Credit card issuersÂ have consumers right where they want them, lending money at high-interest ratesÂ and earning money from many different fees. Even reward cards benefit the issuers, because all the additionalÂ perksÂ and rewards they provide are covered by the increased merchant fees, which essentially means theÂ credit card companyÂ offers you extra money to incentivize you to spend, and then demands this money from the retailers.
It’s a good gig, but some consumers believe they can beat the credit card companiesÂ and one of the ways they do this is via something known asÂ credit card churning.
What isÂ Credit Card Churning?
Many reward cards offerÂ sign-up bonusesÂ to entice consumers to apply. Not only can you get regularÂ cash back, statement credit, and air miles, but you’ll often get a reward just for signing up. For instance, manyÂ rewards credit cardsÂ offer a lump sum payment to all consumers who spend a specific sum of money during the first three months.
Credit card churningÂ is about taking advantage of these bonuses, and getting maximum benefits with as little cost as possible.
“Churners” will sign up for multiple different reward cards in a short space of time, collect as many of these bonuses as they can, clear the card balance, and then reap the rewards.
DoesÂ Credit Card ChurningÂ Work?
Credit card churningÂ does work, to an extent. Reward credit cards typically don’t require you to spend that much money to receive the sign up bonus, with most bonuses activated for a spend of just $500 to $1,000 over those first three months. This is easily achievable for most credit card users, as the average spend for reward cards is over $800 a month.
If you haveÂ good credit, it’s possible to sign up to multiple credit cards, collectÂ bonus offersÂ without increasing your usual spend, and get everything from hotel stays to free flights,Â cash back,Â gift cards, statement credit, and more.
However, it’s something that manyÂ credit card companiesÂ are trying to stop, as they don’t benefit from users who collectÂ sign-up bonuses, don’t accumulate debt, and then pay off their balance in full. As a result, you may face restrictions with regards to how many bonuses you can collect within a specified timeframe.Â
What’s more, there are several things that can go wrong when you’re playing with multipleÂ new accountsÂ like this, as all information is sent to theÂ credit bureausÂ and could leave a significant mark on yourÂ credit report.
Dangers of Churning
Even if theÂ credit card companiesÂ don’t prevent you from acquiring multipleÂ new credit cards, there are several issues you could face, ones that will offset any benefits achieved from those generousÂ sign-up bonuses, including:
1. You Could be Hit with Hefty Fees
Many reward credit cards haveÂ annual fees, and these average around $95 each, with some premiumÂ rewardsÂ cardsÂ going as high as $250 and even $500. At best, these fees will reduce theÂ amount of moneyÂ you receive, at worst they will completely offset all the benefits and leave you with a negative balance.
Annual feesÂ aren’t the only fees that will reduce your profits. You may also be charged fees every time you withdraw cash, gamble, make a foreign transaction or miss a payment,
2. YourÂ Credit ScoreÂ Will Drop
Every time you apply for aÂ new credit card, you will receive aÂ hard inquiry, which will show on yourÂ credit reportÂ and reduce yourÂ FICOÂ scoreÂ by anywhere from 2 to 5 points. Rate shopping, which bundles multiple inquiries into one, doesn’t apply toÂ credit card applications, soÂ credit cardÂ churnersÂ tend to receive manyÂ hard inquiries.
AÂ new accountÂ can also reduce yourÂ credit score. 15% of your score is based on the length of your accounts while 10% is based on how manyÂ new accountsÂ you have. As soon as thatÂ credit card accountÂ opens, your average age will drop, you’ll have anotherÂ new account, and yourÂ credit scoreÂ will suffer as a result.
The damage done by aÂ new credit cardÂ isn’t as severe as you might think, but if you keep applying and adding thoseÂ new accounts, the score reduction will be noticeable. You could go fromÂ Excellent CreditÂ toÂ Good Credit, or from Good to Fair, and that makes a massive difference if you have a home loan or auto loan application on the horizon.
Your credit utilization ratio also plays a role here. This ratio is calculated by comparing your total debt to yourÂ available credit. If you have a debt of $3,000 spread across three credit cards with a totalÂ credit limitÂ of $6,000, your credit utilization ratio is 50%. The higher this score is, the more of an impact it will have on yourÂ credit score, and this is key, as credit utilization accounts for a whopping 30% of your score.
Your credit utilization ratio is actually one of the reasons yourÂ credit scoreÂ doesn’t take that big of a hit when you openÂ new cards, because you’re adding a newÂ credit limitÂ that has yet to accumulate debt, which means this ratio grows. However, if you max that card out, this ratio will take a hit, and if you then clear the debt and close it, all those initial benefits will disappear.
You can keep the card active, of course, but this is not recommended if you’re churning.
3. You’re at Risk of AccumulatingÂ Credit Card Debt
EveryÂ new cardÂ you open and every time yourÂ credit limitÂ grows, you run the risk of falling into a cycle of persistent debt. This is especially true whereÂ credit card rewardsÂ are concerned, as consumers spend much more on these cards than they do on non-reward credit cards.
Very few consumers accumulateÂ credit card debtÂ out of choice. It’s not like a loanâitâs not something they acquire because they want to make a big purchase they can’t afford. In most cases, the debt creeps up steadily. They pay it off in full every month, only to hit a rough patch. Once that happens, they miss a month and promise themselves they’ll cover everything the next month, only for it to grow bigger and bigger.
Before they realize it, they have a mass ofÂ credit card debtÂ and are stuck paying little more than the minimum every month.Â
If you start using a credit card just to accumulate rewards and you have several on the go, it’s very easy to get stuck in this cycle, at which point you’ll start paying interest and it will likely cost you more than the rewards earn you.
4. It’s Hard to Keep Track
Opening one credit card after another isn’t too difficult, providing you clear the balances in full and then close the card. However, if you’re opening several cards at once then you may lose track, in which case you could forget about balances, fees, and interest charges, and miss your chance to collectÂ airline milesÂ cash back, and other rewards.
