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We drove a $64,000 Cadillac XT5 and a $47,800 Acura RDX to see which luxury SUV was better — and the winner was obvious

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 1:20pm

  • The Acura RDX is a solid luxury crossover that's been recently revamped.
  • The Cadillac XT5 was the brand's first — and quite successful — effort at launching a new lineup of crossovers.
  • The vehicles don't match up exactly, but they are quite similar, and consumers are likely to be comparing them with each other and with SUVs from Audi, BMW, and Lexus.
  • The Acura RDX takes the prize in this comparison because it's both fun to drive and priced to perfection.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

We live in the golden age of the luxury crossover SUV. Automakers have been launching them at a furious pace to capture customers who have abandoned sedans and wagons in droves.

The major players are Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Lexus. But don't forget about Acura, which has been selling a pair of superb SUVs, the MDX and the RDX, for some time. And don't overlook Cadillac, which in the past few years has added a total of three crossovers to its lineup.

The first was the XT5. I like this SUV, but I've always been an Acura fan. So I thought I'd compare the XT5 with the RDX. Obviously, there are some segmentation questions that arise from such a matchup: The RDX covers both the compact and midsize segments, while the XT5 is intended to be Caddy's midsize warrior (the XT4 covers the compact/subcompact space, and the XT6 handles three-row midsize duties). 

The RDX is also priced significantly lower than the XT5. But segmentation is kind of shaggy these days, as some automakers stick with their smaller lineups and others add new vehicles to dice and slice markets.

Ultimately, I think it's valid to cross-shop the XT5 with the RDX, thus this comparison. Read on to find out how it went down:

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We checked out the all-wheel-drive Cadillac XT5 in 2017, not long after the SUV was rolled out in 2016.

Read the review

We also tested the XT5 in both the Northeast and in Florida: the black SUV in the Sunshine State and the white version in the New York metro area.

Transportation reporter Ben Zhang tried the black XT5, which came with a slightly higher-level trim package and tipped the price scales at about $64,000, while the senior correspondent Matt DeBord investigated a $58,000 "crystal white" XT5.

The new XT5 is undeniably sharp, but it proves that Caddy is shifting away from its at-time divisive "art-and-science" stealth-fighter design vocabulary toward a more globally appealing approach.

There's a smooth sweep of lines from front to back, with an integrated spoiler completing the roof line, and a bold — but not too bold — chrome-trimmed angle on the rear windows picked up and extended by the large rear tail lights. A pair of chromed exhaust ports deliver a sporty vibe.

The XT5 was the first new crossover from Caddy to join the stalwart full-size Escalade in the lineup. Cadillac has since unveiled a small XT4 and larger XT6.

There's more than enough cargo space to use the XT5 as an upscale weekend utility vehicle, send it to the mall to load up on threads and flat-screen TVs, or take it on a weeklong road trip with a family of five.

We didn't enjoy the combination of a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission, not even when we put it into manual mode and used the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and pepped up the driving mode. This bugged us. A premium crossover with a decent-size V6 should have been oomphier.

We asked Cadillac to explain. A spokesperson told us that Cadillac's engineering "team was aiming to get the best real-world fuel economy and day-to-day usability for buyers in the market segment," adding that fuel economy ranks really high in owner surveys.

This confirmed our theory. We didn't think there was anything wrong with the engine, but we figured that Caddy had gone for MPGs — 18 city/26 highway/21 combined — over performance.

The eight-speed shifts tidily, and the XT5 hauls you from 0 to 60 mph in a Caddy-claimed 6.6 seconds, and it had a reasonably competent all-wheel-drive system that should be able to handle the worst the suburbs throw at it.

The interior of the XT5 is, in a word, fantastic. It's roomy. It's luxurious without being too much. It isn't an orgy of topstitching and bright chrome. The materials are all excellent, premium, and supple. The leather feels really good.

The XT5's panoramic moonroof is a stunner.

The instrument panel is sort of old-school, but the steering wheel — leather-wrapped and wood-trimmed — is thoroughly modern, with buttons to control just about every function on the XT5.

The infotainment system is a standout feature for the XT5.

What makes it so effective is that the touchscreen interface is simple and intuitive, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, voice commands work well, the navigation is excellent and well-integrated with OnStar, and wireless 4G LTE connectivity means that an entire car full of people can use their devices on the road. That's an amazing package.

The Bose audio system is wonderful.

We've sampled all the premium audio systems on the auto market, and while some are more dynamically interesting than Bose, and some really make you feel as if you're in a rolling concert hall, Bose surround sound will please almost any driver or passenger and can handle any type of music, from heavy metal to new age, pumping it all blissfully through 14 speakers.

It hits a sweet spot. You just can't find anything to complain about. That's why it was our Business Insider Car Audio System of the Year in 2017.


On to the Acura RDX, which I tested in an Advance trim level. Sticker price: $47,800 (the base is $37,000, but that's front-wheel-drive instead of the all-wheel-drive for my tester).

Read the review

For many, many Americans, the RDX is their version of a premium wagon, and it's dedicated to upscale family duty. But it also promises zesty performance and plenty of technology, given the typical needs and wants of an Acura enthusiast.

This new-gen RDX is also taking some design cues from the Acura halo supercar, the NSX, which took home Business Insider's Car of the Year trophy in 2016.

SUV rear ends are usually a weak point aesthetically, and the RDX's is no exception. There's a lot going on back there, what with all the swoops and indents and those crab-pincer tail lights. Bonus: Dual exhaust!

Our RDX was of the "Super Handling" all-wheel-drive variety, with torque vectoring that sends traction to the wheel that needs it most. This helps the RDX with stable handling in bad weather and on poor roads.

There's no third row of seats, and thanks to the RDX's larger overall dimensions relative to the previous gen, the cargo space is now a considerable 30 cubic feet. There's also a power liftgate.

The four-cylinder 272-horsepower turbocharged motor is demonstrably torque-happy with 280 pound-feet of pull on tap. It is also not torque-steer-y in any way.

The RDX can serve up a 0 to 60 mph dash in about six seconds. Fuel economy is about what you'd expect: 21 mpg city/27 highway/23 combined. I drove around for a week on single tank.

The 10-speed automatic transmission, which has four driving modes (Comfort, Snow, Sport plus, and a default Sport), along with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

The leather interior is "Parchment" and almost but not quite as nice as the XT5's.

The 2019 RDX is bigger than its ancestors. The subtle size increase makes the rear seats notably more comfy for passengers. On a side note, getting in and out of the RDX is a breeze — not something one can say about every luxe SUV.

Both SUVs have panoramic moonroofs.

I always find the Acura's driver's view to be soothing. That's weird because you're presented with all kinds of buttons and thumbwheels, and a switch on the RDX's steering wheel. And although the analog instrument gauges are old-school, the somewhat complicated center display isn't.

Acura's new infotainment system is called "True Touchpad," and it uses a high-res center screen that juts from the dashboard and displays a host of apps, along with the map, which is nearly always on view.

Here's where the magic happens. This touchpad can be used like a trackpad on a laptop, and there are several hard inputs. But you can also simply drop a fingertip to an area of the pad that corresponds to the screen.

I found the voice-recognition feature to be satisfyingly accurate, and Bluetooth pairing, navigation, and USB/AUX inputs for devices were all successful. There are better infotainment options out there, but given Acura's history, this new True Touchpad approach has promise. Best of all, once you learn it, you can keep your eyes on the road.

Apple CarPlay is available, but Android Auto isn't yet.

The ELS Studio 3D audio system is all Acura — specially designed for the brand and outfitted with 16 speakers in the RDX.

The system is spectacular — it won our Business Insider Car Audio System of the Year award for 2018.

And the winner is the Acura RDX!

When I reviewed the RDX last year, I swooned. "I'd buy one," I wrote.

"Seriously, I enjoyed the RDX immensely in the week that I drove it around the Jersey 'burbs and the mean streets of New York City. But I tend to respond quite favorably to Acuras. For whatever reason, I think they combine a high level of luxury and value with legendary reliability and fun motoring that isn't too demanding."

A key differentiator for me between the XT5 and the RDX was the engine. The underpowered V6 on the XT5 that we tested was trumped by the overpowered turbo four on the RDX. The RDX's power was snappier, and the fuel economy was superior. 

The driving dynamics, however, were neck and neck. If I had to, I'd give the RDX a slight edge, but around corners, both crossovers are fun to handle.

Acura's updated infotainment system is a notable improvement over the old setup, but the XT5 has an industry-leading system, so the RDX has a ways to go before it even thinks about knocking off the Caddy on this score.

In terms of interior appointments, the Caddy edges out a victory — but a slight one.

Overall, the Acura RDX wins this comparison because it simply feels more like a well-engineered, premium crossover that makes good on its brand promise. The XT5 is a dandy SUV, and it has sold quite well since its introduction, giving Caddy an all-important crossover to pit against BMW and Audi.

But the new RDX continues to more than hold its own. It's also extremely well-priced. My tester was more than $10,000 less than the pricier and cheaper XT5 trims that we sampled. OK, yes — the XT5 could be classified as more of a midsize luxury crossover, and perhaps we should see how the RDX stacks up against the Caddy XT4 that recently impressed us. But the Acura MDX has three rows, while the XT5 doesn't (the new XT6 does). The vehicles are also almost exactly the same size (the XT5 is 3 inches longer). 

The bottom line is that the RDX is and has been one of the most appealing offerings in the luxury market, both as an extreme value and as a capable crossover that's a joy to drive. It's one of those vehicles that I can recommend almost without reservations.

