Would You Pay $15 for Early Hotel Check-In?

Most of us are familiar with this scenario: Your flight just landed, and you and your bags are off to the hotel, only to discover that check-in time is still hours away. You certainly don’t want to hang around the hotel just to look after your bags and you don’t want to lug them around with you either. What if the problem could be remedied, or even avoided, for a small fee. Would you pay it?

Turns out, 63% of American travelers would.

According to a recent poll of 2,000 American travelers, 37% of those who said they would pay a fee would shell out up to $10 for the added convenience and 16% would pay $15. Ten percent of those who would pay a fee said they would hand over more than $15.

The July 2016 poll, conducted by Jetsetter, a travel deals website, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1% at a 95% confidence level, according to an email from a Jetsetter spokesperson.

Added Fees for Travel

It’s important to remember that fees can add up, whether they’re to check in to your room early or to check your bag on a flight. Some travel credit cards do offer free checked luggage, but these cards often come with an annual fee, so consider how often you travel and if paying that annual fee is worth it. (You can read about the best airline credit cards here.)

If you are in the market for a new credit card, it’s a good idea to review your credit before you apply, as a good credit score can help you qualify for better terms and conditions. You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

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4 Airline Credit Cards With Big Sign-Up Bonuses Right Now

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Would you like a bunch of frequent flyer miles to book an award ticket? If you are into earning frequent flyer miles, then you can get a head start on your next big award trip by signing up for the right credit card and earning a sign-up bonus.

How Sign-Up Bonuses Work

The credit card industry is intensely competitive, and credit card issuers are willing to go to great lengths to attract new customers. What banks have learned over the years is that there are few incentives that are as attractive as large sums of frequent flyer miles that can be redeemed for award travel.

To receive one of these large sign-up bonuses, you have to apply for a new credit card and be approved. Then, most credit cards require you to complete a minimum spending requirement within a specified period of time, often three months. In most cases, once you’ve completed the minimum spending requirements, and your next statement is generated, then you should receive your sign-up bonus within a day or two.

Many people worry that applying for a new credit card and receiving a sign-up bonus will hurt their credit score. Although there are many factors that make up your credit score, including new applications, applying for a single credit card should have a negligible effect on your credit score and it may even improve it slightly as your credit history is extended.

Here are four airline credit cards that are currently offering big sign-up bonuses. 

1. American Airlines AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi

This card is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after new applicants make $5,000 in purchases within three months of account opening, which is enough for two round-trip domestic award tickets in economy class, or a single first class ticket. (Full Disclosure: Citibank as well as Chase and American Express advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) Other benefits include membership in the American Airlines Admiral’s Club airport lounge program for yourself and all authorized cardholders. You also receive priority service at check-in, airport screening and boarding. In addition, you receive your first bag checked free and a $100 statement credit towards the Global Entry application fee. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

2. British Airways Visa Signature Card from Chase

This card is offering new applicants 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, plus an additional 25,000 miles after spending a total of $15,000 within a calendar year. Other benefits include 3x miles for British Airways purchases, and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere. Finally, those who spend $30,000 in a calendar year can earn a Travel Together Ticket good for a companion ticket on a British Airways award flight, although you do have to pay any tax, fees and carrier charges imposed by British Airways. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

3. United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase

This card is offering new applicants 30,000 bonus miles after spending just $1,000 within three months of account opening. In addition, you can also receive an additional 5,000 bonus miles after you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within three months of account opening. Finally, you can earn 10,000 bonus miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000 in net purchases on your card. Other benefits include a free checked bag for yourself and a companion when you purchase tickets on United using this card. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

4. The Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express

This card (you can see a full review here) is offering new applicants a $50 statement credit after their first purchase and 30,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. Other benefits include priority boarding, a 20% discount on in-flight purchases, and a free checked bag for up to four people traveling on the same reservation. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

All of these cards require applicants to have excellent credit. If you’re not sure of your credit standing, you may want to check your credit before you apply. You can view two of your scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.

