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How Smart Borrowers Will Leverage Credit Cards in 2020

man with empty walletTechnology continues its forward charge and no aspect of our lives is left untouched. Even credit cards are changing based on advances in coding, competition and rewards. When you know the innovations unfolding in 2019 from the best credit card issuers, you can hold out for the best perks, the most iron-clad safety and the best in customer service.

First, understand that that Gen Z, the generation born between 1995 and 2015 uses Google, Amazon and the social networks like the rest of us use laptops and texting. Gen Z will be 40% of of all US consumers by 2020, so credit card issuers will be catering to them as well as the Millennials. That means the rest of us must push ourselves to understand the newest bells and whistles that come with new credit cards. Most of all Gen Z wants highly personalized credit card experiences . . . a good thing, as card issuers will deliver more relevant offers to each of us as the years go by. Keep in mind, too, that GenZers use mobile banking apps more than desktop or tablet access. That could mean that card issuers will spend more money on their apps than on their desktop/laptop interfaces. Getting proficient with every issuer’s mobile app will ensure you get all the convenience available.

Mobile Payments Will Continue to Evolve

Up to now, consumers have dealt with clunky mobile credit card payment options. With advancing APIs and open banking, card issuers will begin to offer more valuable, customer-centric payment experiences. These will include immediate rewards, card balance alerts coming to smartphones and more, as issuers work to bring true value beyond simple credit card transactions.

Better Rewards

American consumers have embraced rewards cards. It’s no wonder. In 2018, they got a total of $15 billion in rewards value through airline miles, cash back and other perks. While the rewards enticements are raising marketing costs for card issuers, they must continue them to keep up with the competition. In fact, these marketing costs have doubled from 2008 to 2016. Still, they’re all the better for the consumer, who consistently demand more rewards. If a rewards program isn’t robust enough, consumers don’t hesitate to switch.

Another rewards-related development is real-time rewards delivery. While today rewards get redeemed after a month or so, experts predict they could come through with every purchase soon. Look for that advantage as you review your options in the coming year!

Credit Cards Getting Even Safer

Chipped cards did help with credit card safety, but even more safety measures are coming down the pike. “Tokenization” is a system that creates a unique code for each customer and purchase on each website. If this code is stolen, it won’t work for any other transaction. Listen for the term, tokenization as credit cards advertise to you via the internet and live streaming.

Cards used everywhere

Babyboomers remember when only department stores accepted credit cards. Now Etsy vendors, salsa makers at the Farmer’s Markets and ecommerce stores ALL accept credit cards. This trend will grow to include service providers as well. This means, soon, you won’t have to stop for cash to go to the resale shops or roadside stands. PayPal, Venmo, Stripe and Square will enable even the smallest businesses to accept payments. Universal acceptance is on its way!

Be alert to these changes and demand them from the credit card issuers you are considering. In the customer-centric era, they will be competing with each other to give you the lowest rates and the best rewards.

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What personal loan amount can I get?

Happy merchant avoiding EMV chargebacksIn general, personal loan amounts range from $2,000 to $50,000.  Borrowers with credit scores over 680, low debt utilization and robust income win amounts toward $50,000. Those not hitting those marks tend to get less. What are the criteria for determining personal loan amount?

It’s certainly not what you need, no matter how much you need it. Your wedding expenses bill of $30,000 or your remodel estimate of $50,000 doesn’t win you that amount automatically. The amount you can borrow with a personal loan depends on your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio and the purpose for the debt. Lenders evaluate how much you’re most likely to pay off, not what you need. Of course, those with higher credit scores will get better rates, but even those with fair, poor and bad credit can qualify for personal loans should their DTI and borrowing purpose warrant it.

Since 2012, lenders have been assertive about asking the purpose of the loan. Unlike with a quick cash advance, lenders are more generous when the purpose may strengthen the borrower’s financial health. A remodel or debt consolidation put a twinkle in lenders’ eyes.  Lenders actually consider some purposes frivolous these days. They’ve been known to turn down vacations, hot tubs, and other non-essentials, particularly if DTI is high. In the end, however, most consider the purpose of the personal loan an “influencing” factor rather than a primary one.

