Finding the Best No Win No Fee Compensation Lawyer

Why go through all the trouble of having to pursue a compensation claim on your own when you can hire the experts - with no up front costs to you. 

Whilst it’s true that it is possible to seek damages from the person who has caused your injuries without seeking professional help, like most legal experts, we would strongly advise against this. Apart from the fact that it’s exhausting and time consuming, it is highly likely that you will not achieve the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries, or the loss and damage you have sustained as a result of the accident, without expert legal representation.

When you have the opportunity to engage lawyers who are specialists in personal injury law on a No Win No Fee basis, you really do have "nothing to lose" as they say. This is because under the No Win No Fee service, you are not charged any money for the legal services provided to you during your claim, unless you receive compensation for your injuries. You do not have to pay anything until the very end of your claim when that compensation is paid to you.

For this reason, it is only logical that you hire a lawyer who specialises in personal injury claims and is an expert in all matters involving pursuing injury compensation. But with so many compensation and personal injury lawyers offering their services in Queensland, which of them should you hire?

When looking for a good personal injury lawyer - think experience, experience, experience

When it comes to hiring a good personal injury lawyer to assist you with your claim, always make sure that the person or law firm you choose has extensive experience in handling cases similar to yours. Experience can make a huge difference between getting a mediocre result and a great result, or in some instances, winning or losing your case. It can also help ensure that you get your money’s worth, rather than paying for mistakes or a learning curve.

So how do you make sure that the lawyer you hire is indeed experienced? During the initial consultation, here’s what you should do:

First, ask the law firm who will be in charge of your claim, or who will be doing your work on a daily basis.

Speak to that person, not to the most experienced partner or head of the law firm you have chosen.

Obtain the necessary information by asking the lawyer the right questions. You can start by asking how long they have been working on claims similar to yours, the results of those claims, the challenges they have faced and how they have overcome them.

After doing a quick background check, it’s time for you to assess the lawyer’s ability to manage your case. The next thing you need to do is determine how they intend to work on your claim. Ask them to explain if there are things or procedures you don’t understand.

Pay attention to how the lawyer responds to your questions. How did the lawyer sound? Did he or she answer with confidence and competence? Was the lawyer able to give you all the information you need? Finding the answers to these questions will give you an idea as to whether lawyer is indeed someone who is experienced, reliable and trustworthy.

Ideal years of experience

According to experts, a good personal injury lawyer is considered “experienced” if he or she has spent at least five to seven years handling compensation claims and other related matters. This should be enough to ensure that they will be reliable, competent and good at their jobs. It is even better if you find someone who has more years of experience.

Why a No Win No Fee Lawyer, or, more aptly, why not a No Win No Fee Lawyer?

Normally, hiring a lawyer, whether for a personal injury case or to recover the costs of repair to your motor vehicle damaged in an accident, costs money up front. This is usually a primary reason why injury victims, whether from a road accident, workplace accident, or a slip and fall incident, often don't even consider pursuing a compensation claim. They simply think that the legal assistance they will need to pursue such a claim is beyond their financial reach. In some cases, thinking that the services of a good lawyer can add to their current expenses, some people would rather try pursuing compensation claims on their own, which, as mentioned earlier, is a tough road to take and usually does not end with the best result. But with the No Win No Fee service, this is not a concern. 

When a lawyer offers his or her services on a no win, no fee basis, it basically means that the client won’t pay the lawyer anything if their claim is unsuccessful. In other words, if you suffer an injury through the fault of another person, there really is nothing to lose in bringing a claim for compensation using a No Win No Fee Lawyer, because if they don’t achieve any compensation for you, you do not have to pay them anything at all.

"There really is nothing to lose..."

More often than not, only the best and most experienced lawyers offer this kind of service, because if they didn't know their business, they wouldn't be able to keep their doors open. So when you engage injury lawyers who provide this service, your odds of succeeding and receiving the amount of compensation you deserve are usually much higher.

Another advantage of hiring such a lawyer is that it can help you better manage your finances when you are having financial difficulties whilst waiting for your claim to settle. No win no fee lawyers don’t ask their clients to pay up front, so you don’t have to scramble for funds if you want to enlist their assistance.

When hiring a no win, no fee lawyer, the following is a piece of advice you should definitely take on board - make sure that you look over their costs or client agreement carefully. There are lawyers who word their costs agreement differently and may not include certain things in their ‘no fee’ clause. If you don’t want to be saddled with unexpected expenses later on, you should read the fine print carefully and thoroughly. If there are clauses in the costs agreement you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek clarification. This is something that a good no win no fee lawyer expects from their client, so don’t think that you’ll be inconveniencing them by asking questions. No doubt they would be doing the same if they were in your shoes. If you are uncertain of what they are telling you, then call us at The Personal Injury Lawyers and we will be able to advise you as to what their Client Agreements are really saying.

Fortunately, The Personal Injury Lawyers, one of the best and foremost personal injury law firms in Queensland, with head offices in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast and visited offices throughout Queensland, offer their services on a no win no fee basis to all injured Queenslanders. 

The Personal Injury Lawyers, upfront and transparent

As for how we charge you, we like to be upfront and transparent with all our potential clients as to how they will be charged for work done at the end of their case, when compensation is received. Right from the start, we will provide you with a copy of our standard client agreement as well as our "Disclosure Notice", a further document explaining the client agreement in more detail and in simpler terms, to help you understand the way in which costs are charged at the conclusion of your claim.

