Credit Card Network vs Issuer: What Is the Difference?

While credit card networks and card issuers both play a role when you use your credit card to make a purchase, they do different things. Credit card networks facilitate transactions between merchants and credit card issuers. Meanwhile, credit card issuers are the ones that provide credit cards to consumers and pay for transactions on the cardholder’s behalf when they use their card.

Where it can get confusing is that some credit card networks are also card issuers. To get a better understanding, keep reading for a closer look at the differences between a credit card network vs. issuer.

What Is a Credit Card Network?

Credit card networks are the party that creates a digital infrastructure that makes it possible for merchants to facilitate transactions between merchants and the credit card issuers — meaning they’re key to how credit cards work. In order to facilitate these transactions, the credit card networks charge the merchants an interchange fee, also known as a swipe fee.

Here’s an example of how this works: Let’s say someone walks into a clothing store and uses their credit card to buy a pair of pants. They swipe or tap their credit card to make the purchase. At this point, the store’s payment system will send the details of this transaction to the cardholder’s credit card network, which then relays the information to the credit card issuer. The credit card issuer decides whether or not to approve the transaction. Finally, the clothing store is alerted as to whether or not the transition was approved.

Essentially, credit card networks make it possible for businesses to accept credit cards as a form of payment, making them integral to what a credit card is. Credit card networks are also responsible for determining where certain credit cards are accepted, as not every merchant may accept all networks.

The Four Major Card Networks

The four major credit card networks that consumers are most likely to come across are:

•   American Express

•   Discover

•   Mastercard

•   Visa

All of these credit card networks have created their own digital infrastructure to facilitate transactions between credit card issuers and merchants. These four credit card networks are so commonly used that generally anywhere in the U.S. it’s possible to find a business that accepts one or more of the payment methods supported by these merchants. When traveling abroad, it’s more common to come across Visa and Mastercard networks.

Two of these popular payment networks — American Express and Discover — are also credit card issuers. However, their offerings as a credit card network are separate from their credit card offerings as an issuer.

Does It Matter Which Card Network You Use?

Which credit card network someone can use depends on the type of credit card they have and whether the credit card network that supports that card is available through the merchant where they want to make a purchase. Most merchants in the U.S. work with all of the major networks who support the most popular credit cards, so it shouldn’t matter too much which credit card network you have when shopping domestically. When traveling abroad, however, it’s important to have cash on hand in case the credit card network options are more limited.

Merchants are the ones who are more likely to be affected by the credit card networks that they use. This is due to the fact that credit card networks determine how much the merchant will pay in fees in order to use their processing system.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

What Are Credit Card Issuers?

Credit card issuers are the financial institutions that create and manage credit cards. They’re responsible for approving applicants, determining cardholder rewards and fees, and setting credit limits and the APR on a credit card.

Essentially, credit card issuers manage the entire experience of using a credit card. Cardholders work with their credit card issuer when they need to get a new card after losing one, when they have to make their credit card minimum payment, or when they want to check their current card balance.

Credit card issuers can be banks, credit unions, fintech companies, or other types of financial institutions. Some of the biggest credit card issuers in the U.S. are:

•   American Express

•   Bank of America

•   Barclays

•   Capital One

•   Chase

•   Citi

•   Discover

•   Synchrony Bank

•   U.S. Bank

•   Wells Fargo

Credit Card Network vs Issuer: What Is the Difference?

Credit card issuers and credit card payment networks are easy to confuse. The main difference is that credit card networks facilitate payments between merchants and credit card issuers whereas credit card issuers create and manage credit cards for consumers. If you have an issue with your credit card — like in the instance you want to dispute a credit card charge or request a credit card chargeback — it’s the issuer you’d go to.

These are the main differences to be aware of when it comes to credit card networks vs. issuers:

Credit Card Issuer Credit Card Payment Network

•   Creates credit cards

•   Manages credit cards

•   Accepts or declines applicants

•   Sets credit card fees

•   Determines interest rates and credit limits

•   Creates rewards offerings

•   Approves and declines transactions

•   Processes transactions between credit card companies and merchants

•   Creates the digital infrastructure that facilitates these transactions

•   Charges an interchange fee to merchants

•   Determines which credit cards can be used at which merchants

How Credit Card Networks and Issuers Work Together

Credit card networks and issuers need each other to function. Without a credit card network, consumers wouldn’t be able to use their card to shop with any merchants, and the credit card issuer’s product would go unused. Credit card networks create the infrastructure that allows merchants to accept credit cards as payment.

However, it’s up to the credit card issuers to approve or decline the transaction. The credit card issuer is also the one responsible for getting credit cards into consumers’ hands when they’re eligible and old enough to get a credit card, thus creating a need for the credit card networks’ services.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Get a New SoFi Credit Card Online and Earn 2% Cash Back

Credit cards can be a useful financial tool, but it’s important to understand their ins and outs before swiping — including the difference between a credit card network vs. card issuer. Both are critical to credit card transactions, with the credit card network facilitating the transaction between the issuer and the merchant, and the credit card network approving or denying the transaction.

While the major credit card networks are available at most merchants in the U.S., this may not be the case abroad, which is why it’s important to be aware of when choosing a credit card. This among many other considerations, of course, such as searching for a good APR for a credit card and assessing the fees involved.

If you’re on the search for a new card, consider applying for a credit card with SoFi. SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back when redeemed for a statement credit.1

Learn more about the SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

What is a credit card network?

A credit card network is the party that creates the necessary infrastructure to process transactions between a credit card issuer and a merchant. Whenever someone makes a purchase with a credit card, it is processed by a credit card network. In return for processing the transaction, the merchant pays the credit card network an interchange fee, which is how the credit card networks make money.

How do I know my credit card issuer?

To find out a credit card’s issuer, simply look at your credit card. There will be a string of numbers on the credit card, and the first six to eight digits represent the Bank Identification Number (BIN) or the Issuer Identification Number (IIN). The Issuer identification number identifies who the credit card issuer is.

Who is the largest credit card issuer?

The four largest credit card networks are American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa. Most merchants in the U.S. work with all four credit card networks. When traveling abroad, it’s more common to come across Visa and Mastercard networks.


1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Photo credit: iStock/Poike
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Source: sofi.com

6 Birds That Make Great Apartment Pets

If you’re looking to add an animal to your apartment, consider birds as they’re great companions and affectionate pets.

When you think of getting your first pet, cats or dogs are the first species of animals that come to mind. But, have you ever considered a bird? Birds are popular pets as they’re friendly and affectionate yet they don’t take up too much space in your apartment.

Birds are great pets for apartment dwellers because they’re low maintenance while still being extremely affectionate with big personalities. Whether you want a few smaller birds or one large parrot, it’s important to discover which popular pet bird species is right for you.

Throughout this article, we’ll talk to you about all the different species and help you decide which is the friendliest pet bird species for you.

Welcome to the bird world

Are you new to pet ownership? Don’t fret. There are several bird species and they all make for wonderful pets. But before you go to the local pet store or aviary, you need to ask yourself a few questions to determine which pet is the best one for you.

Don

Don

Does your apartment complex allow birds?

Before bringing any type of animal into your apartment, you need to read your lease agreement and talk to your landlord about the pet policy. The first thing to find out is if your apartment allows pets, and specifically if they allow birds.

If your apartment is not pet-friendly, don’t sneak a pet into the apartment as there are serious negative consequences. Once you get the green light that your apartment is pet-friendly, then you can continue your search for the perfect pet.

Can you afford it?

As with any pet, you need to do some math to ensure that your budget can stretch to accommodate your first bird. In addition to purchasing the cage, which varies in price, you’ll need to calculate the cost of birdseed, fresh fruit and veggies, toys for mental stimulation, veterinary care, cleaning and grooming costs and additional money for unexpected costs that may arise.

Different species can cost different amounts, too. Owning a bird can add up, so make sure you can afford the care needed to take care of your little feathered creature.

How much time do you have to care for it?

While some birds are more low maintenance than others, all birds need some human attention every day to thrive. Ask yourself how much time you actually have each day to care for your new pet and give it the human interaction it deserves.

