61 Best Toys for Christmas in 2018

Buying gifts for children can be both extremely easy and hard at the same time. That’s because there are so many excellent options. Are you still looking for the perfect gift to put under the tree for your children? If so, we will quickly help you spot the best toys for Christmas. And you can cross those remaining names off your shopping list.

If you’re buying presents for several children, this list gives gift ideas by age. So you can easily find the 61 best toys for Christmas.

You might still need to finish shopping for others on your Christmas list too. If so, check out our other guides. They are the Best Christmas Gifts for Men. And the Best Christmas Gifts for Women.

Also, you might want a unique gift that will keep giving for years to come. Consider gifting money to a kids college fund through CollegeBacker. You can open an account in less than 5 minutes. Then invite other friends and family to gift to your kids 529 College Savings Plan!

Baby Toys

Maybe it’s baby’s first Christmas. Even though they won’t remember it, you will. Some of these toys are truly timeless as you might have enjoyed them as a small child.

All options in this section are toys you might buy for someone under the age of three.

1. Bright Starts Baby Light and Giggle Drum

This Bright Starts Baby Light and Giggle Drum is a fun toy. Even the smallest of children can enjoy its peppy tunes and dazzling lights. Also, there are three different learning modes they can enjoy when they get older. These are best when they can begin to understand sequences. But all you have to do is tap on the drum to start the music. And you’ll see their face light up with joy.

2. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-A-Stack

This classic toy is a timeless gift. It can help your toddler learn how to stack five differently colored rings on a post. And it can rock back and forth. Your child can hone their motor skills while learning the different colors and sizes of the rings. You probably had a Rock-A-Stack as a child yourself.

3. Melissa & Doug Alphabet Nesting Boxes

Melissa & Doug Nesting Boxes can be fun and enriching at the same time. Some boxes teach your child the alphabet. Similarly, others teach numbers, different Disney characters or the days of Creation. Because all ten boxes fit inside each other, this toy isn’t space-intensive. And your child will enjoy making towers and walls they can knock down.

4. LeapFrog Chat and Count Smart Phone

Now your child can be just like Mommy and Daddy with their own toy phone from Leapfrog. All three girls in our family have their own LeapFrog phone. And they take it with them just about everywhere. This phone counts to 10. It has 15 different activities that will help your child interact with the phone. Also, they create some entertaining dialogues too.

5. Lego Duplo All-in-One Set

Every child loves Legos, but they are too small for young children. The Duplo All-in-One Set is the perfect option for small children. They cannot swallow the oversized bricks. This set comes with 30 pieces. And it is safe for children between the ages of 18 months and five years old.

6. Toy Cash Register

This toy is for children ages three and up. A toy cash register can be an instant hit. It includes a scanner, mini-conveyor belt, shopping basket, play money and consumer goods. The register even has a basic calculator that adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides. So your child can be a real cashier and add up your total for each shopping trip.

7. Play Circle Grocery Shopping Cart

Now your toddler can push their own shopping cart around the house. And they can visit the “store” with the Play Circle Grocery Shopping Cart. Also, it comes with a cart full of 29 assorted grocery items. Our daughter has this and absolutely loves it.

8. Power Wheels Lil’ Quad

The Power Wheels Lil’ Quad is designed for children ages one to three. It’s a motorized toddler-size ATV that will be loads of fun. But this toy only has a maximum speed of 2 MPH. So you don’t have to worry about them going too fast as they navigate the driveway or yard.

Dolls

What girl doesn’t enjoy a doll? There are many different options. But these are some of the most popular dolls this Christmas.

9. Glitter Girls Bluebell Fashion Doll

The Glitter Girls Bluebell Doll is a must-have doll of Christmas 2018. You can gift either the posable or non-posable doll. With the posable doll, the elbows and legs bend and move. Either model comes with one outfit. And it’s compatible with most 14-inch doll accessories.

The Bluebell doll is ideal for children ages six through ten. But children as young three will enjoy this doll too.

10. Luvabella Responsive Baby Doll

The Luvabella Baby Doll is another fun toy that was a big hit last Christmas. This year, it’s another popular doll to gift. It knows more than 100 words. And you can also make her giggle and eat. Just as your child learns new things each day, the doll does the same thing. Each day, Luvabella will say new words and perform different actions.

If your children are familiar with Hatchimals, then you know what to expect from Luvabella. The same people make both of these popular Christmas gifts.

11. L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise

A #1 new release, the L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise comes with a small doll and 50 pieces to use with the doll. You don’t know what you’ll get until it’s opened. This surprise adds to the excitement of this toy.

There are several L.O.L. products to gift. The Big Surprise is the largest offering. But you can choose a different series like Pets, Glam Glitter or Outfit of the Day.

12. Corolle Calin Charming Pastel Baby Doll

The Corolle Calin Charming Pastel Baby Doll is one of the most popular dolls in the Corolle lineup. Corolle designs the dolls in France and they are 12 inches in size. The Calin doll comes with a pink sleeper and matching sleeping cap. Plus, her eyes open and close when it takes a nap.

Besides the pink sleeper, there are several different outfits to choose from. Of course, you can always add-on a baby stroller or a meal set. And almost anything else baby might need is available too.

13. American Girl WellieWishers Dolls

American Girl is a household name in the doll world. Their WellieWishers Dolls are another great option this Christmas. In all, there are five different dolls from which to choose. Plus, each one is 14.5″ tall and a bundle of joy. Each doll comes with one outfit.

14. Teddy Ruxpin

Teddy Ruxpin is back and better than ever this Christmas! He has LCD eyes with more than 40 animations. He comes with three free stories and will even sing with your children. To unlock more stories, songs and activities, download the free Teddy Ruxpin app.

15. Minnie Mouse Doll

Every girl’s favorite mouse is Minnie Mouse (sorry Mickey). She’s available as a plush doll that also sings. This doll is available in two different sizes: 18″ and 12″. You can also get Minnie with a pink or red dress.

16. Barbie Fairytale Dress Up Doll

A perennial favorite, there are several different Barbie dolls from which to choose. You might like the Barbie Fairytale Dress Up Doll. For instance, costumes include the princess, mermaid and the winged fairy.

17. Barbie Dreamhouse

The ultimate dollhouse this Christmas is the Barbie Dreamhouse. This tri-level “smart” house has seven rooms, 70+ accessories, and a working elevator! To be a “smart” dollhouse, some of the accessories produce light, sound or motion. For example, the aquarium has moving fish and bubbling noises.

18. Fingerlings Monkey

If your child wants a baby monkey, a Fingerlings Monkeys can be a great option. They fit on your finger and will interact with you with more than 40 different motions. For example, they can kiss you, go to sleep, swing their tails and talk in monkey babble.

Would you like to expand a child’s current collection? Then there are also dinosaur and unicorn versions you can give too.

Something for Everyone

Any child in the family can enjoy these toys. You will find a combination of every toy group in this section.

19. Play-Doh 36-Can Mega Pack

Did you know there are 36 different colors of Play-Doh? Now you do.

The Play-Doh 36-Can Mega Pack will be a delight to any child. After all, it’s fun to mold the soft putty into any shape. Have you ever met a child who doesn’t like Play-Doh?

20. Barrel of Slime

The Barrel of Slime is a fresh take on Play-Doh and can make a fun stocking stuffer. In my day, we called this stuff “gak.” It isn’t sticky, and it slides off of anything you put it on. Even though this slime comes in a small drum that looks like toxic waste, it’s actually more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys.

21. KidKraft Vintage Kitchen

Many young children like to play in the kitchen. The KidKraft Vintage Kitchen is a full kitchen. It comes with two raised burners, a sink, fridge, freezer, microwave, oven and doors that open and close. Plus, it’s is also large enough for multiple children to play with at the same time.

22. Indoor Tee Pee Play Tent

Did you have an indoor play tent as a child? If so, your child might like the Indoor Tee Pee Tent that’s over six feet tall! It has five walls and can keep your children entertained for hours. In the teepee, they might even have sleepovers.

23. GoTrax Hoverfly ECO Hoverboard

The GoTrax Hoverfly ECO Hoverboard is a fun way to get around when a bike or skateboard won’t do. It’s a self-balancing hoverboard. Plus, it has a maximum speed of 7.4 mph. And it can run up to 12 miles between charges. To start moving, all you need to do is hop on and lean forward. When you need to recharge the battery, it only takes an hour.

And the GoTrax Hoverfly comes with seven different LED headlight colors. The lights can change color when you go forward, reverse or turn.

24. Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

The Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit lets your child build their own interactive R2D2 droid. This droid can learn skills and complete more than 16 Star Wars missions. Your child can assemble the droid themselves (no adult assembly required!). And they can begin teaching the droid new skills with the Inventor Kit app. With a wave of the hand, your child can also “use the force” to make the droid go wherever they want it to go.

25. Star Wars Lego Sets

There are many different Star Wars Lego sets. You might like the Millennium Falcon. There’s the carbon-freezing chamber from Episode V Or the all-new BB-8 building kit from Star Wars Episode VIII. Whether you are starting a collection or adding to it, there are plenty of options from which to choose.

26. Star Wars Black Series First Order Storm Trooper

This 6″ Star Wars First Order Storm Trooper has it all. You not only get the Storm Trooper action figure. But you also get eight exclusive accessories that don’t come with other Storm Trooper sets. The Trooper and all accessories are accurate to the original Star Wars movie props.

27. Halofun RC Cars

Another toy our children enjoy is remote control cars. One your child may like is the Halofun RC Car. It has all-terrain tires and a durable body. Plus, the car has 20-minute battery life. You can easily recharge it with the USB charger.

This car is best for children at least five years old. If you have smaller children like I do, you could choose the Minnie Mouse Happy Helpers Van. My girls love it!

28. Hatchimals HatchiBabies

The Hatchimals HatchiBabies is another popular idea from this iconic new toy brand. Choose from three different series: Cheetree, Chipadee and Ponette. Besides the interactive baby, each egg also comes with four accessories. Of course, you won’t know which Hatchimals you will get until they, well, hatch.

29. Hatchimals Glittering Garden

Another very popular toy for Christmas is the Hatchimals Glittering Garden set. These full-sized Hatchimals are separate from the CollEGGtible characters. They are more similar to the original Hatchimals. With the Glittering Garden series, your child will raise an Owling in three different stages: baby, toddler and child. Each Hatchimal can also learn how to walk, dance, play games and talk in its own voice!

30. Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage Playset

The Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage Playset has a place for all your Hot Wheels cars. There are four parking decks that hold more than 140 cars. And a motorized elevator that moves 23 cars at once. The garage also comes with a variety of ramps. Finally, don’t forget to look out for King Kong!

31. Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster

The Nerf N-Strike Blaster holds up to six darts that can travel up to 75 feet. This toy engages children of all ages on rainy days or backyard fun. To extend your battle time, you might also decide to include refill darts too.

32. Nerf Rival Prometheus MXVII-20K

To dominate Nerf battle, try the Nerf Rival Prometheus. It holds up to 200 rounds and fires up to eight rounds per second. The Prometheus comes with a rechargeable NiMH battery. And it has two flags so you can play Capture the Flag with a friend.

33. FurReal Friends Ricky

Robot dogs aren’t new, but the FurReal Friends Ricky Dog is one of the best yet. Ricky is for children ages four and up. It comes with over 100 sound-and-motion combinations. Depending on where you pet Ricky, he performs a different trick.

If you don’t own any household pets, this toy can finally be your first one.

34. furReal Roarin’ Tyler, the Playful Tiger

“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” In addition to Ricky, your child might also like the furReal Roarin’ Tyler Tiger. Tyler makes more than 100 tiger sounds and motions. It will also interact with its squeaky toy that’s included.

Roarin’ Tyler arrives pre-assembled.

35. Marvel Avengers Action Figures

Another way to spark the imagination is with Marvel Avengers Action Figures. This set comes with five notable action figures. Some of the figures include Spiderman, Ironman and The Hulk. For a larger set, you can also buy one with 12 different heroes.

Board Games

If you want a new game for your family game night, these suggestions might do the trick.

36. Googly Eyes

If you like to draw and have others guess what the image is, Googly Eyes is the perfect suggestion. The drawer wears a pair of vision-altering glasses. These glasses make it harder for them to draw even simple prompts correctly. Your teammates must be able to guess what you are drawing before time runs out to earn points.

37. Watch Ya Mouth

Watch Ya Mouth is an award-winning game where you must guess what the person is trying to say. Except, it’s not as easy as it sounds. That’s because the person must wear a mouthpiece that slurs their speech. So it’s like when you visit the dentist, and they use a mouth retractor to keep your mouth open. There are more than 143 family-friendly phrases you can try speaking.

38. Uno Emoji

A fresh take on the classic card game, the goal of Uno Emoji is to acquire as few points as possible. The Emoji edition includes a new rule and four extra cards that make the game different. Uno!

39. Monopoly Deal

When you don’t have time for a full game of Monopoly, try out Monopoly Deal. This card game only takes 15 minutes, seriously! You must still employ some strategy to win. But the fast-pace makes this game enjoyable. I don’t have the patience for Monopoly and like this version.

40. Candyland (Retro 1967 Edition)

Our daughter is finally old enough to play (maybe) the most enjoyable board game for kids. For fun, try the retro 1967 edition of Candyland. Use this game to teach colors and basic counting. And it’s fun since everything is candy-themed.

41. Connect 4

This classic game hasn’t changed a bit. With Connect 4, you play against a partner. Then the first person to connect four of their tokens wins. If you want more of a challenge, try to connect five or six tokens instead!

42. Toilet Trouble

Who knew plumbing problems could be so enjoyable? With Toilet Trouble, you spin the toilet paper roll. Then you flush the toilet hoping you don’t get sprayed with water. You don’t have to keep score with this game as it’s a complete game of chance. This simplicity makes it easy for children of all ages to play.

43. Soggy Doggy

With Soggy Doggy, you try to go around the board while giving the dog a bath. If he decides to wag his tail, you go back to the beginning and start over again.

44. Egged On

Egged On is the family-friendly version of Russian Roulette. Basically, you pick an egg and hope you don’t get wet. The game comes with ten plastic eggs. To start, you fill at least one of them with water. Then you stay dry to win.

45. Catan

Catan, also called Settlers of Catan, can be a fun game to play with teenagers. Each player builds settlements on the island of Catan. The goal is to collect the most resources and settlements to collect points. Whoever earns a certain number of points first is the winner. Each game takes about 60 minutes to complete. Catan has many positive reviews for its simple, yet engaging gameplay.

46. Ticket to Ride

Another fun game to play with teens is Ticket to Ride. You draw cards that require you to build railroad routes across the 19th-century United States. The longer the route, the more points you earn which helps you win the game. To win, complete the most and longest destinations. And try to make the longest route to score bonus points.

Will you build the next transcontinental rail line? You gotta play to find out!

Electronics and Gadgets

How could we forget technology? If you want to give the latest gaming system or another gadget, we help you pick out these top choices as well.

47. Fisher-Price Think and Learn Smart Cycle

The Think and Learn Smart Cycle helps your child exercise while they learn. The cycle syncs with a tablet or TV. And it has three different learning activity modes (driving, gaming and racing). They learn more the faster the peddle. Any child between the ages of three and six years can benefit from this toy. Your child can learn how to spell, read, do math and complete other STEM activities. How cool!

48. Drocon Scouter Drone

The Drocon Scouter Drone is kid-friendly and easy to use for beginners. It has altitude hold, one key takeoff and landing. Even better, it can perform 3D flips. The battery life is between seven minutes and twenty minutes. More active flying sessions drain the battery sooner. When it’s time to recharge the battery, you can charge it via USB or through the controller charging station.

49. Nintendo Switch

The best handheld gaming console is the Nintendo Switch. This three-piece console comes with two controllers and a tablet console. You can connect one controller to each side of the tablet to play on-the-go. Or each controller can also double as a wireless controller for single player or head-to-head competition.

50. Super NES Classic

The surprise video game hit for 2017 is the Super NES Classic. It comes with 21 games that help you take your child down memory lane. They can enjoy games like Super Mario World, Street Fighter II, Super Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country.

51. PlayStation 4

One of the best new video game consoles is the PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB console. Whether you want to play games or watch movies, the PlayStation 4 has awesome 4k graphics and premium sound quality. If you want to give a themed bundle, some of the options include Spider-Man and Call of Duty: Black Ops.

52. PlayStation VR

If you already own a PlayStation 4, the next step can be the PlayStation VR. At the moment, this is one of the best VR headsets on the market. You plug the PlayStation Camera into your PS4 and wear the headset. You also get a demo disc.

If you don’t have one already, you need a PlayStation Camera to use the PSVR.

To save money, you might get a PlayStation VR Game Bundle. This particular bundle comes with two games, Creed and SuperHot VR. Plus it comes with the PlayStation Camera and two Move Motion controllers.

53. Xbox One X

The XBox One X is the most advanced Xbox One gaming system available. It comes with 1 TB memory and can play 4k Blu-Ray discs too. Your child can record video of their gameplay. Then instantly upload it for others to watch with a single button click.

Some of the most popular Xbox One games this Christmas are Fallout 76 or Minecraft Creator’s Bundle.

54. Oculus Rift + Touch Virtual Reality System

The Oculus Rift + Touch Virtual Reality System is another excellent VR system. The system comes with six free games and only requires a Windows PC with the Windows 7 operating system or newer. You can even play some games with an Xbox controller.

Educational Toys

Do you want toys that help your children learn while they have fun? Yes, most of these toys will spur your child’s imagination. But some are designed to develop their critical thinking skills more than others. A few of these toy selections are STEM-friendly.

55. Fischer Technik Electronics Set

Does your child (nine years or older) enjoy building things with simple electric circuits? If so, the Fischer Technick Electronics Set can be exciting. With 260 parts and 16 models, your child should remain busy until next Christmas as they learn the basic principles of electronics. All Fischertechnick toys are German-made (which speaks for the quality of this toy).

56. LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit

Most of the LEGO sets have themes like a castle or a vehicle. For most kids, the big bucket of generic LEGOs we grew up with are hard to find.

This Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Kit helps your child use their existing Lego collection. They can build ten different moving machines. The kit also comes with 33 essential pieces. Ramps, strings, plastic balls and pieces of paper help make the machines complete.

57. Grow ‘n Glow Terrarium

The Grow ‘n Glow Terrarium lets your child grow their own tabletop garden. They get a plastic Mason jar with organic chia and wheat grass seeds. You can also add glow-in-the-dark stickers to let your garden glow at night too.

58. Piper Computer Coding Kit

Do you want your child to learn computer coding? The Piper Computer Kit is one of the highest-rated kits. It works with the Raspberry Pi Minecraft program. It’s Wi-Fi-enabled and comes with LED lights, motion sensors, buttons and switches. These gadgets let your child’s imagination come alive. Also, the Piper Computer Kit comes with an 8GB SD memory card to store all sequences and save game progress.

59. Sick Science Slick Tricks

The Sick Science science kit comes with supplies to perform nine different science experiments. One example is putting a genie in a root beer bottle. Or you can step through an index card and make a soda bottle burp.

60. OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot

Parents rejoice! You don’t need batteries with the OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot. As its name implies, there are 14 different robot designs you can build with varying degrees of difficulty.

61. Marbleocity Dragon Coaster

The Marbleocity Dragon Coaster puts a whole new meaning on marble runs. Based on a real-life rollercoaster in Rye, NY, this toy is all wooden pieces. It takes three to five hours to assemble with regular, white glue. As a reward for correctly piecing together the 3D puzzle, you can watch your marbles take even more twists and turns.

To add to the fun, the Dragon Coaster connects to the Marbleocity Mini Skate Park as well.

Summary

You shouldn’t have a problem finding the perfect toy to put under the tree for your child. You can choose between the latest innovations and timeless classics that never get old. So now it’s time for you to make this a memorable Christmas. But remember, buying the best toys for Christmas is just one part of the season.

What is the “must have” toy for your child this year?

12 Best Online Checking Accounts in 2018

Some people don’t bank online because they want to keep a checking account with a local bank branch. The problem is, some brick-and-mortar checking accounts come with hefty fees.

When the fees don’t justify the benefits, it’s time to switch. The best online-only checking accounts don’t charge fees. And, mobile deposit and free ATM access make online banking easy.

If you’re like most people, you rarely walk into a bank anymore. With direct deposit, you no longer have to deposit a check each month. If you do receive a paper check, you can deposit it using a mobile app. When you need to pay a bill, you probably use online bill pay. And, the online bank will send a free check when a paper check is required.

You still need a local bank to make cash deposits. Otherwise, online checking accounts can handle most of your banking needs.

The Best Online Checking Accounts

You’ll notice there are many free online checking accounts. To choose one, focus on what bank benefits you want. Some of these benefits include:

  • Free ATM access
  • Interest earned on deposits
  • Debit card purchase rewards
  • Overdraft protection
  • Paper checks

Every online bank offers different benefits.  For example, some online banks don’t offer paper checks. But, they will mail a check for free when digital payment isn’t possible.

1. Chime

One of the more interesting online checking accounts is Chime. As a new member, you will receive a Visa debit card that you can use for free at 38,000 MoneyPass ATMs. But if you use a non-network ATM, Chime charges $2.50. So, make sure an in-network ATM is nearby before you join.

Chime also charges $0 for all of these fees:

  • Overdraft fees
  • Monthly account fee
  • Foreign transaction fees

There isn’t a minimum account balance to keep your Chime checking account open, either.

There are several tradeoffs to these benefits, however. For example, you won’t get a paper checkbook. But, Chime will mail a check to someone else for you.

Also, Chime’s checking accounts don’t earn any interest. This isn’t uncommon for online banks. But, some online banks do pay interest so it’s something to ponder when you’re choosing.

No Delay on Some Direct Deposit Paychecks

One cool Chime feature is that the day your employer sends payment to Chime, you can access your money. Some banks hold your direct deposit for up to two days. This is because the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system transfers the money from your employer’s bank to Chime.

But some employers work with Chime to ensure you experience no delay. That means you could be getting your paycheck up to two days earlier than you would at other banks.

Transfer Up to 10% of Each Paycheck to Savings

Are you familiar with the adage to “pay yourself first?” Chime makes that easy with this feature.

Each paycheck, Chime can transfer 10% of your income to a Chime savings account. Ten percent is a nice rule of thumb for the least you should save each month. By transferring the cash when it arrives, you never notice it’s gone.

Round Up Savings

If you like micro-savings apps like Digit, you will like this tool. With each purchase you make on your Chime debit card, Chime can round up the amount to the next dollar. So, if you spend $3.75, Chime transfers $0.25 to your savings account.

This way, you can still save money when you spend money.

Pros

  • $0 account fees, overdraft fees and foreign transaction fees on debit purchases
  • No minimum balance required
  • Receive your paycheck up to two days early
  • Mobile deposit and online bill pay

Cons

  • Savings account only earns 0.01% APY
  • You don’t get a paper checkbook
  • $2.50 fee for non-network ATMs

Tip: Earn more interest with a CIT Money Market Account that earns 1.85% APY.

2. Acorns

Acorns is best-known for being a micro-investing app. It rounds up your purchases and invests that extra amount. And, it invests your online shopping rewards, too.

Now, Acorns offers an online checking account with a debit card. It calls this product Acorns Spend.

Acorns Spend makes it easy to invest. You will pay $3 a month. But, you also have access to the regular Acorns Core investing app and the Acorns Later IRA retirement account. Acorns won’t invest your checking account balance. But, you can have Acorns invest your spare change each year.

So, let’s assume you already pay $1 a month for Acorns Core. If so, you pay $2 more for the Acorns checking account. And if you use the Acorns Later IRA, you only pay $1 more per month.

