3 Hacks for Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program

The Chase Ultimate Rewards Program is one of the most flexible out there. Check out these cool ways of using your points.

If you have a Chase credit card, or are considering getting one, you’ve likely heard of the Chase Ultimate Reward program. There are several rewards credit cards in the Chase repertoire (more on those in a minute) and, while they may have different reward structures, the reward program is the same. No matter which Ultimate Rewards eligible card you have, you may want to consider these three hacks to help you use your points in the way that benefits you the most. (Note: Before you apply for any of these cards, make sure your credit scores are high enough to qualify. You can check two of your scores free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

1. Transferring Ultimate Reward Points to Loyalty Partners

One of the most popular uses for Ultimate Reward points is being able to transfer them directly to one of the many airline and hotel partners. All of their partners give you the ability to move points one-to-one. Partners you can choose from include:

  • United Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Air France / KLM
  • Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton

Each of these partners has its own sweet spot, which is what makes them all so special. Southwest Airlines, for example, may run a $39 fare sale, which make it possible to book one-way flights for less than 3,000 points. If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii then transferring your miles to Korean Air is a great option. Korean Air, which only requires 25,000 Korean Air Skypass miles to book a round-trip economy ticket to Hawaii from North America.

2. Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal to Book Travel

Another way to use your Ultimate Reward points is to book your travel directly through the Ultimate Rewards portal. You can book airfare, hotels or other excursions. The actual value you receive depends on the card you have. For example, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card you will receive a 50% bonus when booking your travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. That means 50,000 points would be worth $750 toward travel. If you have any of the other Ultimate Reward earning cards, the bonus is 25%. That would make 50,000 points worth $625 of travel.

3. Redeeming Ultimate Rewards for Cash Back

Another redemption option, but the one offering the least amount of value, is to redeem points for cash back. Each point you redeem would be worth one cent. That means 50,000 points redeemed for cash back would have a value of $500.

Earning Chase Ultimate Reward Points

There are several credit cards that allow you to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. Let’s look at what each card has to offer.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: When you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (read our review here), you can receive 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. If you decide to add an authorized user to your account, you can receive an extra 5,000 points. They just need to make a purchase within the first three months. You earn two points per dollar when you use the card on travel expenses and at restaurants. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. This card has an annual fee of $95, which is waived the first year.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: The Chase Sapphire Reserve (read our review here) is Chase’s premium card. When you sign up, you can receive 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. You will then receive three points per dollar when you use the card for travel and at restaurants. This card includes a fairly high $450 annual fee, but much of that can be recouped with the travel benefits you receive. To start, you will receive a $300 travel credit that can be used for everything from airfare to baggage fees. You will also receive up to a $100 statement credit when you apply for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. So that you can relax a little easier while traveling, you will also receive a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. This will give you access to more than 900 different airport lounges worldwide.

Chase Ink Business Preferred: If you have a small business, you can pick up the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. With this card, you will be able to earn 80,000 points after spending $5,000 within the first three months. You will then be able to earn three points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent each calendar year on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services, and on any online advertising that you do through social media and search engines. This card has a $95 annual fee.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: If you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited you will not have the opportunity to earn Ultimate Reward points directly. You will, however, be able to transfer your rewards into Ultimate Reward points if you also carry one of the previously mentioned cards. When you sign up for this card you will receive a $150 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months. This bonus can be transferred into 15,000 Ultimate Reward points. If you’d like to add an authorized user to your account, you will receive an extra $25, or 2,500 points, after they make a purchase in the first three months. You will then receive 1.5% cash back on all purchases you make with the card. This card has no annual fee.

Chase Freedom: The Chase Freedom card is similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited in that you can’t earn Ultimate Rewards directly. You need to also carry one of the other Ultimate Reward-earning cards and then transfer your points. When you sign up for the Chase Freedom card you will earn a $150 bonus, or 15,000 points, after spending $500 in the first three months. The Chase Freedom card is a little different because it includes rotating categories each quarter, giving you the ability to earn 5% cash back, on up to $1,500 per quarter. One quarter might reward purchases at restaurants and gas stations, and the next it might be department stores and movie theaters. All other purchases that you make will earn 1% back. This card comes with no annual fee. (We think Chase Freedom is one of the best credit card deals around. Check out our other favorites.)

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At publishing time, the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply 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).