I opened a high-yield savings account with online bank Ally to earn 20 times more on my money, and it's safe to say I'm obsessed

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 12:47pm

  • Author Sarah Li Cain needed a place to keep her savings for her first home that would earn interest but not put her money at risk.
  • She settled on a high-yield savings account with Ally, which had no monthly fees or minimum-balance requirement, and it had a 2.20% interest rate, which means it earns about 20 times more interest than money in a savings account that might pay 0.1% at a traditional bank.
  • Since opening the account, she's been so happy with its customer service and ease of use that she moved money she'd been keeping in a traditional bank into Ally, too.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A few years ago, my husband and I wanted to plan for a major purchase — our very first house. As someone who likes to maximize her savings, I was concerned I had to let my money just sit there for a few years while we went through the house-hunting process.

I'm someone who likes to leave as little money as possible in a regular bank account (except for our emergency savings fund) because I love to invest my money and watch it grow. In this case, however, it didn't make sense to stick money in a brokerage or retirement account because I wanted a conservative option — I didn't want to lose the money I was setting aside for a down payment on my future home.

After doing some research, my husband and I decided on a high-yield savings account. With it, we could earn a bit of money from interest and access our funds relatively quickly, two of the most important things we were looking for.

We chose Ally for its lack of fees and minimum-balance requirement

I feel lucky to be living during a time when I can do research online. With so many comparison websites and banks competing for my business, I was able to compare bank accounts pretty quickly.

We settled on Ally Bank's online high-yield savings account. Ally has:

  • A 2.2% interest rate (as of publishing this story), compounded daily
  • No fees or minimum required balance
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insurance up to $250,000
  • 24/7 customer service.

My husband and I liked the fact that it doesn't charge any monthly maintenance fees and there is no minimum-balance requirement. Because we were just starting our savings journey when we opened the account, we didn't want to transfer more than $50.

Interested in a high-yield savings account? Consider these offers from our partners:

Something else I liked was that its interest rate (2.20% at the time of publishing) is one of the highest we've seen. It's even comparable with rates you'd find for certificates of deposits, with more immediate access to our cash. A 2.20% interest rate means that money earns 20 — or even 200 — times more than it would in a traditional bank account, which typically pays only .01% to 0.1% interest, if anything. 

Before this, we had a checking account for our daily transactions and a savings account for our emergency fund at my husband's local bank. We loved the customer service, so we didn't think twice at looking at the rates we were earning with either of these accounts.

We set up automatic monthly transfers to help us save more

We had no intentions of tapping into our savings account often, so we were fine with the fact that we were allowed only six withdrawals per month.

We linked our Ally account to our checking account so we could easily transfer money toward our house fund. We set up automatic transfers and made some manual transfers whenever we wanted to put more money in the account.

Otherwise, we just let the account sit there and grow, slowly but surely, logging in every few weeks to see its progress. It's exciting to see money grow! We weren't too concerned about letting the money do its thing because we knew that we didn't have to pay maintenance fees, and our money was insured through Ally by the FDIC.

It's safe to say we're obsessed with our Ally account

I'm glad we opened our high-interest savings account. It was a painless signup process, easy to set up transfers, and when we eventually wired money for our house closing, I felt good knowing Ally called to make sure it was me who initiated the transfer.

That wasn't the first time I'd spoken with Ally. We liked how responsive the customer service was — I never had to wait more than five minutes to talk to someone on the phone or via its chat app — and that we could call outside of business hours.

After opening an initial account with Ally, we transferred our money from our regular bank account into Ally, too. When we checked with our local bank, we found out we weren't earning any interest, and the rate for its savings account was much lower than what Ally offered.

I'm happy we went with a high-interest savings account because it meant I could earn a bit of interest while keeping our money close. I also felt great knowing we could pounce on a deal once our dream home came on the market — and when it did, we pounced as planned. As we get ready to move into our new place, it feels good knowing that I was able to find a good bank account to house our funds.

Interested in a high-yield savings account? Consider these offers from our partners:

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Warren Buffett, the third-richest person in the world, is also one of the most frugal billionaires. Here's how he makes and spends his fortune.

BANKING AND PAYMENTS FOR GEN Z: These digital natives are the next big opportunity — here are the winning strategies

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 12:35pm

Generation Z, defined as customers born between 1996 and 2010, hold up to $143 billion in spending power, but haven't yet developed brand loyalties that dictate where they store and spend that money.

For banking and payments providers, attracting these customers while they're young could lead to lucrative relationships throughout their lives, with value increasing as they age, earn more money, and expand the number of financial products they engage with. 

Most Gen Zers haven't started using financial products beyond a bank account, which makes them a ripe opportunity for players in the space.

As a result, many firms target millennials and Gen Zers together in a push to attract younger customers, but this could be limiting their ability to effectively capture the interest of tweens, teens, and young adults, because Gen Z differs from their older counterparts. As a group, they're more responsive to influence from friends and peers than they are to traditional advertising, less likely to remember life before the internet, and more open to a wider variety of financial service providers than other consumers.

Understanding what makes Gen Zers tick is critical for marketers, strategists, and developers looking to cater to these younger customers and build out a suite of products, tools, and services that they'll want to adopt. In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will use a six-point framework — developed based on industry research and conversations — to explain the core attributes that Gen Z values in a product.

It will then explain how each of these attributes can be applied to banking and payments products, and offer actionable recommendations, strategies, and examples for how to implement them to grab younger customers ahead of the competition.

The companies mentioned in the report are: Affirm, American Express, Apple, Bank of America, Capital One, Citi, Current, Discover, Instagram, Google, Grab, Greenlight, JPMorgan Chase, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber, Venmo, Visa, Wells Fargo, Zelle

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Gen Z's lack of financial services product adoption offers providers a long runway for growth. While two-thirds of Gen Zers have a bank account, many don't yet use debit cards, haven't aged into credit cards or loans, and aren't responsible for the bulk of their own spending. As they navigate life transitions, like going to college or getting a first job, there's ripe opportunity for providers to engage these customers.
  • Gen Z is more interested in digital payments products and services than any other generation. While adoption of mobile wallets has been tepid among the general population and P2P apps, like Venmo and Zelle, are just now gaining traction among older users, Gen Zers are diving in head first: Over half use digital wallets monthly, and over three-quarters use other digital payment apps or P2P apps in the same time frame.
  • To attract, engage, and retain Gen Zers, financial services firms must develop products that are social, authentic, digital-native, and educational, offer value, and evolve over time. This combination, which emphasizes key attributes that Gen Zers value, serve as a roadmap for developing offerings with features that appeal to these users in both the short and long run.

In full, the report:

  • Explains why Generation Z represents a meaningful and urgent opportunity for financial services providers.
  • Outlines a six-point framework for building services that can attract, engage, and retain Gen Zers.
  • Offers specific strategies that banks and payments providers can implement to build products tailored to this generation.
  • Evaluates examples of tactics that work in bringing Gen Zers into the fold and turning them into lifelong customers.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you've given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fast-moving world of Payments.

Join the conversation about this story »

One of the most expensive homes for sale in the Hamptons got a $30 million price cut. Take a look at the massive estate that's been on the market for almost 2 years.

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 12:17pm

The most expensive home for sale in the Hamptons just got a $30 million price cut.

Previously listed at $175 million, making it the most expensive home for sale in the Hamptons at the time, the Jule Pond estate in Southampton is now asking $145 million.

Jule Pond, which was once part of a larger property called "Fordune," hit the market for $175 million in August 2017, almost two years ago. The 42-acre estate was originally built for Henry Ford but has reportedly been owned by portfolio manager Brenda Earl since 2002.

Cody and Zach Vichinsky of Bespoke Real Estate hold the listing.

Jule Pond's recent price cut means it's no longer the most expensive home for sale in the Hamptons. That would be another Southampton property that's listed for $150 million.

The current record for the most expensive home sold in the Hamptons was set by hedge funder Barry Rosenstein, who bought an East Hampton property for $147 million in 2014. 

At Jule Pond, the main house has 20,000 square feet of space, 12 bedrooms, and 12 bathrooms. The property also includes tennis and basketball courts as well as a greenhouse and about 1,286 linear feet of oceanfront.

Take a look at the $145 million estate.

SEE ALSO: This $245 million Los Angeles mansion is the most expensive home for sale in the US — and it costs 960 times more than a typical US home

DON'T MISS: The most expensive house for sale in New Jersey is a sprawling $29.5 million estate with a private English-style pub, and it's only 25 miles from NYC

The Jule Pond estate is set on 42 acres in Southampton.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

Even after its $30 million discount, the $145 million price tag makes Jule Pond one of the most expensive homes for sale in the Hamptons, a community known for its multimillion-dollar homes.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate, Zillow

The home includes a stretch of beach that spans nearly a quarter mile, the largest ocean frontage in the Hamptons, according to Bespoke Real Estate.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

It also fronts several ponds, including its namesake Jule Pond.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

A stately driveway lined with manicured hedges leads to the main house.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

The home was built in 1960, and many of its original architectural details have been maintained.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

Inside, you'll see ornate chandeliers and Italian marble fireplaces.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

The main home has 20,000 square feet of living space with 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

Large windows show off panoramic views of the grounds.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

A massive kitchen leaves plenty of space for cooking and entertaining.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

There's also a library that opens onto a koi pond with a waterfall.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

There are stunning views to be had all around.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

Hedges surround the 20-foot pool ...

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

... and a path leads down to the beach.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

To the northeast, the property borders a swath of reserved land, which adds another quarter mile of unobstructed views.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

There are plenty of places to relax outside, whether poolside ...

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

... or alongside one of the tranquil ponds.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

In addition to the main house, the estate includes a garage that can hold at least six cars, a greenhouse, a tennis court, a basketball court, and a three-bedroom carriage house.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

And don't forget about the hot tub.

Source: Bespoke Real Estate

The most expensive home ever sold in the Hamptons was an East Hampton property bought by hedge funder Barry Rosenstein for $147 million in 2014.

