Is Travel Insurance Worth the Cost?

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Every time you book a costly trip you’re faced with this question: Is travel insurance worth it? We help you answer this question. We also show you how you can get travel insurance for free.

Travel Insurance

If you’ve booked a vacation for your family lately or sent your kid off on a school-sponsored field trip, you’ve probably considered trip cancellation insurance. These offers promise to reimburse you for the vacation or field trip if you need to cancel.

So, are these plans worth the cost? Well, the answer to that really depends on your own personal risk calculation.

What does it cover?

Trip cancellation insurance comes in several flavors.  One of the best merchants to purchase travel insurance is Allianz.

Basic coverage reimburses you if you can’t make your trip because of certain reasons. The reasons may include getting sick, a hurricane raking the island you were going to visit, or terrorists attacking your hotel. The insurance only covers non-refundable expenses. So, for example, if the operator cancels your scheduled tour and refunds your fee, the insurance does not pay.

Basic coverage also (generally) provides benefits if your trip is delayed or interrupted. It often pays for lost or delayed baggage, some medical benefits if you’re injured during your vacation, and emergency evacuation if something horrible happens during your stay.

You can add to the basics if you need more coverage. For example, for an extra fee, you can add “cancel-for-any-reason” coverage. This would reimburse you for at least part of the non-refundable portion of your trip if you cancel for any reason not covered by the usual terms.

Other common upgrades are rental car insurance and accidental death insurance. You can add these to plans that don’t include them, or upgrade to more coverage.

Needless to say, read the terms carefully before you buy so you fully understand what is covered.

Related: More Tips for Saving Money on Vacation Travel

What does it cost?

We did a comparison of four leading providers. The quote covered a family of four on a $4,000, week-long, domestic vacation. The premiums ranged from $84 for a base policy from Travel Insured to $162 for a policy from HTH Worldwide. Each company had more comprehensive options available. But we just wanted to compare the basic offerings.

Those two plans differed mostly in the amount of coverage. For example, the HTH plan included $75,000 in health coverage, while the Travel Insured plan offered $100,000. The HTH plan offered $500,000 in emergency medical evacuation coverage, while the Travel Insured plan provided $1,000,000 coverage for that service.

In addition to the two firms mentioned above, popular trip cancellation insurance firms include American Express, Travelguard, and Access America. is a site that allows users to compare rates from about 20 providers.

Free Travel Insurance

Many trip providers, such as school field trip organizers, offer their own policies. Some credit cards offer some coverage when you book your trip — or parts of it — using your credit card.

For example, most American Express cards include between $100,000 and $250,000 in travel accident insurance for you and your travel companions. (Note that they don’t offer free trip cancellation or delay coverage, though you can add this for $9.95.)

You’ll also get cancellation/delay coverage, baggage insurance, and even rental car coverage with the Citi® Double Cash Card, in addition to a slew of other benefits. I personally carry this card, and its perks are exceptional.

You’ll also receive travel coverage with the Chase Sapphire (and Sapphire Preferred) cards, up to $5,000 in prepaid expenses. In addition to that, these Chase cards also include baggage delay coverage of up to $100/day for 5 days,. It kicks in if your bags are delayed by at least six hours, and you need to pay for toiletries and clothing.

These are just a few of the cards that offer some form of travel insurance. Be sure to check if your card provides this coverage before spending money on a separate policy. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Resource: Here is our list of some of the best airline rewards credit cards

But do you need it?

All these perks sound good, but you should evaluate this kind of insurance the same way you would evaluate any kind of insurance. Rather than thinking, “Wow, I’d love to get reimbursed for our vacation if my kid gets the flu the night before, ” think, “Hmmm, what are the odds my kid is going to get the flu the night before our vacation?”

Use the $4,000 family vacation above as an example.

Let’s say you’re considering a plan that costs $200. It will reimburse you for the full $4,000 if someone in the family gets sick and you have to cancel. Forget about the rest of the coverage — emergency medical evacuation, health insurance, death benefits, etc. — for the moment. Just focus on the most likely reason you might get this insurance: to refund your purchase price.

If you buy this policy, you are essentially gambling $200 against a potential payout of $4,000. What are the odds that you will “win” this gamble? You’ll win if one of you gets sick or a big storm hits the vacation site or whatever. So, what are the odds of that?

One way to calculate those odds for your family is to look at history. How many vacations have you had to cancel in the past few years? If you have taken ten vacations over the past five years and canceled one of them because of a covered reason, you could assume that the odds of you having to cancel your current $4,000 vacation are approximately one in ten. You can then compare the cost of the insurance with the odds.

Obviously, many factors play into your personal risk calculation. Maybe you are traveling with accident-prone children. Maybe you know the tourist destination you are headed to frequently has hurricanes (hmm, maybe you want to rethink this vacation!). The point is, whatever the circumstances, make a rough guess of your odds of using the insurance before you plunk down the money.

Resource: The Best Travel Websites

Insurance companies do this with highly trained actuaries using sophisticated algorithms and databases full of historical information. However, you can make an educated guess without any of that.  That way, whether you get the insurance or not, you will rest easy knowing that you made an informed decision.

How to Assume a Car Lease (And Pocket Some Cash)

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Taking over a car lease can be a great way to get your next car. While there are many advantages, however, there are some things to watch for. We’ll cover how to take over a lease, some resources to help you out, and the pros and cons of taking over a car lease.

Take over a car lease

You may be weighing the pros and cons of buying or leasing a car. The good news is that you now have a new resource if you’re leaning toward leasing. Many people are actually finding their ideal vehicles by taking over someone else’s existing lease.

This option can be extremely flexible and affordable under certain circumstances. There are several new websites that make the process of taking over a lease easier than ever. We look at those sites, along with the pros and cons of assuming a lease.

How Do You Take Over a Car Lease?

The process of taking over a lease is relatively simple. About 30 percent of the new cars that you see on the road are leased. It’s not surprising that sometimes the drivers of those cars need to make lifestyle changes.

There are many people who have to give up a lease early for a variety of reasons. Some are relocating, while others can no longer afford to make payments. Some leasees just want a different type of vehicle.

