I Have a World Elite MasterCard: What Does That Get Me?

Make sure you take advantage of all the benefits this card has to offer. Here are the perks you may not be aware of.

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

When you are searching for a new credit card, you tend to be drawn into the information the credit card companies want you to see. They highlight the signup bonus, the ability to earn rewards on purchases, and the annual fees. But your card might have other benefits that you didn’t even know about. (Wondering what all the hype is about regarding credit cards with lavish perks but that come paired with high annual fees? We break it down here.)

MasterCard is one of the largest payment processors of credit cards in the world. If your card happens to be a MasterCard, then you likely have one of three different types: A standard card, a World card, or a World Elite card. Let’s take a deeper look into all the different benefits that you will receive if you have a World Elite MasterCard. (Considering adding plastic to your wallet? Keep in mind that getting a credit card with amazing perks, typically requires you have excellent credit. If you don’t know where your credit stands, you should find out before you apply, which you can do for free right here on Credit.com.)

Priceless Cities

The idea that life experiences offer priceless amounts of value is something that MasterCard stresses within their marketing campaigns, and that idea extends to their Priceless Cities benefit. As a MasterCard World Elite cardholder, you will have access to packages that include everything great that cities may have to offer. A couple of the current packages available are a trip for two to New York City to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July at One World Observatory or a chance to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway and then meet the cast.

Luxury Travel Benefits

Your MasterCard World Elite card will also allow you to travel in style with their luxury travel benefits. If you need to book a hotel, you can use the Luxury Hotels and Resorts portfolio to find a room. You will receive a bunch of different credit card perks, including complimentary breakfast, and potential room upgrades. Speaking of upgrades, your card might also get you upgraded to business class on your next flight. Luxury Travel benefits will also give you elite status at many different car rental companies and an onboard credit with Royal Caribbean cruises.

24/7 Concierge

Another perk of being a MasterCard World Elite cardholder is that you will have a personal concierge available 24/7. Maybe you need help booking a dinner reservation or you need to find the perfect gift for your spouse. No matter what it is, this card means you have someone who can help at all times.

MasterCard Airport Concierge

If you want to get through the airport a little quicker, then you can call on your MasterCard airport concierge. With this service, you’ll be met at the curb and escorted to the gate when you get to the airport and picked up at the aircraft gate upon arrival and escorted to your connecting flight or curbside. This takes out a lot of the hassles and stresses of getting around airports you’re unfamiliar with. (If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to check out these credit cards that are ideal for each of the major airports in America.)

Trip Cancellation Insurance

Whether it’s a tropical storm or a major winter storm along the Eastern Seaboard, the weather can cancel flights affecting travelers all over the country. That means if you have non-refundable travel plans, you could end up scrambling. Luckily, as a MasterCard World Elite cardholder, you will have trip cancellation insurance. This will help by reimbursing you for any nonrefundable fees that you might have when your flight is cancelled or delayed because of a covered reason.

Price Protection

Your card might already come with the price protection benefits, but if not it’s included with all MasterCard World Elite cards. If you purchase an item and the price drops within the first 120 days of purchase, MasterCard could refund you the difference.

Extended Warranty

Some stores and products don’t exactly have warranties that last long enough. With your MasterCard World Elite card, the time frame will be doubled on any warranty of 24 months or less.

Priceless Golf

MasterCard put together a bunch of different golf packages for the avid golfer. You could have the opportunity to play one of many Tournament Players Club (TPC) courses across the country. For example, you could book a package through MasterCard for the TPC Scottsdale. This package includes four nights at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, three rounds of golf, complimentary breakfast each morning, a one-hour golf lesson, complimentary rental clubs and practice balls, plus a commemorative bag tag. Plus, because you have a World Elite MasterCard, you will also receive a complimentary two-day Avis car rental.

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

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The post I Have a World Elite MasterCard: What Does That Get Me? appeared first on Credit.com.

Credit Card Rewards More Than Doubled Since the Recession, New Study Shows

Credit card rewards have become increasingly lucrative, as credit card issuers battle for customers. From 100,000 point sign-on bonuses to 6% cash back offers, it has never been a better time to be a credit card customer.

These rewards come at a steep price for banks. To find out just how much the top banks are spending on lucrative credit card rewards, MagnifyMoney reviewed data from the six largest credit card issuers representing 67.6% of the market.

