Virtual Credit Card – What You Need to Know

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Virtual credit cards have been around in one form or another for years now, but their use has yet to truly take off among consumers.

A crop of new start-ups however, such as Pay With Privacy and Token Payments, are poised to change that.

These two companies may not be household names but perhaps they should be. Both are joining the effort to help consumers beat credit card fraudsters at their game at a time when the list of blockbuster data breaches seems to be growing longer by the day.

For those not familiar with virtual credit cards, they come in various forms but are typically temporary, randomly generated, credit or debit card numbers. Often the numbers link to a real payment account, such as a credit card, debit card or checking account.

In many cases, the cards are designed for a single use. They’re known as “burners” meaning they expire immediately after use (though some can be scheduled to last for up to one year). There are also virtual cards that can be created and locked for use with only a single merchant and virtual cards that allow for setting a maximum charge amount.

The beauty of such cards is that if a hacker gets hold of the information, it doesn’t matter, because the damage that can be done is minimal.

Originally developed to make online credit card purchases more secure, the cards are now also being used with increasing frequency in brick and mortar stores thanks to the rise of mobile wallets such Apple Pay, Google’s Android Pay and more.

Here are the pros and cons that experts say you should keep in mind with this payment technology.

Refunds and Disputes Can Be a Hassle

Most refunds for purchases made with a credit card are made directly to the account that was used for the original purchase, notes Chargebacks911 co-founder and COO Monica Eaton-Cardone.

However, with disposable credit cards that “account” will no longer exist if the purchase was made with a virtual card and the number has already expired.

“That can create headaches for users,” says Eaton-Cardone.

The solution to this issue can range from the merchant in question providing a cash refund to you being required to accept a store credit.

Another issue to keep in mind, said John Buzzard, an industry fraud specialist at CO-OP Financial Services, is that virtual cards offer little consumer protection in the case of a dispute for services not rendered or received. 

Associated Fees

Read the fine print when using virtual credit cards, and understand how they operate including the various fees charged.

For instance, some companies allow you to load money onto the card, explains Eaton-Cardone. But you may be charged a monthly fee if the balance dips below $25.

“There’s a bunch of things they do because they want to make sure you are incentivized to keep money on the card,” explained Eaton-Cardone

Some of the cards have expiration dates, (also noted in the fine print), which can lead to inadvertently allowing the card to expire while there’s still money on it.

Other disposable cards include foreign transaction fees or fees for paper copies of documents that have already been provided.

Verification May Be a Problem – Particularly for Travel Related Transactions

Virtual credit card numbers can certainly be used to book such things as car rentals and hotel rooms online through sites such as Expedia, Orbitz and more. But when you show up to pick up that rental vehicle, you’ll be required to have an actual credit card to swipe.

“With disposable credit cards, the account numbers won’t match,” says Eaton-Cardone.

When booking hotel rooms online with a disposable card, you may be able to request that the property in question charge the cost of the room to the card you used to make the reservation. However, you will still need to present an actual credit card to be swiped upon check-in to cover incidentals. 

Virtual Credit Cards and Mobile Wallet Technology

One of the growth spaces for virtual credit cards is in conjunction with mobile wallet technology such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and more.

A virtual card can be issued instantly, even while standing in line at a brick and mortar store, and some can be delivered to your Apple Pay account, explained Jason Gardner, CEO of Marqeta, a fintech firm that enables companies to issue and manage virtual cards.

The card can be preconfigured with a spending limit instantly, funded, unloaded, suspended or cancelled, all in real time, granting the cardholder complete control.

“These cards create a lot of choice for consumers, different products that fit different constituencies,” said Gardner. “You are seeing a significant decline in private label cards. The growth of these virtual credit card companies is undeniable.”

For the digital obsessed Millennial demographic in particular, it’s an option that is very appealing. If you look at Millennials and the top 50 brands they focus on, there’s not a single bank, or credit card company among the list. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter are all taking over, making digital and virtual products more mainstream.

