Best Savings Account for 2015

One of the most widely used types of consumer financial accounts is the savings account. In this day and age, there are a variety of considerations to bear in mind when it comes to finding the most appropriate savings account. Indeed, there are a number of key factors to bear in mind when it comes to seeking and finding the best savings account for 2015.

Interest Rate Comparisons

When working to identify the best savings account for 2015, a person definitely must take the time to undertake a comparison of interest rates. The reality is that the interest rates associated with savings account really are quite minimal. However, there are differences from one bank to another. A consumer must keep in mind that even a small uptick in the amount of interest associated with a savings account adds up over time.

When it comes to the best bank account for 2015, a person also needs to be aware of options in which a person can garner a high interest rate by agreeing to a larger minimum balance in the account.

Rewards Programs

Because there remain limitations on interest rate levels in this day and age, another factor to take into consideration when seeking the best bank account in 2015 is any possible reward program associated with an account. Long gone are the days when banks offered things like toasters when a person opened a savings account. However, banks have some solid rewards programs associated with the best savings accounts at this point in time, rewards programs that will be highlighted in 2015.

As is the case with interest rates, banks that have started to include a rewards program with their savings accounts offer variety in that regard. These rewards programs range from gift cards based on different deposit levels, travel programs and the like.

Banking Across State Lines

With the explosion of mobile technology and apps over the course of the past several years, a person is no longer confined to opening up a savings account at the local bank. (Of course, there is something to be said for a neighborhood bank, a person looking for the best savings account in 2015 needs to take broad approach.)

In some instances, a person can get the best option on a savings account by opening an account in another state. With the technology available today, including apps that permit the digital depositing of checks, banking in this manner has become easy to master.

Brick and World Banks — Not the Only Option

In 2015, a consumer is no longer restricted to finding a savings account at a traditional brick and mortar world bank. Thanks to the innovations in digital technology, there are now an ever growing number of online banking options as well with institutions that exist only in cyberspace.

When a person seeks the best bank account for 2015, these online options can be positive alternatives. An important factor to keep in mind is that a bank operating exclusively online does save money on overhead. As a result, this type of bank typically is able to pass some of that savings on to its customers.

Easy Account Access

As part of an effort to identify the best account for 2015, attention must be paid to the issue of accessibility. In the final analysis, the best savings account for 2015 will provide easy accessibility to a consumer. For example, such an account will be readily accessible and manageable through the use of the full spectrum of electronic devices. This includes traditional PCs, tablets and smartphones. The best savings account for 2015 will be associated with

Liberal Withdrawal Policies

When selecting the best bank account for 2015, attention must also be paid to withdrawal policies. Of course, by definition, a person typically does not want to make a tremendous number of withdrawals from a savings account during a 30 day time period. Nonetheless, there are some savings accounts that have far more restrictions when it comes to withdrawal frequency. As a general rule, the better account provides a consumer with a greater level of flexibility when it comes to the number of withdrawals permitted during a 30 day time period without financial penalties being imposed on the account holder.

Account Interconnections

Another consider to bear in mind when seeking the best savings account for 2015 is the ability to interconnect such an account with another account (or accounts). For example, some consumers appreciate the convenience of linking a savings account with a companion checking account. Not all institutions offer this type of arrangement as a matter of routine.

Credit Card Options

Finally, in selecting the best savings account for 2015, there are institutions that offer an associated credit card with favorable terms when it comes to a particular account option. Many people appreciate having the ability to has different types of financial products associated with a common account at one financial institution.

Best Retirement Account for 2015

Planning for retirement can be easier than you may think. The sooner you get started; the more financial security you can accrue. A way to get started is with this straightforward knowledge of these vital retirement accounts.

Individual Retirement Account

An Individual Retirement Account, IRA, allows you to contribute a specific amount each year investing these contributions tax deferred. You also do not pay taxes on the yearly investment gains allowing them to grow more rapidly. You do not pay the income taxes until you withdraw your money when you retire. You can deduct contributions you make to your IRA on your income tax return each year if you do not contribute to a 401K retirement account at work.

