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Personal Finance

Here are 9 ways to feel rich on a budget

These simple financial tools can help you feel rich even if you're not a high-earner.

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Filippobacci | E+ | Getty Images

What does it take to be considered rich? A net worth of around $2.2 million, according to Americans who participated in Schwab's 2022 Modern Wealth Survey.

What does it take to feel rich? A few financial tools and products you can use, even if you're on a budget.

From credit cards with luxury perks to money-earning banking accounts and apps, you can give yourself VIP treatment with just a little know-how. Below, CNBC Select outlines several simple ways you can feel wealthy without a couple of million dollars to your name.

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1. Get an investing app

Perhaps one of the best ways to feel better about your financial situation is actively working to improve it — faking it till you make it will only get you so far.

Investing is an essential method of building wealth but it may seem difficult to get into when there's little room in your budget for it. Plus, as a beginner, you might not know where to start.

An investing app may be a good place to begin. It allows you to automate the process and invest small amounts of money. For instance, Acorns can be a good choice for novices: It lets you put your spare change into diversified ETFs by linking your cards. The app tracks your purchases, rounds up the transaction amounts to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. This way, you can dip your toe into investing without going all in or overloading your budget.

Acorns

On Acorn's secure site
  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. No minimum required to open an account, $5 minimum to start investing

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Monthly plans include: Personal ($3 per month) and Family ($5 per month)

  • Bonus

    None

  • Investment vehicles

    Robo-advisor: Acorns Invest IRA: Acorns Later includes Traditional, Roth, SEP IRAs, 401(k) Rollover Investment accounts for kids: Acorns Early

  • Investment options

    Diversified ETFs which include more than 7,000 stocks & bonds

  • Educational resources

Terms apply.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach to your investing, there are a number of beginner-friendly apps like Robinhood and Webull that offer commission-free trading on stocks.

Robinhood

On Robinhood's secure site
  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. No minimum required to open an account or to start investing

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Commission-free trading; regulatory transaction fees and trading activity fees may apply

  • Bonus

    Robinhood will add 1 share of free stock to your brokerage account when you link your bank account and fulfill the conditions in your promotion (you'll be able to keep the stock or sell it after 2 trading days)

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, ETFs, options trading, fractional shares, IPOs, plus certain cryptocurrencies through Robinhood Crypto (depending on where you live)

  • Educational resources

    "Investing basics" blog, an online library of content and Robinhood Snacks daily newsletter

Terms apply.

Webull

  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. No minimum required to open an account or to start investing

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Commission-free trading; regulatory transaction fees and trading activity fees may apply

  • Bonus

    Get 5 free stocks when you open and fund a new account: Sign up with Webull to get your 2 free stocks, each valued up to $300, and deposit any amount to receive 3 free stocks, each valued up to $3,000

  • Investment vehicles

    Brokerage account: Webull commission-free investing IRA: Traditional, Roth, Rollover IRAs

  • Investment options

    Stocks, ETFs, options trading, fractional shares, IPOs, ADRs, plus certain cryptocurrencies through Webull Crypto

  • Educational resources

Terms apply.

2. Let your money earn money

Imagine going about your business — shopping for groceries, filling up your car, paying bills — and earning money while doing that. That surely sounds like something only the top 1% is accustomed to.

In reality, you can do it, too. Most likely, you won't be earning thousands of dollars per minute like a billionaire CEO, but you can still grow your money without putting in much effort.

Use bank accounts that offer rewards or earn interest. Boost your savings by keeping them in a high-yield savings account. Currently, you can find savings accounts, such as the LendingClub High-Yield Savings or Bask Bank Interest Savings Account, that earn an APY of 4% or higher.

LendingClub High-Yield Savings

LendingClub Bank, N.A., Member FDIC
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    4.00%

  • Minimum balance

    No minimum balance requirement after $100.00 to open the account

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    None

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes

See our methodology, terms apply.

Bask Bank Interest Savings Account

Bask Bank and BankDirect are divisions of Texas Capital Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    4.15%

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $5 per transaction

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checking account?

    No

  • Offer ATM card?

    No

See our methodology, terms apply.