Source: The Real DealNY Post

Evidence is mounting that Uber and Lyft increase traffic congestion. But one startup thinks it has found a way to help — and it's already turning a profit. (UBER, LYFT)

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 11:52am

  • Uber and Lyft have been accused of increasing congestion in cities.
  • They've also been criticized for classifying drivers as independent contractors, which allows the companies to avoid paying overtime and other benefits.
  • Circuit, an upstart ride-hailing firm, is aiming to use those two areas of critique to its advantage.
  • Its cofounder Alex Esposito told Business Insider about how the company's early days shuttling beachgoers from parking lots to sandy shores inspired expansion to other markets.

It's hard to compete with Uber and Lyft.

The two ride-hailing companies combined are worth a whopping $88 billion and provided 5.8 billion rides around the world in 2018.

But the newfound societal benefits that come from the ability to hail a cab with the tap of a button haven't been uniform. Multiple studies have found — with forceful pushback from both companies — that the nascent industry has single-handedly increased urban congestion and siphoned ridership away from public transit.

In New York, for example, a 2017 report by Schaller Consulting found that drivers spent 12 to 13 miles circling in empty vehicles for every 10 miles driven with fare-paying passengers. Both Uber and Lyft have disputed this study, as well as others with similar findings, yet such congestion is the problem Circuit hopes to solve.

The 6-year-old startup, fresh out of the Urban-X accelerator program's fifth cohort this year, isn't trying to compete directly with Uber and Lyft (at least not yet) and is instead focused on the problem spots where even companies with the most venture-capital resources have struggled.

It all started in the Hamptons, of all places, a superrich seaside enclave roughly 100 miles east of New York City, where investors are more likely to spend their money on lavish vacation homes rather than on fledgling startups. But those same millionaires also had a glaring problem: The parking lot closest to the beach was overcrowded, and no one wanted to walk from the overflow lot roughly a mile away.

"We kind of fell into the first-mile last-mile problem by accident," Circuit's cofounder Alex Esposito said in an interview with Business Insider. As it turns out, those same issues weren't limited to private beaches in wealthy villages. Drivers the world over are pouring countless hours and miles into circling parking streets looking for a spot.

Now, Circuit's operating with about 140 drivers, shuttling riders free in six-seat, electric golf carts in markets including the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; around Brooklyn; and at shopping malls in suburban Houston. What's more, the company has already turned a profit, Esposito said, with revenue in the "seven figures and climbing" thanks to advertising inside and outside its vehicles. That's a stark difference from Uber and Lyft, which lost a combined $1.2 billion in 2018.

"The market size is massive," he said, "but I think they're more focused on hypergrowth and not actually combating specific issues in just going after cities with the same solution, which is where they've run into some problems. I can't really blame them entirely for creating this congestion — I think it's really just the way that users have been using some of their services."

Esposito credits Circuit's success thus far with its niche services, as opposed to broad solutions.

"Because we actually train and hire our drivers as W-2 employees, we're incentivized to have as few empty cars on the road as possible," he said. "Whereas Uber and Lyft don't really have any reason not to have all the cars on the road. Drivers don't cost them anything unless they're on a ride."

With $1.36 million in funding under its belt to date, according to PitchBook data, Circuit plans to double down on working with cities on closed-loop transportation, as it has done in downtown San Diego.

"Where there are other companies spending millions and millions trying to build an advanced algorithm," Esposito said, "we can have a pretty simple pooling algorithm because we're just focused on these very short rides."

SEE ALSO: Uber scored a major victory when the US government ruled drivers aren't employees, but not everyone is happy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why top automakers spend millions on concept cars they don't plan on making

7 of the best credit card offers this May — including an excellent Southwest Airlines offer

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 11:47am

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network if you apply for a credit card, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • When you sign up for a new rewards credit card, you can often get a big new member bonus — tons of points or cash back.
  • Sometimes, credit card issuers will offer higher-than-normal bonuses to try and attract new customers. By taking advantage of offers when they're at their highest, you can rack up points, miles, or bonus cash quickly.
  • This May, there are a few big limited-time offers, including on every Southwest Airlines personal credit card. Hurry, though — some of these aren't around for the whole month.

The fastest way to earn rewards points, cash back, and frequent-flyer miles is to open a new credit card and earn its sign-up or welcome bonus.

Credit card issuers offer huge bonuses to attract customers, while designing card features with long-term, continuing value in an effort to keep them. This offers consumers a chance to take advantage of these bonuses, perks, and features.

You can read more about earning new card-member bonuses and how that will affect your credit score here, or scroll down to find some of the best offers available this month.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

1. Any Southwest credit card

Sign-up bonus:60,000 Rapid Rewards points (after spending $2,000 in the first three months). Ends June 10.

Earlier this year, Southwest offered an unprecedented sign-up bonus for its consumer credit cards: 30,000 points and a Companion Pass if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. A Companion Pass is essentially an unlimited buy-one-get-one pass for airfare.

While that deal ended in February — and we don't know if it will ever be offered again — Southwest is back with a newly increased credit card sign-up offer that can actually help you get the full companion pass.

When you open any of the three personal cards, you can earn 60,000 Rapid Reward points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months. The usual bonus is only 40,000 points after meeting minimum spend requirements. This offer is only available for a limited time.

Those points can be used for flights anywhere in Southwest's network, including on its recently launched flights to Hawaii.

In addition to using the points for flights, they can also help contribute towards earning a Companion Pass for this yearand all of 2020.

To earn the Companion Pass, one has to earn 110,000 qualifying points with Southwest within a calendar year. The pass will then be valid for the remainder of that calendar year, as well as the entirety of the following one.

Points earned from a Southwest credit card count — including sign-up bonuses. If you open a card during the current deal, you'll already have 62,000 points (including points earned from spending), so you'll only need to earn 48,000 more through flights or other qualifying activities.

There are three Southwest consumer cards, but our choice for the best one is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. That's because, unlike the other cards, it comes with enough tangible benefits to cancel out the cost of its annual fee.

The other options are the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.

Plus, if you have a small business or side gig, you can open a personal card and a small business card — the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card— and earn an additional 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Between the two bonuses, you'll earn more than enough points to automatically get the Companion Pass.

You can learn more about the Companion Pass and the three Southwest cards here.

Click here to learn more about the Southwest Priority card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about the Southwest Plus card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about the Southwest Premier card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. 2. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Welcome offer: $200 statement credit (after spending $1,000 in the first three months)

If you're less excited about earning Membership Rewards points — which can be valuable, but also tricky to redeem — and want to stick with cash back, the Blue Cash Preferred is the best option, despite its $95 annual fee.

AmEx recently announced a refresh to the card on May 9. Starting then, new and existing cardholders earn 6% cash back on US streaming services and 3% back on all transit. That's in addition to the existing categories of 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (and 1% after that), 3% back at US gas stations, and 1% cash back on everything else.

The card previously offered 3% back at some US department stores. That won't be available for anyone who applies on or after May 9. For existing cardholders, it will stick around through the end of July.

Like the EveryDay cards, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, before switching to a variable 15.24-26.24% APR.

The Blue Cash Preferred comes with a handful of travel and purchase protections as well. Cash back comes in the form of a statement credit, so effectively you can use it to "erase" purchases.

Click here to learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. 3. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the most popular all-around rewards credit cards, and it's easy to see why. This card earns 2x points per dollar spent on just about all travel and dining purchases, and 1x point on everything else. It also comes with a ton of travel and purchase protections, such as rental car insurance, trip delay coverage, and extended warranty.

The card's sign-up bonus was recently increased for the first time since 2015— it's now 60,000 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points. That's worth, at the very least, $600 as cash back or gift cards. However, if you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and use points to pay, you'll get a 25% bonus, making points worth 1.25 cents each. That means that the sign-up bonus would be worth $750.

Even more lucrative — the Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you transfer your UR points to a few different frequent-flyer and hotel-loyalty programs. This comes in handy because in many cases it costs fewer points to book a trip if you go through one of those programs, as opposed to using the points as cash. You can read more about why transferring points to frequent-flyer programs gets you more value here.

This all comes for a fairly standard annual fee of $95, which is not waived the first year.

Click here to learn more about the Sapphire Preferred from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. 4. American Express® Gold Card

Welcome offer: 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Right now, the AmEx Gold Card is arguably the best card available for dining, unless you're only interested in cash back, rather than potentially more valuable rewards points, and unless you find yourself abroad at restaurants often — if that's the case, you should go with the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card (scroll down to the next card).

The Gold Card earns 4x points at US restaurants and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that), 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline, and 1x point on everything else. Based on the fact that you can easily redeem Membership Rewards points for more than 1¢ of value each, that makes this the highest-earning card for everything food-related.

The Gold Card offers up to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year, and adds up to $120 of dining credits — split into $10 each month — at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations.

While it's difficult to assign an exact value to Membership Rewards points, The Points Guy subjectively estimates each point as worth 2¢. That makes the welcome bonus worth $700. Even without factoring in the annual credit benefits, that's more than enough to make up for the card's $250 annual fee.

Check out our full review for more details.

Keep in mind that it's possible to be targeted for a higher welcome bonus.

Click here to learn more about the AmEx Gold Card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. 5. Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: $500 (after spending $3,000 in the first three months).

If dining and cooking are your thing, and cash back is what you're after, the Capital One Savor is sure to please.

The card earns unlimited 4% cash back on all dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores, and 1% on everything else. Plus, the card offers a whopping $500 sign-up bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

The Savor carries a lower annual fee than the AmEx Gold — $95, waived the first year. The earning rate will make up for the fee in many cases, based on normal spending, but if that's too high for you, there's an alternative: the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

The SavorOne card has no annual fee, and offers a slightly lower — but still valuable — earning rate of 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores, and 1% on everything else. It offers a lower sign-up bonus of $150 when you spend $500 in the first three months.