Strict time limits apply

If you have suffered an injury, which you think has been caused by the wrongful or negligent act of another person, chat with us online or on your mobile, email or call us free and we'll be happy to help. Remember, STRICT TIME LIMITS APPLY to personal injury claims, so you need to contact us as soon as possible to ensure that you are not missing out on significant compensation. 

Get our accredited Lawyers to assess your claim for free. Contact us now

If you have been injured as a result of any vehicle such as car, bike or boat accident, or whilst at work, on holiday, or in many other situations you believe was caused by someone else's wrongful act or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Even if you think your actions may have contributed to your injury, you may still have a claim well-worth pursuing. Chat, call, email, or let us assess your claim, just press the button below. There is no cost, and no obligation.

10 College Degrees That Could Pay Off in 2017

Recent news about the rising costs of college has been nothing short of dark and dreary. By all accounts, the price tag of higher education has been skyrocketing — and student bank accounts simply cannot keep up.

Government data show that college costs for the 2011–12 academic year were approximately $14,300 at public institutions and $37,800 at private, nonprofit institutions — that’s a 28% to 40% increase since the 2001-2002 school year, even after adjusting for inflation.

It’s no wonder many students can’t afford college without borrowing for the privilege — and it shows. With a collective $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, millennials are now reportedly putting off marriage, home ownership, and starting a family, just so they can service their barely-manageable debt loads. Some students even claim that student loans are holding them back from achieving the American dream, and it’s easy to see why.

Is a College Degree Worth It?

With nothing but bad news about college costs and student loans in the media, it’s equally easy to see why some high school graduates might be tempted to skip college altogether. But, as most experts agree, that isn’t necessarily the answer.

A new paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that the ROI (return on investment) for a bachelor’s degree has hovered around the 14%-15% range since 2000, making it a sound investment choice in most cases. That’s because, according to the research, college graduates tend to earn about 75% more than high school graduates over the course of a lifetime — up to $1 million dollars more, in fact.

Choosing a Bachelor’s Degree That Pays Off

Of course, some degrees pay off more than others, and that might be the key to ensuring that any student loan debt you take on is worth it. Fortunately, finding the ROI for specific degrees is not as difficult as one might think. Data on employment, wages, and job growth is out there, but you typically have to dig for it yourself.

With that in mind, I researched many college degrees in the United States, as well as their potential outcomes in the job market. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor data on job growth and average annual earnings, I compiled this list of college degrees that are likely to pay off in 2015 and beyond:

No. 10: Civil Engineering

As the population grows and cities expand, more bridges, buildings, airports, and dams need to be built — not to mention the existing ones that need to be repaired or maintained. That’s where civil engineers come in.

Given our nation’s aging infrastructure and the many new projects expected to break ground across the country in the coming years, the BLS predicts that employment for civil engineers will increase 20% from 2012 to 2022. The annual mean wage for this profession was $80,770 in 2013, with the top 10% of earners making $126,190; even the bottom 10% still earned a respectable $51,810.

Industries paying the highest annual mean wages to civil engineers in 2013 were Oil and Gas Extraction ($118,790), Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services ($110,910), and Waste Treatment and Disposal ($101,750).

No. 9: Logistics

As the world economy grows, logisticians work tirelessly to find creative ways to move products seamlessly from production to the consumer. And since they work in nearly every industry, the employment opportunities in this field are only limited by the number of products that are produced and delivered in any given year.

Because of the overall demand, the BLS predicts that employment for logisticians will increase 22% from 2012 to 2022, or twice the average for all occupations combined. Students who earn a degree in this field will also be treated to healthy wages: The annual mean wage for logisticians was $73,400 in 2013, and the top 10% of earners made an average of $112,750.

Logisticians were paid the most in the District of Columbia ($99,850), Maryland ($86,400), and Virginia ($86,070).

No. 8: Health Care Administration

It’s no secret that the health care industry is booming, and any type of job within the industry is likely to be a good bet. However, certain health care careers are expected to grow a little faster than the rest, and one of those happens to be health care administration.

According to the BLS, employment for health care administrators, also known as medical and health services managers, is expected to increase 23% during the decade leading up to 2022, as the industry adds another 73,300 jobs. And with all the demand, salaries remain relatively high as well. The BLS reports that the annual mean wage for this career was $90,940 in May of 2013, with the top 10% of earners making $155,130.

In 2013, health care administrators earned the most in the District of Columbia ($123,120), California ($118,040), and New York ($118,020).

No. 7: Petroleum Engineering

Energy production is booming again in the U.S., and as we use up the earth’s limited supply of oil, petroleum engineers will come up with strategies to find the rest of the oil and bring it to the market. And since finding and extracting oil becomes a more complex process with each passing year, students who earn a degree in petroleum engineering will likely be rewarded for their expertise.

The BLS predicts the employment for petroleum engineers will grow by as much as 26% from 2012 to 2022. High demand for this career also leads to high wages. According to the BLS, the annual mean wage for petroleum engineers was $132,320 in 2013. Furthermore, the top ten percent of earners brought home a cool $186,520. The states with the highest annual mean wages for petroleum engineers were Alaska ($160,340), Texas ($159,340), and Kansas ($155,160).