Since the IRA is an investment account, you can invest the money in it in bonds, stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and other types of investments. Buying and selling investments within the IRA is also possible. However, if you try to get cash before you’re 59 ½ years old, you will undoubtedly have to pay a ten percent penalty and also be answerable to local, state and federal taxes.
IRA accounts can be opened by you at a bank or brokerage house. You can open an account in person or online. Be sure to have your social security number available as well as the social security numbers of your beneficiaries.

2015 IRA updates include:

  • For 2015, IRA contribution limits will remain at $5,500 for at least one more year. If you are 50 or older, your contribution for catching-up remains at $1,000 since it is not indexed for inflation.
  • If you have a 401 (K) or other retirement plan at work, you are limited as to what you can deduct of your IRA contributions. For single filers earning between $61,000 and $71,000, IRA deductions are phased-out in 2015. For those filing jointly, the range of phase-out is $98,000 to $118,000. If your spouse is covered, but you are not, the phase-out range is $183,000 to 193,000 in 2015.

Roth IRA

Contributions to a Roth IRA are made after you have paid taxes on the income. However, the money you generate from your investments is never again taxed. Additionally, you are able to withdraw money from your Roth IRA contributions before your retirement age without having to pay penalties. This allows you to invest your extra cash and give yourself an incredible tax break in the future.
A Roth IRA is an outstanding opportunity for retirement planning due to its tax-free growth potential. It is especially suitable to:

  • Persons not able to receive employer 401 (K) matching contributions
  • Persons who are able to save more than their employer’s matching contributions.

Roth IRA 2015 Update:

The limits for Roth IRA contributions will increase in 2015. If you earn too much money, you will not be allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA. The Roth contributions’ phase-out income range for a single person in 2015 will be between $116,000 and $131,000 with an increase of up to $2,000. For couples filing jointly, the phase-out income range will be $183,000 to $193,000 also with an increase of $2,000 over last year.

401 (K) Account

A 401 (K) is an employee benefit. This type is an account of your workplace. It provides you with an opportunity to contribute a before-tax portion of your paycheck and place it into this investment account that is tax deferred. You are not able to begin this type of account on your own since it has to be offered by your employer.

An advantage of this pre-tax contribution is the lowering of the income amount your taxes are based on. For instance, if you earn $100,000 and you contribute $10,000, you are taxed at that time only on a $90,000 income. In addition, your investment grows until you reach retirement.

Withdrawing money from this account before you reach retirement age will require you to pay a penalty of 10%. You could also be required to pay local, state and federal income taxes. To avoid the penalty and taxes, some employers provide 401 (K) loans.

The biggest benefit of the 401 (K) is the employer matching of your 401 (K) contributions. An employer’s matching contribution can, however, be “vested”. In other words, it is not always 100% yours immediately. It can be “vested” in one of the following ways:

  • Immediate – With this type of vesting, you gain total ownership of your employer’s matching funds the moment it lands into your account.
  • Cliff Vested – A cliff vesting employer matching contribution gives you 100% ownership after a specific period of service time. If you leave their employment before that period of time is over, you may lose the entire matching contribution. There is a limit of three years to this service requirement placed by federal law on qualified plans such as 401 (K) or 403 (b).
  • Vesting Graded – With graded vesting, you gradually increase your ownership of your employer’s matching contributions as your service length of time increases with a final result of 100% ownership. Federal law places a six-year maximum time of service of graded vesting retirement plans.

Other 401 (K) Type Accounts:

  • 403 (b) – Similar to a 401 (K), this type of account is available to educators and nonprofitmaking employees.
  • 457 – These are available to employees of the government.

Other Types of Retirement Plans

  • Roth 401 (K)
  • Simple IRA – With this retirement plan, employees of small companies make pre-tax paycheck contributions withdrawals allowing the money to grow with its tax deferred until retirement.
  • SEP IRA – This type account is only available if you are self-employed with no employees. With a SEP IRA, you can contribute a portion of your earnings to a retirement account of your own deducting them fully from your income taxes.

