, make a $5 donation to Foster Care to Success.
2. Connexus Credit Union
Connexus Credit Union was founded in 1935 and has a widespread presence in Wisconsin as well as more than 54,000 ATMs across the country. It couldn’t be easier to join the credit union as all you have to do is pay a one-time $5 fee to the Connexus Association, which supports financial education through college scholarships.
As a member, you can open one of its three checking options with high APYs and a traditional savings account or one that’s specifically designed for the holidays.
3. Pentagon Federal Credit Union
Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed, was founded in 1935 as a credit union for military and civilian government. Today, this Virginia-based credit union has opened it doors to anyone as long as they open a savings account and deposit a minimum of $5. It offers two savings accounts, including the Regular Savings and Premium Online Savings.
In addition, you can find checking accounts, CDs, and money market accounts. Other products include Coverdell Education Savings Certificates, IRAs, credit cards, mortgages, home equity loans, and student loans. Plus, you can enjoy modern perks like mobile check deposits, online bill pay, and instant transfers.
4. First Tech Federal Credit Union
First Tech Federal Credit Union is headquartered in California. The credit union offers many benefits, such as excellent customer service, many branches throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, online banking, and mobile banking.
It also has the Dividend Rewards Checking Account, which gives you 1.00% APY on balances below $1,000. You don’t have to live in California to join as long as you donate to a nonprofit called the Financial Fitness Association.
5. Consumers Credit Union
Consumers Credit Union was established in 1951 as a local credit union. Based in Illinois, it’s one of the largest credit unions in the state with over 100,000 members and more than $1.2 billion in assets.
You can join it, even if you don’t live in Illinois. All you have to do is donate the $5 membership free to an affiliated nonprofit. You can open almost all of its accounts online, except for the checking accounts and IRAs. The credit union also offers a high-yield checking account that offers high interest if you meet certain criteria.
6. Langley Federal Credit Union
Langley Federal Credit Union is based in Virginia and made its inception in 1936. At that time, members of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA, chartered the credit union.
Today, Langley offers membership to anyone who pays a fee to support an important cause in Virginia and deposits at least $5 into a savings account. You can choose from a checking account without a monthly fee, a variety of no-fee savings accounts with competitive interest compounds monthly, and Visa Cards with cash back rewards.
7. Lake Michigan Credit Union
Lake Michigan Credit Union made its debut in 1933 by a group of teachers. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it has 51 branches in Michigan and southwest Florida. Since it’s part of the Allpoint ATM network, members can enjoy free access to more than 55,000 free ATM.
To join, donate $5 to the ALS Foundation and deposit $5 into a Member Savings account. Once you do, you can earn perks through the MORE rewards program and redeem them for complimentary checks and free out-of-network ATM transactions.
You may also open the free, no frills Max Checking account. Note that the Member Savings account, which you must open to become a member, requires a minimum daily balance of $300 or you’ll be charged a $5 monthly fee.
8. Lafayette Federal Credit Union
Lafayette Federal Credit Union was founded in 1935 as an alternative to traditional banks. It offers numerous perks, like no minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fees, online banking, mobile deposits, free direct deposit, and special discounts.
You can join it if you live, work, worship, or attend school in Washington D.C. If you live outside the D.C. area, you may still become a member as long as you invest in a lifetime Home Ownership Financial Literacy Council (HOFLC) membership for only $10. This nonprofit focuses on helping consumers navigate the path to homeownership.
9. Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union has 26 branch locations across Minnesota. APFCU offers MyPlus Rewards that gives you points if you keep a certain amount of money in your bank account or use its debit or credit card.
To be eligible to join, all you have to do is donate $25 to the Affinity Plus Foundation and open a basic savings account. If you live and work in Minnesota or have a family member in the state, there are other ways to become a member.
10. Chevron Credit Union
Chevron Credit Union has been around since 1935 and has 19 branches that span six states, including California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Utah and Virginia. It operates under two brands: Chevron Federal Credit Union and Spectrum Credit Union.
To become a member, join one of its nonprofit partner organizations, such as the Contra Costa County Historical Society. You’ll also need to deposit $25 into a primary savings account and maintain a $25 minimum balance.
Chevron also offers a second chance checking account called New Solutions for those who need help rebuilding their banking history.
11. Ascend Credit Union
Since its inception in 1951, Ascend Credit Union has offered a variety of products, like checking and savings accounts, a money market account, Christmas Club account, youth accounts, credit cards, and loans.
If you’re interested in these services, join The Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Chapter and you’ll be eligible automatically. Note that there is a one-time fee of $25.
12. Hope Credit Union
Hope Credit Union is a black-owned credit union that was organized in 1995 by the Anderson United Methodist Church in Mississippi. You can join if you pay a $10 membership fee and show a foreign passport, permanent resident card, or Matricula Consular. Plus, you may use an ITIN number instead of a Social Security number.
Hope Credit Union provides a number of personal bank accounts, business banking accounts, and transformational deposits. With its transformational deposits, you can participate in socially responsible investing.
13. Boeing Employees Credit Union
Boeing Employees Credit Union, or BECU, was established in 1935 for Boeing employees and currently caters to more than 1 million members. But despite its name, you don’t have to work at Boeing to join.
Its products and services are available to you if you become a member or donor to the KEXP, which is a nonprofit art organization or the Sea Hawkers Central Council. The most noteworthy benefit of joining is the first-time homebuyer grant in which you can receive $7,500 toward your down payment and closing costs.
14. Hiway Credit Union
Hiway Credit Union made its debut in 1931 to serve employees of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It offers a free checking account with no monthly fee or minimum balance requirements, a free money market account with a $500 minimum deposit, credit cards, and loans.
You can qualify for a Hiway Federal Credit Union membership if you donate to the Minnesota Recreation and Park Foundation for $10 per year or the Association of the U.S. Army, which costs $40 for two years.
15. GreenState Credit Union
GreenState Credit Union was founded in 1938. It provides its members with personal accounts, business accounts, credit cards, loans insurance, wealth management services, and more.
GreenState was named one of the fastest growing credit unions in 2021. As long as you live or work in the state of Iowa, you can become a member and take advantage of its services without any issues.
16. Cascade Credit Union
Cascade Credit Union made its debut in 1952 to serve employees of the Cascade Division of the Great Northern Railway. Today, it’s open to many people and offers great perks like members-only sweepstakes, competitive rates, online banking tools, financial counseling, and group insurance benefits.
If you’d like to join, simply become a member of the Great Northern & Cascade Railway Association (GNCR) and pay an annual membership cost of $40. The credit union can help you fill out your application online or in-person at a local branch.
17. Wildfire Credit Union
Wildfire Credit Union began in 1937 as Saginaw Telephone Employees Credit Union, its original credit union name. Its first location was in the basement of the home of Hank Kosk, the credit union’s treasurer.
After some office upgrades, the credit union opened the doors to its current location on Bay Road in Saginaw and merged with Flint Telephone Employees Credit Union that same year. Today, Wildfire Credit Union offers several deposit accounts as well as personal banking and business banking services. You can join if you live, work, worship, or attend school in Michigan.
18. Nextmark Credit Union
Nextmark Credit Union made its debut in 1958. Its offerings include personal and business checking, home equity loans, personal loans, credit cards, gift cards, and more.
To join, you must live in a qualifying county in Virginia or make a donation to Herndon Elementary PTA, a Title I school.
19. Technology Credit Union
Technology Credit Union, or Tech CU, was established in 1960. It’s based in Silicon Valley and provides its members with no shortage of benefits. These include competitive rates, online banking, access to fee-free ATMs, free credit score monitoring, conference room space, and easy online appointment booking. To become a member, join Financial Fitness Association for only $8.
20. Veridian Credit Union
Veridian Credit Union was established in 1934. Most of its members are those who live or work in Iowa or certain counties of Nebraska. However, it’s open to anyone who is a registered user of Dwolla, a financial technology company. This means you can join as long as you sign up for a personal account at Dwolla.
You’ll also need to open a savings account and deposit at least $5. If you’re already a member of a credit union or bank but would like to switch to Veridian Credit Union, the switch kit may be helpful.
21. Harborstone Credit Union
Harborstone Credit Union’s roots date back to 1955, when it was known as McChord Federal Credit Union and served airmen on the McChord Air Force Base. In 1996, the credit union expanded its membership to anyone in the state of Washington and changed its name as a result.
As long as you live, work, or worship in Washington, you may join Harborstone Credit Union and enjoy a variety of financial products and digital tools.
22. NASA Federal Credit Union
NASA Federal Credit Union began in 1949 to serve NASA employees. Since then, it’s grown to more than 177,000 members. While the credit union is headquartered in Upper Marlboro, Massachusetts, there are 12 branches in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.