How to Credit Churn Effectively
To credit churn effectively, look for theÂ best rewardsÂ and most generousÂ credit card offers, making sure they:
- Suit Your Needs:Â A travelÂ rewards cardÂ is useless if you don’t travel; a store card is no good if you don’t shop at that store. Look forÂ rewards programsÂ that benefit you personally, as opposed to simply focusing on the ones with the highest rates of return.
- AvoidÂ Annual Fees:Â AnÂ annual feeÂ can undo all your hard work and should, therefore, be avoided. Many cards have a $0Â annual fee, others charge $95 but waive the fee for theÂ first year. Both of these are good options forÂ credit card churning.
- Don’t Accumulate Fees:Â Understand how and why you might be charged cash advance fees and foreign transaction fees and avoid them at all costs. The fees are not as straightforward as you might think and are charged for multiple purchases.
- Plan Ahead:Â Make a note of theÂ bonus offerÂ and terms, plan ahead, and make sure you meet these terms by theÂ due datesÂ and that you cover the balance in full before interest has a chance to accumulate.
- Don’t Spend for the Sake of It:Â Finally, and most importantly, don’t spend money just to accumulate more rewards. As soon as you start increasing your spending just to earn a few extra bucks, you’ve lost. If you spend an average of $500 a month, don’t sign up for a card that requires you to spend $3,000 in the first three months, as it will encourage bad habits.Â
What Should You do if it Goes Wrong?
There are many ways thatÂ credit card churningÂ could go wrong, some more serious than others. Fortunately, there are solutions to all these problems, even forÂ cardholdersÂ who are completely new to this technique:
Spending RequirementsÂ Aren’t MetÂ
If you fail to meet the requirements of the bonus, all is not lost. Your score has taken a minor hit, but providing you followed the guidelines above, you shouldn’t have lost any money.
You now have two options: You can either clear the balance as normal and move onto your next card, taking what you have learned and trying again, or you can keep the card as a back-up or a long-term option.Â
Credit card churningÂ requires you to cycle through multiple issuers andÂ rewards programs, never sticking with a single card for more than a few months. But you need some stability as well, so if you don’t already have a credit card to use as a backup, and if that card doesn’t charge high fees or rates, keep it and use it for emergency purchases or general use.
Creditor Refuses the Application
Creditors can refuse an application for a number of reasons. If this isn’t your first experience of churning, there’s a chance they know what you’re doing and are concerned about how the card will be used. However, this is rare, and in most cases, youâll be refused because yourÂ credit scoreÂ is too low.
Many reward credit cards have a minimumÂ FICOÂ scoreÂ requirement of 670, others, including premiumÂ American ExpressÂ cards, require scores above 700. You can find more details aboutÂ credit scoreÂ requirements in theÂ fine printÂ of allÂ credit card offers.
YourÂ Credit ScoreÂ Takes a Hit
As discussed already, credit card churning can reduce yourÂ credit scoreÂ by a handful of points and the higher your score is, the more points you are likely to lose. Fortunately, all of this is reversible.
Firstly, try not to panic and focus on the bigger picture. WhileÂ new accountsÂ and credit length account for 25% of your total score,Â payment historyÂ and credit utilization account for 65%, so if you keep making payments on your accounts and don’t accumulate too muchÂ credit card debt, your score will stabilize.
You Accumulate Too Much Debt
Credit card debtÂ is really the only lasting and serious issue that can result fromÂ credit card churning. You’ll still earn benefits on a rolling balance, but your interest charges and fees will typically cost you much more than the benefits provide, and this is true even for theÂ best credit cardsÂ and the most generous reward programs.
If this happens, it’s time to putÂ credit card churningÂ on the back-burner and focus on clearing your debts instead. Sign up for aÂ balance transferÂ credit card and move your debt to a card that has a 0% APR for at least 15 months. This will give you time to assess your situation, take control of yourÂ credit history, and start chipping away at that debt.
What is Credit Card Churning? Dangers and Benefits is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Signing the back of your credit card is an important security step for protecting your cardâs information if it should fall into the wrong hands. Merchants are supposed to check that the signature on the card matches the signature on the sales receipt as a security precaution. If a card has no signature on the back, they arenât required to process the ensuing payment.
Should You Sign the Back of Your Credit Card?
Signing the back of your credit card is always better than not, without exception. Itâs another step provided by your credit card company to try and keep your personal information as safe as possible. When used in conjunction with the card verification value (CVV) on your card, it creates a line of defense should a fraudster try to swipe your plastic.
While the signature itself doesnât protect you, the ability for a salesman to match it to your existing official signatures is where its value lies. This is done most commonly with your driverâs license, or if youâre abroad, your passport is a fine stand-in. In other words, taking a few seconds to sign that little black or white strip could be the difference between your identity being stolen and not.
Hereâs a look at how the major credit payment networks handle unsigned cards:
Mastercard urges merchants in its payment network not to accept charges from customers with unsigned credit cards. On the back of every Mastercard, it even says ânot valid unless signed.â
The company tries to instill in merchants that they should not process customer transactions unless the customerâs signature appears in the signature space on the back of the card.
If the card has no signature, merchants are to request the customer sign the card. A merchant also will need to see a confirming form of identification.
At Visa, merchants must verify that the signature on the back of any card matches the customerâs signature on the transaction receipt and any identification. They want to know you are who you say you are and recreating the same signature on demand when you sign for a credit card transaction is one way to do it.
Visa considers an unsigned credit card to be invalid. The words âNot Valid Without Signatureâ appear above, below or beside the signature panel on all Visa cards. Turn over the card and youâll see it. And like Mastercard, Visa urges merchants not to accept unsigned credit cards.
When a customer presents an unsigned Visa card to a merchant for payment, Visa requires a merchant to check the customerâs identification by requesting a government-issued form of ID.
