Not everyone wants to talk about money, so it can be hard to get solid advice from people you know. That’s where Wirecutter Money can help. The Money team takes the deep-dive Wirecutter approach and applies it to credit cards, software, and services to make recommendations that can set you on the path to a secure financial future. We asked Wirecutter Money senior editor Korrena Bailie to tell us what her team plans to review this year, how the Money team keeps up with changing rates, and what her own terrifying new year’s money resolution is.
We believe that Wirecutter-ing your finances is primarily about reducing friction or stress in your life—mostly in small ways, but sometimes in big ones.
There’s no reason money topics have to cause fear or tension, and our job is to recommend the credit cards, software, and behavioral tricks that will ease those feelings.
Wirecutter-ing your finances can mean paying a little up front for greater benefits later on. For example, we love the Chase Sapphire Reserve, our pick for the best travel credit card. You pay a $450 annual fee up front, but the rewards and travel credits will most likely put more money in your pocket than with any other card. In addition, you get excellent travel insurance, which means your vacation won’t crumble beneath you if your flight is late or someone rear-ends your rental car.
It also means picking the right software to do your taxes or the best budgeting app, or even thinking about saving for retirement. How many fights have you had with a significant other over money? For nearly all of these problems, there’s a better solution. And we’re committed to finding them for our readers.
This one may not be surprising to everyone, but we’ve found again and again that money begets money. So if you already have a substantial amount of money (and, ideally, good credit), opportunities to make that money work in your favor come at you again and again, from lucrative sign-up bonuses to 0% interest offers to waived fees on bank accounts—I could go on forever.
The flip side is how limited things are for you if you’re struggling financially. Financial products for people who are starting out or recovering from financial troubles are pretty poor as a rule. In this case, banks have no incentive to help you because you’re part of a group of people who will earn them the least money. We’re starting to see some innovation in this regard, but it remains an uphill battle. Whenever we review cards or services for people who have poor credit or little cash flow, we do a lot of research to ensure we’re recommending something that’s actually good, not just the least bad of a terrible bunch.
Wirecutter Money is a team of three personal finance experts who have several years of collective experience—we’re very familiar with product gotchas, and we have a lot of experience weeding out the good from the bad.
We make our recommendations based on a lot of old-fashioned legwork. There’s no shortcut to finding the best credit card, financial software, or bank; for every category, we create an inventory of everything that’s out there, including offerings from local banks or credit unions. We speak to bank spokespeople, Wirecutter readers, real people who use these products, and financial experts to build a picture of what the products offer and how easy or difficult they are to use in real life. We create comprehensive comparison tables to evaluate offers side by side and overlay our calculations on existing public data from sources such as the Federal Reserve or the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Keeping up with changing rates is an endless challenge, but we want our guides to be totally up to date and accurate at all times for our readers. We work closely with our awesome compliance manager, Jeremy Zafiros, who has the thankless task of tracking and then sharing all the latest credit card rate changes and ensuring they’re implemented sitewide. We’ve also created a central database for rates and fees, which when updated will roll those updates out across all our guides and articles.
Building credit is tough, but it can also be rewarding—both to see that three-digit number tick up and to see the doors that better credit can open for you. If you’re building credit from scratch, you might be surprised at how quickly you can get to a good place; many secured-card issuers, for example, favor applicants with no credit as opposed to poor credit.
It can be more challenging to rebuild credit, and in this case you need to be more patient, but it is achievable. Generally, even if you have a severe negative mark on your credit (say, a collections account), the impact on your credit will lessen over time. And during that time, you should focus on what you can do immediately to improve your situation. For example, pay off any outstanding accounts that you can, and start to build good credit habits such as making consistent on-time payments and keeping your credit use below 30% of your total credit limit across your cards.
We have more credit card topics to cover, including airline, business, hotel, 0% APR, and best credit card combos. We’re also going to update our tax software, travel insurance, and budgeting guides. We’ll dive into banking accounts, credit unions, how to accomplish your savings goals, money and relationships, and money for families—and we’ll partner with The New York Times, Wirecutter’s parent company, on some very exciting projects.
My money resolution is a petrifying one: Buy my first house. I’m 35, my husband is 40, and we’re finally in a place where we can buy a home. I’m terrified—but also excited to see years of hard work pay off. I’m also lucky enough to work with several very seasoned homeowners at Wirecutter. I know they’ll give me great advice on buying and owning a home!
After more than 20 hours of new research and hands-on testing alongside expert interviews, we’ve updated our guide to the best lenses for new Sony E-mount camera owners. If you’re ready to move beyond the kit lens that came bundled with your camera, we have choices that will let you take sharper photos at night,...
If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ve probably thought about applying for an airline credit card—baggage fees and food prices are up, legroom and bathrooms are tighter, and fewer airlines parade across the sky. You may feel ever more like a customer than a passenger. Those branded pieces of plastic promise relief from the interminable nickel-and-diming...