If you only have an hour each day to dedicate to your pet, consider a parakeet as they’re a low-maintenance bird. On the other hand, if you have ample amounts of time at home to care for and train your bird, you may consider a parrot species.

Do your research to understand the level of training, stimulation and care each different bird species needs to thrive.

Birds need stimulation with toys.

Birds need stimulation with toys.

Where is it coming from?

We don’t just mean which pet store is your bird coming from. Unfortunately, birds are illegally obtained and sold. In fact, some birds — like the African grey parrot — are on the verge of extinction from the illegal bird trade. African greys are intelligent birds that people love as pets, but they face extinction in their natural habitat due to illegal activities.

Responsible pet owners will ask the breeder where the bird came from to ensure they aren’t contributing to the illegal bird trade. Another great option is to adopt a bird from a shelter. That way, you’re saving a life and helping to give a shelter pet a friendly new home.

Is the species compatible with children and other pets?

Are you looking to add some playful birds to your house? Well, if you have children or other animals in the house, you need to make sure that your new chirpy addition is good with other animals, children or other birds.

Don’t bring a new bird into the apartment and expect it to get along well with others. Some birds are great with other species while some are better suited alone.

For example, if you have a cat, it’s probably not smart to add a bird to the mix. The cat may view it as lunch. Save yourself some tears and heartache and make sure that all family members, pets included, are compatible with your new friend.

Top 6 best pet birds

OK, so you’ve decided that you want a pet bird and want to bring one home. But, what are the best pet birds for you? Here are some different options to consider.

Pionus parrots

Pionus parrots

Pionus parrots

  • Blue and green
  • Medium size
  • ~30-year life span

The Pionus parrot is part of the parrot family and is originally found in South America. This is a great species for families to own as the species isn’t prone to attaching to a single person, as other parrots sometimes do. This intelligent one is sure to charm you as it’s relatively quiet and reserved. This pet bird does need a lot of attention, otherwise, it can get moody and demanding.

If you’re looking for a great companion for the whole family, the Pionus parrot is a good choice to consider.

Cockatiel

Cockatiel

Cockatiels

  • Gray, white and yellow
  • Small size
  • ~ 20-year life span

These little birds are some of the most popular pets for bird owners. They’re friendly, lovable and great for apartment dwellers. They love whistling and will likely serenade you throughout the day. Part of the parrot family, they do require attention and stimulation but are on the smaller side, so they won’t take up too much space in your apartment. They cost anywhere from $30 to $250 to purchase.

If you’re a new pet owner, experts recommend getting a female cockatiel as they aren’t as moody and possessive as their male counterparts. They love company so you can even consider getting two so they have each other. If you want two cockatiels, a male and a female will work well together. Keep in mind that if you only get one, they may require more attention from you. However, you’ll have the perfect companion on your shoulder.

Hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaws

  • Blue
  • Large size
  • ~30+ year life span

Native to central South America, the hyacinth macaws are the larger cousins to something like the Pionus parrot. These beautiful birds are spectacular and full of personality. They love to play and be seen. The hyacinth macaw definitely needs attention from its pet owner.

The hyacinth macaw can live for at least 30 years or more and cost anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 to purchase. They need a large cage that’s at least six feet, as they’re the largest parrot in the world.

If you’re experienced with birds and can give these gentle giants the proper care, then they do make great pets. But, if you’re looking for a friendly pet to start off with, this is not the right creature for you.

Scarlet macaw

Scarlet macaw

Scarlet macaws

  • Blue, red and green
  • Large size
  • 30+ year life span

When you think of a parrot, you probably imagine a rainbow-colored animal that can talk like and mimic humans. The scarlet macaw is that large, glorious, rainbow-colored bird. While they can talk, they don’t mimic the voice and tone (that’s the African grey!) of their owner.

Scarlet macaws are fun birds as they’re friendly, affectionate and intelligent. However, they’re not low maintenance and require a lot of time and human attention. The scarlet macaw will form strong bonds with you if it lives alone, just like it would bond with others if it were in the wild. If you’re looking for a long-term companion, consider this creature.

Green-cheeked conurre

Green-cheeked conurre

Green-cheeked conures

  • Green
  • Small or medium
  • ~20-year life span

This smaller species is a popular pet for families. They’re friendly birds that are affectionate and will dole out sweet gestures, like cuddling, when properly tamed. The green-cheeked conure will chatter but they’re good for apartment dwellers as they aren’t too noisy. These small birds cost anywhere from $150 t0 $300.

The green-cheeked conure is a playful, energetic and cuddly creature. While they demand attention, they just want love and if they live in positive environments, they’ll become your feathered best friend.

Amazon parrot

Amazon parrot

Amazon parrots

  • Green
  • Medium to large
  • 40+ year life span

Like most parrots, the Amazon parrot requires attention, proper mental stimulation and care. These mischievous birds like attention but are a great family pet. If you have the time to commit to it, the Amazon parrot is a friendly pet bird species to consider. You can teach it basic things and bond with this gorgeous creature.

Budgie

Budgie

What’s the easiest bird to have as a pet?

One of the easiest birds to have as a pet is the budgie, also known as a parakeet. These cute creatures are friendly pet bird species who love attention, food and play. If you’re looking for a new pet that’s easy but will give you love, cuddles and companionship, the bird world often recommends starting with a budgie.

Budgies want human interaction and don’t do well completely isolated. While they’re pretty low maintenance, they still want to interact with their humans and will be extremely affectionate with pet owners who show them love.

If you’re looking for an easy pet bird, consider the budgie or parakeet.

The best bird to have as a pet

What’s the best bird to have in your apartment? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Birds, in general, need attention, proper care and love from their owners. If you want a low-maintenance pet, then a parakeet is the best pet bird for you. If you want a lifelong companion you can train, then the African grey is a great option.

We can’t tell you the best bird as that depends on you and your lifestyle. But, we can walk you through all of the basic pros and cons to help you determine the best one for you.

Here are some of the common pros and cons bird owners share. Consider these when determining which feathered creature to take home.

Pros of having a feathered friend

Animals bring joy and birds are no exception. These are some of the best benefits of having a feathered friend in your apartment.

They can learn basic commands

Talking parrots aren’t just found on pirate ships. If you take the time to train your bird, you can teach it easy commands and different words and it’ll talk to you! This is one of the most fun and memorable aspects of owning a bird. We’d like to see a talking Golden Retriever!

Birds love a snuggle

Birds love a snuggle

They’re affectionate pets

You might think that only cats or dogs cuddle with their human, but you’d be wrong. Birds are affectionate creatures who will cuddle you if you love them. Let them perch on your shoulder or arm and you’ll have a featured friend who loves you just as much as you love them.

They’re extremely sweet

All birds have personalities and most are very sweet. Birds want love and attention, but in return, they’ll love you back. Some will charm you with little chirps while others will speak to you. They’re popular pets because of how sweet they are.

Cons of having a feathered friend

As with any pet, there are parts of pet parenting that aren’t so glamorous. Here are some cons to know.

Birds make a lot of noise.

Birds make a lot of noise.

They’re incredibly noisy

We all know that birds tweet, but some are very loud, especially when ignored. If you live in a small apartment space next to other neighbors, your bird’s continual chirping may not appeal to everyone.

They’re expensive

While some smaller birds cost $50 to purchase, their larger cousins can cost upwards of $12,000. And that’s just for the bird itself! That doesn’t factor in food, toys, vet bills, training and other pet-related costs. Birds are expensive to purchase and maintain, compared to other pets.

They require proper care and space

You don’t just buy a bird and call it good. Birds need the right cage with enough room to spread their wings, the right space and the right care. If you can’t commit to the proper training and attention needed, which is hours a day, then this is not the right animal for you.

Becoming a pet bird owner

Are you sold that these extremely sweet, feathered creatures are right for you? Make sure you’ve done your research, checked your budget and found the bird that you can grow to love and form strong bonds with. We know they won’t disappoint with their sweet and affectionate cuddles and beautiful birdsongs.

Source: rent.com

Swimming Pool Financing: What to Know and Best Pool Loans

Who doesn’t love a relaxing dip in the swimming pool on a sweltering, hot day? And when that swimming pool is in your backyard, it’s even better.

You could bring your friends together over the summer by hosting pool parties. You could teach your kids to swim right at home. If you rent out your place on Airbnb or Vrbo, you could fetch top dollar for the additional amenity.

Sounds like a dream.

If your house didn’t already come with a pool when you moved in, there’s still a possibility of turning your pool fantasies into reality if you have enough space.

And if you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars upfront to spend on a pool construction project, there’s always pool financing.

What Is Pool Financing?

Pool financing is when you borrow money from a financial institution or lender to cover the costs of building a pool. Pool construction typically costs anywhere from $17,971 to $46,481 with the average cost being around $32,059, according to HomeAdvisor.

Of course, the cost will vary based on the size, the type of pool, your location and where you plan to build the pool on your property. Adding a small plunge pool to a cleared, flat space in your backyard will cost considerably less than adding a resort-style pool with waterfalls and a jacuzzi to your property that requires you to cut down multiple trees and level the land.

Besides the personal enjoyment that comes along with having a pool, this addition to your home could boost your property value and make your home more desirable to future buyers, renters or short-term guests.

The high cost to install a pool means that many people rely on pool financing. There are several ways to go about getting a loan for a pool.

Options for Pool Financing

If you want to add a pool to your property, but don’t have the cash upfront, you have several options.

You could get a personal loan (sometimes referred to as a pool loan), a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit or a cash-out refinance. Some pool builders or retailers offer in-house loan programs through their partner lenders. You might also consider using a credit card as your method of financing.

Personal Loans (AKA Pool Loans)

Pool loans are unsecured personal loans offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders. You may be able to get a pool loan through the financial institution where you already have existing accounts, or you might choose to get financed from an online lender or financing consultant company that deals exclusively with pool loans and home improvement loans.

One of the benefits of personal loans is that you don’t have to offer up any collateral. If you stop making payments and default on your loan, you don’t have to worry about your house being foreclosed — though the lender still could sue you. If approved for an unsecured personal loan, you can usually receive funds within a couple of days, much quicker than some other financing options.

Because you don’t have any collateral backing the loan, however, these financing options can come with higher interest rates. Interest rates can start around 3% and go up to about 36%.

A borrower’s credit score, credit history, income and existing debt load all affect the interest rate.

Personal loan terms generally range from about two to 12 years — though some pool loans can have terms up to 20 years or more. You can get loans from $1,000 to over $200,000 to fund simple above-ground pools or elaborate in-ground pool projects.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are essentially when you tap into the equity you have in your home and take out a second mortgage. If you have a significant amount of equity, you could finance your pool project this way.

Home equity loans generally have lower interest rates than personal loans because your home is used as collateral. If you default on your loan, the lender could foreclose on your home.

Also, with home equity loans you’ll face additional fees, like a home appraisal cost and closing costs, so be sure to factor that into your decision making.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A home equity line of credit or HELOC also taps into the equity you have in your home, but it’s a revolving line of credit that you can use for several years instead of a loan that provides you with one lump sum of cash.

With a HELOC, you can pull out funds as needed to finance your pool construction and other home improvement projects. While you’ll only pay back what you borrow, the interest on HELOCs are usually adjustable rates rather than fixed rates. That means your monthly payments can increase during your repayment period.

Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance is essentially when you replace your existing mortgage with a new mortgage that exceeds what you owe on the house and you take out the difference in cash.

You can then use that lump sum to pay for your pool, and you’ll pay it back throughout the course of your new mortgage — over the next 10 to 30 years depending on your loan terms.

A cash-out refinance might make sense if you’re able to get a lower interest rate than your current mortgage. However, just like with a home equity loan or HELOC, your home is being used as collateral, and you’ll face additional fees involved in the refinancing process.

In-House Financing from the Pool Builder

Some pool companies may directly provide you with pool financing offers, so you don’t have to search for financing on your own. The pool companies typically aren’t offering the loan to you themselves, but they’ve partnered with a lender or network of lenders to provide you with financing options.

This type of financing is the same as applying for a personal loan or pool loan. The benefit is that you get a one-stop-shop experience instead of having to reach out to lenders individually. Your pool contractor may even be able to assist you through the loan process.

The downside is that you could potentially miss out on a better deal by only getting quotes from the pool company’s partnered lenders.

Credit Cards

Because of their high interest rates, credit cards are usually not recommended as options for financing a new swimming pool. However, there can be situations where it’d make sense.

If you’re able to open a zero-interest credit card and pay the balance back before the zero-interest period expires, paying with a credit card can be a great option — especially if it’s a rewards card that’ll give you points, airline miles or cash-back for spending or a bonus just for opening the account.

If you choose this financing option, be sure that you’ll be able to pay off the balance in a relatively short period of time. Most credit cards only offer zero-interest periods for the first 12 to 21 months. After that your interest rate could go up to 18% or more.

Pool Loan Comparisons

Getting quotes from multiple lenders will help you select the best deal for your pool construction project. Here’s what a few top lenders are currently offering.

Lyon Financial

Best for Long Loan Terms

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Pays the pool contractor directly
  • 600 minimum credit score
  • Offers military discounts

Lyon Financial is a financing consultant that has been in business since 1979 and works with a network of lenders to provide loans for pool and home improvement projects. Unlike personal loans that provide the borrower with the funds upfront, Lyon Financial disburses the funding directly to the pool builder in stages as the project progresses.

Lyon Financial

APR (interest rates)

As low as 2.99%

Maximum loan amount

$200,000

Loan terms

Up to 25 years

HFS Financial

Best for Large Pool Loans

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Provides loans up to $500,000
  • Most loans are funded within 48 hours
  • No prepayment penalties

HFS Financial is a financing company that partners with third-party lenders to provide homeowners with the money to construct pools on their property. Use their “60 second loan application” to kick off the loan process. Funds are typically dispersed within 48 hours.

HFS Financial

APR (interest rates)

As low as 2.99%

Maximum loan amount

$500,000

Loan terms

Up to 20 years

Viking Capital

Best for Customer Service

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Supports a network of pool builders
  • 650 minimum credit score
  • Offers military discounts

Viking Capital is a family-owned business that has been in operation since 1999. The company acts in the capacity of a financial consultant, and partners with a network of lenders to provide multiple loan offers for pool construction projects.

Viking Capital

APR (interest rates)

As low as 5.49%

Maximum loan amount

$125,000

Loan terms

Up to 20 years

5 Steps to Securing Pool Financing

Follow these steps to secure a loan for your pool.

1. Determine What Monthly Payments You Can Afford

Before you dig into your pool financing options, you should be clear on what monthly payment you can afford. Having a pool is a luxury. You don’t want a pool construction project to jeopardize your ability to pay your bills and meet your needs.

Figure out how much disposable income you have to work with by comparing your monthly earnings to how much you typically spend each month.

Don’t forget to factor in maintenance and additional utilities usage when estimating how much you can afford to go toward pool costs.

2. Check Your Credit History

When you’re financing a pool, having a good or excellent credit score will help you secure a loan with a low interest rate. Ideally, your credit score should be 700 or above.

Some lenders may offer you financing if you have fair or poor credit, however you may have to pay a lot more over time due to higher interest rates.

To boost your credit score before applying for a pool loan, follow these steps.

3. Get Cost Estimates for Your Pool

Talk with pool builders to get estimates on the total cost of your desired pool project. Get estimates from multiple pool companies so you have a better idea of what options exist.

If the estimates come in higher than you expected, consider scaling down the size of your pool project or using different materials.

Make sure any additional work — like constructing safety fencing — is included in your estimate.

4. Choose What Type of Financing Your Prefer and Shop Around For Lenders

After you figure out what options are available within your budget, it’s time to decide on what type of financing you prefer.

Will you be applying for an unsecured loan or do you plan to tap into your home equity or refinance your mortgage? Are you going to purchase a small above-ground pool that you could pay off in 15 months using a zero-interest credit card?

Once you know what type of financing you’ll go with, reach out to multiple lenders so you can compare offers and choose the best deal. You may be able to use a competitor’s lower offer to get a lender to reduce their offer even further.

5. Complete Loan Application and Sign Off on All Paperwork

The final step to get your pool project financed is to complete any additional paperwork and sign off on the dotted line. Expect to provide information about your income and other existing debt.

Your credit score may take a dip after taking on new debt, but it should rebound as you make regular, on-time payments.

Alternatives to Pool Financing

Taking on debt for a new pool doesn’t have to be your only option.

You could put off your pool construction project for a few years and save up for the expense in cash. Open a high-yield savings account to use as a sinking fund and don’t make withdrawals from the account until you’ve reached your savings goal.

If you think you’re outgrowing your current home — or are looking to downsize — wait until you’re ready to move and then look for a new home with an existing pool.

Or if you’re okay with not having a pool in your backyard, you’ll save money by visiting public pools or renting private pools from Swimply on occasion. This is a good option if you think you wouldn’t get much regular use of having your own pool.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years can you refinance a pool for?

You can finance a pool over 20 to 30 years, depending on the type of financing you secure. If you need decades to pay back the loan, you might consider refinancing your mortgage or taking out a second mortgage. Private, unsecured loans typically need to be repaid sooner, however some have loan terms of 20 years or more.

What is the best way to finance a pool?

It all depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. If you’ve built up a ton of equity in your home and want to spread your debt payments over a lot of time, you might lean toward a home equity loan or HELOC. If you’ve got excellent credit and would qualify for a low-interest personal loan (unsecured loan), that might be the better option.

What credit score do you need for pool financing?

Ideally, you’ll want to have a credit score of 700 or higher to get the best interest rates for pool financing. Some companies, however, will accept lower credit scores. As a result, your loan may have a higher interest rate.

What is a good interest rate for a pool loan?

An interest rate around 5% is a good deal for a pool loan. You may be able to find rates even lower if you have excellent credit.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

What Is Inflation (Definition) – Causes & Effects of Rate on Prices & Interest

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People have always grumbled that a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. But these days, that complaint is truer than ever. No matter where you go — the gas station, the grocery store, the movies — prices are higher than they were just a month or two ago.

What we’re seeing is the return of a familiar economic foe: inflation. Many Americans alive today have never seen price increases like these before. For the past three decades, inflation has never been above 4% per year. But as of March 2022, it’s at 8.5%, a level not seen since 1981.

Modest inflation, like what we had up through 2020, is normal and even healthy for an economy. But the rate of inflation we’re seeing now is neither normal nor healthy. It does more than just raise the cost of living. It can have a serious impact on the economy as a whole. 

Recent inflation-related news:


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  • In March 2022, the U.S. inflation rate hit a 40-year high of 8.5%. 
  • Prices for gasoline have increased nearly 50% over the past year.
  • Retail giant Amazon has added a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge for sellers.
  • The Federal Reserve is planning a series of interest rate hikes to cool the overheated economy.

What Is Inflation?

Inflation is more than just rising prices. Prices of specific things we buy, from a gallon of milk to a year of college tuition, rise and fall all the time. These price increases affect individual consumers’ lives, but they don’t have a big impact on the entire economy.

Inflation is a general increase in the prices of goods and services across the board. It drives up prices for everything you buy, from a haircut to a gallon of gas. Or, to put it another way, the purchasing power of every dollar in your pocket declines.

Most of the time, inflation doesn’t disrupt people’s lives too much, because prices rise for labor as well. If your household spending increases by 5% but your paycheck increases by 5% at the same time, you’re no worse off than before.

But when prices rise sharply, wages can’t always keep up. That makes it harder for consumers to make ends meet. It also drives them to change their spending behaviors in ways that often make the problem worse.


Causes of Inflation

Inflation depends on the twin forces of supply and demand. Supply is the amount of a particular good or service that’s available. Demand is the amount of that particular good or service that people want to buy. More demand drives prices up, while more supply drives them down. 

To see why, suppose you have 10 loaves of bread to sell. You have 10 buyers who want bread and are willing to pay $1 per loaf. So you can sell all 10 loaves at $1 each.

But if 10 more buyers suddenly enter the market, they will have to compete for your bread. To make sure they get some, they might be willing to pay as much as $2 per loaf. The higher demand has pushed the price up.

By contrast, if another seller shows up with 10 loaves of bread, the two of you will be competing for buyers. To sell your bread, you might have to lower the price to as little as $0.50 per loaf. The higher supply has pushed prices down.

Inflation results from demand outstripping supply. Economists often describe this as “too much money chasing too few goods.” There are several ways this kind of imbalance can happen.

Cost-Push Inflation

Cost-push inflation happens when it costs more to produce goods. To go back to the bread example, cost-push inflation might happen because a wheat shortage makes flour more expensive. It costs you more to make each loaf of bread, so you can’t afford to bake as much.

As a result, you bring only five loaves to the market. But there are still 10 customers who want to buy bread, so they must pay more to get their share. The higher cost of production drives down the supply and thus drives up the price.

In the real world, cost-push inflation can result from higher costs for anything that goes into making a product. This includes:

  • Raw Materials. The wheat that went into your bread is an example. Higher-cost wheat means higher-cost flour, which means higher-cost bread.
  • Transportation. In today’s global economy, materials and finished goods move around a lot. Transporting products requires fuel, which usually comes from oil. So whenever oil prices go up, the price of other goods rises as well. 
  • Labor. Another factor in production cost is labor. When schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents had to stop working to care for their children. That created a worker shortage that drove prices up.

Demand-Pull Inflation

The opposite of cost-push inflation is demand-pull inflation. It occurs when consumers want to buy more than the market can supply, driving prices up.

Typically, demand-pull inflation results from economic growth. Rising wages and lower levels of unemployment put more money in people’s pockets, and people who have more money want to spend more. If the booming economy hasn’t produced enough goods and services to match this new demand, prices rise.

Other causes of demand-pull inflation include: 

  • Increased Money Supply. Another way people can end up with more money in their pockets is because the government has put more money in circulation. Governments often do this to stimulate a weak economy or to pay off past debts. But as the money supply increases, the purchasing power of each dollar shrinks. 
  • Rapid Population Growth. When the population grows rapidly, the demand for goods and services grows also. If the economy doesn’t produce more to compensate, prices rise. In Europe during the 1500s and 1600s, prices soared as the population grew so fast that agriculture couldn’t keep up with the new demand.
  • Panic Buying. Early in the COVID pandemic, consumers started buying extra groceries to fill their pantries in preparation for a lockdown. This led to shortages of many staple products, like milk and toilet paper. As a result, prices for those goods went up.
  • Pent-Up Demand. This occurs when people return to spending after a period of going without. This often happens in the wake of a recession. It also occurred as pandemic restrictions eased and people returned to enjoying movies, travel, and restaurant meals.

Built-In Inflation

When consumers expect prices to be higher in the future, they often respond by spending more now. If the purchasing power of their savings is only going to fall, it makes more sense to take that money out of the bank and use it on a major purchase, like a new car or a large appliance.

In this way, expectations of high inflation can themselves lead to inflation. This type of inflation is called built-in inflation because it builds on itself. 

When workers expect the cost of living to rise, they demand higher wages. But then they have more to spend, so they spend more, driving prices up. This, in turn, reinforces the belief that  prices will keep rising, leading to still higher wage demands. This cycle of rising wages and prices is called a wage-price spiral.


Effects of Inflation

Inflation does more than just drive up the cost of living. It changes the economy in a variety of ways — some harmful, others helpful. The effects of inflation include:

  • Higher Wages. As prices rise with inflation, wages typically rise as well. This can create a wage-price spiral that drives inflation still higher.
  • Higher Interest Rates. When the dollar is declining in value, banks often respond by raising interest rates on loans. The Federal Reserve also typically raises interest rates to cool the economy and rein in inflation, as discussed below.
  • Cheaper Debt. Inflation is good for debtors because they can pay off their debts with cheaper dollars. This is most useful for loans with a fixed interest rate, such as fixed-rate mortgages and student loans.
  • More Consumption. Inflation encourages consumers to spend money because they know it will be worth less later. All this spending keeps the economy humming, but it can also drive prices even higher.
  • Lower Savings Rates. Just as inflation encourages spending, it discourages saving. Higher interest rates can counter this effect, but they often don’t rise enough to make a difference.
  • Less Valuable Benefits. High inflation is worse for people on a fixed income. They face higher prices without higher wages to make up for them. Benefits such as Social Security change each year to adjust for inflation, but higher benefits next year don’t help when prices are rising right now.
  • More Valuable Tangible Assets. Inflation reduces the purchasing power of the dollars you have in the bank. Tangible assets like real estate, however, gain in dollar value as prices rise.