Click here to learn more about the Capital One Savor card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about the Capital One SavorOne card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. 6. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Welcome offer: 30,000 Go Far points (after spending $3,000 in the first three months).

This card from Wells Fargo has one of the more attractive rewards offerings you'll find from a no-annual-fee card. The current Propel card is a relaunch of an old product — Wells Fargo stopped accepting applications for the old card a year ago, before announcing the new product and reopening applications this summer.

The card earns 3x points on all travel, dining, and select streaming services (and 1x point on everything else). If that sounds familiar, it's because it's almost the same as the popular Chase Sapphire Reserve.

There are key differences between the cards. The Propel lets you redeem points for 1¢ each toward cash back, merchandise, travel, or more, while the Sapphire Reserve offers a range of more valuable redemption options — it's easy to get at least 50% more value for Chase points. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve offers a number of premium perks that the Propel doesn't, like airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit travel delay insurance, and more.

Of course, the Sapphire Reserve also comes with a $450 annual fee, while the Wells Fargo Propel doesn't have a fee. Between the new member offer, and the solid earning rate on popular spend categories, the Propel makes a decent option for those who don't travel often, or who aren't comfortable floating a large annual fee.

We named the Propel the best no-fee card of 2018.

Click here to learn more about the Wells Fargo Propel card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy. 7. Platinum Card® from American Express

Welcome Offer: 60,000 points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months).

The American Express Platinum card has one of the highest annual fees of any consumer credit or charge card — $550 — but as AmEx's flagship product, this premium credit card offers a tremendous amount of value to offset that fee. For example, I got more than $2,000 worth of value in my first year with the card.

The card earns Membership Rewards points, the currency in AmEx's loyalty program, which can be exchanged for statement credits or cash back, used to book travel through AmEx's travel website, or, to get the most value, transferred to any of 17 airline and three hotel transfer partners (transferable points are among the best). Travel website The Points Guy lists a valuation of 2¢ per membership rewards point; based on that, the welcome offer is worth about $1,200.

The Platinum Card earns an incredible 5x points on airfare purchased directly from the airline, and offers an airline fee credit of up to $200 each calendar year, and up to $200 in Uber credits each card member year.

It also grants the cardholder access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world, including Delta Sky Clubs and AmEx's own Centurion Lounges.

Other benefits include automatic Gold elite status in the Marriott and Hilton loyalty programs, a statement credit up to $100 to cover enrollment in Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, concierge service, access to exclusive events, and much more.

If you're an active military servicemember, you can get the AmEx Platinum Card's fee waived.

You can read our complete review of the card here.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Platinum from Insider Picks' partner, The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: The best American Express cards

Join the conversation about this story »

A Wells Fargo personal banker pleaded guilty to helping launder millions of dollars for drug traffickers like the Sinaloa cartel

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 2:30am

  • A Wells Fargo banker pleaded guilty to knowingly opening bank accounts for people working with the Sinaloa cartel.
  • Luis Figueroa of Tijuana admitted he took part in the money laundering scheme that stretched across the US.
  • Money laundering organizations recruited people who would open bank accounts for the cartel's drug money, according to US investigators.
  • The drug money would be deposited in amounts below the threshold for regulatory reporting into "funnel accounts."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Wells Fargo personal banker pleaded guilty on Thursday to knowingly opening bank accounts for people working with the Sinaloa cartel.

Thirty-year-old Luis Figueroa of Tijuana admitted he took part in the money laundering scheme that stretched across the US.

Between 2014 and 2016, money laundering organizations recruited people who would open bank accounts for the cartel's drug money, according to the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of California. The operation laundered over $19 million dollars in narcotics proceeds.

The drug money would be deposited into the bank accounts, also known as "funnel accounts," in amounts below the threshold for regulatory reporting.

Cash couriers would first pick up the drug money, often times stuffed it into "shopping bags, duffel bags or shoeboxes," and then deposit it into Wells Fargo and other banks, the Justice Department said in a press release.

The couriers would split the funds into $22,000 to $45,000 increments and deposit them into the funnel accounts. The money would be wired to shell companies based in Mexico and then picked up by the cartel.

Read more: 'El Chapo' Guzman is awaiting his fate in a US jail, but the Sinaloa cartel already has its next fight lined up

Figueroa went beyond opening the funnel accounts, he also wired money from those accounts, according to the DOJ. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Eight other people were arrested and charged in the joint FBI and IRS investigation.

"We can't allow our banks to be laundromats for cartel cash," US Attorney Robert Brewer said. "Bank employees who launder drug money for traffickers will face prosecution and prison."

Regulatory agencies like the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network scrutinize bank accounts that receive several, questionable cash deposits of less than $10,000. Banks are also encouraged to flag suspicious accounts if an individual deposits money in a different region from where the original bank account is based.

The Sinaloa cartel is based in Mexico's west coast and is one of the largest drug trafficking groups in the world. The first Mexican lab believed to have produced fentanyl was found in a home in Sinaloa's state capital.

SEE ALSO: Mexico's president wants to change how the drug war is fought, and he may be heading for a showdown with Trump

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We spent a day with US Border Patrol in El Paso, where the agency is overwhelmed by the volume of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border

Microsoft and Sony's surprise game streaming alliance is a shocker, and it raises an uncomfortable truth about the cloud wars (MSFT, SNE)

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 8:51pm

  • On Thursday, Microsoft and Sony made a joint announcement that they would "explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services." 
  • This partnership came as a big shock: They've been fierce rivals since the first Microsoft Xbox challenged the Sony PlayStation 2 in 2001. 
  • However, it makes a lot of sense: The next big thing in gaming is cloud streaming, and it's difficult and expensive to build a cloud platform that can hang with those from Microsoft and Google — both of whom have their own cloud gaming services on the way. 
  • It's just another example of how cloud computing makes for strange bedfellows, given that basically only three companies — Microsoft, Google, and Amazon — have enough cloud cred to present a viable, modern cloud infrastructure. 
  • Visit for more stories.

On Thursday, Microsoft and Sony shocked the world with a joint statement that they would be teaming up — and on video gaming, no less, where the two have been fierce rivals ever since the original Microsoft Xbox picked a fight with the Sony PlayStation 2, way back in 2001. 

In their own words, "the two companies will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services," with the promise of more specifics to come in the future. They'll also work together to integrate Microsoft's Azure AI technology with Sony's ubiquitous image sensor business. 

It's exciting times, right at a pivotal moment in the gaming industry.

The imminent launch of cloud gaming services like Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia promise to stream even the most graphically intensive video games to any device, anywhere — from a game console down to the humblest of smartphones — by leveraging the computer processing brawn of the tech titans' massive data centers. Now, it seems, Sony is turning to Microsoft and its Azure cloud to get in on the action. 

It's really tempting to read a lot into this announcement: Have the two arch-rivals really put their beef behind them? Will you be able to play Xbox games on a PlayStation, or vice versa?

Let's not jump to conclusions. Over at Ars Technica, Kyle Orland has a convincing breakdown of why that's unlikely, mostly because the next Xbox and PlayStation are both already preparing for a not-so-distant launch, and it wouldn't make a lot of sense for either company to invest so heavily in rival hardware if they were planning on laying down their arms and embracing a joint cloud service.

Read more: The creator of 'Fortnite' is leading a battle that could throw the entire video game industry into disarray, and it's likely to be terrible for Google and Apple

Instead, here's my reading of this announcement: Sony needs Microsoft's help, because there's a lot keeping it from competing toe-to-toe with Microsoft xCloud, Google Stadia, or, eventually, Amazon's own planned game streaming service. And so, it had to turn to Microsoft, a competitor, to help it keep pace with the rest of the industry. 

A little background

It's worth noting here that Sony has offered PlayStation Now, a game-streaming service, since 2014 — well before current Microsoft gaming boss Phil Spencer had his current job. To build PlayStation Now, Sony shelled out $380 million for startup Gaikai in 2012, and then opened its checkbook again for OnLive in 2015. However, PlayStation Now has never been a huge hit, despite Sony's investment. In February, Engadget said it "still isn't good enough."

It's also worth noting that around the same time that Sony launched PlayStation Now, it was reported that the company was "urgently seeking ways to build an infrastructure" to support its cloud ambitions. To make it happen, it was reported, Sony had sought contracts with data center facility providers to boost its capacity

This gives a hint as to what might be driving Sony towards this Microsoft partnership. 

It ain't easy bein' cloud

One of the big reasons why Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are able to succeed in this cloud market — where companies like Dell, VMware, and Cisco have all backed down — is that they invested heavily in building their own data centers, and then further invested in making them as efficient and powerful as humanly possible.

Indeed, at Microsoft, former chief software architect Ray Ozzie gets the credit for convincing then-CEO Steve Ballmer that the company would never get anywhere in the internet age without owning its own data centers, despite the massive expense involved. 

Now, under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella and cloud boss Scott Guthrie that investment is paying off: Microsoft has data centers all over the world, all running applications large and small, both for the company itself, and on behalf of the customers of Microsoft Azure.

At the same time, Microsoft has tasked its leading researchers and engineers with finding new, innovative, bleeding-edge ways to improve efficiency, get more power, and even run the cloud in more eco-friendly ways. More recently, the company has launched Azure Game Stack, a package of services to help game developers capitalize on everything Microsoft has learned from operating Azure for about a decade now. 

We haven't heard anything new about Sony's cloud infrastructure in a while. But it's hard to imagine that Sony's infrastructure is at the same scale as Microsoft's, let alone as efficient or as powerful. We don't know if Sony will use Microsoft to beef up PlayStation Now, or to build an entirely new gaming service, but it's not strange at all to think that the company might want Microsoft to at least partially power that future.

Strange bedfellows

A weird effect of all of this is that the cloud has made for some strange partnerships, and some even stranger counter-partnerships. 