These are a full scope of investment possibilities for retirement. To begin retirement planning, a 401 (K) is a good starting point for tax-deferred growth, but a Roth IRA is also great for saving extra cash for retirement or special events.

Best Checking Account for 2015

Acquiring a checking account is one of the easiest methods of protecting the money you earn. When considering opening a checking account it is important to choose one that will afford you the most benefits. It is best to get a checking account that will work for you while costing you little to no money to maintain. Read on to find out what factors will ensure that you get the best checking account for your financial needs.

Features of a good checking account

A good checking account will offer options that allow you to bank more efficiently. Look for a checking account that has no monthly fees, low minimum amounts, pays interest on every dollar you spend, and a large no fee ATM network.

Finding an account with no monthly fees can be a challenge, but are not impossible to find. Having no monthly fee will give you peace of mind, that no matter how low your balance gets you will not incur bank charges. Often times checking accounts that have no monthly fee, require that a minimum of transactions are met each month. This quota is generally a number that can easily be met with two to three transactions per day. Since you will be issued a debit bank card when you open the checking account, you will use it to make most if not all of your purchases.

Be careful to find a checking account that has a low minimum requirement before opening the account. You’ll want to ensure that you will be capable of maintaining the account balance. As with no monthly fees, you can often times find checking accounts without a minimum account requirement as well.

Some banks offer interest payments on the balance in your account especially if you can maintain a higher balance. Select a bank that offers the best interest rate possible. Keep in mind that on-line banks tend to offer higher interest rates than traditional banks.

Choose a bank that has a large network of ATMs so that you can have access to your money with no added fees. Choosing a bank with plenty of ATMs will make it more convenient for you to gain access to your money when you are on the go. If you select a bank that has a smaller ATM network, choose one that reimburses fees for using banks outside of the network.

The Benefits of a Credit Union

A credit union is a popular alternative to traditional banking. Unlike banks, credit unions only service members who can join by meeting certain eligibility requirements like, place of employment, residential status or civil organization affiliation. Although eligibility requirements seem strict, most people will qualify for membership. Credit unions are often a favorable choice because they often charge lower fees. These lower fees often remain constant over a longer period of time in a credit union.

In addition to charging lower fees, credit unions are not for profit organizations. Since credit unions are not for profit, the money credit unions earn is filtered back to the members in order to offer higher interest rates on account balances.

Another benefit of choosing a credit union is the high level of customer service. Credit unions are able to implement more customer specific strategies that don’t depend on sales, or bureaucratic issues.

Credit unions also help banks improve the services banks provide, due to the high level of satisfaction of its’ members. Credit unions offer a full range of services similar to that of banks. The better credit unions perform, the more banks need to compete to retain and attract new customers.

Why a Checking Account is Vital

Minimum balances, account fees, ATM networks, and interest rates, can seem overwhelming. This apprehension can cause an avoidance of opening a checking account. Before you decide on this course of action consider the importance of having a checking account.

Your money is protected in a bank. Despite uncertainty in the financial market, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will insure your money up to $100,000. As previously stated, earning interest on your money is a benefit that can only be attained if your money is in a checking account.

Many people are better able to manage money with the use of a checking account. Receiving pay checks by direct deposit makes getting paid much easier. Paying with check cards eliminate the tedious process of writing checks and balancing checkbooks.

Along with easier money management, checking accounts offer simpler options for paying for products and services. Using a check card to pay for purchases on line offers convenience with a wide variety of online retailers.

A checking account is also vital for the protection against theft and other damages. If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, you can immediately have the card deactivated in order to avoid unauthorized transactions on your account. You can then, have a replacement card issued. Victims of theft very rarely see cash money returned to them, even if the burglar is apprehended. In the case of a fire or natural disaster, leaving large quantities of cash in the home will be lost indefinitely.

