The Basics Series
smart spending
The Basics Series

There are 11 topics of personal finance that every consumer deals with -- from car loans to taxes. To educate you so that you can make smart choices, we've created the Basics.

In each Basics section, you'll find:
  • A thorough discussion of the topic written in step-by-step style.
  • A quiz at the end of each chapter so you can test your knowledge along the way.
  • Links to Bankrate calculators, surveys and decision tools, set in the context that you need to use them.
  • Money-saving advice.
  • Auto Loan Basics
    A complete look at buying a car from shopping to haggling price to financing and auto insurance.
  • Checking Basics
    Before you sign up for a checking account, make sure you check out all of your options.
  • Credit Card Basics
    Check out this roundup of all things pertaining to credit cards from interest rates to the monthly statement to how finance charges are calculated.
  • Debt Management Basics
    Don't let bills keep you up at night. Make a change by facing your debt head on.
  • Insurance Basics
    What you need to know about life insurance, auto insurance, home insurance and health insurance.
  • Investing Basics
    Understand the various ways to save and invest money, from the basic savings account to annuities and corporate bonds.
  • Home Equity Basics
    Don't buy a house solely as an investment. Examine all the pluses and minuses in owning a home.
  • Mortgage Basics
    Emotions, family and personal reasons all come into play in any home-buying decision.
  • College Financing Basics
    A guide to understanding the essentials of college financing from investing in 529s to applying for federal aid and beyond.
  • Tax Basics
    With advice on everything from withholding to deductions to filing to handling (ulp) audits, we'll leads you through the process of rendering unto Uncle Sam.
  • Retirement Basics
    The work doesn't end when you hit retirement. Use smart strategies to make the most of savings.

The Basics were written by Bankrate's experts on each topic and are updated whenever there are changes in laws or financial practices. If you have a question or comment for the editors or writers, please write to us here.

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REFINANCE HOME EQUITY AUTO CDs CREDIT CARDS
Product Rate Change Last week
30 year fixed refi 4.00%  0.09 4.09%
15 year fixed refi 3.08%  0.12 3.20%
10 year fixed refi 3.13%  0.11 3.24%
 
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Product Rate Change Last week
30K FICO-based HELOC 4.32%  0.02 4.30%
50K FICO-based HELOC 3.98%  0.02 3.96%
100K FICO-based HELOC 3.83%  0.02 3.81%
 
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Product Rate Change Last week
60 month used car loan 2.75% --0.00 2.75%
48 month used car loan 2.99% --0.00 2.99%
60 month new car loan 3.19%  0.01 3.20%
 
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Product Rate Change Last week
1 Year CD 0.99% --0.01 0.98%
2 Year CD 1.22%  0.01 1.21%
5 Year CD 1.87% --0.00 1.87%
 
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Product Rate Change Last week
Balance Transfer Cards 15.76% --0.00 15.76%
Cash Back Cards 16.44% --0.00 16.44%
Low Interest Cards 11.04% --0.00 11.04%
 
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