CREDIT & MONEY MANAGEMENT


Best of Everything 2010: Best Credit and Savings Deals

Best online savings account

No monthly fees and a respectable rate.
Earn 1.4% on a high-yield savings account with Sallie Mae Bank. Open an account -- there is no minimum-balance requirement and no monthly fee -- with as little as $1. You can transfer money electronically to a linked account, but you’re allowed only six withdrawals a month.

Best credit cards if you...

Want cash back on purchases
American Express Blue Cash
www.americanexpress.com
Spend $6,500 with this no-fee card and you start getting 5% cash back on drugstore items, gas and groceries, and 1.25% back on the rest of your spending. Up to that threshold, you receive 1% back on basics, such as gas, groceries and drugstore purchases, and 0.5% on everything else.

Like to travel
PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express
www.penfed.org
You earn five points per dollar spent on airfare, three on dining and hotels, and one on everything else. Spend $650 in the first three months and receive 20,000 bonus points. You can fly cross-country for 25,900 points. The $50 annual fee is waived for the first year.

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Need a low interest rate
Zions Bank Low Rate Visa Platinum Card
www.zionsbank.com
This no-fee card has a 7% variable interest rate. Shop at participating merchants at www.zionscashrewards.com and receive up to 20% cash back on your purchases and 5% cash back when you book travel on the Web site.

Want your college kid to have one
Citi Forward Visa for College Students
www.citibank.com
Spend less than your credit limit and pay on time for three months and your rate (which starts at 13%) drops by 0.25 percentage point. You can do that eight times for a maximum cut of two percentage points. Earn bonus points for dollars spent and redeem them for cash, travel or merchandise.

Best 529 savings plans

Find one to suit your investing preference.

Tax savings
This is probably your state’s plan if it offers a tax break. Get the break no matter where you invest if you live in Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Missouri or Pennsylvania.

Low fees
We recommend the Vanguard index-fund portfolios available in the direct-sold version of the Illinois Bright Start College Savings Program.

Adviser plans
The Virginia CollegeAmerica plan isn’t cheap, but your adviser can craft a top-notch portfolio from American Funds.

Best accounts for kids

Open a low-cost bank account or a Roth IRA.
Young Americans Bank, in Denver, is the only kids-only bank in the U.S. It offers savings and checking accounts, credit cards, and loans. It takes just $10 to open a savings account (an adult must cosign) that earns 0.1%. An ATM card costs $5 annually, and you can make two free withdrawals a month. If your teen earns money from a part-time job, consider opening a custodial Roth IRA at Charles Schwab. The account offers a variety of mutual funds.

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