Last fall, I received an email that appeared to be from my web host. The email claimed that there was a problem with my payment information and asked me to update it. I clicked on the link in the email and entered my credit card number, thinking that a recent change I’d made to my site must have caused a problem.
The next morning, I logged onto my credit card account to find two large unauthorized purchases. A scammer had successfully phished my payment information from me.
This failure of security is pretty embarrassing for a personal finance writer. I know better than to click through an email link claiming to be from my bank, credit card lender, or other financial institution. But because the email came from a source that wasn’t specifically financial (and because I was thinking about the changes I had made to my website just the day before), I let myself get played.
Thankfully, because I check my credit card balance daily, the scammers didn’t get away with it. However, it’s better to be proactive about avoiding credit card theft so you’re not stuck with the cleanup, which took me several months to complete.
Here’s how you can protect yourself from credit card theft.
Protecting your physical credit card
Stealing your physical credit or debit card is in some respects the easiest way for a scammer to get their hands on your sweet, sweet money. With the actual card in hand, a scammer has all the information they need to make fraudulent purchases: the credit card number, expiration date, and the security code on the back.
That means keeping your physical cards safe is one of the best ways to protect yourself from credit card theft. Don’t carry more cards than you intend to use. Having every card you own in a bulging wallet makes it more likely someone could steal one when you’re not paying attention and you may not realize it’s gone if you have multiple cards.
Another common place where you might be separated from your card is at a restaurant. After you’ve paid your bill, it can be easy to forget if you’ve put away your card (especially if you’ve been enjoying adult beverages). So make it a habit to confirm that you have your card before you leave a restaurant.
If you do find yourself missing a credit or debit card, make sure you call your bank immediately to report it lost or stolen. The faster you move to lock down the card, the less likely the scammers will be able to make fraudulent charges. Make sure you have your bank’s phone number written down somewhere so you’re able to contact them quickly if your card is stolen or lost. (See also: Don’t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen)
Recognizing card skimmers
Credit card thieves also go high-tech to get your information. Credit card skimmers are small devices placed on a legitimate spot for a card scanner, such as on a gas pump or ATM.
When you scan your card to pay, the skimmer device captures all the information stored in your card’s magnetic stripe. In some cases, when there’s a skimmer placed on an ATM, there’s also a tiny camera set up to record you entering your PIN so the fraudster has all the info they need to access your account.
The good news is that it’s possible to detect a card skimmer in the wild. Gas stations and ATMs are the most common places where you’ll see skimmer devices. Generally, these devices will often stick out past the panel rather than sit flush with it, as the legitimate credit card scanner is supposed to. Other red flags to look for are scanners that seem to jiggle or move slightly instead of being firmly affixed, or a pin pad that appears thicker than normal. All of these can potentially indicate a skimmer is in place.
If you find something that looks hinky, go to a different gas station or ATM. Better safe than sorry. (See also: 18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen)
Protecting your credit card numbers at home
Your home is another place thieves will go searching for your sensitive information. To start, you likely receive credit card offers, the cards themselves, and your statements in the mail. While mail theft is relatively rare (it’s a federal crime, after all), it’s still a good idea to make sure you collect your mail daily and put a hold on it when you go out of town.
Once you get your card-related paperwork in the house, however, you still may be vulnerable. Because credit card scammers are not above a little dumpster diving to get their hands on your credit card number. This is why it’s a good idea to shred any paperwork with your credit card number and other identifying information on it before you throw it away.
Finally, protecting your credit cards at home also means being wary about whom you share information with over the phone. Unless you’ve initiated a phone call of your own volition — not because you’re calling someone who left a voicemail — you should never share your credit card numbers over the phone. Scammers will pose as customer service agents from your financial institution or a merchant you frequent to get your payment information. To be sure, you can hang up and call the institution yourself using the main phone number.
Keeping your cards safe online
You should never provide your credit card information via a link in an email purporting to be from your financial institution or a merchant. Scammers are able to make their fake emails and websites look legitimate, which was exactly the reason I fell victim to this fraud.
But even with my momentary lapse in judgment about being asked for my payment information from my "web host," there were other warning signs that I could’ve heeded if I had been paying attention.
The first is the actual email address. These fake emails will often have a legitimate looking display name, which is the only thing you might see in your email. However, if you hover over or click on the display name, you can see the actual email address that sent you the message. Illegitimate addresses do not follow the same email address format you’ll see from the legitimate company.
In addition to that, looking at the URL that showed up when I clicked the link could’ve told me something weird was going on. Any legitimate site that needs your financial information will have a secure URL to accept your payment. Secure URLs start with https:// (rather than http://) and feature a lock icon in the browser bar. If these elements are missing, then you should not enter your credit card information. (See also: 3 Ways Millennials Can Avoid Financial Fraud)
Daily practices that keep you safe
In addition to these precautions, you can also protect your credit cards with the everyday choices you make. For instance, using strong, unique passwords for all of your online financial services, from shopping to banking, can help you prevent theft. Keeping those strong passwords safe — that is, not written down on a post-it note on your laptop — will also help protect your financial information.
Regularly going over your credit card and banking statements can also help ensure that you’re the only one making purchases with your credit cards. It was this daily habit of mine that made sure my scammers didn’t actually receive the computer they tried to purchase with my credit card. The fact that I check my balance daily meant I was able to shut down the fraudulent sale before they received the goods, even though I fell down on the job of protecting my credit card information.