Its product lineup includes a simple checking account with no minimum opening deposit, a savings account with a great rate, and several CDs. You can also monitor your credit score and make deposits with the mobile app. If you don’t work for NASA, you can still join. Simply sign up for a one-year membership at the National Space Society (NSS).
Hanscom Federal Credit Union opened in 1953. The credit union has over 20 branches in and around Boston as well as one in McLean, Virginia. It offers fee-free checking accounts, savings accounts with rewards, credit cards, and loans.
To join, you’ll need to support one of its partner organizations, such as the Burlington Players, a volunteer theater group. In addition, you’ll be required to deposit $25 into a free primary savings account.
24. Pen Air Federal Credit Union
Pen Air Federal Credit Union was founded in 1936 to support civil service employees of Naval Air Station Pensacola. It has 16 locations in northwest Florida and southeast Alabama. You may be surprised to learn that you don’t have to be an active duty or retired military member to join.
You’ll be able to take advantage of Pen Air Federal Credit Union if you become a member of the Friends of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and deposit a minimum of $25 into a savings account. As a member, you can enjoy the Pen Air Platinum Mastercard, Share Savings account with the Round It program, and more.
25. State Department Federal Credit Union
State Department Federal Credit Union was founded in 1935. To join, you can become a member of the American Consumer Council for $8. This is a non-profit organization with a focus on consumer education and financial literacy.
The State Department Credit Union offers a long list of products and services, including basic, advantage, and privilege checking, a money market account, share certificate accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), credit cards, and loans.
26. United Nations Federal Credit Union
United Nations Credit Union made its debut in 1947. As long as you join the United Nations Association of the United States of America, you can become a member.
UNFCU has a vast product lineup that includes a checking account, membership savings account, credit cards, debit cards, and loans, like car loans and debt consolidation loans.
Other membership perks include loyalty rewards, credit card rewards, and the member referral program.
27. Premier Members Credit Union
Premier Members Credit Union was established in 1959 for members of the Boulder Valley School District. You’re eligible to join if you make a donation to Impact on Education, a charity in the Boulder Valley School District, and open an online savings account or youth savings account.
As a member, you can expect perks, such as high interest rates on checking accounts, no monthly service fee, no overdraft fees, and free overdraft protection. The credit union also offers an extensive network of branches and ATMs for your convenience.
28. SRI Federal Credit Union
SRI Federal Credit Union is headquartered in Menlo Park, California. It was founded in 1957 and offers membership to anyone who joins the Financial Fitness Association for $8 per year.
The credit union’s account offerings include a checking and savings account, money market account, IRA, health savings account, and youth, teen, and gradate accounts.
29. United States Senate Federal Credit Union
United States Senate Federal Credit Union has been around since 1935. Its mission is to “improve the financial wellness of members throughout all stages and circumstances of life.” Its products are similar to what most credit unions offer.
As a member, you can enjoy access to a number of checking and credit union savings accounts, mortgage loans, personal loans, auto loans, Visa debit cards, and business advisory services. To join, you’ll need to become a member of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society for $65.
30. Wings Financial Credit Union
Wings Financial Credit Union was founded in 1938 by seven employees from Northwest Airlines. To date, it serves more than 320,000 members with more than $7.5 billion in assets. You can join if you donate $5 to the Wings Financial Foundation, even if you don’t work in the aviation industry.
There are no fees on its basic banking accounts, including its checking and savings accounts, a money market account, and CDs. Its high yield savings and checking accounts offer competitive rates to help you grow your money.
31. Skyward Credit Union
Skyward Credit Union was chartered in 1941. It offers a share savings account with competitive rates, an aim higher checking account with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, affordable mortgage and home equity loans.
It also offers online banking, a variety of insurance products, and access to over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs. Like most credit unions require membership, so does this one. To become a member, join the Kansas Aviation Museum.
32. San Diego County Credit Union
San Diego County Credit Union has been around since 1938 and has over 430,000 credit union members. It’s considered the largest locally owned financial intuition in San Diego.
As a member, you can enjoy a free checking account, secured and unsecured credit cards, a wide range of account options with no service fees, and access to over 30,000 ATMs without ATM fees. To join San Diego County Credit Union, become a member of the Financial Fitness Association.
33. Bellco Credit Union
Bellco Credit Union is a Denver-based credit union that opened its doors in 1936. You can join it even if you don’t live in Colorado as long as you donate at least $10 to the Bellco Foundation, pay a one-time $5 membership fee, and deposit at least $25 in a savings account.
Once you do, you’ll have access to several noteworthy products, like the Boost Interest Checking account, which offers a competitive interest rate, the Premier Money Market Account, and two, no-fee credit cards.
34. Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Bethpage Federal Credit Union was founded in 1941 and currently has over 30 branches across Long Island and New York City. It has a reputation for competitive rates on it money market accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).
The credit union also offers three checking accounts, a few savings accounts, retirement planning services, IRAs, insurance, and more. You don’t have to live in New York to join if you open a $5 savings account. As a member, you may meet with credit union staff virtually and bank on the go with a handy mobile app.
35. First South Financial Credit Union
First South Financial Credit Union opened its doors in 1957 to serve those on the Millington base. Since then, it has become of the safest financial institutions in the U.S., as stated by independent rating agencies. While the credit union has locations throughout Tennessee and Mississippi, its online banking services make it a suitable option if you live elsewhere.
Like other credit unions, it offers a full suite of checking, savings, CDs, and IRA accounts. To join, become a member of the Courage Thru Cancer Association, which supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
36. Dow Credit Union
Dow Credit Union was founded in 1937 in Midland, Michigan. It provides numerous products, including checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), HSAs, deposit trust accounts, and loans.
Fortunately, you don’t have to work at Dow Chemical to take advantage of them. To join, make a $10 donation to the Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union Endowed Scholarship Fund.
37. Blue Federal Credit Union
Blue Federal Credit Union was chartered in 1951 as Warren Federal Credit Union. If you’re looking for a high-yield checking account, you’ll appreciate its Blue Extreme Checking Account with no minimum opening deposit or monthly service fees.
Other perks include a tiered membership rewards program and round-the-clock customer service. The easiest way to become a member is to donate $5 to the Blue Foundation and open a Membership Share Savings Account with $5.
38. Digital Federal Credit Union
Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU), based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, was established in 1979. Today, it is known for its comprehensive range of financial products that includes checking and savings accounts, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and wealth management services.
Perhaps one of DCU’s standout features is its commitment to digital banking, offering robust online and mobile platforms that compete with larger, nationwide banks. This makes DCU a fitting choice for those who prefer online banking, no matter where they live.
Membership is open to those who are a part of participating organizations or live, work, worship, or attend school in eligible communities. If you don’t fit those criteria, you can still join by becoming a member of a participating nonprofit organization, such as Reach Out for Schools, which requires a nominal donation.
See also: Best Nationwide Credit Unions of 2023
Not all credit unions are created equal. Some have strict membership criteria, while others are more flexible. Before you join a credit union (or several credit unions) on this list, be sure to consider numerous factors.
You’ll want to look at eligibility requirements, branch location, monthly maintenance fees, accounts offered, interest rates, mobile banking, digital banking, reputation, and customer service. Best of luck as you explore the best credit unions and search for the perfect credit union.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can civilians join Navy Federal Credit Union?
Yes, civilians can join the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU), the largest credit union in the U.S. However, this is limited to immediate family members of service members in all branches of the armed forces. This broad eligibility criteria is one of the reasons why NFCU has grown to be the largest credit union in the country.
Can anyone join American Airlines Credit Union?
No, not anyone can join the American Airlines Credit Union. Membership is limited to those who work in the air transportation industry, including airlines, airports, and related businesses, as well as their family members. While this broadens the scope beyond just American Airlines employees, it still doesn’t include everyone.
Financial institutions have always struggled to achieve their priority sector lending (PSL) targets. Under obligation from the central bank, financial institutions end up fulfilling PSL targets through secondary markets.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) defines priority sectors as agriculture, MSME, micro-credit, education, housing, export credit, and weaker sections. Republic caught up with BASIC Home Loan founder & CEO, Atul Monga to understand the trends in the priority sector lending for housing in India, how technology is solving the problem, and what BASIC is doing to ease the burden of Financial Institutions.
1. What have been your 3-5 key observations of the priority sector lending for housing in India, from Consumer, Technology & Lenders perspective?
Financial institutions face challenges in achieving their priority sector targets for housing due to various factors.
Firstly, most lenders have adopted a limited and selective criterion for eligibility, thereby excluding a large group of consumers from credit access. Secondly, the process of acquiring a loan can be rather tedious as there is a lack of uniform submission of offer documents and other information.
Also, inadequate technological infrastructure and a lack of digital connectivity have resulted in operational inefficiencies. Hence there is a need for more cost-effective and timely loan disbursal and servicing solutions.
