Blog | Club Thrifty https://clubthrifty.com Stop spending. Start living. Tue, 18 Jun 2019 01:19:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 36398848 Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits: 17 Reasons You’ll Love This Card https://clubthrifty.com/chase-sapphire-reserve-benefits/ https://clubthrifty.com/chase-sapphire-reserve-benefits/#respond Wed, 19 Jun 2019 11:00:11 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=43146 The post Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits: 17 Reasons You’ll Love This Card appeared first on Club Thrifty.

This Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits guide reviews our favorite perks and explains why it's our favorite credit card for frequent travelers. Enjoy!

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In this Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits guide, we’ll review our favorite ways to use the card and its perks, how much you can save, and why this card is one of the best travel cards on the market.

What’s the best way to travel the globe for free? Cash in on the best travel rewards credit cards, of course!

Between the signup bonuses, travel comforts, and supersized point earning opportunities, the right card can help you travel the world in style for thousands less. I know because our family has used rewards to travel to Europe, the Caribbean, and all around the U.S. for pennies on the dollar.

So, if you’re looking to up your rewards card game, you’re in the right spot. Our favorite travel card for frequent travelers is the the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, and it’s not hard to see why.

The benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card are hard to beat. In this piece, we’ll explore what this king of travel cards has to offer – including it’s massive signup bonus, a hefty annual travel credit, and a lot more.

Without further ado, here’s our list of the top Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits we think you’ll love. Enjoy!

1. Get 50,000 Bonus Points When You Sign Up Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Earning bonus points is a big draw for opening new credit card accounts, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t disappoint.

New cardmembers receive a massive payday of 50,000 points to play with when you sign up and spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months. With the price of groceries, utilities, and other daily living expenses, you’ll hit that spending target in no time.

This card also provides access to the most lucrative credit card rewards program out there: Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you tap into the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, your 50,000 bonus points are worth a whopping $750 in travel purchases. With the Sapphire Reserve Card, your points will also go 1.5x further when redeemed for travel experiences through the portal.

Even better, you can also transfer your points to more than a dozen partner loyalty programs to make your points go even further. The 1:1 transferability can provide some sweet deals with partners like Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt, IHG brand hotels (like Intercontinental, Kimpton, Holiday Inn), and more.

Redeeming them for gift cards is also an option. The points won’t go as far, though, so I wouldn’t recommend going this route. Still, it’s nice to know there’s always an option for those who don’t love to travel.

2. Score a $300 Annual Travel Credit

Even if you aren’t planning any big trips, you’ll love the $300 annual travel credit since it doesn’t limit you to just airfare and hotels.

According to Chase, the travel category includes a variety of options like car rentals, cruises, campgrounds, trains, buses, ferries, toll bridges, and parking fees, along with the airlines and hotels you’d expect.

With all the different choices, you’ll have no trouble spending your $300 credit each year on travel costs. Plus, the credit effectively makes the $450 annual just $150 bucks.

3. Credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck Fees

If you have experience waiting around at the airport, you know how aggravating it is. And that goes double (or triple!) when you’re traveling with children.

Global Entry and TSA Precheck can significantly cut down the time you spend in line, and your Chase Sapphire Reserve travel benefits give you up to $100 back every four years to help cover the application fee.

How much time can you save? Well, Global Entry can get you in and out of customs in a flash, and TSA Precheck cuts your wait from an average of 30 minutes to less than 5.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Learn How to Apply Here

4. Free Airport Lounge Access

Speaking of waiting around at the airport, having complimentary access to comfy travel airport lounges all over the world is a real treat. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, access to over 1,000 Priority Pass lounges around the world is included.

Normally, it costs $99 to $429 for a Priority Pass membership, making this is a real big deal if you’re somebody who travels frequently. Personally, our family uses this perk all the time. It’s a HUGE benefit and makes long layovers incredibly more bearable.

The next time you’re waiting for your flight at the airport, just find a Priority Pass lounge and flash your membership card for free Wi-Fi and complimentary snacks and drinks while you relax in comfort.

5. Travel Redemption Has 50% More Value

As we mentioned earlier, when you’re approved for your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you’ll discover just how valuable the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is.

Exchanging your points for gift cards or merchandise is possible, but redeeming for travel is where this card really shines.

Every point you earn has 50% more redemption value when you book travel through the Chase portal. That means your 50,000 signup bonus can equal $500 in gift cards or a whopping $750 toward your next vacation.

6. No Foreign Transaction Fees

A 2019 credit card fee study from U.S. News and World Report found less than half of travel credit cards will waive foreign transaction fees. That means more than half will charge you for using your card internationally. *smh*

What good is a travel credit card if it doesn’t save you from paying foreign transaction fees?!? You’re trying to spend less on travel, not more! Getting whacked with 3% (or more) in fees can put a damper on an otherwise frugal vacation.

Thankfully, the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits include zero foreign transaction fees.

7. Earn 3x Points on Travel and Dining

Not only are your Chase rewards worth more when you redeem them for travel, but you also earn 3x as many points when using your Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for travel and dining purchases. That even applies to fast food, too.

So, the next time you’re planning a fine dining experience or swinging through the drive-thru after a busy weeknight, cash in on extra points by paying with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

8. Trip Cancellation/Interruption Benefits

One of my favorite benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is that it comes with trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Honestly, this can potentially save you thousands.

When you think about how fast vacation expenses add up, even a simple week-long beach getaway can be a significant investment.

If your trip is canceled or interrupted by illness, severe weather, or even jury duty, your reimbursement could total up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for things like tours, hotels, and passenger fares.

How’s that for peace of mind?

9. Trip Delay Coverage

Since we’re talking about what could go wrong when traveling, you’ll notice your Chase Sapphire Reserve also covers you if your trip is delayed.

Travel delays aren’t just a pain in the butt, they can also be a pain in your wallet. Extended delays could end up costing you some significant cash that you didn’t plan to spend.

For delays of more than six hours or requiring overnight stays, Chase’s trip delay coverage provides a reimbursement of up to $500 per ticket for costs associated with lodging, meals, and more.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Learn How to Apply Here

10. Primary Auto Rental Coverage

Yes, you read that right: Your Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits include primary coverage when renting a car with your card.

If you’re wondering what the big deal is, know that some cards only provide secondary auto rental coverage. Primary coverage is superior since you don’t need to file a claim with your insurance company (or anyone else’s) before exercising this benefit. It also means you can decline those expensive collision policies offered by the rental car company.

As long as you’re not renting for over 31 days in a row, the auto rental benefits cover you for up to $75,000 in reimbursement for collision or theft damage.

11. Lost Luggage and Baggage Delay Insurance

When you’re traveling, checking your bags with the airline doesn’t guarantee that your luggage will make it from point A to point B at the same time you do.

If you travel often, you’ve likely been one of those unlucky people who have had their baggage delayed or even lost. This can be stressful and even expensive if you have to buy toiletries or clothing in the meantime.

Don’t fret, though. Your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has lost luggage and baggage delay coverage that includes:

  • Reimbursement up to $3,000 per passenger if your bags are damaged or lost
  • Reimbursement up to $100 a day for toiletry and clothing purchases for five full days if your bags are delayed over six hours

12. Accidental Death and Dismemberment Coverage

Accidental death and dismemberment coverage is one of those “worst case scenario” travel benefits you’ll be glad to have if something unfortunate happens.

If you buy airfare, a train ticket, bus fare, or a cruise with your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you and your immediate family members suffers are eligible for up to $1,000,000 in accidental death and dismemberment benefits.

Hopefully, you never need to use this coverage. If you do, it’s nice to know it’s available.

13. Roadside Assistance

When your car breaks down or your tire goes flat close to home, you could call your neighbor, family member, or friend; but, when you need help in the middle of the night or are away from home, calling roadside assistance from Chase can get you back on the road.

The next time your battery needs attention, you have a flat tire, run out of gas, or get locked out of your car while traveling in the U.S. and Canada, Chase’s roadside assistance will be there no matter the time of day or night.

14. Emergency Evacuation and Transportation

You can’t plan for an injury or sickness. Even if you could, you sure wouldn’t plan it during a vacation. Unfortunately, sometimes life takes us by surprise, and you may need emergency evacuation while traveling.

As long as you bought your trip with your Chase Sapphire Reserve, the cost of emergency evacuation and transportation for you, your spouse or partner, and your kids are covered up to $100,000.

Keep in mind that the benefits administrator must pre-approve all expenses. Still, it’s nice to know your card can help you cover the cost of any air ambulances, land ambulances, or private transportation expenses if you have an emergency and need to get out of there.

15. Emergency Medical and Dental

Not having to worry about emergency evacuation expenses is one thing, but the cost of treatment for medical or dental emergencies is quite another.

If your health insurance won’t cover treatment, your card comes with $2,500 coverage for emergencies relating to sickness or an injury. You’ll also have $75 per day in Chase Sapphire Reserve hotel benefits for up to 5 days if you need additional time to recover before going home.

Although it’s nice that the card covers at least a little, we all know that medical and dental emergencies can be super expensive. If you think you want more coverage in this area, check out our big list of the top travel insurance companies.

16. Easy Upgrades for Car Rentals

While the primary car rental insurance is a sweet bonus, your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is packed with “enhanced benefits” such as upgrades and discounts, too.

If you enroll in a loyalty program from National Car Rental, Avis, or Silvercar and use your card to book your car rental, you become eligible for luxury car upgrades and premium rates.

The difference might not seem like much, but leveling up your rental car could give you more room to hold luggage, souvenirs, or to relax and ride in comfort while you take in the sites.

17. Flexible Rewards Points You Can Use

Some credit cards limit how your points can be used. If you have a Best Buy credit card or an Amazon Visa, for example, you know the points you earn only apply toward purchases with those specific retailers.

Why settle for restrictions on how your points can be redeemed? You earned those points fair and square, and having the freedom to spend them how you want is another reason the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is so awesome.

When you open an account, you open the door to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program – which provides tremendous flexibility in how you redeem your points. Here are a few options:

  • Redeeming points for travel scores the best bang for your buck. When you book through the Chase portal, your reward points are worth 50% more than what you’d get if you redeem them for gift cards or cash back.
  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card also lets you transfer your points to partner loyalty programs like Southwest, United, IHG, Marriott, and more. The best part about this option is you won’t lose any points – you get a 1:1 point transfer.
  • Do you want to shop at Best Buy? Go ahead and exchange your Chase points for gift cards to Best Buy or another of the nearly 200 different stores and brands.
  • If you’re an avid Amazon shopper, you’ll love the flexibility of paying for purchases with your reward points during Amazon’s checkout process.
  • Want cash back instead? The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers that too. Your cash back can be sent by direct deposit to your bank account, or you can take it as a simple statement credit.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits: Final Thoughts

If you love to travel, the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits are absolutely outstanding. Heck, even if you’re not a huge traveler, there is plenty to like about this card.

Sure, the $450 annual fee is pretty steep. Still, the $300 annual travel credit and airport lounge access quickly make up for the cost.

Oh, and don’t forget about the 50,000-point signup bonus! That’s a huge point haul worth $750 in travel redemptions through the Chase portal, or you can transfer those points to one of Chase’s travel partners for even more value. I mean, what’s not to love, right?

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading and happy traveling!

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Learn How to Apply Here

Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits Pin - picture of man with surfboard

What’s are your favorite Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits? Share them with us in the comments below!

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EarningStation Review 2019: Is It a Scam or Legit? https://clubthrifty.com/earningstation-review/ https://clubthrifty.com/earningstation-review/#comments Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:00:19 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=41910 The post EarningStation Review 2019: Is It a Scam or Legit? appeared first on Club Thrifty.

EarningStation is an online survey company, but is it legit? We'll give you the scoop on what the site is, how much you can earn, and if it's right for you.

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If you’re serious about earning money from home, you’ve probably heard you can get paid to do surveys from your couch.

If you’ve explored this at all, you know there are tons of sites to choose from—it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to start. Which are legit? Which are a waste of time?

The best paid survey sites offer simple signup, an easy-to-navigate platform, and of course, attractive rewards.

Today we’ll review a popular option: EarningStation. Let’s get started!

What is EarningStation?

EarningStation is an online rewards platform that pays members to complete surveys, watch videos, play games, shop, join offers, and more. At this time, it’s only available to residents of the United States.

You sign up with your email (or Facebook account) and share demographic information about yourself to get matched to earning opportunities. Then, you can select from available surveys and offers. Once you complete the activity, your account is credited with the promised dollar amount.

There’s no limit on your daily earnings. Once you’ve earned $25, you can cash out for a gift card.

EarningStation offers 17 different physical $25 gift cards that they mail out. Yes, I’m talking about snail mail. This is their way of verifying your address.

After your first redemption, you can apply for digital rewards. You’ll have to answer a couple of security questions, but if you’ve been honest, it shouldn’t be an issue. The digital gift card selection is smaller, but they’ve got the ones that matter: Amazon, Visa, and PayPal.

Earn Money Taking Surveys – At EarningStation, you can get paid in cash or gift cards for taking surveys, watching videos, playing games, and more. Get started here.

Is EarningStation a Scam?

In a word, no. EarningStation is a legitimate way to make money. If you follow the rules, you can easily earn a few bucks a day. It’s not much, but it adds up!

What do I mean by following the rules? They have systems in place for detecting people who are completing surveys with random, false information. If you try to do this, EarningStation will block your account, and you won’t be able to take any more surveys.

Because your first redemption has to be for a physical gift card, you won’t get your reward if you provide a fake address. Again, this deters people from lying.

But if you play by the rules, you can earn a little bit of money by completing surveys, watching videos, and taking part in EarningStation offers.

How to Make Money with EarningStation

Surveys

Before you answer the real surveys, EarningStation has you fill out a short survey about yourself. It asks for demographic info like your birthday, address, educational background, ethnicity, income, and employment. It pays $2, and the info you share helps EarningStation offer you surveys you’re likely to qualify for.

With that out of the way, your survey board shows you available survey titles, their payout, and the time it takes to complete them. Choose the ones that jump out at you and get started!

screenshot of EarningStation survey board

Completing Offers

EarningStation partners with various third parties to provide offers to join promotional campaigns. When you sign up, you get the benefits of that campaign, plus your payment from EarningStation. Examples include signing up for coupons, buying a product on sale, or subscribing to a service. When I signed up, one of the first offers I saw was $1 for signing up for Green Dot banking.

