May 30, 2018, 9:11 AM
You may have dreams of hitting the open road or taking to the friendly skies, but your wallet isn't cooperating. If you're tired of looking at everyone else's travel photos on social media, it might be time to start making some of your own exotic memories.
While travel can be costly, it doesn't have to break the bank. The good news is that there are several ways you can travel the world without draining your savings account.
Take more time to plan.
If you don't make some plans, you could end up spending more on airline tickets and hotels. Yes, there are some last minute deals, but taking the time to carefully map out your trip and each of its cost elements is one of the best ways to stay within a budget.
Most airlines are now charging extra for checked bags. You will not only be happier carrying less when you travel, but it will also save you time and money. You won't have to wait at baggage carousels, tip hotel valets, and pay those hefty airline fees.
Travel in the off-season.
If you can travel when everyone else is at home because school is in session, you'll save a lot of cash. Likewise, visiting certain locales during their off-season is the best way to save on airfare and lodging expenses.
Choose alternative housing.
Until recently, the only lodging choice for travelers was a hotel. This is no longer the case thanks to popular websites like Home Away and Airbnb. Now, you can stay in someone else's home, often at a much lower rate, and have the benefits of a full kitchen. There are also some house sitting sites, such as TrustedHousesitters, that allow you to stay for free in exchange for your pet sitting services.
While you're in Europe, it might be tempting to buy an unlimited Eurorail pass and see every country within reach. This is also expensive and will take you away from your paying job even longer. Instead, pick one or two "must see" places and plan another trip in the future.
Use City Bank Credit Card Rewards for Travel
If you're ready to make your travel dreams a reality, one way that you can start is with a City Bank credit card. These feature-rich cards offer competitive rates, and some have rewards that can help you achieve your travel goals.
MasterCard®1 offers both Price Protectionand ID Theft Protection2 coverage. The Platinum card3 gives you one reward point for every dollar spent, and the World card delivers double points on travel-related purchases. Learn more about our personal City Bank credit cards or apply now.
1 MasterCard® is a registered trademark of MasterCard International Incorporated. 2 The descriptions of the listed benefits and enhancements are summaries only. Certain terms, conditions and exclusions apply. The information is provided on an “AS IS” basis and for informational purposes. It is not a specific recommendation for any particular action or investment and should not be relied upon in whole or in part as the basis for decision making or other purposes. 3 Upon approval, a letter will be mailed acknowledging your new account. The Rewards Bonus period begins on the date of the new account letter and ends 90 days later. For details on the Rewards Program, please visit city.bank/myapexcard.com/apply and select Rewards Terms and Conditions. Reward options are subject to change without notice. We group similar merchant category codes into Purchase Categories that are used to calculate the stated reward points. We make every effort to include all relevant merchant category codes in the listed Purchase Categories. However, even though a merchant or the items that it sells may appear to fit within a Purchase Category, the merchant may not provide us with the merchant code that will fall within that Purchase Category. Because of this, we cannot guarantee that a purchase will qualify for more than the standard 1 (one) rewards points as any purchase where a merchant uses a category code outside of the eligible Purchase Category does not qualify for additional rewards points.
May 30, 2018, 9:00 AM
Buying a car, whether new or used, can be a stressful and challenging experience. Many people are reluctant to negotiate auto deals for fear that they won't get the best terms.
One of the ways that you can protect your financial interests is to learn as much as possible about the process of financing a vehicle. It also helps to walk into a dealership with a pre-approval for a loan. If you're ready to buy your next vehicle, here is what you need to know about financing a car.
Determine your budget.
Before you purchase or shop for a vehicle, it's helpful to sit down and thoroughly assess your budget. Figure out what you can comfortably afford to pay each month for a car payment. From this, you can figure out how much car you can afford, or a lender will be happy to help with this calculation.
Get approved for an auto loan.
You will have much more leverage in purchasing a car if you are pre-approved for financing before you shop.
When you take out an auto loan, you will make payments on that loan over an agreed period until the loan, plus interest, is satisfied. The lender will hold a lien on your vehicle until you pay your loan in full.
Understand the Terms of your loan.
When you get an auto loan, ask the lender to explain the details so that you understand your obligations and the implications of your choices. The "term" is the length of time that you have to pay back the loan.
While a longer term (61-72 months) will give you a lower monthly payment, it also comes with a higher APR. The APR is the annual percentage rate on the loan. The shorter your term and the higher your credit score, the lower your APR.
Make a Down payment on the car.
You may be required to make a down payment on the next vehicle you purchase. Since new cars immediately depreciate in value (as much as 40% in the first three years), this down payment helps protect the lender from that offset.
When you pay more for the car upfront, your monthly payment will be less. In some cases, any trade-in value will count as a down payment. What a lender requires, if anything, could vary depending on your credit score.