Managing your finances well is important to securing your financial future. Now that you know what options are available, don’t hesitate to secure your money. Whether you select a traditional bank or credit union you are certain to increase your financial stability.

Where to Invest in 2015

Assuming you have a considerable amount of money in your bank account, you may be thinking how to invest it with 2015 right around the corner. Contrary to what most people think, investing money isn’t as risky as it seems. As long as you consider all the potential outcomes and have the best available information, it’s very possible to tip the scales in your favor and achieve success.

2015 looks very auspicious in terms of the global economy overall, which means smart investors with a keen sense of passion to make money in the coming year are going to experience great success. The following investment ideas aren’t complicated or hard to understand so you can immediately get busy implementing them. However, be sure you carefully review each aspect and seek expert financial advice if you feel you need it before you sign on the proverbial dotted line.

Stock Market Investments

If the idea of investing in the stock market peaks your interest, you’ll need to actually study the market first. Even though the market itself is fairly easy to navigate, it doesn’t protect you from potentially losing your money. It’s crucial to thoroughly understand how it continually fluctuates and what causes those fluctuations. But, if you’re careful, it’s definitely possible to double your money in a relatively short amount of time.

Land Investments

Investing in land can be very lucrative, particularly if you’re smart enough to pick the right location. Look for key land plots that are ideal for property development. By doing so, it’s likely you’ll get multiple offers from major companies that want to build homes, commercial buildings, or other kinds of establishments. And, because you’re the owner of the deed, it’s up to you to set your best price for which you’ll sell it. On the other hand, your investment could be seen as a long term investment since you may not receive any offers for a very long time, even years, depending on the location of the land and who wants to buy it. But, the good news is the longer you wait to sell, the higher the profit you can potentially make from it.

Local Area Business Investments

More new businesses were launched in 2014 than the past five years, which indicates that many companies have a strong desire to invest. Assuming you have a substantial amount of cash to invest, choosing a local business to help increase their business could be a smart move on your part. How profitable does the business appear? By investing in solid new businesses, you stand a very good chance of enjoying very profitable returns. With our list of business ideas, you could even start your own!

Got an extra $5,000 cash? Here’s what you can do with it:

You’re backup emergency fund is covered, your debts are paid off, and you’ve manage to save an extra $5,000 cash that you looking to invest. Should you put it in an exchange-traded fund, index fund, certificate of deposit, or a mutual fund? Before you get too far ahead of yourself, carefully consider how much you’re willing to risk and the fundamentals of investing first.

First, ask yourself at what point you’ll need that money to spend. In other words, how long of an investment do you want to make? In general, investing money is indeed a long-term concept, which for most people means at least five years but very often more than ten.

In order to help you decide how to invest your extra cash, asking an experienced financial expert may be the best way to go. Financial experts often recommend options for both long and short term if you want to grow your investment to retire on later down the road.

1. Long Term Investment

Investors with a number of years to still invest in can afford to risk a greater return by investing their cash in the stock market. Mutual funds are a relatively easy way for investors to access a wider range of various stocks. However, if choosing certain stocks is difficult for you or makes you uneasy, you can relax. By choosing actively managed funds, your fund manager takes the load off by making all the financial decisions on your behalf, including which companies are set to grow or undervalued, and which sectors in the economy are the best to invest in. Keep in mind though that mutual funds incur fees; on average a 1.26 percent annual fee. Money experts advise against purchasing any mutual funds that have an expense ratio greater than 1 percent overall.

2. Short Term Investment

The ideal place to put your money in the event you need to access it quickly is a convenient online savings account. Overall, they offer the best returns compared to what most brick-and-mortar financial institutions offer. Currently, the returns are very comparable to a CD, minus the penalties for early withdrawal.

These ideas should give you a good starting point to think about in terms of investing a bit of extra cash in 2015. It’s important to remember to do your homework first and consult the experts on anything you don’t understand. Who knows? 2015 could financially be your best year ever.