The rapid growth in credit card rewards are dramatic:

Rewards spending doubles

  • Since 2010, credit card rewards spending has more than doubled, from $10.6 billion to $22.6 billion.
    • In 2016, the largest credit card issuers spent $22.6 billion on rewards, compared to $10.6 billion in 2010.
    • In Q1 2017, credit card issuers spent $6.2 billion on rewards, compared to $5.1 billion in Q1 2016 — a 22% year-over-year growth rate.

The New King of Rewards Spend: Chase

  • Chase leads the pack. Beginning in 2016, Chase has led the pack in total rewards spending. Spending on credit card rewards at Chase grew 123% since 2010, and Chase now spends more money on rewards than longtime American Express. Although the headlines have focused on the success of the Chase Sapphire Reserve launch in mid-2016, Chase has been enhancing its entire rewards perks section since the Great Recession.
  • American Express fades. American Express, long the leader in rewards, had the smallest increase in rewards spending with a 36% growth during the period of 2010-2017. With the loss of their deal with wholesale retailer Costco, American Express is offering more lucrative rewards on all its other cards.
  • Citibank triples rewards spending. Citibank has the highest percentage increase in spending since 2010 (333%). Citi won the Costco deal and has also been busy launching its own rewards products, including Citi Double Cash (which can pay up to 2% cash back) and its suite of Thank You products.

Great News for Consumers — But What About Credit Card Issuers?

The best rewards credit cards have lucrative sign-on bonuses and rich ongoing rewards structures. But is this sustainable? And can the credit card companies make money?

MagnifyMoney conducted a national survey of people who opened credit cards in the last year. The results demonstrate that there is a method to the strategies being deployed by the largest issuers: it is a great way to create a loyal customer base.

  • 44.5% of the people surveyed said they opened their accounts because of a sign-on bonus.
  • But 85.4% of the people surveyed said that the ongoing features and benefits of the product were most important in their decision.
  • Only 6.7% of the people surveyed said that they planned to cancel or close a card that they opened in the last year.
  • Only 3.7% of people go from credit card offer to credit card offer for sign-up bonuses.

The results might seem counterintuitive.

However, former credit card executive and MagnifyMoney co-founder Nick Clements explains:

The purpose of a sign-on bonus is to encourage people to act. Most people do not wake up in the morning wanting to open a credit card — and a sign-on bonus is a way for a credit card company to encourage people to reconsider their options. It is no different from a sale in a traditional department store. But what really matters to consumers, as these results reveal, is the ongoing value proposition. People don’t particularly enjoy shopping for credit cards, and they tend to stay put once they do shift. The smartest credit card issuers are luring consumers with a big incentive (the sign-on bonus), and they are keeping them with strong ongoing value propositions.

Chase Sapphire Reserve was probably the most successful product launch in credit card history. And it worked because it hit every button. The massive sign-on bonus gave people a reason to apply for a card. But the ongoing reward proposition was perfectly designed for its target audience. Those customers are going to stick around and become long-term customers.

As our survey found, there are people who like to go from credit card offer to credit card offer. However, this is a small group (only 3.7%, according to the survey). And credit card companies are becoming much better at identifying and rejecting these consumers.

Methodology

Cost of Rewards

Cost of rewards is publicly disclosed by American Express, Discover, and Capital One. For the remaining issuers, MagnifyMoney estimated the cost of rewards. For the estimate:

  • Credit purchase volume is disclosed by the credit card companies. A simplifying 1.75% credit interchange rate was assumed to determine gross credit interchange.
  • Debit purchase volume was provided by the Nilson Report. Actual debit interchange rates were pulled from the Federal Reserve.
  • FDIC Call Reports for each institution were used to determine the net interchange rate across debit and credit.
  • The difference between gross interchange and net interchange was assumed to be the rewards spend.

Credit Card Usage Survey

MagnifyMoney hired Survata to perform a national online survey of 1,000 adults who opened a credit card in the last year (the screening question).

The post Credit Card Rewards More Than Doubled Since the Recession, New Study Shows appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

7 Hacks for Using American Express’ Membership Rewards Program

Here's how to make the most of your Membership Rewards.

[Disclosure: Our partners are mentioned below.]

