5 Credit Cards That Take the Bite out of Pricey Pet Bills

The cost of pet supplies can add up, but these cards can help you save.

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

Your pets are more than just cute — they’re members of the family. Like any family member, you want to keep them happy and healthy. But the cost of pet food, veterinarian visits, medication and other supplies can add up.

Some credit cards make spending on your pet a walk in the park using cash back, rewards points or 0% interest offers.

The best cards for pet lovers make it easier to afford your animal friends. These credit cards do the trick.

1. American Kennel Club Visa

The Draw: Three points per dollar spent at pet stores, vets and the AKC, two points per dollar spent on gas and groceries and one point per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 12.98%, 18.99% or 22.99%
Why We Picked It: This card rewards pet purchases, helps with gas and groceries and supports the AKC.
Benefits: All purchases made on this card earn rewards points, with special value put on pet, fuel and grocery expenses. Points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards and more. Plus, a percentage of sales made on the card goes to benefit the AKC, an organization that supports dog breeders and canine health. You can get your card customized to include your pet’s photo.
Drawbacks: If you’re not a fan of dog breeding, keep looking.

2. Chase Freedom

The Draw: 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% unlimited cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: $150 when you spend $500 in the first three months
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% for 15 months, then variable 15.74% to 24.49%
Why We Picked It: The card earns 5% cash back on rotating categories, but Shop through Chase can help you save on pet purchases.
Benefits: Cardholders earn 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories such as grocery stores and gas. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. You’ll also get access to Shop through Chase, which offers 1% to 15% extra cash back rewards at select online retailers, including PetSmart. Plus, there’s a $150 signup bonus.
Drawbacks: If you don’t want to track and activate cash-back categories on a quarterly basis, this card will be a headache.

3. Amazon Rewards Visa Card

The Draw: 3% cash back at Amazon.com (5% if you have Amazon Prime), 2% cash back at restaurants and drugstores and 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: None
APR: Variable 14.99% to 22.99%
Why We Picked It: If you prefer to shop for your furry friends online, the Amazon card can help you earn back some money.
Benefits: Your earnings can be redeemed for cash back, Amazon purchases and more. With cash back ranging from 3% to 5% on Amazon.com purchases, you can save on those bulk bags of dog food.
Drawbacks: This card won’t deliver as much value if you prefer to shop at brick-and-mortar locations.

4. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

The Draw: 6% cash back at supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, 3% cash back at gas stations and select department stores and 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: $150 bonus cash back when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $95
APR: 0% for 12 months, then variable 13.74% to 24.74%
Why We Picked It: This card is a no-brainer if you make pet purchases at the grocery store.
Benefits: With 6% cash back at supermarkets, this card can earn cash quick if you make pet purchases at the grocery store. Plus, that $150 bonus boosts the first-year value of the card.
Drawbacks: You’ll have to pay an annual fee of $95.

5. Citi Simplicity

The Draw: A 0% intro APR period that’s perfect for big balances
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% for 21 months, then variable 14.24% to 24.24%
Why We Picked It: For large vet bills, this card offers plenty of time to pay down your balance interest-free. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
Benefits: The card’s greatest asset is the 21-month intro 0% APR offer. If you have a large vet bill coming due, charging it to this card (or initiating a balance transfer) would give you nearly two years to pay it off with no interest.
Drawbacks: There are no rewards points or cash-back offers, so the card isn’t as valuable for everyday spending.

How to Choose a Card for Pet Expenses

If you’re looking for a card solely for pet expenses, choose a card that most rewards your supplier of choice. For instance, if you buy all your pet supplies online, the Amazon.com credit card might be best. If you buy all your supplies at grocery stores, a card with a high grocery store cash-back rate would be appropriate. If you need to transfer a hefty vet bill from an existing card to a new one, a card with a long intro 0% APR period would be suitable.

However, if you also plan to use your card for everyday spending, you’ll probably want to look at your spending activity and choose a card that will reward your overall behavior. This way, you’ll get rewarded on everything you buy.

Consider your goals, spending habits and the needs of your animal companions before you choose a card.

What Is Required to Get a Credit Card for My Pet Spending?

