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Can I Apply For a Mortgage Online?

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With everything else in life that can be completed online from paying bills to reading the news, is it possible to obtain a mortgage without going to a bank? Absolutely. And it might be more common than you think. Besides requesting pre-qualification or pre-approval, you also can apply for a new mortgage or refinance an existing mortgage online.

There are several full-service online mortgage lenders. The two most popular companies are Lending Tree that serves as a third-party broker who will provide several offers from various lenders after completing a short questionnaire & Quicken Loans. Quicken is probably the largest online mortgage lender & has made obtaining an online mortgage seem instantaneous with their “Rocket Mortgage” advertisements.

Unlike credit card applications, even those for some of the best credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (this Chase Sapphire Preferred review explains why it’s one of the best), you won’t be getting an answer in a matter of minutes. Despite the perception from these advertisements, it cannot be obtained in the blink of an eye, regardless of whether you apply for a mortgage from a traditional or online lender.

Who Can Apply For A Mortgage Online?

Anybody can apply for a mortgage online whether you want a 30-year fixed, 15-year ARM, or a VA mortgage. One advantage of applying with an online lender is they are more likely to lend to people with lower credit scores due to looser underwriting standards.

The standards are still stricter than the pre-2007 housing crisis standards and the mortgage will have a higher interest rate. Traditional banks and credit unions are more likely to only consider applicants with a credit score above 700.

It’s important to note that even for those wanting to apply for a mortgage with a local lender, the application process can be started on the internet but the final stage will need to be completed in person.

The application process is virtually identical among all lenders due to federal regulations for obtaining a mortgage. The same general information is required by all prospective lenders including past two years income and tax return information, year to date income and recent pay stubs, and proof of assets with information from banks & investment statements.

Your credit report & credit score will also need to be pulled, to earn pre-approval from a lender.

Differences Between Online & Traditional Mortgage Lenders

Choosing between an online or local lender depends on what you desire most from a lender. Do you desire the convenience of completing the entire process from your kitchen table or having access to a local agent if & when any assistance is needed? Each homebuyer has different needs, so it might not hurt to consider some of the following items when choosing a mortgage lender.

Due to federal regulations, certain processes like hiring an appraiser won’t differ much. Lenders can no longer hire a “preferred appraiser” that might show bias towards a particular lending institution.

Choosing an online lender can be more difficult because you can only judge off the appearance of the site and online reviews. With a local lender, especially if you apply through your own bank or one recommended by a realtor, you may already feel like you have already established a banking relationship that an online bank cannot.

Quality of Customer Service

Online lenders are often criticized for having lower quality customer service as you can only receive help through online chat or calling a 1-800 number and not guaranteed to talk to the same person each time. Going through a local lender gives you access to a specific loan officer assigned to your application who you can contact for any questions or needing assistance if any additional documentation is needed. Buying a home can be stressful, and having a dedicated loan officer, can make the financing process easier.

It’s a good idea to investigate the customer service availability of online lenders & local lenders. It can be important during the initial application process if you need assistance with certain application questions, but as the deal is in the final stages, you will want a lender who is available during those critical stages to prevent any last-minute roadblocks. For example, you might live in Austin (side note: check out the best car insurance rates Austin) on Central Standard Time but your lender operates in San Francisco on Western Standard Time.

Because of the time difference & being thousands of miles away, there could possibly be schedule conflicts and postage delays for vital documents.

Convenience

Nearly every mortgage lender will allow you to start the application process online to receive pre-approval or apply for a full mortgage, even your local bank or credit union. As the application process progresses with a traditional bank or credit union, you will be required to visit their local branch as necessary to complete the various steps of the mortgage process. Depending on your work schedule, the local lender might close before you can arrive or you need to take time off from work.

With online lenders, most paperwork is digitally delivered for you to complete. The process could be delayed if additional documentation is required & you need to mail it to their offices.

Most online lenders make it easy to submit information regarding your employment history and your bank/investment assets as they can electronically pull the necessary information with your permission. Quicken Loans, for example, can access banking information from up to 95% of the nation’s financial institutions, eliminating the delays required to mail & verify documentation.

Interest Rates

Theoretically, online lenders offer lower rates because they have less overhead expenses than brick-and-mortar lenders. This isn’t always true, so it pays to shop around before committing to a lender. As mentioned earlier, certain online lenders are more likely to lend to applicants with credit scores lower than 700 due to less stringent underwriting policies than traditional lenders. Of course, mortgages for those with lower credit score will carry a higher interest rate.

Using services like Lending Tree or Bankrate will help you easily locate an online lender with the most competitive interest rates for your housing needs.

Closing Costs

Closing costs can be the largest cost variable when choosing a lender. They vary widely state to state and lender to lender, so most lenders will not provide an estimate to the casual shopper. Federal law requires all lenders to provide a reasonable estimate of closing costs.   In order to receive this estimate, most institutes will require enough information to essentially become pre-approved in order to provide a reasonable estimate.

Due to competitive interest rates, closing costs are the area where banks can earn extra income without the borrower realizing a good deal isn’t so good after all.

There are a couple of different fees to look into, to ensure you received an accurate closing cost estimate:

  • 3rd Party Fees
    • Fees charged by the lender but paid to other agencies hired by the lender during the application process. Most fees are very consistent among lenders.
      • These fees can include any of the following: appraisal fee, credit report fee, closing fee, survey fee, tax service fee, title insurance fee, mailing fees, and flood certification fees.
    • Taxes & Other Unavoidables
      • Expenses in this category should be the same regardless of the lender.
        • Examples include state & local taxes and recording fees.
      • Lender Fees
        • These are fees charged by the individual lender and will vary the most.
          • Fees can include costs for: discount points, document prep fees, and loan processing fees.
        • Required Advances
          • Some lenders require certain fees to be prepaid to close the mortgage.
            • One example is paying the first year of homeowner’s insurance in full.

That is a pretty thorough list of what to look for when you receive the closing cost estimate. Take the time to look at your estimate and ask any questions. A credible lender who wants your business should be more than happy to answer your questions. It’s better to have a firm estimate in the beginning than to be surprised at the end of the process when finalizing the sale might be at risk.

An accurate estimate will also help you determine how much you can afford for the initial mortgage payment and what lending terms to pursue.

Advantages Of Applying For An Online Mortgage

  • Can apply in as little as 20 minutes from anywhere with an internet connection, if you have all the necessary documentation.
  • Most documents are delivered electronically and do not need to visit a local branch.
  • Online brokers can offer lower rates & closing costs than traditional banks.

Disadvantages Of Applying For An Online Mortgage

  • Do not have the option of in-person assistance from a loan officer if assistance is needed.
  • Fees & closing costs might not always be as transparent as traditional banks.

Let’s get back to the original question. Can I apply for a mortgage online? Yes, and it might be easier and cheaper than you think. It’s not as quick as some commercials might suggest, but it can be easier than having to visit a local branch to complete the process. Online mortgages are not ideal for every situation, but the convenience of online banking and competitive interest rates make them an option worth considering for any homebuyer.

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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

What are balance transfer credit cards and how they save you money?

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Simply put, a balance transfer card is a credit card that allows you to transfer an existing balance from a high-APR credit card onto itself, and in most cases offers an introductory 0% APR for a limited period of time, thus giving you a breather from the hefty interest payments, allowing you to become debt-free over a period of time. Such a card may or may not feature a balance transfer fee (usually 3%-5% or $5, whichever is higher).

Let’s say you carry a credit card balance of $ 10,000 and are presently paying an interest of 15.99% on it. With this type of debt, your monthly minimum due would work out to $ 232 (please note, the actual figure may vary from card to card since different credit card issuers may use different calculation methods). Even if you pay twice that amount each month, it would take you a minimum of 26 months to clear your debt. And when you’re done doing that, you’d have paid a total of $ 1867 in interest.

However, you don’t follow the path that a large majority of credit card holders take!

Instead, you transfer that $ 10,000 balance to a balance transfer credit card, offering an introductory 0% APR for a period of 15 months. What more, you continue paying two times the minimum due each month. This way, you’ll pay off your entire credit card balance in 22 months and would end up paying only $ 162 in total as interest. That’s a massive saving of around $ 1700! Even if you were to pay a 3% balance transfer fee, your savings would still be considerable to opt for the balance transfer facility.

how-balance-transfer-works

But things are slightly more complicated in the real world as consumers make fresh purchases with their balance transfer cards and hence marginally/excessively increase their credit card balances. Regardless, the math works out the same, and you can still take advantage of the introductory APR period and spend more money on reducing your debt, rather than paying interest charges with it.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

The best balance transfer credit cards normally provide long 0% APR periods, have low fees and are lenient about late payments. Many even offer attractive rewards on purchases to the card holders.

We’ve carried out thorough research and shortlisted the five best balance transfer cards of this year. Let’s go over each one of them in good detail as follows:

Chase Slate Credit Card

Chase Slate credit card was one of our first few picks for the best balance transfer credit cards! It comes with an attractive introductory 0% APR period of 15 months, meaning that you don’t pay any interest on your transferred balance for that much time.

However, what sets this card truly apart from its competition is that it doesn’t charge any balance transfer fee if you opt for the balance transfer facility within the first 60 days of account opening. Not having to pay any balance transfer fee can be a great money saver for people, especially when they need to transfer large amounts of money.

chase-slate-credit-card

Standout features of the Chase Slate credit card

  • Zero balance transfer fee on balance transfers done within the first 60 days
  • Extra perk in the form of purchase and price protection for card holders looking to save more money

Where it falls short

  • Introductory 0% APR period of 15 months isn’t the best in the industry

What makes it an overall good balance transfer credit card?

Chase Slate credit card is by far the best balance transfer credit card for people wanting to transfer large card balances. There isn’t a better card in the market when it comes to transferring sizeable chunks of money. Why this is so is because even though other balance transfer cards, for instance Citi Diamond Preferred or Citi Simplicity, provide longer introductory 0% APR periods (18/21 months), they also charge a fee for moving card balances. Card holders are normally charged anywhere from 3% to 4% of the transferred amount as a balance transfer fee. Since this fee is in terms of percentage of the transferred amount, moving over large balances can turn out to be pretty expensive.

By doing away with such fee for transfers done within the first 60 days of account opening, Chase Slate provides great value and plenty of savings to its customers.

Obviously, there are cons too. Although you won’t pay any transfer fee if you move any balance during the first two months, you’d not get a very long time to enjoy the 0% APR offer. The Citi Simplicity credit card on the other hand offers its introductory 0% APR period for 21 months, which is 6 months longer than the Chase Slate card. If you think you won’t be able to pay off your balance in full within the 15 months’ time, it’d be better for you to buy a card like Citi Simplicity instead. If you do so, you’d need to weigh the benefit of 6 extra 0% APR months against the zero balance transfer fee.

Another area where the Chase Slate credit card scores handsomely over its competition is that its utility goes much beyond the balance transfer facility. One of the main reasons why a large number of balance transfer cards don’t do very well is because their utility ends with the expiry of their introductory 0% APR period. However, in case of the Chase Slate credit card, customers continue using the card long after the expiry of introductory period, because of its purchase protection benefits. There are several other perks of this card, making it the most favorite balance transfer card of a large majority of customers.

Chase Slate balance transfer card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 13.24% to 23.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • No balance transfer fee charged if transfer made within the first 60 days. Thereafter, a fee of 5% or $ 5 (whichever is higher) is charged on all balance transfers.
  • Introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months on both balance transfers and purchases
  • Zero annual fee
  • No provision for penalty APR. Making late payments won’t spike up your APR. The pertinent account related terms and pricing apply.
  • Free of cost credit dashboard and monthly FICO score
  • Sophisticated real-time fraud monitoring that keeps a close watch on all purchases and constantly looks for signs of possible fraudulent activity. Instant fraud alerts are sent out in case of any unusual activity.
  • All Chase Slate credit cards come equipped with an extra security layer in the form of an embedded chip, which when read by a chip card reader, produces a one-time code for transaction validation.

Chase Blueprint

Anyone who requires assistance with management of his/her credit card finances and payments can make use of the Blueprint service of Chase, which is provided to all the Chase Slate card holders. This service features a wide variety of tools that can help you in clearing your card balance and enable you to better analyze your spending patterns. Following are some important benefits provided by the Blueprint service:

  • All Chase Blueprint users can select the ‘Split’ option to pay off any purchase in a certain specific number of payments. Alternatively, you can decide the exact payment amount you wish to commit to a particular item each month.
  • The ‘Full Pay’ feature of Chase Blueprint enables you to identify spending categories that you should pay off in full every month. Hence, if your spending is highest in a particular category, you can avoid paying large sums of interest on those set of items and ensure that those specific purchases are paid off first every month.
  • The ‘Finish It’ option allows you to calculate and ascertain the amount of time it will take you to pay off a particular item, depending on the amount you’re willing to pay for it each month. This feature also enables you to keep track of your interest payments, allowing you to see the long-term cost impact of a specific minimum payment plan.
  • The ‘Track It’ feature of Blueprint service allows you to analyze your past spending patterns and find out the items that you’ve been spending on the most. It can go a long way in helping you closely monitor your budget, by creating visualizations that are grouped based on spending categories.

Why Chase Slate’s Blueprint service proves to be highly useful is because it helps you stay on top of the interest component of your balance. Interest is compounded on a daily basis, meaning that once it kicks in, it’s calculated on daily balances. So, if you’re really tight on finances, you can save a lot of money by paying off items that can cost you the most. Although such savings may/may not be huge, they can be a lifesaver for people who’re running on tight finances.

Warranty, purchase and price protection

The Chase Slate card not only helps you clear away your old balances, it also protects the new purchases you make with it. The worst thing that can happen to you while shopping is buying an item today and seeing it on sale somewhere else tomorrow or day after.

All Chase Slate card members can avoid such mishaps because of the price protection feature of the card. It covers the card holders for a price difference of up to $ 500 (maximum of $ 2500 per annum) if the purchased items/services are found advertised at a lower price within 90 days of purchase.

The purchase protection feature on the other hand protects you from any loss of or damage to the purchased item inside the first 120 days of purchase. You can claim damages of up to $ 500 per item and up to a maximum of $ 50,000 per account.

All Chase Slate card holders are provided a warranty extension for purchases made with the card. An extra year is added to all the regular manufacturer warranties, as long as the warranty isn’t over 3 years.

Citi Simplicity Card

The next card in our best balance transfer credit cards list is the Citi Simplicity card. This card can be a very good tool for people who wish to overhaul their credit card debt. It comes with a pretty long introductory 0% APR period of 21 months (among the best in the industry) on balance transfers and purchases.

citi-simplicity-credit-card

This card is ideal for anyone who feels he/she will take at least that long for clearing away his/her credit card debt. It also works very well for people who forget to make their credit card payments every now and then.

On the other hand, this card may not be the best suited for anyone looking for long-term value in his/her credit card. It doesn’t offer any rewards program and loses its sheen after the expiry of its introductory 0% APR period. In addition, it’s not the ideal card for transferring big balances as you’re charged 3% balance transfer fee.

Excellent for reducing your interest outgo

This card serves as an excellent option if you’ve accumulated a hefty balance on some high-APR card, and wish to get rid of it quickly (without paying a lot in interest). The average interest charged on credit card debt hovers around 18% these days and if you’re running a $ 10,000 balance and making regular $ 500 monthly payments, transferring that balance to Citi Simplicity card can save you in the vicinity of $ 1750 in interest. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to get rid of your card debt 3 months earlier than normal (if you had continued with the 18% APR card).

While majority of credit cards charge up to $ 35 as late payment penalty and can increase the APR to 29.99% in such instances, there is no penalty or late fee ever charged in case of Citi Simplicity card. However, you may still face other consequences related to the missed payments, for example, damage to the credit score. Hence, you should treat this Citi Simplicity benefit solely as a cushion in times when you genuinely forget to pay your credit card bill. In addition, although you aren’t charged any penalty APR on missed payments, the applicable interest rate after the expiry of introductory 0% APR period can be as high as 23.24%, depending on your credit score at that time. Therefore, if you ever get late in making your card payments, and your credit score takes a hit because of that, Citi will be in a position to increase your APR to the maximum. However, it’ll give you an advance notice before doing that.

One particular area where this card falls short is rewards. It doesn’t really offer a lot of value if you make monthly payments on time and pay in full. There are several rewards credit cards that can earn you plenty of cash back and/or reward points on your purchases under similar circumstances. If you’re okay with slightly less-desirable terms, you can even opt for a hybrid rewards and balance transfer card, like the Chase Freedom or the Barclay CashForward World MasterCard. Although they have comparatively shorter 0% APR periods, they offer rewards that make them very good long-term options.

Citi Simplicity balance transfer card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 13.24% to 23.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • Car rental insurance
  • No late fees and no penalty APR
  • Purchase protection
  • Citi identity theft solutions
  • Travel insurance
  • Zero annual fee
  • Balance transfer fee of 3% or $ 5, whichever is higher
  • $0 fraud liability in the event that card gets stolen
  • EMV chip technology that provides enhanced security and global acceptance
  • Extended warranty
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Automatic account alerts
  • Option to select one’s payment due date in the beginning, middle or later part of the month
  • Easy in-app purchases with Apple Pay
  • Travel and emergency assistance

Just like most of its competitors, Citi Simplicity card also provides a certain set of features, known as Citi Services. Majority of these are benefits that are also available with other credit cards, however, one perk that sets it apart is the Citi Price Rewind. How it works is that you register a product after purchasing it with your Citi Simplicity card, and the issuer will then look up the Internet for merchants selling the same product for a better price. In the event that it does manage to find a lower price within the first 60 days of transaction, it’ll refund the price difference (of up to $ 300 per product and a maximum of $ 1200 in a calendar year) to your card. You can go through this Citi Price Rewind guide to learn more. Some of the prominent products that aren’t covered in this scheme are: jewelry, mounted/stuffed animals and tickets.

About zero annual fees, no late fees and no penalty APR of Citi Simplicity card

Citi Simplicity does get pretty aggressive with its marketing strategy and goes all out to differentiate itself by highlighting how it handles late or missed payments. Its marketing tagline read ‘No late fees, No penalty rate and No annual fee – Ever!’ While majority of credit cards charge anywhere around $ 35 as late payment fee, which although isn’t a lot, but can add up to a considerable amount if collected consistently, Citi Simplicity doesn’t charge any late payment fee to its customers. It can be a huge money saver if you find yourself in this situation pretty often.

Another area where the Citi Simplicity card scores over its competitors is no penalty APR. Credit card issuers generally don’t make adjustments to the interest rate unless the card holders run into one of the few unwanted situations, for instance, exceeding the credit limit, making late payment etc. Whenever this happens, the credit card issuer is entitled to increase the applicable APR on the card, which is often a significantly higher rate. Many credit cards levy penalty APRs in the range of 29.99%, which is exorbitant to say the least! Not with Citi Simplicity card. No penalty APR is ever charged on this card.

If you’re already having a hard time managing your credit card debt, a penalty APR sword constantly dangling over your head can make matters even worse.

The fact that you don’t need to pay any annual fee on this card makes it another reason to use it as your ideal balance transfer credit card.

Citi Diamond Preferred

Another important credit card that has made it to our best balance transfer credit card’s list is the Citi Diamond Preferred card. It’s one of the ideal credit cards for anyone having a hard time paying down his/her card balance, as it offers one of the best and longest introductory 0% APR time periods in the industry. Just like the Citi Simplicity card, you can avail the 0% APR offer for a time period of 21 months, and use it for both balance transfers and purchases. This is 6 to 9 months longer compared to majority of balance transfer credit cards offered in the marketplace today. The interest savings made during the extra 0% APR period can be very valuable for people having huge card balances, or ones who’re contemplating making a huge purchase.

citi-diamond-preferred

Citi Diamond Preferred features some additional perks as well, for instance, purchase protection and presale access to tickets, which bring a great deal of exclusivity to it. However, if you’re someone who is confident of paying off his/her existing credit card balance in around 15 months, you’d be better off opting for the Chase Slate, Citi Double Cash, Discover It or some other balance transfer card with a shorter 0% APR period and better features.

Features that differentiate Citi Diamond Preferred from its competition

  • Introductory 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers and purchases, which is longer compared to a large majority of balance transfer cards.
  • Citi®Private Pass® that gets you access to exclusive presale tickets and VIP packages to popular sporting events, concerts, dining deals, complimentary movie screenings and more.

Where Citi Diamond Preferred Card is found wanting

  • Not the ideal card for international travelers owing to the 3% foreign exchange fee
  • Lack of rewards on credit card usage and timely payments
  • You may be charged a penalty APR of up to 29.99% if you’re late in paying your credit card bill or your payment is returned
  • Steep 25.49% APR on cash advances

Is it really worth it?

Along with the Citi Simplicity card, the Citi Diamond Preferred card is a standout balance transfer card that offers an excellent 21 months long introductory 0% APR period, which is incomparable in the industry!

If you have a large existing credit card balance or are about to make a big purchase that’ll take you some time to pay off, Citi Diamond Preferred is the ideal balance transfer card to make a switch. However, if you’re someone who regularly misses his/her credit card payments, you’d be better off moving your balance to the Citi Simplicity card instead. That one’s almost the same as the Citi Diamond Preferred, however, without the late payment penalty.

On the other hand, if all you’re looking for is an ideal rewards credit card, these aren’t the cards that fit the bill. You won’t earn any rewards points or cash back by spending with your Citi Diamond Preferred card or by paying your balances in full each month.

The closest that this card gets to rewarding its users for their purchases is through the Citi Services suite, that provides various protections and insurance on items/services purchased through this card. Feel that 15 months or less are good enough for you to get rid of your credit card debt? You’d be better served by Chase Slate instead.

Furthermore, despite being marketed as a ‘VIP’ and ‘Exclusive’ card, it’s not a very-difficult-to-get card. In fact, as per online reports, people having credit scores in the range of 630-650 have also gotten approved for this card.

Citi Diamond Preferred card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 12.24% to 22.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • Balance transfer fee of 3% or $ 5, whichever is higher
  • Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 21 months
  • Citi®Private Pass® providing exclusive and early access to important events, movie screenings, dining experiences etc.
  • Worldwide travel accident insurance
  • Ample security through Citi Identity Theft solutions
  • Purchase protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Car rental insurance
  • $0 liability in case the card gets stolen
  • Trip rescheduling and cancellation protection
  • 24/7 access to personalized concierge service providing assistance for concert ticket bookings, flight bookings, hotel bookings etc.
  • Select your own payment due date in the beginning, middle or later part of the month
  • Automatic account alerts

The introductory 0% APR period starts immediately after opening the card account. A standard APR varying from 12.24% to 22.4% variable becomes applicable post the expiry of this introductory period, depending on the credit score of the card holder at that time. People who’re regular with their credit card payments and use their credit responsibly often find themselves at the lower end of this APR (after the introductory period).

Please note, the introductory 0% APR offer can only be availed if you choose to transfer your credit card balance within the first 4 months of opening your account. Transfers done after 4 months are subject to the regular average APR applicable on purchases. Please also keep in mind that you’ll need to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% or $ 5, whichever is higher. So, if you wish to move a large balance from your existing credit card, you’d be better served by a balance transfer card like Chase Slate, that doesn’t feature any balance transfer fee and provides an introductory 0% APR period of 15 months (if you move over your balance within first 60 days of account opening).

Extended warranty, travel insurance, theft protection and damage protection

Whenever you purchase a product having a warranty of 5 years or less, using your Citi Diamond Preferred card, the warranty will automatically get extended by one year. This feature provides you a coverage of a maximum of $ 10,000 per annum in claims.

Furthermore, any product purchased with this card is automatically covered by the damage & theft purchase protection feature, which covers you for refund or repairs if the item is reported as stolen or damaged within 120 days of making the purchase (90 days in case of New York residents). This coverage is provided for a maximum of $ 1000 and has a cap of $ 50,000 in each card member year.

Coming to its travel insurance feature, if any trip booked using the Citi Diamond Preferred card, is rescheduled or cancelled due to some reason, Citi will reimburse any non-refundable fees to the card holder. This works very well for people who need to regularly make last-minute flight changes, and pay huge sums of money in rebooking fees (unless they’ve purchased expensive ticket insurance). Paying for hotel and/or airline ticket bookings using the Citi Diamond Preferred card can help tremendously in this regard. This benefit can be availed for up to a maximum of $1,500 per year.

Other prominent features of Citi Diamond Preferred card

All Citi Diamond Preferred cards come equipped with the EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa) smart chip which is indispensable if you’re travelling to anywhere in Asia and Europe. Merchants at all these places use new age chip enabled terminals for credit card transactions, as they are more secure compared to the conventional magnetic strip technology.

However, you can avoid this card if you’re a frequent international traveler, as it imposes a 3% foreign transaction fee on all international transactions. So, if you’re travelling to UK and purchase a £ 100 item, you’d actually be charged £ 103 for it (after taking foreign transaction fee into account). Although it may not seem a lot, it can add up to quite a bit at the end of every trip. Please also note that any online international purchases made with it, from within the US, would also attract such foreign transaction fee.

Last but not the least, Citi PrivatePass is another major not-to-be-missed feature of Citi Diamond Preferred card. Using this feature, you can purchase normally-unavailable tickets to sold-out shows and events, via the Citi PrivatePass portal. The shows and events could be related to family entertainment dining, sports, like music and more. There is no special signup required at the Citi PrivatePass website, and all you need to do is purchase these tickets using your Citi Diamond Preferred credit card.

Discover It

This is easily one of the better balance transfer credit cards as it offers an attractive introductory 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers (6 months on purchases). However, what sets this balance transfer card truly apart from others is the 5% cash back you can earn through it, on its rotating bonus categories (that change every quarter). Rather than offering the regular signup bonus which many cards do, Discover It doubles the cashback earned by you in your first year with the card. This offer makes the Discover It the best balance transfer cum cash back credit card in the market today.

discover-it-card

It’s available in two different variants, differing in terms of the length of the introductory 0% APR balance transfer and purchase periods. You can avail the introductory 0% APR offer in two different arrangements as follows:

  • 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers and 6 months on purchases or
  • 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers and 12 months on purchases

Is it really one of the best balance transfer cards?

This particular balance transfer card, like others offering 5% cash back on rotating categories, is all about when and how you put it to use. Else, you can always benefit from the 1% cash back on non-bonus categories, which is commonplace when it comes to $0 annual fee rewards credit cards.

You can make the most of this card if you closely follow its 5% cash back calendar. You stand to earn a handsome 5% cash back on a maximum of $ 1500 spent by you at the applicable category retailers every quarter. It implies that you can potentially save up to $ 75 per quarter with this card.

Discover takes its cashback offer to an altogether different level as it matches the entire cash back earned by you (dollar for dollar) in your first card member year, providing all new card members with lots of incentive. So, if you earn a total cashback of $ 300 in your first year with Discover, the card issuer will double it to $ 600! Hence, the effective cashback earned by you during your first card member year would be anywhere from 2% to 10%! This makes Discover It easily one of the best rewards and balance transfer credit cards in the marketplace today.

Another major benefit of purchasing the Discover It card is that you get to access the Discover Deals program, which is their online shopping portal. Here you can enjoy exclusive offers through your Discover It card, save plenty of money and even earn extra cash back bonus. Some of the popular merchants you can buy from here are Macy’s, Walmart, Apple, Papa John’s, Groupon, Sam’s Club, AVIS Rentals, Abercrombie & Kent and many more. You can shop with all these merchants and earn gift cards, percentage discounts and/or cashback bonus ranging from 5% to 20%. Majority of these merchants don’t ever come under the rotating bonus categories, except during the holiday season. Hence, Discover Deals is another excellent avenue where you can get instantly rewarded for using this card.

Where it falls short?

  • There’s a 3% balance transfer fee associated with the card, which can be substantial if you wish to move large balances to it.
  • Cash advances are discouraged as you are charged a fee of $ 10 or 5% of the cash withdrawn (whichever is higher). Furthermore, an APR of 25.24% is charged on cash advances, which is substantial.
  • Although there is no late payment fee for the first time you pay late, you’re charged $ 37 penalty every time you make a late payment after that.
  • Just like American Express, Discover has its own payment processing network, which is very different from the MasterCard and Visa (that are accepted just about everywhere). Hence, Discover credit cards don’t enjoy as wide acceptability as their leading competitors. It isn’t uncommon to see brick and mortar establishments refusing Discover credit cards. However, that’s not the case with online transactions. Therefore, apart from being an excellent balance transfer and rewards credit card, Discover It can be actively used as a supplemental card. You can use it actively for the earning bonus rewards. But, please remember to keep some other primary card handy, just in case.
  • If you wish to make the most of the rewards offered by this card, you’ll need to opt into new bonus categories every quarter, on the Internet.
  • You’ll need a FICO credit score of 690 to 719 to qualify for the Discover It card.

Discover It card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 11.24% to 23.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • 100% U.S.-based customer service
  • Constant monitoring of card activity to ensure maximum security
  • $0 fraud liability, providing comprehensive coverage for unauthorized transactions
  • Free of cost FICO credit score on monthly statements, online and mobile
  • You can even transfer most of the non-credit card debts to this card, including many types of loans
  • Quick freezing and unfreezing of account (from website or mobile app) to prevent any balance transfers, cash advances are new purchases after card gets lost or stolen.
  • Zero annual fee
  • No change in APR in case of late payments
  • No late fee charged for the first late payment.
  • Attractive 5% cash back on quarterly rotational categories
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Free of cost overnight shipping for card replacements, available for any US address
  • Discover matches the entire cash back earned by you, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year with the card
  • Easy redemption of rewards for cash
  • Rewards can be instantly redeemed Amazon.com during checkout
  • Zero foreign transaction fee. So, this card will be the right pick for you if you frequently travel to a country where it’s widely accepted
  • No over limit fee
  • Free FICO credit score on the Internet and monthly statements

About the 5% bonus cashback

The following table details the applicable 5% bonus categories for the present and the next quarter. You can easily lineup your expenditures with this calendar and maximize your rewards earnings. Any purchase that doesn’t fall under the applicable category can be made using a different credit card.

October – December 2016                           Amazon.com, Department Stores and Sam’s Club

January – March 2017                                    Gas Stations, Ground Transportation and Wholesale Clubs

On the whole, the Discover It balance transfer credit card is one of the very few credit cards that comes with a long 18 months introductory 0% APR period. If that wasn’t good enough, it offers highly competitive rewards and a substantial signup bonus. Provided that you make the most of the quarterly bonus categories, you can easily earn $ 600 in rewards in your very first year, while continuing paying off your credit card debt without any APR. However, Chase Slate would be the ideal card if you wish to move a huge balance, and don’t wish to incur a hefty balance transfer fee.

Citi Double Cash Card

Offering an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for a period of 18 months, and thereafter an ongoing APR of 13.24% to 23.24% depending on your credit worthiness at that time, Citi Double Cash card is easily amongst the best cards for balance transfers in the marketplace today. How this card distinguishes itself from its competitors is that it rewards card holders with a cashback of 1% each two times – first at the time of purchase and then when you pay for that purchase. There’s no cap on the amount of cash back you can earn with it. This offer easily puts this card amongst the most rewarding cashback credit cards, at least when it’s about the flat rate rewards.

citi-double-cash-card

Features that make it stand out

  • The unlimited 2% (1% + 1%) cashback rate trumps the usual flat 1% rate provided by the large majority of similar cards.
  • The 18 months introductory 0% APR period puts it in the company of a handful of balance transfer credit cards that provide such an offer.
  • Access to Citi Price Rewind, another useful service run by Citi wherein it searches for a lower price on any particular item you purchased using your Citi Double Cash card (and registered with Citi). It looks up hundreds of online merchants and refunds the difference to your card if it finds a merchant selling the same item at a lower price, within 60 days of purchase.
  • The card uses highly secure and new age EMV chip technology making it acceptable everywhere around the globe by merchants who use chip-enabled terminals.
  • There is no annual fee charged on this card
  • Unlike its competitors, Citi Double Cash credit card doesn’t place any restriction on the categories you can earn cash back on (like in case of Discover It card). You don’t require to enroll into or keep track of any categories and there’s no capping on the total cash back you can earn.

Where it falls short

  • The absence of a sign-up bonus makes this card slightly less attractive compared to others such as Discover It etc.
  • All balance transfers attract a fee of $ 5 or 3% (of the transferred amount), whichever is higher, making it not the best card for moving large amounts of money.
  • The cash back earned can be redeemed only if it is minimum $ 25. There is no such minimum restriction in other cards.
  • All purchases are charged an APR if you have already transferred some balance from another card. This APR becomes applicable unless you clear your entire balance (including the balance transfer amount) in full by the due date each month.

About the 2% cash back

The unlimited 2% cash back offer applicable on all purchases enables Citi Double Cash to counter some of the highest flat rate cashback cards available in the marketplace. This reward rate puts it ahead of other popular cards like Barclaycard Cash Forward World MasterCard, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and others. Considering that there is no annual fee charged on this card, it has every potential to be kept as a primary credit card in the wallet.

1% cashback is awarded right after you make your purchase. The remaining 1% is applied as you pay for those purchases (whether over a period of time or all at once), provided that you pay at least the minimum due each month. So, effectively the total cash back earned on every purchase works out to 2% of the total purchase amount. Anyone who believes in clearing his/her balance in full each month, would hardly notice any timing difference between the payment and purchase related 1% rewards.

Furthermore, please note that no cashback reward is applicable to cash advances, balance transfers, returned items, interest or account fees. The earned cash back can be redeemed for gift cards, statement credits or checks.

Although this card makes an excellent option for anyone looking to earn handsome rewards on his/her day-to-day purchases, its lack of signup bonus makes it falls slightly short of the competition. Majority of credit cards reward their customers with some extra cash back or bonus points for opening an account with them. However, this card lacks such upfront incentives.

On the other hand, it tries to make up for the lack of such bonus by offering ancillary benefits like late fee waiver and the Citi Price Rewind feature. Whether majority of customers ever actually use and benefit from these perks is something arguable and makes these perks not the best substitute for the signup bonus. However, anyone who does use these features effectively, can derive thousands of dollars of benefits from them.

Citi Double Cash Card – Other features and benefits

Annual Fee – $0

APR on purchases after the introductory 0% APR period – 13.24% to 23.24% Variable depending on credit worthiness

Main features

  • Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for a period of 18 months, provided that you make the transfer within 4 months of account opening.
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on general purchases, and another 1% when you pay for them.
  • Zero first late fee
  • Access to Citi Private Pass, an exclusive service run by Citi wherein cardholders get privileged access to thousands of events, including VIP packages and presale tickets to concerts, dining events, movie screenings, sporting events etc.
  • Round-the-clock fraud protection. You’re alerted as soon as any unusual activity is observed on your account.
  • Citi Identity Theft Solutions come to your rescue in the event that you fall prey to identity theft.
  • Citi Lost Wallet service ensures that you’re sent a new replacement card within 24 hours of losing your Citi Double Cash card. Not just that, you’re also provided some emergency cash depending on the cash advance limit applicable to you.
  • Your Citi Double Cash card also gets you worldwide car rental insurance, covering you against any damage to or theft of a rental car.
  • Provided that you paid for your trip using your Citi Double Cash card, you are covered by a worldwide travel accident insurance, which provides you financial help in the event of some tragic accident.
  • In the event that you need to cancel or change your travel plans, you may be able to get reimbursed for any non-refundable trip expenditures such as change fees etc. provided you had paid for them using your Citi Double Cash card.
  • Complete protection against any online or off-line unauthorized charges. You have $0 liability for any such charges posted to your account.
  • Your Citi Double Cash card extends the manufacturer warranty of any item that you purchase with it.
  • The Damage & Theft Purchase Protection feature of this card covers you for any refunds and/or repairs if the purchased item is stolen or damaged within the first 120 days of purchase.
  • The Citi Concierge service has highly efficient staff that readily assists you with your dining, travel, entertainment, shopping and daily needs round-the-clock throughout the year.
  • The Citi Cards with Apple Pay feature provides you a quick and easy means to make in-app payments at more than 200,000 stores.

FAQs related to Balance Transfer Cards

Is balance transfer the right way for me to go?

If you’re consistently piling up balance on a high interest credit card, it may be in your best interest to transfer this amount to another credit card with low interest rate. This type of debt consolidation can be done through the balance transfer facility. Balance transfer is an excellent tool for anyone wanting to get rid of his/her credit card debt in the quickest manner possible. However, it’s useful only if you’re able to pay off your entire balance within the 0% APR period, before the regular interest rate becomes applicable. You may need to consider some other method of reducing or clearing your debt if you feel you’ll not be able to stay disciplined about your monthly payments.

Where can I find the best deals on balance transfers?

You’ll need to shop around and look at various options. We’ve thoroughly detailed the five best balance transfer cards of this year in this write-up. Perhaps you can start your search from here!

Is it possible to shuffle credit card balance between different cards of the same financial institution?

Normally, balance transfer offers can’t be used for transferring balances between different cards issued by the same card company.

How much balance should I transfer?

Please note, you’ll not be able to transfer more debt than the credit limit available on your new card. In addition, you should keep your credit utilization ratio at no more than 30% for all your credit lines. So, try to make sure that the transferred balance is lesser compared to the credit line available on your new card. However, if the balance you need to transfer is higher than the credit limit on the new card, you can talk to the new card issuer and possibly ask for a raise in that limit. Many companies may allow you to transfer the balance higher than your credit limit for a fee.

Does the introductory 0% APR apply to new purchases too?

In most cases yes. However, the period for which such 0% APR may be applicable may or may not be different than the balance transfers. So, cross check with the card issuer before finalizing anything.

Will it actually save me money?

You can use the balance transfer calculators available at many reputed portals and calculate your total savings there. However, you’ll only be able to do this when you are aware of your present interest rate, balance transfer fees and the interest rate applicable on the new card (introductory rate and the rate after that).

Will opting for a balance transfer affect my credit score?

Although your credit score may take a minor short-term hit, owing to the hard inquiry made by the new credit card issuer, selecting the right balance transfer card can actually help you improve your credit score by increasing your credit utilization ratio. However, opting for too many balance transfers, one after the other can give a wrong impression to the lenders that you’re simply avoiding your debt and are merely shuffling high interest card debt to low APR cards without any real intention of paying it off.

How long does a balance transfer take?

Provided you’ve got everything in order, a balance transfer may not take any more than 7 to 10 business days. However, there is no guarantee. If the present creditor needs to be paid by check (instead of electronic payment), the transfer could take longer.

How do I make the most of the balance transfer facility?

Once you’ve decided to opt for a balance transfer and have finalized an offer, you should devise a proper plan of clearing your entire card debt within the introductory 0% APR period. Work out a payment schedule and ensure that you stick to it. Avoid making any fresh purchases with the balance transfer card and use it only for clearing your debt.

Is it possible to transfer the credit card balance again?

In case you aren’t able to clear your transferred credit card balance during the introductory 0% APR period, you may feel tempted to opt for another balance transfer. Although it’s possible to do that, please remember, doing so can hurt your credit score in the long term. When you continue opening back-to-back low interest accounts, while not reducing your high debt, lenders start viewing you as a high risk prospect, which might make it harder for you when you try financing bigger purchases such as a car or a house in the future.

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The Best Secured Credit Cards

The Best Secured Credit Cards

Credit cards provide a method of funding for some of life’s unexpected or major expenses, but these revolving credit accounts are not readily available to certain individuals. If you are just starting out in your financial life and have not yet established a credit history or profile, securing a new credit card can be a challenge. The same goes for anyone with previous credit issues, such as late payments, accounts in collection status or high balances on revolving credit accounts. Fortunately, credit can be established or repaired through the use of a secured credit card.

Credit providers offer some individuals the opportunity to open an account without previous credit history or with a less-than-perfect credit through a secured credit card. This type of credit card is made available with a lower credit limit than conventional credit cards and is secured by collateral, such as a savings or checking account. Secured credit card providers extend a revolving credit limit based on the amount of the pledged savings or checking account balance to help offset the risk of taking on a borrower who otherwise may not be able to qualify for a credit card. Over time, secured credit cards evolve into traditional credit accounts, sans the need for pledged collateral, but only if and when the provider is certain the borrower has established a solid history of on-time repayment.

Here are the best secured credit cards available to individuals with no credit history or a lackluster credit past.

Discover it Secured Credit Card

Discover is a sound starting point for individuals seeking a secured credit card to shore up past credit mistakes or establish a new credit identity. The provider offers a secured credit card through its Discover it brand, available with no annual fee and no late fee assessed on the first late payment. A minimum deposit $200 is required for all applicants, and total credit line is determined based on a review of credit history, income and other outstanding debts. Discover reviews each account after month 12 to determine if the initial deposit can be returned, based on the individual’s borrowing and repayment habits.

One of the reasons Discover it Secured credit card tops the list is that it offers borrowers the opportunity to earn rewards on purchases – a unicorn in the secured credit card world. Up to 2% cash back can be earned for restaurants and gas station purchases, up to a cap of $1,000 in spending each quarter. All other purchases receive 1% cash back. For new card members, Discover will match any cash back earned for the first year automatically. It is important to note that the annual percentage rate on Discover it Secured credit card may be substantially higher for new borrowers compared to other secured or unsecured cards.

Capital One Secured MasterCard

For individuals looking for a low deposit secured card, the Capital One Secured MasterCard is a great choice. Depending on credit history, Capital One offers a credit line of up to $200 with a deposit as low as $49. No annual fee is assessed for cardholders, and a credit line increase may be applied for without an additional deposit within the first six months of account opening. The APR offered to new card members is a variable rate, starting at 24.99%.

The Capital One Secured MasterCard is a no-frills option for individuals needing a card with a lower deposit, but there are some drawbacks. Capital One imposes more stringent qualification requirements on borrowers, despite its secured nature, meaning a recent bankruptcy or no checking or savings account will disqualify an individual. Additionally, the secured credit card does not offer perks in terms of rewards or cash back. For these reasons, this card is best suited for individuals looking to establish credit history in a cost effective way, as opposed to those looking to repair severe credit damage.

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

Individuals looking for a secured credit card for credit history repair may find solace in the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card. Underwritten by Capital One Bank, the OpenSky secured card offers a credit line of up to $3,000, equal to the deposit made at the time the account is opened. Borrowers have the opportunity to ask for a credit line increase after the account has been established for some time, but an additional deposit may be required to offset some of the lender’s risk. The annual percentage rate for new cardholders is relatively low compared to other secured card providers, starting at a variable 17.64%.

The OpenSky Secured Visa credit card does come with an annual fee of $35, and it does not offer any rewards program or cash back for purchases. However, the secured card does not require an initial credit check nor is a checking account necessary. Individuals in need of credit repair without concern for the amount of deposit to secure the credit card are a good fit for the OpenSky Secured Visa credit card.

U.S. Bank Secured Visa

The U.S. Bank Secured Visa is a solution for both newbies to the credit scene as well as though with less-than-stellar credit history. A deposit of no less than $300 is required to establish the account, but borrowers may pledge up to $5,000 for collateral. The credit line offered is equal to the total deposit on hand, and an annual fee of $29 is assessed for all cardholders. The annual percentage rate charged on purchases is less aggressive than some card offers, starting at 18.99%.

Borrowers who utilize the U.S. Bank Secured Visa do not have the ability to earn rewards or cash back, but a review of the account can be done as soon as 12 months after account opening to determine whether an unsecured card is available. The amount used for the deposit is held in an interest-bearing savings account which is beneficial when the deposit is returned. For a simple, lower interest rate card, the U.S. Bank Secured Visa is a smart choice.

USAA Secured American Express or Visa Card

For active or veteran military members and their families, the USAA Secured American Express or Visa Card is a great solution to repairing poor credit or establishing a credit history. The secured card offerings through USAA require a deposit of no less than $250 but can be as high as $5,000, and the credit limit is equal to the amount set aside. What makes the USAA secured cards different from most other providers is the fact that the collateral is deposited into a two-year certificate of deposit (CD) that earns more interest than a traditional savings or checking account. As the interest is credited to the CD, borrowers have the opportunity to request a credit line increase.

The USAA secured credit cards assess an annual fee of $35, but the interest rate on purchases can start as low as 10.15%. There are no rewards associated with either the Visa or American Express secured cards through USAA, so this option is best fit for military members looking for an account that provides additional interest on deposits and a potentially lower interest rate on purchases.

While secured credit cards provide an opportunity for individuals to establish a credit profile or repair past credit mishaps, not all cards are created equal. Prior to applying for a secured credit card, it is important to fully understand the annual percentage rate charged on purchases, any annual fees imposed, and the rewards or lack thereof available.

See all the best credit cards here. 

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Which Debts Should I Pay Off on my Credit Cards First?

Which Debts Should I Pay Off on my Credit Cards First?

Chances are that you have credit card debt. We all do or at least have had it at some point, and the question we had or have to face is “how on earth are we going to tackle this pile of payments?!”

Hopefully you were able to catch yourself from making your balance any bigger than it needed to be and were able to minimize the damage, but many cases are not that clean cut and easily stoppable. Some credit users are lucky enough to have a single credit debt owed to a single lender, but many others have multiple debts owed to several different credit card lenders, and the question that they now face is “Where do I start?!”

Below is list of possible starting points that you can use to begin your journey out of debt and on your way to turning around your credit score.

 

Understanding credit lenders

Before we start handing out suggestions on how you can best un-bury yourself from your credit card debt, it’s good to know why exactly you are getting into such debt in the first place: the lenders.

Credit card companies get their money from you as the card holder from interest and annual fees. The annual fees, although they may look huge as they leave your wallet once every year, is only a slice of the gigantic pie. The real money lies in the interest payments that you pay every time you have another month go by that you do not pay back your credit card expenses in full or to their specified monthly minimums. This focus on interest rates and compounding debt amounts is what lenders are banking on you to provide to them as long as you keep your account with them. Its pure profit for them.

Interest rates are not something that you need to be inherently afraid of. For those who can be responsible with their cards, they won’t need to bother worrying about interest rates and compounding amounts as they go about their interactions with credit lenders. If you keep on top of your payments and continue to pay them on time and in full, then you will have no debt.

Sounds pretty easy, but as you know by now, staying on top of the ball for every expense that goes through you is no easy feat. Emergencies pop up that you cannot cover in their entirety and rather than taking out a loan from an outside source, you just swipe the plastic. This happens a few times and before you know it, you are $16,678 deep in credit card debt. Life happens and payments are due, but to quickly dig yourself out of any pits you may have fallen into, you should know the best methods.

 

It’s all about the interest rates, baby

Let’s say that you have multiple credit cards that you have debt on. One card, “A” has a large amount of debt, but a very low interest rate, another, “B” has a small amount but a very high interest rate, and the last, “C” has a moderate sized debt with a moderate interest rate. Instinct may tell you that you need to take out the largest sized debt, “A” first, because it looks like it is the biggest. Right?

The interest rate is what is killing you and keeping you in debt. The best practice to start taking out that debt is to knock out the debt with the highest interest rate first, regardless of the current amount. Taking out these debts shortens the length of time that you are trying to pay off your total amount because your biggest amount with a very low interest rate (“A”) is not going to grow nearly as fast as debt “B”. “B” will grow like crazy and go from a small amount into one that is even bigger than “A” in less time than you think.

Going by interest rates rather than lump sums, rank your credit card debts in order of highest to lowest and use that order for which debts will be taken out first. Stick to this order and you will dig yourself out of debt much faster than you may have planned. So using the examples from above, pay them off in order of “B” then “C” and then “A”.

 

Don’t be afraid to move debts around

If all of your cards but one have an astronomical interest or compounding rate, consider moving over all of your debts onto a single card, or set of cards with a single low interest rate.  Move as much of your debt as your credit limit will allow. By doing so, you can eliminate the ability for your debt to continue growing out of your control.

Now before you dive for that phone to call up your lender to make a transfer, keep in mind that there is usually a debt transfer fee that is pretty up-there in cost, and it may wind up biting you back due to its own price tag. If the cost to move over your debt is worth the cost it is to make the transfer, make it happen, but evaluate if the cost is worth it first. This is not a one size fits all suggestion.

 

Equal installments as compared pinpoint payments

Whenever you come across some surplus income and want to throw it at your credit card debt, a temptation may be to break it into even chunks and disperse it evenly across all of your debts. Remembering what we mentioned earlier about the weight of interest rates, focus the amount on a single debt rather than all of them. Spreading a single amount across differing debts of varying amounts and interest rates will just absorb your payment and end up not making a bit of difference in the overall debt.

Pinpoint the debt with the highest interest rate and throw what you can at that one debt until it is all gone, and then move to the next one. Keep doing this until they are all payed up.

 

 

Although you may want to attack the largest amounts of debt first, this is a practice that is best avoided as a first impulse. There is nothing inherently wrong with attempting to knock out the biggest amount first, because by being disciplined enough to tackle a pretty huge sum in its entirety, it can be a pretty huge confidence boost. To see a debt drop from over $16,000 to zero can be the mental boost needed to reaffirm your actions and keep you focused to keep pushing onward to paying off all of those debts. Use what methods are best for you that you can honestly stick to.

There is no cheat sheet or concrete answer key to paying off debt because everyone’s situation is different. There is no blanket answer because like a snowflake, no two credit situations are the same (pardon the elegant analogy). Hopefully the above tips and practices will help you discover how you can best chip away any debt of your own that you may be struggling with.

Have any tips that weren’t covered above that can help others? Comment and share below!

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The Ultimate Bluetooth Shower Speaker

shower speaker

I don’t know about you, but I’ve logged a lot of hours singing in the shower (just ask my husband or my chihuahua) – there’s just something about the great tile acoustics that brings out my inner Mariah Carey. I soon realized that the volume level on my iPhone just wasn’t cutting it (and I was killing my battery), so I did a ton of research on a Bluetooth shower speaker that would take my shower performances to a whole new level.

After trying out several different speakers that just didn’t hit the mark, I found a clear winner – the iFox iF012 shower speaker. The shower speaker combines awesomely loud audio with long battery life. Voila! I can now hear my jams over the water pouring from the showerhead.

Want to liven up your listening (and singing) experience in the shower? The market is flooded with options when it comes to choosing a Bluetooth shower speaker, but that’s why I’m here to help you break it all down. Let’s get into my picks for the ultimate Bluetooth shower speakers.

My Top Shower Speaker Pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00KHX9MCW’ text=’iFox Bluetooth Shower Speaker’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e4534747-f1a9-11e8-acab-3b5e1fcdd16e’]

 

 

The iFox iF012 Bluetooth Shower Speaker changed the game for me, and it’s my pick for the best shower speaker on the market.

Audio

What is the most important feature of any speaker? Sound (obviously). The iFox iF012 delivers on this front with crisp, clear audio – and this bad boy gets loud! Seriously, the volume is fantastic and easy to hear over a showerhead at full blast, even when I’m washing my hair. If you crank the volume all the way up, the sound may get a little scratchy (as most small speakers do). However, you shouldn’t need to max it out to get plenty of volume.

Battery

The battery life is amazing. You can rock out on for up to 10 hours of continuous playtime. When your battery does eventually go dead, the speaker fully recharges in under 3 hours.

Water-Resistance

While the sound is the most important feature for any speaker in general, water-resistance is the most important feature for a shower speaker specifically. The iFox iF012 excels here as well. It is 100 percent waterproof and the company boasts that you can fully submerge it up to 3 feet without issue. In fact, iFox offers a one-year warranty to guarantee how awesome their product is.

Appearance

It’s black, it’s round, and it’s compact. I’m a minimalist when it comes to style, so I do like the basic black look. But the overall appearance of this speaker isn’t my favorite. I’ll talk more about this later.

Other Features

The importance of a good suction cup is underrated. The first two speakers I tried (which shall remain nameless) fell off the shower wall more times than I can count. I really wanted something that stayed. Well, the iFox iF012 does just that. It’s been placed on to the shower wall and it’s not budging!

Syncing the speaker to your phone is quick and easy. I haven’t timed it, but according to the company, it takes only 6 seconds once you hit the power button. The Bluetooth range is powerful as well – your shower speaker will stay connected from up to 33 feet away.

The buttons and controls on this shower speaker are simple and user-friendly. You can turn up the volume, skips songs, and press pause, all from the speaker.

Need to answer a phone call in the shower? You can do that, too. The iFox iF012 has a built-in microphone. While I’ve never used this feature, it’s nice to have in case of emergencies or when you want to catch up while chilling in the tub. You can also use the microphone to chat with Siri during your shower if that’s your thing.

Downsides

The iFox iF012 does have some flaws (but not deal breakers).

It’s not the most modern looking shower speaker out there. It is a bit bulky and sticks out from the wall more than some other options. But don’t be scared off by the word “bulky” – we’re talking less than an inch difference here.

Also, do note that the USB charger isn’t the standard size that many manufacturers use. For that reason, don’t lose the charging cord!

Final Verdict

Overall, this little shower speaker makes a big splash. It delivers on sound, it doesn’t move around, and it has a great battery life. I can’t recommend it enough.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00KHX9MCW’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’f04654d8-f1ac-11e8-8b4e-873cf60bceda’]

Runner-Up Shower Speaker: Victsing Shower Speaker

This is an attractive, rugged speaker that looks like it means business. The outer case of the VicTsing Shower Speaker is made from silicone, which makes it dustproof and durable if it takes a tumble.

Audio

The sound is truly top-notch on this speaker. With a 5W speaker, it blasts out crystal clear stereo sound. You can really crank up the volume as well, with very minimal distortion in the sound. The VicTsing even boasts some solid bass, which is rare in any small speaker.

Battery

The battery life isn’t great. You get 6 hours of playing time between charges – and that’s only if you keep the volume at 70 percent of maximum volume.

Water-Resistance

The VicTsing is waterproof but not submersible. Don’t drop it all the way down in the water or it’s done for.

Appearance

As I mentioned, this speaker looks rugged and cool. There are a few different colors to choose from, including a dark gray (which is great if you’re like me and color just isn’t your thing).

Other Features

The VicTsing has user-friendly controls and good functionality. This is another speaker that lets you take phone calls in the shower. You can even redial a number or reject calls if you’re mid-song when the phone rings.

Included with this shower speaker are a detachable suction cup and a clip in case if you want to hang it somewhere. I’m not sure what you would hang it from in the shower, but it’s a cool feature if you take your speaker on the go.

Downsides

For me, the biggest flaw in the VicTsing is that it’s not submersible. If you want to use it next to a hot tub, pool, or bathtub, use caution.

The battery life (around 6 hours) isn’t this speaker’s strong suit. I like my music loud, and I like my showers long, so this is a concern for me. While my showers aren’t 6 hours long, remembering to recharge several times a month is a hassle.

Final Verdict

Overall, this speaker offers a good range of features and awesome audio quality, all in an attractive package. It’s a solid second choice.

Budget-Friendly Pick: Soundbot SB510

If you’re looking to dip your toe into the shower speaker scene but don’t want to spend a lot of money, then the SoundBot SB510 is the best shower speaker for you. It features a lot of value and functionality in a compact shower speaker, all at a low price.

Audio

For the size and the price, this shower speaker packs a decent punch when it comes to audio quality. You get a good range of sound, and the volume is decently loud.

Battery

The SoundBot doesn’t have the best battery life (6 hours tops). You will want to keep your charger handy with this one.

Water-Resistance

Take it in the shower, but don’t give it a bath. This speaker is water-resistant but not waterproof, so don’t drop it down in the water.

Appearance

The SoundBot comes in 6 colors, but personally, I love the white and black options. They give it a more sleek, expensive look. But if you have kids (or you’re a kid at heart), the bright neon colors are fun.

Other Features

This speaker is very compact and has a nice, rubbery feel that’s easy to grip and easy to clean. All the controls are user-friendly. Plus, it has a microphone for those shower phone calls everyone seems to be taking.

The company offers a 100% risk-free warranty for one year. That’s a pretty sweet deal if you’re on the fence about purchasing a budget speaker.

Downsides

Water-resistant? Yes. Waterproof? Nope. The SoundBot is fine in the shower of course, or even outside on a rainy day – just don’t submerge it.

The company claims the battery life is about 6 hours, but it seems a lot shorter than that. Depending on your volume level, you’re probably looking at a battery life of just a few hours at most. So be prepared to recharge regularly.

Final Verdict

For the price, you can’t go wrong with a SoundBot, especially if you’re a newbie to the shower speaker scene.

Upgraded Shower Speaker Pick: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom

Ready to upgrade? The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom is my pick for those looking to spend the big bucks on a quality shower speaker for concert worthy performances.

Audio

Let’s start with the audio details. The sound is unbeatable, crisp and clear with plenty of bass, and the volume cranks up loud. Because of its shape, you get 360 degrees of sound. If you want true stereo surround sound, you can wirelessly connect two Wonderbooms – now that’s a party!

Battery

Battery life on this speaker scores an A+. You get 10 hours of non-stop entertainment on a single charge, and the recharge time is just under 3 hours.

Water-Resistance

The Wonderboom is also waterproof. You can fully submerge it for up to 30 minutes, and it will come out still booming away.

Appearance

I love the look of this one! It’s a compact, clean speaker that looks like a piece of art. It comes in lots of different color combinations – there are even some “limited edition” colors if you’re really feeling fancy.

It also has a small little loop at the top in case you decide to take your speaker out of the shower and into the world.

Other Features

Here’s my favorite feature – this speaker floats. It’s sure to be the life of your next pool party. Plus, your Bluetooth connection stays strong up to 100 feet away.

Downsides

Unfortunately, that super cool looking design that I love makes it hard to clean. All the little holes of the speaker are a great place to grow shower scum. Since it’s ultra-waterproof, you can rinse it off, but it still has some hard to reach places.

Also, there’s no suction cup on this shower speaker. So you’ll need a place to set it in the shower, or possibly use that tiny loop to attach it somewhere.

Final Verdict

Ultimate Ears makes several different Bluetooth shower speakers, but the Wonderboom is my favorite from the company. Not only does it have all the features you could want, it just looks cool.

What to Look for in a Shower Speaker

I’ve covered all these basics in the reviews for my top picks, but here’s a more in-depth look at the factors I considered in narrowing down my favorites.

Audio Quality

Sound – that is the primary function of any speaker, waterproof or otherwise. For quality sound in the shower, you want a speaker with a big volume boost, or else you won’t be able to carry a tune while washing your hair.

But just because it’s loud doesn’t mean it’s high-quality sound. Some speakers produce scratchy sound when the volume is cranked up. When browsing through speaker options, make sure the audio quality is excellent even at high volumes.

Keep in mind that shower speakers are small, and small speakers don’t offer the same premium sound you get from a larger sound system. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get musical greatness from a shower speaker. So be picky!

Battery Life

Do you want to be able to play your playlist on loop for hours? While you’re (hopefully) not taking showers that last for hours, you still may not want to keep up with recharging your shower speaker’s battery all the time. If you plan on taking your speaker out to a pool party or to the beach, battery life is definitely important.

Consider the battery life each shower speaker will offer. Typically, you want at least 6-8 hours of high-volume power before you need to plug your speaker in for a charge.

Water-Resistance

All shower speakers are at a minimum water-resistant. What does that mean? You can splash some water on them, and they’ll continue booming along.

But not all shower speakers are waterproof. If you plan on using your shower speaker tubside or poolside, you may want to invest in a fully waterproof speaker that can be submerged in the water without damaging it.

Appearance

This is really just a matter of taste. Personally, I like my shower speaker to be modern and sleek – no bright colors for me. Most of the speakers on the market will be relatively small, although size does vary slightly.

But the overall appearance does vary a lot! There are square speakers, round speakers, neon speakers, neutral speakers – you get the idea. Take into consideration your style and preferences to help you narrow down and choose the right look for you.

The Wrap Up

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the options on the market when it comes to Bluetooth shower speakers. You’ve now seen the best of the best (including my top pick, the iFox), and you’re ready to rock and roll. These speakers are made for splashing and will keep you singing in the shower for hours on end (my apologies to your family).

If you’re looking for a complete surround sound system for your home, check out this article on surround sound systems. Need an outdoor speaker system to amp up your barbecues? We’ve got that covered, too!

Q&A:

Q: How do I pair my Bluetooth shower speaker to my phone?

A: Most shower speakers make it easy to wirelessly connect to your phone. They will usually include brief step-by-step instructions. In general, you’ll want to turn on the speaker and then go to your phone’s Bluetooth settings. If your phone’s Bluetooth is switched on, it should search and find the shower speaker. Then just click and pair the two together, and you’re ready to rock!

Q: Can I pair my Bluetooth shower speaker with Alexa or Google Home?

A: Yes, most Bluetooth shower speakers on the market today will connect to any of your smart virtual assistants.

Q: How do I extend the life of my Bluetooth shower speaker?

A: Try not to drop it, for starters. But most importantly, you’ll want to keep it clean and dust-free. As with any speaker, dust can ruin the sound quality – so can shower scum and build-up. You can use a can of air to blow off excess dust or wipe with a damp microfiber cloth for grimier build-up. But don’t use any harsh chemicals! They can damage your speaker.

Q: Where else can I use my shower speaker?

A: The possibilities are endless! Here are a few ideas. Is your car radio on the fritz? Rock out in your car with your Bluetooth speaker stuck to the window. If you’re heading to the lake, bring the jams onboard for a boat party. In the mood for relaxation? Hot tub and chill with easy-listening tunes from your waterproof speaker.

Shower speakers are super portable, so enhance your life with great music wherever you go!

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The Best Hiking Sandals For Your Next Big Adventure

I fell in love with the outdoors while spending ten years of my childhood in the Girl Scouts program. My affinity for hiking has grown stronger ever since! My favorite hikes to date include the Chimney Tops trail in the Smokies and the Cliff Trail in Waimea Canyon, Kauai. No matter where I am traveling, coast to coast, I never hit the trail without a pair of the best hiking sandals.

Adventure awaits! Prepare to go out and explore by selecting one of these three best hiking sandals for women. Much like the best sleeping bag review, in this article, I’ll describe the benefits of each pair, including my absolute number one pick – the best hiking sandals I cannot live without.

Best Hiking Sandals Winner: Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal

The Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal is my number one choice for the best hiking sandals. These sandals and I have made some serious memories together! They have outlasted all my other hiking gear, and have become a true adventure companion. Forget lucky socks, I wouldn’t leave home to explore without my Chacos.

Quality Materials

You figure your favorite shoes can only take so many miles. Some people even think ahead and buy a second pair of shoes that they really love, anticipating needing to replace the ones they wear so often. That is why I’m shocked that my Chacos are still in such excellent condition.

But I really shouldn’t be surprised. They’re called classics for a reason. The Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal has been around since 1989 and is still one of their best-sellers. Each layer of the Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal is made up of unique quality materials.

Polyester jacquard webbing is used for the upper straps around the midsole and foot. High-tensile webbing is used on the heel risers and a Chaco trademarked rubber compound is used for the outsole.

Chaco keeps it simple and uses materials that eco and vegan-friendly. Because the sandals are constructed with high-quality materials, you can see and feel the difference.

Size & Fit

When you are on your feet for hours, especially during outdoor or athletic activity, the fit of your shoes has to be just right. Anything less than a perfect fit can result in soreness, muscle pain, blisters, and more.

The Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal has size and fit, all worked out. The polyester jacquard webbing on the upper part of the sandal is double strapped and fully adjustable. Even the toe-loop is adjustable. The thicker ankle strap is also adjustable, allowing you to get a snug and supportive fit on the back of the foot.

Unsure of how to work with the straps to get the best fit and support? Chacos has got you covered with a simple step-by-step visual tutorial on their website. Easily adjust your straps to get the perfect fit for your foot and enjoy the comfort.

The best part is that you can recalibrate the fit of your sandals anytime you need to. Experiencing swelling in your feet? Maybe your straps have loosened slightly after months of wear? Re-adjust the straps for a more comfortable fit, and get back to your adventure.

Innovative Design

The Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal has improved since its conception in 1989. Most recently, Chaco has added a podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT™ PU footbed. Not only are the sandals rugged enough for your outdoor adventures, but they are also comfortable enough to wear all day long.

When I was an outdoor summer camp counselor, I was so thankful for the support my Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal provided my feet during my 12 hour work days! They’ve survived many summers, in part thanks to another unique design feature- the ChacoGrip™ rubber compound on the outer sole of the sandal.

Durability

The ChacoGrip™ outer sole is an upgraded rubber compound on the Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal. It has new tread designs that are optimal for wet traction. They are also smudge and mark proof, extending the life of the sandal.

The high-tensile webbing material used on the straps is incredibly durable. Mine have not frayed, torn, or splintered yet. Even the fabric itself seems to be fade resistant. As a company, Chaco is committed to sustainability. Their products are designed to be repairable, rather than replaceable.

I anticipate wearing my Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal for many more years to come!

Functionality

The design of the Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal was originally made for class 5 whitewater rapids. The sandal has evolved to be worn and used for so much more! With a mostly exposed foot, this sandal transitions easily from land to water. In fact, I have regularly worn them in a kayak or a lake. They are excellent for hiking adventures that involve creeking, caving, or swimming. Plus, they dry in no time!

Style

Maybe how you look or your footwear style isn’t your top priority when you’re out on the trail, or maybe it is. There’s just no denying that the Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal has a classy, simple style that looks good on everyone. With four standard color patterns and the option to customize, you can show off your own personal style with your hiking sandals.

Customer Service

Chacos is an award-winning retailer with strong customer service and customer loyalty. This is one reason that I will continue to shop with them. The Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal comes with a warranty that covers defects in materials or workmanship for the entire life of the product. Making returns and exchanges are quick and easy.

If you’re like me and love your Chacos, but need to repair them, you can use the Chaco repair system. The Chaco team will expertly repair your sandals, giving them the tune-up they need to trek more miles!

 

[amazon_link asins=’B011AK8C1M’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’1358e387-c35c-11e8-b279-89de1561123a’]

Best Hiking Sandals Runner-Up: KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal

With its own unique set of attributes, Keen makes a killer hiking sandal that rivals Chaco. I’ll discuss what makes this sandal special and sets its apart Chaco and other popular sport hiking sandals.

Keen has pioneered their own smart materials with careful thought for comfort, function, and practicality. The upper webbing is crafted from a breathable polyester material that is comfortable and machine washable. Just carefully use a small amount of detergent and wash on a gentle cycle to keep these sandals looking like new.

The mesh lining helps the material dry rapidly, so you don’t have to squish around in wet shoes for your whole hike. The KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal features a waterproof leather upper and rubber outsole that is built to be tough. They’ll hold exceptionally well on rocky terrain. All the materials used to craft Keen sandals are PFC-free.

The secure fit strap design on the KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal adjusts to create a comfortable fit for any foot. It’s even simpler to adjust this sandal than it is to adjust the Chacos. Loosening and tightening the center strap is quick and easy. They’ll be ready for wear as soon as you take them out of the box.

Designed with a compression molded EVA midsole and footbed, you’ll wish you could wear these best hiking sandals option to work! You can really go the distance without worrying about foot aches during your hikes. In KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal, the internal support mechanism is anatomically engineered to give unparalleled arch support and follow the natural contours of the foot.

Comfort is a huge factor to consider when choosing the best hiking sandals, and the KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal earns an A for fit and comfort!

Innovative Design

Do you struggle with foot or shoe odor? Don’t be embarrassed, it happens to the best of us, especially with shoes that we use for exercise and athletic activity. Keen designs for the real customer, and have come up with a solution for this very real issue. The upper webbing of the shoe is engineered with an odor-reducing Aegis Microbe Shield, and the sole features Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control. Goodbye foul odors, let your feet breath and enjoy the outdoor air without reservations!

Never worry about a stray strap or untied lace again. The KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal uses a secure fit lace capture system to solve that problem, keeping you safer on the trails. Overall, the sandal’s versatile design makes it ideal for transitioning between different terrains. You can go from hiking to kayaking, to biking, all in one afternoon and in one hiking sandal.

Durability

Keen uses a one of a kind multi-directional lug pattern for increased traction on the rubber outsole. This razor-siped sole will help you keep your footing on slippery surfaces as well as dusty dry ones. It’s also non-marking, which extends the life of your sandal keeping it looking newer for longer.

Functionality

Practically speaking, unless you’re on a well-worn path, things can get a little rugged. You want your toes to be protected from the rocks and roots that you stumble across along the way. But can a sandal protect your toes? Keen says, yes! In fact, the brand is known for pioneering Patented Toe Protection. The design functions in a way that allows the shoe outsoles to wrap up and over the toes for complete protection.

You can have the best of both worlds – breathable sandals that are tough and protect your feet!

Style

For a multi-functional athletic hiking sandal, the KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal is pretty good looking. With 16 different color and pattern combinations to choose from, you can find a sandal that represents your unique style.

Customer Service

Keen customers are loyal because of the excellent service, honesty, and transparency that the company offers. You can feel good shopping knowing that your purchase also goes towards Keen initiatives that include reducing their eco-impact and giving back to sizable non-profit charities.

The KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal does come with a warranty. The company offers a one year guarantee against manufacturing and material defects for items purchased from authorized KEEN resellers.

Best Hiking Sandals Honorable Mention: Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal

best hiking sandals

Well known for expertly combining comfort and style, Teva has another great hiking sandal on the market. Their Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal is perfect for the young minimalist who wants to be Instagram ready on their outdoor adventure.

Quality Materials

At first glance, it looks like there’s not much to these super sleek best hiking sandals options. But upon closer inspection, one will see that sometimes less is more, and the materials that are included are high-quality ones.

The upper part of the sandal is made with water-ready polyester webbing. It dries super quickly after getting wet, helping you get back to feeling comfortable on your journey. And when shoes get wet, they tend to stink (even open-air ones, like sandals). Treated with Microban®, the Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal is odor resistant. With these sandals, you can explore freely without fear of embarrassing foot odor!

Size & Fit

The Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal is designed with an easy hook-and-loop closure. You can take it on and off quickly, and adjust it to get just the right the fit. You also want your foot to feel supported when you are off on long day hikes. This sandal features a contoured EVA footbed. The fit purposefully supports your arch to keeping your feet healthy.

Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal is offered in a range of sizes, including half sizes and special sizing for wide feet.

Innovative Design

One thing Teva customers love about this sandal is its cushioned Shoc Pad™ in the heel on the shoe. The innovative design absorbs impact where your foot needs it the most, which helps your ankles and calves feel better too!

The zinc-based antimicrobial technology in the Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal is impressively effective when it comes to preventing stink. Clearly, the designers of this sandals have real-world hiking experience and engineered it to meet the needs of outdoor enthusiasts.

One noticeable difference between these sandals and the others are their super light-weight design. They don’t feel clunky or heavy. They’ll also fit easily in a backpack for your spur of the moment travels!

Durability

The water-ready polyester webbing is a highly durable material, not prone to fraying or fading. The sandal also features Spider Original rubber outsole. This material is strong and durable and provides the traction you need to keep you safe on the trails. It is not designed to be mark or smudge proof, unfortunately. This is a small flaw, but not a deal breaker.

Functionality

Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal is best for warm climates or seasons, simply due to its very open design. It will serve you well on a clear-cut path or trail, but may not provide your feet the protection you would need on a more rugged terrain.

Customers who love this shoe are fans of how it transitions easily from water sports to hiking. For a day of hiking and kayaking, or caving and cliff jumping, this sandal can handle it all. Just watch your toes! The Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal leaves your toes, and top of your foot very exposed.

Style

Teva is best known for its original sports sandal, which is little chunky looking, in a retro way. Teva Verra Women’s Hiking Sandal is a sleek, feminine counterpart to the classic Teva original. Out of the top three women’s best hiking sandals I’ve selected, Teva takes first place for style. With its slim outsole and criss-cross straps, it’s stylish enough to wear out and about around town. These sandals are definitely photo ready when you’ve found the sweet spot on your hike.

Customer Service

Teva has a reputation for being a company that stands by their product. It’ not unheard-of from them to replace a pair of shoes if a strap breaks or some other issue with manufacturer defects occurs.

Officially, Teva® offers a limited one year warranty that applies to manufacturer defects only. Although they will happily exchange or replace a product that qualifies for the warranty, they do not do repairs. This might decrease the lifespan of the sandals, but most loyal Teva customers brag that their sandals last for five years or more!

Shopping on a budget? Teva offers a discount for students! You can gear up for your next adventure, even on a college budget.

Considerations When Choosing the Best Hiking Sandals

Your Adventure

As you try to determine which hiking sandal you want to buy, start with the end in mind. What are your outdoor adventure goals? Are you an avid hiker who is always seeking out the best waterfalls and swimming holes along the way? If you’re planning a trip in tougher terrain, like the Rocky Mountains, for example, you need to consider how much protection your feet will require.

KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandal leads the pack in superior foot protection. It can handle any obstacle that might across your path. The only drawback is that it is a heavier shoe, not the same breezy feel as the Chacos or Tevas. That can make a difference on long distance hiking excursions though.

I love how my Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandals adapt to just about any adventure I take. They ate sturdy enough to hike trails that are off the beaten path but lightweight enough to wear comfortably for hours and hours.

Your Budget

The best hiking sandals will be well worth the investment. Hiking sandals made from exceptionally high-quality materials should last you many years. That being said, you have to draw the line somewhere. Decide what your gear is worth to you – $40? $60? $80? It might depend on how often you plan to use them.

For example, I love to hike, but now I’m a mother of three and my time is somewhat limited. If I’m being realistic, between the kids’ soccer games and band practices, I might get in two or three (kid-free) long hikes per month. But that time is precious and I want to make the most of it, so I’m OK with splurging a little on myself.

I also end up wearing my Chacos to many everyday events like boy scout outings and school picnics. For the wear I get out of them, an $80 pair of hiking sandals is completely worth it, in my opinion.

Your Comfort

These top three hiking sandals are all engineered a bit differently when it comes to size, fit, and support. Everyone’s feet are so unique. What feels comfortable to me may not feel the same to you.

Although the convenience makes shopping online tempting, I highly suggest you try on a few different pairs of hiking sandals before you make a final decision. Many online retailers, including Amazon, offer a ‘try before you buy’ program now – win-win!

All three of the best hiking sandals on my list rank very highly in foot support and have been designed with new technologies to keep you as comfortable as possible. The easiest way to ruin a hike is to develop a blister or chaffing on your feet. You’ll be miserable. So even though I included some style notes on each sandal, be sure to prioritize comfort over looks.

In Summary of the Best Hiking Sandals

The Chaco Women’s ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal is my top pick for best hiking sandals for women. I’ve been enjoying mine for years, and can attest to how durable they are. They are the perfect combination of functional and stylish, and they are so comfortable that I can wear them all day.

With Chaco’s amazing customer service, I know I can send them in for repairs if I ever need to. It also feels good to know that I’m using my consumer power to support products that are vegan and eco-friendly.

For the all-around best-hiking sandals, this is my top choice!

Frequently asked Q&As:

Q: Are sandals good for hiking?

A: A quality pair of hiking sandals can keep your feet dry and airy while out on the trail. They can prevent issues with sweaty socks, or squishy wet sneakers. The best hiking sandals are ideal for easy to medium level trails, but they typically do not offer the same level of support as hiking boots on difficult trails.

Q: Are Tevas waterproof?

A: There is sometimes confusion about whether Tevas are simply water-resistant or water-proof. Tevas are, in fact, completely water-proof.

Q: Can I buy a single shoe?

A: Sometimes accidents happen out on the trail! Customers occasionally damage one sandal while the other remains in-tact. Unfortunately, it is not possible to purchase a single shoe from Chaco, Keen, or Teva.

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Best Electric Kettle for Tea and Coffee Lovers

If you’ve read Tom Standage’s A History of the World in Six Glasses, you know that beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola have shaped the ancient world into the one we know. Unlike the other four, consumers regularly prepare small amounts of coffee or tea for personal consumption. This practice has given rise to a vast array of tools and appliances, ranging from simple to complex. From my first cup of terrible gas station joe, my passion for coffee and tea has matured and diversified over the last three decades. I know that even the method for heating water affects the final product. For those of you who know the difference between a bag of leaves dunked in boiling water and a fine cup of Earl Grey, I’ve taken the time to research and describe the best electric kettle for tea & coffee lovers.

Best Electric Kettle (Overall Winner): [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7ede267b-b0b4-11e8-8bdf-77137af9ccd1′]

After witnessing a demonstration in France, MIT graduate and amateur chef Carl Sontheimer founded the Cuisinart company in 1971. With the goal of reducing food preparation time to make complex cuisine more accessible to the layperson, Sontheimer introduced the first ‘Food Processor’ at a Chicago trade show in 1973. From there, he grew the brand into a household name for specialized home kitchen appliances.

Over the past 45 years, food icons such as Julia Child and James Beard have hailed Sontheimer’s achievements. Now, a full-service culinary resource, the company makes hundreds of individual products including my pick for best electric kettle, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’88030101-b0b4-11e8-a96a-55df99c7b6d0′].

Physical Properties

To carve my review of the best electric kettle into palatable portions, I’ve broken each product down by physical properties, functionality, and ease of use. First, we’ll examine what makes up the Cuisinart CPK-17.

Materials & Capacity

Modern, premium appliance producers construct most of their high-end appliances from either tempered glass or stainless steel. When it comes to contenders for the best electric kettle, each of these materials has certain advantages over the other.

The Cuisinart CPK-17 is a stainless-steel electric kettle. Stainless steel enables the appliance to be lightweight and highly durable. It is also extremely easy to clean and does not retain the taste or odor of its contents. This is an essential property to consider if you ever use it to brew tea (which you can do with accessories).

When it comes to electric kettles, each appliance will hold more than its ‘capacity’. The advertised capacity is the maximum volume at which the kettle will function optimally. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’996d5041-b0b4-11e8-b00d-31081d60839f’] has a capacity of 1.7 liters (7 cups).

Base & Power

Like all of our contenders for best electric kettle, the Cuisinart CPK-17 has an electric base which heats the kettle. The base contains a concealed 1500-watt heating element which requires a standard 110-volt power source. Once the kettle has reached the desired temperature, it can be removed from the base and returned facing any direction. The base doubles as a charger so there will always be power to the kettle’s buttons, lights, and functions.

Overall Style

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17 ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a401e7a3-b0b4-11e8-81f2-a106a6492e1f’]has a refined, sleek, and modern look. The base is extremely low-profile and in keeping with the overall aesthetic. The power cord wraps up into the base to aid in convenient and tidy storage.

Functionality

Now that we’ve examined the physical properties of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a98c0e87-b0b4-11e8-ba2b-5fdaa7c3af01′], let’s look at how the best electric kettle functions. It is an extremely impressive combination of simplicity and power.

Speed

An important measure of the best electric kettle’s might and efficiency is the speed at which it brings water to a rolling boil. The Cuisinart CPK-17 can bring 1 liter of water to a full boil in a few as four minutes, faster than a microwave, gas, or electric stove.

Versatility

The Cuisinart CPK-17 has six different temperature presets: 160 (delicate), 175 (green tea), 185 (white tea), 190 (oolong tea), 200 (French press), and boil (black tea). The user selects each temperature with a single button-push on the handle of the kettle. This is a critical function if you are passionate about brewing specific kinds of tea at home. Many people brew teas at temperatures that are too high. This causes the water to over-extract the flavor from the leaves, resulting in an astringent or bitter taste.

Accuracy

Having a multitude of temperature settings isn’t much good if the temperature of the water isn’t consistent. In independent testing, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bcd72c21-b0b4-11e8-9da8-bb15035b4e83′] demonstrates that it can consistently bring water to within two degrees of the prescribed measurement.

Features & Accessories

While having an abundance of accessories only serves to distract from the product’s primary purpose, a few well-constructed features put the finishing touches on the best electric kettle.

The Cuisinart CPK-17 has a 30-minute temperature hold which will maintain the water at your intended temperature if you have to step away before you pour. The Cuisinart also employs a two-minute memory function. If you remove it from the base and return it in under two minutes, the kettle retains the current settings and resumes its place in the brewing process.

Like most contenders for best electric kettle, the Cuisinart has boil-dry protection. The kettle will switch off if it is empty. It will also sound an alarm if you attempt to place it on an active base while empty. This is critical to avoid seriously damaging the kettle.

Finally, the kettle has a removable stainless-steel filter screen. This will help prevent you from pouring solids, including tea and hard water particulates, into the final product.

Ease of Use

Producers understand that consumers want professional products without a professional’s understanding of the process. Unlike their earlier predecessors, contenders for the best electric kettle on the market today are simple to use. Let’s explore how the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cb86c8ae-b0b4-11e8-8863-ef6fabb498b3′] makes it easy for the end user.

Handle, Spout, & Lid

The Cuisinart CPK-17 has a wide, ergonomic handle with a rubber grip. The handle (and the entire outside of the kettle) will stay cool to the touch no matter how hot the interior is. All of the buttons, including the one to open the lid, are flush in the handle for easy one-hand access.

The spout is engineered to facilitate a smooth, uninterrupted pour that minimizes splashing. The lid closes flush with the top of the kettle and remains tightly closed unless the operator pushes the open button.

Display & Notifications

The Cuisinart CPK-17 does not have a digital display. The water level can be easily monitored through the water-level window, which includes volume hash-marks. An aesthetically-pleasing blue LED lights the water from within, making the level easy to see.

The kettle gives a single, loud but unobtrusive chime when the water has reached the intended temperature.

Cleaning

Because the heating mechanism is concealed within the base, the pitcher portion of the kettle can be cleaned easily without risk of injury or of damaging the machine. Like all stainless-steel water vessels, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’de1610d0-b0b4-11e8-84f7-0301f1f78d9b’] is vulnerable to hard water build-up over time. I suggest always rinsing the kettle thoroughly after each use and periodically (weekly) boiling a de-liming agent as directed in the maintenance instructions.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Even the best electric kettle on the market has some weaker aspects.  Let’s examine two of these for the Cuisinart CPK-17.

Less Accuracy at Lower Temperatures

Although the Cuisinart CPK-17 is extremely accurate at temperatures approaching a rolling boil, some reviewers note that it has a wider range of actual temperatures when set to 160 or 175. Be mindful of this if you plan to use the kettle for green tea or other delicate use.

Small Opening Makes Cleaning Difficult

The opening to the kettle is too narrow for larger hands. If you aren’t able to fit your hands into the kettle to properly maintain it, I suggest purchasing a cleaning tool that will allow you to apply pressure to the inside walls when cleaning.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B003KYSLNQ’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’5bb78166-b146-11e8-9cec-b538e18eaf17′]

Best Electric Kettle (Runner-Up): [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f42cab3a-b0b4-11e8-8067-adf04e7b4e89′]

In 1932, Australian inventors Bill O’Brien and Harry Norville founded Breville, a portmanteau of their two last names. Originally a manufacturer of radios and mine detectors, the company began manufacturing small appliances after the conclusion of WWII. In 1974, Breville patented and produced the first sandwich toaster. In some countries, this product became so ubiquitous that it was synonymous with the generic name, similar to Xerox for photocopiers.

Over 85 years since its conception, Breville is still one of the largest and most reputable manufacturers of appliances in the world, including our runner-up for best electric kettle, the[amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’ Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’faab6b98-b0b4-11e8-b860-e9d41da7d2ed’].

Physical Properties

The components of the Breville IQ Kettle combine to create an impressive machine. First, let’s break them back apart to examine what makes this kettle boil.

Materials & Capacity

The Breville IQ Kettle has a capacity of 1.8 liters, slightly larger than the Cuisinart.

Unlike the Cuisinart, the primary water reservoir of the Breville IQ Kettle is glass – German SCHOTT glass, to be precise. Engineered for both strength and beauty, this type of tempered glass resists breakage, especially from thermal damage. It is also less porous, so it retains less residue and odor from the contents.

All that said, no glass is going to be quite as durable or as easy to clean as Stainless Steel. It does however, look very fine sitting on the counter.

Base & Power

Like the Cuisinart, the Breville IQ Kettle has a multidirectional base with cord storage. The base has a contained 1500W Rapid Boil heating element and also charges the electric components of the kettle itself.

Overall Style

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2191e9f3-b0b5-11e8-9b48-bd1bf69b275b’] is big and beautiful. The German SCHOTT glass gives a highly-appealing elegance to the entire kettle.

Functionality

Despite being composed primarily of glass, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’28d24cd0-b0b5-11e8-a38d-67e0be7ac524′] shares much of its construction with my pick for the best electric kettle: the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2eae3d55-b0b5-11e8-a746-9f51f5f1a61b’]. Let’s see if their similarities extend to the operation.

Speed

Surprisingly, the speed at which a particular kettle brings water to a boil varies depending on several factors, including air pressure (elevation). While this makes comparing the speed of two similar kettles somewhat subjective, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’35305820-b0b5-11e8-a329-bd8d0de3d9b0′] seems to take slightly longer than our winner for best electric kettle, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3b4225ee-b0b5-11e8-b7b5-b15121ff87a8′].

This is likely due to the glass construction, which allows more heat to dissipate than double-walled stainless steel. The Breville averages 4.5 to 5 minutes to a full boil – still faster than a microwave or stove.

Versatility

The Breville IQ Kettle has five temperature presets, compared to the Cuisinart’s six. With 175, 195, 200, 205, and 212 (boil) settings, it lacks the capacity to hold quite as low as the Cuisinart, which has a 165-degree setting.

Accuracy

Customer reviews note that temperature settings of the Breville IQ Kettle are highly accurate, a testament to the commitment of its innovators.

Features & Accessories

Like the Cuisinart, the Breville IQ Kettle has both a boil-dry emergency shut-off and a removable screen to prevent sediment from passing from the kettle to the cup. It also has a Keep Warm function that allows you to manually keep the contents of your kettle at a desired temperature.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’570ed911-b0b5-11e8-ba75-fbcb8b218ea3′] has a 20-minute automatic temperature hold that kicks in if you do not remove the kettle from the base after the water has reached the correct temperature.

While this is 10 minutes less than the Cuisinart, it should suffice for almost all situations. Unlike the Cuisinart, the Breville does not have a memory function. If you take the kettle off the base, you will need to reset it upon return.

While the limitations caused by these reduced features are very minimal, they are a key reason the Breville IQ Kettle did not make the cut for best electric kettle.

Ease of Use

Like the Cuisinart, the is engineered for simplicity. Let’s look at a few specific components that make the Breville user-friendly.

Handle, Spout, & Lid

The handle, lid, and spout of the Breville IQ Kettle are all ideal for speedy and safe operation. The rubber-lined handle is wide and easy to grip. The spout pours smoothly to minimize dribble and splash. When working as it should, the lid has a beautifully simple functionality. However, as I’ll note in the section on flaws, several users have singled-out the lid as a weak point in the construction.

Display & Notifications

Because the Breville IQ Kettle is transparent glass, the need for extra indicators and notifications is minimal. There are graduated markings etched into the glass to indicate water volume and maximum capacity. When the kettle has reached the desired temperature, it will beep three times and the temperature section button will remain illuminated for one minute.

Cleaning

Like the Cuisinart, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’724fed68-b0b5-11e8-8ff1-cbe270d2caf6′] has a concealed power source, so it is safe to clean. When it comes to mineral scale or other build-up, the transparent glass of the kettle itself is a double-edged sword. If the Breville is not kept pristine, its aesthetics begin to quickly decline. On the other hand, that should motivate you to be proactive in your maintenance, prolonging the superior purity of the boiled water.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Defective Lid

Several reviewers noted that the lid may fail to operate properly after a period of use.  The most common complaint is that the closing mechanism fails and the lid pops open. In addition to proving a nuisance, this could be potentially hazardous. Never overfill the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’78c3ff6e-b0b5-11e8-b6bb-adf8b687a336′] and cease use immediately if it fails to function in a significant way.

Small Opening Makes Cleaning Difficult

Yes, the Cuisinart and the Breville share this same flaw. The kettle cannot be submerged or machine washed and so must be washed by hand. In both cases, the small opening makes this a chore for people with larger hands.

Best Electric Kettle (Budget Winner): [amazon_textlink asin=’B074T6KZRK’ text=’Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’87ff3b05-b0b5-11e8-91a0-5539d01a1cc9′]

In 1910, an inventor named Frederick J Osius founded Hamilton Beach in Racine, Wisconsin. Because Osius did not care for his own name, he paid two employees $1000 for the rights to use each of their last names. In this bizarre origin tale, Hamilton Beach was named for an advertising manager named Louis Hamilton and a mechanic named Chester Beach, neither of whom owned the company.

Over 100 years later, Hamilton Beach is an international appliance and smallwares company which produces hundreds of products for the personal kitchen, including our pick for best electric kettle (budget winner), the [amazon_textlink asin=’B074T6KZRK’ text=’Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8e30eba8-b0b5-11e8-9fd1-a11ee9390d50′].

Physical Properties

The Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is built for efficiency and simplicity.

Materials & Capacity

Unlike the larger Cuisinart and Breville, the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle has only a one-liter max capacity. This is just over 4 cups, plenty for personal use or even to heat water for a small group.

The Hamilton kettle is made of glass, plastic, and stainless steel. Although evaporated water may touch the plastic and then condense back into liquid water in the kettle, only the glass and stainless surfaces touch the water as it boils. Like the Breville, the majority of the kettle itself is tempered, transparent glass.

Base & Power

Like its larger counterparts, the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle has a multidirectional base with cord storage. The same concealed 1500W heating element boils the water. Since the Hamilton is smaller, it is extremely efficient. It also boasts the 360-degree base and integrated cord-wrap.

Overall Style

The Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is compact and very attractive. While it is heating, a blue LED shines through the percolating water, making the Hamilton Beach a nice little addition to your countertop.  When you don’t need it, it tucks away in a very small footprint.

Functionality

At ¼ the price of the top two competitors for best electric kettle, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B074T6KZRK’ text=’Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b25a9577-b0b5-11e8-b63b-8f1551e480ee’] is missing a few high-end functions. That said, it does what it does extremely well.

Speed

Because the Hamilton Beach kettle heats 60% of the water volume with the same wattage as the larger kettles, it is extremely efficient. Even after losing some heat through the glass walls of the kettle, it still boils its max capacity of 1 liter in under four minutes.

Versatility

Unlike the Cuisinart and Breville, the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle only has one temperature setting: a full boil. If you want the water at a lower temperature, you have to remove the kettle from the power source yourself.

Accuracy

Since it doesn’t have multiple temperature settings, the concept of Accuracy doesn’t really factor into our evaluation of the Hamilton Beach kettle.

Features & Accessories

The economic Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is sparse in accessories. That said, it still sports a few tricks up its sleeve. This kettle still has both a boil-dry emergency shut-off and a removable screen. The attractive blue LED light kicks on when the water is heating and turns off when it reaches a boil.

It does not have a Keep Warm function or an Automatic Temperature Hold.

Ease of Use

While the [amazon_textlink asin=’B074T6KZRK’ text=’Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cb6da5de-b0b5-11e8-8573-372fa2abeee8′] may be light in functionality, it shines in ease of use.

Handle, Spout, & Lid

The stay-cool handle of the Hamilton Beach kettle is as comfortable as many more costly competitors. The spout has the same no-dribble construction. The Hamilton Beach also has the same style of lid, which can be easily operated with one hand.

Display & Notifications

Because the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is transparent glass and does not allow for variable temperature settings, there is little need for a complicated display or notifications. Graduated markings etched into the glass indicate the liquid volume up to one liter. When the kettle has come to a boil, the blue light will shut off with the heat source.

Cleaning

The Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is actually easier to clean than its more robust competitors. The opening is closer to the bottom of the pitcher and larger in comparison to the total volume, making it easier to insert hands and tools to maintain the inside of the glass.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Steam Escapes Near the Opening Mechanism

If you use the lever to open the top of the kettle while water is boiling, steam escapes very close to where your thumb is positioned. While this poses a potential safety hazard, it can be prevented by knowing this characteristic and practicing prudence during operation.

Not Ideal for Tea Preparation

This is a limitation, not a flaw. However, since the title of the article is ‘Best Electric Kettle for Tea and Coffee Lovers’, this is a point worth reiterating. Many teas are best prepared by steeping the leaves in water cooler than 212 degrees. Because the [amazon_textlink asin=’B074T6KZRK’ text=’Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e116153c-b0b5-11e8-a5d4-573871ad32f6′] does not have preset temperature settings, it is difficult to consistently prepare water at these lower temperatures.

All the Nitty Gritty

  [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e639d8e0-b0b5-11e8-b6a8-8750e51797f9′] [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ec447a9f-b0b5-11e8-ac45-6b76e8fb32b2′] [amazon_textlink asin=’B074T6KZRK’ text=’Hamilton Beach Compact’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f2014ab9-b0b5-11e8-9957-296e30a9fc11′]
Time to Boil 1 Liter 4 – 4.5 min 4.5 – 5 min < 4 minutes
Capacity 1.7 liters 1.8 liters 1 liter
# of Temp Presets Six Five None
Notification(s) Single Beep Three Beeps LED Light Turns Off
Boil-Dry Protection Alarm & Auto-Shutoff Auto-Shutoff Auto-Shutoff
Primary Material Stainless Steel Glass Glass
Temperature Hold 30 Minutes 20 Minutes No

The Bottom Line

In my opinion, any time you can learn to prepare a beloved product at home instead of paying someone else to, you should. In this independent spirit, I encourage all lovers of tea and coffee to spend some money up font and take a greater level of control over their consumption of these two fine beverages.

If you are going to be boiling water for tea, pour-over coffee, or French press coffee more than two or three times a week, I recommend investing in one of our top two competitors. Both the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003KYSLNQ’ text=’Cuisinart CPK-17′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f8532e26-b0b5-11e8-b3a7-7564626741ee’] and the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M2OI2KC’ text=’Breville IQ Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fed4d3e3-b0b5-11e8-82aa-1dc0a40f4075′] are excellent machines, with the Cuisinart edging out the Breville in just a few areas to win the title of best electric kettle.

If you are concerned with money or space conservation or just don’t boil that much water on a weekly basis, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B074T6KZRK’ text=’Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’055f061c-b0b6-11e8-9710-3f43109372d1′] is a fine piece of equipment at a bargain price. Whatever you decide to buy, always educate yourself on proper operation, and you’ll be brewing your own coffees and teas in no time. Enjoy a cup for me. Cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What happens if I steep tea leaves in boiling water?

You won’t ruin them, if that’s what you mean. They’ll still smell great and those with caffeine will still put some pep in your step. The hotter water will over extract the flavor, producing a more astringent or bitter taste. This may be unpleasant and will mask some of the subtleties. If you’ve always avoided certain types of teas because of this characteristic, it’s possible you’ve never enjoyed them when prepared properly.

Q: If I don’t feel like using a pour-over or French press, what is the best method for preparing coffee at home?

That, my friends, is a great question which is answered in Kelly Berry’s article: Best Drip Coffee Brewing Machine.

Posted on

A Complete Guide to Building Your Smart House With the Best Brands

Smart Home Product

Smart Home Product

Find the Best Smart House Products

The world has exploded with smart house products ranging from lights, switches, outlets, power strips, timers, thermostats, TV and sound systems, and security systems. Small businesses and startups are inventing their own devices to compete with the big names like Samsung, Philips, Sonos, Nest, and others. It can be tough to shop for the best smart house products. I’ve been integrating them into my own household for the past few years and have found that it can be tough to shop for the best smart house products. Not only is there plenty to choose from, the technology is constantly changing.

This series will break down who makes which smart house products, a list of most of the smart products available on the market, and which brands stand out from the rest. Hopefully, it will make your search for the smart product you need much easier.

What Is a Smart House Product?

A smart product is just like a regular product but with tech capabilities. For example, everyone knows what a normal electrical outlet is and what it does. A smart outlet communicates through a central hub over Wi-Fi or other means so you can control whatever is plugged into your smart outlets from anywhere in the world.

Sometimes, you don’t even need a hub. Most devices have an app you can control them from, so if you only have one smart product, one brand of smart products, or a kit (like a security system), you can get away without having a hub.

Amazon’s line of Echo products acts as a hub between most smart products on the market. The artificial intelligence behind the system is named Alexa. When you are shopping for smart products, and you own any model of the Amazon Echo line of products, you can automatically pair the devices together and control the smart device with your voice or with the Alexa app.

If you are in the market for the best smart house hub, click here to find out which one is the best.

What You’ll Get

In this series of articles, we’ve taken a bit of a different turn to make sure you can get as much information as possible within one publication. So, instead of having one product in each category, this article will list a brand for each category, and then under each will list all the smart products that brand makes. Still, this list will advise you on what the best brands are, because of their quality, technology, ease of use, price, and how many smart products the brand has to offer you. Without further ado…

The Winner – [amazon_textlink asin=’B076HFQ2B9′ text=’Samsung SmartThings F-MN-KIT-US-2 F 2 Home Monitoring’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2b2ec626-9fdb-11e8-9848-b113ff6fd115′]smart home products

Samsung has been a leader in most types of electronics for decades now. There is a reason they are at the top. When smart product capability hit the market, they put their collective, brilliant minds together to create a whole line of smart products around their very own hub named “[amazon_textlink asin=’B07FJGGWJL’ text=’Samsung SmarThings.’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b7d33ad1-9f25-11e8-95fa-f5cfee4466d5′]”

Although they sit at the top of the list, unfortunately, they don’t make every single kind of smart product. They should though. It would be so nice to have just one brand make everything a smart home would need. In digression, Samsung still is a formidable brand to compete with. For the consumer, they make more than enough products to likely entice a purchase. Which is why Samsung sits at the top of the smart device category. Here is a list of every smart product Samsung makes with details:

[amazon_textlink asin=’B076HFQ2B9′ text=’Samsung SmarThings Home Monitoring Kit’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c5a12a91-9f25-11e8-bee4-d576643e09bf’]smart home products

This kit is the best way to dive into the world of smart house products. It comes with plenty of devices to make your home smarter. Buying a kit like this is also going to save you money as opposed to buying every product separately. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B076HFQ2B9′ text=’Samsung SmarThings Home Monitoring Kit’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ef75a10f-9f25-11e8-b544-25b626ae32b1′] comes with:

-Samsung SmarThings Hub V.3

-Two Multi-Purpose Sensors

-Motion Sensor

-Outlet

While a home will eventually need more smart products to become fully automated, this kit will help those with little to no experience get used to everything smart products can do for you. You can also buy everything in this kit separately. You may add on more Samsung SmarThings smart home products, or you can add smart home products from any other brand. Note that with an Amazon Echo device, you can control everything with just your voice.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B06XSDFMND’ text=’Samsung Connect Home Smart Wi-Fi System’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’02fb57ae-9f26-11e8-b7e8-b5bb0f06e8c1′]smart home products

If you are looking to upgrade your wireless router and extend your Wi-Fi in your home or business, then this smart home product can be the one you are seeking. This device extends your Wi-Fi signal and ensures the fastest speeds. It also acts as a SmarThings smart home hub. You can get an amazing router and Wi-Fi extender @ 5GHz and 2.4GHz, all in one device.

This product is offered in three different packages:

Connect Home – This is the basic version of the device. It is a smart house Wi-Fi system that acts as a SmarThings home hub. It comes with a LAN cable and a power cable included in the box with instructions.

Connect Home Pro – This is an upgraded version of the basic model. The internet speeds at which it can extend are twice as fast as the basic version. It also works as a SmarThings home hub.

Connect Home 3-Pack – This kit includes 3 Samsung Connect Home Hubs for users to install all around their home or business to ensure seamless Wi-Fi connectivity. Each device doubles as a SmarThings home hub as well.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B07FJGGWJL’ text=’Samsung SmarThings Hub’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’83e8dd41-9f26-11e8-8146-c900586b6914′]

This is the device that connects every smart product you own and allows the user to control everything from one convenient application on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The SmarThings Hub is compatible with Amazon Echo devices with Amazon Alexa, allowing the user to use all the different skills Alexa has, including the ability to control the smart house with just your voice.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B00GM7V8I8′ text=’Samsung SmarThings Arrival Sensor’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’98c23c72-9f26-11e8-a9d0-89c9d9ff5ef7′]

This small sensor allows the user to receive alerts when people or pets arrive or leave a certain area, such as any doors in the house, pet doors, fences, or windows. The sensor is customizable to take different actions when it is alerted. It also allows the user to be notified when someone isn’t home or at a business at a specified time. The sensor is budget-friendly, allowing for the ability to place them at various places around the home or business.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B077JRBSSZ’ text=’Samsung SmarThings ADT Starter Kit’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a9f6d72c-9f26-11e8-b1e3-dbdf4193fe49′]

smart home products

If you have an ADT security system, you can opt to install this kit from Samsung. It comes with a touchscreen panel with ADT security hub, a motion detector, and two window and door detectors, which detect a break-in. You can also add cameras, carbon monoxide detectors, water leak detectors, alarms, door locks, and other security products. This device is compatible with Amazon Alexa as well.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B01IE35PCC’ text=’Samsung SmarThings Motion Sensor’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b6429385-9f26-11e8-8698-37f0f156feb1′]

smart home products

This device pairs perfectly with the SmarThings home hub and is customizable. The user can set it to turn on lights, cameras, sirens, thermostat, A/C, heaters, or anything else that has the smart technology or is plugged into a smart outlet. These devices work great for home security systems, but also for personal use like having the fan and lights turn on when you enter the room.

The devices are sensitive but will not be triggered by pets. These little devices have a small footprint and will save money on your energy bill by toggling the lights in your home on and off when people leave or enter a room. Each device is also reasonably priced.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B01EFIW7VW’ text=’Samsung Smart Door Lock’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c22c3259-9f26-11e8-a1d1-4dbfb55a4281′]

smart home products

This device is a futuristic touchscreen door lock that comes with 6 tags that act as keys. Two are keychain tags, two are sticker tags, and two are card tags. This smart lock is compatible with any door. The keypad may also be used to gain entry rather than using the tags included.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B00J38NVHE’ text=’Samsung SmartCam’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d101cd95-9f26-11e8-9a3a-d5b20d3630ad’]

smart home products

This camera is a full HD 1080p device with a 128-degree viewing angle and automatic night vision. One Samsung SmarThings Hub can run up to 10 cameras at once. There is a micro SD card slot to record events. It features a speaker that allows the user to speak through the camera via the app. It also features automatic motion and noise detection to begin recording.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B00MI5V5N6′ text=’Samsung SmarThings Outlet’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e03010e0-9f26-11e8-bbd4-2351699e383e’]

smart home products

This small device allows anyone to plug in any 110v plug into a regular outlet to control that device via voice command through Amazon Alexa or the Samsung SmarThings App. The outlets are customizable, so you can set a timer on one device, set a schedule for the coffee pot in the mornings, or get to work with sensors and detectors to turn on and off.

The app also sends the user alerts when the outlet has been left on. The user can customize the outlet to work with sensors to turn off when that sensor has been on for so long, or when it is triggered. These outlets save people a ton of money each year, and ultimately only take a few months to pay for themselves.

Samsung SmarThings Sensors

There are many sensors that are available, and more are being made to be available in the near future. You can get a [amazon_textlink asin=’B00MOIYIN6′ text=’water leak sensor’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f6b5246a-9f26-11e8-991a-a1810cef5ee8′],  [amazon_textlink asin=’B01IE35PCC’ text=’motion sensors’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0b5d884f-9f27-11e8-8c23-a3120598276d’], and [amazon_textlink asin=’B0118RQW3W’ text=’multi-purpose sensors’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’17fce319-9f27-11e8-84c4-61331a5c611b’] for your Samsung SmarThings home automation system.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B01DZWX5II’ text=’Samsung POWERbot Vacuum’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’399f4479-9f27-11e8-9d9b-2bbaef8b5444′]

smart home products

This robotic vacuum is completely customizable and works with Amazon Alexa. The device has great suction power and smart technology that allows the device to avoid obstacles, stairs, and remembers optimal cleaning paths. You can even see a map of where the vacuum has cleaned recently.

The vacuum can be fully operated remotely via the SmarThings app. The brush even cleans hair out of itself. It also self-docks to recharge when the battery is low. Conveniently, you can customize it to go to the garbage can when it senses the canister is full, so you can easily empty it and it will resume its duties.

Flaws But Not Dealbreakers

There aren’t really any dreadful things to say about Samsung SmarThings. The products work as they are intended to. The build quality of every device is superb and on par with all the other products they make. If one wishes to read more about customer reviews and thoughts on the products, please visit their respective Amazon pages within the links set in this article and scroll to the bottom of the page.

There are a few other products that Samsung is going to develop in the near future that everyone should be on the lookout for. These products truly are the path to the future in automating our homes. But, SmarThings smart house hubs work with many other smart house product manufacturers. If Samsung doesn’t make the product you need, you can be confident that whatever other product you buy will be compatible with Samsung and Amazon Alexa. You can really automate most of your home, beginning with the Samsung SmarThings home kit.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B076HFQ2B9′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’affe1b2a-9fdb-11e8-8f9c-236a230baf55′]

The Runner-Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B073SSK6P8′ text=’Philips (Hue) Brand’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’75eb3669-9f27-11e8-adaf-c5431b1c0814′]

smart home products

Philips is a huge name in lighting that has been around for decades. They have been making light bulbs and other products through the years that have earned the respect of the lighting industry. Now, they are fully invested in copying every product they have into a smart product. There are other brands who offer smart light bulbs and dimmer switches, along with other products in the smart lighting category, but Philips has already mastered it all. Here is a list of some of their products:

[amazon_textlink asin=’B073SSK6P8′ text=’Philips Hue Smart Bulb Pack’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8435339f-9f27-11e8-8870-1d47def8626b’]

smart home products

These light bulbs are a standard 60W pack of smart bulbs that can go into any ceiling fan, ceiling light, chandelier, etc. They are customizable through any smart home app, whether it be Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple Homekit. You can dim the lights, toggle them on/off, set schedules, timers, or have them work in unison with sensors and detectors for more customizing options.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B016AEHU70′ text=’Philips Hue Smart Dimming Kit’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’910058e9-9f27-11e8-8d4a-c37bc407d9c9′]

smart home products

This dimmer switch is completely wireless and comes with a single smart bulb. You can also buy the dimmer switch all by itself. This device does not require any type of wiring, so you can install it anywhere.

The dimmer switch can control up to 10 smart lights at once. With a Philips Hue Bridge, you can extend the connection to up to 50 smart bulbs. The user may use the app to configure quick light settings like movie night, full lighting, lights off, etc. You can also change the color of each bulb if you have the correct bulbs installed.

 

Philips also has a [amazon_textlink asin=’B016H0QZ7I’ text=’smart home hub’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b39c35bc-9f27-11e8-9621-4bcf632b43e4′] available to purchase.

Flaws But Not Dealbreakers

If you know what you are getting into when you go shopping for products under the Philips brand name, you won’t be disappointed. Their smart bulbs don’t even need Wi-Fi to work with their dimmer switches. But, you need to use the app to do all the other cool stuff the lighting systems can do.

Yes, they don’t make very many types of smart products, but the reason they ended up in the runner-up category is that no other brand makes smart lighting like Philips does. They dominate in the lighting department, and their products are very reasonably priced. Any of their products are a powerful addition to the smart house repertoire.

The Honorable Mention – All Other Smart House Brands

Since this technology has been commercialized, there have been a plethora of brands appearing with just one or two products. Sometimes, one of these random brands will have a product that is incredible. When you shop for smart house products, do your best to research every product you are looking for from every brand. Here is a list of some of the more popular brands out there and what they offer:

[amazon_textlink asin=’B075P8HCT5′ text=’Arlo ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fd43cd59-9f27-11e8-8f35-2dab435a5263′]

smart home products

This brand offers mostly security cameras. They have a ton of different models in every price category that will fit different needs and budgets.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B0131RG6VK’ text=’Nest ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’077f207a-9f28-11e8-b216-ef7d75e043ca’]

smart home productsThere isn’t another company that makes better smart thermostats. Some reach the standards but do not exceed them. Nest has a ton of different models to choose from.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B00D1M5YTG’ text=’Schlage’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1d7205de-9f28-11e8-8a2c-21af35f0f38f’] and [amazon_textlink asin=’B01N0AV4Z7′ text=’Kwikset’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3486fd15-9f28-11e8-b2bf-5fad086e319a’]

smart home products

Both of these companies produce the best smart locks for doors, windows, and other applications. There are dozens of models to choose from.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B00AEMGGU2′ text=’Sonos ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4d9d422b-9f28-11e8-8c07-8befda9f9b21′]

smart home products

This company is the leading manufacturer of smart audio kits and systems. They have a ton of models that work with any TV, projector, computer, etc.

How Do Smart Products Enhance Life Quality?

There are those that seem to be critics and ask questions like, “So, people are too lazy to get up off the couch to turn the light off?” Smart products aren’t intended to make people lazy. They are actually intended to make people more active and efficient, among a plethora of other added benefits.

Have you ever left home and couldn’t remember if you left the stove on or not? Or perhaps you worry about the safety of an elderly parent or grandparent. With a smart product hooked to your stove/oven, you can use an app to toggle the stove on/off. Left the light on again? No problem, you can turn off all your lights from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Security systems linked to smart products and smart systems have become a huge hit with everyone who owns a home. The systems are cheap, easy to install, and basically maintenance-free. The benefits? You can fully control your security system from your phone, tablet, or computer.

You can catch intruders, set off alarms, or even speak through speakers installed next to your doors. This is especially efficient to see who is at the door. They can come in while you unlock the front door, all from your smartphone.

Having a smart home streamlines your life in your home so you can be safer, spend more time doing what you love with your family, and save money.

Final Thoughts on the Best Smart Home Products

There are hundreds of other brands, models, and types of smart home products that give you and everyone else an extremely competitive market to shop in. Don’t be afraid to shop through them all to find the best smart home device or kit for your needs and budget. Once you get used to it, you will wonder how you went so long without these devices!

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Is the Craft Beer Fad Making Americans Spend More Money

We all have that one friend who we feel uncomfortable having a drink with –or near. Not because they tend to have a few too many and start to get handsy or excessively loud, but because they feel the need to lecture you on every detail and factoid that they know of that goes into the beer making process.

They feel compelled and must share with you, as well as the bartender, their extensive knowledge of the brewing process that eventually leads to the sudsy contents now inside of their glass. This friend no matter how you want to phrase it, is a beer snob.

We all know one and always try to avoid ordering beer around them because they inevitably will criticize and comment on your “limited familiarity” of micro-brewed beers and other ales and lagers (“You’re ordering Heineken…really?”).

The beer snob can be annoying if you are not really into beer culture, but when it comes down to it, they really do know their stuff and are actually a huge and ever-growing market of beer consumers that cannot be ignored anymore. The average beer snob (I’m going to stop saying “Snob” and replace it with “Enthusiast” from here on out) genuinely knows the difference between a good beer and a bad one and is not afraid to be vocal about it. This knowledge, as well as overall pickiness, makes them a growing demographic that is in no danger of slowing down.

Today we will take a look at the craft beer phenomenon and examine why it is booming so much, and making the premium beer makers nervous.

The ongoing battle between Craft and Premium beer.

For the most part, there are two competing circles in the world of beer, with the smaller circle trying to send some of their beers over into the bigger circle. Yes, there are many, many different kinds of drinkable beers such as IPA’s, Stouts, Ales, lagers…all those kinds, but those variants are not what makes up the two circles that I will be discussing today.

The two circles are made up of Premium beers and of Craft beers. Premium beers are the kinds of brews that your father and your father’s father typically drank. Beers like Coors Light, Bud Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and even Heineken qualify as Premium, and these kinds of brews are the ones that are sold nationally and beyond.

  • What are Premium beers?

The Premium beer makers brew their batches in massive quantities inside of giant factories so that they can meet the national “demand” for their beers in bars and watering holes all across the country. The individuals who prefer this kind of beer more than likely drink it out of habit and tendency more than flavor and experience.

Premium beer consumers, for example, may have a ritual of cracking open an ice-cold can of “brewski” to unwind after a hard day at the factory doing…whatever factory workers do in factories.

  • What are Craft beers?

As for Craft beers, there are far too many and independently operated breweries around the country to name and list off as examples. Every state has on average a few hundred different breweries within their borders, and each of those breweries are competing with each other to be the best.

Some Craft breweries want nothing more than to supply their local areas with the best beer possible, but other small and independent breweries are gunning for Premium beers, and are aiming to dethrone one of the “kings of beer” and take its place as the most loved and asked for when at bars all across the nation.

A quick history of Craft beer.

Craft beer got its roots in American culture from the idea that people wanted more than just what the Premium beer makers were producing. By the end of 70’s and the early 80’s, there were barely more than 10 or so different options for beer available on tap in the average bar, and many people were fed up. To fight back, some bars and beer lovers began to experiment with recipes at home and in the backrooms of their establishments. The result was what we call “Craft beer” (think of Craft as in, “arts and crafts”).

People loved what Craft beer provided them: an alternative to all of the otherwise light and low-calorie beers offered on tap by the Premium beer providers. Obviously, the Premium beer makers were not happy, but the beer snobs and beer enthusiasts rejoiced with the newly offered variety now available.

So why do beer drinkers love Craft beer so much?

Don’t get me wrong, many Craft beers can actually be pretty fantastic, offering flavors and experiences better than what you typically would experience when sticking with your favorite and regular Premium beer. Very customizable, Craft beers that stick around for longer than just a year stays in business for a solid reason: because people love them and want more and more –regardless of price.

Often times, breweries try to break through the noise with a beer that is just plain bizarre. One beer that came out not too long ago was “avocado beer”, and it came out just in time for Cinco de Mayo. The beer didn’t market too well and was supposed to serve as a tent pole for the brewery. Lesson? People like innovation with beer, but let’s not get too carried away.

Countless Craft beers are becoming so well loved and are gaining loyal followers, contrary to what critics originally thought and said about the “fad”. Why are they so loved? Because they allow a deviation from the predictable and “boring” beverage of choice from our forefathers.

This ability to create a new tradition and collect an original “beer of choice” is one of the many reasons, and one of the strongest reasons, that Craft beer has been able to survive and thrive as successfully as it has since it began booming back in the early 2000’s.

We are willing to pay a lot for what we genuinely love.

More important than the quality of the choices available to beer enthusiasts is the quantity of choices. Modern-day beer lovers are interested in sampling around and hunting for the next Craft beer that will serve as their new favorite, and they certainly don’t mind the shopping process of sampling one new brew after another.

Although Craft beer is more expensive than Premium beers that can easily be picked up at the corner convenience store, beer buyers are certainly not complaining. If the product tastes good, and also allows them to feel that they are buying a product that they have a connection to, then Craft beer lovers will pay almost any price for the goods, as well as drive and travel out to wherever they can get their hands on the product.

The modern-day beer drinker wants to see their favorite drink undergo innovation. Although there are many misfires in the beer innovation industry (remember that avocado beer?), beer enthusiasts still remain hopeful that they will find a new batch of beers that will fit their desired description of what they like best in a cold glass of suds.

Craft beer drinkers will keep buying the drink that fits their preferences until another beer surfaces that hits the mark even better than the last one. This stop-and-go motion of Craft beer drinkers is what is supporting the Craft beer industry, and is what will keep it around for years and years to come.

You never know, the brewery masters may just even iron out the kinks in avocado beer. I have high hopes for the idea, even though I still am trying to get the taste avocado out of my mouth since I tasted it last back on Cinco de Mayo.