Family firework displays

We love the excitement of a good fireworks display, and we thought you might too, so we put together some ideas for you throughout Surrey, Sussex and Kent:

Paul Brice, Crawley

Godstone Farm have a display which is great for younger ones, as not only does it start early at 5:45 which is perfect for under 5’s, but the fireworks are all classified as low bangs, so a lovely way to introduce your small people to bonfire night!


The Star in Lingfield also have a great one planned with hog roast, beer tent and fancy dress competition complete with goodie bag prizes for children taking part.

Mathew Gurr, Haywards Heath

I feel torn between both Lindfield’s and Buckfield’s displays as they are equally brilliant. Lindfield’s is a brilliant torch light procession through the village and finishes up with the bonfire and firework display on the common.

The Cuckfield display is held at Cuckfield Park where they choreograph fireworks to music and is a great spectacle. It feels as though the whole village are out for it, a brilliant community event.

Paul Mulligan, Croydon & Brighton:

With fond memories of Sandersted Rec fireworks and enjoying a toffee apple in the freezing cold as a boy, I’d recommend The “Friends of Selsdon Primary School” display, following their inaugural event in 2016. The display is at 7pm, and tickets can be bought in advance online.

I am also working within our Brighton area at the moment and the family fireworks at Neville Road, Hove sound great! I haven’t been to these ones yet but have heard good things about them as they’re set to music and it’s quite a spectacle!

Zac Ship,Tunbridge Wells

I love the display in Edenbridge which has a huge turnout every year with the floats parading through town then the amazing firework display on the playing fields after where a famous effigy is burnt every year. Last year’s was Trump, and I can’t wait to see who it’ll be this year.

Louise Simpson, Reigate

There are great fireworks opposite Queens Park, Caterham. Run by the District Round Table, they’re a great evening out for all the family.

Sam Webb, Land and New Homes

The fireworks in Carshalton are my annual trip out for bonfire night; they’re always fantastic and the bonfire is enormous!


So these are the ones we love, where are you going this year? One thing is guaranteed, the gun powder smell will be in the air, and you’ll have spent all your cash on glow sticks and sweets for the children! The sign of a great bonfire night!


If you’re thinking of moving, give the team a call on 0330 223 1000, they’ll love to help.



Today’s Best Bank Deals, Promotions, and Bonuses

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Get the best bank bonuses, promos and deals with this regularly updated list of bank signup promotions.

best bank bonuses

When opening a bank account, there are a few things you should be looking for: low (or no) fees, the highest interest rates possible, and promotional bonus offers.

With the latter, you can often score free money without doing anything extra. I don’t know about you, but that’s a win in my book! After all, promotional bonus cash is better than the free toasters that your local branch used to hand out, wouldn’t you agree? You may also want to check out the best online savings accounts.

Here is a list of our favorite bank deals that are available right now:

1. TD Bank Premier Checking–Get $300

This is a pretty simple bonus to earn, as long as you’re able to meet their minimum requirements. It’s available to new personal checking customers in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Vermont.

All you need to do is:

  • Visit TD Bank’s website and sign up for a new TD Bank Premier Checking account.
  • Set up and receive $2,500+ in direct deposits within the first 60 days of opening your account.

After you meet those requirements, TD Bank will deposit your $300 bonus into your new account.

Note: the TD Bank Premier Checking accounts do have a monthly service fee of $15. This can be waived if you keep a daily balance of at least $100.

2. Chase Total Checking® & Chase Savings–Get up to $350

This $350 bonus actually consists of two separate bonus offers. They can be combined or used separately, depending on your needs. Both offers together total $350 in free cash.

  • Get up to $350 when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account with Direct Deposit and/or open a new Chase SavingsSM account, deposit $ 10,000 or more in new money and maintain a $10,000 balance for 90 days
  • Receive a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit
  • Get a $150 bonus when you open a new Chase SavingsSM account, deposit a total of $10,000 or more in new money within 10 days, and maintain a $10,000 balance for 90 days
  • Access to over 16,000 Chase ATMs and 5,100 branches
  • Mobile check deposit–It’s as easy as taking a selfie.
  • Access Chase QuickPay®– Take the drama out of splitting a check.
  • Real-time fraud monitoring–We watch your debit-card to help your money stay your money.
  • Expires 01.08.2018

Note: Chase Total Checking® accounts do have a $12 monthly fee. This can be avoided if you a) have monthly direct deposits totaling $500+ made to the account, b) keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500+ in the account, OR c) keep an average daily balance of $5,000+ in any combination of qualifying Chase checking, savings, and other balances.

Note: Chase SavingsSM accounts do have a $5 monthly fee. This can be avoided by a) keeping a daily balance of $300+ in your savings account, b) have at least one repeating, scheduled transfer of $25+ from your Chase personal checking account (this needs to be scheduled through Chase OnlineSM Banking), OR c) have a linked Chase Premier Plus CheckingSM, Chase Premier Platinum CheckingSM, or Chase Private Client CheckingSM account.

This offer is in-branch only! In order to be eligible for these bonuses, you’ll need to print the coupon the send you online. Then, take that coupon in to your local Chase branch to open the new account(s).  Once you complete these steps for each of the two new accounts, you’ll have earned a whopping $350 in free cash! Not a bad deal.

3. Chase Premier Plus Checking–Get $300 

This offer is different from the one above. Instead of the Total Checking account mentioned in #2, this offer is for the next tier up: the Chase Premier Plus Checking account.

  • Enjoy $300 as a new Chase checking customer, when you open a Chase Premier Plus Checking(SM) account and set up direct deposit
  • Get $300, more benefits, and earn interest on your new Chase checking account.
  • The $25 Monthly Service Fee is waived when you keep an average beginning day balance of $15,000 or more in any combination of this account and linked qualifying Chase checking, savings and other balances
  • No Chase fee on first four non-Chase ATM transactions per statement period
  • Earn interest on your checking account balance.
  • Access to over 16,000 Chase ATMs and 5,100 branches
  • Deposit checks from virtually anywhere, anytime, just by taking a photo with our Chase Mobile® app.
  • Expires 01.08.2018

After completing all three of these steps, Chase will deposit your $300 bonus into the new account within 10 business days. If you close this account within the first six months, however, they will deduct the full bonus amount from your closing balance!

Note: There is a $25 monthly service fee on this account, which can be waived by a) maintaining an average daily balance of $15,000+ in any combination of qualifying Chase accounts (checking, savings, and other balances), OR b) having a qualifying Chase mortgage and setting up automatic payments for it from your Premier Plus Checking account.

This offer is also in-branch only.

4. Bank of America Checking– Get $100

If you’re new to Bank of America, here’s a $100 bonus good through the end of the year. All you’ll need to do is:

  • Open a qualifying personal checking account (only available to new customers), online or in-branch; these include Core Checking® and Interest Checking® accounts.
  • Deposit the minimum opening amount ($25 for Core Checking® and $100 for Interest Checking®).
  • Set up two monthly direct deposits totaling $250 or more for at least the first 90 days.

Once you complete these requirements and keep your account in good standing, Bank of America will deposit your $100 bonus into the new account within 60 days.