You can also get a rewards credit card to get cash back or travel miles on everything you buy. CNBC Select ranked the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card as the best choice for those starting out with travel rewards because of its wide range of travel benefits, competitive rewards program and modest annual fee. If you want to earn points on your biggest monthly expense, rent, you can do so with the Bilt Mastercard®.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    20.24% - 27.24% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

Bilt Mastercard®

On Bilt's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period - up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee (up to 50,000 points each calendar year), 3x points on dining, 2x points on travel, and 1x points on other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    None

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Regular APR

    See Terms

  • Balance transfer fee

    Introductory fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater, for 120 days from account opening. After that, up to 5% for each balance transfer ($5 minimum).

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates/fees and rewards/benefits; terms apply.

Even some checking accounts earn interest and rewards. For example, the American Express® Rewards Checking earns interest on the money you hold in the account and offers one Amex Membership Reward® point for every $2 spent on the debit card.

American Express® Rewards Checking Account

American Express National Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Monthly maintenance fee

    $0

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $0

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    1.00% as of 01/13/2023

  • Free ATM network

    37,000+ MoneyPass® ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    None

  • Overdraft fee

    N/A

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Click here to view terms and conditions.

3. Use a credit card concierge

Having a personal assistant is the epitome of the lifestyle of the rich. Imagine if you had someone ordering last-minute gifts for your family at your request, organizing your travel plans and scoring reservations at perpetually unbookable restaurants.

You can have exactly that with credit card concierge services. Concierge agents can help you with tasks like planning and arranging travel, booking tickets for events or restaurant reservations, shopping for sought-after items and more.

This perk is typically reserved for premium and exclusive credit cards but you can also find it on some cards with annual fees under $100. For example, the $95-per-year Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card both come with Visa Signature concierge services. Or, if you'd rather avoid the fees, you can also get this perk on some no-annual-fee cash-back cards like the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card. Meanwhile, the no-annual-fee Bilt Mastercard® unlocks access to the Mastercard Concierge Service.

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

On Wells Fargo's secure site
  • Rewards

    Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate

  • Regular APR

    19.24%, 24.24%, or 29.24% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Introductory fee of 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5% ($5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

4. Travel first class

Concierge services aren't the only way your credit card can make you feel VIP. There's a whole range of card benefits designed to enhance your travel experience and take it to the premium level. For example, you can use the points and miles you earn with your travel rewards card to book fancy hotel stays or first-class flights very little — or nothing — out of pocket.

Doing this doesn't necessarily require a pricey card or a complicated rewards strategy. For instance, at $95 per year, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card gets you 5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 2X miles on all other eligible purchases.

You can then redeem these rewards at a fixed value of one cent per mile to offset recent travel purchases or cash them in toward booking travel through Capital One Travel. Or, to stretch the value of your miles, you can transfer them to over a dozen different airline and hotel partners. To give you an idea of the redemption possibilities, you could transfer 25,000 miles to Turkish Airlines — which are normally worth $250 toward travel — and book a round-trip domestic first class flight on United Airlines.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 2X miles per dollar on every other purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    20.24% - 28.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    0% at the regular transfer APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

5. Skip airport security lines

One of the least luxurious airport experiences is undoubtedly going through a security line. Time is money and there's nothing VIP about waiting for 20 minutes (or longer) only to rush to take off your shoes, fish a laptop out of your stuffed backpack and then be questioned about the content of your pockets.

All this can be avoided by signing up for an expedited security clearance program. There are three main programs in the U.S. designed to hopefully shorten your time in line:

  • TSA PreCheck®: Costs $85 for a five-year membership and gives you expedited security checks at more than 200 airports in the U.S. 
  • Global Entry: Costs $100 for a five-year membership and gives you full TSA PreCheck benefits, as well as expedited customs clearance upon arrival in the U.S. after traveling internationally.
  • CLEAR: CLEAR accelerates airport security screenings by using biometric technology rather than traditional IDs to verify your identity. Once scanned, you will be escorted to the front of the general security line, or to the front of the TSA PreCheck line if you're also enrolled in the program. CLEAR membership costs $189 per year.

Although all of these programs come at a cost, there are many credit cards that reimburse your membership fees. Credit cards with expedited security perks usually come with an annual fee, but there are some affordable options. Namely, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card both have annual fees of under $100 and reimburse cardholders up to $100 in statement credits toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.

