Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards – What’s the Difference?

There’s a popular TV commercial that ends with the line, “What’s in your wallet?” Of course, the ad is referring to the credit card it’s promoting.difference-between-credit-cards-vs-debit-cards

But for many consumers, what’s in their wallets is usually a mix of credit cards and debit cards. So, how do they pick which one to use? Is there really any difference between a credit card and a debit card? You bet there is.

To get a better understanding of how the cards differ, here’s a glimpse at some of the benefits associated with using credit cards:

And using a debit card has its advantages as well:

  • Debit cards can help keep you out of debt. That’s because the cards are linked directly to your bank account, unlike a credit card where you’re essentially borrowing the money. So, as long as you keep a close eye on how much money you have in your bank account to avoid accidental overdrafts, you’ll only spend the money you have and avoid costly fees. With a credit card, it’s easy to rack up interest fees on the money you’re borrowing, unless you pay back the full card balance each month. Paying with a debit card can also help you avoid other common credit card charges like late payment fees and annual fees.
  • With a debit card, you don’t have to worry about paying yet another monthly bill. But be sure to always keep an eye on your account activity and statements. Doing so will help you to spot any suspicious charges early on, and can also prevent you from overdrawing your account. Reviewing your bank account activity is easier than ever now that most banks offer online banking and mobile banking to their customers.
  • While debit card rewards programs can be hard to find, they are out there. Luckily, Bank5 Connect has a debit card rewards program called UChoose Rewards®. Bank5 Connect debit card holders earn 1 point for every $2 spent on signature-based, online, or PIN-less transactions made with their cards.

Ultimately, which card you choose will depend on your personal financial picture, as well as the kind of purchase you’re making. Knowing how your credit and debit cards differ is the first step in selecting the one that’s right for you!

Making the Switch to a Mobile Wallet

There you are, impressed with yourself for getting the rest of your holiday shopping done in just a couple of hours. You make your way to the checkout aisle and hand over your items.AdobeStock_112895088

While the salesperson is ringing everything up, you dig into your purse or pocket for your wallet…but wait, where is it? Now you’re frantically rummaging while customers wait impatiently behind you. It’s then that you realize you pulled it out at the drive-thru to pay for a coffee and left it behind in your car. So much for being done with your holiday shopping.

In the event of a missing wallet, wouldn’t it be great if you could whip out your smartphone, or flash your smartwatch and somehow use it to pay for your goods? Well guess what – you can! Meet the “mobile wallet”.

A mobile wallet is a virtual wallet that stores credit and debit card information on a mobile device. And, it encrypts that information so it can’t be easily accessed if your device falls into the wrong hands.

The most widely used mobile wallets right now are Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. Some mobile devices come pre-loaded with a mobile wallet, and if your device doesn’t have one you can download a mobile wallet from your phone’s app store. First though, you’ll need to see whether your debit and credit cards are compatible with the mobile wallet. Bank5 Connect debit cards support Apple Pay, and a full list of Apple Pay-friendly banks can be found at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204916As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. If you’re looking to see which banks support Samsung Pay, visit https://www.samsung.com/us/samsung-pay/compatible-cards/As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. A list of Android Pay participating banks can be found at https://www.android.com/pay/participating-banks/As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!.

Retailers around the world are plugging into the mobile wallet culture. Millions of business now accept mobile wallet payments at their brick-and-mortar locations, and many of those retailers allow you to use your mobile wallet for online purchases as well.

Just don’t confuse the term “mobile wallet” with “digital wallet”. While they are both very similar, they do have some key differences. Think of a mobile wallet as a credit or debit card that lives on your mobile device. If you’re purchasing something in a store, you physically take out your phone and hold it near the terminal at the checkout counter. If you’re shopping online, you can activate your mobile wallet on participating websites and use it to make your purchase.

A digital wallet on the other hand, is typically only used for online shopping. Examples of digital wallets include PayPal and Visa Checkout. When you sign up for a digital wallet service, you link your account to a debit or credit card. Like a mobile wallet, your card information is encrypted for security purposes. A digital wallet can also house your shipping information, so you can make online purchases quickly and easily, without having to enter all of your personal details on the website.

If getting through the checkout aisle a little faster sounds good to you, consider a mobile wallet. Just don’t forget to keep your device charged. A dead battery at the checkout counter is no more helpful than leaving your wallet in the car!

How to Talk About Finances with Your Spouse

In a marriage, being on the same page with your spouse regarding your finances is extremely important. Not talking about money can lead to fights, overdrawn bank accounts, underfunded retirement savings, home foreclosure, bankruptcy, and even divorce. But many couples steer clear of financial conversations because they’re afraid of sparking disagreements and arguments. In fact, marital experts say finances are one of the top sources of anxiety in married relationships.how-to-talk-about-finances-with-your-spouse

So what’s a married couple to do? Sit down and talk, that’s what. Here are some tips to help you and your spouse get on the same page about your finances.

First and foremost, schedule a time to meet. Talking about money is serious, and you should treat it that way. Try to have your discussion in a place that’s free of distractions, whether that means heading to a local coffee shop, or waiting until the kids are in bed.

