These Popular Hotel Credit Cards Just Got Sweeter Signup Bonuses

American Express is upping the ante on two more pieces of its plastic.

Right on the heels of its forthcoming Platinum card makeover, American Express is upping the ante on two more of its popular credit cards.

Now through May 31, 2017, new Hilton Honors cardholders can earn 80,000 points after spending $2,000 in their first three months. Hilton Honors Surpass cardholders can earn 100,000 points after spending $3,000 in their first three months and a free night on their one-year membership anniversary.

Before the big change, cardholders could earn 50,000 points and 75,000 points, respectively.

There’s also a Member-Get-Member bonus on the table — meaning if a friend applies and gets approved, Hilton Honors cardholders will get an extra 20,000 points while Surpass cardholders get 25,000.

The sweeter signup bonuses are launching alongside some recently announced upgrades to Hilton’s loyalty program. Point redemption is now much more flexible, with pricing adjusting alongside rates and, starting April 2017, members will be able to pool points with family and friends. Plus, beginning Summer 2017, you’ll be able to shop with Hilton Honors points on Amazon.

So Should I Sign Up?

If you’re a big fan of Hilton hotels and travel often, then, sure, consider signing up. Both cards are solid as far hotel rewards credit cards go. The Hilton Honors Surpass even made our list of the best cards for hotel hoppers, as it offers 12 points per dollar on eligible Hilton purchases, six times the points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and three times the points (mostly) everywhere else.

If you’re not interested in paying the card’s $75 annual fee, the Hilton Honors credit card is a solid alternative: seven times the points at Hilton hotels, five times the points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, three times the points everywhere else and no annual charge.

Both cards tout a variable purchase annual percentage rate (APR) between 15.99% and 19.99%, depending on your credit. (You can get an idea of where you might fall by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

Have Credit Card, Will Travel?

If you’re booking it all over town and beyond, a good hotel rewards credit card can make you some money back on all those stays. (Just be sure to pay any balances off in full; otherwise, you’re just kissing those points goodbye to interest.) But the right credit card for you depends on your travel preferences.

Stay solely at Starwood properties? Well, its Preferred Guest credit card, also from American Express, might give you the biggest bang for your buck. Wind up at Wyndhams? Its Barclaycard Visa is worth checking out. And, if you travel often, but don’t like to limit your stays to just one hotel chain, there are plenty of general-purpose travel credit cards out there that’ll earn you points, miles or cash back on all your flights and nights.

A bit more Credit Card 101: Be sure to read the full fine print of any card you’re considering to learn exactly what you’re signing up for. And get ready to do some math — a lot of travel credit cards carry steep annual fees (think $450 or higher) that are only worth paying if you travel and/or spend a certain amount each year.

At publishing time, the American Express Platinum and Starwood Preferred Guest 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. 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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6 Hacks for Using the Citi ThankYou Points Program

Here's how to get the most out of your Citi rewards credit card points.

If you surveyed a group of people about credit cards, it’s likely they would say pretty much the same thing: Their favorite cards are part of a transferable points program. That’s because these cards tend to have the most flexibility when it comes to redeeming rewards. One of these programs is Citi ThankYou. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Over the past several years, Citi has made several changes to the ThankYou program to help it keep up with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. Two of the most noticeable changes are the selection of credit cards that allow you to earn ThankYou points and the airline transfer partners. Let’s take a look at how you can hack your Citi ThankYou points for maximum value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One area where the Citi ThankYou program has improved over the past couple of years is with the quality of transfer partners. Unless noted below all partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

  • Jetblue (1,000:500)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad
  • Eva Air
  • Air France/KLM
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Quantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hilton (1,000:1,500)

While the list of partners continues to grow, not all of them are a good use of your points. To get the most value, you could redeem points for one of these rewards:

Continental U.S. to Hawaii on Singapore Airlines

From the United States, one of the best uses for Singapore Airlines miles is to fly to Hawaii. One-way flights in coach, business class, and first class cost 17,500, 30,000 and 40,000 miles, respectively. Compare this to United Airlines, which charges 22,500, 40,000 and 50,000 miles.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards

One of the best ways to use Flying Blue miles is to book their promo awards. Each month, they release new promo routes and you can save 20% to 50% off normal redemption rates.

Continental U.S. to Mexico on Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue includes Mexico in the same flight region as the United States, which means flights cost only 12,500 miles each way in coach.

TransAtlantic in Singapore Suites

If you’re tired of always flying coach, you can splurge and spend 57,375 Singapore Krisflyer Miles to fly Singapore Suites from New York to Frankfurt, Germany. If you’d like to continue, you can go all the way to Singapore for a total of 93,500 miles. But be warned: Flying in coach might never be the same.

Use Etihad Guest Miles from New York to Brussels in Business Class

Most airlines are part of large alliances or have partner airlines. This is great for consumers because it opens up a lot of options when using your miles. If you know where to look, you can find a lot of value when flying. One of the best ways to fly to Europe is to use Etihad Guest miles to fly Brussels Airlines from New York to Brussels. Traveling round-trip in economy will cost you 21,972 miles and business class will be 36,620 miles. If you want a card that earns you direct airline miles, here are our picks for some of the best airline miles credit cards out there.

2. Book Travel on Citi Travel Center

Another way to use your ThankYou points is to book your travel through the Citi Travel Center. This is where the specific card you have will dictate the value you receive. If you have a Citi ThankYou Premier card you can redeem your points for 1.25 cents each. Through July 23, those with a Citi ThankYou Prestige card can redeem points on American Airlines for 1.6 cents each and on all other airlines for 1.33 cents. Afterward, redemptions are 1.33 cents on all airlines. For any card that is not Premier or Prestige, you can book travel at just 1 cent per point.

3. Redeem for Cash

You can redeem your points for cash, but this is a pretty weak valuation. You will only receive 0.5 cents per point, but…

4. Pay Your Mortgage or Student Loans

You’ll receive 1 cent of value when you use your points to pay off your mortgage or student loans.

5. Shopping With Points

Citi has partnered with several retailers, making it possible to shop with your points. However, values fluctuate from 0.6 cents to around 1 cent per point, so unless it’s necessary for you to redeem through shopping, there are better ways to redeem points.

6. Gift Cards

Finally, you can also redeem your points for gift cards for select retailers and restaurants. Most of the time you will be able to receive 1 cent per point with this method.

Earning Citi ThankYou Points

Earning Citi ThankYou points is fairly simple. You can use one of a few different Citi credit cards or have select Citi banking products.

