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Sound money management is an important part of a solid financial strategy. Youâll want to have some of your money set for retirement in a traditional or Roth IRA. Still, other money might be saved for your kidsâ college, a down payment on a house or other longer-term goals. And then you might have an emergency fund as well as a checking account that you use to pay your monthly bills and expenses. Each of these buckets of money can be in a different kind of account. In this article, weâll look at some of the best checking accounts.
What makes a good checking account
Before we look at some of the best checking accounts, itâs a good idea to talk about what makes for a good checking account. A checking account is an account that you would typically use to pay your ongoing monthly expenses. It is more and more rare to actually write paper checks, and instead, you would typically use a debit card or cashless payment account linked to your checking account.Â
With a checking account, some features to look for include no monthly or maintenance fees, a low minimum amount to open an account, the rate at which they pay interest, and any account opening bonus they might offer. The interest rate that checking and savings accounts pay is tied to the federal funds rate and usually varies over time. As of 2020, the interest rates are quite low, and many checking and savings accounts do not pay any interest at all. Also keep in mind that even if your account pays you 1% interest, youâre still losing money to inflation. So you wouldnât want to keep any long-term investment money in a checking or savings account.
With all that being said, letâs take a look at some of the top checking accounts available.
Discover Cashback Debit
Discoverâs checking account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month, which is one of the few debit cards that offer a reward on ongoing purchases. The Discover Cashback Debit account also comes with no monthly maintenance or other fees, no fees to withdraw at over 60,000 ATMs worldwide and no fees for insufficient funds.
CapitalOne 360 Checking
The CapitalOne 360 Checking account has no account minimums or fees. It currently offers a 0.10% APY on balances, though you can also open a no-fee CapitalOne 360 Performance Savings account which offers 0.65% APY as of the time of this writing. CapitalOne also has thousands of branch offices nationwide, so you can do your banking online or in-person. The CapitalOne 360 Checking account offers three different options if you happen to overdraft your account – Auto-Decline, Next Day Grace and Free Savings Transfer.
Fidelity Cash Management Account
Fidelityâs Cash Management Account also offers no account fees or minimum balances. It also reimburses ATM fees nationwide, though only offers 0.01% APY on account balances. Fidelity makes it easy to transfer money between your checking account, savings accounts and any retirement accounts you have with Fidelity. Plus, the Fidelity Rewards Visa offers 2% cash back on all purchases, which you can redeem into your Fidelity Cash Management Account or any other Fidelity account.
Wealthfront Cash Account
Wealthfrontâs Cash Account offers a high-interest checking account (0.35% APY as of this writing) with no fees. And Wealthfrontâs convenient account dashboard lets you easily move money between your checking account and any investment or retirement accounts that you have with them. They also offer a service where you can get access to your paycheck up to two days early if you direct deposit into your Wealthfront Cash Account
HSBC Premier Checking
HSBCâs Premier Checking account also offers no fee on ATMs nationwide or for everyday banking transactions, but does charge a monthly maintenance fee if you donât have at least $75,000 in combined accounts or direct deposits of at least $5,000 monthly. They are currently offering a promotion where you can earn 3% as a welcome bonus, up to $600. Youâll get 3% on qualifying direct deposits, up to $100 per month, for the first six months of having your account.
Chase Total Checking
Chase Total Checking is currently offering a welcome bonus of $200 when you open a new account and have a direct deposit made to your account in the first 90 days. Chase Total Checking is currently paying an interest rate of only 0.01% APY. Also, there is a $12 monthly maintenance fee which can be avoided if you either:
- Have direct deposits totaling $500 or more
- Have a balance at the beginning of each day of $1,500 or more
- Have an average beginning day balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of all of your Chase accounts
The post Best Checking Accounts 2020 appeared first on MintLife Blog.
The post The Ultimate Guide to Using a Cash Budget appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
There are many types of budgets you can try.Â A quick Google search will show you lots of options – including the cash envelope budget.Â If you say it will not work for you, it means you did not try doing it the right way.
Whether you are getting out of debt or not, you can probably use some help in making sure you control your spending. Contrary to what many people say, the best way to do this is to use cash. Â If you are trying to get out of debt, this is the next step you need to follow!Â The cash envelope system is an important step to your debt paydown plan.
Ask many financial experts such as Dave Ramsey or Clark Howard and they will agree that using cash is an important factor in controlling your spending. And it is not a system only for people trying to get out of debt, but everyone as it really makes you think more about your spending.