Best Investments for 2015

When it comes to investing, it’s all about putting money into something that could have a higher yield to it. Each year varies depending on what’s hot right then and there, since the investment market changes from one year to the next. Something that might be great to invest into this year may not necessarily be the right choice for 2015. For the average person looking to invest in 2015, you need to know what options are available to you, and then decide which one is the right one for you to make. Taking it slowly with your investments and not jumping the gun will prove to be more beneficial in the long run.

Why Invest in 2015?

2015 is proving to be a wonderful year for those looking to invest their money. The slight financial slump many of us had seen in 2014 is beginning to dwindle, and it’s a prime time to put money into a solid investment that will bring you more money in the future. Certain types of investments are pretty straight off the bat and begin giving you a yield right away. Others may take years for you to begin seeing any type of profit, so it’s important to stay patient and realize that most investments are well worth it long-term.

Investing money is an ideal option for both the young and the young at heart. Whether you’ve just turned 20 and want to begin making money off of new investments or you’re nearing retirement age, it’s never too late or too risky to consider investing. The key is to enter any investment slowly and with a careful eye. If you notice that you’re spending more on the investment than its worth, it may be time to find another alternative to meet your needs.

The Best Ways to Invest in 2015

Real Estate

Real estate is proving to be a wonderful investment for the average person, and it is only continuing to get popular. Many people who invest in real estate either do so to flip over the house and resell it, or they might rent it out to tenants who bring in a monthly income. When it concerns investing into real estate, you need to be very careful with what you’re choosing. If you don’t have the immediate funds to spruce-up a fixer-upper, you don’t want to buy a house that needs a ton of work. Also, renting can be detrimental in its own right, since many landlords have issues with tenants who either pay their rent late or don’t pay at all. This investment is ideal for those who do their research and homework before jumping the gun.

Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are professionally managed, and so they are a wise investment for beginners and experienced investors alike. You can create an investment account with many well-known companies, either locally or online, in order to begin investing into a mutual fund. There are a lot of funds available, so it pays to do adequate research to figure out which one is right for you. Keep a close eye on any fees and charges that come along with putting money into the fund as a shareholder.

Stock Market

The stock market is still booming, and many people are beginning to invest their own money into it. High-risk stocks are great for those who are more experienced or want to make quick cash without waiting. Low-risk stocks tend to accumulate money slowly, but they are a wise decision for the beginning investor. There are many sites available online where you can create your own investment account and begin putting money into stocks. Be sure to check your stocks regularly to see how they are doing, as you can buy, sell or trade stocks if you feel the need. There are many stock-watch apps available to you on smartphone and mobile devices.

Art and Antiques

While you may go zooming past the local antique store on your way to work each day, investing in art and antiques can be a wise decision on your part. Having a bit of knowledge about antiques can help, but you may be surprised to find that something you find at a garage sale is worth a lot more than you paid for it. The same theory can apply to art pieces, especially if the artist becomes quite famous after your purchase.

Gold and Silver

Gold and silver prices are continuing to fall, which makes both of these metals prime investments for just about anyone. Buying gold and silver should be done carefully, as you will want to make sure you’re purchasing the items from a reputable dealer. You should also consider storing these metals in a safe spot or in an account that handles these things, since the price of gold and silver is becoming more valuable than real money in many areas.

Yourself and/or a Small Business

It is never too late or too foolish to invest into yourself. You can do this by continually putting money into a good savings account that accumulates interest each month, or by opening a small business online or locally that you can continue to grow. When investing in yourself, be sure to create a budget and financial plan that works for you. Many small businesses tend to fail when they are brand new, so enter this investment carefully before putting too much money into it.

By making a wise investment decision for the year 2015, you’re doing something that is beneficial to your financial standing. Choosing the right investment can be difficult, but be sure to consider each one mentioned above as a viable option. From there, you will be able to start putting your money into funds, stocks, accounts and bonds that yield more money over time, giving you the chance to see that you had made the right investment decision when it really came down to it.