2. Can you share more about your role in the whole process of priority sector lending for the housing sector? How does it work? How Banks/FIs benefit by working with you?
Affordable housing in India has been neglected by ecosystem players and banks, despite being a mandated priority sector for lending by the RBI. The current technology development in home loans is limited to web aggregators who generate leads without providing fulfillment support, mainly focusing on tier-1 cities.
We recognized the opportunity and leveraged their experience in e-commerce logistics and technology to address the automation and tracking challenges in this sector. Mortgages, especially for affordable housing, remain a largely untapped market with high lending rates ranging from 18% to 25%. However, default rates are low due to the social importance of homes in low to middle-income groups and the NPAs are low at usually
BASIC aims to simplify and expedite the home loan process for middle- and low-income groups through a “Phygital” approach, combining personalized assistance from experienced agents with digital tools.
By offering services that facilitate faster loan processing and reducing manual intervention, BASIC supports banks and financial institutions in meeting their targets while providing better products and transparency to customers.
3. Why do FIs lag in achieving their priority sector targets for the housing sector? What ails them?
Financial institutions (FIs) face challenges in meeting their priority sector targets for housing due to inadequate regulatory guidelines and funding. The absence of clear directives hinders their ability to effectively allocate resources and cater to the housing needs of the priority sector.
Furthermore, lending to the priority housing sector poses risks for FIs, as many borrowers have poor credit histories. This increases the likelihood of defaults, making it challenging for FIs to recover loans in the event of a default.
4. What are the trends you see in this space over the next 2-3 years? Can technology be the disruptor?
We believe that technology has the potential to revolutionize priority sector lending in the housing sector. Through the automation of loan processes and utilization of data analytics, loans can be disbursed efficiently and in a timely manner, while also improving the overall customer experience. Additionally, there is a gradual shift in the industry towards digital solutions for loan marketing and acquisitions.
This transition to digital platforms and technologies facilitates greater accessibility and effectiveness in reaching out to borrowers. By leveraging technology, priority sector lending can be transformed, offering cost-efficient operations and enhanced customer experiences.
5. How can the priority sector lending be transformed for the housing sector? Do you believe the limit for priority sector lending for the housing sector needs to be revised? If yes, what’s your argument for it, and how do you think it will help India & consumers?
Transforming priority sector lending in the housing sector requires key initiatives. First, digitalizing processes would allow lenders to access information quickly and accurately. Second, establishing a secure central database would store customer information and enable its accessibility for lenders. Third, introducing innovative financial products with flexible loan terms and non-traditional repayment structures would enhance lending options.
Additionally, improving outreach programs would raise awareness and expand the customer base. Lastly, revising the limit for priority sector lending would make it more accessible, driving increased credit and reducing the cost for the housing sector, thereby benefiting India’s economy.
6. Can you share what’s the social impact BASIC has created through priority sector lending for housing in India?
BASIC has made a significant positive social impact through its priority sector lending for the housing sector. By providing access to credit for underserved segments of the population, BASIC has enabled individuals and families to fulfill their dream of owning a home.
We have also worked towards reducing the turnaround time for credit approval, ensuring that borrowers can receive timely financial assistance. Moreover, BASIC offers more flexible loan terms, tailoring them to suit the specific needs and financial capabilities of borrowers. Thus, BASIC has empowered customers and improved their standard of living.
A wash sale occurs when an investor sells a security at a loss, and buys a very similar security within a 30-day window of the sale (30 days before or after). The wash-sale rule is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation that states an investor can’t receive tax deduction benefits if they sell an investment for a loss, then purchase the same or a “substantially identical” asset within 30 days before or after the sale.
While investors may find themselves in a position in which it may be beneficial to sell securities to harvest losses, it’s important to know the wash-sale rule in and out to avoid triggering penalties.
Which Investments are Subject to the Wash-Sale Rule?
The wash-sale rule applies to most common investments, including:
• Mutual funds
• Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
• Stock futures contracts
Transactions in an individual retirement account (IRA) can also fall under the wash-sale rule. The wash-sale rule does not apply to commodity futures or foreign currency trades. The rule also applies if an investor sells a security that has increased in value and within 30 days buys an identical security. They will need to pay capital gains taxes on the proceeds.
What Happens When You Trigger a Wash Sale?
Investors commonly choose to sell assets at a loss as part of their tax or day trading strategy, or they may regret selling an asset while the market was down, and decide to buy back in.
The intent of the wash-sale rule is to prevent investors from abusing the tax benefits of selling at a loss, and claiming artificial losses.
In the event that an investor does trigger a wash sale, they will not be allowed to write off the loss when they do their tax reporting to the IRS. This means the investor won’t receive any tax benefit for selling at a loss. The rule still applies if an investor sells an investment in a taxable account and buys it back in a tax-advantaged account, or if one spouse sells an asset and then the other spouse purchases it that also counts as a wash sale.
It’s important for investors to understand the wash-sale rule so that they account for it in their investment and tax strategy. If investors have specific questions, they might want to ask their tax advisor for help.
Recommended: Investing 101 for Beginners
Avoiding a Wash Sale
Unfortunately, the guidelines regarding what a “substantially identical” security is are not very specific. The easiest way to avoid wash sales is to create a long-term investing strategy involving few asset sales and not trying to time the market. Creating a diversified portfolio is generally a good strategy for investors.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the wash-sale rule applies across an investor’s accounts. As such, investors need to keep track of their sales and purchases across their entire portfolio to try and make sure that the wash-sale rule doesn’t affect any investment choices.
What to Do After Selling an Asset at a Loss
The safest option is to wait more than 30 days to purchase an asset after selling a similar one at a loss. An investor can also invest funds into a different asset–a different enough asset, that is–for 30 days or more and then move the funds back into the original security after the wash sale window has passed.
There are benefits to selling an asset at either a profit or a loss. If an investor sells at a profit, they make money. If they sell at a loss, they can declare it on their taxes to help offset their capital gains or income. If an investor has significant capital gains to report, they may decide to sell an asset that has decreased in value to help lower their tax bill. However, if they hoped to reinvest in an asset later, a wash sale can ruin those plans.
In some cases, simply selling a stock from one corporation and purchasing one from another, different corporation is fine. Even selling a stock and buying a bond from the same company may not trigger a wash sale.
Investing in ETFs or Mutual Funds Instead
If an investor wants to reinvest funds in a similar industry while avoiding a wash sale, one option would be to switch to an ETF or mutual fund. There are ETFs and mutual funds made up of investments in particular industries, but they are often diversified enough that they wouldn’t be considered to be too similar to an individual stock or bond. It’s possible that an investor could sell an individual stock and reinvest the money into a mutual fund or ETF within a similar market segment without violating the wash-sale rule.
However, if an investor wants to sell an ETF and buy another ETF, or switch to a mutual fund, this can be more challenging. It may be difficult to figure out which ETF or mutual fund swaps will count as wash sales, and which won’t.
Wash-Sale Penalties and Benefits
If the IRS decides that a transaction counts as a wash sale, the investor can’t use the loss to reduce their taxable income or offset capital gains on their taxes for that year.
However, there can be an upside to wash sales. Investors can end up with a higher cost basis for their new investment, because the loss from the sale is added to the cost basis of the new purchase. In addition, the holding period of the sold investment is added to the holding period of the new investment.
The benefit of having a higher cost basis is that an investor can choose to sell the new investment at a loss and have a greater loss for tax reporting than they would have. Conversely, if the investment increases in value and the investor sells, they will have a smaller capital gain to report. Having a longer holding period means an investor may be able to pay long-term capital gains taxes on a sale rather than short-term gains, which have a higher rate.
The wash-sale rule is triggered when an investor sells a security at a loss, but then turns around and buys a similar security within 30 days–either before, or after. It’s a bit of an opaque rule, but there can be consequences for triggering wash sales. That’s why understanding regulations like the wash-sale rule is an important part of being an informed investor.
Part of making solid investing decisions is planning for taxes and understanding what the benefits and downsides may be for any particular transaction. This is just one aspect of tax-efficient investing that investors might want to consider.
Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an Active Invest account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).
For a limited time, opening and funding an account gives you the opportunity to win up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.
SoFi Invest® The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Also, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below. 1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or prequalification for any loan product offered by SoFi Bank, N.A. Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market. Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances. Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $10 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions. SOIN0523034
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Guest Post Naturally Enhancing Your Atmosphere If you want to be the most healthy, if you want to personally flourish, you’re going to have to take a few steps. Getting the body and mind in harmony doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got to eat right, you’ve got … [Read more…]
When I worked in management consulting, one of my responsibilities was to help my company figure out ways to make money while we slept. As a consulting business, our revenue stream came from selling the hours of the people who worked at our company. But to grow our margins, we knew we had to scale our time. This is where I first learned about passive income — the Holy Grail of the business world.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I think a lot about how to direct my active streams of income into passive income opportunities. Here are some things I’ve learned about active and passive income in my wealth-building journey.
