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Why I'm swapping my beloved Nordstrom Visa for the Chase Freedom card for holiday shopping

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 4:43pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Store credit cards aren't always the best deal, but I love the Nordstrom card for benefits like early access to Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale and 3x points on purchases at the store.
  • I plan to do some holiday shopping at Nordstrom this year, and while I'd usually put this spending on the Nordstrom card to earn bonus points, I'm planning to use another card: the Chase Freedom.
  • The Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back (or 5x points) on up to $1,500 in purchases on rotating bonus categories that you have to activate each quarter of the year. This quarter, one of the categories is department stores, including Nordstrom.
  • This means I can earn 5x points on Nordstrom purchases — up to 7,500 points that I could use toward travel like a United flight or a Hyatt hotel stay.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

I usually steer clear of store credit cards. They don't offer great purchase protections and generally only offer solid rewards when you shop at the store in question, and they're the worst-possible choice if you need to carry a balance, with some of the highest interest rates around. When friends or family ask me what card they should open, I direct them to rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Blue Cash Preferred® Credit Card from American Express instead.

However, there's a special place in my heart for the Nordstrom credit card. Not only does it earn you points toward $20 Nordstrom Notes, but it also gives you early access to the store's Anniversary Sale. Plus, it has no annual fee, so I never have to worry about whether I'm using the perks enough to justify keeping it open as long as I pay off my balance in full to avoid interest.

I only use my Nordstrom card for Nordstrom purchases, since it only earns the bonus of 3x points on purchases with this retailer. With the holiday season approaching, I will no doubt be making a purchase (or four) at this department store, but for the time being I'm actually putting away my Nordstrom card in favor of the Chase Freedom card. Here's why.

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.

Chase Freedom, my current go-to card for Nordstrom purchases

The Chase Freedom is a cash-back card with no annual fee and a rewards structure that you'll either love or hate depending on your tolerance for keeping track of changing categories. It offers 5% back on the first $1,500 you spend in combined purchases each quarter you activate on select bonus categories. The bonus categories change every quarter, and they tend to include things like grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores.

As someone who enjoys maximizing every dollar I spend (read: a huge nerd), I love this bonus format. Some quarters, I can't make much use of the Freedom's bonus categories, but other times, like this quarter, I can easily utilize them to earn lots of bonus points.

Read more: Chase Freedom card review

5% back at Nordstrom

From October through November, the Chase Freedom will earn 5% back at department stores, and on Apple Pay and Chase Pay purchases. Cardholders can earn 5% back on the first $1,500 in combined purchases made in these bonus categories, provided they activate the bonus (you'll be prompted to do so by email).

I'm not much of a mobile wallet user, but I do love me a good department store. More than two dozen department stores are eligible for the Chase Freedom bonus, including Bloomingdales, Kohls, Neiman Marcus, Saks, and my favorite: Nordstrom.

This is perfect timing, too, since I usually do at least part of my holiday shopping, not to mention turn-of-the-season clothing shopping, at this store.

Read more: Chase Freedom quarterly bonus calendar

The Freedom can earn points toward travel

The 5% cash back is great, but if you, like me, want to earn travel points, it gets even better. If the Freedom is your only Chase card, your rewards will be in the form of cash back. But if you also have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can move your Freedom rewards over to your Ultimate Rewards account to redeem them in the form of points. That's how 5% back can become 5x points with the Freedom's bonus categories.

The Points Guy values Chase points at 2 cents apiece, so combining your rewards doubles the return on your spending from 5% back to 10%. 

Read more: How to turn cash back into Ultimate Rewards points with Chase cards

What to shop at Nordstrom

There are already plenty of Nordstrom items on my personal shopping list right now.

The retailer is running an Everlane popup through November 17 and I'm eyeing several items already like its classic Day Boot ($225) or the new ReKnit Day Glove Boot ($155), a stretchy knitted version of the original. You can read our reviews of the Day Boot and the ReKnit boots here

There are also Nordstrom exclusives like this $90 La Mer skin-care set normally valued at $122, and a trio of best-selling Orgasm products from NARS valued at $61 but costs $35. Both are great deals and worth buying two — one for myself and another as a holiday gift. 

Click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom.

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These are the 5 companies Bank of America just added to its quarterly list of top climate-change stock picks (NOVA, AIN, CWEN, SNPS, TXN)

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 4:34pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch added five companies to its list of "primer picks" companies in the climate change space.
  • Sunnova Energy and Albany International are first-time entries for the climate change segment, while the other three had graced the list before.
  • A company must be rated "buy" by the bank and have "high or medium exposure" to the climate change theme to be included as a primer pick, the note said.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch added five companies to its list of "primer picks" related to climate change efforts.

The bank published the fourth-quarter update to its primer picks list Tuesday, adding 63 companies in total. The list covers industry themes including big data, robotics, education, and space.

Sunnova Energy and Albany International are new entries for the climate change segment, while the other three had graced the list before. BAML removed four companies from the theme. Current members include Tesla, Amazon, and Alphabet.

A company must be rated a "buy" by BAML and have "high or medium exposure" to its respective theme to be included as a Primer Pick, the note said.

Here are the five companies added to the bank's list of climate change primer picks, by descending market cap.

Read more: Dyslexic, failing at school, and partially blind: How Larry Hite overcame the odds to become one of the most successful self-made stock traders using a strategy that's 'accessible to anybody'

Texas Instruments (TXN)

Market Cap: $119.4 billion

Year-to-date performance: up 35%

Sub-sector: Semiconductors

Theme exposure: Medium



Synopsys (SNPS)

Market Cap: $20.4 billion

Year-to-date performance: up 62%

Sub-sector: Energy Efficiency - Internet of Things

Theme exposure: Medium



Albany (AIN)

Market Cap: $2.61 billion

Year-to-date performance: up 36%

Sub-sector: Energy Efficiency - Industrials

Theme exposure: High



Clearway Energy (CWEN)

Market Cap: $1.42 billion

Year-to-date performance: up 12%

Sub-sector: YieldCo

Theme exposure: High



Sunnova Energy (NOVA)

Market Cap: $786.9 million

Year-to-date performance: down 17%

Sub-sector: Solar

Theme exposure: High



Fed officials are worried Trump’s trade war will disrupt the strongest parts of the US economy, minutes show

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 3:52pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Federal Reserve officials have grown increasingly concerned that ongoing trade tensions with China could begin to weigh on some of the brightest spots in the US economy.
  • They said uncertainty from tariffs could begin to ripple through to hiring and consumer spending, meeting minutes out Wednesday afternoon showed. 
  • The FOMC has become divided over policy since it lowered interest rates to a target range of 1.75% to 2% last month.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Federal Reserve officials have grown increasingly concerned that ongoing trade tensions with China could begin to weigh on some of the brightest spots in the US economy: hiring and consumer spending. Other concerns for policymakers included slower growth abroad and below-target inflation. 

"Several participants mentioned that uncertainties in the business outlook and sustained weak investment could eventually lead to slower hiring, which, in turn, could damp the growth of income and consumption," said minutes from the September meeting that were released Wednesday afternoon. 

Policymakers also saw trade tensions as a central risk to business investment, exports, and manufacturing production, the minutes showed. Tariffs on thousands of products shipped between the US and China have raised costs for Americans and clouded the business outlook. 

"Important factors in that assessment were that international trade tensions and foreign economic developments seemed more likely to move in directions that could have significant negative effects on the U.S. economy than to resolve more favorably than assumed," the minutes said.

The Federal Open Market Committee has become divided over policy since it lowered interest rates to a target range of 1.75% to 2% last month, with several dissenting from the policy decision. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard argued for a larger cut, while Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren voted to keep rates unchanged.

"The September minutes make it clear that most FOMC members are much more concerned about the downside risks to growth than any upside inflation threat," said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "The trade war and slower global growth are the key worries."

On Tuesday, Fed Chairman Jay Powell announced the central bank would soon increase its purchases of government-backed securities after weeks of volatility in money markets. But he stressed the move should be seen as a technical measure and not an effort to stimulate the economy. 

The FOMC is scheduled to announce its next interest-rate decision on October 30.

Now read: Ray Dalio warns the White House's latest plan to clamp down on Chinese investment could soon become a reality. Here's why he thinks 'all market participants need to worry.'