Playing Games

EarningStation partners with the Game Show Network (GSN) to offer members 20% cash back on every dollar they spend on GSN games. If you would pay to play GSN games anyway, doing so through your EarningStation account gets you a 20% discount in the form of cash back.

Watching Videos

EarningStation pays members $0.02 a day to watch a daily video. These videos are short, usually a minute or less. On the Video Channel, you can watch seven more of these short videos a day to earn $0.01. You can’t cheat, though—if you open a video in one tab and then try to go do something in another tab, the video pauses.

EarningStation also partners with third parties to offer other paid watching opportunities. For example, Express Videos pays you $0.01 to watch a certain number of videos, depending on length.

Obviously, you won’t make big money watching videos for $0.01! But it’s something you could turn on in the background while you do housework. It’s better to earn a tiny bit than nothing at all, right?

Shopping

Do you ever use Groupon to shop for deals? If so, you can earn 5.5% cash back when you launch Groupon from your EarningStation account. Again, if you would use Groupon anyway, why not snag cash back on your purchase?

Earning Streak

EarningStation rewards active members by paying out a little bonus every 10 days you meet your daily earning goal. Every time you earn your reward, you also get a free spin on the EarningStation spin wheel. The spin wheel gives you a chance to win prizes like money, gift cards, and merchandise.

The goals and rewards increase over time. For example, you’ll earn your first $1 bonus by earning $0.25 a day for 10 days. The 20-day bonus is $1.20, but you need to earn $0.30 for those 10 days to get it.

For every 10 days, the reward increases by $0.20 and the earning goal increases by $0.05. The maximum reward is $3.60 with a $1 earning goal at 160 days.

Referring Friends

EarningStation has a pretty sweet referral program. When you successfully refer a friend, you get 10% of their eligible earnings—for life. Note that it doesn’t include sweepstakes wins, GSN, or video earnings.

The key to making money with the Refer-a-Friend program is to refer friends who will actually use the platform. Unlike some other referral programs, EarningStation doesn’t reward you just for getting a friend to sign up. For you to earn, they have to earn.

Getting Paid

Once you have $25 in your EarningStation account, you can cash out. Cha-ching!

The first time you redeem, you can choose from 1 of 17 physical gift cards that EarningStation will mail out to you. Popular options include Amazon, Walmart, Shell, and Starbucks. The downside is that it can take 4-6 weeks for your gift card to arrive.

After that first redemption, you can apply for digital rewards. If you’re approved, you can redeem for an Amazon, Visa, or PayPal digital gift card the next time around. The easiest and most versatile option is PayPal, since it’s essentially cash.

Take Surveys, Get Paid – Earn money for taking surveys, watching videos, and completing other offers with EarningStation! Get started here.

Advantages of EarningStation

Earn Money with Little Effort: EarningStation isn’t a passive income opportunity—you have to do the surveys, shop on partner sites, watch videos, or fulfill offers. But let’s be real, these things don’t take much mental energy. You can fill out a survey while you sit on the couch watching Netflix or toss on some videos while you clean the house.

No Big Time Commitment: The great thing about EarningStation is that you can earn money even if you only have a few minutes to spare. And realistically, there are lots of opportunities to pop online and do a quick offer during a typical day. This makes it easy to get started and keep the momentum going.

See Survey Topics Before You Start: Something that annoys users about survey sites like Survey Junkie is that you don’t know the survey topic before you start. That means you might waste time starting a survey only to discover the topic doesn’t apply to you. With EarningStation, you can see survey topics and choose ones that interest you.

Attractive Redemption Options: It doesn’t get much better than PayPal or Amazon. Almost everybody uses them, and if you don’t, there’s no time like the present.

Disadvantages of EarningStation

It Can Be Repetitive – When you start out, you share your demographic information with EarningStation so they can match you to earning opportunities. Sometimes, though, when you begin a new survey, you have to answer a lot of the same questions again. That can be annoying.

Inconsistencies Will Get You Blocked – Don’t get any ideas about keeping your personal information private. If you make up info and aren’t consistent, EarningStation will block your account and prevent you from taking further surveys. Also, don’t pretend to be a U.S. resident so you can join—they will detect your IP address and block your access.

First Gift Card Has to be Mailed Out – You won’t be eligible to redeem for a digital gift card your first time cashing out. EarningStation will mail your first gift card to verify your address. It takes 4-6 weeks to receive it, which is a bummer. After that first time, though, you can apply for digital rewards.

You Might Get Disqualified – As you go through a survey, you might suddenly get disqualified. This is because the companies are looking for input from a target audience you aren’t part of. It can get annoying if it happens a few times in a row—nobody enjoys wasting their time.

Who Should Use EarningStation?

  • Anyone Looking to Earn a Little Extra: If you’re looking to earn a little extra cash without investing a lot of effort, EarningStation is a great solution.
  • People Who Enjoy Surveys: It might sound weird if you’re not one of them, but some people genuinely enjoy sharing their opinions for market research. If that sounds like you, you’ll love that EarningStation pays to hear what you think.
  • People Who Don’t Mind a Physical Gift Card: Remember, the first time you cash out, you’ll have to wait 4-6 weeks to get a gift card in the mail.
  • Anyone Who Can Only Spare a Few Minutes: If you have a busy life, you might think you don’t have time to make extra money on the side. While it might be true that you don’t have time to start a business or get a part-time job, anyone can spare five minutes!

Who Should Avoid EarningStation?

  • Non-U.S. Residents – EarningStation is only open to U.S. residents. If you live elsewhere, don’t bother putting in a fake address, they’ll detect your non-U.S. IP address. Yes, you can use a VPN, but it’s kind of pointless because your first gift card has to be mailed to your physical address. How annoyed would you be if you went through all that trouble and then couldn’t get your $25 reward?
  • People Looking to Get Rich Quick – There are ways to earn some decent money from home but doing surveys and online offers isn’t one of them. EarningStation can help you earn a little something for easy tasks, but it won’t make you rich.
  • Impatient People – It isn’t hard work, but it takes a little while to earn that first $25 gift card, and then you have to wait 4-6 weeks to get it in the mail. If patience isn’t one of your virtues, you’ll probably get frustrated and give up on EarningStation before you’ve earned enough to redeem a reward.

The Verdict: Is EarningStation the Real Deal?

EarningStation is a legitimate way to earn money for online activities like surveys, watching videos, shopping, and fulfilling third party offers.

Sure, there are a few annoying quirks, but overall, it’s a decent platform that can help you earn some extra cash without a lot of effort.

EarningStation Review Pin - picture of woman in hammock with tablet

Get Started with EarningStation – Want to make extra money taking surveys, watching videos, and playing games? You can with EarningStation! Use the link above to get started.

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Twine App Review: A Great Tool for Saving & Investing https://clubthrifty.com/twine-app-review/ https://clubthrifty.com/twine-app-review/#respond Fri, 14 Jun 2019 11:00:20 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=42881 The post Twine App Review: A Great Tool for Saving & Investing appeared first on Club Thrifty.

Twine is a financial app that helps individuals and couples automate their savings goals. We'll explain both the pros and cons in this review.

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In this Twine app review, I’ll explain how the app works, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it can help you (and a partner) reach your savings goals.

Have you ever wished there was a tool that could help you save toward a big goal? Something that could keep track of multiple goals, transfer money for you, and monitor progress?

Good news: that tool exists, and it’s called Twine. Let’s take a look and see if it’s right for you.

Twine at a Glance

  • Saving and investing app for iOS (also available on the web)
  • Allows partners to work toward a joint goal
  • No-fee savings account
  • Investment portfolios for $0.25 per $500 invested a month
  • FDIC and SIPC Insured
  • Owned by John Hancock

Twine app logo

What is Twine?

Twine is a savings and investment app that helps you and a partner work toward a shared financial goal. The app connects to your bank account and helps you reach your goals faster through the magic of automation.

Twine’s full list of features is currently available as an iOS app, and a limited amount of features can be accessed through a laptop or desktop browser. Plans for an Android version are in the works.

Twine: How It Works

When you sign up for Twine, you connect your bank account so you can set up automated savings. You can do this with their search function or by providing your account and routing numbers. Obviously, using the search function is easier, but smaller banks and credit unions may not be listed. In this case, it may take a couple of days for Twine to verify the account.

Once your bank account is connected, you set a savings goal. It can be anything: saving for a new car, a down payment on a home, a dream vacation, or maybe even an emergency fund.

Once you’ve defined a goal, you tell Twine how much you want to contribute toward it each month. They’ll debit your connected bank account on a weekly basis and move the funds into the brokerage account for that goal.

Each goal has its own brokerage account, and you choose what you’ll do with the money. You can save it as cash and earn a modest interest rate or you can invest it in one of three investment portfolio options (more on that in a minute).

Once you’ve reached your savings goal (or before, if you need to), you can withdraw from your Twine account by making a request through the app. Cash savings take 2-3 business days to reach your linked bank account, while invested funds can take up to 7-10 days.

Joint Goals

Twine is advertised as a service for couples because it allows you and your partner to both link your individual accounts and contribute to a shared goal. It’s especially useful for couples who may not share all their finances but want to work toward a goal together.

For example, if you and your partner are saving to buy a home but haven’t combined finances, you can set a goal together and then each chooses the amount you’re able to contribute every month. Maybe you can spare $200, but your partner can only swing $150. You each link your accounts and Twine will make the withdrawals and move the funds into your individual brokerage accounts.

It’s important to understand that, if you and your partner open Twine accounts today, you can track and contribute to a shared goal; you will, however, maintain separate individual brokerage accounts. Additionally, you’ll only have direct access to the funds you contribute. Prior to November 2018, Twine offered true joint brokerage accounts, but this type of ownership is no longer available.

Of course, you can share a savings goal with anyone; it doesn’t have to be your partner. And if you’re not interested in bringing anyone else into the picture, you can use Twine for your solo goals, too.

No-Fee Savings Account

As I mentioned earlier, for each goal you set in Twine, you choose how you’ll put your money to work. For short-term goals, like a vacation, you’ll probably want to keep your funds in a zero-risk cash account. The same goes for funds you might need to access anytime, like an emergency fund.

Twine’s no-fee cash savings account is a good solution. You’re paid interest on a monthly basis and assume no risk. Well, no risk up to $250,000, anyway—Twine savings balances are insured by the FDIC up to that amount.

So, what kind of interest rate are we talking about? The rate varies based on federal rates, but as of June 2019, it’s 1.05%. That’s much higher than the rate you’ll likely get at a brick-and-mortar bank.

Three Investment Portfolios

If you’re interested in earning potentially greater returns on your money, you can invest in one of Twine’s three investment portfolios. In that scenario, your money goes into a managed brokerage account.

Twine will ask you a series of questions about your financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance and recommend the portfolio that best suits your needs.

Each portfolio comprises exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and/or mutual funds. As you get closer to your goal, Twine adjusts your asset allocation to reduce risk.

The three investment portfolio options are:

  • Conservative
  • Moderate
  • Aggressive

Regardless of the portfolio you choose, the fee for the service is 0.6%, which amounts to about $0.25 a month for every $500 invested. Twine brokerage accounts are SIPC insured up to $500,000.

Put Your Savings Goals on Autopilot – Open a Twine account today and start saving for that vacation you’ve been wanting to take. Get started here.

Benefits of Twine

Automated Saving/Investing – The best way to reach a savings goal is to prioritize that goal by paying yourself first. Twine takes the work out of saving by letting you automate it and channel the funds into accounts for specific goals.

No Fee to Use the Savings Account – Savers seeking a no-fee option will enjoy the goal-setting and tracking perks of Twine paired with the high-interest savings account, all for no fee.

Better Savings Rate Than Traditional Banks – Twine’s no-fee, no-risk savings account pays a higher interest rate than most big banks (although higher rates are available from online-only high-yield savings accounts).

Easy to Work Toward a Shared Goal – Twine makes it easy for you and your partner (or anyone, really!) to contribute to a common goal. You can both track progress, but your funds will be maintained in separate brokerage accounts. This makes it a great option for friends or business partners and for couples who haven’t combined finances.

FDIC and SIPC Insured – Twine’s savings account is FDIC-insured up to $250,000. That means your funds are safe if anything happens to Twine. The investment accounts are SIPC insured up to $500,000. That means you’re protected if Twine fails financially. It’s important to understand that SIPC insurance does not protect the value of your investments. If you choose to invest your money in the market, you automatically assume some degree of risk.

Where Twine Falls Short

The Investment Service is More Expensive Than Competitors – Robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront offer a similar service for lower fees.

It’s Only Available in the U.S. – At this time, Twine can only support U.S. and Canadian phone numbers, and you need to be a U.S. resident to join.

The Aggressive Portfolio Isn’t That Aggressive – If the timeline for your goal is less than 5 years, Twine’s “aggressive” portfolio contains mostly money market and bond ETFs. To get a portfolio that’s mostly stock ETFs, your timeline has to be at least 15 years. If you have a high-risk tolerance and this is your “play money”, you might find these restrictions limiting.

There’s no Android App – Right now, Twine doesn’t offer an Android app, although they say it’s on their radar for the future. You can use Twine on the web, but you won’t have access to all the same features as iOS users.

There Are No Retirement Accounts – Twine doesn’t offer IRA or Roth IRA accounts, so it isn’t an ideal tool for retirement savings.

Who Should Consider Twine?

  • Anyone with a Savings Goal – If you have a savings goal in mind, using an app like Twine to automate savings specifically for that goal can be a powerful tool to help you get there.
  • Couples Working Together on a Shared Goal – Twine helps couples save for a joint goal by allowing each person to link their account, automate weekly savings they’re comfortable with, and track the team’s progress. The goal is shared, but the brokerage accounts aren’t, making this feature appropriate for any two people interested in saving up for something together.
  • People Who Aren’t Good at Paying Themselves First – If you struggle to make savings a priority by paying yourself first, using an app like Twine takes the work out of it for you. Just set your goal and the amount you want to save monthly and Twine will debit your linked account every week.
  • No-nonsense Investors – People who don’t want to mess around with choosing their own ETFs or building asset allocations will like Twine’s system: answer some questions about yourself and let them make the recommendation.

Who Should Avoid Twine?

  • Anyone with a Short Timeline Who Wants an Aggressive Portfolio – If you have a high-risk tolerance and are looking for mostly stock ETFs, the “aggressive” portfolio might not be aggressive enough for you.
  • Active Investors – Twine isn’t suited to hands-on investors who want to choose their stocks and build their own portfolios. If that’s more your style, you’ll want a self-directed brokerage account.
  • Investors Looking for the Lowest Fees – While Twine’s savings account is free, you’ll pay 0.6% to use their investing service. This is pretty low, but there are lower-cost options available.

