Alliant Credit Union Introduced a Cash-Back Card: Here’s What You Need to Know

There’s another new cash back credit card to choose from.

There’s another credit card available for cash-back enthusiasts, as Alliant Credit Union just introduced their Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card. It seems like everyone is joining the cash-back card game lately — from Amazon’s new 5% cash-back card to PenFed’s cash-back card — and now Alliant has joined the bunch.

This new plastic from Alliant offers cardholders 3% cash back for the first year, a competitive reward. The cash-back rate decreases to 2.5% back after the first year, but that’s still a decent offer.

So how do you decide if this new plastic is something you want to add to your wallet? It depends on what you want from a new rewards credit card and if you can afford any additional fees (think annual fees, foreign transaction fees and interest charges). It also depends on whether you want to become an Alliant member if you’re not already.

What Is Alliant?

Alliant is a member-based credit union, headquartered in Chicago, that provides banking, loans, investment services, insurance and credit cards to its members. To get this new cash-back card, which is part of the Visa Signature family, you’ll need to be an Alliant member. (You can read about what you get with Visa Signature cards here.)

To qualify to become an Alliant member, you must be one of the following:

  • An employee or retiree of one of Alliant’s employee affiliates
  • A resident of a qualifying Chicago-area community
  • A member of a qualifying organization (such as select unions and associations)
  • An immediate family member of an existing member
  • A contributor to Foster Care to Success

What Does the Card Offer?

As we mentioned, cardholders earn 3% cash back on all purchases for the first year of having the card, which dips to 2.5% in subsequent years. There are no limits to cash-back rewards and no foreign transaction fees associated with this card. It also comes with additional car-rental insurance, advanced security features and extended warranties for qualifying purchases.

These perks come at a price. The card has an annual fee of $59, which is waived the first year. Balance transfers incur a fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer. The annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases and balance transfers is a variable 10.74% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness so those who can qualify for the lowest available APR will get a very attractive rate if they have to carry a balance. To give context in relation to another cash-back card, the Discover it card (read our review here) comes with a variable APR of 11.74% to 23.74%.

Finding the Right Cash-Back Card for You

According to Alliant, the card was designed for high spenders. Michelle Goeppner, Alliant’s senior manager of credit product strategy, said, Alliant had conversations with Alliant members and nonmembers that led to the card’s simple cash-back policy.

“You earn the same high cash-back rate on all purchases, taking the guesswork out of using this card,” Goeppner said in a press release.

There are a lot of cash-back cards on the market, so you’ll want to compare them all so you get a good idea of which card may be right for you. They all come with their own perks and costs so it’s important to do your research.

Make Sure You Know Your Score 

This new Alliant card is intended for consumers with excellent credit. If you’re not sure about your credit, you should check before applying. (You can get two free credit scores on Credit.com.) After all, you don’t want to apply for the card, get the hard inquiry on your credit (and subsequent ding to your scores) just to be denied. If you discover your score isn’t where it needs to be to qualify for this cash-back card, you can take steps — like paying down debt and remedying any errors on your credit report — to improve your score before you apply for it.

Image: Mikolette

At publishing time, the Discover it 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).

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5 New IHG Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free

Here's how to use your IHG Rewards Club points for free nights at these new hotels.

If you’re planning a vacation this year and are a fan of Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels, we’ve got some good news for you. The firm has recently opened five new hotels around the world — and, if you play your points right, you could score a stay in one free of charge. (Psst … if you’re trying to travel on a dime, we’ve got 28 more ways to save for this year’s big adventure right here.)

Here’s how many IHG Rewards Club points you’ll need to stay in one or all of its new additions absolutely free.

1. Hotel Indigo Lower East Side

If you will be traveling to New York City, then make sure you plan a stay at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side. This hotel is situated in the middle of one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods. During your stay you can enjoy a swim in the hotel’s rooftop pool, or even join a yoga class while enjoying the top-floor views.

A free night at the Hotel Indigo Lower East side will cost 50,000 points per night.

2. Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong

Located in the old Joo Chiat police station, the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong is perfect for travelers that want to have easy access to everything the city has to offer. Grab a bite to eat at the hotel’s Baba Chews Bar and Eatery after you relax in the hotel’s infinity pool situated on the roof.

Free nights at the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong will cost 40,000 points per night.

3. InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun

During your next trip to Beijing, stay at the InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun, located in the middle of the city’s entertainment district. You will be situated close to some of the best bars, restaurants, and markets that Beijing has to offer. Within the hotel you will experience five-star service, with multiple bars and restaurants featuring spectacular views of the city, and rooms that will make you feel rested and ready to go each morning.

Free nights at the InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun will cost 50,000 points per night.

4. Crowne Plaza Resort Sanya Bay, China

The Crowne Plaza Resort Sanya Bay is located in the largest of China’s Hainan Island bays. This hotel’s tropical location is perfect for anyone who might be in town for pleasure or business. You will be a short ride away from both Nanshan Temple and Mingzhu Plaza. At the hotel you will find both an indoor and outdoor pool, and also a natural hot spring.

The Crowne Plaza Resort Sanya Bay will cost 25,000 points per night.

5. Holiday Inn Manchester — City Centre

Anyone visiting Manchester, England, will have an abundance of hotels to choose from. However, if you want to be located right in the middle of city center, the new Holiday Inn Manchester might be the way to go. This hotel is located in near proximity to many of the city’s biggest venues including O2 Apollo, Manchester Area, and Bridgewater Hall.

The Holiday Inn Manchester – City Centre will cost 30,000 points per night.

How to Earn More IHG Rewards Club Points

Anyone looking to increase their balance of IHG Rewards Club points should look no further than the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card from Chase. When you sign up for this rewards credit card, you’ll receive 60,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. If you’d like to add an authorized user to your account, you’ll earn an extra 5,000 points after they make a purchase in the first three months.

When you use the card at IHG hotels, you will receive 5x points. Purchases made at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants will all earn 2x points. All other purchases will earn 1x point for every dollar spent. This card has no foreign transaction fees, but it does come with an annual fee of $49, which is waived the first year.

Also, you’ll receive a certificate for a free night at any IHG hotel on the anniversary of opening the card, plus you’ll automatically receive IHG Platinum Elite status. This will give you 10% of your points back on redemption. It touts a 16.49% to 23.49% variable annual percentage rate (APR), depending on creditworthiness. (You can get an idea of where you might fall by viewing two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

Of course, if IHG isn’t your chain of choice, there are plenty of other hotel rewards credit cards out there that could score you a free stay. (You can find a few more solid credit cards for hotel hoppers here.) And, if you don’t have a chain of choice, you might want to opt for a general-purpose travel rewards credit card whose points and miles are good for any hotel or airline purchase. Just be sure to pay your balances off on all above in full — otherwise, you’ll lose those precious points to interest.

Happy travels!

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 Credit Card That Can Help You Save for Retirement

If you’re serious about long-term savings — whether for your retirement, your child’s college fund or both — you already know you need to do more than just save your pennies. You need dollars, and lots of them.

So, what if you could put a percentage of every purchase you make on your credit card into one of those investment funds? Would you do it? If your answer is yes, you may want to take a look at the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card from Fidelity Investments, because that’s exactly what this credit card does.

What Is the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card?

The Fidelity Rewards card offers cardholders a very straightforward 2% back on all purchases, simple as that. Your reward is then deposited directly into a Fidelity account. For every $2,500 spent, a deposit of $50 is made into the investment account of your choice, and you can choose from a variety of accounts that meet your savings goals. Want your money deposited directly for retirement? Fidelity can put your 2% right into a traditional, Roth, rollover or SEP IRA. (Not sure what an IRA is? No worries: We have a full explainer on individual retirement accounts right here.) You can’t deposit directly into a 401K, however.

Prefer a brokerage account? No problem. For certain cardholders, there’s also the option of depositing your rewards into a 529 college savings account.