Don't miss: TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry vs. CLEAR: What's the difference?

6. Get access to airport lounges

Another kind of luxurious treatment your card might offer is complimentary access to airport lounges.

Airport lounges generally offer comfortable seating and complimentary food and drinks. Some even have nap pods, shower suites and yoga rooms. Not to mention, they tend to be much more aesthetically pleasing and less crowded than the general boarding area.

To get into an airport lounge, you generally need to pay for a day pass or annual membership, fly in a premium cabin on a long-haul route or have a certain elite status with an airline. Or, you can carry the right credit card.

Many credit cards with airport lounge access come with annual fees north of $500. The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is one of the more affordable cards in this category. At $395 per year, you'll get unlimited access to an extensive network of Priority Pass and Plaza Premium lounges worldwide, as well as to Capital One lounges.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    10X miles on hotels and rental cars, 5X miles on flights when booked via Capital One Travel; unlimited 2X miles on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $395

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.24% - 28.24% variable APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    0% at the regular transfer APR

  • Foreign transaction fees

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

Terms apply.

7. Receive VIP treatment

Special treatment can continue beyond the airport if you have a credit card which makes reaching elite status with an airline or hotel chain easier.

Airline credit cards can unlock premium perks like priority boarding, a first checked bag free and more. Although they rarely award elite status outright, they can provide a boost to help you get there.

Meanwhile, some hotel credit cards are more generous and may give you automatic elite status just for being a cardholder. A good example is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. Although its $650 annual fee (see rates and fees) may sound steep, cardholders get automatic Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, granting perks like free breakfast at some brands and upgrades to suites, while those chasing a higher tier of status get 25 Elite Night Credits each year.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3 points at Worldwide Restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months. 

  • Annual Fee

    $650

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    20.24% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

The Platinum Card® from American Express stands out for offering automatic gold elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs and other elite-like benefits through the Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection programs. Perks of these programs may include room upgrades, late check-out, early check-in, complimentary breakfast and property credits.

This card is also great for those who frequently rent cars as it offers automatic status and special privileges through several car rental companies. This can get you perks like car upgrades when available, the option to skip the counter and a wider car selection.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

  • Annual fee

    $695

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit Needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

8. Have peace of mind with travel insurance

Knowing that your expenses will be taken care of if something goes wrong during your trip is a special kind of luxury. And you can usually get it with good travel insurance.

There are many types of coverage you can get with credit card travel insurance. An airline lost your baggage? With the right card, you can have the loss covered with lost luggage reimbursement. Your trip was significantly delayed so you have to book a hotel for another night? Trip delay insurance can help you get reimbursement. Had to cancel your trip altogether? Trip cancellation and interruption insurance can put the money back in your account.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers some of the most comprehensive travel protections, including baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel accident insurance and more. Learn more about the specific terms for each benefit.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.24% - 28.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

Terms apply.

 

9. Track your net worth

Without a doubt, it's nice to be treated like royalty without being in a high tax bracket. That said, don't neglect to grow your wealth and track your progress. This will help you see how far you've come and motivate you to continue.

You don't have to create a spreadsheet of all your debts and assets to calculate your net worth. Plus, it might be a pain to keep up-to-date. Instead, you can automate the process by using a free app like Mint. It allows you to link all of your accounts, including checking and savings accounts, credit cards and investments, as well as loans and property. Based on all the accounts and information you add, the app determines your net worth and keeps it current.

Mint

Information about Mint has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by Mint prior to publication.
  • Cost

    Free

  • Standout features

    Shows income, expenses, savings goals, credit score, investments, net worth

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Yes, but users can modify

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Verisign scanning, multi-factor authentication and Touch ID mobile access

Terms apply.

Bottom line

You don't need to make seven figures to enjoy some of the perks commonly associated with that lifestyle. A few financial tools and credit cards can help you feel like the crème de la crème of society.

Still, don't forget that actual wealth isn't in elite statuses or VIP treatment. It's in the assets you have — your car, your home equity, your retirement savings and investments. Make sure you don't overspend chasing the perceived richness and prioritize building real wealth.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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