Become a Travel Pro

Monday, March 04 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

The spring break travel season is in full swing. Skies are filled with frequent fliers eager to redeem hard-earned miles and highways are crowded with road-trippers anxious for a getaway. Whether you are a seasoned traveler with a tried-and-true routine or someone just entering the travel scene, these tips will make your trip a breeze.

Pack Your Carry-on Wisely

No one likes boarding a plane, stowing a carry-on bag, navigating to a seat and sitting down only to realize their headphones are still in the bag overhead. Travel and Leisure1 recommends packing a separate, smaller bag filled with essentials such as a cell phone, earbuds, a wallet, medicine and books. Before you board the plane, pack the smaller bag at the top of your carry-on, so it is easy to remove and keep at your seat during the flight.

Use Your Rewards

Typically credit card companies, airlines and hotels offer competitive rewards programs for loyal customers. Although keeping up with points may seem overwhelming at first, many companies offer convenient, user-friendly platforms to make the process simple. Right now, Arvest’s Consumer Credit Card earns 3X rewards2 points with each eligible travel purchase. Be sure to activate rewards as soon as possible, because bonus rewards will only be awarded from the time you activate until April 30, 2019.

Don’t have an Arvest Credit Card? Apply for a consumer credit card today and enjoy 0%3 APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, your rate will be based on credit worthiness 14.65% to 21.00%. You can also earn up to $1004 in bonus rewards. Every time you make a purchase during vacation, pay with your Arvest Personal Credit Card and earn Arvest Flex Rewards™ Points to redeem later.

Download Music

Streaming music is a common travel pastime. Unfortunately, cell phone service is often limited at some point during a trip, both on land and in the air. Avoid hours of silence and download your favorite playlists ahead of time. The music will be available with or without Wi-Fi or a cell phone signal and you will get to travel to the tune of your favorite songs.

Schedule Downtime

When planning a trip to a new destination, it is easy to pack too many events into an already-full itinerary. Back-to-back reservations may seem feasible on paper, but can lead to burnout if there is no time to breathe. Huffington Post1 interviewed a number of experienced travelers who shared their best advice for a successful trip. Multiple experts emphasized the need to schedule rest time or purposely leave gaps in your travel itinerary. This technique provides an opportunity to soak in the experience and truly immerse yourself in the new environment.

Remember Less is More

When packing for a trip, it can be tempting to bring a different outfit for each day and extra outfits for unforeseen situations. However, Sky Scanner1 encourages travelers to prioritize and pack less. Consider choosing neutrally colored clothing that is easy to layer. Pair pieces strategically and turn four shirts into eight or more outfits, by simply layering different colored sweaters or scarves. Spend less time dealing with bulky luggage and more time enjoying your much-needed vacation. Plus, if you pack less, there will be more room in your suitcase for souvenirs. Don’t forget to use your Arvest Personal Credit Card at checkout to earn rewards.

Be Open-Minded

Vacation is the perfect time to branch out and try something new, whether it is a new food item or new activity. Smarter Travel1 interviewed a freelance travel writer and editor who suggested visiting with locals in order to discover opportunities not listed in guidebooks. The trip will be filled with one-of-a-kind adventures and you will have incredible stories to share with friends and family when you return home.

1Link is a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Disclosures:

23X Rewards: Activate to earn 3X Arvest Flex Rewards points on up to $5,000 in eligible purchases made on your Arvest Personal Credit Card between March 01, 2019 and April 30, 2019 either online by clicking the activation button in your Rewards Account, or by calling the rewards phone line at (800) 356-8085 and following the prompts.  Bonus points will only be awarded on eligible purchase from the time your bonus is activated until April 30. 2019.  You will be eligible to earn 3X rewards points when you book your purchases directly with an airline, hotel, or car rental agency.  You will not earn bonus points for airfare, hotels, or car rentals bought as part of a vacation package or through a third-party travel agent or aggregator.  Timeshares, recreation camps, vacation rentals and campgrounds are not eligible.  Arvest has no control over how retailers assign Visa codes to classify their business; if retailers do not process transactions using Visa category codes applicable to this bonus offer, you will not earn bonus points on those purchases.  Arvest reserves the right to decide which purchases qualify for bonus points. Purchases can be made by the primary cardholder or any additional cardholders on a single Card Account. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, convenience check transactions, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards or purchases of other cash equivalents. Bonus points will be applied to your account within three billing cycles after your qualifying purchase. To be eligible for the bonus offer, the Card Account must be open and not in default as of the date the bonus points are applied. For complete details, ask an Arvest associate or go to arvest.com/rewards.