Citi Prestige

When you sign up for the Citi Prestige card, you receive 40,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Then, when you use your card for airfare or hotels, you receive 3 points per dollar. You will also receive 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants and on entertainment. Any other purchase made will earn 1 points per dollar. This card has a steep $450 annual fee, but you will receive several travel benefits, including a $250 air travel credit, which you can use for airfare, upgrades, baggage fees and more. You will also receive a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA Precheck. If that’s not enough, you also receive your fourth night free when booking hotels through Citi Prestige Concierge. Plus, you can travel in comfort knowing you have complimentary access to more than 900 Priority Pass Select airport lounges.

Keep in mind before signing up for this or any rewards card that your credit will need to be in very good shape to qualify. If you’re not sure where your credit stands you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

Citi ThankYou Premier

With the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you receive 30,000 ThankYou points after signing up and spending $3,000 in the first three months. You then earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel expenses, which includes gas. Plus, you can earn 2x points when you use your card at restaurants and on entertainment. All other purchases will earn 1x points. There is a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

Citi ThankYou Preferred

If you prefer a card with no annual fee, then the Citi ThankYou Preferred card might be the best fit. You will earn 15,000 ThankYou points after signing up and spending $1,000 in the first three months. When you use this card at restaurants and on entertainment, you receive 2x points. All other purchases earn 1x points. This card also has an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

If you’re a college student you can also earn ThankYou points with the Citi ThankYou Preferred card for College Students. With this card, you will earn 2,500 ThankYou points after spending $500 within the first three months. When you use your card at restaurants and on entertainment, you receive 2x points. All other purchases receive 1x points. After signing up for this card you receive an introductory 0% APR for the first seven months on purchases. There is no annual fee to carry this card.

Citi Banking Accounts

While you won’t be able to earn a huge number of points through this method, you can take advantage of the banking relationships you have with Citi. Depending on the product, you could earn up to 19,200 points per year.

Image: freemixer

At publishing time, the Citi Prestige, Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi ThankYou Preferred and Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students 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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9 Credit Cards for Cruise Lovers

Want a credit card that helps you navigate the high seas? Here are nine of our favorites.

Cruise lines offer a hassle-free vacation experience for travelers looking to embark on an adventure without worrying about the logistics. Dining, nightlife, luxury amenities and the actual travel are all provided, and often at a lower price than a traditional trip.

To reward loyal cruise customers, many major cruise lines also offer credit cards that can earn cardholders cruise benefits and travel credits. If you’re a frequent cruiser, check out our list of every major cruise credit card (plus two bonus picks for general rewards credit card alternatives).

Remember, before applying for any new credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to make sure you qualify — particularly for rewards credit cards, which can have higher credit score requirements. You can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com. (And here’s a guide to what makes up a good credit score.)

Disney Premier Visa Card

Disney’s Visa credit card earns rewards dollars redeemable for Disney vacations, onboard spending credits and merchandise. Cardholders earn 2% in rewards dollars on gas, groceries, dining and purchases made at Disney locations and 1% rewards on all other purchases. At the time of this writing, Disney also is offering a bonus $200 Disney Gift Card when you spend $500 within three months of opening the card.

Disney customers also can use the card to finance select Disney vacation packages interest-free for six months. On Disney cruises, cardholders will get 10% off photo packages, merchandise and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) getaway packages and 20% off massages or facials at an onboard spa.

There’s a $49 annual fee, a 3% foreign transaction fee and a variable APR of 16.49%.

Royal Caribbean Visa Signature Card

Royal Caribbean’s credit card earns points that can be redeemed toward cruises, onboard credits, room upgrades, excursions and discounts. Cardholders earn two points for every dollar spent on qualifying Royal Caribbean purchases and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. Points have a redemption value of one cent. Royal Caribbean is currently offering 17,500 in bonus points: 10,000 points are earned upon the first transaction, while 7,500 are earned by spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of the card.

There is no annual fee. The APR is a variable 13.49% to 23.49%, and there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Carnival Cruise Credit Card

Carnival’s credit card earns points redeemable for statement credits toward Carnival cruises, airfare, hotel stays and merchandise. Cardholders earn two points for every dollar spent with Carnival and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. Carnival is offering 10,000 bonus points upon your first purchase or balance transfer. Those points can be redeemed for a credit of up to $100 toward your next cruise purchase. You’ll also earn double points on all purchases aboard a Carnival cruise and one point on all other purchases.

There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. The APR is a variable 14.49%, 19.49% or 24.49% based on creditworthiness.

Norwegian’s Worldpoints Rewards Credit Card

The Norwegian credit card earns three points for every dollar spent on cruise purchases and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. Points can be used for stateroom upgrades, cruise reservations and onboard credits, cash, airfare and hotels, car rentals and gift cards. Most reward redemptions value each point at one cent.

As of this writing, Norwegian is offering 10,000 bonus points when you use your card within the first 90 days. And for a limited time, new cardholders can earn an additional 5,000 bonus points when they make at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

There’s no annual fee. The APR is a variable 13.49% to 23.49%, and there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card

Princess Cruise’s credit card points can be used for cruise rewards, onboard credits and amenities and discounted airfare. Cardholders will earn two points for every dollar spent on Princess purchases and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. They’re currently offering 5,000 bonus points when you make your first purchase on the card.

There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. There’s a variable APR of 14.49%, 19.49% or 24.49%, based on creditworthiness.

Celebrity Visa Signature Card

The Celebrity Visa Signature Card earns two points for every dollar spent with Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International cruises and Azamara Club Cruises and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. Right now, Celebrity is offering 10,000 bonus points when you complete a transaction in the first 65 days and a bonus 7,500 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days.

There’s also a premium card that has no foreign transaction fee, 10,000 annual bonus points when you spend at least $10,000 annually, and 50% off second guests at any onboard specialty restaurant. There are also discounts on select excursions, drink packages and vacation packages.

The basic card has no annual fee and a 3% foreign transaction fee, while the premium card costs $69 a year and has no foreign transaction fee. Both cards have a variable APR of 13.49% to 23.49%.

Holland America Cruise Credit Card

Holland America’s credit card earns two points for every dollar spent on Holland America purchases and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. They’re currently offering 5,000 points upon your first purchase. Points can be redeemed for cruise discounts, onboard amenities and credits, gift cards, merchandise and airfare.

There are no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee with this card. The variable APR is 14.49%, 19.49% or 24.49% based on creditworthiness.

Alternatives to Branded Cruise Cards

Most cruise-branded credit cards earn average points rewards that are tied to specific cruise lines. While you can use the cards for purchases elsewhere, redemption of those points is limited to the cruise line and related purchases. If you’re looking for a travel card with a little more freedom, there are a few great cards out there that can unlock cruise benefits. You can check out our roundup of the best travel rewards credit cards. Here are two of our favorites:

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card features two points per dollar on all dining and travel purchases and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for cash back, merchandise, gift cards and travel reservations. New applicants receive 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Points earn an additional 25% value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

There is a $95 annual fee for this card (which is waived the first year) and no foreign transaction fees. The APR is a variable 16.49% to 23.49%

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card earns miles that can be redeemed for most travel expenses, including cruises. Cardholders earn two miles per dollar on all transactions, and each mile is worth one cent. New cardholders receive 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within 90 days of opening their account. In addition, cardholders receive a 5% rebate on the miles they redeem.

There is an $89 annual fee (waived the first year) and no foreign transaction fees. There is a variable APR of 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49% based on creditworthiness.

At publishing time, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard 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 Hyatt Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free

These five Hyatt Hotels are brand new and waiting for you to visit!

If you have been trying to figure out your next vacation destination, it’s understandable that you might be a little overwhelmed. There are so many amazing places around the world to experience.

If you prefer to stay at Hyatt hotels, we put together a list of five new properties, in highly sought-after locations, that you can visit with your points in 2017.

1. Park Hyatt Bangkok

If you are thinking about heading to Asia, then a great option would be Thailand and the much-anticipated Park Hyatt Bangkok. This property was originally scheduled to open a few years ago, but delays set it back. Now it will officially open in May 2017.

This hotel is located in the upscale Lumpini district in the embassy complex. In addition to over 200 rooms, it will also have a sprawling rooftop area called the Penthouse Bar and Grill. This will include a restaurant and a speakeasy bar. You will also find a fine dining restaurant and lounge on the main level.

This will be a category 5 property, costing 20,000 points per night.

2. Hyatt House Chelsea

Heading to New York City this summer? How about a stay at the Hyatt House Chelsea? This hotel is located just blocks away from Madison Square Garden, plus it’s within walking distance of the Chelsea Garment District. To make your stay a little more comfortable, you can choose from either standard studio hotel rooms or residential suites with kitchens. This is perfect if you are planning a longer extended vacation.

The Hyatt House Chelsea is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

3. Hyatt Regency Cartagena

For a long time, Colombia was tarnished by the image of drugs and criminal activity. Today, most of the problems have been eliminated and the country is turning into a hotspot for tourism.

One of the most popular draws to Colombia beyond Bogotá is Cartagena. This coastal city is rich with history and amazing food. It’s also home to the brand-new Hyatt Regency Cartegena, the first Hyatt property in Colombia. It’s located right by the beach and easily accessible to Categena’s Old Town.

The Hyatt Regency Cartagena is a category 2 property, requiring just 8,000 points per night.

4. Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa

If you are planning a getaway for some golf and a spa day, then a great destination is the Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa, in Arizona. Guest rooms have a bungalow feel to them, plus you will be able to enjoy one of the three different pools or the Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary. But the best part is the property’s mountain backdrop.

The Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

5. Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach 

If a Hawaii vacation is calling your name, then make sure you make a stop at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach. This is the latest addition to the Hyatt Centric brand, located right on Waikiki Beach. After a long hike up Diamond Head Trail, you can come back and relax by the pool in one of the private cabanas.

The Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

Earning Free Nights With Hyatt

One of the best ways for someone to earn points and eventually free nights with Hyatt is through the Hyatt Credit Card. When you sign up you will receive two free nights at any property worldwide after spending $2,000 in the first three months. If you choose to add an authorized user to your account, you will receive 5,000 points after they make their first purchases within three months. (You can learn more about the ins and outs of adding an authorized user here.)

When using this card for purchases at Hyatt hotels, you will receive three points. You will also receive two points at restaurants and on airfare booked directly through the airlines. All other purchases will receive one point.

This card does come with an annual fee of $75, but you will receive a free night at any category 1 to 4 property on your anniversary. (Not sure if the fee is worth it? Check out our guide to annual fees to help you decide.) Plus, if you are planning to visit one of the international destinations we mentioned, there are no foreign transaction fees.

Remember, before applying for this or any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to confirm that you qualify. You can get your two free credit reports, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

Want more hotel stay hacks? Check out our hacks for free nights at Marriott hotels.

Image: andresr

 

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The Best Credit Card to Use at Every Airport in America

Yes, believe it or not, which airport you frequent can be a factor in choosing new plastic.

Whether you’re planning to hit the road for spring break or looking ahead to your summer travels, there’s a lot to think about when planning a vacation — especially if you’re flying to your destination. Not only do you have to add the airline ticket to your travel budget, but you have to think about other fees too, like checking your bag or choosing a window or aisle seat. But there may be an airline-branded credit card out there to help you cut back on some of those costs. (Want more budget-saving ideas? Consider these 28 ways to help you save for this year’s big adventure.)

You have a lot to consider when choosing one of these cards. Sure, you want to think about if you’re loyal to a certain airline, but you may also want to take it one step further and take note of your airport loyalty. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) collects passenger boarding cargo data for U.S. airports. Using its most recent data, we established this list of the 25 busiest airports in America … and then figured out which credit cards would be best to use at each of them.

Plus, before signing up for any new credit card, it’s important to know where your credit stands. Travel credit cards tend to require good scores, so knowing how you fare can help you see your odds of qualifying. (You can look at your two free credit scores on Credit.com.)

Now, without further ado, here’s list of the credit cards that could get you the most rewards at some of the busiest airports in the country.

25. Salt Lake City International Airport — Salt Lake City

Best Credit Card: Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Why We Chose It: Salt Lake City is a Delta hub and there’s a great Delta Sky Club lounge between concourses C and D.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 during the first three months.

Great Perk: You check your first bag free on every flight along with priority boarding, which is like saving $50 on each round-trip flight (assuming you check a bag each way).

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

APR: Variable 16.24% to 25.24%

24. Chicago Midway International — Chicago

Best Credit Card: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

Why We Chose It: CMI is a major hub for Southwest, so frequent fliers are bound to get good use of this card.

Baseline Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases; one point per dollar on all other purchases. You can earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months.

Great Perk: You get 3,000 anniversary gift points once you’ve had your card for a year.

Annual Fee: $69

APR: Variable 16.49% to 23.49%

23. Ronald Reagan Washington National — Arlington, Virginia

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: American Airlines is prominent at this airport and the list of perks with this card is great, whether you’re coming here for work or going on your own adventure. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Baseline Rewards: Two miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and one mile for every dollar spent elsewhere. You can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months.

