6 Signs Your Small Business Needs to Upgrade to a Business Credit Card

Developing a solid business plan is your first step toward launching a successful startup.

When you first launched your small business, you might have been able to get away with putting your business expenses on a personal credit card. But as your business grows, your needs will change—and you may need to upgrade to a business credit card that better meets your needs. These credit cards offer some advantages that will appeal to owners of growing businesses.

But opening a business credit card isn’t always necessary, so how do you know if you need one? Here are six signs your small business needs to upgrade to a business credit card. 

1. You’re Hiring

If you’re bringing on new employees who will be authorized to make business purchases, you’re going to need a business credit card. For one thing, you don’t want to share your personal credit card around the workplace. Plus, many credit cards offer unlimited employee cards on a single business account for free. In some cases, you can even add custom spending limits for each employee. All employee activity will show up on one monthly statement for your convenience.

2. Your Rewards Aren’t Valuable Enough

Business credit cards often offer rewards that are tailored for business, and they help you earn rewards on common business expenses like office supplies, phone and internet services, gas, and dining. If your personal credit card’s rewards don’t align with your business spending, you should consider upgrading, since you might be missing out on valuable rewards.

3. You’re Pushing the Limit

If you’re maxing out your personal credit card every month to keep your business running, it’s probably time to apply for a business card. Remember, using too much of your credit card balance is bad for your credit, and an ideal credit utilization rate is around 30%. Business credit cards often come with higher spending limits that will give you some extra breathing room.

4. You’re Incorporating

Incorporating your business—for instance, changing your business into an LLC, S corporation, or C corporation—is often a wise financial decision, as it protects your personal assets and finances from business debts and losses.

If you’re incorporating your business, it’s an opportune time to get a business credit card and completely separate your personal and business finances.

5. You Need to Build Business Credit

Just like individuals, businesses can have credit reports and scores. If you ever need to secure business financing, lenders and creditors will use your business credit score to determine your eligibility for a loan or additional credit. If that seems like something you’ll need in the future, you can start building your business credit now by opening a business credit card.

6. You Need Better Reporting

If you’re having trouble keeping track of your business spending, business credit cards can help. They often offer highly detailed credit card statements, reports, and spending summaries so you can track where your money’s going. Some credit cards also offer expense management features, which allow you and your employees to submit receipts and notes along with charges. Some cards will even integrate data with your bookkeeping or accounting system.

There are many possible advantages to a business credit card, but before you apply for one, check your credit score. That way you’ll have the best possible chance of getting approved. You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: andresr 

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12 Ways to Limit Travel Fees This Holiday Season

Here's how to get the most out of your next getaway.

No matter how you plan to travel this holiday season, someone might try to squeeze extra money out of you. Hotels, airlines, rental agencies, and others in the travel industry can have add-on fees that make your trip more expensive. But if you travel smart, you can avoid unnecessary costs.

Here are 12 tips for avoiding excessive fees as you travel to see your loved ones this holiday season.

1. Combine Your Luggage 

Checked bag fees get expensive at the airport, especially if you’re traveling with a group. If you can, combine your luggage with your travel companions to save money.
Cindy Richards, editor of TravelingMom.com, says, “Pack one large communal suitcase so you only have to pay one checked baggage fee. Just be sure it is under the weight limit so you don’t get dinged for overweight baggage.”

2. Carry on What You Can

You don’t have to check every piece of luggage you have. Most airlines let you bring one personal item and one carry-on bag. If every person in your party brings a carry-on, you can drastically reduce the number of checked bags. You can even enlist any young children in the group.

“It’s easy to forget that children who have a ticketed seat have the same luggage allotment as adults. Even if your little one can’t carry a carry-on yet, you still can. So take advantage of that extra luggage space to help free up room in your checked luggage,” says Amanda Norcross, Features Editor of Family Vacation Critic. 

3. Ship Your Gifts 

Don’t travel with holiday gifts. You’ll end up having to pay for additional checked bags. Instead, make the best use of shipping that you can.

“Don’t buy and carry your gifts,” says Richards. “Save the hassle and baggage fees by ordering gifts online from a service that offers free delivery . . . and have them delivered to your destination.”