No. 6: Actuarial Science

In the complicated field of insurance, actuaries use complex mathematical models to assess risk and determine the precise price that provides a value to the customer while ensuring a likely profit for the business. However, the math behind majoring in this discipline is decidedly less complex: Students who pursue a degree in actuarial science will likely find that their decision pays off.

That’s because, according to the BLS, employment for these professionals is expected to increase 26 percent from 2012 to 2022 as insurance companies grow and expand. And wages are high too; the annual mean wage for actuaries was $94,340 nationally in May of 2013. Furthermore, the top 10% of actuaries brought in an average wage of $176,190 that same year.

Industries paying actuaries the highest annual mean wage in 2013 were Legal Services ($240,500), Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services ($119,440), and the Federal Executive Branch ($116,210).

No. 5: Biomedical Engineering

The prevalence of technology in modern medicine means that professionals who understand both disciplines should be in high demand. Students who’ve earned a degree in biomedical engineering have found themselves graduating into a field with plenty of opportunity and historically high wages.

And that’s not expected to change any time soon. The BLS projects that employment for biomedical engineers will increase 27% in the decade leading up to 2022. Furthermore, annual mean wages averaged out to $88,670 in May of 2013, with the top 10% of earners making $143,000 and the bottom 10% still earning $54,100.

The three industries that paid biomedical engineers the most in 2013 were Specialized Design Services ($115,300), Offices of Physicians ($103,890), and Scientific Research and Development Services ($102,000).

No. 4: Financial Planning

We all have to deal with money, and that means there will always be a need for personal financial advisors. That’s why many students choose to pursue a degree in this field, and a high percentage of them choose to take things a step further by becoming a CFP, or Certified Financial Planner.

For many of them, this degree will pay off. The BLS reports the job openings for financial advisors could increase as much as 27% between 2012 and 2022. Annual mean wages are high too, with the average personal financial advisor making $75,320 in 2013.

Advisors in certain states earned even more. The states paying the highest annual mean wage for this profession in 2013 were Connecticut ($136,680), New York ($133,110), and Massachusetts ($130,400).

No. 3: Geography

You don’t typically hear about geography as a growing profession, mainly because there are so few people in this field to begin with. According to the BLS, only 1,700 geographers were employed in the U.S. in 2012.

However, students who earn a degree in geography could find themselves in high demand in the coming years. That’s because, according to the BLS, employment in this field is expected to increase 29% from 2012 to 2022. Wages are healthy too: Government data show the annual mean wage for geographers was $74,750 in 2013, with the top 10% of earners making well over $100,000.

The three industries that paid geographers the highest annual mean wage in 2013 were Scientific Research and Development Services ($90,210), Federal Executive Branch ($81,050), and Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services ($66,190).

No. 2: Marketing

New businesses come and go year-round, creating a constant stream of opportunities for marketing professionals who know how to create ad campaigns that effectively sell products and services.

Thanks to a growing economy, the BLS projects healthy employment for students who earn a degree in this field. Specifically, government data show that the number of jobs for market research analysts will increase 32% between 2012 and 2022, nearly three times as fast as the average for all occupations combined. Annual mean wages for market research analysts and marketing specialists were relatively high, too — $60,800 as of May 2013. However, the top 10% of earners brought home an average of $114,250.

The three industries paying market research analysts the highest annual mean wage in 2013 were Support Activities for Mining ($101,530), Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing ($98,320), and Motor Vehicle Manufacturing ($96,470).

No. 1: Computer Science

For years, computer programming has been heralded as the career of the future in our country, and around the world. And while the industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past two decades, that’s still very much the case. Fortunately, it’s not too late for students to get in on the ground floor of next-generation computer science and gain an in-depth understanding of computers, software, and coding.

Careers that require a computer science degree are expected to take off over the coming decade. For example, the BLS reports that employment for information security analysts is expected to increase 37% in the decade leading up to 2022. Furthermore, jobs for computer systems analysts are expected to increase 25% during the same time frame.

Wages aren’t too shabby, either. The BLS reports that the annual mean wage for information security analysts and computer systems analysts was $88,590 and $81,190, respectively, in 2013.

Don’t Make a ‘Major’ Mistake

With student loan debt at an all-time high, it’s important to choose a college degree that makes financial sense. After all, you’ll eventually have to pay back every dollar you borrow — plus interest.

This list is a good start, but it doesn’t include information on every college degree that is expected to be a good investment over the coming decade. If you’re interested in researching more careers with solid earning and growth potential, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics at BLS.gov and the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop for more information.

 

 

 

 

Best personal injury lawyer

What a Personal Injury lawyer can do for you

If you've been injured in an accident that wasn't your fault, a personal injury attorney can help you receive a fair settlement from the insurance company. Although it's possible to receive some compensation without legal representation, if you don't have a personal injury attorney there's an increased chance that the insurance company will try to take advantage of you and give you less than you deserve."

When should I hire a personal injury lawyer?

Personal injury attorneys typically focus on one type of personal injury claim, such as car accident injuries or medical malpractice. They also have experience in tort law, which involves civil litigation to recover financial damages in a settlement. The following are a few scenarios where you might consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you:

The insurance company refuses to pay for your injuries.