HOW TO USE THE CASH BUDGET
WHY A CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM?
Cash is King!!Â I say this all of the time because I genuinely believe this. Â When I bring up using cash, the first rebuttal I get is “If I have cash, I spend it far too easily.”Â Sorry, I don’t buy it.Â The main reason that people fail on a cash budget is a lack of tracking what they spend and assigning it a task.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The truth is that when you use cash, you spend more wisely. ” quote=”The truth is that when you use cash, you spend more wisely. “]
When you have only $200 for groceries, and you also know that it must last for two weeks. Â It forces you to think twice before you buy that extra item. Â A cash budget never lets you overspend because once the money is gone – it’s gone.
CASH ENVELOPE CATEGORIES
Getting started using the envelope system for budgeting is pretty simple. Â To begin, look at your budget. Â The following are cash envelope categories you should consider using:
- Dining Out
- Hair Cuts/ Beauty
- Doctor Visits
- Random Spending (which is your spend as you want – only if you can afford it)
- Doctor/Dentist Visits
You will notice that I didn’t include gasoline on my list.Â The reason I didn’t is that most people won’t overspend at the pump.Â Most of us just fill up our tanks and go about our merry way.Â You also don’t drive around and burn fuel or decide to fuel up because your neighbor did.Â It is on your budgetÂ but is not one you where you will overspend. Not only that, it is usuallyÂ much more convenient to pay at the pump.
PRINTABLE DIY CASH ENVELOPE TEMPLATE
When it comes to using the cash envelope system, you can purchase one such as that sold by Dave Ramsey or you can just use the envelopes in your desk drawer. Â I’ve even got a cash envelope template you can use as well (purchase HERE for $2.99).
HOW MUCH CASH DO I NEED?
Once you have your categories, you have to determine how much cash you need for each group. Â You will figure the amount based on your pay period.
For example, if payday is every two weeks, take the total monthly grocery budgeted amount and divide it by 2.Â You will then know how much money you will need for each of the two pay periods for that month.Â It is important you have a budget that works (including using budget printables as needed).
Next, review, each category you will use cash for and figure up the amount you will need. Â Once you have done that, you will also want to figure out how many of each denomination of bill you will need. Â List the total amount, by denomination, on a piece of paper. Â Take that, along with a check from your account for the amount, to the bank. Â You will make a withdrawal and then split up the cash into each envelope.
HOW TO USE THE DAVE RAMSEY ENVELOPE SYSTEM
Sometimes, it is easier to understand something if you can see it in action.Â Follow this simple cash budget example to see how it works.
START WITH YOUR REGULAR BUDGET
Let’s say you bring home $2,500 per month. You have completed your written budget and have items such as your mortgage, utilities, food, dining out, debts and other expenses.Â Most of your expensesÂ are paid with a check or electronic transfer. Those are not the categories to consider for your cash budget.Â Instead, look at those items that you don’t pay for all at once, but rather over time.
These are the items that will work best if you use cash.Â In this case, you will include groceries, clothing, random spending, doctor visits and dining out.Â (We don’t include fuel because there is never a chance you will overspend on fuel).
In this example, we will only use cash for these items:
Groceries – $500
Clothing – $100
Random Spending – $80
Doctor – $50
Dining Out – $100
DETERMINE HOW MUCH CASH YOU NEED PER PAYCHECK
As you can see, the budget above is based on your monthly income.Â Since you are paid every two weeks, that means your take-home pay is $1,250 twice a month.Â You only need enough money to cover half of each of these categories.Â Your spending for each will look like this for each pay period:
MONTHLY BUDGET DIVIDED FOR BI-WEEKLY PAY
Groceries – $250
Clothing – $50
Random Spending – $40
Doctor – $25
Dining Out – $50
Total cash needed: Â $415 per pay period
Now that you see what you have budgeted to spend on each category each pay period, you need to determine how many bills of each denomination you will need to get from the bank.
KNOWING HOW MUCH CASH YOU NEED FOR A CASH SYSTEM
Using the same cash budget example above, here is how you will do that:
Groceries – $250 —- 3 $50 bills, 5 $20 bills
Clothing – $50 — 2 $20 bills, 1 $10 bill
Random spending – $40 —- 2 $20 bills
Doctor – $25 —- 1 $20 bill, 1 $5 bill
Dining Out – $50 —- 2 $20 bills, 1 $10 bill
You need to get this cash from the bank.Â You can’t use the ATM as it will spit out only $20s and $10s and will not give you the correct number of bills.Â Make a note to hand to the teller that shows how to break down the cash:
3 $50 bills
12 $20 bills
2 $10 bills
1 $5 bill
Write a check for $415, payable to “CASH” and take it, along with your slip of paper to your bank.Â The teller will cash the check and give you the bills you need.