3Introductory Rate: 0% introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is valid on purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles from date of account opening. After that, the APR for purchases, and balance transfers will be based on your creditworthiness (between 14.65% and 21.00% APR) and will vary based on the prime rate. The APR for cash advances will vary based on your creditworthiness (between 14.65% and 21.00% APR) and will vary based on the prime rate. The transaction fee for cash advances and cash equivalent transactions is the greater of $4 or 4% of the transaction. Foreign transaction fee is 1% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. Rates apply to new accounts only and are accurate as of January 8, 2019. Subject to credit approval. Additional limitations, terms and conditions may apply.

 

4Bonus: Open a new Arvest Personal Credit Card to qualify for the one-time bonus of up to $100 after spending $500 on eligible purchases within the first (3) billing cycles of account opening. $100 bonus is awarded as 10,000 rewards points in the Arvest Flex Rewards™ program. Arvest Flex Rewards™ is a program where you can earn one point for every $1 you spend using your Arvest Credit Card. Eligible purchases can be made by the primary cardholder or any additional cardholders on a single Card Account. Limit one 10,000 points bonus per Card Account. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, convenience check transactions, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards or purchases of other cash equivalents. Bonus points will be applied to your account within three billing cycles after your qualifying purchase. To be eligible for the $100 bonus offer, the Card Account must be open and not in default as of the date the bonus points are applied. For complete details, ask an Arvest associate or go to arvest.com/bonus. Offer valid from January 1 through December 31, 2019.

Member FDIC

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

    

Tags: Financial Education
 

Indoor Activities for Cold Winter Months

Monday, February 25 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

The winter months can be bittersweet. While cold weather sometimes means snow days and sledding, too often it means staying inside for days at a time. Rather than binging a new TV show or suffering with the symptoms of cabin-fever, check out these great indoor activities.

Museum Hop

How often do you pass museums while driving through town without stopping to see what they have to offer? Often, museum admission is free or relatively inexpensive. Make a list of several places you are interested in visiting, research the cost and spend the day touring as many as possible.

Museums USA1 provides a database of museums in the United States. It is organized by state, so you can easily search your location for a great list of places to visit. If you have a limited amount of time, encourage each individual in your group to pick a different museum, and dedicate a couple hours each weekend to exploring a new place.

Bake Something New

Nothing combats the winter blues like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Search the internet or your favorite cookbook for new recipes, and choose several to make. The smell of baked goods will warm up your home instantly and you may even discover a new favorite recipe.

If you are out of baking essentials and have to make a quick grocery run, be sure to pay with an Arvest Personal Credit Card to earn rewards points on everyday purchases. Not an Arvest customer? Apply for an Arvest Personal Credit Card today and enjoy 0%2 APR for 12 billing cycles. After that, your rate will be based on credit worthiness 14.65% to 21.00%. You can also earn up to $1003 in bonus rewards.

Try a Fitness Class

If you are tired of sitting on the couch or cannot stop eating the dessert you baked, consider signing up for an indoor fitness class. A simple jog or brisk walk have been replaced by spin classes, group classes and at-home workout videos. NBC News1 put together a list of the best workouts for 2019, complete with pros and cons of each option.

Do not endure cold temperatures during the winter. Try out several new indoor workouts and find the one that best fits your interests, schedule and lifestyle. You can even choose to set goals to achieve each week and keep track of your progress. Stay motivated and it will be a lot easier to stay active.