Where permissible by state law, the Visa merchant may also write the customerâs ID serial number and expiration date on the sales receipt. (Beginning in California in 1971, the recording of personal information during credit card transactions has become illegal, with the passage of the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act.)
Visa also instructs merchants to ask the customer to sign the card, within full view of the merchant. They then check that the customerâs newly written signature on the credit card matches the signature on the customerâs ID. If a customer refuses to sign a Visa card, the card is considered invalid and cannot be processed. Merchants will then be forced to ask the customer for another form of payment.
Discover keeps things very simple. The company urges its cardholders to sign the backs of their Discover cards as soon as they activate them. This is because the signature makes the card valid and a cashier may decline the transaction if the card is not signed.
American Express also urges retailers to compare a customerâs signature on the back of an American Express card with the transaction sales receipt. And if an American Express card is presented unsigned, the clerk is to request a photo ID of the customer with a signature. Following this, they must request the customer sign the back of the American Express card and the sales receipt while the clerk is holding on to the customerâs photo ID.
Writing âSee IDâ on a Credit Card
Writing âsee IDâ or âcheck IDâ on a credit card might seem like a great way to protect from fraud. But it actually may invalidate the card. This is because only your valid signature that a merchant can match with a signature on a sales receipt is acceptable. In some cases, the merchant may ask you for another card to make your purchase. To save yourself from a slower-than-needed transaction at the cash register, sign your credit card as intended.
Tips for Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud
- Only carry the credit cards you need. When you travel, keep a list of the credit cards that you have with you. Make note of their full account numbers and expiration dates, as well as contact numbers for the issuers. It will come in handy if something should happen to your wallet, phone or both when traveling.
- Go paperless and start checking your credit card statements online to avoid having to keep and shred your paper statements. Just be sure to keep your online passwords in a safe place and to update them from time to time.
- Check your credit card transactions each month to check for errors or suspicious activity. Quickly report any transaction you donât recognize to your card issuer.
Find the Top 3 Financial Advisors for You
- Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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The post Should You Sign the Back of Your Credit Card? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
How far you live from work, school and other places you frequent can cost you time, money and health. The U.S. Census says that the average commute takes Americans 27.6 minutes each way. Thatâs more than 240 hours annually, if you commute twice every workday in 2021. And now that many people have cut back their commutes by working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be thinking about how to save money by carpooling or biking, or you might consider moving to shorten the commuter distance. In either case, SmartAsset examined the largest cities in America to uncover the worst commutes in 2021. Find out how your commute measures up against them.
We compared data from the 100 largest U.S. cities and ranked the worst commutes by six key metrics: commuters as a percentage of workers, average travel time to work, five-year change in average travel time, percentage of workers with a commute of more than 60 minutes, five-year change in percentage of workers with a commute of over 60 minutes, and transportation as a percentage of income. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology below.
This is SmartAssetâs second study on the worst commutes in America. Check out the 2020 version here.
- California leads the country as the state with the worst commutes. Eight out of the 11 cities on this list are located in the Golden State, averaging 33.6 minutes in travel time to work. Commuters in those cities need twice as long as those with the shortest commute â in Lubbock, Texas, which averages a little more than 16 minutes on a trip to work.
- The overwhelming majority of workers in America are commuters. On average, 94.3% of workers in the 100 largest U.S. cities are commuters, based on the most recently available Census data from 2019. Scottsdale, Arizona has the smallest percentage of commuters, but it still has 82.1% of its workers traveling to their jobs. Newark, New Jersey has the highest percentage, with 98% of workers averaging almost 35 minutes commuting.
- The Midwest still offers better commutes. Cities in Northeastern, Southern and Western states tend to rank in the worst third of the study for their less-than-ideal commutes. While Chicago, Illinois and Cincinnati, Ohio crack the top 35 cities with the worst commutes, all other Midwestern cities rank in the bottom half of the list for their relatively short commutes.
1. Riverside, CA
Ranked as the worst commuting city in America, Riverside, California takes the greatest toll on its workers in transit, with 18.6% of them averaging more than 60 minutes on a trip to work. And data shows that commutes are getting longer, with a 3.7% five-year increase (2014 to 2019) in workers traveling for more than one hour. Riverside commutes average 33.9 minutes each way, and this travel time has also increased 13.38% over the same five years.
2. Stockton, CA
Ranking second-worst, Stockton, California saw an increase of 18.68% in average travel time over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019. Data shows that 17.8% of workers in this Central Valley city average more than 60 minutes on their commute to work, the fifth-highest percentage for this metric across all 100 cities we studied. The average travel time for residents there is 32.4%, ranking 11th overall.
3. Hialeah, CA
Commute times in Hialeah, Florida, a Miami suburb, have spiked more than any other city in the study with a 26.81% jump between 2014 and 2019. Hialeah has also seen the biggest percentage 2014-to-2019 increase for workers commuting longer than 60 minutes, a 6.1% uptick. However, it is important to note that the cityâs percentage of commuters is relatively small: With just 91% of all workers traveling to work, this city ranks 90th out of 100 for this metric in our study.
4. Glendale, AZ
Between 2014 and 2019, the number of workers in Glendale, Arizona with commutes longer than an hour increased 5.6%. This is the second-highest uptick for this metric overall. The percentage of workers with a commute longer than 60 minutes is 12.1%, ranking 16th-highest out of 100. Data shows that with 94.9% of Glendale workers commuting, they average 31.5 minutes on each trip.
5. Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, California has seen a five-year (2014 to 2019) increase of 3.3% in workers commuting longer than 60 minutes, the ninth-biggest jump for this metric in the study. With 93.5% of the workforce commuting, 15.4% of Angeleno workers need more than one hour each way to their jobs, the 11th-highest percentage for this metric overall. That said, they only spend 7.91% of their income on commuting, ranking 77th out of 100 for this metric.
