|Melio (payments only)
|ACH bill pay:
|ACH Same Day
|1% up to $30
|ACH by card
|2.9% (with Amex)
|2.9% (no Amex)
|Yield (as of 9/30/2023)
|Mobile check deposit
|Incoming Free (Outgoing $15)
|2 Free checkbooks every year
|$100 with $10K deposit
- Capture the full employer match on your 401(k)
- Name or update beneficiaries on all accounts
- Diversify your portfolio to match your goals and risk tolerance
- Create an emergency fund
- Prepare a will
- Pay a little extra on your mortgage each month
- Improve your investing knowledge through an online workshop
- Pay off your credit cards in full each month
- Contribute to a 529 plan
- Track your spending and cut back where possible to boost savings
- Max out your 401(k)
- Contribute to a health savings account, if eligible
- Contribute to an IRA
- Transfer some funds to roth IRA for better tax management during retirement.
- Create a financial plan
- Pay off your mortgage before retirement
- Create a budget based on your ideal retirement, including location and lifestyle
- Review your social security statement for missing income information
- Make a plan for long-term care
- Create a tax-smart income-withdrawal strategy
- Research investment options for your health savings account, if eligible
- Save even more towards your goals with a taxable brokerage account
- Educate the young people in your life about investing
- Gift any individual up to $15,000 annually without triggering the federal gift tax
- Make a tax-smart charitable gift of appreciated assets
Step 1: Go to the credit bureau websites and locate the “security freeze” link.
- For Equifax: www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
- For Experian: www.experian.com/freeze
- For TransUnion: www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
Type in your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. (Note: You can also submit a credit freeze request via phone or in writing.) You may be asked to provide a previous address if you have lived at your current one for less than two years.
You also may need to answer a few questions about your background, including loans you’ve taken out, credit cards you hold or previous addresses to confirm your identity.
Step 2: Select the security freeze option. (Or if you already have a freeze in place, select whether you want to temporarily “unfreeze” it or remove the freeze permanently
Step 3: Jot down your PIN number, as you will need it to change the status of your freeze, like when you want to “thaw” or unfreeze it to get a loan for a new car or apply for a mortgage.
Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The three major credit bureaus track your credit accounts, payment history, and other related information like bankrupts and liens. Free copy of each once every 12 months.
CoreLogic Credco. One of the largest credit-related CRAs and often used by mortgage lenders, your CoreLogic Credco Consumer File can contain: previous homeownership and mortgage info, rental payment history, any reported delinquencies, and other debt obligations like child support. Free copy once every 12 months.
- Credco.com request page
LexisNexis. One of the largest personal information databases that includes public records, real estate transaction and ownership data, lien, judgment, and bankruptcy records, professional license information, and historical addresses on file. Free copy, must mail in form.
- LexisNexis.com request page
Innovis. A supplementary credit report and identity verification provider. Free copy once every 12 months.
- Innovis.com request page
SageStream, LLC (formerly IDA, Inc.) Per their site, they are a “a credit reporting agency that produces credit reports and scores from our repository of consumer information contributed by a wide array of companies including leading financial services organizations, wireless providers, utilities, retailers, auto lenders and many others” Free copy, must fax or mail in a written form.
- SagestreamLLC.com request page
Microbilt and subsidiary Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC). Microbilt is a credit reporting agency, per their site a “leading provider of alternative credit data to businesses that want to offer credit and other financial services to the approximately 110 million underserved and underbanked consumers in the United States.” Free copy once every 12 months.
- Microbilt.com request page
Chexsystems. A consumer information database used by an estimated 80-90% of all banks to help determine the risk of opening new accounts. Think of it as the banks’ version of a credit bureau. If a person commits check fraud or overdraws their account, it will be listed here. In addition, the simple act of opening or closing a bank account may be recorded in their database. Having a negative ChexSystems record can leave you blacklisted from opening bank accounts at most major banks. Free copy once every 12 months. You can now request your report online.
- ChexSystems request page
TeleCheck. Per their site, they provide “industry-leading check acceptance, check processing and risk analytics services to merchants and financial institutions.” One of the major companies that protect businesses and banks from bad checks. Must order by phone or mail.