4. Purchase Bulky Items Later 

Norcross also points out that bulky necessities can be purchased after your flight. “When it comes to things that you can easily purchase . . . like toiletries, diapers and wipes, hold off on them packing in your luggage and instead pick them up once you’ve reached your destination.” If you have young children and you need things like diapers during the flight, pack only as many as you know you’ll need.

5. Check for Credit Card Perks

Before you spring for additional car insurance from the rental agency, you should check if you’re already covered by your credit card.

“Don’t get pushed into buying car rental insurance from the rental agency,” says J.R. Duren, Personal Finance Expert at Highya.com. “There’s an extremely high probability that your favorite credit card provides complimentary collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance that will cover you if you get into an accident. This can save you a ton of money, especially if you’re doing rentals of at least one week.”

6. Use Credit Card Travel Perks

Many travel-focused credit cards—especially airline and hotel-branded cards—will waive certain travel fees. For instance, an airline’s credit card may offer free checked bags, while a hotel’s credit card may offer free late check-in or free Wi-Fi. General travel credit cards often get you free access to airport lounges.

7. Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

If you’re traveling out of the country, some credit cards will charge you dearly for foreign transactions, usually to the tune of 3% of the purchase amount.

“If you’re going overseas for the holidays,” says Duren, “know which credit cards in your wallet charge foreign transaction fees and which ones don’t. The few minutes it takes to sort it out is worth saving the 3% fee you’d be charged for each foreign transaction if you use the wrong card.”

8. Check Your Hotel Bill 

You should always review your hotel bill when you check out to make sure you aren’t overcharged.

Duren says, “You’ll want to verify that all charges are legitimate and there aren’t any errors. If the front desk promised you certain perks or meals for free, make sure you weren’t charged for them. As an example, if you’ve got a guest staying at a hotel under your loyalty program account, make sure they aren’t charged for things that should be complimentary according to the loyalty program’s rules.”

9. Avoid Parking Fees

Airports and hotels often charge exorbitant parking fees. When you fly to visit family, get your family to provide rides to and from the airport if you can. If you must drive, use an app or the internet to find cheaper local parking and avoid hotel parking fees. 

10. Ask for Free Wi-Fi

Even if your hotel charges for Wi-Fi, they might waive your fee if you ask nicely at the front desk. Or you can stick to using data, provided you aren’t in danger of running over your limit and incurring extra fees from your phone provider.

11. Avoid Cancellation Fees

Sometimes you can get cheaper hotel rates or airfare by waiving the right to cancel your reservation for free. But this comes at a big risk; if you do end up having to cancel, you could be liable for costly fees or even the full cost of your purchase. In the long run, paying a little extra for the right to cancel could actually save you money.

You should also check if your credit card offers trip cancellation insurance, which can protect you if your plans are interrupted. 

12. Stay with Family

Staying with family for free will provide the ultimate discount. You might have to give up a little convenience or privacy, and you might have to endure an awkward conversation or two, but at least you won’t be stuck with a hotel bill. Whether the tradeoff is worth it is up to you—your mileage may vary!

For more ideas on limiting your travel costs and money management this holiday season, visit the blog at Credit.com.

Image: anyaberkut

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U.S. Bank Introduces Mobile Location Services as Customers Gear Up for Holiday Travel

These cards help you go out for drinks and get home safely.

Earlier this month, U.S. Bank launched Location Services for their mobile app, providing additional security and convenience to customers as they travel and shop for the holidays.

We spoke with Jason Tinurelli, Senior Vice President of Retail Payment Solutions at U.S. Bank, to learn how the feature works and how it can help U.S. Bank customers this holiday season. Tinurelli is responsible for the digital marketing, acquisition, and strategy for U.S. Bank’s credit, debit, and prepaid cards.

How Location Services Works

All U.S. Bank credit and debit card customers can opt in for Location Services using the U.S. Bank Mobile App. Once the service is turned on, U.S. Bank Location Services can help determine if card transactions are legitimate by verifying that customer devices and their credit or debit cards are in the same location.

“What we’re using is the built-in Location Services available on your phone,” explains Tinurelli. “If the customer opts in, . . . we pull the phone a couple times a day, looking to see where the phone is.”

