Some Basic Tips For Choosing a Bank

The bank you choose to hold your money involves some exploration and consideration. Research various institutions to find the best one that fits your account and lifestyle needs. Safety and reputation are two important factors to consider when you make this decision.

Determine Your Financial Needs

Your financial needs are an important factor in the search for a bank. Opening checking and savings accounts is a common practice for many consumers. Some people prefer to bundle all their financial activities with one institution and if you also have loans such as a mortgage, car loan, home equity line of credit, and person loan, you might prefer to open checking and savings accounts within the same business.


The credentials and reputation of the institution should also factor into the decision. Larger banks are generally a reliable choice due to FDIC deposit insurance. Check with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to find out if a business is insured under this coverage.

Think about Physical Convenience

Physical convenience can be a key consideration in this decision. You might opt for a location that’s convenient from your place or work or your residence. Consider extended hours offered by some institutions if you work alternative shifts and you cannot visit during regular business hours. Online services can help with many types of transactions, offering services such as bill payment, automated deposits, and access to balance information. Find out about the location of ATMs you can use for no or low fee transactions. Some banks are national companies, providing customers with access to service and accounts from virtually anywhere in the country. Other businesses are local, providing no ability to travel and visit brick-and-mortar branches.

Explore Fees and Service

Every bank has a unique structure for fees and services. You will need to contact any institution you consider to find out these important details. Ask about account fees, minimum balances, ATM fees, overdraft protection, and overdraft fees. Find out how the they handle international travel to see if you will be able to get assistance with foreign currencies. Some businesses offer more services than others, some involving additional fees and some not.

Consider Personalized Service

Choosing a national company can afford you many conveniences. However, it’s important to realize that you may sacrifice some personalized service with this decision. A variety of services from a national business may be fine for many consumers. If you prefer a more personalized touch with a hometown brick-and-mortar branch, you may be happier with a local entity. Anyone with a busy lifestyle and a variety of financial activities such as IRAs, loans, credit cards, and online bill payments may be better suited to a large, national company. People with simpler lifestyles might opt for a local business instead.

Weigh all information carefully to make the best choice for your financial needs. The one you choose should provide all of the services you want.

7 Tips For Credit Card Management

The invention of credit cards was a giant leap forward for humans. People around the world use their credit cards for all kinds of purchases and payments. The credit cards give the people, the freedom of purchasing what they want, without having to depend on their bank balance. Credit cards are used by all kinds of people in cities and towns across the world. It is a fact that a credit card can be a boon as well as a bane at the same time.

At times, people do not know how to effectively manage their credit cards. This is why, their credit score is severely affected and they find it hard to acquire financial assistance from banks and other lenders. In order to make sure that your credit score is not affected, you need to effectively manage your cards. You need to be careful about making payments and using the card for any purchase.

When you make your credit card payments on time, your credit score improves and you can obtain higher amount of credit. On the other hand, if you fail to make the payments on time, your credit score is negatively affected and you may not get any further credit from financial institutions. Here are a few important tips which will help you in effectively managing your credit cards:

1. Plan your purchases – Before purchasing or buying any product, determine if it is necessary to buy it. You must make a list of your priorities and stick to that so that you can arrange for the money needed to pay your credit card bills. At any point of time, make sure that you do not purchase something too expensive as it will make you cross your monthly budget or the credit limit on your card.

An effective way of way of planning your purchases is to make a shopping list. At the beginning of the month, try to make a list of things you need to buy with the card and stick to that list as much as possible.

2. Always check your statements – Check your statements on a monthly basis as the statements will help you understand your spending pattern. Based on your observation, you can try to avoid unnecessary purchases. Also, checking the statements will help you in knowing the minimum payment due for a particular month, so that you can make that payment on time and avoid extra charges or fees.

You can easily check your statements online, and you can also use your smartphones to keep a track on your card usage. Mobile alerts can be very helpful in ensuring that you do not end up paying more than what you are supposed to, when you use your credit card for any transaction.

3. Try to make full payment – Try to make full payments, whenever possible. When you pay your credit cards in full and within the due date, you do not have to pay any interest on the billed amount. Besides, paying the credit card balances in full will help in improving your credit score. Even if you are not able to pay your credit card balances in full, you should always make sure that you pay the minimum amount due, within the due date.

