Smart SpendingSmart Spending

A former underdog nabs the top spot.

By Money Staff Aug 8, 2014 2:55PM

This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site MarketWatch.


MarketWatch on MSN MoneyBetter pick your airline carefully, or you’ll be at a higher risk of getting bumped off flights, losing your luggage or having your flights delayed or canceled, a new survey reveals.


According to a report released Thursday by AirfareWatchdog.com, some domestic airlines perform better than others when it comes to canceled flights, on-time arrivals, mishandled bags, denied boardings, and customer satisfaction. This year Delta, which typically ends up toward the bottom of the performance list, ranked No. 1 in overall performance, thanks to more on-time arrivals, fewer canceled flights and mishandled bags and better customer service. “Delta is this year’s unsung hero,” the report revealed. It was followed by Virgin America, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, and Frontier, in that order.


747 plane landed, Miami airport, Florida © Juan Silva, PhotographerOn the not-so-good side of this list are Southwest, Airtran (now part of Southwest), American, US Airways (now part of American Airlines), and United, which ranked dead last.


United’s abysmal ranking may be due to the fact that it had the highest number of boarding denials (nearly 246 per one million passengers, compared with just 3.58 per one million for JetBlue, which ranked highest in this category) of all the airlines examined as well as the lowest overall customer satisfaction score (it ranked 60 out of 100, compared with 79 out of 100 for JetBlue, which had the best customer satisfaction score).

 

Teens' top priority for back-to-school tech spending isn't necessarily related to enhancing their educational experience.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 8, 2014 1:39PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWith summer vacation winding down, back-to-school shopping is in full swing. Are you and your teen on the same page about how your hard-earned money will be spent?


Maybe not. According to a new survey done for Ebates.com, a coupon and cash-back site, parents and their teenage children don't always agree on priorities for back-to-school spending, particularly when it comes to tech.


Student in library © Sigrid Olsson, PhotoAlto Agency, JupiterimagesHere's the teens' list of back-to-school tech must-haves, from the survey:

  • Headphones, mentioned by 52 percent.
  • Smartphone, 43 percent.
  • Laptop, 36 percent.
  • Apps, 26 percent.
  • Tablet, 24 percent.

Now, let's compare that with what the parents said:

  • Laptop, mentioned by 33 percent.
  • Headphones, 29 percent.
  • Tablet, 29 percent.
  • Smartphone, 20 percent.
  • Apps, 17 percent.

Luckily, all agree that traditional items like notebooks, pens and pencils should be a priority. Ebates said:

 

Hit with a surprise fee on your credit card or bank statement? You might be able to talk them into dropping it.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 8, 2014 1:16PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAs you're examining the latest wave of transactions on your bank or credit card statement, you notice an unfamiliar fee. Should you just bite the bullet and not contest it, or should you ask your financial institution to have it removed?


The latter is the better choice. In fact, a survey conducted last year by Credit.com  found that 44 percent of respondents were successful in getting a bank or credit card fee reversed because they asked or complained.


To help you should you find a fee on your statement, we've compiled some ways to boost your chances of getting those wallet-draining fees refunded to you.

 

The changes could lead to more bank lending and easier credit for some consumers.

By Money Staff Aug 8, 2014 1:10PM

This post comes from AnnaMaria Andriotis at partner site The Wall Street Journal.


The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneyA change in how the most widely used credit score in the U.S. is tallied will likely make it easier for tens of millions of Americans to get loans.


Fair Isaac Corp. said Thursday that it will stop including in its FICO credit-score calculations any record of a consumer failing to pay a bill if the bill has been paid or settled with a collection agency. The San Jose, Calif., company also will give less weight to unpaid medical bills that are with a collection agency.


The moves follow months of discussions with lenders and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aimed at boosting lending without creating more credit risk. Since the recession, many lenders have approved only the best borrowers, usually those with few or no blemishes on their credit report.

 

The cost of school supplies quickly mounts. Here are six strategies that can help you save.

By Cheapism.com Aug 8, 2014 12:14PM
This post comes from Emily Lugg at partner site Cheapism.com.