There are a few different transferable points programs available, but over the years one of the most popular has always been American Express’ Membership Rewards program. The reason is because of the ample ways points can be used and the wide selection of credit cards that can help you earn points quickly. Let’s take a deeper look into how you can earn Membership Rewards points and the different ways you can receive ultimate value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One of the best ways to receive maximum value for your Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to one of the many loyalty partners. There is a large selection of both hotels and airlines and each of the following partners will transfer 1-to-1 unless noted.

  • Aeromexico — 1-to-1.6
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Air France/KLM (Flying Blue)
  • Alitalia
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways — 250-to-200
  • Delta Air Lines
  • El Al Israel Airlines — 1,000-to-20
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus — 250-to-200
  • JetBlue Airways — 250-to-200
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America — 200-to-100
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hilton Hotels — 1-to-1.5
  • Starwood Hotels — 1,000-to-333

To get the most value out of each point, you could use them for one of the following redemptions.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Japan

Until recently, the All Nippon Airways award chart was based on distances. That used to provide many sweet spots for award travel. Even though they have changed to a region based award chart, there are still some great deals. One of them is round-trip flights from the United States to Japan. You can fly round-trip in coach for just 40,000 miles during low season and business class for 75,000 miles, also in the low season.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Asia Zone 2

You could use All Nippon Airways miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Asia Zone 2 for just 55,000 in coach or 100,000 in business class. Asia Zone 2 is classified as Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Flying Blue From the Continental United States to Hawaii

A great use of Flying Blue miles is to fly round-trip from anywhere in the continental United States to Hawaii for just 30,000 miles.

Aeroplan From the United States to Oceania

Transferring Membership Award points to Aeroplan will allow you to use 90,000 miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Australia, New Zealand or anywhere in the South Pacific. You could make this trip for 80,000 United miles, but what makes using Aeroplan miles worth it is that they will allow you to make two stopovers before reaching your destination. That means you could fly to Tahiti and make stops in both Australia and New Zealand on the way.

British Airways From Miami to Lima, Peru

If hiking to Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, you might want to consider flying British Airways from Miami to Lima, Peru. Because British Airways has a distance-based award chart, the flight in coach is just 12,500 miles each way.

2. Buy Gift Cards

Another way to use your Membership Rewards is to receive gift cards from different restaurants, retailers and for travel. The value you receive will be anywhere from a half-cent to one cent per point.

3. Go Shopping

You could also use your points to shop online with certain retailers. Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com and Newegg.com offer 0.7 cents per point. Other partner retailers give you a half-cent per point in value.

4. Use American Express Travel or Airbnb

There are a few different ways you can use your points on travel beyond transferring them to partners. You can book airfare on American Express Travel for one cent per point. You could also book with Airbnb for 0.7 cents per point.

5. Enjoy Entertainment

If you want to redeem your points for concert tickets or for a Broadway show you can do so through Ticketmaster.com, AXS and Telecharge.com. The value is a half-cent per point.

6. Ride With Uber

You could also use your Membership Reward points to pay for Uber rides. You will receive one cent value per point used.

7. Get a Statement Credit

Finally, you could choose to use your points to receive a statement credit. However, by doing this, you will only receive 0.6 cents value per point.

Cards That Earn Membership Rewards Points

There are quite a few different credit cards that give you the opportunity to earn Membership Rewards points. Below you will find a few of our favorite cards.

Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express has been one of the elite cards available for a few years. When you sign up you will receive 60,000 Membership Reward points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You can then receive five points per dollar spent on flights and hotels when booked through the airline and by using American Express Travel. All other purchases will receive one point per dollar.

Earlier this year, the annual fee on the Platinum card increased from $450 to $550. This will put the card out of reach for many people. But before you discard the idea of adding it to your wallet, you should consider the travel benefits. Not only will you receive a $200 airline fee credit, which will pay for things like change fees or baggage fees, you also receive a $200 Uber credit. You will receive up to a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. In addition, you will receive Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors Gold status. Plus, the next time you travel, it will be in comfort. You will have access to the Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounges, Airspace Lounges and a Priority Pass Select membership.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Another of the elite cards from American Express is the Premier Rewards Gold Card. When you sign up for this card, you receive 25,000 Membership Reward points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. You receive three points per dollar spent on any airfare purchased directly with airlines. You also receive two points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets. All other purchases will earn one point per dollar. There is a $195 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. Other than the earnings potential, the other benefits can make the annual fee worthwhile to travelers. Each year you receive a $100 airline fee credit. You also receive two points per dollar when you book a hotel through the Hotel Collection. Plus, you receive a $75 hotel credit for qualifying charges.