What Is Active Income?
Active income is earned by trading your time for money. Most people at the beginning of their careers are focused solely on earning active income to make a living.
What Is Passive Income?
Passive income is earned from income-producing assets. Someone who has passive income is not trading their time for money. Instead, the assets they own produce income without much involvement from the owner of the asset.
With the rise of financial influencers and the FIRE movement, finding ways to earn passive income has become a popular topic in the personal finance community.
Is Any Income Truly ‘Passive’?
The idea of earning truly passive income sounds amazing, right? But what’s often not discussed about passive income is that unless you inherit passive income-producing assets, creating passive income streams actually requires a substantial amount of active work.
Famous American entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has gone as far as to say that truly passive income doesn’t exist outside of passive public market investing and rental income.
I tend to agree with Gary that the term ‘passive’ income is something of a misnomer. Creating passive income is never truly passive; there is no free lunch when it comes to financial mobility!
But thinking of income in active and passive terms might nonetheless have some benefits for those who are assessing their current financial status and crafting their wealth-building strategy. For that reason, I’ll break down the broad differences between active and passive income streams, as well as the most prominent ways to generate active or passive income.
Pros & Cons of Active Income
Allows you to develop a specific skill or expertise consistently
May provide social interaction and camaraderie associated with a traditional worksite
Trades time for money
Takes time away from doing other things
Cannot scale income potential beyond time constraints
Can be taxed at high rates
Pros & Cons of Passive Income
Generates money while sleeping, vacationing, etc.
Frees up more time for recreational activities
Subject to potential tax deductions
Scales income potential beyond time constraints
Does not require physical presence at a work site
Often requires you to create active income first
Usually harder to create than active income
Types of Active Income
Salary and Wages
The most basic and obvious form of active income is the salary that you earn from a typical job. A salary is a fixed amount received for working a regular schedule like 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. While a salary is a consistent form of active income, it can be taken away at a moment’s notice due to layoffs or downsizing. Most people earn their living from this type of income.
Bonuses and Commissions
Bonuses and commissions are other forms of active income. This type of income is not fixed and can vary dramatically based on the type of work performed. Many jobs can have a bonus or commission element added to a base salary, while other jobs can be 100% commission based.
Real estate agents, commercial real estate sales professionals, and other types of salespeople tend to fall into this income category. 100% commission-based jobs tend to have higher earning potential compared to salaried positions. However, they are also highly competitive, and their profitability is subject to ups and downs based on the economy, seasonality, and other factors.
Read more: How to Become a Real Estate Agent
Consulting and Freelancing
Freelancing and consulting fees are other types of active income that can either make up 100% of one’s income or serve as a side hustle. Those with valuable skills in high demand are often able to build side businesses, selling their time for specific short-term projects or long-term contracts. As of August 2021, there are 57 million freelancers working in the U.S., with 10 million more considering freelancing.
Looking ahead, more and more businesses are noting they’re willing to hire freelancers to support their mission, growth, and revenue.
Being a freelancer or consultant requires an entrepreneurial spirit, as this type of work can be very inconsistent and requires building a strong brand/reputation. Some of the most popular types of freelance work include graphic design, software development, copywriting, and photography.
Read more: 35+ Side Hustle Ideas
Equity compensation is a type of bonus that is given out at public or private companies to senior individuals or particularly valuable employees. Different types of equity compensation include straight shares, stock options, and Restricted Stock Units (RSUs).
It’s not uncommon for equity compensation to make up most of an individual’s income. For example, in 2020, 85% of an average CEO’s income was stock-related compensation.
Buying and selling certain types of assets, like stocks and real estate, can generate capital gains if the asset’s sale price was higher than its original purchase price. For example, you might buy shares in a company while its stock price is low and then sell those shares later after the stock’s price has increased. The difference between the price you paid and the price you sold at is a capital gain.
Generating capital gains as a means of consistent income requires a significant amount of work, expertise, and risk-taking. Capital gains also have different tax treatments depending on how and when they are generated.
Read more: Claiming Capital Gains and Losses
Renting Out Property
Listing your property on sites like Airbnb can help you earn active income. While listing your property for rent may not require a significant investment of time and energy upfront, it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it income source.
Actively managing your listings, communicating with renters, and maintaining your property certainly requires active effort (unless you have a property manager).
Old Goods and Furniture Flipping
I’ve seen lots of people recently on TikTok and Instagram building side businesses by taking old or broken furniture, refurbishing it, and selling it for a profit. If you are handy and have an eye for design, this can be a great way of making active income given the low startup costs.
In addition to making money from selling the furniture, after you’ve built an audience you can sign brand partners and feature their products on your social media pages to generate even more income. Lastly, this type of business is a great way to help recycle old products that would have otherwise been thrown out.
Types of Passive Income
Interest and Dividends
Interest from your savings can be generated from high-yield savings accounts or by investing in CDs or bonds.
Dividends are paid to the shareholders of public companies. Not all companies pay dividends and the amount of dividends paid varies significantly. While earning dividends is passive income, choosing the right investments that generate dividends is a very active and time-consuming process.
In my experience, those looking to earn dividends can typically expect returns of 1–5%.
You can earn passive income from real estate by investing in rental properties, commercial real estate, public real estate investment trusts, or real estate crowdfunding platforms. Income-generating real estate can also provide landlords with tax benefits by deducting depreciation costs, property management expenses, insurance, and other expenses.
But there’s always an active element of real estate investing, no matter what type of real estate you invest in. This includes property management, dealing with tenants, managing relationships with lenders or investors, ensuring upkeep, or simply picking the right real estate projects to invest in. Some forms of real estate investing can become so time consuming that many personal finance experts question if real estate investing can be considered passive at all.
Read more: How to Invest in Real Estate
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending
Peer-to-peer lending has attracted investors looking for an alternative to persistently low interest rates on savings accounts and bond yields. With P2P loans, investors make unsecured personal loans to others and can earn high returns.
While P2P lending has exploded in popularity (check out Lending Club and Prosper), these investments are very risky. The loans are often not secured against collateral, are not FDIC insured, and money invested in P2P lending can be difficult to access in times of economic stress.
Digital Product, Online Course, or Community Development
Creating digital products, courses, or online communities can be one of the best ways to earn passive income if you can package your skills and knowledge and sell it to a group of customers. In today’s digital age, the costs of creating a course, digital product, or community have never been lower, and all you really need is a computer and some creativity.
While there are lots of instances of everyday people earning millions on their digital products, don’t forget that getting to that point likely required a lot of work. Keeping these types of products relevant and up to date after launch also requires time, effort, and attention, not to mention having to market your product and keep up community engagement.
If you are interested in starting something like this up, platforms like Thinkific, Teachable, and Patreon are all options to explore.
YouTube/TikTok Ad Revenue
I became fascinated by the prospect of earning money on YouTube after coming across financial influencer Graham Stephan. Earning money on YouTube or Tik Tok generally comes down to building your channel’s audience and monetizing content through ads or affiliate marketing links. Once your presence meets a critical mass, every video you create has the potential to become an income-generating asset.
On the surface, making money on YouTube seems amazing, but again, it takes a lot of work and dedication to get there. For example, Graham has mentioned having to post videos at least three times a week for several years to get traction. And it often takes audiences of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers to earn any money.
But there’s lots of potential to earn sizable passive income from YouTube after you build an audience. The average YouTuber can make $3 to $5 per 1,000 video views and the top YouTubers can make millions annually.
Passive income can be a great way to earn more while working a regular 9 to 5, or it could fully replace your current stream(s) of active income entirely.
When it comes to building real wealth, however, the discussion around active vs. passive income is more nuanced.
According to a five-year study of 233 wealthy individuals, a common thread between them was that self-made millionaires generated income from multiple sources. 65% of them had three streams of income, 45% had four streams of income, and 29% had five or more streams of income.
These figures suggest that when it comes to building wealth, it’s not just a question of prioritizing passive vs. active income. Rather, it’s about generating multiple streams of income and scaling your time.
Personally, I have four streams of income:
The income I make from my 9 to 5
Investment capital gains
You can leave it to your own creativity and aspirations to find what constellation of passive and active income streams works best for you. But remember, whether you are looking to create passive or active income, there is no free lunch, and any source of income that ultimately becomes passive will likely start as a highly active pursuit.
This is a guest post from freelance writer Jessica Ward.
For three years, I’ve been patting myself on the back. The household expenses remain the same every month, and we’re getting out of debt. In spite of increases in costs, we’ve found efficiencies and made room. But, as they say, after pride comes the fall. I discovered this month that we’re actually making less progress every month now than when we first started making monthly budgets!