Paying a monthly service fee is a downside. As a tradeoff, you get unlimited free ATM access. This benefit alone pays the monthly $3 fee if you regularly pay ATM fees now.

With Acorns Spend, you can enjoy these online banking benefits:

  • Direct deposit
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Check sending
  • Bank-to-bank transfers
  • Unlimited free ATM access

You can also use Acorns to create spending strategies. This tool helps you live within your means by letting you create savings goals and track spending.

Pros

  • Unlimited free ATM access
  • Access to the entire Acorns micro-investing platform
  • Debit card included
  • Can send checks through Acorns app

Cons

  • $3 monthly fee
  • Fewer features than some other online checking accounts

3. Simple

Simple lives up to its name.

Like Chime, you can open an account for $0 and won’t pay any fees. The one exception is any fees you are charged by a non-network ATM. But there are 40,000 fee-free ATMs you can use.

The best reason to join Simple is when you have at least $2,000 in a “Protected Goals” account, that balance earns 2.02% APY. Usually, you earn more with an online money market account than with a checking account. That isn’t always the case with Simple. Right now, any bank interest rate above 2% APY is the “gold standard.”

Simple also offers some nice tools to help you budget.

Safe-to-Spend

Simple doesn’t charge an overdraft fee. But, overspending still stinks if you forget you have a bill to pay that you haven’t planned for.

Simple’s Safe-to-Spend tool helps you avoid spending more than you have in your account. Simple compares your normal expenses to your current account balance. The difference is your “safe-to-spend” amount.

So, if you need to make an unplanned purchase, you can spend up to this amount and shouldn’t overdraft.

Track Spending in Real Time

A good money habit is to review your purchases at least once a month. Then, compare them to your monthly spending plan.

If you wait too long, you forget why you made certain purchases. To prevent this, Simple lets you take in-app notes when you pay. You can also add photos and hashtags to purchases, too.

You can also track spending history by merchant as well. And, Simple has some useful charts you might enjoy.

Shared Accounts

One classic debate is if couples should have separate or joint accounts. With Simple, you can have both.

When you both have Simple accounts, you can set savings goals and build a budget together. But for those surprise purchases, you can make certain transactions private. This way, transactions for date nights, birthdays and holiday gifts can still be kept secret.

Pros

  • Earn up to 2.02% APY on deposits (impressive for a checking account)
  • Safe-to-Spend prevents account overdrafts
  • No account fees or in-network ATM fees

Cons

  • Non-network ATM fees
  • 1% foreign transaction fee for debit card purchases made overseas
  • No paper checks

4. Bank5 Connect

With a Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking Account, you enjoy these benefits:

  • $15 monthly ATM fee credit
  • 0.75% APY on all balances greater than $100
  • UChoose debit card rewards
  • Free first order of basic checks

It’s free to open a Bank5 Connect account. The minimum initial deposit is $10, but try to find another $90 to deposit so you can start earning interest.

You also have free online bill pay and mobile banking.

Bank5 Connect is one of the most well-rounded banks on this list. You don’t need a high account balance to earn a good interest rate. And, you get free ATM access and debit card rewards.

In addition to free bill pay and paper checks, cashier’s checks are free, too. These checks usually cost $10 to $15 at most banks.

You will pay a $15 insufficient funds fee, but overdraft transfers are free.

Pros

  • Competitive interest rate with minimum account balance of $100
  • $15 monthly ATM fee credits
  • Debit card purchase rewards

Cons

  • Must have $100 account balance to earn interest
  • Must deposit $10 to open an account

5. Radius Bank

If you want a full-service online checking account, consider Radius Bank. Your deposits earn interest at Radius.

And, you have free access to paper checks if you need them. After all, there are still times when you need to write a check.

Although Radius has four checking account options, three are fee-free:

  • Hybrid Checking
  • Radius Checking
  • Superhero Checking

With these three accounts, you only need $100 to open an account. And, you won’t pay any monthly account fees.

All three accounts offer a free debit card. And, (if you desire) a box of free checks. Plus, you never have to pay ATM fees. And, you can also enjoy mobile deposit and online bill pay.

Which checking account option is better for you depends on the features. Below is a summary of each checking account’s interest rates and rewards.

Keep in mind that while interest you earn is taxable, cash back rewards are not. That may influence which type of account you choose.

Hybrid Checking

To earn checking account interest, create a Hybrid Checking account.

For account balances of $2,500 to $99,999.99, you earn 1.00% APY. Balances greater than $100,000 earn 1.20% APY.

As a tradeoff, you won’t earn cash back rewards on debit card purchases.

Radius Checking

On in-person debit card purchases, you get 1% back each month.

For account balances greater than $1,000, you earn 0.01% APY. With this low interest rate, you should only keep enough cash in the account to cover your purchases. Then, put the extra cash in a high-yield savings account.

Superhero Checking

The two ways you earn with a Superhero Checking account include:

  • 0.50% APY on balances of $2,500 or more
  • 1% back on total debit card purchases

The unique thing about this account is that Radius matches your interest earnings and donates that amount to charity every month. It also donates 1% of your total debit card purchases to charity. Right now, that charity is the March of Dimes.

Pros

  • Three different free checking account types
  • Only need $100 to open an account
  • First box of paper checks is free

Cons

  • Must have high account balance to earn the best interest rate

6. Discover

This next option is a rewards-earning online checking account. Discover Cashback Debit pays you 1% back on debit card purchases. This bonus applies to the first $3,000 in monthly debit card purchases. Each month, you can earn up to $30 in cash back rewards.

Also, Discover doesn’t have any account fees or balance requirements. You also have access to 60,000 fee-free ATMs in the U.S. And, you have free online bill pay and paper checks.

Even official bank checks (cashier’s checks) are free. These checks usually cost $10 to $15 at most banks.

Another nifty perk is that Discover waives your first fee each calendar year. So, you might be able to save $30 on an overdraft fee. Or, $15 on a stop payment fee.

Pros

  • 1% back on first $3,000 in monthly debit card purchases
  • First fee forgiveness each calendar year
  • 60,000+ free ATMs in the U.S.

Cons

  • $30 overdraft fee (maximum of one charge per day)

7. Ally Bank

Ally Bank pays interest on your account balance, up to 0.60% APY. And, Ally reimburses your first $10 in ATM fees each month.

You earn 0.10% on account balances less than $15,000. Then, when your balance goes over $15,000, you’ll earn 0.60% APY.

There are also 43,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs you can use. For non-network ATMs, Ally reimburses your first $10 in fees each month. So if you regularly use ATMs that charge a $4 fee, that means two free withdrawals each month.

One downside is that if you overdraft, Ally charges a $25 insufficient funds fee once a day.

However, Ally makes it easy to send money to friends. With Zelle, you can quickly send money to any U.S. bank account. You only need an email address or U.S. mobile number.

Pros

  • First $10 in monthly ATM fees are waived
  • Quickly send money to friends and family with Zelle
  • All account deposits earn interest daily

Cons

  • Fewer fee-free ATMs than other online banks
  • No paper checks

Tip: Invest with Ally Invest for an award-winning trading platform

8. Capital One 360

For the online-only arm of Capital One, open a 360 Checking account. You won’t pay any account fees and you won’t have to maintain a minimum balance.

With 360 Checking, you can’t visit a Capital One branch for help. But, you can stop by a Capital One Cafe if you need help. You have mobile deposit and online bill pay with 360 Checking, plus online support.

If you still need paper checks, your first book is free. And, you can use online bill pay or your debit card to pay bills, too.

Your entire account balance also earns interest. Capital One currently uses a three-tier model:

  • $0 to $49,999.99 earns 0.20% APY
  • $50,000 to $99,999.99 earns 0.75% APY
  • $100,000+ earns 1% APY

These interest rates are better than nothing. But, you can earn more on your extra cash in a good online savings provider like CIT Bank.

Three Free Overdraft Protection Benefits

Capital One offers three free overdraft protection tools:

  • Auto-Decline: Capital One declines the transaction when you try to pay but don’t have enough funds in your account
  • Free Savings Transfer: You can transfer from another Capital One account
  • Next Day Grace: Transfer money within one business day to avoid the $35 overdraft fee

If your check bounces, Capital One still charges a $9 non-sufficient funds fee. But, at least you save $35 in overdraft fees. For online banks, $35 is high for an overdraft fee.

A fourth overdraft protection option is a line of credit. You want to avoid this option since it’s like a credit card balance. Each day, your outstanding balance accrues interest that you must repay.

Pros

  • Flexible overdraft protection options
  • 39,000+ free Capital One and Allpoint ATMs
  • Account balance earns interest

Cons

  • High overdraft fee of $35 per day
  • No fee credits for non-network ATMs

9. Fidelity

Fidelity is one of the best online stock brokerages, but you can also bank with Fidelity.

Its fee-free checking account is known as a “Cash Management Account.” It comes with these free perks:

  • Debit card
  • Unlimited U.S. ATM withdrawals
  • Paper checks
  • Online bill pay

If you invest with Fidelity, you can easily move money from your checking account to your brokerage accounts. If you invest with a different broker, it can take three days to transfer funds.

To prevent overdraft fees, Fidelity lets you set a target balance. For example, let’s say your target balance is $500. If your balance dips to $450, they transfer $50 from a linked account. Fidelity calls this their Cash Manager Tool.

You can also deposit checks with mobile deposit. And, you can schedule automatic investments and withdrawals, too.

Pros

  • Unlimited fee-free ATMs in the U.S.
  • Free overdraft protection (Cash Manager)

Cons

  • You still pay for foreign ATM fees

10. Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is great for unlimited ATM fee refunds. Many global travelers like Schwab’s online checking. The main reason is that it waives foreign ATM fees.

And, your entire account balance earns 0.35% APY. This interest rate is higher than many online checking account rates. And, you don’t have to keep a high account balance.

You can also get paper checks, and you enjoy online bill pay and mobile deposit.

One of the biggest cons is that you must have a Schwab brokerage account. You see, Schwab is another online broker at heart. Your brokerage account must have a $1,000 starting balance.

If you don’t want to invest with Charles Schwab, avoid this online bank.

Pros

  • No ATM fees anywhere in the world
  • Deposits earn interest
  • Paper checks

Cons

  • Must also have a Schwab One brokerage account

11. USAA

USAA may be a good option for military service members, veterans, and their loved ones.

There are two free online checking options with USAA. Like Radius, you must decide if you want to earn cash rewards or interest. Remember, interest you earn is taxable, but cash back rewards are not. You’ll also need to decide if you want USAA to refund non-network ATM fees.

USAA reimburses partner ATM fees up to 10 times monthly. But, these ATMs are mostly near military bases and large cities. There are 60,000 free ATMs, but their list might be different than other banks.

For both checking account types, you need an initial deposit of $25. After that, you don’t have to maintain a minimum balance.

Like other banks, you can also send instant payment to friends with Zelle.

USAA Classic Checking

Open this checking account for these two reasons:

  • Non-network ATM fee refunds (up to $15 per month)
  • Earn interest on account balances of $1,000 or more

The current interest rate is a very low 0.01% APY. So, go with this account solely for the non-network ATM refunds.

USAA Cashback Rewards Checking

For each debit card purchase, you get 10 cents back. If your cash rewards exceed your non-network ATM fees, choose this option.

Keep in mind, your first 10 in-network ATM withdrawals are free each month.

Pros

  • Free ATM Access at 60,000 ATMs
  • Classic Checking members get $15 in non-network ATM credit monthly
  • Rewards Checking members earn $0.10 back for each debit card purchase

Cons

  • Must have a military connection to be a USAA member
  • Minimum initial deposit of $25

12. Axos Bank

Axos Bank offers five different online checking accounts. Two accounts are for seniors (age 55+) and teens between ages 13 and 17. The other three standard accounts are open to all members.

All five accounts are free to open and don’t charge monthly maintenance fees. And, none of them require minimum balances. Below is a brief summary of the two best standard accounts.

Rewards Checking

The Rewards Checking account gives you three ways to earn up to 1.25% interest. If you only complete one or two tasks, you earn the interest rate for those tasks.

  • Receive monthly direct deposits of at least $1,000: earn 0.4166% APY
  • Use debit card 10 times monthly: earn 0.4166% APY
  • Use debit card 15 times monthly: earn 0.4166% APY

For each debit card transaction, the minimum purchase amount is $3. By making at least fifteen in-person purchases, you earn 0.8332% APY for the month. And if you have at least $1,000 in direct deposits, you earn 1.25% interest for the month.

You also have unlimited domestic ATM withdrawals. And, you won’t pay any overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees, either.

CashBack Checking

You can get 1% back on all signature-based debit card transactions — that is, any time you make an in-person purchase with your card. This can be a better option than rewards checking if you earn more in purchase rewards. And again, remember the tax implications of interest earned (taxable) vs. cash back (not taxable).

Like the Rewards Checking option, you have free domestic ATM withdrawals.

Pros

  • Two ways to earn checking rewards
  • Zero account fees or account minimums
  • Free unlimited domestic ATM access
  • No overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees

Cons

  • Golden Age and Teen Checking accounts don’t have unlimited free ATM access

Summary

If you tire of bank fees, switch to an online checking account. You’ll get all the benefits of a brick-and-mortar bank account, except possibly paper checks. You can also earn debit card rewards or bank interest.

What do you prefer to earn? Cash rewards or higher interest rates? Let us know on social media!

35 Places to Sell Used Furniture Quickly (Locally & Online)

Furniture is a household item we regularly replace. In most cases, it’s because our family’s needs or our decor styles change. Many times, the furniture you are replacing is still in good shape.  And selling it can be an easy way to earn a small sum of cash.

Where to Sell Your Used Furniture

You don’t have to haul your old furniture off to the dump. Instead, selling it can be less effort. And you can make money to defray the cost of new furniture.

If restoring furniture is a hobby, you can make money selling it too. As you will see, there are many places to sell furniture online.

1. Craigslist

Craigslist is one of the best places to start selling furniture online. This is simply because it’s one of the most visited online classified sites. Listings are free and only take a few minutes to complete. To increase interest in your piece(s), be sure to include photos. And don’t forget a detailed description. Buyers love details, especially when making a large purchase.

You can sell furniture from your own house. Or maybe you’re buying a rental property in need of a furniture remodel. In either case, you can sell on Craigslist.

Besides Craigslist, you should consider these Craigslist alternatives too.

2. Letgo

A popular Craigslist alternative is Letgo. This colorful app emphasizes pictures for product listings. In contrast, Craigslist is more headline-driven. With furniture, the buyer wants to see the piece first. So you might get more buyer interest using Letgo.

Letgo is completely free, and you can sell online or with their app. Since Letgo loves images, the app lets you snap a picture from your smartphone. Then, you upload the image in seconds. After that, fill in the product details and price.

With the in-app chat, you can quickly talk with buyers. If you want extra privacy, this is another reason to use Letgo.

Finally, Letgo lets buyers view other items you list. The buyer might not buy the item they click on. But they might buy another piece you’re selling instead.

3. Local Newspaper

Local newspaper circulation might not exactly be growing these days. However, there is a steady audience of readers that shop local.

If you don’t know, many newspapers offer print and online ads for free. But you may have to sell items below a certain price. For example, you might have to sell it for $50 or less to get a free listing.

You can also pay to place a print ad for high-value items. But paid classified ads are expensive. For three lines of text, you might pay $7.50. However, this could be a good way to sell antiques or like-new furniture.

4. Facebook

Facebook is one of the best apps to sell locally. And the best part is that it’s free. You only have to list on your local buy and sell group page.

When selling furniture as part of a yard sale, Facebook also has yard sale groups. In these groups, you can enter a description of the products you’re selling. As a tip, try to highlight the feature pieces to attract more shoppers.

Maybe, you want to start a furniture restoration business. If so, you can use paid Facebook ads to sponsor listings. Facebook ads can be an effective way to attract local buyers too.

The ads will display on the Facebook wall in between all the status updates. And you can also tailor the ads to a specific geographic region. Or you can also reach a certain age group and gender.

Learn how to make eye-popping Facebook ads with Flourish.

5. Antique Stores

Valuable antiques are another commonly sold item. The easiest selling option can be visiting an antique store. You might not get retail value for the piece. Remember, the store needs to make a profit too. But it can be less hassle than selling to just any buyer.

Check your local Yellow Pages to find antique stores near you. Or reference the Antiques.com database. Here, you can find more than 20,000 dealers from 20 countries!

6. Consignment Stores

Another local option to sell items is at a consignment store. This is another place to sell furniture as a side hustle. With these stores, you get paid when the item sells. Then, the store keeps part of the sale. This pays for renting their floor space and transaction fees.

If you rent space for multiple months, you might have to pay a monthly rental fee.

7. Used Furniture Stores

You might also consider selling your furniture to a used furniture store. The store might have an appraiser visit your property to provide a quote. If they agree to buy the item, they might pick it up themselves. Or the store might pay more if you deliver it yourself.

Some furniture stores offer store credit. With store credit, you must buy more furniture. But it can be worth more than cash. If you’re buying a new piece from the store, this is a perfect option.

8. Have a Garage Sale

Garage sales can also be an effortless way to sell furniture. In this case, the buyer comes to your house. And you can sell other items at the same time. Maybe, you can sell clothing, used DVDs, and video games.

Also, be ready to haggle. Garage sale regulars look for the lowest price possible. And they aren’t afraid to find your bottom dollar. So set a firm price before the sale starts.

There are many ways to increase the exposure of your garage sale listing. For example, you can advertise on sites like Craigslist. And you can use the local newspaper or Facebook Yard Sale Groups too.

9. Have an Estate Sale

Estate sales are a common way to sell the items of the deceased. To start, hire an appraiser to price each item. Then, the items sell at auction or fixed price.

Depending on the collection size, estate sales can be a large undertaking. But it can be more time-effective than selling each item in your spare time.

You can advertise your estate sale online or in the paper. Plus, you can hang signs around town.

A third option is using EstateSale.com. This site lists sales from over 6,700 companies. And you can also find an appraiser on this site if you still need one.

Most estate sale companies work on commission. In most areas, they keep 10% to 15% of the sale proceeds. So you can keep most of the profit.

10. Trove Market

Trove Market lets you sell used and vintage furniture of nearly any type. This can be a great place to sell mid-century furnishings. In fact, this might be the most popular category on Trove. Plus, you can sell artwork on Trove too.

There are a couple of different selling options to choose from. If your item is light enough, you can offer to ship. Or buyers can pick up larger items like pianos and tables.

To sell on Trove, you can be a one-time seller or a business. Buyers search listings by city or zip code.

When a buyer visits Trove Market, local listings populate first. Then, other featured listings from across the nation show.

With Trove, you can also share your post on social media. These channels include Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Trove has a very clean site with high-quality pictures. So you shouldn’t have a hard time attracting buyers to your listings.

Fees to sell are the 10% Trove Commission. This is very reasonable. Plus, you pay credit card processing fees (if the buyer pays with plastic).

11. Recycled Furniture

If you have eco-friendly furniture, look at Recycled Furniture. These items may contain reclaimed materials. Or woods with quick growth natural materials like bamboo.

But your furniture doesn’t have to be green to sell on Recycled Furniture. They also accept used personal and business furniture.

Thus, selling your used furniture saves the buyer money. Also, you indirectly preserve the environment. Buying used items means fewer factory orders. And trucks consume less fuel as you skip the warehouse.

Listing on Recycled Furniture is free. Buyers can pick up items (the most eco-friendly option). Or you can ship to the buyer too. In regards to selling locally, Recycled Furniture has boards for 20 cities. Most of these are the largest U.S. cities.

12. eBay

With eBay, you have two options to sell furniture. First, you can sell items at auction. Second, you can sell items for a fixed price.

You can choose local pickup for bulky items too expensive to ship. For smaller items, you can afford to ship and still profit.

And eBay makes it easy for buyers to furniture shop. Buyers can click on visual examples to find relevant results. So you don’t have to worry about buyers having to match the exact keyword. You can sell new or used furniture on eBay.

When you make a sale, expect eBay to keep 13% of the selling price.

13. Sell.com

Another online commerce site (that has been around since 1999) is Sell.com. With Sell.com, you create local furniture listings with ads for $1.

Sell.com also makes it easy to sell elsewhere online. You can list your items on:

With a single listing, you can reach multiple audiences.

14. Etsy

When you hear Etsy, you probably think arts and crafts. But you can also list furniture and home decor pieces.

You can sell antique and vintage pieces. Plus, you can sell handmade furniture and accessories like pull handles. Also, you can offer to ship to the buyer.

This isn’t the place you’ll want to sell your current Ikea collection. But furniture sells from a few hundred dollars to over $5,000. You can get top dollar for antique pieces in pristine condition.

Compared to other online markets, Etsy’s seller fees are slightly lower. Expect to pay 6.5% in selling fees.

15. Fleapop

Some people consider Fleapop a mix between Craigslist and Etsy. It can be a good place to sell vintage or eclectic furniture. And home decor also sells well on Fleapop too.

To make it easy for buyers, you can list your items by collection. It is free to list, and Fleapop keeps 6% of the commission when an item sells.

16. Shopify

If you want to create your own business and website, do it with Shopify. With their pre-made templates, you can create an online storefront in minutes.

Shopify also provides online shopping carts. And they handle payment processing too. If you plan on selling in-person, Shopify offers mobile card readers too. When you sell at craft fairs, now you can accept plastic and cash payment.

They also have 24/7 customer support to help you with any problem. And Shopify provides free stock photos to enhance your website. Plus, you can use their analytics tools. These tools record details about your marketing campaigns. And what types of customers visit your online store.

17. Furnishly

Furnishly is one of the first online used furniture markets. You can only buy or sell furniture on this website.

Its roots might be in Chicago. But now, Furnishly connects local sellers across the U.S. On Furnishly, you create your own storefront. So shoppers can browse all your items at once.

This site isn’t as flexible as Craigslist or Letgo. You must be a seller in one of the Furnishly cities. Some of these cities include Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta and Milwaukee.

For instance, you don’t need a Boston proper mailing address to sell in Boston. But you need to live in Cambridge or another nearby borough.

You may have the most success if you sell unique or antique pieces. In some ways, Furnishly caters to a unique buying niche.

Most items are for local pickup. But Furnishly can require you to ship at the buyer’s request. Regarding fees, Furnishly keeps a 10% fee.

18. Chairish

For upscale clients, Chairish is a growing site for selling vintage furniture. In fact, Chairish is a leading iPhone app for decorating.

In addition to furniture, you can also sell art and outdoor furniture. Each day, hundreds of new items post from across the country.

Chairish keeps 20% of the sales price. In most cases, the buyer picks up the item from you. If the furniture needs shipping, Chairish will coordinate with the buyer. You can communicate with buyers using the Chairish dashboard, e-mail or phone.

19. Viyet

Viyet is an online consignment store for the most expensive of pieces. An assessor comes to your house to photograph and price your pieces.

The minimum retail price is $1,000 for furniture. And lighting sells for at least $500. If you have accessories, they must sell for at least $100. All items must be in new or good condition and a designer brand. And you can sell restored items in good condition.

After appraising items, Viyet lists your furniture on their website. Plus, they send a social media and e-mail blast. They try to match your pieces with relevant buyers.

Buyers also have the option to submit offers. Don’t worry; you can decline the offer if the price is too low.

Once a piece sells, Viyet coordinates the shipping. One downside is that you only keep 60% of the selling price. But this is a simple way to sell upscale furniture.

20. AptDeco

Residents of New York City, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. can sell furniture, lighting and rugs on AptDeco. Philly and Boston residents can sell on AptDeco soon.

Items are free to list, and the selling fee is 29%. Once an item sells, buyers enjoy free shipping.