You've suffered a long-term or permanently disabling injury.

You've suffered a severe short-term injury that resulted in significant medical costs.

You suffered an injury or illness as a result of negligence by a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other health care provider. In this case you would hire a medical malpractice attorney.

You were exposed to a toxic substance as a result of negligent contamination of air, water, or food.

You've experienced psychological trauma or illness as a result of another's negligence.

You're being sued by someone claiming negligence on your part.

 

What does a personal injury lawyer do?

A personal injury lawyer provides legal representation to anyone involved in a personal injury claim, whether you’re being sued (defendant) or suing (plaintiff). A lawyer can:

Decide if it is in your best interest to pursue a lawsuit.

Make sure you receive the maximum damages possible for your case.

Negotiate your claim.

Tell you the best circumstances under which to accept a settlement.

Fill out forms, obtain records, and perform administrative work.

File motions on your behalf so you can receive information throughout the trial process.

Convey the seriousness of your claim to insurers, medical providers, and defendants.

 

Will your insurance company help with my personal injury case?

Your insurance company won’t provide you with a lawyer or give legal advice regarding your personal injury but they may cover parts of the medical bill if you have been injured. The two of you have very different goals. An insurance company's goal in an accident is to pay out as little as possible if you’re involved in a personal injury, and your goal is to get as much of your injury and damage costs covered. If you have a case which is specific to insurance, consider hiring an insurance lawyer instead.

How are personal injury lawyers paid?

Most personal injury lawyers take cases on contingency. This means that instead of charging a fee directly, the attorney takes a portion of the damages received from a successful case. That portion will usually be about 33% of the total settlement money.

However, the percentage a lawyer charges will often depend on how complex the case is. Lawyers will often require higher percentages as a case goes further through the court system. The final percentage may end up being as high as 60% in especially challenging cases.

In the event that you win your case, the settlement check is typically sent to your lawyer. Your lawyer will deduct their fee, and then send the remaining amount to you.

How much does a personal injury lawyer cost?

The cost of a personal injury lawyer depends on many factors, including your state and the kind of case you have. However, the biggest factor is how long it takes to resolve your case. There are 3 general stages at which a personal injury lawsuit can be resolved:

Settlement before a case goes to trial

Settlement during a trial

Settlement determined by trial

 

The further along in the process you go, the more likely it is that you’ll pay your lawyer more. This is because each stage in the process requires more work on the part of your lawyer. Do your part to read related articles, talk to your attorney, and learn about the different pricing options that exist. Remember that a local personal injury attorney may have a different price than what you see online.

Top 5 questions to ask a personal injury lawyer

Before you hire a personal injury attorney, you'll want to meet for an initial consultation. Many attorneys will offer this consultation for free, as the meeting helps them decide whether you have a viable case. Here are a few questions you'll want to ask during the consultation:

Have you handled cases like mine before, and what were the outcomes? Find out if your attorney has dealt with the type of accident or incident that caused your injury. For instance, an attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents may turn down your case if it should go to a trucking accidents attorney.

How long would I have to wait before I received a settlement or judgment? A personal injury lawyer should be able to give you a general estimate of how long the process will take.

Do you bill on a contingent fee basis? Find out how your attorney will charge you and when.

How many personal injury cases have you taken to trial? Ask whether your attorney and their law firm has practical litigation experience with personal injury claims and what the outcomes of those trials were.

Do you have past clients who would be willing to speak to me? Talking to past clients is the most reliable way to gauge an attorney's response to concerns or questions. While no one settlement can truly alleviate all discomfort for either party in a personal injury case, an attorney can help you reach the best outcome regardless of who is responsible.

 

Best Charities for Your Donations

For many people, the holiday season is the time of year for charitable giving. Donations can be given to charities that support the environment, protect children, feed the hungry, or help other worthy causes. Last year, nearly 18 percent of charitable giving occurred in December, according to a recent report by the Giving USA Foundation in partnership with the Growth in Giving Initiative. 

For many donors, though, the tricky part of making a donation is choosing the charity.

"You can't really base your decision to give to an organization on the name alone," says Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer of the charity watchdog BBB Wise Giving Alliance. "Unfortunately, there are some donors who do." 

But a charity's name doesn't always tell you where your donation will go. The Disabled Veterans National Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., has a name that suggests that most of the money it raises helps veterans. But according to its latest 990 Form (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax), of the $29 million it spent in its fiscal 2015 year, less than one-third was used for the group’s charitable programs. Most of the rest was used for fundraising. (Disabled Veterans National Foundation didn't respond to our request for comment.)

By comparison, the St. Louis-based charity The Mission Continues—a name that gives no clue that it helps veterans—spent nearly 90 percent of its total spending on its charitable program and just 7 percent on fundraising, according to the watchdog Charity Navigator.

A better way to choose a charity is to find one that really puts your money to work.

“You can get more bang for your buck by giving to an A-rated charity," says Daniel Borochoff, president and founder of watchdog group CharityWatch, referring to the grading system it uses. CharityWatch gave Disabled Veteran’s National Foundation a grade of F, and The Mission Continues earned an A.

Go to Consumer Reports' 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. Be sure to check our Daily Gift Guide, and sign up to get an e-newsletter with top picks, trusted product reviews, and the latest news from CR.