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Amex Soups Up Platinum Card With Free Uber Rides

platinum card free uber rides

American Express is giving Platinum cardholders up to $200 a year in free Uber rides as part of a host of new rewards taking effect March 30.

The American Express Platinum card, which already came with a host of premium benefits like access to airport lounges and a $200 statement credit toward airline fees, is also increasing its already hefty annual fee of $450 to $550 as the new benefits come online.

In addition to the Uber credits, Platinum members will get five points in the American Express Membership Rewards Program for every dollar they spend booking eligible hotels on amextravel.com. Members also get access to more airport lounges and a new Global Dining Collection, which includes exclusive reserved seating at culinary events.

How to Get the Uber Credits

Many American Express cardholders use Uber, the company said in a press release. The new Uber Rides with Platinum reward will give members $15 in Uber credit per month, plus a $20 bonus in December, if they add their American Express Platinum Card as a payment method in the Uber app. The credits will show up in the app.

The expansion of the Global Lounge Collection gives cardholders access to more than 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries. American Express also is expanding its “By Invitation Only” program, giving cardholders access to swanky events like the Harper’s Bazaar 150th anniversary party or the Grand Prix de Monaco.

Meanwhile, the existing benefits of Platinum membership remain, including one Membership Rewards Program point for every dollar spent. The points can be redeemed with more than a dozen airlines and to snag other rewards, like gift cards and merchandise. The card also confers travel insurance and purchase protections policies.

Another important thing to know: This isn’t really a credit card, but rather a charge card. Card holders are expected to pay their balance in full each month.

Regardless, you’ll need a strong credit score to qualify. To see where you stand, you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the American Express Platinum card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply 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).

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5 New Starwood Hotels You Can Visit for Free

Planning your spring break vacation? Be sure to factor in these Starwood hotels you can stay at for free.

As we move into spring break season, a lot of you may have vacation plans. If not, then it might be time to start planning a trip. Deciding where to go can be the hardest part of all, as your bucket list of locations may be pretty long. However, if you have credit card rewards, your travel plans will probably be made based on your points and rewards. (You may also consider these 28 ways to save for this years big adventure.)

If you have a large balance of Starwood Points, you might want to consider one of these five Starwood properties that have recently opened around the world. Take a look.

1. Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Located in California’s Napa Valley, this new Luxury Collection hotel is perfect for any wine lover. Most of the hotels’ rooms come with spacious balconies overlooking the vineyards. When not taking advantage of the complementary shuttle, you can indulge yourself at the hotels’ luxury spa. Or you might choose to dine at The Acacia House, the restaurant by Top Chef alum Chris Cosentino.

This is a Category seven property, so it will set you back 30,000 to 35,000 points a night.

2. W Las Vegas

If Las Vegas is more your scene, make sure you check out the new W Las Vegas. Located on the northern end of the Strip, you will find this new property in one of the SLS towers. You will have access to seven different restaurants as well as three entertainment venues and a bar to wind down with a drink. If you want to get out and explore the Las Vegas area, Enterprise Rent-a-Car service is available.

The W Las Vegas is a Category five property, so it will cost 12,000 to 16,000 points a night.

3. Le Méridien Visconti Rome

If you are looking to get out of the U.S., then Rome might be the perfect place to visit this year. This new Starwood property is located in a prime location near the Vatican. If you have ever been to Rome, then you know that most of the city’s hotels were decorated with the renaissance style in mind. The Le Méridien Visconti Rome chose to do things a little differently, going for a sleek contemporary look. Not only does this hotel have the perfect location, you will enjoy its rooftop terrace while you relax after a long day of sightseeing.

The Le Méridien Visconti Rome is a Category five property, meaning rooms cost 12,000 to 16,000 points a night.

4. The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club

Polo is one of the most popular sports in the United Arab Emirates, and this property sits on a massive equestrian complex. In fact, the St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is host to the Dubai Polo Gold Cup.

The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is a Category six property, so rooms will cost 20,000 to 25,000 points a night.

5. Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin

If you are looking to hit the slopes this spring, you might want to check out the Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin. This chalet-style hotel, situated near Montenegro’s northern city, Kolašin, feels just like you are in the Rocky Mountains or Swiss Alps. And it has the services you require. You will find two on-site restaurants, a rental car counter, and a spa where you can relax after a long day on the slopes.

The Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin is a Category four hotel, which means rooms will cost 10,000 points a night.