FILL YOUR CASH ENVELOPES
When you get home with your cash, it is time to add it to each envelope.Â Find the one for each category listed above.Â Pull the cash from the bank envelope and split it into each envelope, per the list above.Â Add the amount of the deposit to the front of the envelope, adding to any amounts that may be left from the prior pay period.
USING THE CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM
Once you have your cash and your envelopes, it is time to put them to work.Â The only – and I mean only – way that this will work is if you track every. Single. Transaction.Â I am not joking.Â Â Doing this can help you stay on track, and you also have to account for everything you spend.
For example, shop as usual at the grocery store.Â If your total is $20.17, you will pay with the cash from your groceries envelope.Â Place any cash you get back into the envelope and then deduct your purchase from the balance.Â So, if you had $100 and spent $20.17, the new total cash you have left will be $79.83.
The printable cash envelope template above includes lines on the envelope, so you have a place to track your balance.Â If you use your own, add it to the outside or keep a slip of paper inside.
Make sure you track every purchase. You can always see how much money you have left and where it was spent.Â ItÂ helps you monitor your spending at a glance.Â Once the cash is goneÂ – you are done spendingÂ money.
USING THE VIRTUAL CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM
I also get that sometimes, cash is just something you can’t do. You need (or just really prefer) using your debit or credit card instead. Is there a way you can apply this method when you spend using plastic?
Rather than get paper money to put into your envelopes, you can use either a virtual envelope or paper tracking to monitor your spending.
Virtual envelope systems, such as ProActive, help you monitor and control your spending but allow you the convenience of using your credit or debit card.Â Rather than paying with cash, you swipe but know how much you have left to spend on each category in your budget.
If you would rather opt for something that is free, you can print out cashless envelopes instead.Â They work in the same fashion as cash envelopes.Â You still write down the amount you have to spend on each form and as you shop, you keep track.Â When you are out of “money” according to your envelope tally, you are done shopping.
You can read even more and get started with different ways to use the envelope method even if you don’t use cash.
HOW TO USE A CASH METHOD WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE
So, what if you don’t shop in the store, but rather, make purchases online, how would that work with a cash budget?Â Can you even do that?Â Yes, you can.Â You just have to handle it a little differently.
The first option is to leave some of the money you normally get in cash, in your account.Â For example, if you spend $100 every paycheck through online purchases, get $100 less in cash.Â You can still account for it by using cashless envelopes instead.Â That way, you still monitor your spending and don’t blow your budget.
The other option is to still get all of the cash you normally need.Â Then, if you buy something online, head to the bank and re-deposit that back into your account.Â You still get the full benefit of using cash and seeing the money come out of your envelopes.
You still can use cash when you shop online, you just have to make some adjustments.
WHY THE CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM WORKS
The reason why the cash envelope system works is pretty simple. Â Accountability.
When you have to make yourself accountable for your spending, you are taking control. Â It also will help you spend less. Â If you only have $100 to spend on dining out over the next two weeks, you think twice about ordering take out three days in a row.Â When the money is gone – you are done spending!!!
It isn’t entirely about cash.Â It is learning self-control.Â That is the one thing everyone will gain in going through this process.Â It enforces this way of thinking. Â You will quickly learn to love using cash, and you will feel more in control of your finances.
Cash also has more emotion attached to it. You don’t think about the consequences of a purchase when you swipe a card. Â However, handing over that cold, hard cash sometimes hurts. Â You do think about each purchase a bit more.
We’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t know how to shop without my envelopes!Â Â It is routine, and it helps us always know, in a matter of minutes, how much money we have available for the things we need.
The post The Ultimate Guide to Using a Cash Budget appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
3 Reasons To Use Cash (and 3 Reasons To Choose Credit)
Credit and debit cards have become so ubiquitous, you’d be forgiven for thinking physical cash is just a couple years away from being declared obsolete and worthless by the government.
Well, as it turns out, the death of dead presidents is greatly exaggerated, asÂ over $1.25 trillionÂ still circulates around the United States alone.
Way too many people use cash for it to ever go away completely, regardless of how much plastic gets wiped every day.