In such a world, virtual credit cards are a natural fit.

“Most millennials are not carrying credit cards now,” said Gardner. “But they all have mobile phones. And the ability to instantly make a credit decision and pay with the mobile phone is beautiful consumer experience and it also generates choice.”

One last downside however, is that mobile wallet payments are still not widely accepted by merchants. But that too may be changing in 2018 and beyond.

If you’re concerned about your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get two free credit scores updated each month.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

 

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Debt Relief: How Will It Affect Your Credit?

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Many people ask, What’s the best way to get out of debt? Then they may often think, But I have good credit and I really don’t want to hurt it. There are many ways to lighten your debt load, and not all of them will have a major negative effect on your credit. But it’s also important to consider your situation and needs when weighing your options.

To help you decide which debt relief plan is best for you, we’ve provided a brief overview of each option and how they may affect your credit in the short term and long term.

A Few Things to Remember

Before we dive into the different debt relief options, understand that the debt you carry makes up just under one-third of your credit score. So when you pay off debt, especially credit cards that are close to their credit limits, you should see improvement in that part of your score.

However, understand that our analysis of credit relief plans is based on generalities. It doesn’t necessarily represent exactly what will happen in your case. How far your score drops—and how quickly it bounces back—depends on a lot of different factors. If your payment history always shows on-time payments, for example, and you suddenly file for bankruptcy, your score will probably drop more than someone who was already severely delinquent.

But it’s impossible to predict how a particular approach will impact your individual credit if you’re not familiar with your credit history—so get a free credit report from Credit.com to review that history.

With this information in mind, here are the main approaches to debt relief you may consider, along with a review of the impact they could have on your credit reports and scores.

Debt Relief Option Immediate Credit Impact Long-term Credit Impact
Debt Snowballs and Avalanches None Reliably positive
Debt Consolidation Small impact (positive or negative) Minimal
Credit Counseling None None
Debt Management Plan (DMP) Moderate impact (positive or negative) Minimal
Debt Negotiation or Settlement Severe damage Slow recovery
Bankruptcy Severe damage Slow recovery

Debt Snowballs and Avalanches

If you prefer to pay off your debt on your own, you might consider a snowball or avalanche payment method. The debt snowball is when you pay off your debts one at a time, starting with the lowest balance. The debt avalanche works similarly, except you start with your highest balance and work your way down.

It doesn’t make much of a difference whether you choose the avalanche method or the snowball method, but many find the snowball method is easier to stick to. Neither approach will hurt your credit, as long as you make the minimum payments on all of your cards on time.

Immediate Credit Impact: None

Long-Term Credit Impact: Reliably Positive

Debt Consolidation

Combining multiple card debts into a fixed-rate consolidation loan can be helpful, but it isn’t a strategy for getting out of debt in and of itself. After all, you still have to pay back the loan. A consolidation loan is more like a tool to get out of debt faster.

Because consolidation loans often offer lower interest rates than the credit cards themselves, you can pay off your debt faster. And if you have a lower monthly payment than before, you can better avoid late payments. This will help your credit score recover more quickly if you’ve fallen behind in the past.

But consolidating credit cards with a loan may have a positive or negative effect on your scores. It’s one of those “it depends” situations.

On the plus side, if you pay off a card balance that’s close to the credit limit, you may improve your “utilization ratio”—the ratio that compares your credit limits with the balances you currently have—provided you leave the card open after paying it off. But simply moving balances from one card to another is unlikely to do a whole lot for your scores.

On the other hand, you’ll have a new loan on your credit reports, and most credit scoring models will count that as a risk factor, which could mean a dip or drop in your scores.

The exception? If you take out a loan from your retirement account to consolidate credit card debt, you’re more likely to see your credit improve. Retirement account loans aren’t reported to credit reporting agencies, so your credit reports will show less debt with no new loan. However, retirement loans carry their own risks, so proceed with caution.