Cheapism.com on MSN MoneyThe list of required school supplies varies by grade and school, but there are staples that nearly every child needs. Costs quickly add up.

With a few sharp tactics and a savvy attitude, shopping for school supplies can be less of a financial strain.

School lunch © Stockbyte/SuperStock
We identified six ways to save and also compared a shopping cart of back-to-school supplies at Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon to point you to the greatest savings.

Don't buy everything at one time
August is the most popular month for purchasing school supplies but isn't necessarily the best. Time Magazine suggests buying big-ticket supplies such as laptops in August and fulfilling the rest of the list in September, when a lot of school-related items go on sale.

Moreover, coupons for school supplies often trickle out, so wait to pick up items until the relevant coupon appears. If your timing is right, you can combine them with store sales to save even more. On the other hand, if you plan to order school supplies online, don't wait until the last minute. Expedited shipping fees can wipe out any savings on prices.
 

If you've never applied for a rewards credit card, you're missing out on generous sign-up bonuses, plus ongoing rewards for making everyday purchases.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 8, 2014 11:56AM

This post comes from Summer Hull at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyDid you grow up being told by your parents and grandparents that credit cards are dangerous and that you needed to pay for everything with cold card cash or checks written from a carefully balanced checkbook?


Credit card and computer © Stockbyte/SuperStockWell, your elders did you a favor in teaching you not to spend beyond your means. But these days, sticking to their lessons word for word will cause you to lose out on big rewards that can come from paying for purchases big and small with rewards-earning credit cards.


Banks are fighting to get you to pay with their credit cards when you purchase everything from groceries to hotel stays to dry cleaning to car insurance, and they are handing out points and cash back as a reward for doing so.


If you have the discipline to buy only what you otherwise would have with cash and pay off the cards each month, then you can get rewarded every time you swipe your credit card for purchases.

 

We surveyed major retailers and found the best prices on back-to-school clothes are at Wal-Mart but others stand out for best quality on certain items.

By Cheapism.com Aug 8, 2014 11:10AM
This post comes from Raechel Conover at partner site Cheapism.com.

Cheapism.com on MSN MoneyBack-to-school clothes shopping is currently high on many families' agendas, so we set out to identify sources for high quality, yet cheap kids' clothes. This year the National Retail Federation expects back-to-school spending on new wearables, school supplies, and electronics to hit $26.5 billion -- that's an average of about $669 per family with children in grades K-12. Of that amount, about $355 will go towards shoes and clothing.

Gradeschool children at the school bus © Hero Images/CorbisOur research found that there's no need to spend a small fortune on the clothes and shoes portion of your must-have back-to-school list. By shopping at Wal-Mart, for example, you can buy all the necessary attire for two kids, ages 7 to 10, for slightly less than $235.

We also found that certain stores offer the best values on particular types of clothing, such as J.C. Penney for uniforms.
 

The outbreak in Africa has American insurers watching the news, but they're not excessively worried.

By QuinStreet Aug 7, 2014 5:50PM

This post comes from Beth Orenstein at partner site Insure.com.


Insure.com on MSN MoneyTwo Americans who contracted the deadly Ebola virus while on a mission in West Africa have returned to the United States, where they are being treated in a special isolation unit of an Atlanta hospital. A half a dozen other patients around the country have had their blood tested because of a concern they might have been exposed to the Ebola virus when abroad.


Liberian health workers at the isolation unit in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia © Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA
Ebola is a virus that spreads through contact with blood or bodily fluids. The World Health Organization says Ebola has a death rate of up to 90 percent. The current Ebola outbreak is out of control in West Africa. To date, more than 900 people have died from it.


The missionaries' return to the United States has put some people on edge: Are Americans at risk at home? But health insurance companies, which would have to bear the brunt of the cost of treatment were there to be an outbreak, don’t seem worried.


Dr. Ajani P. Nimmagadda, an infectious disease expert and senior medical director for Cigna, says she thinks the possibility of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is extremely low.

 

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More