How to Open a Twine Account

If you’re ready to get going, you can sign up for a Twine account here. From there, you’ll link your bank account and set your first goal. Remember, each goal gets its own brokerage account.

Twine App Review: The Bottom Line

Twine is a great app for people looking for a technological solution to setting, tracking, and contributing to a savings goal. It’s especially useful when two people want to collaborate and work on a goal together.

Could you just open a high-yield savings account (or an investment portfolio with a robo-advisor) and set up an automated transfer every week? Sure, but you wouldn’t get the elegant goal-setting and tracking that’s built into Twine. At the end of the day, you have to decide if Twine’s goal-setting, tracking, and collaboration features are worth it to you.

Automate Your Savings Goals with Twine – Want an easier way to meet your savings goals? With Twine, you can go it alone or work with someone else to save even faster. Get started today!

Twine App Review Pin - picture of two people holding piggy bank

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Our Summer 2019 Travel Plans: Norwegian Fjords, England’s Lake District, & Scottish Highlands https://clubthrifty.com/summer-travel-plans-2019/ https://clubthrifty.com/summer-travel-plans-2019/#respond Wed, 12 Jun 2019 11:00:54 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=42677 The post Our Summer 2019 Travel Plans: Norwegian Fjords, England’s Lake District, & Scottish Highlands appeared first on Club Thrifty.

Our summer travel plans include Norway, Denmark, Sweden, England, and Scotland! Find out what we're doing so you can follow along!

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It’s hard to believe, but 2019 is almost half over! Seriously, it seems like yesterday that we were ringing in the new year, looking forward to all the travel 2019 had in store.

If you follow us on social media, you know we’ve already had a busy travel schedule. (If you don’t follow us, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram here!)

So far, 2019 has included a romantic trip to Hawaii, the maiden voyage of the MSC Bellissima, a Caribbean cruise over Spring Break, a 40th birthday celebration in Italy, and more! As we turn the page on the first half of the year, it’s time to look ahead to our annual European summer vacation…which has actually turned into two voyages this year!

Yep, we’re heading across the pond twice this summer! Here’s a sneak peek at where we’re going.

A Scandinavian Adventure: Norway, Denmark, Sweden

In June, we’ll be traveling to Norway – my ancestral homeland – for the first time. I couldn’t be more excited!

Even better, we’re not traveling alone. Along with the kids, my parents are also coming along on their first trip to Europe! We’re stoked to show them around and think it is going to be an absolutely stunning time.

This trip will last a little over two weeks and is happening in three parts – with my parents joining us for the first two. We’ll begin in Bergen, Norway and spend a few days traveling by land. After that, we’ll jump on a cruise ship to explore the Norwegian Fjords – which look incredible, BTW.

The cruise will complete its journey in Copenhagen, Denmark. My parents will say “vaarwel” from there (that’s “goodbye” in Dutch), but we’ll spend a few days with the kids exploring Denmark. We’ll probably include a trip across the bridge to Sweden, as well.

We’re definitely gonna be on the move, so here’s a closer look at some of what we have planned at each stop.

Bergen, Norway

After arriving in Bergen, we’ll spend most of that first day getting our bearings and trying to stay awake! If you’ve ever flown to Europe, you know that fighting jet lag can be a bit difficult. It’s best to pack a good travel pillow, try to sleep on the plane, and hit the ground running. We’ve found that staying awake that first day, at least until 7 or 8 P.M., helps us get on a proper sleep schedule quickly.

The next day, we’ll just be bumming around Bergen. We plan to hit the Bergen Maritime Museum to check out some real Viking ships, wander through the Fish Market, and (weather permitting) ride the cable car up Mount Ulriken to get a cool view of the city.

On Day 3, we’ve rented a car for a little roadtrip. As of right now, the plan is to drive to the Borgund Stave Church to check out the incredible 800-year-old wooden structure. We also plan to stop in a little village or two, drive the Aurlandsfjellet National Route, and take in the mountainous scenery on our way back to Bergen.

Norwegian Fjords Cruise

The second part of this trip includes a 7-night Norwegian Fjords cruise on the MSC Meraviglia. Although we’re big fans of MSC Cruises, this will be the first time we’ve been on this ship. It will also be my parents’ first cruise of any kind, so we’re all pretty pumped.

The cruise starts with a couple of days at sea before we reach the Geirangerfjord. There, we’ve booked a nice hike to a glacier for all of us.

After that, we’ll get back on the ship and head to the Sognefjord where we’ll disembark at Flam. While we’re there, we’ll hop on a smaller boat for a leisurely three-hour cruise down the Naeroyfjord. We’ll spend the rest of the day exploring the little town of Flam before heading down the coast toward Stavanger, Norway – where we’ve booked another mini-cruise through the Lysefjord.

Our main cruise continues with a day at sea and a stop in Kiel, Germany. We’ll probably get off there just to say we did, but we don’t have any major plans. From there, the cruise wraps up in Copenhagen, Denmark. My parents will spend the day there with us before departing home the next morning.

Denmark and Sweden

The third leg of our trip will be just me, Holly, and the kids. For now, we plan to spend a day exploring Copenhagen. We also have a rental car, so we’ll definitely get out into the countryside a bit.

For now, the plan is to visit Kronborg Castle (the “Hamlet Castle”) and Frederiksborg Castle. We may also add a stop in Rothskilde if we have time. Finally, we’re going to head over to Sweden for the day – mostly just to say we were there. We’ll likely check out Malmo and maybe a small village or two.

Highlights of England and Scotland

Although it still seems like it’s a way off, we’re also heading to England and Scotland in July. Had we planned these trips at the same time, we probably would have saved some money on airfare by tacking this trip onto our Scandinavian adventure. We’ll likely do a month-long trip next summer, but this year we’re splitting it up.

London was the first place we visited in Europe, and I haven’t been back since. Really, our first trip to the U.K. is where our obsession with European travel began. Needless to say, I’m super excited to go back.

We’ll be staying in London for three days and plan to hit many of the major tourist attractions and historical sites. So, we’ll be visiting places like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court Palace, and more. Holly and I used the London Pass to visit many of these sites already, but – since we have the kids with us this time – we’re planning to go again. Plus, we just love them…so don’t gimme a hard time, OK? 😉

Additionally, we plan to see a show in the West End and probably just do some good old fashioned walking around. I can’t wait!

England’s Lake District

From London, we’ll be renting a car and heading up to England’s Lake District for about four days. We plan to make our way there slowly, swinging by Leeds Castle, Hever Castle, and Windsor Castle along the way. We’re also spending a night in York before continuing to our Airbnb.

To be honest, we don’t have much planned in the Lake District. We’ll be doing plenty of hiking and chillaxing as a family. I’m sure we’ll wander around and hit some cool taverns in the nearby villages, and that will be about it!

Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, and Edinburgh

Next, we’ll be off to Loch Lomond in Scotland for a few nights. Again, we’ll be taking our rental car, so we’ll probably plan a few things on the fly. Mostly, we’re looking forward to some more hiking and family downtime.

We’ll eventually make our way north to Loch Ness, spending a night or two in Inverness. At some point, we’re also planning to hit Stirling Castle, probably if the weather is bad in Loch Lomond or on the way back down to Edinburgh from Inverness.

In Edinburgh, we’ve got two nights to just hang. Obviously, we’ll be going to Edinburgh Castle. Other than that, we plan to wander around and soak up the city.

Final Thoughts

So, that pretty much wraps things up for our summer travel plans! It seems like a lot to take in, but I’m sure we’ll manage it somehow 🙂

If you’d like to follow along, don’t forget to join our frugal travel Facebook community and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Of course, we’ll also have a review of both trips once they’re done.

Oh, we’ve also got plenty of travel coming up this Fall and Winter – including another trip to Italy, a Mediterranean cruise, and likely a beach vacay to Aruba…and that’s only the stuff we have planned so far! Who knows what else we might come up with before then?!?

Thanks so much for reading. Until next time, happy traveling!

Do you have any travel plans this summer? Have you ever been to any of the places we’ve mentioned above? Where are you going and what did you think? Let us know in the comments below! Our summer travel plans 2019 pin - picture of Bergen, Norway

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16 Best Quicken Alternatives This Year (Some of Them are Free!) https://clubthrifty.com/best-quicken-alternatives/ https://clubthrifty.com/best-quicken-alternatives/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2019 14:05:50 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=33478 The post 16 Best Quicken Alternatives This Year (Some of Them are Free!) appeared first on Club Thrifty.

Long the king of personal finance software, Quicken is no longer the only program in town. We've listed our top 10 Quicken alternatives to help you find a suitable replacement for handling your money.

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The post 16 Best Quicken Alternatives This Year (Some of Them are Free!) appeared first on Club Thrifty.

Want to replace Quicken? We’ve got you covered.

As the granddaddy of personal finance software, Quicken was once the best money management tool on the market. Heck, it was practically the only tool on the market.

Now? Not so much.

Though it was all the rage back in the day, little has been done over the last few years to improve Quicken. In fact, Intuit (famous for programs like Quickbooks and Turbo Tax) actually sold off their ownership rights to Quicken back in 2016. Since then, rumors have swirled that Quicken will actually shut down its program for good.

Luckily, Quicken is not your only choice for personal finance software. These days, there are a number of alternatives that can help you manage your money as well as Quicken ever did…and for less money. In fact, some of the best Quicken alternatives are actually free!

So, if you’re looking for a new program to manage your money, you’re in the right place. Check out our list of the top 10 Quicken alternatives below.

Our Top Picks

best quicken alternativesPersonal Capital [Editor’s Choice]Personal Capital is our Editor’s Choice for Quicken alternatives. This free software automatically tracks your savings, spending, investments, net worth, and more. It’s easy to use and the free price tag makes it an excellent replacement for Quicken. We’ve used it for years and think you’ll love it too! Read the review | Learn more

Tiller – If you’re looking for a budgeting tool that also runs some basic financial reports, Tiller is it. This program takes spreadsheet budgeting to the next level by helping you create a monthly budget and automatically tracking your results. When it comes to tax prep, Tiller can also run detailed reports on itemized deductions, your annual spend by category, and more. Start with one of their templates, customize it to meet your needs, or build your own. Get it free for the first month, then it’s only about $5 a month. Read the reviewLearn more

16 Best Alternatives to Quicken

1. Personal Capital

Personal Capital is our favorite money management software of all time. We’ve used it personally for years, and we continue to be amazed by this powerful software.

What’s so great about Personal Capital? For starters, it’s free.

That’s pretty awesome considering they offer a comprehensive collection of money tools in one convenient place. Here, you can track your spending, net worth, and investments. You can also use it to check your investments for expensive fees and calculate whether you’re saving enough for retirement. These tools are all 100% free and at your disposal after a simple sign up process.

So, how does it work?

In short, Personal Capital synthesizes the data from all your accounts and delivers a complete financial picture that’s easy to understand.

Just link Personal Capital to your bank, credit, and investment accounts and let the program do the heavy lifting. It imports your transactions and calculates how your spending aligns with your budget.

Unlike some other alternatives to Quicken, Personal Capital is more than just budgets. And, since it is free, it makes a great compliment to some of the other programs as well.

Personal Capital also offers a powerful investment management tool. It tracks your asset allocation, monitors your investment performance, and analyzes your fees. It even takes your retirement goals into account and estimates your retirement income/expenditures based on your financial data. And, of course, Personal Capital also calculates the value of your assets relative to your debt (i.e. your net worth).

It might sound like a lot going on, but the app is incredibly user-friendly. A summary of your financial situation is available on the dashboard as soon as you open the app.

With all these money tools being offered for free, you might be wondering how Personal Capital actually makes money. Good question. They also offer fee-based wealth management services. Those are entirely optional, and you’re in no way obligated to subscribe. Tons of users enjoy the free suite of tools without using the wealth management services.

In my opinion, Personal Capital offers the best free money management software on the market. With a robust collection of money tools and a free price tag, this program blows many of the other alternatives to Quicken out of the water. Check out our complete Personal Capital review for more information!

2. Tillertiller logo

Tiller is a relative newcomer as a money management software program. This financial tracking tool is used in conjunction with Google Sheets (Gmail account required). So, if you’re into spreadsheets, Tiller might be just your thing.

Although it started out as solution for budgeting, Tiller has become more than just a budgeting program. Tiller can help you prepare for tax season by running detailed reports on your itemized deductions, annual spending by category, and more. For self-employed people and freelancers, they also offer a nifty tool that helps you determine your estimated quarterly taxes. They also provide a debt snowball worksheet and some simple net worth tracking.

To get started, simply link your bank accounts to the program. Then, Tiller will automatically download your financial transactions into Google Sheets on a daily basis.

From there, you’re free to take advantage of Tiller’s limitless customization options. They provide multiple budgeting templates you can use, but you can also create a brand new spreadsheet unique to your preferences.

Every day, Tiller emails you a summary of your financial activity so you always know exactly what’s happening with your money.

You can try Tiller free for 30 days to see if it meets your needs. After that, it’s about $5 a month, or free for a year if you’re a student.

3. YNABYNAB logo Best money apps

You Need a Budget (YNAB) is an excellent choice for anyone who wants an easy to use and effective budgeting app.

YNAB doesn’t offer a whole suite of money tools like Personal Capital. It focuses on two things: building a realistic budget and tracking your spending. And that’s ok, because it does them both very well.

I say a realistic budget because YNAB’s philosophy is that a budget is fluid and should be adjusted frequently in response to what’s going on in our lives. That’s why YNAB makes it so easy to move money between spending categories to keep your budget balanced.

For example, if you’ve budgeted $300 for groceries, but your transactions indicate that you’ve spent $340, YNAB will notify you that you’ve overspent and prompt you to deduct that $40 from another category. This system is especially useful if your goal is to maintain a zero-sum budget.

When you use YNAB, you have two choices. You can either automatically import your transactions by connecting to your bank and credit providers, or you can enter your transactions manually. Obviously, automating things is easier, but some may appreciate the option to do things the old-fashioned way.

YNAB offers a free 34-day trial, so you can try a full month of budgeting with no commitment. After that, the cost is $6.99 a month, billed annually. That means once a year, you’ll pay $83.88 to use the app/software. Unless you’re a student – then you can enjoy 12 months for free – which is a pretty cool benefit.

