A complete guide to airline companion passes

Flying can be a hefty expense – especially when you’re buying more than one airline ticket at a time. If you frequently fly with a companion, whether it be your child, spouse or friend, a companion pass can drastically reduce your travel costs.

While the terms vary depending on the airline and credit card, generally, companion passes allow a second passenger to fly with you for free or at a significantly discounted rate. Some credit cards automatically offer a companion pass when you are approved for the card or each year on your account anniversary. Others require you to charge a certain amount within a given time frame to earn the pass.

For more details on some of the most common companion passes, including what they offer and how to earn them, read on.

Which airlines offer companion passes?

  • Southwest Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Air
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Lufthansa Airlines

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®
  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card within a 12-month period, starting on Jan. 1 and ending on Dec. 31. For example, if you opened your card account in June 2020, you have until Dec. 31, 2020 to reach the spend requirement for that year.

    How long is the Travel Together Ticket valid?

    The Travel Together ticket is valid for 24 months from the date of issue.

    Which cards help you qualify?
    British Airways Visa Signature® Card

    Delta SkyMiles Reserve® American Express Card

    Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® (50 percent and $100 discounts)
  • Hawaiian Airlines® Bank of Hawaii World Elite Mastercard® (50 percent and $100 discount)
  • Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® (50 percent discount)
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® or Alaska Airlines Visa® Business cardholder. As part of the introductory offer, you much spend $2,000 in the first 90 days to receive a companion fare. You will automatically receive the companion fare each year on your account anniversary.

    Travel must be booked on alaskaair.com.

    How long is the fare valid?

    The Famous Companion Fare is valid from the date of issue until your next account anniversary.

    Which cards help you qualify?
    • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
    • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business

    How to get the Southwest Companion Pass, Earn sign-up bonus miles with the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

    The Bank of America content of this post was last updated on March 20, 2020.

    Source: creditcards.com

    Is Your Mortgage Forbearance Ending Soon? What To Do Next

    mortgage forbearanceSEAN GLADWELL / Getty Images

    Millions of Americans struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments because of COVID-19 have received relief through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

    But mortgage forbearance is only temporary, and set to expire soon, leaving many homeowners who are still struggling perplexed on what to do next.

    Enacted in March, the CARES Act initially granted a 180-day forbearance, or pause in payments, to homeowners with mortgages backed by the federal government or a government-sponsored enterprise such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Furthermore, some private lenders also granted mortgage forbearance of 90 days or more to financially distressed homeowners.

    According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 8.39% of loans were in forbearance as of June 28, representing an estimated 4.2 million homeowners nationwide.

    So what are affected homeowners to do when the forbearance goes away? You have options, so it’s well worth contacting your lender to explore what’s best for you.

    “If you know you’re going to be unable to meet the terms of your forbearance agreement at its maturity, you should call your loan servicer immediately and see what options they may be able to offer to you,” says Abel Carrasco, mortgage loan originator at Motto Mortgage Advisors in St. Petersburg, FL.

    Exactly what’s available depends on the fine print in the terms of your mortgage forbearance agreement. Here’s an overview of some possible avenues to explore if you still can’t pay your mortgage after the forbearance period ends.

    Extend your mortgage forbearance

    One simple option is to contact your lender to request an extension.

    Homeowners granted forbearance under the CARES Act can request a 180-day extension, giving them a total of 360 days of forbearance, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    The key is to contact your lender well before your forbearance expires. If you let it expire without an extension, your lender could impose penalties.

    “If you just stop making regular, scheduled payments, you could have a late mortgage payment on your credit,” warns Carrasco. “That could severely impact refinancing or purchasing another property in the immediate future and potentially subject you to foreclosure.”

    Keep in mind, though, a forbearance simply delays payments, meaning they’ll still need to be made in the future. It doesn’t mean payments are forgiven.

    Refinance to lower your mortgage payment

    Mortgage interest rates are at all-time lows, hovering around 3%. So if you can swing it, this may be a great time to refinance your home, says Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree.

    Refinancing could come with some hefty fees, however, ranging from 2% to 6% of your loan amount. But it could be worth it.

    A lower interest rate will likely lower your monthly payment and save you thousands over the life of your mortgage. Dropping your interest rate from 4.125% to 3% could save more than $40,000 over 30 years, for example, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    “Lenders have tightened standards, though, so you will need to show that you are a good candidate for refinancing,” Kapfidze says. You’ll need a good credit score of 620 or higher.

    As long as you’ve kept up your end of the forbearance terms, having a mortgage forbearance shouldn’t affect your credit score, or your ability to refinance or qualify for another mortgage.

    Ask for a loan modification

    Many lenders are offering an assortment of programs to help homeowners under hardship because of the pandemic, says Christopher Sailus, vice president and mortgage product manager at WaFd Bank.

    “Lenders quickly recognized the severity of the economic situation due to the pandemic, and put programs into place to defer payments or help reduce them,” he says.

    A loan modification is one such option. This enables homeowners at risk of default to change the terms of their original mortgage—such as payment amount, interest rate, or length of the loan—to reduce monthly payments and clear up any delinquencies.

    Loan modifications may affect your credit score, but not as much as a foreclosure. Some lenders charge fees for loan modifications, but others, like WaFd, provide them at no cost.