Amex EveryDay Preferred

When you sign up for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card you receive 10,000 Membership Reward points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. When you use the card at U.S. supermarkets, you receive two points per dollar, on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, and one point per dollar on everything else. Also, if you use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a single billing period you’ll earn 20% extra points on those purchases minus returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.

At the time of this writing, the EveryDay Preferred also offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. After that, your APR will be a variable 13.74% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors. This card has an annual fee of $95.

If you don’t already have one of these cards keep in mind you’ll need excellent credit to qualify. You can see where your credit stands by getting your two free credit scores right here on Credit.com.

Image: AleksandarNakic

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

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Capital One’s New Dining Credit Card: Should You Apply?

Here's a solid rewards card made for people who love food.

Capital One just launched a brand new cash-back credit card with a big focus on food. The Premier Dining Rewards From Capital One card offers cash back rewards for all transactions, with extra incentives for dining and grocery purchases. If you’re frequently spending at restaurants, bars and grocery stores to get your grub on, this card might be right for you.

What Perks Does the New Capital One Card Provide?

The new Premier Dining card is a cash back card with competitive rewards rates. Cardholders earn 3% cash back on all dining purchases, 2% cash back on groceries and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cash back rewards are unlimited and have no expiration date, and they’re redeemed in the form of statement credits or checks.

Right now, Capital One is offering a $100 cash-back bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months of becoming a cardmember, which should be pretty easy to do if you’re frequently dining out.

The card comes with a number of other benefits. There are 24/7 concierge services to assist with travel bookings, reservations and shopping. Capital One even provides travel perks that can include free room upgrades and early check-in or late check-out times at eligible hotels.

Plus, they cover up to $1,500 in travel reimbursements if your trip is cancelled or cut short, and they provide price protection for eligible items if you find a lower price within 60 days of the date of purchase.

What Will the Card Cost Me?

The Premier Dining card has no annual fee. The annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases and balance transfers is a variable 15.24%, 20.24% or 24.24% based on creditworthiness. There’s also no balance transfer fee or foreign transaction fee.

It should be noted that this card is intended for people with excellent credit, so if you don’t know where your credit stands, you’ll want to check before applying. You can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, here on Credit.com.

Consumers who can qualify for the lowest available APR will be getting a decent interest rate.

Why Should You Apply for This Card?

If the majority of your credit card spending occurs at bars, restaurants and grocery stores, this card is a great option. While we’ve seen higher cash back rates on dining, they often apply to rotating spending categories that don’t last forever. The 3% cash back is a great permanent cash back rate for dining, and the 2% cash back for groceries is a decent supplement.

If you pay your balance off in full each month, this card will deliver its best value. There’s no annual fee, so if you can successfully avoid interest charges, you’re essentially earning money back on your purchases.

It’s also a good card for balance transfers and foreign transactions, as both will incur no additional fees.

Why Shouldn’t You Apply for This Card?

If you spend more on other purchase types than you do on dining and groceries, you may be leaving cash on the table by choosing this card. Many other cash-back rewards cards offer greater rewards for all purchases, and if your spending is more diverse, you’ll likely earn more by choosing a card with a better overall rewards rate.

You’ll also want to avoid this card if you’re looking for a great signup bonus. The $100 cash back bonus isn’t very exciting, and a consumer with excellent credit should be able to qualify for cards with far better signup offers.

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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4 Credit Cards That Will Make You Feel Like a Millionaire

credit-cards-like-a-millionaire

When most people think about how the rich and famous travel, they probably picture first-class flights and penthouse suites. While this is usually true, that lifestyle doesn’t have to be strictly reserved for the one-percenters. By having the right piece of plastic in your wallet, you, too, could feel like a millionaire on your next vacation.

Keep in mind, a lot of these premium credit cards do come with a price — in the form of a high annual fee. That fee could be recouped via rewards and other benefits, depending on how you spend, but it’s important to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine if a particular credit card is right for you. It’s also important to note that rewards credit cards are best-served to those who don’t carry a balance, since your points can easily be lost to interest. Finally, anyone considering a new credit card should probably check their credit before applying since your credit scores will determine what kind of offers you will qualify for. (You can view two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

Here are four different cards for you to consider that could leave you feeling like a millionaire.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Released earlier this year, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has quickly become the “cool” credit card to have in your wallet. The card offers a signup bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Reward points (the equivalent of $1,500 when you redeem them through the bank’s travel portal) once you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s enough points to put you near the front of the plane on many different airlines.

In addition to a mega-signup bonus, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a very generous reward program. You’ll earn 3x the Chase Ultimate Reward points on restaurant and travel purchases and 1x on all other purchases.

If you want to really feel like a millionaire when you are traveling, then you will love that this card will also give you access to over 900 different airport lounges with a complimentary Priority Pass membership. Forgot about spending your layover sitting in cramped airport seats, now you can drink a cocktail while relaxing in a comfortable seating.

This card does come with $450 annual fee, but you will receive a $300 annual travel credit. Unlike some elite credit cards, this benefit can be used with more than just airlines. It can also be used on any purchases that Chase codes as a travel expense. The card carries an annual percentage rate (APR) between 16.24% and 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.

2. Platinum Card From American Express

Earning a lot of credit card points is nice, but what really makes someone feel exclusive, are the luxury benefits that come with the card. The Platinum card from American Express (see full review here) offers a concierge service, which will serve as your very own personal assistant. Looking to grab a reservation at a highly sought after restaurant? Want to experience private, invitation-only events, like the Kentucky Derby or a movie premier in an exotic location? You can do that as a Platinum cardholder.

In addition to these elite perks, you will be able to earn 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points once you sign up and spend $3,000 within the first three months. When you use your card for travel purchases, you will earn 5x the Membership Rewards points. For all other purchases, you will earn 1x the points. Cardholders will receive a complimentary upgrade to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, as well as Hilton HHonors Gold. You will also have access to the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts. When you book your hotel through this program, you can receive some great perks, including room upgrades, late checkout, daily breakfast for two, and a unique gift at each property that could be a $100 dining credit or a complimentary massage for two.

The annual fee is $450, but you will receive a $100 credit for either Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check and each calendar year you will receive a $200 airline credit. As a charge card, you’re expected to pay your balance off in full each month, so there’s no purchase APR.

3. American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card

If you travel frequently and want to improve your chances at being an airline elite, then the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express will give you a leg up. After you make your first purchase with the card, you will receive 10,000 Delta SkyMiles and 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM). Then each calendar year you will receive an additional 15,000 Delta SkyMiles and 15,000 MQM for each $30,000 you spend on your card.

When you become a Delta Medallion member, you will receive some great benefits, like complimentary upgrades to first class and upgrades for your travel companions when they are flying on a revenue ticket. In addition to Medallion benefits, the card will also provide you with priority boarding, your first checked bag free, Delta Sky Club access, and no foreign transaction fees. There is a $450 annual fee. The card carries a variable APR between 15.99% to 24.99%.

4. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card

For a long time, Ritz-Carlton hotels have been known to be some of the more elegant places to stay around the world. When you sign up for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card, you will have the opportunity to experience that elegance first-hand. You will receive three complimentary nights at any category 1-4 Ritz-Carlton after spending $5,000 in the first three months of being a cardholder. In addition, you will receive 10,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the same three-month period.

As a cardholder, you will be able to upgrade to Club level three times per year when you are staying for seven or more nights. Anytime you stay for two or more nights, you will receive a $100 hotel credit. This can be used on dining, spa treatments, or any activity through the hotel. Cardholders will receive Ritz-Carlton Gold Elite status and if you spend $75,000 or more per year, you will be upgraded to Platinum Elite status. The card carries a variable APR between 16.24% and 23.24%.

There is a $450 annual fee, but you will receive a $300 annual travel credit, $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, and because this is a Visa Infinite card, you will also receive a $100 airfare discount when you purchase two or more airline tickets.

At publishing time, the Platinum Card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

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.

Image: andresr

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Ever Dreamed of Flying Private? This Credit Card Can Get You There

Racking up frequent flier miles and rewards points to fly first-class is so yesterday. Your travel credit card may now be able to make it just little bit easier to score a ride on a private jet.

American Express announced recently that it’s partnering with Delta Private Jets to provide Platinum credit cardholders who purchase a Delta Private Jets Card Membership with reduced rates and exclusive travel benefits.