Apart from saving a substantial amount of money on interest, you will also be able to improve your credit score and increase your chances of obtaining more credit in the future.

4. Keep a track of supplementary cards – At times, you might forget the fact that you have provided supplementary cards to your family members and these cards are linked to your credit card account. The way these cards are used can have an impact on your credit card account. Hence, you should keep a track on them and also ensure that the transactions completed with them are paid for within the payment due date.

Besides, you also need to keep a track of these cards so that you can ensure that the credit limit of your card is not exceeded. If it is exceeded, you will end up paying an over limit fee and other hefty charges.

5. Look out for promotional offers – Why pay more when you can get the same product by paying less? Be a little smart when using your plastic money and make sure that you utilize the variety of offers and promotions provided by the card issuers from time to time. These promotions can provide you with access to discounts, deals and privileges across different segments such as dining, travel, shopping and so on.

You can not only save money through these promotional offers but you can also enjoy a variety of other exclusive privileges which will enhance your experience of using a credit card. Make sure that you always visit a website where you can find information about such promotions so that you can take full advantage of them.

6. Make multiple payments in a month – Do not just limit yourself to making a single payment within the payment due date every month. Instead, try to make multiple payments even if you pay small amounts. It has been observed that the credit card issuers and the credit bureau tend to send payment reports more than once every month, if there is a lot of payment activity in an account.

When you make multiple payments you make sure that the lot of positive information about your credit card usage is being sent to the credit bureau and in the process your credit score will get a big boost. For example, if the minimum payment due for the month is S$1500, do make a payment of S$1500 and apart from that also make other amounts in the same month.

7. Avoid cash advances – You will be provided with the feature of withdrawing cash with your credit card but you should avoid utilizing this feature. When you withdraw cash with your card, you will be charged a cash advance fee and you will also not get any interest free period to make the payment.

Cash advances will increase your minimum payment due and the overall balance of your card and will make it difficult to pay off the balance in full. It can also have a very negative effect on your credit score and so it is important that you try to avoid cash advances as much as possible.

Auto Title Loan – Your Car Is Your Treasure-House

Are you in need of cash? Have you exhausted all your options but unable to find a solution to your cash problems? Even financially stable families may get caught in financial crises. Prolonged illness, loss of a job or any other unforeseen event may compel you to look for quick financing options.

If you are trying to obtain a short-term loan to end your financial crises, you may have heard of the following advertisements related to auto title loans:

1. Get Cash for your Car!

2. Get Quick Cash!

3. No Credit Check required!

Auto title loans are prevalent in several American states. It is popular among borrowers because the loan program is easy to obtain. You may have heard about it from your neighbors or friends. If you are interested in obtaining the loan program, you must only join the club after understanding it thoroughly.

What is an Auto Title Loan?

According to Investopedia, it is a short-term loan in which the borrower’s car title is used as collateral.

To obtain the loan program, you will have to allow the lender to place a lien on your car title. Also, you will have to surrender the original title to the lender.

What is the Difference between an Auto Title Loan and an Auto Pawn Loan?

An auto title loan allows you to obtain cash and end your financial crises by pledging your car as collateral. The lender will require the title of your car and not take possession of your car. But, if you obtain an auto pawn loan from a lender, you will have to surrender your car along with the title of your car.

What are the Requirements for getting an Auto Title Loan?

If you want to obtain the loan program, you have to fulfill the following requirements:

1. You should be at least 18 years old.

2. You must have the original title of your car.

3. There should be no lien on the car.

4. The car should not be older than 15 years.

What Documents are required for getting an Auto Title Loan?

Following is the list of documents that are required for getting the loan program:

1. Identification Proof

2. Age Proof

3. Income Proof

4. Original Title of your Car indicating No Liens

5. Utility Bills

6. Vehicle Registration and Insurance

What is the Process of getting an Auto Title Loan?

Just like any other loan program, you have to submit an application form to the lender. The lender will consider your financial situation and analyze the worth of your car. Do not worry if you have bad credit history. If your car is valuable and you have a stable income source, the lender will approve your loan application.