- TeleCheck request page
Certegy Check Services. Per their site, a “check risk management company that provides verification, guarantee and risk analytics to thousands of businesses that choose to accept checks as a form of payment for goods or services.” Clients include check-cashing stores and casinos. Free copy once every 12 months. Must order by phone or mail.
- AskCertegy.com request page
Early Warning Services. A collaboration between a group of big banks including Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Provides fraud prevention and risk management in relation to bank accounts and payment transactions. Must order by phone.
- EarlyWarning.com request page
Subprime-Related (Payday Lending)
The following companies focus on subprime customers with clients including payday lenders, title loan lenders, rent-to-own stores, and subprime auto loan providers.
Teletrack (affiliated with CoreLogic).
- Teletrack report request form
FactorTrust. Free copy once every 12 months. Recently acquired by TransUnion.
- FactorTrust.com request page
Clarity Services, Inc. Must mail or fax form.
- ClarityServices.com request page
DataX Ltd. Must mail form.
- DataXLtd.com request page
Realpage Consumer Report. Provides tenant screening through their LeasingDesk product, including “the industry’s largest rental payment history database.”
CoreLogic SafeRent. SafeRent provides both tenant and employment screening data, including information regarding landlord tenant and criminal public court records. One free report every 12 months.
Experian RentBureau Rental History Report. “Every 24 hours, Experian RentBureau receives updated rental payment history data from property owners/managers, electronic rent payment services and collection companies and makes that information available immediately to the multifamily industry through our resident screening partners.”
First Advantage Resident History Report. Tenant and employment background checks. One free report every 12 months.
Contemporary Information Corp. CIC provides background checks on prospective tenants and/or employees and contractors for landlords and management companies. Keep records of any rental evictions.
Tenant Data. Provides tenant history reports, including any reported damages, unpaid balances, evictions, lease violations, noise complaints, or unauthorized pets.
Screening Reports, Inc. A national provider of background screening service to the multi-family housing industry.
TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions, Inc. SmartMove provides tenant credit, eviction, and background checks.
- MySmartMove.com FAQ page
- SmartMove will disclose the contents of a criminal and/or credit report retained by SmartMove to an individual who requests a copy of their report. To verify your identity and obtain a copy of your report(s) or dispute any information within that report, please contact customer service at 866-775-0961.
Auto and Property Insurance
C.L.U.E. Personal Property Report. A division of LexisNexis, CLUE stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, which collects information that is used to calculate your insurance premiums. This report provides a seven year history of losses associated with an individual and his/her personal property. Includes date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name. This also means you can find out about previous claims on the house you are currently renting or recently bought, even if they weren’t made by you.
C.L.U.E. Auto Report. This report provides a seven year history of automobile insurance losses associated with an individual. Includes date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.
Verisk Analytics aka ISO aka A-PLUS Loss History Reports. ISO stands for Insurance Services Office, A-PLUS stands for Automated Property Loss Underwriting System. Auto and property loss claim history.
Insurance Information Exchange (now owned by Verisk). Provide reports including your motor vehicle records and driver history, including any traffic violations or related criminal history. May require proof of adverse action to obtain free report.
Drivers History. Provides reports to its insurance clients containing information and data collected from open public sources and governmental agencies regarding driving violations issued to specific individuals.
National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange. NCTUE is a “membership of companies that provide services (telecommunication, pay TV, and utilities) […] to aid in risk mitigation.” Basically they track when people don’t pay their phone, cable, or utility bills. One free report every 12 months.
MIB (previously known as Medical Information Bureau). Run by 470 insurance companies with a “primary mission of detecting and deterring fraud that may occur in the course of obtaining life, health, disability income, critical illness, and long-term care insurance.” They record information of “underwriting significance” like medical conditions or hazardous activities. If you have not applied for individually underwritten life, health, or disability income insurance during the preceding seven year period, then you probably don’t have a record.
Milliman IntelliScript. Tracks your prescription drug purchase history. “Milliman IntelliScript will have prescription information about you only if you authorized the release of your medical records to an insurance company and that company requested that we gather a report on you.”
The following companies all offer background screening services for employers. Most will not have any information about you unless you authorized a potential employer to run a background check on you (probably during the application process). Some will not provide you information unless there was adverse action. Otherwise, you can get one free copy every 12 months.
The Work Number. (division of Equifax) They also keep historical income records.