6. Oakland, CA
Workers in Oakland, California average 34.4 minutes on each trip to work, the seventh-longest travel time in the study. Oaklanders also rank seventh-highest for the percentage of workers with trips longer than 60 minutes, with 16% of them making treks longer than an hour to the office in 2019. However, Oakland has one of the cheapest commutes, as workers there spend only 5.45% of their income on travel to work, the fourth-lowest rate for this metric overall.
7. Fremont, CA
Fremont, California has seen a 4.3% increase in five years for workers commuting longer than 60 minutes on each trip, the fifth-highest in the study. Residents there also have the third-longest travel time, averaging 36.4 minutes on each commute, and the second-largest proportion of the workforce commuting longer than one hour, at 20.2%. Fremont workers, however, spend only 5.45% of their income on travel to work, tying for fourth-lowest for this metric.
8. San Jose, CA
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose, California has the most affordable transportation on our list. Workers there spend only 5% of their income on travel to work. Despite those relatively low costs, San Jose still ranks as the eighth-worst commuting city on our list. Workers average 31.7 minutes on each commute, and they have seen a 14.44% increase in travel time over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019. Data also shows that San Jose has seen a 4.8% increase over that time period in commuters traveling more than one hour per trip.
9. San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, California averages 34.7 minutes on each commute, the sixth-longest travel time in the study. The Bay Area city also has one of the largest groups of workers commuting the longest, with 15.7% needing more than 60 minutes to commute one way. That said, San Francisco workers have a relatively affordable commute, as residents there spend only 5.45% of their income on travel for work. The city ties for fourth-lowest out of 100 for this metric.
10. New York, NY (tie)
New York City ties with Long Beach, California for the final spot in the 11 cities where residents have the worst commutes. The average travel time for New Yorkers is 41.7 minutes, the longest travel time in our study. New York City also has the highest percentage of workers who travel more than 60 minutes each way, at 27.2%. Despite the duration, the city ranks 16th-lowest out of 100 for transportation costs, with workers spending less than 8% of their income on commuting.
10. Long Beach, CA (tie)
Long Beach, California ties with New York as the 10th-worst U.S. city for residentsâ commutes. Residents there have seen a 2.1% increase over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019 in the number of workers traveling more than one hour to work each day. Long Beach has the 12th-longest commute on our list, averaging 32 minutes for each trip. And 14.9% of the workforce is traveling for longer than 60 minutes during each trip, the 12th-largest for this metric in the study.
Data and Methodology
To find the cities with the worst commutes, we compared the 100 largest cities in the country across the following metrics:
- Commuters as a percentage of workers. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Average travel time to work in 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Five-year change in average travel time. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 and 2014 1-year American Community Surveys.
- Percentage of workers with a commute of longer than 60 minutes. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Five-year change in percentage of workers with a commute of longer than 60 minutes. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 and 2014 1-year American Community Surveys.
- Transportation as a percentage of income. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey and the March 2020 MIT Living Wage Study.
First, we ranked each city in each metric. We then found each city average ranking, giving all metrics an equal weight except for average travel time, which received a double weight. Next, we ranked the cities based on this average, giving the city with the highest average an index score of 100 and the city with the lowest average an index score of 0.
Tips for Managing Your Money While on the Go
- Locate a one-stop shop for expert financial support. Need something to do on a long commute? Think about finding a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now
- Take a new route in your budget management. If transportation is eating up a lot of money, consider creating a budget using SmartAssetâs free budget tool.
- Plan your road to retirement. Itâs never too early â or too late, for that matter â to start saving as much as you can for retirement. Get ready for your golden years by saving using a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan.
Questions about our study? Contact email@example.com.
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The post Cities Where Residents Have the Worst Commutes â 2021 Edition appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
Surveys consistently show that no credit card reward is more popular than cold, hard cash. Indeed, cash back cards came out well ahead of other types of rewards cards in a recent CreditCards.com survey, which found that close to half of U.S. adults own a cash back credit card.
And for good reason: Instead of having to decipher a complex redemption scheme, you can opt for a simple, straightforward reward and use it in the way that fits you best.
Here we take a look at some of the most common types of cash back redemption, along with some of the restrictions you may encounter when redeeming your rewards.
How cash back cards work
Cash back cards come in a variety of flavors, but they all fundamentally work the same way: As you make purchases with your card, you earn cash rewards at a set rate. There are three major types of cash back cards.
- Flat-rate cash back cards offer the same percentage of cash back for all purchases, usually between 1% and 2%.
- Bonus category cash back cards typically reward some purchases, like groceries or dining, at a higher rate, while rewarding general purchases at 1%.
- Rotating bonus category cash back cards have dynamic bonus categories that automatically change or allow you to select a different bonus category after a certain length of time.
See related:Â What is cash back?
Ways to redeem cash back
Depending on your card and issuer, you may have a variety of choices in how you redeem your cash back rewards. Some issuers even allow you to set up an automatic redemption, meaning your redemption would automatically initiate after a set number of days or after you earn a certain amount in rewards.
The most common ways to redeem cash back are:
- A statement credit
- A direct deposit to a bank account
- A check
- Gift cards
Redeeming cash back as a statement credit
One of the most common ways to redeem cash back is as aÂ statement credit. A statement credit is money credited to your account that reduces your card balance. For example, if you were to spend $1,000 with a card that offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase, youâd earn $15 in cash back rewards; and if you were to redeem this cash back as a statement credit, your balance would decrease by $15 to $985.
Blue Cash PreferredÂ® Card from American Express, for example, requires you to have earned $25 in cash back before you can redeem as a statement credit.
Once youâve met your cardâs redemption requirements, you can simply choose a statement credit as your preferred cash back redemption.