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This article is from Emily Guy Birken of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:
6 Things to Consider Before Making a Big Purchase for Rewards Points
6 Surprising Places Your Personal Info Is Shared
Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?
Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily
Update 2/4/21: More reports of people seeing increases on some of their lower offers, e.g. 7,500 are now seeing 15,000.
The referral bonus on the American Express Gold card has increased for some people to 20,000 points for the referrer (ht to noahmateen). This is YMMV as some people are still seeing 10,000 or 15,000, hopefully it’ll change over for everyone. The maximum per year is still 55,000 points.
The American Express referral program allows referring from any Amex card to any Amex card. When referring, the key is to refer FROM the card that gives the highest bonus, irrespective of which new card the friend is going to sign up for.
A lot of cards offer the referrer 10,000 points or $100 per referral; some cards offer even less. The Business Gold Rewards card has offered 20,000 points (not sure if that’s still current), and some were getting 20k on the Business Platinum as well at one point.
How To Get Higher Referrer Bonuses With American Express
New Universal American Express Referrals Program, Now Crosses Over to ANY Card
American Express Universal Referrals â Self Referrals Working & How To Maximize (E.g 30,000 Points On BBP)
American Express Business Card Referrals Now Have Increased Signup Bonus Offers Incognito
American Express Business Gold: 50,000 Points After $5,000 In Spend Via Referral
American Express Lowers Referrer Bonus on Green, Everyday, BCE + Why That Matters
Refer-a-Friend From American Express Blue Business Plus Card And Get 15,000 Bonus Points
Update 1/27/21: More people targeted for these increased offers.
Update 11/24/20: Some people seeing increased offers today. Interestingly, there’s a report of someone seeing 35,000 points on the Gold card. We’ve never seen higher than 30,000 before, it keeps edging up. (Of course there’s still the 55,000 annual cap.)
Update 11/15/20: Lots of people reporting their personal Gold card showing the 30,000 referral offer now. Not sure if everyone or targeted. (ht reader JJ). Remember, there is a 55,000 annual limit per card. There’s also $125 showing again on Blue Cash Preferred for some.
Update 9/9/20: More people targeted for the higher bonuses.
Update 9/1/20: Some of the cash referral links are now up to $125 (typically $75 or $100). basefifty noticed this on their Blue Cash Everyday and I’m seeing the same. Not nearly as good as some of the points offers, but good to know.
Update 8/13/20: Some referral links are now showing a 30,000 points referral for referring a friend (friend gets the regular signup bonus being offered and you get 30,000). This is a new high as previously 25k was highest. Remember, there is a 55,000 annual limit per card. Hat tip to reader GL and to ThomGault
Update 8/6/20: Some are seeing now increased offers. Not sure if anyone is getting 25,000 now, but some who were previously only seeing 10,000 points for referrer are now seeing 15,000 or 20,000 on various cards. Hat tip to Milestalk
Update 5/7/20: Some people seeing up to 25,000 points per referral on select cards.
Update 5/1/20: More people seeing 20,000 points per referral on select cards. Also, some are seeing 15,000 on cards that were previously 10,000. Hat tip to manageroftheyear
Update 4/14/20: More people seeing 20,000 points per referral on select cards.
Update 3/1/20: agilehumor reports an increase on select cards that the referrer gets 20,000 points per referral. It’s marked as Special Offer For You with a white star. (Now that Amex keeps pushing the referral bonus up and down, I guess the referral amount will be based on the time that the new member signs up.)
Update#2 on 2/20/20: It seems that they changed the referral bonuses for the referrer so that different people are getting different offers on each card. For the future, keep that in mind by checking your various cards AND different people (e.g. yourself and your spouse) to find the best offer before referring. Some cards people are seeing more than prior, other cards people are seeing less than before; there’s some good and some bad here.
Update 2/20/20: In addition to the increased Gold card referral which some are seeing (below), there’s also a report of an increased offer for the referrer on the Green card from 5,000 to 10,000 points. Personally, I still see 5,000.
While you can use aÂ debit card toÂ pay for almost all the things you would use a credit card for, these cards aren’t the same type of thing. AÂ debit card is tied to existingÂ money, either prepaid on the card itself or in your savings orÂ checking account. A credit card lets you make purchases on credit, and you won’t be able to do this with aÂ debit card.
Can You Use YourÂ Debit Card as Credit?
When youÂ pay at the register, you’re often asked whether you’re making aÂ debit or credit payment. This isn’t a question about whether you’re paying with existingÂ checking account funds or if you’ll be borrowing theÂ money from a credit card lender. It’s a question about how you want theÂ payment processed. And most of the time, yes, you can use yourÂ debit card as credit at check out.
What Happens When You Use aÂ Debit Card as Credit?
When make aÂ purchase and select to process yourÂ payment as credit, it’s an offlineÂ transaction. “The funds for offline transactions are deducted after the merchant settles theÂ purchase with the credit card processor and typically take 2-3 days to be reflected in your account balance,” MasterCard says.
According to MasterCard, when you use aÂ debit card and your PIN (personal identification number), theÂ transaction is completed in real time. That’s also known as an onlineÂ transactionâ you authorize theÂ purchase with your PIN, and theÂ money is immediately transferred from your bank account to the merchant. These areÂ debit card transactions.