Great Perk: Free access to the Admirals Club.

Annual Fee: $450

APR: Variable 15.74%

22. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall — Baltimore

Best Credit Card: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card

Why We Chose It: Turns out, the majority (70.34%) of this airport’s traffic from December 2015 to November 2016 was tied to Southwest Airlines flights. So it makes sense to choose a Southwest card.

Baseline Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases; one point per dollar on all other purchases. Earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months. You’ll get 6,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary. (Fly Southwest, but not sure if the Premier or the Plus is a better fit? We’ve got a guide that compares the two right here.)

Great Perk: No cap on the number of points you can earn, as long as your card is open and active.

Annual Fee: $99

APR: Variable 16.49% to 23.49%

21. Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International — Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Best Credit Card: JetBlue Card

Why We Chose It: Fort Lauderdale is a focus city for the airline and has a strong presence in terminal 3.

Baseline Rewards: Three points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. You can earn 5,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days.

Great Perk: This card gets you 50% off your in-flight purchases.

Annual Fee: None

APR: Variable 12.49%, 20.49% or 25.49%

20. LaGuardia — Queens, New York

Best Credit Card: Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Why We Chose It: Delta has a strong presence in this airport and it continues to grow, most recently with a 600-foot bridge linking its two main terminals, C and D.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and one mile per dollar everywhere else. You can earn 35,000 bonus miles, 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months and $100 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase in the first three months of having the card.

Great Perk: You get a round-trip companion pass each year when you renew this card.

Annual Fee: $195

APR: Variable 16.24% to 25.24%

19. Philadelphia International — Philadelphia

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: American Airlines flights went to the 10 most popular domestic destinations from this airport from December 2015 to November 2016, so this card could come in handy on your travels.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles for every dollar spent with American Airlines and one mile for every dollar spent everywhere else.

Great Perk: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending only $1,000 in the first three months after getting the card.

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

APR: Variable 16.24% to 24.24%

18. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County — Detroit

Best Credit Card: Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Why We Chose It: Delta is one of the main airlines coming and going from Detroit and several of Delta’s partners also fly to and from Detroit. There are also four Delta Sky Clubs throughout the airport.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 during the first three months.

Great Perk: You can redeem your points with Delta or with any of its more than 15 airline partners.

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

APR: Variable 16.24% to 25.24%

17. General Edward Lawrence Logan International — Boston

Best Credit Card: The JetBlue Plus Card from BarclayCard

Why We Chose It: Whether you’re headed to a seasonal destination, like St. Lucia or Martha’s Vineyard, or not, JetBlue has an extensive list of places they fly.

Baseline Rewards: Six points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. You can earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days and receive 5,000 bonus points on your cardholder anniversary.

Great Perk: You can earn a $100 statement credit when you use your card to purchase a Getaways vacation package.

Annual Fee: $99

APR: Variable 12.49%, 20.49% or 25.49%

16. Minneapolis-St. Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain — Minneapolis 

Best Credit Card: Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Why We Chose It: If your heart can dream it, odds are Delta can fly you there from Minneapolis-St. Paul International. And why would you want to limit yourself? (For the card’s major terms and conditions, see above).

15. Newark Liberty International — Newark, New Jersey

Best Credit Card: United MileagePlus Club Card

Why We Chose It: Newark Liberty is a hub for United Airlines and this airline flies the majority of passengers from this airport.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles for every dollar spent with United Airlines and 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn a $100 statement credit after making your first purchase on the card.

Great Perk: Free access to the United Club, an annual savings of up to $550. Even with the annual fee, that’s still a savings of $100 (assuming you use the card responsibly, of course).

Annual Fee: $450

APR: Variable 16.49% to 23.49%

14. Orlando International — Orlando, Florida

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: There is an Admirals Lounge coming later this year and this card can get you in to enjoy the fancy new digs. (For the card’s major terms and conditions, see above).

13. Seattle-Tacoma International — Seattle

Best Credit Card: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card

Why We Chose It: Seattle is a hub for Alaska Airlines as well as several of its partners.

Baseline Rewards: Three miles for every dollar spent on Alaska Airlines purchases and one mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Great Perk: This card offers the flexibility of choosing which airline you redeem your points with, from American Airlines to Emirates.

Annual Fee: Depends on which version of the card you’re approved for (based on creditworthiness): $75 for Visa Signature card or $50 for Platinum Plus accounts. You can find an explainer on the difference between the two cards here.

APR: Variable 12.74% to 19.74%

12. George Bush Intercontinental/Houston — Houston

Best Credit Card: United MileagePlus Explorer card

Why We Chose It: There are some great renovations coming this year to terminal C that will help this card come in extra-handy.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on United Airlines tickets and one mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Great Perk: You get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable 16.49% to 23.49%

11. Miami International — Miami

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: There are two Admirals Club lounges in terminal D you can enjoy whenever you are at Miami International, whether you’re heading there on vacation or waiting for a flight home after a Caribbean cruise. (Again, for the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

10. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — Phoenix

Best Credit Card: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card

Why We Chose It: Southwest recently announced plans to expand their presence at the Phoenix airport, including eight new gates and more flights, so this card just makes sense. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

9. McCarran International Airport — Las Vegas

Best Credit Card: The Platinum Card From American Express

Why We Chose It: Nothing says Vegas like a little flash of luxury, and American Express’s premium credit card can get you into the airport’s swanky Centurion lounge.

Baseline Rewards: Right now, cardholders receive five times the points on airfare booked directly with a carrier or American Express travel and one times the points on everything else, but those rewards, along with the card’s annual fee, are set to go up, effective March 30.

Great Perk: You’ll get a $200 airline free credit, good for baggage fees and more at one airline.

Annual Fee: Currently $450; but that’ll go up to $550 once the new benefits come online

APR: The Platinum is a charge card, meaning you’re required to pay your balances off in full each month.

8. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport — Charlotte, North Carolina

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: This civil-military public international airport is a major hub for American Airlines. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

7. San Francisco International Airport — San Francisco

Best Credit Card: The Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card

Why We Chose It: Take one look at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and you’ll see why we couldn’t pass this one up.

Baseline Rewards: Eight points (five points for being an Elevate member and three for card usage) per dollar spent on Virgin America purchases and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days.

Great Perk: This card is a member of the Visa Signature family. (You can see what additional perks you get with Visa Signature cards here).

Annual Fee: $149

APR: Variable 16.48%, 20.49% or 25.49%

6. Denver International Airport — Denver

Best Credit Card: Frontier MasterCard

Why We Chose It: Frontier is one of five airlines at the Denver airport that offers the convenience of curbside check in.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar on FlyFrontier.com purchases and one mile per dollar on any other purchases. You can earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on the card in the first 90 days.