Cards with cash back, spending rewards and other enticing offers usually require good to excellent credit. You should know where your credit stands before you apply for a credit card, as a hard inquiry into your credit can lower your score a few points. You can check your score for free on Credit.com before you apply to reduce the risk of a rejected application.

Image: bluecinema 

At publishing time, the Chase Freedom, Citi Simplicity and Blue Cash Preferred 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 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.

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5 Hotels Where Pets Get Treated Like Royalty

Who says Fido can't get the royal treatment while you're on vacation?

Vacations are often a family affair, but we typically leave our pets at home. While they’re stuck in a kennel or with a sitter at home, we’re off in Tahiti, cocktail in hand, living the good life.

Why not let Fido or Whiskers in on the fun? A number of hotels have warmed up to the idea of hosting pets, and some turn on the charm to make the stay worth your while. Here are five hotels that will treat your pet like royalty.

1. Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Chicago

This boutique hotel, housed in a former hat factory, hosts nightly wine hours and pet-friendly accommodations for which the Kimpton chain is known. There’s no limit to the number of pets you can bring, and no additional charge or deposit. You’ll also receive a sweet selection of plush pet-bed loaners, along with food, water bowls and mats. Ask the concierge for their list of pet-friendly restaurants, groomers and parks.

2. Las Ventanas al Paraíso, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

What’s better than a portable pet cabana? A “Dog Butler” who takes your four-legged buddy out for daily walks on the beach, gives massages and leads “doga” classes (We won’t make a downward dog joke. We won’t. No, we won’t). With your butler around, you’ll never have to think about waking up early or leaving a meal, and if you want to host a birthday party — for your pet, that is — your butler can arrange that, too. Be sure to set aside $60 per stay (not night) and note the pet weight limit is 40 pounds.

3. Loews Coronado Bay, San Diego 

This dreamy resort gifts your fluff ball with her own pet tag, bowl and a treat. She’ll also receive information on local dog walking routes, area services and a room service menu just for her. While Whiskers gets acquainted with the local Cali catnip, phone down for a litter box (with litter) and a scratch pole. Pet-sitting and walking services are also on offer.

4. The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Starting at $849 per night, you and Fido get a personal welcome by the doorman, followed by a VIP (that’s Very Important Pooch) greeting and registration at the front desk. Along with a Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco pet tag, you’ll receive an in-room dog bowl and dining room menu, pet toy, framed bed and Pooch Pack complete with a list of dog-related activities for fun in the city.

5. W Hotel, Scottsdale, Arizona

As part of the luxe chain’s Paws Are Welcome program, dogs receive their own pet bed and treat. Sign them up for the dog walking service so you’re sure to clock in more pool time. W charges $100 as a one-time fee or $25 per day.

Save on Your Next Vacation 

Ready to hit the cabana with Fido? Make sure you’ve got a plan for your spending. Rewards credit cards are a great way to pay for vacations, just be sure to swipe wisely so you don’t lose your rewards to high interest. You can check out our roundup of the best travel cards here.

Remember, before you apply for any credit card, make sure you’re able to qualify. If you’re not sure where your credit stands, you can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

Image: TriggerPhoto

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Millennials Prefer Pets to People. Here’s Why Maybe That’s Not a Bad Thing

Millennials-prefer-pets

Make fun of pet lovers all you want — dressing a dog in the latest canine trends, dedicating half the living room to cat condos and feeding an animal human-grade food still doesn’t cost as much as raising a child. Sure, having pets isn’t cheap, even if you’re buying only necessities, but financially speaking, it’s better to have a furbaby than a human baby.

So it’s not a stretch to say millennials’ apparent tendency to fill their homes with pets rather than people is a smart money move. The Washington Post’s Abha Bhattarai just wrote about this, citing a survey showing higher pet ownership among young Americans: About 75% of Americans in their 30s have dogs and 51% have cats, and among the general population, those rates are 50% and 35%, respectively. The figures come from a survey of 2,001 adults conducted by Mintel, a marketing research company.

Meanwhile, today’s young Americans are less likely to be married or have kids, when compared to previous generations’ behaviors in their 20s and 30s. Bhattarai quoted one researcher who went as far as calling pets a replacement for children.

“They’re less expensive,” Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, told the Post. “You can get one even if you’re not ready to live with someone or get married, and they can still provide companionship.”