So far, AptDeco has helped sell over 25,000 items. Any brand or product can sell on AptDeco. The furniture only needs to be in good condition. And it doesn’t matter how old the piece is. So you can sell that Ashley Furniture piece from last year.

Some figures from AptDeco might persuade you to sell on their website. First, 85% of sales happen without home visits. Second, ten days is the average time to sell. Finally, all orders have AptDeco’s purchase protection insurance. So selling on AptDeco can be less hassle than Craigslist.

21. 1stdibs

1stdibs allows you to sell antique, vintage and modern furniture designs. This marketplace is also for global buyers and sellers.

Notably, a team of high-class designers in Paris run 1stdibs. They are now one of the best online antique marketplaces.

You might consider this site if you are a designer living in New York City. In the Big Apple, they have a showroom showcasing 54 designers.

To begin selling on 1stdibs, you have to submit a dealer application. After approval, you sell on the global market. And 1stdibs schedules and ensures the shipping of your items. Plus, your account manager helps coach you to be a successful 1stdibs merchant.

22. Lushpad

Lushpad is another site for “new and upcoming designer furniture.” Also, you can sell modern or mid-century pieces. If so, use their Facebook Buy & Sell group.

To sell on the Lushpad, send an e-mail to start the process. It can be a good way to expand your personal brand. Today, Lushpad is a popular website for designer furniture.

23. Apartment Therapy Marketplace

Apartment Therapy Marketplace lets you sell modern and mid-century pieces. The largest markets are New York City, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. But you can sell from almost anywhere.

Listing is free, but you can boost your listing for a small fee of $1 per listing. And you can even import your Etsy listings to Apartment Therapy.

Apartment Therapy Marketplace has a personal feel to it. You create a seller profile that includes your image. List items online or with the iPhone app. Once you list a product, you can share it on Facebook and Twitter.

You can require in-person pickup. And local delivery or ship-to-destination work too. Plus, you can ship to foreign buyers!

24. Route 66 Furniture

Get your kicks on Route 66 at Route 66 Furniture. This is an online buy and sell consignment shop for used furniture. To start, you take pictures of the items you want to sell. Then, you email the details to Route 66. In one business day, Route 66 will follow-up with you. They may coordinate a pickup time with you.

Then, the items go to Route 66’s warehouse. When the item sells, you earn 50% of the proceeds.

If your items don’t sell within 30 days, Route 66 can drop the price. To make a sale, they may drop the price in half.

After 60 days, any unsold items delist. Then, you have the option to pick the items up. Or you can pay to have them shipped back to you. You can also request to relist the items.

25. Oodle

Oodle is another online classified site. You can list for free. And you get to schedule to meet the buyer to finalize the purchase.

Buyers see the listings nearest their current location. To be clear, this is a smaller website. If you don’t live in a featured city, you may have trouble making a sale. But it might not hurt to try.

26. Wertz Brothers

Los Angeles residents can sell their used furniture to Wertz Brothers. No items sell on consignment. So you receive instant check payment or store credit.

You can start by sending pictures and details to Wertz Brothers. It is even possible to sell a complete house of furniture. They offer pickup service on weekdays.

27. OfferUp

OfferUp bills itself as the “easiest way to buy and sell locally.” It is a free online classified app. In minutes, you can upload pictures and a description from your phone.

Buyers have the option to offer a counter price. Hence the name Offer Up. You communicate with the buyer with in-app chat. And you meet the buyer to complete the sale.

Buyers will see the most proximate results, and they can search keywords too.

28. Recycler

At its heart, Recycler is an L.A.-based classified newspaper service. Since 2010, they are a national online classified marketplace.

Listing is free, and you can submit up to 25 listings each day. You can also share your furniture listings on social media too.

29. Bonanza

Bonanza is a leading alternative to Amazon and eBay. They specialize in selling unique items from many niches.

You can sell any type of furniture on Bonanza.

Like Shopify, Bonanza lets you create an online storefront. So a personal website isn’t required. There are more than 40,000 Bonanza stores. But not all of them sell furniture. Your Bonanza listings can also appear on eBay and Etsy.

When you join Bonanza, you get $100 in Google AdWords credit.

30. Pinterest

Don’t forget about social media outlet Pinterest. You can list furniture you make. And you can sell from your own website. This a good way to use social media to publicize your brand for free.

For high-value items, paying to boost a pin can be worth the cost.

Finally, don’t forget you can pin your listings on other marketplaces. Take selling on Trove Market, for example.

31. eBid

eBid is an eBay alternative created in 1999. It has very low commission fees of only 3%. And there are more than 14,000 product listings. Like eBay, you can list furniture at auction or a fixed price. Plus, you can require local pickup.

You can also import items that you sell on Amazon and eBay. Being able to import items is how these small sites thrive. And it’s easy to sell on multiple markets with one original listing.

eBid also lets you purchase a lifetime membership for $50. Going lifetime reduces your long-term selling fees. And you even get a free t-shirt.

32. Bookoo

A family-friendly online classified site is Bookoo. It’s also a mini-social media platform. Most boards are set up for U.S. military bases. So this site can be a good option if you live near one.

The social media platform makes the selling process more secure. Unlike Craigslist, where you can’t see the buyer’s photo until the meetup.

Also, buyers and sellers can leave feedback on Bookoo. So you can easily avoid bad buyers.

Listing with Bookoo is free. And buyers can see the other items you are selling in your profile.

You can also “friend” other Bookoo users in the social media part. This is a good idea since it can help you reach more buyers.

33. Ruby Lane

To sell vintage and antique furniture online, try Ruby Lane.

Everything sold on Ruby Lane is high-end and fetches top dollar. There is a $100 setup fee to begin selling on Ruby Lane.  This fee opens your online store. Plus, you pay a monthly $69 fee if you list 80 items or less. Finally, each product has a 19-cent listing fee.

Ruby Lane might be more expensive than some other sites. So it might be a good option if you’re a vendor. Also, consider it if you refinish antique or vintage furniture as a side hustle.

34. Arizona Office Liquidators & Designs

You can sell used office furniture to Arizona Office Liquidators & Designs. They even accept trade-ins to upgrade your office.

Arizona Office picks up used office furniture in the Phoenix metro area. Or you can live anywhere in the United States if you can fill a truck.

You can sell used files, desks, chairs, tables, cubicles, lobby furniture. Also, sell artwork and other fixtures. They will pay top dollar for Herman Miller Aeron chairs. To start selling, submit an online quote. Or you can always give them a call.

35. Furniture Finders

With ten or more matching units, you can use Furniture Finders. But it must be office furniture. Then, Furniture Finders works with local dealers to provide a quote.

Next, you can proceed with the sale or keep searching for another buyer. Be sure to include pictures in the submission. Or they will decline your quote instantly.

Summary

No matter the reason you’re selling, you can sell furniture locally and online. If you want to, you can even do both at once. It’s possible to sell it yourself. Or you can always try consignment when you don’t have the time. Any of these options makes more money than throwing it out on the curb.

Have you sold used furniture before? If so, what was the process like for you? Let us know on Facebook.

15 Best Auto Insurance Companies in 2019

Most American households own a car. One expense you can’t avoid is auto insurance. In several states, you must carry insurance or pay a fine.

There are many auto insurance companies to choose from. But, your monthly premium can vary widely and the customer service quality can too.

When insurance shopping, get quotes from multiple providers. And, make sure your quotes are for identical coverage amounts. This gives you an accurate assessment of how much you will pay each month.

If you’re a rideshare driver, you should compare different providers, too. After all, you must have rideshare insurance when driving for Lyft or Uber. You may find these options cheaper than buying insurance from Uber or Lyft.

Getting a quote only takes a few minutes. These days, most companies provide online quotes. Some companies still require you to talk to an agent. But, if you need coverage today, you can get insurance in an instant.

The Best Auto Insurance Companies

For a few minutes, forget about the jingles and celebrity endorsements. Great commercials don’t make a great auto insurance company. Instead, focus on picking a quality company. Maybe, the best auto insurance provider is a name you have yet to hear.

You can get a free online quote from most of the companies below. Switching insurance providers can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

In addition to looking at different companies, you should get multiple quotes from the same provider. For example, you can try different deductible and coverage amounts. Extra coverage might be more affordable than you think.

1.Gabi

Let’s face it, getting insurance quotes takes time. Even if it’s only a few minutes for each quote, that’s time you never get back.

When time is precious, Gabi makes the auto insurance process easy. It doesn’t provide insurance. Instead, Gabi compares quotes from 18 different providers.

The comparison process is simple. If you currently have insurance, Gabi pulls your current policy details. This way, you get a true apples-to-apples comparison. Within 48 hours, Gabi providers the best rates.

If you don’t have insurance, Gabi helps you find a policy too.

Once you find a quote, Gabi takes you to the provider’s website. With the provider, you complete the signup process.

With Gabi, the comparison process doesn’t end when you pick a quote. It will continue to monitor your premium amount to find the best rate. As you switch vehicles or add teen drivers, Gabi provides fresh quotes.

Pros

  • Get multiple quotes for free
  • Gabi continues to monitor for extra discounts

Cons

  • It takes up to 48 hours to get a quote

2. Esurance

Esurance is an online-only insurer owned by Allstate. You won’t get a local agent. But, your monthly premiums can be lower than using an agent. After all, how do online-only stores charge less than physical stores?

In seven states, Esurance offers usage-based car insurance. It calls this program DriveSense. With this option, the actual number of miles you drive helps set your premium. Your driving habits and the time of day you drive also play a factor.

One unique Esurance discount is for Pac-12 college students and alumni. You get a special Pac-12 discount. You can also get a discount by being a first-time customer. Plus, there are other common industry discounts, too.

Some of the other Esurance discounts include:

  • Paid-in-full discount
  • Multi-policy discount (Esurance offers other insurance products)
  • Defensive driver discount

You also get a discount for insuring multiple drivers and vehicles. Some discounts can help you save up to 25% on your premium.

The Esurance call center staff also has J.D. Power’s highest rating.

Pros

  • Can be cheaper than a local Allstate agent
  • Drivers can save more with the usage-based DriveSense

Cons

  • No local agent access
  • Some regional insurance providers are still more affordable

3. MetroMile

If you drive a few miles each month, Metromile can be your cheapest option. In fact, this might be your best option if you drive less than 10,000 miles a year.

Each month, you pay a base rate plus per-mile rate. For example, your base rate might be $29 a month and six cents ($0.06) per mile you drive. If you drive 300 miles in a month, your premium is $47.

For long trips, MetroMile only charges on the first 250 miles each day. If you’re a New Jersey resident, it only charges you for the first 150 miles each day.

You want to avoid Metromile if you don’t want a variable premium. Plus, you must plug their Pulse device into your OBD-II port. This device tracks your mileage, but it doesn’t track your driving habits like other pay-per-mile insurance plans. More on that below.

Telematic Car Insurance Policies

Metromile uses telematics to determine your premium. Other insurance providers use telematics, too. But, most companies call it usage-based policies.

By sharing your driving habits, you can save money. First, plug the device into your car’s OBD-II port. Then, the device wirelessly transmits your driving activity. The device logs the time of day you drive and the number of miles per trip.

With other insurance companies, the devices also monitor how long you idle and how rapidly you accelerate or decelerate. So, safe drivers can earn a discount of up to 40%. Right now, telematics is optional for auto insurance.

At this time, MetroMile only tracks the number of miles you drive. So, you pay less if you drive less. This is a less invasive use of telematics than monitoring other details of how you drive.

Pros

  • You pay per mile you drive
  • Driving habits don’t influence your premium
  • Telematics device also monitors your car health
  • Rideshare insurance also available

Cons

  • Can be more expensive than other insurers when you drive more than 10,000 miles a year
  • Only available in eight states

4. Root Insurance

Tired of overpaying for car insurance just because you’re young, single, or some other “risky” demographic, even though you know you’re a safe and careful driver? That’s where Root Insurance comes in.

Root is a car insurance company that uses your actual driving habits to help determine your rate for insurance. This way you’ll pay based on whether or not your actual driving behavior is risky or not.

Root may also choose not to offer you insurance if your driving behaviors are too risky. This means they are able to offer even better rates to the drivers they do insure. According to their website, they area able to save good drivers as much as 52% on car insurance!

All you have to do is download the app to your iPhone or Android, go for a test drive and choose from the recommended policies in the app after your drive. You can even pay for your insurance right there in the app. Now that’s easy!

5. Amica Mutual

One provider that gets high overall marks is Amica Mutual. It has a 5 out of 5 rating for “Local Agent” support in the 2018 J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Study. If you prefer having a local agent, this can be a good option.

Some other unique perks of Amica include:

  • No deductible for door lock or airbag replacement
  • Full vehicle replacement in the first year of ownership

And, if your car needs repairs, you can take it to any body shop. Most insurance providers only partner with select repair shops.

For the best Amica coverage, choose the Platinum Choice Auto package. With this package, you can enjoy these three extra benefits:

  • Accident forgiveness
  • No deductible for replacing auto glass
  • Identity fraud monitoring with all three credit bureaus
  • $5,000 credit for rental car coverage

You can also add these benefits to your standard policy a la carte.

Pros

  • 5/5 J.D. Power rating for Local Agent customer service
  • Platinum Choice offers some of the most extensive benefits
  • No restrictions for body shop repairs

Cons

  • Must talk to an agent to complete quote process
  • Fewer discounts than the average insurance company

6. USAA

If you’re a military brat like me, you likely know about USAA. It receives high ratings in many insurance surveys. USAA is popular for its competitive rates and good customer service. In fact, it’s one of two providers to have an overall 5/5 J.D. Power rating.

I also happen to be a USAA auto insurance member. I stay with USAA for its competitive premiums and great customer service.

We have our policy with another home insurance provider. USAA is still more affordable than bundling with our home insurance. That’s the case for me, but it might be different for you.

One benefit you might enjoy is accident forgiveness. You qualify when your household is accident-free for five years. If an at-fault accident happens, your premium won’t increase.

You qualify for USAA membership in these instances:

  • Active military
  • Former military
  • Eligible family member (Child or spouse)
  • Cadet or Midshipman (U.S. Service Academy or ROTC candidates)

Membership is free to people who meet those conditions. And, active duty members can enjoy special benefits when they deploy.

Pros

  • Some of the best rates for military members and their families
  • A high-ranking customer service team

Cons

  • Must be a U.S. military member or family to join USAA

7. Erie Insurance

Erie Insurance ranks #1 in the 2018 J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Study. It’s the other provider on this list to earn a 5/5 overall rating. It ranks high for its pricing and customer service. Some neat features include a rate lock and diminishing deductibles.

One reason why you might be switching policies is that your rates keep rising. But if you have a clean driving record and don’t buy new vehicles, you don’t have to suffer rising rates. With rate lock, you pay the same amount each term. Your rate only changes in these situations:

  • Add or remove drivers or vehicles
  • Move to a new house

Another unique benefit is the diminishing deductible. With most providers, lower deductibles increase your monthly premium. But Erie drops your deductible $100 each year you’re claim-free. In all, Erie will drop your deductible up to $500.

One downside is that Erie only operates in several states. You must live in the Mid-Atlantic or Midwest regions to join.

Pros

  • Highest J.D Power rating in 2018 Insurance Shopping Study
  • Up to $1,000 Pet Injury Coverage
  • Diminishing deductible up to $500
  • Rate lock when your insurance profile remains the same

Cons

  • Only available in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states

8. The Hartford

A well-respected auto insurance provider is The Hartford. AARP members can enjoy special discounts and benefits. To get Hartford insurance, you must be an AARP member and at least age 50.

An annual membership costs $16 and gets you other AARP discounts.

With AARP membership, you can enjoy lifetime coverage. As you age, auto insurance providers may drop your coverage. Pay your monthly premium and The Hartford won’t drop your coverage.

Also, The Hartford secures your monthly premium for a 12-month term. Other providers can adjust your rate every six months.

One other benefit you might enjoy is RecoverCare. In covered accidents, Hartford pays for home services until you recover. For instance, it may pay for home cleaning, lawn maintenance, food prep and dog walking.

Pros

  • Competitive rates for drivers 50+ years old
  • Lifetime coverage
  • RecoverCare pays essential home expenses if you’re hurt

Cons

  • Only available to AARP members

9. State Farm

If you prefer having a local agent, State Farm a common choice. Most U.S. cities have a nearby agent. By some measures, it is the nation’s largest auto insurance provider. It can also insure your dwelling for a multi-policy discount too.

For rideshare drivers, insurance is available in 42 states and D.C. According to State Farm, this option increases your premium between 15% and 20%. So, if your personal premium is $60 a month, your new premium might be $72.

With the State Farm Drive Safe & Sound plan, you can save up to 50%. As with other insurers, you must install a device to track your driving habits. You must link the device to the State Farm app or in-car OnStar to enroll.

Devices from other providers wirelessly transmit your driving data. So, Safe & Sound can be more hassle in its current form.

Any driver under the age of 25 can also take State Farm’s Steer Clear discount. This is an online driver safety course. After completion, you get a discount.

If you’re in a wreck at least 50 miles from home, State Farm is very helpful. It will cover the cost of your rental car, meals, lodging and transit. Not every driver needs this coverage. But, it can be worth it if you travel away from home often.

While most insurance providers have a mobile app, State Farm’s is one of the best. You can quickly submit claims. And, you need the app to enroll in Drive Safe & Sound or Steer Clear.

Pros

  • Usage-based and defensive driver training discounts
  • Rideshare insurance in 42 states and District of Columbia
  • User-friendly mobile app

Cons

  • Must use the app or OnStar to get Safe & Sound or Steer Clear discounts

10. Auto-Owners

This agent-only company provides many insurance products. Auto-Owners has two 5/5 ratings in the 2018 J.D. Power survey:

  • Policy Offerings
  • Local Agent

It has a 4 out of 5 rating for pricing and its overall service.

Auto-Owners offers many coverage options. You might like the Personal Automobile Plus Package. This option features extra perks like cell phone replacement and rekeying locks.

Also, Auto-Owners has two loyalty bonuses that can save you money. Let’s say you’re in a collision with another Auto-Owners client. If so, the company waives your collision deductible. So, if your deductible is $1,000, it pays the first $1,000 of repairs.

And, Auto-Owners is flexible when you strike an animal. It compares your collision and comprehensive coverage. Whichever pays the most is what it uses to pay you.

Pros

  • Flexible collision coverage
  • High customer service ratings

Cons

  • Must get a policy with a local agent
  • Only operates in 26 states

11. Liberty Mutual

Teachers can benefit from special perks at Liberty Mutual. When an incident occurs on school business, you can get this coverage for free:

  • Vandalism loss
  • Stolen or lost personal property
  • Collision coverage

Liberty also offers discounts for:

  • Newlyweds
  • New retirees
  • New graduates

Teen drivers and good students can also enjoy discounts. Plus, hybrid vehicles receive a price break.

In regards to customer service, Liberty Mutual is average. This rating is from the 2018 J.D. Power survey. Similar industry reviews show similar results.

Pros

  • Free benefits for teachers
  • Unique discounts for new couples and retirees
  • Hybrid vehicles get discounts

Cons

  • Single policies can be expensive. Consider getting a multi-policy for extra discounts.

12. Geico

If you qualify for a Geico discount, you can save on car insurance. Geico offers discounts to over 500 groups including:

  • Federal employees
  • Military members
  • Affinity groups
  • Alumni groups
  • Fraternities and sororities

And, anyone can save up to 26% if you’re accident-free for five years.

Without a discount, Geico ranks about average for plan prices. Its customer service also receives average marks. Both of these findings come from the 2018 J.D. Power survey.

You can get a quote online or through a local agent.

The Geico app is also well-rated. You can use it to get digital insurance cards and to track vehicle maintenance. It also looks for any open recalls.

Geico has one coverage options you may want to add. Its emergency assistance plan costs as little as $14 a year per car. Note, however, that some other insurers charge only $5 a month for similar coverage. This assistance covers these unwanted events:

  • Battery jumpstart
  • Flat tire change
  • Towing (not accident related)
  • Lockout services (up to $100)

You can also add mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI). This option helps offset the cost of auto repairs. But, you should compare the monthly cost to your average repair spending. For you, it might be cheaper to pay these expenses with cash. With MBI, you must still pay a $250 deductible.

Pros

  • Discounts for 500+ employers and social groups
  • Feature-rich mobile app
  • Safe driver discount when accident-free for five years

Cons

  • Policy costs are relatively high without a discount
  • Not as many local agents as other national providers

13. Ameriprise

Ameriprise is better known for its life insurance products. But, it ranks #1 in California for car insurance according to J.D. Power.

And, it offers discount auto insurance to Costco members.

For example, Costco executive members can get free roadside assistance. An executive membership costs $120 a year. That’s $60 more than the standard Costco membership. This benefit helps defray the executive membership fee. And, you save money on car insurance, too.

Of course, you don’t have to be a Costco member to join Ameriprise. And, you don’t have to live in the Golden State either. It offers many auto insurance options for most U.S. states. You can see if Ameriprise is a good option for you with an online quote.

At its heart, Ameriprise still focuses more on investing. So, its website and app cater to this service. You may wish to have a dedicated auto insurance provider instead.

Pros

  • Special discounts for Costco members
  • Top rating in California from 2018 J.D. Power Auto Survey

Cons

  • Mobile app lags peers for auto insurance options

14. Nationwide

Nationwide has above average (4 out of 5) J.D. Power ratings for policy offerings. It has  positive ratings for its website and local agents, too.

Like a few other insurers, you can save up to 40% by driving safely. The SmartRide telematic device tracks these driving habits:

  • Number of miles you drive
  • Hard braking or accelerate too quickly
  • Idle time
  • Nighttime driving

Nationwide offers discounts for various affinity groups. And, you can get discounts for enrolling in auto-pay.

Like other insurers, Nationwide offers vanishing deductibles. When you’re accident-free, your deductible drops $100 a year up to five years. If you get in an accident, your deductible resets. But, it drops $100 again each accident-free year.

Pros

  • Save up to 40% with SmartRide telematics
  • Access to local agent

Cons

  • Below average J.D. Power rating for call center staff

15. Auto Club Group (AAA)

When you travel, maybe you use AAA. In addition to great travel deals, AAA offers auto insurance. In fact, it’s one of the nation’s largest providers.

Auto Club Group is an offshoot of AAA. J.D. Power gives Auto Club an above-average (4 of 5) rating for plan prices.

You can enjoy these discounts:

  • Disappearing deductible
  • AAADrive usage-based telematics
  • Cash rewards each year you’re claim-free

AAA has three different plan levels: Essential, Advantage and Ultimate. To get most of the discounts, you must have a premium plan. For instance, only the Ultimate plan has the disappearing deductible.

With the AAADrive telematic, you can save up to 30%. When you drive, connect your car device to the mobile app. AAADrive monitors these driving factors:

  • Cell phone usage
  • Smooth vs. hard driving
  • Speed relative to other drivers
  • Time of day
  • Length of a trip without breaks

Also, Auto Club has small-claim forgiveness. Your premiums don’t increase when damage is less than $250 when you’re at fault. For other claims, the threshold is $750 before they adjust your premium.

Finally, you can also enjoy AAA discounts and roadside assistance. These two benefits are maybe what AAA is best known for. Both of them help you save money when you travel or when you must perform car repairs.

Pros

  • Responsible drivers save up to 30% with AAADrive telematics
  • Industry-leading discounts including a disappearing deductible

Cons

  • Must be a AAA member
  • Not the best option for bargain shoppers

FAQs About Auto Insurance

Auto insurance has many moving parts. The number of coverage options can be confusing. Below, are several questions to help you pick the best policy.