Accurate Background, Inc.
American Databank, LLC.
General Information Services.
Professional Screening & Information, Inc.
Sterling Talent Solutions (formerly Sterling Backcheck or Sterling Infosystems)
Comparison of popular USA Visa infinite cards
|Chase Sapphire Reserve
|City National Crystal
|$450 ($75 additional card)
|$450 ($75 additional card)
|1st year free
$400 ($75 additional card, free for some)
|100,000 bonus points
|Annual travel credit
|$300 air incidentals only
|$250 air incidentals only
|Air discount US
|$100 for 2 tickets (unlimited)
|$100 for 2 tickets (unlimited)
|$100 at Ritz 2 nights
|Lounge Priority Pass
|Purchase and travel protection
|Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
|12 GoGo passes
|3 points on travel and restaurants (up to 4.5), 1 points everywhere else (up to 1.5)
|2.2 points on travel and restaurants, 1.1 everywhere else
|3 points on travel, gas, restaurants and grocery. 1 point everywhere else. (use points for travel (up to 1.3%)
|TSA + Global entry
|$100 every 5 years
|Foreing transaction fee
|National car, Avis, SilverCar
|Ritz Gold elite
+ Club level upgrades 3 times
|National car, Avis, SilverCar
Amex Serve is prepaid American Express card that is great to start a relationship with American Express.
Serve links that are hidden (not provided anywhere on Amex site, but works well and useful for many important tasks)
Link to schedule extra auto reload
Consumer Banking, Insurance, Auto, Employment history, Health history reports
ChexSystems Banking History
ChexSystems is a consumer information database used by an estimated 80-90% of all banks to help determine the risk of opening new accounts. Think of it as the bank’s version of a credit bureau. If a person commits check fraud or overdraws their account, it will be listed here. In addition, the simple act of opening or closing a bank account may be recorded in their database. Getting a negative ChexSystems record can leave you blacklisted from opening bank accounts at most major banks.
Get your free ChexSystems consumer report here.
Medical History Used For Insurance Underwriting
MIB (previously known as Medical Information Bureau) is run by 470 insurance companies and has a “primary mission of detecting and deterring fraud that may occur in the course of obtaining life, health, disability income, critical illness, and long-term care insurance.” They record information of “underwriting significance” for those who have applied for life and health insurance with MIB member companies. If you have not applied for individually underwritten life, health, or disability income insurance during the preceding seven year period, then you probably don’t have a record.
Get your free MIB consumer file here.
Insurance Claims History
CLUE stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, and they collect information that is used to calculate your potential risk of loss and thus your insurance premiums. You can also find out about previous claims on the house you are currently renting or recently bought, even if they weren’t made by you.
The C.L.U.E. ®Personal Property report provides a seven year history of losses associated with an individual and his/her personal property. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.
The C.L.U.E. ®Auto report provides a seven year history of automobile insurance losses associated with an individual. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.
In addition, you should also request your free A-PLUS report (Automated Property Loss Underwriting System), which is a smaller database that also contains information about property loss claims.
When a potential employer runs a background check through LexisNexis (formerly known as ChoicePoint), this is the information they see. It doesn’t seem to claim be comprehensive, and they may have only limited or even no data about you, but I would still check for potentially negative data.
LexisNexis Screening Solutions Inc. provides Employment History Reports to employers only with a job applicant’s or employee’s consent. Employers utilize a variety of companies to obtain employment history information. Our files would only contain information on you if LexisNexis provided your Employment History Report to an employer.
This report can be important if you are a renter and someone runs a background check on you at LexisNexis (ChoicePoint).
LexisNexis Screening Solutions provides Resident History Reports to housing providers that have the subject’s consent. Housing Providers utilize a variety of companies to obtain tenant history information. Our files would only contain information on you if LexisNexis provided your Resident History Report to a housing provider.
Square (get paid via credit card)
Square provides a simple way for anyone (even you!) to accept payment via credit card. Whether you have a little shop or traveling band that you want to accept payments by card, or you just want to split the dinner tab with a friend, now you can.Gadgetizd covered Square a little while back, recommending the completely free hardware that allows you to swipe credit cards on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
All three versions of the Square app are beautifully designed and simple to use. While the apps do leave some features to be desired (like an editable, searchable payment record), they work exactly as advertised. Just enter a price, select the “Credit Card” option and swipe your customer or friend’s card. A signature pad will show up on your screen, and it’s easy to sign with the tip of a finger. You can even email a receipt with one tap.