Initially I thought this was a short-term trend, but when I looked back a little farther in the old budgets file, I discovered that we’ve really been on this path since day one. We have succumbed to “lifestyle creep.” Subtle upticks in our family’s expenses that don’t necessarily fall into line with real costs of living.
Slowly and stealthily, our lifestyle has edged back up. An extra meal out here, a technology upgrade there, all unnoticed because we haven’t spent beyond our planned expense cap, but unchecked because we didn’t notice that we had slowed progress towards our goals.
Identifying Your Budget “Creepers”
We use a zero-based budget. Money in equals money out, every month. Sure it might go “out” into a savings account or towards debt, but the checking account ideally zeros out every month. I neglected the second step of allocating everything. By way of example, here are some expenses that crept up on us this year, virtually unnoticed:
Family gym membership, $1,200 year. (We did elect to keep it for 2012, but are making other cuts to accommodate.)
Data plan on my husband’s phone (he doesn’t even know how to text). We cut this in July, but not after spending $240 for the year on unnecessary data charges.
A digital camera upgrade (rationalized with the old “it’s a business write-off” excuse) at $400.
An average of $200 per month additional eating out expenses, or $2,400.
An average of an additional $200 per month in charitable expenses, or $2,400 a year.
All told, we experienced an increase in lifestyle (and decrease in goal progress) of nearly $7,000. Had we minded our budget better, we’d be out of debt by now. That’s embarrassing.
Other people will have other areas of budget creep. Fancy coffee, storage unit, unnecessary gadget upgrades. Little upgrades like premium cable can be adding hundreds to your household expenses every year.
How to Creep-Proof Your Budget
If you’re feeling the budget creep, take the following steps to get back on track.
Set your budget, including all expenses, by prioritizing your household bills and financial goals, treating them just like a bill.
Revisit your budget and revise based on actual changes in costs. While our spending remained fixed, some expenses (fuel, food, and homeowner’s association dues) went up, and we sacrificed about $200 per month towards financial goals by not revising our spending (and income) expectations upwards or another area of the budget downwards (without sacrificing your progress to goals). When costs go up, it’s time to ramp up the “side hustle” income.
Maintain your diligence about buying bargains. Have you relaxed your efforts at coupons, sales, used/consignment, bargaining or trading? Have you even stopped price-comparing? Just because it’s in the budget, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get a better deal.
Have old habits crept back? Extravagant gifts, daily lattes, extra vacations, and weekend getaways, or just too much eating out? Many of us have old financial habits that break our budgets. Keep a wary eye out for them.
Please, tell me I’m not alone in this budget faux pas? Has your budget suffered from creep?
Would you like to open a checking account, but you’re worried that your bad credit and past banking history might get in the way? With these issues, it can be difficult to open a new bank account.
20 Best Bank Accounts for Bad Credit
Regardless of your banking history, there are numerous banks and credit unions that offer bad credit checking accounts, all with unique features and benefits.
Our Top Pick
No minimum opening deposit or monthly service fee
Over 60,000 fee-free1 ATMs
Get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit2
No credit check or ChexSystems
With Chime®, a bad credit score is no longer a deal-breaker. They offer an award-winning financial app and debit card with no credit check.
You can open a Chime Checking Account online with no monthly fees. And by that, we mean no overdraft fees, no monthly maintenance fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no minimum balance fees—ever.
Chime also offers a new way to build your credit with the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card7. It’s a secured credit card with no annual fees, no credit checks, and no interest1 charges.
They offer access to over 60,000 MoneyPass® and Visa® Plus Alliance ATMs. Plus, you can get your paycheck up to 2 days earlier with direct deposit. You can also deposit cash for free at over 8,500 Walgreens.
Chime is definitely the best option on this list.
2. U.S. Bank
$400 sign-up bonus
Monthly service fee can be waived
Over 40,000 fee-free ATMs
$25 minimum opening deposit
U.S. Bank is now offering the Bank Smartly® Checking account, a popular choice that can be applied for online in 26 states throughout the U.S.
If you’re based in any of the following states – AR, AZ, CA, CO, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NV, OH, OR, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, or WY – you’re eligible to apply.
By opening a Bank Smartly® Checking account and a Standard Savings account, and completing qualifying activities, you have the potential to earn up to $400. Subject to certain terms and limitations. Offer valid through June 20, 2023. Member FDIC.
The account itself provides a variety of benefits, including a complimentary debit card that can be locked or unlocked if ever misplaced or stolen. U.S. Bank ATMs offer free transactions, as do over 40,000 MoneyPass Network ATMs.
Although U.S. Bank uses ChexSystems, it’s typically known to be more accommodating with its regulations than many other banks. Unless there’s a history of fraud or any money owed to U.S. Bank, opening a checking account is a possibility.
The checking account requires just a $25 minimum opening deposit, with a monthly service fee of $6.95. The monthly fee can be waived by maintaining a minimum balance of $1,500, or by having a minimum monthly Direct Deposit of $1,000.
4.50% APY on savings up to $5,000
No minimum opening deposit
Build credit with no annual fees
Overdraft protection up to $200
GO2bank is a neobank developed by Green Dot, is a neobank developed by Green Dot, a well-established fintech known for its prepaid debit cards and banking services.
The bank offers a checking account with savings subaccounts known as vaults, and the best part is that there is no minimum balance required to open an account online.
The savings account offers an attractive 4.50% APY on savings up to $5,000. Additionally, you can deposit cash at any of the 90,000 retail locations or withdraw funds from any of the 19,000 fee-free ATMs.
You can also use the mobile app’s check deposit feature to deposit checks directly into your checking account.
With direct deposit, you can even receive your pay up to 2 days early or your government benefits up to 4 days early. Opt-in for overdraft protection and be eligible for up to $200 in coverage with eligible direct deposits.
Responsible use of the GO2bank Secured Visa Credit Card can also help you build your credit over time.
If you receive a payroll or government benefits direct deposit in the previous monthly statement period, your monthly fee is waived. Otherwise, it is only $5 per month.
$100 bonus after 10 purchases in 60 days
No credit check or ChexSystems
Over 16,000 fee-free ATMs
$4.95 monthly fee
Chase is one of the most popular banks in the U.S. And now, they offer an account called Chase Secure Banking that doesn’t require a credit check, doesn’t use ChexSystems, and doesn’t charge overdraft fees.
Account holders also get access to over 16,000 ATMs, free online bill pay, and free money orders and cashier’s checks.
With 4,700 locations across the country, this is an excellent option for anyone who prefers having access to physical branches.
Opening a Chase Secure Banking account comes with a $100 cash bonus when you use the card for 10 purchases within 60 days.
Account approval is immediate and you’ll receive your debit card within days. There is a small monthly service fee of $4.95; however, there is no minimum deposit to get started.
Earn 4.70% APY on unlimited savings
No minimum balance to open
Get paid up to two days early
Free withdrawals at over 55,000 ATMs
mph.bank, created by Liberty Savings Bank, F.S.B. and a Member FDIC, is a banking option that truly stands out for its unique approach. MPH, which stands for ‘Makes People Happy’, is not just a slogan – it’s a philosophy that permeates every aspect of their banking services.
They offer five different bank accounts, but the standout offering is their Future Account. This account lets you earn an impressive 4.70% APY on your savings, with no minimum balance to open and no maximum balance for the rate.
Alongside this, mph.bank offers a Spend account that allows you to receive your paycheck two days earlier.
Accessing your money is easy with mph.bank, as they are part of the Allpoint network, offering you free access to over 55,000 ATMs.
In addition to these features, mph.bank has a host of financial tools available. From planning for your future to managing your finances on one page, mph.bank ensures that you have the necessary resources at your fingertips.
No credit check or ChexSystems
No minimum deposit or maintenance fees
Get paid up to two days faster
Overdraft up to $200 without any overdraft fees
Current is one of the fastest-growing mobile banking solutions in the U.S., with over one million members. However, Current is a financial technology company, not a bank. Most importantly, Current does not use ChexSystems or pull your credit.
Some features of the Current mobile app and debit card include fee-free overdraft protection of up to $100, 40,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs, and no minimum balance or hidden fees.
You can also get paid up to two days sooner with direct deposit and earn up to 15x points, and get cashback.
7. Walmart MoneyCard
No monthly fee with direct deposits of $500 or more
Earn up to 3% cash back on purchases
Overdraft protection covering up to $200 with eligible direct deposits
2% APY on savings
The Walmart MoneyCard is a prepaid debit card that offers a robust alternative to traditional checking accounts.
This card stands out with its cash back rewards program, offering up to 3% cash back when shopping at Walmart.com, 2% at Walmart fuel stations, and 1% at Walmart stores, up to a total of $75 each year.