Obtaining an auto title loan is simpler than you think! If you have ownership of a car, you can use it to get out of your financial troubles. Truly, your car is your treasure-house. Use it in times of distress.

Auto Insurance Principles Should Apply to Health Insurance

Many Americans rely on their automobiles to get to work. No automobile means no job, no rent or mortgage money, no food. A single parent, struggling to make ends meet in the suburbs with 100,000 miles on the odometer, would presumably welcome the guaranteed opportunity for low-priced insurance that would take care of every possible repair on her auto until the day that it reaches 200,000 miles or falls apart, whichever comes first. Especially if the insurance is valid regardless of whether she even changes the oil in the interim.

So why aren’t the auto insurance companies writing such coverage, either directly or through used auto dealers? And given the importance of reliable transportation, why isn’t the public demanding such coverage? The answer is that both auto insurers and the public know that such insurance can’t be written for a premium the insured can afford, while still allowing the insurers to stay solvent and make a profit. As a society, we intuitively understand that the costs associated with taking care of every mechanical need of an old automobile, particularly in the absence of regular maintenance, aren’t insurable. Yet we don’t seem to have these same intuitions with respect to health insurance.

If we pull the emotions out of health insurance, which is admittedly hard to do even for this author, and look at health insurance from the economic perspective, there are several insights from auto insurance that can illuminate the design, risk selection, and rating of health insurance.

Auto insurance comes in two forms: the traditional insurance you buy from your agent or direct from an insurance company, and warranties that are purchased from auto manufacturers and dealers. Both are risk transfer and sharing devices and I’ll generically refer to both as insurance. Because auto third-party liability insurance has no equivalent in health insurance, for traditional auto insurance, I’ll examine only collision and comprehensive insurance — insurance covering the vehicle — and not third-party liability insurance.

Bumper to Bumper

The following are some commonly accepted principles from auto insurance:

* Bad maintenance voids certain insurance. If an automobile owner never changes the oil, the auto’s power train warranty is void. In fact, not only does the oil need to be changed, the change needs to be performed by a certified mechanic and documented. Collision insurance doesn’t cover cars purposefully driven over a cliff.

* The best insurance is offered for new models. Bumper-to-bumper warranties are offered only on new cars. As they roll off the assembly line, automobiles have a low and relatively consistent risk profile, satisfying the actuarial test for insurance pricing. Furthermore, auto manufacturers usually wrap at least some coverage into the price of the new auto in order to encourage an ongoing relationship with the owner.

* Limited insurance is offered for old model autos. Increasingly limited insurance is offered for old model autos. The bumper-to-bumper warranty expires, the power train warranty eventually expires, and the amount of collision and comprehensive insurance steadily decreases based on the market value of the auto.

* Certain older autos qualify for additional insurance. Certain older autos can qualify for additional coverage, either in terms of warranties for used autos or increased collision and comprehensive insurance for vintage autos. But such insurance is offered only after a careful inspection of the automobile itself.

* No insurance is offered for normal wear and tear. Wiper blades need replacement, brake pads wear out, and bumpers get dings. These aren’t insurable events. To the extent that a new car dealer will sometimes cover some of these costs, we intuitively understand that we’re “paying for it” in the cost of the automobile and that it’s “not really” insurance.

* Accidents are the only insurable event for the oldest automobiles. Accidents are generally insurable events even for the oldest autos; with few exceptions service work isn’t.

* Insurance doesn’t restore all vehicles to pre-accident condition. Auto insurance is limited. If the damage to the auto at any age exceeds the value of the auto, the insurer then pays only the value of the auto. With the exception of vintage autos, the value assigned to the auto goes down over time. So whereas accidents are insurable at any vehicle age, the amount of the accident insurance is increasingly limited.

* Insurance is priced to the risk. Insurance is priced based on the risk profile of both the automobile and the driver. The auto insurer carefully examines both when setting rates.

* We pay for our own insurance. And with few exceptions, automobile insurance isn’t tax deductible. As a result, the fear of increasing insurance rates due to traffic violations and/or accidents changes our driving behavior and we sometimes select our automobiles based on their insurability.