Also cool is that YNAB offers a 100% money-back guarantee. So, if you buy the app and decide it’s not helping you take control of your finances, YNAB will give you a full refund. Can’t argue with that!

4. Mintmint logo

Mint is a comprehensive financial tool that Quicken enthusiasts will probably appreciate. In fact, Intuit acquired Mint in 2010 shortly before they dropped Quicken from their suite of financial tools. Stew on that for a minute and think about which program Intuit thinks is better 🙂

Like with some of the other Quicken alternatives, when you link your financial accounts to Mint, you have access to your whole financial picture in one place.

As we mention in our full Mint review, you can build a budget, track your spending, monitor your investments, and manage your bills. The bills feature is really nice for people who haven’t automated their bill payments and want the ease of managing them on one platform.

Mint also lets you check your credit score and explains how it’s calculated. I think this is pretty neat because a lot of people don’t know their credit score or understand how these scores work.

With all that under one roof, you might be surprised to learn that Mint is free. Hey, we’ll take it.

5. PocketSmithPocketSmith logo

If you want to get a better handle on your money, PocketSmith might be for you. Like several of the best alternatives to Quicken, this program provides a strong option for budgeting. Where it really shines, however, is with its financial forecasting.

Instead of simply tracking what you’ve already spent, PocketSmith also helps you see what the future holds for your money. The “budget calendar” provides a daily look at your future income and expenses, all on an easy-to-read calendar so you can plan appropriately. Using your current info, you can even project your bank account balances as far out as 30 years into the future.

Our favorite feature is the “what if” scenarios. This feature allows you to test different spending and saving decisions and see how they affect your future financial growth. Wondering how reducing your grocery spending will affect your savings rate? Want to take a $2,000 vacation next summer? Use the “what if” feature to understand both the short-term and long-term consequences.

As with most Quicken alternatives, PocketSmith utilizes live bank feeds to update your transactions automatically. Over 10,000 different financial institutions are supported, so it’s pretty likely that you’ll be able to connect your accounts.

The basic functions of PocketSmith can be used for free, however you are limited to connecting just 2 accounts and 6-months of projections. The Premium version runs $9.95 per month and comes with 10 accounts and 10 years of projections. Unlimited accounts and 30 years of projections are available with the “Super” account which runs $19.95 per month.

6. CountAboutcountabout logo - alternatives to quicken

CountAbout web-based personal finance software is another contender for the best Quicken alternatives. This program actually supports importing data from both Quicken and Mint, which is nice.

When you use CountAbout on a computer, there’s no app to install; you simply log in to their website. They do offer a mobile app for iOS and Android, but not all the features are available through the app.

Use CountAbout to create a customizable budget; then, sync it to your bank account to automatically import your transactions and track your spending. You can get a snapshot of your financial activity with widgets, or general full financial reports.

CountAbout offers two membership options: basic for $9.99 a year or premium for $39.99 a year. The only difference between the two is that the basic membership does not support syncing with online bank accounts. That means if you opt for the basic membership, your transactions will not be automatically downloaded. Your options are to enter transactions manually or import QIF files from your bank if they make those available.

If you’d like to try CountAbout before committing, you can get their 15-day free premium trial.

7. Moneydancemoneydance logo - best quicken alternatives

Moneydance is another viable personal finance software alternative to Quicken. In fact, if you currently have Quicken data, you can import it into Moneydance. It’s available as a desktop app for all the major operating systems and as a mobile app.

Moneydance’s interface kind of resembles a check register, where you see a record of all your transactions. Those transactions can be imported automatically by syncing with your online banking, or you can enter them manually. If you choose the automated route, you can also manage bill payments through Moneydance.

Of course, it wouldn’t be personal finance software without the ability to create a budget. Moneydance lets you create spending categories and track your expenditures. If you’re a visual person, you’ll appreciate the interactive graphing tool. You can also use Moneydance to track your investments and monitor stock performance.

If you’re technologically inclined (i.e. a tech nerd), you can actually develop extensions for Moneydance using an Extension Developer Kit they offer as a free download. But I won’t get into that today!

You can try Moneydance using their free trial, which works a bit differently than the other trials we’ve talked about. There’s no time limit on their trial, but you’re limited to 100 manually entered transactions. Still, that’s enough to decide if Moneydance is for you. After that, you can buy the full program for a one-time fee of $49.99. They also offer a 90-day money back guarantee when you purchase from their website.

8. Banktivitybest quicken alternatives - banktivity logo

Banktivity is a personal money manager made for Mac users. The newest version, Banktivity 7, is designed specifically for MacOS Sierra. And – like Moneydance – when you turn to Banktivity as a Quicken replacement, you can import your data for a seamless transition.

With Banktivity, you’ll sync your bank accounts and use it to build budgets, track your spending, pay your bills, and monitor your investments.

They also offer some really cool reporting options. For example, you can generate reports based on category spending or spending at a given merchant. So, if you want to track how much you spend on eating out, you can easily generate a report showing all your spending in that category over a given time frame. Or, if you want to get even more specific, you can easily pull up how much you spent on McDonald’s in the past two weeks.

The “Find” feature in Banktivity is kind of like Mac’s spotlight – it lets you search all your transactions to find the one you’re looking for. This can be a great time saver when you’re trying to quickly check something specific.

Banktivity offers a free 30-day trial, no credit card required. After that, you can purchase the desktop app for a one-time fee of $69.99. You can then download the app on iPhone and iPad and sync across your devices.

9. GoodBudgetgoodbudget logo

GoodBudget is a simple budgeting app that helps you plan and track your spending through a digital version of the envelope method.

If you’re unfamiliar with the envelope method, this is a style of budgeting where you use an envelope for each spending category. First, you’ll plan how much you’ll spend on each category (usually throughout the month). Then, you allocate cash for those expenses in each category’s designated envelope.

Throughout the month, you’ll take money from a designated envelope each time you need to spend in that category. If you run out of money in an envelope, you can’t spend any more on that category… unless you borrow the money from another envelope (which will reduce your spending power in that category).

The free version of GoodBudget gives you twenty envelopes and allows you to download transactions from one bank account. You can also sync across two devices – which is great for using it on desktop and mobile. You can also use one sync to share a budget with your partner.

GoodBudget Plus costs $6 a month or $50 a year. This gives you access to unlimited envelopes and bank account syncing. You can also use the app on five different devices.

Since you’re likely to have more than one account and may both want access on multiple devices, GoodBudget Plus is probably more practical for a couple who shares a budget. That being said, it’s great that this software also has a free option.

10. Dollarbirddollarbird logo

Dollarbird is another simple, no-frills budgeting app that makes for a good alternative to Quicken. This app is unique in that it’s calendar-based rather than category-based. What this means is that Dollarbird focuses on tracking your income and spending by day, rather than by category.

So, when you open the app, you’ll see a calendar. From there, you have the option of adding transactions (income or spending) for each day. Although you do categorize your transactions, the app displays your net spending per day rather than a running category total.

At this time, Dollarbird does not support syncing with your online accounts. This means all your transactions must be entered manually. However, you can schedule recurring transactions so you’re not constantly required to enter your regular fixed expenses. If you’re paid a regular salary, you can do the same with your paychecks.

The free version of Dollarbird gives you access to one calendar – perfect if you’re doing a simple solo budget.

The paid Pro version allows up to 20 calendars and can be accessed by three people. Again, the paid option might be more practical for couples. You can opt to pay $3.99 monthly or $39.99 for the year.

11. Everydollareverydollar logo

Next on our list of Quicken alternatives, we have Everydollar. If you’re a Dave Ramsey fan, you may want to give his budgeting tool a try.

Everydollar lets you budget your income into customizable spending categories, then enter your transactions and track your spending. The free version doesn’t link to your online accounts, so you enter your transactions manually. (If you want to automatically sync to your online accounts, you’ll need the paid version.) That’s not a deal breaker, but one thing I’ve noticed is that the app doesn’t seem to remember the category associated with a payee that’s previously been entered. Adding that would be a nice touch.

This is a super simple budgeting app that should meet the needs of someone who wants to get started with planning a budget and tracking their spending. It’s free, so there’s no risk involved in trying it out for a few months to see what you think.

12. PocketGuardPocketGuard logo

If simple smartphone apps are more your thing, PocketGuard deserves your consideration.

PocketGuard helps you budget your money, track your spending, and lower your bills. Better yet, it is available for both iOS and Android devices.

To get started, simply connect your credit cards, bank accounts, investments, and loans to the app. Your info will sync to the app and update automatically as transactions happen.

Although it’s not as powerful as the best Quicken alternatives, it can certainly help you keep an eye on your finances. Like some of the other programs, this app helps you see the balance of your connected accounts all in one place. It can also help you track and categorize your spending, set monthly income and spending goals, and provide tips on where you can save even more. The “in my pocket” feature even shows the amount of money you’ve got available to spend after accounting for all of your bills and savings goals.

PocketGuard’s main features are free. It’s worth noting, however, that they also offer a paid version called PocketGuard Plus. The upgrade offers significantly more customization (including custom categories, cash transactions, etc.) and costs $3.99/month or $34.99 if you pay annually.

13. MoneyWiz

MoneyWiz is another alternative to Quicken that works with Apple, Android, and Windows devices.

With this app, you can easily sync all of your financial data into one place. It also boasts a live syncing feature which allows you to sync data between devices in real-time.

Using MoneyWiz for budgeting is also a breeze. The app allows you to create different budgeting categories which you can set up as a one time or recurring category. Balances can be rolled over from one period to the next, and the program will even monitor your accounts for transactions – automatically updating the relevant information as you go. You can also transfer money between categories, similar to the “envelope” method.

In addition to the automatic syncing functions on the premium version of the app, MoneyWiz also allows you to enter your transactions manually. It is also capable of creating multiple reports and graphs, including custom financial reports.

So, if you’re looking to replace Quicken, MoneyWiz may be worth a try. While there is a stripped down version that’s free, you can get all the functionality by purchasing the premium version for just $4.99 a month or $49.99 per year.

14. Status Money Status Money logo

Are you competitive about your finances? There’s an app for that.

Status is a free program that allows you to compare your financial situation with your peers. Simply connect your accounts and start comparing right away. Then, use those comparisons as motivation to improve your own financial situation!

Of course, Status is about more than just comparing yourself to others. With Status, you can track your net worth, create spending goals, and monitor your credit. The program also analyzes your saving and spending by category, offering suggestions to improve your situation along the way.

Although Status is not nearly as robust as many of the other options, it is free to use. (It is ad supported, so keep that in mind when considering their suggestions.) So, while it may not be the perfect Quicken replacement, it won’t cost anything for you to test it out.

15. WallyPocketGuard logo

Wally is another personal finance app available for use on your smartphone. This app focuses entirely on budgeting and tracking your expenses. So, if you’re somebody who needs help with those two things (and who doesn’t?), Wally may be for you!

Although the app is attractive, it isn’t very complex. Unlike almost every other program on this list, with Wally, you won’t connect your accounts. For those who are a little skittish about cloud-based apps, this may actually be seen as a plus.

Effectively, Wally is like using a paper budget…except it’s on your smartphone. You’ll have to manually enter your income and transactions, although you do have the ability to create recurring expenses for bills that stay the same every month.

Even though it lacks automation, Wally does a good job of doing what it sets out to do – help people manage their monthly budgets. Once you set it up, you’ll be able to quickly compare your monthly income to your expenses, helping you to get a firmer grasp on your finances.

Wally was originally available just for iPhones, but they recently unveiled a new version for Android. According to their website, the app is (and always will be) free. There are plans to add some paid features, but we’ll have to wait and see what those are when they are rolled out in the future.

16. GnuCash

gnucash logoGnuCash is a free open-source financial management software that runs on some Windows and Apple operating systems.

The app uses the double-entry accounting method to help you keep track of your finances. Business owners should already be familiar with this concept as it is the preferred method used for balancing books and keeping accurate financial records for companies.

With that said, the app can help with your personal finances as well. Through GnuCash, you can track your bank accounts, income, expenses, and investments. If you’re planning to replace Quicken, you can input your information directly from your old software. GnuCash is also capable of running a variety of financial reports for those who need them.

GnuCash is typically better for those who have a business and isn’t a perfect fit for most people’s personal finances. However, it is free, so it may be worth a try.

Quicken Alternatives: Final Thoughts

With Quicken no longer the only financial tracking game in town, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a simple budgeting program or a complete personal finance software package, there’s enough variety on this list to suit almost any need.

Although everybody has their preferences (us included), ultimately, the best financial tools are ones you’ll use consistently. So why wait? Use one of the links above to download a free app or start a free trial to find out what program works for you.

How many of these money management tools have you tried? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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MSC Seaside Review: Spoiler Alert…We Loved It https://clubthrifty.com/msc-seaside-review/ https://clubthrifty.com/msc-seaside-review/#respond Mon, 10 Jun 2019 11:00:33 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=42939 The post MSC Seaside Review: Spoiler Alert…We Loved It appeared first on Club Thrifty.

In this MSC Seaside review, we'll explore the ship, explain it's most important features, and help you decide if it's the right cruise for you. Enjoy!

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The post MSC Seaside Review: Spoiler Alert…We Loved It appeared first on Club Thrifty.

In this MSC Seaside review, we’ll explore the ship, explain its most important features, and help you decide if it’s the right cruise for you. Enjoy!

If you follow this website or keep track of us on social media, you probably know that we are MSC Cruises enthusiasts. We’ve sailed the MSC Divina twice in the Caribbean, and we have another MSC Divina cruise planned out of Italy in October. We have also cruised on the MSC Poesia out of Venice, Italy, and I was one of the first people to cruise the brand new MSC Bellissima. (Check out my MSC Bellissima Review here.) We even have a Norwegian Fjords cruise planned on the MSC Meraviglia in the next few weeks, and I can’t wait!

On top of all that, we recently cruised the MSC Seaside for our last Spring Break – which was AMAZING! Although we have loved all of our cruises with MSC, my husband and I agreed our latest cruise on the MSC Seaside was our favorite.

This MSC Seaside review explains some of the things I loved most about the ship and why I think it’s perfect for families. Enjoy!

Embarkation Day

My kids heading into the Black Card check-in area

Since we are Black Card members with MSC Cruises, our cruise started off extremely well. It took us less than a minute to get through security, and there wasn’t a single soul in the Black Card line when we went to get our cruise cards. It was wonderful!

From the time we got to the cruise port, we were on the ship in less than 20-30 minutes. And really, it only took that long because we needed a bathroom break and there is quite a bit of walking to do.