If you and your spouse don’t each have a good sense of where your finances stand, that’s where you should start. Go through your all of your bank accounts, investment accounts and retirement accounts, noting the balances of each. Then, discuss all of your debt such as credit card balances, the money you owe on your mortgage and any vehicles you have, plus any other payment obligations you’re facing such as student loans, alimony, or child support.

If while digging through the numbers you find that your current financial situation isn’t as rosy as you’d like, it’s important to stay calm. Don’t point fingers at one another and start playing the blame game. Doing so will only derail the conversation and make you both weary of future financial discussions. Look over the numbers together, but don’t judge.

Once you’re both on the same page regarding where your finances stand, you should start talking about your financial goals. Listening is key here. Each spouse should have a chance to voice their own goals – without interruption or judgement – and then you can hash out which goals are the highest priority to you both. Once you’ve each laid out your personal goals, you should evaluate together which ones could have the biggest positive impact on your lives, and consider which ones will be easy or difficult to achieve. Rank the goals based on these factors, and pick one that you’re both comfortable with – whether it be paying off your credit cards, saving for a family vacation, starting a college fund for your kids, or buying a second home.

After you’ve agreed on a goal, it’s time to create a budget that will allow you to work toward it. Together, you should determine exactly how much money is coming into the household each month, and how much money is going out. In other words, how much income are you bringing in, and how many bills are you paying every month, and how much money are you putting into savings? Make tweaks to your budget that align with the goals you’ve laid out. For example, if you’re trying to pay off your credit card debt, you need to determine where that money will come from. It may mean canceling cable and going with a lower-priced video streaming service, or it might mean shopping around for less-expensive car insurance.

Once your goals have been established and you’ve mapped out a budget for achieving them, it’s important to remember that that the conversation is far from over. Keep each other informed about any expenses that fall outside of the budget – ideally before they happen. For example, if your child is going to need braces, or you’re thinking about buying a membership to a golf club, sit down and talk with your spouse first about how it will impact your finances and goals. No one likes to be blindsided with a major purchase they had no say in. Without ongoing communication about financial affairs, confusion and mistrust can surface and wreak havoc on your marriage.

Stay Vigilant While Shopping Online This Holiday Season

Holiday shopping sure isn’t what it used to be. People are turning away from the craziness of the mall, and are instead using their smart phones, laptops and tablets to buy their gifts.holiday-online-shopping-safety

If you’re ditching the usual shopping experience for the less-stressful digital one, you’ll be in good company. Millions of people are expected to head online this year for their gift-giving needs.

But while online shopping provides greater freedom and convenience, it can come with some risks. Cyber criminals are prowling the internet – especially during the holiday season – looking to steal personal and financial information from unsuspecting shoppers. But the good news is that you can keep yourself and your wallet safe by staying on high alert. So, while working your way down your gift list this year, here are some online security tips to consider:

Stay away from sketchy sites. Whenever possible, do your shopping on popular, well-known websites. If you are tempted to buy from an unfamiliar site, be sure to do your research first. Google the name of the company to see if there are any scam alerts, or bad reviews out there. You would never give your credit card information to some creepy stranger on the street, would you? That’s really no different than giving it to some website you know nothing about.

Be wary of any deals that sound too good to be true. Say you’re surfing around and you find a price for an item that’s unbelievable. Chances are that it’s bogus. That’s one of the ways crooks lure in unsuspecting buyers to their sites. Once there, they have ways to con you out of sensitive banking and credit card information.

Be on the lookout for “imposter” sites. Even if you’re looking to buy from a website with a great reputation, or one that you’ve purchased from multiple times, you still need to have your guard up. Online scammers have been known to create fake, bogus sites that mirror the ones you know and trust. So, be sure to double-check the address bar of your favorite online store before entering your sensitive information. If you’re looking to buy on BestBuy.com, but you notice that the URL reads “bestbuy.shoppingstore.net”, then you’re not really on BestBuy.com, you’re on a site called “ShoppingStore.net” that is posing as BestBuy.

Only shop on secure sites. Before typing in your credit card or personal information online, it’s extremely important to verify that your connection to the website is secure. If the connection is not secure, it means the data you enter will not be encrypted, and can be easily accessed by cyber crooks. You can tell whether you are on a secure, encrypted connection by checking the URL in your browser’s address bar. If the URL begins with “https”, and there is an icon of a lock to the left of the URL, it means the connection is secure.

Don’t shop using free Wi-Fi.  Free, public Wi-Fi connections typically don’t have the best safeguards in place to protect you, such as firewalls and encryption technology. The same goes for public computers – they’re usually just as unsafe. If you’re out and about using public Wi-Fi or a shared device, wait until you get home to do your online shopping.

Know your apps. Only use trustworthy apps when mobile shopping. More and more people are turning to their smartphones to shop, and if you’re one of them, use apps provided directly by a retailer. Just as there are many bogus websites out there, there are just as many phony apps waiting to take advantage of you.

Keep up with updates. Make sure your devices have the latest versions of security software installed. And be sure to use the most recent version of your operating system and web browser. This will help ensure that you are properly defended against any newly identified viruses or malware.