Before taking over a lease, you should consider several factors:

  • The condition of the car;
  • The miles on the car compared to the miles allowed under the lease;
  • The monthly lease payments;
  • The remaining term of the lease;
  • Fees associated with turning in the car at the end of the lease;
  • Incentives offered by the current leasee

The actual process to take over a lease is straight forward. Once you’ve identified the car (more about that below), the first step is a credit check. The finance company behind the lease must approve the transfer. They will do this only if the new leasee has acceptable credit. If you don’t know your credit score, there are several ways to get it for free.

The two parties must also agree on terms. The terms may include:

  • Transfer details
  • Vehicle inspection
  • Cash incentives, if any

Fortunately, there are websites that can assist with this process.

Where to Find Leased Cars

Two websites facilitate lease swaps–LeaseCompare and SwapALease. As an example, here’s a 2014 Mercedes C250 we found on LeaseCompare:

Note that it lists the monthly payment, remaining lease term, and a $1,000 cash incentive. The listing also shows the car’s mileage and total allowed miles.

LeaseCompare shows a wealth of additional information. SwapALease offers similar details.

The Pros of Taking Over a Lease

What would make a person want to assume another person’s car lease? There are actually a variety of reasons that make this an attractive option.

First, you can get a short lease term that typically isn’t available through traditional leasing companies. A typical lease is at least two years, and a 39-month lease is common. By assuming a lease, however, you can snag a lease for a year or even less. This can work out nicely if you’re only going to be in an area temporarily. Alternatively, you may want to try out many vehicles before eventually settling on one that you want to purchase in a few years.

Second, you’re likely to get a great deal when you take over a lease. You won’t have to make a down payment. The car has also likely depreciated significantly. And the seller is often highly motivated to get out of the lease. These factors often compel a lessee to offer cash incentives. In the above example, the seller is offering a $1,000 cash incentive. Some lessees will even cover any transfer costs that are involved with the process.

Finally, taking over lease may give you a better variety of vehicles over buying used. Most used cars are several years old. They are either coming off of a longer lease or sold after three to five years of being on the road. Assuming a lease opens the door to newer cars.

The Cons of Taking Over a Lease

There are, however, a few potential downsides to taking over a lease.

First, you  will be responsible for everything the car has been through when you turn the keys back over the original leasing company. You could be on the hook for any body damage or paint damage that occurred before you got the car. You may not always be able to detect damage that has been sustained and covered up. Requesting maintenance records and paying for a vehicle history report on your own could help to detect these problems. A vehicle inspection is also critical.

Second, you need to evaluate the car’s mileage. Most leases come with mileage limitations somewhere between 12,000 miles and 15,000 miles per year. Drivers are charged about 15 cents for every mile over the limit. This fee is levied when the vehicle is returned to the leasing company.

It’s important, therefore, to evaluate the actual miles and mileage allowance. If the miles are close to the limit, the terms of the deal should reflect this. A higher cash incentive, for example, might offset the likely charge at the end of the lease. The key is to be aware of this issue and evaluate it before making a deal.

Enjoy a New Lease on the Life of Being a Lessee

Taking over someone else’s lease won’t work for every situation. However, it’s worth at least looking into the options that are available if you’ve already decided that you prefer leasing over buying. The rise in popularity of companies that assist with lease transfers means that you can have peace of mind over the fact that your transaction is being handled properly.


How to Buy Long Term Care Insurance

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In the past, we’ve talked about the high cost of elder care. Now, I wanted to spend a bit of time talking about long term care (LTC) insurance.

How to buy long-term care insurance

In general terms, LTC coverage applies to individuals who are not actually sick, but are not able to perform the basic “activities of daily living.” These include things like bathing, using the bathroom, dressing, eating, or transferring yourself in/out of a bed or chair.

In most cases, coverage is also available for those with a cognitive impairment. This could include:

  • memory loss (short- or long-term)
  • loss of orientation as to people (who they or others are), places, or time
  • reduced capacity for deductive or abstract reasoning

If the impairment is bad enough that it requires supervision to ensure safety, most LTC policies will kick in.

Related: Do You Need Disability Insurance?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about 70% of those aged 65 or older will require some sort of long term care during their lifetime. Over 40% require care in a nursing home. For the most part, traditional health insurance and Medicare won’t cover the costs associated with this care.

In other words, you’re on your own. You’d be well-advised to plan ahead.

What follows is a list of important considerations when it comes to choosing a long term care policy. This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s mainly based on things that I’ve run across while reading through my parents’ policies. But it at least gives you a good place to start.

When to buy LTC insurance

First and foremost, you’ll need to decide when to buy your policy.

If you buy too soon, you may wind up paying for coverage that you don’t need yet. But if you wait too long, the premiums will be sky high. Also, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that an insurance company will reject your application.

For reference, more than half of all policies are sold to those in the 55-64 age group. While an argument could be made for buying as early as age 45, the recommended age is 50.

Benefit level

Another important consideration is how much coverage you’ll need. Obviously, more is better, but higher benefits come at increased cost.

It really seems like this one falls into the “it depends” category. The costs associated with different types of care vary widely across the country. In other words, one size doesn’t fit all.

In order to determine how much coverage you should buy, you need to consider your individual situation. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How is my current health? What about my parents’ health — do/did they need skilled care?
  • Do I have children or a spouse to consider?
  • What is our financial situation? Do I feel comfortable using my nest egg (potentially my children’s inheritance) on care?
  • What is my monthly income, or what will my (estimated) monthly income be when I am most likely to need LTC?
  • Do/Will I qualify for Medicare coverage (and its strict criteria), which partially covers up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility?
  • How high can I afford my deductible to be, noting that if coverage is for both me and my spouse, this deductible will need to be reached twice (once for each of us) if we both require care?

Keep in mind that the average private room in a nursing home will run you somewhere around $250 a day. If an assisted living facility is more likely to meet your needs, that’s a little cheaper. But it still carries an average price tag of $3,550 a month.

You also need to remember that skilled care isn’t a permanent need. It’s unlikely that you’ll need these services for more than 5 years (only about 20% of today’s 65 year-olds will), so that probably the maximum amount of time you’ll want to account for when determining your coverage.

For example, here are the average lengths of time that skilled care is needed based on the facility type:

Related: How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?

Benefit increase option

Related to the above, costs associated with long term care will increase over time. Do you want your benefit level to increase, as well?

In many cases, you can elect a “benefit increase” option to help keep pace with inflation, though this will likely come at a cost. Still, this is worth at least considering, especially if you buy a policy relatively early.