If you’re interested in becoming a Black Card member or earning another status with MSC Cruises, keep in mind that you don’t have to cruise a bunch of times to make it happen. MSC Cruises offers a status matching program you can use to move your status over from another cruise line or hotel loyalty program. For example, I was able to match to Black status due to my Diamond status with Hilton Honors.

If you do match to Black status, you get a bunch of perks like priority boarding on embarkation day, a free dinner in a specialty restaurant for two, champagne and strawberries in your room, and more. In my opinion, it’s totally worth the minimal effort.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget, some of the best travel rewards credit cards can help you earn status at your favorite hotels. Follow the link above to start searching!

Our Cabin on the MSC Seaside

I have to tell you, I absolutely LOVED our cruise cabin on the MSC Seaside. We chose a balcony room for our family of four, and I’m so glad we did!

One thing I really like about the MSC Seaside is that many of their balcony cabins for families have a couch that turns into a bunk bed. This arrangement saved a ton of floor space compared to rooms with a fold-out couch, and I liked it better than the beds that pull down from the wall.

The bathroom was fairly spacious, and our balcony had plenty of room for the four of us to enjoy the beautiful views.

I loved our room, and it’s a big reason I would cruise the MSC Seaside again.

Pools on the MSC Seaside

Like other MSC ships, the MSC Seaside has a ton of pools and hot tubs to choose from. There was an adults-only pool at the back of the ship that we never quite made it to, but there was also a large outdoor pool area that we spent a lot of time in.

The MSC Seaside also had a “jungle pool” that was next to the onboard water park. That was where we spent most of our time since my kids liked to go back and forth between the pool and the waterslides.

Indoor jungle pool

Main pool area

MSC Seaside Waterpark

The pools were never overly busy, and on port days you could ride the waterslides all day without any lines. In fact, we chose to stay onboard during our stop in Nassau, and we had the pools almost all to ourselves!

Book a Cruise on the MSC Seaside – Ready to set sail on the MSC Seaside? Search available dates and itineraries here!

Dining on the MSC Seaside

One thing I really liked about the MSC Seaside is the fact that there were actually two large buffets on board. While both buffets weren’t always open at the same time, having two flexible dining areas helped passengers spread out around the ship.

The MSC Seaside also had two main dining rooms for passengers to dine in every night. We opted to dine in the main restaurant a few times, but we mostly went to the buffet and to the specialty restaurants.

Speaking of specialty restaurants, we had the opportunity to try two of them! First, we ate at the Butcher’s Cut. I am a pescatarian, so I had salmon. It was okay, but my parents really seemed to love the steak dinners they ordered for their wedding anniversary.

My favorite restaurant on the ship was the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi! We had some really good crab cakes and noodle bowls for dinner. They were divine. I would eat here again 10/10, it was that good.

My crab cakes….nom nom nom

Oh…and the pizza! Like other MSC ships, the Seaside features a delicious selection of pizzas. These pies come straight from the pizza oven and can help combat your munchies almost any time of the day.

The MSC Seaside also has a ton of bars — they were everywhere! My favorites were probably the bar in the center of the ship and the rock & roll bar which featured live music every night. The main corridor of the MSC Seaside is also pretty awesome because it features a multi-level stage, so you can watch what is going on from several decks.

MSC Seaside Main Bar Area

The MSC Seaside also has:

  • a champagne bar
  • a coffee and chocolate bar
  • a sports bar
  • a seaview lounge

In total, the ship has 20 bars, and most them have live entertainment for at least part of the day.

Kid’s Club on the MSC Seaside

Like usual, my children loved the kid’s club on the MSC Seaside.

The ship’s supervised kid’s club is open most of the day (and all day on port days), making it easy for parents to get a break. My kids love heading to the club to make new friends, participate in organized activities like crafts and contests, and have some free time. Kids are separated into different rooms by age groups, so they participate in age-appropriate activities and meet friends who are on their level.

While I don’t like to dump my kids off all day, I tend to use the kid’s club to get a small break here and there. My husband and I also work a little on vacation since we’re self-employed, so it’s nice to have childcare for 2-3 hours at a time. Plus, it’s free!

Kids Club on the MSC Seaside

The bottom line: We always give the MSC Cruises kid’s club a big thumbs up. Their clubs are fun for the kids and provide a great perk for parents as well!

Service on the MSC Seaside

If you read cruise reviews, you’ve probably noticed some really negative reviews about the MSC Seaside. Like always, I suggest you take them all with a grain of salt.

The service on the MSC Seaside was wonderful. Sure, there are times when the bars are slow because they get overwhelmed, but it was not that big of a deal.

The people who work on the ship put in long hours and spend months away from their families. It always amazes me how friendly they are in spite of their difficult jobs that never seem to end.

I have never had bad service on any MSC ship, and I think a lot of it has to do with my attitude. When you treat people well, smile, and don’t sweat the small stuff, everyone is better off. Trust me, the workers on this ship are happy to take care of you, and they want you to have a good time!

Bonus: Awesome Cruise Stop Suggestion

Beautiful beach at Puerto Seco!!!

When we cruised the MSC Seaside, our itinerary included stops in Ocho Rios, Nassau, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. I have to tell you about this cruise stop we made in Ocho Rios because it was absolutely perfect for families!

A gentleman named Lyndon McFarlane of Purpose Driven Tours picked us up at the cruise port and escorted us around for the day. Lyndon has become a personal friend of ours and has taken us on 4 or 5 different rides around Jamaica over the years.

Since he knew we had the kids with us and that we wanted to have a fun beach day, Lyndon took us to a beach park called Puerto Seco. This park had one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen – with calm and clear water that was perfect for kids. The park also had a giant floating waterpark that our kids played on for just $10 each.

Renting a chair was only a few bucks, and the giant cabanas were included. I was also glad to find that Puerto Seco had a ton of food and drink options. We ordered food, ate on the beach, and we also got a bucket of beer.

If you want to book this excursion, or any other excursion in Jamaica, I would contact Lyndon McFarlane from Purpose Driven Tours. (He can even handle large groups, so split it with a few families if you’d like.) Tell him “Holly the blogger” sent you. He’ll know exactly who you’re talking about because he gets referrals from articles I’ve written all the time. And no, I don’t make anything for it – our family just loves using his services! I highly recommend him.

Keep in mind that your ship will also offer an excursion to Puerto Seco, but it’s cheaper to go on your own. You even get to stay a few hours longer if you take a private trip. We got there an hour before the MSC group and were able to stay almost two hours longer than they did!

The Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of booking the MSC Seaside, I would absolutely do it and don’t delay. MSC Cruises book up quickly because the prices are so reasonable. It also doesn’t hurt that children 11 and under cruise free on many of their itineraries!

To get the best deal, head over to MSC Cruises and sign up to receive offers and deals via email. This way, you’ll hear about all their deals as they come out, including free drink packages, free wifi, and more.

Feel free to post any questions about the cruise in the comments and I’ll try to answer. Thanks for reading and happy travels!

Kids 11 & Under Cruise Free on the MSC Seaside – Are you ready to book a value-packed Caribbean cruise on the MSC Seaside? Kids 11 and under cruise free on many itineraries! Compare dates, deals, and itineraries here.

Have you ever cruised with MSC Cruises? Why or why not? MSC Seaside Review Pin - pictures of ship and beach

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Splash Financial Review 2019: Student Loan Refinancing Made Easy https://clubthrifty.com/splash-financial-review/ https://clubthrifty.com/splash-financial-review/#respond Fri, 07 Jun 2019 11:00:12 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=42700 The post Splash Financial Review 2019: Student Loan Refinancing Made Easy appeared first on Club Thrifty.

In this Splash Financial review, we’ll explain how their service works, how to refinance student loans, and explore whether it is a good option for you.

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In this Splash Financial review, we’ll explain how their service works, review how to refinance student loans through Splash Financial, and explore whether it is a good option for you. Enjoy!

Millions of Americans are drowning in student loan debt. The U.S. Department of Education reports that in the last 30 years, “tuition at public four-year colleges has more than doubled.” As you would expect, for those graduating with a bachelor’s degree, student loan debt also has more than doubled.

When you think about the increasing costs of books, room and board, and food, it’s enough to make your head spin. That’s where Splash Financial comes in.

The creators of Splash Financial saw many of their friends dealing with massive student loan debt, and there was no help in sight. Out of that frustration, they created Splash with the goal of helping young college graduates get past their debt and move on with their lives.

If you’re interested in saving money on your student loan payments, Splash Financial could be your answer. Of course, it isn’t the right choice for everybody. So, let’s dig into Splash and see if they can help you!

Splash Financial at a Glance Splash Financial Logo

  • Refinance federal, private, and Parent PLUS student loans
  • Competitive variable and fixed rates
  • Easy and fast online application process
  • Checking rates won’t impact your credit score
  • Loans available for $7,500 to $300,000
  • Repayment terms between 5 and 15 years
  • Married couples can refinance together
  • No origination or prepayment fees

Who is Splash Financial?

Splash Financial is an online student loan aggregator that pairs applicants with financial institutions who provide student loan refinancing. They partner with multiple banks and credit unions to offer some of the lowest interest rates for student loan refinancing that you’ll find on the market.

Using the personal information you provide, Splash will search for the perfect fit and best rates from their approved lenders. Through their easy-to-use application process, you’ll be able to get a customized interest rate in about 3 minutes.

Unlike some similar companies, Splash makes it easy for you by providing the results for your best fit only. Married couples may also be able to refinance their loans into one loan, something not offered with most other companies.

Why Should You Refinance Through Splash Financial?

If you’re not sure whether you should refinance your student loans, keep in mind that refinancing is often a good way to reduce your monthly student loan payments and save on interest. Refinancing also helps you simplify the loan repayment process.

When you refinance, you’re taking out one new loan that pays off all of your old loans. Hopefully, this new loan will have a lower interest rate (saving you money over the life of your loan), longer repayment terms (which could lower your monthly payment), or both. Splash Financial can help you find options for each.

Additionally, Splash Financial’s lending partners offer some of the best interest rates for student loan refinancing on the market. Here’s a quick look at some of what you’ll find:

  • Fixed and variable rate loans of $7,500 to $300,000
  • Terms range from 5 to 15 years.
  • Fixed rates start at 3.87% APR (with 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Variable rates start at 3.05% APR (with 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Exact interest rates depend on the details of your application, including your income and creditworthiness
  • Learn more here

*Current as of June 07, 2019

Getting Started with Splash Financial

Splash Financial has an easy-to-use process for checking interest rates for student loan refinancing. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to SplashFinancial.com
  2. Click “Get my Rate” on Splash Financial’s homepage
  3. Sign up using your email address
  4. Create a password
  5. Provide some personal information, like your name, address, and phone number
  6. Enter financial information, like gross income
  7. Share your education history
  8. Read and agree to the terms and conditions, and click “Check My Rate”

Screenshot of Splash Financial website showing rates and benefits

You will be notified within minutes if there is a loan available for you and will be given a rate quote. It’s important to note that a rate quote is not the same as being approved for a loan. Also, getting a rate quote does not affect your credit score since it’s done as a soft credit pull.

If you decide to apply for one of the student loans Splash Financial offers you, you will need to have the following information handy:

  • Income verification: A pay stub or tax return
  • Photo ID: A driver’s license, passport, or state-issued ID card
  • Payoff verification statements from each existing servicer: A statement that projects the payoff amount 10, 15, or 30 days into the future
  • Graduation verification: A copy or photo of your diploma or transcripts

Although getting a rate quote does not affect your credit score, actually applying for a loan does. A hard credit pull will be performed with your application, so keep that in mind.

It is also important to note that you may need to become a member of a credit union to be approved for loans from certain borrowers. This can be done after the pre-approval process and is typically free.

Get a Personalized Rate Quote from Splash – Student loans can weigh you down. Consider refinancing your loans to save money on interest, lower your monthly payments, or both. Check out Splash Financial to find competitive rates and pay off your loans faster. Get a free quote here.

The Details

Splash Financial is a great way for grads to save money on student loan interest, but not everyone will qualify. To be eligible for Splash Financial student loan refinancing, you must:

  • Be a US Citizen (Splash Financial doesn’t refinance college debt for permanent residents)
  • Have graduated from a Title IV school with an associate degree or higher
  • Have a minimum credit score of 670 if you’re applying with a cosigner
  • Have a minimum credit score of 700 if you’re applying without a cosigner

If for some reason you don’t qualify, you can check out a site like Credible to compare student loans from multiple companies at once.

Benefits of Using Splash Financial

Receive quotes quickly – The application only takes a few minutes to complete and walks you through each step of the process. You can complete the application online without talking to anyone on the phone, but that option is available if you need it.

Flexible repayment options – There are multiple loan length options available with Splash Financial. Loan terms include 5, 8, 12, and 15-year loans.

No fees – Splash Financial loans do not have any application, origination, or prepayment fees.

Chat capabilities – As you go through the process of getting a rate quote or applying for loan refinancing, click the chat button and immediately receive help.

Autopay discount – If you sign up for the autopay option, you’ll receive a 0.25% rate discount.

Where Splash Financial Falls Short

Can be difficult to get approved – Some of the requirements from Splash Financial’s partners are more stringent than other lenders. They may require a higher credit score and do not accept borrowers who are not U.S. citizens. This means permanent residents are excluded.

Not eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness – Borrowers holding federal student loans need to be careful about losing potential federal benefits. Remember, refinancing means closing the old loan(s) and getting a brand new one, in this case with a private company. If you choose to refinance a federal loan, you’ll no longer be eligible for federal loan-specific programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (which is handled through myFedloan) or Income-Driven Repayment Plans. Not all federal loan holders qualify for loan these programs anyway, but it’s important to find out what you’re eligible for and make sure you don’t give up a benefit you might need to use later.

No deferment and forbearance options – In general, Splash Financial’s lending partners do not offer deferment and forbearance options to its borrowers. In extraordinary circumstances, they may work with a borrower to find a solution, but this is rare and on a case-by-case basis.

Must have earned a degree to qualify – If you accumulated student loan debt but didn’t finish school, you are not eligible for a loan through Splash Financial.

No cosigner release – Your cosigner is on the hook for your loan until it’s completely paid off.  You should choose your cosigner wisely and manage your payments well. Missing a payment could damage your cosigner’s credit.