But in reality, the difference betweenÂ debit and credit transactions have little real impact on your bottom line. There may be some differences inÂ fees paid by the retailer or processor, but thoseÂ fees are rarely passed on to the consumer directly.
Some individuals choose to use their debit cards as credit at the register to avoid having to enter their PIN. Itâs commonly believed that this creates some additional securityÂ against someone learning that number and having one more piece of information to supportÂ credit card fraud.
While you certainly want to protect your PIN, simply being aware of who is around you and keeping the keypad covered duringÂ debit transactions can help keep you secure if you do decide toÂ pay this way. It may seem like an unnecessary precaution, but you can never be too careful when it comes toÂ debit card fraud.
Can I Use MyÂ Debit Card if I Have NoÂ Money?
One thing that’s important to note is that you can’t usually use yourÂ debit card for credit. If you are short onÂ cash, your credit card still works if you have available credit on it. If there’s noÂ money in your bank account, yourÂ debit card may get declined when you attempt toÂ pay. So make sure there’sÂ cash in your bank account anytime you use yourÂ debit card.
There’s one exception to this rule. Some banks offerÂ overdraft protection. If you qualify for this protection, the bank covers your charges up to a certain amount and you simply rectify the situation later. That way, you avoid potentially embarrassing declines â for a cost inÂ overdraft fees, which can be $15 to $30 perÂ overdraft.
Can I Use MyÂ Debit Card as Credit at Walmart?
Whether or not you can choose toÂ pay as credit with aÂ debit card depends on each retailer andÂ payment system setup. Many WalmartÂ payment systems are set up to allow this, but they default to debit. When this happens, tell the cashier you want toÂ pay as credit or select the option for changingÂ payment method and choose toÂ pay as credit and sign for your purchases instead of entering your PIN.
Does Using MyÂ Debit Card Build Credit?
Paying with yourÂ debit card doesn’t really impact yourÂ credit score, regardless of theÂ payment type you select. That’s because yourÂ debit card is simply a stand-in forÂ money you actually have on hand (or in the bank). It’s not credit and doesn’t provide any type of illustration of your likelihood of making payments in a timely manner or using credit responsibly. Therefore, it won’t impact yourÂ credit history.
If you use yourÂ debit card to overdraw your bank account on a regular basis or do so and leave the negative balance long-term, it could negatively impact yourÂ credit score. Banks do report checking and savings details like this to the credit bureaus.
The Bottom Line on Debit Cards as Credit Cards
Whether you use yourÂ debit card asÂ credit or debit, the funds will still be withdrawn from yourÂ checking account. You can use yourÂ debit card to make aÂ payment processed as credit, but you can’t use yourÂ debit card for credit in most cases. And even when you can, it’s via the limited fail-safe ofÂ overdraft protection, which is not meant for regular use and can be quite expensive.
Debit cards are wonderfulÂ money-management tools that provide a lot of modern convenience. But for many people, it’s a good idea to have at least one credit card in your wallet too for those times when debit just doesn’t quite cut it. Just make sure to check yourÂ credit score, understand how credit cards workÂ and apply for the card that provides you the best perks at the lowest cost.
The post Using Debit Card as Credit appeared first on Credit.com.
If youâve made a purchase online or over the phone, youâre probably familiar with the three sets of credit card numbers you have to hand over. These numbers include the credit card number, the expiration date and the CVV. If youâre an online shopping pro, youâll know where to find the CVV. But what exactly is the CVV on a credit card?
What Is the CVV on a Credit Card?
A credit cardâs CVV acts as another line of security against fraud. The CVV, or card verification value, can also be referred to as the CSC, or card security code. These numbers serve as one of the most important anti-fraud measures for a credit (or debit) card, especially with the rise of virtual transactions. So when you make a purchase online or over the phone, giving the CVV assures a merchant that the purchase is legitimate and authorized.
When you use your card in person, retailers can check your ID to make sure youâre the cardholder. But merchants canât do the same when you make an online purchase. Instead, the CVV serves a substitute for personal identification. Plus, your card carrier can verify your cardâs unique CVV in the event verification is needed.
Not all merchants require you to enter your CVV when making a purchase. This doesnât make a merchant illegitimate, however. In any case, you always want to make sure youâre handing over your credit card information to a merchant you trust.
Where to Find Your Cardâs CVV
Card carriers print their CVVs in different places on their cards, so itâs important to know where the CVV is on your card(s). If you have a Visa, Mastercard or Discover card, you can find the three-digit CVV on the back of your card to the right of the signature strip. The number may also be adjacent to either your full credit card number, or just the last four digits of it.
However, if you have an American Express card, you can find the CVV on the front, right side of your card. Also note that Amex calls this number a card identification number (CID). An Amex CID is also four digits instead of three.
How a CVV Protects You
A cardâs CVV comes in handy mostly for online purchases. Again, it acts as another line of defense against fraud. So even if a hacker gains access to your credit card number, expiration date and full name, they still need your CVV to complete the transaction. Luckily, CVVs arenât as easily obtainable as your other credit card information.