Elimination (waiting) period

The elimination period is a bit like a deductible. You’ll have to pay for the care yourself (out-of-pocket) for a set period of time before your LTC benefits kick in.

Elimination periods can vary from 0-365 days, though 90 days seems fairly common. Note that you can typically only count those days on which costs were actually incurred. This means that you can’t just pay someone to come in once a week for 3 months and still satisfy a 90-day elimination period.

Waiver of premium

Once the benefits kick in, do you need to keep paying the premium? In some cases, yes, in other cases, no.

In my parents’ case, the waiver of premium appears to only kick in after they’ve spent 60 days in a nursing home. It doesn’t appear to apply to in-home health care (though, I’m still trying to track this down). This is a bit of a bummer, but it is what it is.

Be sure to check your policy’s terms and find out what your coverage dictates.

Maximum lifetime benefit

Finally, depending on the policy that you choose, there may be a maximum lifetime benefit.

This limit can be defined either in terms of a total dollar amount, or a set number of years over which the policy will pay out. Choose carefully, as you may live longer than you expect, and these costs really add up over time.

Learn More: I’m Not Covered? Five Ways to Trigger Nasty Insurance Surprises

At the end of the day, long term care coverage is like all other insurance policies: you need to read the fine print and know what you’re buying before you write that first check.

Considering how many adults will end up needing long term care, it’s smart to begin shopping around for a policy in your late 40s. You don’t want to buy too soon and waste money on coverage, but you also can’t wait too late, when premiums jump in price.

Do you have any tips for other readers looking into long term coverage? Leave them in the comments below!

6 Easy Steps to Gain Control of Your Money

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Getting help with your finances can be overwhelming. Before seeking help from others, here are 6 ways you can gain control of your money on your own.

Get Control of Your Finances

It’s no secret that many Americans are worried about money. Some of us are worried about how we’re going to pay bills due next week. Others are concerned about our long-term financial future. Here are just a few sobering statistics from recent studies:

  • In 2016, 60% of Americans worried about being unable to handle medical costs due to an illness.
  • 64% of Americans in the same survey worried about not having enough to pay for retirement.
  • A full 34% were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to pay their rent, mortgage, or other housing costs.
  • Another survey showed that 16% of workers spend 20 or more hours a month–on the job!–worrying about their finances.
  • One 2015 survey found that 70% of college students were stressed about finances.

Clearly, a lot of us are really concerned about our personal finances!

Luckily, even if you’re in a financially difficult place, you can take some steps to get back in control. Here’s what I’d recommend:

1. Get a handle on your cash flow

We’ve talked about budgeting here on Five Cent Nickel quite a lot. But that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about here. Sometimes, you might have enough money to pay all your bills over the course of the month. But what if three bills come due in the same week? Can you handle them without overdrawing your account?

This is where you need to understand your actual cash flow. There are plenty of ways to do this.

I, for instance, use a Google calendar. I track when all our bills are due and when we’re getting payments into our account. This lets me see fairly quickly which weeks we need to be particularly careful about spending money.

Simply understanding how your cash flow works can keep you from overspending at times when your bank account looks flush. Because sure, you’ve got a lot of money on payday. But what does it look like when you subtract all those bills due between now and next payday?

For my family, getting a handle on cash flow has reduced stress around our money. It’s also helped me find new ways to economize in a way that a regular monthly budget didn’t do.

2. Start a side hustle

Some of your financial worries may stem from job uncertainty. Gone are the days when you worked for the same company for forty years before retiring. Now, the average person changes jobs more than ten times during his or her career. And most people spend less than five years in one single job.

Sometimes changing jobs is a good thing. Maybe it means more opportunity or better pay from a new job you’ve pursued. But this new climate also means some employers are more likely to restructure or let employees go quickly.

Because of this, having multiple streams of income is more important than it ever was. A good side hustle can help you achieve your financial goals more quickly while you also work full-time. And it can give you at least a small income to fall back on when you lose your job.

Side hustles are as varied as hustlers and their skills. But a great side hustle will play well to your skills and interests. It might even rely on some of the knowledge you use in your day job. For instance, you’re reading my personal side hustle right now! By day, I’m in nonprofit marketing. So I write. A lot. Which means it’s a pretty efficient side hustle that I really enjoy!

For more ideas on side hustles, check out this article.

(And, please, don’t tell me you absolutely have no time. I have two kids, a husband, and a full-time job. You can find a couple of hours a week. Trust me!)

3. Pay off debt

I know. You’ve heard this before. But here’s the deal: becoming debt free (or at least free of high-interest debt) is essential for building a solid financial future. The more debt you have, the more of your money is locked up each month. That’s money you can’t spend on what you want or save for the future.

Want to know exactly what impact paying off debt would have on your finances? Take a moment to total up the monthly minimum payments on all your credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, and student loans. Does that number surprise you? Would getting rid of those payments mean more financial security?

To get started, check out our guide to getting out of debt.

4. Save for emergencies

A huge number of Americans have no emergency savings at all. They’re just one emergency away from massive credit card debt or bankruptcy.

Are you in this boat? Then it’s also time to get some emergency savings going. There are different ways to calculate and prioritize emergency savings. Here’s what I’d recommend:

  • Start by just saving something. Even $500 can help you feel more secure about everyday disasters, like unexpected car or home repairs.
  • Pay off your high-interest debt before you save a lot. You’ll get more for your money by paying off that credit card with a 25.99% APR as quickly as you can. Here, 0% balance transfer cards can help.
  • Work on your other debts, but bulk up your savings, too. Once you’re down to lower-interest debts–even in the 10% APR range–devote that side hustle income to both saving and paying down more debt.
  • Celebrate the small goals. Sure, you might be aiming to save six months’ worth of expenses. But celebrate every time you add another $500 or $1,000 to that savings account! It’ll keep you motivated to keep going.

5. Save for retirement

What if your main financial worries are retirement-related? Stop putting off saving for retirement! I know it seems like you can’t find an extra dime to save. But once you’ve taken these other steps, you may be surprised.

If you’ve been paying $150 per month in credit card minimums, devote that money to retirement once the bills are paid off. You’ve been making the payments, anyway. Even if it seems like you’ve had to scrape to make those payments, you can devote them to retirement savings now.  If you’re stuck in credit card debt, consider a balance transfer credit card to ease your interest payments.