Redeeming cash back as a check or direct deposit
A slightly smaller number of credit card rewards programs let you redeem your rewards for âtrueâ cash back in the form of a check or direct deposit to your bank account. Claiming your cash back in this way gives you a bit more leeway since you can save or spend your rewards however you like instead of having them âlockedâ into a particular card account.
As with statement credits, the requirements for requesting a check vary from card to card, with some issuers requiring you to have earned a minimum amount of cash back before you can request a check and others imposing relatively few restrictions.
Direct deposits tend to be a bit trickier across the board, especially if you donât already have a banking relationship with your credit card issuer.
- TheÂ Bank of AmericaÂ® Cash Rewards credit card, for example, will only let you redeem cash back as direct deposit if you have a checking or savings account with Bank of America.
- TheÂ CitiÂ® Double Cash Card lets you redeem your cash back as a direct deposit only if you have a linked Citi account or a checking account from which youâve paid a Citi credit card bill at least twice. While the Double Cash card requires you to have earned at least $25 in cash back to redeem as a statement credit, thereâs no minimum to redeem as a direct deposit.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise VisaÂ® cardÂ lets you claim your cash back via an ATM (in $20 increments only) if you have a Wells Fargo Bank account.
Automatic cash back redemption
Along with manually requesting a statement credit, check or direct deposit, a number of cards allow you to set up automatic cash back redemption. If your card allows automatic redemption, your cash back is generally distributed at set times or after youâve earned a certain amount.
- TheÂ Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and, for example, allow you to schedule automatic cash back redemption via statement credit or check at a set time once per year or once youâve reached a cash back earnings threshold ($25, $50, $100, $200, $500 or $1,500).
- Even some cards designed for credit-builders, like theÂ Credit One Bank American ExpressÂ® Card, allow automatic redemption as a statement credit, offering those looking to improve their financial habits a âset-it-and-forget-itâ cash back savings tool that will periodically knock off a chunk of their credit card balance.
Travel, gift cards and merchandise on an issuerâs online portal
Most credit card issuers also give you the option of redeeming your cash back through a rewards portal for online shopping or as gift cards to select department stores, restaurants, video streaming services and more.
- TheÂ Discover itÂ® Cash Backcard, for example, lets you redeem your cash back for gift cards from shopping partners once youâve earned $5 in cash back (gift cards range from $5 to $200, in increments of $5).
- TheÂ Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card*lets you redeem your points for purchases on Amazon.com, as a statement credit or deposit, or for gift cards and travel â all at a rate of 1 cent per point.
Having the option to use your rewards for travel allows you to enjoy the benefits of travel rewards with a cash back card and is especially common among cash back cards that use points or allow you toÂ choose between cash back and points.
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great example. You can earn unlimited cash back at a rate of 5% cash back on every purchase, which translates to 1.5 points per dollar if redeemed for travel in theÂ Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
- Similarly, the Citi Double Cash Card lets you transfer your cash back toÂ Citi ThankYou Rewards and redeem for travel rewards, as well as gift cards, merchandise and other purchases through the Pay with Points program.
Cash back redemption options on popular rewards cards
As you can see, cash back redemption options vary considerably from issuer to issuer and card to card. Hereâs a closer look at how cash back redemption breaks down with some of the most popular cash back credit cards.
|Card||Redeem as a statement credit?||Redeem as a check?||Redeem as a direct deposit?|
|Blue Cash PreferredÂ® Card from American Express||Yes (once youâve earned $25 in cash back)||No||No|
|Bank of AmericaÂ® Cash Rewards credit card||Yes (once youâve earned $25 in cash back)||Yes (once youâve earned $25 in cash back)||Yes (into a Bank of America checking or savings account, once youâve earned $25 in cash back)|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Yes, anytime||Yes, anytime||No|
|Chase Freedom UnlimitedÂ®||Yes, anytime||Yes, anytime||Yes|
|CitiÂ® Double Cash Card||Yes (once youâve earned $25 in cash back)||Yes (once youâve earned $25 in cash back)||Yes (to a linked Citi savings or checking account or to a checking account from which youâve paid your Citi credit card bill at least twice)|
|Discover itÂ® Cash Back||Yes, anytime||No||Yes|
Best cash back redemption options
With all those options for redeeming for cash, which one is best?
The key point to consider is whether your rewards lose any value when redeemed in a certain way. You want to make sure you are getting the most value back, so be careful if you redeem for merchandise, which can be worth less than rewards redeemed for straight cash.
That said, unless your issuer offers a bonus for claiming your rewards as a statement credit instead of âtrueâ cash back, you should simply stick to whichever option is most convenient.
One drawback to cash rewards is they often donât feel like actual rewards because they get swept up into your ongoing finances. If that bothers you, you might consider taking note of how much you are receiving in cash rewards, then rewarding yourself by spending that amount on something you want, so that you feel like youâre getting a reward.
Either way, thatâs the best aspect of cash back rewards: Itâs your decision.
Choosing the best cash back credit card for you
Your redemption options are just one consideration when choosing a credit card. Consider these factors:
When shopping around for cash back cards, find the card that will work the hardest for you, not the other way around. In other words, a cash back rate of 5% at restaurants is great, but not if you rarely eat out. Bottom line: Find a credit card that matches the largest portions of your budget.
Also, be honest about how much thought you want to give to your credit card. If you prefer a âset and forgetâ approach, a flat-rate card is a better choice than a rotating bonus category card.
With so many great no annual fee cards, you might wonder why you would ever get a card with an annual fee. But often, the rewards rates are so much better that it actually makes sense to get the card with the annual fee. For example, comparing the Blue Cash EverydayÂ® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash PreferredÂ® Card from American Express, we found that consumers who spend more than $3,200 annually at U.S. supermarkets ($267 per month) were actually better off with Blue Cash Preferred, which has a $95 annual fee.
From redemption options to bonus categories, each cash back card is designed for a different type of consumer. If you havenât found your perfect match yet, try our CardMatchâ¢ tool, which can deliver personalized credit card offers in seconds with no impact on your credit score.
All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuers did not provide the content, nor are they responsible for its accuracy.
Surgery is a prestigious field that requires a high degree of skill, dedication and hard work of its members. Not surprisingly, surgeonsâ compensation reflects this fact, as the average salary of a surgeon was $255,110 in 2018. This figure can vary slightly depending on where you live and the type of institution at which you work. Moreover, the path to becoming a surgeon is long and involves a substantial amount of schooling, which might result in student loan debt.
Average Salary of a Surgeon: The Basics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a surgeon was $255,110 per year in 2018. That comes out to an hourly wage of $122.65 per hour assuming a 40-hour work week â though the typical surgeon works longer hours than that. Even the lowest-paid 10% of surgeons earn $94,960 per year, so the chances are high that becoming a surgeon will result in a six-figure salary. The average salary of a surgeon is higher than the average salary of other doctors, with the exception of anesthesiologists, who earn roughly as much as surgeons.
The top-paying state for surgeons is Nebraska, with a mean annual salary of $287,890. Following Nebraska is Maine, New Jersey, Maryland and Kansas. Top-paying metro area for surgeons include Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN; Winchester, WV-VA; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; New Orleans-Metairie, LA; and Bowling Green, KY.
Where Surgeons Work
According to BLS data, most of the surgeons in the U.S. work in physiciansâ offices, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $265,920. Second to physiciansâ offices for the highest concentration of surgeons are General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $225,700. Colleges, universities and professional schools are next up. There, surgeons earn an annual mean wage of $175,410. A smaller number of surgeons are employed in outpatient Care Centers, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $277,670. Last up are special hospitals. There, the mean annual wage for surgeons is $235,770.
Becoming a Surgeon
You may have heard that the cost of becoming a doctor, including the cost of medical school and other expenses, has soared. Aspiring surgeons must first get a bachelorâs degree from an accredited college, preferably in a scientific field like biology.
Then comes the Medical College Acceptance Test (MCAT) and applications to medical schools. The application process can get expensive quickly, as many schools require in-person interviews without reimbursing applicants for travel expenses.
If accepted, youâll then spend four years in medical school earning your M.D. Once youâve accomplished that, youâll almost certainly enter a residency program at a hospital. According to a 2018 survey by Medscape, the average medical resident earns a salary of $59,300, up $2,100 from the previous year. General surgery residents earned slightly less ($58,800), but more specialized residents like those practicing neurological surgery earned more ($61,800).
According to the American College of Surgeons, surgical residency programs last five years for general surgery. But some residency programs are longer than five years. For example, thoracic surgery and pediatric surgery both require residents to complete the five-year general surgery residency, plus two additional years of field-specific surgical residency.
Surgeons must also be licensed and certified. The fees for the licensing exam are the same regardless as specialty, but the application and exam fees for board certification vary by specialty. Maintenance of certification is also required. Itâs not a set-it-and-forget-it qualification. The American Board of Surgery requires continuing education, as well as an exam at 10-year intervals.
Surgeons earn some of the highest salaries in the country. However, the costs associated with becoming a surgeon are high, and student debt may eat into surgeonsâ high salaries for years. The costs of maintaining certification and professional insurance are significant ongoing costs associated with being a surgeon.
Tips for Forging a Career Path
- Your salary dictates a lot of your financial life, such as how much you can afford to pay in rent and the slice of your paycheck that goes to taxes. However, there are some principles that apply no matter your income bracket, like the importance of an emergency fund and a well-funded retirement account.
- Whether youâre earning a six-figure surgeonâs salary or living on a more modest income, itâs smart to work with a financial advisor to manage your money. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/megaflopp, Â©iStock.com/XiXinXing, Â©iStock.com/shapecharge
The post The Average Salary of a Surgeon appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
To the uninitiated, the stock exchange can seem like a casino, with news and social media feeds sharing stories of investors striking it rich by playing the stock market. But while there are winners, there are also losersâthose who lose money playing the market, sometimes pulling their money out of the market because theyâre afraid of the potential of losing money.
Playing the stock market does come with investment risks. For new investors learning how to play the stock market can be a frustrating, humbling, and in some cases, incredibly rewarding experience.
While investing is a serious business, playing the stock market does have an element of fun to it. Investors who do their research and tune into the news and business cycles can take advantage of trends that might better enable them to earn good returns on investment.
This is what you need to know about how to play the stock market, the risks involved, and what makes the market so alluring.
Playing the Stock Market: What Does it Mean?
Despite the phrase âplayingâ the stock market, itâs important to make the distinction between investing and gambling up front.
safe investmentâin a way each investment can feel like a gamble. However, itâs important to keep in mind that the market is not a casino, and just because thereâs risk involved doesnât mean that âplaying the marketâ is the same as playing roulette.
So what does âplaying the stock marketâ actually mean? In short, it means that someone has gained access to and is actively participating in the markets. That may mean purchasing shares of a hot new IPO, or buying a stock simply because Warren Buffett did. âPlaying,â in this sense, means that someone is investing money in stocks.
Playing the Market: Risks and Rewards
Learning how to play the stock marketâin other words, become a good investorâtakes time and patience. Itâs good to know what, exactly, the market could throw at you, and that means knowing the basics of the risks and rewards of playing the market.
In a broad sense, the most obvious risk of playing the market is that an investor will lose their investment. But on a more granular level, investors face a number of different types of risks, especially when it comes to stocks. These include market risk, liquidity risk, and business risks, which can manifest in a variety of ways in the real world.
A disappointing earnings report can crater a stockâs value, for instance. Or a national emergency, like a viral pandemic, can affect the market at large, causing an investorâs portfolio to deflate. Investors are also at the mercy of inflationâand stagflation, too.
For some investors, thereâs also the risk of playing a bit too safeâthat is, theyâre not taking enough risk with their investing decisions, and as such, miss out on potential gains.