This is due to the Payment Card Industryâs Data Security Standard (PCI DDS). This was created by Amex, Discover, Mastercard, Visa and other credit card leaders to establish standard rules for credit card information storage. One of its main stipulations states that merchants cannot store your CVV after you make a purchase. However, thereâs nothing preventing merchants from storing the rest of your cardâs information, like the credit card number. This makes it harder for criminals to find the CVV attached to your credit card number.
The CVV also works in tandem with a credit cardâs magnetic strip and the newer EMV chip technology. The printed CVV on your card is embedded in the cardâs magnetic strip. The chip has a digital CVV equivalent called the Integrated Chip Card Card Verification Value (iCVV). So when you use your card in person, whether you swipe or insert the chip, your CVV will still be confirmed.
Limitations of a CVV
Typically, the issues that arise with CVVs are often self-inflicted by the cardholder. Since itâs hard for fraudsters to obtain your CVV through a credit card database, they turn to other illegal means. This includes phishing and physically stealing your cards.
These scams occur as the occasional email or pop-up on your computer, enticing you to make an online purchase. Some scams are easy to spot, due to misspelling or other obvious errors. However, because online merchants so often ask you to enter your CVV, hackers can also include that requirement on their fraudulent page. If you enter your credit card information, including the CVV, the hackers have easily gained access to your account.
Of course, there is always the possibility of getting your credit card physically stolen. In this case, the thieves donât need to hack anything since all your information is there on the card. Your best bet is to cancel your card as soon as possible, request a new card from your issuer and dispute any unauthorized charges made to the account.
While in-person purchases arenât entirely foolproof, online transactions put you and your information more at risk of fraud. To combat this, credit card providers created CVVs and their associated regulations to help keep your personal credit information safe. You can help protect yourself, too, by only entering your card information on websites you trust.
Tips for Keeping Your Cardâs Info Safe
Itâs important to research and find the right credit card for you. When youâre looking through a cardâs features, you should look at its security features. Make sure youâre comfortable with its limits.
Never engage with any emails, ads or websites that you donât immediately recognize as legitimate. This includes not clicking on suspicious links and not entering your credit cardâs account number, expiration date and especially the CVV.
Be sure to look for a âSecureâ tag to the left of the web address of any site youâre making an online purchase through. Only encrypted sites feature these tags, so you can feel confident your cardâs information will be safe in these transactions.
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Fun fact about pandemic life: Zoom fatigue is real. And not just real, but “widely prevalent, intense, and completely new,” according to Psychiatric Times.
Although we might be avoiding Zoom these days when an email or even a phone call (is it 1986 again?) will suffice, there's one place where video conferencing still shines, and that's the good ol' brainstorm.
Old school brainstorming was creative and connective and interactive—all things difficult, but not impossible, to recreate virtually.
When I picture brainstorms of years past, I see images of big tables full of candy and fidget toys and pens and Post-Its galore. Old school brainstorming was creative and connective and interactive—all things difficult, but not impossible, to recreate virtually.
Today we’ll talk about some virtual brainstorming strategies I’ve seen work really well. And then hopefully, you’ll give one a try.
Choose your occasion wisely
brainstorms shouldn’t be a catch-all for any group conversation.
Back when our biggest workplace woe was a vending machine out of Diet Coke, many of us took brainstorming sessions for granted. But in a virtual world, it's harder to organize, facilitate, and get people engaged.
That's why brainstorms shouldn’t be a catch-all for any group conversation. (Often what you’re looking for is just a meeting.) Brainstorms are a very specific brand of discussion in which a collective of creative voices, ideas, and opinions are necessary inputs to achieve a valuable output.
Because of challenges like Zoom fatigue and burnout, I urge you to be stingy with your brainstorming sessions. They're a fabulous enabler of ideas and solutions, so do use them. But do so strategically and with clear intention.
Because of challenges like Zoom fatigue and burnout, I urge you to be stingy with your brainstorming sessions.
What are some great occasions to host a brainstorming session? Use them when you need to:
Add or refine product features
Define a path in a sticky situation
Solve a complex problem
These and many other scenarios call for a variety of perspectives in which there are no right or wrong answers, but only ideas.
In contrast, many other occasions don’t call for a brainstorm. Like when you need…
Approval or alignment
Receipt of a message or direction
Feedback on a mostly baked idea
These are not brainstorm moments—they're meetings with a much more defined outcome. See the difference?
Figure out the specific problem you want to address
Okay, so you've figured out that your situation calls for a brainstorming session. Now, it's time to make sure everybody who comes to the brainstorm is on the same page before you begin by creating a statement that lays out the specific problem and how you need to tackle it.
Your problem statement might be something like:
We’re losing market share on X product, and we need to define new features to attract Millennial customers.
And here's another example:
This client wasn’t happy with our last deliverable and we need to redefine how we’re engaging with them.
One of your goals is to keep the session short (because fatigue) while maximizing what you take away from it. A clear problem statement allows you to invite your brainstorming participants to get the creative juices flowing ahead of the actual session.
Assign some prework to get things rolling
Now that you've stated the problem or opportunity, it's time to let participants know you’re looking forward to a collaborative discussion and invite them to jot down some early ideas and send them your way.
You can then do some analysis ahead of the session. Did you spot any common themes? Any particular ideas you’re interested in having the group build upon?
Share your findings at the beginning of the brainstorming session. This will give you a strong foundation from which to build.