Many people would likely argue that cuddling with a puppy isn’t as gratifying as raising a human being, but in this era of record-high student loan debt, disappearing starter homes and dismal personal savings, delaying or skipping parenthood can be a practical choice. It’s not that you can’t have it all. Perhaps starting out buying kitty litter instead of diapers will help young people achieve their dreams of being debt free, owning a home or retiring comfortably.

Ultimately, if it’s companionship you seek during that dark period between paying rent and payday, animal snuggles are probably more than sufficient, not to mention relatively economical and low-maintenance.

Disclosure: This post was written by a childless millennial dog mom.

Image: Renato Arap

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Are Your Dog’s Expenses Deductible?

tax-deductions

Q. I show my dog at dog shows, and sometimes he wins money. If I have to declare it as income, can I deduct things like dog food and vet bills? — Owner

A. You have to prove that this is a business and not just a hobby.

If you are in a business of training dogs for dog shows, then any expenses related to the business would be tax deductible, said Ken Bagner, a certified financial planner with Sobel and Co. in Livingston, New Jersey.

He said the burden of proof falls on you to show the IRS that you are not conducting a hobby and are actually involved in a business.

Bagner said you may consider setting up a separate business entity, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or an S Corp., to help demonstrate you are conducting a business.

“If it is deemed a hobby and not a business, the income will be taxable and expenses can only be deducted up to the amount of income for the year,” Bagner said. “In addition, the expenses would be have to be listed as miscellaneous itemized deductions on schedule A.”

These deductions have to be over 2% of your adjusted gross income before you can take a deduction, and if you are into the Alternative Minimum Tax, the itemized deductions will not be deductible, he said.

“If you can prove you are in a business, then you can deduct all ordinary and necessary expenses in the business under the IRS code,” he said. “This may include dog food, vet bills, travel expenses and any other expenditures related to the business.”

[Editor’s Note: Remember, it can be tempting to overspend on pets, but, whether for business or as a hobby, you’ll want to be sure you can afford whatever you’re buying for Fido. Otherwise, you risk busting your budget or even going into credit card debt and hurting your credit scores. If you already have credit card debt, you may be able to pay it down more swiftly by prioritizing payments by making minimum payments on all your cards, while putting extra funds towards either the card with the highest interest rate or lowest balance, reviewing your budget for places you can cut back and looking into a balance transfer credit card or debt consolidation loan. You can see how your spending may be affecting your credit by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing two of your scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.] 

Image: Richard Paul

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Cats vs. Dogs — Which Pet Is More Affordable?

So you think you’re ready to bring a fluffy bundle of joy home, but you can’t decide between getting a cat or a dog?

MagnifyMoney might be able to help, at least where your budget is concerned. We broke down the costs of owning a cat and a dog, so you can decide which of the most popular pets in the U.S. you’d like to bring home next.

We didn’t just stop at determining the annual cost of kibble or Fancy Feast.

We looked at how much a dog and cat costs in the first year of ownership — and how much each pet costs over their lifetime.

Check out our findings below.

Upfront Costs

These are the initial start-up costs of getting a cat or a dog — adoption fees; accessories like leashes and food dishes; and veterinary services like spaying/neutering and vaccinations. To get these estimates, we used the latest data from Petfinder.com

pet costs

The Winner: Cats

Your first-year expenses as a cat or dog owner could range anywhere from $125 to a little more than $1,000 depending on the size, breed, and accommodations your new pet would require, according to Petfinder.

Overall, you’d shell out less for a cat up front — as little as a $125 if you take advantage of savings during adoption, shop around to save on your initial veterinary costs, and use coupons when buying accessories or toys for your furball. On the high end, if your kitty is an expensive breed or you simply like to splurge on your feline companion, you’d spend around $635 during the first year.

Recurring Annual Costs

The costs don’t end after you bring Fido (or Fluffy) home. You should budget about $1,125 yearly on vet visits, food, boarding, toys, and grooming for a cat, and about $1,641 on a dog, according to the American Pet Products Association’s most recent National Pet Owners Survey.

RecurringCosts

THE OVERALL WINNER: CATS

If the decision came down to your wallet, cats are significantly cheaper than dogs, costing about $13,625 to $17,510 in a lifetime, compared to dogs at $16,607 to $22,423.