Finance a New or Used Car with City Bank
If you are looking to buy a new or used vehicle, or would simply like more favorable terms on your current vehicle loan, City Bank has a wide range of auto loans that can help. We are committed to offering our customers the best auto loan to suit their needs at competitive rates.
Learn more about our auto loan program or apply now for pre-approval online, at one of our locations, or by calling 1-800-OUR-BANK.
April 25, 2018, 1:23 PM
There are some attractive mortgage loans that don't require as much of a down payment as in the past, but you will still need to have some cash on hand to buy a home. Even with a low down payment loan, you may need 5%-10% down. Most experts, however, recommend that homebuyers put 20% down to avoid private mortgage insurance and other fees.
No matter which mortgage product you settle on, gathering funds for a down payment can be a challenge. Even so, this is certainly something that can be achieved with some careful planning. Here are just five simple steps that can help you bulk up your savings so that you'll be ready to make that home purchase.
1. Determine your budget. It's easier to reach for a goal if you define it first. Make a list of your "needs" and "wants" for a new home and then do some thorough research on your market. Find out how much a typical home costs that meets your needs and figure out your budget for a down payment.
2. Review your current savings. You may be tempted to tap into your existing retirement account or emergency fund to finance your home ownership dream, but this could be a mistake. It's important that you keep those items designated for their intended use. Instead, think about opening a new savings account that you will use solely for your mortgage down payment.
3. Cut back on expenses. Home ownership is a major accomplishment that could involve some sacrifices to achieve. This means that you should carefully examine your existing expenses and see where you can cut back for the sake of your dream. Maybe you don't need 500 cable channels for now and can do without the gourmet lunches for a while. If you want to go extreme, you could move into a smaller apartment and even think about taking in a roommate for a short period.
4. Boost your income. Another way to save for a house is to find new ways to make money - legally, of course. Get a second job that you can work weekends or in the evenings. Now that we have a growing gig economy, you can look into driving for a ride sharing service or even research ways to make some extra cash online.
5. Keep the change. If you are someone who shops with cash, it might be tempting to squander those loose bills and coins. These add up! Instead, set them aside and begin depositing the money into your down payment savings account. When you combine this technique with some of the others, you will reach your goal even sooner.
Open an Account to Begin Saving for a Home
If your goal is to buy a home, there is no better time than the present to begin saving to make that dream a reality. At City Bank, we offer a variety of products to help you achieve your financial goals including a personal savings account and competitive mortgage loans when you are ready. Open a savings account now or come into one of our local branches to discuss your options.
April 03, 2018, 8:31 AM
Our web address is about to get short and sweet.
On May 1st, citybankonline.com will change to city.bank.
City Bank will be performing a significant upgrade that positively affects customers’ online security when interacting with the City Bank website and Online Banking. Effective May 1st, 2018, we will transition our current website domain citybankonline.com to our new online home at city.bank. On or after this date, if you access citybankonline.com, you will be automatically redirected to city.bank.
The new dot-bank domain extension is different than dot-com as it incorporates added security requirements specifically for the banking industry. An enhanced level of verification, authentication, and security will help reduce phishing, spoofing, internet scams and malicious emails. This change will also allow our customers to interact with us through a trusted, verified, more secure, and easily identifiable location on the Internet.
How will this affect customers?
The migration to the new domain will be seamless, but we recommend you create a new bookmark for city.bank. This will not affect our current online and mobile banking solutions. Apart from seeing a different web address, you should not notice any disruption of service.
How will this affect Online Banking?
Along with this web address change, Online Banking will also have a new URL, https://secure.city.bank. Because of this, customers will be prompted to re-register devices used to access Online Banking through the authentication process.
There is no ".com" at the end of ".bank"
Remember to NOT add ".com" at the end of this new web address. There's no need. Adding ".com" at the end of our new web address will result in the inability to access our website after the change occurs.
Customers should make sure they are using a current, updated browser.
To ensure a seamless experience with the new web address, customers are urged to use a current, updated browser such as the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer 11 or Edge.
March 27, 2018, 1:34 PM
Some people swear by their credit or debit cards while others declare that "Cash is King." The truth is that each form of payment has its pros and cons. Depending on your habits and goals, one form may be a better choice than another. Here are the pros and cons of paying with cash, debit, and credit so that you can make the most informed spending decisions.
Paying with Cash
Paying cash for everything can help you avoid overspending. If you only have cash on hand, you can determine in advance what you are willing to spend on something, and then you are forced to stop once you hit that threshold. Some businesses today are still cash-only or have a minimum purchase to use a credit card, so cash will come in handy in these scenarios.
For some, carrying around cash is a temptation. If you're holding too much cash, you may be enticed to spend it on things that you don't need. Cash can also be lost or stolen, and it's usually not replaceable once this happens. For these reasons alone, using a debit or credit card is often a safer choice.
Using a Debit Card
Because funds from a debit card transaction come directly out of your bank account, using this method could help you avoid overspending. Debit cards can be used in places where cash isn't accepted. You also have some federal protections should there be fraudulent use of your card, although these aren't as strong as those in place for credit cards.