Apple, for example, has been reported to use both Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud to power its iCloud service. Sony, too, could choose to use multiple clouds, if it isn't already. 

On the flip side, Walmart famously asked its partners to stop using Amazon Web Services, as a line in the sand in the online retail wars. Target made its own move away from AWS at around the same time.

In gaming, though, there aren't many places for Sony to turn if it wants a cloud partner who won't also be a competitor. Google has its Stadia service, while Amazon is rumored to be working on its own game streaming service. DigitalOcean, probably the largest independent cloud platform, doesn't have the same scale as its competitors. 

Since Sony can't avoid the reality of competition, its best bet is probably to embrace it — by choosing a company that it at least understands and respects, thanks to their years of long competition.

SEE ALSO: The best smartphone company you've never heard of just schooled Apple and Samsung in how to make a premium phone with the new OnePlus 7 Pro

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 14 details in 'Game of Thrones' season 8 episode 4 you may have missed

Trump's Huawei ban may have dire implications for Apple — but investors shouldn't 'jump to conclusions' just yet, analyst says (AAPL)

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 7:41pm

  • The Trump administration on Wednesday banned Huawei from buying parts from US companies without the government's approval.
  • While some experts say the ban could have negative implications for US technology companies, including Apple, one analyst thinks the development may be mere "noise."
  • Watch Apple trade live.

The Trump administration's new ban against the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei could have dire implications for US technology investors, but one analyst said there's no need to panic just yet.

The US Commerce Department said on Wednesday it added Huawei to its "Entity List" that prevents the company from purchasing American parts and components without the government's approval first.

Of course, that could hurt the US suppliers that sell their parts to the telecom giant. The ban could also make international technology companies such as Apple particularly vulnerable to retaliatory measures from China.

"A tit-for-tat fight that could be disastrous for any company that sells a lot of goods into China, especially technology-based goods, if they get banned for any reason as part of a Chinese retaliatory move," the analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. told Business Insider's Benjamin Pimentel on Wednesday.

Still, Apple shareholders shouldn't dump their shares because of the ban, the Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said. He sees the announcement as just "noise" for now.

"While we expect a lot more sand to be thrown in the sand box between the Beltway and Shanghai until the G-20 talks in late June around these trade tensions, we caution investors on Apple to not jump to conclusions and instead rationally digest the most likely scenario when analyzing the stock," Ives told clients in a note out Thursday.

Read more: Trump's Huawei ban could spark a tit-for-tat fight with Beijing that puts Apple in the crossfire

At the same time, Apple was already under pressure from increased trade tensions between the US and China, Ives said. He said the latter represented a critical "growth linchpin region" and would make up 20% of all iPhone upgrades over the next 12 to 18 months.

"Based on our analysis the way the tariff situation stands today on some lithium batteries and other input materials the cost of making iPhones currently will go up by roughly 2%-3%," Ives said.

"Taking a step back, we ultimately believe there is a low likelihood that Apple and its iPhones feel the brunt of the tariffs given its strategic importance domestically as well as Cook's ability to navigate these issues in the past with Trump and K Street," he added.

China on Monday said it would hike tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods in a retaliatory measure after the US last week raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Read more: Stocks plunge after China retaliates with duties on $60 billion of US goods

That trade spats slammed the US stock market earlier this week, though the major indexes have recouped their losses. Apple fell to a two-month low on Monday. 

Despite the volatility, Ives maintains his "outperform" rating and $235 price target — 22% above where shares were trading on Thursday.

Others agree the US's Huawei ban may not stand to affect Apple but that it could undoubtedly hurt chipmakers with significant exposure to China.

Christopher Rolland, an analyst at the firm Susquehanna, told Markets Insider in an email that the Trump administration's announcement doesn't mean much for Apple. But earlier he told clients that shares in semiconductors like Skyworks and Qorvo are at risk. 

"While the Huawei ban is not yet finalized and many details remain to be determined, we note increased risk and cut price targets for XLNX, SYNA, SWKS, and QRVO," he wrote.

Apple shares rose less than 1% on Thursday and were up 22% so far this year.

Read more coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

The top false claims Trump makes about trade

Huawei slams Trump's 'unreasonable' ban, saying that the move will only harm US interests in its own 5G rollout

The Trump administration is warning allies to stay away from a powerful Chinese company — but not everyone's listening

Apple's big, flashy event underwhelmed investors. Here's why.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: There are 7.7 billion humans on Earth today. Here's what would actually happen if Thanos destroyed 50% of all life on the planet.

Here's the pitch deck that raised millions for two ex Googlers whose startup helps new millennial parents find childcare

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 7:20pm

  • When Sara Mauskopf and Anne Halsall swapped stories at work about the difficulties of finding reliable childcare, they realized a new generation of Millennial parents were all facing a big problem.
  • Their solution was Winnie — an online, centralized marketplace that connects parents with certified childcare providers.
  • Prior to Winnie, the childcare market was fragmented, the co-founders said, and the best option available for parents was often a simple Google search.  
  • Below is the pitch deck that helped Winnie raised a $4 million seed round to fund its ambitious vision for the future of childcare. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As more millennials have kids and try to balance work and parenting, they're facing a challenge that hasn't been solved by Silicon Valley's tech giants: how to find safe and affordable childcare. 

When Sara Mauskopf and Anne Halsall — two ex-Googlers who met while working on the product team at Postmates — exchanged stories of their difficulties finding reliable childcare as new moms, they knew it was a problem they had to solve. 

Their solution was Winnie, an online, centralized marketplace that connects parents with certified childcare providers. The pair told Business Insider in a recent interview that although some companies have made childcare listings a part of their offering, Winnie was the first when it started back in 2016 to entirely focus on helping parents find licensed daycare and preschool providers near them.

The childcare market, they said, was fragmented and the best option available for parents was often a simple Google search. 

"Parents were left feeling like they don't have as many options as they do because over half of the providers are not listed online. Parents think that there's just not childcare for them," Mauskopf said. "We see moms especially dropping out of the workforce at very high numbers because of this and people paying a lot more than they have to to get into a big, popular center that they found on Google." 

To date, Winnie has 150,000 childcare providers listed on its site and hopes, over time, to have every licensed provider in the country. Right now the founders say they're focused on user growth over profits, but they say they've seen success charging parents for early access to new openings, as well as offering the childcare providers preferred placement on its site for a fee. 

Read more: Here are the pitch decks that helped hot startups raise millions

In April 2018, Winnie raised a $4 million seed round led by Reach Capital to help fund its ambitious vision for the future of childcare. In total, the San Francisco-based team of 10 has raised $6.5 million. 

Mauskopf and Halsall say their  fundraising secret is in their storytelling. 

"We're both very data-oriented people, and our initial deck was very focused on graphs and numbers and traction. And that actually made the conversations a lot harder," Halsall said.

"After our first few pitches, we restructured the deck to be more aspirational about where we were going. Anyone who wants to talk about data, it's in the appendix. But what mattered was that we were in alignment [with investors] — this is a big problem, this is a big market, there's no good solution today, and this is a really big opportunity for the first company that gets there." 

Here's the pitch deck that helped Winnie raise its latest $4 million seed round: 


SEE ALSO: The US is in the danger zone for a 'demographic time bomb,' and the high cost of childcare could be partially to blame

Rent The Runway CEO throws serious shade at profitless tech behemoths: 'I haven't been given the permission or privilege to lose a billion every quarter' (UBER, LYFT)

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 6:21pm


Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman runs her business according to a simple rule. 

"I haven't been given the permission or privilege to lose a billion every quarter," she told CNBC in an interview on Thursday. 

Although Hyman's comments sound like a sensible enough business guideline, it can also be read as a not-so-subtle swipe at some of the other tech startups that have been in the headlines recently. Uber and Lyft, for example, were some of the most highly anticipated tech IPOs of 2019 even though both had operating losses of $1 billion or more in the past year.

Since going public, Uber and Lyft have both seen shares of their stock tank amid withering criticism that they were substantially overvalued on the private market.

Despite Hyman's quip about not having permission to lose $1 billion, it's not clear what Rent the Runway's financial statement looks like, including whether the 10-year old startup is profitable itself.

The company turned a profit on an adjusted basis in 2016, according to a Recode article at the time. But representatives from Rent The Runway refused to comment on the company's current financial condition when contacted by Business Insider. 

Rent the Runway, which allows customers to rent designer clothing, recently raised $125 million in funding at a $1 valuation, according to the New York Times.

Hyman told CNBC that she hopes the new funding, led by Franklin Templeton Investments and Bain Capital Ventures, will give the company the flexibility to go public when the time is right instead of bending to investor pressure.

Read the full interview with CNBC here.

SEE ALSO: As Airbnb and Instacart gear up for rumored IPOs, here are the VC firms that have made the most early investments in billion-dollar startups

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch Mark Zuckerberg outline Facebook's new 6-principle approach to privacy

Here's the pitch deck that hot Wall Street startup OpenFin used to raise $17 million from Barclays and Wells Fargo

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 4:41pm

  • OpenFin said it raised $17 million in a Series C fundraising round led by Wells Fargo. Barclays also participated, as did existing investors JPMorgan, Pivot Investment Partners and Bain Capital also participated. 
  • Below is the pitch deck that OpenFin used to drum up investor investor interest. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

OpenFin, which calls itself the operating system of finance, said Thursday that it had raised $17 million in its Series C fundraising round that was led by Wells Fargo, with participation from Barclays. 

Designed to sit one layer above a computer's native OS, OpenFin is a platform where software applications can be deployed safely, seamlessly, and quickly. It's used by banks and asset managers to allow traders and portfolio managers to begin using a collection of apps in a way that begins to look and feel like the experience consumers have come to expect from their mobile devices.