Risks reap rewards, as the old trope goes. And generally speaking, the more risk one assumes, the bigger the potential for rewardsâthough there is no guarantee. But playing the market with a sound strategy and proper risk mitigation tends to earn investors money over time.
Investors can earn returns in a couple of different ways:
• By seeing the value of their investment increase. The value of individual stocks rise and fall depending on a multitude of factors, but the market overall tends to rise over time, and has fully recovered from every single downturn itâs ever experienced.
• By earning dividend income. Dividends can also be reinvested, in order to further grow your investments.
• By leaving their money in the market. Itâs worth mentioning that the longer an investor keeps their money in the market, the bigger the potential rewards of investing are.
How to Play the Stock Market Wisely
Nobody wants to start investing only to lose money or otherwise see their portfolioâs value fall right off the bat. Here are a few tips regarding how to play the stock market, that can help reduce risk:
Invest for the Long-term
The market tends to go up with time, and has recovered from every previous dip and drop. For investors, that means that simply keeping their money in the market is a solid strategy to mitigate the risks of short-term market drops. (Thatâs not to say that the market couldnât experience a catastrophic fall at some point in the future and never recover. But it is to say: History is on the investorsâ side.)
Consider: If an investor buys stocks today, and the market falls tomorrow, they risk losing a portion of their investment by selling it at the decreased price. But if the investor commits to a buy-and-hold strategyâthey donât sell the investment in the short-term, and instead wait for its value to recoverâthey effectively mitigate the risks of short-term market dips.
Do Your Research
Itâs always smart for an investor to do their homework and evaluate a stock before they buy. While a gambler canât use any data or analysis to predict what a slot machine is going to do on the next pull of the lever, investors can look at a companyâs performance and reports to try and get a sense of how strong (or weak) a potential investment could be.
Understanding stock performance can be an intensive process. Some investors can find themselves elbow-deep in technical analysis, poring over charts and graphs to predict a stockâs next moves. But many investors are looking to merely do their due diligence by trying to make sure that a company is profitable, has a plan to remain profitable, and that its shares could increase in value over time.
Diversification basically means that an investor isnât putting all of their eggs into one basket.
For example, they might not want their portfolio to comprise only two airline stocks, because if something were to happen that stalls air travel around the world, their portfolio would likely be heavily affected. But if they instead invested in five different stocks across a number of different industries, their portfolio might still take a hit if air travel plummets, but not nearly as severely as if its holdings were concentrated in the travel sector.
Use Dollar-cost Averaging
Dollar-cost averaging can also be a wise strategy. Essentially, it means making a series of small investments over time, rather than one lump-sum investment. Since an investor is now buying at a number of different price points (some may be high, some low), the average purchase price smooths out potential risks from price swings.
Conversely, an investor that buys at a single price-point will have their performance tied to that single price.
While playing the market may be thrillingâand potentially lucrativeâit is risky. But investors who have done their homework and who are entering the market with a sound strategy can blunt those risks to a degree.
By researching stocks ahead of time, and employing risk-reducing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification when building a portfolio, an investor is more likely to be effective at mitigating risk.
With SoFi InvestÂ®, members can devise their own investing strategy, and play the market how they want, when they want. Whether youâre interested in short-term trading or have your eyes on a longer-term prize, SoFi Invest is a way to dip your toes into the stock market and start investing today.
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individualâs specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi canât guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term âSoFi Investâ refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated InvestingâThe Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (âSofi Wealthâ). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (âSofi Securities).
2) Active InvestingâThe Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Digital AssetsâThe Digital Assets platform is owned by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, http://www.sofi.com/legal.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The post The Risks of Playing The Stock Market appeared first on SoFi.
Ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers have settled into new routines and developed new spending patterns. One of the spending categories that hasnât lost its popularity is groceries, as many people are cooking more at home and eating out less frequently.
See related: Grocery shopping and COVID-19: Whatâs changed and how to save money
Credit card issuers are adapting to these new patterns as well.
On Oct. 20, 2020, Chase announced it would be temporarily adding grocery rewards to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card* and Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This comes on top of other limited time offers the issuer has recently added, such as limited time redemption options through Pay Yourself Back and gas and grocery store purchases counting toward the Reserve cardâs $300 travel credit.
See related: Guide to Chase Pay Yourself Back
âThroughout this very unique year, weâve provided our cardmembers flexibility and options to get the most out of their cards â¦ Â as well as limited time opportunities to earn more points on certain spending,â Chase said in a statement. âWe want to continue to give our cardmembers ways to maximize value where they are spending today.â
On top of that, on Jan. 28, 2021, Chase added an offer for new Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders: a one-time automatic $50 statement credit on grocery store purchases.
How the limited time grocery rewards work
Starting Nov. 1, 2020 and running through April 30, 2021, Sapphire Reserve cardmembers will earn 3 points per dollar on grocery store purchases, and Preferred cardmembers will earn 2 points per dollar, up to $1,000 in purchases per month. According to Chase, this will be automatic for existing and new cardmembers.
See related: Best credit cards for grocery shopping
This provides cardholders with an excellent opportunity to earn some of the most valuable travel points while travel is still limited.
The new offer also makes Sapphire cards more competitive when compared with the recently updated Chase Freedom card suite. In August, the issuer replaced the Chase Freedom with the Chase Freedom Flex and added three new valuable rewards categories to both the Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited, namely bonus cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and on dining and drugstore purchases.
Considering neither Freedom card charges an annual fee and both earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, some cardholders may be wondering if the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth keeping during a time when most of its premium travel perks might go unused.
Fortunately, all the limited time offers coupled with temporary grocery rewards make it much easier to get value of these popular travel cards â even when youâre not traveling.
How the grocery statement credit works
Another incentive to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card now is the new one-time $50 statement credit on grocery purchases.