Even if you’re not on track today to have $1 million or more in your retirement accounts, saving something can help you feel more secure about your financial future. Sure, maybe you’re not going to retire at 55. Maybe you’ll even have to work until you’re 70. But with some money in your retirement accounts, you’ll broaden your options as you age.

6. Find some margin

Really what all of this often comes down to is finding margin in your financial life. I find I’m most likely to worry about my family’s long-term financial future when we’re living right to the edge of our income. When we don’t have money left over at the end of the month to save–or even spend a little on things we enjoy–it’s just so stressful.

The thing is, though, when I look back, I know that ten years ago we were living on much less. Even five years ago after our first child was born, our income was so much lower than it is now.

That tells me that we’ve been adapting our lifestyle to our income, and not in a good way. If you look back, you may find that this is the case for you, too.

So figure out how you can go back to a simpler lifestyle. The one you had before you took that last raise or started that side hustle. Maybe getting back to that place is as simple as cutting the cable cord and opting for cooking at home rather than eating out. Or maybe it’s as complex as moving back into a smaller, more manageable home.

Either way, figure out what you need to do to re-gain some financial margin in your life. Once you stop living right to the edges of your income, you’ll feel more stable, make better decisions, and be on the path to a bright financial future.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card Review – 5% Cash Back at Amazon

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Editor’s Note: Thank you for your interest, any offer(s) below might be expired and no longer available.

Today we review the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. For those who frequently buy from Amazon, it’s hands down the best rewards card available. As you’ll see, you can earn up to 5% cash back with no annual fee.

Every month I spend a few minutes reviewing the monthly credit card purchases my wife and I make. Seventy-five percent of that time is invested in looking at our Amazon transactions. It seems like we have a couple Amazon boxes delivered to us by our postal carrier every day. By the end of the month, we’ve accumulated a few pages’ worth of Amazon statements.

Luckily for us, Chase has launched a new credit card specifically designed for people like me–those addicted to online Amazon shopping.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card Rewards Review

Earlier this year, Chase opened up applications on its new Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. All Amazon prime members will receive the following benefits when using their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card:

  • 5% cash back at Amazon on all purchases.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations, drugstores and at restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $70 Amazon gift card immediately after approval
  • No annual fee / No foreign transaction fees

First, let me be blunt about the value of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. It comes from shopping at, nothing more. There are better cash back percentages out there for your everyday spending, including the 2% offered at gas stations, drugstores, and restaurants (the Blue Cash Preferred Card® from American Express is a good start). Offer has expired and is no longer valid.

And while the $70 up front Amazon gift card is nice, a few other cards on the market today offer much better up-front bonuses. For example, the Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® opens with a $200 bonus for new cardmembers.

The standard purchase and balance transfer APR is 15.24% – 23.24% variable, and the cash advance APR is 25.74% variable. There are over-limit and late payment fees of up to $37, and there are no balance transfer promos associated with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. The balance transfer fee is $5 or 5% of the transfer, whichever is greater.

So it definitely has some drawbacks. But if you’re a frequent Amazon Prime shopper, read on.

Prime Member 5% Cash Back Savings

The Amazon Prime memberships that qualify for 5% cash back are currently as follows:

  • Annual and monthly Amazon Prime subscriptions and members of their Amazon Household (excluding Amazon Prime video subscriptions)
  • Members who share Prime benefits via an Amazon Household
  • Amazon Prime Fresh
  • Amazon Family
  • Amazon Prime Student
  • Trial memberships of annual and monthly Amazon Prime subscriptions, Amazon Prime Fresh, and Amazon Prime Student (excluding Amazon Prime video subscriptions)

How much can you save by owning this credit card? Let me do my best to apply my family’s personal spending habits and how much we hope to save annually by using the card for every purchase we make on Amazon.

Amazon Credit Card Savings Example

Every month, my wife and I attempt to budget $400 in spending at Amazon. We buy just about everything other than groceries at Amazon. And we have a Siberian husky and two kids, a 3-year old and a 6-month old, to take care of. That means dog food, diapers, toys, books, and a variety of cleaners and gadgets that keep the smells in this house pleasant. When you factor in the occasional gift or tech gadget, we’re usually well past our $400 budget target.

In 2016, we spent a total of $6,293 at Had we had access to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, our cash back savings would have been $314.65. Instead, we used our Citi DoubleCash Card for nine months of the year, which earned 2% cash back. Then we used our Chase Freedom Visa, which earned 5% cash back, in the fourth  quarter.

In total, our cash back savings in 2016 on purchases was $167.35. In other words, we missed out on a savings of $147.30.

Editors Note – If you are not a member of Amazon Prime, your cash back savings at using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is 3%.

Future Amazon Savings

Are there families that spend more than we do at Amazon who will be able to save even more? Yes, but the majority of people likely won’t be spending as much, so the savings won’t be as large. Even so, consider that Amazon is still a growing company, looking to expand into other verticals on a daily basis. Prime members saving on groceries today could be saving on auto parts, medicine, and a host of other products tomorrow if and when Amazon opens more marketplaces.

Our $6,000 Amazon annual spending amount could continue to grow, too. Owning the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and its 5% cash back rate at Amazon is a must for our family. Even for the casual Prime Amazon spender, there’s little harm and good benefit to owning this card, applying it to your Amazon account, and earning the high rewards rebate.

  • Alternative Option – The Discover it 18-Month Balance Transfer Offer gives cardholders a 5% cash back rewards rate on all purchases in the fourth quarter of 2017, and Discover will double the cash back earned in the first full year of card ownership. This means cardholders will earn 10% cash back on Amazon purchases (up to $1,500 spent) for three full months–just in time for holiday shopping!

5 Ways to Build Credit Without a Credit Card

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Building good credit has many benefits. It helps you get low rate loans and approved for an apartment rental, just to name two. It can be a challenge, though, to build credit without a credit card. Here are five ways to do it.

Americans’ credit scores are on the rise. Not everyone is necessarily cheering this news. In fact, this news might make you a little bit nervous if you’re afraid your score isn’t keeping up.

The advice you’re undoubtedly getting from friends and financial blogs is that a credit card is the fastest way to build up your credit. What if you don’t have a credit card? You might be thinking that you’re out of luck when it comes to building your credit if you don’t have any plastic in your wallet.