"OpenFin is building the roads, bridges and communications infrastructure for financial apps that will allow capital markets to innovate like Silicon Valley," Matt Harris at VC firm Bain Capital Ventures and an OpenFin board member said in a statement. 

OpenFin plans to use its new money to hire more people and expand into new products and geographies. The round brings the total funds raised by OpenFin to $40 million. The company declined to disclose its valuation.

The software already powers 1,000 applications on 200,000 computer workstations across more than 1500 banks and investment managers.

Here's the pitch deck that CEO and founder Mazy Dar used to raise his latest round of funding. 

SEE ALSO: OpenFin is unveiling an app store for old-school Wall Street traders in a bid to become the iCloud of banking

SEE ALSO: INTRODUCING: The 10 people transforming finance

Here you see OpenFin's mission statement or catch phrase.

While serving old school Wall Street, OpenFin likes to position itself as an innovative force for good.

One pain point OpenFin is trying to solve is Wall Street's very slow and antiquated approach to updating software packages.

Poor software deployment costs billions of dollars each year in wasted spending.

OpenFin says time is of the essence if Wall Street wants to get on the innovation band wagon.

OpenFin says it has the answer.

And here the startup begins to explain how it's put together.

One of OpenFin's advantages is that it can make it easy for internal apps designed by banks or asset managers to interact with apps made by third parties.

OpenFin says it has much of the industry on board.

The startup makes it easy for firms to create their own curated storefront for applications, similar to Apple's App Store or Google Play.

OpenFin touts some of its most successful deployments, including an FX platform already in use and new corporate bond trading tech.

OpenFin's senior leadership.

OpenFin suggests that it's beginning to look outside of Wall Street for its next growth opportunity.

The potential market is huge.

OpenFin says it will use its new money to expand into new products and geographies, not to mention hiring more people.

And that's it. Notice OpenFin's tag line is a riff on the old hacker slogan made famous by Mark Zuckerberg.

Nvidia spikes after earnings and guidance top Wall Street estimates (NVDA)

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 4:32pm

  • Nvidia on Thursday reported first-quarter results that topped Wall Street estimate.
  • The midpoint for Q2 revenue was above estimates.
  • Shares were up more than 5% in after-hours trading. 
  • Watch Nvidia trade live.

Nvidia reported on Thursday reported strong first-quarter results, sending shares up more than 5% after the closing bell. 

The chipmaker earned an adjusted $0.88 a share on revenue of $2.22 billion, topping the $0.81 and $2.19 billion that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting.  

"NVIDIA is back on an upward trajectory," said cofounder and CEO Jensen Huang. "We've returned to growth in gaming, with nearly 100 new GeForce Max-Q laptops shipping. And NVIDIA RTX has gained broad industry support, making ray tracing the standard for next-generation gaming."

Looking ahead to the second quarter, Nvidia sees revenue of $2.55 billion at the midpoint, plus or minus 2%. That was better than the $2.53 billion that analysts were hoping for. 

Nvidia, and other chipmakers have been under pressure for much of the past month as trade tensions between the US and China have reignited.

Last week, President Donald Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% and said another $325 billion of Chinese goods could soon see their tariffs go up. China responded by hiking tariffs on $60 billion of US goods. 

The renewed trade tensions have put semiconductor shares under the microscope as they are particularly sensitive to Chinese demand

"A major concern here, the products would be deemed mission-critical and the US would prevent shipments to China, or tax them heavily (a large buyer of GPUs)," RBC analyst Mitch Steves wrote in a recent note. 

"We think China trade talks will negatively impact our universe. Most notably, we think GPUs and Semi-cap are most at risk to the downside if tensions continue to rise." 

Ahead of the release, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst William Stein said investors should focus on the company's long-term growth prospects and not the short-term volatility that has been impacting its share price.

"We believe NVDA's IP (chips and software) address some of the most attractive end markets in all of tech (Gaming, server acceleration, AI training & inference, and autonomous driving) that represent a >$100B TAM in the mid-2020s," he wrote.

"The company's competitive advantage is not isolated to its GPU chips (which competitors can market), but instead relate to its culture of innovation, software tool investment, and ecosystem of incumbency."  

Stein has a "buy" rating and $210 price target — 31% above the $160 where shares were trading on Thursday. 

Nvidia was up 20% this year through Thursday's closing bell . 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

How WeWork's CEO manages his ego after going from broke to a billionaire in under 10 years

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 4:22pm

  • WeWork CEO Adam Neumann sat down with Business Insider's Alyson Shontell and Rich Feloni to discuss his business, his outlook on success, and how he keeps his ego in check as a young billionaire.
  • When WeWork hit a $5 billion valuation, Neumann found himself looking down on others.
  • After stepping away from his phone during Shabbat, and with the help of his wife, Rebekah, Neumann was better able to curb his ego and focus on WeWork's greater mission.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When WeWork reached a $5 billion valuation, CEO and cofounder Adam Neumann confronted one of his greatest challenges: his ego.

It's something he has battled and still battles today, as the hype around him and his company balloons.

Neumann built the coworking company WeWork, which is now a $47 billion unicorn that filed to go public in December.

He wasn't always a successful entrepreneur. He had at least two failed ventures and spent his early years admittedly partying too hard with his supermodel sister in a shoebox apartment.

When he met his wife and fellow cofounder, Rebekah Paltrow  — cousin to Gwyneth Paltrow — she immediately called him out.

"You have a lot of potential, but you're full of shit," Paltrow told him. "You talk this big talk, and you're broke ... I can tell. Anybody who talks about money doesn't have any."

Paltrow challenged him to change his perspective on what it means to be successful from one of self-interest to one of helping others.

Neumann proposed within 30 days of that first date.

In 2011, he cofounded WeWork and the company's rapid rise has turned him into a billionaire. But even with Paltrow's help, it has at times gone to his head.  

Read more: WeWork's CEO explains why he thinks his $47 billion company is recession-proof and how he keeps his ego in check as a young billionaire

After his financial situation changed so drastically, Neumann caught himself frequently thinking he was better than others. The thoughts were not only unflattering but also dangerous to his company.

"If I don't keep [myself] in check, you can't be the 'We' Company and a 'me' person," Neumann told Business Insider.

To help curb his ego, Neumann, who is Jewish, sought the advice of his rabbi. His rabbi suggested Neumann perform Shabbat, a practice that forbids the use of technology for 25 hours to spend time with your loved ones and become closer to God.

Neumann said the practice of disconnecting allowed him to get back on track. Technology, he said, is partially responsible for the record amounts of pain and loneliness people feel today.

"I do believe that because once a week I stop for 25 hours and really focus on what's most important, that stays in my head for the rest of the week and helps me, in a real way, manage myself and my behavior," Neumann told Business Insider.

Aside from Shabbat, Neumann credits Paltrow for keeping him grounded. Paltrow's "maniacal focus" on helping society as a whole brings him back when he feels his ego getting too big.

"I think her contribution to my life can not be overstated," he said.

Read Adam Neumann's full interview with Business Insider about WeWork's plan for growth and survival in an upcoming recession»


SEE ALSO: WeWork's CFO says it will generate $2 billion in profit on the desks it's opened this year, and it shows the importance of the 'space as a service' model

Join the conversation about this story »

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Boeing has finished the software update to fix the grounded 737 Max that was involved in 2 fatal crashes (BA)

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 4:19pm

  • Boeing announced on Thursday that it has finished development work on the software fix for the grounded 737 Max aircraft.
  • The company is now working with the FAA to schedule certification test flights and submit its final certification documents. 
  • All 371 Boeing 737 Max airliners in service have been grounded since March 13 after the deadly crashes of Lion Air Flight JT610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Boeing announced on Thursday that it finished development work on the software fix for the grounded 737 Max aircraft.

The Chicago-based aviation giant also said it has completed the simulator testing and engineering test flights associated with the software fix for the plane's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). 

"With safety as our clear priority, we have completed all of the engineering test flights for the software update and are preparing for the final certification flight," Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "We're committed to providing the FAA and global regulators all the information they need, and to getting it right."

Muilenburg added, "We're making clear and steady progress and are confident that the 737 MAX with updated MCAS software will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly."

Read more: American Airlines CEO reveals when he would feel safe flying on the Boeing 737 Max again.

According to Boeing, it's providing the Federal Aviation Administration with details on "how pilots interact with the airplane controls and displays in different flight scenarios." The company is also working with federal regulators to schedule certification test flights and submit final certification documents. 

It's unclear how long the certification process will take once the FAA receives Boeing's final package of proposed fixes. 

Boeing also announced that is has developed "enhanced" training materials that are under review by the FAA, international regulators, and airlines. 

All 371 Boeing 737 Max airliners in operation have been grounded around the world since March 13 after the crashes of Lion Air Flight JT610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, which occurred less than five months apart. A total of 342 passengers and crew died in the two crashes. 

At the heart of the controversy is MCAS. It's a control system found on board the 737 Max that was not disclosed to airlines and pilots until the Lion Air crash in October. Boeing confirmed in April that faulty readings from malfunctioning angle-of-attack sensors triggered MCAS ahead of both crashes.

In March, Boeing rolled out a series of proposed software updates designed to roll back the intrusiveness of MCAS along with additional pilot training on the differences between the previous generation 737NG and the 737 Max. 

SEE ALSO: American Airlines CEO reveals why a small Italian airline is the focus of the nastiest feud in the airline industry

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Pinterest is crashing after giving light guidance in its first public quarterly report (PINS)

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 4:16pm

  • Pinterest shares plunged by 19% late Thursday after the company released its first quarterly results as a public company.
  • Its full-year sales guidance and adjusted loss per share both disappointed.
  • Shares had rallied 60% since debuting on the New York Stock Exchange on April 18.
  • Watch Pinterest trade live.