Get creative with tech
Love it or hate it, video conferencing technology is definitely your friend in a virtual brainstorm. It allows you to create a purposeful connection amongst participants. But you have to understand how to engage them.
When I used to run in-person meetings with leadership teams, I was always intentional about switching up the activities every 30 minutes or so. I’d facilitate a breakout, and then we’d do a quick poll, and then I’d have people plot Post-It notes around the room, and more.
Keeping things changing and moving is a great way to keep adults engaged. According to the Harvard Business Review: "If you don’t sustain a continual expectation of meaningful involvement, [people] will retreat into that alluring observer role."
So take the time to learn the features of whatever platform you’re using, and make the session engaging. Some tactics you might try?
Use polls to test out early ideas
Use small group breakout sessions to create mini-competitions between your participants
Use a whiteboard to replicate a poster board people can plot virtual Post-It notes on
Use voting to prioritize or stack rank
Of course, talking is part of any brainstorm. But using technology can keep participants from slipping into the shadows without contributing.
Establish norms that serve your purpose
A brainstorm isn’t successful because of how smart its participants are, but because of how much freedom and space their voices are given.
A client once told me this story about a packaging company that was struggling with productivity. Their products had to be wrapped in newspaper before being shipped. But often, as employees were packaging product, they’d accidentally start reading the newspaper, losing precious packing minutes. These minutes added up to lost productivity.
One day the leadership team was brainstorming solutions to this distraction problem and one executive said, “Well, what if we just poked their eyes out?”
Of course, he wasn't serious—the question was absurd and meant to add a little humor. But it triggered a new line of thinking. Eventually, the company established a partnership with a non-profit organization that finds jobs for blind people.
Is this story true? I’m honestly not sure. But it’s a great illustration of the importance of free-flowing ideas.
A brainstorm isn’t successful because of how smart its participants are, but because of how much freedom and space their voices are given.
As the facilitator, what norms can you put in place to ensure that all ideas get voiced without judgment and everyone has a chance to speak?
Here are a few you might consider:
Use the improv rule of “yes, and.” It means that ideas are never knocked down, only built upon. (Don’t worry, they can get voted down later, just not during the brainstorm)
Use the two- (or one- or five)-minute rule. Ask people to limit themselves to two minutes at a time, even if they need to stop mid-thought (they can finish on their next turn). This challenges people to be concise and ensures that everyone gets a chance to speak.
Use a round-robin technique. Circle around the Zoom participants, calling on each person as you go. If someone isn’t ready, they can pass. But this is a great way to prevent introverts from getting overlooked.
What other norms will keep you on track?
Close out thoughtfully
Save a few minutes at the end of your scheduled session to check in on the process. How did it feel for everyone? What worked well and what might you skip next time? Do they have other tactics to recommend?
The best answer to “How do I host a great virtual brainstorm?” is the answer that your own participants give you.
When scheduled for the right occasion and with the right people, brainstorms are a fabulous tool. Don’t be intimidated by them. Just be open to learning as you go.
After months spent scouring career boards and hours of networking, interviewing and submitting applications, landing your first job is a major reliefâand a big accomplishment. It also brings new responsibilities as you learn how to manage your first salary, budget for your lifestyle and develop the smart savings habits that will serve you your entire life.
As you prepare for your first day, itâs critical to start thinking about how much of your paycheck you should save.
To help you find the answer, financial experts provide tips on how to manage your first salary, offer strategies to help you save money at your first job and explain how to adjust your savings as your career flourishes.
Save money at your first job: The case for starting now
You may feel intimidated by the commitment to save money at your first job, especially if youâre carrying student debt or feeling like you arenât making quite enough. Joy Liu, head trainer at personal finance company Financial Gym, certainly felt that way.
âWhen I got my first job, I made $35,000 a year,â Liu says. âIt was easy to just throw my hands up and say, âI can’t save right now on this salary.ââ But she urges young savers to reconsider.
âLooking back, with the knowledge that I have now, I could have made it work if I knew that saving was something I needed to do,â she says.
In fact, saving money at your first job will put you in a better place when youâre a seasoned professional, Liu says. When you deposit some of your paycheck into a savings account, youâll earn interest on the balance. Your now larger balance will itself earn interest (youâve got compound interest to thank for that). The earlier in your career you start to save, the more time youâll have for your money to grow exponentially.
Saving money at your first job might also make sense because you likely arenât juggling the large financial commitments youâll face later in life.
âYou may have student loans, you may have some credit card debt, but you most likely donât have a mortgage, which is a huge lifelong commitment,â says Ashley Dixon, a CFPÂ® and lead planner at financial planning firm Gen Y Planning.
Determine how much of your paycheck you should save
You now know you need to sock away part of your earnings from your new job, but how much of your paycheck should you save?
While your specific savings rate will depend on your goals and circumstances, Dixon recommends saving 20 percent of your monthly take-home pay. If thatâs too challenging, start with 10 percent, Liu says.
If you donât think you have enough to save, review your essential expenses, like rent, student loan payments, utilities and groceries. Save from whatever cash is âleft overâ each month, and see how close you can get to that 10 to 20 percent goal.
When determining how much of your paycheck you should save, you might initially find that there isnât enough cash left over. If thatâs the case, create a budget to keep your spending and savings on track, or review your existing budget to see which unnecessary expenses you can cut.