If your credit standing doesn’t yet meet the card issuer’s requirements, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score, and apply once you do.

At publishing time, the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from ChaseAAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi, and the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express 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.

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.

More on Credit Cards:

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I Travel a Lot. Should I Get a Hotel or Airline Credit Card?

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Co-branded credit cards can be a great way for frequent fliers to pool loyalty and rewards points, maximize earnings, enjoy perks like a free checked bag or hotel Wi-Fi, and score upgrades like a first-class seat or a night in a suite.

In fact, for travelers who don’t carry a balance (and, subsequently, lose points to interest), the biggest dilemma is often the choice between using an airline miles credit card or a hotel rewards credit card. Here are some ways to determine which option may be right for you.

Airline Credit Cards vs. Hotel Credit Cards: The Pros & Cons

Credit cards that earn airline miles are tremendously popular, but not necessarily for their miles. For the past several years, many airlines have devalued their frequent-flier programs by requiring more miles for award flights, making fewer seats available for awards at the lowest mileage levels and changing up earnings so you get miles for dollars spent and not distance traveled. Nevertheless, these cards still offer valuable benefits, such as checked baggage fee waivers, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight food, beverages and entertainment. In addition, skilled travelers may still be able to realize exceptional value from their miles when redeeming them for last-minute award flights or for international awards in business or first class.

While hotel credit cards may not be as popular as airline credit cards, they can offer terrific value. Several of the top hotel loyalty programs offer award nights for any unsold standard room, so you don’t have to hunt for award availability like you do with many airline credit cards. (Hotel programs with this policy include Hyatt Gold Passport, Starwood Preferred Guest, Hilton HHonors and Wyndham Rewards.) At the same time, some hotel programs have also devalued their points in the past few years by increasing the number required for a free night’s stay. So, cardholders have to carefully review a card’s terms and conditions to make sure they understand its true earnings potential.

Hotel credit cards can also offer elite status, which entitles guests to perks such as late checkouts, room upgrades, free Internet service and even complimentary breakfast. Another benefit is that award stays may actually be free, since hotels tend to be taxed based on the rate paid, with award nights frequently escaping all taxes. In contrast, an airline award almost always involves paying some money, as these programs generally require the payment of any required government taxes, and will sometimes add their own surcharges.

You can find a roundup of the best airline miles credit cards and the best hotel rewards credit cards on Credit.com.

How to Decide What’s Right for You

If you could only use either an airline or a hotel credit card, you should choose the one that will offer you the most value towards your travel needs. For example, if you usually fly somewhere and stay with family or friends or stay at destinations without major hotel chains, then a hotel credit card will not offer you much value. Conversely, if you like to take road trips (or use trains or buses), then an airline credit card would be a poor fit for your travel habits. Likewise, if you need to use your airline miles for award flights during peak travel periods, then you are likely to be disappointed by the availability of airline mileage awards, and you might be better off with a hotel credit card. (Remember, if you choose a card affiliated with a program that offers any unsold room as an award, then you can use your hotel points for award stays at popular destinations during peak travel periods, so long as the property isn’t already sold out of standard rooms.)

For some consumers, it may be beneficial to have both an airline credit card and a hotel credit card. Holding multiple credit cards can increase your credit score by reducing your ratio of debt to available credit. But if holding additional credit cards gives you incentive to incur more debt, or becomes difficult to manage responsibly, then you are better off with fewer credit cards.

You also need to consider any costs associated with cards to determine which — or how many — you should carry. Many travel credit cards have annual fees that could be financially burdensome, particularly if you have more than one in your wallet. And you want to refrain from applying for too many credit cards in a short window of time, since each application generates a hard inquiry on your credit report, which could, in turn, ding your credit score. To see if you credit can handle an inquiry and another card, you can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.

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.

More on Credit Cards:

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