We based the lifetime costs on the average lifespan of dogs (10-13 years) and cats (12-15 years).

But even though cats typically live two to three years longer than dogs, they still come out more affordable in the end.

The post Cats vs. Dogs — Which Pet Is More Affordable? appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

7 Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy This Summer

keep-your-dog-happy-this-summer

The kids are on vacation from school, and you’re taking time off work. That’s what summer is all about.

But doesn’t the dog also deserve a little warm-weather R&R?

Of course! Summer is a great time to let your puppy have a little extra fun in the sun.

Just remember to do it safely. As the American Kennel Club (AKC) reminds you:

Hot weather can make anyone feel uncomfortable, and your dog is no exception.

The AKC offers tips for keeping your dog safe this summer, including keeping them hydrated, getting them microchipped, updating their vaccinations, and talking to your vet about flea, tick and heart-worm prevention. (And if you plan to travel with your dog this summer, you may want to read about how much it costs to fly your pet on every major U.S. airline.)

The following are seven ideas for keeping your pooch happy — and healthy — during the “dog days of summer.”

1. Take Your Dog to the Beach

Just like people, most dogs love to splash around on a hot summer day. So, let your pup dip their paws in the sand. PetFriendlyTravel.com has a list of puppy-friendly beaches throughout the U.S. you may consider visiting. (If you decide to travel to one of these beaches, you may want to consider using one of the best travel credit cards in America to help pay for your trip. Just remember, high credit card balances can hurt your credit.)

If you don’t live near the ocean or a lake, consider turning on the sprinklers for your own at-home water fun.

2. Build a Dog Obstacle Course

In many parts of the country, people and pooches spend the colder months cooped up indoors, so it’s no wonder you’d want to spend every possible moment outside in summer. Build a dog obstacle course, and you and your pup can get a little exercise in the fresh air. You can find tips for building a course on a budget on sites like Cesar’s Way, and the DIY Network has more detailed instructions for a three-part agility course featuring a climbing wall, teeter-totter and weave sticks.

3. Whip Up Some ‘Pupsicles’

After all that running around, your pup is probably ready for a “pop.” There are many different types of frozen dog treats you can make that can help keep your best friend cool after a hot summer day of fun.

Modern Dog magazine has recipes for everything from frozen fruit to chicken-broth pops.

4. Dine Out With Your Dog

A frozen treat is fine, but doesn’t your furry family member deserve to be with you as you hit the town?

You can find dog-friendly restaurants on sites like BringFido.com. DogFriendly.com also has a guide to pooch-perfect eateries in the U.S. and Canada. Bone appétit!

5. Head Off to Summer Camp

Many states have summer camps especially geared toward having fun with your best furry friend. Examples include:

  • Camp Dogwood: Illinois, Wisconsin
  • Camp Unleashed: Massachusetts, Georgia
  • Happy Tails Daycamp for Dogs: Michigan
  • Maian Meadows Dog Camp: Washington

Can’t find a dog camp in your state? Then perhaps you can take your pup camping. You can check out sites like BringFido.com to help you locate a dog-friendly campground.

6. Hit a Hiking Trail

Hiking can be one of the best and most enjoyable forms of summer exercise. That’s as true for dogs as it is for people. Just about everybody is close enough to a hiking trail where you can spend hours of free and healthful fun with your four-legged best pal.

Just make sure to keep your dog hydrated and to clean up after them. And, after your hike, be sure to check your pet for pests like ticks that might have hitched a ride.

7. Jog with Your Dog

You look forward to your daily run, and your canine companion will too. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to burn extra energy and calories. If your pooch seems disinterested or a little unwieldy at first, don’t give up. According to Health.com:

Even if you think your dog is too hyper or too poorly behaved to jog alongside you, he may just need some training and some time to get used to it.

What is your favorite way to have summer fun with your dog? Let us know in the comments.

[Editor’s Note: Whatever you do with your pup this summer, remember that careful budgeting can help you avoid letting your dog’s activities harm your finances or put you in credit card debt. You can see how what you spend on your pet is impacting your credit by taking a look at two of your free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.]

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What It Costs to Fly Your Pet on Every Airline

fly-with-pets

Image: Gene Chutka

The post What It Costs to Fly Your Pet on Every Airline appeared first on Credit.com.