Users can also enjoy the peace of mind offered by the overdraft protection feature, covering up to $200 for purchase transactions with opt-in and eligible direct deposits.
The ASAP Direct Deposit feature is another great perk, allowing users to receive their pay up to two days earlier and benefits up to four days earlier.
Additionally, with the Walmart MoneyCard, you can earn a 2% APY on savings and have chances to win cash prizes each month. The monthly fee of $5.94 can be waived with a direct deposit of $500 or more in the previous monthly period.
No monthly fee
Earn up to 4.25% APY on savings
Cash withdrawals at more than 55,000 ATMs
Commission-free stock trading
Revolut is a financial app that comes with a prepaid debit card from Visa or Mastercard. However, you don’t need to wait for the physical card to get started. You can use the digital card right away on Apple Pay or Google Pay.
The Revolut debit card gets you fee-free access to over 55,000 ATMs, and no cost out-of-network ATM withdrawals up to $1,200 per month. You’ll also get 10 zero-fee international transfers per month.
This account offers cashback, discounts from top brands, a savings account, and more. Plus, your funds are insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000.
* Please note that Revolut is frequently updating its products and features, see the Revolut Terms and Conditions for the latest offerings.
* Revolut is a financial technology company. Banking services provided by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, (Member FDIC).
9. TD Ameritrade
No monthly fee
Unlimited fee refunds for U.S. ATMs
Free TD Bank debit card
Free checks and unlimited check-writing capabilities
TD Ameritrade offers a brokerage account with a comprehensive cash management checking account. As a client, you get unlimited checks. Once you open the brokerage account, you can complete the checking account application online.
A Cash Management account also gives you access to free online bill pay, as well as a free debit card with nationwide rebates on all ATM fees.
In addition, there is no monthly fee if you maintain a $100 minimum daily balance. However, it’s important to note that a TD Ameritrade checking account is not FDIC-insured or bank guaranteed.
No minimum balance
Cash advances up to $250
No maintenance fees
Free ATMs at over 55,000 locations
Albert is an innovative fintech banking platform that presents a powerful alternative to traditional bank accounts.
It sets itself apart with its attractive cashback rewards program attached to its free Mastercard debit card, making it your perfect shopping companion.
Moreover, it offers an around-the-clock personal finance help feature, “Ask a Genius”, ensuring you’re never in the dark about your money matters.
In addition, with Albert, you can have your paycheck up to 2 days early thanks to the direct deposit feature. This takes financial planning to a whole new level by ensuring you’re always ahead.
Albert is also a cost-saving alternative. There are no minimum balance requirements, no monthly maintenance fees, and you enjoy access to more than 55,000 ATMs, fee-free if you’re a Genius subscriber.
Finally, Albert ensures your money’s safety with FDIC protection up to $250,000. This adds an extra layer of security to your funds, allowing you to bank with confidence.
With the SoFi Checking and Savings account, you won’t have to worry about being charged any overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, or monthly fees.
Plus, it offers free access to ATMs at over 55,000 locations within the Allpoint® Network. Similar to Chime and Current, you can get your paycheck up to two days sooner when you set up direct deposit.
You’ll also get a 1% APY on your checking and savings accounts and up to 15% cash back at local establishments with your SoFi debit card.
12. Navy Federal Credit Union
If you are an active-duty or retired member of the military, including the Armed Forces, National Guard, Coast Guard, or Department of Defense, you may be eligible for Navy Federal Credit Union membership.
NFCU doesn’t utilize ChexSystems or EWS. They also offer a free checking account alternative with no monthly service fees for those with qualifying direct deposits.
Additionally, NFCU offers its members convenient access to over 30,000 ATMs situated at both credit unions and retail locations across the United States and Canada through the CO-OP Network.
With the Aspiration Spend & Save account, you get an online checking account and savings account that has the potential to earn up to 5% APY.
Aspiration also offers unlimited cash withdrawals at over 55,000 ATMs. The minimum initial deposit is $10. Deposits are FDIC insured and you can get paid up to two days sooner.
The Aspiration debit card is made from recycled plastic. Deposits are 100% fossil fuel-free. And this online bank even gives you the option to plant a tree with every card swipe.
14. Southwest Financial Federal Credit Union
Southwest Financial presents a reliable banking option that prioritizes the financial wellbeing of its members. With no monthly service fees, it offers a cost-effective solution to managing your everyday finances.
Opening an account is easy and requires no minimum deposit. As a member of Southwest Financial Federal Credit Union, you enjoy the convenience of accessing your funds through a shared network of ATMs.
FSNB (formerly Fort Sill National Bank) offers a hassle-free Basic Checking account to its customers, with a $5 minimum deposit requirement.
With the Basic Checking account, you need to maintain a minimum daily balance of $75. Otherwise, you’ll be charged a monthly fee of $5.50.
This account comes with a host of convenient features, including a Visa CheckCard that allows you to make purchases and withdraw cash at ATMs worldwide. Additionally, FSNB offers free online banking services, giving you access to your account from the comfort of your home or office.
16. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo’s Clear Access Banking offers a practical, accessible checking account designed to suit various banking needs. While there is a $5 monthly service fee, this fee is waived for primary account owners aged 13 to 24.
With a minimal opening deposit of just $25, setting up Clear Access Banking is straightforward and affordable. As an account holder, you’ll have the convenience of accessing your funds through Wells Fargo’s extensive network of 13,000 ATMs and 5,300 branches across the country.
17. United Bank
United Bank has locations in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC. You can open a bank account with a $50 minimum initial deposit. You do not have to maintain a minimum balance and they don’t charge monthly fees.
You can also upgrade to rewards checking, where you earn cashback rewards on debit card purchases. You also get discounts on movies, theme parks, and prescriptions. The monthly service charge is $10, but you can have it waived if you reach 15 purchase transactions monthly or have a minimum of $500 in regular deposits.
18. Huntington National Bank
Huntington has locations in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Huntington Bank uses ChexSystems, but you can still qualify for a checking account as long as you don’t owe the bank any money. However, applicants with an EWS record may not qualify.
For Huntington’s basic account, there is no minimum opening deposit and no minimum balance requirement.
Varo is an online-only bank that offers a hassle-free banking experience with no monthly fees. As a Varo customer, you’ll gain access to early direct deposit payments, which means that your funds will typically be available on the same day they’re received.
Varo Bank knows that just because you need second chance banking doesn’t mean you want sub-standard service. The checking account comes with a free Visa debit card, access to over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs, and free paper check mailing.
20. Regions Bank
You’ll need a minimum opening deposit of $50 to open a Simple Checking Account at Regions Bank. This account doesn’t come with too many bells and whistles. However, it’s a suitable option for anyone with bad credit who wants a basic checking account.
Regions Bank will lower your monthly maintenance fee from $8 to $5 if you sign up for online statements. And you’ll have the option to open a savings account through Regions Bank as well.
What is a bank account for bad credit?
A bank account for bad credit is a type of account designed for people with negative banking records. These people are usually turned away from traditional banks and credit unions because of past instances of bounced checks, overdrawn accounts, or unpaid non-sufficient fund fees.
Fortunately, some financial institutions provide bad credit bank accounts that offer basic banking services such as a debit card, online banking access, and check writing privileges. Direct deposit is also available with some of these bank accounts, which makes it easy to access your income sources.
Bad credit checking accounts are typically easy to open, with minimal fees and most importantly, no credit checks or ChexSystems reports.
How do banks evaluate new account applications?
Opening a bank account can be a straightforward process, but it’s not uncommon for applicants to be turned down or offered limited options. That’s because financial institutions have criteria they use to determine who qualifies for a bank account and what type of account they can offer.
One of the most important factors that banks consider when you apply for a new account is your banking history. To assess this, most banks will check your ChexSystems report, which is a database of your past banking transactions. This report includes information such as any unpaid fees or overdrafts, closed accounts due to fraudulent activity, and other negative marks.
If you have a negative history in ChexSystems, such as unpaid fees or a history of overdrafts, it can be more challenging to open a bank account. In some cases, the bank may decline your application altogether or offer you a limited account that doesn’t allow you to write checks or use a debit card.
Another factor that banks make consider is your credit history. Some banks may pull your credit report from the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, but most don’t.
Your credit report is typically accessed by credit card issuers and lenders to assess your creditworthiness when you apply for loans or credit cards. But for bank accounts, your ChexSystems record is generally more important.
What is ChexSystems?
ChexSystems is a consumer reporting agency that collects user data from banks and credit unions. One of the things this data is used for is to create consumer reports that financial institutions can use to screen customers.
When attempting to open a new bank account, most financial institutions will pull your ChexSystems report. This report will show your past banking history including overdrafts, bad checks, check fraud, negative balances, or excessive withdrawals.