Great Perk: You get a $100 voucher toward a flight after spending $2,500 during your first (anniversary) year.

Annual Fee: $69

APR: Variable 16.49% or 25.49%

5. John F. Kennedy International Airport — New York City

Best Credit Card: The JetBlue Plus Card from BarclayCard

Why We Chose It: There’s a lot to see and do in the recently-renovated terminal 5, including the exciting Airspace Lounge — and that’s all before you even board the plane. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

4. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport — Forth Worth

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: While there are some updates being made to the Admirals Club lounge in terminal A, there are others you can use, getting perks like free Wi-Fi and access to showers in case you come straight to the airport from the office. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

3. Chicago O’Hare International Airport — Chicago

Best Credit Card: United MileagePlus Explorer credit card (full review here)

Why We Chose It: O’Hare is a major hub for United Airlines. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

2. Los Angeles International Airport — Los Angeles

Best Credit Card: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card

Why We Chose It: Alaska and several of its partners are a big presence at this airport and offer deals for passengers. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport — Atlanta

Best Credit Card: Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

Why We Chose It: Atlanta is a major hub for Delta. Atlanta is also popular connection airport, so you’ll get more bang for your buck with this high-annual-fee card.

Baseline Rewards: Earn two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Earn 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles after your first purchase on the card.

Great Perk: Cardholders get complimentary first-class upgrades and Delta Sky Club access.

Annual Fee: $450

APR: Variable 16.24% to 25.24%

Got a question about credit cards? Leave it in the comments below and one of our experts will try to get back to you!

At publishing time, the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, JetBlue Card, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard, Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card,The JetBlue Plus Card from BarclayCard and the Platinum Card From American Express 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. 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.

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32 Ways to Leave Your High-Interest Credit Card

credit card with high apr

Sure, there were the good times — back when you and your credit card first got together. Maybe your card was giving you a 0% introductory APR. Maybe you went everywhere together, bought everything together … but things changed. Today you feel like you’re giving a lot more than you’re getting, and now you’re wondering how you can leave your high-interest credit card behind.

While there aren’t as many options for leaving your credit card as there are ways to leave your lover (Paul Simon famously notes there must be 50 of those), it doesn’t mean you’re stuck. No, you’re probably not going to be able to slip out the back, Jack (that debt’s not going away even if you run!), but you most definitely can make a new plan, Stan. So don’t be coy, Roy, just listen to me …

1. Negotiate a Lower Rate

Most people don’t bother to ask their credit card issuer for a lower rate, but sometimes lowering your current APR can be as simple as that, so …

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Before you storm out on your credit card, try communicating. It could be worth your time to see if your card issuer will lower your interest rate, especially if your relationship is a long one. Keep in mind, they might pull your credit to see if you’re deserving of a lower APR. That’s why you’ll want to …

3. Check Your Credit Score …

You’ll want to get an idea of whether you’re likely to qualify for a lower APR, lest you incur a hard inquiry on your credit report only to get rejected. (You can view two of your free credit scores, along with some recommendations for credit cards it could help you qualify for, on Credit.com.)

4. … Fix it Up Before Inquiring

If your scores are less than stellar, you may want to try brushing them up before you call up your issuer. You can find 11 ways to improve your credit here.

5. Do Some Research

Are there other cards out there you qualify for that can offer you a better APR? If so, you can use this information to your advantage while negotiating with your current issuer.

6. Begin Negotiating With Your Oldest Card

Like we said before, your issuer might be willing to work with you, especially if you’ve been a cardholder for several years, so start negotiating with whichever card issuer you’ve been with longest to see if you can reduce your interest rate there.

7. Keep It Simple

It’s not a difficult process to ask for a decrease in your APR. In fact, it’s as simple as a call to the customer service line listed on the back of your card. Yes, they could say no, but that’s where your research will come in handy and you can …

8. Leverage Your Loyalty

If they say they can’t reduce your rate, remind them of how long you’ve been with the company, how you’ve never had a late payment or maxed out your card’s balance. Whatever positives you can cite can be helpful. If that doesn’t work, tell them what the other cards you’ve researched are offering. But most importantly …

9. Don’t Give Up Right Away

The old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is especially important here. Your issuer may say no, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Call them multiple times, and ask to speak to a supervisor if their answer continues to be no. Of course, you’ll want to be polite throughout the process. If all of this doesn’t work, it’s time to …

10. Consider an Upgrade

A lot of card issuers have tiered credit card offerings, so you could potentially upgrade to a new card with the same issuer that offers a lower interest rate and transfer your current balance to that card.

11. Keep Watching Your Credit …

Just like when an issuer considers lowering your interest rate, which we mentioned above, they’ll likely check your credit as part of your application for a card upgrade. So, if you think there’s a better credit card available elsewhere, you might not want to ask them to upgrade you.

12. … & Limit Your Card Applications

In fact, every time you apply for new credit you’re going to have a hard inquiry and a ding to your credit scores. These can add up if you have too many in a short span of time and even impact your ability to qualify for a new card, so be very selective or you could end up hurting your credit. (You can read here about how often you can apply for new credit without hurting your credit scores too much.)

If you’ve tried all these steps with your current credit card issuer to no avail, it’s time to look at starting a new relationship with a new issuer.

13. Get a Balance Transfer Card

Let’s say you’ve tried everything to lower your current APR with your card issuer and they just won’t work with you. Perhaps you’ve had some late payments or you just haven’t been with them that long. Getting a balance transfer credit card could make sense for you.

14. Find an Introductory 0% APR

There are lots of options to choose from in the world of balance transfer credit cards with a low or even 0% introductory APR. Here’s how to find the right one for you …

15. Comparison Shop

You can start by checking out some of the best balance transfer credit cards and comparing what they offer.

16. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

There are balance transfer cards that offer as long as 21 months at 0% financing for balance transfers and even new purchases. If you have a lot of current credit card debt, that could be very beneficial to you, as you’ll eliminate your interest while paying down your principal.

17. Don’t Forget the Transfer Fees …

Of course, most balance transfer cards charge you a fee for transferring your balance – typically 3% to 5%, so be sure to compare those amounts as well.

18. … & the Annual Fees

Some cards also charge an annual fee, so you’ll want to consider that cost as well as you compare balance transfer offers.

19. Make Sure You Time it Right

If you’re looking at buying a new house, car or other major purchase anytime soon, you’ll want to time your credit card application with that in mind since your credit scores will be impacted by that aforementioned hard inquiry that takes place during your application process.