Delta Private Jets is a private aircraft service aimed at business travelers. Its card offers members the ability to lock-in hourly rates on charters and flights and avoid paying fuel surcharges and interchange fees, among other perks (more on those in a minute).

Of course, living the high life won’t exactly come easy.

For starters, American Express’ Platinum Card (see full review here) touts a $450 annual fee in exchange for all its perks and benefits. And that fee is really chump change when you compare it to the cost of a Delta Private Jets Card Membership, which requires frequent private fliers to pre-fund their plastic with $100,000, $250,000 or $500,000.

Hourly rates on the jets vary depending on membership tier or type, a spokesperson for Delta Private Jets said, while price points and rate reductions resulting from its Premium Private Jet Program with American Express will also be specific to each cardholder. (American Express did not immediately respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.)

The benefits will also vary by membership and individual, the spokesperson said, but to give you an idea of what type of services you can expect when you utilize a private jet service, they can include on-board catering, transportation to and from your flight, access to super-sized aircraft or same-day charters, help with making all your hotel accommodations and more.

Traveling in Style

Securing a private jet membership may be a ways off for most folks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever travel in style. Various travel rewards credit cards offer their cardholders lucrative travel perks, like complimentary upgrades, lounge access, concierge services or, at the very least, a free checked bag. (You can check out our roundup of some of the best travel credit cards in America here.)

Of course, you generally need good credit to qualify, so you should go ahead and check your standing before applying for any premium plastic. (You can view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.) Remember, too, these cards are really best-suited to people who don’t carry a balance. Otherwise, all those perks will just be lost to interest. And be sure to read the fine print of any credit card you’re considering carefully so you’re sure that it — and any high annual fee it may carry — is the right fit for you.

At publishing time, the American Express Platinum 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.

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.

Image: Predrag Vuckovic

The post Ever Dreamed of Flying Private? This Credit Card Can Get You There appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Airline Credit Cards With Big Sign-Up Bonuses Right Now

airplane

Would you like a bunch of frequent flyer miles to book an award ticket? If you are into earning frequent flyer miles, then you can get a head start on your next big award trip by signing up for the right credit card and earning a sign-up bonus.

How Sign-Up Bonuses Work

The credit card industry is intensely competitive, and credit card issuers are willing to go to great lengths to attract new customers. What banks have learned over the years is that there are few incentives that are as attractive as large sums of frequent flyer miles that can be redeemed for award travel.

To receive one of these large sign-up bonuses, you have to apply for a new credit card and be approved. Then, most credit cards require you to complete a minimum spending requirement within a specified period of time, often three months. In most cases, once you’ve completed the minimum spending requirements, and your next statement is generated, then you should receive your sign-up bonus within a day or two.

Many people worry that applying for a new credit card and receiving a sign-up bonus will hurt their credit score. Although there are many factors that make up your credit score, including new applications, applying for a single credit card should have a negligible effect on your credit score and it may even improve it slightly as your credit history is extended.

Here are four airline credit cards that are currently offering big sign-up bonuses. 

1. American Airlines AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi

This card is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after new applicants make $5,000 in purchases within three months of account opening, which is enough for two round-trip domestic award tickets in economy class, or a single first class ticket. (Full Disclosure: Citibank as well as Chase and American Express advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) Other benefits include membership in the American Airlines Admiral’s Club airport lounge program for yourself and all authorized cardholders. You also receive priority service at check-in, airport screening and boarding. In addition, you receive your first bag checked free and a $100 statement credit towards the Global Entry application fee. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

2. British Airways Visa Signature Card from Chase

This card is offering new applicants 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, plus an additional 25,000 miles after spending a total of $15,000 within a calendar year. Other benefits include 3x miles for British Airways purchases, and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere. Finally, those who spend $30,000 in a calendar year can earn a Travel Together Ticket good for a companion ticket on a British Airways award flight, although you do have to pay any tax, fees and carrier charges imposed by British Airways. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

3. United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase

This card is offering new applicants 30,000 bonus miles after spending just $1,000 within three months of account opening. In addition, you can also receive an additional 5,000 bonus miles after you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within three months of account opening. Finally, you can earn 10,000 bonus miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000 in net purchases on your card. Other benefits include a free checked bag for yourself and a companion when you purchase tickets on United using this card. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

4. The Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express

This card (you can see a full review here) is offering new applicants a $50 statement credit after their first purchase and 30,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. Other benefits include priority boarding, a 20% discount on in-flight purchases, and a free checked bag for up to four people traveling on the same reservation. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

All of these cards require applicants to have excellent credit. If you’re not sure of your credit standing, you may want to check your credit before you apply. You can view two of your scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.