âBeing mindful of where youâre spending your money and keeping track of spending in real time is the hardest part and is where people struggle the most,â Liu says. âBut knowing where your money is at any given point is how you stay on track, whether thatâs creating a spreadsheet or using a budgeting app.â
If youâre not able to hit these savings benchmarks right away, donât sweat it. The key is to save what you can, and you can gradually work to increase your savings over time.
Define your savings goals to gain momentum
To help you get in a groove saving money at your first job, define exactly what youâre saving for. Need some ideas?
When learning how to manage your first salary, Liu recommends prioritizing an emergency fund. A top reason you need an emergency fund is the stability and peace of mind that this stockpile can offer, Dixon says. Should you face an unexpected expense like a costly car repair or lose your job in the future, youâll then have a backup fund to dip into.
âIf youâre young and single, you should try to strive to save six months of living expenses in your emergency fund as a guideline, but that can be different for every individual depending on where they live and family situations,â Dixon says.
Consider your emergency fund one of multiple savings accounts, or buckets. âYou want to have all of these different buckets of money set aside for different goals, and move and prioritize how much money you save for each goal based on their priority level to you and what is realistic within your budget,â Liu says.
In addition to your emergency fund bucket for lifeâs surprises, you can also save money at your first job and contribute to other funds that align with your financial goals, like a car fund to help you buy new wheels or a vacation fund to save up for a getaway.
However you define your goals, the important thing is that theyâre clear to you and that youâre actively saving money at your first job. This positive momentum can guide smart savings habits even once your first day of work is a distant memory.
Use automation to make saving a habit
Even with the best savings goals and intentions, it can be easy to get tripped up. Enter automation. By automating your savings, you reduce your chances of overspending or skipping savings altogether.
There are a couple ways you can use automation to help manage your first salary. You could set up a weekly or a monthly automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account, Liu suggests. Or, you could ask if your companyâs payroll department allows you to split your direct deposit, sending some of each paycheck into your checking account and some into savings.
Another consideration when learning how to manage your first salary is where youâll keep your hard-earned funds. Many people opt to open a savings account from the same bank where they have their checking account, but Dixon says thatâs not always the best approach.
âYou want to look for a high-yield savings account,â she says.
You earned it. Now earn more withÂ it.
Online savings with no minimum balance.
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By keeping your money in a high-yield savings account, it will earn a higher-than-average interest rate. Remember compound interest? The higher your interest rate, the more your money will be able to grow over time.
As you do your research to find the right savings account for saving money at your first job, Dixon recommends comparing interest rates from different banks.
âTypically, online banks offer higher interest rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks,â Dixon says. âMost online banks donât have an actual storefront for you to visit so theyâre saving overhead costs and are able to pass that interest down to the customer.â
In addition to contributing to your savings account, enroll in your employer-sponsored 401(k) plan and take advantage of employer matches if theyâre offered.
In addition to interest rates, pay attention to fees and required minimum balances, says Liu. Fees can eat away at interest earnings, and you may not want to worry about keeping a minimum balance when youâve just landed your first job and are gradually ramping up your savings.
Lastly, consider your access to your funds. âBecause your savings account is separate from your checking account, consider how long it may take to get your funds,â Dixon says.
If youâre looking for a high-yield savings account, the Discover Online Savings Account has no minimum balance requirement and no fees1, so you can turn your savings from your first job into something meaningfulâwithout any hassle or stress.
Keep retirement in mind
As you manage your first salary, saving for emergencies and other short- and medium-term goals is essential. But you also want to start saving for retirement, even if that seems like ages away. Thanks again to compound interest, time is on your side, Dixon says.
âWhen youâre in your 20s, you donât see the large effect compound interest will have because you are just starting your savings; all you see is the money sitting there,â she says. âBut when you get to your 60s, that accountâs going to glow because itâs been growing over time.â
In addition to contributing to your savings account, enroll in your employer-sponsored 401(k) plan and take advantage of employer matches if theyâre offered, Liu says. Your 401(k) contributions automatically come out of your paycheck, so you wonât even have time to miss the funds.
How much you save for retirement depends on your goals and age, but when it comes to benchmarks for 401(k) contributions, many personal finance experts recommend saving 10 to 15 percent of your income, according to the Financial Gym. That said, be careful to not overfill your retirement âbucketâ and run the risk of locking away money you may need in the short term for your emergency fund or other priorities.
Adjust your savings strategy as your career flourishes
As you advance in your career, youâll likely see an uptick in your take-home pay. After a bonus, promotion or new job, your first inclination may be to spend more because youâre earning more.
âYou donât want to create a lifestyle that you canât keep up or maintain,â Dixon says.
While you deserve to celebrate your career wins, determine how you can maintain (or even accelerate) your savings progress as you increase your earning potential.
If youâre earning more and youâre maintaining a manageable cost of living, Dixon recommends putting extra income toward your 401(k) or another savings goalâlike going from renter to homeownerârather than spending.
If you keep these tips on how to save money at your first jobâand beyondâin mind, youâll gain financial security and be prepared to hit all or your financial goals.
Now that you know how to manage your first salary, learn how to negotiate your next one. Here are four tips to successfully negotiate your salary as your career grows.
Articles may contain information from third-parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third-party or information.
