Halloween is all about trick or treating - so we've compiled a list of tricks and treats in the personal finance world.

Halloween is meant for scary costumes, a ridiculous amount of candy, as well as… tricks and treats. While we can’t offer free candy, we’ve prepared a list of some of personal finance favorite tricks and treats to put you in the holiday season.

Treat: free budgeting apps

Budgeting has never been fun, but taking advantage of free (or low-cost) budgeting apps can be a real treat for your wallet.

Learning how to budget is one of the cornerstones of personal finance. If you don’t understand where your money is going, saving in the right places can be difficult.

Luckily, in the age of technology, there are a lot of budgeting apps to chose from. Some are strictly for budgeting, others include investing help as well as budget management. Here are a few of our favorite budgeting apps.

Personal Capital

Personal capital new logo

Personal Capital is a budgeting app and wealth management service. That means you can manage your investments and your budget through one app (or webpage).

The app itself is free, but the wealth management services come at a cost – although, it’s well worth it. Their fee schedule is as follows:

  • 0.89% on the first $1 million.
  • 0.79% on the first $3 million.
  • 0.69% on the next $2 million.
  • 0.59% on the next $5 million.
  • 0.49% over $10 million.

Learn more or open a Personal Capital account today. 

Trick: payday loans

Perhaps the biggest trick in the personal finance world, payday loans exist only to take advantage of those who need a loan quickly.

Payday loans are very short-term loans that you typically have to pay back within just a few weeks. That coupled with the 300-500% interest rate, means you have to pay back a much bigger loan than you took out, in just a matter of weeks.

As you can probably guess, this leads to a perpetual cycle of debt that it can be difficult to get out of.

If you’re on the lower end of the credit spectrum, you do still have some options if you’re in need of a loan.

Try peer-to-peer loans instead

Convincing a bank to give you money when you have a spotty credit history is a hard job. We’re no longer in the days of walking into the bank with nothing but your good reputation and walking out with a loan.

So, asking others for money can sometimes be a good alternative (although, some peer-to-peer loans do require fair credit).

You can try lenders like SoFi, Prosper, and Lending Club.

Treat: rewards credit cards

I’ll start by saying that rewards credit cards are, unfortunately, only treats for those with good and excellent credit. But don’t worry, those with less-than-stellar credit can still qualify for secured or prepaid credit cards.

Rewards credit cards come in a few different varieties, including:

Which category you choose, obviously depends on where you spend most. If you’re a frequent diner, a card that offers rewards for those purchases is the way to go. But, if you want a card that can help you take a free vacation, go with a travel rewards card. You get it.

Here are a couple of our favorites:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

In A Nutshell

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card sets the standard for travel rewards by offering an excellent 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases. And points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® – That means the killer 60,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $750 towards travel.

Read review
Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card sets the standard for travel rewards by offering an excellent 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases. And points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® – That means the killer 60,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $750 towards travel.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit. ?
  • Excellent
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • A monster of an up-front bonus; 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.

  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Intro APR Purchases
N/A
Intro Term Purchases
0 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers
N/A
Intro Term Balance Transfers
0 months
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95

Apply Now >>

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card should be your go-to credit card for travel rewards. It offers 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

If you redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, your points can be redeemed 1:1 for airline and hotel partners including:

  • British Airways.
  • Hyatt.
  • IHG.
  • Korean Air.
  • Marriott.
  • Singapore Airlines.
  • Southwest Airlines.
  • Ritz-Carlton.
  • United Airlines.
  • Virgin Atlantic.

See card details/apply or read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

Trick: credit cards with high APRs

While rewards credit cards can be used to actually make you money, credit cards with high APRs can be hard to manage. They’re typically reserved for people with lower credit scores, but any card can have a high APR, so pay attention.

Of course, having a high APR doesn’t matter if you regularly pay off your credit cards in full, which is exactly what we recommend. If you do have a high APR, that interest can add up quick and you could be stuck paying hundreds more than you originally spent.