Pinterest shares plunged by as much as 19% late Thursday after the company released its first quarterly report as a public company.

While the visual-bookmarking platform reported quarterly sales that topped expectations, its sales guidance and adjusted loss per share both fell short.

Pinterest managed to narrow its net loss from the same point last year. It lost $41.4 million during the first three months of this year, down from the $52.7 million that it lost during the first three months of 2018. Revenue rose 54% versus a year ago to $201.9 million. 

"We were particularly encouraged by the strength we saw in US revenue and international user growth," Todd Morgenfeld, Pinterest's chief financial officer, said in the earnings release.

Here's what Pinterest reported compared with what analysts polled by Bloomberg were expecting:

  • Revenue: $201.9 million ($200.8 million expected)
  • Adjusted loss per share: -$0.32 (-$0.10 expected)
  • EBITDA: -$38.4 million (-$42.1 million expected)
  • Full-year 2019 revenue outlook: $1.06 billion to $1.08 billion ($1.09 billion expected)

Wall Street has been concerned about two things when it comes to Pinterest — its path to profitability and how it can compete for digital advertisement dollars against other giants like Facebook and Google. Pinterest debuted one month ago and is one of a slew of young money-losing technology companies to hit the market this year.

"Despite strong fundamentals & a promising runway for future growth, we see the current risk/reward on shares as balanced given the stock performance & valuation since IPO," UBS analysts wrote on Monday.

"Risk factors include competition for digital advertising budgets, the path to profitability in coming years (compared to current margin structure) & dual-class stock structure and management stability," they added.

The company's "quiet period" ended earlier this week, ushering in a deluge of Wall Street commentary that reflected a pretty lukewarm view. In their reports, some analysts cautioned that Pinterest's valuation is a bit too rich.

"We are very constructive on PINS position in mobile advertising and the company's growth and margin cadence," Barclays analysts wrote in a Monday note to clients. "The only thing giving us pause is the current 12x 2020 revenue multiple and the track record of mobile advertising IPOs chopping around for a bit after the initial post IPO pop."

Read more: Pinterest, the latest unicorn to hit the public market, jumps 25% in its trading debut

The firm carries a $28 price target on the name and an "equal-weight." 

Wall Street is mostly neutral on the name. Of the analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, 12 recommend "hold," five say "buy," and just one recommends "sell." 

Pinterest surged 7% during Thursday's session to its highest level in two weeks. Shares were up 60% since debuting on April 18. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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A top Aurora cannabis exec dishes about what it's like working with famed investor Nelson Peltz, and reveals why he told the company not to rush into any CPG partnerships

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 4:04pm

  • Cam Battley, Aurora Cannabis' chief corporate officer, sat down for an interview at Business Insider's Manhattan headquarters following Aurora's earnings on Wednesday.
  • Battley revealed what Aurora's unique relationship with famed billionaire Nelson Peltz brings to the table, why they're not rushing into any partnerships with CPG companies, and why they're not bullish on cannabis-infused beverages. 

Cam Battley is a busy man.

Coming off of Aurora Cannabis's quarterly earnings call on Wednesday, the CCO's destinations over the next two weeks include a trip to London for a cannabis conference, a pitstop in Toronto, where he lives with his family, a trip to Edmonton for a series of meetings at Aurora's headquarters, and then it's off to an "undisclosed" location in South America where he's set to meet with government officials about opening up new cannabis production facilities.

Such is the life of a cannabis exec in 2019, said Battley.

As Aurora's chief corporate officer and one of the most public faces of the Canadian cannabis behemoth, Battley sat down for an interview in Business Insider's Manhattan offices on Wednesday afternoon. 

He shed light on the company's recent strategic partnership with famed investor Nelson Peltz, why Aurora isn't bullish on cannabis beverages, and whether or not the company would pursue big acquisitions in the US in the near future.

Read more: Marijuana retailer Curaleaf is snapping up Cura Partners for $949 million in the largest US marijuana merger to date as a wave of consolidation sweeps the industry

The unique arrangement with Peltz — a hedge fund legend who's worth a cool $1.6 billion — came about over a dinner in New York City.

"I think he was really just curious at first," said Battley. "He was interested in this new business that's being born before our eyes."

After both parties hit it off over a dinner in New York City the casual advice became more structured: Peltz took a formal role as a strategic advisor to Aurora in March. He'll be compensated handsomely, with 20 million in stock options that vest over four years.

"It's really important because some people ask us, 'oh, he's an activist investor, is he trying to take over the company?'" said Battley. "No, his involvement is very different because this is not a mature industry where there's stuff broken that needs to be fixed."

What excites Peltz the most, said Battley, is that Aurora is helping to invent a brand new global industry. "So there's no cost-cutting to be done," said Battley. "He's about helping us grow faster because we're still so small compared to where we're going to be in a very short number of years."

One of Peltz's first pieces of sage advice was not to rush into any major partnerships with a single company in the consumer packaged goods, beverage, or tobacco industries — unlike some other cannabis companies that have announced landmark deals in recent months

For one, Aurora's value is increasing every quarter, said Battley, so it would be the most beneficial to shareholders to pump the breaks on giving up control over a large chunk of the company. Aurora was linked to rumors about a deal with Coca-Cola last year, though those talks never came to fruition. 

And because of cannabis's potential to disrupt many different industries as more jurisdictions legalize the plant, Battley said Peltz advised that Aurora should look to pursue partnerships with multiple companies across multiple different industries, rather than pigeonholing themselves too early. 

Not following in Canopy's footsteps — yet 

While Aurora is moving slower than it's peers on partnering with more established companies — both Canopy Growth and Cronos Group have landed significant investments from the alcohol and tobacco industries — that's not to say Aurora isn't evaluating similar types of deals.

Especially when it comes to entering the lucrative US market, said Battley.

Canopy Growth's recent deal that would give it the right to buy US cannabis cultivator Acreage Holdings within seven-and-a-half years — provided the federal government legalizes cannabis or at least provides a policy framework for allowing these types of international cannabis corporations — sent shockwaves throughout the industry and spurred both analysts and reporters to ask whether Aurora would look at a similar transaction with a different US cannabis company. 

Read more: Top cannabis CEOs say Canopy Growth's $3.4 billion purchase of pot cultivator Acreage 'shakes the foundation of what has been true' and will spur a cannabis M&A boom

"What Canopy did with Acreage has shown that's another option on the table for the biggest cannabis companies," said Battley, though he declined to say whether or not Aurora has been in discussions with any US companies.

"We know we are going to be in the US market in a big way," said Battley. "If you want to be a global leader, you have to be in the US market."

Sticking to what they know works 

On the home front, as Canada moves towards allowing THC vape pens, edibles, and beverages in retail stores this Fall, Battley said the company is taking its cues from the most mature recreational cannabis markets in US states like Colorado and California.

And that means that developing cannabis beverages will take a backseat to form factors, like vape pens, that they know sell well in legal markets. 

"Take a look at the market share that cannabis-infused beverages have in consumer legal states," said Battley. "It's typically around 2% right? So I'm not saying that consumer behavior won't change, it's just that it hasn't yet. We can take a little longer to get into that segment."

On top of that, vapes are easier to produce than beverages and offer higher margins than other cannabis products.

"I really wish those who go into beverages first, I wish them luck," said Battley. "I want them to develop those segments. But we're entering the segments first where the consumer behavior is already clear." 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

I interviewed 100 of the world’s wealthiest people and learned 4 tricks that explain how the super-rich get to the top — and stay there

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 3:42pm

  • Dr. Greg Reid interviewed 100 of the world's richest people — from entertainment pioneers to real estate tycoons — to find out how they built their wealth and held onto it.
  • He and co-author Gary M. Krebs published the findings in a book, "Wealth Made Easy," which contains proven, real-world strategies for hanging onto money.
  • For example, buy land in an area eight miles from a fast-growing town, rent it out to local farmers to cover the costs, and then sell it to a large retail developer for much more than you paid.
  • Another strategy: Combine unrelated business ideas for something brand new that meets the needs of a wide range of people.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Ever wonder how you can discover the insider secrets — or wealth hacks — that millionaires and billionaires used to build their lives of sustained prosperity?

If you don't have access to super wealthy people, don't sweat it. Below are four simple wealth hacks to get you started.


SEE ALSO: The 7 most crucial money lessons to learn before age 30, according to a Harvard grad who was raised in poverty and now runs a finance site

1. Buy dirt

Canadian land mogul Brian Sidorsky shares a concept so powerful it challenges your imagination. When asked how he amassed a fortune in raw, undeveloped land, he sat back in his chair and exclaimed, "Time plus dirt is wealth."

Sidorsky then clarified his concept. "Find a town anywhere in North America that is growing 20 to 25 percent a year. Pinpoint their 'Main Street' and draw a line out eight miles from that location and buy that land. That is the 'dirt.' Rent the soil to local farmers who will pay the rent that covers the costs, so it's free. As the town continues to expand, eventually it ends up on your property where you own the largest lot and, since you are already near Main Street, you can then sell that land to a big-box store for one hundred times what you paid for it."


2. Combine unrelated business ideas

Gene Landrum did something seemingly impossible when he founded Chuck E. Cheese's. He created an entirely new business model by combining several different ideas into one chain: food, family, and amusement park-type entertainment.

Food: Kids love pizza. Amusement park-type entertainment: Kids are fixated on video games, whack-a-mole, and air hockey.

Combine pizza and amusement park entertainment, and you have occupied kids and happy parents. Why parents? Because they can sit at the table, take a breather, and eat while their kids are busy playing in the gaming area.

The hybrid pizza chain/entertainment center concept was revolutionary, and it reversed old thinking that had kept dining and kids' entertainment separate.

What businesses can you combine to create something entirely new?

3. Take advantage of obsolescence

When machinery and other office equipment gets old, most companies see junk. What do they do with the junk? They donate it or toss it out.