Top Stocks for 2015

In 1974, Time Magazine published a science article captioned, “Another Ice Age?” Thirty-three years later, another Time article appeared, this one captioned, “Global Warming Survival Guide.”

Predicting the weather has long been befuddled man and given rise to ancient deities dwelling in various parts of the solar system. Predicting the stock market, even more so. So take the following predictions with a grain of salt and some advice from Sir John Templeton, which is, “Never follow the crowd.”

Salient Statistics and Profile of the 2015 Stock Market

Consider the current market environment: bullish, but cautious. Standard & Poor’s 500 index has rallied from 1,832 points at the beginning of the year to its October 31 performance of 2,018. Earnings and corporate profits have driven most of the growth. Everyone is in love with energy and tech stocks.

However, bearish forecasters foretell a market correction – defined as a drop in stock prices by 10 percent or more – and some even herald a market crash, brought on by unexpectedly low earnings-per-share. The S&P 500 has rallied, true, but perhaps precariously. Most stock growth has come from low-risk investments, decreasing market volatility, which means a lot of bug-eyed investors could head for the hills at the first sign of a correction. Since the Federal Reserve plans to drop its stimulus plan in the forthcoming months, potentially snowballing into a mass diaspora from U.S. Treasury bonds, that correction may be well on its way.

But again, the weather.

Top Picks for Reliable, Growing Technology Stocks

Silicon Valley has long been wooed by Wall Street. Microsoft, Garmin, Intel and other topnotch tech companies boast reliable dividends yielding 2.5-3.1 percent. Goldman Sachs recommends Qualcomm Inc., Samsung Electronics and Garmin as among the best stocks positioned for the Internet of Things, the forthcoming computer web of machines, people and other, well, things. Qualcomm also manufactures Snapdragon processors, which are widely used in high-end smartphones.

Technology companies have always been tempting due to their potential explosiveness growth. Desirable company traits include significant R&D investing and a strong sales team. Since tech products are prone to the “tipping point” phenomenon introduced by Malcolm Gladwell, market penetration is critical. IBM and Hewlett-Packard are safe bets in this regard.

Riding the Wave of Rebounding Real Estate Investment Trusts

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) have been battered like barrier islands since the origin of the Great Recession in 2007. These high-dividend stocks traditionally appeal to the income-investor, who is looking for a steady return and a hedge against inflation. However, the pandemic of property foreclosures at the end of the last decade sent their value plummeting.

Yet REITs are beginning to rebound. They are issuing new shares, which should allow them to buy available properties at their current bargain-basement prices. One expert recommends Arlington Asset Investment for its sky-high dividend yields, while David Landis says Vornado Realty Trust, which specializes in upscale office buildings in New York City and Washington, D.C., may be able to engineer its resurrection with $3.4 billion in cash. Corporate real estate is in a stronger position than suburban and vacation property.

Top Growth Picks in Consumer and Industrial Energy

In 1950, the population of the United States was 151,000. Sixty years later, it was twice that, and as the population grows like ivy, so does its thirst for gasoline, propane, and other fuels. Propane has long been popular in the American Snowbelt. Since it has been recently identified as a fracking agent, its value may skyrocket, which means the company to watch is AmeriGas Partners L.P. It boasts a five-year total return of 113 percent and shows no signs of abating. Other energy picks include Schlumberger N.V., a global oil services magnate, and Valero.

High-Risk Technology Stocks Promise Big Rewards

3D printing technology is used everywhere from the General Motors chop shop to the fabrication floors of prosthetics from biomedical companies. Unfortunately, 3D printing companies have experienced rocky performance in the stock market. But two companies stand out: 3D Systems and Stratasys. These turnaround stocks should continue to grow during 2015 and afterwards.

Artisanal Food Movement Inspires Investment

As many know, much of the post-recession economic growth has gone into the hands of the privileged few, while most Americans make the same time-weighted income they made in the 1960’s. After 2007, many families exchanged steak for peanut butter. Share prices for Jiff and Peter Pan exploded.