If you’re looking to build your credit score, we recommend going with a secured credit card. Although many of them also have high APRs, they’re a great way to accumulate good standing with the credit bureaus so that you can qualify for the best terms in the future.

Treat: putting your money on autopilot with robo-advisors

If you’ve always wanted to invest, but don’t want to spend the time it takes to manage your portfolio, then a robo-advisor is your best friend.

A robo-advisor is a diversified investment account that is automatically managed by a computer algorithm. In other words, a computer determines how you invest based on your risk tolerance and investment goals.

Betterment

Betterment is our top choice for robo-advisors because it’s by far the easiest to use. Betterment will automatically invest your money into index funds, dividing your money between baskets of stocks and bonds based upon your risk tolerance.

You’ll also have access to Certified Financial Planners, Betterment’s retirement guide, and socially responsible investing (SRI).

Read our full Betterment review or open an account with Betterment.

Acorns

Acorns Logo - Acorns

If you’re a beginning investor, Acorns can help you invest with just $5. When you sign up, you’ll answer a few questions about your investing goals. Acorns then recommends one of five diversified portfolios.

All you have to do is tell Acorns where you’d like to invest and how much and then you’re on your way to becoming an investor.

Read our full Acorns review or open an account with Acorns.

Trick: real-estate closing scams

Real estate closings are hard enough to deal with, being the victim of a scam that results in the loss of most of your closing costs isn’t something you want to happen.

The scam works like this: Hackers contact the buyer right before their closing deadline and tell you to wire the money to a different bank account. Their e-mails look legitimate, but you should only do business with your realtor and other parties via the phone or in-person. Also, make sure any emails between you and the buyers/realtor/etc. is through an encrypted service.

Treat: high-yield checking and savings accounts

If you’re not saving money in a high-yield savings or checking account, you could be missing out on extra money. High-yield savings account typically generate 10 times as much interest as credit unions or more traditional banks. High-yield accounts tend to exist mostly online, with a few branches spread across the country.

Chime

Chime Logo - Chime

offers both checking and savings accounts. Their accounts offer:

  • No monthly fees
  • The ability to get your paycheck two days early
  • Automatic savings
  • Bill pay
  • The ability to block your card in the case of loss or theft
Chime Disclosure - *Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
(1)Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account.
^Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the round up from your Chime Checking Account to your savings account.

 

To learn more, read our full Chime review or open an account today.

Trick: student loan debt

Okay, so student loans aren’t really tricks, but, by not finding better ways to take out and pay off student loans, you’re doing yourself (and your wallet) a real disservice.

If you have multiple loans, your first step should be to refinance. Refinancing allows you to combine all your monthly student loan payments into one, low-interest payment.

SoFi and Earnest are two of our favorite places to refinance your loans.

Treat: free credit reports

In case you didn’t know, you can get a free credit report from each credit bureau once a year at annualcreditreport.com. But, if you want to check your credit more than once a year (which is a good idea), you can use a free credit service that will give you an idea of where you need to improve to raise your credit score.

Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame Logo - Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame is our go-to free credit score app/site. Credit Sesame provides free monthly updates to your TransUnion credit score and report, plus daily monitoring (with alerts) of changes to your TransUnion credit report.

Understand your credit score with Credit Sesame, or read our full Credit Sesame review.

Summary

This Halloween, don’t just gorge on candy, take advantages of the many treats that also exist in the personal finance world. And, be sure to avoid some tricks along the way.

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About the author

Total Articles: 105
Christopher Murray is a professional personal finance and sustainability writer who enjoys writing about everything from budgeting to unique investing options like SRI and cryptocurrency. He also focuses on how sustainability is the best savings tool around. You can find his work on sites like MoneyGeek, Money Under 30, Investor Junkie, MoneyCrashers, and Time. You can find out more about Christopher on his website or via LinkedIn.