Some people prefer to live the cash-only lifestyle and forgo plastic payments. Others shy away from credit cards because of past credit issues. Not having a credit card with your name on it can pose problems when it’s time to apply for a mortgage, get a car loan, or try to secure cash to start your own business.

While it’s true that credit cards make it easier to build your credit legacy quickly, you actually have a few other options. You can do some things to make the payments you make for everyday things boost your credit history. Take a look at five ways to build credit without a credit card.

Be Consistent With Your Student Loans

Student loans can help you build credit. While you may not like making the payments every month, consistent on-time payments will help your FICO score.

Federal student lenders report student loans to credit bureaus. Your credit score will definitely benefit if you’re making your payments on time and taking measures to ensure that you never miss a payment. While it’s never a good idea to take out student loans solely for the sake of padding your credit, if you do need them, you can use them to your advantage. And if you find yourself paying a high interest rates on your current student loans, you can always consolidate them through a loan with SoFi.

Apply for a Bank Loan

A loan can give your credit a big boost. Applying for a small loan from your local bank or credit union can be a smart move if you have a very lean credit history. Some banks and credit unions actually offer loans that are designed to boost credit. You can often borrow as little as $1,000 and pay off your loan over the course of a year.

We do not recommend borrowing just to build credit. If you need a loan, however, a small short-term loan can help your credit profile. In addition to banks, you could consider a loan from LendingClub or Prosper.

Get Your Rent Reported

Your monthly rent payments could be paving the way to good credit. You can actually take steps to add your good rental payment history to your credit report. The good news is that many corporate landlords automatically report rent payments to credit agencies.

Independent landlords aren’t as likely to bother with reporting your payments. However, you can actually register with a service like Rental Kharma or Rent Reporters to get your positive payments reported. You will simply need to arrange with your landlord to have your payments verified each month.

Become an Authorized User

Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card is the easiest way to improve your credit.

The first step is finding someone willing to let you do this. A parent, spouse, or other family member is usually the best option. This plan probably won’t be as effective if you choose someone who has only owned a credit card for a few years. Joining someone with a long history of carrying a card and paying every bill on time is your best bet.

Step two is . . . well, there is no step two. You don’t have to use the card. In fact, you don’t even need to carry the card. Just being an authorized user can help improve your score.

One word of caution: If the account holder maxes out the card, this could hurt your score. Your score could also go down with late payments on the account. So be sure to work with a family member who is good managing their money.

Get a Secured Credit Card

Yes, this article is about building credit without a credit card. A secured credit card, however, is different than a traditional card.

A secured credit card is backed by a cash deposit you make to credit card company. Your credit limit typically will equal the amount of your security deposit. If you close the account, the credit card issuer refunds your security deposit. The key is to understand that you must still make monthly payments on the outstanding balance. The security deposit is there to protect the card issuer in the event you fail to make a payment. But a late payment will still hurt your credit score.

One benefit of a secured card is that they don’t require a solid credit history. As a result, they offer a good way to build credit if you are starting from scratch. And because the credit limit is tied to your deposit, there’s a limit to how much debt you can go into.

Finally, if you don’t know your credit score, you can check it for free. In fact, there are several free ways to get your FICO score.

How to Find the Best Car Insurance for Teens

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Adding a teenager to a car insurance policy is costly. If done correctly, however, there are ways to reduce those costs. Here are 5 ways to find the best car insurance for teens.

Having a teen who can drive is a big adjustment. There’s helping them learn to drive and the worrying when they are on the road. And then there’s the rise in auto insurance rates, which you’ll notice immediately.

It’s no secret that teen drivers are pricey to insure. Research from AAA shows that teen drivers are three times more likely than adults to be involved in a fatal crash. Insurance companies know that teens are riskier to insure than older drivers.

The good news is that there are some steps you can take to keep rates under control.

The Basics of Buying Car Insurance for Your Teen

Every driver is required to be covered by a car insurance policy. A teen won’t automatically be covered under your policy just because they are a dependent. You have to add them to your policy.

It’s going to be cheaper in almost every case to add a teenager to your existing policy than it would be to purchase a separate policy. However, you’ll still want to do a little bit of research.

The first step is reaching out to your current insurance company or agent. It may be a good idea to reach out as soon as your teen gets a permit. You may not be required to add them to your policy until they have their license, but this varies from one insurance company to another.

Here are the steps to take to make sure your teenager has insurance waiting as soon as a driver’s license is issued:

  • Get a quote from your insurance company for adding your child to your existing policy
  • Get a quote from at least one other agency to see if you could get a better rate than what you’d pay with your current company
  • Add your teen to your policy once a driver’s license has been issued (or earlier if required)

It may be possible for your teen to purchase a car and obtain insurance alone. However, state laws will determine whether or not this is a possibility in your case. Minors generally can’t own property or sign insurance contracts without at least the consent of a parent.

Comparing Auto Rates

Adding a young driver to your policy is a perfect time to compare insurance rates. Here are several of the best auto insurance options for teens:

USAA: For those in the military or with qualifying family members who serve, USAA offers excellent rates. It also offers a good student discount for high school and college students.

GEICO: Best known for its commercials, GEICO offers low rates by selling direct to consumers. Unlike most other insurance companies, it doesn’t have an army of agents.

Progressive: If your teen driver is particularly safe on the road, Progressive’s Snapshot may be a real money saver. It tracks the operation of the car for a period and may offer discounts based on the results.

State Farm: They offer significant discount opportunities for young drivers. These include safe driving discounts, good student discounts, and driver safety discounts.

Allstate: Finally, Allstate offers a good grades discount. It also offers what it calls a teenSMART discount. According to Allstate, you can save “up to 10% when your young [driver] successfully completes the teenSMART driver education program.”

Getting Insurance When a Teen Belongs to Two Households

The parent with primary custody is typically responsible for adding a minor driver to a policy. However, some laws or insurance policies may require both parents to provide insurance for a teen driver. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you understand the rules.

The Car Your Teen Drives Will Help to Determine Your Rate

Parents can expect to pay an additional $671 annually once they add a teen driver to an auto policy. One way to get the best rate possible is to assign your teen to the cheapest vehicle you own. You can also shop around for vehicle models with low auto insurance losses if your teen needs to purchase a new car. Vehicles with low losses are far less expensive to insure.