If you’ve had any of these issues in the past five years, it will likely be on your ChexSystems record. Fortunately, there are several reputable banks that don’t use ChexSystems or check credit to qualify customers. There are also numerous banks that offer second chance checking accounts for people with bad credit.
Can you open a bank account with no credit check?
Opening a no-credit-check bank account is easier than ever, with plenty of reliable banking services to choose from. There are two types of bank accounts for bad credit: banks that don’t use ChexSystems and second chance checking accounts.
Banks that Don’t Use ChexSystems
Some banks simply do not use ChexSystems to evaluate new accounts. These banks offer no-credit-check bank accounts for people with bad credit or a negative banking history.
The good news is that these accounts come with the same features as regular bank accounts offered to everyone else. You can expect to have access to online banking, direct deposit, and a debit card.
Second Chance Checking Account
With a second chance bank account, financial institutions may conduct a credit check or refer to ChexSystems, but they’re willing to give you a second chance regardless of your banking history. Second chance bank accounts usually come with a monthly maintenance fee.
The best second chance checking accounts still have some of the same features as ChexSystems banks and credit unions, such as overdraft protection, online banking, and bill pay. Additionally, it should be possible to upgrade to a standard checking account after demonstrating responsible banking habits.
What to Look for in a Bad Credit Checking Account
If you’re struggling with poor credit history, you might be wondering how to find a checking account that meets your needs while also helping you rebuild your financial reputation. Fortunately, there are several banks that offer checking accounts for bad credit. Here are some key factors to consider:
No Credit Checks
The first thing to look for is a bank or credit union that doesn’t look at your credit report or ChexSystems record when opening a checking account.
Many institutions also offer “second chance” or “fresh start” checking accounts designed specifically for individuals with poor credit or past banking issues. These checking accounts provide an opportunity to rebuild your financial standing, and often offer the option to upgrade to a traditional checking account after a certain period of time.
Low or No Minimum Balance Requirement
When you’re trying to rebuild your credit, every dollar counts. Look for a checking account that doesn’t require you to maintain a specified balance. This way, you won’t be charged fees for falling below a certain balance threshold. This will help you keep more money in your pocket and avoid unnecessary expenses.
Reasonable Account Fees
It’s important to be aware of the fees associated with checking accounts, especially if you have bad credit. Be sure to compare the monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, and any other charges associated with the account.
Many online banks offer checking accounts with no monthly fees or waive them if certain conditions are met, such as maintaining a minimum account balance or setting up direct deposit.
Online and Mobile Banking Features
In today’s digital age, having access to online and mobile banking is essential. Look for a checking account that offers a user-friendly mobile app and website, enabling you to manage your money on-the-go. These features should include the ability to check your balance, transfer money, pay bills, and deposit checks remotely.
Account Alerts and Notifications
Opt for a checking account that offers customizable account alerts and notifications. These can help you stay on top of your account activity, track your spending habits, and avoid a potential overdraft fee. You can typically set up alerts for low balance, large transactions, or unusual activity.
Overdraft fees can be a significant burden, especially for people with bad credit. Look for a checking account that offers overdraft protection, which can help you avoid costly overdraft fees. Some banks may offer linked accounts, lines of credit, or small-dollar loans to cover overdrafts.
FDIC or NCUA insurance
Ensure that your checking account is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). This insurance protects your cash deposits up to $250,000 per account holder in case the bank or credit union fails.
Opportunities for Financial Education
Finally, look for a financial institution that offers resources and tools to help you improve your financial literacy. This might include budgeting tools, educational articles, or workshops. The more you understand about managing your money, the better your chances of rebuilding your credit and maintaining a healthy financial future.
Having poor credit doesn’t mean you can’t get a bank account. But, it does mean that your selection will be somewhat limited. We also show you how to clear your name and remove yourself from ChexSystems so that you can get a bank account anywhere.
It may take some time to get your name removed. Meanwhile, some of the banks we’ve listed above are just as good, if not better, than any account on the market right now. So, it’s a good idea to start with one of those.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.
1. Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply with Chime except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
2. Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment ﬁle from the payer. Chime generally make these funds available on the day the payment ﬁle is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
7. To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or beneﬁts payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, veriﬁcation or trial deposits from ﬁnancial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.
Whether you run an e-commerce business or a traditional brick-and-mortar store, investing in digital marketing can be essential in promoting your brand and remaining competitive in the marketplace. Digital marketing typically involves online marketing methods, but it can also include local marketing options.
1. Optimize your website for mobile
With more consumers browsing and making purchases using their smartphones and tablets, using a responsive design for your website will allow it to display correctly on mobile devices, as well as desktops. This is especially important for e-commerce businesses looking to drive sales.
Website builders such as Squarespace and Wix, as well as dedicated e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce, typically offer mobile-friendly templates and features. As you design your website, check to see how it looks and functions on a mobile device and make any necessary adjustments.
2. Create business profiles
A free advertising strategy and an easy way to improve search rank for your business is to claim and update your business profiles on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other popular search platforms. Your business profile is a useful way to provide current and potential customers with essential information about your business, such as address, phone number and store hours. Also, adding images, photos and logos can be helpful when engaging potential customers.
The Better Business Bureau, Yelp for Business and Nextdoor are other platforms where details about your business can gain the attention of local customers.
3. Understand your target audience
Knowing your target audience, the consumers who are likely to buy your products and services, allows you to customize your digital marketing strategy for different segments of your customer base. For example, if you own a coffee shop and want to sell bags of your specialty blends to customers outside your local area, your digital marketing strategy would typically be different than the one you use for walk-in customers.
Identifying different groups in your target audience allows you to customize the digital marketing strategies you use to engage them — whether it’s through social platforms, local listings, email or another method.
4. Invest in local marketing
If your business operates in a local market, you’ll want to take advantage of the digital marketing strategies that specifically appeal and relate to that audience. Some local marketing strategies to consider include:
Local TV and radio ads.
Digital billboards, signs and displays in high-traffic locations.
Direct mail campaigns in your local area.
Hosting or participating in community events.
With these strategies, you can easily include your business’s website and social media handles on any materials or information you distribute in your local community.
5. Start a blog as part of your content marketing strategy
Blog articles, one of the simplest ways to get involved in content marketing, can have a significant impact on your ability to attract customers and drive sales. Articles as well as newsletters, videos, infographics, e-books and other materials can be shared on your website and through email and social media posts.
Writing about topics related to your business, showing your expertise and providing helpful information can drive more traffic to your website and help improve search rankings for your business.
6. Engage on social media platforms that suit your business
Just like content marketing, social media marketing is another type of digital marketing. Many consumers rely on social media marketing to guide purchasing decisions. However, instead of trying to excel on all social media platforms, determine which platforms are best for your business and focus your energy there.
For example, if you’re starting an online boutique, you might find that platforms with an emphasis on images, such as Pinterest and Instagram, match your digital marketing strategies better than others.
Zeroing in on a few platforms can make it easier to stay active and respond quickly to customer interactions.
7. Build your contact list to maximize email marketing
Using customer relationship management with email marketing is an effective digital marketing tactic that’s often used to build loyalty and engage new customers. CRM software can help you collect and store information about your contacts — your existing customers and potential customers who have interacted with your business in some way.
Your contact list can be used to share newsletters, special offers, announcements, discounts and other information about your business and products. Also, information such as a contact’s first name and location can autopopulate to personalize outgoing emails.
8. Encourage customers to leave online reviews
Customer reviews can be personally rewarding and strengthen the reputation of your business. Reviews can also be helpful in building rapport with existing customers and influencing others to visit your website. You can place signs at your location, in addition to including links on your website and in emails, to encourage customers to write reviews of your business.
You’ll want to monitor your reviews for any negative feedback as well, so you can quickly work to resolve the issue. Meeting bad reviews head-on can help you improve your products and processes and can give you the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with customers.
9. Use digital ads to reach your target audience
If it’s within your marketing budget, placing digital ads on Google and social media platforms can help get your business in front of your target audience. Digital ads generally give you the ability to choose keywords, target your specific audience and engage prospective customers who are likely to want your product or service. Digital advertising can be used to target customers in your local area, in a specific age range and in a niche market.
Retargeting tools are also offered by many of these platforms and allow you to show your ads specifically to customers who have already interacted with your business website and shown an interest in your products.
10. Explore influencer marketing opportunities
You may want to consider adding influencer marketing to your social media marketing efforts. Influencers have a sizable number of followers on social media, and their reviews and promotion of products can affect the buying decisions of their audience.
A nano-influencer may be an especially good choice for small businesses. Because they have less than 10,000 followers, they often have strong engagement with their community and can be less expensive than influencers with higher follower counts. When selecting an influencer, it’s important that their audience be similar to your target audience and that you thoroughly review them and their platforms.