Immediate Credit Impact: None

Long-Term Credit Impact: Minimal

Credit Counseling

A credit counselor is a professional who can advise you on how to handle and successfully pay off your debt. A simple call to a credit counseling agency for a consultation won’t impact your credit in the slightest. But if the credit counselor or agency enrolls you in any kind of consolidation, repayment, or management plan, that could affect your credit.

Make sure you fully understand the potential impact of any debt relief program before you sign up. Don’t be afraid to ask the credit counselor how a new plan could alter your credit.

Immediate Credit Impact: None

Long-Term Credit Impact: None

Debt Management Plan (DMP)

With a Debt Management Plan (DMP), you make one monthly payment to a counseling agency, which then disburses payments to your creditors. This kind of plan can affect your credit in several ways.

Some creditors may report that a credit counseling agency is repaying the account. Don’t worry if they do. FICO, the data analytics corporation that calculates consumer credit risk, ignore such reports. An individual lender may care, but FICO doesn’t. Of course, any late payments or high balances on accounts will continue to impact your credit score.

With the help of the counseling agency, you can stay current on your payments, and that can improve your credit score. “Most major creditors will re-age your accounts after you’ve made three on-time payments in the required amount,” says Thomas J. Fox, community outreach director for Cambridge Credit Counseling.

Re-aging an account means bringing it back to “current” status, so your credit report will no longer list you as behind. Since recent late payments can really hurt your scores, getting up to date on your payments now is a smart move, especially as the sting of past late payments fades over time.

However, you’ll have to close your credit cards when you agree to a DMP, and that will likely lower your scores. How much it will hurt depends on everything else in your credit reports, including whether you have other credit accounts, such as car loans or mortgages, that you pay on time.

The impact may take time, says Barry Paperno, community director for Credit.com. He states it’s because “balances and limits won’t necessarily change right away, and utilization will be the same as before closing accounts.

He goes on to explain, “Closing an account in and of itself isn’t considered negative by the score. Over time, however, having closed the cards can hurt the score, as closed cards with zero balances are excluded from utilization and ultimately fall off the credit report much sooner than open cards that have been paid off.”

“Plan on getting a secured card when you complete the DMP so that as long as you keep a low utilization percentage on that one card, you can achieve a good score—with any [late payments] fading well into the past,” Paperno continues. “Also, your old closed cards will continue to contribute positively to your overall length of credit history for as long as they remain on your credit report (typically 7 or 10 years).”

Immediate Credit Impact: Moderate impact (positive or negative)

Long-Term Credit Impact: Minimal

Debt Negotiation or Settlement

Some creditors may allow you to settle your debt, which permits you to pay less than the full balance you owe. But creditors typically won’t settle debts with consumers who make their payments on time, so it’s a better option for those that already have several late payments on their credit report.

On top of that, “most creditors will report the settlement as something like ‘paid less than full balance’ if you settle the debt before it has been charged off,” warns Michael Bovee, community manager for DebtConsolidationCare.com. Creditors generally charge off debts when borrowers fall 180 days behind. And charged off debts often get turned over to collection agencies.

Bovee further explains, “When you settle a charged-off debt, getting it reported [with a] zero balance due will not in and of itself help your credit because the damage has already been done.” But it could help you ward off further damage from, say, a potential lawsuit.

In other words, settling an account before it gets charged off can prevent it from going to collections and adding another negative item to your credit reports—or causing other harm.

Brad Stroh, co-CEO of Freedom Debt Relief, adds, “Debt settlement hurts people’s credit scores but helps their credit profiles. [It’s] worth considering for anyone struggling to pay a lot of credit card debt, despite its negative effects on credit scores. It is far easier to rebuild one’s credit than to get out of debt, and people carrying a lot of debt likely have credit problems already.”