The 100 Mile Rule

For college students, they can save by leaving the car at home. If your student goes to school more than 100 miles from home but leaves the car at home, most insurance companies discount your premiums.

Don’t Forget to Get Discounts

While you may be dreading paying more to have a teen driver in your household, there are many opportunities to get discounts. Here are some of the more common discounts offered by many insurance companies:

  • Good student discounts (typically requires a ‘B’ average or better);
  • Snapshot or other driver evaluation technology
  • Multiple car discounts (one reason it’s usually best to add a teen to your policy)
  • Completion of Driver Safety Programs
  • 100 Mile Away discount (for college students)

Your auto insurance agency may even offer a discount if your teen signs a driving contract and promises to always wear a seatbelt, call for a ride when impaired, practice good car maintenance, and never text or eat while driving.

The Pros and Cons of Investing in Peer-to-Peer Loans

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Peer-to-peer (P2P) investing offers the potential for high returns. With those higher returns, however, comes higher risk. Here we cover the pros and cons of investing in peer-to-peer loans.

peer to peer lending pros and cons

P2P investing has been growing in popularity in recent years. Some estimate that the market will near $900 billion by 2024. But should you join the party?

You might want to consider it, once you understand the benefits and drawbacks of investing in these types of loans. Here’s a rundown of exactly what to expect and what you should keep in mind before investing.

The Benefits of Investing in Peer-to-Peer Loans

Investing in P2P loans can be a great opportunity for you and your money. Here’s why:

Fast, easy online experience

The entire process of P2P investing takes place online. That’s everything from completing the paperwork to investing, to receiving income payments.

There’s no need to go to a physical location, or even to make lengthy phone calls. You simply sign up on the P2P platform, transfer funds to the account, select your investments, and begin receiving monthly payments.

Related: Tips for Lending Club Investors

Easy diversification with a small investment

P2P platforms offer what is commonly referred to as “notes.” These represent small slivers of whole loans. On most sites, you also have the option to invest in an entire loan. But the more common method of P2P investing is to invest in notes.

Each note can be purchased for as little as $25. This means that with a total investment of $1,000, you can purchase shares in as many as 40 individual loans. With $10,000, you can invest in as many as 400 individual loans.

What’s more, some P2P platforms let you establish criteria for the notes that you will invest in. For example, you can choose to invest primarily in higher grade loans, where your investment is at less risk. Alternatively, you could select lower grade loans that offer higher interest rates.

Much higher rates than bank investments

It’s common knowledge that savings accounts typically pay no more than 1% per year right now. You can earn a bit more if you are prepared to tie up your money for several years (such as with CDs). By contrast, it’s easily possible to earn high single digit returns on P2P investments. You can even earn low double digits if you’re prepared to take on additional risk.

Investing just part of your fixed income holdings in P2P lending can help to increase the overall rate of return on that part of your portfolio.

Related: 5 Shrewd Ways to Adjust Your Portfolio As You Near Retirement

Regular monthly income payments

When you invest in a certificate of deposit, you don’t receive any interest income until the certificate matures. If you invest in a bond, your interest income will be credited quarterly or semiannually. But when you invest in P2P loans, you will receive payments every month.

This makes them perfect for generating a regular income.

There is one aspect of the monthly income situation that you do need to consider. Since each payment includes both interest and principal, the notes are self-amortizing.

Let’s say you have a portfolio of five-year notes and you take the monthly payments as income each month. At the end of the term, your account will amortize down to zero.

That means that you have to continually reinvest at least a portion of your investment income.

The Drawbacks of Investing in Peer-to-Peer Loans

There are some downsides to using this investment vehicle to grow your money. Here are a few we think you need to note.

You need to be an accredited investor

Not just anyone can invest in P2P loans. State and federal laws often require that you be a more seasoned investor and have greater financial strength. For this reason, P2P lending platforms generally require that you qualify as an accredited investor.

The SEC defines an accredited investor as:

”…a natural person…who (has) earned income that exceeded $200,000 (or $300,000 together with a spouse) in each of the prior two years, and reasonably expects the same for the current year, OR has a net worth over $1 million, either alone or together with a spouse (excluding the value of the person’s primary residence).”

Individual states often impose additional restrictions. The reason for these requirements is that P2P investing is relatively new and includes a level of risk that has not yet been fully measured.

Learn More: Investing 101 for first-time investors

The history of P2P lending isn’t that deep

This gets down to the risk factor with P2P lending. This investment activity only got started around the time of the financial meltdown. The vast majority of the experience has been in the years since that event. That includes the two largest P2P lender platforms, Lending Club and Prosper.

How investments with these lenders will perform in the next recession — given that they now have large, mature portfolios — cannot be known at this point in time. But what we do know is that when recessions hit, credit quality declines across the board.

Most P2P loans are for debt consolidation

Debt consolidation loans tend to be riskier than other types of loans. They represent the process of replacing one debt with another. But more specifically, debt consolidation opens the possibility of a borrower incurring even more debt.

For example, once the borrower’s credit cards have been consolidated in a new personal loan, there’s an excellent chance that the borrower will run up those credit cards again. If he does, the debt consolidation loan may become even riskier.

Resource: 5 tips for better success when investing in P2P loans

Loans are unsecured

Loans made on P2P platforms are usually unsecured. That means that in the event that a borrower defaults, there is no collateral waiting to be seized to satisfy the debt. The borrower could default, with no recourse for investors.

There’s generally no secondary market to sell your investments

This situation is gradually being addressed by some of the larger P2P lenders, but only very slowly and on a limited basis. The problem is that once you buy a note, you’re expected to hold onto it until it is fully paid. That can take up to five years. If you need the cash out of your investment, you may not be able to sell the note to another buyer.

Where secondary markets do exist — usually through a third-party contract provider — you often have to sell your notes at a deeply discounted price.

Related: Five Unusual “Investments” You May Not Have Considered

When all is said and done, P2P investing can be an excellent way to increase the rate of return on the fixed income portion of your portfolio. As long as you know what the risks are and invest accordingly, it could be a winning addition to your investment lineup.

What is the Best First Credit Card for Young People

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Picking your first credit card can be a challenge. You want a card with great rates and features, and one you can actually get. Here are some options for finding the best first credit card.

Best First Credit Card

When you’re just starting out without much credit history, finding the right credit card can be tough. Limited credit can limit your options. If you have credit, companies may be flooding you with flashy mail offers for credit cards.