So why in the world would anydiv still pay with Georges and Bens? Here are a few good reasons why:
Less Chance of Identity Theft
Few things are scarier than hearing that the store you regularly swipe your card at just had a security breach, and that some anonymous criminal may have your identity at their disposal.
Paying cash eliminates that issue — chunks of metal and pieces of paper stacked in a register tells fraudsters absolutely nothing, while the information sent to vulnerable computers via your bank card can reveal everything.
Easier to Watch and Control Your Spending
Actually seeing the cash you owe, as opposed to simply staring at a generic card with no monetary value of its own, can remind you to spend less overall, since all of a sudden the money is real, and real valuable at that.
Financial guru Ramit Sethi, for example, lost his credit card, and spent nothing but cash until a replacement came. He reportedÂ spending 18% lessÂ when forced to watch his green wad dwindle in real-time.
Some Places Still Don’t Take Plastic (or Require a Minimum Purchase Amount)
Amazingly, overÂ half of all small businessesÂ won’t take cards, likely because they can’t afford the fees.
It’s always good to keep at least some cash on you in case you need to make a purchase from one of these places.
Even if they accept cards, some of these businesses might only do so if you spend X amount, in order to override the fee.
If you entered the store to spend more than the minimum amount, then swipe away. But if you only want a loaf of bread, and they want you to spend $10 before they’ll accept your card, just pay for your bread with bread.
That all being said though, there are several cases where plastic owns cash. Here are a few of those:
Increasing amounts of items can now only be purchased online and with a credit card, or at the very least are extremely difficult to cover with cash.
Plane tickets, while still technically available at a travel agent’s physical office, are usually much, much cheaper online, where you can’t obviously use cash. The same thing goes for e-books, MP3s, subscriptions to streaming sites, and the like.
The more you shop online, the more reliant you will become on cards in your everyday life.
ATM Fees Can Pile Up
Unless your bank’s ATM is everywhere, then you may often find yourself forced to withdraw your cash from the competition’s ATMs, which will cost you anywhere from $2-4 per pop.
This adds up to a ridiculously high amount, as it’s estimated that the use of cash costs Americans overÂ $200 billion per year.
While not all of that amount is ATM-related, a large chunk of it is, and could easily be saved with the use of cards.
Smart Card Use Can Help You Build Your Credit Score
Finally, while cash is great, it does absolutely nothing to improve how companies and lenders look at you. Responsible credit card use, on the other hand, not only helps you purchase what you want and need, but helps build up your credit score.
There’s a good chance that not having using a card could negatively affect your credit score orÂ nullify it altogether, since you’re not giving the credit agencies any information about your financial habits.
So get a card or two, use it when necessary, use cash every other time, and you should achieve a pleasant balance between the two that can only bode well for your fortune going forward.
Whether you use cash or plastic, Mint.com can help you budget every penny of your finances.Â Click hereÂ to find out how!
The post 3 Reasons to Use Cash and 3 Reasons to Choose Credit appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Heading off to college is exciting. Really exciting. You finally have freedom! You’re out on your own for the very first time, managing your studies, managing your social life and… managing your finances.
Despite being a big part of your newfound independence, personal finance is a subject you probably won’t find on your course schedule. If you didn’t take a personal finance class in high school and never had money lessons from your parents, you may not know how to manage a checking account as a college student.
“College students have very different needs for their checking account than their parents or other adults,” says Tommy Martin, CEO of Clear Path Financial Planning and a finance blogger at TommyMartin.com. If you live in a different city during the school year than you do during winter and summer breaks, for example, you may be after a bank for which location doesn’t matter.
Ok, so how do I manage my checking account in college, you ask? First, don’t get overwhelmed. Learning how to manage money while in college and getting a handle on checking account basics is simpler than you might think (oh, and the skills will serve you for years to come). Second, you can kick off your checking account education with these tips for managing a checking account in college:
1. Compare checking accounts before signing up
While your college life may center around your school campus, you should consider venturing off-campus to pick the right checking account for your lifestyle.
“Students typically sign up with a bank that’s on campus or close to campus,” says Sahil Vakil, a financial planner and president of MYRA Wealth in New Jersey. However, the nearest bank might not be the one that best fits your needs, he adds.
Instead of picking a bank based solely on proximity, consider all of your options, including banks with off-campus locations and online-only banks.
Martin agrees, saying that learning how to manage money while in college means considering all of your banking options rather than “automatically enrolling or choosing the official school bank just because it has the school logo on it.” There are other ways to show your school pride, after all.