The debt-to-income ratio measures the amount going to debt service every month compared to the income coming in. A good debt-to-income ratio is 35 percent or below. At just eight points higher—43 percent—most lenders will not approve a borrower for a loan. Debt includes personal loans, student loans, car loans, mortgages and credit card bills. Your cable bill, rent, and car insurance do not figure into this debt calculation. Calculate your debt to income ratio and know your credit score so you can understand whether your loan amount offers are the best you can get.

A+ Rated First Financial Specializes in Low-Credit-Score Personal Loans

You may be surprised to learn that different lenders like to specialize in niche loans and borrowers. Some go for very short-term loans with high amounts. Others want to write only loans for borrowers with excellent credit. They create loan “products” that work well for the needs of that audience and don’t want to spend the time and money finding clients in other niches.

Rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau, First Financial has developed a specialty in serving those with fair, poor and bad credit scores—also known as “subprime” borrowers. We get you the money you need, all in the comfort of your home. You will know whether you qualify in five minutes or less with NO IMPACT to your credit. Apply today!

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How to Get a Personal Loan for a Remodel

 

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

-Jane Austen

a man nailing a board in a home remodel

Home has a magical place in Americans’ hearts, and lenders know it.

Because much of the U.S. economy is built on home ownership, the federal government encourages banks to lend to homeowners looking to remodel. If you want to get a personal loan for a home remodel, rest assured, many lenders will be happy to help. Interest rates on personal loans range from as low as 3.49% to as high as 36%. On average, they run from 10% to 32%.  Those going for a 32% loan typically plan to remodel the house, sell it fast and repay the loan as quickly as possible.

Today’s remodeler can get more money than ever (even with bad credit), but finding the right deal has gotten challenging. Use these guidelines to get clear on your needs and limitations before evaluating different lenders. Your first step is understanding how much you will need.

A Shortcut to Your Estimated Remodel Costs

HomeAdvisor.com provides estimates of how much your remodel will (or should) cost. It gives you the high, low and average prices. You can even fill in your zip code to get the most accurate figures. Lenders will ask for an estimate and accounting of your costs. They will also want a bid from a contractor that specifies labor, materials and other costs.

Create a spreadsheet or list of all the new features you’re looking for. In our kitchen example, a new stove can run anywhere from $400 to $5,000 for a premium gas range. In the bathroom, color-bathing with LED lights is the new rage. Get on board with your spouse or anyone else determining what will go into your remodel. Create a spreadsheet or list of all elements and their prices using a checklist from the internet that focuses on your specific room. Baseboards may be boring, but they cost money and that should be figured in (plus they make a room look really finished!)

Some costs homeowners tend to forget include:

  • Permits
  • Equipment rental
  • Clean-up and hauling charges

Going to a contractor with a spreadsheet of remodel elements sends the message that you know prices. When he or she then estimates labor, you can check those figures against. Labor typically runs 30 to 35% of the entire remodel. Once you get all potential charges, add 20% to 30% because, as contractors often say, “there’s always a wrinkle in the rug.” Unexpected issues will arise.

Elements that Figure Into Your Loan Amount and Terms

Lenders consider two elements when evaluating how much of a personal loan you can get for a remodel: your credit history and your income

To prepare for lenders’ offers (several is better than one), use CreditKarma or another service to uncover your credit score. The highest loan amounts and best interest rates go to those with good or excellent credit (no late payments in the last year and credit utilization (LINK to other blog post) 50% or lower). Still, as mentioned above, lenders like home remodeling loans because the federal government likes them. Therefore, even those with fair credit can get a personal loan for a remodel. You’ll just pay more in interest and possibly get a smaller amount.

To lower their risk, lenders evaluate your ability to make your monthly payments by examining how many other debts you currently have. They add up your monthly credit card, auto and student loan payments and then divide that figure by your monthly gross income. Many banks see a debt-to-income ratio or DTI of 35% as manageable. They recognize that you have some spending money left after paying your bills. They want this extra spending money to come to them, and will be eager to provide a personal loan.