Check With a Watchdog

Before making a donation, it's a good idea to look up the charity you are considering at the websites of the charity watchdogs. The three big ones are CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Collectively, these groups evaluate thousands of nonprofit organizations based on how they collect and spend their money, how transparent they are to the public, and how well they’re governed.

Though each watchdog has its own system for assessing charities, they all use similar criteria. For example, CharityWatch says that for a group to have a satisfactory rating, at least 60 percent of its spending should go to the charity's programs. To garner its top rating, 75 percent of a group's expenses must be used for its programs, and its fundraising costs cannot exceed 25 percent of the money it raises.

Charity Navigator also examines how much of a charity's spending goes to programs, but the percentages vary depending on the causes they support.

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance requires charities to spend at least 65 percent of their total expenses on their charitable missions and no more than 35 percent of their contributions on fundraising activities—as well as meet about 20 other requirements—in order to be accredited. 

The watchdogs, though, report their findings differently. CharityWatch gives letter grades, Charity Navigator uses stars, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance reports which, if any, of its charitable standards a charity fails to meet, awarding accreditation only to those charities that comply with its request for information and meet all of its standards. Those that don’t send in requested information get the label “Did Not Disclose” on the BBB website.

What are your favorite charities?

Tell us in the comments section below.

Using the watchdog reports, we came up with a list of some of the highest- and lowest-rated charities in 11 categories. We looked for agreement among all three watchdogs; however, in some cases we included groups that were evaluated by just two. If a group did not disclose requested information to the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, we did not include it in our list of high-rated charities, although it may have been included on our list of low-rated charities.

Our goal was to come up with five highest- and lowest-rated charities in each category, but that wasn’t always possible. Though environmental charities generally do well with all of the watchdogs, for example, it was impossible to find highly rated national police and fire charities.

Keep in mind that our table below is a partial list of high- and low-rated charities in only some categories. You can find more by going to the watchdogs’ websites directly. CharityWatch is the only watchdog of the three that requires visitors to make a donation for full access to its reports, although it provides a list of its top-rated charities and other useful information free of charge.

High-Rated and Low-Rated Charities

Tips for Giving

• Verify tax-exempt status. If you're not sure whether donations to a particular charity are tax-deductible (don't assume they are), confirm a group's tax-exempt status by checking with the group or by going to the IRS website.

• Give directly. If you're contacted by a professional fundraiser for a charity you want to support, hang up and give directly instead. “The fundraiser might be keeping 75 to 90 percent of the money,” says Borochoff of CharityWatch. Sometimes, he says, charities may end up paying fundraisers more than they take in, leaving the group with a loss.

• Request privacy. If you don't want to be bothered by endless fundraising appeals, tell groups you support that you don't want your name and contact information sold, exchanged, or rented to other groups or for-profit companies, a common practice among some charities. You also can ask the groups not to send you further appeal letters, email, or phone solicitations. Check the charity's privacy policy before giving.

• Be on guard for sound-alikes. Some low-rated charities have names that resemble those of high-rated ones. For example, there's the low-rated Kidney & Urology Foundation of America of Freehold, N.J., and the high-rated American Kidney Fund in Rockville, Md. "In some cases, sound-alike charities are there with the intent to deceive donors into thinking they are donating to somebody else," says Weiner of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. In other instances, groups have similar names because they're focusing on the same causes.

• Consider donating to the charity watchdogs. They're charities, too.

Best Credit Cards of 2017

From rewards cards to cash back, travel, and balance transfers, there are a ton of credit card options to choose from. To find the best fit, you’ll need to take a look at your spending habits and financial goals. Does your spending fall in certain categories, like travel, groceries, or restaurants? Do you need 0% APR for a large purchase or balance transfer? Or is earning free travel your #1 priority?

The best credit cards offer some combination of low interest rates, high-rate rewards, large signup bonuses, and other perks. The card that works well for one person or household won’t necessarily work for another. But a select number cards are versatile enough to make our list of the best credit cards of 2017. These cards offer a combination of features that align well with common spending patterns and goals.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is our top pick for most people. That’s because it offers high-rate rewards on travel and dining at restaurants — plus access to one of the largest, most flexible rewards programs out there. Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer 1:1 to many frequent travel programs, so you can use them how you like, with few restrictions. And speaking of travel, this card offers a huge signup bonus worth $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®!

Not sure the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is right for you? Whatever type of card you’re looking for, we’re out to make finding it quick and simple. Check out our shortlist of the best cards across categories. If you find one you like, applying online is quick and easy.

Best Travel Credit Card

Special offer: earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.

For best-in-class travel rewards and super-flexible redemption, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It’s The Simple Dollar’s best travel credit card of 2017 for many reasons. First off, there’s the huge signup bonus, worth $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That’ll go a long way toward your next vacation!

The rewards you’ll earn with this card are extremely flexible. You’ll earn 2X points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants (and 1X points on other purchases) — and you’ll have plenty of options when it’s time to redeem them. In addition to travel, you can choose to redeem points for statement credits, gift cards, and eDeposit to your bank. Plus, points transfer 1:1 to popular travel loyalty programs like Marriott Rewards® and United MileagePlus®. For the best value, we recommend redeeming points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® for a 25% redemption bonus.