How Much Does Auto Insurance Cost?

According to Statista, the national 12-month premium is $1,489, or, $124 each month.

Of course, there are many factors that go into your car insurance premium. These factors include:

  • Where you live
  • Your driving record
  • Number of insured drivers
  • Age of cars
  • Number of cars
  • Coverage amounts
  • Size of deductible
  • Size of policy discounts
  • Amount of miles you drive each year
  • Your credit score

Your auto insurer also influences your premium cost. Each provider weights these factors differently. This is why you must get quotes from multiple providers.

Not every insurance company charges the same.

What’s the Difference Between Liability and Collision Coverage?

The main purpose of car insurance is to protect your personal wealth. If you cause an accident, you’re liable for any repair bills. Plus, you must pay any medical bills too. With insurance, you most likely don’t pay for any costs.

Without insurance, you must pull from savings to pay any bills. Literally, a single accident can bankrupt you. For this reason alone, you need car insurance.

But, your insurance might not cover the repair costs for your own at-fault events. It depends on whether you have a basic or full coverage plan.

There are three basic auto insurance coverage types:

  • Liability
  • Collision
  • Comprhensive

Here’s a brief description of each one.

Liability Coverage

For at-fault accidents, this coverage covers these expenses:

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage

Many states now require drivers to have liability coverage. If not, you may have to pay a fine each year. And, you might not be able to renew your car registration either.

Remember, liability only pays for damages to the other car. Your insurance won’t pay for your own damage or medical bills.

If the other driver is at fault, their insurance pays your bills.

Collision

This coverage covers any damage not caused by an animal. For example, you might hit a car or tree. If so, your collision benefits cover the repair bill. But, only the amount after your deductible.

Collision coverage is optional. But, if you have a car loan, your bank requires you to have collision coverage.

Comprehensive

This coverage covers animal and nature-related damage repairs. Maybe, you hit a deer or a hail storm happens. Since you’re not at fault, collision coverage doesn’t cover these claims. You need comprehensive for this type of damage.

You must purchase this coverage separate from collision coverage. Like collision, you may have to own it if you have a car loan.

Other Insurance Coverage Options

You may also choose these extra coverage options. Keep in mind, each option raises your premium. And, you have to decide if the potential payout is worth the added cost

  • Roadside assistance
  • Rental car assistance
  • Underinsured motorist coverage
  • Rideshare insurance
  • Car replacement assistance
  • Disability assistance
  • Lost wages reimbursement

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?

Only you know the answer to this question. You have to determine your spending limit. And, you may want to receive compensation if your vehicle needs repairs.

But, the more coverage you have, the more you pay.

Each state has a minimum liability coverage requirement. But, you may decide to choose a higher amount. After all, car accidents and medical bills can be expensive.

Also, most banks require you to have “full coverage” while you have the loan.

When to Get Collision Coverage

If you don’t have a car loan, you can get by with liability coverage only. This is an easy way to lower your car insurance costs. But, you must pay cash for all vehicle repairs.

When you can’t afford the expensive repairs, keep the extra coverage. And, keep the coverage if you can’t afford to replace your vehicle.

But, it can make sense to drop the coverage if you have an older vehicle.

For example, we only have liability on one of our cars. The car is only worth $1,500. Any major repair costs more than the vehicle is worth. And, we have $1,500 in savings to replace this car if necessary.

But, we still have full coverage on our second vehicle that’s worth $7,500. After we pay a $500 deductible, insurance pays the rest. We pay an extra $20 a month for full coverage. But, we can save thousands if we file a claim. If we must replace this vehicle, insurance covers most of the costs.

How to Lower Your Car Insurance Bill

Most auto insurance companies offer policy discounts. When switching companies, you might choose a company with the most discounts. After all, you get similar coverage amounts for less.

These are some options you have to reduce your insurance bill:

  • Raise your deductible (i.e. $500 to $1000)
  • Drop optional coverages like rental car assistance
  • Add a non-auto insurance policy
  • Don’t carry collision or comprehensive on older vehicles
  • Be a safe driver
  • Use a telematics device that tracks your driving habit
  • Own a safe car or a hybrid
  • Improve your credit score

Some of these changes lower your premium right away. These include dropping optional coverages and raising your deductible.

Other changes take time. For example, you may need to go five years accident-free. Also, your premium is related to the cash value of your car. As your car depreciates, your premiums naturally decrease.

Summary

Cost is the main fact when choosing an auto insurance company. But, customer service quality is important too. Take the time to get quotes from at least two companies. And, don’t be afraid to compare local agents with online-only companies.

Did we forget your favorite auto insurance company? Let us know on our social media channels.

55 Ways to Get Free Amazon Gift Cards in 2018

Amazon gift cards are a popular payment method for side hustles.

With gift cards, you can buy almost anything you need and, you can buy a few things you want without spending your regular paycheck.

To get free Amazon gift card codes, you can do many quick tasks online.

If you’re ready to earn gift cards, check out these options below! In fact, this might be the best advice you read today about making more money!

Earn Amazon Gift Cards from Online Surveys

For most people, online surveys are the best way to get free Amazon gift cards.

In exchange for your opinions, you earn rewards points and most survey sites let you exchange points for Amazon gift cards. And, most surveys take less than 15 minutes to complete! Besides the short time to complete, surveys are easy and fun.

Maybe, you share your opinions with friends for free? Now, you can get paid for your time!

1. Survey Junkie

If you want a legit survey site, join Survey Junkie. You will receive daily survey invites, which means you earn gift cards sooner.

Some sites only offer two or three surveys per month. At this rate, it can take a year to get one gift card!

For every survey, you earn points and with a $10 balance, you can get Amazon gift cards. Besides Amazon gift cards, you can also get cash online via PayPal.

2. Ipsos I-Say

Ipsos I-Say pays you to answer surveys and it will also pay you to test products.

As a loyalty bonus, you earn a year-end bonus for each survey you take. With this bonus, it’s possible to earn up to 600 extra points and you can exchange these points for a $5 Amazon gift card.

Besides paid surveys and product testing, you also enter Ipsos free contests. That’s right, earn a free entry each time you earn points. For example, you can win extra cash or a free vacation from a contest.

3. American Consumer Opinion

American Consumer Opinion pays up to $50 per survey. In addition to opinion polls, you can also test new products.

You earn more per survey than opinion polls or new product testing. However surveys are less common on this site. In fact, only expect to receive survey invites several times per year.

You may want to join a second site because of the infrequency of survey invitations. But, if you’re a casual survey taker, a few surveys might be perfect. With every type of survey site, you need to find a good rhythm for filing the surveys out. Once you find websites you like, use those sites as much as possible and fill out as many opinions as possible.

4. Nielsen National Consumer Panel

Maybe, you’re familiar with Nielsen, the world-renown statistic gathering company. After all, they have the famous “Nielsen family.”

Well, Nielsen does more than monitor tv watching habits and radio listening habits. They also want to know what you buy each week. They want to learn the intricacies of our buying habits.

With their National Consumer Panel platform, you can get paid to shop. First, you scan product barcodes of the products you buy during every day life. Second, you indicate what price you paid. Then, you earn bonus points by taking a quick opinion survey on the product itself.

Remember, scan your purchases weekly to earn bonus points. As a loyalty bonus, NCP pays more per scan when you don’t miss a week.

One of the possible prize redemptions is Amazon gift cards! And, don’t forget to share your Amazon purchases so you can earn bonus points.

5. Harris Poll

Harris Poll is one of the world’s oldest research companies. They will ask your opinion on a variety of topics relating to consumer habits and current event surveys.

Besides earning points with each survey, Harris Poll hosts cash prize drawings. With each survey, you gain one entry into the biweekly cash draw. Plus, there are also quarterly and annual cash sweepstakes too!

Finally, Harris is also one of the few online survey sites for teens. If you don’t know, you must usually be 18 years old to take surveys.

6. PrizeRebel

PrizeRebel lets you start earning money in 10 seconds. You can even earn points for watching ads and they pay points for online surveys and product trials.

In regards to Amazon gift cards, you can get a $2 gift card with PrizeRebel, which is the cheapest reward possible on PrizeRebel.

7. Global Test Market

Global Test Market has awarded more than $32 million in prizes since 2014. And, this is a great site if you live outside the U.S. So, it’s nice to know you can earn Amazon gift cards from anywhere in the world!

The surveys cover a variety of topics like asking questions about the movies you watch or about current events. Plus, you might receive invites to test products. You certainly won’t feel bored on this site.

You earn points for each survey you take and your awards include Amazon and other gift cards.

8. Toluna

Toluna is part-survey site and part-social media platform where you can also test products. In fact, Toluna offers more product tests than most survey sites. You can interact with the other 10 million Toluna members on the platform to an online game and have some friendly competition.

Finally, you can redeem reward points for gift cards or cash.

9. iPoll

iPoll pays up to $5 per survey and, you also get a $5 sign-up bonus! There’s a chance you can earn $10 on your first survey and Amazon gift cards are one of your award options.

Like other survey sites, each survey enters into the $10,000 quarterly cash drawing. If you want a legit survey app, iPoll is worth a look. It’s open to many countries located all over the world.

10. InboxDollars

Another leading site that will pay you for your opinion is InboxDollars. Not only will they pay you to take surveys, but they’ll pay you to watch videos, play games and shop online for cash too. In fact, check out our review of InboxDollars for more info.

And, you will even earn a $5 bonus just for signing up! 

Plus, you earn a bonus each time your referred friends earn money and, you get a bonus from their friends too!

11. Survey Spot

Ok, so Survey Spot lets you redeem your rewards points for these gift cards:

  • Amazon
  • iTunes
  • PayPal
  • Airline frequent flyer miles

Of course, Amazon will be your go-to choice, but, you never know when airline miles can come in handy!

Finally, there’s a quarterly $10,000 prize drawing you can join too!

12. YouGov

YouGov asks your opinion about people, movies, brands and current events and you earn 2,000 bonus points ($20) as a welcome bonus! With this bonus, you can get gift cards or cash. In most cases, surveys pay 250 points and you can redeem your balance when it reaches 5,000 points ($50).

13. Test Spin

Test Spin pays you to take surveys and test websites. Each year, you can earn up to $600 in Amazon gift cards. This is possible by earning up to $10 per survey and you get up to $30 per focus group.

14. Knowledge Panel

Knowledge Panel pays $1 per survey that you can redeem for Amazon gift cards. Each week, you will receive one survey invite. On average, each survey takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete and you receive a $10 bonus after your first survey.

If you don’t have home internet access, Knowledge Panel can help. To take surveys, they provide a computer and dial-up access.

But, to join Knowledge Panel, you must receive an invitation code in the mail.

15. NiceQuest

With NiceQuest, you earn rewards points for online surveys and Amazon gift cards and merchandise are two award options. Also, make sure you follow NiceQuest on social media. Doing so lets you discover members-only contests to earn bonus points.

Get Gift Cards Directly from Amazon

The first place to look for free Amazon gift cards is the source–Amazon. Sometimes, it pays to start at the source to get free gift cards. Yes, Amazon pays you for your loyalty.

16. Amazon Trade-In

For your unwanted items, try the Amazon Trade-In Store and they even accept items you don’t buy from Amazon!

Amazon can buy back these items:

  • Gaming platforms and video games
  • Kindle E-readers
  • Books
  • Wireless devices
  • Tablets
  • Smart watches
  • DVDs
  • Music

For a personal example, Amazon offered to buy a DVD I own for $15. A few years ago, I paid $18 for the DVD! However, on other buyback sites, I might only earn a few bucks for the same movie.

Another good trade-in option is selling your old Amazon Kindle. With this trade, you upgrade to a new version and Amazon gives you an Amazon gift card plus a $20 bonus!

Not all trade-ins will be that lucrative on Amazon. Sometimes, they only offer a few dollars. Or, they might not want your item if it has low demand.

Maybe, you might be better off selling your used books on BookScouter On this site, you see the buyback price from over 42 vendors and don’t forget to get a second quote to sell your used electronics. After all, other tech-centric might offer more for your non-Amazon devices.

17. Amazon Coupons

Most Amazon Coupon discounts are immediate but they sometimes offer Amazon gift codes when you buy select items.

For example, let’s say you buy a specific video game. When you do, you get a free Amazon gift card. First, make sure you check the Grocery, Health, and Beauty categories. In these three categories, you have the best chance of finding gift codes.

To maximize your earning options, be sure to join Amazon Prime.

18. Promote Amazon Products on Your Website

If you own a blog or website, make money with Amazon affiliate links. You make money each time someone clicks your link and buys something. To join, create an account on Amazon Associates. Each month, you can get paid in cash or with an Amazon gift card.

Also, starting a blog is an excellent side hustle idea. With a blog, you can earn a steady passive income. In this case, you can earn Amazon gift cards with your new affiliate links.

19. Amazon Mturk

Amazon Mturk is a creative way to make money through online tasks. It’s free to join, and most tasks only take a few minutes. For example, some tasks include surveys, data entry, and web research.

For a change, most of the surveys are college studies. These college studies ask different questions than most online surveys. In general, they seem to be more personal and you won’t answer as many questions on personal brands.

You can get paid with cash or an Amazon gift card. So, this might be your new favorite way to get Amazon gift cards for free.

20. Reload Your Amazon Gift Card Balance

You can get a cash bonus when you reload your Amazon balance. You can redeem gift cards you earn elsewhere or you can rebuild your own Amazon balance with a gift card purchase.

Apps and Websites That Pay You Amazon Gift Cards

Sometimes, online surveys aren’t enough. In this case, you can also make money watching videos, shopping, or even surfing the web. Plus, most times you can earn gift cards from your smartphone!

21. Swagbucks

Easily, Swagbucks is one of the best-known online side hustles.

For example, you get paid for these activities:

  • Surveys
  • Playing games
  • Shopping
  • Testing products
  • Web searches

Besides these tasks, you also get paid to watch videos and you can complete micro-tasks for points too.

For these reasons, Swagbucks is such a popular choice for survey sites. With Swagbucks you make money doing daily activities with minimal effort. In other words, you don’t have to change a thing to make money, except you must join Swagbucks first.

With a $3 balance, you can get Amazon gift cards. On the internet, few side hustles offer such a low reward balance. On other sites, your balance might have to be $10 to get an Amazon card.

For more tips, read our review of Swagbucks to maximize your time on the app.

22. MyPoints

MyPoints is the sister site to Swagbucks. The earning options are similar but the redemption options might be lower for specific gifts. It can be well worth your time to join MyPoints. You can even join both and pick the best offer each day!

23. Opinion Outpost

For surveys, you might also consider Opinion Outpost. In most cases, each survey takes 10 minutes or less and you can begin cashing out your rewards with a $5 balance.

Finally, you can also enter the $10,000 quarterly prize drawing.  With each survey you complete, you get a free entry.

24. Earning Station

Earning Station is another all-in-one activity platform. Like Swagbucks, you get paid for almost every online activity. In most cases, you do these actions for free already.

The main draw for this app is their Streak bonus. With this bonus, you earn at least $0.25 for ten straight days of activity. As a frequent visitor, you earn up to $3.50 as a bonus soi it pays to keep the streak going.

25. instaGC

As its name implies, instaGC rewards you gift cards for your time.  It also might be the easiest way to get free Amazon gift cards. With instaGC, you make money from multiple activities including include surveys, videos and games and opening emails!

Plus, here are two other reasons to consider instaGC:

  • Get paid to listen to music
  • Get Amazon gift cards for only $1

As long as you make a dollar a day, you can get a $1 Amazon card.

26. CashCrate

Like Swagbucks, CashCrate pays you to do many online activities. Maybe you want to stick with surveys but you can also play games and try new offers. Plus, you can refer friend to earn bonus cash too.

27. Lucktastic

Ok, the lottery is a touchy subject. After all, you spend real money and probably won’t win. But, with Lucktastic, you can play digital scratch cards for free and one of the possible prizes is Amazon gift cards.

Even better, Lucktastic is a free app so it’s an entertaining way to use your spare time. Winning isn’t guaranteed on Lucktastic since it is a lottery-based app. You should try other apps to get gift cards too. Still, it only takes a few seconds to complete each game and it’s a fun break from surveys or other side hustles.

Download Lucktastic for IOS or for Android.

28. Perk.tv

With Perk.tv, you earn points for watching videos. You can watch TV commercials, movie trailers, and other short videos.  In a few minutes, you earn rewards points and you can use these points to get Amazon gift cards.

29. Points2Shop

Points2Shop is a “get-paid-to” Swagbucks alternative and they specialize in Amazon prizes. Like Swagbucks, you get paid for most online activities but you can redeem your rewards points directly on Amazon. In this case, you can skip the gift card and go straight to check out.

There are few requirements to join Points2Shop. First, you must be at least 18 years old and, you must live in the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. Also, teens at least 13 years old can join with parental permission.

30. Viggle

Now, watching your favorite shows is now more fun with Viggle and you get paid to watch tv too!

The next time you turn on live TV, open the Viggle app. If you watch on-demand streaming like Hulu or Netflix work with the app too. In commercial breaks, you can answer show-related trivia questions. Plus, you can play games with friends too.

As a reward, you earn Perk points. Besides Amazon gift cards, there are 800 prizes to choose from.

31. CheckPoints

For local mystery shopping, join CheckPoints. You can make money with online shopping and surveys too. You can redeem your rewards points for gift cards and giveaways.

To win more points, you can play bonus games online.

32. Microsoft Rewards

At first, Microsoft Rewards and Amazon gift cards don’t sound similar. But you can earn Amazon gift cards by by making one simple switch. By making Bing your default search engine, you earn rewards points. With each search, you get 5 points then you can get a $5 Amazon gift card with 5,000 points.

You can also earn bonus points by taking the daily quizzes and you can participate in daily offers for points too. To find these extra offers, install the browser extension.

Unless you must use Google for your work or research, it pays to use Bing. Joining Microsoft Rewards is free and it’s pure profit! In fact, it pays better than most web search tools.

33. AppNana

AppNana pays you to download and test mobile apps. Even if you decide to delete the app, you still earn points but you can keep the apps you like to make life easier.

With a $1 balance, you can buy apps or Amazon gift cards. Enter invitation code d27034761 to get 2500 Nanas!

34. AppTrailers

For apps and videos, AppTrailers gives you rewards points for these activities. You can even upload your own videos to earn more points. With this app, Amazon gift cards are one gift option.

35. Bananatic

To test apps, you might also try Bananatic. With Bananatic, you earn gift cards for testing games. Of course, you can redeem your points for game prizes and skins but Amazon gift cards are another reward option.

In addition to testing games, you can also shop online and download apps and as you use the app more, you “level up.” This means you can earn more points with each activity.

36. Gift Wallet

For Android and iOS users, Gift Wallet lets you test apps too. Besides testing apps, you have other ways to earn points. For example, you can also earn points watching videos and you can complete other simple online tasks.

You can redeem your rewards coins for Amazon gift cards for these balances:

  • $3
  • $5
  • $10

Besides Amazon gift cards, you can also earn iTunes and Google Play credits. You can also get Steam Rewards or the most flexible option is PayPal cash.

Enter referral code: VKJRXEF for five free coins!

37. Slidejoy

By renting your phone’s lock screen, Slidejoy is another easy option. Each time you unlock your phone, you see a small ad. If you like the ad, you can explore it further but you can dismiss the ad if you don’t like it. Either way, you earn points each time you unlock your phone. In both cases, you earn the same amount of rewards points.

At this time, Slidejoy is only available for Android users.

Shopping Apps That Give Amazon Gift Cards

By the way, you also get Amazon gift cards shopping at other stores too.

38. Honey

Do you earn cash back on nearly every online purchase? If not, check out Honey.

With the Honey Gold feature, you get up to 15% cash back shopping online and you get your cash back with an Amazon gift card.

Honey also helps you save money on Amazon. They quickly show you the best price on Amazon. Sometimes, it can be cheaper buying from a third-party seller.

With all online shopping, Honey tries to save you money. Before you checkout, Honey applies all known discount codes. For example, you can save money when buying pizza or when you buy new clothes for the family. Although you don’t get Amazon gift cards with this perk, you save money.

Besides gift cards, you can also get PayPal cash for your rewards too.

39. TopCashback

Billed as the “most generous cashback site,” TopCashback earns up to 40% cashback and this is at more than 3,500 stores. Also, TopCashback has a fun redemption option. With gift cards, your rewards are worth more so you get a 3% bonus on Amazon gift cards. For example, $10 in cash rewards is worth $10.30 in Amazon cash. Compared to other cashback sites, this bonus is special.

There’s no minimum redemption threshold so it’s possible to get a $1 Amazon gift card here.

40. Ibotta

For grocery shopping, look at Ibotta. For example, you earn cash at these stores:

  • Grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Restaurants
  • Pharmacies
  • Shop online via your mobile phone at many major retailers

Besides saving money on groceries, you also get cash or gift card rewards. Before you go to the store, activate the Ibotta app offers. Afterward, snap a picture of your receipt. Within 24 hours, the cash rewards go into your account.

Ibotta also offers bonus cash for online shopping. Each month, you can get a bonus for buying certain products. To earn this bonus, check the monthly bonus page. It’s easier to earn these bonuses than you think.

Also, Ibotta is one of the few apps that helps you with in-store purchases. In most cases, shopping apps only make money for online shopping. For this reason, Ibotta popular with many shoppers.

Finally, you can get a $10 welcome bonus with Ibotta. To earn the bonus, activate and redeem your first offer.

41. Shopkick

Shopkick lets you earn rewards points in three different manners:

  • Walk into a store and scan bar-codes
  • View online stores and record prices
  • Watch videos

Plus, you earn points for making a purchase. Keep in mind, a purchase isn’t required. This is what makes Shopkick different than other shopping apps to get free Amazon gift cards.

To join the fun, download the Shopkick app then enable location services. Finally, open the app and visit a store. Inside the store, start scanning barcodes. In no time, you will earn rewards points. If you have the time, visit multiple stores in one trip.

42. Elite Deal Club

For you, Elite Deal Club can be a win-win situation. First, you get to test Amazon products for a fraction of the regular cost.

In exchange, you provide honest feedback. Second, you help other buyers with your honest reviews.

And, you can win an Amazon gift card with each review that you write.

So far, over 390,000 product testers use Elite Deal Club. Now, you can test products too.

43. Listia

To be honest, this app is different from the rest. In short, you sell items instead of buy items. When you sell on Listia, you receive rewards points and in turn, these points buy Amazon gift cards.

Plus, you earn bonus points for linking your social media accounts and you earn points interacting with others on the Listia website. Finally, you can refer friends for points too.

As you can see, Listia is a unique app. Now, you have a fun alternative to Craigslist.

44. BerryCart

BerryCart is your #1 app if you buy the following foods:

  • Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten free

Besides eating healthy food, it’s easy to earn points. Simply take a picture of your receipt with the BerryCart app then you can redeem them for gift cards or cash.

45. Mobee

If you want to mystery shop, Mobee is a fun app. Now, you can accept missions for stores in your town and each mission is easy to complete. In a few minutes, you answer ten questions about your visit. Remember, be honest with your answers otherwise, you won’t get invites for new missions.

You can cash out your rewards points for PayPal cash, gift cards, and merchandise.

46. Receipt Hog

At Receipt Hog, you earn coins for in-store purchases. Yes, you get credit for almost any purchase. As you might guess, coins earn you Amazon gift cards.

If you choose, you can earn bonus points by taking paid surveys and you can also enter contests to win more coins.

47. Punchcard

Punchcard is another flexible receipt scanning app so you will get credit for virtually any receipt. Unlike Receipt Hog, Punchcard can pay more. For instance, some apps don’t credit receipts from certain stores. With Punchcard, all receipts are worth the same amount.