How to Earn Starwood Points With Your Credit Card

The easiest way to earn Starwood points fast is by using the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. When you sign up for this card, you will earn up to 35,000 points. You will earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You will then earn an additional 10,000 points after spending another $2,000 in the first six months. (This offer expires April 5, 2017.)

When you use the card at Starwood properties, you can earn up to five points. You can also earn two points when you use the card at participating Marriott properties. All other purchases with the card will earn one point. As a cardholder, you will receive a credit for two stays and five nights that count toward SPG Elite status. (You can read more about this card in our American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card review.)

You can choose to redeem your points at any of the 1,000+ Starwood properties, including the five mentioned above. You can also choose to transfer your points to one of many different airlines. When you do this, you will receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. This card has an annual fee of $95 that’s waived the first year. It carries a variable APR of 15.74% to 19.74%, based on your creditworthiness. (Not sure where your credit stands? You can view two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

Note: Marriott bought Starwood hotels last year — You can go here to read about how this will impact your credit card rewards.

How to Earn Starwood Points for Your Business

If you are a business owner, then you will have even more options for earning Starwood points. In addition to the personal credit card, you will also be able to get the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. With this card, you will have the chance to earn 35,000 points. You will receive 25,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. You will then earn another 10,000 points after spending an additional $3,000 in the first six months. (This offer ends April 5, 2017.)

With this card, you will be able to earn Starwood points the same way you can with the personal card. The business card also comes with a few extra benefits. You will receive unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi at any Boingo hotspot, and you will receive access to Sheraton Club lounges. The Starwood Preferred Guest Business card has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. Its variable APR is 15.74%, 17.74% or 19.74% based on your creditworthiness when you apply.

At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply 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. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

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BankAmericard Travel Review: No Cap on Miles Earned

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With so many travel rewards credit cards to choose from, it can be difficult to make a good decision about which credit card is best for you. One card you might consider is the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card.

But before you sign up for this card, or any credit card, you should know all the fine print.

In this BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card review, we’ll cover:

  • Card details
  • Interest rates and fees
  • Rewards details
  • Getting the most from rewards programs
  • Safety and security

Card Details for the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card

According to the Bank of America website, you are not limited to the number of points you can earn with this credit card. You’ll earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on anything, anywhere, and points never expire. You can also earn 20,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening. This reward can be redeemed for a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases.

Bank of America customers are also eligible for a 10% customer points bonus on every purchase with an active Bank of America checking or savings account. Bank of America also has a Preferred Rewards program, which helps customers increase that bonus up to 25% or more. The Preferred Rewards program benefits are based on the three tiers of the program. Your tier is based on your qualifying combined balances in your Bank of America bank accounts and your Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts.

  • Gold Tier: $20,000 – $49,999
  • Platinum Tier: $50,000 – $99,999
  • Platinum Honors Tier: $100,000+ 

bankamericard-travel

Interest Rates and Fees

Another major benefit of the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card is that there is no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Plus, BankAmericard also offers an introductory 0% interest rate on purchases for new cardholders for their first 12 billing cycles, after which the interest rate will be determined based on creditworthiness. Balance transfers are subject to a 3% fee on each transaction with a minimum fee of $10. Balance transfers are not eligible for the introductory 0% interest rate.

Rewards Details

In addition to earning 1.5 points for every $1 spent, you can also earn 3 point per $1 spent through the Bank of America Travel Center, with no spending limit or limit on points earned. BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card points do not expire and are not subject to blackout dates or restrictions.

Points can be redeemed for a travel credit or cash reward (statement credit) starting at 2,500 points. A travel credit is applied as a statement credit to your account to offset travel purchases from qualifying merchants for:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels or motels
  • Car rentals
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agencies
  • Other transportation costs (taxis, buses, etc.)
  • Tourist attractions and exhibits

The fine print states that some costs are not eligible for a travel credit, like tolls, parking garage fees, in-flight purchases, and rentals of vehicles for the purpose of hauling. Travel purchases are eligible for a travel credit for 12 months from the posting date. For travel credit, 2,500 points = $25.

Points can also be redeemed for cash rewards or gift cards starting at 3,125 points. If you’re interested in cash redemption, this can come in the form of a check or an electronic deposit into either your Bank of America checking or savings account or as a contribution toward your Merrill Lynch investment account. Should you chose to redeem your points for cash rewards or gift cards, 2,500 points = $15.