20. Include Your Balance Transfer Amount in Your Application

This can help ensure the transfer goes smoothly and quickly. The new issuer will reach out to your current card issuer once you’re approved and get the transfer process started right away, saving you the hassle of doing it later.

21. Pay Off Your Balance

Once you have your new balance transfer card, it’s important to focus your attention on getting that balance paid off before your introductory rate expires. Otherwise, your balance is going to revert to the standard variable rate.

22. Keep Your Old Card

No, keeping your old card isn’t exactly leaving it, but hear us out. You might be tempted to close your old card, particularly if your card issuer refused to reduce your APR when you transferred your balance, but keeping it open can be good for your credit score.

That’s because your credit scores improve the longer you have a credit account in good standing, so if you had a decent payment history, keeping that card open could really help. Moreover, your total credit line will be higher if you keep it open, also helping your scores. (You can find a full explainer on how closing a card can affect your credit here.)

Go ahead and cut it up, though, if it makes you feel better. That will also keep you from using it.

23. Keep Your New Interest Rate Low

Now that you have a card with a lower APR, even if it’s just an introductory rate, there are things you can do to keep your rate as low as possible. You’ll want to …

24. Make Your Payments On Time …

Late payments can send your APR soaring, so make all of your payments on time to avoid a penalty APR.

25. … & Keep Your Balance Low

If you can’t pay off your balance each month, at least try to make payments that keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit, though below 10% is even better if you want to do your credit scores a real favor.

26. Don’t Take Cash Advances

These usually come with a higher variable APR than purchases or balance transfers, so try to avoid them if you want to keep your rates down.

27. Try Some Other Alternatives …

If you’ve had a bad run financially and aren’t going to qualify for a credit card with a lower APR, you still have plenty of money-saving options, so don’t give up just yet. You have some alternatives …

28. Like a Personal Loan …

You may be able to pay off your credit card debt with a personal loan from your bank or credit union, but keep in mind that unless you have excellent credit, you’ll likely need some kind of collateral to secure it. Be sure to ask about the lender’s credit requirements before applying.

29. Or a Home Equity Line of Credit …

If you own a home and have some equity built up, this can be a great option for paying off debt at a lower interest rate. You can save a ton by moving your debt to a HELOC.

30. … But Don’t Spend Your Savings

Use the money you save by refinancing through a HELOC on creating an emergency fund (if you don’t already have one). Once that’s set up, you can use the money as prepayment against your home loan or to boost your retirement savings.

31. Consider a Debt Management Plan …

A debt management plan allows you to turn over all of your debt information to a credit counseling agency. You make one monthly payment to them, and they pay your credit cards and other debts for you. These plans usually last three to five years, and a lot of lenders lower your interest rates when you participate in such a plan. You’ll want to be sure to find a reputable credit counseling agency, so do your research.

32. … Or File for Bankruptcy

As a last-resort option, you can consider getting out from under your high-interest credit card debt by declaring bankruptcy. You’ll lower your debt and have many years to pay it off depending on the type of bankruptcy relief you file for. Just remember you’ll also have a major blemish on your credit reports for up to 10 years that could seriously affect your ability to get credit (in general and at n affordable rate) during that time. Still, if your debt is significant, this could be the right option for you. Talking to a credit counselor or bankruptcy attorney before deciding could help you make the right choice for your circumstances.

Have another question about credit card debt? Leave it in the comments section and one of our credit experts will try to get back to you.

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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.)

Image: jacoblund

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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Interest Rate Hike Incoming: 4 Things You Can Do to Get Ready

For credit card holders, interest rate hikes are never good news. Unfortunately, that’s what’s looming on the horizon.

It’s been widely reported that the Federal Reserve is contemplating an increase to the benchmark interest rate in mid-March, the first of an expected three rate increases in 2017.

Higher interest rates from the Fed ultimately translate into higher interest on your credit card debt and more money out of your pocket.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Financial advisers suggest a variety of preemptive measures to avoid being impacted by the rising rates, or to at least soften the blow.

1. Pay Off Balances as Quickly as Possible

We’d all pay off our credit card balances now if we could, right? If you don’t have the cash to clear your cards of debt before rate hikes set in, try to pay a little more each month than you typically do, said Aaron Aggerwal, assistant vice president of credit card lending at Navy Federal Credit Union.

“If your minimum payment is $30, but you can afford to put down $40, that small bit will make a big impact down the road,” Aggerwal said.

2. Transfer Balances to a Zero-Interest Credit Card

There are varying schools of thought regarding the wisdom of transferring balances to credit cards with zero-interest introductory rates.

Michael Foguth, of Michigan-based Foguth Financial Group, said it’s a savvy approach when the alternative is paying interest on your debt each month.

“Play these companies against themselves,” he said. “If you’re a consumer and you have a balance on a credit card, and you’re paying an interest rate on that balance, go out and find someone who will buy your business…Why pay 3% when there’s zero out there? When zero is out there, go after zero.”

However, Foguth urges consumers to research various offers and figure out which one is best when considering a balance transfer. Ideally, it’s one that does not charge a transfer fee.

Also be sure to check your credit score to see if you can qualify for a balance transfer card. You can view two of your scores free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Kerri Moriarty, of Boston-based Cinch Financial, also advises consumers do the math before jumping into a zero-interest balance transfer.

“Before you make the decision to transfer…calculate how much you will have to pay each month to get rid of the debt before the zero interest expires,” Moriarty said.

If you can’t pay the debt in full before that zero interest elapses, it may not be a good idea. Often the regular interest rates for these cards are higher than what you’re paying on an existing card, Moriarity said.

What’s more, balance transfer cards are designed to get you hooked. You start spending money at zero percent and forget to stop when the introductory rate is gone.

3. Consider Using a Home Equity Loan to Pay Credit Card Balances

Another option Foguth suggests is taking a home equity loan to pay your credit card debt before the interest rate hikes take effect.

There are two big reasons why this makes more sense financially than leaving the debt on a credit card. The first is that the interest on a home equity loan is tax deductible, Foguth said. The second reason is the lower interest on home equity loans.

“The interest on credit cards is often 15% to 20% and on a home equity loan it’s around 4%,” said Foguth.

But again, you must be disciplined.

“You don’t want to go back out and rack up $50,000 of debt,” Foguth said. “If you’re going to take money out on your home, you have to pay the monthly bill.”

4. Utilize Your Cash Rewards to Make Even More Credit Card Payments

One last suggestion from financial experts to help pay down your debt as quickly as possible – use your cash rewards to make additional payments, if you have a cash-back credit card.