Current hot buys are spawned from the artisanal and health food movement. Panera Bread, Artisanal Brands, and Whole Foods have posted fabulous growth in recent years. Where might the next “foodie” revolution be?

Cheese. The U.S. is the largest cheese-producing nation in the world, and as domestic interest blossoms in brie, gouda, swiss and cheddar, so does business. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has offered cheese futures since 2010. Topnotch equity picks include Kraft and American Dairy. Sadly, stock investment is limited since publicly traded dairy companies are few and far between.

Big Pharma Looks to Capitalize on Emerging Asian Market

Even though the economic growth of China and India has slowed in recent years, its middle class continues to surge upwards with a thirst for luxurious chauffer cars and western pill medicines. Big pharmaceutical companies like Merck, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, all blue-chip companies with dozens of patented medicines, look to the emerging Asian market for big returns. Each of these nets 20-30 percent of net sales through Asian and other emerging markets.

Online Banks Promise High-Risk, High Rewards

Ally, Simple, EverBank, CapitalOne 360 – these are all successful online-only banks with no overhead, no branches, just accounts in the cloud. Most Internet banks offer high-yield accounts with minimal fees and penalties. Popular with Millennials, online banks are prepared and ready for take-off. Top picks include EverBank Financial Corporation and Bofl Holding Inc., the front for Bank of Internet USA.

As 2014 nears its finale, Wall Street analysts continue to recommend biotech, energy, healthcare and communication technology sector stocks. But as Sir John Templeton also said, “Do your homework.”

The Best Credit Cards for 2015

Credit card holders based in the United States will experience a few changes in 2015 when they use their cards for making purchases. When they shop, they will be required to insert their credit cards into a reader that will retrieve payment information through a microchip inserted into the card. This replaces the swipe and sign system that the U.S., one of the last countries still using this POS transaction method, that is currently common. The days of swiping a card and awkwardly using a stylus of a fingernail to make a digital signature are almost gone.

For the moment, consumers who still choose to sign will still have that option. Their other choice is to punch in a pin number that they have added to their cards. Analysts believe the hesitance that retailers have shown in switching to the microchip processing system has been the central cause of many cases of large scale hacking and fraud that have occurred in recent times. National retailers now have until October 2015 to make the transition. Those who do not switch, but be held responsible for damages shoppers experience due to any kind of fraud. This could become very costly for medium sized and small businesses, which do not have receivables that match retail giants.

The new payment system is known as EMV, or Europay, Mastercard and Visa. The EMVCo company, established in 1999, help set the global standards for secure payments through the pin-and-Chip system. Other countries like Canada, the UK and Australia have already made the switch. The the U.S. now embraces for this huge change, it may be a good time for shoppers to reevaluate the cards they use to do their spending. Here are the best cards that serve different purposes for consumers.

Below you’ll find a summary of some of the best credit cards to apply for in 2015. If you are interested in reading a more in depth guide to this subject, be sure to check out 2015 Credit Guide.

Balance Transfer

best credit card for 2015If you have excellent credit, the Discover it card is one of the best choices for balance transfers. For 18 months, the card offers a 0 percent annual rate on the balance that you transfer. It also gives you the same 0 percent interest on purchases that you make in the first six months. There are no fees for going over your credit limit, no foreign transaction fees, and they even waive the late penalty for your first late payment.

One feature of this card that may be a large point of consideration for many cardholders is the fact that the customer service unit is entirely based in the U.S. So they can count on fewer language barriers and less confusion when they make a customer service call about their accounts.

Although this card gives the best options of most others on the market, there are a couple of things the newly approved cardholder should know. First, after 18 months, the APR will be variable between 10.99 and 22.99 percent. Those who are consolidating several cards into one account should also be aware that there is a 3 percent charge for each balance transfer.