Using the mobile devices’ location as a guide, Location Services looks for transactions made outside the customer’s area. If a purchase takes place elsewhere, U.S. Bank is alerted and can reach out to the customer to verify the transaction.

Of course, this service works best for customers who keep their mobile phones with them as they shop.

The feature is available for both Android and Apple devices.

How Location Services Can Help You

U.S. Bank already monitors their customers’ transactions for fraudulent activity, and they flag suspicious transactions for review and customer verification. Location Services adds another layer of security and give transactions an additional hurdle to clear.

But the feature also adds convenience for holiday trips. Holiday travelers frequently make large purchases out of town, and this feature reduces the odds of getting declined or having to verify transactions.

Tinurelli says that whether customers stay home or travel, they can have more security and peace of mind—because if your card is used when you’re not near it, you’ll be covered.

Why Location Services Was Introduced

According to TInurelli, this new use of Location Services is a direct response to consumer feedback.

“One thing that you often hear from people,” says TInurelli, “is ‘I went away on vacation and the card company declined me.’ We took the feedback from our customers.”

The Location Services feature was initially tested with U.S. Bank employees and then introduced in a small customer rollout program. Following positive feedback, U.S. Bank decided to launch the service to their entire credit and debit card customer base.

“The holiday season is a busy time for everyone,” Tinurelli notes. “The U.S. Bank Mobile App offers consumers the convenience of being on-the-go while offering opt-in Location Services to help keep credit and debit cards secure while traveling here in the US and abroad.”

Credit card fraud and identity theft are more common today than ever. If you’re interested in learning how to protect yourself or in other credit cards with security features, you can find more information at Credit.com.

Image: jacoblund

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Avoid Home Service Scams with These 7 Tips

questions-for-contractors-communicate

Regular maintenance retains your home’s value and keeps you and your property safe. When you need home service and aren’t confident you can do it yourself, it can save time and frustration to call in a professional.

Most contractors are honest, but hiring the wrong one leaves you vulnerable to shoddy workmanship or even fraud. According to an estimate by the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost approximately $1.5 billion in 2012 alone to home improvement fraud.

We spoke with professional contractors to find out how to spot home service scams a mile away. Use these seven tips to avoid home service scams.

1. Check Online Reviews

Great online reviews don’t guarantee a good experience, and a lack of reviews doesn’t mean a contractor is unethical. But checking online can help you get a sense of what people liked and disliked about a contractor. 

Larry Patterson, owner of Glass Doctor, recommends you pay attention to how companies with a strong online presence handle negative feedback. “These are established businesses [that] have something to lose. Read some of their poor reviews and see what is said and how the company responds.”

Many people are only inspired to leave reviews when they’ve had a strong positive or negative experience. But even if your service was unremarkable, you can help the business and future customers by writing a review when the job is done.

2. Reject High-Pressure Sales Tactics

Home maintenance professionals and salespeople sometimes employ high-pressure sales tactics, offering a price they claim is good for one day only. This strategy is designed to push property owners into an agreement before they have a chance to consider other offers.

“Many window replacement companies press their salespeople to sell on the first visit,” Patterson says. “For major purchases, always wait until the next day to make a decision. The ‘super-duper only available today’ deal will still be available in a couple of days.” 

3. Check Their Credentials

Many states require contractors to be fully licensed and insured to do business. If they aren’t, they may be flying under the radar and providing substandard work. Legitimate businesses will comply with state regulation.

Jeremy Anderson, general manager at Aire Serv, advised consumers to check that contractors are licensed and insured with their state. If contractors can’t provide the right paperwork and credentials, you should keep looking.

4. Look Out for Drive-By Scams

According to a congressional report on scams targeting senior citizens, home service fraud commonly occurs door-to-door. Con artists will drive through neighborhoods offering their services after a weather-related disaster, after a rash of break-ins, or as the seasons change. But once you’ve paid, they’ll provide unsatisfactory work or no work at all.

“Hire only professional contractors for cleanup and repair needs. Avoid any ‘drive-by contractors’ that may try to scam you after big storms,” urges Rainbow International president Mark Welstead. “It’s best to hire a reputable restoration company.”