For every punch, you earn points and you can redeem them for gift cards or enter contests.

48. Field Agent

If you enjoy mystery shopping, Field Agent is a fun way to earn gift cards. In fact, that’s all you can do on Field Agent!

With Field Agent, you join by creating a profile then you can accept missions in your community. Once you accept a mission, you have two hours to complete it. In most cases, each mission pays up to $12.

In the mission, you complete several activities. For example, you can take pictures of product displays or you might check prices or take store surveys.

Also, you have the option to earn bonus cash. To do so, participate in scavenger hunts. However, scavenger hunts aren’t as common as regular missions.

49. Drop

To keep shopping simple, use Drop. With this app, getting Amazon gift cards is easy. First, you install the Drop app then link your credit or debit card. After that, you earn cash rewards when you use your card at a Drop store. One of the reward options is Amazon gift cards.

Drop is free to join and you can link multiple cards so you never miss a shopping session.

Get Amazon Gift Cards in Person

For many, going online is the most common way to get Amazon cards but you can find them locally too.

To start, check these local places first.

50. Ask Your Clients

If you have a side hustle, ask your clients to pay with Amazon gift cards. You can always request Amazon gift cards for your birthday. Also, they make great Christmas gifts too. After all, maybe you’re the person who’s impossible to buy for!

Amazon gift cards make a perfect payment option. In many ways, it’s easier than cashing a check and you don’t have to make a bank deposit before shopping online. Now, you can go straight to Amazon to redeem the card as you check out.

51. Participate in Medical Experiments

Maybe, local medical research studies offer Amazon gift cards at the discretion of the study host. Before joining, check the payment terms. Usually, you see them in the study announcement so make sure you read all the details and look at the time commitment too. After all, not every study is worth your time.

You will find most studies near a medical school campus. Also, ask your local hospital or doctor. Usually, they know the best places to look. Even if you don’t qualify, keep looking or you might miss out on the perfect study.

52. Donate Blood, Platelets, or Plasma

Some local blood drives offer Amazon gift cards. By donating plasma, platelets or blood, you make money. For example, one blood drive pays all donors a $25 gift card so look for similar offers near you!

Overall, prizes for blood drives aren’t uncommon. Usually, you get coupons for free ice cream or movie tickets so it’s not every day you can get an Amazon gift card.

Not only can you save a life, but you get a practical gift for your time.

53. Local Promotions

In some cases, local stores offer Amazon gift cards to new customers but, you have to hurry!  Usually, only the first shoppers receive them and you may have to purchase a certain item or sign up for a new service. Regardless, only get the gift card if you actually need the product otherwise you spend more money than the gift card is worth.

Also, look for bonus points with local stores. For example, you can buy gift cards from your grocery store. On certain days, you earn double fuel points. Indirectly, you get free gas from the bonus points.

54. Recycling

Recyclebank partners with local towns to offer recycling rewards. You can earn points by reading online Earth-friendly articles. Sometimes, you can redeem your points for Amazon gift cards. If not, there are other gift card options.

55. Play Games with a Friend

Instead of betting money when you play card games with friends, bet gift cards. In this case, Amazon gift cards! Maybe, you save this prize for tournament nights. This way, the small entry fee each person pays can buy a nice grand prize.

And, it’s more useful than those awkward door prize you sometimes win.

Summary

There’s a large demand for free Amazon gift cards. As a result, it’s easy to find them online. Maybe, you only want to focus on one activity or you have time to attempt several options. Regardless, you should have no problem finding a fun way to earn them.

How have you gotten Amazon gift cards for free in the past? What’s your favorite way?

How to Avoid TV Cancellation Fees

Let’s be honest. Cable TV doesn’t have the same pizzazz it had 20 years ago.

Today, cutting the cord is a popular way to save money. With fast internet speeds, it’s easier and cheaper to watch subscription services like Netflix. If you can avoid cable cancellation fees, making the switch can be painless and inexpensive.

You already know the benefits of canceling cable TV. But, that doesn’t you can cancel your contract for free. In some cases, your cancellation fee can cost more than your cable bill! The good news is, you don’t always have to pay the fee.

The Best Way to Avoid TV Cancellation Fees

If you’re still under contract, expect to pay an early termination fee. For most cable providers, this fee can be up to $200.

For that reason, your best option may be to wait until your contract ends. You might have to pay a disconnect fee to cancel your service, but you avoid the early termination fee.

But, if you’re in the middle of a contract, you need to dig deeper.

Read the Contract

Like any contract, the terms and conditions are a legal document. If you quit paying without permission, and you continue to refuse to pay, you can damage your credit score. And, a court can order you to pay late fees too.

This means you have to work hard to avoid cancellation fees.

Before you call customer service, read the terms and conditions. First, look for any clauses that waive the cancellation fee.

Some legitimate reasons that may work include:

  • Constant outages
  • Removal of channels
  • Unexpected fee increases
  • Breach of contract

Then, write the reasons you’re canceling on a piece of paper. If possible, gather any paper evidence you may need. Preparing gives you the best chance to avoid fees.

Compare TV Cancellation Fees to Bundling Fees

Sometimes, it’s cheaper to keep your current cable TV plan. For instance, the best rates might be for TV, internet and phone bundles. Once you drop cable TV and go to a plan that just includes internet and phone, your new monthly payment might be higher for those products. However, this isn’t always the case.

It’s good to know the service and bundle prices before you call as well. After all, knowledge is power.

Call the Cable Company to Cancel Your Contract

Remember, the cable company wants to keep your business. Often, it will offer a lower rate to keep you. Maybe, this is the latest teaser rate. Or, it can be a previous rate you had.

Before you call, establish the most you’re willing to pay to cancel your contract. If the cable company lets you cancel, you must be ready to commit. But, only agree if their terms mesh with your terms.

Return Your Cable Accessories

After you cancel, there’s one more step to avoid TV cancellation fees. Most likely, you need to drop your cable box off at your local office.

If you don’t return before the deadline, you buy any unreturned equipment. Unless you restart your cable services, the devices are useless.

Alternative: Use Trim to Lower Your Cable TV Subscription Fee

If all that sounds like too much work, consider using Trim. This service is free to join. After joining, Trim can help you save money on these bills:

  • Cable TV
  • Home Internet
  • Cell Phone
  • Car Insurance

First, you need to connect your cable TV account to Trim. After this, a Trim agent will call the cable company to lower your bill. They can even cancel your service for you if you choose to.

If they succeed in lowering your bill, Trim keeps a 25% success fee. But you’ll at least save time by not calling the cable company yourself. Plus, you won’t have to wait 30 minutes to talk to an agent, as I did when canceling my plan.

Alternatives to Cable TV

Cable TV is convenient. And, adjusting to life without cable can be difficult at first. But, it’s possible to watch the same channels for a lot less money!

Before you cut the cord, try at least one of these alternatives first. We don’t want to see you pay more money to reconnect your cable if you find you don’t like the alternatives. So, it’s better test alternatives first. These services come with a free trial, so you can try them 100% risk-free.

Today you plenty of options to watch cable TV shows online. You can even watch some of them for free. When your home internet speed is at least 5 Mbps, you can stream cable TV at home.

With a cable streaming app, you never have to pay cancellation fees again! With all of these services, you pay by the month. If you don’t like one, you can simply unsubscribe at the end of the month. And if you change your mind, you won’t have to pay a fee to restart your subscription.

Buy an HDTV Antenna

One common reason people keep their cable is to watch the local channels. If local channels are important to you, buy an HDTV antenna.

In some cases, the picture quality is clearer with an antenna. You can either buy an outdoor or indoor antenna. The answer depends on how far you live from the broadcast towers.

To find out, visit Antenna Web and enter your street address.

Even if you live 80 miles away, you can still get reception with an HDTV outdoor antenna. Even  some indoor HDTV antennas have a range of up to 70 miles.

In addition to the main local channels, you can watch many sub-channels. For example, this might be channel 10.3 or 8.4. These channels may air movies, old TV shows, or reality shows. In a large city, you can watch over 100 channels. For example, Phoenix offers 107 over-the-air channels!

Regardless of the antenna you choose, it plugs directly into your TV. After the one-time purchase, you may never pay to watch TV again.

Hulu

Hulu might be the most complete alternative to cable TV. After all, the major networks all own a partial stake in Hulu. This means they are willing to let you watch their channels.

You have two streaming plan options on Hulu.

Hulu with Live TV ($39.99 per month)

To replace cable TV, go with Hulu with Live TV. After a 7-day free trial, you pay $39.99 per month. If you’re paying $100 a month for cable, that means you can have an extra $60 in your pocket each month. And, you can watch most of the channels you watch now!

You can stream over 50 cable channels live on Hulu including:

  • ESPN
  • Fox Sports
  • FX
  • HGTV
  • TNT

With these channels, you can still watch your favorite sports teams. And, you can still access your favorite lifestyle programs, too.

You also get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage. Not having a DVR is another reason people sometimes keep cable, but that reason goes away if you get Hulu. And, you can watch Hulu on two screens at once.

Plus, you can also add on premium movie networks for a fee if you want. These networks include HBO, Cinemax and Showtime.

Finally, you get access to the complete Hulu on-demand library. This includes the original Hulu shows and movies. And, many movies and shows from the major networks.

Hulu ($5.99 per month)

If you don’t need live TV or cloud DVR, choose the on-demand Hulu plan. For $5.99 per month, you can watch the entire Hulu library on-demand. So, you might have to wait a day to watch the latest episode. But, you now watch your favorite shows for only $6 a month.

And, you can also add on the premium movie networks.

So, will you choose Hulu or Hulu Plus (Hulu with Live TV)?

Sling TV

One of the first cable streaming apps was Sling TV. It also happens to be one of the most affordable alternatives to cable. In fact, Sling is the cheapest way to watch ESPN. You will only pay $25 per month.

When you join, you must pick one channel package. Both the Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans cost $25 per month. Or, you can get both for $40 per month. Then, you can add extra package themes for $5 per month.

For Cloud DVR, you will need to pay $5 per month extra. If you choose either the Orange or Blue plan, Sling can be cheaper than Hulu. And, you still get the channels you like.

The Sling Orange and Blue plans both cost $25 per month. But, you will need to decide what channels you want to stream.

Sling Orange ($25 per month)

This package is the most affordable way to watch the Disney or ESPN networks. As a tradeoff, you can’t access the Fox networks like FX or Fox Sports.

And, you can only stream on one device at once. To stream on multiple devices, you need one of the other two plans.

Sling Blue ($25 per month)

Even though they cost the same amount, Sling Blue has more channels than the Orange Plan. Mostly, this is because you can’t stream Disney or ESPN.

You may want Sling Blue to stream these channels:

  • FS1 and FS2
  • FX
  • NFL Network
  • SyFy
  • Local channels

In select cities, Sling also streams your local Fox and NBC affiliate. But if local channels are all you want, you may be better off installing an HDTV antenna. This way, you get all of your local channels for free.

Sling Add-On Packages

Besides $25 cable-channel plans, “a la carte” pricing is Sling’s mantra. Starting at $5 a month, you can add channel themes to your basic plan. Depending on how many you choose, the add-ons may still be cheaper than your current cable TV plan.

To see all your streaming options, check out our Sling TV review.

CBS All Access ($5.99 per month)

Sometimes you might not get CBS from your HDTV antenna. Or, your cable streaming app doesn’t offer your local affiliate.

With CBS All Access, you can stream your local CBS channel. You can stream past and present CBS shows and movies, too. For instance, you can watch the original Star Trek series. In fact, you have access to more than 10,000 episodes of CBS content!

CBS All Access has two different plan options:

  • Limited Commercials: $5.99 per month
  • No Commercials: $9.99 per month

With the commercial-free plan, you can also watch videos offline.

For Live TV, you will still have commercial breaks with either plan. Select shows have brief promotional breaks, too.

If you sign up for an annual plan, you can save 15%. Although it’s a contract, it’s still cheaper than TV cancellation fees.

Amazon Prime ($12.99 per month)

One underused Amazon Prime benefit is Prime Video. Although it doesn’t have live TV options (yet), you can watch on-demand content. And its movie and TV show catalog continues to grow.

Along with free videos, you can also listen to free music.

If a $12.99 a month is out of your budget, try getting Amazon Prime for free.

Tip: Hulu can offer more on-demand shows and movies you like for a lower price.

Pure Flix ($10.99 per month)

Everyone knows about streaming movies and TV shows on Netflix. But, what if you want a family-friendly option? This is where Pure Flix comes into the picture.

Pure Flix lets you stream plenty of Christian and family-friendly content. Its library contains popular movies and TV shows. It also has exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else.

For instance, you can find most of the Kendrick Brothers films on Pure Flix. You’ll see many other new releases too. Plus, Pure Flix has a large library of children’s content.

Finally, you can also stream Pure Flix on five devices at once! Compared to other streaming apps, this is a generous feature.

Philo TV ($16 per month)

Not all people need sports channels. If that’s you, check out Philo. It’s even cheaper than Sling TV. For $16 a month, you can stream 40 cable channels. Some of these channels include:

  • AMC
  • HGTV
  • Nick
  • Paramount Network
  • History

Besides the bargain price, you also enjoy unlimited DVR storage. And, you can stream on three devices at once.

FuboTV ($44.99 per month)

In most cases, sports packages are some of the most expensive plans. Cable companies know they have a monopoly on sports channels. But, that’s starting to change.

FuboTV streams those unique sports channels for only $44.99 a month. With the basic Fubo package, you can watch more than 80 channels. Most of the channels stream different sports. But, you can also watch non-sports cable channels and local TV channels on Fubo.

If you’re a sports fan, Fubo is probably your best option. You get most of the lifestyle channels that Hulu Live and Sling both offer. Plus, you get these sports extras, too:

  • BeIn Sports
  • Eleven Sports
  • NBA Network

For an extra $5 a month, you can access extra lifestyle and sports channels. Usually, these channels are only in the higher tier cable lineups. For instance, you can watch the DIY Network or the Stadium Network.

With global sports, you can add extra packages starting at $5.99 per month. Once again, you can add or remove these packages as sports seasons change.

And, you can stream to three devices at once. So, if you set up multiple screens on gameday, Fubo is for you!

Finally, Fubo has an ample DVR storage package. You get 30 hours of free cloud storage. And most games have a 3-day replay option. With other cable TV apps, you must watch the game live. Or, you have to catch the highlights on SportsCenter.

PlayStation Vue ($44.99 per month)

When you need more options than Sling or Hulu, look at PlayStation Vue.

Despite its name, PlayStation Vue streams on any internet device. You can download the app to your Smart TV, too.

Since their plans start at $44.99 per month, compare prices to your current TV plan. The savings might not be as much as you expect.

But, you can still save money if you subscribe to premium movie channels. For $79.99 a month, you get you HBO and Showtime, plus your local stations and many cable channels. College and pro sports fans will also like the sports channel lineup.

Audible

Maybe, you want to cancel your cable TV to be more productive. You might try listening to audiobooks instead while you work around the house or garden. One popular option is Audible.

While you have to pay for Audible, there are plenty of other free audiobook websites and apps.

Why listen to audiobooks instead of watch TV?

For starters, audiobooks are less distracting than TV. You can even listen to your favorite book while you work a side hustle!

Second, audiobooks usually cost less than cable TV apps. So, you can cancel your TV subscription. Then, you can listen to books for free. When you need a break, you can also find plenty of free online videos, too.

Finally, audiobooks can help you learn. Books often provide more details about subjects you’re interested in than TV shows can.

Can You Avoid TV Cancellation Fees?

Avoiding TV cancellation fees isn’t always easy. But, it’s not impossible. Apps like Trim help you negotiate the best rate. And, streaming apps let you watch live TV without contracts. So, you never have to pay a fee to change plans again!

Do you have a friend paying too much for cable? If so, share these tips with them!

50 Ways to Make Money With Your Smartphone

If there’s one item we make sure we never forget, it’s our smartphone.

You are more likely to leave your wallet and driver’s license than your phone. Is this good or bad? Well, unlike a wallet that makes it easy to spend money, your phone helps you make money! And, you don’t need to have your wallet to make money on your phone.

Since there are so many ways to make money with your smartphone, it’s hard to know where to start. So, this list is organized by how much time it takes to complete each activity.

If you only have a few minutes at a time, focus on the first options. At the very most, these tasks only take 15 minutes to make money. When you have more time on your hands, try some ideas further down the list.

Perform Micro Tasks from Your Phone

One of my favorite ways to make money with a smartphone is micro tasks. In most cases, you only need 15 minutes to complete the job. After each task, you get paid. And, there is a wide variety of tasks, so you should never get bored.

1. Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a near-universal favorite for getting paid to do small tasks. Some tasks only take five minutes to complete. These tasks include daily surveys, watching videos and playing games. And, Swagbucks pays you to search the web too! Sometimes, it will feel as if these tasks aren’t even “work.”

You will receive points for each completed task. You can redeem your points for PayPal cash or gift cards. For gift cards, your redemptions start at $3 for your favorite restaurants and stores. And, you can earn your first $5 as a sign-up bonus!

Tip: Read these tips to make Swagbucks worth your time!

2. InboxDollars

InboxDollars is probably the next largest “get-paid-to” platform after Swagbucks. There are many different ways to make money with InboxDollars. Some of these include reading email, taking surveys and watching videos.

To double your daily earning potential, you might consider joining two platforms. Besides InboxDollars, you might join Swagbucks. Or, you can join one of the other platforms on this page.

If you prefer earning cash to gift cards, Inbox Dollars can be a better option. Plus, you receive a $5 bonus for joining.

3. MyPoints

MyPoints is the sister site to Swagbucks. The earning options are identical, but the award options can be different.

For example, you might earn 1,000 points from MyPoints and only 500 points at Swagbucks for an activity. Or, MyPoints might have a gift card sale when Swagbucks doesn’t.

You may not appreciate the overlap with Swagbucks. But, at least you know what to expect from MyPoints!

4. CashCrate

Another fun multi-purpose platform to make money with your phone is CashCrate. You will earn cash for each survey you complete. Plus, you also earn points for every online game you play and friend you refer.

It’s also possible to make money by shopping on CashCrate. And, you can also make money interacting with others CashCrate members.

5. instaGC

If you want to earn gift cards, instaGC can be a good option. You make the most money taking surveys. But, you can also make money by watching videos, shopping online and playing games.

There are more than 360 gift card options to choose from. And, all gift cards are digital, so you receive them instantly.

6. Mechanical Turk

Do you want to earn Amazon gift cards? You should consider Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) as an income stream. To be honest, MTurk is best for tablets and computers. This means your iPhone might not be MTurk-friendly. But, there are some mobile-friendly tasks (HITs) as well.

You will need to determine what works best for your phone. Two options include taking surveys and entering data from images.

Get Paid to Take Surveys

Another popular and easy way to make money with your phone is by completing paid surveys. Retailers, product developers, and many Fortune 500 companies are looking for your opinion. And, they will pay you for it!

7. Survey Junkie

Do you only have time for surveys? If so, Survey Junkie can be your best option! By taking surveys, you help shape new products designs. You will receive points for every survey good for cash and gift cards.

8. Panel PayDay

Panel PayDay will connect you with paid survey panels and mystery shopping jobs. With Panel PayDay, you can earn up to $75 per survey. Here are all the ways you can make money with Panel PayDay:

  • Online Surveys
  • Focus Groups
  • Discussion Groups
  • Mystery Shopping
  • Online Mini-Jobs

If you do a mini-job, you can earn over $150 per job! If you ask me, that’s pretty impressive. As a new Panel PayDay user, you will also earn a $25 bonus. To earn the bonus, you only have to take your first survey.

9. Vindale Research

For another survey site with daily options, look at Vindale Research. You will get paid up to $75 for each survey completed.

And, you can also earn additional cash by watching videos and leaving feedback. Plus, looking for special Vindale codes on select websites lets you earn cash too!

Vindale pays all members in PayPal cash or paper check. Once your account balance reaches $50, you can request instant payment.

10. Opinion Outpost

Opinion Outpost lets you earn cash or gift cards by taking surveys. As an added bonus, you enter into the quarterly $10,000 cash prize drawing with each survey too.

You will be able to complete surveys on a variety of topics. For example, today you might answer questions about the brands you use. Tomorrow, you might take a survey about your personal beliefs. With Opinion Outpost, variety makes each survey fun.

11. Ipsos I-Say

Ipsos I-Say is one of the oldest online survey communities. You will earn points for taking paid surveys and user-generated polls.

At the end of each year, you also earn a loyalty bonus. So, loyalty has its benefits with Ipsos I-Say!  With Ipsos, your points are good for gift cards or contest drawings.

12. Toluna

Another large survey community with a global presence is Toluna. In addition to taking surveys, you also get paid to test products.

You can also earn extra points by engaging in user forums. For fun, you can also play games against other Toluna members. If you don’t know, Toluna is also a social media platform.

13. Mindswarms

Not every survey is text-based where you must click the radio button ranging from 1 to 10 to leave your opinion.

Mindswarms is a video-based survey platform that pays you $50 PayPal cash. To get paid, record a 10-minute video response to test a product. If you’re quick with math, that’s $300 an hour! If you can answer seven questions in ten minutes, join Mindswarms. Even if you’re camera-shy, you should consider Mindswarms.

14. Harris Poll Online

Harris Poll Online is one of the oldest survey companies around. And, they let you take surveys from your smartphone. Governments, non-profits, and household brands partner with Harris to garner your opinion.

With each survey, you earn points for cash or gift cards. To earn extra points, you can also share your shopping purchases with the Harris ShopTracker program. With ShopTracker, you tell what you buy each month to earn points.

Apps

Mobile apps come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, you probably have a half dozen apps you use on a regular basis. Maybe, you use these apps to listen to podcasts, bank online and get driving directions.

Why not use an app that helps you make money as well?

If you want an app that makes money, look at these.

15. Jobs2Shop

Jobs2Shop will pay you to mystery shop. After shopping “incognito” at a store or restaurant, you leave your feedback on the Jobs2Shop app.

Of course, you can also make money with these other online activities:

You will get paid in cash and will earn a $5 sign-up bonus.

16. Paribus

It doesn’t get any easier to make money shopping than with Paribus. All you have to do is link your email address or Amazon account to Paribus. And, when a price drops, you can get a price refund! With Paribus, you get cash back at over 30 online stores.

You can file price protection claims yourself and receive the price difference as a refund. And, let’s be honest, how many times have you taken the time to request a partial refund? Probably never.

If you’re like me, you probably never knew about this hack. So, Paribus helps you get free money with minimal effort.

17. Clarity Money

Clarity Money is an app that works similarly to Mint, at least in part. First, you can hook up your accounts to the app so it can help you analyze your spending data.

Clarity Money will also make suggestions for how you can save more money. The best part is, you can use these suggestions and take action right there, within the app.

Finally, Clarity Money has an in-app savings account. With Marcus by Goldman Sachs, your deposits earn 2.05% APY. If you don’t follow bank interest rates, this is one of the highest current rates. You can also schedule automatic deposits so you can easily save your extra income each month.

And, Clarity Money is free to use.

18. Ebates

Ebates is one of my favorite apps! Here’s why. You and I can get up to 40% cash back on nearly any online purchase.

Even though Ebates is accessible on a tablet or computer, the Ebates app offers bonus cash back. For select retailers, you get special in-app bonus cashback.

Each calendar quarter, Ebates will send you a “Big Fat Check” in the mail. Or, you can also get PayPal cash or a gift card. As a new Ebates member, you get $10 bonus cash by making your first $25 purchase with Ebates.