Each of the above principles is supported by solid actuarial theory. Although most Americans can’t describe the underlying actuarial theories, most everyone understands the above principles of auto insurance at the intuitive level. For sure, as indispensable automobiles are to our lifestyles, there is no loud national movement, accompanied by moral outrage, to change these principles.

Unsustainable Market

In contrast, similar principles are routinely violated in health insurance. To demonstrate this, let’s return to the same suburban mother from the opening paragraph. She’s busy working, driving to and from work, and driving her kids to school and activities. She ends each day exhausted, sitting on the couch with fast food. She’s obese, has a sedentary life, a bad diet, and hasn’t taken the time to go to the doctor in years. After a simple injury doesn’t heal for weeks, she turns up at the emergency room and learns she has type II diabetes. Although type II diabetes is controllable, changing diet and exercise habits and properly tracking her condition takes time and effort and she’s never quite successful in implementing the necessary lifestyle changes.

So the initial emergency room visit is only the first of a long list of health care related to non-controlled diabetes and other problems associated with obesity. Whether she has individual or group insurance, her insurance pays for each episode of care, without singling her out for a premium increase, and without charging her any more cost sharing than is charged to the healthiest and most medically diligent insureds. Her coverage continues until she voluntarily changes insurance companies and/or employers or becomes eligible for Medicare. If she’s covered under group insurance she may not even pay any premium. Her insurance continues unabated, even though the disease was caused by neglecting her body and she maintains her poor lifestyle even after the disease becomes known.

This just wouldn’t happen in auto insurance. This scenario is the auto insurance equivalent of guaranteed access to low-priced auto insurance that takes care of every possible repair, including damage already done, until the day the car falls apart so completely it’s unsalvageable (death) or reaches 200,000 miles (Medicare), regardless of whether she even changes the oil (takes care of herself) in the interim.

As a society, we don’t expect this in private-market auto insurance, but we expect it in private-market health insurance. Furthermore, there’s a chorus of national and state interests, which continuously pushes us further away from the auto insurance principles.

The current private health insurance market isn’t sustainable. Prices have been consistently increasing faster than inflation for decades. Each year, insureds use more health care than ever before and more people have no insurance at all. Most actuaries and other people in the private health insurance market don’t want national health insurance with its bureaucracy and one-size-fits-all benefits. Yet, we’re trying to sustain a private insurance system, which violates the very principles we know are necessary for private insurance markets.

Yes, health insurance involves the sacredness of human life and is therefore different from auto insurance. But if we’re to sustain a private-market solution to health insurance, actuaries need to explain to the larger society, in terms that society understands, the rationale for the following principles:

* As sacred as health care is, it’s still an economic transaction that has to be balanced by individuals and societies, against other economic choices. It can’t be unlimited. Sometimes it will be secondary to other choices. On a given day, for example, the mother in our scenario may value her car more than her health.

* Insurance premiums should be paid by the individual and tied to controllable risk factors. This will provide the best incentive for the control of risk factors.

* Although it’s hard to draw the line between abuse, neglect and ignorance, self-abuse shouldn’t be insured and we need to draw that line somewhere.

* The private market can’t provide unlimited, self-directed health insurance.

* Routine care and ongoing treatments of chronic conditions can be pre-funded, can even be subsidized, but they don’t constitute “insurable events.”

* Insurance can’t be expected to keep every human body in pristine condition. No amount of health care will prevent everyone’s ultimate death.

* Comprehensive, unlimited, non-subsidized private-market coverage isn’t possible for people with severely impaired health.

* The private health market can provide limited non-subsidized health insurance, such as protection from accidents, to even health-impaired individuals.

* Individuals who can afford to do so and who take good care of themselves should be able to “buy up” to better coverage. People have the option of buying up for everything else in life.

Discussion of these principles is lacking from most of the current health insurance debate. If society can intuitively understand how similar principles apply to health insurance, then they should be able understand the principles in the health insurance context. We need to initiate the debate.

This commentary is solely the opinion of its author. It does not express the official policy of the American Academy of Actuaries; nor does it necessarily reflect the opinions of the Academy’s individual officers, members, or staff