1 Outgoing wire transfers are subject to a service charge.
The post How to Manage Your First Salary and Grow Your Savings appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
The job of an airline pilot has a certain glamour to it. However, unconventional working hours and plenty of time away from home can be a recipe for stress and burnout. This could be why airline and commercial pilots are compensated fairly well, earning a median annual salary of $115,670. That one number doesnât tell the whole story, though, as it varies depending on whom you fly for and where youâre based.
The Average Salary of a Pilot
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary of the group the BLS calls airline and commercial pilots was $115,670 per year in May 2018. The BLS also tracks the job outlook for the careers it studies, measuring how many jobs the career will add between 2016 and 2026. The BLS job outlook for Airline and Commercial Pilots is 4%, which is about as fast as the average across all careers. According to the BLS, the U.S. will add 4,400 airline and commercial pilots between 2016 and 2026.
Where Pilots Earn the Most
When it comes to tracking state- and city-level earnings data, the BLS looks at commercial pilots and âairline pilots, copilots and flight engineersâ separately. Letâs take a look at where commercial pilots earn the most.
The mean annual wage for commercial pilots is $96,530 per year. According to BLS data, the top-paying state for commercial pilots is Georgia, where commercial pilots earn a mean annual wage of $130,760. Other high-paying states for commercial pilots are Connecticut, New York, Florida and Maryland. The top-paying metro area for commercial pilots is Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC, where the annual mean wage for commercial pilots is $128,600. Other high-paying metro areas for commercial pilots are Savannah, GA; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA; Bakersfield, CA; Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO and Spartanburg, SC.
Now letâs take a look at where airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers earn the most. The top-paying state in this field is Washington, with a mean annual wage of $237,150. Other high-paying states for this profession are Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and California. Of the metro areas for which the BLS has data, the top-paying metro area for airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers is San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA, with a mean annual wage of $247,120. Other high-paying metro areas for this field are Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA; Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV; Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL and Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI.
Becoming a Pilot
Typically, itâs easier to become a commercial pilot than an airline pilot. Because of this, many airline pilots start their career as commercial pilots. To be a pilot of any kind, youâll need to have a commercial pilotâs license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). To be an airline pilot, youâll need an additional document known as a Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. This is also issued by the FAA.
In terms of education, you will need a high school diploma and a commercial pilotâs license to become a commercial pilot. To become an airline pilot, you will likely need a bachelorâs degree, although it can be in any subject.
The typical path to becoming a commercial pilot is to complete an FAA-certified flight training program. These are held both at independent flight schools and through colleges and universities. Once youâve assembled enough flying hours, you can get a job as a commercial pilot.
Regional and major airlines typically require significantly more flight experience for new hires. This is another reason why many people start out as commercial pilots and then move on to working for an airline. According to the BLS, many commercial pilot jobs require a minimum of 500 flying hours, whereas entry-level airline jobs require somewhere around 1,500.
Have you ever flown out of an airport and wondered what it would be like to be a pilot? With an average annual salary of $102,520, pilots earn a good living. Not just anyone can become a pilot, however. Commercial pilots must earn a commercial pilot certificate, while airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers must earn the Federal Air Transport certificate and rating for the specific aircraft type they fly. Being a pilot is also a dangerous job, so itâs not surprising that pilotsâ compensation is high.
Tips for Saving Responsibly
The median pilot salary is enough to live comfortably in most areas of the country, but itâs still important to make sure youâre saving some of that money for emergencies and retirement.
A financial advisor can be a big help in managing your money and choosing smart investments that grow your nest egg. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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In response to the coronavirus pandemic, major credit card issuers are offering relief to their customers.
Even though many places around the country are open, the pandemic continues to impact the U.S. economy. Workers are still at risk of being laid off or facing reduced hours or pay.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we want our customers to know we are here to provide assistance should they need it,” Anand Selva, chief executive officer of Citi’s consumer bank, said in a statement in Spring 2020.
At the same time, scammers are now trying to take advantage of coronavirus concerns by sending out fake emails about the virus that are designed to steal consumers’ personal and financial information or to infect their computers with malware.
Financial strategies if you’re self-employed
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What to do if you’re struggling to pay your credit card bills
Many credit card issuers are allowing customers to opt into financial relief programs online. These programs are a convenient way to access short-term relief. But it could come with a long-term cost as many cardholders will continue to see interest accrue. With the average credit card interest rate sitting at 16.05%, cardholders might find more cost-effective relief through other options.
Here’s what issuers are currently offering:
Cardholders who are having difficulties can get assistance through American Express’s financial hardship program. Eligible cardholders have the option to enroll in a short-term payment plan, which provides relief for 12 months, or a long-term plan, which can provide relief for either 36 or 60 months.
Under both options, you will receive lower interest rates, plus waived late payment fees and annual fees. But you might not have access to certain card benefits and features.
If you enroll in the short-term plan, you might be able to continue putting new purchases on the card but with a reduced spending limit. If you are participating in the long-term plan, you will not be able to use the card.
Amex will report participating cardholders to the credit bureaus as current, assuming they comply with the program’s rules. But the program’s terms do offer some important caveats: Amex will inform the credit bureaus that you are enrolled in a payment assistance program (if you’re in the long-term plan). And under both plans, Amex will report that you have a lower credit limit.
While these factors do not have as much of an impact on your credit score as a delinquent account does, it could still signal to other lenders that you might be having some financial hardship.