Either way, we’ve sorted through the options on the market today to figure out which is the best first credit card for young people. But before we give you our picks, let’s talk about some general credit card advice.

Types of Cards

It pays to know some basic credit card terminology. If you have at least a small credit history, you may qualify for a regular credit card, albeit likely one with a low limit. But if you have no credit history at all, you may need to opt for a secured credit card.

A secured credit card has a deposit behind it. For example, if you have a $200 limit, you’ll have to place a $200 security deposit with the card issuer. If you miss a payment, they’ll take your payment (and any applicable fees) out of that deposit account.

Secured credit cards are a way to get a line of credit even if you have no credit history or are repairing bad credit. These cards don’t usually come with the extra perks you can get with a regular credit card. But after several on-time payments, you may be able to convert your card to a regular rewards credit card.

Credit card issuers also have cards designed specifically for students. These cards are easier to get if you have no credit history. We’ll look at some of these in a moment.

Should You Check Your Credit Before Getting Your First Card?

You may be unsure of where your credit stands. Knowing your credit score can help you decide on the best option. Unless you’ve checked your credit score recently, however, you probably don’t know your score.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to figure out your credit score for free. Some of these options give you an approximation, but it’s a fairly accurate one. And let’s be honest, you’re not applying for a mortgage here. There’s no reason to go out and spend $50 pulling your FICO credit score from each of the credit bureaus. Just get a ballpark idea of your score’s range. This will help you figure out which credit cards to apply for.

Some options for checking your score for free include:

  • Credit Karma: A credit-estimating site that also makes credit card recommendations based on your store.
  • Quizzle: Also gives you an approximate credit score and makes recommendations based on it.
  • Discover: Their Credit Scorecard site is available to even non-Discover customers.

Bonus: These sites will tell you specific ways you can improve your credit score, too.

Once you know your general score range, you can use the sites above, specifically Credit Karma and Quizzle, to search for cards by average approval score. Applying for a card for those with excellent credit when your score is in the 650 range won’t do you much good. So be sure to find a card that’s likely to match your score.

What Should You Look for in a First Credit Card?

So what criteria, exactly, are we using to figure out which is the best first credit card for young people? Here’s what’s on our list:

  • Credit Score Requirements: We’re looking for cards that those with low-to-average credit will qualify for. (We’ll also look at a couple of secured cards for those with very low or no credit.)
  • Late Payment Forgiveness: Many cards will forgive your first late payment or up to one late payment per year. This is a great perk if you’re just getting into the swing of paying your own bills.
  • No Annual Fee: With your first credit card, you won’t likely qualify for a sky-high credit limit. This puts a damper on your ability to earn enough rewards to out-earn an annual fee. So we’ll only be looking at cards without an annual fee.
  • Limits That Aren’t Too Low: If your goal is to open a card for most of your everyday spending, a $250 limit probably won’t cut it. So we’re looking for cards that generally extend $500+ in a credit line to first-time card users.
  • A Rewards Program: Rewards programs are the icing on the cake here. Your first goal is likely to build your credit by using a credit card responsibly. But there are plenty of excellent options available, so you should look for some sort of rewards.
  • Low-Ish Interest Rate: The bottom line here is that credit cards will always have a fairly high interest rate, especially compared with secured loans. But yours doesn’t have to be through the roof, either. Of course, pay your card in full each month, and you won’t have to worry about the interest rate.

This is the criteria we used to narrow down our list, and then to choose the best credit card for new credit card users.

The 5 Best First Credit Cards

1. Discover it® for Students

If you’re still in school, snap up this card before you graduate. It’s great for those with a very limited credit history, and it has some excellent perks, including:

  • No annual fee
  • $20 cash back bonus each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, for up to 5 years
  • 5% cash back rewards on categories that rotate quarterly
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Dollar-for-dollar cash back match on all rewards in the first year
  • No late fee on first late payment
  • No over limit or foreign transaction fees
  • Late payment won’t raise your APR
  • Free FICO score each month

2. Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

This card is for those with low to average credit, so if you’re somewhat established, you may qualify. Its benefits include:

  • No annual fee
  • Access to Capital One Creditwise
  • Access to a higher credit line after 5 on-time monthly payments
  • Pick your own monthly due date and payment method

3. Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee

This is a good secured credit card offer that even comes with a cash back program! It offers:

  • Choose your security deposit ($200 minimum)
  • Earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 each quarter
  • Earn 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Automatic match on first year’s worth of cash back rewards
  • No annual fee
  • Free FICO score each month
  • Automatic monthly credit reviews after seven months to determine if you can convert to a non-secured credit card

4. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

If good management of your student loans or other debts has left you with slightly higher credit, you may be able to qualify for this card. It’s a great option, as it offers:

  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Balance Transfer is back! Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from the date of account opening. After that, 18.74% – 29.74% variable APR.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.
  • 3% Cash Back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.
  • Get $7 back each month after using your Blue Cash Everyday Card to spend $12.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription to The Disney Bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Enrollment required.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Learn more on other cash back credit cards by visiting

5. Digital Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card

This secured card offers a really low APR, so it’s a good option if you’re looking to finance a larger purchase. You can also borrow against money held in a DCU savings account. Its benefits include:

  • No annual fee
  • No fees or rate hikes for cash advances and balance transfers
  • 12.5% APR
  • No over limit fees

The Best First Credit Card for Young People

So which of these cards do we think is best? When it comes to introductory credit cards, especially secured cards, you really can’t beat Discover right now.

If you need a secured credit card, the Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee has pretty much everything you need–no fee, flexible deposit options, and a great rewards program. Plus, Discover makes it easy to convert your card into a regular rewards credit card in a relatively short amount of time.

What if you do have a decent credit history or your history is just limited? If you still qualify as a student, the Discover it® for Students is an excellent card to start with. If not, you might see if you’ll qualify for the regular Discover it card. Those with average credit may qualify, and it offers many of the same benefits, including the cash back rewards matching for the first year.

How to Save Money on Homeowners Insurance

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Homeowners insurance is a necessity for those who own a home. It’s also required by mortgage companies. Here are some practical ways to save money on homeowners insurance.

We’ve written in the past about how to save money on health insurance, life insurance, and car insurance.