    ———

    Watch: 5 Things to Know About Selling a Home Amid the Pandemic

    ———

    Put your home on the market

    It may seem like a strange time to sell your home, with COVID-19 cases growing, unemployment rising, and the economy on shaky ground. But, it’s actually a great time to sell a house.

    Pending home sales jumped 44.3% in May, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ Pending Home Sales Index, the largest month-over-month growth since the index began in 2001.

    Home inventory remains low, and buyer demand is up with many hoping to jump on the low interest rates. Prices are up, too. The national median home price increased 7.7% in the first quarter of 2020, to $274,600, according to NAR.

    So if you can no longer afford your home and have plenty of equity built up, listing your home may be a smart move. (Home equity is the market value of your home minus how much you still owe on your mortgage.)

    Consider foreclosure as a last resort

    Foreclosure may be the only option for many homeowners, especially if you fall too behind on your mortgage payments and can’t afford to sell or refinance. In May, more than 7% of mortgages were delinquent, a 20% increase from April, according to mortgage data and analytics firm Black Knight.

    “When to begin a foreclosure process will vary from lender to lender and client to client,” Sailus says. “Current and future state and federal legislation, statutes, or regulations will impact the process, as will the individual homeowner’s situation and their ability to repay.”

    Foreclosures won’t begin until after a forbearance period ends, he adds.

    The CARES Act prohibited lenders from foreclosing on mortgages backed by the government or government-sponsored enterprise until at least Aug. 31. Several states, including California and Connecticut, also issued temporary foreclosure moratoriums and stays.

    Once these grace periods (and forbearance timelines) end, and homeowners miss payments, they could face foreclosure, Carrasco says. When a loan is flagged as being in foreclosure, the balance is due and legal fees accumulate, requiring homeowners to pay off the loan (usually by selling) and vacating the property.

    “Absent participation in an agreed-upon forbearance, deferment, repayment plan, or loan modification, loan servicers historically may begin the foreclosure process after as few as three months of missed mortgage payments,” he explains. “This is unfortunately often the point of no return.”

    The post Is Your Mortgage Forbearance Ending Soon? What To Do Next appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

    Source: realtor.com

    These Free TV Apps Will Let You Cut Cable but Keep Content

    Try these free TV apps out and see which works best for you.
    Owned by Amazon, IMDb TV (formerly Freedive) features a host of full episodes of your favorite current and classic TV shows as well as an array of movies.
    While there are ways to download YouTube content for offline viewing, proceed with caution: Many of these sites and apps are full of malware.
    The kids (or kids at heart) can check out Nickelodeon classics like “The Fairly Odd Parents” and “Dora the Explorer.”
    Since the service is ad-supported, you can expect to watch a couple minutes of ads every 10 minutes or so. The experience is pretty similar to watching normal television.

    12 Free TV Apps That Will Help You Cut Cable

    NBCUniversal launched this streaming service, which includes over 7,500 hours of free content, in July 2020.
    Chris Brantner is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Senior writer Nicole Dow contributed to this article.

    1. Crackle

    And you aren’t confined to squinting at your phone’s screen or gathering the family around the old iPad to watch your favorite TV series and movies — you can download apps to your Smart TV or even your Xbox or PlayStation consoles.
    If you’re a fan of shows like “The Office,” “Law and Order: SVU,” or “Saturday Night Live,” you can watch them on this streaming service.

    2. Tubi TV

    The library is solid and has started offering popular Fox TV series like “The Masked Singer” and “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.”
    Whether you want it now or later, Xumo offers live TV and on-demand options.
    The catalogue includes some binge-worthy sci-fi hits like “Lost” and “Fringe.”
    You’re there anyway — why not get paid to play video games? Here are four simple ways to start earning real cash for virtual play.

    3. Pluto TV

    Almost all of the networks and cable TV channels have their own free apps for you to download — although many charge you to actually watch current content.

    Users can then select which news segments they want to watch from categories like sports, weather or entertainment. NewsON is compatible with iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
    Luckily, there are more options than ever for replacing your traditional cable setup. Many free streaming services have stepped up to offer access to content overlooked by subscription-based services.
    The Crunchyroll app is supported by Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices, as well as by gaming consoles, Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku.

    Pro Tip
    You can even tap the “Live TV” button to watch what’s currently airing on your local PBS station.

    Customers can stream Peacock on a variety of platforms, including LG Smart TVs, Vizio SmartCast TVs, Roku, Google and Apple devices and Playstation and Xbox consoles.
    Both live TV and on-demand news broadcasts can be streamed from over 275 local news affiliates in 160 markets. The broadcasts are available for up to 48 hours after they air, so even if you don’t catch the news as it happens, you can catch up later.
    Xumo is available on most smart TVs and Roku and for download on iOS and Android devices.

    4. NewsON

    Crunchyroll is a great app for anyone with an interest in anime. Of course, when it comes to anime content, you have to be watchful with your younger children, as a lot of it is geared toward teens (and sometimes even adults).
    Twitch hosts user-created channels and streams focused on video games and other esports. It features a built-in chat feature, so users can chat with other streamers in real time.
    Got a library card? You have access to even more entertainment options (besides the obvious, books). Check out these library apps for free access to movies, TV shows and more.

    FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

    5. Funny Or Die

    Source: thepennyhoarder.com

    Pro Tip
    Content on the app must be streamed and cannot be downloaded.

    Tubi TV’s library is updated regularly, and the service claims to add new content every week. The Tubi TV app works on more than 25 devices, including Android and iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs and Amazon Fire TV.

    6. PBS Kids

    Yes, YouTube. YouTube apps are compatible with just about every device that has a screen, and the service features videos to choose from on nearly any topic imaginable.
    Streaming video isn’t always just about entertainment. The NewsON app provides hundreds of local and national news streams.

    Pro Tip
    There is a paid premium feature, but the free Crunchyroll service has thousands of hours of popular series like the “Dragon Ball” franchise, “Attack on Titan,” “Naruto” and “One Piece.”

    For a free streaming service, Crackle’s library is truly impressive. Crackle even has a handful of original series to its name. Best of all, Crackle works on nearly all mobile devices, streaming boxes and smart TVs.

    7. Xumo

    In 2018, the Funny Or Die began publishing on Vox Media’s Chorus and now uses the YouTube Player.
    While there are thousands of free streams, Twitch also features premium features for a monthly subscription. Twitch apps are compatible with PCs, iOS and Android devices, game consoles, Chromecast and Fire TV.
    Or if you just want to veg out, switch over to their Binge menu for a seemingly endless stream of TV series, like “The Hills” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
    But it also includes more than 160 free channels, including themed ones in case you’re in the mood for action movies or comedies — you can watch the Funny Or Die channel here, too.

    Pro Tip
    Sure, there are the usual big names in streaming services available for a monthly fee, but it’s possible to kick subscription fees entirely.

    8. Crunchyroll

    Like Pluto, you can choose from an assortment of major network news channels that are live streaming.
    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.
    A division of FOX Entertainment, Tubi TV has deals with major studios like Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Lionsgate. It also features lots of foreign and independent productions.
    Most of those videos are not exactly premium content, but there are still plenty of full-length films, documentary series and curated channels that provide cost-free entertainment for the whole family.

    9. Twitch

    One of the go-to names not just in free streaming but in streaming video in general is Crackle. The cost-free service has a variety of content, ranging from classic TV shows like “Bewitched” and “Barney Miller,” as well as the newer “Snatch” series. It also has hundreds of films from major studios.
    Many of the free TV apps offer “premium” channels — if you see that word, expect to pay for those services.

    Pro Tip
    While Twitch is popular with children, parents should beware: Twitch streams are somewhat unregulated and can sometimes contain adult language or content.

    The free version of IMDbTV is ad-supported, so you’ll have to sit through a few commercial breaks.
    Videos from many of PBS’s most popular series are available for streaming including “Curious George,” “Wild Kratts” and “Sesame Street.” The PBS Kids app is supported for Android, Windows and iOS phones and tablets.

    10. IMDb TV

    Pluto TV offers TV channels of linear content much like a cable package
    Like Tubi TV, Pluto TV has advertisements similar to the ad load of normal TV.
    As cable subscription prices rise higher and higher and customer satisfaction ratings dive lower and lower, cutting the cable has never been more popular.
    With so many free streaming options out there, it’s easier than ever to cut the cord and save big. Whether you’re looking to keep up with the news, find a good movie for date night or entertain your kids with educational content, a streaming service exists to ensure you can do so without paying a dime.

    11. YouTube

    For anyone with even a passing interest in gaming and esports, Twitch is the go-to free streaming service.
    The go-to streaming app for comedy programming is Funny or Die. Founded in 2007 by contemporary comedy giants Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, it has since grown to be a full-blown production house featuring original content from big names in show business.
    Although Peacock offers paid premium options, the free version includes current and classic TV shows, movies, news, sports, kids’ shows, Spanish-language programs and even select episodes of Peacock originals.

    12. Peacock

    Kids need free streaming content, too. PBS has a PBS Kids Video app that provides hundreds of hours of educational and enriching content for the youngest members of the family. The app has a colorful, child-friendly interface, which makes it easy for kids to take control themselves.
    Pluto TV boasts a large list of supported devices including iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TVand Chromecast devices and Android TV.
    It is available in the United States on the IMDb app, the IMDb website, the Amazon Prime Video app and Amazon Fire TV devices.
    Of course, there are some rather shady options out there that stream pirated content. But we’ve rounded up free, legal streaming apps that provide no-strings-attached cable-cutting solutions.

    Get camera-ready: From masterclasses to gear, The Penny Hoarder Shop has all things photography.

    There are dozens of classic TV, movie and sports channels — and even some highly curated streams of niche content.
    If you’re looking for breaking news, you can choose from an assortment of major network news channels that are live streaming.
    Anime and manga fans are likely already familiar with Crunchyroll. It specializes in mostly Japanese content, but it also features films and series from all over the world. Crunchyroll boasts a library of thousands of anime films and series, many of which are hard to find on other streaming services.

    2020 Financial Crisis Auto Loan Relief

    Car manufacturers have been feeling the strain during the financial crisis. There are fewer cars on the road, workers in the factories, and consumers willing to spend, and as a result, the automobile industry has been devastated.