Cash Back

The Discover it card is also one of the best for cash back. Those who do regular spending for the same monthly functions should opt for the Discover it Chrome card. This card offers 2 percent cash back on all that the cardholder spends in dining out and fuel every quarter. They already offer 1 percent cash back on all other purchases and 5 to 20 percent back when cardholders shop online at more than 200 different online merchant shops.

Like its sister card, the Discover it, the Discover it Chrome card has a 0 percent APR, but for 14 months instead of 18. There are also no foreign transaction fees. There is one drawback to having the Discover it Chrome card: some merchants will not accept this as a form of payment. Cardholders should always ask ahead of time to be sure they can use their card for purchases.

New Purchases

If you are newly approved for a BankAmericard Visa Card, you will have 15 months to enjoy a 0 percent interest shopping period. This can be extremely important for those who apply for the card simply because they have a good reason to make new purchases. One of the reasons this particular card is so attractive is because it places so few restrictions on how to use rewards points, and it is very flexible on the spending choices that can actually give you rewards. You get cash back with every single purchase, and you can choose to have the cash deposited into your Bank of America checking or savings account.

For those who have great credit and like to pay bills on time, there is an even greater incentive for getting this card. Paying more than the minimum balance on time each month will earn $25 per quarter in cash rewards. That adds up to $100 a year just for staying proactive and responsible.

Rewards

According to industry reports, rewards perks are the largest drivers that help consumers determine which credit card in their wallet gets the most usage. Shoppers can accumulate rewards points based on things that they already do on a regular basis: traveling, eating out at restaurants, buying gift cards or digital content like music and purchasing other merchandise. Shoppers look for cards that are easy to use and that give them real value on their returns.

The Chase Freedom Sapphire card earns a top spot for the most versatile rewards. Users get 40,000 rewards points if they spend at least $3,000 in the first three months after they are approved for the card. This many points could mean about $500 in travel dollars for the card holder. If they add an authorized user, they get another 5,000 points. Dining and traveling can make them double their existing points. In the first year of the rewards program, there is no fee. After the first, the fee is only $95 annually. This card already has the pin-and-Chip system in place, so there are no transaction fees for those who do international travel.

Students

The best credit cards for students can be divided into two categories: the best for those with great credit, and the best for those with either limited or bad credit. One of the best for great credit is the Journey Student Rewards card from Capital One. It offers a 1 percent cash back reward on every purchase, and a 25 percent bonus every time the cardholder makes his monthly payment on time. There is fraud coverage if the card is lost or stolen, and there is no limit on cash back rewards. This is the perfect way for those with good credit to continue building an excellent track record while they are still in school. After 5 months of responsible paying, students can even get an increased credit line. The one drawback for this card is a high APR. There are no introductory APR promotions, so students will have to pay a 19.8 percent variable rate on their balance. There is a penalty APR of 29.4 percent and a cash withdrawal APR of 19.8 percent.

The best limited or bad credit card for students is the Keybank College Rewards card. It gives 1 point for every dollar spent on purchases, and cardholders get 1,000 rewards points automatically after their first use. This is an excellent way for those with damaged credit to rebuild.

High-risk Cardholders

Shoppers with bad credit can automatically expect to pay a much higher interest rate than those with good credit scores. The Capital One Secured Mastercard offers high risk cardholders a chance to rebuild their credit with a 22.9 percent variable APR and a $29 annual fee. Users are required to make a security deposit to open the account. However, if they build a history of timely payment, they can be approved for a credit line. This card company reports to the three credit agencies and responsible use of this cards can help improve a credit score.

Travel

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard offers the best flate rate for travelers who need to frequently make ticket purchases. In addition, the card can be used for hotels and car rentals. The reason this card has become so popular is its impressive signup bonus of 40,000 reward points with at least $3,000 spending in the first 90 days after the account is activated. That’s about $400 towards travel. Users get 2.2 percent rewards on every dollar if they use the rewards as credits on their monthly statements. There are no foreign transaction fees, but there is an $89 annual fee, which is waived in the first year.