Ron Klein — who's also the founder of the credit card magnetic strip — does not see junk: He sees opportunity.

When Klein ran General Associates, Inc., a data communications company, he acquired large quantities of surplus Teletype equipment from the Western Union Company.

Why did he buy worthless junk? Where others saw a relic, he saw beauty — and money  — in obsolescence. Klein refurbished the old Teletype equipment and sold it to major communications companies. As a special service, GA converted many of the machines into special teleprinters for the hearing impaired with messages imprinted in Braille.

He created an innovative use for what had been considered junk. What junk do you have lying around that can be converted into cash?

4. Go against the grain — work with your competitors

Competition is the new collaboration. Why are there four gas stations on every main intersection? Would you rather start your restaurant on a dirt road or situate it alongside restaurant row in the best part of town?

Some may see this type of competition as a bad thing, but businesses can often help each other. Ernesto Ancira, Jr., who owns a slew of auto dealerships throughout the San Antonio, Texas area, doesn't think this way. This has been to the benefit of the industry, the community, and even for his own business, Ancira-Winton Chevrolet, Inc.

When the economy went down, Ernesto joined with his competitors and the Texas Automobile Dealers Association to reverse the negative image of the auto industry in their area. They worked together on special deals for customers and other joint events and offers — and everyone benefited, primarily because they created a level of sustained trust between consumer and dealer.

What can you do to partner with your competitors and improve the image of your industry?

Now: Take some action! To make any wealth hack work, you must think it, feel it, and get off your butt and do it.

Dr. Greg Reid is a world-renowned speaker, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. Published, coauthored, and featured in more than 50 books and  five motion pictures, Reid is also the founder and CEO of the Secret Knock, an event and professional collaboration community focused on partnership, networking, and business development.

Based on content from "Wealth Made Easy," Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Greg Reid with Gary M. Krebs.

AmEx Platinum vs AmEx Gold: Which rewards credit card is better for you

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 3:39pm

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network if you apply for a credit card, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • Both the Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card offer valuable rewards on purchases, large welcome bonuses, and useful benefits.
  • Both cards also have a few annual statement credits that can offset their annual fees.
  • Given the similarities, we've laid out the differences to help you pick the best card for you.

Late last year, American Express refreshed and relaunched its Gold Card, giving it new benefits and rewards in an effort to make it a stronger competitor in an increasingly crowded credit-card market.

That relaunch followed an early-2017 refresh of the AmEx Platinum Card, which also brought improvements and new benefits to the card.

Both cards have tangible benefits like annual statement credits that make up for the annual fee, but there are some pretty significant differences between them. Read on to learn more about the two cards and to see which is better for you.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Platinum Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

DON'T MISS: The best American Express cards

You can earn rewards quickly with both cards thanks to bonus categories.

The Platinum Card

The AmEx Platinum Card earns a massive 5x points per dollar spent on airfare, as long as you book directly with the airline or through AmEx Travel, and on prepaid hotel stays booked through AmEx Travel. It earns 1x point per dollar on everything else.

Travel website (and Business Insider e-commerce partner) The Points Guy subjectively values AmEx Membership Rewards points at 2¢ each, so that means a whopping 10% of value back on the bonus categories.

While that isn't the most rewarding card of all-time, 5x points is a fantastic earning rate, and if you book your own travel frequently, the points will add up quickly.

The Gold Card

The AmEx Gold Card offers 4x points per dollar spent at US restaurants, 4x points back at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year — 1x point per dollar for anything beyond that), and 3x points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or with AmEx travel. It earns 1x point on everything else.

The AmEx Gold Card's US restaurant category is broad — I've gotten the category bonus at restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes. The supermarket category excludes big-box stores where you might buy groceries, like Target or Walmart, but includes most dedicated US supermarkets.

Using The Points Guy's valuations, you get a huge 8% of value back on those two top bonus categories from the Gold Card. This makes it one of the best available cards for dining

Both cards have annual fees, but thanks to a few statement credit benefits, the effective fees are lower than you might think.

The Platinum Card

The Platinum Card has one of the highest annual fees you'll find in a mainstream charge or credit card — $550. However, the various annual statement credits the card offers bring the effective fee down to just $50.

The first is up to a $200 airline fee credit each calendar year. Every January, you pick one airline for that credit to apply toward. While the credit doesn't cover tickets, it covers incidental fees like checked bags, seat assignments on basic economy tickets, change fees, and more. Sometimes you can even be reimbursed for airline gift cards that you can apply toward tickets, even though this is an unpublished benefit — do some Googling to see whether that works on your airline of choice.

Second, you can get up to $200 in Uber credits each cardmember year, which is broken down into monthly chunks. Each month, cardholders receive $15 of credits to use on Uber rides or for Uber Eats. In December, that's boosted to $35.

Finally, you can get up to $100 in shopping credits each year at Saks-brand stores, broken into two chunks: You'll get up to $50 during the first six months of the year, and another $50 during the second.

Since the airline fee credit is given each calendar year, you can actually collect it twice if you open your card mid-year and maximize the credit before and after January of that first cardmember year.

That would mean you're not just making up for the annual fee, you're actually getting more value than the fee in the first place. That's without even considering the other benefits and rewards.

The Gold Card

The AmEx Gold Card's $250 annual fee puts it squarely in the mid-tier category, although one could make an argument that it's really a premium card with a lower-than-premium fee.

Thanks to two annual statement credits, the effective fee is just $30 — as long as you maximize them.

The first is up to $120 each year in dining credits, broken into monthly $10 portions. These credits only apply to a few participating chain restaurants — specifically Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and some Shake Shack locations — but they also apply to popular food ordering services GrubHub and Seamless. The credits apply automatically to any qualifying purchase.

The AmEx Gold also offers up to $100 in airline fee credits each calendar year. This works just like the Platinum Card's credit, meaning it's possible to earn it more than once each cardmember year.

Both cards have a new member bonus, although the Platinum Card's is higher.

Since both cards are part of the AmEx Membership Rewards program, it's easy to compare the sign-up bonuses directly.

Platinum Card

The Platinum Card has a welcome offer of 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months.

Using The Points Guy's subjective valuations, that's worth about $1,200.

The Gold Card

The Gold Card's welcome bonus is 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months. That's worth about $700, based on The Points Guy.

Click here to learn more about, or apply for, the American Express Platinum Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about, or apply for, the American Express Gold Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy.

Both cards earn Membership Rewards points, which you can pool between your AmEx cards.

AmEx offers a few ways to use Membership Rewards points.

However, redeeming for anything aside from travel offers a poor value, usually 0.5-0.8¢ each, and is generally a poor use of points.

You can get a slightly better value by booking flights through AmEx Travel, either online or by phone. Points are worth 1¢ each towards flights, but if you book a hotel or anything else, you'll only get 0.7¢ per point.

Another option is to use points to bid for upgrades on a flight. You'll only get 1¢ per point, but it can be a decent redemption if you want to try for an upgrade but don't want to pay cash.

The best use and value — potentially — is to transfer points to airline frequent flyer partners and book flights that way. You might be able to get a dramatically higher value for points this way.

That's because booking frequent flyer "award tickets" is different than buying reservations outright — you can read more about how it works here. In most cases, the cash price and the miles price of a ticket aren't linked, so it's possible to get exponentially increased value from your points by transferring them and booking an award ticket instead.

That means potentially being able to fly long-haul in first or business class with points, among other things.

For example, my wife and I recently flew first class to Japan and back by transferring credit card points to Virgin Atlantic, then booking flights on Virgin's partner airline All Nippon Airways. You can read about exactly how we booked the flights here.

The only catch is that you may need to search for saver availability — which are lower-priced award tickets. This can be tricky, but there are a ton of helpful guides online. Once you have a flight in mind, if you're having trouble figuring out how best to use your points, just do a Google search for that specific trip.

AmEx's partners include: Aer Lingus, AeroMexico, Air Canada, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Cathay Pacific, Avianca, British Airways, Delta, El Al, Emirates, Etihad, Iberia, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, as well as Choice Hotels, Hilton, and Marriott.

Click here to learn more about, or apply for, the American Express Platinum Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about, or apply for, the American Express Gold Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy.

The cards come with a few other benefits and perks, too, although the Platinum Card's are more substantial

The Platinum Card

Added benefits is where the Platinum Card really shines.

One of the flagship perks is access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world.

The Platinum Card's lounge access is more extensive than anything offered by any other card. When you have the card, you can use Delta Sky Clubs whenever you fly the airline, AmEx's own proprietary Centurion Lounges, and any lounge that participates in the Priority Pass network. You can also use any of 11 international AmEx-branded lounges, and a handful of other random lounges, including ones that fall under the Plaza Premium, Air Space, and Escapes brands — these number more than 50.

The Gold Card

While the Gold Card doesn't have nearly as many flashy perks as the Platinum Card, it still has a few benefits worth keeping in mind.

  • Secondary rental car insurance
  • Roadside assistance
  • Various purchase and shopping protections
  • Baggage loss and damage coverage
  • Complementary ShopRunner membership (it works like Amazon Prime in a lot of ways, at other retailers).

Bottom line.

No matter which card you choose, both the American Express Platinum Card and the American Express Gold Card offer valuable rewards. Plus, both cards have benefits and rewards that significantly offset their annual fees, as long as you make the most of them.

However, if you're interested in a larger welcome bonus, or benefits on top of the rewards, the Platinum Card might be the best choice.

Click here to learn more about, or apply for, the American Express Platinum Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about, or apply for, the American Express Gold Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy.

Everything we know going on at Goldman Sachs

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 2:58pm

Here's what we know about what's going on inside of Goldman right now, from its growing digital wealth business, to shakeups in its inner ranks. 

Consumer banking/wealth Technology Trading Deals Careers 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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