This approach isn’t likely to make a huge dent in the average American’s credit card debt, but as Aggerwal noted earlier, every little bit counts.

Image: sturti 

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Guide to Adding an Authorized User to Your Credit Card

Disclaimer: Though we have done our best to research information regarding this topic, be aware that issuing banks may have unique rules and agreement terms that apply to their particular credit card accounts. Contact issuing banks directly for questions on terms and policies relevant to specific credit card accounts.

What Is an Authorized User?

An authorized user on a credit card account is any person you allow to access your credit card account. Not to be confused with a joint account holder, an authorized user can only make purchases and, in some cases, have access to certain card benefits and perks. Joint account holdership is becoming extremely rare, but typically occurs when two people apply for a credit card together. In joint account ownership, both people are liable for charges and can access and make changes to a credit card account.

An authorized user can be a spouse, relative, or employee. When you designate an authorized user on your credit card account, this person usually gets a card bearing their name with the same credit card number as the primary cardholder. In this scenario, the primary cardholder is liable for all transactions made by themselves as well as by any authorized user tied to their account.

Why Would You Add an Authorized User to Your Credit Card Account?

There are many reasons you might think about designating an authorized user for your credit card account. It all comes down to convenience and extending benefits that a credit account offers: access to credit, related perks, and credit card rewards, as well as the potential to improve the credit score of the authorized user.

For example, couples that share expenses might find it easier to designate one or the other as an authorized user to avoid passing a single card back and forth to make purchases. Perhaps you have a relative who lives far away, and it would be easier to give them access to your credit account for emergency purchases. You may also have a child that you want to assist in building credit history to increase their credit score. Adding them as an authorized user could help with this, but we’ll cover that more in another section.

Additionally, if you are an employer whose employees need to make purchases on behalf of the company, it would make sense to make them an authorized user. Without this designation, it could be extremely inconvenient for them to not have a company credit card at their disposal.

In some cases, adding an authorized user can also accrue reward points connected to a credit card account. These reward points can be used to make purchases or receive discounted pricing on things like travel and retail products. Typically, points are accrued from reaching credit card spending amounts within a certain time frame. Sometimes, the act of adding an authorized user can garner additional rewards as well.

How Can I Add an Authorized User to My Credit Card Account?

As the primary cardholder you are the only person who can designate an authorized user. The authorized user cannot contact the credit card issuer and add themselves to your account. You will have to contact the issuing bank and request to add one or more authorized users to your account.

Depending on the bank and the technology in place, you may be able to handle this process entirely online. Some banks allow you to log in to your banking portal to designate additional authorized users, create their own bank login and profile as well as determine the level of access you’d like them to have to your account. Levels of access can range from being able to view transactions only to making purchases. If your bank doesn’t have this technology in place, usually a phone call is sufficient.

Who Can Be an Authorized User on My Account?

An authorized user can be anyone you choose, whether they are related to you in some way or not. In most cases, the bank will request identifying information such as name, birthdate, Social Security number, and address. Some card issuers require that authorized users meet age requirements, and others do not have age requirements. As always, check with the bank to understand the criteria authorized users must meet for your card.

The Fees

Some credit cards will charge an additional fee for more additional authorized users, while others will offer this benefit at no charge. Make sure you read the fine print in your cardholder agreement so that you are aware of all the fees associated with having one or more authorized users on your account.

Fees can range from less than $100 to a few hundred dollars and beyond each year. Business accounts especially can carry higher fees when multiple authorized users are associated to one account.

Liability

As the primary account holder, you must understand that you are 100% solely liable for any and all charges made on your account by both yourself and your authorized user. If you have been designated as an authorized user, you do not legally share liability for purchases made on the credit card account. However, you may have a personal arrangement with the primary account holder to pay your share of charges when the bill is due.

What Can an Authorized User Do?

This can depend on the level of access you’ve chosen with your card issuer for your authorized user. If there are not varying levels of access to choose from, check with the card issuer to find out exactly what an authorized user can and cannot do.

In most cases, an authorized user cannot make changes to an account. They cannot close an account, request changes in bill due dates, change account information, or request limit increases or a lower annual percentage rate.

Again, this varies from card issuer to card issuer, but there are many other things an authorized user can do.

Here are some possible capabilities based on the terms of your credit card issuer:

  • Make purchases
  • Report any lost or stolen cards
  • Obtain account information
  • Initiate billing disputes
  • Request statement copies
  • Make payments and inquire about fees

Benefits of Adding an Authorized User

As mentioned before, adding an authorized user to a card can be for convenience, accruing rewards, or sharing card perks and benefits. An authorized user can be incredibly convenient in the case that you don’t have your personal card or for some reason don’t have immediate access to it.

Having an authorized user can help a primary user reach limits to earn reward points for some cards. One of the most effective marketing strategies of credit card companies is to offer bonuses and rewards for adding authorized users to your account. Adding another user to your account could add a few thousand extra reward points you would not have earned without adding the user. Then, there’s always the chance that the authorized user will make purchases that contribute even more to your attempt to accrue reward points.

Finally, there are a number of credit cards that offer perks or benefits that can extend to your authorized users. Depending on your credit card, benefits like car rental insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and extended warranties could apply to all purchases made, including those by your authorized users, on your credit card account.

Benefits of Becoming an Authorized User

Though the credit-reporting landscape is changing, there’s still the potential to “piggyback” on a primary account holder’s credit history for a card in good standing. But not all credit card companies report information to credit bureaus for authorized users in all circumstances. However, to know for sure what will be reported to the credit bureaus in regard to your authorized user status, speak with your card issuer for the details of what information is reported and when to credit bureaus.

Another benefit is having access to more credit. If you are in a bind and have emergencies that come up, access to credit can be helpful. Plus, exercising diligence in managing purchases and bill payment can help you develop good credit habits.

You should also know that being an authorized user may grant you access to certain perks for account holders and their primary users. There are benefits like access to travel lounges, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application, travel credits, and discounts an authorized user could be privy to as well.

What Could Go Wrong?

If for some reason the credit card account doesn’t remain in good standing, the credit score of both the primary account holder and the authorized user could be affected. If you are a primary account holder, make sure your authorized user understands the terms under which they can make purchases. If they make purchases that cause your payments to be delinquent, your credit score could suffer.

Even if you did not give this person permission to make purchases with your credit card account, the fact that you designated them as an authorized user is evidence that you at some point trusted them with your credit card access. A claim of criminal or fraudulent activity in this instance would be extremely difficult to prove, so choose your authorized users wisely.