Immediate Credit Impact: Severe damage

Long-Term Credit Impact: Slow recovery

Bankruptcy

It’s well known that filing for bankruptcy will hurt your credit score—bankruptcies can stay on your report for up to 10 years from the filing date. However, with updates in the credit scoring algorithms, a bankruptcy isn’t the credit death knell it used to be.

Credit scoring algorithms typically segment consumers into subgroups called “scorecards.” If you experience a significant negative credit event, such as a bankruptcy, you’ll likely be compared with other consumers who’ve experienced something similar for credit scoring purposes.

That may bring a little bit of comfort, but it also means you might have a good shot at improving your credit scores if you make a real effort to rebuild your credit after your bankruptcy is discharged.

As far as your credit is concerned, you can recover from Chapter 13 bankruptcies more easily than other types of bankruptcies. In Chapter 13 bankruptcies, you typically pay back some or all of your debts over a period of three to five years, and they come off your credit reports seven years after the filing date.

So if it takes you four years to complete your Chapter 13 plan, you have to wait only three more years before the bankruptcy disappears from your reports.

However, you’ll probably end up paying more in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where you wipe out all or most of your debts by selling some of your assets. Make sure you discuss both options with a qualified consumer bankruptcy attorney.

Immediate Credit Impact: Severe damage

Long-Term Credit Impact: Slow recovery

Getting Back on Track

Whichever method you choose, keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to pay off your debt so you can save and invest for future goals. A hit to your credit may be worth it if it means you can finally get your balances to zero. Monitor your credit, consider getting a secured card if necessary, and keep your financial situation in perspective.

“People just worry about their credit too much,” says Fox. “If your couch is on fire, would you not throw water on the fire because you don’t want to damage the upholstery?”

As you work to pay off your debts, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score to see how you’re improving. Get your credit score for free from Credit.com.

Image: Alija 

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How Much Will One Late Payment Hurt Your Credit Scores?

How Much Will One Late Payment Hurt Your Credit Scores?

You open your statement and discover you’re late on your credit card payment. Or you get a call from a collection agency about a medical bill you forgot to pay. Or you check your credit reports and discover a late payment is marring your otherwise perfect payment history.

What happens if you miss a credit card payment? How do late payments affect your credit scores? Of course, as with so many things related to credit scores, the answer is, “It depends.”

Hope for the Best

Late payments and good credit scores go together like toothpaste and orange juice—they don’t mix. But just how bad is it to miss a single payment?

First, it depends on how many days late your payment is. If you missed your credit card payment by one day, you probably don’t need to sweat it.

If you’re lucky, the lender won’t report the lapse. “Most lenders do not report missed payments until the account is 30-plus days past due,” says Anthony Sprauve, PR director for MyFico.com.

“Suppose a given credit card payment is due on May 15 [and you pay on] May 25. Technically, the payment is late, and fees and interest charges may apply. But in most cases, this late payment would not be reported by the creditor to the credit reporting agencies [CRAs].”

Or perhaps your lender may overlook the transgression. Steve Ely, president of eCredable.com, adds, “The larger creditors [like credit card companies] usually have sophisticated analytic models working behind the scenes that take into account your history of payments. If you’ve been paying on time for a long time, they’re likely to forgive your one late payment and let it slide.”

But Brace for the Worst

What if you don’t luck out and the creditor reports the late payment? Here are three questions that will help you understand the possible impact, according to Barry Paperno, community director for Credit.com:

  1. How long ago did the most recent late payment occur?
  2. How severe were the late payments (30 days, 60 days, charged off, etc.)?
  3. How many accounts on the credit report have had late payments?

“Of these three questions, the one typically having the most impact on your credit score is the first: recency,” says Paperno. “To illustrate, if a single late credit payment occurred a few years ago and all payments on all accounts have been made on time since, that single late payment will have little negative impact on your score.”

How Bad Can It Get?