Note: Both of these checking accounts incur monthly service fees. The Core Checking® account comes with a $12 fee, which you can have waived by a) having at least one direct deposit of $250+ made each monthly statement cycle, b) maintaining a minimum daily balance of $1,500+ each cycle, OR c) enrolling in Preferred Rewards. For Interest Checking®, the fee is $25 and can be waived by a) maintaining $10,000+ in combined balances between eligible, linked accounts each statement cycle, OR b) enrolling in Preferred Rewards.

5. Discover Online Savings–Get up to $200

Discover is offering a sizable bonus for their online savings account product, and the bonus comes in one of two forms. Depending on the amount of your initial deposit, you’ll earn either $150 or $200. Details below:

  • Apply for your first Discover Online Savings account by 10.31.2017
  • Enter code ST17 when applying
  • Deposit a total of $15,000 by 11.15.2017 to earn a $150 bonus OR
  • Deposit a total of $20,000 by 11.15.2017 to earn a $200 bonus
  • Money will be credited no later than 11.30.2017

There a no monthly fees associated with the Discover Bank Savings Account and you’ll earn a current interest rate of 1.20%.

6. Santander Bank Checking–Get $150

This offer is only valid through 12/31/17, so be sure to jump quickly if you want the free $150. All you need to do is:

  • Open an eligible checking account at Santander Bank as a new customer. These include the Simply Right®, Basic, and Premier Plus checking accounts.
  • Make the minimum deposit ($25 for Simply Right® and Basic accounts, $50 for Premier Plus).
  • Have direct deposits of $1,000+ made into the account within the first 90 days.
  • Keep your account open for 90+ days.
  • Use Promo Code DIG15010ND
  • Expires 12.31.2017

Once all five of these requirements are met, the bank will deposit your $150 bonus into your new account within 30 days.

Note: These accounts each incur a monthly service fee. These can be waived in the following ways:

  • Simply Right® ($10 fee)–All you need to do is make any financial transaction that posts within that calendar month. This includes deposits, withdrawals, transfers, or payments. Anything.
  • The $3 monthly fee for the Basic checking account cannot be waived.
  • Premier Plus ($35 fee)–Make a total of $6,000+ in direct deposits each month OR maintain a combined $75,000 in deposits + balances with Santander Investment Services.

You can apply online at Santander Bank, or go online to print a coupon and open your account in-branch.

7. Fifth Third Essential Checking® —Get $200

This is another offer that is only good through the end of the year. It’s available to residents of Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In order to get your free $200, you’ll need to:

  • Open a new, qualifying account online, in-branch, or by phone.
  • Deposit a minimum of $500 within the first 45 days.
  • Maintain the $500 minimum balance for a period of 60 days
  • Expires 12.31.2017

Once you meet these two simple requirements, you’ll receive your $200 bonus in the form of a deposit into your new account, within 10 business days..

Note: The Essential Checking® account comes with an $11 monthly service fee. The fee drops to $8 a month if you have a monthly direct deposit totaling $500+.

Either of these fees can be waived if you a) maintain a combined monthly balance of $1,500 or more between your eligible accounts, b) spend $500 or more each month on a Fifth Third credit card, c) currently hold a balance on an existing Fifth Third mortgage, auto loan, or personal line of credit, d) are a current or former member of the US military and make monthly direct deposits of $500 or more, e) have a valid student ID, f) are a member of your employer’s Fifth Third banking benefits program and make monthly direct deposits of $500 or more, OR g) have a Business Premium or Business Elite Checking account.

8. M&T Bank Checking–Get $150

If you live in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or West Virginia, this offer is one way for you to earn $150 free from M&T Bank. You’ll need to:

  • Open a new personal checking account online or in-branch (with this printed coupon).
  • Make one qualifying direct deposit of $100 or more within the first 90 days.
  • Keep your account open for at least 90 days more
  • Expires 10.31.2017

That’s it. M&T Bank will deposit your $150 bonus cash into your new account within 90 days of the direct deposit.

Note: M&T Bank’s EZChoice Checking accounts come with a $6.95 monthly service fee. This can be waived by simply making one deposit to or withdrawal from the account during that charge cycle.

9. Charles Schwab–Get $100

If you are new to Charles Schwab, you can open one of a number of accounts, and earn $100 cash. This includes their personal banking accounts, as long as it is linked to a Schwab One® brokerage account. You’ll need to:

  • Open a Schwab Bank Checking account through this link or by calling 800-398-8640 and mentioning the code REFER.
  • Fund the account with any amount you choose–there is no minimum opening deposit OR minimum balance!
  • Your application will automatically open a Schwab Bank brokerage account for you, too, which will be linked to the checking account.
  • Fund the second account with any amount your choose–this account also has no minimum deposit or balance requirements.
  • Keep the accounts open for a minimum of one year, to avoid the bonus being charged back.

Even if you put a single penny in these accounts, you’ll still receive your bonus of $100 about a month after opening them. Then, just keep the account open for a year. There are no monthly service fees and no minimums, so it’s a pretty easy way to earn free cash.

**Please note: While this is a very easy bonus to earn, without any big requirements, you need to watch the application process. Charles Schwab will often use a hard pull inquiry when opening accounts, especially for new-to-CS customers. This may be worth it to you (or it may not), but just be aware of the possibility.

How to Find the Best Cell Phone Plans of 2017

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Comparing cell phone plans makes going to the dentist look fun. To help, here are our ratings and comparisons of the best cell phone plans in 2017.

best cell phone plans in 2017

These days, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a cell phone. They’ve become a staple in our lives. And, for many without a landline, they’re a necessity. But just because we have to have our cell phones, doesn’t mean that we have to pay an arm and a leg for service.

Figuring out how much a new cell phone plan will actually cost you practically requires an accounting degree. Those “$45 unlimited calls, messaging, and data” plans can quickly, somehow, turn into $100-per-line charges. Between fees and fine print, it can all be hard to decipher.

Let’s take a look at how much cell plans have changed recently, all across the board. We will cover the four major cell phone carriers (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T). And we’ll see what prices they are actually offering.

We’ll exclude any promotional pricing, since promotions change so often. We’ll also cover the amount and quality of data included in each plan, as that’s the most common concern for subscribers these days.

So, let’s get started. Then, you can determine how much a new plan will really cost you, long before some surprise, inflated bill lands in your inbox.

Big Changes

A few notable shifts that have occurred in the cell phone world as of late. But for the most part, these shifts are in the best interests of the consumer.

Return of Unlimited Plans

You may remember that unlimited plans used to be pretty popular. Different carriers offered different services. Some only offered unlimited talk time, and others offered unlimited talk and text. But you could find some kind of unlimited plan from nearly every provider.

Well, a few years ago, carriers began to unexpectedly pull these types of plans from their lineup. The reason? The massive wave of smartphone users and their unprecedented data usage. This was an even bigger issue once streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify gained popularity.

These apps eat up a significant amount of data. To compensate, carriers began to offer expensive data plans alongside their typical “minutes and messages” offerings. Some even forced consumers to pay a fee for simply having a smartphone connected to a line. It didn’t matter if you used 1GB of data per cycle or hit your limit… the fee was the same.

Personally, these “smartphone surcharges” and data fees caused my own bill to jump from an average of $60 per month per line to just over $90 per month per line. We’re talking about another $360 a year per phone, for the luxury of checking my email or Facebook on the go.

You can understand, then, why I jumped for joy when I heard that unlimited plans were making a comeback. I stayed with my same carrier and switched to one such unlimited plan the same day it debuted. This immediately cut my bill by about 35% without any noticeable decrease in service.

All four of the major carriers now offer some form of unlimited plan. Just as before, the plans vary in what’s actually offered. Take a look at your own bill history before switching to see how much data you typically use. Considering that most of the carriers have different unlimited package levels, you may be able to save some money with a smaller plan.

Of course, keep in mind that “unlimited” doesn’t actually mean unlimited without consequences. If you’re a high-speed data hog, you’ll probably have your speeds tethered (or reduced) after you hit a certain usage limit.

No Contracts

Gone are the days of being locked into two-year agreements with a carrier. And consumers no longer have to pay pricey early termination charges if/when they want to switch. Now, all four of the big carriers operate on a no-contract basis.

This is great news as far as flexibility. You’re welcome to change plans and carriers anytime you like, without consequences. However, there is a downside.

One of the biggest perks of contract plans, at least for smartphone users, was the discounted phone price. In exchange for signing one of those one-, two-, or even three-year contracts, the carriers offered a substantial discount on the actual phone. For those who lined up to snag the newest iDevice, this discount of several hundred dollars was well worth the contract’s shackles.

Now, you’ll need to buy your phone outright when you pick that new, no-contract plan… no more $199 iPhones. However, the carriers typically offer their own version of a zero-interest loan, allowing you to buy the phone for a down payment and an agreement of an increased monthly charge.

Once the phone is paid in full–usually around 24 months–that added charge falls off. If you want to switch carriers before you finish paying off the phone, you’ll simply need to fork over the balance in order to release yourself.

Now, let’s look at what each cell company is offering in terms of plans.


Sprint has bounced up and down a bit on its unlimited plan pricing over the past year or so. It was one of the first carriers to offer new unlimited plans. Then it dropped its prices significantly earlier this year.

Sprint has raised its prices back up a bit since then. But they’re still nicely discounted from what they were last year and before. However, it’s important to note that the prices shown here are expected to revert back to their higher rates after October 2018. So, be sure to make the switch before then if Sprint is the best choice for you.

Data Quality & Quantity

With Sprint, you’ll have no problem streaming HD-quality videos with your standard unlimited data plan. You’ll also be able to take advantage of 10GB of high-speed mobile hot spot usage per line. This means you can use your cell phone service as a wifi hub for your laptop or other devices, which is a convenient feature to have available at no extra charge. Once you use up your monthly 10GB, your hot spot speed will drop to 2G.

If you use more than 23GB of high-speed data per month, Sprint may tether your speeds. Also, if you are using your data for gaming and music, your streaming speeds will be capped at 8Mbps and 1.5Mbps respectively.


Remember rates will jump up a bit, to previous price levels, at the end of October 2018. Until then, though, Sprint has some of the most competitive rates available on unlimited plans.

For one phone line, an unlimited plan will run you $55. A second phone adds another $45, with additional phones after that costing $10 per line.

If you’re not interested in unlimited data–maybe you have a younger child who doesn’t need a smartphone–the only other option available is a $45 per month per line plan. This plan does include up to 2GB of data.


1 line 2 lines 3 lines 4 lines 5 lines
1GB data Not available Not available Not available Not available Not available
2GB data $45 $90 $135 $180 $225
Unlimited data $55

(after Oct 2018 this goes up to $65)


(after Oct 2018 this goes up to $110)


(after Oct 2018 this goes up to $145)


(after Oct 2018 this goes up to $180)


(after Oct 2018 this goes up to $215)


Up until recently, T-Mobile offered family data-sharing options for its customers, called Simple Choice plans. These meant that you could purchase bulk shared data, along with unlimited messaging and calls, for the whole family to use. You could even allocate data to individual phone lines. That way your teenager couldn’t hog all the data midway through the month’s plan.

These Simple Choice plans were also great in that they didn’t include data usage from streaming services, like Netflix and Spotify, against your data allowances. Considering how much data those apps can use, this was a big bonus for many customers.

However, this is no longer the case. Now, T-Mobile has replaced Simple Choice plans with its T-Mobile One plan. Now you have to purchase a separate data plan for every phone on the account.

The good news is that these plans are all unlimited–data, voice calls, and text messages. Depending on how much data your family was eating through before, this could either increase or decrease your monthly bill.

Data Quality & Quantity

Basic T-Mobile plans offer customers “DVD-quality” video streaming. But it caps hotspot speeds at 3G. If you want better quality or higher speed, you’ll need to pay another $10 per month, per line. This upgrade will then snag you a 4G mobile hotspot and HD-quality video streaming.

Whether or not that’s worth the added cost, only you can decide.

As with Sprint (and all of the others, in fact), “unlimited” has its caveats. However, the cap for potential speed tethering is a bit higher with T-Mobile, at a solid 32GB. Surpass that in a given billing cycle, and T-Mobile may slow down your phone’s speed when the system is overloaded.


One great thing about T-Mobile’s pricing structure is that it’s incredibly simple to calculate. You don’t have to worry about regulatory fees, taxes, or little monthly charges that can cause your bill to notch further and further up.

What you see is what you get. Their pricing already includes all taxes and fees, so when they say you’ll pay $75 a month, they mean that’s what you’ll actually pay. So, keep that in mind when you’re comparison shopping.

Their price structure is as easy as it gets. There is only one option: unlimited everything. The first line is $75 a month (remember, this is what your actual bill will be… no fees or taxes). Each line after that is another $35. Easy peasy.

1 line 2 lines 3 lines 4 lines 5 lines
1GB data Not available Not available Not available Not available Not available
2GB data Not available Not available Not available Not available Not available
Unlimited data $75 $110 $145 $180 $215


Unable to stick with one pricing structure, Verizon has had a lot of back-and-forth with their plans in the last year or so. What they’ve settled on now has a lot of people irked.

Their prices have dropped, and you now have a choice between two unlimited data plans. However, you’ll be getting a little less bang for your buck in the end.

Data Quality & Quantity

Verizon’s plans used to be, like many other carriers, of the limited variety. You could choose until very recently to purchase a set amount of data for a set price. Now, your options are between two unlimited plans, which offer varying qualities of data.

The first plan is called Go Unlimited, and it is the less expensive of the two. You will still receive unlimited data, but Verizon reserves the right to tether you speeds any time the network is busy. This is in stark contrast to most tethering rules, where the carrier will only begin to tether your peak time speeds after you’ve used a certain amount of data.

With this plan, you’ll also get DVD-quality video streaming along with a mobile hotspot, capped at a 600 Kbps speed.

If you need more, well, everything, there is also the Beyond Unlimited plan. It’s an extra $10 a month but offers better quality data and more flexible rules.

With this higher-priced option, you’ll get HD-quality streaming on your videos and a 4G LTE mobile hotspot with up to 15GB per month, per line. You’ll also avoid being tethered during peak network times until you’ve used more than 22GB of data in that billing cycle.

1 line 2 lines 3 lines 4 lines 5 lines
Go Unlimited $80 $140 $165 $180 $225
Beyond Unlimited $90 $170 $195 $220 $275


Last but not least, we have AT&T. The carrier started offering unlimited plans again in February 2017, and, like Verizon, it offers two different qualities to choose from.

The company does still offer Mobile Share Advantage (finite data) plans, if that suits your needs better. Grandma probably doesn’t need unlimited data, so these plans are still the cheaper option for low-data users.

Data Quality & Quantity

If you opt for the cheaper of the two unlimited plans through AT&T, the Unlimited Choice, you might be a little disappointed in the quality. It really depends on what you’re used to getting.

Unlimited Choice will give you standard-definition quality (don’t ask me how big of a difference there is between this and “DVD-quality,” though) video streaming with a speed cap of 1.5Mbps. For non-streaming data usage AT&T caps speeds at 3Mbps. The Unlimited Choice plan also does not include a mobile hotspot.

If you need better quality and faster speeds, you can opt for the pricier version, the Unlimited Plus plan. This includes a mobile hotspot with 10GB of usage per line. Go over that limit, and you can still use your hot spot; it just gets limited to a speed of 128Kbps.

This plan includes HBO at no additional cost (which may be a great plus if you’re trying to cut the cord or just decrease that cable bill!) and HD-quality video streaming.


The difference in price between the two unlimited plans is larger than with other carriers (most of whom offer an upgrade to the “better” plan for only ~$10 a month per line).

Unlimited Choice plans start at $65 for the first line. The second line is another $60, and each line after that, up to 10 lines, is another $20 per line.

Unlimited Plus plans start at $95 for the first line. The second line is again $60, with each subsequent line adding another $20 per line.

1 line 2 lines 3 lines 4 lines 5 lines
Unlimited Choice $65 $125 $145 $165 $185
Unlimited Plus $95 $155 $175 $195 $215

As cell users’ needs and data demands change, carriers are likely to further alter their unlimited plans. So be on the lookout for changes to these prices and the perks that each plan offers.

Also, keep in mind that cell phone carriers offer promotional pricing and discounts frequently. A number of these carriers offer discounts for autopay and paperless billing, so your bill might actually be less than what you’re seeing here. You should check online and even call the carrier to ask about potential discounts before signing up to ensure that you get the lowest possible price.

A chat with Seonaid Bentley – all things ‘LPSA’ and her amazing cakes!

As many of you know, we support local schools with fundraising, and we love this work as we get to know some incredible volunteers who work tirelessly to raise money for their children’s schools. We caught up with Seonaid Bentley recently as she has been one of the brilliant people we’ve worked with. She’s been involved with Lingfield Primary School PTA since her children started school in 2012, and she found herself as chairperson for the last couple of years, she is stepping down to welcome a new team and we wanted to celebrate her achievements and all those of the LPSA.

What events have you run? 

We have lots of sub groups within the LPSA who run events throughout the year. These include: quiz nights, fashion shows, story telling afternoons, ice lolly Fridays, coin trails, bake sales as well as Festive Fridays and the Summer Fête which I coordinate. Festive Fridays are when we sell crafts, cakes and other lovely Christmas things which parents from the school have made.

Which one did you love the most!

My favourite event though is the summer fair. It is the biggest event of the year and every class runs a stall, the teachers and staff come along and help and (hopefully!) the sun shines. There’s always a really lovely atmosphere. This year as well as all the traditional stalls we had a dog agility display by Clever Paws, pottery painting with Kate Creative, dancing shows by Evolution Dance and the ever popular reptiles and mammals on display from Animazing. The local community also help by generously donating raffle and silent auction prizes and of course Move Revolution sponsor our fair and provide fantastic marketing materials and this year Paul and Tom also hosted the bar at the fair and learnt how to mix their first Pimms, which were very yummy!

What Competitions have you run?

Design a cake competition, Design an Easter egg, coin trail, fancy dress, Great British Bake Offs

What was your favourite and why?

I really enjoyed our coin trail comp. The children had to work together and collect coins as a whole class, they then got to spend part of an afternoon outdoors on the playground laying their coins down to see which class had the longest line.

It was great seeing the children all work together and they really seemed to enjoy getting some extra outdoors time. The school came together as a whole which was lovely: The LPSA set the competition, the pupils collected and laid down their coins, the teachers organised the afternoon itself and one of our office staff will count the coins. It was a real joint effort. The very lucky class 2b, who had the longest trail, won ice lollies for the whole class.

What has made you laugh the most… the Fun in funraising! 

Quiz night is always a really fun night! The parents get to relax and have fun, we provide nibbles, there’s a bar and a raffle. We have a fantastic compère who hosts the night, Richard Leader, who is a Meridian FM DJ and also a parent at school. He really sets the scene and it makes for a very entertaining evening. Building towers from spaghetti and marshmallows and a some Mums forming a human pyramid were highlights this year!!!

How much money have you raised – what has it been spent on at the school?

Last year we raised over £15,000.This money was used to purchase many things for the school, items which they otherwise would be unable to get due to the huge budget cuts schools are facing. The LPSA aims to raise funds for “added extras” which really enhance the children’s time at school. We have purchased: Interactive whiteboards, tablets, picnic tables, eco planter tables, resources for reception year group, storage play equipment, play bark, sand, outdoor gym equipment as well as contributions to school trips, leavers presents and commemorative coins for ever child.

This year, the money we raise is being used to improve many outdoor learning areas including a fantastic outdoor, forest school class room.

What has been great about working with the Move Revolution team?

We love working with the Move Revolution team. They are so positive and enthusiastic and have fab fundraising ideas. It is really great to sit down with them at the beginning of the year and plan events and competitions. The marketing materials they design for us are fantastic. The competitions they sponsor, such as this years design an easter egg competition are great. They allow the children to enter something just for fun and we always get a fantastic number of entries. This year Move Revolution awarded 3 pupils a lovely arts and crafts set for their brilliant efforts. Move Revolution have also set up an initiative whereby if any parent or carer of a Lingfield Primary School pupil sells their house with Move Revolution then they will donate £250 to the school. This will really help to boost our fundraising targets. Thank you Move Revolution, we really appreciate everything you do for our school!

What are you going to do next?

I got involved in The LPSA when my children started at the school in 2012. In the beginning I got involved helping at events and became a class rep. After a couple of years, I found myself in the vice-chair role along with a friend and then when the Chair person left our school I took on the role. I have been Chair of The LPSA for the last two years. It’s been really lovely to be part of a team who have raised so much money for all our children to benefit from and I’m really proud of what we have achieved. However, I have some projects of my own going on and it is therefore time to hand over the reins to a new team of parents.

I will be focusing on finishing a huge renovation project that we have had going on at home for the last 6 months and then I hope to start a cake business supplying celebration cakes and cupcakes and maybe even teaching the odd class. Exciting times, watch this space for Mrs B’s Bakes…!

We’ve tasted and seen your cakes Seonaid, and we know they are utterly delicious so your business will be a great success! Good luck! (if you would like to chat with her about making you a cake email

We really love giving back to our local communities, and in order to do more of this, we’d love you to give us a call if you’re thinking of selling or letting your home. We’re on 0330 223 1000.





Best 12 Month CD Rates of 2017 (Updated Daily)

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We track the best 12 month CD rates of 2017. You’ll find information on fees, penalties, and minimum deposits for these certificates of deposit, too.

best 12 month cd rates

If you compare today’s best 12 month CD rates with historical rates, they may not be impressive. With the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates low for the near future, deposit accounts will not command the interest rates that were common before the recession.

Therefore, it may not make sense to lock in a rate for a long period of time. Once you agree to a term like five years, you’ll be stuck with it. Even if rates rise in the meantime.

This is a good approach in an environment where rates are high and possibly falling, but not a great idea when rates are low and possibly increasing. Nevertheless, you can often find better rates for CDs than for savings and money market accounts. So if you know you won’t need your savings for three months, six months, or a year, you might be able to achieve slightly higher interest payments from the bank. One drawback is there is often a penalty for accessing your cash before your term is up.

For the uninitiated, a certificate of deposit (CD) is considered a “time deposit.” CDs are generally considered cash or savings when it comes to asset allocation, but the “time” requirement presents a maturity date like a bond. This probably doesn’t matter for most individual savers and investors. But it does carry an important distinction for businesses whose investments are reported to regulatory authorities.

Like savings accounts, CD interest rates are compared using APY, annual percentage yield.

Best 12 Month CD Rates

Synchrony Bank Savings AccountSynchrony Bank just made a few shock waves by offering a 15 month CD at a 1.65% APY.  Yes, that’s three months more than the standard 12 month CD, but the 1.65% APY is as good a rate as you’ll find anywhere. Especially for any CD under 24 months.  They require a $2,000 minimum deposit to open the 15 month CD and Synchrony even  increased their savings rate to a robust 1.30% (just a week ago).

Synchrony Bank also has a 12 month CD with a term of 1.50% APY.  As you can see from our list below, that’s still the best of the best so you can’t go wrong with either CD term.

Discover Bank CDDiscover Bank offers a hassle-free banking experience. I am a current, happy customer. Discover offers a rate of 1.35% APY for their 12-month CD.  Discover Bank also offers up a cash back checking account and high yield online savings account.

Ally Bank CDAlly Bank offers two unique types of CDs in addition to a traditional CD. The Ally Bank Raise Your Rate CD has a feature that mitigates the risk of CD rates increasing while you’re locked in. You’ll have one opportunity during the term of the CD to lock in the market interest rate. The shortest term offered is two years, though, not 12 months. The rate for this 2-year product is 1.50% APY as of June 21, 2017.

Ally Bank also offers a No-Penalty CD, where you can withdraw your money at any time without a penalty. This term is slightly less than a year at 11 months, and the current rate is 1.50% APY for balances of greater than $25,000.  For balances between $5,000 and $25,000 the rate is 1.25% APY and for balances less than $5,000, the rate is 1.00% APY.

The standard 12 month high yield CD nets an APY of 1.35%.  There is no minimum balance required

GS Bank – Goldman Sachs recently threw their hat into the consumer deposits ring and are offering a 12 month CD at a great 1.50% APY.  GS Bank also has an online savings account which offers an APY of 1.20%.  There is a $500 minimum to open a CD and no minimum deposit to open a savings account.

GS Bank was recently named the best Stand-Alone Account for Savings by MONEY magazine.  It’s rates are always in the top 1% of banks. However they do not offer any deposit products beyond savings and CD’s.

American Express Bank CDCapital One 360, the brand that emerged from Capital One’s acquisition of ING DIRECT, remains a mainstay of online banking and continues to set the standard for all other online banks. Like ING before it, Capital One 360 offers state-of-the-art banking products and delivers excellent customer service. The interest rate for Capital One 360’s 12-month CD is 0.90% APY

American Express Bank CDAmerican Express is a relative newcomer to online banking, but their products are compelling to offer here. I like my account with American Express. This bank offers a wide range of terms for CDs from six months to 60 months, with many intermediate terms. The interest rate American Express offers on their 12 month CD is 0.55% APY.

Sallie Mae CDSallie Mae Bank is also new to offering banking products, having been established in 2005. My account with Sallie Mae was the easiest to open. My only criticism is the lack of integration with Quicken and online tracking tools. Sallie Mae offers a strong 1.50% APY on the 12 month certificate of deposit.

Sallie Mae also offers a variety of other deposit options, including a Upromise Goal Saver account which allows you to save for college! (For yourself or one of your children).

One Year CD Rates vs. Online Savings Accounts

You may notice that a lot of CD rates above are better than the rates that a high yield online savings account can provide.  So why not simply take your money and invest in a 12 month CD?  Well there are two main reasons that banks can provide you a slightly higher APY.

  1. CD terms are absolute.  Once you open a CD and deposit your money, you cannot withdraw the funds until the CD comes to full term.  You stand to lose up to six months worth of interest by withdrawing early.
  2. Interest rates are locked.  When a bank knows exactly what it’s paying you, it can lend your money for a better rate somewhere else.  Savings accounts have fluctuating rates, so the rate you receive today may not be the one you get tomorrow.

If time deposits aren’t right for you and you’d like the ability to withdraw your money as needed, consider a high yield savings account from one of the best online banks. If you do like the idea of saving with CDs, consider creating a CD ladder to make the most of the highest CD rates.

Do you have a favorite bank, offering a compelling CD product, you’d like to see added to this list? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Introducing one half of our photography team

It has to be said we have a couple of creative geniuses in our midst in the form of our two photographers, Ush and Jack. We wanted to know more about that makes them tick so this is the first of a two part creative journey, beginning with the musings of Ush:

How long have you been a photographer?

4 years in Property photography, 5 years freelance event photography, 5 years event production and photography

How long have you been at Move Revolution? How many photographs have you taken?

A year and 10 months. My shutter count lies at around 40,000 for that duration.

What photographer/s do you admire most and why?

Ansel Adams for changing the way landscapes were photographed on a technical level. Also for creating his own methods for developing and printing to accommodate for the massive scale of his prints. It was groundbreaking at the time and his prints are still incredible in person. If you ever get the chance to visit an exhibition of his prints which tour the world. Don’t hesitate.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ryan Brenizer for embracing new technology and pioneering some methods for compositing that go relatively unnoticed to the casual viewer other than to create a visually appealing effect. One which is out of the realms of capability for the equipment used.

Don McCullin. Again, out of my realm and I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed most about his work. It’s so beyond comprehension. Don was an utterly fearless documentary photographer from London. He was born in the midst of World War II and quite literally lived with war his whole life. Be it the conflicts close to home in Northern Ireland, to far afield in Vietnam. One story he’ll always have under his belt is that his Nikon stopped a bullet which was sent his way. His work has been some of the most moving photography you could ever lay your eyes on. One of the first, along with Eddie Adams, to really go out of his way to communicate what war-time suffering is like. So much so that he was banned from shipping out to the Falklands conflict for fear of his photography scaring the Brits at home. Government level censorship at it’s best.

What is your favourite all time photograph, that you have taken & why 

I change my mind far too much to nail this down to one photograph. I often like to revisit old photos to re-edit them. One image I’m I’ve really loved recently was this photo from Scotland when I visited with my Girlfriend and some friends. I love that the trees fill the frame and continue off the top, while my friends stand at the bottom of the frame, tiny in comparison. If I ever get a long tall wall. I’d love to get this printed out.

Here are some other more recent shots from a trip to Canada.





What is your favourite photograph (that you didn’t take!)

Again I could easily change my mind, especially with Ansel’s work. It’s easy to get caught up with some of the amazing images that are taken every day around the world and shared on social media. Standing back to appreciate the effort involved in a capture is worth a moment if your time. In this case. Ansel Adams has an image called Winter Sunrise, taken in Sierra Nevada. At first it’s a simple landscape shot, but it’s so striking with the intensely detailed snow caps on the mountains to the still-in-morning-shadow foreground peaks cutting straight through them. With the cloud cover, dark sky and grazing cattle on the bottom of the frame there is multiple horizontal layers of this image. Look at the way there’s a stream of light hitting the area where that cow is grazing! Ansel had a habit of getting up in the middle of the night to reach these places and staying there all morning or evening to wait for the right shot. If he didn’t get it one day, he’d check the weather and return the next. Now imagine this image printed by hand in a dark room on paper 4 metres wide. The monumental effort at the time is verging on overwhelming to somebody such as myself who’s more akin to shooting hundreds of images a day and sitting infront of a computer to edit them for an afternoon.

It’s this kind of image that drives me out to shoot for myself, and take the time. Photography can be therapeutic and relaxing if you know how to slow your pace down.

What is a normal ‘day’ like being a photographer at Move Revolution?

Every day and every house will throw a new challenge at you. It’s always nice to see photos taken by a previous agent and even other professional photographers and then visiting a property knowing you have to produce better work. Getting feedback from customers and on social media is addictive and motivating.


Thanks Ush, we love the fastidiousness you bring to the photography team and know you go the extra mile to bring out the best in every property you photograph.

Next time we’ll be with Jack, the other half of the creative team. Stay tuned for more insights!

If you’re thinking of moving and would love to have incredible photos of your home taken by our expert team, please call 0330 223 1000.




October half term places to go

Is half term really nearly upon us?! We’re wondering where the last few weeks have gone since the children went back to school, are you?

Read below for a handful of suggestions from some of our Area Sales Managers for places to go with your family during half term, to keep everyone occupied:

Louise Simpson, Reigate and Redhill

Louise suggests Denbies near Dorking and this half term they have some great sounding activities, from spooky crafts, spooky storytelling, “The Spookiest Fairy Tale Ever Told”,  and birds of prey. Many of the activities can be booked in advance here. We think the kids will love it!

Priory Farm in Nutfield has the great Spooky Trail, and fun is guaranteed as you wind your way up the hill and down again with lots of ghostly surprises in store. There is also the Witches Cavern across the road where you can go and choose your pumpkin to take home and carve.

Zac Ship, Tonbridge

Zac is planning to take his daughter to “Wear ‘m out” in Tonbridge, as a brilliantly handy place to go on a rainy day, he regards it as “always a winner”! There is a café there with healthy treats, so it’s easy to spend a few hours there while the childen have fun.

Paul Mulligan, Croydon

Paul recommends Kidsspace as somewhere to go on a wet weather day, it’s a fantastic soft play where the children have a great time running around the play frame.

He also enjoys the World of Golf, with the Dragon Quest course for children, which looks like great fun for a dry day!

Mathew Gurr, Haywards Heath

Mathew is planning to visit Washbrook Farm at Hurstpierpoint, where you can have a go at the “Guess the weight of the pumpkin” competition and the “cuckoo in the nest” quiz. There are even Halloween specials in the tearoom. Yummy!

Nicola Jordan, Marketing Director

Nicola has recently been to the Sealife Centre in Brighton with her daughter, and recommends following it with a walk through the tunnel to the seafront and having fish & chips on the pier.

She also wholeheartedly recommends Drusillas in Alfriston, especially as they have a special offer this half term for a child to go for £5 with a full price paying adult.

Sam Webb, Land and New Homes Manager

Sam loves taking her daughter to Hobbledown where they have pumpkin bowling, creepy crawlies and ‘The Spider’s Lair’ a puppet show which will take place in Topperpot’s Tepee Theatre. Sounds like great fun!

Mark Waldron, Sevenoaks

Mark has spotted the excellent sounding events at The Hop Farm, and let us know about it. With Pumpkin carving, face painting and a Zombie Shoot Out and Monster Mash Disco among other themed events, it sounds like a great day out.


He also spotted that Igtham Mote have a spooky spider web trail and a spider craft (craft on Thurs 26th Oct only) – dare you enter?!

One final place to mention is the delightfully named Pumpkin Moon, where you can grab yourself a colourful wheelbarrow, choose from 50 different types of pumpkins and squashes to take home and decorate for Halloween. It sounds wonderful!

Another place for great pickings, is Crockford Bridge Farm just round the M25 near Weybridge. They have a fun play area, faceprinting and an outdoor theatre performance (pre-booked tickets only). A great place to go for Halloween related fun.

We hope these ideas are helpful and you have a brilliant half term with your little monsters!

If you’re thinking of selling or letting your home, please give the team a call on 0330 223 1000.


A Review of TracFone Wireless Plans

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Cell phone plans don’t have to be expensive or complex. In our Tracfone review, we cover plans, smartphones, and costs of this low-cost cellphone option.

Tracfone Review

TracFone is an appealing option for many people looking to escape from the contracts of major mobile carriers.

TracFone stands out among all of the prepaid and budget carriers out there because it actually has coverage contracts with the four major wireless carriers in the country. What does this mean? It essentially means that TracFone customers get the coverage and reliability of major carriers without the high monthly rates or ironclad contracts.

Related: How to Find the Most Affordable Cell Phone Plans

There’s a lot of variety when it comes to TracFone’s plans and coverage tiers. The lowest plan possible costs $9.99. Prices are then offered in tiers that can go as high as $199. Here’s a look at what you’ll have to choose from:

  • Smartphone–only plans
  • Pay-as-you–go plans
  • Service add–ons

TracFone Smartphone Plans

Most plans offer customers the option to save between 5 percent and 10 percent when they sign up for TracFone Auto-Refill. Be sure to factor this in when doing a price comparison. Your discount can be set up during the checkout process once you’ve selected your plan.

Smartphone–Only Plans

TracFone currently offers seven coverage tiers to choose from when selecting a plan. Smartphone-only plans provide minutes, texts and data. These plans offer service periods of 365 days, 90 days, 60 days or 30 days. Here’s a look at the current plans available for smartphones through TracFone:

Plan Cost # of Service Days # of Minutes # of Texts Data Limit
$125.00* 365 1,500 1,500 1.5GB
$50.00 90 750 1,500 2.0GB
$45.00 60 750 1,000 1.5GB
$35.00* 60 750 1,000 1.0GB
$25.00* 60 500 1,000 500MB
$20.00 30 300 1,000 1.0GB
$15.00* 30 200 500 500MB

  • Plans marked with a * are eligible for a 5% discount when you auto enroll.

TracFone Pay As You Go Plans

TracFone currently offers eight pay-as-you-go plans. Pay-as-you-go plans include talk, text and web. These plans offer service periods of 30 days, 90 days or 365 days. This plan type works with both smartphones and non-smartphone models. Here’s a look at the pay-as-you-go plans available through TracFone:

Plan Cost # of Service Days # of Minutes # of Texts Data Limit
$199.99 365 4,500 4,500 4.5GB
$159.99 365 3,000 3,000 3.0GB
$99.99 365 1,200 1,200 1.2GB
$79.99* 90 1,350 1,350 1.35GB
$39.99* 90 600 600 600MB
$29.99* 90 360 360 360MB
$19.99* 90 180 180 180MB
$9.99* 30 90 90 90MB

  • Plans marked with a * are eligible for a 10% discount when you auto enroll.

I don’t own a smartphone, and I use my TracFone exclusively for when I’m on road trips, away from my family.  That only happens a couple of times a year, for a couple of days a year,so I try to keep my cell phone spending to a minimum.

Every three months, I auto enroll in the $19.99 plan for 180 minutes and 90 service days.  By auto enrolling, I get a 10% discount off the cost, so my annual cell phone cost is $71.96.  As I only use this phones a few days every quarter, I never run out of minutes and by renewing, I keep the same cell number.  For ~$6 a month, I think the service is more than worth it.

TracFone Service Add-ons

It’s okay if TrackFone’s plans don’t quite offer everything you’re looking for. The company provides add-on options that allow you to bulk up your plan and create a custom situation. All add-ons that are purchased will roll over and remain active for as long as service remains active. Here’s a look at the pricing for the extras you can add on to the plan you choose:

  • $10 for international calling
  • $10 for 1GB data
  • $5 for 1,000 texts

The more expensive plans with longer service periods tend to break down to be much cheaper per month than less expensive plans with shorter service periods. For instance, an annual plan that costs $125 works out to be just over $10 per month. The other big perk of going with an annual plan is that you won’t have to worry about renewing your service.

There’s no need to wait until the evening to make calls with a TracFone plan. All minutes, text and data can be used at any time. Anything that’s left over at the end of the period you’ve signed up for will carry over into the new service period if you choose to renew your plan.

What happens if you end up needing more talk time or data than what’s provided in the plan you’ve purchased? You always have the option to purchase additional cards and add more airtime to your plan. This can be a cost-effective, non-permanent option to cover the months that you have more activity.

TrackFone Q and A

Can You Bring Your Own Device?

  • TracFone allows customers to bring their own devices. You will first have to check to see if your phone is compatible. The next step is purchasing an activation kit and choosing the plan that you want. You will have the option to keep your current phone number or get a new one when you sign up for a TrackFone account. You do not have to use a smartphone to be able to use the company’s pay-as-you-go plans.

Does TracFone Sell Devices?

  • It’s not a problem if you don’t already have a compatible device or if you’re ready to upgrade to something new. TracFone sells a wide range of Android devices and iPhones. In addition, you can purchase a non-smartphone device from TracFone. Both new and refurbished devices are available. Customers receive free overnight shipping on most phone purchases. Certain phones available through TracFone come with double minutes and triple minutes. This is definitely a feature to look for when shopping through TracFone’s selection of devices.

Where Can TracFone Phones Be Used?

  • TracFone service will only work in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes Alaska and Hawaii. While service won’t work in Mexico, you can obtain a Mexican phone number through TracFone for the purpose of making calls at local rates. Cheap international calling is actually one of the biggest perks offered by TracFone. Customers can enjoy local calling rates to more than 100 destinations worldwide.

Can I text internationally?

TracFone doesn’t offer international text messaging. The biggest drawback of TracFone is that costs can add up very quickly if you’re not careful. Heavy phone users can become frustrated easily by the extra costs that are incurred.

Is TracFone a Good Cell Provider?

TracFone is a discount carrier that has been around since 1996. It stands out among similar options because of the strong network that it provides. TracFone actually uses the same towers as Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. The exact network your service runs on will depend on factors like the type of phone you’re using and your geographical location. You can technically choose the network you want if you bring over a compatible phone that is branded by that network.

TracFone is an ideal option for anyone who needs a plan for light to moderate monthly usage. The plans offered are extremely inexpensive once you break them down by month. The coverage provided by other pay-as-you-go carriers can barely come close to the dependable and clear service offered by TracFone. Unlike many discount carriers that offer spotty coverage, service is available virtually everywhere in the country with TracFone.

What is offered by TracFone is about as close as you can get to what’s offered by the major wireless carriers without actually making the commitment to sign a contract with one. Its versatile options and low per-month costs make TracFone a solid pick for anyone looking for an affordable and flexible wireless option.

Wal-Mart Offering Check Cashing Services

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Walmart checking cashing service offers a low cost way to cash a paycheck. But is it the best way to get paid? We give you several free alternatives.

walmart check cashing

Google the words “cashing checks.” Below the paid ads and a Google map of various check cashing locations in your area, you will find

A one-stop shop where at some “supercenters” you might pull up to the automotive department, drop your car off for servicing, and get your complete list of to-do’s done. Need to pick up a gift? Grab a carton of milk? Cash a check to pay for this latest excursion? If you belong to one of the 9 million American households reported not to have a bank account, cashing your paycheck at Walmart might be your best option.

We’ll look at the pros and cons of Walmart’s check cashing service. We’ll also cover some important alternatives. First, let’s cover why some use check cashing stores.

Unbanked & Under-banked

According to the FDIC 2015 Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Americans, 7%, or nine million, U.S. households were “unbanked.” As unbanked, not one person in the household had a checking or savings account.

The survey also found nearly 20 percent of U.S. households were “under-banked.” In this case, at least one person in the house had either a checking or savings account at an insured institution. But they still sought out services like check cashing elsewhere.

Walmart Check Cashing Services

Many Wal-Mart locations around the country now have Money Center departments. This makes for great convenience. You can get your check cashed at the Money Center, and then use the cash for your shopping trip. With Wal-Mart’s trend to become a one-stop shop for all household needs, each location is becoming its own small village.

The Wal-Mart Money Centers are not full banks. They offer check cashing services, bill payments, outgoing wires, and reloadable debit cards. There are no checking accounts or savings accounts. Wal-Mart abandoned earlier plans to become a bank. In doing so, is able to offer certain financial services while not being held to the same regulations as Chase, Bank of America, or your local bank branch.

On the spectrum of financial institutions, Wal-Mart Money Centers are closer to establishments like payday loan companies and check cashing storefronts. These businesses charge high fees and cater to lower-income communities and the unbanked population.

Now back to the checking cashing service.

The Pros

While it might not be the ideal permanent solution, using Walmart’s Money Centers for your banking needs can be a better option than other check cashing services. The hours are convenient and the fees are low. Check cashing costs $3 for checks up to $1,000 and $6 for checks over $1,000, with a $5,000 cashing limit. It is worth noting from January to April, the cashing limit is increased to $7,500 to accommodate tax returns.

You may also be able to avoid long lines as Walmart offers customers the option to cash their checks at any open register. Their services are not just for paychecks. Customers may also cash government checks, tax checks, cashiers’ checks, insurance settlement checks, 401(k) retirement checks, and MoneyGram money orders purchased at Walmart.

The Cons

If you find yourself at Walmart with a pocket full of cash, you will have to exercise self-control. Cashing your paycheck at Walmart might tempt you to spend that money on impulse purchases. This could be an unwise decision if you are already struggling to save money or to keep up with your bills.

Walmart also does not cash personal checks. So what if you need to cash a personal check but don’t have a bank account? Your best bet is to go to the financial institution of the person who wrote the check.

You should know check cashing is not available at every Walmart location. To find one, visit the check cashing page of their website at

The Financially Healthier Alternatives

Consider opening a bank account and using direct deposit for your paychecks. Even if you had a poor history with a financial institution in the past, it is worth speaking with someone at a bank. They may be able to offer you an account. Another option is to talk with your local credit union. Here are lists of the best checking accounts and savings accounts available today.