    But manufacturers and showrooms are fighting back, finding ways to encourage consumers to buy and to make life easier for the ones that already have. In this guide, we’ll look at the ways that auto lenders are helping consumers hit by the crisis and the ways that manufacturers are encouraging more drivers to purchase.

    Financial Crisis Auto Relief: Manufacturers

    Automobile manufacturers saw their profits free-fall in March 2020 and that followed into April, with suggestions that the chaos will progress as the year (and the pandemic that has gripped it so fiercely) continues. They are struggling and their customers are struggling as well.

    Over 700,000 Americans lost their job in March and unemployment is set to rise to levels that haven’t been seen for years. To make matters work, the country’s 9.5 million+ self-employed workers have seen their incomes half. 

    As a result, many are struggling with their debts and finding it harder to meet auto loan payments. To lend a helping hand, many of the world’s biggest manufacturers have established auto loan relief programs:

    Ford

    Ford announced its response to the crisis towards the end of March. Known as the Built to Lend a Hand program, it offers up to 6 months payments on a brand-new Ford and applies to all models from 2019 and 2020.

    As soon as consumers sign up, they will be given 3 months of payments from Ford, while an additional 3 months can be deferred as per the customer’s request. The customer can choose to defer these payments as and when they want, but they must get their auto loan through the Ford Credit program to apply.

    Hyundai

    South Korean manufacturer, Hyundai, was one of the first to offer an auto loan relief program. South Korea was one of the hardest-hit countries in the early stages of the virus and this led to the major automobile brand offering a relief program in the middle of March.

    Known as the Assurance Job Loss Protection, this program first appeared following the 2008 recession and has been revived for the recent pandemic. 

    As part of this auto loan relief program, consumers who bought or borrowed a car after March 14 can have up to 6 payments made by Hyundai. They can also request payment deferment that lasts for up to 90 days.

    The Assurance Job Loss Protection program is set to run until April 30 and applies to everyone who purchases a Hyundai through eligible finance programs. It also extends to Genesis, the luxury division of Hyundai Motors that is responsible for new vehicles such as the 2020 Genesis G90.

    If the pandemic continues to grow in scale and severity, the program may be prolonged, although only time will tell.

    Nissan

    Nissan is following in the footsteps of many major creditors and lenders by working with customers on a case by case basis. If you’re feeling the strain of the crisis, whether because you’ve lost some or all of your income or your expenses have increased, you can contact them and request some relief.

    For borrowers struggling to meet monthly payments, Nissan offers deferred payments, but only if hardship can be proved. You likely won’t be offered anything just because you ask for it and must show that your financial situation is worse now than it was before the financial crisis.

    The same applies to all Infiniti car owners, which is Nissan’s luxury brand.

    Kia

    Kia announced that all 0% APR borrowers could defer payments for up to four months. Borrowers who don’t qualify for this can still request deferment of up to 30 days on 3 different occasions.

    However, as with Nissan and many other providers, borrowers need to prove that they are experiencing hardship to be offered this auto loan relief.

    General Motors

    GM has seen some pretty hefty losses during the financial crisis, and this is despite the fact that it began the year on a high note, making noticeable gains that were all but wiped out in the first couple weeks of March.

    GM is offering a few different options to keep consumers happy and to ensure cars are still driven out of the showroom. If you already have a finance program with General Motors, and you’re experiencing hardship, you can contact GM directly, tell them what you’re going through, and get assistance.

    The GM OnStar program has also been activated for all current owners. This program offers 24/7 emergency assistance and can help you get to a hospital in your time of need.

    If you need a new car, you can get 0% APR for up to 84 months on most GM manufactured vehicles.

    Fiat Chrysler

    Fiat Chrysler is another brand that began 2020 with a bang and then quickly suffered a substantial slump. To counteract this, it has improved its online offerings, allowing all consumers to purchase a brand-new vehicle online and to benefit from improved financing offers when they do.

    In addition, Fiat Chrysler is assisting current owners by making it easy for them to pay their bills.

    If you have a car made by this leading manufacturer and you’re struggling to make payments, contact them directly, tell them about your financial hardship, and they may offer to help you with deferred payments and other solutions.

    Financial Crisis Auto Relief: Alternative Options

    Contrary to what you might think, lenders are not desperate to get their hands on your collateral. The best outcome for them is that you meet your payments and they get every penny of the vehicle’s value along with the interest.

    If you default and they are forced to repossess, they need to pay for the repossession, deal with the extra paperwork and hassle, and eventually sell the car for much less than it is worth. They can still chase you for what you owe, but they know they probably won’t get it, making repossession something that lenders are keen to avoid.

    When you’re struggling to make your payments, be honest with them, lay it all on the line, and find a compromise. They will probably be a lot more forgiving than you expect, especially during the crisis, when everyone is more understanding and willing to help.

    Unfortunately, you don’t have many other debt relief options when it comes to auto loans, as it doesn’t make sense to do a balance transfer and debt settlement simply doesn’t work here. But if you contact your lender, they’ll help you find a solution.

    You can think about returning the vehicle, as well. When you lose your job and your income, and you no longer need to drive several miles to and from work every day, what’s the point of owning a car that costs you tens of thousands of dollars and leaves you with a substantial debt?

