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 (COF) Quicksilver Rewards Visa card. Cardholders receive 1.5% cash back on all purchases, plus a $100 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months. The cash back never expires, and can be redeemed in any amount at any time. There’s also no annual fee.
Frequent travelers might want to look into the American Express (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: