Monday, October 18, 2010

Two New Blogs for the Blog List

I recently added two very interesting personal finance blogs to my blog list. The first one is Investrepreneurship written by Justin Teo. Justin is also the author of a recent guest post about the stock True Religion Apparel, Inc. (Nasdaq: TRLG) on PFStock. Justin told me that he is from Malaysia, and I am glad to have the international exposure for PFStock.

The next addition to my blog list is Smart Money Guide written by Leakkhena Ung. She is from Sydney Australia. So, I'm glad to have these additions to my blog list. I regularly read posts in my blog list, and it is automatically updated with the most recent posts at the top.

A few other PF blogs are listed on my Links page. Some bloggers have inquired why their blog is listed on the Links page rather than on the blog list.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Guest Post: Are Hotel Rewards Credit Cards Worth It?

As we all know, there are a plethora of reward cards on the market. Those that give cash back and airline miles tend to be the most popular, but what about hotel rewards credit cards? Are their rewards worthwhile? To find out, consider the following:

Do you always stay at the same hotel chain?

Hotel rewards credit cards are typically associated with a specific hotel chain. For example, there is the Marriott Rewards Visa, Starwood American Express, Choice Privileges Visa, and so forth.

With these, any rewards you earn can only be used at the card’s affiliated hotel chain. So if you always stay at Marriott, for example, then their card might be worth looking into. But if you find yourself staying at different chains all the time, then it probably wouldn’t make sense to get a credit card that’s only affiliated with one of them.

How much will you be charging per year?
With the exception of the Choice Privileges Visa and the Best Western MasterCard, almost every hotel credit card on the market charges an annual fee. Fortunately it’s not that much – usually around $45 to $65 – but it’s still something you need to take into account.

Let’s say your card had a $65 annual fee and the rewards were only worth 1 penny per dollar spent. If that were the case, that would mean the first $6,500 spent each year would just go towards breaking even on the annual fee. So it’s important to weigh your expected spending, the rewards, and the annual fee to see if a card is worth it.

How does the rewards program work exactly?
Of course the most important thing is the rewards program, but get out your calculator to figure out if they’re really worthwhile.

Take the Choice Privileges card; it gives 2 points per dollar spent which sounds nice at first (most people assume that would mean 2% on spending). But allegedly, the value of these points may only be worth as little as 0.6 to 1.0 cents each when you redeem them. The online source which claims this got the figure by comparing how many points it would take to get free rooms, compared to the price if you simply paid for the same rooms with cash. So make sure you take a close look at what your points will actually buy you before you apply for a hotel rewards credit card.

Do you want the ability to exchange points for airline miles?

The high-end hotel credit cards give you the option of converting reward points into airline miles. If this is something you plan on doing, make sure you pay attention to each card’s conversion formula. Only the Starwood American converts on a 1 point = 1 mile basis. The others penalize you big time. For example, with the Hilton credit card, 6.7 points = 1 mile.

What other perks does the card give?

Hotel rewards credit cards often give perks like free room upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, and more. If you stay at their hotel frequently, those perks alone may be worth the annual fee.

Some cards also offer special benefits outside of the hotel. For example, the Best Western card includes an AAA basic annual membership; this gives members discounts at restaurants and various attractions. Benefits like these are something to take into account when trying to decide if a card is worthwhile.

What are the online credit card reviews saying about them?

There are a number of websites which feature credit card reviews. Check out the user-submitted comments to see what people are saying about a given card. Sometimes, a credit card may look good on the outside, but you may research it and find out that there are a lot of complaints about bad customer service or some other problem.

If you travel frequently and often stay a specific hotel chain, it may be worth checking out their credit card if they have one. But just make sure you do your research to determine if the rewards and benefits truly outweigh the annual fee.

About the Author
This guest post was written by Michael from Credit Card Forum, a social media site for credit card reviews and discussion. He regularly writes on the site’s credit card blog and also assists with forum moderation.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guest Post: Why You Should Have An Online Savings Account

The whole idea of online bank may appear quite eerie to many people. What is an online bank? How can a bank operate without any physical entity or even an ATM? Such questions cross our minds when we discuss stuff like online bank. Well, an online bank is a banking institution that operates only on the internet; you need to transact either on the internet or over telephone.

The older generation accustomed to the safety vaults of normal banks may cast skeptical glances at it. But, the concept of online banks is gradually becoming a great hit among the net-savvy youngsters. If the absence of a physical bank location is a reason not to put faith in online banks, then there are plenty of reasons why you should have a savings account in an online bank. Wondering how? Then take a look at the following:
  • Higher interest rates: Having a savings account in an online bank can be quite lucrative. They usually offer higher rates of interest than the normal banks. Online banks can afford to give your more interest because they do not involve added costs of maintaining branches and teller facilities. The lower overall operational costs allow the online banks to offer you some tempting interest rates.
  • User friendly websites: Online banks have very sophisticated websites, where you can perform all the banking transactions easily. They usually get upgraded and user-friendly features built into the website to help you pay your bills, make instant or scheduled money transfers, change your account information and also create or close accounts as simply as possible. The more features they can incorporate, the fewer staffs they require to handle telephonic operations.
  • Lower charges: Most online banks charge you no maintenance fees and minimum balance fee for your accounts. Some banks even do not charge anything for opening an account. So, banking gets really inexpensive and super easy with online banks.
  • Your money is safe: The absence of a physical entity should not make you feel that online banks are unsafe. In fact online banks are Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insured, which means your money is in safe hands. Online banks are as safe as their brick and mortar counterpart. While in other investment options you need to take higher risks for higher profits, online banks will spare you such risks. Moreover, the FDIC is great assurance for the consumers.
  • Separate savings from expenses: If you are one of those kinds that do not want savings accounts to be easily accessible lest they end up spending more, then an online bank is just your cup of tea. Since online accounts provide no teller or ATM facility, your savings are not available at your fingers. And this could prove a great way to keep your savings from getting encroached by your spending sprees.
  • Automate your savings: Online savings account is a great way to automate your savings. You can have a certain amount automatically deposited into your online account from an attached account regularly. Recurring savings thus becomes quite hassle-free with online banks.
  • Time Saving: The best part of an online bank is that it is superb time saving banking option that allows transactions in as less time as possible. You can open an account and get your transactions performed within a few minutes.

Now if that seems convincing and you are already thinking of opening an online savings account, then you are just a click away from it. All you need to do is search online to find out an online bank that best suits your circumstances and get on with an online savings account. And then savings will be more fun, profitable, easy, secured and superbly time-saving!

About the Author
This guest post was written by "Jack Reed". He writes on various financial topics with a special focus on bankruptcy. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact PF Stock at the Email address listed in the sidebar.