Today, I’m going to round things out with an article about saving money on your homeowner’s insurance. If you have a mortgage, this is likely a mandatory expense, as your lender will require it. If you own your home outright, it’s simply a smart one.

Just because you have to have homeowner’s insurance, though, doesn’t mean that you are stuck paying an arm and a leg for it. What follows is a list of eight tips for reducing your premiums. Combine them all, and you could be save a ton of money while protecting your home from damage or loss.

1. Focus on your rebuilding costs

When you think of homeowner’s insurance, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s the thought of my house burning down, and my family losing everything that we have. My second thought is of being burglarized (which actually happened in 2009), and all of my valuables taken. Those are my whys.

Now, how do you determine how much insurance you actually need? Is it dependent on your home’s current value, if you were to sell today? The added value of everything inside the walls?

While you absolutely need to insure your home and its contents against destruction, there’s usually no need to insure the land that it’s built on. Thus, it’s important to think of your actual rebuilding costs (as well as the cost to replace your stuff) when buying a policy.

This may be wildly different than the current market value of your home, depending on a number of circumstances. However, it’s important to do a bit of research before settling on a coverage amount. If you don’t, you might end up over-insuring and paying too much each month.

2. Increase your deductible

In this way, homeowner’s insurance isn’t any different than other types of insurance. If you’re willing to bear a greater portion of the risk, you can save a significant amount of money.

To save money this way, simply call your agent and ask them to increase your deductible. In turn, your monthly payments should go down, possibly significantly.

It’s important to note that homeowner’s policies are managed a bit differently than car insurance or personal property insurance. Those deductibles are typically much lower, and bumping yours from $250 to $500 or $1,000 might not be a budget breaker.

Resource: Does Raising Your Car Insurance Deductible Also Save You Money?

However, many homeowner’s policies are percentage-based. This means that your deductible is actually contingent on the amount of coverage you hold (the value of your home and its contents).

My own insurance works this way, and the deductible is 1% of the policy coverage ($190,000). This means that every time I make a claim, I’m stuck paying the first $1,900. Were I to bump this deductible to 1.5% or 2%, in order to save on premiums, we would be talking about an increase of either $950 or $1,900. And that would probably sting a bit.

Depending on your policy, raising your deductible can be a great way to save money, month over month. Before you do this, though, just be sure that your emergency fund is large enough to cover your out-of-pocket expenses in the event of a disaster. Raising your deductible from $500 to $1,500 may save you $20 a month, but that’s not worth it if you don’t have that cash lying around in case of an emergency.

3. Upgrade your security

Beef up the protection around your home, and your insurance company will probably rewards you.

Things like deadbolt locks, burglar alarms, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors can earn you a nice discount. In some cases, these discounts can offset most (if not all) of the additional costs of adding these safeguards, too. So, it’s well worth checking with your insurer for details.

Some home security companies also offer discounts to customers of certain insurance companies, which means you can double up on the savings.

For instance, my policy is through USAA, and I get a safe home discount for having security monitoring services. I also get a discount through my home security company (ADT), for being a USAA customer/member. Wins all around!

4. Bundle multiple policy types together

You will usually get a nice discount for carrying multiple policies with a single company, and it’s rare to find an insurance company that doesn’t offer at least one other insurance product.

Related: The Hidden Savings In a Rent Payment

I actually have two car policies, our homeowner’s policy, a personal articles policy (for jewelry and other valuables), and a life insurance policy all with the same company. The bundle discounts I receive, compounded with the already-lower rates, mean that I pay substantially less that I would if I had these policies spread around amongst multiple companies.

5. Location, location, location

This one is tough to implement if you already own your home. However, if you’re shopping around or plan to buy/build in the near future, it may be worth keeping in mind during your home search.

Your home’s proximity to fire hydrants, fire stations, and the like can (surprisingly) influence your premiums. Not surprisingly: closer is better.

No, it doesn’t make sense to move to reduce your premiums, but it’s worth keeping in mind when buying that new home.

6. Keep your credit report clean

Credit really is at the center of everything financial. It impacts your interest rates; potential employers can pull it when you apply for a job, and it can even mean higher premiums on your insurance policies.

Yes, like it or not, your credit report can influence your insurance rates. Insurance companies have no shame in considering clean credit to be an indicator of reduced risk.

Thus, it’s important that you check your credit report regularly, and fix any errors that you find. Of course, this is something you should be doing anyway – at least, if you ever want to lock in a lower interest rate on your mortgage refi or snag that exciting new rewards credit card.

Learn More: Get a Better Mortgage Rate Without Refinancing

Now, you just have more of a reason to stay on top of it all.

7. Ask about other discounts

The easiest way to get a lower price? Simply ask for one.

You can often get a group discount (e.g., alumni association, senior discount, etc.) just for asking. There are also discounts for home improvements that you might want to make anyway, or you can also let your insurance company know about certain neighborhood features of which they might not be aware (for instance, whether you’re in a gated community).

In the same thread as replacing smoke detectors and adding fire extinguishers, you may want to consider some “big ticket” repairs. Are you looking at replacing that old roof anyway? Ask your insurance company if there’s a discount if you opt for an impact-resistant material. Want to remodel the kitchen? Let your insurance company know you replaced that old electrical wiring, and it might snag you a few extra dollars off.

Related: Renovations That Can Hurt the Value of Your Home

Give your agent a call today and find out if there are any discounts they can apply to reduce your premiums. If you don’t currently qualify, perhaps there is a group that you can join or a home upgrade you can complete to get an additional discount.

The worst they can say is no, so it’s worth asking.

8. Shop around

Assuming you’re doing everything else right, another great way to save money on homeowners insurance is to comparison shop.

You can either call around to local agents or check a homeowners insurance comparison tool. Also ask friends, neighbors, and your credit union (if you’re a member). You may learn about big incentives, discounts, or at the very least, will likely hear a number of pros/cons for certain companies.

Whatever you do, be sure to buy your policy from a reputable company. That way, you won’t run into any problems if and when you file a claim.

Learn More: 10 tips most first-time home buyers don’t consider

So, there you have it. These eight simple tips for saving money on homeowner’s insurance can help you save quite a bit of cash each month.

Implement a few of them over time, and you’ll save even more. Be sure to ask each time you renew your policy whether there are additional discounts you could be getting, and shop around regularly to find the best price.

If you have any further suggestions, please be sure to share them in the comments.