Another option is a prepaid debit card. Look for features including free direct deposit, free ATM access, and zero monthly fees. Walmart offers a BlueBird American Express prepaid debit card with those features. But the downside to that card is American Express is not accepted as widely as Visa or MasterCard.

Check cashing services are similar to fast food — inexpensive and convenient, but unhealthy in the long run. The best “food” for your financial health is a nest egg. With a bank account, you can store your hard-earned income, pay your bills without extra fees, and, most importantly, begin saving.

Originally published November 10, 2011, the Consumerism Commentary editorial team updated this post on October 10, 2017.

21 Best Paid Survey Sites

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It’s possible to make good money from home taking online surveys. To help, we’ve assembled 21 of the best paid survey sites.

best paid survey sites

Have you been looking for an easy, low-lift way to make money online? Paid survey sites are a popular option. There are literally hundreds of these sites around, though not all of them are legitimate. Before we dive into the best paid survey sites, let’s talk about how and why these sites work and how to make the most of them.

Why Surveys are Paid

Companies, government organizations, and nonprofit are all interested in consumers’ needs and opinions. But they know getting those answers takes time on your part. So they pay market research companies to pay consumers for their opinions.

Sometimes the market research companies dole out these rewards in the form of cash. Other times, you get points that you can use to purchase prizes or gift cards. It’s a little like some credit card rewards programs, actually.

Typical surveys don’t pay much–just a few bucks per survey. But many only take a few minutes. I don’t know about you, but getting paid $5 for 15 minutes of not-very-difficult work–or $20 an hour–isn’t a bad deal in my book.

Making the Most of Paid Surveys

Filling out paid surveys will never be a full-time income. But it could be a tidy little side gig income that you can do in your free time. But before you can make decent money with this strategy, you need to know how. Here are our top tips:

  1. Don’t pay to join survey sites. There are plenty of legitimate survey sites out there. And those sites or apps will not ask you to pay for the privilege of taking surveys. So don’t pay to join, and don’t pay a third party to give you a list of sites. Just use our list below to get started.
  2. Sign up for a bunch of sites. This is key! Each survey site might run thousands of surveys per day. But they’ll only offer you a handful. That’s because companies are targeting certain demographics. If you don’t fit the target demographic, you won’t be able to take the survey. So sign up for at least five or ten survey sites to get offered more surveys per month.
  3. Don’t give out sensitive personal information. If a survey site asks for your Social Security number, skip it. Many will ask for your address, email address, and phone number. But if they’re asking for more personal information, that’s not a good sign.
  4. Use PayPal for quicker payment. Many of these sites let you cash in your rewards points for cash. The quickest and safest way to get that cash is with PayPal. So if you don’t already have one, sign up for a PayPal account.
  5. Fill out all the profile surveys. These sites will all start by asking you for a lot of demographic information. Fill it out as completely as possible. You may also get preliminary surveys from some companies asking for further demographic information. These can be boring. But the more you fill out, the more likely you are to qualify for future survey offers.
  6. Check your email often, and take all the surveys you can. Taking surveys quickly is important. Surveys have a specific quota, and you can’t get paid to take the survey after that quota is met. So set up email alerts so that you can take the surveys sooner rather than later.
  7. Find gaps in your schedule for taking surveys. Paid surveys aren’t a good replacement for other income options, so don’t fill them out on company time or when you could be making money otherwise. But do find times that are otherwise down time for filling out surveys. This might include riding the elevator to your office, waiting in your kid’s school pick-up line, or while you’re watching your evening television shows.

The Best Paid Survey Sites

Now that you know how to make the most of these survey sites, here are a bunch you should check out. These sites cater to varying types of companies and surveys. Sign up for several, and then you can eventually weed out the ones that don’t pay off for you.

  1. Swagbucks doesn’t just do surveys. It also lets you earn by watching videos and more. You earn Swagbucks points, which you can then use to enter sweepstakes or purchase gift cards. It’s one of the kings of the paid survey space because it makes earning extra money really easy.
  2. Inbox Dollars is another site with a survey component, but one that doesn’t just focus on surveys. One great things about InboxDollars is you can actually get your payments in cash.
  3. MyPoints lets you earn points with this site and app by watching videos, shopping online, and taking surveys. Then, use your points to get rewards like gift cards.
  4. MindSwarms is unique in that it requires you to take a video of yourself to start and to answer survey questions. This verifies that you really are in the demographic you claim to be part of. But the extra time is worth it, since you can earn $50 for answering seven-question surveys!
  5. eMiles is a little different because it offers reward points in the form of airline miles. Again, it gives you various options for earning, including shopping, signing up for free services, watching ads, and taking surveys.
  6. Opinion Outpost gives you rewards for each survey you answer, but also enters you into a $10,000 sweepstakes for each survey you complete.
  7. SurveySavvy focuses on online surveys. But you can also earn more rewards from referrals. When you refer others who take surveys, you’ll get points for their survey completion. You can also use Savvy Connect to get points for allowing the service to track your web browsing.
  8. Springboard America does consumer and also political research, so you might get some interesting surveys from this one. But you can also get thank you points or entries into contests to win cash and other rewards.
  9. Point Club offers a $5 sign up bonus, and offers points for surveys. It gives you more points for surveys with a very specific audience and surveys that are longer. You can cash in points for cash.
  10. Valued Opinions lets you take surveys for which you qualify, and then cash in points for gift cards. They offer gift cards to many great retailers, as well as some airline programs.
  11. Harris Poll is one of the older polling sites around. The site gives you points for most surveys, which you can cash in for a variety of rewards. You can also enter a sweepstakes after each survey you complete.
  12. Ipsos i-Say has a unique loyalty program that lets you earn additional points on top of those you earn for completing surveys. You’ll get bonus points for the number of surveys you take during the year. You could earn up to 600 bonus points!
  13. VIP Voice lets you earn rewards, which you can then use to enter sweepstakes or bid on auctions.
  14. Parent Speak is a unique survey site just for parents. It lets you earn rewards by participating in surveys, discussions, and polls. You can also get rewards for keeping diaries for research purposes, as well as other projects.
  15. OneOpinion offers quick payment, which is nice. It also may give you access to trying new products in exchange for your opinion on them.
  16. Pinecone Research lets you earn points, which you can cash in for gift cards, merchandise, and more.
  17. KidzEyes is a survey site just for kids ages six through 12. Kids can take one or two surveys per month. They get rewards for taking the surveys, and they can cash in those rewards for money.
  18. TeensEyes is similar to KidzEyes and is run by the same market research company. It’s for kids ages 13 to 18. Again, they can take one or two surveys per month in order to earn points, which they can use to get cash.
  19. Nielsen Digital Voice is run by one of the oldest market research companies in the U.S. You’ll get entered into the company’s sweepstakes just for installing and running their app. And you can earn additional cash rewards for participating in surveys.
  20. Global Test Market offers an average of $5 per survey, which is relatively high for this market. Their surveys usually take about 15 minutes.
  21. Toluna gives you the opportunity to now only get prizes or cash, but also to win test products in exchange for your survey opinion. The site also includes a unique community forum aspect that can be interesting.