SEE ALSO: Powell says the Federal Reserve will expand its balance sheet 'soon'

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Here's exactly how much of your income to save if you want to retire early, according to a man who quit his job at 49

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 3:40pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Rob Berger, a deputy editor at Forbes, retired from his law job at age 49 after saving an amount equal to 25 times his annual expenses.
  • In his new book, "Retire Before Mom and Dad," Berger emphasizes the relationship between spending and saving.
  • The number of years it takes to reach financial independence depends in part on the share of your income you spend and the share of your income you save — not necessarily the dollar amounts.
  • To find out how much you should save, you need to know how much you spend every year.
  • Read more personal-finance coverage.

Spending and saving are inversely related.

To that end, the best way to save more is to simply spend less, says Rob Berger, a deputy editor at Forbes, in his new book, "Retire Before Mom and Dad."

Berger, who founded the personal-finance site DoughRoller.net, retired at age 49 from his career as a lawyer. He had socked away an amount equal to 25 years' worth of his annual expenses — the magic number for reaching financial independence, he writes.

Berger says our spending and saving rates act like levers — adjusting them will increase or decrease the time it takes to reach financial freedom. Importantly, income has less to do with it than you might think. Ultimately it depends on the share of income you spend and, by extension, the share of income you save, not necessarily the dollar amounts.

How to calculate your ideal savings rate

To help readers visualize the numbers, Berger created a spreadsheet that calculates how many years you need to save depending on your spending rate and the return rate on your investments.

Let's say you're starting with zero savings. If you make $100,000 a year, after taxes, and spend $80,000, that leaves $20,000 left over to save.

Put another way, you have a spending rate of 80% and a saving rate of 20%.

If you plan to continue spending $80,000 annually in early retirement, you'll need $2 million in the bank before you leave work ($80,000 x 25). That'll take nearly 30 years if your spending and savings rates remain constant and your investments earn a 7% return.

But if you spend just 50% of your $100,000 income — and plan to keep it that way in retirement — and thereby save 50%, then you'll need only $1.25 million banked before you retire ($50,000 x 25), which would take about half the time.

Here are a few more examples, courtesy of Berger's spreadsheet calculator (note that these figures assume that you begin with $0 in savings, earn 5% to 9% annually on your investments, and plan to withdraw 4% of your nest egg each year in retirement):

  • If you want to retire in about five years, save 80% of your income.
  • If you want to retire in about 10 years, save 65% of your income.
  • If you want to retire in about 15 years, save 50% of your income.
  • If you want to retire in about 20 years, save about 35% of your income.

As you can see, for every additional 15 percentage points of your income that you save, the number of years until early retirement is reduced by about five. The exactitude of this will depend on the return on your investments each year.

These calculations also don't take into account any increases in income. Say your take-home pay increases by 10% one year and you keep your level of spending the same — by directing that extra 10% into savings, you can reduce the time it takes to reach financial independence by a few years.

Also consider that your annual spending may go down after paying off debt, for instance, so your target number may decrease along the way as well.

Plug your own numbers into the financial-freedom spreadsheet »

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Less than 15% of ultra-high net worth individuals around the world are women. That's the highest it's ever been.

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 3:38pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Out of the 265,490 people worth more than $30 million a piece on the planet, only 38,700 are women, according to the research firm Wealth-X's 2019 World Ultra-Wealth Report.
  • That's an all-time high.
  • The number of women who made their own fortunes is increasing, too.
  • However, wealthy women tend to be less rich than the average ultra-high net worth individual.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Just one out of every seven individuals worth more than $30 million in 2018 is a woman, a report by research firm Wealth-X found.

And that's the most it has ever been.

"I think what we're seeing is that over the years women are becoming increasingly entrepreneurial," Wealth-X Director of Thought Leadership & Analytics Maya Imberg told Business Insider. "Over a long time period, that began to show itself within the data of who makes up the ultra-wealthy."

Out of the 265,490 ultra-wealthy people on the planet, defined by Wealth-X as those with net worths over $30 million, 38,700 are women, according to the research firm's 2019 World Ultra-Wealth Report. The share of ultra-high net worth individuals who are women jumps to 18.8% when only those under 50 are studied, suggesting that women's share of the 1% will continue to increase with time.

Read more: Luck vs. skill: The founders behind major businesses like Bumble, Shopify, and Away explain what their success boils down to — and they all have different takes

Wealthy women used to primarily inherit their fortunes; now, they're also building them on their own

In past decades, ultra-high net worth women primarily inherited their fortunes, according to Wealth-X. Increasing numbers of female entrepreneurs are directly correlated with increasing numbers of ultra-wealthy women, Imberg told Business Insider.

However, women still face substantial headwinds when launching their own companies, Business Insider's Megan Hernbroth previously reported. In the first half of 2019, investment in female-founded startups accounted for 2.9% of total venture investments. That figure put 2019 on track to be the best fundraising year for female founders ever.

Entrepreneurship is one of the most common ways to create wealth. The proportion of the ultra-wealthy who made their own fortunes has been on the rise throughout the past decade, reaching over 67% in 2018, according to Wealth-X.

Tadashi Yanai, the founder of Uniqlo and the richest man in Japan, said in August that his job as the founder of one of the fastest-growing clothing retailers on the planet is actually "more suitable for a woman" because women are more "persevering, detailed oriented and have an aesthetic sense."

Wealthy women also tend to be less rich than the average ultra-high net worth individual, Wealth-X found. While women comprise 14.6% of the world's ultra-high net worth population, they hold only 10.3% of that group's cumulative wealth. This wealth gap is even more significant in ultra-wealthy people over age 70.

SEE ALSO: Melinda Gates just promised to put $1 billion towards gender equality over the next 10 years, and she says she has 3 priorities she wants to focus on

DON'T MISS: 13 billionaires who dropped out of college before making their fortunes

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Some colleges let you pay tuition with a credit card — here's how to determine if it's worth it, and what card to use if it is

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 3:26pm  |  Clusterstock

When paying online for college tuition, you'll see a list of payment method options: financial aid, 529 plan, wire transfer, e-check, debit card, and credit card. 

You may be wondering, "Why would someone pay college tuition with a credit card?" Initially, it seems like a financial taboo. But as is the case with many financial decisions, there are times when putting tuition on a credit card is the right move, and times when it isn't. You decision will depend on a variety of factors, including interest rates, convenience fees, the college in question, and, of course, which card you use.

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 and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

Read more: The best credit card sign-up offers available now

The pros of paying college tuition with a credit card You could earn big rewards

Many people swipe their credit cards to earn rewards, such as travel points or cash back. If you pay thousands of dollars of tuition with your card, you have the potential to earn huge rewards. If you earn even just 1 travel point per dollar spent, paying tuition could score you a ton of points. 

You could earn a sign-up bonus

It's common for credit card companies to offer a sign-up bonus to new customers. To qualify for this bonus, you typically have to spend and pay off a certain amount of money with your card in a designated amount of time. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards card currently awards new members 50,000 miles if they spend $3,000 in the first three months. Putting tuition on the card could help you spend enough money to receive that bonus. 

This strategy is ideal if you already have the liquidity to pay tuition. You could potentially pay tuition with the card, pay off the full amount the next day, and never have to pay one cent of interest. You'll have scored thousands of bonus points or earned hundreds of dollars for spending money you would have spent on tuition anyway.

Read more: College is more expensive than ever, but "almost no one" is paying sticker price 

A big purchase can help you meet an annual spending threshold

Certain credit cards reward you for meeting an annual spending threshold. For instance, if you're working toward Delta Medallion elite status an you spend and pay off $30,000 in one calendar year with your Delta Reserve card, you'll receive 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), which are an important element of securing elite status. As with sign-up bonuses, this strategy is great if you can pay off the balance before any interest accrues.

You might pay 0% APR

You may be able to find a credit card that offers a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) for a limited amount of time. If you're trying to decide between taking out a student loan and paying with a credit card, the card could be the right choice, because it's tricky to find a student loan with no interest rate.

Credit cards only offer 0% APR for a limited amount of time, typically around one year. If you think you can pay off most or all of the loan before the time limit runs out, you could end up saving a lot of money on interest.

Read more: The best balance-transfer credit cards for paying down debt without interest

The cons of paying college tuition with a credit card Credit card APR is most likely higher than student loan APR

Credit card interest rates are notoriously high. In the second quarter of 2019, the average credit card interest rate was 19.29%.

For the 2019-2020 school year, federal rates are 4.53% for undergraduate loans, 6.08% for graduate and professional loans, and 7.08% for Direct PLUS loans. Beginning private loan rates vary depending on your financial profile and the lender you go through.

As you can see, credit card APRs tend to be higher than student loan APRs. However, rates will vary from person to person. If you decide to pay tuition with a credit card rather than take out a student loan, but you can't pay off the card relatively quickly, you could accrue more interest and pay more in the long run.