To put the potential consequences in perspective, Paperno points to a study about credit scoring effects conducted by FICO that points to a scary possibility. “[A] recent late payment can cause as much as a 90- to 110-point drop on a FICO score of 780 or higher.”

Although score drops from late payments tend to rise again over time, these credit dings can remain on your credit report for seven years, according to Paperno. You can expect the effects to last for much of that time.

Sprauve also explains that the impact of a missed credit card payment or late bill on your FICO credit score varies significantly depending upon the individual consumer’s circumstances. He details some of the factors that can help determine how much a late payment will hurt your scores:

  • Any history of account delinquencies or collection references (on any account)
  • Any adverse legal items on your credit report
  • The outstanding balance on the delinquent account
  • The number of other accounts on the file that you’ve currently paid as agreed
  • The length of your credit history

The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall

The irony is, the better your credit, the more you may feel the sting. One slipup and your credit score may take a dive—even if you have otherwise stellar credit.

“The old [adage] of ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall’ applies to credit scores too,” warns Ely. “If you have a really high FICO Score, you’ll take a bigger hit for a late payment than someone with a lower FICO Score.”

The best defense is to be meticulous about paying your bills by the due date. But if you do mess up, see if you can’t convince the lender or collector to remove the ding from your reports. While they may balk at first, you may be able to persuade them to change their mind if you have a good explanation—and they believe you when say it won’t happen again.

What You Can Do

If you’re concerned about how late payments could be damaging your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get two free credit scores updated each month.

[Offer: Bad Credit? The credit professionals at Lexington Law use their legal expertise to help you aim for a better credit profile. Start by getting your credit reports, then connect with Lexington Law’s attorneys and paralegals who will review your credit reports and help you dispute any errors with the credit bureaus. Get started today or call (844) 346-3296 for a free credit consultation.]

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

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

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

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

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

How Location Services Works

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

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

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

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

The feature is available for both Android and Apple devices.

How Location Services Can Help You

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

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

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

Why Location Services Was Introduced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are four travel credit cards for riding the rails.

1. Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

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

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred

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

3. Citi ThankYou Premier

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

4. Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

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

How to Choose a Card for Rail Travel

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

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

What Credit Is Required for Train Travel Rewards Credit Cards?

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

Image: istock

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

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

 

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

3 Credit Cards for Stand-Up Comedy Lovers

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

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

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

1. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

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

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

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

3. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card 

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

How to Choose a Card for Stand-Up Comedy 

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

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

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

What Is Required to Get a Card for Concerts?  

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

Image: istock

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

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

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

3 Credit Cards That Reward Your Streaming Subscriptions

real estate tv shows

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

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

Here are three credit cards that reward streaming entertainment services.

1. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

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

2. Sony Card from Capital One

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

3. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

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

How to Choose a Credit Card for Streaming Services

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

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

What Credit Is Required for a Streaming Subscription Credit Card?

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

Image: istock

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

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

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

What Happens When You Miss a Credit Card Payment

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Your phone rings — and rings, and rings some more. You know who’s calling. You know what the caller wants, too, but you can’t afford to give the money you owe on your credit cards. So, you let the debt collector leave a voicemail you have no intention of returning.

That’s the wrong way to deal with delinquent credit card debt, says Michaela Harper, debt counselor and director of the Community Education for Credit Advisors Foundation in Omaha, Neb.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to your creditor,” says Harper. “Avoiding them makes the problem worse because it sends it onto the next division” and brings your debt closer to being charged-off, which Harper says consumers with past-due debt should do their best to avoid. (More on that later.)

Credit card debts — or most debts for that matter — become delinquent the moment you miss a first payment. The events that follow the missed payment depend on how long the past-due debt goes unpaid. It begins with friendly reminder calls from the bank to pay your credit card bill, and can culminate in losing up to 25 percent of your annual income to wage garnishment.