Measuring Inflation

The most common measure of inflation is the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) determines the CPI based on the cost of an imaginary basket of goods and services. BLS workers painstakingly check prices on all these items each month and record how each price changes.

To calculate the annual rate of inflation, the BLS looks at how much all prices in its basket have changed since a year earlier. Then it “weights” the value of each item based on how much of it people buy. The weighted average of all items becomes the CPI.

The BLS then uses the CPI to calculate the annual rate of inflation. It divides this month’s CPI by the CPI from a year ago, then multiplies the result by 100. This shows how the purchasing power of a dollar has changed over the last year. The result is reported monthly.

Other measures of inflation include:

  • Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE). This inflation measure is published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Like the CPI, it’s a measure of consumer costs, but it’s adjusted to account for changes in the products people buy. The Federal Reserve uses the PCE to guide its monetary policy, as discussed below. 
  • Producer Price Index (PPI). The PPI measures inflation from the seller’s perspective, not the buyer’s. It’s calculated by dividing the price sellers currently get for a basket of goods and services by its price in a base year, then multiplying the result by 100.

Historical Examples of Inflation

A little bit of inflation is normal. But sometimes inflation spirals out of control, with prices rising more than 50% per month. This is called hyperinflation, and it can be devastating for an economy.

Hyperinflation has occurred at various times and places throughout history. During the U.S. Civil War, both sides experienced soaring inflation. Other examples include Germany in the 1920s, Greece and Hungary after World War II, Yugoslavia and Peru in the 1990s, and Venezuela today. In most cases, the main cause was the government printing money to pay for debt. 

The last time the U.S. had prolonged, high rates of inflation was in the 1970s and early 1980s. The inflation rate was nowhere near hyperinflation levels, but it spiked above 10% twice. Eventually, the Fed hiked interest rates to double-digit levels to get it under control.

Although high inflation can be destructive, zero inflation isn’t a good thing, either. At that point, an economy is at risk of the opposite problem, deflation. 

When prices and wages fall across the board, consumers spend less. Sales of products and services fall, so companies cut back staff or go out of business. As a result, jobs are lost and spending drops still more, worsening the problem. The Great Depression was an example.


The Federal Reserve, or Fed, is the U.S. central bank — or more accurately, banks. It’s a group of 12 banks spread across the country under the control of a central board of governors. Its job is to keep the economy on track, reining in inflation while trying to avoid recessions. 

The Fed maintains this balance through monetary policy, or controlling the availability of money.

Its main tool for doing this is interest rates. When the economy is weak, the Fed lowers the federal funds rate. This makes it easier for people to borrow and spend. 

When the problem is inflation, it does the opposite, raising interest rates. This makes it more costly to borrow and more worthwhile to save. As a result, consumers spend less, slowing down the wage-price spiral.

The Fed has other tools for fighting inflation as well. One option is to change reserve requirements for banks, requiring them to hold more cash. That gives them less to lend out, which in turn reduces the amount consumers and businesses have to spend.

Finally, the Fed can reduce the money supply directly. The main way it does this is to increase the interest rate paid on government bonds. That encourages more people to buy bonds, which temporarily takes their money out of circulation and puts it in the hands of the government.


Inflation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you keep seeing stories about inflation in the news, you may have some other questions about how it works. For instance, you may wonder:

What Is Hyperinflation?

Hyperinflation is more than just high inflation. It’s a wage-price spiral gone mad, sending prices soaring out of control. As noted above, the usual definition of hyperinflation is an inflation rate of at least 50% per month — more than 12,000% per year. However, some economists use the term to refer to an inflation rate of 1,000% or more per year.

What Is Disinflation?

Disinflation is a fall in the rate of inflation. This is what the Federal Reserve and other central banks try to achieve through their monetary policy, such as raising interest rates.

Disinflation is not the same as deflation, or falling prices. During a period of disinflation, prices are continuing to rise, but the rate at which they rise is slowing down.

What Is Transitory Inflation?

When the first signs of a post-COVID-19 inflation spike appeared, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell described it as “transitory.” By this, he meant that the rise in prices would be short-lived and would not do permanent damage to the economy. 

However, in November 2021, Powell declared it was “time to retire that word.” Based on the growth in prices, he had concluded that inflation was more of a long-term trend. The Federal Reserve responded by planning to fight inflation harder, buying more bonds and plotting out a series of interest rate hikes.

What Is Core Inflation?

Measuring inflation can be tricky because prices for some products fluctuate more than others. Food and energy prices, in particular, can shift a lot from month to month. Including these products in the CPI can lead to sharp, but temporary, spikes or dips in the inflation rate.

To adjust for this, the CPI and PCE have a separate “core” version that doesn’t include food or energy prices. This core inflation measure is more useful for predicting long-term trends. The  main versions of the CPI and PCE, known as the “headline” versions, give a more accurate picture of how prices are changing right now.

What Is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

As noted above, the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, is the main measure of inflation in the United States. The BLS calculates it based on how much prices have risen for an imaginary basket of goods and services that many Americans buy.


Final Word

A little inflation in an economy is normal. It can even be a good thing, because it’s a sign that consumers are spending and businesses are earning. The Fed generally considers an annual inflation rate of 2% to be healthy.

However, higher inflation can cause serious problems for an economy. It’s bad for savers whose nest eggs, including retirement savings, shrink in value. It’s even worse for seniors and others on fixed incomes whose purchasing power has fallen. And it often requires strong measures from the central bank to correct it — measures that risk driving the economy into a recession.

If you’re concerned about the effects of inflation, there are several ways to protect yourself. You can adjust your household budget, putting more dollars into the categories where prices are rising fastest. You can stock up on household basics now, before the purchasing power of your dollars falls too much. 

Finally, you can choose investments that do well during periods of inflation. Stock-based mutual funds and real estate investment trusts are both good choices. Just be careful with inflation hedges like gold and cryptocurrency, which carry risks of their own.

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Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Should I File a Home Insurance Claim? Pros, Cons, When It Makes Sense

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You love the big cherry tree in your home’s front yard. Each spring, it explodes in a riot of bright pink flowers. Each summer, it drops sour fruit that perks up nicely in a sugary pie. 

Until it doesn’t. One summer day, your family comes home to find one of the cherry tree’s limbs in your living room, felled by a strong thunderstorm. The damage is extensive: two broken windows, a caved-in window sill, and serious water and impact damage to the living room floor and furniture.  

Once the initial shock wears off, you prepare to file a home insurance claim. But then, you start to ask questions. What if your insurance company denies the water damage portion of the claim? What if my home insurance premiums spike? How much will I have to pay out of pocket due to your policy’s high deductible? Should I even file this claim? 


Should I File a Home Insurance Claim?

The fact that a seemingly serious event like a tree falling through your house is such a close call teaches us an important lesson about homeowners insurance: It’s not always in your best interest to file a claim. Even when they cause short-term financial pain, some incidents aren’t worth filing over. 


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Plus, standard homeowners insurance policies exclude certain types of incidents that can cause serious financial stress for homeowners, such as floods and earthquakes. You need separate insurance policies if your home is at risk of these uncovered perils.

Pros & Cons of Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim

If you’re considering filing a homeowners insurance claim, you’re probably facing a hefty bill for cleanup and repairs or a long list of damaged items to replace. Or perhaps you’re staring down a lawsuit brought by a guest or worker who sustained serious injuries on your property.  

In any case, you need to figure out whether it makes sense to go through with your claim — and fast. That means objectively assessing the pros and cons of doing so.

Pros of Filing a Home Insurance Claim

Depending on the circumstances, filing a home insurance claim has significant financial benefits.