5. Don’t Pay in Full Up-Front

While diagnostic and home visit fees do occur in the service industry, you should be wary of any contractor that demands payment in full ahead of time. According to the same congressional report, scammers will deliver poor work or abscond with your money after you’ve paid.

6. Pay with a Credit Card 

If a contractor only accepts cash, you should consider this a red flag—it’s too easy for them to pocket your cash with no consequences. Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance, states that credit cards are the best way to protect yourself.

“It is a good idea to consider paying with a credit card so that you have some protection against attempted scammers, who want money first and plan to leave,” says Rogers. “Many credit card companies will help go to bat for you should you find yourself in the position of needing to dispute a charge amount.”

7. Use Your Best Judgment

If you’ve worked with quality contractors before, you know how it feels to receive quality, ethical service.

“At the end of the day, choose a reputable company that is transparent in its pricing, communicates properly with you, and stands behind its products and workmanship,” says Russ Jundt, founder and VP of Conserva Irrigation.

Protect your home and assets with these seven tips. By knowing what to look for, you can stop fraud in its tracks and avoid potential pitfalls.

Another way to protect your finances and save money is to shop smartly. For any home improvement project, be sure to carefully consider your options and take a few extra financial steps to avoid overspending. Peruse Credit.com’s Personal Finance Learning Center for more money-saving tips.

Image: istock

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7 Ways to Protect Yourself as You Shop for the Holidays

Here are nine ways to protect yourself while shopping this holiday season.

The holiday season is an enormous economic event, so much so that the National Retail Federation estimates that holiday shopping represents as much as 30% of a retailer’s annual sales. But as a consumer, increased spending can leave you more vulnerable to theft and fraud.

However, there are steps you can take to guard against theft. Here are seven ways to protect yourself as you shop for the holidays.

1. Pay with a Credit Card

Stolen cash isn’t easily recovered, and a thief could use your debit card to empty your bank account. Credit cards offer better protection.

Even if your card is stolen, federal law dictates that you can’t be held liable for more than $50 in charges. That liability drops to $0 if you report the card’s loss before fraudulent charges occur or if it’s your card number, not your physical card, that was stolen. Many credit card issuers will automatically waive the $50 no matter the scenario.

2. Use a Virtual Card Number Online

Some credit card companies offer virtual card numbers, which can keep your information safe as you shop online. These temporary 16-digit numbers are linked to your account, but allow you to set predetermined spending limits and an expiration date. If a thief gets ahold of your virtual number, your exposure is limited and you won’t have to go through the hassle of canceling and replacing your card.

There are third-party virtual card providers out there if your credit card company doesn’t offer this service, but their quality may vary and they will require you to sign up for a separate service.

3. Protect Your Account Logins 

Your accounts are only as strong as your password. Use different passwords for every account; this way, if one of your passwords is compromised, your other accounts will still be safe. Many online retailers (including Amazon) now offer two-factor authentication, which gives you an additional layer of security when you login. 

4. Shop with One Account

It’s more difficult to track your spending when you use multiple credit cards or bank accounts. You should limit your holiday shopping to one account, which makes it easier for you to identify unauthorized charges.

5. Shop at Secure Websites

Be careful about the websites you visit. You should only make purchases at trustworthy retailers. Also, check for the secure padlock icon and an “https” at the beginning of the retailer’s web address, both of which indicate that the site is encrypted. This makes it more difficult for hackers to steal your information.

6. Monitor Your Accounts

You should be closely monitoring charges on your account all year long. While many financial institutions now offer account monitoring, their systems aren’t foolproof. Make sure to carefully read over your monthly statements to identify unauthorized charges.

7. Monitor Your Credit Report

Credit card numbers are replaceable, but if thieves get hold of really important information—like Social Security numbers, birthdates, and addresses—you could become a victim of identity theft. Check your credit report regularly to make sure no one is opening fraudulent accounts in your name. You can see your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: Eva-Katalin

The post 7 Ways to Protect Yourself as You Shop for the Holidays appeared first on Credit.com.