A DTI of between 36% and 49% doesn’t mean you won’t get a loan. Lenders may want you to have a cosigner. Make these calculations before you apply for a personal loan so you can be prepared to select the right loan with the best terms.

Ready to Apply

The last piece of information you need when choosing a personal loan is the interest rate and fees the bank will charge. Lenders do NOT do a “hard pull” or serious credit inquiry when evaluating personal loan applicants. Instead they run a “pre-approval” or “pre-qualification” check.  This means you can review several offers before making a decision without any impact to your credit score. Once you select your lender, they make the hard pull ONCE.

A+ Rated First Financial Has Personal Loans for All Credit Scores!

Don’t let important home remodels go. A leaking roof can cause damage that multiplies your costs. First Financial has helped arrange tens of thousands of low-cost personal loans for home remodels. We have MORE loans for MORE applicants because working 100% online helps us reduce costs. Apply today!

 

Successful Marketing Tactics for the Web Design Company

web design presentation

Web designers with a niche can command higher fees. 

 While the growing demand for web design is something to celebrate, it also brings new designers to the market, making competition fierce. The freelance web designer needs to be an able marketer, coder and creative artist to earn a living.

Conquer the marketing aspect of running your own web design company by reading these tried-and-true tactics. 

  1. Get a Niche

Today, the business website is critical not only to bring in new customers, but to establish credibility.

Capturing the true size of the market only starts with every business having a mobile-friendly website. Anymore, businesses are putting up separate websites for events they put on, books they write and communities they establish. Further, every entrepreneur starts one business only to spin off two or three others. As we discussed in our post, Web Design Outlook for 2016 and Beyond, demand for the average American job will increase by 7% until the year 2024, but the American economy will call for 27% more web developers and designers.

Long story short: there’s enough business to go around. Designers with niches (restaurants, finance, healthcare, retail, etc.) can begin to build deep expertise. They learn characteristics not only of their clients, but their client’s target audiences and referral partners. Further, they learn the legal limitations and opportunities for everything they can say on the website. When a web designer can convince a prospect they learned from the successes and failures of past attempts, they gain credibility . . . and more money. Most businesses would prefer to pay a little more to get the job done right the first time.

 

  1. Network in the Niche

Everybody knows how to network through their Chambers of Commerce where they meet people in all industries. Finding niche networks helps the web designer hear all of the participants’ pain points, complaints, opportunities and successes. This information eventually becomes very valuable, as the informed web designer can explain the prospect’s issues before he or she even has a chance. Networking events also gives you opportunity to meet new talented people, create connections with them and eventually find potential customers.

Putting on a presentation or attending a meet-up in your niche also gives you the opportunity to connect on a personal, face-to-face basis. Even volunteering your skills for an organization showcases your talents to your selected niche.

web designer with client

 

  1. Set up a Good Looking Portfolio

This is the best way to show off all your skills and experience on web designing. This lures customers and make them interested in your capabilities. You can attached this to your own website or any owned social media accounts.

You can go general in your portfolio. Do not just limit your portfolio to skills and experience related to web designing. You can go general and make people see your other talents. They might serve as an additional asset so keep your portfolio versatile.

  1. Make Valuable Partnerships

You can collaborate with field related businesses like web hosting companies or web developers. In this way, you are actually operationally putting your skills to the test. You can also offer more to your clients with the additional features and services from your partner companies, an advantage in keeping up over other competing web designers.

  1. Making it Personal

If you want to make your customers happy, you need to make them feel that you genuinely care for them and can provide them quality service and output with personal intentions even after you are done making your work and have been already paid. There are customers that need to be wooed and need to be given nice gestures, compliments to win them. Gifts and like chocolates and cupcakes, as well as holiday greetings or anything that reflect you as devoted and friendly can win them over. This also includes your way of advertising your service. Try to be a bit provoking and trendy that can catch someone’s attention.

 

These are the 5 most helpful tips in marketing planning for web designers like you to be successful in the industry. Remember that you have to be versatile to new strategies and techniques so that you keep up with the new trends and demands. Attract customers, make them happy, and you will be successful. When you go to collect credit card payments, remember to apply at A+ Rated First Financial, where high-risk businesses like web designers get the best merchant accounts.