You'll probably pay fees

Most colleges that accept credit card payments will charge you a convenience fee. In most cases, you'll pay tuition online through a provider that has a partnership with the school. The provider charges a fee when you pay with a card, and rather than covering the fee out of their own pockets, schools require students to pay.

Typically, these fees range from about 2.5% to 3% of your total charge. Many schools set a minimum fee, like $3. Before paying tuition with a credit card, you'll want to calculate how much you'll earn in rewards versus how much you'll pay in fees. If you'll earn $750 in cash back but pay $1,425 in convenience fees, you may realize it's not worth using the card.

Your credit card spending limit might be too low

What's your credit card spending limit? If it's lower than the cost of tuition, you'll have trouble paying with a card. Some colleges do allow families to set up tuition payment plans, so you could pay for a semester's tuition in installments if your limit is low. However, each school's payment plan system is different, so you might have to choose between paying part of the tuition with a card and finding another payment method.

The best credit cards for paying tuition

When deciding whether paying tuition with a credit card will work for you, look for cards that offer big rewards, impressive bonuses for signing up and/or for meeting an annual threshold, and even possibly 0% APR for a solid chunk of time. Here are some of the best out there:



  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card This card offers a huge welcome bonus of 125,000 Hilton Honors points that you can use to book hotels around the world. There are a few competing cards that offer similar bonuses, but the Hilton Honors card only requires you to spend $2,000 in three months. If that's all you want to spend on tuition, you can easily rake in that bonus. 

You'll also earn 3 Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar you spend, making a big purchase like tuition a great deal. If you meet the annual threshold of $15,000 in the first calendar year, you'll receive a free weekend in a Hilton hotel. That's incentive to continue using this card to pay tuition even after the first semester.


 This card has a $95 annual fee. 
  • Capital One Venture Rewards card This is an example of a card that offers big rewards in general. The sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles is already impressive, but you earn 2x miles for everyday purchases, while many competing cards only provide 1x or 1.5x points. You can also earn 10x miles when you book paid hotels via hotels.com/venture, which may come in handy while touring colleges or when a parent wants to visit their college student after they've moved in. There's a $95 annual fee that's waived the first year. Read the Capital One Venture card review.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited — This card offers 1.5% back on every purchase, which is decent for a no-annual-fee card. However, you can boost your rewards earnings if you also have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. In that case, you can convert your cash-back rewards from the Freedom Unlimited to Chase points that are redeemable for travel. This boosts their value; The Points Guy values Chase points at 2 cents apiece, so you'd be getting a 3% return on every dollar you spent. Read the Chase Freedom Unlimited card review.
  • Delta Reserve credit card from American Express — This is an example of a card with tempting rewards for meeting an annual threshold. You'll earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles for spending $30,000 in a year, then another 15,000 once you reach $60,000. (You'll also earn 15,000 redeemable miles for meeting each of those thresholds, but Delta is discontinuing that benefit in 2020.) If you can't spend and pay off $30,000 or $60,000 by paying tuition alone, the cost of tuition will certainly help you reach that goal. Is your card spending limit too low to reach this threshold by paying tuition? Ask if the school offers a payment plan so you can split up your payments.



  • Discover it® Cash Back — This card provides a 0% APR for an impressive 14 months. After those first 14 months end, the regular APR ranges from 13.74% to 24.74%, which is lower than competing cards offering 0% APR. 

The card offers 1% cash back on most purchases, but the convenience fee could overshadow any reward. However, Discover matches all the cash back you earn after the first year. After doing the math, you may realize this works out in your favor.



Colleges that let you pay with a credit card

It's becoming more common for public colleges to accept credit card payments. However, it isn't the norm yet for private schools to accept cards. Students attending Ivy League schools or colleges like Notre Dame or Duke won't be able to pay tuition with a credit card. For this reason, it can be helpful to know which private schools accept credit cards, and how much they charge in convenience fees.

Here are some private colleges that will let you pay with a credit card:

Amherst College - Amherst, Massachusetts 
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $57,640
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.99%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Carnegie Mellon University - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $55,816
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.52%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, Maryland
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $51,077-$55,350 
  • Credit card convenience fee: Not specified
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
  • Note: Johns Hopkins only accepts credit cards in certain departments, and the ability to pay with a card may depend on which term you are enrolling for.
Middlebury College - Middlebury, Vermont
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $55,790
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.75%
  • Networks accepted: Not specified
Northeastern University - Boston, Massachusetts 
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $52,420
  • Credit card convenience fee: Not specified
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express

Read more: The best American Express cards

Northwestern University - Evanston, Illinois
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $56,232
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.5%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Rice University - Houston, Texas
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $48,330
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.85%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Swarthmore College - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $54,256
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.6%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Vanderbilt University - Nashville, Tennessee
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $50,800
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.65%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Washington University - St. Louis, Missouri
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $54,250
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.75%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Washington & Lee University - Lexington, Virginia
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $53,730
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.75%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Wellesley College - Wellesley, Massachusetts 
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $55,728
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.99%
  • Networks accepted: Not specified
Williams College - Williamstown, Massachusetts 
  • Annual undergraduate tuition: $56,970
  • Credit card convenience fee: 2.99%
  • Networks accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express

Read more: The 20 colleges that give the best financial aid, according to students

Paying college tuition with a credit card certainly isn't for everyone. But if you use the card strategically, you might be happy with the results.

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Ex-Snap exec Imran Khan has raised an additional $12.5 million for his e-commerce startup Verishop (SNAP, AMZN)

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 3:08pm  |  Clusterstock

  • The e-commerce startup Verishop has raised another $12.5 million, sources familiar with the deal confirmed to Business Insider.
  • Rakuten Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Madrona Venture Group, and the real-estate company Simon Property Group participated in the pre-Series B round.
  • Former Snap Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan's 4-month-old e-commerce marketplace focuses on fashion, beauty, and wellness products.
  • Click here for more Prime stories.

Former Snap Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan has raised another $12.5 million for his e-commerce startup Verishop, for a total of $30 million raised, sources familiar with the deal confirmed to Business Insider.

Rakuten Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Madrona Venture Group, and the real-estate company Simon Property Group participated in the pre-Series B round. The company has raised $30 million to date, with Lightspeed Venture Partners leading its Series A round with an investment of $17.5 million in November, Axios reported. With the latest round, the company has a theoretical value of about $100 million, a source familiar with the company said.

Khan's 4-month-old e-commerce marketplace focuses on fashion, beauty, and wellness. He's pitched it as a higher-end alternative to Amazon, buying, warehousing, and selling products from the likes of Diane von Furstenberg's DVF, Finders Keepers, and Ursa Major. He ultimately wants to build an affordable luxury version of the French company LVMH. 

Read More: Former Snap CSO Imran Khan has launched his new e-commerce startup Verishop, which industry experts say can solve for some of Amazon's key weaknesses

Khan's plan also includes launching private-label brands to show that it can handle product fulfillment and make competitive products of its own. It has rolled out its first such brands — the skin-care line Ghost Democracy, the athleisure wear line Lett, and the women's clothing line Billie.

The idea is for these brands to be sold in physical stores too. Ghost Democracy is set to open a pop-up store at the Westfield Century City shopping center in Los Angeles later this month.

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We just got the latest sign that Saudi Aramco's record-shattering IPO will soon be a reality

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 2:45pm  |  Clusterstock

Saudi Aramco is moving forward with plans for an IPO following devastating attacks on one of its facilities, and new details suggest shares will be available before the year's end.

The state-owned oil company could sell 1% to 2% of its shares on Saudi Arabia's domestic exchange as soon as November, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Aramco is poised to release its prospectus October 25 in Arabic, and follow up with an English version two days later, sources told WSJ. The document will be used to market Aramco shares to investors around the world.

Saudi officials considered delaying the public offering after drone strikes crippled the company's infrastructure and prompted a spike in global oil prices. The possibility of additional attacks threatened to drive investors away from a future stock sale.

The company's oil production will return to "maximum sustained capacity" by the end of November, Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told CNBC Wednesday. He added that the attack had "no impact" on the company's plan to go public.

Read more: The biggest oil-supply disruption in history has upended the entire energy market. These 3 drivers could dictate what happens next.

Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has previously called for the firm to be valued at $2 trillion, while other Saudi officials and company executives have pegged Aramco's valuation closer to $1.5 trillion.

The crown prince plans to list 5% of the company in two stages, first offering between 1% and 2% of shares through domestic markets and later listing the rest of the 5% internationally.

Should Aramco list 5% of its shares at a $2 trillion valuation, the IPO could raise as much as $100 billion, four times the largest IPO to date. The company has hired JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, and Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank to assist in the offering, according to Reuters.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

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Andy Rubin, the creator of Android who left Google after a sexual misconduct allegation, is tweeting again to tease a weird, new phone-like gadget (GOOGL)

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 7:15pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Essential CEO Andy Rubin on Tuesday tweeted out images of what looks to be a new kind of smartphone.
  • The device would be Essential's first smartphone in two years and comes a year after it reportedly cancelled its second model and laid off 30% of its staff.
  • The new phone is long and slender and will have a new kind of user interface, Rubin said.
  • Rubin, the creator of the Android operating system and a former Google executive, has largely stayed out of the public eye since a news report last year alleging that he had engaged in sexual misconduct while at the search giant.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Android creator Andy Rubin, who's kept a low profile since a report a year ago about his alleged sexual misconduct helped set off a mass movement at Google, stepped out of the shadows on Tuesday.

Posting on Twitter for the first time since July, Rubin, the CEO of device maker Essential, tweeted out images of what looks to be a new, narrow smartphone. He didn't give its name, a date for when it might be released, or say much about it at all. Instead, he just tweeted out a video and two photographs and indicated that the device would be different from other phones on the market, with an innovative user interface, or UI.

"New UI for radically different formfactor," Rubin said in a tweet.

In an email, Essential spokeswoman Shari Doherty confirmed the company has a new gadget in the works, but didn't offer any additional details.

"We've been working on a new device that's now in early testing with our team outside the lab," Doherty said in the email. "We look forward to sharing more in the near future."

The new device is long and narrow, shaped something like a candy bar or an iPod nano. It has a bulge on its back for what looks to be a camera and comes in at least four metallic finishes that appear to change colors as the viewing angle changes.

GEM Colorshift material pic.twitter.com/QJStoiDleH

— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) October 8, 2019 Rubin has hinted about a new device before

Rubin unveiled the first Essential phone to much fanfare two years ago. Despite the phone's pedigree, it sold poorly and Essential reportedly cancelled a second model last year and laid off 30% of its staff.

However, Rubin, a former Google executive who led the company's development of Android, has hinted at least twice this year that Essential had another device in the works.

"We'll make an announcement. Hang tight," he said in June in response to a call from a Twitter use to make another phone.

Responding to another Twitter user wondering if Essential was "going to have a second act," Rubin in April said: "What do you think we're doing over here? We're a consumer products company. We engineer cool stuff. Eventually, cool stuff gets launched. You'll see."

That tweet was his first since October, when he weighed in on an article The New York Times published detailing how Google had paid him a $90 million severance package after he was accused of coercing a fellow employee at the search giant of performing oral sex. Rubin on Twitter denied the accusation, calling it and other parts of the story "false allegations" that were part of "a smear campaign against him."

That article helped to touch off a campaign at Google to address sexual harassment and discrimination, including a massive global walkout by company workers.

Got a tip about Essential or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: The next version of the best smartphone you can buy may finally come with wireless charging

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Dick's Sporting Goods destroyed $5 million worth of assault weapons — and its CEO tells us the gun industry's blowback has been 'a blessing in disguise' (DKS)

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 5:13pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Dick's Sporting Goods destroyed $5 million worth of assault weapons in 2018 after banning them from its Field & Stream hunting and fishing stores in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Dick's banned them from its signature big box stores in 2012 following the Sandy Hook massacre.
  • Dick's CEO Ed Stack spoke with Business Insider about his company's pivot away from the gun business.
  • Stack called the changes his team made after the AR-15 move a potential "blessing in disguise," due to better sales performance in stores where hunting was removed and market-specific bestsellers expanded.
  • This article is part of Business Insider's ongoing series on Better Capitalism.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Dick's Sporting Goods destroyed $5 million worth of "assault-style rifles," semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, last year after it stopped selling them at all of its stores.

"We had a fair amount invested in these guns," Dick's CEO Ed Stack told Business Insider on Tuesday. The company announced last April that it destroyed the guns it no longer sold, but Stack only just now disclosed the value of the destroyed guns in his new book, "It's How We Play the Game."

In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre (which left 26 people, including 20 children, dead), Dick's stopped selling assault weapons at its big box stores across the country. But it continued to sell the AR-15 and similar rifles at its Field & Stream hunting and fishing specialty stores. After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018 left 17 dead, Stack decided Field & Stream would follow Dick's lead. As the largest sporting-goods retailer in the United States, its commitment was a big deal for the industry.

Stack told us he had the option to send the weapons his store removed back to the manufacturer for a refund between 80% and 85%. Another possibility would be to quickly liquidate the merchandise through discounts. Neither choice aligned with the company's intentions.

"We're in this meeting and I said, 'We can't do that,'" Stack said. "We think these guns should be outlawed. We think that the ban that was in place between 1994 and 2004 should be reinstated."

Read more: Dick's Sporting Goods is selling 8 of its hunting-centric Field & Stream stores, and it could signal a shift in the company's gun strategy

Stack said that if Dick's decided to sell off the remaining guns or send them back to the manufacturers, the result would be the same: the firearms would "end up back out on the street."

"I said, 'The only thing we can do with them is destroy them,'" Stack said. "So that's what we did. We destroyed them all."

Dick's received praise from gun-control advocates, but the blowback was fierce. Firearms manufacturers, including those that do not manufacture assault weapons, ended their relationship with the company. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and its supporters publicly bashed Stack's decision.

AR-15s and guns like it are semi-automatic, meaning each bullet fired requires a trigger pull; automatic rifles fire bullets as long as the trigger is pulled. AR-15s may look like the M4s and M16s used in the military, but the latter are automatic, legally classifying them as "assault rifles" — and those are not permitted for civilian use. Stack is an advocate for reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was in effect from 1994 to 2004. That bill gave legal weight to the term "assault weapon," which included semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, which is what Stack removed from his stores.

Adjusting to the blowback

Stack told us that as key players in the gun industry turned against his company, he had to rethink his business. The stock was largely unaffected by the decision, but he needed to adjust the company's growth plan if a sector of its business would dwindle. "So we said, 'OK, if this is the way it's going to go, how do we re-engineer our business?'" he said. 

To date, Dick's has sold eight of its hunting-oriented Dick's Field and Stream stores off to Sportsman's Warehouse.

The sporting goods company also put its hunting business under a "strategic review." In the fourth quarter of last year, Dick's removed its hunting inventory in 10 stores, "just to see what would happen." It compensated by upping the volume of market-specific bestsellers, like "outerwear, licensed merchandise, and baseball gear," for the Boston store, as Stack noted in his book.

The result: "They've significantly outperformed the rest of the company." Hunting has been among the least profitable sectors for Dick's, Stack said, and the customized approach to different markets was a success. Dick's followed suit with 125 more stores this past spring.

"We actually think this is going to be a bit of a blessing in disguise," Stack said.

SEE ALSO: Dick's Sporting Goods will stop selling guns in 100 more stores after a successful 10-store test

READ MORE: Major retailers are facing backlash for selling guns. Here's how 13 chains across America sell them.

SEE ALSO: We shopped at Dick's and Modell's to see which was a better sporting-goods store, and there was a clear winner

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5 reasons the decade-old Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a powerhouse within the increasingly competitive credit card space

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 4:41pm  |  Clusterstock

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the all-around best rewards credit cards available, when taking everything into account — annual fee, sign-up bonus, rewards earning, ways to redeem rewards, travel perks and protections, and more.

The Sapphire Preferred was the singular must-have card before the Chase Sapphire Reserve launched in 2016, and is still a powerful contender for those who don't want to front the $450 annual fee for the "CSR."

The credit card rewards space has gotten more and more competitive over the past few years, but here's why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a powerhouse.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the credit card rewards and benefits that make this card a great option, 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. You can get 60,000 points when you sign up

In early 2019, Chase increased the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferredthe first time it's raised the card's bonus since 2015. Now, when you open a new card, you can earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. 

The value of the sign-up bonus depends on how you choose to use those points, but based on subjective valuations by travel website The Points Guy (a Business Insider e-commerce partner), 60,000 points is worth about $1,200. While the points can be redeemed for $600 of cash or $750 of travel booked through Chase, you can get a significantly higher value when you transfer them to an airline frequent flyer partner — hence The Points Guy's higher valuation.

This bonus is actually higher than the Chase Sapphire Reserve's, which only offers 50,000 points for the same spending requirement.

Because of that, a smart move for someone just getting into credit card rewards would be to open the Sapphire Preferred, and then, if they decide the Sapphire Reserve would be a better fit, convert the card after the first year.

Converting, or product-changing, is easy: a simple call to the number on the back of the card should be all you need.

Read more: After months of contemplation, I finally upgraded to the Chase Sapphire Reserve with a 10-minute phone call.

2. You'll earn double points on every travel and dining purchase

The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on all travel and all dining, and both categories are defined incredibly broadly. "Travel" includes everything from subways, taxis, parking, and tolls to hotels and airfare, and dining including bars, restaurants, delivery services like Seamless and Grubhub, and more.

The card has no foreign transaction fees, and the card offers the travel and dining bonus on purchases made outside of the US, too.

You'll earn even more points with the Sapphire Reserve, which offers 3x points in the same categories, which brings us to the next benefit...

3. It has a low annual fee for such a high-earning rewards card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of $95. That puts it right in the "mid-tier" range, despite its high-earning rewards structure. While it has an annual fee, it's under $100, and the card still offers lucrative rewards and premium benefits.

For comparison, the Sapphire Reserve's fee is $450. Although the rewards and benefits more than make up for that, you'd still need to have the liquid cash available to pay the fee up front, then get the value back later.

4. There are a ton of redemption options when it's time to use your points

Chase offers a few valuable ways to use your points — you can read our full guide here.

One option is to redeem them for cash or gift cards at a rate of 1¢ per point. That means that your 60,000-point sign-up bonus would be worth $600.

The next option is to use points to book travel through Chase. When you do that, you'll get a 25% bonus in value — points will be worth 1.25¢ each, so that 60,000 points would be worth $750.

The best option — the one that gets the most value — is to transfer them to one of Chase's 13 frequent flyer and hotel loyalty partners.

While that last method can get complicated, it can easily be worth it; that's how I've booked flights in international first class for as few as 62,500 points.

5. The card comes with a suite of useful travel benefits and protections.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a handful of excellent travel benefits, including primary rental car insurance, trip and baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation/interruption coverage, and more. These benefits can save you hundreds of dollars when something goes wrong on a trip — or every time you rent a car, since you can decline the rental company's collision damage waiver.

Read more: Having primary rental car insurance can save you time, money, and stress — here are the top credit cards that offer it.

The bottom line

Combine normal points earning with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, and you'll be able to build a hefty balance of points quickly — especially if you and a partner use "two-player mode."

For example, to earn the points we needed for our first-class Japan flights, I opened a Sapphire Preferred. Between the sign-up bonus, our normal spending, and a few reimbursable travel expenses for work trips — plus a handful of frequent flyer miles we already had — we had enough miles for the flights. We even saw our credit scores increase, since the new accounts added to our credit history.

There are a few different ways to use your Chase points — and tricks to get the most value — but no matter how you plan to redeem them, there's no doubt that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a great value.

Click here to learn more about the Sapphire Preferred.

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Powell says the Federal Reserve will expand its balance sheet 'soon'

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 4:14pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell said Tuesday the central bank would increase purchases of government-backed securities over time.
  • Speaking before the National Association for Business Economics in Denver, Powell said the plan to grow the balance sheet would be announced "soon."
  • The move followed weeks of volatility in money markets, which sparked discussion of the amount of reserves in the financial system.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell said Tuesday the central bank would increase purchases of government-backed securities over time, a move that followed weeks of volatility in money markets. 

Speaking before the National Association for Business Economics in Denver, Powell said the plan to grow the so-called balance sheet would be announced "soon." The Fed ended efforts to shrink its portfolio of short-term Treasury securities in August. 

A shortage in the amount of cash banks had on hand for short-term funding needs last month highlighted concerns about the amount of reserves in the financial system. For the first time since the financial crisis a decade ago, the New York Fed has had to repeatedly jump into financial markets in recent weeks to keep interest rates in the intended range.

"That time is now upon us," Powell said of the plan to expand the balance sheet, stressing that it should be seen as a technical measure and not an effort to stimulate the economy. Through an unconventional policy known as quantitative easing, the Fed more than quintupled the assets on its balance sheet to $4.5 trillion between 2008 and 2015.

Also on Tuesday, Powell left the door open to the possibility that policymakers would lower borrowing costs at the end of the month. 

But he didn't commit to such a move, adding that cuts in July and September had supported the outlook for the economy. The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee lowered its benchmark interest rate to a target range of between 1.75% and 2% last month.

"We will be data dependent, assessing the outlook and risks to the outlook on a meeting-by-meeting basis," he said. "Taking all that into account, we will act as appropriate. Looking ahead, policy is not on a preset course."

Now read: Ray Dalio warns the White House's latest plan to clamp down on Chinese investment could soon become a reality. Here's why he thinks 'all market participants need to worry.'

SEE ALSO: Trade tensions escalate as the US and China barrel toward tariff hikes

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A wealth manager to millionaires says parents who leave their kids money often miss the most important step

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 4:07pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Michael Farrell is managing director of SEI Private Wealth Management, whose typical client is worth at least $10 million.
  • Farrell says parents passing down money to their kids often miss the most important step: talking about it.
  • Not only do parents need to tell their heirs how much they're going to receive, they need to talk about their intentions for passing wealth down, he says.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Michael Farrell, a wealth manager to millionaires, believes there's much more to inheritance than handing over money.

Farrell is managing director of SEI Private Wealth Management, whose typical client is worth at least $10 million.

"We tend to work with a lot of first-generation wealth creators. They have a bit of a blue-collar mentality about their wealth, meaning they created it and they value that," Farrell told Business Insider. They're proud of their success and recognize both the opportunity and responsibility wealth brings, he says.

But when it comes to passing down money to future generations, Farrell says they often miss the most important step: talking about it.

"These are successful people who've put strategy in place their entire life and executed it. Then all of a sudden it gets to their money and they go, 'Nope, they'll just find out when I'm gone.' And I go, really? Like, how's that possible? Why would you want them to find out when you were gone? Wouldn't you want them to know so that they understand?" Farrell told Business Insider.

He said a 2015 study conducted by SEI revealed that nearly a third of parents who planned to pass down money did not communicate with their children about it. Only about 15% of heirs were kept informed of the plan and about half knew the basics, he says. 

"I think the thing that people want to succeed in is transferring their values about wealth, not just transferring the wealth value," Farrell says. In early conversations, the goal should be to communicate why they're passing down the money, he says.

"One of the things that people have to do is they have to begin to talk with their kids about what wealth means to them. What do they want wealth to do for their family and how and when can they be a resource to each other to help establish their own values about money?" he says.

Farrell says it's common for young people to feel burdened by wealth or ill-equipped to handle the responsibility. By talking about how best to use the money they'll inherit one day, it helps create purpose.

"I think communication of intent is the cornerstone to a successful approach of getting your children ready, whether they're going to inherit a gazillion dollars or whether they're going to inherit a few dollars," Farrell says.

"It's in the communication of your intention and why you are passing dollars to them that is most fundamental and most important to them," he continues. "And that's the place where everybody at any wealth level can be successful."

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Stocks tumble as trade tensions flare days before high-level talks

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 4:05pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Stocks traded lower on Tuesday as trade tensions escalated days before the US and China are set to resume high-level trade negotiations.
  • Shares of Chinese stocks fell on reports that the White House is continuing to review potential limits to US investment in China.
  • The US Commerce Department added 28 Chinese companies to its trade blacklist on Monday, pointing to the firms' role in the mistreatment of ethnic Muslim minorities in northwestern China.
  • Visit the Markets Insider homepage for more stories.

Stocks slid on Tuesday as trade tensions between the US and China flared days before high-level talks are set to resume.

Here's a look at the major indexes as of 4:00 p.m. close on Tuesday:

The Trump administration is discussing restrictions to US investment in China, a source familiar with the matter told Markets Insider. Bloomberg earlier reported that the talks were focused on potential limits on investments made by US government pension funds into Chinese companies.

Shares of US-listed Chinese stocks, including Alibaba, Baidu, and JD.com, traded as much as 2.3% lower on the news.

The report came a day after the US Commerce Department added 28 Chinese firms to its trade blacklist, citing their roles in Beijing's mistreatment of predominantly ethnic Muslim minorities in northwestern China. Companies on the department's blacklist are barred from purchasing US-made goods unless domestic producers obtain a special license to continue selling to the firms.

"We urge the US to immediately correct its mistake, withdraw the relevant decision, and stop interfering in China's internal affairs," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

When asked whether China would retaliate against the US for blacklisting the firms, Shuang said, "Stay tuned."

The developments have likely rattled investors already anxious about the high-level trade talks between the US and China scheduled to begin Thursday in Washington, DC.

Within the S&P 500, financials lost almost 2% and healthcare shed 1.91%. Technology and energy stocks declined more than 1.8%. 

Read more: The world's most accurate economic forecaster sees a 'prolonged global slowdown' on the horizon — and warns it can only be narrowly avoided

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NOW WATCH: Nxivm leader Keith Raniere has been convicted. Here's what happened inside his sex-slave ring that recruited actresses and two billionaire heiresses.

I drove a $56,000 Toyota Supra to see if the reimagined legend lives up to its reputation — here's the verdict

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 3:57pm  |  Clusterstock

  • The long-awaited, fifth-generation Toyota GR Supra went on sale in 2019 for the 2020 model year.
  • The Supra comes from an iconic line of cars that dates back to the late 1970s. The new model was controversial because it shares many components — including its engine and transmission — with BMW and is made in Austria.
  • I tested a $56,220 Supra that was nicely equipped and had a juicy 335-horsepower inline-six-cylinder engine under the hood.
  • I had also sampled the Supra's mechanical sibling, the BMW Z4, earlier this year.
  • I've never been a Supra fanatic, but the new car is a compelling combination of value and performance.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 


The Toyota Supra is just one of those cars. And I'm not simply talking about the now-iconic MK IV Supra, the fourth-generation two-door that, in flamboyant orange, was piloted by Paul Walker in the first "Fast and Furious" movie. No, I'm going all the way back to my own youth, when the MK I Supra, rolled out in 1979 as a snazzier Celica, hit the road.

Over the decades, Supra became a moniker associated with affordable performance and Japanese reliability. But then, in the late 1990s, Toyota dropped the Supra for the US market, discontinuing the nameplate entirely in 2002.

Seventeen years later, an all-new (and long-rumored) Supra reboot hit the floor of the Detroit auto show. There had been teasing concepts for 10 years, and when the revamped Supra was unveiled, the reaction was ... well, rather tepid. We waited all this time for that? Making matters worse, the new Supra would be a cousin to a mechanically similar BMW Z4, with both cars built by contract manufacturer Magna in Austria.

The letdown vanished, however, once folks started driving the Supra. Early reviews were gushing. OK, sure, the innards of the car were suspiciously Bavarian-looking. But all was forgiven once you strapped in and started driving.

I personally had never been a major-league Supra fan, but my curiosity was piqued. And I had driven the new Z4 in early 2019 and come away impressed. That car was a drop-top roadster with a four-cylinder engine, and despite the addition of some BMW M-Sport performance goodies, it didn't carry as much oomph under the hood as the six-cylinder Supra (both engines are BMW-made). 

So I was ready to see if the Supra could do something interesting with the extra power and remain what it had always been: a bang-for-the-buck European sports-car rival.

Read on to see how it went:

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The 2020 GR Toyota Supra arrived in a "Renaissance Red" paint job and with an as-tested price of $56,220, a bit of a premium over the $49,990 base model.

The past spring, I'd sampled a 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i, a roadster version of the Supra coupé, built on the same assembly line as the Toyota.

Read the review »



The Supra was a hardtop two-door ...

... While the BMW went topless but ...

... one could be forgiven for noticing quite a few similarities between the two rides.

The old MK IV Supra became a Hollywood legend thanks to the 'Fast and Furious' movies.

But the car had officially been out of production since 2002. At the 2019 Detroit auto show, Toyota revealed the rebooted Supra — but the initial reaction was subdued.

Then reviewers started to drive the new Supra and were enthusing. So I started to look forward to some early-autumn seat time.

The Supra is a sharp set of wheels. You might call it flashy, and part of the early negative reaction was the result of the design being sort of haphazard and not entirely worth the long wait.

The pre-Supra concepts boasted crisper lines and a more adventurous attitude, while the production car seems to be angling for .. well, let's just say a younger buyer.

Those potential younger buyers went nuts for the Supra while I was driving it around. The reaction was uniformly thrilled. So I'm not going to complain.

I guess what I dislike is the foldy-swoopy-curvy mashup. That said, designer Nobuo Nakamura clearly executed an overall vision with the Supra. Those are eight-lens auto-leveling LED headlights, by the way.

The car does catch the eye from all angles. Note the integrated spoiler. The MK IV had a rather dashing (Obnoxious?) wing. For me, ditching that feature was no major loss.

The hood creates a compelling illusion of length, giving the Supra a GT car's vibe even though it lacks a back seat. My tester's 19-inch forged allow wheels concealed vented-disc Brembo brakes, with red calipers.

I didn't like it at first, but the bulging curves over the rear wheels grew on me. My mind drifted to the Ferrari 330 Le Mans racer of the 1960s.

Another oddball touch that somehow works: a furrow through the roof.,

So what does the "GR" in the full Supra name mean? It stands for "Gazoo Racing" — the rubric under which Toyota motorsports operates.

Gotta love that old-school Supra script!

I don't much love the fake plastic side vents on the hood ...

... Or this additional strip of plastic fakery on the doors.

Cargo capacity for this Supra is, unsurprisingly, not great.

There's less that 10 cubic-feet under the hatch.

Enough space for two overnight bags. I was also able to fit an electric guitar in there. Forget about a set of golf clubs, however.

Don't get excited about some extra space for an interior compartment. My wife and I struggled to stow a MacBook Air.

Dual exhaust pipes are a clue that this car has some serious giddy-up. There's also a modest rear diffuser.

Up front, the aerodynamic tech is unobtrusive, but present. Let's just say that I didn't have to ease the Supra in and out of my driveway for fear of cracking something.

Time to slip inside.

My tester had an all-black interior that actually felt less bimmer-like than I expected — despite the presence of numerous elements that were identical to the Z4's.

I don't like BMW's fat steering wheels. So the more svelte Toyota version pleased me. The analog-digital instrument cluster was also more straightforward.

The push-button start-stop is awkwardly located behind the wheel.

The carbon-fibre is a nice touch, and there isn't too much of it. The eight-speed transmission is a BMW unit, as is the odious toggle shifter. There is, sadly, no available stick-shift. Yet.

Compared to the Z4's drive settings, the Supra's are easier to deal with. You basically have normal and sport, with some options for customization. The Supra really comes alive in sport mode.

A sport display allows you to monitor that coming-aliveness in real time.

The climate controls are exactly the same as the Z4, but they're also intuitive to use.

The infotainment system runs on an 8.6-inch touchscreen powered by BMW iDrive technology.

This system, controversial when it launched over a decade ago, has matured into an industry leader. I had no difficulty with GPS navigation, Bluetooth device pairing, connectivity, and I even found the voice-commands to work well, and the 12-speaker JBL audio system sounded great.

You don't have to use the touchscreen: the familiar iDrive puck-and-buttons controller resides exactly where any BMW owner would expect to find it.

My Supra also featured wireless charging.

I thought the BMW-derived interior would annoy me, but after a day of driving, the worlds of BMW and Toyota blissfully merged for me. I actually liked the Supra's seats a lot; they're well bolstered for serious motoring (with slots for a racing harness), but comfy for longer cruises.

Let's pop the hood and see what makes this Supra go!

The BMW-sourced, three-liter, turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine makes 335 horsepower with 365 pound-feet of torque. The rear-wheel-drive Supra laid down what I clocked as a four second-ish 0-60 mph time; in sport mode, the burbles and backfire was nicely orchestrated. Fuel economy is deeply OK: 24 mph city/31 highway/26 combined.

A nice touch under the hood ... even if what's under there is BMW.

The verdict!

Compared to the four-cylinder Z4 and it's 255-horsepower four-pot, the Supra's much beefier six makes all the difference. Personally, I thought the Z4 was a very nice automobile, but in my review I wrote that its was too much machine. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it; I did indeed. But the four-cylinder version I sampled, even at modest displacement, was a muscle roadster. (I'll take a wimpy Miata any day, thanks very much.)

The Supra, meanwhile, is a proper, fixed-roof sports car. The best comparison I could come up with was the Subaru BRZ (or the mechanically similar Toyota 86); these are snappy two-doors with small engines and rear-wheel-drive. They're a joy to drive. The Supra, meanwhile, takes their virtues and adds power, power, power. And one feels it. This car has massive punch and ferocious composure. It's hot in a straight line, but it's a thing of beauty when slung into a corner, and the steering is just about perfect.