Prefer the Train? Here Are 4 Credit Cards for Riding the Rails

friends_train

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

If you prefer traveling by train, you’re already familiar with the advantages of riding the rails. You can avoid the hassles of airports and highways, travel in comfort, and take in the scenery as you go.

Many travel credit cards are singularly focused on flights and hotels. But some offer rewards that are just as valuable for train travelers.

Here are four travel credit cards for riding the rails.

1. Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

Rewards: Three points per dollar on Amtrak purchases; two points per dollar on eligible travel purchases; one point per dollar on all other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: 20,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
Annual Fee: $79
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR for purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: This card is designed for regular Amtrak riders.
For Rail Travel: You’ll earn triple points on all Amtrak purchases, double points on qualifying travel purchases, and single points on every other purchase. Points can be redeemed for car rentals, hotels, gift cards, and more. But when you redeem for Amtrak travel, you’ll earn a 5% rebate on points. You’ll also receive a free Amtrak companion pass with a yearly renewal once you open your account.
Drawbacks: If you don’t ride Amtrak, this card isn’t for you.

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Rewards: Two points per dollar on dining and travel; one point per dollar on all other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$0 the first year, then $95.
APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: All travel purchases earn points that are redeemable for future trips.
For Rail Travel: Your travel purchases, including train tickets and public transportation, will earn double points. There are many redemption options, but you’ll get an extra 25% in value when redeeming points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Drawbacks: There is a $95 annual fee starting in year two. 

3. Citi ThankYou Premier

Rewards: Three points per dollar on travel; two points per dollar on dining and entertainment; one point per dollar on all other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95.
APR:
Variable 15.49% to 24.49% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: With triple points on travel, you can rack up rewards quickly.
For Rail Travel: You’ll earn three points per dollar on travel, including passenger and commuter railways. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise, and more.
Drawbacks: There is no sign-up bonus. 

4. Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Rewards: Two miles per dollar on all purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $89.
APR: Variable 16.99%, 20.99%, or 23.99% APR on purchases; 0% for 12 months on balance transfers, then variable 16.99%, 20.99%, or 23.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: Every purchase earns double miles for future travel purchases.
For Rail Travel:
This card is a good choice if you want to earn the same rewards rate across all transactions. Every purchase earns double miles, which can be redeemed for travel purchases—including train fare. Every time you redeem, you’ll get 5% of your redemption back.
Drawbacks: There are no special rewards rates for travel purchases.

How to Choose a Card for Rail Travel

If you primarily travel by train, you’ll want a card that offers great rewards rates for those expenses. With the exception of Amtrak’s travel credit card, there aren’t many cards on the market that single out trains. However, many cards do count rail travel as part of their overall travel category.

For any card you’re considering, verify that train fare will earn travel rewards and that rail travel is a valid redemption option.

What Credit Is Required for Train Travel Rewards Credit Cards?

The best travel credit cards may require good or excellent credit. Make sure you meet the credit requirements of a card before you submit an application. You can check your credit report free at Credit.com.

Image: istock

At publishing time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

 

The post Prefer the Train? Here Are 4 Credit Cards for Riding the Rails appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Credit Cards for Stand-Up Comedy Lovers

LaughingShoppers

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Great stand-up comedy is a true art form, and talented performers keep audiences enthralled with carefully honed material and clever punch lines. But if you love stand-up, you know that live shows or televised comedy specials can sometimes cost an arm, leg, and funny bone.

Some credit cards can help by rewarding you as you LOL. Here are three of our favorites.

1. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment; one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: 
None
Annual Fee:
$0
Annual Percentage Rate (APR):
0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR.
Why We Picked It: Event tickets and dining earn you double points.
For Stand-Up: 
You’ll earn double points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment. That means you can rack up rewards whenever you buy comedy tickets and go out for dinner before the show. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, and more. Plus, with Citi Private Pass, cardholders can access preferred tickets for comedy events. Currently, Citibank is offering tickets to Dennis Miller, Ron White, John Mulaney, and more.
Drawbacks: 
There’s currently no offered sign-up bonus.