 

3 Profitable Firearm and Ammunitions Businesses to Start in 2017

gun shop owner with guns and ammo

Some gun shop owners make six figures each year! 

 Despite potential legislation limiting gun availability, America’s gun enthusiasts will never let legislators overturn the Second Amendment.

In fact, in 2013 American companies alone produced 11 million guns and sold all but 440,000 right here in the 50 states. Americans and U.S. companies imported an additional 5.5 million.[1]

Gun ownership’s bright strand in the fabric of American identity promises a stable future for firearms and ammunitions companies.

The following are the three most related businesses you can actually start as being in the firearms and ammunitions industry:

  1. Firearm Training Instructor

Start Up Costs:            $2,000 – $5,000

Typical Salary:                         $50, 000

 

Gun lovers with excellent shooting skills, patience and an affinity for social interaction can consider training others on the proper use of guns. The numbers of gun owners are only growing and these new clients need someone to help guide them in their new hobby. With many Americans now taking self-defense with firearms classes, demands for firearm training instructors have tripled in just the last few years. What a good way to start being paid for something you love!

Those interested in becoming firearm instructors need to explore state regulations. Having a Department of Justice certification will go far in credibility for your career. Some states only require a reasonable apprenticeship and passing of the Firearms Safety Test.

Once licensed, market yourself and your services is by networking at shooting ranges and gun clubs and seminars. You should have a full roster of clients in no time.

  1. Gunsmithing

 Start Up Costs: $1,000

Typical Salary:  $60,000  (full-time)

Gun hobbyists who like to work with their hands and would enjoy exposure to many styles of firearms can put out a shingle as a gunsmith. Many take gunsmithing up as a “side hustle,” a way to supplement a regular income.

Anyone close to the gun community knows that people treat their weapons gingerly and almost with beloved-pet-level care. In other words, gun owners spend on their guns!

While a hobbyist can begin charging at any time, having some training establishes credibility. Still, getting a credential from the American Gunsmithing Institute will add to your skills. Similarly, the Modern Gun School in Wilmington, Delaware has trained thousands of gunsmiths already. Still, many schools exist around the country, many of which have courses you can take online.

As you start your business, keep in mind that many gunsmiths fail because they don’t charge enough to cover expenses. Tally up your operating costs before beginning, and create prices that ensure a profit.

Also, just like other business, you need to market your service. Having a table at a gun show, networking at firearms conferences and getting to know your local gun clubs and shooting ranges all help you get your name into the community. Stimulate word-of-mouth marketing by asking your clients for testimonials, preferably posted on Google or Yelp.

  1. Gun Shop Owner

Start-Up Costs: $10, 000 – $50, 000

Typical Income: $10,000 to $1,000,000

If you have the money and some business experience or savvy, opening a gun shop is the best way on getting paid for working in the firearms and ammunition industry. Starting a gun shop can costly and time consuming, however. Your first year show a loss of income rather than a profit. It doesn’t start with finding your location. There are many arrangements to make before ordering your first case of shells.

Get ready to:

  • Incorporate your business: Gun shop owners must be incorporated. Get guidance from your local Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) or your City
  • Get a license and permit: Apply and get a Federal Firearms Licensee license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) before starting your shop. Brace yourself: this can be a long process.
  • Locate your shop: After confirming that you’re clear to open and run a gun shop, you can find a location. Bear in mind that federal agents will inspect the location before giving you the federal firearms license.

firearms instructor demonstrating skills at firing range

Firearms trainers can earn $50,000 per year. 

Americans cling fiercely to their guns. With the surge of terrorism both domestic and international, most want effective ways to protect their families. The firearm and ammunition industry will continue to grow over the coming decade. Your full-time or side gun business can be both enjoyable and profitable!  When you go to accept credit cards, don’t forget that First Financial is the national leader in providing merchant accounts for businesses in high-risk industries like firearms and ammunition.

[1] https://www.wired.com/2016/10/americas-got-gun-addiction-numbers-prove/

 


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