The portion of consumers missing credit card payments has been on the rise since the lowest levels of delinquent credit card debt ever recorded were reached two years ago. About 2.47 percent of credit card loans made by commercial banks were delinquent in the second quarter of 2017, according to Aug. 23 figures from the Federal Reserve Economic Database.

Below is a timeline chronicling what happens when you miss a credit card payment, as well as tips from debt management experts on what you can do to mitigate the situation at each point. (You can jump to a specific time period by clicking on the milestones below.)

Zero to 30 days past due: Missed a payment

After you miss your first payment, your debt is delinquent and the clock starts ticking. Your bank should begin to contact you to remind you to make a payment. You are also likely to incur a late fee.

The first 30 days will sound more like courtesy calls, says Randy Williams, president and CEO of A Debt Coach. In reality, the bank is trying to verify your address and personal information to update the system in case your debt becomes more delinquent. (Williams used to work as a bill collector before switching over to debt consulting.)

What you can do

At this point, the bank’s agents may be more willing to provide customer service, so you can ask for an extension or create a payment arrangement to address the past-due debt before the missed payment begins to impact your credit report, which can be as early as 30 days past due. You may also try your luck at asking if the bank could waive any late fees already incurred, although the creditor is not obligated to extend this courtesy.

There’s only so much leeway a bank will give you, says Gordon Oliver, a certified debt management professional at Cambridge Credit Counseling. If you’ve asked for a late payment or interest charge to be waived in the past, you won’t have much leverage.

“There will be different reasons why a creditor may not extend those benefits at the time, but usually those terms are for borrowers who are in better standing,” Oliver adds.

30 to 90 days past due: Collection calls begin

Over the 30- to 60-day delinquency period, the bank will attempt to reach you to collect the past-due amount on your credit card bill.

“This is when they are trying to figure out what’s wrong. They are trying to collect the money,” says Williams.

“At this point it’s starting to affect your credit,” says Williams. He says the robo-collection calls may come as often as every 15 minutes. Borrowers with higher credit scores are likely to see a bigger drop than borrowers with lower scores. According to FICO data, for example, a 30-day late payment could bring a 680 credit score down 10 to 30 points and a 780 score down 25 to 45 points.

In addition to seeing your credit score drop, you will be charged late fees on the past-due account. After you have owed debt for two payment cycles, the CARD Act allows creditors to flag you in their system as a “high-risk” borrower, which means the interest you currently pay will rise to whatever the bank charges for customers at a high-risk status. That number varies from bank to bank but in some cases can get as high as 29.99 percent. The rate will stay that high at least until you have made six consecutive on-time payments, at which point the bank is required by law to reset the rate.

However, “the law doesn’t say they have to do it on their own,” says Harper. So, you will likely need to request a reset. You can find the APR charged to high-risk borrowers in your credit card terms.

What you can do

Harper says if you respond at this point, the bank may ask you to negotiate a payment arrangement.

“Never make a promise to pay that you can’t keep just to get someone off the phone,” says Harper. “If you are silent, you agree to the payment.”

Missing promised payments also gives the bank more leverage if the bill eventually goes to court, says Harper. “If they walk into court and they can point to all of the promised payments, it undermines your credibility.”

Harper advises debtors to be very clear if they cannot meet the bank’s proposed payment arrangements. You need to specifically tell them you cannot make the payments. If possible, take a look at your budget. If you find you are able to send them a small amount every month, tell them.

“That’s a valuable thing because it goes back to when the account charges off. You can slow down your progression toward charge-off by making the partial payments,” says Harper.

A charge-off happens when a creditor believes there is no chance of collecting your past-due debt, so the debt’s considered a loss. The debt gets written off the creditor’s financial statements as a bad debt and sold or transferred to a third-party collection agency or a debt buyer.

“If they feel like it’s a tough situation [you] are going through they will refer [you] to a credit counselor” around the 60- to 90-day mark, says Williams. Again, that benefit may not be extended to all consumers facing financial hardship.