New cardmembers will get access to the statement credit automatically and be able to use it for 12 months from the time of account opening. Eligible purchases include purchases made at merchants coded as grocery stores. Warehouse club purchases wonât qualify.
Chase hasnât announced the offerâs expiration date yet.
Chase Sapphire cards value at a glance
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Newly added limited-time benefits||Cardmembers earn more on grocery store purchases: Nov. 1, 2020 â April 30, 2021
Gas and grocery purchases count toward Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit:Â
|New cardmembers receive an automatic statement credit:
Cardmembers earn more on grocery store purchases: Nov. 1, 2020 â April 30, 2021
While travel isnât the most lucrative rewards category at the moment, your Chase Sapphire card can still bring you plenty of value, especially given the temporary rewards categories and other limited time offers.
*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.
If the free version of Calm isnât enough, users can upgrade to a premium subscription for .99/year and get access to even more mindful content.
Simple Habitâs goal is in its name â make daily meditation a simple, easy habit. This free app offers five-minute meditations, progress trackers and downloadable meditations for situations like air travel or remote adventures.
1. MyLife Meditation: Mindfulness
To access even more mindfulness content, Simple Habit has a premium subscription for .99/month.
This free meditation app promotes community by offering numerous discussion groups and ways to connect with other Insight Timer users.
It has programs guided by top mindfulness experts from Google, former monks and leading mental health experts. Whether you need a quick decompression before heading into work or a longer, pre-sleep session, Simple Habit makes meditation easy.
2. Simple Habit Sleep, Meditation
Ten Percent Happier opens by asking users a series of questions about their life and lifestyle, then curating a plan specific to each person. You can select goals such as fostering daily calm, lowering anxiety levels and more. You are also invited to choose the way you learn best, whether thatâs through audio, reading, videos or hands-on experiences.
For those who are ready to kick things up a notch, the meditation app has a premium membership for .99/month or .99/year that unlocks 400+ activities, guided journaling prompts, yoga and soundscapes.
The Ten Percent Happier app was Appleâs best of 2018 award winner and was the top app in the Wirecutterâs list of âBest Meditation Appsâ .
This app lets you track the number of days youâve meditated, helping to make using Calm a rewarding habit.
3. Ten Percent Happier
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Headspace is changing the meditation app space by offering mindful workouts, too. Led by Olympians Kim Glass and Leon Taylor, Headspace workouts combine mental grounding with body-pumping training sessions to promote holistic wellness.
With 71,000 ratings totalling 4.8/5 stars on the Apple App Store, Simple Habit Sleep, Meditation is one of the top free mindfulness apps available today.
The app is free to download. But to access its features, you can join the Breethe membership community for .99/month or .99/year.
Another heavy hitter in the free meditation app space is Insight Timer, which was named App of the Year by TIME Magazine and Womenâs Health.
With more than 10 million downloads, Breethe: Meditation & Sleep is one of the best meditation apps in the mindfulness market.
According to the app, users were 82% more likely to be less anxious with consistent use of MyLife Meditation: Mindfulness. Sign us up! This free meditation app also offers breathing exercises to catalyze calm and groundedness, tracking mental health with a daily feelings log, and guided meditations recommended just for you.
5. Insight Timer
Hereâs the catch: the Ten Percent Happier program isnât free , though you can start with a 14-day free trial before paying .99 for a one-year subscription.
One of Headspaceâs more unique offerings is its Weathering the Storm collection, a series of guided meditations, prompts, body scans and stories geared toward helping folks navigate the challenges presented by the past year.
Kristin Jenny is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Selected as the Apple App Storeâs âApp of the Dayâ in 2020, MyLife Meditation: Mindfulness is a free meditation app that is personalized to how you feel and only asks for a few minutes of your day.
Whether youâre looking to sleep better, move through an addiction, improve leadership at work, or work on your meditation practice, Insight Timer has a guided meditation for you.
With its free version, users get access to loads of guided meditations, sleep stories, ambient sounds and breath timers that all seek to promote a more tranquil, fulfilling life.
Calm is one of the original mindfulness programs for smart devices. It boasts 40 million downloads worldwide and 1.1 million reviews on the Apple App Store.
This affordable (but not free) meditation app has a free 14-day trial before charging .99/month or .99/year (which brings the monthly total down to .99/month).
Calm offers a wide variety of meditations, from flight anxiety to SOS panic sessions designed to ground users in the present. Some of its meditations and bedtime stories are led by famous voices like Bindi Irwin, Matthew McConaughey and Stephen Fry, to name a few.
7. Breethe: Meditation & Sleep
Best of all, thanks to modern technology, meditation has never been so accessible. You need no equipment, and there are hundreds of free meditation apps and mindfulness apps to assist you in finding your zen.
Headspace is one of the best-known mental health apps. Its nearly five-star rating and 65 million downloadsshow Headspace is on it for meditation practice.
Wellness experts like mindfulness coach Lynne Goldberg walk you through practices to help you achieve a smiling mind and a calm body. Breethe seeks to help all users find peace with their emotions, physical sensations and current events through deliberate mental health practices.
Breethe has over 1,000 tracks of nature sounds, guided meditations, bedtime stories, five-minute and three-minute meditations and more.
This easy-to-use app is led by Emmy-award winning journalist Dan Harris, who works with some of the best meditation teachers in the world to bring you sessions focused on meditation practices like self-compassion, emotional balance and navigating crises.
Insight Timer is a must-have for those who want a wide variety of meditation practices, as the app offers thousands of guided meditations and is constantly adding more. It also has no-cost music and ambient soundtracks to promote better sleep and focus.
Stress is something we all deal with in varying forms. The past 12 months have tested everyoneâs ability to cope with unprecedented stressors, and well, itâs tiring having to adapt to a constantly changing landscape. Meditation is scientifically proven to lower stress levels and help soothe the hamster wheel of thoughts racing through our minds.