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on travel and dining; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$0 the first year, then $95 per year.
APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: You can earn double points at any comedy club designated as a restaurant.
For Stand-Up: This card earns double points for every dollar spent on dining and travel. If you’re seeing a show at a venue that primarily serves food and alcohol, you may be able to earn double points on your meal and drinks. There are many redemption options for your rewards, but the best value is reserved for travel.
Drawbacks: 
If you don’t travel much, you won’t see as much value from this card.

3. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card 

Rewards: 5% back at Amazon.com; 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores; and 1% back on all other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
$70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval.
Annual Fee:
$0 with an Amazon Prime membership.
APR:
Variable 15.24% to 23.24% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: 
Amazon Prime members can earn rewards with their membership while streaming comedy specials.
For Stand-Up: You’ll earn special reward rates on Amazon.com purchases, including the Amazon Prime membership fee. Your rewards can be redeemed for future Amazon.com purchases. Prime members also get free access to Prime Instant Video, which features a wide range of streaming comedy specials.
Drawbacks: 
If you don’t shop at Amazon.com, this card isn’t for you.

How to Choose a Card for Stand-Up Comedy 

The best card for your stand-up addiction depends on how you prefer to experience comedy.

If you see a lot of live comedy shows near you or like to go out on the town, you might want a card that rewards dining or entertainment purchases and grants access to tickets. But if you like to stay in and watch stand-up on TV, a card that rewards other purchase types will be a better fit.

If you frequently travel to see your favorite comedians, consider a card that rewards travel or gas expenses. 

What Is Required to Get a Card for Concerts?  

Cards that provide awesome rewards usually require good to excellent credit. You should know your credit score before you apply, as a hard inquiry from a credit card application can ding your credit score. You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: istock

At publishing time, the Citi ThankYou Preferred and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post 3 Credit Cards for Stand-Up Comedy Lovers appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Credit Cards That Reward Your Streaming Subscriptions

real estate tv shows

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Streaming entertainment services offer subscribers a virtually bottomless well of entertainment—whether you love movies, TV shows, or music. And while they’re cheap compared to the movie theater and record store, subscription services do add on to your entertainment budget. Some credit cards can negate these costs by specifically rewarding streaming subscriptions.

Here are three credit cards that reward streaming entertainment services.

1. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR.
Why We Picked It: All streaming services earn points toward valuable rewards.
For Your Streaming Content: All entertainment purchases, including streaming services like Netflix or Spotify, earn two points on the dollar. Dining purchases earn double points as well, so you’re covered for a night of pizza and a movie. Points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more.
Drawbacks: If you don’t dine out a lot, you won’t earn points as quickly.

2. Sony Card from Capital One

Rewards: Five points per dollar spent on Sony purchases at participating retailers; three points per dollar spent on music and video downloads, theater purchases, movie rentals, and digital streaming and subscription services; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: 5,000 bonus points if you make your first purchase within 90 days.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% intro APR until March 2018 on purchases, then variable 14.99% to 24.99% APR; variable 14.99% to 24.99% APR on balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: This card is tailored for entertainment, including streaming services.
For Your Streaming Content: You’ll earn three points per dollar spent on streaming and subscription services. Points can be redeemed for Sony merch, music, games, and more.
Drawbacks: This card’s redemption options are limited to Sony’s rewards platform.

3. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Rewards: 5% back in points at Amazon.com; 2% back in points at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; and 1% back in points on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
$70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval.
Annual Fee:
$0 with a paid Amazon Prime membership.
APR: 
Variable 15.24% to 23.24% APR.
Why We Picked It: 
Amazon Prime members can earn points on their membership and stream select music and movies.
For Your Streaming Content: This card earns special rewards rates on Amazon.com purchases, including the Amazon Prime membership. That means you get rewarded for the annual Prime membership fee while accessing Prime’s free TV shows, movies, and music. And the rewards you earn can be redeemed for future Amazon.com purchases.
Drawbacks: 
To access Amazon’s entire music catalog, you’ll still have to pay extra for Amazon Music Unlimited, as the free version for Prime members isn’t comprehensive.

How to Choose a Credit Card for Streaming Services

If you have quite a few streaming subscriptions, try to find a card that offers rewards for your favorite streaming platforms. Carefully review reward redemption options to ensure you’ll actually use the provided rewards.