Though not as common with an authorized user, your credit score could be negatively affected if an account becomes delinquent. Because tradeline reporting for authorized user accounts to credit bureaus varies from card to card and scenario to scenario, a delinquent account status could still appear on your credit report. If you will be added to someone’s account as an authorized user, find out whether or not the credit history of the account will be reported to credit bureaus under your authorized user status.

Removing an Authorized User from an Account

Either the primary cardholder or the authorized user can remove an authorized user from an account by contacting the credit card issuer. You may be asked to verify your information as well as the information of the primary account holder.

In many cases, only one card number is issued between one or more users. Your credit card company may deactivate the primary cardholder’s credit card number and reissue a new card and number once an authorized user is removed from an account.

If your status as an authorized user does show up on your credit report for the credit account after you’ve been removed from a credit card account, you may have to contact credit bureaus to have it removed.

The Best Way to Manage Shared Credit Access

Designating someone as an authorized user is not something to be taken lightly. Even a small misunderstanding of credit card issuer terms and your own interpersonal credit arrangement can cause problems. Before adding an authorized user to your account, set ground rules around card use that covers access to perks and making purchases.

Some things to consider and discuss with your authorized user include:

  • What is the goal in having the authorized user on the account?
  • Will the authorized user have a physical card?
  • When is it OK to use or not use the credit card to make purchases or access card perks?
  • The credit history of both the primary cardholder and the authorized user
  • Good credit habits that will prevent identity theft and fraud
  • Setting up monitoring alerts with the credit card company or an identity theft protection service

The ability to add an authorized user to a credit card account can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, convenient benefits of access to credit and credit card perks can make life easier in so many ways.

On the other hand, this same convenience can cause problems if both the primary cardholder and the authorized user don’t understand the rules of engagement with each other or the terms set forth by the credit card company.

Adding an authorized user to your account has the potential to be incredibly convenient and mutually beneficial if handled the right way. Make sure you follow best practices to get the most out of this financial arrangement.

The post Guide to Adding an Authorized User to Your Credit Card appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

The Amped-Up Amex Platinum Card: How Does It Compare to the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

American Express just upgraded its already stacked Platinum Card. Does it now top Chase Sapphire Reserve?

For years, the American Express Platinum Card has provided a wide range of travel benefits and luxury perks to its cardholders. But recently, there’s been increased competition from travel-centric credit cards entering the game or increasing their benefits to take some of American Express’ market share.

One of the biggest new players is the Chase Sapphire Reserve (you can read our full review here), which has been popular for its extensive travel perks.

Presumably to compete, American Express is expanding its benefits, offering a wider range of rewards that kick in March 30. So how does it stack up to the Chase Sapphire Reserve? Here we compare each card so you can decide which one is best for jet-setters.

Earning & Redeeming Points

Both cards earn points as they are used. Users can redeem points for gift cards, merchandise or travel.

With the Platinum Card’s newly enhanced features, cardholders earn five points for every dollar spent on airfare and eligible hotels using the American Express Travel platform (they can also book directly with the airline). That’s on top of the existing two points per dollar spent on other eligible travel purchases and one point per dollar spent on everything else. American Express offers a bonus 75,000 points if you spend $5,000 during the first three months after receiving the card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns three points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants and one point per dollar spent on everything else. Chase offers 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. On top of that, you get 50% additional value when you redeem your points for travel.

Travel Perks Included

American Express has enhanced its already extensive travel benefits.

The card will now come with $200 in annual Uber credits, earned by linking the card to your Uber account. The Global Lounge Collection has expanded, and cardholders get access to more than 1,000 airport lounges in 120 countries, including the luxury Centurion Lounge. There’s also a new Global Dining Collection, which provides exclusive reserved seating at culinary events hosted by world-renowned chefs. The By Invitation Only program has also grown to include more exclusive experiences like access to the Grand Prix de Monaco and trips to French wine country.

The Platinum Card’s existing benefits were already impressive. American Express offers a $200 annual credit for airline fees such as checked bags or in-flight meals and a $100 credit toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application. Cardholders get competitive hotel rates and benefits (according to American Express, worth an average $550 annual value) and a complimentary room upgrade and $75 hotel credit when cardholders book two consecutive nights at a hotel through American Express Travel. Cardholders can also get VIP status with Starwood and Hilton hotels and select rental car agencies.

Chase’s existing travel features include $300 in annual statement credits for travel purchases and $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications. Plus, cardholders get access to more than 900 airport lounges and special car rental privileges. Cardholders also receive benefits at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection properties.

Both cards come with concierge services that can assist with travel bookings, dining reservations, entertainment and sporting events. Each card also provides many travel perks standard, including car rental protection, trip cancellation protection and no foreign transaction fees.

Heavy Metal Card Design

American Express is upgrading the Platinum Card to a new metal design. The Chase Sapphire Reserve already came in a “hand-crafted embedded metal” design.

The Cost

The new Platinum Card also comes with a new annual fee of $550 — a $100 increase. It’s also not technically a credit card as cardholders are expected to pay their balance in full each month. As a result, there are no interest charges. (We explain the difference between a charge card and a credit card here.)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is $450, and has an annual percentage rate (APR) of 16.49% to 23.49%.

How They Stack Up

Both cards have strong signup bonuses, and the Platinum Card’s five points policy is tempting, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve likely has the best long-term point value. Cardholders earn triple points on dining, and most cardholders will likely dine out more than they fly. In addition, redeeming points for travel through Chase gets you a bonus 50% value for every point.

As for travel perks, results are mixed. The Platinum Card’s $200 travel credits only apply to airline fees, while Chase’s $300 credit can be applied to any travel cost. The Platinum Card’s Uber credit is nice, but only if you use Uber. However, the Platinum Card gives access to exclusive dining and travel experiences that Chase doesn’t provide.

Another major consideration that you must pay the Platinum Card’s balance in full each month. If you need the ability to carry a balance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers that option. (Carrying a balance is, of course, an expensive option, with that APR between 16.49% and 23.49%.)

In the end, the better card depends on how you plan to use it. The Platinum Card may be worth the price if you can pay your balance off each month, if you want access to private exclusive events and travel and if you ride Uber frequently. If you want a simpler, more practical credit card that still provides big travel perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve may be the way to go.

You’ll need a strong credit score to qualify for either card. Before you apply, you can check two of your scores free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Image: Weekend Images Inc. 

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).

The post The Amped-Up Amex Platinum Card: How Does It Compare to the Chase Sapphire Reserve? appeared first on Credit.com.