Financial News from Bankrate.com

  • Working widow wants Social Security bucks Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 18, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    My husband started collecting Social Security on April 1, 2013, at age 65. He died Sept. 14, 2013, after collecting only six months of Social Security benefits. I spoke with someone at the Social Security Administration office who told me that I make too much money and that I'm not entitled to any of my late husband's benefits. Whether you're a survivor or drawing benefits based on your own work record, you're subject to an earnings test when you receive Social Security benefits before your full retirement age of 66.

  • Can a car's brand image hurt its resale value? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 18, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    I've never really paid attention to a car's brand image when I have bought a car, including any of the brand perception awards that some auto manufacturers advertise. But my current car doesn't have such a good image right now, thanks to some car recalls and some overall issues with the car brand. You can find out the resale value of car models that you're considering, but an unexpected event can put a dent in the price that you can ask for that car. According to ALG, which calculates so-called residual values and provides them to dealers, lenders and others in the industry, a car's brand image is a factor in calculating its resale value.

  • CD rates for April 17, 2014 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Compare CD rates nationally and in your area. CDs 0.24% (1-year CD yields) 0.79% (5-year CD yields) Rates on certificates of deposit ...

  • Credit card interest rates for April 17, 2014 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Find the best credit card offers available. Credit Cards 13.02% (all fixed) 15.61% (all variable) Credit card rates were unchanged ...

  • When does old debt fall off your credit report? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Here's how you know if a debt has vanished: Check your credit reports. You can view your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, for free once each year. One warning though: Many companies advertise free credit reports, but in the fine print of the deal, you must sign up for some other service you may not want or need for a cost to get your free reports. AnnualCreditReport.com is where you should go for your free reports.

  • Where will mortgage rates head next week? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Will rates go up, down or remain unchanged? Intro Up 22% Down 22% Unchanged 56% Panel Prediction Up Down Unchanged 22% 22% 56% This week (April 17-23), 22 percent of the panelists believe mortgage rates ...

  • Home equity loan rates for April 17, 2014 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Find the best home equity rates in your area. Home Equity 4.92% (line of credit) 6.2% (loan) Rates on loans backed by home equity ...

  • Auto loan rates for April 17, 2014 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Rates on new and used car loans were mostly stagnant this week, according to Bankrate's latest survey of interest rates. Only the rate on the average 48-month used car loan moved, dropping 1 basis point to 4.87 percent, but the average rate on a 36-month used car loan held steady this week at 4.79 percent. The average rate for a 36-month new car loan remained this week at 4.12 percent. Similarly, the average rates for a 60-month new car loan and a 48-month new car loan also stayed the same as last week, at 4.22 percent and 4.14 percent, respectively.

  • Mortgage rates may trend higher in 2014 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    When the housing bubble burst, the fallout was worst in the so-called "sand states" -- California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. But with a nationwide housing recovery finally and firmly under way, those hard-hit markets are now seeing strong recoveries, according to Ryan D. Israelsen, assistant professor of finance at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, Ind. Israelsen believes that trend is likely to continue throughout 2014, as long as the slow-but-steady economic recovery stays on track. However, the Federal Reserve's decision to "taper" its purchase of long-term Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities means mortgage rates are likely to rise this year, he says.

  • Can Dad's new wife steal his Social Security? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    We learned that she went to Social Security to collect his benefits. Can Dad's new wife steal his Social Security? Social Security has a "Representative Payment Program" that provides financial management for people who aren't capable of managing their own benefits. If you suspect your stepmother is using the money on herself, you could call the fraud hotline for the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General at (800) 269-0271 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

  • National mortgage rates for April 17, 2014 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Find the best mortgage rates in your area. Mortgages 4.43% (30-year fixed) 0.33 (average points) Mortgage rates edged lower for the ...

  • Mortgages drop, but are they due for a bounce? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.48 percent from 3.52 percent last week. The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.32 percent from 3.34 percent. That's the million-dollar question, and mortgage experts say potential borrowers shouldn't stretch their luck by waiting. The United States is still perceived by investors as one of the safest places to park their money, despite some recent mixed economic news.

  • Can you dump your tax records now? Bankrate.com - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    And when it comes to tax paperwork, folks are even more adamant. These documents will save me, they argue, if an Internal Revenue Service auditor comes visiting. When it comes to tax-related documents, you should hang on to records that help you identify sources of income, keep track of expenses, determine the value of property, prepare tax returns or support claims made on those returns. "We get people looking at boxes of stuff in their basements and ask, 'Can I toss it?'" says Linda Durand, a CPA and senior tax manager with Drolet and Associates PLLC in Washington, D.C. "A lot of it, they can."

  • You missed the Obamacare deadline. Now what? Bankrate.com - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    The inaugural six-month open enrollment to buy health insurance on the state exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act has ended, and a two-week extension also has come and gone. About 7.5 million Americans enrolled in health plans through the Obamacare marketplace, and many were helped by federal subsidies to make the cost affordable. Unfortunately, while the online exchanges remain open for window shopping, you won't be able to purchase a new policy until the next open enrollment begins on Nov. 15, unless life deals you what health officials define as a "qualifying life event."

  • How do I pay off $7,500 in credit card debt? Bankrate.com - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 8:00 PM AEST
    How do I pay off $7,500 in credit card debt?

    I currently have a credit card with an existing balance of $7,500 with an interest rate of 15.99 percent. My financial institution has reviewed my account and will not lower my APR, or annual percentage rate. There are ways to get rid of massive credit card debt. It looks like you carry an average interest rate on your credit card, so I'm assuming that you haven't had any recent late payments.

  • Which school expenses are covered by 529 plan? Bankrate.com - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    I know that funds from a 529 plan can be used to pay for the cost of graduate school. Can the funds also be used to pay for graduate school application fees? IRS Publication 970, which covers this general subject of 529 plans, doesn't specifically discuss college application fees and whether they are qualified education expenses. Some schools specifically indicate application fees are NOT considered a qualified education expense.

  • Time's up! It's tax deadline day Bankrate.com - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Stick with Bankrate.com, and we'll walk you through what you have to do today to get the Internal Revenue Service what it wants.

  • Victim of spouse abuse in filing status quandary Bankrate.com - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    I'm unsure of the filing status I should use. My question is this: Can I file as head of household for 2013 even though he was in the home for part of the last six months of the year? But I don't know how strictly to interpret the filing status guidelines. You are not going to be able to use the head of household filing status since your husband lived with you in your home during the last six months of the tax year.

  • How to deal with a shady debt collector Bankrate.com - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    I believe it is from a payday loan I got a long time ago. They call me and my family. I am truly shocked by this development in the payday loan world. You took out a payday loan at some point in the past few years.

  • Protect yourself from buying a lemon of a home Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    But no lemon law protects homebuyers. A buyer's best protection against a lemon house right at the start could be thorough inspections of the home and its components before the sale closes, says James Budrow, owner of Sacramento Inspection in Sacramento, Calif. "The bottom line is that there is no guarantee, but if buyers put their faith in a home inspector, they are going to be a lot further ahead," Budrow says. "Inspectors who've been in the business 10-plus years are normally the cream of the crop," Budrow says.

  • Disabled person defaults on student loan Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Is it possible or appropriate that being in default on a William D. Ford Direct Student Loan can cause garnishing of benefits after being awarded Social Security Disability? If unpaid, federally guaranteed student loans may prompt the federal government to garnish disability checks, whether from Veterans Affairs or Social Security. Rather than focusing on timing of your disability status and garnishment, I'd suggest that you pursue a disability discharge of the loan or loans. That would eliminate the need or desire to garnish your disability benefits.

  • Tax bill too big? IRS offers payment options Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    If this year's tax-filing deadline will be a "pay" day for you and you don't have the cash, the Internal Revenue Service gives you several payment options. First, even if you can't pay your tax bill, go ahead and file your return on time. Some taxpayers find the easiest way to pay, either part of what they owe or their full tax bill, is with a credit card.