  1. It Helps You Pay for Repairs. If your claim is approved, you can use the payout to offset the cost of repairs and restore your home to its previous condition. Without this financial assistance, you might find yourself cutting corners or making ill-advised financial moves to cover the cost, such as dipping into your 401(k). 
  2. It Helps You Replace Damaged or Stolen Goods. Your homeowners insurance policy could help offset the cost of replacing possessions damaged in a naturally occurring incident like a storm or fire. If your home was burglarized or vandalized, the proceeds could cover the cost of replacing stolen property as well. Depending on your policy, you could receive the items’ actual cash value or replacement cost, which is the cost of buying them new.
  3. Repairs Help Maintain Your Home’s Value. Homebuyers don’t pay top dollar for properties with fire-damaged siding, broken windows, or gaping holes in the roof. Your home insurance payout helps restore your home’s value with minimal out-of-pocket cost.

Cons of Filing a Home Insurance Claim

Filing a claim on your homeowners insurance policy isn’t always a slam dunk. The claims process has some hidden and not-so-hidden pitfalls that could leave you worse off than when you began.

  1. Your Insurance Premium May Go Up. Although this isn’t guaranteed, your homeowners insurance rates could rise after you file your claim. Exactly how much depends on the type of claim you file, the size of the claim, and your previous claims history. Generally, liability claims bump premiums more than claims related to fire, vandalism, or natural disasters.
  2. Too Many Claims Mean Your Policy May Not Be Renewed. A rate increase is unwelcome but manageable. A canceled policy is far more serious. If insurers see you as riskier than the typical homeowner, you could have trouble getting coverage on your own. Your lender might need to step in and take out a policy on your behalf — often at a much higher premium than your old policy.
  3. If You Get a Claim-Free Discount, You Could Lose It. Once you file a home insurance claim, your claims history is no longer spotless. That matters because many home insurance companies offer claim-free discounts for homeowners who never file claims.

When You SHOULD File a Home Insurance Claim

So, you’re thinking about filing a home insurance claim. How can you be sure you’re making the right call?

Use these tests to assess your would-be claim. The more that apply to you, the stronger your position.

Repair or Replacement Costs More Than Your Deductible

This is the first test your would-be claim must pass. If it doesn’t, there’s no point in filing a claim.

Your deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your home insurance kicks in. Your policy documents should clearly specify this amount. It’s either expressed as a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the policy’s total coverage amount.

Dollar amount deductibles typically range from $500 to $2,500, with $1,000 being a common value. Some policies have more than one deductible, depending on the type of property damage. Separate “wind and hail” deductibles are common, for example — and often higher than the standard deductible.

If your home sustained significant damage or loss, your claim value should easily exceed your deductible. For example, if you expect repairs to cost $20,000 and your deductible is $2,000, your insurance company covers $18,000 — 90% of the total cost.

On the other hand, if you expect repairs to cost $3,000, your insurance company only covers $1,000 — 33% of the total cost. That’s a closer call because filing a claim could result in higher home insurance premiums that eventually offset your payout. 

The Event Is Covered by Your Policy

Your homeowners insurance company isn’t obligated to provide reimbursement for every type of damage or loss to your home. In fact, while your policy covers a lot, it probably excludes specific events, known as exclusions.

Common exclusions include but aren’t limited to:

  • Earthquake
  • Flood
  • Damage and liability issues caused by poor maintenance 
  • Insect infestations
  • Mold
  • Personal property losses and liability issues caused by power outages or power surges
  • Intentional damage caused by a resident
  • Damage caused by war or nuclear fallout
  • Injuries caused by aggressive dogs
  • Issues related to or caused by home-based businesses
  • Costs related to building code violations

You may need to purchase separate insurance policies to cover some of these perils. For example, your lender may require you to carry flood insurance if you live in a recognized flood zone. 

Other add-on policies are optional but often a good idea. For example, if you run a business out of your home, you should consider carrying business insurance to protect against inventory or equipment losses or damage to your workspace.

You’ve Suffered Significant Loss or Damage

Often, it’s not a close call. If your home is seriously damaged or destroyed in an event that’s covered by your policy, you absolutely should file a homeowners insurance claim. Otherwise, you’ll be on the hook for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs.

If you have any doubts about the extent of the damage to your home, get a few repair quotes from building contractors in your area. You can also talk to your insurance agent or ask your home insurance company to send out an insurance claims adjuster before you file.

You Haven’t Made a Claim in the Past 5 Years

Approved homeowners insurance claims typically remain on your insurance record for five years after they’re made. 

This record is known as the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) database. When you make a claim, your insurer checks its own records and the CLUE database to see whether you’ve made any other claims in the past five years.

If you have made a claim in the past five years, expect your insurance premiums to spike after your second claim is approved. 

For fire, theft, and general liability claims, the increase could amount to 50% or more of your previous premium. A weather-related claim won’t increase your premium quite as much, but you’ll still notice a jump.


When You Should NOT File a Home Insurance Claim

It’s not always worth it to file a home insurance claim. 

Certain situations, such as minor damage that costs less to repair than your insurance deductible, all but rule out a claim. Others, such as an active claim history, bring an elevated risk of a denied claim.

If any of these situations apply to you, think twice about filing a home insurance claim.

Repair or Replacement Costs Less Than Your Deductible

If the damage or loss is relatively minor, your deductible could be too high to bother filing a claim. There’s no point in filing a claim — and potentially increasing your policy premiums — if you won’t even receive a payout.

Even if it’s a close call, be mindful of the potential for your premiums to go up after a successful claim. A claim worth $20,000 probably makes sense, but a claim worth $3,000 or $4,000 might actually set you back.

Damage Was Caused by Lack of Maintenance or Normal Wear & Tear

An event that appears to be covered by your policy might not be if the insurance adjuster can argue that it was caused by neglect, poor maintenance, or even normal wear and tear.

For example, let’s say your home loses heat during the winter, causing a water pipe to burst in your ceiling. Homeowners insurance policies generally cover this type of event — if the burst pipe was in good condition to begin with. If the pipe was already heavily corroded, your insurer might blame you for not replacing it sooner. They could deny the claim altogether.

The Event Isn’t Covered by Your Policy

It’s often quite easy to figure out whether a particular event is eligible for home insurance coverage. If your home collapses in an earthquake and your policy specifically rules out claims for earthquake damage, you’re out of luck. Hopefully, you have earthquake insurance.

But closer calls are more common than you’d think. If your resident termite colony worsens an existing foundation issue that eventually spurs a costly repair, your insurer could argue that the entire claim falls under the insect damage exclusion. 

When in doubt, it’s worthwhile to begin the claims process anyway. If you don’t like what the insurance adjuster has to say, you can drop the claim without increasing your insurance rates. 

Or you can hire a public adjuster — an independent insurance adjuster who can make a stronger case to your insurance company. Public adjusters usually work on contingency, so they only get paid if your claim is successful.

You’ve Made Multiple Claims in the Past 5 Years

The more homeowners insurance claims you make in a five-year period, the more your insurance rates increase after a successful new claim. 

Make too many claims in too short a period, and your insurance company could drop you altogether. If you’re unable to find replacement coverage, your lender could take out a policy on your behalf. Expect this lender policy to cost a lot more than your old policy.

All that said, you shouldn’t automatically rule out a new homeowners insurance claim just because you recently got an insurance payout or two. If your home is seriously damaged or destroyed by a covered event, it’s probably still worth it to file. Just be ready to pay higher premiums on the back end.


Final Word

Some say the best way to save money on homeowners insurance is not to file a claim at all. There’s a grain of truth to that, but don’t take it too literally. 

If your home is seriously damaged in an event that’s covered by your policy, a home insurance claim is absolutely warranted. Taking the time to file could save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses, keeping you on track to reach your long-term financial goals.

Still, it’s always a good idea to take stock of the situation before filing a claim. If your home sustains damage due to an event not covered by your policy or the cost of repairs doesn’t exceed your policy’s deductible, a claim isn’t in the cards. And even if filing a claim would be profitable on paper, it’s worth considering the long-term costs — in the form of higher premiums for years to come.

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Guide to Cross-Collateralized Loans

One type of loan that isn’t often discussed is cross-collateralized, also known as cross-collateral loans, which is a type of secured loan. If someone is looking to take out multiple loans through the same financial institution, it’s important that they understand what cross-collateralization is and when it can happen.

