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10 secrets to maximizing credit card rewards for your business

(Business Finance) Credit card rewards are an easy way to cash in, but most people don’t know how to use them properly or where extra money is hiding – here, we tell you how to find it!

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Mo’ money, less problems

Sorry, but Notorious B.I.G. was wrong – more money doesn’t mean more problems, it means less problems like being able to pay staff and keep the lights on. When you lead a company, you’re responsible for squeezing every penny out of profits that you possibly can, so whether you’re a solopreneur or running a Fortune 500 brand, there may be one more stone unturned – credit cards.

When credit cards are issued for executives and various staff, there are rewards just waiting to be claimed that thousands fail to do. That just doesn’t make financial sense. So how exactly can you maximize credit rewards for your business? Matthew Goldman, CEO & Co-Founder, Wallaby Financial offers ten secrets below in his own words that you’ll only see here on AG:

  1. Charge everything you can: It sounds simple, but more than half of B2B payments are still done by check according to the 2013 AFP Electronic Payments Survey. Many vendors, large and small, will accept credit cards for purchases, sometimes up to $25,000 per charge. As we’ll see in the other tips, you can earn a lot of money with credit cards.
  2. Use a business card, not a personal card: For many small businesses, the owner makes most of the purchases and just uses his or her own credit card. These cards aren’t designed or optimized for businesses. The best business cards give bonus points at office supply stores, on gas and other big business expense categories.
  3. Know your travel and get the right card: If travel is part of your business, you probably find that you go to the same places on the same airlines and stay at the same hotels over and over. But do you have the right card? With a business airlines or hotel card, you will earn bonus points on those purchases which you can redeem for a well-earned vacation or to save costs at the office.
  4. Take advantage of built-in discount programs: There’s more than just rewards out there. American Express business cards come with OPEN, which offers cash back discounts at FedEx Office, Hertz Rentacar and HP, among other partners.
  5. Look for relationship benefits: Banks such as Bank of America, and some community banks, will boost your rewards (up to 75%) for having large deposits or investment accounts with them. This can make a mediocre card into an amazing rewards card.
  6. Redeem frequently: Points often lose value over time. As a business, you may be spending in excess of $250,000 per year on credit cards and earning hundreds of thousands of points. Don’t let them lose value or expire, use them frequently for travel, discounts, and cash back.
  7. Use transferrable points to stack up the rewards: Cards like American Express Membership Rewards Cards or Chase Ink business cards have transferrable points. This means you can take those Amex Membership Rewards Points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points and deposit them in another program (like American Airlines or Hilton Hotels). When you do this, the points stack up faster leading to bigger and better redemptions.
  8. Take advantage of built-in protections: Many business cards come with rental car, travel and other insurance protections. It’s not cash back, but it can save you big money to decline expense insurance and warranty coverage at the store and you can depend on your card issuer to take care of it.
  9. Have a solid 2% everywhere card: Whether you pursue the strategy of using multiple business cards to maximize your rewards or not, your everyday business card should be earning you 2% cash back on everything. Capital One’s Spark Cash Card just does this, meaning you pay less on everything you charge.
  10. Take advantage of lucrative sign-up bonuses: Now that you’re ready to go sign-up for some new credit cards, get the ones with the biggest sign-up offers. Many cards will waive a first year fee and provide 10,000 to 100,000 points for achieving spending in the first few months. These can be worth hundreds–even up to $1,000. These bonuses will get you kicked off to a great rewards start.

How many of these tips had you taken action on? And how many had you not considered? If you’re like most professionals, you just found some extra dollars to line the company pockets, congrats!

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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Business Finance

Can you afford missing a paycheck? Finance tips for freelancers

(FINANCE) Freelancers who are not always promised a regular paycheck could benefit from staying on top of their finances. Here’s our tips!

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Most Americans don’t have a regular savings account and could not handle a $1,000 emergency, let alone miss practically a month of pay. We all could benefit from some careful reflection about the precarious nature of our personal finances.

Particularly those of us who don’t receive a regular paycheck.

Entrepreneurs and those invested in the gig economy have volatile incomes, and literally no promise of a paycheck ever – that can impact your personal finances in a number of ways.

Variable incomes are normal for this group and can impact entrepreneurs in ways as simple as handling debt.

If this is you – here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you deal with the volatility of living on a variable income and handling your personal finances.  

  • Set up an emergency fund. Start with 500 if you have to, and remember this is an emergency fund for your personal expenses, not your business. If you have an emergency fund, make sure you identify what an emergency is and also be prepared to put money back when it comes out. If you have a hard time not spending money in front of you, put your money in a local bank or CU that you don’t have immediate access too.
  • Stick to a budget. when you can’t forecast your income appropriately, controlling expenses is so critical it’s the few things that are in your control.
  • Don’t mix business with personal. While you may be pouring your personal energy and time into your start-up or gig, be careful about mixing expenses for two reasons: First, it messes up your budget. You need to have separate budgets for personal and business. Second, there could be tax challenges – consult a tax professional for more information. Here’s a little primer to get you started.
  • Save for retirement. There are tax benefits and come on, don’t wait till you can’t work anymore. Also, an IRA IS NOT AN EMERGENCY FUND.
  • Practice good financial behaviors. Automate bill pay. Online statements. Digital receipt tracking. The more you can automate your life, the better you are. You already have so many demands on your time, reduce that so you can spend more time doing what you love and what matters.
  • Consider diversifying your income. Either ensure you have multiple strings or a backup gig (even if it’s just uber driving) or be prepared to do temporary or contract labor during your slow seasons.