11. Use SMS marketing to build customer loyalty
Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is a fairly cost-effective way to promote your business through text messages. You can use SMS to regularly engage existing customers with information about special offers, discounts, store events and other promotions. Like email marketing, you’ll want to get permission before sending texts to your contact list.
SMS marketing software can automate the process of sending text messages to existing and potential customers. Also, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages can be used when you want to share photos, images, videos, audio files and other content with your contact list.
12. Respond to online feedback
Customer service can be a determining factor in attracting and retaining customers. You can extend your in-person customer service practices to your business website. A good place to start is to create a contact page on your website with information on how customers can contact you and then respond promptly to requests, questions and comments you receive.
You might also consider investing in a chatbot service for extended 24/7 customer support hours. Chatbots can provide answers to frequently asked questions and can be a particularly useful tool for e-commerce businesses.
13. Monitor your campaigns and adjust your strategy
Monitor your digital marketing strategies to determine what’s working well and what can be changed. It’s important to remember that not all of your strategies will be successful. A large part of your digital marketing efforts will involve testing and trying new things to determine the best methods for your business.
For example, if a Facebook ads campaign for a new product doesn’t meet your expectations, you can adjust your strategy by changing the ads in the campaign, picking another social media platform or using a different digital marketing method.
14. Spend within your marketing budget
Although marketing is necessary for attracting customers, it can be difficult to devote a large budget to these efforts. That’s why creating a marketing budget is essential. As you consider how to allocate funds, you may want to lock in the “basics” to establish your digital presence — launching and optimizing your business website, setting up your social media profiles and building an email list. Then, you can branch out and investigate other tactics that might require more of your budget, such as digital ads and local marketing tactics.
Rieva Lesonsky, a freelance writer, contributed to this article.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further
By now, you’ve surely heard of Amazon Prime. It’s the retail giant’s paid membership that’s best known for its speedy shipping services. Packages will arrive at your doorstep in two days max—or as soon as that night.
Catering to the subset of online shoppers who buy often and want their goods delivered ASAP, Amazon launched its Prime service in 2005. Paying $119 a year for free two-day shipping may not be a great deal if you don’t shop much. But that’s not all a Prime membership will get you. As well as the all-important free two-day shipping, Prime provides its members with one-day shipping for $3.99 free streaming TV and movies, and so much more.
Millions of people currently reap the benefits of Prime. If you’re one of them, or you’re considering signing up, the following tips will help you maximize the rewards. Read on to learn all about the wealth of offerings that Amazon’s paid membership gets you, and how to get the most out of your subscription.
Amazon Prime Shipping
The most widely known benefit of Amazon prime is, of course, its rapid shipping. Known as “Prime” shipping, this membership perk gets you free 2-day shipping on all eligible Amazon products. Prime members also have access to ultra-expedited, 1 day shipping on over 10 million items. Better yet, more than 3 million items qualify for same day delivery, as long as you meet Amazon’s $35 order minimum. A package ordered in the morning could arrive on your doorstep that night.
Amazon delivers on its lofty 2-day shipping goal thanks to their enormous network of Amazon warehouses. These 50+ warehouses are placed strategically across the US. While anyone can start an Amazon business, only products that are fulfilled by Amazon are available in Amazon warehouses. These contain a stockpile of the most commonly ordered Amazon items and are staffed by employees who work around the clock to ensure your product is delivered in a 48-hour window.
When a Prime-eligible product is ordered, Amazon sources it from the nearest Amazon warehouse. It’s then packaged, placed on an Amazon truck, and delivered to your house by the deadline.
Amazon Shopping Benefits
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer—and it’s no wonder why. Amazon offers some of the most competitive shopping benefits and largest selection of items for sale in the world. Use the following tips to get the most out of the company’s benefits and reap the rewards of your membership.
Qualify for Amazon Prime Discounted Memberships
A standard Amazon Prime membership costs $119 per year, or $12.99 each month if you’d rather pay in installments. However, in some scenarios, you may be able to get your membership at a discount—or even for free.
EBT or Medicaid card holders: If you have a valid EBT or Medicaid card, you can get access to Amazon Prime for only $5.99 each month
Students: If you’re a student, you can get a free, 6-month trial of Amazon Prime; once your trial is up, you can have access to Prime membership at $6.49 each month
Take Advantage of Prime Deals at Whole Foods Market
Prime shopping benefits extend beyond Amazon’s dot com site. Prime members get exclusive discounts when shopping both online and in-store at Whole Foods Markets.
Try on at Home with Prime Wardrobe
Looking for a new wardrobe but hate the unknown of online shopping? Amazon’s Prime membership solves that problem with Prime Wardrobe. This service allows you to order clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories without paying upfront. Try on the clothes at home, send whatever you don’t want back, and only pay for the items that you decide to keep.
Bookmark the Daily Deals
Every day, Amazon offers exclusive deals for Amazon Prime members. Prices are slashed in every single department—home and kitchen, electronics and accessories, toys, kids, babies, and more. Everything from digital cameras to lawnmowers can be found at reduced prices.
Plus, Amazon offers Prime members 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals, a promotion in which a limited number of discounts are offered on an item for a short period. Here’s the thing: you need to act fast to grab the discounts. Each deal is available in limited quantities, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Add the deals page to your bookmarks and sign up to receive daily deal emails.
The mother of all Amazon deals is Prime Day, a single day devoted to Amazon Prime deals. If you want to take full advantage of this once-a-year event, do your research ahead of time and make sure you have the best Prime Day credit card.
Use third-party price monitoring websites
Long-time Prime user Mark Lindsey’s pick is camelcamelcamel.com, which provides price histories and sends email alerts when an item of interest is discounted. Other options include Honey, Timberfrog, and Price!pinx. Some of these services may be able to be installed directly into your Firefox or Chrome browser.
Amazon’s most recent foray is their takeover of the entertainment world with the introduction of Amazon Entertainment. Though its TV and moving streaming service was originally introduced in February 2011, it has grown exponentially in the past several years. It’s now a rival to media conglomerates like Netflix and Hulu.
Delve into Amazon.com’s video offerings
Through Prime Video and Prime Video Channels, Amazon Prime membership offers free movie and TV streaming, complementary with Prime membership. Furthermore, Prime Video Channels allows you access to premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and STARZ at between $4.99 and $14.99 a month, with no additional apps to download.
Not only does Amazon offer popular movies and TV shows (for instance, it’s the only place you can stream Lord of the Rings), but Amazon also produces original content available only with an Amazon Prime membership. Its in-house production company, known as Amazon Studios, was started in late 2010.
Listen to Amazon Music
Amazon has a vast music library of tens of millions of songs. Prime members have access to a portion of these, available for listening on any Echo device, at no cost. Plus, Prime members get discounted rates on Amazon Music Unlimited—Amazon’s entire music library.
Game with Prime Gaming
Gamers can benefit from an Amazon Prime membership, too. Prime Gaming gains you access to free games and in-game content every month. Plus, get a monthly Twitch channel subscription for free and exclusive promotions on new games. With Prime’s free release-date delivery, you can order and receive new video games by 7 PM on release day.
Other Amazon Prime Advantages
Prime benefits don’t stop there. Make sure you’re getting the absolute most out of your yearly membership price with the following.
Go Old School with Prime Reading
Did you know that Amazon was originally a bookstore? Amazon’s reading benefits hearken back to their bookstore roots. Prime Reading provides members with unlimited access to more than a thousand magazines, comics, eBooks, and more. You don’t need a Kindle to read these; they can be accessed on any device.
Plus, through Amazon First Reads, each Prime member can download one editors’ pick book each month before the official release date.
Recruit a Friend
Prime members can share their accounts with one other adult, which means free membership for a person of your choosing. To sign them up, go to the Prime Membership management section of your Amazon account settings. Note that student and EBT/Medicaid members cannot share accounts with any other individuals.
Think beyond the last-minute buy
The ability to make frequent small purchases and be assured of their swift arrival is a key benefit of Prime. Many a Prime user has been saved by the fast, free expedited shipping after remembering a birthday or anniversary in the nick of time. But for household products such as cleaning supplies and toiletries, it’s often cheaper to plan ahead and buy in bulk.
Amazon’s Subscribe and Save feature allows you to place a recurring order for an item and choose the frequency for its delivery. You’ll save 15 percent off the price and won’t have to worry about stocking up. As another veteran Prime user Mark Zembrzuski notes, “Nothing says you’re living the high life like coming home to 48 rolls of toilet paper.”
If you haven’t yet signed up for Prime, Amazon is currently offering a one-month free trial. To register, visit amazon.com/prime.
Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further
Eating Healthy on the Road For Less
Challenge Yourself to be $1,000 Richer by Labor Day