In addition to its stellar rewards program, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers an impressive array of premium travel benefits. These include Trip Delay Reimbursement, a $100 Airline Fee Credit, Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, and more. All are included, just for being a cardmember — and any one of them could make a big difference on your next trip!

Best for Everyday Cash Back

Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express Highlights

$100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

No annual fee.

3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).

2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.

Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 13.74% to 24.74%.

Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.

Terms Apply.

See Rates & Fees

 

 

 

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a popular option for hassle-free cash back. With this card, you’ll earn high-rate cash back at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, plus a flat 1% on all other purchases. This type of rewards structure is more convenient than cash back programs with rotating categories, which require quarterly enrollment and category tracking to make the most of your rewards.

The rewards categories line up with common expenses in the average household budget. For example, a “moderate-cost meal plan” costs $800/month for a family of four (as of March 2017). With the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, such a family would earn $216 per year on groceries alone — not bad for a card with no annual fee! We recommend this card for the frugal spender who doesn’t travel frequently or spend significantly at restaurants. Use it at the grocery store and at the pump to earn effortless, high-rate rewards.

Best for Balance Transfers

Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Highlights

Card Highlights Provided by Discover: You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.

100% U.S. based customer service.

Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.

No annual fee.

Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

 

 

 

Transferring a balance from a high-APR card to a card with 0% intro APR can mean big savings over time — and help you pay off your balance faster. If your financial goals include a balance transfer, we recommend the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer, our top balance transfer credit card of 2017. With 5% cash back in rotating categories (and 1% on other purchases), it offers unusually high-rate cash back for a balance transfer card. That’s ideal for earning rewards while you’re paying off existing debt.

This card is also one of few balance transfer cards that offers a first-year rewards bonus. At the end of your first year, Discover will match any cash back you’ve earned dollar-for-dollar, automatically. That means any rewards you earn in your first year will effectively double. And with Discover, cash back is redeemable as a statement credit, eDeposit, charitable donation, or Amazon.com purchase for lots of flexibility. (Pro tip: redeem your rewards for a statement credit to pay down what you owe even faster!)

Striving to raise your credit score? Paying off your transferred balance will help. Meanwhile, be sure to take advantage of credit monitoring tools through your Discover account. With the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer, cardmembers get access to free FICO® Credit Scores on their monthly statements and online.

Best Hotel Credit Card

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Highlights

Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.

No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.

Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Terms Apply.

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The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a popular choice for business and leisure travelers alike. (It’s also our top hotel credit card of 2017.) It offers up to 5X points per dollar on eligible purchases at SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels — so if you travel frequently and often stay at a Marriott property, your Starpoints® will add up quickly.

Among hotel-specific credit cards, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express boasts an unusually flexible rewards program. Of course, you can redeem your Starpoints® at 1,300+ hotels and resorts worldwide — but you can also redeem Starpoints® for flights on 150+ airlines via SPG Flights. Points are also transferrable to partner airlines. This flexibility will allow you to shop the sales with your favorite airlines to make the most of your points.

Better yet, if you’re also a Delta SkyMiles member, take advantage of the Crossover Rewards™ to earn both SkyMiles and Starpoints® faster. The program allows members of both programs to earn Skymiles for eligible Starwood stays — and Starpoints® on eligible Delta flights. Join both loyalty programs to make the most of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

Related: The Simple Dollar’s Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express review

First-Year Rewards Matching

Discover it® Cashback Match™ Highlights

Card Highlights Provided by Discover: You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.

100% U.S. based customer service.

Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.

No annual fee.

Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

 

 

 

The Discover it® Cashback Match™ offers many of the same benefits as the Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer we mentioned before, with one key difference. While the balance transfer offer gives you extra-long 0% intro APR for balance transfers, the Discover it® Cashback Match™ offers extended 0% intro APR for purchases. This card is a good choice for 1) earning high-rate (5%!) cash back in rotating categories and 2) scoring 0% intro APR for a large purchase. If you’re planning to purchase a big-ticket item, do so soon after opening your account — and pay off your balance in the first 14 months to avoid interest payments.

Discover’s 5% cash back categories change every three months. You’ll need to sign up each time the category changes over to earn the 5%. We recommend marking your calendar to ensure you don’t miss out on potential rewards! Maximize your spending in the 5% categories to make the most of your Cashback Match™ at the end of your first year.

Best Cash Back Redemption Bonus

Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard® Highlights

Get a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase

Every time you redeem, get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption

Redeem your cash rewards for a deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account, a statement credit or gift cards. Redemptions start at $50

Cash rewards do not expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing

Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 15.74%, 20.74% or 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness

Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers

No annual fee

 

 

 

The Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard® is a solid cash back card with a twist. Its rewards structure is very straightforward: earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no rotating categories or enrollment required. The kicker is, you’ll get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus toward your next redemption each time you redeem your cash back. Redemption options include eDeposit, statement credit, and gift cards.

Is there a large purchase in your near future? The Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard® offers 15 months of 0% intro APR on purchases. Make them on this card (and pay them off during the intro APR period) to earn cash back and skip the interest payments, too.

Related: The Simple Dollar’s Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®

Best Airline Credit Card

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express Highlights

Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.

Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.

Settle in sooner with Priority Boarding.

Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Terms and Conditions apply.