    2020 Financial Crisis Auto Loan Relief is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

    Source: pocketyourdollars.com

    10 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia

    Wedged between New York and D.C., Philadelphia has long been one of America’s most overlooked and underrated cities. The Birthplace of America, Philly is the nation’s sixth-largest city and one of its top cultural, culinary, employment, sports, music and education destinations. It’s a fresh, cosmopolitan city, and living in Philadelphia means you have nearly anything you could imagine to do, eat, visit, see and cheer for.

    Philadelphia is a unique and diverse city, much more than the Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks and Rocky. It’s an inviting, connected community compromised of nearly 100 distinct neighborhoods from the gleaming skyscrapers of Center City to the rowhouses of South Philly to the rolling estates of Chestnut Hill. Whether you’re packing up for your move to Philly or just considering a relocation to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, there are many wonderful things you need to know about living in Philadelphia.

    1. Philly has a great climate if you like having four seasons

    No matter which season you enjoy frolicking in, Philly is the perfect climate to experience all four seasons. Philadelphia is a temperate Mid-Atlantic city with the best of all worlds, just 50 miles from the Jersey shore and 70 from the Pocono Mountains.

    Summers in Philly can be hot and muggy at the peak of the season, with average highs just under 90 during July. Winters are cold but not bitterly, with daily temps during the holiday season straddling the freezing line. Rain can be expected a quarter-to-third of the days each month, with about 20 inches of snow each winter.

    septa train philadelphia

    2. Commuting is relatively easy by car or public transit

    Philly commuting is convenient compared to most of its Northeast Corridor counterparts. The average one-way work travel time is just more than half an hour, with more than 20 percent using public transportation.

    For automotive commuters, Philly’s transportation network couldn’t be simpler. Interstate 95 lines the eastern edge of the city, the I-76 Schuylkill Expressway divides West Philly from the rest of Philly and I-676 (Vine Street Expressway) and US Route 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard/Expressway) run east/west through the city. Broad Street, America’s longest straight boulevard, forms Philly’s north/south backbone.

    SEPTA operates a convenient public transit system, which includes a number of commuting modes. This includes the Broad Street Line subway and Market-Frankford elevated train, which travels north/south and east/west, respectively, 131 bus lines and eight light rail and trolley routes.

    3. You have to learn how to talk Philly to live here

    Every city in America has its own dialect quirks, but Philly has a language all its own every newcomer must eventually absorb. From your first “yo,” you’ll quickly learn every jawn (which can literally mean any person, place or thing).

    “Jeet?” is what you’ll be asked if someone wants to know if you’ve eaten yet. They may want to share a hoagie (don’t ever say “sub”), grab pasta with gravy (tomato sauce) or a cheesesteak “whiz wit” (covered in melted cheese and fried onions). Wash it down with some wooder (what comes out of the sink) or a lager (ask for that and you’ll get a Yuengling beer).

    Where are you going to go? Maybe “down the shore” to the Jersey beaches, out to Delco (Delaware County) or to Center City (never call it “downtown”) on the El (the elevated train). That’s where yiz (plural “you”) are headed.

    And everyone loves talking about the “Iggles” (or “the Birds,”) the championship football team.

    4. Philly is the City of Museums

    More than any city in America, history lies down every street, many of which the Founding Fathers once walked. Independence National Historical Park, the most historic square mile in the nation, includes important sites like Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, City Tavern, Christ Church, Franklin Court and more.

    Nearby in Old City are the National Constitution Center, Museum of the American Revolution, Betsy Ross House, the first U.S. Mint, Elfreth’s Alley and National Museum of American Jewish History.

    But Philly offers so much more, including world-class museums dedicated to art, culture, science and education. In the Parkway Museum District, must-visit attractions include the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the Rocky steps), Franklin Institute Science Museum, Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum.

    Elsewhere around the city are amazing spots, including the Mummers Museum, Academy of Natural Sciences, Magic Gardens urban mosaic, Mütter Museum of medical oddities, Eastern State Penitentiary and even the Museum of Pizza Culture.

    Philly cheesesteak

    Photo courtesy of Michael Hochman

    5. Philly cuisine is much more than cheesesteaks

    Sure, everyone loves cheesesteaks and every Philadelphian has their favorite steak joint. But Philly also claims a slew of other iconic dishes.

    Hoagies are a party staple, but many swear by the roast pork sandwich, with provolone and sautéed broccoli rabe, as the city’s signature sandwich. Philadelphians eat 12 times as many pretzels as the average American and you’ll find soft pretzels in the Philly figure-eight style on every corner.

    Breakfasts wouldn’t be Philly without scrapple or pork roll, two pan-fried pork-based dishes. And dinner can include tomato pie (cheeseless rectangle pizza on focaccia served at room temperature), Old Bay-flavored crinkle-cut crab fries or snapper soup, which is exactly what you think it is.

    For dessert, grab a “wooder ice” (kind of like Italian ice but not) or a Tastykake (more of a lifestyle than a snack food line).

    And Philadelphia isn’t just for casual eats — some of America’s greatest restaurants live here. Israeli spot Zahav was named Best Restaurant in the country, and Pizzeria Beddia the Best Pizza in America. Other award-winning spots abound, including South Philly Barbacoa, vegetarian destination Vedge and 20 restaurants citywide from decorated chef Stephen Starr.