Who Should Use Splash Financial

  • Borrowers looking to refinance student loans – If you’re in the market to refinance your student loans to a lower rate, Splash Financial offers some of the lowest rates on the market. Refinancing could make sense for those wanting to save money, lower their monthly payments, or pay their loans off faster. Splash Financial provides an easy way to get a customized interest rate in minutes.
  • College graduates with private student loans – If you have private student loans, you might be able to get a lower interest rate through refinancing. If you have more than one loan, you can also simplify your life by consolidating them into one payment.
  • Borrowers with high interest, unsubsidized Direct Loans – Some people assume a federal loan means a low interest rate, but that isn’t always the case. If you took out a high-interest or unsubsidized student loan, you may be able to find a better deal with Splash Financial.
  • Those with Parent PLUS loans – The rates on Parent PLUS loans can be higher than in the private market. Put these two together, and your interest will accrue lightning fast. A lower rate on those big loans can save you some serious cash.
  • Those having issues with their student loan provider – Are you having problems with your federal student loan servicer? Refinancing through Splash Financial means you won’t have to deal with them anymore.
  • Married couples that both have student loans – Something that Splash Financial offers that isn’t very common is the option for married couples to combine their student loans into one loan. This makes managing your student loans easier.

Who Should Avoid Splash Financial

  • Borrowers who may be eligible for PSLF or IBR programs – Certain federal student loan borrowers might not benefit from refinancing with Splash Financial (or any private lender for that matter). For instance, if you’re eligible for loan forgiveness or income-based repayment programs, refinancing your federal loans will disqualify you from receiving assistance. In this instance, giving up that option might not be in your best interest.
  • Loan holders with low interest rates – If you already have a low interest rate, you probably won’t save money by refinancing.
  • Borrowers with less than $7,500 in student loan debt – The minimum loan amount through Splash Financial is $7,500. Student loan balances under that amount won’t qualify for refinancing with Splash Financial. Try comparing rates at Credible instead.
  • Borrowers who cannot meet Splash Financial’s strict requirements – Splash Financial has some pretty difficult conditions to meet. For one, you must have received a degree to qualify. They have pretty high income and credit score requirements, as well. Only those with good credit, a decent income, and good debt-to-income ratios will qualify.

Splash Financial Review: The Bottom Line

If you are looking to refinance your student loans, Splash Financial is worth a look. They offer competitive refinancing rates and could be a good option for you. There’s no cost to get a customized interest rate, it only takes a few minutes, and the process is quick and painless.

We hope this Splash Financial review has been helpful! Thanks so much for reading and good luck! Splash Financial Review pin - picture of woman celebrating at computer screen

Refinance Student Loans Through Splash – Want to lower your monthly student loan payment or reduce your interest rate? Consider refinancing your student loans through Splash! Get a free quote here.

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10 Great Destinations for Your Summer Vacation https://clubthrifty.com/great-destinations-for-summer-vacation/ https://clubthrifty.com/great-destinations-for-summer-vacation/#respond Wed, 05 Jun 2019 11:00:11 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=42810 The post 10 Great Destinations for Your Summer Vacation appeared first on Club Thrifty.

Ready to travel but not sure where to go? Here are some great destinations in the U.S., Europe, and the Caribbean for your next summer vacation.

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There’s something about the warm weather of summer that sparks a desire to travel. While some have favorite hotspots they visit time and again, others crave new summer vacation destinations to create lasting memories.

With so many popular places scattered across the globe, selecting just one could be difficult. To help you decide on your next summer vacation, here are some great destinations you can check out in the U.S., Europe, and the Caribbean.

Great Destinations in the U.S.

Great Summer Destinations - photo of Mackinac Island horse carraiges

Whether you’re looking for the upbeat energy of a big city, a laid-back retreat in the country, or somewhere in between, you can have a great summer vacation in the U.S.

New York City

New York City is one of the most popular destinations in the world, attracting over 60 million tourists each year.

With so many must-see sites in New York City, narrowing your choices to fit in the time you have available is a challenge. Stopping at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum may top your list and you can buy tickets up to six months in advance to ensure admission.

Do you love baseball? If so, you don’t want to miss a tour of Yankee Stadium, home to the 27-time World Series Champions. And while you’re in NYC, planning a visit to Liberty Island and Ellis Island can be done with one ferry ticket. Keep in mind that going up to Lady Liberty’s crown requires advanced reservations.

Seattle

Seattle is the perfect place to take your summer vacation. With water, mountains, and forest all around the area, even the fussiest traveler will find something to love.

Make the Space Needle your first stop, where the sweeping views of the city will take your breath away. And families will love meeting the giant Pacific octopus and learning about the sea creatures found in Puget Sound at the Seattle Aquarium.

Of all the attractions in Seattle, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Pop Culture. Exhibits include kiosks to interact with and a variety of movie and music artifacts. Want to view Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from “The Empire Strikes Back?” Or how about the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from “The Wizard of Oz?” Maybe weaponry from “Lord of the Rings?” You’ll find it at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

Mackinac Island

Nestled between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas is Mackinac Island. As you approach the island on the ferry, the magnificent Grand Hotel comes into view, which you might know from the 1980 classic movie “Somewhere In Time.”

Once you step off the ferry, you travel back to a simpler time. Mackinac Island doesn’t permit automobiles. Instead, you’ll get around by horse and carriage or bicycle. A horse-drawn carriage tour provides a taste of all the island has to offer, and exploring the 70+ miles of trails by bicycle opens up new possibilities.

Read Also: 100 Cheapest Places to Travel in the World

If you’re hungry, the Pink Pony restaurant sits on the water. The outdoor patio is the best place to enjoy your meal with views of the lake. And definitely visit Arch Rock. The more than 50-foot wide rock formation stands high above the water and is a fantastic spot for scenic views of the island’s coast.

St. Louis

St. Louis is home to the iconic Gateway Arch. As the tallest man-made monument in the United States, the arch towers 630 feet above the Mississippi River and has drawn more than 135 million people since its inception. The Arch’s Tram Ride to the Top is the best way to see the city. Grab a ticket to ride all the way up for unmatched panoramic views of St. Louis.

Thrill seekers will also want to check out the Six Flags St. Louis theme park. The infamous Screamin’ Eagle coaster pleases with speeds up to 62 mph. Live concerts and shows are part of the fun at Six Flags, and don’t forget to seek out your favorite cartoon character for a photo op, including Bugs Bunny and Supergirl.

Looking for the greatest hotspot for shopping, dining, and nightlife? Don’t miss the Delmar Loop. Known as just “the Loop” to locals, vacationing here in June lets you in on the week-long celebrations to kick off summer. And if you’re a baseball fan, you can’t miss a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.

Great Destinations in Europe

Great Summer Destinations - Picture of Rome

Summer in Europe is beautiful. Warm weather and sunshine can fill your days, making touring the sites even more enjoyable.

Paris

From the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum to vibrant cafes and shops, what’s not to love about Paris? During the summer months, tourists to the City of Lights can relish the warmth of the sun as temperatures reach 70 to 80 degrees during the day.

The first thing to know about Paris is the price of attractions and travel throughout the city aren’t as lovely as the weather. To get more bang for your buck, consider the Paris Pass. For one price, you’ll have access to world-famous museums and attractions, unlimited use of public transportation, and discounts on shopping and dining.

With or without the Paris Pass, you don’t want to miss the Palace of Versailles. As you tour the hundreds of rooms, you’ll discover each one more breathtaking than the last. Going from the palace to the gardens gives you a chance to view gorgeous fountains and sculptures dating back to the 1600s.

And make sure to stroll through Le Marais, one of the oldest and most notable districts in Paris. Rambling through the cobblestone streets gives way to stunning buildings and stone architecture reminiscent of medieval Paris, which is truly a site to see.

London

Fewer cities are finer than London, and this historic destination is a fantastic choice for your summer vacation. On the River Thames, you’ll find the exceptional Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.

The Big Bus London Hop-On Hop-Off Tour gives you a chance to personalize your visit to the top activities in London. With it, you can take in the sights at your own pace. One of the most famous spots is the Tower of London. History buffs will recognize the Tower as home to the collection of Crown Jewels and former prison cell of Sir Walter Raleigh.

No visit to London is complete without stopping at King’s Cross Station. Harry Potter fans know this is home to Platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express. No matter which House you identify with, you’ll love this underground station.

Rome

The astounding attractions of Rome are endless. From staggering monuments to mouth-watering Italian food and world-class shopping, you’ll never run out of things to do. And getting around is easy since you can wander the streets on foot.

As you walk through this Italian city, you’ll notice the abundance of piazzas. They’re great spots for people watching, and the Piazza Navona is definitely worth a visit. The landmark is near several outstanding attractions such as the Pantheon, Gladiator Museum, and Fountain of Neptune.

Read Also: The Best Travel Credit Cards This Year

The Vatican Museums are a great choice to view paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces that popes have collected over the centuries. One highlight is the Sistine Chapel with the legendary ceiling painted by Michelangelo. Another is the Bramante Staircase which you’ll see as you leave the museums.

And don’t forget to tour the Colosseum  – despite being opened in 80 AD, the building is still largely intact and a true wonder to behold.

Great Destinations in the Caribbean

Great Summer Destinations - picture of rock formation on St. Lucia

For endless white sandy beaches cascading into vibrant blue waters, the Caribbean is an excellent pick for a laid back summer vacation.

St. Lucia

As part of the Windward Islands, St. Lucia is a lush tropical paradise waiting to be explored. The island’s west coast is a hub of activity including hiking and snorkeling. Plus, there’s a sleeping volcano you can drive through.

Consider Treetop Adventure Park, which lets you fly through the rainforest on various ziplines. Cruising through the air gives you an inside look at the exotic plants and wildlife. For more adventure, hike up the gorgeous Gros Piton to take in spectacular views of the Caribbean.

Sulphur Springs is a dormant volcano that you can drive through – a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t soon forget. Sulphur Springs is also well known for their mud baths. Jump in for a full-body detoxification and see why they attract visitors from around the world.

U.S. Virgin Islands

This is really three destinations in one since it comprises three main islands: St. John, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. One of the best parts is that U.S. citizens can enjoy the islands without needing a passport.

Buck Island Reef National Monument is the place to be on St. Croix. The location is perfect for diving, snorkeling, bird-watching, and hiking.

On St. John, check out the Virgin Islands National Park. This attraction makes up more than half of the island and you can take your time exploring the rainforest, boating areas, and nature trails. And hopping over to St. Thomas will give you the opportunity to visit Mountain Top. Famous for its banana daiquiri, Mountain Top has magnificent views of Magens Bay.

Aruba

Luxurious resorts, crystal blue waters, and delicious culinary experiences are what Aruba is all about. A summer vacation on this Caribbean island delivers the greatest adventures on land and sea. Once you arrive, staying at your hotel might sound tempting. Instead, unwind from your travel with a walk on the beach or book a Sunset Catamaran Cruise for a glimpse of the stunning coastline.

Aruba has an expansive gold history. If you journey to the northern shores of the island, you’ll find the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. Hiking and walking trails feature impressive island views, including the Casibari Rock Formation.

You’ll want to stop at the remarkable Natural Pool while you’re here. Made from a circle of volcanic rock, the pool is inside Aruba’s Arikok National Park. After all the adventure, relax with your toes in the sand while you watch the sunset.

Where Will You Go?

After a long, dreary winter, the excitement of planning a summer vacation is enough to lift your spirits. With the rich history of Europe, mountains and valleys in the U.S., and the exquisite tropical paradise that is the Caribbean, your options are endless.

And no matter what your budget is, you can plan a memorable trip full of adventure. Whether you desire to kick back and relax or take it all in, you can’t go wrong with any of these summer vacation destinations.

What are your summer travel plans? Are you doing anything new for the first time? Share your plans with us in the comments! Great Summer Destinations Pin - pictures of Rome, Caribbean, and Michigan

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The Complete London Pass Review and Guide (2019): Is It a Good Deal? https://clubthrifty.com/complete-london-pass-review/ https://clubthrifty.com/complete-london-pass-review/#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2019 14:00:41 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=16286 The post The Complete London Pass Review and Guide (2019): Is It a Good Deal? appeared first on Club Thrifty.

Is the London Pass worth it? We think so. Check out our complete London Pass review and learn how you can save money on sightseeing in London.

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FLASH SALE: Get up to 24% OFF the London Pass! Sale runs through Tuesday, June 18th, 2019. Follow the link for details.

The London Pass is one of our favorite sightseeing passes of all! Find out why in our complete London Pass review!

Ah, London! The history. The majesty. The culture.

I LOVE me some London!

There’s something about London that keeps pulling me back. I could visit the city a gajillion times and never grow tired of being there. London is simply one of my favorite cities in the world, and I can’t get enough of it!

Unfortunately, London isn’t cheap.

Consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit, a trip to the UK’s capital can drain your pocketbook. And, since all the prices are listed in British Pounds, things can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.

Don’t let the cost scare you off. There are plenty of ways to save on your London vacation, and that includes saving money with a sightseeing pass. To get the most bang for your sightseeing buck, consider purchasing one of my favorite sightseeing passes of all – the London Pass.

What is the London Pass?

London Pass LogoThe London Pass is an all-inclusive sightseeing card that provides entry to over 80 of the city’s best attractions. In addition to admission fees, the card also includes “fast track entry” to some of London’s busiest spots, helping you to skip the long ticket lines and save valuable sightseeing time.

If you’re making your first trip to London, this pass is the perfect way to experience the city’s top spots for much less. In fact, we’ve personally used it to save well over $100 USD during our first visit.

As you’d expect, the London Pass includes entry to most of London’s major historical sites – like the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Westminster Abbey, and more. These are all “must see” sites that no visitor should miss.

Additionally, the London Pass includes about 80 other attractions. And, with prices for most of the city’s major attractions hovering above 20£ (currently about $26 USD), you only need to hit about 2 places a day to make a multi-day London Pass worth it. Plus, the pass is almost always on sale, providing even more value for your travel dollars. (We’ll talk more about pricing in a bit!)

For those who plan to use London’s fabulous public transit system to get around, you can also add an “Oyster Card” for an additional fee. (We’ll talk more about this too!)

Like the New York Pass, the London Pass is an absolute no-brainer for me, and it should be for you too. As a Club Thrifty reader, just use the coupon code below to take advantage of this month’s London Pass sale!

LONDON PASS SALE: 6% Off 2, 3 ,6 and 10 Day Passes through June, 2019! Just click the link, head to checkout, and use this code: JUN19

How It Works

Like most other all-inclusive passes, the London Pass works on a consecutive day basis. This means that you purchase the pass for a set number of days, allowing you to visit as many of the included attractions as you like during the time that your pass is active.