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Last but not least, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is a favorite among airline credit cards. While we recommend a more general travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for most people, this airline offering from American Express definitely has its advantages if you travel frequently, like 2X points per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta. (Points are redeemable with Delta and 15+ travel partners.) Other perks include a free checked back on every Delta flight and free Priority Boarding.

But it gets better thanks to a little program called Crossover Rewards™. Via Crossover Rewards™, you can take advantage of a partnership between the Delta SkyMiles and Starwood Preferred Guest® programs to earn rewards for both even faster. Register to earn Delta miles on eligible Starwood stays and Starpoints® on eligible flights with Delta.

How Should I Choose the Right Credit Card?

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the clear winner for my family, that doesn’t mean it’s the best card for yours. In reality, the best card for your needs depends on your spending style and personal credit goals. Below are a few scenarios to help you narrow down the right card for you.

“I want free travel and perks.”

Travel credit cards are notorious for their amazing perks and travel-related benefits. Not only can you earn points or miles good for free travel, but also many travel credit cards let you earn special status with a hotel or airline, and also let you transfer your points to numerous hotel and airline loyalty programs.

What to look for: If travel is your number one goal, you’ll want a credit card that earns at least 2x points on travel and has tons of flexibility, including allowing you to transfer points to hotel and airline loyalty programs. Also, many of the best travel credit cards offer additional travel benefits like trip cancellation coverage, primary and secondary auto rental coverage, and emergency travel assistance.

Beware: Most travel cards have annual fees, which are well worth the price if you earn enough points each year to justify the fee. You will also need excellent credit for most top travel cards.

“I’m looking for the best sign-up bonus right now.”

While it’s smart to think about the ongoing rewards you can earn, scoring a huge sign-up bonus doesn’t hurt, either. Fortunately, a ton of credit cards offer huge bonuses to people who are able to meet a minimum spending requirement within the first few months. While these sign-up bonuses can come in the form of cash back, you can also earn gift cards, airline miles, free hotel stays, and hotel points as well.

What to look for: Credit card sign-up bonuses are often cyclical with a peak season generally in the summer months, although some top travel cards offer healthy bonuses all year round. Sign-up bonuses are highest on rewards cards and travel cards, but make sure the one-time bonus is worth it. Often the largest point bonuses are on hotel cards, which offer little long-term value unless you travel frequently or only stay at one hotel chain. If you only travel one to two times per year, you will probably not earn enough points to justify the annual fee.

Beware: Since most cards with big bonuses come with a minimum spending requirement, you’ll need to make sure you can hit that requirement without hurting your finances. Also, make sure the “bonus” you earn is something you can actually use. For example, a sign-up bonus made up of airline miles will only be useful if you plan to travel and can actually fly that airline.

“I want to earn cash back on my spending.”

Cash back credit cards let you earn cash back, statement credits, or gift cards for every purchase you make. The best credit cards allow you to accumulate two or more points per dollar or more. Cash back cards are great second credit cards to own and work best when paired with a more general 2x points per purchase rewards card. And since many cash back credit cards are also considered “beginner credit cards,” they offer a great opportunity to build credit while you earn rewards.

What to look for: A cash back card is ideal when used as either your first credit card, or a complement to a higher-earning rewards card. Use cash back cards to maximize rewards on groceries, gas, and other categories where your rewards card might not earn bonus points. I use the Blue Cash Preferred Card® by American Express to earn 6% back on groceries at U.S. supermarkets for my family — up to $6,000 per year, for example. You also, generally do not need excellent credit like with a rewards card, but this can vary by issuer.

Beware: Cash back cards often rotate their bonus categories on a quarterly schedule. This means that you might earn 5% back on gas for the first three months of the year, and then groceries in the second quarter. Also, despite the allure of high earnings, cash back cards often cap the points you can earn in a given quarter.

“I need to reduce my interest rate.”

One way to avoid high-interest credit card payments is to transfer your balance to a new credit card. When you do this, make sure it’s a credit card that will either accept your balance without charging a fee or offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for over a year. This gives you time to pay off your large balance.

What to look for: If you’re carrying credit card debt at a high interest rate, look for a card with a low interest rate or 0% introductory APR for anywhere between 12 to 21 months. Depending on how much you owe and your current rate, the interest you save could add up quick. And when you’re not paying huge interest payments every month, you may be able to get out of debt faster.

Beware: Most 0% introductory APR cards carry a fee for transferring your balance to the new card. This fee is usually between 3% and 5% of your total balance. The Chase Slate® card waives this fee if the balance is transferred within 60 days from a non-Chase credit card.

“I need to build credit.”

Building credit is an important step in your financial journey, and using a credit card responsibly is the quickest way to build credit. However, when you do not have credit history, it can be difficult to obtain a card. There are two types of credit cards for building credit: unsecured and secured. Most credit cards are unsecured and do not require a cash deposit to use. A secured credit card is needed in more extreme circumstances where you need to “secure” your line of credit by depositing a cash amount equal to what you want to borrow.

What to look for: If your goal is building credit, rewards should take a back seat for the time being. Instead of looking for the top rewards credit cards, you should home in on cards geared to people with poor or evolving credit. If you can, you’ll want to get an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require a deposit.