Safety and Security

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card offers several safety and security benefits that are pretty standard among major credit card companies, including:

$0 Liability Guarantee: Potential fraud and abnormal patterns are blocked until you confirm the purchase. There is a $0 Liability Guarantee for fraudulent transactions. 

Chip Cards: New chip technology is offered for enhanced security at chip-enabled terminals.

Overdraft Protection: Bank of America customers are eligible for Overdraft Protection to prevent declined purchases when you link your Bank of America checking account to your credit card.

Digital Wallet Technology: Your BankAmericard can be added to your mobile device using Apple Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay.

Online and Mobile Banking: Access your credit card statement and information from almost anywhere with online and mobile banking. 

Account Alerts: You can enroll in several different types of account alerts to help you monitor activity, including when payments are due and when payment is received. 

Text Banking: After enrolling in text banking, you can send a text and get a reply in seconds with all the information you need regarding your BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card.

How to Get the Most Value from Travel Rewards Programs

Although the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card offers a fairly generous program for earning rewards, there are some ways to get even more value from travel rewards programs.

The Venture Rewards Credit Card from Capital One is another travel rewards credit card that doesn’t cap miles earned. Like the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card, you’ll be reimbursed for travel expenses on your statement. Every 10,000 miles is worth $100, and you earn 2 miles per $1 spent instead of 1.5 points per $1 with BankAmericard. But there is a $65 annual fee for this credit card that is waived for the first year.

Serious travel enthusiasts love the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card because points are transferred into real airline miles and hotel points with several travel partners. Every 10,000 points is worth $125 in flights, hotels, or rental cars when booked through the Chase website. Plus, you get double points on all dining and travel purchases you make on this card. There is an annual fee of $95, which is waived for the first year.

Who Will Benefit Most from the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card?

Serious savers who are already customers with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch or Merrill Edge will benefit the most from having this credit card. The 1.5 points per $1 spent is pretty basic, but if you are a Bank of America customer, you can increase your rewards significantly, earning 2.25-2.6 points per $1 with no limits. Plus, with a bonus of 20,000 points for new customers and no annual fee, this is an attractive option for earning travel rewards.

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4 Bank Perks You Probably Don’t Know About

amazing-bank-perks

Whether you’ve got the big bucks or are working on it, it’s nice to know that some banks out there roll out the red carpet for loyal customers. Not only do they promise to manage your funds smartly, they offer a variety of services to make the experience that much better. Here, we’ve outlined some of the lesser-known perks that are currently lurking in Bank Land.

1. Bank of America Preferred Rewards

For those with a minimum $20,000 balance in their Bank of America and/or Merrill Edge or Merrill Lynch investment accounts, the company offers a three-tiered program aptly titled Preferred Rewards. Twenty-thousand smackeroos will grant you gold status, which means a helpful 5% interest hike on money market accounts, plus a 25% rewards bonus on credit cards. With platinum status, which requires a minimum balance of $50,000, the perks include up to 12 no-fee transactions from any non-BOA ATM for a year, a 10% money market account boost and a 50% credit card rewards bonus. (Like the sound of credit cards that reward you for using them? See our roundup of the best ones in America here.)

2. Chase Private Client 

Open to customers who maintain an average daily balance of $250,000 or more “in any combination of qualifying linked deposits and investments,” its site says, Chase Private Client is basically a dream concierge for your finances. Members get the VIP treatment with a Private Client Banker, plus access to travel benefits such as rushed replacement of debit or credit cards almost anywhere worldwide, a 24/7 U.S.-based service line, a discount of $750 on closing costs on all home loans, and so on. For arts buffs, the access to local culture and events — think free admission to world-class museums like the MoMA — is also worth writing about.

3. Schwab Bank High-Yield Investor Checking Account 

If ATM fees are slowly draining your checking account, perhaps a change of banks is in order. Schwab Bank offers no ATM fees worldwide with this checking account, plus there are no monthly service fees. Members also can earn interest on their balance. (Not sure where your finances stand? You can view two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, with a free snapshot of your credit report on Credit.com.)

4. TD Personal Checking 

Considering applying for a home equity line of credit? If so, TD Bank has an offer to sweeten the deal: “Checking customers receive an extra 0.25% discount off our already low variable rates,” its site says. Be sure to check with your local branch for more details.

Remember, it’s important to read the fine print of any financial product you’re considering to be sure it’s right for you. And, if you’re interested in bank perks, you can also check to see what your current financial institution offers. There may be some options you have, but don’t know about.