19. Ibotta

Ibotta is a mobile app that helps you earn cash back every time you visit the grocery. Before you check out, activate the cash back offers within the app. With Ibotta, you can get cash back at nearly any grocery store. Plus, the app also works at discount stores like Walmart and Target too.

There are two different types of cash back offers to activate. For example, you might get $2 back buying a 12-pack of Coca-Cola. Or, you can earn cash back when you purchase a loaf of bread, regardless of the brand. Most importantly, you don’t have to clip paper coupons to enjoy the savings.

When you cash out, you can request payment by PayPal, Venmo, or gift cards.

20. Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog is one of the most flexible receipt-scanning apps for in-person purchases.

All you have to do is snap a picture of any receipt. For many purchases, you earn coins that can use for prizes like PayPal cash and Amazon gift cards. You can earn bonus cash by taking surveys and entering contests too.

21. Shopkick

No purchase is necessary to earn points with Shopkick. Although, you will earn more points when you make a purchase.

To make money with Shopkick, you first need to download the app, then enable your phone’s location services. First, you will earn points for walking into the store. Then, you can earn more points by scanning product barcodes.

This can be a fun way to get your exercise and interact with the public. Plus, you might be able to earn a free gift card each time you leave the house!

22. Slidejoy

At this time, Slidejoy is only available for Android users. If you have Droid, you can get paid each time you unlock your phone. This is because Slidejoy displays an ad or video on your lock screen.

Whether or not you explore the ad further, you earn points that you redeem for gift cards.  According to Slidejoy, the average user spends 10 minutes per day on the app. Like anyone, you can easily find 10 minutes to make money looking at ads.

23. EasyShift

The EasyShift app pays you to mystery shop. When you shop, you check prices and take pictures of products and storefronts. With each shift (job), you receive a checklist within the EasyShift app. To get paid, check each task checkbox that you complete in real-time.

Jobs are available in most U.S. cities. And, you will earn PayPal cash within 48 hours of completing the job.

24. Mobee

Mobee will pay you to mystery shop at your favorite stores. When you are on a time crunch, most missions take five minutes or less to complete.

While you are inside the store, you simply answer between five and ten questions on the Mobee app. As you complete each mission, you earn points for cash, gift cards and prizes.

25. National Consumer Panel

National Consumer Panel only requires one hour of your time every week.

Right before you go to bed one night, share your shopping activity for the week. To get paid, scan the receipts of products you buy with the NCP app. For each product, share the purchase price and the place of purchase too.

With each scan, you earn points that are good for cash, gift cards and prizes. And, NCP also increases your point payout the longer you remain an active member. To get the bonus, share your shopping history every week.

26. Nielson Digital Voice

With Nielsen Digital Voice, you earn points for every hour you use your smartphone. This is because Nielsen gauges how the average person uses their phone.

Is it used to make calls, send text messages, surf the web, or interact with downloadable apps?

Join Digital Voice so they can find out. And, you’ll have the chance to earn cash prizes for your efforts.

27. Viggle

Viggle pays you one point per minute to watch your favorite TV shows. And, you might discover a few new favorites too. Some shows will even pay bonus points for every 10 minutes you watch. You can earn gift cards, prizes or prepaid debit cards.

How can you watch your favorite shows and earn points?

First, download the Viggle app to your Android or your Apple phone. Then, interact with the app as you watch the show. You can watch the show on live TV. Or, you can stream it later on Amazon, Hulu or Netflix.

Also, there are in-app bonus point games like trivia and friendly competitions. As you can expect, these games make the viewing experience more enjoyable.

28. Perk.tv

Perk.tv is Viggle’s sister site. Although similar, you earn points by watching news clips and movie trailers.

Viggle is more focused on syndicated television shows. So, it can be well worth your time to download both apps. And, you can pool your points between Perk and Viggle to earn rewards even sooner!

29. Qmee

Qmee pays you to search online at with your favorite search engine. Next to the regular search engine results, Qmee shows product listings that might interest you. With a single search, Qmee doubles the results!

It’s possible to earn bonus points by using Qmee in three ways:

  • Redeeming digital coupons
  • Taking the daily survey
  • Watching videos.

Even better, there isn’t a minimum payout threshold. So you can request PayPal payment every day if you’re an active searcher!

30. AppNana

AppNana will pay you to download and test apps. Since new apps constantly launch, you get paid to be one of the first testers. With AppNana, you find the next best app before it becomes popular.

For each test, you earn points that are good for gift cards and game downloads.

31. Elusive Stars

Elusive Stars is an Android-only app that lets you test the newest apps for cash. As a tester, you have 24 hours to test the app and leave a review.

If you enjoy testing the latest technology, you will enjoy Elusive Stars.

32. AppTrailers

You can also get paid to watch videos and app trailers from your smartphone with AppTrailers. For your efforts, you can receive digital gift cards and PayPal cash.

When you refer a friend, you will earn bonus points for each video they watch. In all, AppTrailer users watch over 5 million videos a day. So, you won’t be the only user.

33. Music Xray

If you enjoy listening to music, you can get paid to listen to new music and rate it at Music Xray. During the application process, list your favorite bands to hear new music. Then, Music Xray recommends similar songs and bands. This way, you can discover new music to add to your playlist.

As a matter of fact, you will earn 10 cents per song that you listen to. Plus, you can get free gear from the bands you follow!

Selling Online

We all have something we can sell to make some quick cash. Especially, if you have bills to pay. Or, you want to earn consistent monthly income in your free time.

34. Bookscouter

While there are many places to sell used books, Bookscouter is one of the easiest. Indeed, you can sell used textbooks at the best price.

First, enter scan the book barcode. At once, you get buyback prices from more than 42 vendors. After you finish scanning each book, it’s time to pick the best vendor.

Most vendors provide a prepaid shipping label. When they receive your books, they send PayPal cash within 48 hours.

35. Decluttr

Decluttr is an app that buys your used DVDs, CDs, books and electronics. Their app scans barcodes so you can sell multiple items quickly. After that, Decluttr emails you a prepaid shipping label. However, if you don’t have shipping supplies, they will mail you those too.

Every order has free shipping. And, you will receive PayPal payment the day after Decluttr receives your goods.

36. SecondSpin

One of the largest vendors for used CDs, DVDs, and games is SecondSpin. Since they specialize in selling used movies and games, they might pay more.

But, SecondSpin doesn’t have a mobile app. Even so, you can still list your items with your phone using the mobile browser.

37. Foap

Foap is one of the few apps that let you sell pictures online taken with your phone’s camera. This photo-selling app works with Apple and Android devices. And, you get paid when a company buys one of your photos. Surprisingly, many large household brand names buy pictures from Foap. As you might guess, they use them in their advertising campaigns.

To start, take pictures of everyday life or your most recent trip. With Foap, there’s a chance you can make money!

Related Podcast

38. Parking Panda

You might be a landlord and didn’t even know it. In brief, you can rent your parking spot with Parking Panda to tourists. If you own one of these coveted spots, you can make a lot of money. And, you no longer have to rely on your friends to help you rent it to their friends.

39. Poshmark

Poshmark is a leading clothing resale site my wife uses to buy and sell clothing. To make money, snap a picture with your phone in the app. Then, upload the pricing details. In a matter of minutes, you can list several items. No doubt, it’s easy to sell on Poshmark.

When an item sells, Poshmark provides a prepaid shipping label. Finally, attach it to the package put it in the mail. At this point, you get paid!

Besides Poshmark, learn where else you can sell clothes online.

40. Craigslist

When you want to sell unwanted items locally, install the Craigslist app.

It’s free to list and sell on Craigslist. Notably, there are no “middleman” commissions or shipping fees! And, you might also like this option if you have bulky items to sell like furniture. Also, you can sell exercise equipment or old television sets too.

As an alternative to Craigslist, you might also consider Letgo, Offerup or Facebook Buy and Sell Groups. All of these groups are free to list and sell. And, some sellers consider these apps to be smartphone-friendly. As a result, some buyers don’t even use Craigslist.

41. Gift Card Granny

Use Gift Card Granny to sell your unwanted gift cards. To get started, enter the serial number and gift card balance into the app. Then, Gift Card Granny compares the buyback prices for the various gift card marketplaces.

Now, you choose the best offer, and you can get paid right away. You can earn up to 92% of each card you sell.

Side Hustles

This final section can be the best-earning options. But, these ideas can require the most time. To earn the most cash, focus your efforts first on these side hustles. Then, use any spare time to pursue one of the options listed above.

For instance, owning a smartphone makes multitasking easier than ever. In particular, you can start and pause projects on-demand.

42. Airbnb

So, you need a spare bedroom or a whole house to make money with Airbnb. Even if you don’t own a second home, you can rent your home when you travel. If you travel often, you can rent your home multiple times a year.

As an Airbnb host, you open your doors to travelers who don’t want to stay at a hotel. As a result, they pay less, and you make more money!

In addition to listing on Airbnb, try VRBO too. This can be a fun way to make some extra cash.

43. DoorDash

You no longer have to work for a pizza company to deliver food for cash. Instead, DoorDash partners with many take-out restaurants. So, you can deliver a variety of different cuisine. For example, you might deliver Chinese first, then Italian. Before you finish for the night, you might deliver for a handful of restaurants.

So far, DoorDash has delivered over 10 million orders to hungry customers!

To begin, you only need a reliable vehicle, moped, or good walking shoes. Of course, don’t forget a smartphone with the DoorDash app!

With DoorDash, you get paid weekly and can even earn tips!

44. Lyft

If you own a reliable, 4-door vehicle, you can become a Lyft driver. As a driver, you get paid to drive people around town. Once you pass a background check and your car passes a safety check, it’s drive time! In the app, accept a ride request to earn your first dollar!

To earn the most cash possible, be sure to read our Lyft driver tips.

45. Uber

Uber is the other large ride-sharing behemoth. Likewise, it can make a great side hustle for you as it did for this guy. Since you are an independent contractor with Uber and Lyft, try driving for both companies. Doing so minimizes your downtime between rides. And, you can find the highest-paying ride at the moment too.

Like Lyft, you will need to pass a background check before you can start driving.

Related Podcast

46. Gigwalk

Gigwalk is an app that pays you to perform tasks around town. As a gigwalker, you might be asked to verify prices at local stores. Also, you can take pictures of shelf displays to ensure the products look appealing. Or, you will make sure public events are held at the proper time and place.

Basically, you are the eyes and ears of national companies. For your effort, you get paid in PayPal cash.

You can become a gigwalker in most large U.S. and Canadian cities.

47. Field Agent

Field Agent is another app that is very similar to Gigwalk. You might compare both platforms to see which one provides better gigs. Or, you can join both to increase your chances of getting paid to shop. When you’re ready to mystery shop, simply choose the best open job.

Once you accept a job, you have two hours to complete the required tasks. Doing so means you receive PayPal payment.

48. Betterment

Betterment won’t provide immediate income because it’s an investing app. But, it requires less time than some of the other options. And, it’s an easy way to invest with your smartphone!

All you have to do is decide how much money you want to invest each month. Then, Betterment invests it in a basket of ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds). Of course, this portfolio matches your age and investment goals. So, you don’t have to worry about it being too risky for your age.

Once you fund your Betterment account, your money invests right away. Then, use the Betterment app to check your passive income growth. With the app, you can also increase your contribution amount or make a withdrawal.

49. Ally Invest

As a DIY investor, you may prefer Ally Invest. On many accounts, it’s one of the best online brokers to trade stocks. And, you can also invest in commission-free ETFs. Plus, they have a nice set of research tools that free investing apps don’t offer.

All stock and ETFs trades cost $4.95. Right now, that’s the lowest fees for online brokers. And if you make more than 30 trades a quarter, each trade costs $3.95.

Ally Invest also has a very functional mobile app. This apps gives you the tools you need to make trades.

Tip: Receive some of the best investing advice with Motley Fool Stock Advisor!

50. Lending Club

If you want a stock market alternative, look at Lending Club. This peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform lets you invest in “microloans.” These loans can provide a better rate of return than CD accounts or bonds.

Investors can earn as much as 25%, but averages are usually between 3-8%.

Since you are “the bank,” you earn an interest payment every month the borrowers send their monthly payment to Lending Club. You can track your progress and invest in new notes with Lending Club’s mobile app.

Summary

A smartphone has many functions besides texting and browsing social media. So, start making money with your phone today! In fact, you can have fun while getting paid. The fact that you can do both at once is why these ideas are so popular.

There are so many different ways to monetize your hobbies with a smartphone.

What are the three activities you want to start making money from first?

Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.

9 Best Places to Cash a Paper Check

We don’t live in a cashless society yet. Direct deposit, PayPal and Venmo become more popular by the day, but paper checks are still a thing. Until that day arrives, you may still receive checks that need to be cashed. You’re probably here because you need to cash a check.

If you start a side hustle this year — local or online — you may have a client who pays you by paper check. You might get paper checks from companies for mail-in rebates, credit card cash-back refunds, or any other number of purposes. In any of these instances, you can’t access the money until you cash it.

1. Your Local Bank or Credit Union

The best place to cash a check is your personal bank or credit union. Free check cashing may be one of your account benefits. By visiting your local branch, you could have instant access to your cash.

That said, depending on your local bank options, you might be better off joining a credit union. Credit unions usually charge fewer fees than banks. If you don’t need access to a national network of branches, credit unions are a great choice.

A credit union might also have a lower minimum balance requirement to avoid monthly checking account fees. Many credit unions only require a $5 minimum balance to keep your account open.

Pick a local credit union or bank that offers free checking and is convenient to access. If your bank doesn’t cash checks for free, you should look for a new checking account.

2. Visit the Issuing Bank

When you don’t have a bank account, the issuing bank is the best place to start. It can be the cheapest and quickest option, compared to some of the other options on this list. Banks might also have a higher cashing limit than some other options, too.

The issuing bank’s name is located in the bottom left corner of the check, above the memo line. Go to your local branch of that bank to cash the check.

For instance, If the check is issued by BB&T Bank, you can visit your local BB&T branch. The teller can then check the account balance to make sure there are sufficient funds to cover the check.

As with any of these check cashing locations, you will need to bring your ID to verify your identity.

Each bank has different cashing policies for non-customers. Don’t be surprised if you are charged a non-customer fee, but not all banks and credit unions charge a non-customer fee. The best way to find out is to call the bank or visit their online website.

If you must pay a fee, banks usually charge one of the following fees:

  • $0 for any check balance below $50
  • $7-$10 for check balances above $50
  • 10% of the check balance
  • $7 per check regardless of the balance

Sometimes, non-customer banks fees can be more expensive than some of the other options mentioned here.

A few banks only offer non-customers prepaid debit cards for cashed checks. This practice is relatively uncommon. These prepaid cards can come with monthly maintenance fees and expiration dates. If you receive a prepaid debit card, read the terms and conditions. Make sure to use the card as soon as possible to ensure your money doesn’t expire.

3. Walmart Check Cashing

Believe it or not, 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart store. It’s very likely you will drive by a Walmart before you pass the issuing bank.

And if you buy your groceries at Walmart, your cashed check can double as your weekly grocery money.

You can expect to pay the following fees for the Walmart Check Cashing services:

  • $4 for each check, up to $1,000
  • $8 for each check greater than $1,000

The daily cashing limit is $5,000. The limit increases to $7,500 between January and April for Christmas money and tax refund checks. But note that Walmart won’t cash any personal checks over $200.

Walmart cashes your check for cash or a Walmart MoneyCard. They waive the reload fee for the MoneyCard for select payroll and government checks.

Walmart cashes all of these kinds of checks:

  • Pre-printed checks
  • Payroll checks
  • Government checks
  • Tax checks
  • Cashiers’ checks
  • Insurance settlement checks
  • 401 (k), retirement disbursement checks
  • MoneyGram money orders
  • Two-party personal checks (limit: $200)

4. Your Local Grocery Store

Grocery stores are hit-and-miss with check cashing services. You need to ask their customer service desk to find out. Some stores might only cash payroll checks, cashiers’ checks and money orders. These checks are printed and not handwritten with a pen. Sadly, check fraud discourages many stores from cashing handwritten checks.

Very few grocers still cash handwritten personal checks, but here are four national grocers that still do:

  • Albertson’s
  • Kmart
  • Publix
  • Safeway

The check cashing fees for grocery stores can be free, up to 2% of the balance or $6 per check. Each store has a different cashing policy.

Some grocers waive the check cashing fee if you choose store credit instead of cash. If you buy groceries at that particular supermarket, this is the better option.

5. Gas Station Travel Centers

Most gas stations no longer cash personal checks of any sort. It doesn’t matter if it’s handwritten, from your employer, or a government check. The risk of check fraud is too much. You will have the most success at travel centers (truck stops) you find driving along the interstate.

A travel center accepts personal vehicles and has dedicated refueling lanes for semi-trucks.

Two full-service travel center brands to try are:

Only a select few of their locations cash checks so you will just have to try your luck or call the closest location to you ahead of time.

6. Transact by 7-Eleven

One of the few gas station chains that cashes checks is 7-Eleven. You must download the Transact by 7-Eleven app. This app lets you cash a check by taking a picture of the check with your phone. Most checks clear within 48 hours and the balance is deposited onto your reloadable 7-Eleven prepaid card. You can then use the card anywhere that Debit MasterCard is accepted, which is most online and retail stores.

7. Endorse Your Check to a Friend

You can also endorse your check to a friend who can cash it for free. After all, what are friends for?
Endorsed checks are sometimes called “third party checks.”

Endorsing a check to a friend to cash is simple. On the back of the check, follow these steps:

  • On the top line, write “Pay to the order of Friend’s Name
  • You sign the check underneath this endorsement

Every bank has different policies for cashing endorsed checks. To fight check fraud, you might have to accompany your friend to the bank branch to verify your identity too. Some banks require you to complete a form. This form states your friend has permission to cash your check. Check online or call the bank before your friend goes alone to cash the check.

Certain banks including Ally Bank, Discover Bank and Regions do not accept third-party checks.

8. Cash Your Check Using an App

You can also cash your personal check online. Two apps that don’t require you to be a bank customer to cash a check are PayPal and Ingo Money.

Ingo Money

This might be the best online app for cashing personal checks. You can use Ingo Money to cash most kinds of checks, including hand-written personal checks. Once you download the app, you endorse the check and use the app to take a picture of its front and back. Then you decide where you’d like the money to go.

You might prefer Ingo Money because of the multiple redemption options:

  • Prepaid debit card
  • PayPal account
  • Amazon gift card
  • Online bill pay for retail credit cards
  • Cash pickup at participating MoneyGram locations

With the first three options, the check balance will deposit in a matter of minutes. When you want to use your check amount to pay a retail credit card, the bill payment posts the next business day. You can also split the balance between multiple redemption options.

This flexibility does cost a small fee. Handwritten personal checks that are under $100 cost $5 to cash. Balances greater than $100 cost 5% of the balance.

Pre-printed payroll and government checks cost $5 to cash for balances under $250. You will pay 2% of the balance when the balance is greater than $250.

For both check types, you can avoid the cashing fees by waiting 10 days to receive the balance. But, in that case, you can only deposit the balance into one account.

You can use Ingo Money to deposit your check into a Chime Bank account. Chime offers free ATM access. You may also receive your direct deposit funds up to two days earlier than if you’d used a traditional bank.

PayPal

PayPal is one of the largest payment processors in the world, and it also offers a way to cash a check. It’s partnered with First Century Bank and Ingo Money to provide this service.

As with Ingo Money, you’ll need to first endorse the check, then use the app to take a picture of the front and back. Once your check is approved, you’ll be prompted to write “VOID” across the front of the check.

You can then choose to pay a fee and have your money made available within minutes. The standard fee is 1% for payroll and government checks with a pre-printed signature and 5% for all other accepted checks, with a $5 minimum fee per check.

Or, you can choose to wait 10 days to receive the funds, in which case the transaction is free.

Checks must be a minimum of $5 and a maximum of $2,500. You can cash multiple checks up to $5,000 per day and $10,000 per month.

Once your balance is unlocked, there are multiple ways to access your PayPal funds. You can transfer it to another bank account in one day. Another option is transferring the balance to an eligible debit card or prepaid card in minutes. Debit card transfers currently cost 25 cents as of October 2018. Or, you can transfer it to a PayPal Debit Card, which you can then use at any ATM to get cash.

NetSpend

NetSpend offers online check cashing too. You can also find a local NetSpend partner to cash checks too. The check balance loads to a prepaid debit card.

It’s also possible to get $10 overdraft protection with their Premier Card Account feature.

Green Dot

Green Dot is another prepaid debit card option with in-app mobile check cashing. You can also cash checks at Walmart to reload your prepaid Green Dot debit card. It’s free to deposit checks with the mobile app. 

As of October 4, 2018, Green Dot has the following mobile check cashing limits:

  • Minimum balance must be $1
  • Single check balance can’t exceed $2,500
  • Can cash up to $3,000 in a single day
  • Can only cash up to $5,000 every 30 days

If you need to write somebody a check, Green Dot will send you a book of paper checks. You don’t have to open a checking account as the balance comes off your debit card.

9. Check Cashing Stores

This suggestion should always be your option of last resort because of the high fees.

Most locations charge a percentage of the balance instead of a flat fee. For smaller check balances, this can be cheaper than other stores that charge a flat fee. But, fees for large balances are often lower at most other places, even if they charge a percentage of the check balance.

These check cashing stores are easy to find in your local town. They will cash every type of personal check, including handwritten checks from family and friends. Sadly, this convenience comes at a high price. These stores charge the highest check cashing fees.

When you put the balance on their reloadable debit card, you must also pay a monthly maintenance fee. Expect to pay a reload fee each time, too. If possible, cash your checks at Walmart if you want a reloadable debit card.

What to Look For When Cashing a Check

Cashing a check is easier than writing a check. In most cases, you only have to sign the back to receive payment.

But, you should still verify several areas on the check front before you head to the bank. If any of the information below is incorrect, the teller won’t cash your check.

Pay to the Order Of…

Make sure the check is written in the name that matches your legal ID. Only the person whose name is on the check can cash it. If you want your spouse to cash your check, you need to open a joint bank account.

The teller won’t necessarily reject your check if it doesn’t have your full legal name. For example, if the check says John Doe but your driver’s license says Jonathan, it’s acceptable.

Matching Dollar Amounts

Each check has two fields for the dollar amount. In one field, the issuer writes the check amount in numbers. This field is to the right of your name. On a $50 check, this box should read, $50.00.

The second check amount field is underneath the “Pay to the order of” field where your name goes. On a $50 check, this field reads Fifty and 00/100 Dollars.

The Check Issuer Signs the Check

Whoever writes the check must sign the check in the bottom right corner. Their signature verifies the check is active and legit.

Correct Date

Some places might only cash a check if it’s been issued within the last 180 days. Some checks even state to void the check if you don’t cash it within 180 days. If a check is issued on January 1, you have 180 days from that day to cash it. For this example, you have until June 30 to cash your check.

Incorrect dates are most common in the new year for handwritten checks. Some businesses might “future date” the check and give it to you early. If payday is on the 15th but you get the check on the 12th, you must wait three days before cashing.

A Few Things to Remember When Cashing a Personal Check

There are a few things to remember the next time you cash a check:

  • You always need to bring a photo ID
  • Some locations won’t cash handwritten checks
  • Certain stores and banks charge more to cash a check than others
  • Most places have a daily redemption limit

For the most part, cashing a check in-person is extremely easy. This is true when you have a pre-printed check from one of these issuers:

All you need to do is sign your check and show a photo ID card. You instantly receive the balance minus any cashing fees.

Can You Cash Checks at ATM Machines?