Beware: You might have to apply for a secured credit card if your credit score is extremely low or if your credit history is limited. With a secured credit card, you would need to deposit $200-$500 with the credit card company in order to receive a $200-$500 line of credit. This sounds like a big barrier, but with a few months of on-time payments, you can reasonably expect to have the deposit requirement lifted.

Read our reviews for Best Credit Cards for Average Credit, Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit, and Best Student Credit Cards to find one that’s right for you.

“I don’t know what I need.”

If you’re still unsure which type of card would benefit you the most, browsing them all can help you compare and contrast. Take a look at our credit card database below.

 

Additional Credit Card Research

If you’re looking for any easy way to compare cards, check out our search tool below:

 

 

 

 

How to Make The Right Credit Card Work For You

When used correctly, credit cards are powerful tools to help manage cash flow, and “earn” on your everyday spending. However, used improperly, credit cards can wreak havoc on your finances. Below are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your credit card.

Research your rewards program

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people complain about having trouble redeeming airline miles. The thing is, with a bit of research ahead of time, they would already know that airline miles are incredibly difficult to redeem, especially during peak travel times and within a few months of departure. This is where it pays to educate yourself. If you plan to sign up for a card that is tied to a specific program, such as an airline or hotel chain, you should first have an idea of what you would want to redeem your points for — and if it’s even possible. If you don’t want to be tied down to a specific rewards currency, you can also opt for a cash back card or one that offers flexible rewards. One good option is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Multiple Cards

A huge misconception in the world of credit cards is that it is bad for your credit to have more than one or two cards. Because a large percentage of your credit score is based on your balance-to-limit ratio, having a large credit limit spread over several cards and a zero balance can actually be better for your credit score than just having a few cards. Meanwhile, carrying more than one card can also help you leverage the different benefits and perks that different types of rewards cards have to offer. For example, you could get a hotel card for free hotel stays and a cash-back card to help you pay for the gas to get to your destination.

Always treat your credit card like cash

In order to maximize rewards without getting in trouble, you need to treat your credit card like cash. This means only spending amounts you have incoming each month and not a penny more. The quickest way to enter the credit card downward spiral is to use a credit card to make a large purchase you cannot afford. If you don’t have the cash to pay for something, don’t use credit as an excuse to justify the purchase. Only charge what you can afford to pay off each month — period.

Cash In on Hidden Benefits

Although the best credit cards offer a slew of obvious benefits including cash back and travel rewards, many offer a handful of hidden perks that aren’t always advertised. You might have to dig deeper to find them, but these “extras” can truly come in handy. If used correctly, they can even help you save money, travel safer, and protect yourself from undue risk. Here are a few credit card benefits not everyone knows about, and some information on how each one works:

Benefit #1: Zero Liability

Although consumer liability for fraudulent purchases made on credit is limited to $50, the best cards take that protection a step further and offer zero liability for transactions you didn’t make. If your card is lost or stolen, or if a random charge appears on your bill, you won’t be liable if you report it immediately.

Benefit #2: No Foreign Transaction Fees

Many of the best credit cards on the market charge a foreign transaction fee equal to 3% of your purchase for charges made overseas. However, some waive this fee altogether — a feature that can help you save when you travel out of the country.

Benefit #3: Rental Car Coverage

If you rent cars frequently, you have probably already checked to make sure your personal auto policy provides this type of coverage. However, it’s also important to check with your credit card as well. While some cards only offer a secondary Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), others offer expensive primary auto rental coverage as a free perk to cardholders.

Benefit #4: A Free FICO Score

Although you can pay to get your FICO score at any time, several of the top rewards cards offer a free FICO score on your monthly statement or bill. This can save you the expense of paying to see your credit score, while also helping you monitor fluctuations in your score over time.

Benefit #5: Emergency Travel Assistance

If you find yourself in a bind, it is possible your card issuer could help. That’s because many of the best rewards cards offer emergency travel assistance for individuals traveling at least 100 miles from home. Perks include helping find lost luggage to booking alternative travel plans.

Benefit #6: Free Travel Insurance

Although benefits vary, several of the top rewards cards offer trip delay or trip cancellation insurance that will reimburse you if your itinerary is changed due to issues beyond your control. This type of insurance is most often used when a trip is canceled due to the unexpected death of a family member, an accident occurs, or a natural disaster puts travel plans on the back burner.

Benefit #7: Extended Warranties

Many of the top cards offer extended warranties that kick in if something goes wrong outside of a qualified item’s traditional one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Depending on the circumstances, this type of coverage usually reimburses you or sends you a replacement.

Benefit #8: Price Protection

Some cards offer price protection, which will pay you the difference on a large-ticket item if it goes on sale shortly after you purchase it. The most popular program is Citi’s Price Rewind. With Citi’s service, you will be automatically reimbursed for the price difference if any large item you buy and register is found at a lower price within 60 days.

Benefit #9: Roadside Assistance

If you have a credit card that offers roadside assistance and you experience a breakdown, all you need to do is call the number on the back of your card. You’ll be charged a flat fee depending on what type of service you require, but at least you won’t be left at the mercy of your local tow truck company.

Benefit #10 Access to Cash

While not common, some credit cards give you access to cash at the register similar to your debit card. For example, with Discover’s Cash Over program, you can request cash back at the register and avoid a trip to the ATM — and without paying any fees. This benefit is only available at participating stores.


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