At publishing time, Bank of America and Chase products are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for 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 forcredit 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.

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Smashed Phone? The Trick That Can Help You Get Your Money Back

broken_cell_phone

You know that feeling after you’ve just bought a new cell phone. You hold it like a precious new thing; play with it like your new favorite toy. You’ve just paid quite a bit for it, or maybe signed up to be leashed into a contract for years. Yet, as shiny and new as the phone feels, it’s still an object you’re not accustomed to holding. You clutch it carefully, fearing that one buttery finger could drop it to the pavement and crack your lovely new screen.

But Let’s Say You DO Drop It

Oh no! After you’re finished freaking out about those sickening, splintery cracks spreading across your new screen, know that if you’ve paid for it by credit card, you’re likely in luck for at least part of your phone’s price. Many cards protect you with policies that can pay you $500 to $1,000 for the damage, within months of your date of purchase. You can look for what’s listed in your credit card contract under “Purchase Protection” or “Damage Protection” to see if you’re covered.

“The level of protection varies from card to card but the basic terms are that, if an item is stolen or damaged within X days (the X varies), then the card will reimburse you for the loss up to a certain amount per claim,” says Jim Wang, a Credit.com contributor and “chief money nerd” at WalletHacks. “The only other rule is that you need to use that card to pay 100% the cost of the item.”

For Visa, American Express and Discover, the limit is usually $500 per claim, up to 90 days after purchase. MasterCard usually allows up to $1,000 and is about a month longer – 120 days after purchase, Wang said. And some cards, such as Discover, will extend a warranty an additional year for those that are three years or less. If your current credit card doesn’t offer an extended warranty on phone purchases, it might be worth looking for a card that offers the benefits you want. You can compare credit cards and their benefits using our handy credit card finder tool. 

“Not all banks and not all cards at each bank offer protection, so you might need to consider opening a new account to gain this benefit,” said Eric Lindeen, vice president of marketing for ID Analytics.

What Might Not Be Covered

It’s worth repeating — the perks are not universal — so you need to check the terms from the issuer of the card. That’s because issuers are able to customize coverage amounts, length of coverage, as well as incidents that would qualify for protection, says Megan Delaney of Visa’s marketing firm CBSI. In some cases, only certain thefts are covered. Other cards don’t cover mechanical or electrical failure. And cards typically don’t take responsibility for acts of God, like floods, either.

There are also certain exemptions on some purchases. “Like American Express doesn’t offer purchase protection on animals, plants, coins, stamps, antiques, etc. It’s a pretty reasonable list,” says Wang.

Other caveats — some cards, such as Discover, don’t cover phones that are stolen from vehicles, according to Discover spokesman Derek Cuculich. And you’ll have a hard time replacing your phone if it has a glitch but still rings. Most replacement protection will cover damaged or stolen, but not lost or failed devices, says Lindeen. “Most will not replace a device that can still make or receive calls,” he says. Stolen phones may require evidence, like a police report. And any other protection payouts, “from your carrier, home insurance, or AppleCare, must pay first,” says Lindeen.

What To Do

If you smash or damage your new phone, call your card’s benefits administrator immediately. “If you do not notify the Benefit Administrator within sixty days after the product failure, your claim may be denied,” says Betty Reiss, spokeswoman for Bank of America credit cards.

The benefit administrator will likely guide you through the process and send you a claim form. And, by the way, even theft, gifts and things you’ve bought but don’t really like could be covered. Just make sure you have all the necessary documents to prove your case.

When you buy your phone, it’s also a good idea to see if you need to register it with your credit card’s benefit administrator. The terms are generally sent to you after you receive the new card, Reiss says. You’ll also want to save the purchase receipt in case you’re asked for it.

What You’ll Likely Need to Submit Within 90 Days:

  • The claim form sent to you by the benefit administrator
  • Your card receipt
  • The itemized store receipt
  • A copy of the original manufacturer’s written U.S. warranty and any other applicable warranty
  • A description and serial number of the item, and any other documentation deemed necessary to substantiate your claim (this includes bills and, if necessary, a copy of the maintenance record and receipts)
  • The original repair order
  • A police report if your phone was stolen

But What If You Didn’t Buy the Phone Outright?