If your credit standing doesn’t yet meet the card issuer’s requirements, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score, and apply once you do.

At publishing time, the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from ChaseAAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard from Citi, and the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express 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.

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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AmEx Just Boosted the Sign-Up Bonus for Its Major Hotel Credit Card

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Late last year, we rated the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express as the credit card with the best hotel rewards program, and AmEx just changed one of the perks to make it an even more attractive product.

New cardholders who apply before March 30 will get 35,000 bonus Starpoints if they charge $3,000 within the first three months of opening the card — that’s 10,000 Starpoints more than the typical sign-up bonus.

Those extra points could score you a couple free nights at a hotel. Cardholders can redeem Starpoints for award nights starting at 3,000 points a night at more than 1,200 hotels in more than 100 countries. Starwood properties include hotel chains Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, Four Points and others.

Beyond the supercharged sign-up bonus — which, again, is temporary — the card offers a variety of perks for frequent travelers, which you can read about in the review. Keep in mind this card has a $95 annual fee, though it’s waived for the first year.

To get this and most rewards credit cards, applicants generally need to have a good or great credit score, though there are other things that go into a credit card application. The good news is the average credit score in the U.S. was up three points last year, from 666 in 2014 to 669 in 2015, according to Experian’s annual State of Credit report. That’s on the VantageScore 3.0 scale (300 to 850), and the majority of consumers with credit scores have good (661 to 780) or great credit (781 to 850). According to Experian’s 2015 data, 36% of people with VantageScores have good credit, and 22% fall into that great credit category.

Before applying for a credit card, you should know where you stand to make sure you don’t apply for cards you’re unlikely to qualify for. To see where you stand, you can get two free credit scores every month on Credit.com, including the VantageScore 3.0.

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.

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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4 Ways Your Credit Card Can Save You Money on Valentine’s Day

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Love doesn’t always come cheap. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to spend an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and more for Valentine’s Day this year.

Fortunately, you and your loved one can potentially drive down costs by celebrating before or after February 14, researching affordable gifts or simply staying at home this year. You may also be able to save (or at least recoup a dollar or two) by using your credit card.

Of course, a credit card will only really save you money if you pay your purchases off in full at the end of the month. Otherwise, you risk losing any rewards to interest. One way to ensure your balance doesn’t do too much damage to your bank account or your credit score is to pay off your credit card each day or each week from a linked checking account. (You can see how your current credit card balances may be affecting your credit scores by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

With that in mind, here’s how to leverage the credit cards in your wallet this Valentine’s Day.

1. Rack Up Rewards

Some credit cards let you earn extra rewards (think two-to-three points per dollar back) on your restaurant purchases, so if you’ve got one of those in your wallet, you might want to use it to pay for dinner. And, if you and your sweetie are taking a mini-vacation for Valentine’s Day weekend, you may be able to similarly reap the benefits of a good travel rewards card. (You can find a round up of the best travel credit cards in America here.)

2. Say It With Partners

Credit card issuers often partner with merchants to offer deals to their cardholders. These offers are often seasonal, so around this time of year, you may be able to get a discount and/or earn extra rewards on flowers, chocolates, gift baskets or, even, jewelry in your issuer’s online shopping mall/website. You may also want to keep an eye on your issuer’s social media accounts for special restaurant, travel or entertainment promotions. These offers could make concert tickets or seats at your favorite chef’s table more affordable.

3. Pay With Points

If you’ve been racking up points steadily all year round, you can consider tapping your reserves to pay for presents. You can often redeem points directly for a statement credit, though there may be other redemption options that are bit more valuable. For instance …

4. Get a Gift Card Deal

Many issuers let you earn extra dollars back if you redeem your rewards for a gift card. For instance, you may be able to get a $50 gift card to your sweetheart’s favorite retailer for only $40 worth of points.

You can look for holiday deals on your issuer’s rewards website or even call to inquire about what offers may be at your disposal. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions associated with any deal you’re considering; you’ll want to be aware of any caveats or redemption restrictions that may make the offer less sweet.

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