Times are tough, but the tough-minded are making the most of the times! Sure, you’ve constantly got to be on the alert for risks to your wealth — plunging markets, ever-changing laws and regulations, shady operators bent on fleecing you, etc.
But there’s a flip side. In a rough economy, honest providers of financial services are bending over backward to deliver extra value. If you’re a smart, careful consumer, you can find an abundance of deals that will stretch your dollar further.
Here are some of the best I’ve uncovered lately:
Best Credit Cards
What’s this? Richard Band recommending credit cards? Well, yes — but not the way you might be thinking. I always pay off my card balances in full, every month, because credit card debt is hideously expensive. The national average interest rate is around 14%. Only the Mafia charges more — and at least the Godfather offers personal service, right up to your doorstep!
However, millions of Americans do carry credit card debt. For the rest of us, this is a blessing. Without realizing it, our neighbors are helping pay for the generous rewards programs that most card issuers now sponsor. Some programs hand you cash back; others award you “mileage” toward purchases of travel and other goods. In effect, you’re earning interest on money you never lent.
If it’s cold, hard cash you’re after, I recommend the Capital One (NYSE:COF) Cash MasterCard. You’ll collect 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 50% bonus on the cash back you earn every year. Capital One even dishes out a one-time bonus of $100 once you spend $500 in the first three months. No annual membership fee.
Frequent travelers might want to look into the American Express (NYSE:AXP) Blue card. Again, there’s no annual fee. As long as you book your travel through AmEx’s agency, you’ll receive two points for every dollar you’ve spent. Caveats: