REPORT

2018’s Top U.S. Wine Destinations

RewardExpert analyzed over two million wine reviews to determine the best locations in the United States for wine, both in terms of quantity and quality, and some of them may surprise you!

Wine quality is notoriously difficult to gauge, at least objectively speaking. As often as not, rankings of top wine destinations rely solely on the quantity of wine produced, or the total number of wineries found within a given region. When this is the case, we see the same places come up time and time again.

RewardExpert set out to do things differently. We wanted to produce a ranking that accounts for both wine production volume and, more importantly, wine quality on an objective, data-driven basis. We wanted to know what regular folks felt about wines available from American vineyards and wineries.

To do this, we analyzed a data set containing over two million wine reviews and ratings from CellarTracker and matched reviewed bottles of wine to specific wineries registered with and permitted by the U.S. Treasury Department Alcohol and Tobacco Trade Bureau (TTB). With this data, we could produce this ranking of the best wine producing areas of the U.S. down to the three-digit zip code level.

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2018’s Property Taxes by Counties and States

RewardExpert analyzed property tax rates, assessment ratios, and exemptions to determine which counties across the country have the lowest property tax burden relative to home prices and incomes.

Every homeowner has to deal with the yearly hassle of paying property taxes. While it may seem unfair that one must pay for a house and land that has already been bought and paid for, property taxes are an important source of revenue for local governments. Revenue from property taxes is most consistently used to fund local public school systems, as well as other important county and municipal services. Nevertheless, no one wants to pay more in taxes if they can help it, and where you choose to purchase a home can make all the difference.

RewardExpert analyzed data from federal, state, and institutional sources to determine which U.S. counties with populations over 25,000 have the lowest, most affordable property taxes. In addition to county-specific property tax (millage) rates, we took into consideration home prices, average incomes, and state- and county-level policies concerning assessment or equalization ratios. Assessment or equalization ratios define the percentage of the market value of a property that is subject to taxation. See below for more information on this topic.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

The one thing that all people have in common is a mother. As Sigmund Freud taught us, every child’s first love is for his or her mother. So we celebrate Mother’s Day not only as a national holiday, but around the globe. These Mother’s Day facts and stats are our gift of knowledge to mothers everywhere, regardless of nationality.

Do you know how many countries recognize Mother’s Day? Or, how many countries recognize International Women’s Day instead? (And once you know, of course you’ll wonder why).

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REPORT

Top States Where Cryptocurrency Is Catching On

RewardExpert analyzed search traffic and geographical data to see which states’ residents are most interested in cryptocurrencies, and where you can most easily use them for purposes other than investment.

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2018’s Best and Worst Places to Start a Small Business

RewardExpert compiled and analyzed 30 data metrics to determine the best and worst cities, metropolitan areas, and regions for startups and small businesses.

If you’re thinking of founding a small business, location is everything. You don’t need to relocate to Silicon Valley or Seattle to create a successful startup company. In fact, that ship has sailed — soaring real estate prices and sky-high rents in the region make it yesterday’s news. The question on everybody’s mind is: where is the next Silicon Valley going to be?

RewardExpert endeavored to answer this question by analyzing all of the relevant data we could get our hands on. We compared 177 metropolitan areas with more than 250,000 residents, using 30 data points in nine categories to determine which metropolitan areas will give your small business or tech startup the best chance to survive and succeed, and which ones will present you with the most daunting of challenges.

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REPORT

The Best and Worst States to Live in with Bad Credit

Having poor credit isn’t great anywhere, but there are states where it’s not as bad… and some where it’s much worse.

Introduction:

We’ve all heard the credit horror stories. If you don’t know how to manage your credit or find yourself the victim of a credit-damaging fraud, you can find your credit scores plummeting. And plenty of people are going to be looking at those credit scores, especially when considering your loan worthiness. Chances are, if your scores are low, your interest will be high. A 0.5% rise in a mortgage rate might not seem like a lot, but with 30 years to accrue interest and tens of thousands in principle, that rise is going to cost you.

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2018’s Best Midsized Cities for Business Meetings

RewardExpert identifies the top 30 midsize U.S. cities for meetings and conventions that won’t break your business budget, and also provide the same level of enjoyment that more expensive cities offer.

Introduction:

For a  company or small business  working within a limited budget, it can be a challenge  to choose attractive and exciting cities in which to hold meetings and other corporate events without breaking the bank. Not every company can afford a fancy meeting in New York, San Francisco or Chicago. Limited financial resources, however, shouldn’t necessarily damper  the quality of the business trip experience, or the activities and amenities available once the meeting is over for the day. There are, in fact, more than a few exciting options for you to hold affordable, yet memorable business meetings.

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2018’s Best & Worst Cities for Millennials with Student Debt

RewardExpert analyzed 207 cities and metropolitan areas based on 23 data indicators to determine which locations are best for debt-saddled college graduates to start their careers.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

You don’t need to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. After all, St. Patrick himself wasn’t Irish. He didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland, either (there weren’t any to begin with). So, let’s leave behind the myths and take a look at the hard numbers behind St. Patrick’s Day and some of its best traditions.

Did you know that Irish-Americans outnumber the entire population of Ireland? Or that the Windy City dumps 45 pounds of green dye into the Chicago River every year? How about the fact that there are 15 U.S. cities and towns named Dublin?

