Last year, I compiled a list of some FinTech companies in personal finance which you could find it here. While celebrating Chinese New Year this week, I would like to share with you five products or services on that list that we either tried or at least considered before. I hope that you may find them helpful if you want to save some money in the new year.
1. Unlimited Movie Subscription Service - MoviePass
For movie lovers, you could watch one movie per day for $9.95 per month or even $7.95 per month if pay annually through MoviePass.
There are some limitations: 1) It is limited to 2D movies only; 2) You can only reserve your tickets while you are within 100 yards of the theater; 3) According to the feedback from different review sites, you may not receive the top-notch service support.
Personal experience: We decided not to take advantage of this great offer because on average we only go to the movie theater 3-4 times a year. And we don't plan to spend more time in there simply to make a membership worth the price.
2. Pay-Per-Mile Car Insurance - Metromile
For people who do not drive a lot, you may save some money by paying a flat monthly base rate plus a couple of cents per mile (capped daily) for your auto insurance through Metromile.
They will track your miles by sending you a free wireless device to be plugged into your car's OBD-II Port.
It is only available in seven states now (CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA). If you happen to be in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego or Chicago, you will also receive street sweeping alerts which may be helpful sometimes.
The biggest caveat is that a new insurance company who is trying to be more competitive on price may not have enough people and resources to make their claim process smooth and efficient enough.
Personal experience: We ran some quotes, and the price was very competitive compared to all other companies since we probably only drive less than 12,000 miles a year with two cars. However, I had a small at-fault accident two years ago which is still on my record. Geico, my current insurance provider, waived the surcharge associated with it due to their Accident Forgiveness program and made their price unbeatable for now. I expect my rates with Metromile will go down dramatically next year and be similar or even cheaper than my current Geico policy.
3. Renters and Homeowners Insurance powered by AI - Lemonade
If you live in New York, California, New Jersey, Nevada, Texas and Rhode Island (No homeowners insurance), Illinois and Ohio (Only renters insurance), you probably could save some money on your renters, condo, or homeowners insurance through a company called Lemonade.
It uses AI-powered chatbots to guide you through the application and simple claim process. It can be extremely efficient, but it may take a lot longer time if it requires a human involved in more complicated situations.
The key to shop for property insurance is to make sure you are always comparing apples to apples. There are so many different nuances between policies.
Personal experience: We have been using Lemonade for almost a year. It saves us more than 50% of the premium on renters insurance with the same coverage. We haven't filed any claims yet, so we don't know whether the process is efficient or not.
4. Life Insurance For Health Conscious People - Health I.Q. and John Hancock Vitality Program
If you are conscious about your health regarding knowledge, diet habit, exercise, and lifestyle, you may get cheaper life insurance.
Through Health I.Q., you may get special rates on a term life insurance policy from Assurity, SBLI, or Ameritas if you score high on their Health I.Q. test, get verified on your fitness activities, or benefit from their special medical underwriting process.
Through John Hancock Vitality Program, instead of getting special rates based on your existing lifestyle, you can earn points and then get discounts on your future insurance premium by purchasing healthy foods, exercising, or getting annual health screenings. They will track your activities by giving you a Fitbit for free or an Apple watch with $25 plus taxes if you are eligible.
One caveat here is that the price is not the only factor you should consider when you shop for life insurance. You could learn more about term insurance by reading my previous blog post "The Cheapest Term Life Insurance Policy May Not Be The Best For You". And permanent life insurance is even more complicated.
Personal Experience: We don't believe that we could qualify for the special rates from Health I.Q., and I don't think the three insurance companies they work with have competitive permanent life insurance when we need to convert the term policy. However, I will seriously consider John Hancock Vitality program when we need the life insurance once we have a child.
5. Trading stocks for free - Robinhood
For people who trade individual stocks, Exchange-Traded Funds, options, or even Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum actively, you may save a lot of trade commissions through Robinhood.
Here are some drawbacks: 1) It does not offer joint accounts, custodial accounts, IRAs, or trusts as of today; 2) It does not have web trading capabilities yet, and you could only trade through their App; 3) The investment options, trading tools, and research resources are very limited compared to those widely known brokerage firms.
Personal experience: I am not a big fan of actively trading securities or even investing in individual securities as a person's main saving and investing strategy. You could learn more about my investment philosophy through my previous blog "Key Questions For The Long-Term Investor". However, I do have a Robinhood account with some play money in it to invest some company's stock for the long run.
Most of the companies I mentioned above are innovators in their specific industry and don't have long enough history to prove their sustainability as a business. To be honest, I will not be surprised if some of them go out of business tomorrow. However, like the example I mentioned in my previous blog post "FinTech In Personal Financial Planning", as long as you do your own due diligence and understand the risks behind it, you may still benefit from what they offer on a timely basis.