If streaming services make up only a small part of your monthly budget, you may want to choose a card that rewards you for bigger expenses or a card that offers equal rewards for all purchases.

What Credit Is Required for a Streaming Subscription Credit Card?

Solid rewards cards generally require good to excellent credit. You should check your credit before you submit an application, and move forward only if you’re likely to get approved. You can check your credit for free at Credit.com.

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At publishing time, the Citi Thank You Preferred Card and the Sony Card from Capital One are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly. 

The post 3 Credit Cards That Reward Your Streaming Subscriptions appeared first on Credit.com.

How the Discover it Miles Card Can Help You Afford Next Year’s Vacation

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[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

If you’re already daydreaming about next year’s vacation, take notice: the Discover it Miles credit card could help you make it happen. Discover’s flexible rewards program and impressive sign-up bonus can take a big bite out of your travel expenses.

Here’s how you can use the Discover it Miles card to splurge on an epic vacation next year.

All Purchases Earn Miles

To save on your trip, you’ll need to earn miles, which can be redeemed for travel expenses.

All purchases automatically earn 1.5 miles per dollar, with no confusing restrictions or spending categories to keep tabs on. You also have the opportunity to earn additional miles when shopping at more than 100 merchants on the Discover Deals platform.

Miles are unlimited and don’t expire as long as your account stays open. You can even earn miles using mobile wallets, as the card is compatible with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.

If you begin earning miles now, you’ll have a head start saving up for your vacation.

The First-Year Matching Bonus

Here’s how Discover can really make a big difference on your next trip.

After the first 12 consecutive billing periods, Discover will match all the miles you’ve accrued, posting them to your account within a month or two. This automatically doubles the miles you earn. Essentially, you’ll be earning three miles per dollar (rather than 1.5) for a full year.

After you make a year’s worth of purchases and receive your first-year matching bonus, you should have a sizeable stockpile of miles to redeem for your trip.

Redeeming Miles for Your Vacation

Redeeming miles is simple and flexible. You won’t have to deal with special travel booking platforms, and you aren’t limited to certain travel providers.

You can redeem miles at any time for travel purchases made on your card within the past 180 days. Simply select the desired purchase(s) you wish to redeem for, and your miles will be posted in the form of a statement credit.

Qualifying travel purchases include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, cruises, local and public transportation, and more. There are no blackout dates.

One mile has a cash value of one cent, so every 100 miles is worth $1 in travel redemption.

The Costs

The card has no annual fee. There’s an introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases for 14 months, and then a variable 11.99% to 23.99% APR applies. Balance transfers get an introductory 10.99% APR for 14 months for transfers that post to the account by January 10 in 2018, after which the standard purchase APR applies.

Balance transfer fees are 3% of the transfer amount, and there are no foreign transaction fees.

How to Use the Card to Your Advantage

The quickest way to earn miles is to use your card for all your everyday purchases. That way, you’ll earn miles as you spend and get rewarded with a big sign-up bonus after a year.

Of course, you should always try to pay down your balance in full each month. Miles are great, but they aren’t much help if you can’t afford to make timely payments. And even though you won’t incur interest on purchases for 14 months, you don’t want your balance to become unmanageable.

When booking your next vacation, timing is important. You don’t want to make travel purchases too early, as your miles can only be redeemed for purchases made in the last 180 days. If you plan on making travel purchases ahead of time and redeeming miles later, make sure to check your calendar first. Keep in mind that the first-year matching bonus may take a month or two to show up.

Discover also provides up to $500,000 in flight accident insurance and up to $25,000 in auto rental insurance. So feel free to decline the extra insurance offered at the car rental agency.

If the Discover it Miles card isn’t right for you, review our other featured travel rewards credit cards. But before you apply for any credit card, you should be reasonably confident that you will be approved, as hard inquiries can lower your credit score. Review your credit report for free on Credit.com for the best chance of successful approvals.

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At publishing time, the Discover it Miles card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post How the Discover it Miles Card Can Help You Afford Next Year’s Vacation appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Credit Cards That Offer Companion Tickets for Your Travel Buddy

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[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Traveling with a companion can be a lot more fun than traveling alone. Whether your favorite travel buddy is your partner, best friend, neighbor, or life coach, you know you’ll have a great trip when they’re along for the ride.