90 to 120 days past due: Bank requests balance in full

After your bill is 90 days overdue, the bank will turn collection over to its internal recovery department to engage in more aggressive collection attempts. Williams says the bank will now be calling for the balance in full, not only the past-due amount.

The bank’s collectors will continue to call, but they may also send you multiple letters every day, or may attempt to reach you via social media, emails or emergency contacts.

Harper says the account may stay with the bank’s internal collections for another 90 days (180 days past due), but it’s important to note that at the 120-day past-due mark, your debt is at risk of getting charged off and being sold to a third-party collection agency.

That’s because the CARD Act states the past-due amount needs to be the equivalent of six months’ worth of your credit card’s minimum payment in order for the debt to be charged off. Including late fees and the amount added in higher interest payments, consumers may reach that figure in as little as four calendar months.

What you can do

If you can’t give them the entire past-due amount or balance in full, take a serious look at your budget. See if there is any room to make even a small payment. If you can find a few dollars, you may be able to enter a repayment plan with the bank, which will at least pause the collection calls. Don’t forget to leverage the collector’s insider knowledge. Explain your situation and ask if you can negotiate a solution with the bank.

“You want to pay off the debt, they want to pay off the debt. They may have solutions they can offer you that you don’t know about,” says Harper.

Once you’ve got an active repayment plan in place, the bank will pull you out of the collection list, Harper says.

120 to 150 days past due: Hardcore collection attempts

Watch your credit report carefully after your account becomes 120 days past due, as it may be charged off at any point. At this point, the collectors will continue to try every channel available to them to get in touch with you and collect on the debt. The attempts may get closer together and collectors may try more aggressive tactics to scare you into paying up.

“One hundred and twenty to 150 days, it is hardcore. Now they are going to offer you a settlement. They will do whatever they want to try and get to you to pay the debt off. It’s basically motivation to get you to pay now,” says Williams.

Debt collectors at this point may also take time to remind you of your rights under the CARD Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as well as their right to collect on the past-due debt.

The bank’s collectors may not directly say they will proceed with legal action or wage garnishment if they do not intend to, as that is illegal under the FDCPA, but they may remind you of those possibilities if you do not pay and emphasize the bank’s right to collect on the debt owed to them, Williams says.

Williams adds, “They never say they are going to sue you; they say, ‘We have the right to protect our asset.’”

What you can do

Williams says at this point the debtor essentially has three options. Bring the account current by paying the entire past-due amount, arrange a debt settlement plan with the bank or try going to a credit counselor to create a debt consolidation plan.

“Near 120 days past due, they need to get some form of help to remedy the account before it goes to a charge off,” says Oliver, who adds that the timing the charge off will be difficult to predict.

For those who may be behind on several bills, Oliver also recommends getting some form of financial counseling to create a plan that addresses all your financial issues.

150 to 180 days past due: Last chance

At 150 days, collections efforts will remain aggressive and may even increase in frequency as the bank is now concerned about losing the debt to a charge-off.

Once your credit card payment is 150 days past due, you may start to hear the bank’s agents’ tactics shift as they may make a last-ditch effort to recover the debt, according to Williams.

What you can do

You will still have the options to pay the balance in full or reach a settlement with the bank, but you may have an additional option: Re-age your debt.

When your account is past due and you enter a re-age program, the late payments and collection activity are removed from your account. As a result, “your credit score may improve by 10 to 15 points if not growing every month from there,” according to Williams.

You will generally be asked to make at least three on-time payments on the debt before your account is re-aged. For example, the bank could ask you to pay $100 each month for three months before bringing your account back up to a current standing, but the bank will add the interest and fees you’ve already incurred to the total amount you owe. After the account is re-aged, you’ll go back to making minimum payments on the total amount of debt outstanding. Re-aging the account may also remove the “high-risk” stain from the account so your interest rate drops to to whatever it was before.