I thought the brakes seemed a little small for the motor's output, but in practice their moderate grab was more user-friendly that some of the more hulking setups are tested. And while the Z4's stiff chassis felt as though it might have been overcompensated for the lack of a solid roof, the Supra's equally crisp architecture somehow struck me as more forgiving. In many ways, it was sort of perfect.

For about $57,000, this could be among the best values in road-to-track cars on the market. Not for nothing, but the horsepower level was ideally matched to the car — throttling the Supra is a seamless addictive experience, almost devoid of turbo lag, and the sensation of the rear tires locking in and digging down under acceleration is the stuff of dreams.

A six-speed manual would have made the Supra more tempting, but one is supposedly in the works. The eight-speed automatic was competent, but of course it had three more gears that I wanted to use. So I found myself in auto-manual mode for most of my test time, gleefully paddle-shifting and watching the tachometer dance. Third and fourth gears in this car are dazzling. The bottom line is that although the Supra and the Z4 are made at the same factory, they're miles apart — and at $10,000 less, the Supra is the superior machine both in terms of price and performance.

Was it worth the wait? Good question. I wasn't waiting. But my time with the Supra left me craving more, and it continued a theme in my life of truly digging Japanese sports cars. Even if this one speaks with a slight Austrian accent.



'Code red': The Duke professor who uncovered the yield curve's recession warning says it's time to start preparing for another downturn

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 3:01pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Campbell Harvey, the Duke University professor who uncovered the inverted yield curve as a recession indicator, said in an interview with "The Compound" on Monday that investors should pay attention to the latest signal and prepare.
  • Harvey earlier told Bloomberg the yield curve was flashing a "code red" signal. 
  • Given its long track record of predicting recessions, the indicator could serve as a heads-up that gives investors time to prepare for another downturn, Harvey said.
  • Read more on Markets Insider's homepage.

Campbell Harvey, the Duke professor who uncovered the inverted yield curve as a recession signal, says investors should start preparing for a downturn.

"It's way better to have a plan to go by than find yourself in a situation where the recession hits and you have to improvise," Harvey said on Monday in an interview with Ritholtz Wealth Management CEO Josh Brown on "The Compound."

The difference between 10-year and three-month Treasury yields has been below zero since May. This so-called yield-curve inversion is important because similar kinks have preceded all seven US recessions since 1950. Harvey first drew attention to the yield-curve signal in his 1986 dissertation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

When Harvey published his dissertation, the inverted yield curve had preceded four recessions. It's since gone on to indicate three more, including the financial crisis in 2008.

Now that the indicator is inverted again, he's been cautioning investors and businesses about what it means and how to prepare.

In an earlier interview with Bloomberg, Harvey said that the indicator was flashing "code red" and that it was "really hard to ignore."

Harvey also pointed out that the meaning of the indicator has shifted slightly since the 2008 financial crisis — and that actually could be a good thing. Now, he says, consumers, investors, and businesses that pay attention to the curve as a leading indicator (preceding a recession by six to 18 months) can slow down spending and prepare to make it through a downturn.

While spending less can lead to slower growth, it can also be seen as risk management, Harvey told Brown. He doesn't think that this is a "self-fulfilling prophecy," or that the indicator could cause a recession by damaging sentiment.

Because his model suggests slower growth — and is not the only indicator reflecting it — it has given an accurate signal even if the US does dodge a recession, he told Bloomberg. His hope is that because the indicator is getting more notice after the latest financial crisis, it might actually help the US steer clear of another one.

"If we go into recession next year, it's not going to be a surprise" as it was with the global financial crisis, he told Bloomberg.

Read more: MORGAN STANLEY: 3 powerful indicators are reliable forecasters of future stock and bond returns — and 2 of them are flashing red Wall Street is overwhelmingly bullish on SmileDirectClub even after it had the worst US IPO in 12 years. Here's what analysts are saying. The world's most accurate economic forecaster sees a 'prolonged global slowdown' on the horizon — and warns it can only be narrowly avoided

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The 25 best US tourist destinations to buy rental property in right now

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 2:40pm  |  Clusterstock

From a night out under the gleaming lights of New York City to long weekends at Disneyland, America's most heavily touristed places rarely see an off-season.

On Friday, GoBankingRates released its 2019 ranking of the country's most in-demand touristy destinations that are great for owning rental property. These busy markets can create a stream of steady passive income for owners, and investment properties can also serve as great winter or summer homes on the side.

And, as the ranking notes, with booking platforms like Airbnb shaking up the home rental market, there has never been an easier time to rent out property to vacationers and cash in on the booming travel industry.

Read more: Airbnb just announced it expects to go public in 2020. Meet CEO Brian Chesky, who cofounded the company in 2008 to help pay his San Francisco apartment's rent and is now worth $4.2 billion.

Ranging from the rugged mountain ranges of northern California to tropical islands off the coast of southern Florida, here are the 25 best tourist destinations across the US for rental property investments.

Note: All annual rental revenue and rental rate figures are sourced from short-term vacation rental data and analytics provider AirDNA via GoBankingRates' methodology. Each area's (or surrounding county's) median price of homes currently listed for sale is sourced from Zillow.

SEE ALSO: The 20 best countries around the world to invest in now

DON'T MISS: The 25 best getaways in the US for millennials, where airfare is cheap and the cities are Instagrammable

25. Adirondack, New York

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,099

Average Daily Rental Rate: $228

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Warren County: $269,250



24. San Diego, California

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,375

Average Daily Rental Rate: $211

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in San Diego: $699,000



23. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,700

Average Daily Rental Rate: $215

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Gatlinburg, Tennessee: $289,999



22. Charleston, South Carolina

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,365

Average Daily Rental Rate: $236

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Charleston, South Carolina: $379,900



21. Sanibel Island, Florida

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,740

Average Daily Rental Rate: $250

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Sanibel: $799,000



20. San Francisco, California

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,958

Average Daily Rental Rate: $238

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in San Francisco, California: $1,295,000



19. Boston, Massachusetts

Annual Rental Revenue: $4,204

Average Daily Rental Rate: $240

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Boston, Massachusetts: $749,000



18. Bryce, Utah

Annual Rental Revenue: $4,458

Average Daily Rental Rate: $227

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Garfield County: $255,000



17. Bar Harbor, Maine

Annual Rental Revenue: $4,450

Average Daily Rental Rate: $248

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Hancock County: $349,000



16. West Yellowstone, Montana

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,981

Average Daily Rental Rate: $289

The Median Home Value in West Yellowstone, Montana: $384,800*

*Median price of currently listed homes was not available.



15. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,315

Average Daily Rental Rate: $339

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Steamboat Springs, Colorado: $745,000



14. Anaheim, California

Annual Rental Revenue: $4,710

Average Daily Rental Rate: $263

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Anaheim, California: $615,000



13. Rodanthe, North Carolina

Annual Rental Revenue: $4,331

Average Daily Rental Rate: $287

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Rodanthe, North Carolina: $499,000



12. Destin, Florida

Annual Rental Revenue: $4,437

Average Daily Rental Rate: $282

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Destin, Florida: $574,950



11. South Lake Tahoe, California

Annual Rental Revenue: $3,856

Average Daily Rental Rate: $349

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in South Lake Tahoe, California: $499,000



10. Springdale, Utah

Annual Rental Revenue: $4,950

Average Daily Rental Rate: $322

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Washington County:$389,900



9. Newport, Rhode Island

Annual Rental Revenue: $4,334

Average Daily Rental Rate: $369

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Newport, Rhode Island: $595,000



8. Key West, Florida

Annual Rental Revenue: $5,276

Average Daily Rental Rate: $321

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Key West, Florida: $799,000



7. Jackson, Wyoming

Annual Rental Revenue: $5,086

Average Daily Rental Rate: $428

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Teton County: $1,750,000

Read more: I visited 2 very different luxury resorts in Jackson Hole, and the contrast between them helped explain why the area has become such a hotspot for celebs, CEOs, and the ultrawealthy



6. West Glacier, Montana

Annual Rental Revenue: $6,301

Average Daily Rental Rate: $359

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Flathead County: $419,000



5. Yosemite, California

Annual Rental Revenue: $6,275

Average Daily Rental Rate: $427

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Mariposa County: $335,000



4. Sonoma, California

Annual Rental Revenue: $5,817

Average Daily Rental Rate: $456

The Median Home Value in Sonoma, California: $743,100

*Median price of currently listed homes was not available.



3. Telluride, Colorado

Annual Rental Revenue: $5,600

Average Daily Rental Rate: $514

The Median Home Value in Telluride, Colorado: $886,400

*Median price of currently listed homes was not available.



