6 Extravagant Hotels We’d Happily Splurge On


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

For most of us, the thought of shelling out thousands of dollars for a one-night stay at a hotel is, well, ridiculous. Then again, you only live once. If we had the money, we’d happily blow it on one of the beautiful suites listed here. Read on for some serious travel lust, inspired by cursory research and recommendations.

1. Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): AED 33,000 ($8,895 as of May 4)

The leopard-print furnishings aren’t for everyone, but we can all get behind a private cinema. And library. And elevator. Did we mention the panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf? A “brigade of butlers” are on call 24/7 should the remote-controlled curtains, all-in-one printer or entertainment stop working. However, the complimentary selection of more than 200 international newspapers should keep you busy.

2. Hilltop Estate, Laucala Island Resort, Fiji

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): $6,000

Private cook, private nanny — what more could you need? Try a chauffeur, private beach, dreamy views of the Fijian archipelago and an infinity-edge pool lit by Tiki torches at dusk. All villas come with a buggy so you’re free to explore the five-star resort, but chances are you won’t want to leave.

3. Royal Penthouse Suite, Hotel President Wilson, Geneva

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): Unlisted

The Royal Penthouse Suite really does have it all, from Steinway grand pianos and Brunswick billiards to Hermès bath products and a lake-facing Jacuzzi. For those who require the utmost privacy, the suite features bulletproof windows, emergency alarm buttons and a private elevator. PS: This hotel awards Starpoints, so pack your Starwood Preferred Guest credit card.

4. The Sultan Suite, Çirağan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): 30,000 EUR ($32,905)

Located on the second floor of the palace, the spacious suite features panoramic views of the Bosphorus, a living room with a dining area for 12, a kitchenette and two bedrooms on either side. Thirsty? Grab a drink from the mini-bar — it’s all free, of course — or telephone the 24-hour butler to fix you a cold one.

5. Presidential Suite, Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): Unlisted

The only thing better than a trip to Milan: having your own Pompeii-style spa with a large private swimming pool, whirlpool, Jacuzzi, sauna and Turkish bath. Oh, and a fireplace to help you warm up. Step onto the balcony to admire the ever-growing skyline or consider dining en-suite off the fancy French crystal.

6. Villa Rockstar, Eden Rock, St. Barths

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): 20,000 EUR ($21,937)

All 16,000 square feet of this modern villa can be yours — including the fountain courtyard and cloisters. A private gate sets you apart from the crowd, where you can enjoy the gym, pool table and fully stocked whiskey bar to your heart’s content. Be sure to bring your guitar for an impromptu jam session in the professionally equipped recording studio, which doubles as the Villa’s screening room.

Save on Your Next Trip 

Saving your Starpoints for a stay in Geneva? That’s a good place to start, but there are other ways to save on your travels. Rewards cards can help you stretch your dollars much further and earn freebies like complimentary drinks. While doing your research, be sure to check out our roundup of the best airline miles cards.

Remember, before you apply for a credit card, it’s best to make sure you’re likely to qualify. You can see where you stand by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

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

At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit 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).

Image: Demkat

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How to Budget for Money Wasters on Your Vacation


Vacations are a time to let loose, live it up and, yes, even blow a little cash. But keep in mind — it’s one thing to spend $100 on a fancy dinner and another thing entirely to spend it on traffic tickets, which is exactly what happened to me and my husband on our recent trip to Italy.

After making a wrong turn onto the Autostrada, we passed through a toll booth, not realizing we were supposed to take the ticket waving discreetly from the machine. As soon as we pulled up to the next toll plaza, an irate man in blue pants stepped out and proceeded to photograph the license plate of our rental car and issue us a big, fat ticket for 57 euros, or $64.42.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we found a parking ticket (another $30) tucked under our windshield wiper a few hours later. “It’s not a big deal,” my husband said half-joking. “Besides, it’s not like they know where we live.” But knowing the rental agency could easily turn our information over to the authorities — and that ignoring a ticket, at least in the U.S., could ultimately hamper my credit — I wasn’t about to take any chances. I resolved to suck it up and pay the fines when we got home.

What a Waste

You may argue spending money on tickets isn’t a wasted expenditure but one due to sheer negligence. To which I’d respond, “You’re totally right. But I still didn’t want to spend the money.”

After being hit with not one, but two tickets in Italy, I’m prepared to start budgeting for costs like these on future vacations. Why? Because every time I venture somewhere that the customs are different, I put myself at risk for doing something incredibly stupid. And if you’re a budget-conscious traveler like me, you might want to consider doing the same.

While there are no hard and fast rules for how much money to set aside, you should take some factors into consideration. Are you renting a car? If so, bone up on the local rules of the land and prepare for the worst. Planning to party? By all means set some money aside for wherever the night takes you. And so on it goes.

You can set aside extra cash before your vacation by cutting out unnecessary expenses like morning lattes. And you can put bonuses or unexpected cash toward your savings. Another option is putting those unused credit card rewards points to use to cover major costs, such as hotels or airfare.

Remember, no matter where you’re headed, it pays to keep your credit in tip-top shape and be careful not to rack up debt, which could ravage your credit scores. Keep an eye on your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.

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12 Places Americans Can’t Travel

travel credit cards

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3 Calls You Should Make Before Heading Abroad


So you’ve booked the flight, packed your bags and set your away message. But have you taken the time to ensure your credit card, debit card and cell phone will work abroad? If not, put it on your to-do list, because nothing puts a damper on a vacation quite like not having funds or phone service — or dealing with fraud.

Over time, issuers come to know your spending habits, so any time a purchase deviates from the norm — say, making a large purchase on a card used for smaller transactions — a hold could be placed on your card. Worse still, if a scammer manages to get a hold of your card, there’s no telling what he could do with it.

With those factors in mind, here are three calls to make before heading abroad.

1. Your Credit Card Issuer

Like any personal information, you want to keep your credit card secure. The best way to do that is by letting your issuer know you’ll be out of the country. Not only will this prevent a hold from being placed on your card, you’ll get an alert if something suspicious comes up — that is, if you’re signed up for push notifications.

2. Your Bank

Whether you plan to pack your debit card or not, let your bank know your plans. After giving them the dates, ask to set limits for daily ATM withdrawals and in-person transactions. You may need to access hundreds of dollars in funds each day, but there’s no reason the limit should be in the thousands. Find out where the levels are currently and adjust them accordingly. While the bank may replenish funds lost to fraud, you don’t want to deal with an overdrawn account.

3. Your Cell Phone Provider

The only thing worse than being out of touch? Getting hit with roaming data charges. Do your wallet a favor and ask your provider if it’s best to keep your phone on Airplane mode or spring for an international plan. You can often arrange a plan to only cover a trip.

Remember, even if your credit and debit cards work abroad, you don’t want to go overboard with spending. Experts recommend keeping your balance below 30% — and ideally at 10% — of your available credit limit as to avoid exceeding it (this can damage your credit). To see how your spending is affecting your credit, view your two free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

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