Monitor your accounts. You should check your banking and credit card accounts on a regular basis, at least once a week if possible. If you come across any suspicious activity or unauthorized purchases, report them immediately to your bank or credit card issuer.

Most importantly, don’t let your guard down while shopping online. Being on the lookout for anything suspicious will go a long way to keeping your sensitive information safe. Stay vigilant, and don’t let your holiday be ruined by cyber crooks!

 

How to Make Saving Fun

Spending money can be a lot of fun. Shopping sprees, luxury vacations, delicious restaurant dinners – what’s not to like? Saving money, on the other hand, can sometimes feel like a chore. You typically do it because you have to, not because you want to.how-to-make-saving-fun

But, that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s possible to fill up your piggy bank while having fun at the same time. Let’s take a look at some ideas to help you look forward to saving money, instead of dreading it:

  • Instead of spending money on family outings to the movies or the mall, look for free activities close to home. They’re out there, you just need to track them down. Check out Facebook or your local newspaper to see what fun things are happening in your neighborhood. Or try a Google search on “free things to do in YOUR TOWN HERE”.
  • If you’re trying to save, but still need a night out on the town, take advantage of happy hours. You can get great discounts on food and drink if you time it right.
  • If you’re trying to inspire your child to get into the savings habit, you can offer an extra incentive by rewarding them when they reach certain saving milestones. For example, they could work toward saving enough money to get their favorite dessert or dinner, permission to stay up late one night, or the opportunity to invite a friend over.
  • Challenge yourself and your family members to see who can save the most money in a week. Whether you save $5, $10, $20, or more, throw down the gauntlet and see who can win!
  • Go second-hand shopping. Whether it’s at a garage sale or a second-hand store, you’ll be surprised at all the bargains you can find at a fraction of their initial cost. Even if you don’t have money to buy, browsing can be just as much fun.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities at venues such as festivals and concerts. You could be a ticket-taker or work at a food stand. And chances are you’ll be able to attend the event for free!

12 Ways to Protect Your Mobile Device

Your mobile device provides convenient access to your email, bank and social media accounts. Unfortunately, it can potentially provide the same convenient access for criminals. Follow these tips to keep your information – and your money – safe.AdobeStock_94918198

  1. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
  2. Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
  3. Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
  4. Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
  5. Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
  6. Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a Social Security number on your mobile device.
  7. Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
  8. Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
  9. Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
  10. Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
  11. Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren’t very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.
  12. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

 

CD Investing Strategies: Things to Consider

Anyone interested in investing has heard of a certificate of deposit, or CD. It’s a financial product similar to a savings account. Where a CD differs, however, is that it has a specific, fixed term, and a fixed interest rate. It is intended for a CD to be held until maturity, at which time the money may be withdrawn together with the accrued interest, or rolled over into a new CD term.cd-investing-strategies

Most banks offer a variety of CD terms. Term lengths can range anywhere from six months to 5 years or more, depending on the financial institution.

At Bank5 Connect, we offer CDs with terms of 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months. And the minimum deposit to open a Bank5 Connect CD is only $500.

While CDs provide a safe, guaranteed return on your investment, getting the most out of them requires you to think strategically. Here are some tips to help make your CD work for you:

  • Give thought to the length of your CD term. When your money is tied up in a long-term, multi-year CD, you run the risk of missing out on higher-yielding opportunities. A lot can change over the course of several years, and rates are no exception. The Federal Reserve meets every six to seven weeks about whether or not to change interest rates. Think of how disappointing it would be to see rates rapidly increasing around you, and all of your investing dollars are locked up in an underperforming CD for 4 more years.
  • Don’t withdraw your money from a CD before it matures. It’s important to understand all of the penalties associated with taking your money out of a CD before it reaches maturity. Doing so can take a huge bite out of your earnings. For a CD with a term of a year or more, the average penalty for early withdrawing your funds early is six months’ worth of interest. In some cases, early withdrawal penalties can even dip into your principal if the CD hasn’t been opened long enough to cover the penalty fees through interest.
  • Know when your CD is nearing maturity. Most financial institutions will automatically roll the funds in your CD over to a new CD with similar terms once it matures, unless you instruct them otherwise. However, allowing a CD to automatically roll over to a new term could be a costly mistake if you haven’t evaluated all of your other options. It pays to assess other investment opportunities to ensure you’re putting your money in a place that makes sense for you given your current situation and financial goals.
  • Use CD laddering to help generate a stream of interest income. A CD ladder could be a great was to prevent your funds from being unnecessarily tied up. This type of investment strategy involves setting up a collection of CDs that will mature at different intervals so you regularly have funds becoming available. For example, if instead of putting all of your investment dollars into an 18-month CD, you split those dollars three ways and open a 6-month CD, a 12-month CD, and an 18-month CD, you will have funds becoming available every 6 months, and a third of your money will still be earning interest at an 18-month rate!

 
With a little strategic thought, investing in CDs could be a great opportunity to earn some extra cash. But remember that it’s always best to consult with a tax advisor before making any major financial decisions. To learn more about the CDs offered by Bank5 Connect, visit http://www.bank5connect.com/home/cds.