Start a Book Series

Cold winter days are perfect for relaxing with a good book, so why not dive into a new series? Pick a different genre each time and expand your knowledge with each turn of the page. If the weather is too bad to drive to the library or local bookstore, consider signing up for a book subscription box, which is delivered by mail. The Washington Post1 provides a list of nine different boxes as well as their price and product details.

Whether you decide to purchase a new book from the bookstore, or sign up for a subscription online, be sure to pay with your Arvest Personal Credit Card and earn rewards points to redeem later.

1Link is a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

2Introductory Rate: 0% introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is valid on purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles from date of account opening. After that, the APR for purchases, and balance transfers will be based on your creditworthiness (between 14.65% and 21.00% APR) and will vary based on the prime rate. The APR for cash advances will vary based on your creditworthiness (between 14.65% and 21.00% APR) and will vary based on the prime rate. The transaction fee for cash advances and cash equivalent transactions is the greater of $4 or 4% of the transaction. Foreign transaction fee is 1% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. Rates apply to new accounts only and are accurate as of January 8, 2019. Subject to credit approval. Additional limitations, terms and conditions may apply.

3Bonus: Open a new Arvest Personal Credit Card to qualify for the one-time bonus of up to $100 after spending $500 on eligible purchases within the first (3) billing cycles of account opening. $100 bonus is awarded as 10,000 rewards points in the Arvest Flex Rewards™ program. Arvest Flex Rewards™ is a program where you can earn one point for every $1 you spend using your Arvest Credit Card. Eligible purchases can be made by the primary cardholder or any additional cardholders on a single Card Account. Limit one 10,000 points bonus per Card Account. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, convenience check transactions, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards or purchases of other cash equivalents. Bonus points will be applied to your account within three billing cycles after your qualifying purchase. To be eligible for the $100 bonus offer, the Card Account must be open and not in default as of the date the bonus points are applied. For complete details, ask an Arvest associate or go to arvest.com/bonus. Offer valid from January 1 through December 31, 2019.

Member FDIC

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

 

Tags: Credit Cards, Financial Education
 

Avoiding Home Improvement Scams

Wednesday, January 30 at 02:00 PM
Category: Arvest News

Signs of a Home Improvement Scam

Finding a capable and reliable contractor is important — a home improvement project gone wrong can cost you more than money; it can lead to delays, subpar work, and even legal problems.

A good ad isn’t proof a contractor does quality work. Find out for yourself. Check with friends, neighbors, or co-workers who’ve had improvement work done. Also check out a contractor’s reputation on online ratings sites you trust. Get written estimates from several firms, keeping in mind the lowest bidder may not be the best choice.

How can you tell if a contractor might not be reputable? Don’t do business with someone who:

  • Pressures you for an immediate decision.
  • Only accepts cash, asks you to pay everything up-front, or tells you to borrow money from a lender the contractor knows.
  • Is not licensed. Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded. Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area.
  • “Just happens” to have materials left over from a previous job.
  • Knocks on your door for business or offers you discounts for finding other customers.
  • Asks you to get the required building permits.
  • Tells you your job will be a "demonstration” or offers a lifetime warranty or long-term guarantee.
  • Doesn’t list a business number in the local telephone directory.

For more tips, check out Hiring a Contractor.

The Home Improvement Loan Scam

Here’s how it works: a contractor calls or comes to your door and offers a deal to install a new roof or remodel your kitchen. He says he can arrange financing through a lender he knows. After he starts, he asks you to sign papers; they may be blank — or he might hustle you along and not give you time to read through them. Later you find out you’ve agreed to a home equity loan with a high interest rate, points, and fees. What’s worse, the work on your home isn’t done right or isn’t completed, and the contractor — who may already have been paid by the lender — has lost interest.