You have the option to either swipe the person’s card using the free swiping “Square” that plugs directly into your device’s headphone jack, or to type in the credit card information manually. You can even add a photo of the item purchased or use the “Cash” option (just to keep a record of the transaction and quickly calculate change).
Thanks to Square, you can accept credit card payments no matter where – or who – you are. Square accounts are free and come with the hardware to swipe credit cards. For credit card swipe payments, there is a 2.75% + ¢15 transaction fee, which is slightly less than online card-accepting services like Google Checkout and PayPal.
Venmo (get paid instantly from anywhere)
Venmo lets you easily pay or charge money to anyone in the U.S. with a cell phone number. It’s a super-simple and straightforward idea, and similarly simple to use. It’s invite only for now (though it’s easy to get one via Twitter), and it’s easy to setup an account and connect a Credit/Debit card, bank account or both (that’s is how your instant payments will be funded).
Once signed up, you can send a text message reading “Send 1.50 to [cell phone number]” to Venmo and your payment will be instantly available for the recipient – whether they have a Venmo account or not. If the person does not have a Venmo account, they are prompted to simply reply with their email address and then a username. Their account will be created and ready to complete whenever they go to Venmo.com.
One of the great features of Venmo is that you can “Trust” other people to access your money. I “Trust” my girlfriend on my account, meaning if she ever needs money she can instantaneously take it from me. “Trusting” is only for the people you’re closest with, but Venmo will notify you every time someone you trust takes money from your account, and you have 24 hours to reverse every change.
Though the design of the website could be improved, the ease of sending/receiving money and setting up an account via SMS texting is remarkable. PayPal provides a similar SMS-based service (see below), but the simplicity of the Venmo service (and the fact that it’s free!) makes it the best way to transfer money between friends. There are no fees for individuals. It’s currently in the Beta testing phase, but I have 20 invites, so Tweet @Bgrasberger if you want one.
Paypal Mobile – (get paid from anywhere with extra security and fees)
PayPal has always always been dedicated to making transactions between individuals easier. Now with PayPal Mobile, you can pay anybody and get paid by anybody with a PayPal account just by sending a SMS text message, by “Bumping” (literally tapping them against each other) iPhones or through apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices.
Unfortunately, setting up mobile payments from your account at paypal.com is unnecessarily cumbersome, as is PayPal’s version of texting payments. Once PayPal Mobile is setup, you can send a payment just like Venmo: by sending a SMS message reading “Send 4.99 to [phone number] or [email address]” to PayPal. You will then receive an automated phone call that prompts you to approve the payment with your PIN.
Of all the options out there, anyone really concerned about security should use PayPal Mobile. The additional steps in setting up your account and confirmations for each transaction provide extra security you might like. If you have a smart phone, PayPal’s mobile apps do make transactions easier. If you’re with the person you want to pay, the “Bump” feature for iPhone works well to send and receive money (see a full description here). For PayPal payments, there is a 2.9% + ¢30 transaction fee.
No longer, my friends, is “sorry, dude, I don’t have any cash.” an excuse. How do you pay and get paid by your friends?
4.09% APY Free Rewards Checking
Consumers Credit Union
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- 12 Debit/Check Card transactions
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FREE CREDIT SCORES
There are three different websites that offer free credit report from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies. See
Credit Karma vs Quizzle vs Credit Sesame
|Free to join
|Free credit score
|Credit score provider
|Credit score update frequency
|Credit score simulator
|Yes, VantageScore and Auto Insurance Score
|Free credit report
|No, but has credit report card
|Credit report update frequency
|Yes, but only Quicken Loan
|Home value estimate
|Yes, by FNC
|Yes, by Eppraisal.com
|Home sale info
|Yes, Ally Bank, FNBO Direct and Zions Bank
|Credit card offers
|Personal loan offers
|Yes, from Lending Club
|Yes, from Lending Club
|Auto/Life insurance offers
|Auto loan offers
|Affect credit score
Credit Karma, Quizzle and Credit Sesame, EquiFax Comparison