So, what is a cross-collateralized loan? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Cross-Collateralization?

Cross-collateralization involves a borrower using an asset they already used as collateral on a loan as collateral again for a second loan. Collateral is an asset that acts as a loan guarantee. If the borrower fails to make their loan payments, the lender has the option to seize the collateral or to force the sale of the collateral to recoup its losses.

In short, cross-collateralization involves using the same collateral for one loan to serve as collateral for another loan at the same time.

Recommended: Using Collateral on a Personal Loan

How Does Cross-Collateralization Work?

The way that cross-collateralization works is that the same form of collateral is used to back more than one loan. The collateral used needs to guarantee the loan value. For example, if someone takes out an auto loan, the car (which equates to the value of the loan) is used as collateral. For cross-collateralization to work, that car also needs to be worth the same or more than the value of the second loan.

A common example of cross-collateralization is a second mortgage. If someone takes out a second mortgage on their home, the home is going to be used as collateral for both the primary mortgage used to purchase the home and the new second mortgage.

While cross-collateralization can involve using the same type of asset against one another, it doesn’t have to happen this way. For example, a lender can use a borrower’s car as collateral for a new loan that isn’t an auto loan, even though the car is already being used as collateral for the auto loan.

When Is Cross-Collateralization Used?

It’s more common to come across cross-collateralization in practice at credit unions and auto lenders. Unlike banks, credit unions are owned by the members of the credit union. To help protect this group against various losses, credit unions often use cross-collateralization to gain some extra security. Credit unions tend to have more favorable loan terms than larger financial institutions and banks, and members may secure those better terms by agreeing to cross-collateralization.

An example of this would be if a credit union member wants to finance their car through their credit union. Fast forward six months, and they want to take out an unsecured loan with a low-interest rate. The reason the credit union can offer an unsecured loan to the member at such a great rate is because they are actually securing the loan with the existing collateral from the member’s car loan.

The lender is legally obligated to disclose cross-collateralization, and the borrower must consent. It’s important to ask about cross-collateralization practices when taking out a new loan, however. A lender could include a clause in the loan agreement allowing it to cross-collateralize any collateral you used on any loan with that lender, and the wording in such a clause can vary by lender.

Once a form of collateral is being used to secure multiple loans, the borrower can’t sell that collateral. This means that a borrower who thinks their vehicle is securing only their auto loan may be unable to sell the vehicle if it is acting as collateral for another loan, whether or not the lender informed them verbally that cross-collateralization was happening.

How Can You Get Out of Cross-Collateral Loans?

Getting out of a cross-collateralized loan without paying it off in full can be very difficult. And it may not be as simple as transferring the loan to another lender. It’s usually quite challenging and expensive to move a cross-collateral loan to another lender, which can leave a borrower stuck with whatever rates and terms were offered to them when they took out the loan. That’s why it’s a really good idea to read the fine print of any loan agreements before signing and confirming whether a bank or credit union plans to start a cross-collateral loan.

Pros and Cons of Cross-Collateral Loan

Pros Cons
Typically easy to qualify for Larger risk of losing collateral
Potentially low cost Tied to just one lender
Allows borrowers to leverage existing assets Unfavorable terms may unchangeable without a change in lender

There are some major advantages and disadvantages associated with cross-collateral loans that are worth taking into consideration before signing any loan documents.

Benefits

Some of the benefits of a cross-collateral loan include:

•   Ease of qualification. Because cross-collateral loans are secured, they can be easier to qualify for than unsecured loans, for which the lender takes on more risk. Applicants with low credit scores may find it easier to qualify for this type of loan than some others.

•   Lower cost. General cross-collateral loans tend to be less expensive than unsecured loans. This type of loan tends to come with lower interest rates, which could equal savings over the life of the loan, and longer repayment terms, which could lower monthly payments but increase total interest cost.

•   Allows borrowers to leverage existing assets. Cross-collateral loans use an asset that is already trapped in an existing loan, and allows the borrower to get more value out of it by using it to ensure more loans.

Drawbacks

There are some serious downsides associated with cross-collateral loans that are worth thinking carefully about.

•   Larger risk. If the borrower isn’t able to repay their debts, the lender can seize the asset acting as collateral.

•   Tied to just one lender. With a cross-collateral loan, multiple of the borrower’s assets are being financed through one lender which can make it hard and expensive to ever switch to a lender offering more favorable terms.

•   Unfavorable terms. Collateralized loans, especially cross-collateral loans, can have stricter terms to meet in order to protect the lenders on subsequent loans.

Cross-Collateralization and Bankruptcy

Cross-collateralization can become particularly complex during bankruptcy. For example, a borrower of a cross-collateral loan (using their car as collateral) who files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be required to either reaffirm the debt or surrender their car. If they choose to reaffirm the debt and that loan is with a financial institution that has secured other sources of debt to the car, then they will need to pay off all of those debts in order to keep their car. Don’t forget, that borrower may not even be aware that some of their loans were cross-collateralized.

How cross-collateralization affects bankruptcy depends on the type of bankruptcy filed. Anyone dealing with cross-collateralization complications during bankruptcy may find that consulting a bankruptcy attorney will help them determine what their next steps should be.

Recommended: Getting Approved for a Personal Loan After Bankruptcy

Applying for SoFi’s Personal Loans

For someone looking for an alternative to a cross-collateralized loan with their existing bank or credit union, taking out an unsecured personal loan through a different financial institution may be one option to consider. Personal loans can be used to finance a variety of purchases, with the exception of higher education expenses and home purchases, typically.

SoFi Personal Loans offer fixed rates, no fees, and a variety of repayment terms.

Check your rate on a personal loan from SoFi

FAQ

Is cross-collateralization legal?

Yes, cross-collateralization is legal. Many banks and credit unions practice cross-collateralization.

Who can and can’t cross-collateralize?

Borrowers who already have a secured loan at a financial institution may qualify for cross-collateralization. Lenders don’t always inform borrowers verbally that they are participating in cross-collateralization, so it’s worth confirming whether or not this is happening before taking on a second loan through the same lender.

Can you get out of cross-collateralization?

A major downside of cross-collateralized loans is that once a borrower has multiple sources of debt through the same lender that are cross-collateral loans, it can be difficult to move them to another lender. Paying off the loan is usually the best option for getting out of this type of loan.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Photo credit: iStock/mapodile
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Source: sofi.com

Can I Pay off a Personal Loan Early?

Perhaps you’ve gotten a raise or a bonus, and you want to pay off the remaining balance on a personal loan. Is that possible? The short answer is “yes” and, in many cases, it can be a wise decision.

But if there’s a prepayment penalty, then this loan payoff may be more costly than you’d expect. Learning how a prepayment penalty might affect your payoff amount can be helpful in making the decision whether or not to pay off a personal loan early. And if you’re gathering information about a personal loan early payoff without incurring a prepayment penalty, you do have some options.

Is It Possible to Pay Off a Personal Loan Early?

It’s unlikely that a lender would refuse an early loan payoff, so yes, you can pay off a personal loan early. What you have to calculate, though, is whether it’s financially advantageous to do so. If a personal loan early payoff triggers a prepayment penalty, it might not make financial sense to do so.

Overview of Prepayment Penalties

It may sound strange that a lender would include this kind of penalty in a loan agreement in the first place.

Some lenders may, though, to ensure you’ll pay a certain amount of interest before the loan is paid off. It is an extra fee that, when charged, helps lenders recoup more money from borrowers.

You can find out if you’d be charged with a prepayment penalty by looking at the loan agreement you signed with the lender.

If you have one, the penalty could be in effect for the entire loan term or for a portion of it, depending upon how it’s defined in the loan agreement.

Does Paying off a Personal Loan Early Affect Your Credit Score?

Personal loans are a type of installment debt. In the calculation of your credit score, your payment history on installment debt is taken into account. If you’ve made regular, on-time payments, your credit score will likely be positively affected while you’re making payments during the loan’s term.