Bank of America
Bank of America cardholders who have trouble paying credit card bills can request a credit card payment deferral by calling the number on the back of their card.
To qualify for payment assistance, cardholders must be carrying a balance, according to the website.
Bank of America sent an email to Preferred Rewards members in May 2020 stating that the company had temporarily suspended the annual program review process. Members whose assets dropped below the regular threshold to keep their status would continue to qualify for program benefits. It is unclear if Bank of America is still suspending this program.
Barclays urges credit card account holders to request payment relief online. As of May 4, 2020, the bank is granting payment relief for two statements, but interest will continue to accrue.
“We understand that this is a time of uncertainty for many people, and we know that there may be instances where customers find themselves facing financial difficulties. Capital One is here to help and we encourage customers who may be impacted to reach out to discuss how we might be of assistance,” the bank said in a statement.
In a March 26, 2020 update, Chairman and CEO Rich Fairbank confirmed that they are offering waived fees and deferred payments on credit cards for some cardholders.
Because each customer’s situation is different, the bank encourages customers to contact it directly. To contact Capital One customer service about an existing account, call (800) 227-4825.
See related: How to clean your credit card
Previously, Chase Bank stated that customers will be able to “delay up to three payments on your personal or business credit card” if needed, with interest continuing to accrue. The website currently does not specify how many payments cardholders can defer.
It also stated that active duty military members who are responding to a disaster might have access to additional benefits. Servicemembers can call the bank for more information.
In a letter to shareholders, the company’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, also promised to not report late payments to the credit bureaus for “up-to-date clients.”
See related: Chase offering limited-time bonus on food delivery for some cardholders
Citi customers who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic might be eligible for assistance. Previously, the bank was waiving payments and late fees for two consecutive billing cycles. However, Citi has ended its pandemic assistance program.
“Due to a significant and steady decline in enrollments, our formal COVID-19 assistance program has concluded and we will focus on providing assistance options to those customers financially affected by COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. We continue to closely monitor the situation and will evaluate additional actions to support our customers and communities as needs arise,” a spokesperson for Citi said in an email.
During the bank’s pandemic assistance program, interest continued to accrue, but accounts that were current at the time of enrollment were not be reported as delinquent.
Discover will be extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of COVID-19.
“We encourage them to contact us by calling and are directing them to www.discover.com/coronavirus for phone numbers for each product line and other FAQs,” Discover said in a statement earlier this year. “We also can provide relief through our mobile text app, which connects a customer directly with an agent.”
Discover it Miles cardmembers can also put their miles towards their bill – including their minimum payment.
See related: What to do if you can’t pay your business credit card bill
Apple Card customers can enroll in an assistance program. Previously, cardholders could waive payments without accruing any interest. The website currently doesn’t specify if this is still the case.
Cardholders can defer payments for three billing cycles. Though interest will continue to accrue, enrolled cardholders will not receive late fees, and their accounts will be reported as current, as long as accounts were not delinquent at the time of enrollment.
Synchrony is extending relief to customers experiencing financial hardship. The company’s website previously stated that this could include payment relief for up to three statement cycles, while interest would continue to accrue. The website currently offers no specifics about what the issuer is prepared to offer.
Truist (formerly SunTrust and BB&T)
Previously, Truist offered payment relief assistance to customers with personal and business credit cards, among other products. As of April 14, it was willing to delay payments for up to 90 days. The website currently offers no specifics about what the issuer is prepared to offer.
Previously, impacted cardholders could defer monthly payments for two consecutive billing cycles. The company’s website currently does not specify what assistance cardholders can expect to receive.
See related: Coronavirus stimulus legislation doesn’t suspend negative credit reporting
ultimate guide to coronavirus limited-time promotions for more offers designed to help cardholders maximize rewards amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Business credit cards
If you are a small-business owner and cash is not flowing and bills are piling up, the most important thing to do is contact your card issuer.
Some banks are also providing assistance in case you can’t pay your business credit card bill.
Another coronavirus complication: Scams
As consumers wrestle with the impact of the coronavirus, scammers are trying to take advantage of the situation.
In a June 2020 public service announcement, the FBI warned that the increasing use of banking apps could open doors to exploitation.
“With city, state and local governments urging or mandating social distancing, Americans have become more willing to use mobile banking as an alternative to physically visiting branch locations. The FBI expects cyber actors to attempt to exploit new mobile banking customers using a variety of techniques, including app-based banking trojans and fake banking apps,” the PSA warns.
Scammers might also be capitalizing on health and economic uncertainties during this time. In one such scam, cybercriminals are sending emails claiming to contain updates about the coronavirus. But if a consumer clicks on the links, they are redirected to a website that steals their personal information, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).
Identity theft in 2020: What you need to know about common techniques
The outbreak of a disease can upset daily life in many ways, and the ripple effects go beyond our physical health. Thankfully, many card issuers are offering relief. If you’re feeling financially vulnerable, contact your credit card issuer and find out what assistance is available. And while data security may seem like a secondary consideration, it’s still important to be vigilant when conducting business or seeking information about the coronavirus online.
Dealing with credit card debt can be overwhelming. If youâre having trouble making your payments, consolidating your credit card debt may be an effective solution to your problems. The best way to consolidate credit card…
The post The 5 Most Effective Ways to Consolidate Credit Card Debt appeared first on Crediful.