Williams says a re-age can be seen as a win-win for both parties: You are able to catch up on your delinquent debt and — in some cases — have its impact removed from your credit report, and the bank is able to recover the interest and fees that have accumulated since your account became delinquent.

Of course, the credit card company doesn’t have to allow you to re-age the debt and may not offer the option to you, but there is a possibility it will do so if you ask. Keep in mind you are only allowed to re-age an account once in 12 months and twice within five years, per federal policy, and re-aging is only an option on accounts that have been open for nine months or longer. Credit card issuers are allowed to set more strict re-aging rules for its accounts, as well.

After 180 days: Charged off to a third party

When you are about six months past due, it is extremely likely the bank will charge off your account and sell the debt to a third-party collection agency. If the bank does not charge off your account, it may take the matter to court.

If it goes to collection, third-party debt collectors may employ some of the same tactics the bank’s collectors did. Most collection agencies will push hard for the first 90 days, then at the end of that point in time they may decide to sue you, Harper says. Or they may sell your debt to another collections agency.

The third-party collectors will attempt to contact you using every channel available to them for the next 90 days or so, before they must decide to either charge off the debt or sue you. The collectors will likely demand you pay the full balance or ask you pay the balance in thirds, says Harper. If they can’t get a hold of you or get you to arrange a payment plan in that time, they may decide to turn it over to an attorney.

What you can do

You should try the same tactics that you would have used with the bank’s internal collections agency with the third-party agency, negotiating the price down and reaching a settlement with the third-party collector. If you don’t respond to the collection requests, you may be sued.

You may not be sued for some time. Companies can only sue you for unpaid debts within a certain period of time, called a statute of limitations — anywhere within three to 10 years, according to your state’s law. Your debt may be sold and resold several times before that happens. Check with the office of consumer protection at your state’s attorney general to find out what the rules are in your state.

If you are served with a lawsuit, you should check the letterhead to make sure the attorney or company filing the suit on behalf of the collections agency is licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction, says Harper, as you cannot legally be sued for credit card debt by an attorney outside your jurisdiction.

You should also be sure to respond to the lawsuit. If you don’t, you’ll likely lose. The court can automatically side with the lender if you don’t show up in court, also known as a default judgment. That may result in getting your wages or federal benefits garnished to pay the debt, not to mention the credit damage a judgment causes. Federal law states a creditor can garnish no more than 25 percent of your disposable income, or the amount that your income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is less.

If you can’t afford to settle

If, given your current financial situation, the debt is unmanageable for you and you are not able to settle the account, you may want to consider bankruptcy. But you will have to file before a judgment is entered against you in court, which may be tricky to time, Harper says.

Given the difficulty in timing when the creditor will take your account to suit, you shouldn’t wait if you think bankruptcy is an option for you. Read here for more information on how and when to file for bankruptcy.

The post What Happens When You Miss a Credit Card Payment appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

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

Tricks-for-vacation-moped

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

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

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

All Purchases Earn Miles

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

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

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

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

The First-Year Matching Bonus

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

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

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

Redeeming Miles for Your Vacation

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

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

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

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

The Costs

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

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

How to Use the Card to Your Advantage

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

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

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

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

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

Image: istock

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

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

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

5 Credit Cards That Offer Companion Tickets for Your Travel Buddy

travel-to-the-uk

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

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

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

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

1. Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card

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

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

Annual Fee: $195

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

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

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

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

2. Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

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

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

Annual Fee: $69

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

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

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

Drawbacks: Only frequent Southwest fliers should apply. 

3. British Airways Visa Signature Card

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

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

Annual Fee: $95

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

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

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

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

4. AeroMexico Visa Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. AmTrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

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

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

Annual Fee: $79

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

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

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

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

Choosing a Card for Traveling with Companions

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

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

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

What Credit Is Required for a Companion Travel Credit Card?

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

Image: istock

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

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

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