    But all cross-sections of Philadelphians can agree on one thing — everyone loves Wawa, more of a culture than a convenience store, with more than 40 locations throughout the city.

    6. Philly is the best music city on the East Coast

    There would be no American music without Philadelphia. The city is home to one of the nation’s greatest music histories as the birthplace of Philadelphia soul, American Bandstand, Gamble & Huff and “Rock Around The Clock.” Artists hailing from Philly span the spectrum from Hall & Oates, Chubby Checker, Patty LaBelle, Boyz II Men and Will Smith to The Roots, Meek Mill, Diplo, Dr. Dog, War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Dead Milkmen and Joan Jett.

    Philly is also one of the best cities in America to see and hear live music, with a slew of iconic music venues of every size. Music pours nightly out of legendary clubs, such as Milkboy, Johnny Brenda’s, Boot & Saddle and Kung Fu Necktie, concert halls like The Fillmore, Union Transfer, Theater of Living Arts and Tower Theater and outdoor amphitheaters with stunning vistas BB&T Pavilion and Mann Center.

    7. Philly is one of America’s great college towns

    Philadelphia is one giant college town. There are more than 340,000 college students living in Philly spread across nearly two dozen four-year campuses. Thanks to college sports, Philly’s top five major universities (that make up the Big Five) are nationally known and include Temple, St. Joseph’s, La Salle, the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova (which actually sits outside the city).

    University City in West Philly is home to Penn, as well as Drexel and the University of the Sciences. And scattered elsewhere around the city are historically-black Lincoln University, Chestnut Hill College, Thomas Jefferson University (on two campuses), Pierce College and Holy Family.

    There are also a number of creative and performing arts schools in Philadelphia, including the University of the Arts, Art Institute of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Curtis Institute of Music.

    Phillies

    Photo courtesy of Michael Hochman

    8. Sports are life in Philly even if we like to boo

    You may have heard. In Philadelphia, we love sports. Unlike cities like New York or L.A., Philly has just one team in each of the major sports, so every fan is on the same page. Except for college basketball where the city is divided among a half-dozen Division I programs.

    Philadelphians bleed team colors and everyone from every walk of life pays attention. Often, the city’s collective mood is based on yesterday’s result. So, if you want to walk into nearly any conversation in Philly, be sure to know the Birds’ playoff chances or who your favorite Flyer is. But Philly fans don’t take lack of hustle or effort lightly, and a subpar performance will bring out the notorious boo-birds.

    9. The cost of living in Philly is pretty good

    As the sixth-largest city in the nation and keystone of the Northeast Corridor, you’d expect Philly to be expensive. Actually, it’s pretty average. The overall cost of living in Philadelphia (as of Q1 2020) is just 110 percent of the national composite. Compare that to its neighbors like New York (246 percent), D.C. (160 percent) and Boston (148 percent). In fact, Philadelphia’s cost of living is cheaper than many major cities like Denver, New Orleans, Miami, San Diego and Baltimore.

    The same goes for housing, as well. Philadelphia is only 13 percent over the national index average for housing costs, much more affordable than other East Coast cities and metropolises around the country like Phoenix, Dallas and Portland. For renters, an average Philly one-bedroom leases for just $2,127 a month (compared to the national average of $1,621), just a pleasantly-surprising 17th most-expensive in the nation, cheaper than Sacramento, Boston, Seattle or Oakland.

    10. Philadelphia is one of the great American cities

    Philadelphia is a beautiful, friendly, progressive city for anyone moving here or just thinking about it. It’s a hub for technology and finance and home to a dozen Fortune 500 corporations.

    It’s a retail center with high-end city malls, vintage and boutique shopping corridors and Jewelers’ Row, the oldest diamond district in the nation. It’s a haven for those seeking outdoor adventure, including massive Wissahickon Valley and Fairmount Parks. And a destination for family fun at spots like the Please Touch Museum and America’s oldest zoo. It’s even one of America’s most walkable cities.

    Living in Philadelphia

    Philly is a great place for lovers of music, beer, history, shopping, sports, theater, coffee, biking, art, dining and more. Whatever your passion, you’ll find it living in Philadelphia.

    And with a head start on what’s listed here, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and find out quickly why we’re known as The City that Loves You Back.

    Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in October 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
    Population and income numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Cost of living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
    The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
    Header image courtesy of Michael Hochman.

    The post 10 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

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    A Quick Guide to the Difference Between Medicaid & Medicare

    Medicare and Medicaid may sound alike, but the health insurance programs are wildly different. Here's a quick primer.

    Medicare and Medicaid may sound alike, but these government health insurance programs are dramatically different from one another. Here’s a brief overview.

    What Is Medicare?

    Administered by the federal government, Medicare is a health insurance program primarily for adults who are 65 years of age or older and have paid into the Social Security system for at least 40 quarters (about 10 years). An individual who lacks the necessary work credits can also benefit from the program through their spouse, as can individuals who are younger than 65 but have received Social Security Disability Insurance payments for at least two years.