The London Pass can be purchased in 1, 2, 3, 6, and 10-day varieties. So, if you choose a 3-day London Pass, your pass is good for 3 consecutive days from the time it is activated. Capiche?

To activate your card, simply present it at the gate of your first attraction. They’ll scan your card and – voila – you’re good to go! You’re pass acts as your ticket for each attraction, so all you need to do is show the pass on the way in and you’re set. (Editor’s note: Some guided tours may require reservations in advance. Check your pass guidebook for details.)

You can get your London Pass in the form of a physical card, or you can carry the mobile pass on your smartphone. Physical cards can be collected at once you get to London for free, or you can have them shipped to your home for a small fee. As you’d expect, downloading the mobile pass is also free of charge.

Keep in mind that the London Pass uses calendar days, not 24-hour periods. Regardless of whether you activate your pass at 9 AM or 2 PM, that counts as your first day. So, it’s typically best to activate your pass early in the day to ensure you get the most value out of Day 1.

Top Attractions Included on the London Pass

The London Pass provides entry to over 80 of the top tourist attractions in London, including:

  • Tower of London (£27.50)
  • Westminster Abbey (£23.00)
  • Hampton Court Palace (£23.70)
  • Windsor Castle (£22.50)
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral (£20.00)
  • The Shard (£32.00)
  • Kensington Palace (£19.50)
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (£17.00)
  • Thames River Boat Cruise (£19.25)
  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour (£34.00)
  • …and much more (view the full attractions list here)

*Current as of June 2019

With access to over 80 London attractions, the London Pass is easily one of my all-time favorite sightseeing passes!

Unlike some passes that offer discounted admission fares, with the London Pass, admission to every attraction listed is included! Plus, by visiting just 2 or 3 sites a day, you can save some serious money.

Speaking of money…

London Pass Pricing

So, how much is the London Pass? I knew you’d ask!

The London Pass has 5 different pricing options based on how long you plan to use the pass. Separated into 1, 2, 3, 6, and 10-day passes, you can use the pass for as long or little as you like.

Take note that you cannot split up your available days. The pass is good for a set of consecutive days only. If the consecutive day pricing model turns you off, you may want to consider the London Explorer Pass instead. Or, purchase the London Pass and plan accordingly.

Here is the pricing structure (current as of June 2019):

PassesAdult PriceAdult Price w/TravelChild Price (ages 5-15)Child Price w/Travel
1 Day Pass£75.00£90.00£55.00£64.00
2 Day Pass£99.00£119.00£75.00£94.00
3 Day Pass£125.00£155.00£89.00£117.00
6 Day Pass£169.00£224.00£125.00£157.00
10 Day Pass£199.00£254.00£149.00£204.00

As you can see, there is a separate price if you include the Oyster Card for travel on London’s fabulous public transportation systems. Personally, I love using London’s transit systems, so I think it’s money well spent.

How Much Will I Save with the London Pass?

Let’s take a look at how much you’ll save with the London Pass. First, let’s take a quick look at how much the pass costs per day:

  • 1-Day Pass: £75/day
  • 2-Day Pass: £49.50/day
  • 3-Day Pass: £41.66/day
  • 6-Day Pass: £28.17/day
  • 10-Day Pass: £19.90/day

So, let’s assume you get the three day pass. In order to break even, you would need to visit attractions that totaled at least £41.66 each day. Anything above that is money you’ve saved. So, you’ll need to visit 2+ attractions each day the pass is active for the London Pass to be worth it.

Now, let’s look at an actual example. Here’s what you would spend at the gate for tickets to six of the London’s top attractions without it:

  • Tower of London: £27.50
  • Westminster Abbey: £23.00
  • Hampton Court Palace: £23.70
  • Windsor Castle: £22.50
  • The View from the Shard: £32.00
  • Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour: £34.00
  • TOTAL: £162.70

Assuming there is no sale happening, which there usually is, the regular price 3-Day London Pass costs just £125.00. By visiting just 2 of these attractions a day, you’ll save £37.70 (almost $48 USD) per adult!

By hitting 3 attractions each day, you’ll save considerably more. That’s definitely not chump change, especially if you’re traveling with a family or small group. You’ll also get fast track entry at several of these spots, saving you valuable time as well! And if you grab the pass on sale, you stretch your savings even further!

Seriously, to me, it seems like a no-brainer.

Save Money in London – Want to save money in London? Stretch your travel dollars further with the London Pass! Get entry to over 80 of the city’s best tourist attractions and save money while you do it. Get your pass here.

5 Top Reasons to Get the London Pass

london pass review - photo of Tower Bridge

1) Save Money

Let’s face it: Visiting London can be expensive. That’s why it’s important to save money any way you can…and that includes sightseeing.

With the London Pass, you can visit the best attractions in the city and still save. In fact, we personally used it to save some serious cash on our first trip to London. So, if you’re looking to enjoy London for less, we highly recommend this pass!

2) The Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower of London is easily one of my favorite places in all of London. Built by William the Conqueror around 1070 A.D., the Tower of London has served as a royal residence, an armory, a royal mint, and a prison.

Yep, this is the place where the “Two Princes” were believed to be murdered by their uncle, King Richard III, so that he could usurp the throne. It’s where two of King Henry VIII’s queens (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard) lost their heads. And, it’s also the spot where countless political prisoners (like Sir Thomas More) arrived through “Traitors’ Gate” and were imprisoned before becoming a head shorter.

Guided walking tours of the grounds led by a Yeoman Warder (a.k.a. a “Beefeater”) are included with your London Pass entry. These tours also provide access to the Church of St. Peter ad Vincula – the burial spot of both executed queens.

Last but not least, make your way to the Waterloo Barracks to view the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. When in London, The Tower is a sight not to be missed.

3) Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Possibly the most famous structure in all of London, Westminster Abbey was founded in 960 A.D. and remains a working church to this day. The famous double towers on its western facade are known throughout the world.

You remember Westminster Abbey as the site of numerous royal weddings (like Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s) and funerals (like Princess Diana’s). What you may not realize is that Westminster Abbey has been the site of every English and British Coronation since 1066. While you’re there, be sure to sneak a peek at King Edward’s Chair – the throne used in every coronation since 1308.

Additionally, the abbey acts as a cemetery for many of the most famous people in English and British history. Walk through the abbey and discover the final resting places of famous royals like Elizabeth I, Henry VII, Edward the Confessor, Mary I, Mary Queen of Scots, Edward I, Richard II, and many more.

4) Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Be transported back in time and enjoy a trip through Tudor history with a visit to Hampton Court Palace. Located about 11 miles from Central London on the Thames River, the palace is a short 35 minute train ride away.

Redeveloped by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey around 1515, the palace was eventually seized and occupied by King Henry VIII. Henry expanded the palace’s famous Tudor style, while William III and Mary II expanded the rear of the palace in the Baroque style of the late 1600’s.

Along with the “Tudor Kitchens”and the “Great Hall,” my favorite part of the palace is the “Chapel Royal.” In fact, it may be one of my favorite single rooms in all of London. The chapel itself is stunning, and standing in the king’s private pew gave me some legit goosebumps.

Give yourself time to wander through the magnificent gardens and the famous hedge maze. If you’re timing is right, you may even bump into different characters roaming the halls in full Tudor costumes. Turning the corner and seeing “Henry VIII” himself definitely gave me chills!

5) Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle at Sunset

Photo Credit: By Diliff (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Located in the county of Berkshire, about a 30-50 minute train ride from Central London, Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. The castle is a favorite weekend residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and her standard flies from the famous Round Tower when she is there.

Originally built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, the castle has been inhabited by English and British monarchs for nearly 1,000 years. At the castle, you’ll find one of England’s best examples of Gothic architecture, St. George’s Chapel.

In addition to being a fully operational church with multiple daily services, St. George’s Chapel serves as the final resting place for ten monarchs – including King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour. Since this is a working residence, please note that some parts of the castle may not be open at all times.

Additional Benefits of the London Pass

Is The London Pass worth it? We think so. Check out our complete London Pass review and learn how you can save money on sightseeing in London.

Free entry into London’s best attractions isn’t all the London Pass has to offer. Here are some other great benefits of the card:

  • Fast Track Entry – One of the biggest benefits of purchasing the London Pass is that you get “Fast Track Entry” into several of the city’s most popular attractions. During peak times, lines to get in can be crazy long. Purchase the card, skip the lines, and save yourself time (and headaches) so you can see more of London’s best attractions!
  • The London Pass Guidebook – When you pick up your London Pass, you’ll receive a nifty little guidebook to help you plan your sightseeing in London. This little gem provides informative descriptions of all of the attractions available with the pass. Additionally, the guidebook supplies you with all of the opening/closing times and with directions on how to travel to each destination. Frankly, this is an invaluable little book that I wear out each time I go there.

  • Mobile Pass – Now, you can carry your London Pass on your smartphone. Simply have the pass sent to your mobile device and use it to gain entry to each attraction!

HOT SALE: 6% Off 2, 3, 6 and 10 Day Passes through June, 2019! Just click the link, head to checkout, and enter this code: JUN19

Adding the Oyster Card to The London Pass

Let’s talk a little bit about transportation. In our Paris Pass review, we mentioned that the Paris Pass includes a travelcard. While travel is not automatically built into the cost of the London Pass, you can add it on…which I think is an even better option!

London has one of the best – if not the best – public transportation systems in the world. It’s my preferred method of getting around the city, and you should use it while you’re there too. Not only is it über convenient, it’s extremely easy to use.

RELATED: How We Traveled to Europe for $200

Although you can make your way around on buses, I prefer the city’s subway system. The subway is officially known as the “Underground” but is more affectionately referred to as “The Tube.”

You’ll find tube stations located throughout the city. The easily recognizable signs, featuring a red circle with a white center and a blue horizontal stripe running through the middle, will let you know when a tube station is near.

Here’s what the signs look like:

tube sign

The other train system you need to know is the National Rail system. You’ll use these trains to travel to attractions outside of London proper, like Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace.

Unlike the Tube, where trains come and go every few minutes, trains on the National Rail system leave at predetermined times. Check what time your train leaves before you make sightseeing plans for the day.

Typically, National Rail stations are identified by two horizontal red lines that kind of look like fancy train tracks. Usually, they’ll look like some variation of this:

 

national rail logo

In order to board the trains, you’ll first need a train pass. With the Oyster Card, you can board either the Tube or the National Rail, making it the perfect travel card for sightseeing in London. Better yet, you can add it to the cost of your London pass for just a few pounds more.

Keep in mind, however, the Oyster Card you’re does not provide unlimited transportation. This is a relatively new change! Now, your card is now preloaded with a certain number of pounds depending on how long you’ll have the card. If you run out of credits, you’ll need to refill them at the station.

Whether you purchase the travel card with your pass or buy one at the tube station, I highly recommend you use London’s transit system! It is by far, the easiest, fastest, and best way to get to all the places you want to see quickly! Get your London Pass with travel card here.

Where the London Pass Falls Short

As you can tell, I absolutely love the London Pass. In fact, I actually struggle to find a many negative things to say about it.

With that said, in recent years, the London Pass has added a per day credit cap. This effectively caps the total amount of savings you can get from the card, and credit limits are based on the length of the pass.

While I’m never a big fan of capping an all-inclusive pass, the credit limits on the London Pass are pretty generous. In fact, even the hardest charging sightseer would be hard pressed to hit them.

For example, the credit limit on the 3-day pass is £350. That means you’d need to visit 5 attractions a day valued over £23 each. Honestly, that probably ain’t gonna happen. (I’m not sure how anybody could move that fast!) Even if it does, you’re still saving £225 per adult.

Also, as we mentioned above, the Oyster Card is no longer offers unlimited rides when purchased with the London Pass. Instead, you’ll receive a preloaded card filled with credits – which, of course, are determined by the length of your pass.

Although this is a bit of a bummer, it’s still super convenient to purchase your Oyster Card at the same time you purchase your London Pass. An unlimited Oyster Card would be nice, but – if you run out of credits – you can simply add more at the station.

Don’t Forget This! – A trip to London can cost thousands, much of which is non-refundable. When going on a trip this expensive, it’s always a good idea to buy travel insurance. For a fraction of your trip’s total cost, these policies can protect your travel dollars from unexpected trip cancellations, trip delays, medical evacuations, and more. Protect your London fund. Compare travel insurance plans here.

Who Is the London Pass Good For?

First-time visitors – For first-time visitors, the London Pass is a great way to see the major sites and save money doing it. In fact, almost every major site in the city is included on the pass. Why not save money at the places you’re going to visit anyway?

Both power and casual sightseers – If you want to see as much as you can in the time you have, the London Pass is for you! The more you use the pass, the more value you’ll get. In fact, you only need to visit 2+ attractions a day to get your money’s worth. That’s a pretty great value and easy to do!

Families and small groups – Tourists who are traveling with their family or in a small group get even more value from the London Pass. Use the card with the whole group, and your savings will multiply quickly!

Who Should Avoid the London Pass?

Those not interested in sightseeing – Let’s face it, London is a pretty exciting city all on it’s own. If you have no interest in visiting the major tourist attractions, you obviously won’t benefit from this pass.

People only interested in free activities – Likewise, there are plenty of free things to do in London – like visiting the various parks, hitting the British Museum (free but donations are requested), and just soaking up the atmosphere. Of course, you can always spend a few days doing the free stuff and use the pass during the rest of your time in London.

Tips for Getting the Most from the London Pass

Want to get the most value out of your London Pass? Here are a few tips to help make that happen!

  • Visit 2-3 attractions per day. – As we’ve mentioned, to make the London Pass worth it, be sure to visit 2 or 3 attractions each day. Do this and you’re bound to come out ahead.
  • Visit the most expensive attractions. – Obviously, the more expensive attractions provide the most value. If you’re planning to visit some of the attractions after your pass expires, visit the most expensive attractions while your pass is still active. Then, pay for the cheaper attractions later.
  • Start early in the day. – The earlier you get going the more sites you’ll be able to see. Start your days early and you’ll get more value from the card.
  • Don’t activate your card in the afternoon. – Likewise, don’t activate your first day in the afternoon. You’ll essentially lose an entire day’s worth of value in the pass.
  • Plan your sightseeing accordingly. – If possible, group your sightseeing by sites that are close to each other. That way, you’ll waste less time in transit between each attraction.
  • Get a Travel Credit Card – When traveling abroad, it’s always a good idea to carry a credit card with you – preferably one with no foreign transaction fees. You may even be able to book flights and hotels on your next trip for pennies on the dollar! Get started with our list of the best travel credit cards here.
  • Skip the 1-Day Pass. – Although the 1-Day pass may be worth it, it’s a lot easier to come out ahead with the multi-day passes. I’d recommend getting a pass that lasts at least three days.