However, once an installment loan is paid off, it’s marked as closed on your credit report — “in good standing” if you made the payments on time — and will eventually be removed from your credit report after about 10 years. Paying off the personal loan early might cause it to drop off of your credit report a few earlier than it would have and no longer help your credit score.

If I Pay Off a Personal Loan Early, Does My Interest Rate Decrease?

Since a personal loan is an installment loan with a fixed end date, if you pay off a personal loan early, you won’t pay less interest. You won’t owe any interest anymore because the loan will be paid in full.

Recommended: What are the average personal loan rates?

Advantages of Paying off a Personal Loan Early

There are definitely some advantages to personal loan early payoff. One obvious benefit is that you could save on interest over the life of the loan. A $10,000 loan at 8% for 5 years (60 monthly payments) would accrue $2,166.50 in total interest. If you could pay an extra $50 each month, you could pay the loan off 14 months early and save $518.42 in interest.

Not owing that debt anymore can be a psychological comfort, potentially lowering bill-paying stress. If you’re able to make that money available for something else each month — maybe creating an emergency fund or adding to your retirement account — it might even turn into a financial gain.

If you no longer owe the personal loan debt, you’ll essentially be lowering your debt-to-income ratio, which could positively affect your credit score.

Disadvantages of Paying off a Personal Loan Early

If your personal loan agreement includes a prepayment penalty, paying off your personal loan early might not be financially advantageous. Some prepayment penalty clauses are for specific time frames in the loan’s term, e.g., during the first year. If you pay off the loan during the penalty time frame, it could cost you just as much money as it might if you had just paid regular principal and interest payments over the life of the loan.

You might be thinking of a personal loan early payoff so you can put your money to work somewhere else. But if the interest rate on the personal loan is relatively low, it might make financial sense to put your extra money toward higher-interest debt, or to contribute enough to an employer-sponsored retirement plan so you can get the employer match, if one is offered. If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, you might also consider starting one with a bit of extra money each month until it’s at a comfortable level.

Another thing to consider is whether paying off your personal loan early will hurt your credit. As mentioned above, making regular, on-time payments to an installment loan like a personal loan can have a positive effect on your credit score. But when the loan is paid off, and marked as such on your credit report, it’s not as much help.

Advantages of early personal loan payoff Disadvantages of early personal loan payoff
Interest savings over the life of the loan Possible prepayment penalty
Could alleviate debt-related stress Extra money could be better used in another financial tool
Lowering your debt-to-income ratio Removing a positive payment history on the loan early could negatively affect your credit
More cushion in your monthly budget Taking money from another budget category might leave an unintentional financial gap

Things To Ask Yourself Before Paying off a Personal Loan Early

Everyone’s financial situation is different. Priorities that are important to you might be less so to someone else. Considering how a personal loan early payoff might affect you can be a good way to start making the decision.

Will Paying off a Personal Loan Early Put Me at Risk?

There can be some drawbacks to paying off a personal loan early — some that might be considered risks.

If you’re thinking of putting extra money toward a personal loan balance, but you don’t have any money set aside in an emergency fund, that’s a financial risk. If you encounter an expensive, necessary financial need without the means to pay for it, you might be tempted to use high-interest debt like a credit card.

If you consider it risky to pay more than you need to for something, then paying a prepayment penalty could be considered a financial risk. If paying a loan early will cost you extra money, you might think about where that money could be better spent.

Will Paying off a Personal Loan Early Improve My Debt-To-Income Ratio?

Lowering your debt-to-income ratio can have a positive effect on your credit score, and paying off a loan will accomplish this. But you might weigh that positive against any potential negative effect that might come with paying off your personal loan early, such as not having a positive payment history included on your credit score after your loan is closed.

Does Paying off a Personal Loan Early Have Clear Benefits?

There are absolutely clear benefits to paying off a personal loan early. Saving money in interest charges over the life of the loan is at the top of the list, as long as any savings is not offset by a prepayment penalty.

Having more money in your monthly budget — since you wouldn’t have that loan payment due each month — might lower your financial stress.

Types of Prepayment Penalties

If and how a prepayment penalty is charged on a personal loan will be stipulated in the loan agreement. Reviewing this document carefully is a good way to find out if the penalty could be charged and how your lender would calculate it.

If you can’t find the information in the loan agreement, asking your lender for the specifics of a prepayment penalty and for them to point out where it is in the loan agreement is another way to be certain you have the right information to make a decision.

There are a few different ways a lender might calculate a prepayment penalty fee.

Interest costs

In this case, the lender would base the fee on the interest you would have paid if you had made regular payments over the total term. So, if you paid your loan off one year early, the penalty might be 12 months’ worth of interest.

Percentage of your remaining balance

This is a common way for prepayment penalties to work on mortgages, for example, and you’d be charged a percentage of what you still owe on your loan.

Flat fee

Under this scenario, you’d have to pay a predetermined flat fee for your penalty. So, whether you still owed $9,000 on your personal loan or $900, you’d have to pay the same penalty.

Avoiding Prepayment Penalties

Finding out whether a prospective lender charges a prepayment penalty — and not using that lender if it does — is at the top of the list of ways to avoid a prepayment penalty.

If you’ve already taken out a loan that includes a prepayment penalty, there are some options.

First, you could simply decide not to pay the loan off early. This means you’ll need to continue to make regular payments on the loan rather than paying off the balance sooner, but this will allow you to avoid the prepayment penalty fee.

You could also talk to the lender and ask if the prepayment penalty could be waived, but there is no guarantee that this strategy will succeed.

If your prepayment penalty is not applicable throughout the entire term of the loan, you could wait until it expires before paying off your remaining balance.

Another strategy is calculating the amount of remaining interest owed on your personal loan and comparing that to the prepayment penalty. You may find that paying the loan off early, even if you do have to pay the prepayment penalty, would save money over continuing to make regular payments.

Types of Personal Loans

In general, there are two types of personal loans — secured and unsecured. Secured loans are backed by collateral, which is an asset of value owned by the loan applicant, such as a vehicle, real estate, or an investment account. Unsecured personal loans, on the other hand, are backed only by the borrower’s creditworthiness, with no asset attached to the loan.

You might hear unsecured personal loans referred to as signature loans, good faith loans, or character loans. Typically, these are installment loans the borrower repays at a certain interest rate over a predetermined period of time.

Personal Loan Uses

Acceptable uses of personal loan funds cover a wide range, including, but not limited to:

•   Consolidation of high-interest debt.

•   Medical expenses not covered by health insurance.

•   Home renovation or repair projects.

•   Wedding expenses.

While there are benefits to borrowing a personal loan, it might not always be the right financial move for everyone. Personal loans offer a lot of flexibility, but they are still a form of debt, so it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons before signing a personal loan agreement.

Awarded Best Personal Loan of 2022 by NerdWallet.
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Personal Loans at SoFi

If you’re looking for an unsecured personal loan with no prepayment penalties, a personal loan from SoFi might fit your financial need. There are no application fees, no origination fees, and no hidden fees attached to unsecured personal loans with SoFi.

A SoFi Personal Loan can be used to consolidate credit card debt, make home improvements, pay for relocation costs, repair your vehicle, make a major personal purchase and more.

The Takeaway

If you’re in a secure enough financial position to be able to pay off your personal loan early, that’s terrific. But before you do, it’s a good idea to calculate whether it’s a good financial decision or not. A prepayment penalty could take a bite out of any savings you might see on interest costs.

Comparing interest rates for a personal loan, along with lenders’ fees and other charges, including prepayment penalties, is a good way to find the lender that meets your financial needs.

Ready to explore SoFi personal loans? Check your rate in just one minute.

FAQ

Is it good to repay a personal loan early?

Paying off a personal loan early can be a good financial decision, as long as any prepayment penalty charge doesn’t cost more than you might pay in interest.

If I pay off a personal loan early do I pay less interest?

Paying off a personal loan early doesn’t affect the interest rate you’ve been paying up until that point. It would mean, however, that the total amount of interest you’d pay over the life of the loan would be less than anticipated.

Does paying off a personal loan early hurt your credit?

Because making regular, on-time payments on an installment loan such as a personal loan is a positive record on your credit report, removing that history early can have a slight negative affect on your credit.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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Source: sofi.com