2. Learn about checking account fees and rewards
Vakil and Martin both say a tip for managing a checking account in college is to consider an account’s fees before signing up. Costly fees can eat into your savings and spending money, which can be a blow for students who are not working full-time. When you are choosing a checking account in college, consider fees for:
- Monthly maintenance (essentially keeping your account open)
- Minimum balance (not maintaining one)
- ATM usage
- New checks
- Wire transfers
- Online bill pay
- Replacement debit cards
Martin says a checking account with no minimum balance requirement or minimum number of transactions could be a good fit for students. “It allows them to focus on their education” instead of worrying about incurring penalties, he says. “Even a $5 fee on a checking account with $60 in it can be devastating.”
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Costly fees can eat into your savings and spending money, which can be a blow for students who are not working full-time.
Martin also suggests finding an account that has a large network of no-fee ATMs located across the country to better manage your checking account as a college student. “Especially if you’re going to a school in a different state, the local bank from home might wind up costing you a lot in terms of ATM fees,” he says. If your parents plan to wire you money, find an account that doesn’t charge incoming wire fees, Martin adds.
While fees should be a focus when you are learning how to manage money while in college, don’t forget about incentives. You may be able to find a checking account that actually helps you grow your balance by paying interest or offering a cash back rewards program.
“If you have to pay for books or supplies, at least you can get some cash back and use it for a free dinner,” Martin says. Discover Cashback Debit, for example, offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.1
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3. Track your checking account balance
Luckily, you don’t need to take Banking 101 to figure out your funds, and tech makes tracking your balance and account activity easier than ever. Most banks let you log in to your account online (don’t get distracted in class!), and with a bank’s mobile app you can transfer money to friends, pay bills, deposit checks and check your balanceâall while you’re on the go.
Knowing your balance at all times is a tip for managing a checking account in college because it can help you avoid overdrafts and insufficient funds fees. It can also help you forecast your income and expenses to ensure you’ll have enough money to cover future costs. Surpriseâthat’s budgeting!
There’s no one-size-fits-all budgeting program or system, though. You can go old-school and track your budget on a printed-out budget sheet, or you can go tech-savvy with a budgeting and spending app. “What’s best for you is the one you’re actually going to use,” Martin says.
If you learn how to manage money while in college and make a practice of maintaining your budget, the habit will follow you after graduation.
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âCollege students have very different needs for their checking account than their parents or other adults.â
4. Secure your account
One of Vakil’s tips for managing a checking account in college is to make sure your account stays secure. Create a unique account name and password that you use only for your checking account, and never share your credentials.
Vakil says you can also enable two-factor authentication if your bank offers it and you’re looking for another way to improve the management of your checking account as a college student. “This additional layer of protection safeguards your sensitive financial data and strengthens the security of your account by requiring two methods of verifying your identity.”
For example, if you log in to your account from a new device, you may be sent a text message with a code that you’ll need to enter to access your account.
5. Keep an eye out for debit card holds
No matter where you bank, a merchant may place a hold on funds in your checking account when you use your debit card. Generally, a hold is placed for travel-related purchasesâsuch as at rental car companies, hotels and gas stationsâand used by merchants to protect against fraud and errors.
“Holds on a debit card can make it tricky for you to manage your finances,” Vakil says. For example, “when you rent a car, the car rental company might put a $500 hold on your account. If the balance in your account was $550, now you can only use another $50.”
Being aware of holds can be particularly important if you are managing a checking account as a college student and tend to have a low account balance.
If a merchant will be placing a hold, it will generally post a sign to notify customers. The hold will typically be removed after the funds are transferred to the merchant from your financial institution, typically within three to four days.
Knowing when a hold will be placed, the amount of the hold and how much money you have in your checking account can help you manage your checking account as a college student by avoiding overdrafts and missed bill payments due to insufficient funds.
6. Don’t let one mistake throw you off track
If you can learn how to manage a checking account as a college student, and more generally, how to manage money while in college, you can lay the groundwork for a solid financial future. Checking account mistakes may occasionally happen (oops, I didn’t budget enough for that spring break trip), but don’t let them discourage you to the point of apathy. Instead, try to continually expand your knowledge and practice healthy financial habits.
1Â ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as VenmoÂ® and PayPal, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Venmo and PayPal are registered trademarks of PayPal, Inc.
The post 6 Tips for Successfully Managing a Checking Account in College appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.