  • Anxious about the mortgage process? Start here Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Online is where most people begin, according to research from the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. As Ken Pozek, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Northville, Mich., says, "You can't figure out everything using an app. Typically, you'll need to choose a lender before you can start seriously shopping for a home, though it's fine to contact a Realtor first to get a referral to a lender, says Jay Dacey, a mortgage broker for Metropolitan Financial Mortgage Co. in Minneapolis. "Unless you're a cash buyer, you're going to need to get a mortgage," Dacey says.

  • Ready to buy your 1st home? 5 ways you'll know Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 8:00 PM AEST
    Ready to buy your 1st home? 5 ways you'll know

    But that comparison doesn't account for other costs of homeownership, including down payment, mortgage-related fees and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Ed Conarchy, a mortgage loan originator for Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. in Gurnee, Ill. From a financial perspective, (it's important to) make sure that even if you're emotionally ready or excited to buy, that you have nest eggs set up as well," Pozek says.

  • Couple's $117K mortgage spat Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Estimated closing costs are $1,250. I think our main goal is to own our home with no mortgage payments more quickly. It will take a few years to recoup closing costs because you're only refinancing a fraction of your current mortgage. Still, by refinancing you'd save over 0.75 percent on the mortgage rate, or almost $400 in interest the first year.

  • Higher taxes: It's not cheap being rich Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Taxes New Tax Rates For Rich Taxpayers Tax time is tough if you're wealthy. You could be paying Uncle Sam more, thanks to five new tax rates. These taxes affect people at different income levels and vary ...

  • Top 10 states for foreclosure in March Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Foreclosure filings rose 4 percent nationally from February to March. According to RealtyTrac, a California-based firm that tracks foreclosures, these states had the highest rates of foreclosure in March. ...

  • Is it best to donate my car to charity? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Would it be better financially to donate my car to charity? According to Jeff Schnepper, author of "How to Pay Zero Taxes," the charity you donate your car to must tell you the actual price it sold for and provide you IRS Form 1099-C within 30 days of the sale. If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Bankrate's content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this website, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions.

  • Is the case for an emergency fund overstated? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    For years, financial writers have parroted the conventional wisdom that people need an emergency fund equal to three to six months' worth of living expenses in a safe, liquid account. The average savings account is yielding a mere 0.08 percent, according to the latest Bankrate survey, while the average interest-bearing checking account ekes out 0.05 percent.

  • Answers to 10 most popular auto questions Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Yes, but a no-interest car loan does not mean there is no charge for financing. Many car loans have a loan origination fee as well as a fee for a credit check, and sometimes there are other fees for paperwork associated with the car loan. Settling car loan debt lowers your credit score, though it will typically cause your score to drop fewer points than a car repossession would.

  • Complete our 10-point tax return checklist Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Missing or incorrect Social Security numbers could invalidate a credit and increase your tax bill. Before the advent of computerized tax preparation, the Internal Revenue Service sent taxpayers filing packages that included a peel-off label preprinted with the filer's name and address to stick in the top section of the tax return. To the right of your name box is space for your Social Security number. Be sure you include each listed person's correct Social Security number.

  • Auto loan rates for April 10, 2014 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Find the best auto rates in your area. Auto Loans 4.22% (60-month, new car) 4.79% (36-month, used car) Rates on new and used car ...

  • Do I still owe the debt if it's charged off? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    However, state laws provide a statute of limitations for collecting a debt using the courts. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation.

  • Home equity loan rates for April 10, 2014 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Find the best home equity rates in your area. Home Equity 4.92% (line of credit) 6.18% (loan) Rates on loans backed by home equity ...

  • Mortgage rates fall as investors seek safety Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 8:00 PM AEST

    Mortgage rates edged lower this week despite signs of steady growth in the labor market. But potential mortgage borrowers should keep their eyes on the Fed if they want to keep track of when rates will rise. The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was 3.34 percent, the same as last week. Investors lose, mortgage borrowers win