To avoid a loan scam, don’t:

  • Agree to a home equity loan if you don’t have the money to make the payments.
  • Sign a document you haven’t read or that has blank spaces to be filled in after you sign.
  • Let anyone pressure you into signing any document.
  • Deed your property to anyone. Consult an attorney, a knowledgeable family member, or someone else you trust if you’re asked to.
  • Agree to financing through your contractor without shopping around and comparing loan terms.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Tags: Consumer Protection, Financial Education
 

How to Protect Your Retirement in Volatile Times

Wednesday, January 30 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

The volatility of the stock market over the past few years has resulted in many investors seeing their retirement accounts shrink in value. While the stock prices may rise over time, many individuals are being forced to re-examine their retirement plans. For older individuals with less time until their planned retirement, a serious review of their financial future may be essential.

Within the current environment, here are some options to consider as you refine your retirement plan:

Save more while you are working

Be sure to take full advantage of any company offered retirement plan. If you participate in a 401(k) plan, contribute as much as you can and at least enough to earn the entire match the company may offer.

Set up an automatic savings plan. Have a set amount deducted from each paycheck and deposited into an account you earmark for retirement.

Examine your monthly household spending to see if there are ways to spend a little less. Refinancing your mortgage, increasing your insurance deductibles and reducing spending on discretionary items can add up.

Earn more on your retirement assets before you retire

Examine how your funds are invested and how your "cash" is employed. A well thought out asset allocation for your investments, one that incorporates your time horizon and risk tolerance, can provide diversification and some peace of mind. Generally, the younger you are, the more of your long-term investments should be in equities. Over time, high quality stocks have produced greater returns than bonds and cash investments.

Your cash should be working hard too. Take advantage of higher interest rates on accounts that provide less liquidity and on longer term CDs if you can leave the money in the accounts or CDs for longer periods.

Work longer until you retire

Delaying your retirement enables you to have more for retirement in several ways:

  • While working, you can save more in your retirement plan and through regular savings.

  • Especially with your tax-deferred retirement accounts, leaving all your funds within the account enable them to grow faster. For example, if you delay retirement for five years and earn just 5% on the funds, you will have about 27% more just from the earnings.

  • Delaying when you start collecting Social Security will increase your monthly benefits. If you are currently 55 years old, you can start collecting full Social Security retirement benefits at age 66. If you start at age 62, you will only get about 75% of that amount and if you wait and start collecting at age 70, you will get about 130% of that amount.

Spend less during your retirement years

Everyone wants a "full and active lifestyle" during retirement. Perhaps you should consider changing exactly what the "full and active lifestyle" means. Less travel, less expensive cars or foregoing a second home (or opting for a smaller one) will make a difference. Anticipating and setting sensible spending priorities will probably be part of many individuals' retirement.

 

Tags: Financial Education, Retirement
 

6 Tips to Sleep Better and Save Money

Wednesday, January 30 at 02:00 PM
Category: Arvest News

It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep is good for your health, but did you know it can also be good for your wallet?

The average person spends about 1/3 of their life sleeping – that adds up to around 25 years! Studies show that poor sleeping habits can cause long-term medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Sleep deprivation can also affect your brain functionality, leading to mental exhaustion and impaired decision-making. Any of these consequences from poor sleep can have a hefty impact on your bank account, whether it be from increased medical bills or poor financial decisions made while tired. By adding a few healthy habits to your daily routine, however, you have the opportunity improve your health and your savings.

To maximize your sleep, The National Sleep Foundation offers these tips for healthy sleeping habits:

  • Establish a sleep routine. Try to go bed and wake up at the same time every day – including weekends.
  • Exercise. Staying active during the day will help you sleep when your head hits the pillow.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals at night. Wait at least two to three hours after eating before going to bed.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Shop around and test products until you find what is right for you.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime routine. Calming activities like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to soft music can help ease you into sleep mode.
  • Create a sleep haven. The ideal sleeping environment should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees, quiet, and free of light. Consider a fan, ear plugs, or eye masks to obtain the optimal setting for sleep.

Make these tips a part of your routine to enjoy the benefits of a good night’s sleep – and maybe some extra savings too! For more information about the importance of sleep and tips on how to catch more Zzz’s, grab your pillow, put on your PJs, and check out The National Sleep Foundation.

Tags: Financial Education

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