You need to keep close track of your checking account balance so that you don't overdraw your account. When you pay for things like gas and hotels with a debit card, there's a chance that the business will place a hold on your account until your final purchase clears. This could affect your checking account balance and even trigger overdrafts.
Paying by Credit Card
Some businesses, such as rental car agencies and hotels, require that you use a credit card to book or pay in advance. Your credit activity is reported to the three major credit bureaus, which gives you an opportunity to build a healthy credit history and score. Many major credit cards offer incentives for their use such as cash back, sign-up bonuses, travel rewards, price protection, and additional product warranties. Finally, credit cards provide the strongest consumer protection against fraud thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act.
If you are an undisciplined spender, having a credit card can be a temptation to purchase more than you need. When you carry over a balance on a credit card, you will pay interest charges and could harm your credit with any late payments. Credit cards are best used when their balance is paid in full at the end of each billing period.
Mobile Payment Options
Many businesses are now offering mobile payment options such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. These are cardless payment systems that work through an app attached to your smartphone or wearable device. They use a technology called near-field communications (NFC) to transmit your stored credit or debit card information when you wave it close to the retailer's payment terminal. The biggest benefit to those payment systems is convenience. You can literally leave your wallet at home and still have the ability to shop, eat out, and even transfer money. They are also considered secure because NFC encrypts your payment data.
There are just a few cons associated with mobile payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. First, they still aren't widely available, so you may have to search to find a place to pay with your phone or smartwatch. Second, they are slightly awkward, where you need to turn your phone or wrist a certain way to register the payment. Finally, they are available only on some of the newer smartphone devices such as the iPhone 6 and above and the Samsung Galaxy S6 and up.
Consumer Credit Cards from City Bank
Consumers who want to establish and grow their credit through the responsible use of a credit card can now take advantage of City Bank's new partnership with MasterCard. City Bank is offering several MasterCard consumer credit cards that offer several choices in benefits such as a low-rate introductory APR, cash back rewards, and travel points. Apply now for your low APR personal credit card from City Bank.
*Subject to credit approval. Ask for details.
March 15, 2018, 3:16 PM
There is a common misconception about budgets only being for people going through financial difficulties. The truth is that a well-planned budget is one of the best ways to help you reach your financial goals and live the lifestyle of your dreams. The good news is that preparing and sticking to a budget isn't as difficult as it sounds. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a budget and finding some extra cash each month.
Step 1: What is Your Take-Home Pay?
Too many people make the mistake of creating a budget based on their total salary when this is not the amount of money you will have to cover expenses. Your take-home pay, or net income, is the money that you have left each month after taxes and deductions for things such as medical insurance, Social Security, and 401(k) contributions. Use your net income for all budget calculations.
Step 2: Track Your Spending
It's useful to identify the places that you are spending the most money each month so that you can budget properly and even think about making some adjustments later. You can separate your expenditures into fixed and variable expenses.
Your fixed expenses are things that remain the same from month to month such as rent, car payments, and some utilities. Variable expenses change, and these include gas, groceries, and money for entertainment. Review bank and credit card statements to create these lists.
Step 3: Establish Some Goals
When you create a budget, it helps to have some financial goals. These are both short and long-term targets for your monthly spending and savings. The kinds of things that you might want to include in your goals are contributing more to an emergency savings account, starting a college savings fund for your children, or saving money for a home mortgage down payment.
Step 4: Create a Plan
You can begin to put your plan into action by paying closer attention to the way you spend each dollar. It's also important that you take some steps to move forward with some of your goals. For example, if you want to establish an emergency fund or save for a new home, now is the time to open a savings account and set up an automatic deposit after each payday. The idea of "paying yourself first" gets put into action here.
Step 5: Adjust Your Spending
Use the list of fixed and variable expenses that you've made to figure out your future spending. Your past spending is the best predictor of future spending, but you can make changes. For example, you can categorize some of your expenses between "needs" and "wants." There may be some "wants," such as your morning latte, that you can eliminate so that you can meet your goals.
Step 6: Continue to Evaluate
A budget isn't a one and done process. You should plan on reviewing your budget regularly to make sure that you are on track and to see if there are any other ways that you can improve your financial position. As with most things in life, circumstances change. You may switch jobs, get a raise, or move to a more expensive apartment, all of which require that you adjust your plan.
If you haven't done it before, starting a budget can be a challenge. At City Bank we’ve reimagined the online banking experience to bring you more capability and insight into your day-to-day financial management with some exciting new tools. Online Banking is the free, secure way to manage your finances online from any web-enabled device from anywhere you have access to the Internet. Once you have your budget in place and the financial tools to succeed established, you will find it easier to reach your goals.
Contact City Bank now to learn about our feature-rich checking and savings accounts as well as our other competitive financial tools.