As if the pandemic didn’t take enough from us, there are companies you are using right now that are totally taking advantage of you. Some in a really big way, and most you had absolutely no idea were pulling the wool over your eyes.
But you’re no sucker! Now that you know, you’re ready to fight back. Here are the worst companies that are practically stealing your money — and what you can do to save it.
1. Your Credit Card Company: Stop Paying Them
When you don’t pay off your credit card balance in full, you can be subjected to some insane interest rates. Like, almost 30% of your balance every month. What your credit card company is charging you should be criminal.
But unfortunately, it’s not, and you agreed to it when you signed up for your credit card. But you know better now! So — 1. Don’t ever overspend on your credit card and again and 2. Pay off the rest of your credit card debt immediately.
If you don’t have the cash on hand, a low-interest rate personal loan can help you do that (and save you money in the long run). We recommend using a website like AmOne.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
2. Your Car Insurance Company: Cancel It
Car insurance rates are some of the lowest they have ever been. And you probably wouldn’t know that unless you went looking for new insurance last year.
Which means your car insurance company has been letting you auto-pay every month without ever telling you that you could be paying them way less (and why would they?).
What you should be doing is shopping your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $540 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
3. Your Credit-Monitoring Service
Are you paying a company to watch your credit report? You might be, because you know how important a good credit score is to buy a car, take out a mortgage or even open up a business.
But if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — stop paying anyone to monitor it for you. You can get the same help from a free website, like Credit Sesame.
Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.*** “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said.
Getting your free credit score takes less than two minutes.
4. Your Investments: Get up to $200 in Free Stock
If you have investments, you likely have a broker — someone who manages your investments and offers advice. If you’ve worked with them for years, you might not even notice that you’re losing a little cut of your investments with each trade. These fees can be a percentage of each transaction or a flat fee. Either way, it’s a rip-off.
And if you feel like you don’t have enough money to start investing, and definitely couldn’t afford the fees, you’re not alone. But guess what? You really don’t need that much — and you can even get free stocks (worth up to $200!) if you know where to look.
Whether you’ve got $5, $100 or $800 to spare, you can start investing with Robinhood.
Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Robinhood. Both investing beginners and pros love it because it doesn’t charge commission fees, and you can buy and sell stocks for free — no limits. Plus, it’s super easy to use.
What’s best? When you download the app and fund your account (it takes no more than a few minutes), Robinhood drops a share of free stock into your account. It’s random, though, so that stock could be worth anywhere from $2.50 to $200 — a nice boost to help you build your investments.
5. Your Banking Account: See if You Can Get More Money
Yep. The place you trust to keep your money safe and growing is getting rich by ripping you off. First, with all those insane fees they charge. Then, by making tons of interest on your money — but only giving you .05% (on average).
So if you’re sick of getting ripped off, find an account that won’t charge you ridiculous fees and earn you way more interest on your savings — it is your money, after all.
A debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back every time you swipe the card and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account. Plus, you’ll never pay a monthly account maintenance fee.
To see how much you could earn, enter your email address here, link your bank account and add at least $10 to your account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
***Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.