Where to Buy a London Pass

Ordering your London Pass is a piece of cake. Get your London Pass here.

Personally, I like to order mine before I depart from home. That way, I know I have it, and it is already there waiting for me. It also allows me to take advantage of any sales or discounts being offered prior to traveling. While you can buy one if you’re already in the city, you’ll miss out on the online discounts.

Speaking of discounts, The London Pass is almost always offering an online sale! This month’s deal is listed below:

Get 6% Off 2, 3, 6 and 10 Day Passes through June, 2019! Just click the link, head to checkout, and enter this code: JUN19

Where to Pick Up Your London Pass

If you order your pass online, you can have it shipped directly to your door for a small fee of 3-7£. Personally, I’d rather save the money and pick it up myself.

Heading to the Redemption Centre allows me to get my feet on the ground and see a little bit of the city right away. Even for first timers, picking up your London Pass is a breeze. Here is how you do it:

  • Take the Tube to Leicester Square
  • Exit the Tube from Exit 1 onto Charring Cross Road
  • Turn left out of the exit
  • Walk past the Wyndham’s Theatre
  • Walk 100 meters toward Trafalgar Square
  • The redemption desk is in the downstairs of the ticket book across from the Garrick Theatre

Seriously, it’s easy peasy to find this place. The kiosk is literally about a 90 second walk from the Tube station. Here is a map and a photo of the booth to help you out.

London Pass Ticket Center

The Verdict: Is the London Pass Worth It?

So, is The London Pass worth it? I think I can answer that with a giant ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

Don’t forget that you can order your London Pass using the link in the box below. I bid you safe travels and enjoy London!

Get 6% OFF 2, 3, 6 and 10 Day London Passes in June – Click Here! (Code: JUN19)

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Best Private Student Loan Rates and Companies for 2019 https://clubthrifty.com/best-private-student-loans/ https://clubthrifty.com/best-private-student-loans/#respond Mon, 03 Jun 2019 11:00:49 +0000 https://clubthrifty.com/?p=41433 The post Best Private Student Loan Rates and Companies for 2019 appeared first on Club Thrifty.

Private student loans can fill the gap when federal aid isn't enough. We compare some of the best private loan companies and rates for this month!

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Let’s face it, college is expensive.

You try your best – you’ve got federal student aid, a part-time job, maybe even a grant or two. But sometimes it’s still not enough. In those instances, borrowers can look toward private student loans to fill the gaps.

So, what is a private student loan? I’m glad you asked.

In this piece, we’ll break down how a private loan can be used for and what makes them different from federal student aid. And here’s the best part – you don’t have to do research to find one. We’ve reviewed dozens of private student loan companies and provided details for you below.

Let’s get started!

Editor’s Picks

We’ll provide detailed explanations below, but if you can’t wait to get started, here are our top three picks:

What is a Private Student Loan?

Private student loans are available from private lenders such as banks, credit unions, and online companies. They can be used to pay for any type of schooling, including private universities, postgraduate studies, or even medical residencies.

Private loans don’t have all of the borrower protections that federal loans provide, but they can still save students thousands of dollars. Federal student loans have structured rates and terms, but private student loans offer personalized competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms. Private lenders usually have options for fixed or variable rates as well. Having great credit can score you the lowest rates available, or you can get a cosigner.

Instead of filling out a FAFSA (though that may still be required), private student loans require a credit check to determine a borrower’s ability to repay loans. Many private student loans require a cosigner since borrowers usually haven’t established enough credit history on their own. Cosigners can help lower interest rates even more, depending on their credit. Some private lenders even offer cosigner release options after a consistent repayment history has been established.

Most private lenders also offer options to refinance your federal student loans. If you’re checking into private student loans to fill the gaps, you’ve come to the right place! Below is a comparison of some of our favorite private student loan companies

(Editor’s Note: We strive to provide the most current rate information. Rates listed are current as of June 03, 2019.)

Our Top Picks

Credible: Compare Rates from Multiple Lenderscredible logo

Did you know that Credible allows you to check rates from many of the best private student loan lenders in one spot? In less than 90 seconds, you’ll get the current rates from multiple lenders. You’ll also learn about each lender’s eligibility requirements and payment terms.

By providing personalized rates from multiple lenders, Credible users are able to compare and choose the most competitive interest rate for their situation. Fill out a short form and get customized private student loan rates in a snap. Receiving rate quotes is free and users can get a list of offers without it impacting their credit score.

Here’s more info on Credible:

  • Compare up to 8 lenders at once
  • Get a list of offers without impacting your credit score
  • Option to invite a cosigner to your application
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • Personal loans also available
  • Federal and private student loan refinancing available

Read our full Credible review for more.

CommonBond: Social Justice Through Lending

CommonBond is a private lender, but they also look to make a global impaCommonBond Logoct. They do this by donating to Pencils of Promise for every person who takes out a loan or refinances their loans. The company has built 470 schools and donated over $1 million to date.

CommonBond offers private student loans for undergraduate, graduate, MBA, medical school, and dental school. Their student loans allow you to borrow up to 100% of your school’s cost of attendance.

While their rates depend on what type of loan you get, they offer variable and fixed interest rates for 5, 10, and 15 year terms. They’ll never penalize you for prepaying and offer some really flexible repayment options if you have a hardship. Learn more about CommonBond private student loans:

  • Fixed rates on undergraduate loans start at 5.45%
  • Variable rates for undergraduate loans start at 3.74%
  • Forbearance and deferment options
  • 5, 10, and 15 year terms available
  • Cosigner release available after the first 48 consecutive monthly payments
  • No prepayment fees

Citizens Bank: Rewarding Current CustomersCitizens Bank Logo

Citizens Bank is known for its competitive student loan refinancing, but they also offer private student loans. And if you are a current customer (or your cosigner is), you are eligible for a 0.25% rate reduction. You can borrow from $1,000 up to $295,000 depending upon your degree and amount of federal aid. Citizens Bank also offers flexible repayment options, including 5, 10, and 15 year repayments. Learn more about private student loans through Citizens Bank:

  • Fixed rates starting at 4.90% APR
  • Variable rates starting at 4.40% APR
  • Current Citizens Bank customers are eligible for a 0.25% interest rate reduction
  • Earn .25% interest rate reduction for automatic payments
  • Cosigner release option after 36 consecutive on-time payments
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees

Other Top Private Student Loan Lenders

Advantage Education Loan: Offering Simple TermsAdvantage Education Loan Logo

Advantage Education Loan stands out for one reason – the simplicity of their loans. They offer very low interest rates for fixed loans only and all loans have a 10-year repayment term. There are no fees, they offer a discount for autopay, and they even have a postponed repayment program.

Advantage Education Loan also offers several repayment options with a minimum monthly payment of just $50. Here’s a little more info about Advantage Education Loan:

  • Fixed rates starting at 3.50% APR with autopay
  • Minimum loan amount is $1,000
  • Earn .25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments
  • No origination or prepayment penalties
  • Loans are funded and serviced by a nonprofit agency
  • Death and disability benefits

College Ave: Straight-A ExperienceCollege Ave Logo

College Ave is filled with former students and parents who work to provide a simple, clear, and personal experience. They offer competitive interest rates on loans for undergraduates, graduates, and parents. In fact, variable rates start at just 3.99% APR with autopay and fixed rates start at 4.73% APR with autopay.

With multiple repayment and term options, College Ave has a plan that is right for every borrower. They even offer a monthly $1,000 scholarship that anyone can enter. Here’s some more info:

  • Deferred payments, interest-only, or full payment options offered
  • Flat $25 payments in-school will reduce your overall accrued interest
  • 5, 8, 10, and 15 year terms
  • Earn .25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments
  • Cosigner release available after 24 consecutive months of on-time payments
  • International students are eligible with a cosigner

Sallie Mae: Loans for EveryoneSallie Mae Logo

Sallie Mae is probably the most well-known lender on this list. Once a government-sponsored enterprise, they became their own private company in 2004.

Sallie Mae offers private student loans for everyone. Whether you are looking for help with undergraduate studies, graduate programs, or parent student loans, Sallie Mae offers it all. You can also get postgraduate loans including medical school, law school, or an MBA.

Can’t do it on your own? No worries – they offer cosigner programs, too.

  • Fixed rates start at 5.49% APR for undergraduate loan
  • Variable rates start at 4.25% APR for undergraduate loan
  • Multiple repayment options
  • Earn .25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments
  • No origination or prepayment fees
  • Free access to FICO score

LendKey: Community LendingLendKey Logo

LendKey is most widely recognized as a top lender for student loan refinancing, but they also offer private student loans.

One of our favorite things about LendKey is that they use community banks and credit unions to fund their loans. LendKey’s platform also allows them to digitally offer you the loan you need. This digital platform saves them money, which they pass onto you. You can search for loans, customize your needs, and apply for funding all through one easy and convenient platform.

Here are some more details on LendKey private student loans:

  • Fixed rates start at 5.36% APR with autopay
  • Variable rates start at 4.50% APR with autopay
  • Community banks and credit unions
  • Get funds while you’re in school now
  • Finance many types of degrees
  • Ability to add a cosigner to the loan
  • Student loan refinancing options available

Discover Student Loans: Rewarding Good GradesDiscover Logo

Discover Student Loans offers a variety of loan programs for undergraduate, graduate, MBA, health profession, and law students. With U.S.-based loan specialists and zero fees, you can rest easy and concentrate on your studies. And that extra studying could get you a 1% cash reward on each new student loan if you have a 3.0 GPA or better.

Discover Student Loans also gives 12 scholarship awards each year for $5,000 each. The minimum amount is $1,000 for each loan. Here’s a bit more info on Discover Student Loans:

  • Fixed rates start at 5.99% APR with autopay
  • Variable rates start at 4.24% APR with autopay
  • Deferred payments, interest-only, or full payments offered
  • Pay $25/month while in school to reduce accrued interest
  • Earn .25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments
  • No cosigner release available
  • No origination or prepayment fees

 SoFi: Customer-Service DrivenSoFi Logo horizontal

SoFi is best known for its student loan refinancing products. But did you know they do private student loans, too?

Started in 2011 by Stanford University graduates, SoFi doesn’t rely solely on your credit score to determine your interest rate. They also consider the merit of your account, employment history, and many other factors.

Here’s some more info on SoFi:

  • Fixed rates start at 5.73% APR with autopay
  • Variable rates start at 4.73% APR with autopay
  • No origination, no late fees, and no insufficient fund fees
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Discounts for existing SoFi members
  • Get .25% discount with autopay
  • Offers private student loans for parents
  • Can cover 100% of school-certified costs

Read our full SoFi review for more info.

Laurel Road: Flexible Repayment TermsLaurel Road Logo

Laurel Road is a private lender that specializes in student loan refinancing, but they also offer in-school loans for some graduate programs at eligible schools. They became part of Key Bank in 2019, which may help expand their offerings in the future.

Like many federal loans, Laurel Road offers a 6-month grace period at the end of your in-school period and offers lots of payment options. They have repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years.

Here are a few more details about Laurel Road private student loans:

  • Fixed rates start at 4.50% APR with autopay
  • Variable rates start at 4.11% with autopay
  • Only eligible graduate degree programs at some schools are available
  • Full deferment, flat $50 payments in-school, interest-only, or full payment plans available
  • Earn .25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments
  • No origination or prepayment fees
  • Minimum loan of $5,000

iHelp: A Customer-Driven ChoiceiHelp Logo

iHelp is a private lender known for its customer service. Each loan is assigned a dedicated account manager available by email or phone to help you.

This company offers private loan options for undergraduate and graduate programs through a network of small community banks. The minimum loan amount is $1,000 ($3,000 for Georgia residents) each. They offer competitive rates with a unique hybrid fixed loan program.

  • Variable rates starting at 4.94% APR
  • Hybrid fixed rate starting at 5.52% APR
  • Deferment and forbearance options available
  • Earn .25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments
  • Cosigner release after 24 consecutive months of on-time payments
  • No origination or prepayment fees
  • Flexible repayment plans including income sensitive

EDvestinU: Loans Designed for YouEDvestinU Logo

EDvestinU is a non-profit whose proceeds are reinvested in borrower incentives that reduce the cost of borrowing. They offer private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, they have a quarterly scholarship giveaway for $1,500 and are well-known for loan counseling.

At EDvestinU, the minimum loan amount is $1,000 per year with an aggregate limit of $200,000. International students are eligible with a U.S citizen or permanent resident cosigner. EDvestinU offers the highest autopay interest rate reduction we’ve ever seen.

  • Fixed rates start at 4.50% APR with autopay
  • Variable interest rates start at 4.48% APR with autopay
  • Earn a giant 0.50% interest rate reduction with automatic payments
  • Offers economic hardship deferment
  • Cosigner release after 24 consecutive months of on-time payments
  • No origination or prepayment fees

INvestED – Rewarding GraduationINvestED Logo

INvestED is an Indiana-based company that works to help students succeed financially. They host financial literacy events and have resources to help borrowers maximize free financial aid options first. 

At INvestED, you’ll find variable and fixed rates for 5, 10, or 15 year terms plus a really cool graduation rewards program. However, you must be either a resident of Indiana or attend an Indiana school to qualify. If you are, they definitely offer some unique programs.

  • Must be Indiana resident or attend Indiana school to qualify
  • Fixed rates start at 5.57% APR
  • Variable rates from 3.87% APR
  • Full deferment, interest only, and immediate repayment options
  • Earn .25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments
  • Earn a 2.00% principal reduction reward after graduation

Best Private Student Loans: Final Thoughts

Private student loans can help bridge the gap between federal student loans and your college tuition and living costs. While private student loans don’t have access to federal income-driven repayment plans or loan forgiveness, they can still be a good option if you’ve maxed out other financial aid opportunities.

Of course, you should always be sure you understand all of the terms and conditions before you take the leap. If you are using a cosigner, be sure you find someone you trust who has great to excellent credit. Remember, cosigners are financially responsible for your loan repayment if you can’t pay.

To learn more about any of the companies listed above, or to get free quotes, just follow the links!

Do you have private student loans with any of these companies? Tell us about it in the comments!

*SoFi disclaimers

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