If you purchased your phone on an installment plan with your carrier, there is an added opportunity for protection. “Cards are increasingly offering cellphone replacement insurance as an added feature,” said Lindeen. “You’ll need to pay your monthly bill with the card, so review your agreements and chose the card you use for your phone bill carefully. Reimbursements vary from $200 to $600, and most have a deductible.”

Wells Fargo may offer the most generous plan with $600 protection on up to four phones with a $25 deductible, and two claims a year allowed. You’ll need to read the fine print to see if your card offers this service. The protection is for damage or theft (but not phones that are lost), said Natalie M. Brown, spokeswoman for Wells Fargo. And, in case you’re thinking of intentionally getting absent minded and losing your phone to score some funds for that new iPhone, it also doesn’t cover phones that “mysteriously disappear.” Also check to see what’s offered under your card’s extended warranty.

Remember, you’ll get the best deals on everything from cellular service to credit card interest rates if you have good credit, which you can achieve by paying your bills on time and not carrying high credit card balances. A good credit score can end up saving you a lot of money over your lifetime. You can see how your payment history is affecting your credit by checking your two free credit scores, updated monthly, at Credit.com.

At publishing time, American Express and Discover products are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for 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.

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The Credit Cards That Will Get You Past the Bouncer

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Do you enjoy going to special events? Unfortunately, it’s become increasingly difficult to obtain tickets to the most popular sports and entertainment extravaganzas, and there’s many other experiences that never offer passes to the general public. Some credit cards, however, can offer you access to these events, including VIP experiences that can provide a glimpse “behind the velvet rope.”

Of course, you’ll need to read the terms and conditions carefully of any plastic you are considering to find the credit card that’s right for you. And you’ll also want to check your credit before applying. A good credit score helps you qualify for the better products on the market and you’ll want to be sure your credit score can handle a hard inquiry. (You can see where you currently stand by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

Having said that, here are some credit cards and a few credit card rewards programs available with many cards that you can use to gain greater access to your favorite events.

1. The NFL Extra Points Card From Barclaycard

The NFL Extra Points Card from Barclaycard offers points that can be redeemed for tickets to NFL games or exclusive football experiences. Tickets are available to regular season games, the playoffs and even the Super Bowl. You can also redeem your points to attend experiences that are not sold to the public, such as a sideline pass for pre-game warm-ups, a chance to see your team emerge from the locker room or a post-game press conference. Cardholders choose a team before applying and the exclusive experiences can vary based on what that team offers. There is no annual fee for this card; it has a variable annual percentage rate of 15.24%20.24% or 25.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.   

2. The Platinum Card From American Express

One of the numerous benefits of American Express’ Platinum Card (see full review here) is its By Invitation Only program that gives cardholders access to extraordinary experiences including sports, fashion shows, fine dining and performing arts events. These experiences are customized for Platinum Card Members and are typically not available to the general public. This card also offers preferred seating to popular concerts, sports and entertainment events. There is a $450 annual fee for this card.  

3. The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card From American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (see full review here) allows you to earn points in the Starwood Preferred Guest program which features SPG Moments, a chance to redeem points for exclusive access to music, sports and entertainment events. For example, packages that have been available include your own private luxury suite at Wrigley Field in Chicago, a luxury suite at Madison Square Garden to see comedian Amy Schumer and an event where you can meet Jennifer Lopez and enjoy VIP seats to her show in Las Vegas. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, waived the first year. Its APR is between 15.49% to 19.49% variable, depending on your creditworthiness. 

4. Citi Private Pass

This benefit is offered to Citi credit card and debit card holders, and features special access to live music, sports, dining, and family entertainment events. For example, events have included pre-sale concert tickets to see country music star Toby Keith, VIP and preferred pricing to a youth football camp with Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and an event featuring Cameron Diaz and Rachael Ray. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, American Express and Barclaycard advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

5. MasterCard Priceless Cities

Credit cardholders that are part of the MasterCard network can sign up for its Priceless Cities program, which features exclusive access to special events in some major cities. Offers have included a private Monument Park Tour at Yankee Stadium in New York and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Warner Bros. studios in Los Angeles.

6. Visa Signature

Credit card users who hold a Visa Signature card have access to exclusive events. For instance, events have included a free round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links with a two-night minimum stay at The Lodge, The Inn or Casa Palmero. In addition, preferred seats have been available to Cirque du Soleil shows.

At publishing time, the NFL Extra Points, American Express Platinum, Starwood Preferred Guest and Citibank credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for 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.

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