Only bank customers can cash checks at ATM machines. Even then, the ATM must have that capability. These machines are usually located at the physical bank branches. Other bank ATMs accept remote deposits but have a three-day holding period.

Most banks now offer mobile check deposit. This feature is free and quicker than mailing your check to the bank or finding a local bank. If you’re making a mobile deposit, make sure you check the “Mobile Deposit” box on the back of the check. Most paper checks now include this box as an extra security measure. You should also write “VOID” across the check once you’re sure that your deposit has cleared.

Summary

When you need money now, cashing a check is an easy option. There’s no shortage of options to cash a paper check locally. But, you will have to pay more at some places to cash your check. Going to the issuing bank can be the cheapest option, but other places cash checks for free too.

What’s your go-to check cashing location? Do you usually prefer the cash or prepaid debit cards? Let us know through our social media accounts.

9 Best Online Stock Brokerages for Trading Stock

Trading stocks is one of the most rewarding ways to build wealth. Maybe you’re an investor who has until now stuck to relatively safe investments like mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs) or index funds. If you think you’re ready to ready to expand your portfolio beyond funds, you may need to switch to a stock-friendly brokerage firm.

The best online stock brokerages make it easy and affordable to trade individual stocks. Most of them let you invest in mutual funds and ETFs as well. Or, you can open a second investment account just for trading individual stocks. Several brokerages even offer free trades for new clients. These bonuses can save you money.

Thankfully, there are plenty of free online resources that you can use to research stocks. Plus, trading fees are lower than ever before. In most cases, you’ll only pay $4.95 or less to buy or sell stock. In the past, you needed to hire a personal advisor or invest in commission-free ETFs to avoid fees.

Each brokerage firm charges different fees. But, the list below gives you an idea of what to expect. If you speak to long-time investors, they will most likely tell you these fees were higher several decades ago.

Average amounts today for some of these fees include:

  • Annual account management fees for human financial advisor: $50 per account or 1%+ of portfolio balance
  • Fees for phone- or broker-assisted trades: $35 per trade
  • Load fees to buy mutual funds: Up to 8% of the investment amount
  • Administrative, management, advertising, and other expenses (expressed as an expense ratio): 0.2% (for index funds) to 1% (for actively managed mutual funds)

The most common fees for the brokerages listed below that you’ll run into when buying individual stocks online are:

  • Trade commissions to buy or sell stocks or ETFs: Average, $4.95 per trade

Trading Stocks for Beginners

You might want to begin trading stocks to increase your income potential. Index funds and target date funds are an effortless way to earn passive income. Even so, holding high-quality stocks helps boost your investment potential.

Investing in single stocks is more volatile than investing in index funds or ETFs, but you can earn more money with individual stocks. That’s because with index funds and ETFs, you own baskets of companies. This diversification helps dampen the effect of underperformers, but it also limits your upside potential. If too many companies underperform in a fund, they erase the stellar returns of several great companies.

General Electric is an example of a company that underperformed in 2017. That year, GE dropped 44% in value while the S&P 500 index increased 18%. Funds holding GE earned less as a result. For that reason, instead of only buying index funds or ETFs, in the future, you might want to diversify your portfolio by buying individual stocks of sound companies.

To be sure, when you invest in individual stocks, you will probably buy both winners and losers. To help lower your risk when investing in single stocks, I suggest using an investing website like Motley Fool Stock Advisor. (I use it myself.) This tool gives you expert stock picks that help you quickly build a portfolio.

The companies that the Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks have good growth prospects. Motley Fool predicts their stocks will perform better than the broad market for the next five years.

The Best Online Stock Brokerages for Solo Investors

The best brokerage firm for your 401k might not be the best option for trading stocks. There are several factors you need to look at when picking a brokerage:

  • Trade fees
  • Investment options
  • Research tools
  • Platform layout

Any brokerage site can help you make money, but each one offers a different trading experience. Frequent traders want advanced trading tools. “Buy and hold” investors might want a site with more learning tools and access to commission-free ETFs.

1. TD Ameritrade

Best For: All investors

Account Options: Taxable brokerage and IRA

Account Minimum: $0

Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: $6.95 per trade
Reinvest Dividends?: Yes

TD Ameritrade is often named one of the best online stock brokerages. Leading investing magazines and websites rank TD Ameritrade #1 for these areas:

  • Mobile app
  • Website platforms
  • Customer service
  • Education

For the best overall experience, I recommend TD Ameritrade. TD Ameritrade has local branches across the U.S., so you can visit these locations if you prefer in-person access.

But the main reason why I like Ameritrade is its research tools. If you’ve only used free investing apps, you’re in for a treat. The Ameritrade site contains an extensive learning library and trading tools. The in-depth research reports let you research and trade stock on one site.

The web platform is also easy to use and provides a lot of information you can customize. You can quickly access information about your investment account performance, as well as upcoming market events and current market news.

All investors can benefit from the TD Ameritrade experience. If you like trading ETFs, you can buy or sell more than 300 funds commission-free.

Another reason to like TD Ameritrade is that there is no minimum balance required to open an account. Other brokerages require $500 or more to open an account. So if you’re just starting to invest, this is a good option.

TD Ameritrade also offers new member bonuses. You can earn up to $600 and 60 days of free trades by opening a new account. The bonus offers always change, so look for the latest offer.

Pros of TD Ameritrade

Here are the the main reasons to invest with TD Ameritrade.

300+ Commission-Free ETFs

While this article focuses on the best brokerages to trade stocks with, most people (including myself) still trade ETFs. ETFs let me own small positions of many companies in certain industries and the broad market. Not having to pay a commission means I can make a monthly investment for free.

Extensive Mobile App

Most online brokerages are placing greater emphasis on mobile app trading, but TD Ameritrade is the mobile app pioneer. It has one of the most extensive mobile apps for trading and research.

TD Ameritrade now also lets you make trades using your Amazon Echo home device with voice commands. So, now you don’t even need to look at your phone to make a trade.

Thinkorswim

Advanced traders who want to trade options, short stocks, or day trade will like the thinkorswim desktop platform. You will find the most research tools for technical analysis. This platform also has a simulator called paperMoney that lets you practice new trading strategies.

Automatic Dividend Reinvestment (DRIP)

If your investments pay dividends, Ameritrade will reinvest them to buy more of the same stock. Many investors call this “DRIP Investing.” DRIP stands for Dividend ReInvestment Plan.

Let’s say you receive a $5 dividend from your Apple stock. TD Ameritrade reinvests the dividend so you own $5 more of Apple stock. This new stock will earn future dividends, too. Another name for this passive income stream is compound interest.

You can also request cash payment to use your dividends to buy a different stock.

Cons of TD Ameritrade

$6.95 Trades Are Relatively High

TD Ameritrade is one of the most extensive online stock brokerages, but it’s also one of the most expensive. You will pay $6.95 to buy or sell stocks and ETFs (except for the 300+ commission-free ETFs). That’s a lot more than the average online trade commission, which is currently $4.95.

No In-House ETFs

Unlike other online stock brokerages, TD Ameritrade doesn’t have its own “in-house” ETFs. Most brokerages offer their own ETFs as the primary commission-free ETF. Not so with TD Ameritrade.

Some of Ameritrade’s commission-free ETFs come from iShares, SPDR, and First Trust. These are some of the most respected ETF fund families in the industry.

Still, the problem with using non-broker ETFs is that the brokerage firm can remove them from the commission-free list. All of a sudden, you must begin paying a trading fee. To hedge against unexpected fee hikes, go with an in-house ETF at a different brokerage site.

High Sell Fees on Commission-Free ETFs

If you sell a commission-free ETF within 30 days of purchase, you will pay a $19.99 short-term trading fee. Most short-term traders focus on stocks, not ETFs so it’s not an issue. But, keep this in mind in case you do decide to buy ETFs. Don’t buy on a whim. Perform your due diligence.

2. Ally Invest

Best For: All investors

Account Options: Taxable brokerage and IRA

Account Minimum: $0

Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: $4.95 per trade ($3.95 for active traders)

Reinvest Dividends?: Yes

Ally Invest is another solid option for beginners and active traders. The normal trade fee is $4.95 for stocks and ETFs. But, you can enjoy $3.95 trades when you meet one of these conditions:

  • Make at least 30 trades in a 3-month period
  • Maintain a daily balance of at least $100,000

And, Ally Invest doesn’t require a minimum account balance to open an account.

You won’t find as many research tools as TD Ameritrade has, but you can buy the same investments for less. One chart you might enjoy is Ally’s Probability Calculator. It projects if you can reach your investment goals based on different market risk levels.

Another Ally chart to look at is the profit/loss graph, which helps you simulate a trade before you use real money.

The website and mobile app are easy to navigate. Besides stocks and ETFs, you can also trade:

  • Options
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds

Like TD Ameritrade, Ally also offers free DRIP investing for your investments.

In short, Ally Invest is a great option if you want an online brokerage with a low trade fee and good research tools.

Pros of Ally Invest

$3.95 Trades

The $3.95 trades for active traders is a nice deal.  And, if you don’t meet the requirements for that price, $4.95 per trade is still competitive.

Good Research Tools and Mobile App

Ally also has plenty of research tools and a mobile app you’ll want to use. You don’t get all the bells and whistles that you have with Ameritrade, but the tools and app are still good.

Cons of Ally Invest

Only 100 Commission-Free ETFs

Allly offers more than 100 commission-free ETFs from Blackrock (iShares) and WisdomTree. But other brokerage sites still offer more free ETFs.

3. Robinhood

Best For: All investors

Account Options: Taxable brokerage only

Account Minimum: $0

Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: Free

Reinvest Dividends?: No

Robinhood is a barebones online stock brokerage site. You can buy any stock, ETF or stock option on the site for free. But, you don’t have the research and charting tools that other online brokerages offer.

Choose Robinhood for free stock trades. You will have to research your stock elsewhere.

Advanced investors can use Robinhood, too. Other than the fact that the research tools are sparse, there aren’t many limitations — but this can be said of all free investing apps.

For researching potential investments, Robinhood provides basic performance history charts and market news. This is the same information you can find for free on other investing websites. If you want more detailed research, you need a brokerage site that charges a trade fee.

Some investors open an investing account to get free trades. Then they use another brokerage site to perform their research. I do this so I can invest without the sting of paying a trade fee.

Other free apps only execute trades once a day. (Don’t miss the narrow trading window with these apps. You have to wait until the next day if you miss it.)

The nice thing about Robinhood is you can trade stocks in real time the whole time the market is open.

You can also trade stock options for free, though this is an opportunity best suited for advanced investors. No other online brokerage lets you do this on an everyday basis.

Tip: Get a free stock worth up to $200 when you join Robinhood using this link.

Pros of Robinhood

Free Stock and Options Trading During Market Hours

Robinhood is a good option for first-time investors. You can trade stocks with limited income without having to pay trade fees.

Expert investors choose Robinhood, too. They want a basic online brokerage with minimal costs. After all, no trade fees mean more cash to trade stocks.

Robinhood is the cheapest way to trade stocks, ETFs and options. Trades are executed during normal market trading hours, not in a one-hour block like some other brokerages.

Available on Mobile App and Website

Robinhood started as a mobile-only stock brokerage, which means it has one of the best apps for trading stock. It also now offers a web platform so you can trade from your computer.

You Can Create Limit Orders

Other free investing apps only let you trade stocks with market orders. This means you buy or sell stock shares at the current market price. For most investors this is pleasingly simple. And, it doesn’t encourage you to time the market.

But, maybe you want to buy stock at a lower price than the current market value. Your two options are watching the stock price until it drops to your buying range. Or, you place a limit order.

With a limit order, you tell the broker your highest “buy” price. Let’s say a stock currently trades for $52 but you are only willing to pay $50 per share. When you place a limit order, your trade doesn’t execute until the price drops to $50.

Most investors can’t watch the share price movement for each minute the market’s open. These special order types help you buy and sell at a better price. And, they can save you time in the process.

Here’s another example of a limit order: Sometimes I buy stocks with a “buy up to” price. Maybe the “buy up to” price is $20. That means I only buy a stock or add to my position when the stock price is $20 or less. If it’s above $20, I wait to buy.

Don’t feel forced to buy a stock right away. I usually put many stocks on my watchlist to monitor their performance before I buy.

Cons of Robinhood

Limited Research Tools

There is a tradeoff for free trades. You have very few research tools, which can make the research process tough.

Full-service brokerages offer more research tools. You may want to open an account to access these advanced tools — that’s what I do.

You Must Buy Full Shares

Unlike other free investing apps, you can only buy full shares of stock. If a stock costs $190, you must have $190 in your account.

No Retirement Accounts

Robinhood only offers non-retirement investment accounts, not IRAs like many other brokerage sites offer. With non-retirement accounts, your investment income is subject to taxes each year. But since you don’t have to pay any trade fees, you’re still saving money.

Doesn’t Reinvest Dividends

Robinhood doesn’t reinvest your dividends. Your stock dividends deposit into your cash balance. You must manually buy more stock of the same company in you want to reinvest. Or, you can invest in a new company.

4. M1 Finance

Best For: All investors

Account Options: Taxable brokerage and IRAs

Account Minimum: $100 for brokerage accounts and $500 for IRAs
Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: Free

Reinvest Dividends?: No

Another free and functional investing app is M1 Finance. I really enjoy this app because of its many investment options.

M1 Finance lets you invest in almost any stock or ETF traded on the U.S. stock exchanges. You can even buy fractional shares of stock.

The way you build and view your portfolio with M1 is different than with other online stock brokerages. Other brokerages let you trade stocks based on dollar amounts. With M1, you assign each holding a percentage. This practice helps ensure your portfolio stays balanced.

Here’s a quick example. You build a portfolio with 20 stocks. Each stock has a 5% target allocation. So, if you invest $100, each stock position increases $5.

You must increase the target allocation to increase the position size of any one stock. Similarly, to minimize a particular position sizes, you must decrease the target allocation.

You can buy partial shares of stock on M1, too. Let’s say you want to buy Amazon stock. A single share costs around $1,900. If you only have $100 to invest at once, you can buy a 0.0526 share of Amazon. Other brokerages only let you trade full shares, so you would need the full $1,900 to buy a share.

Pros of M1 Finance

Trade Partial Shares of Stocks and ETFs

M1 is one of the few online stock brokerages that let you buy or sell partial shares. If you invest $100, M1 divides it among all your holdings.

No Trade Fees

You never pay a trade fee, which is awesome. With other brokerage firms, you must pay $4.95 for each company you invest in.

Create Custom Investment Pies

You can also build your own “mini-ETF” with M1 custom pies. I have two custom pies in my portfolio. They track model portfolios I follow online.

I can buy partial shares of 15 stocks at once. And, I don’t need a large sum of cash to do it. Custom pies give you instant market exposure to multiple stocks without paying trade fees.

Invest in Pre-Made Expert Pies

If you don’t want to pick your own stocks, you can also invest in a pre-made pie. Depending on the pie’s investing strategy, you will invest in stocks or ETFs. Some custom pies invest in both.

Tip: Use the Motley Fool Starter Portfolio to create your first custom pie.

Cons of M1 Finance

Only One Daily Trading Window

You can’t buy or sell positions in real-time with M1. The trading window opens at 10 a.m. Eastern time. It closes when all previous requests fill. Same-day fulfillment isn’t guaranteed after 10 a.m.

All trades are “market orders,” meaning you’ll trade at the current buy or sell price.

If you want other types of orders, go with Robinhood. You still can trade stocks for free with Robinhood.

$10 Trade Minimum

You must invest at least $10 at a time to execute a trade. This way, M1 invests at least $0.01 in each stock.

M1 Invests All Available Cash Balances Greater than $10

Don’t put cash into your M1 Finance account until you’re ready to buy stock. Once your cash balance is above $10, M1 invests the balance. Your money is in the market the next day. Any cash you want on the sidelines needs to stay in your checking account.

5. Stockpile

Best For: Beginner investors and children

Account Options: Taxable brokerage accounts only

Account Minimum: $0
Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: $0.99 per trade

Reinvest Dividends?: Yes

Stockpile is a unique investing platform. It’s the best alternative to M1 Finance if you want these benefits:

  • Buy or sell partial shares
  • Dollar-based investing instead of percentage-based investing
  • $0.99 trades

You might like Stockpile because you can buy children gifts of stock. Children can then learn how to invest with low trade fees of 99 cents.

The largest downside to Stockpile is its small investment portfolio. You can invest in more than 1,000 of the most common stocks and ETFs. But, the lack of certain other companies and ETFs might surprise you.

For instance, you can invest in common household names like Nike or Starbucks. These stocks trade on the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange. But, you can’t buy stocks that trade on smaller exchanges like the BATS. Foreign over-the-counter (OTC) stocks aren’t available, either.

That won’t affect most  first-time investors, but experienced investors will find Stockpile lacking in options.

Also, Stockpile only has one daily trading window and its research platform is barebones.

For those reasons, active traders should avoid this site. But for the cheapest trades and a basic brokerage site, Stockpile fits the bill.

In my experience, the Stockpile mobile app is better than the website. It’s easier to track your investment performance in the app. And, you can easily fund your account or schedule trades.

Pros of Stockpile

99-Cent Trades

It costs 99 cents to buy or sell shares on Stockpile. Each trade must be at least $1 to execute.

Partial Share Purchases

Like M1 Finance, you can buy partial shares of stocks and ETFs. Say you want to invest $100. Stockpile invests the entire amount in the stock of your choice, even when $100 doesn’t buy a full share.

Automatic Dividend Reinvestment

Stockpile reinvests share dividends, which is unique among the bargain brokerages. In comparison, Robinhood and M1 both deposit the dividend into your cash account. Stockpile offers cash payment too. DRIP investors will appreciate the reinvestment option.

Cons of Stockpile

Single Daily Trading Window

You must submit your trade request before 3 p.m. Eastern time for same-day fulfillment. The number of shares you’ll receive depends on the daily closing price.

In this way, trading stocks with Stockpile is like trading mutual funds elsewhere. You can place trade requests at any time of day. However, you won’t find out the exact price until after the market closes.

Limited Investment Offerings

You probably won’t buy all 1,000+ stocks and ETFs, but in time you may find a stock or ETF you want to buy on Stockpile but can’t.

There are two options in this case:

  • Invest with another brokerage firm
  • Find an alternative investment

You also can’t trade mutual funds, bonds or options on Stockpile.

Barebones Platform

Stockpile is probably the simplest of the discount online brokerages. Its research tools are minimal and you can’t create joint accounts or IRAs.

6. E*TRADE

Best For: All investors

Account Options: Taxable brokerage accounts and IRAs

Account Minimum: $500 for non-retirement accounts. $0 for IRAs
Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: $6.95 per trade ($4.95 for active traders)

Reinvest Dividends?: Yes

E*TRADE is another full-service brokerage site that provides many tools for trading stocks. The mobile app and research tools are highly rated.

Casual investors pay $6.95 per trade. Active traders with 30+ quarterly trades only pay $4.95 per trade.

You also have over 250 commission-free ETFs to choose from. Some of the fund families include Vanguard, iShares and Invesco.

Most investors find everything they need with the web platform and mobile app. Both products let you perform extensive research and execute trades.

Beginner investors will find E*TRADE friendly to use, too. And, you’ll find plenty of material to learn more about investing.

Active traders may like the advanced E*TRADE Pro platform. It gives you advanced research tools and you pay $2 less per trade.

Pros of E*TRADE

Extensive Research Tools

E*TRADE was once a barebones online brokerage, but that’s not true anymore. Now you can research and trade on the same platform.

Investors of any experience level will find all the tools useful. The tools help you make smart investing decisions. E*TRADE’s mobile app is also very useful.

Discounted Trades for Active Traders

Not every online brokerage offers the advanced tools that active traders rely on. E*TRADE gives you these tools and discounts each trade to $4.95 when you make 30 trades each quarter.

Still, Ally Invest takes it a step further. Active traders only pay $3.95 per trade. Even a $1 savings is worth thinking about.

Lots of New Investor Learning Tools

New investors will find all the learning articles and courses they need at E*TRADE. Other full-service online brokerages don’t have this large of a library. That’s surprising, since E*TRADE has a name for being a budget online brokerage.

Cons of E*TRADE

$500 Minimum Initial Balance for Non-Retirement Accounts

To open a taxable brokerage account, you must deposit at least $500. (The $500 requirement doesn’t apply to any IRA accounts.)

$6.95 Trades for Non-Active Traders

If you don’t make 30+ trades each quarter, you may want to join another brokerage site. Most brokerages charge $4.95 per trade for all customers, which is a $2 per trade savings for less active investors.

If you’re looking for commission-free ETFs and you like the E*TRADE platform, E*TRADE might be right for you. However, you can find other online stock brokers that only charge $4.95 per trade. They also offer a similar platform experience that’s easy to use.

7. Interactive Brokers

Best For: Frequent traders and global investors

Account Options: Taxable brokerage accounts and IRAs

Account Minimum: $10,000 for brokerage accounts and $5,000 for IRAs
Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: $0.005 per share, $1 minimum per trade, up to 1% of trade value

Reinvest Dividends?: Yes

The most active traders can save money by using Interactive Brokers instead of some other brokerages. However, you must have at least $5,000 to open an IRA or $10,000 to open a taxable account.

Use Interactive Brokers when you benefit from its graduated commissions. This can be cheaper than paying $3.95 per trade with Ally Invest. Trading stocks on Interactive Brokers costs $0.005 cents per share, and when you trade more than 300,000 shares a month, the costs can be even lower. Many commission-free ETFs are also available.

If you want to invest in foreign stocks, you have direct access to 26 countries. You’ll pay less in fees than at other brokerage sites. Buying directly on foreign exchanges can be expensive if you don’t use the right service, such as Interactive Brokers.

Pros of Interactive Brokers

Low Costs for the Most Active Traders

Expert traders should consider Interactive Brokers. You can pay less per trade than at other online stock brokerages.

Direct Access to Foreign Markets

It’s easy to directly invest in foreign companies with Interactive Brokers. This can be a better deal than buying the U.S.-listed equivalent.

Cons of Interactive Brokers

Only for Active Traders

You should only join Interactive Brokers if you are an active trader. Investors who only make a handful of trades each month will pay monthly fees for not making enough trades. These fees are higher than those you’d pay at discount brokerages.

8. Fidelity

Best For: All Investors, especially mutual fund fans

Account Options: Taxable brokerage accounts and IRAs

Account Minimum: $2,500 for brokerage accounts and $0 for IRAs
Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: $4.95 per trade

Reinvest Dividends?: Yes

A lot of investors like using Fidelity because their employer 401k plans are there. If you already use Fidelity and like its platform design, stay with it. Knowing the platform makes the learning curve for trading stocks easier.

Fidelity is a low-price leader with a loyal following. It has 265 commission-free ETFs, and all stock and ETF trades cost $4.95.

If you like mutual funds, Fidelity is a good option, too. It waives the minimum initial investment for most funds. And, Fidelity offers two index funds with an expense ratio of 0. You keep 100% of the profits with these funds.

If you love analyst research reports, keep reading. Fidelity offers reports from 20 different providers. That’s the most of any brokerage. Its charting tools are robust, too.

Make a lot of trades? The Active Trader Pro platform is a good fit for many frequent traders.

Pros of Fidelity

Extensive Research Reports and Tools

Some investors read every analyst’s opinion before trading. If that’s you, Fidelity is your best option.

The Fidelity Equity Summary Score is a handy tool, too. It’s a stock health barometer. You can use it to see whether current stock sentiment is a buy, sell or hold.

These gauges never replace the need to perform your due diligence. But, research tools are the quickest way to get expert opinions. Reports and scoring tools make the research process easier.