    What Medicare Covers

    There are different parts to Medicare that make it a veritable “alphabet soup.” For example, Medicare Part A covers mostly in-patient hospital care and provides a minimal benefit for skilled nursing care and hospice care. Medicare Part B covers the costs of outpatient care, such as doctors’ visits, lab tests and preventative care. Medicare Part C is the Medicare Advantage program and an alternative to Medicare parts A and B.

    Like most types of insurance, Medicare parts A, B and C include co-pays and deductibles. Generally, the amount of income you earn and the amount of assets you own are irrelevant for participation, so paupers, billionaires and everyone in between can be eligible.

    Surprisingly, given that Medicare is primarily a program for individuals 65 and older, the program covers just a small portion of the cost of a nursing home stay. At most, it fully covers the costs associated with the initial 20 days of a stay and provides only partial coverage for the next 80 days. In addition, for a stay to be covered, a patient must meet certain requirements.

    For example, the patient must have been hospitalized for at least three consecutive days directly prior to receiving care at a nursing home and that care must be considered medically necessary. Because of these requirements, patients or their families are often forced to pay out of pocket for nursing home care or seek relief from Medicaid.

    What Is Medicaid?

    Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California) is a federal-state program. It primarily acts as a safety net for those who can’t pay for healthcare.

    Seniors can participate in Medicaid if they pass three tests: a medical necessity test, an asset test and an income test.

    The medical necessity test requires that skilled nursing care is necessary to address the patient’s medical needs. The asset test places strict limits on how much property a patient and the patient’s spouse can own while benefiting from Medicaid. The income test limits how much individuals and couples may earn to be eligible for Medicaid.

    There are ways to get around these eligibility tests if you or a loved one can’t pass them but want Medicaid to help pay for the cost of a nursing home stay. However, doing so may require the help of an attorney who practices elder law. A relatively new kind of law, elder law can help individuals preserve their assets and qualify for Medicaid. (Disclosure: The Wiewel Law firm, in Austin, Texas, specializes in estate planning.)

    Remember, Medicaid planning is a complicated process and even a small error can mean the program will refuse to help pay for the cost of a nursing home stay. Be sure to speak with an expert if you have concerns.

    Image: shapecharge

    The post A Quick Guide to the Difference Between Medicaid & Medicare appeared first on Credit.com.

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    Medicare for All: Definition and Pros and Cons

    Here are the pros and cons of Medicare for All.

    Medicare for All is a proposed new healthcare system for the United States where instead of people getting health insurance from an insurance company, often provided through their workplace, everyone in America would be on a program provided through the federal government. It has become a favorite of progressives, and was heavily championed by Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) during his runs for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020. If you are looking for help with medical planning under our current system, consider working with a financial advisor.

    Medicare For All: How It Works

    Sanders’ bill would replace all other insurance, with limited exceptions, such as cosmetic surgery. Private insurance, employer-provided insurance, Medicaid, and our current version of Medicare, would all be replaced by Medicare for All. The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, would also be replaced by Medicare for All.

    Medicare for All is actually more generous than your current Medicare program. Right now, Medicare is for Americans 65 and older. They receive care, but they’re also responsible for some of the cost. However, Sanders’ plan would cover medical bills completed, with no financial burden on the patient.

    Sanders’ Medicare for All would be a single, national health insurance program that would cover everyone living in the United States. It would pay for every medically necessary service, including dental and vision care, mental health care and prescription drugs. There would be no copays or deductibles, with the exception of prescription drugs, though the cost would be limited to $200 a year. There may also be additional out-of-pocket costs for long-term care.

    The government would set payment rates for drugs, services, and medical equipment. Each year, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would come up with a national budget for all covered services and spending would be capped by that national budget. Just 1% of the total health spending budget would be used to provide job dislocation assistance for people working in the insurance industry.

    Sanders’ bill includes a four-year phase-in during which increasingly younger people could buy into Medicare. It would work like this: 55-year-olds would be able to buy into Medicare in the first year, 45-year-olds in the second year and 35-year-olds in the third year. Out-of-pocket costs would be reduced for everyone buying into Medicare. There would also be a public option insurance plan offered to people of all ages through the Obamacare marketplaces.

    Medicare for All is effectively single-payer healthcare. Single-payer health care is where the government pays for people’s health care. The new name just makes the concept more popular. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 48% of people approved of single-payer healthcare, while 62% of people approved of Medicare for All.

    Medicare for All Cost?

    Here are the pros and cons of Medicare for All.

    If everything stays the same as it is right now, the combined healthcare spending by private and public sectors is projected to reach $45 trillion by 2026.

    The libertarian-oriented Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimated that the cost of Medicare for All would be more than $32 trillion over a 10-year period.

    Kenneth Thorpe, a health finance expert at Emory University looked at a version of Sanders’ Medicare for All during the 2016 campaign and estimated that the cost would be about $25 trillion over 10 years.

    In order to pay for the program, Sanders has suggested redirecting current government spending of about $2 trillion per year into Medicare for All. To do that, he would raise taxes on incomes over $250,000, reaching a 52 percent marginal rate on incomes over $10 million. He also suggested a wealth tax on the top 0.1 % of households.

    Medicare for All Pros and Cons

    Pros and cons for this program partially depend on your income bracket. If you make less than $250,000, Sanders’ additional tax will not affect you. If you make more than $250,000 a year, or are in the top 0.1 % of household, Sanders’ tax to pay for Medicare for All would be a con for you.