The path to entrepreneurship is rough. If the government can be unstable, those of you who work in the world of startups, gigs, and entrepreneurship, need to be even more on your toes. The “normal recommendation” for saving is 10% of your income, but normal may not be enough for you. Be prepared and save (more) of your paycheck.

Disclaimer: I am neither a tax nor investment professional. This is personal financial advice and I encourage you to visit a professional if you need more specific plans of action.

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Business Finance

Under-representation of women in fintech: Let’s talk about it

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Representation of women in fintech remains scarce despite a prevalent population of interest. Why is this the case, and what can we do about it?

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Woman reading a document in front of her computer, one of the women in fintech.

Women are 50% of the population – so why are there only 9 of us on the 2020 Forbes Fintech 50?

I’m personally shocked by how underrepresented women are in such a lucrative industry. By 2022, it’s predicted that fintech, or financial tech, will be worth $26.5 trillion, and we cannot afford to miss out.

And I’m serious when I say fintech is truly taking over. This includes payment processing, online and mobile banking, person-to-person payments (think Venmo or Cash App), financial software, to name a few. For some perspective, half of consumers use digital banking services as the primary way to manage their money. That’s a big deal.

So why does it matter that women are drastically underrepresented in leading roles at these companies?

  • Women CEOs receive only 2.7% of all VC funding – that is astonishingly low, considering that the remaining 97.3% is secured by their male counterparts.
  • While a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review on leadership skills found that women scored higher than men in 17 out of 19 categories (I could’ve told you that), women founders make up only 17% of fintech companies. Some of the categories tested on were:
    • Bold leadership
    • Taking initiative
    • Resilience
    • High integrity & honesty
    • Collaboration and teamwork (this is a big one!)
    • Inspiring & motivating others

If you’re a woman interested in business, tech, or entrepreneurship looking to break into the big leagues, here’s some exclusive advice from lady CEOs, founders, and COOs:

  • Stay Passionate
    Suneera Madhani, Founder + CEO of Fattmerchant, says: “…remember why you started and hold that close to your heart when times get tough.”
  • Be Open to Learning
    “Never behave as the smartest person in the room because you may miss some of the best ideas.” Says Snejina, Co-founder + CEO of Insurify.
  • Trust Your Intuition
    As the Founder + CEO of Tala, Shivani Siroya urges us to: “Stay excited, focused on results and be incredibly optimist. It’s okay to really believe in your gut – just make sure that you see the results with it.”

2021 is a new year full of opportunity – even though the odds are (and always have been) stacked against us, let’s have this be the year where women techies and business owners capitalize on their leadership skills. We have lost time – and profit – to account for.

Author’s Note: Thank you to CreditRepair for the linked infographic!

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Business Finance

TikTok users are making bank by copying Congress peoples’ investments

(FINANCE) TikTok, the short-form video platform, has users trading stocks tips. The newest strategy: following Congress peoples’ stock moves.

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TikTok isn’t just for funny dances, crude jokes, and kids born after the year 2000 (but crazy to think, they aren’t kids anymore, they could be 21…time flies). The short-form video platform that soared to be the #1 most downloaded app during the pandemic is giving tips to youngsters and millennials for their finances. The newest strategy: following and copying Congress’ stock moves.

This is in part to the not-so-surprising news of insider trading among politicians and the ability to duplicate trades of another user on platforms such as Iris, whose website says…

“Invest together with your family, friends, and brilliant people all over the world. Get real-time notifications when others make trades and copy their moves.”

Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, are the prime examples of government traders (or traitors, you decide) to watch. For example, Paul made $5.3 million through call options to buy 4,000 shares of Alphabet before the House Judiciary Committee voted on antitrust regulations. He also exercised $1.95 million worth of Microsoft stock just 2 weeks prior to the company’s awarded contract worth $22 billion for the use of their VR headsets in military training. Lastly, before President Joe Biden announced another incentive program for EV manufacturers, he also paid Tesla stock options for $1 million.

Nancy Pelosi at the podium.

Christopher Johns, the cofounder of Iris, said that every trade “inevitably turned out to be such a long-term winner.” Wonder how that’s possible (eye roll). He adds, “if they’re the ones passing the laws, it’s probably smart to keep up and see what they’re buying.”

And yes, their stock picks are considered public trading activity and this is perfectly legal. Trading is no longer a lone man in a dark room behind 3 large computer screens of graphs or Jim Cramer screaming in the background- it’s a full-on social activity, just like everything else nowadays.

There is a whole community behind these meme cryptos, penny stocks, and short squeezes. You’ll find them on r/wallstreetbets, Elon Musk’s Twitter, Facebook groups, and of course, trading TikTok, all contributing to the “Eat the Rich” scheme of Gamestop/AMC, the elaborate rise and fall of Dogecoin, and the now trending, 2nd dog-specific coin, Shiba Inu.

Laugh all you want, but these kids are working smarter, not harder, and even outsmarting the best in the league, by following the best in the league.

AMC, Gamestop, and Dogecoin.

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