Highly-Rated Investments Offerings

Fidelity’s mutual funds and ETFs are well regarded. These funds make it easy to diversify. You can invest in special sectors or the broad market.

Cons of Fidelity

Active Trader Pro Access for Frequent Traders Only

You must be an active trader to access Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro. That means you must make at least 36 trades in a 12-month period to get access to the advanced tools.

Most casual investors won’t care, but maybe you do. Maybe you have advanced skills but not enough money to be an active trader yet. Know that other brokerages offer their advanced platforms to everyone. For example, you can use TD Ameritrade thinkorswim for free.

9. Charles Schwab

Best For: All investors

Account Options: Taxable brokerage accounts and IRAs

Account Minimum: $1,000 for all accounts
Cost to Buy or Sell Stocks: $4.95 per trade

Reinvest Dividends?: Yes

Charles Schwab is another well-liked online stock brokerage. It finishes strong in most investing categories.

Schwab’s trading fee for stocks and ETFs is $4.95. It offers 200+ commission-free ETFs and its  index mutual funds have low fund expenses.

Beginners and advanced traders can both enjoy trading on Schwab.

The web platform for average investors is more than sufficient. It has extensive charting tools and third-party research reports.

The StreetSmart Edge platform is for advanced traders, though it’s free to all investors. For more bells-and-whistles, stick with TD Ameritrade, though.

Pros of Charles Schwab

$4.95 Trades for Stocks and ETFs

Charles Schwab has competitive fees for trading stocks and ETFs. It has more than 200 ETFs from 16 fund families that are commission-free. Schwab manages most of these ETFs “in-house.”

Extensive Research and Rating Resources

Fidelity has more research reports, but Schwab isn’t far behind. You won’t have trouble finding analysts’ reports and stock ratings for most stocks.

Cons of Charles Schwab

Mediocre Mobile App

One drawback to Schwab is a relatively basic mobile app. While it’s not a bad app, it’s not the best app. Beyond basic charting and trading, it trails the pack in ease of use. This would have been fine for a leading online stock brokerage 10 years ago, but not today.

That said, the Schwab mobile app is still better than most of the free apps. If you plan on trading from your mobile device, tread lightly. Think about avoiding Schwab until the app improves.

How to Trade Stocks

Now that we know the best online stock brokerages, let’s cover one quick topic. Trading stocks means something different to every investor.

Do you still need to buy your first stock? Buy one that you think will outperform the market for the next three to five years.

Experienced traders might buy stocks to hold briefly, say for one day or a few months. Traders call this momentum trading or day trading. Although you can make money doing this, it’s riskier than long-term investing. And, you can pay a lot in trade fees and taxes. These two costs minimize your potential profits.

Most online brokerages only sell whole shares of stock. They require you to have the exact balance to buy shares. Very few brokerage firms let you buy partial shares. That’s why free investing apps are so popular. You can buy partial shares of your favorite stocks.

I recommend only trading stocks when the trade fee is less than 2% of the balance. Personally, when I pay a $4.95 trade fee, I always make sure I invest at least $250 per trade. This way, my trade fee is less than 2% of the investment amount.

How much you invest per trade determines the brokerage you choose. Full-service brokerages like Ally Invest are for larger trades. And, free apps like Robinhood are for small trades. Trading stock makes sense when your potential earnings exceed the trade fee. If not, stick with commission-free ETFs until you can justify the trade fees.

Summary

All of these online stock brokerages make trading stock quick and easy. Brokerages that charge trade fees offer more tools. Free investing apps are efficient too when you want to keep things simple.

What online brokerage do you recommend for trading stocks? Let us know on social media.

Lyft Versus Uber: An In-Depth Comparison

Being a rideshare driver is a flexible way to make money in your free time. You can name your own hours and earn more money than some other side hustles. In this Lyft versus Uber comparison, you will learn which service is better for you.

Uber and Lyft are two legit ways to make extra money. But, one platform might be better for you than the other. Or, you can drive for both and pick the best rides in town!

Are you ready to maximize your earnings and avoid rookie mistakes? Great, let’s get started.

Becoming a Rideshare Driver

Whether you drive for Uber, Lyft or both services, they share a few common traits.

To become a rideshare driver, you must meet these three basic qualifications:

  • Meet a minimum age requirement (more about this later)
  • Own or lease a 4-door vehicle
  • Have a clean driving and criminal record

Both Lyft and Uber offer leasing and rental services if you don’t own an eligible car. Both companies also require you to carry rideshare insurance.

If you don’t qualify as a rideshare driver yet, you can still deliver for UberEATS. Some drivers also double as food deliverers when ride demand is slow.

Benefits of Being a Rideshare Driver

Here are the key benefits of being a rideshare driver:

  • Flexible hours
  • Be your own boss
  • Minimal startup costs
  • Meet new people

People are relying on public transit more than ever. As a result, there’s constant demand for rideshare drivers. You are the quickest way from points A to B.

Flexible Hours

As a rideshare driver, you’re an independent contractor. This means you’re not an employee like you are with regular part-time jobs.

This flexibility lets you drive for both companies. Most drivers join Lyft and Uber to earn the most money. They pick the best ride available at the time.

You’re not restricted to only working for one employer or a certain shift. You choose when you work. Each week, you can drive a different schedule or even take a month off. If your day job has variable hours, driving for either service easily fits into your schedule.

This flexibility means you are the boss. You work as little or much as you decide. Uber and Lyft don’t require you to take a certain number of rides each week. You only have to provide a good ride experience to keep an active account.

Few Barriers to Entry

If you already own a vehicle, Lyft and Uber have few barriers to join. You don’t have to buy special equipment or rent office space as other startups do.

Once you pass the background check and vehicle safety inspection, you can start driving right away. The entire onboarding process takes from 48 hours to three weeks to complete. It can take up to three weeks if your city has local rules you must meet in addition to Uber and Lyft’s.

Lyft Versus Uber: Which Is Better for Drivers?

We’re not going to recommend one company over the other. Both services have their own pros and cons. You will make money with either one. How much you earn depends on how often you drive.

This section compares some of the different aspects of being a rideshare driver. In some categories, both Lyft and Uber are similar. In others, one is the clear winner. Knowing what to expect while driving for Uber and Lyft helps make the decision easier.

Ride Demand

In most cities, Uber has more daily ride requests than Lyft. This is mostly because Uber is larger and serves more cities. Even in cities where both companies operate, Uber usually has more riders.

Lyft will keep you busy, too, but it doesn‘t have the same reach as Uber. Although Lyft is growing, it still has fewer users than Uber.

You should value quality as much as quantity when it comes to driving. Different types of riders use both services. Try both out to judge from your own experience.

Winner: Uber

Driver Pay

Several variables affect how much you make driving for either company. In general, Lyft pays more than Uber. This is partially because drivers report larger rider tips from Lyft riders. While the pay from Lyft isn’t incredibly more, it helps offset the lower number of potential rides.

Your earnings with either company depend on several factors:

  • Time of day
  • Day of week
  • Ride distance
  • Driving time
  • Your region
  • Base fare paid by the rider

Both Uber and Lyft calculate your earnings based on the above factors. In addition to your mileage, you can also get paid by the minute. As long as you have a rider, you’re getting paid.

Drivers earn more on weekends and during peak driving hours because riders pay higher fares. Driving in a big city can also earn you more per ride. In select cities, drivers can earn extra bonuses if they drive on certain days or in special zones. Once again, it comes down to supply and demand.

Some drivers report that Uber pays better than Lyft during peak hours and special events. During these times, riders pay “surge prices” that are higher than the standard fare.

Winner: Lyft

Driver Bonuses

Both Lyft and Uber offer bonuses for new drivers. The bonus amount depends on the city you live in and the number of rides you complete.

Current drivers can also make extra money from recurring bonuses. You can participate in weekly bonuses and challenges. Some bonuses require you to complete a specific number of rides. Other bonuses pay more if you drive in peak hours or featured areas.

Riders can also leave you a tip with either service. In the past, only Lyft drivers could receive tips. Now, Uber drivers receive tips too!

Drivers state Lyft riders give better tips than Uber riders — possibly because some Uber riders are still in the habit of not tipping. But, Uber has more competitive bonuses.

Winner:  Toss-Up

Customer Support

This is another area where the better option depends on your personal experience. Just like you love or hate your home internet provider, rideshare customer support is similar in nature.

Some drivers state that Uber has better customer support when they report problem riders. Most support tickets receive automated responses that are quick and easy. Live support may be trickier. Many drivers for both services agree that their agents feel overworked.

Other drivers prefer Lyft because their agents tend to explore each driver complaint further. Drivers also state that Lyft customer support agents can be more friendly to talk to.

So while Uber tends to be better at resolving basic issues, if you have complex issues, Lyft is better.

Winner: Toss-Up

Driver Taxes

Both Uber and Lyft issue you a Form 1099 to report your taxable income. Neither company withholds income tax from your payments.

You also have to track your eligible tax deductions like:

  • Mileage
  • Vehicle expenses
  • Unreimbursed tolls

All rideshare drivers also have to pay self-employment tax each year. To avoid a tax surprise, consider putting part of your income in an online bank account just for taxes.

Driving for Uber

Uber is like the “Google” of ridesharing services and is a household name. People talk about “ubering” even when they’re riding a competitor. Because Uber is now in our everyday vocabulary, the company has higher brand recognition. That’s a good reason to consider driving for them.

The main reason many drivers like Uber is that it’s busier than Lyft in most cities. More riders use Uber than Lyft so there are more rides up for grabs. Since you don’t get paid unless you drive a rider, consistent ride demand is reason enough to join Uber.

Below is a basic summary of what to expect when driving for Uber.

Minimum Driver Requirements

Uber requires the following for its drivers:

  • Minimum age to drive in your city
    • Three years of driving experience if you’re younger than 23
    • One year of driving experience if you’re older than 23
  • Valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Documents to prove who you are
  • Clean driving and criminal record
  • Eligible 4-door vehicle

After you pass the background check, you may also have to get a special operating license from your local city. This might require attending a defensive driving course.

Uber Vehicle Requirements

Your vehicle must have four doors and seatbelts for at least four passengers. In addition to this basic requirement, your vehicle must also meet these standards:

  • No older than 15 model years
  • Clean title only (can’t be rebuilt, salvage, etc.)
  • No cosmetic damage
  • Must carry rideshare insurance

For 2018, your vehicle must be a model year 2003 or newer. In 2019, your car needs to be a model year 2004 or newer. Your local town might have additional requirements for your vehicle too.

If you don’t own an eligible vehicle, Uber offers a leasing service. You can also rent a car if you do have a car but it’s in the shop and you must keep driving to make money.

Depending on the quality of your vehicle, you can offer luxury rides. The UberX and UberBlack programs are for upscale vehicles. Maybe you have a leather interior or a luxury SUV to drive. Both of these programs pay more per ride. But, you can still earn plenty with the basic Uber service.

Driver Bonuses

Uber offers three different types of driver bonuses. The bonus amount depends on your home city.

  • New driver bonus
  • Quest
  • Boost

New Driver Bonus

You have to complete a set number of rides in a period of time to earn this bonus.

Quest Bonus

With the Quest bonus, you get a cash bonus when you complete a set number of trips. You might have one week or a weekend to earn the bonus.

Boost Bonus

The Boost bonus focuses on busy hours and areas. Depending on the time and area, you can earn more. The Boost bonus is higher than the surge pricing.

Uber Payment Options

Uber pays weekly via bank direct deposit.

With Uber Instant Pay, you can request real-time payment up to five times daily. Instant Pay deposits your balance on your debit card.

In the Uber app, you can track your earnings in real-time. Uber itemizes your pay statements so you can quickly see your income and expenses.

Other Ways to Make Money with Uber

You can also drive for the UberEATS program when you don’t have riders.

If you currently don’t qualify to drive for Uber, you may still qualify for UberEATS because the delivery requirements are more flexible. You don’t need a 4-door vehicle to deliver for UberEATS. Depending on your area, you can deliver by:

  • Motorcycle
  • Scooter
  • Bike
  • Walking

Your car can be up to 20 years old and either have two doors or four doors.

And, you only need to be 18 years old to join. But, you must still pass a background check.

You can be an Uber and UberEATS partner at the same time. When you’re not driving people, you can deliver food. This is another flexible side hustle to make money in your spare time.

Driving for Lyft

The Lyft driving experience can also be very rewarding. Because Lyft usually has less ride demand, some drivers recommend joining Lyft first to gain experience. You won’t feel overwhelmed with all the options. When you’re ready to drive more often, then you can become an Uber driver too.

Other drivers prefer Lyft because the average rider tends to tip better and can be more friendly. This isn’t always true, but it’s a common theme in many markets.

Learn how to find the best rides on Lyft to earn more money.

Lyft Driver Requirements

Lyft has similar driving requirements to Uber. The one difference is that you must be at least 21 years old to drive, and have a clean driving record. With Uber, you must have three years driving experience if you’re under age 23. If you get your license at age 17, you can potentially drive for Uber when you’re 20.

You also need to pass a criminal background check. And, you may have to obtain a special driving permit. This depends on your home city.

Lyft Vehicle Requirements

Your vehicle must have four doors and at least five seatbelts. You must also comply with any state or local rideshare laws. Your vehicle can’t have any cosmetic damage beyond basic scratches.

Lyft does appear to have a stricter vehicle policy. In most states, your vehicle must be model year 2005 or newer. In other words, your car can’t be older than 13 years.

With the Lyft Express Drive program, you can lease or rent an approved car. Active drivers can qualify for smaller leases based on the number of completed rides.

Driver Bonuses

New drivers also qualify for an introductory bonus. You must complete at least 20 rides in the first 20 days to earn a bonus.

Lyft also offers these bonuses for current drivers:

  • Weekly ride challenges
  • Power zones
  • Streak bonus

Weekly Ride Challenges

Similar to the Uber Quest bonus, you must complete a set number of rides in a limited time to earn the Weekly ride challenges.

Power Zones

Earn more by driving in high-demand areas or busy hours. Lyft now calls these busy hours Prime Time. These bonuses start when there are more ride requests than drivers.

Lyft also has a peak hours bonus available during the busiest hours of the day. You can see these bonus windows in the app in advance.

Streak Bonus

Get a streak bonus by accepting two back-to-back Lyft rides. This bonus can keep you from switching and accepting your second ride on Uber. Or, only doing one ride before going home.

Lyft texts you when this bonus is active.

Lyft Payment Options

You get paid weekly with Lyft via direct deposit.

With Lyft Express Pay, you can request same-day payment when your balance is $50. This minimum redemption threshold is higher than Uber Instant Pay.

Should You Drive for Uber, Lyft, or Both?

The onboarding process for Uber and Lyft is similar. Each company has its own unique culture, but it’s not like comparing apples to oranges.

To help make your decision easier, here’s a brief summary of each service.

Uber is busier so you have the chance to complete more rides.

Lyft doesn’t have as many riders but tends to pay more per ride.

Since riders are going to choose the option with the best price and the shortest wait time, you should consider joining both Uber and Lyft. Driving for both lets you maximize your potential income.

Must-Read Advice for New Rideshare Drivers

Becoming a rideshare driver is as easy as submitting an application. But, do you know what it takes to become a successful rideshare driver?

Driving for Lyft or Uber has many benefits. You get to name your hours and earn more than other side hustles. At the same time, this flexibility can make it hard to develop a routine. The sooner you learn the ropes, the more money you can make.

Below are several tips you should apply to avoid common rideshare driver mistakes. These tips come from four different rideshare drivers.

Ride Lyft or Uber First

Harry Campbell, a driver who writes a blog about rideshare driving, recommends every new driver to take a ride first. If you’ve never been a rideshare rider, this is an absolute must! Think of these test rides as an internship.

Use this time to ask the driver about their experience and advice. Some of the questions you might ask include:

  • Most popular routes
  • Best times to drive in your city
  • Items to include in your car
  • Areas to avoid (i.e. areas that are unsafe, lack rides or pay low)
  • Most common rider problems
  • Their best and worst driver experiences

If Lyft and Uber both serve your city, ride both! Being a rider also gives you an idea of how to be a better driver. By riding with different drivers, you can look for positive and negative trends.

By offering a better experience than other drivers, you can avoid rookie mistakes. And, you can receive more positive reviews early on. These reviews help you get more rides in the future.

Bonus Tip: Read Campbell’s book The Rideshare Guide to learn more about tricks of the trade!

Drive for Lyft and Uber

As a new driver, you might only decide to apply for either Lyft or Uber first. After earning your new driver bonus, you can join the other service. If driving for one company pays the bills, don’t feel pressured to drive for both.

If you drive for both, you must shuffle between both apps to find the best ride. Campbell uses the Mystro app to remain logged into the Lyft and Uber apps at the same time. He quickly finds the best rides and minimizes his downtime. Remember, you only make money if you’re driving, not idling.

Know Your City

Becoming familiar with your city has many benefits that can increase your pay. You know the best places to look for rides, and being in the in-demand area means you get first dibs on the open ride requests. A rider isn’t going to wait 30 minutes for you if another driver is only five minutes away. Being too far away means you won’t get as many rides and you’ll make less money.

Knowing local shortcuts and the best hangouts is what separates the great drivers from the good drivers. This knowledge helps you earn larger tips and get a positive driver rating. Your driver rating is almost as important as how much you earn, because a good rating ensures you’ll continue to get rides.

Some of the city topics you should know about include:

  • Fun facts
  • Popular restaurants and attractions
  • “Locals-only” hotspots
  • Good hotels and shopping districts
  • Safe neighborhoods

You want your riders to feel secure. If they are tourists, acting as an informal guide helps them plan their visit.

Interact With Your Riders

With any side hustle, have fun! As a rideshare driver, that means talking to your riders. Not only can you get a bigger tip, but your riders can give you advice on where to look for future rides. Plus, you will hear many interesting stories to entertain you and help pass the time.

That said, not every rider wants to carry on a conversation, so don’t be too pushy. For your chatty riders, answer their questions and be helpful.

Remember the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. Being kind and helpful creates a pleasant experience for everybody.

Choose Your Passengers Wisely

Lyft and Uber are very flexible side hustles in many aspects. You get to name your hours and can decline riders you don’t feel comfortable driving.

As the vehicle owner, you’re responsible for keeping the interior clean. If a rider makes a mess in your car, you have to spend time and money cleaning the interior before your next ride. While Lyft and Uber offer cleaning credits, they are only issued in extreme cases. That means you have to spend money on cleaning supplies.

Most rideshare drivers tell you that Friday and Saturday nights offer some of the best pay. But, most riders during these hours spend the night partying. They can be extra rowdy and make a mess in your car.

Driver Eddie Doyle recommends new drivers to avoid driving at night unless you can tolerate difficult riders. Instead, log a few rides in the daytime first. You gain experience with more cordial riders so you can set firm expectations when driving at night.

After trying a couple of night rides, you may still decide that driving at night isn’t worth the extra pay. Some drivers never work the party hours because it’s an unenjoyable experience. The decision depends on your personality and your patience for difficult riders.

Drive on the Weekends to Earn More Money

Driving on the weekends usually pays more per route than on weekdays. You don’t have to drive weekend nights after the bars close to earn a big paycheck. Even on a Saturday afternoon, you can earn more per ride. This is because there’s more demand on the weekends and fewer drivers.

You can also make good money driving on weekdays, but you need to know the best times. Certain times of day are naturally slower than others. Being flexible with your driving hours lets you drive during the busy times and avoid the slow hours.

Drive a Used Hybrid

Your three largest expenses as a rideshare driver are:

  • Vehicle purchase price
  • Gas
  • Routine maintenance and cleaning

If you need to get a car loan, buying a used car will give you a lower monthly payment than a brand new vehicle. Until your car loan is paid off, you can’t start enjoying the profits of being a rideshare driver. Instead, you’re still trying to break even.

Hopefully, you can use your current vehicle for ridesharing. When that’s the case, your two recurring expenses are gas and maintenance.

If you must buy a car, buy a used car that’s fuel efficient. The ideal rideshare car is a used hybrid. Even the taxi companies use hybrids because they are reliable and use minimal gas.

Jon Sycamore has logged more than 2,284 rides in the past 18 months. He drives a 2014 Ford Fusion that gets 40 miles per gallon! When he first started driving, it was three years old, which is an ideal age for a car you’re buying for rideshares.

Most cars lose half their value in the first three years. By buying a three-year-old vehicle, you get a “like new” vehicle at half price. You should still have several years before you need to pay for large repairs. More importantly, investing in a three-year-old “like new” car today means you can get up to 10 years of rideshare service from it.

Log Your Miles

As a rideshare driver, you can deduct the miles driven for business on your taxes. Current IRS tax law lets you deduct 54.5 cents per mile driven. Make sure you keep a written log of how many miles you drive each day.

As an example, you can deduct $545 for every 1,000 miles you drive. This money can offset your gas and maintenance costs. Circling back to buying a used hybrid, if it costs less than 54.5 cents to drive a mile, you make a tax-free profit.

Because Sycamore drives a fuel-sipping car, his actual costs are about 16 cents per mile. At that rate, he profits 38 cents per mile tax-free, plus his regular driver earnings.

Plan Your Routes

Another common tip among drivers is to plan your route. When you look at the in-app map, you can see where the peak zones and special events are. Taking these rides makes you more money, but only if you are already nearby.

You don’t get paid for your gas and time to get into position. If other drivers are closer than you, the surge prices can disappear before you arrive. Then you’ve driven all that way for nothing.

Instead of “chasing the surge,” find the places that offer consistent rides and have few drivers. When it happens to be in a surge area, even better. Even without the surge pay, you can still earn a regular income by taking back-to-back ride requests.

Treat Your Side Hustle as a Business

Too often the term “side hustle” is thrown around for any way to make money in your free time. While you can make plenty of money as a rideshare driver, you need to make smart decisions.

The reason why you drive is to earn the most money in the shortest time possible. Treating driving like a business encourages you to make smart decisions.

You need to look at your income and expenses. Driver Amber Williams recommends creating a budget for your business. Another option is making a profit and loss statement. This exercise puts your goals and expenses on paper so you can see how much money you must make each month. Making a budget lets you can quickly see if you are profiting or losing money.

Your budget should include the following expenses:

  • Gas
  • Maintenance costs
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Insurance
  • Monthly car loan payment

Lyft and Uber itemize your income into these four categories:

  • Total miles
  • Total drive time
  • Rider tips
  • Driver bonuses

To make money being a rideshare driver, your income must be greater than your expenses. Don’t forget that you also have to pay taxes on your rideshare earnings. You might set aside 30% of your earnings to cover your potential tax bill.

Tip: You can quickly create a budget or profit and loss statement using Quickbooks.

Know Why You Want to Be a Rideshare Driver

With any side hustle, you need to know why you’re doing it. Keeping in mind why you want to be a rideshare driver helps you stay motivated and intentional in the way you approach the business.

Every driver has their own reasons. Maybe you’re doing it to pay off debt. Or, you need a side job with flexible hours while you launch a different business. Other drivers simply want to start a new hobby and enjoy meeting new people.

Your reasons for driving help determine how much money you need to make driving. If you don’t need to earn as much money, for example, you can be more selective with your driving hours or the routes you’re willing to take. But, you might not know this if you don’t make a plan.

Listen to Well Kept Wallet Podcast Episode 84 for extra rideshare driver advice from Harry Campbell.

Summary

Lyft and Uber are both very similar but are popular for different reasons. Uber tends to keep drivers busier, but both services offer a flexible side hustle. When you want to be your own boss and enjoy being with people, either service is a good option.

Do you drive for Lyft or Uber? What advice do you have for new drivers? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Lets connect!