2. Aspen, Colorado

Annual Rental Revenue: $6,300

Average Daily Rental Rate: $625

The Median Home Value in Aspen, Colorado: $1,689,500

*Median price of currently listed homes was not available.



1. Big Sur, California

Annual Rental Revenue: $12,650

Average Daily Rental Rate: $756

The Median Price of Homes Currently Listed in Monterey County: $892,000



Facebook confirms Donald Trump can lie in ads, but he can't curse (FB)

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 2:37pm  |  Clusterstock

  • From Sep. 25 to Oct. 1, the Trump campaign spent over $1.6 million on Facebook ads, many of which included false or misleading claims. 
  • Facebook took down one of these ads – which referred to Joe Biden as a 'b--ch' — because it violated its ad policy against profanity. 
  • The Trump campaign then revised the ad to include a debunked claim about Biden, and this ad was allowed to stay up because Facebook ads from politicians are not eligible for third-party fact-checking. 
  • Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic officials have challenged Facebook's misinformation policies, asserting that the social media platform is promoting Trump's lies, and making money by doing so. 

Donald Trump is allowed to lie in Facebook ads, but he can't curse.

In the three days after Trump's impeachment inquiry was announced on Sep. 24, the Trump campaign spent $1 million on Facebook ads, many of which included false or misleading claims. 

One of these Trump ads even referred to Joe Biden as a 'b--ch' — which violated Facebook's ad policies against profanity and was taken down upon review, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider. 

The Trump campaign then revised the ad, updating it to include a debunked claim about Biden. It was accepted because Facebook does not submit ads from politicians for third-party fact checking.  

The ad, which ran on Facebook in a few different variations, claimed that "Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son's company," according to Facebook's ads library.  

Two of Facebook's fact-checking partners — PolitiFact and Factcheck.org — had previously debunked this claim.

In its misinformation policy for ads, Facebook says that it "prohibits ads that include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise." 

However, a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider that ads from politicians are not eligible for third-party fact-checking review. Nick Clegg, Facebook's VP of Global Affairs and Communications, publicly announced these policies in a Facebook blog post on Sep. 24. 

In total, the Trump campaign spent over $1.6 million on Facebook ads from Sep. 25 to Oct. 1, according to Facebook's ads library (comparatively, Elizabeth Warren spent $285,000 and Biden spent $122,000 in the same period).

On Monday night, Warren challenged Facebook on the suspicious timing of its misinformation policies, calling into question a private meeting between Trump and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Sep. 19. 

After that meeting, Facebook quietly changed its policies on “misinformation” in ads, allowing politicians to run ads that have already been debunked by independent, non-partisan fact-checkers. Put another way, Facebook is now okay with running political ads with known lies.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 7, 2019

 

Warren cited Judd Legum's reporting on Popular Information, which asserts that Facebook had recently changed its advertising policies on misinformation, thereby allowing Trump to lie in ads. 

But according to Facebook, its policies have not changed, and political figures have been exempt from the fact-checking process for more than a year now, depicted in its eligibility guidelines. Clegg's speech summarized as much: 

"We don't believe that it's an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician's speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny. That's why Facebook exempts politicians from our third-party fact-checking program. We have had this policy on the books for over a year now, posted publicly on our site under our eligibility guidelines. This means that we will not send organic content or ads from politicians to our third-party fact-checking partners for review."

However, it is true that Facebook recently changed the wording of its misinformation policy — instead of "Misinformation," section 13 was previously titled "Misleading or False Content" and largely governed deceptive claims and business practices. 

Facebook has moved this down to section 31 and 32 of its policies, which are now titled "Misleading Claims" and "Unacceptable Business Practices." It appears that Facebook is trying to delineate more specifically between misinformation in a public interest capacity, and misleading content in a business capacity. 

A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider that these recent announcements and policy tweaks are meant to provide transparency ahead of US and global elections. 

With Trump ratcheting up his Facebook ad spending and deceitful rhetoric, the platform's policy decisions will continue to be scrutinized. And while Facebook believes it is staying impartial by doing little to regulate political speech, it may actually be helping Trump in doing so. 

I have a feeling that many people in tech will see Warren's thread implying FB empowers Trump over Warren as unfair. But Mark, by deciding to allow outright lies in political ads to travel on Facebook, is embracing the philosophy behind Trumpism and thereby tipping the scales. https://t.co/s0RVNuBEhJ

— Chris Hughes (@chrishughes) October 8, 2019

Facebook does not have an envious position. Its policies are complex and difficult to understand, with countless rules and separate exceptions for advertising, original content, fact-checking, and more. 

When Facebook doesn't regulate political speech, it disregards truth and responsibility. But if Facebook did regulate political speech, it would have to devise even more complex policies, and there would be widespread complaints of bias — something it clearly does not want to deal with. 

For now, Facebook is sticking to the former. This choice has resulted in a stunning truth: the Trump campaign is paying Facebook millions of dollars to promote its lies, and this doesn't violate any of Facebook's rules.

Join the conversation about this story »

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People on Reddit are slamming a 200-square-foot San Diego 'shed' that rents for more than $1,000 a month, but it's just the latest example of America's unaffordable housing market

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 2:33pm  |  Clusterstock

A 200-square-foot studio hit the top of Reddit's San Diego page last week, and not because the Redditors were charmed by how quaint the minimalist space was.

The apartment, located at 4735 1/2 Oregon Street in San Diego, California, is currently listed by JD Property Management and Realty. The listing describes the unit as an "updated studio with 1 bath and small kitchen" in the University Heights neighborhood. San Diegans on Reddit were outraged to see that the tiny unit, which many of them deemed a "shed," was asking $1,100 per month to rent.

"Someone is really charging people $1,100 to live in a shed! And they want you to have a 650+ credit score too," Reddit user terrificheretic posted, referencing the listing's stated rental requirements (income of 2.5 times the monthly rent, a FICO score at or above 650, no legal evictions on record, and "good rental references").

"I'm all about charging market value but this seems a tad... over-valued, to say at the least," one commenter wrote.

"I was making $8.50 an hour and my first apartment was $190 a month. It was cool 40 years ago. I can't believe how difficult it is for people now. We have f----- up the middle class," another commented.

Realtors say this pricing isn't unusual

But Joshua Dillon, a broker with JD Property Management and Realty, says this pricing is "not uncommon."

"There are several other units around town that are comparable," Dillon told Business Insider via email.

He noted that the "typical/average" one-bedroom in the larger San Diego County rents for between $1,300 and $1,500 per month and that the asking price of the Oregon Street studio (now reduced to $1,050 a month) "is not much more than people are paying to rent rooms within houses ($800-$900)."

Ranking and review site Niche puts the county's median rent at $1,467.

Dillon also clarified that the apartment is not a shed, despite its shed-like appearance: "This unit has its own electric meter, its own address, etc., and has been here since the end of World War II per the owner, due to the housing shortage at that time."

The "shed" on Oregon Street is just one symptom of a nation-wide issue

The housing crisis is on clear display across the US, particularly with the astronomical cost of living in areas like New York City, San Francisco, and Palo Alto.

Read more: San Francisco's housing market is so out of control, 60% of tech workers say they can't afford homes

Business Insider's Libertina Brandt previously reported that the median rent for a Manhattan studio apartment in July and August hit $2,700, while Brooklyn's median face rent hit an all-time high of $3,000 per month in June. Brandt separately reported in September that the tiniest apartment in San Francisco, just 161 square feet, was asking over $2,200 a month in rent. Renters in San Francisco are even dishing out $1,200 a month to rent a single bunk bed in co-living buildings and over $2,000 a month to rent rooms in vacant Victorian homes.

Landlords in New York City were even caught renting out "micro rooms" — illegal sub-units with no windows, sprinklers, or fire-safety systems — with ceilings reported to be a mere 4.5 to 6 feet tall.

Quinisha Jackson-Wright, a freelance journalist for Business Insider, wrote about how her rent more than doubled — from $800 a month to $2,000 — when she moved from the Midwest to Santa Barbara, California.

Recognizing the issues, some states are attempting to tackle the affordable housing crisis: California recently became the third state (after Oregon in March and New York in June) to pass a rent control bill in an effort to curtail the problem. And tech companies are attempting to find solutions as well; Microsoft announced in January that it would pledge $500 million to help alleviate Seattle's growing housing crisis in light of the city's influx of tech companies, Business Insider previously reported.

SEE ALSO: The 25 US cities where rent is increasing the fastest, ranked

DON'T MISS: Here's how much space $1 million will get you in 25 major US cities

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