Some travel credit cards offer companion tickets, making it easy to share your adventures with another.

Here are five credit cards that offer companion tickets for your travel buddy.

1. Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card

Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta; one mile per dollar spent on other eligible purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) if you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months; and a $100 statement credit if your first Delta purchase is made within the same time frame.

Annual Fee: $195

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 16.24% to 20.24% APR on purchases.

Why We Picked It: You’ll get an annual companion certificate starting in your second year.

For Traveling with a Companion: Upon renewing your card each year, you’ll earn a round-trip companion certificate good for a main cabin Delta flight within the contiguous US. If you are a Medallion Member and your companion is a SkyMiles or Medallion Member, you both may be eligible for complimentary upgrades to first class.

Drawbacks: There’s a $195 annual fee, and if you don’t fly Delta, this card doesn’t offer much value.

2. Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on Southwest flights and with eligible hotel and car rental partners; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $69

APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: Frequent fliers and big spenders can earn a year’s worth of companion flights.

For Traveling with a Companion: Earning 110,000 qualifying points or taking 100 qualifying one-way flights in a single calendar year will earn you Companion Pass for the remainder of that year and the entire following calendar year. With Companion Pass, you can choose one person to fly with you for free (excluding taxes and fees) any time you book a Southwest flight.

Drawbacks: Only frequent Southwest fliers should apply. 

3. British Airways Visa Signature Card

Rewards: 3 points per dollar spent on British Airways purchases; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months, plus an additional 25,000 if you spend $10,000 in the first year or an additional 50,000 if you spend $20,000 in the first year.

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: Big spenders can earn a companion ticket on British Airways flights.

For Traveling with a Companion: Every year you spend $30,000 or more on your card, British Airways will award you a Travel Together Ticket. When you book a reward flight on a British Airways flight leaving from and returning to the US, the Travel Together Ticket lets you bring along a companion.

Drawbacks: To earn the Travel Together Ticket, you’ll have to meet a hefty spending requirement.

4. AeroMexico Visa Card

Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on gas, groceries, and Aeromexico ticket purchases; and one mile per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 15,000 bonus miles upon making your first purchase.

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $45.

APR: Variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: You don’t have to wait long to earn a companion ticket with this card.

For Traveling with a Companion: Upon approval, your free Aeromexico Companion Certificate will be mailed to you with your credit card. This ticket is good for a companion to join you on a round-trip flight to Mexico. You can also buy three full-fare tickets and receive the fourth free (excluding applicable taxes and fees) if all tickets are purchased at the same time and are for the same flight.

Drawbacks: If your destinations of choice don’t include Mexico, keep looking.

5. AmTrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent with Amtrak; two points per dollar spent on qualifying travel purchases; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 20,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $79

APR: Variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR for purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: If you prefer the train, this card will let you ride the rails with a companion.

For Traveling with a Companion: Amtrak will award you a complimentary companion pass as soon as your account is opened and each year upon renewal.

Drawbacks: This card is only appropriate for frequent Amtrak riders.

Choosing a Card for Traveling with Companions

If you have a preferred travel provider, it’s worth checking to see if they offer a credit card with companion passes. If they do, check the approximate value of a companion ticket for any upcoming trips you’re planning.

General travel rewards cards without companion passes may offer just as much value. With general travel cards, you can redeem points or miles to book travel for yourself and your companion at a wider range of companies. These cards are usually a better option if you aren’t fiercely loyal to one travel provider.

If your travel partner is a trusted family member, you may want to make this decision together, as they could become an authorized user and help you earn travel rewards even faster.

What Credit Is Required for a Companion Travel Credit Card?

Cards with strong travel rewards programs usually require good to excellent credit. Before you apply, you should check the credit requirements and compare them to your credit score. A hard credit inquiry resulting from an application can lower your credit score a few points, so you should be confident in your ability to get approved. You can check two of your credit reports for free at Credit.com.

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At publishing time, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s). 

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post 5 Credit Cards That Offer Companion Tickets for Your Travel Buddy appeared first on Credit.com.