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REPORT

States With The Best and Worst Value for Your Tax Dollars

RewardExpert analyzed Census Bureau data to determine the top ten states where residents receive the best value for their tax dollars in government spending on services, infrastructure, education, and public safety. Taxes are a necessary and unpleasant reality. No one wishes to hand over more of their hard-earned money to the government of their state, city, county, or country than they must. Yet it is all too easy to overlook the fact that the federal, state and local governments use tax revenues in ways that directly or indirectly benefit you, the taxpayer. Taxes do not disappear into ...

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REPORT

The Most At-Risk States for Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft

Over two and a half million people in the US become victims of credit card fraud and/or identity theft every year. RewardExpert analyzed the data to rate which states are the most and least at-risk.

The threat of theft has never been greater, be it of your personal identity information, financial assets and account details, or of vast quantities of such data all at once. Major data security incidents, such as the Equifax security breach , have been widely reported on. Events such as these take place on a smaller scale almost daily, and as such, the integral role of the internet in today’s society exposes all of us to risk, especially when it comes to our bank accounts, credit cards, and our credit histories. Financial fraud is a risk not only to our present financial and personal security, but it can affect us for years to come.

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REPORT

The Worst States and Companies for Invalid Debt Collection Activities

RewardExpert analyzed consumer complaint data to determine which states experience the most attempts to collect invalid debts, and which companies are most responsible for the epidemic of illegal debt collection practices sweeping the nation.

Dealing with debt collectors is almost never a pleasant experience. Even though they are exempt from regulation under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977, first-party creditors have an incentive to maintain a constructive relationship with their customers, even those with outstanding past-due debts, and are thus less likely to engage in illegal or abusive collection practices. This is not the case with third-party debt collectors, who purchase and profit on the right to collect debts that have been charged-off and written off as a loss by the original creditor. In recent years the debt buying industry has expanded dramatically, and attempts to collect “zombie debts,” -- attempts to collect debts not owed, debts that were already paid or discharged, debts owed by someone else, or due to identity theft -- have reached epidemic scale.

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RewardExpert 2018 International Airport Dining Scorecard

RewardExpert breaks down the dining offerings at some of the most-traveled airports around the world so that frequent flyers know where to eat and where to avoid noshing

International travel can be a hassle. Long waits at customs, serious cases of jet lag, and tens of hours in the air can suck the joy out of even the most long-awaited overseas trip. On top of that, foreign travelers often have to stop their flights to wait so that they can get on another plane. A flight from JFK to Sydney? The odds of that being direct are slim to none.

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REPORT

2017 Holiday Spending and Credit Card Debt Survey

RewardExpert’s survey of over 600 Americans about holiday spending habits finds that a fresh start in 2018 depends on paying off holiday credit card balances.

Most Americans begin the new year with a hangover, often both literally and figuratively. To begin the new year with a fresh face after the year-end holiday spending binge, it is imperative to effectively treat the financial hangover with which we awaken.

RewardExpert recently conducted a survey on holiday spending to determine precisely how much Americans borrowed and spent during the 2017 holiday season.

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Which U.S. States Are Home to the Grumpiest and Happiest Travelers?

RewardExpert analyzes user review data to determine which state’s residents are the grumpiest while they are traveling

Everyone develops an opinion concerning the nature and disposition of tourists and fellow-travelers, whether it has been acquired through their own experiences or through second-hand accounts. We come to a partially-informed perspective as to who are the most grumpy or good-natured, usually according to where they call home.

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REPORT

America’s Financial Vampires: Are the Banks Playing Politics?

RewardExpert investigates political and social patterns of consumer finance complaints across the US.

Financial services are subject to government regulation, and are affected by policy dictated by elected politicians. Naturally, financial institutions have political preferences, but do these preferences affect you, the consumer? Are the banks playing politics with you and your money? Here at RewardExpert, we wanted to find out, and we soon discovered a pattern that suggests the answer is yes.

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Best Places to Invest in a Winter Vacation Home

Buying a Vacation Property? RewardExpert analyzed 2,291 counties in the U.S. to help homebuyers find smart property investments this winter

No matter what your ideal winter vacation might look like, chances are that it includes owning your own home away from home in that perfect place for your seasonal get-away. Like any real estate purchase, buying a vacation property is a decision not to be taken lightly, and this begins with a consideration all the more important in this case: where?

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America’s Financial Vampires: Which Financial Institutions Are Sucking You Dry?

All financial products carry a degree of risk, and most – if not all – consumers will at some time or another fall prey to questionable business practices by a bank or financial institution. The question follows: how, then, can consumers determine with which bank it is best to open an account, obtain a credit card, or sign a mortgage? Which will sustain you, and which will drain you?

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REPORT

2017’s Most and Least Safe Cities

The recent release of the annual Crime in the United States (CIUS) statistics by the FBI has once again brought the issue of public safety into the media spotlight. Breathless headlines would have you believe that what we are seeing is the beginning of a national crime wave, and while, on the national level there has been an increase in homicide and other violent crime, the data in fact paints a more complicated picture. Nationally, the rate of property crime has fallen. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that most cities, even the largest, have become safer. Which places – large and small, from coast to coast – are in reality the safest, and which are most dangerous?

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REPORT

2017 Thanksgiving Holiday Air Travel Forecast

Crowded airports and flight delays are inevitably part of anyone’s holiday travel experience. At no time is the risk of a delayed flight higher than over the Thanksgiving break. You can reduce your chances of being stuck at the airport, or on the tarmac, both by looking at the past performance of various carriers and airports, and knowing which travel days are most prone to delays.

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