    In addition, universal health care requires healthy people to pay for medical care for the sick. However, that is how all health insurance programs work. Everyone buys in and pays the costs of health insurance, but the insurance company only pays when someone needs medical care or coverage. In every insurance plan, healthier people absorb the costs incurred by sicker people.

    Pros

    • Universal healthcare lowers health care costs for the economy overall, since the government controls the price of medication and medical services through regulation and negotiation.
    • It would also eliminate the administrative cost of working with multiple private health insurers. Doctors would only have to deal with one government agency, rather than multiple private insurance companies along with Medicare and Medicaid.
    • Companies would not have to hire staff to deal with many different health insurance companies’ rules. Instead, billing procedures and coverage rules would be standardized.
    • Hospitals and doctors would be forced to provide the same standard of service at a low cost, instead of targeting wealthy clients and offering expensive services so they can get a higher profit.
    • Universal healthcare leads to a healthier population. Studies show that preventive care lowers expensive emergency room usage. Before Obamacare, 46% of emergency room patients were there because they had nowhere else to go. The emergency room became their primary care physician. This type of health care inequality is a major factor in the rising cost of medical care.

     

    Cons

    • Some analysts are concerned that the government may not be able to use its bargaining power to drive down costs as steeply and as quickly as Sanders predicts. Thorpe argues that Sanders is overly optimistic on this aspect of the bill.
    • Other analysts are concerned that insulating people from costs of care will drive up usage of medical care. Drew Altman, who heads the Kaiser Family Foundation, pointed out that “no other developed nation has zero out of pocket costs.”
    • People may not be as careful with their health if they do not have a financial incentive to do so.
    • Governments have to limit health care spending to keep costs down. Doctors might have less incentive to provide quality care if they aren’t well paid. They may spend less time per patient in order to keep costs down. They also have less funding for new life-saving technologies.
    • Since the government focuses on providing basic and emergency health care, most universal healthcare systems report long wait times for elective procedures. The government may also limit services with a low probability of success, and may not cover drugs for rare conditions. 

    Other Medicare and Medicaid Expansion Bills

    Lawmakers have introduced other Medicare expansion options, which would be much more limited than Medicare for All.

    Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) introduced the Medicare at 50 Act in February of 2019. Under the Medicare at 50 Act, people between 50 and 64 could buy into Medicare. Other than expanding the age, the main difference to our current Medicare program would be that coverage would automatically include Medicare Part A (hospital), Part B (physician), and Part D (prescription drug) coverage. In addition, you could choose Medicare offered through private insurers, known as Medicare Advantage. If you qualified for a premium subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, you would still be able to apply that to extended Medicare. This bill would effectively create a new insurance option for those 50 and older.

    Senator Michael Bennett (D-Colorado) and Rep. Brian Higgins (D-New York) introduced a bill called Medicare-X Choice. This bill would offer Medicare to people of any age through the Obamacare marketplaces. This bill would not be initially enacted nationwide. Instead, the bill would focus on adding the Medicare option in places with few hospitals and doctors, or areas that only had one insurer offering coverage.

    Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico) proposed a bill called the State Public Option Act that would let people buy into Medicaid, rather than Medicare. The details of covered services could vary from state to state, since this would be offered through Medicaid rather than Medicare. However, no plan would be able to offer less than essential health benefits covered under the Affordable Care Act.

    Where the Presidential Candidates Stand

    Here are the pros and cons of Medicare for All.

    Sanders, of course, did not win the Democratic Primary. Joe Biden, widely considered significantly more moderate, won. Biden has an extensive healthcare proposal which expands many parts of the Affordable Care Act, but does not include a single payer Medicare For All program. Instead, it is based around a public option — a government plan only for those who want it, while private insurance companies remain the main driver of healthcare in the US.

    President Donald Trump has not offered a comprehensive healthcare plan this time around. Early in his term, he and the Republicans in Congress tried to “repeal and replace” The ACA, but were unsuccessful.

     

    The Bottom Line

    Healthcare is certainly a hot topic for the 2020 election process. Though Bernie Sanders’ (D-Vermont) version of Medicare for All would eventually eliminate all other forms of insurance, other Democratic candidates have varying degrees of support and versions of Medicare for All  as a universal healthcare system. Though Medicare for All would likely lower the healthcare costs in the economy overall and increase quality care while also facilitating more preventative care to avoid expensive emergency room visits, you could end up paying more if you make more than $250,000 a year or are in the top 0.1 % of households. What’s more, some experts suggest that if costs are less onerous, patients will overuse the system and make setting up appointments for elective procedures more difficult.

    Tips for Keeping Your Finances Healthy

    • A health savings account (HSA) may be a good option for younger people who are worried about potential healthcare costs. HSAs can greatly reduce monthly premiums.
    • Whatever the outcome on Medicare for All, it is important to keep yourself physically and financially healthy. If you are concerned about budgeting with health care costs, you may want to look into a financial advisor. SmartAsset can help you find your financial advisor match here.

    Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Asawin_Klabma, ©iStock.com/wutwhanfoto, ©iStock.com/marchmeena29

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