Of course, you can choose to spend your rewards instead of investing them, but the redemption value is lower if you choose to redeem your points for other rewards. The exact redemption rate varies, depending on how you cash in, a Fidelity spokesperson said. For instance, if you redeem rewards for retailer gift cards, the rate is .5% (10,000 points for $50 gift card).

No Spending Categories & No Limits

Not only does the Fidelity Rewards card making saving easy, there are no special spending categories and no limits or caps on the amount of rewards you can earn. Plus, the card’s variable 14.99% annual percentage rate means carrying a small balance every now and then won’t necessarily wipe out the rewards you earn. (Friendly reminder: It’s still important when using a rewards credit card to try your very best not to.)

New cardholders can get a $100 bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, but the funds must be deposited directly into a qualified Fidelity account. Qualifying accounts for both the regular rewards savings and signup bonus include:

  • Fidelity Cash Management Account
  • Fidelity-managed 529 College Savings plan
  • Retirement account
  • Fidelity Go account 

The Fidelity Rewards card also comes with all the benefits provided through the Visa Signature platform, including:

  • Auto rental collision coverage. Rent your automobile with your Fidelity Rewards card and you can waive the rental agency’s collision coverage.
  • Emergency assistance while traveling. Find the help you need when you’re on the road.
  • Purchase protection. Extra coverage for the things you buy with your card, including reimbursement for damage or theft.
  • Warranty manager service. This service helps you keep track of the warranties on the items you purchase with your card.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement. This service covers lost or stolen baggage.
  • Travel accident insurance. This coverage will help if you’re injured while traveling.
  • Roadside dispatch. Need a tow? Locked yourself out of your car? This pay-per-use service offers many benefits, including emergency roadside assistance.
  • Visa Signature Concierge. Access to 24-hour complimentary assistance with everything from booking travel to getting concert tickets.

Is the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card Right for You?

Even if you like the idea of of a card with no annual fee that lets you earn 2% on every purchase you make and then directly invests that money toward your savings goals, the Fidelity Rewards card isn’t for everyone. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you weigh your decision:

  1. Do you have a Fidelity investment account? If you don’t, you’ll want to keep in mind that you can’t use your rewards as a deposit to establish a new Fidelity account. Rewards can only be deposited into existing accounts.
  2. Do you have excellent credit? To qualify for the Fidelity Rewards card, you’re going to need excellent credit. If you don’t know what your credit score is, you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com using our free credit report snapshot. It provides personalized details on how you can improve your scores, including a timeline of how long it will take to do so, across five key areas affecting your credit scores. It also provides you with a personalized list of some of the credit cards you would qualify for.
  3. Do you prefer investing over perks or cash back? If you travel a lot, whether for work or play, you might prefer some of the benefits that travel rewards cards offer, like free upgrades, free hotel stays, waived baggage fees and other non-monetary perks. Likewise, if you’d like more flexibility in what your rewards can be used for, a cash-back rewards card might be better for you.
  4. Can you get higher rewards with another card? If you want more flexibility than the automated investing inherent with the Fidelity Rewards card allows, there are cards that offer higher rewards (for example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred gives a whopping 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in purchases per year at U.S. supermarkets), so the automated investing aspect should be particularly important to you.

Remember, whenever you’re shopping for a rewards card, it can really pay to keep your spending habits and rewards goals in mind as you compare cards. To get started, you can check out our list of the best cash back credit cards. And, no matter what type of plastic you’re on the hunt for, you can reference our expert guide to getting the best terms you possibly can on a credit card.

At publishing time, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred 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).

 

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 The Credit Card That Can Help You Save for Retirement appeared first on Credit.com.

Chase’s Hot New Credit Card Could Cost Them up to $300 Million

Chase's new credit card is so wildly popular, and offers such great perks, it's costing the bank money.

Back in September, Chase ran out of the metal versions of their new Sapphire Reserve credit card because of such high demand. And, while it seems the card is still drawing a lot of attention (and applicants), it’s costing Chase money — as much as $300 million, in fact.

At least that’s according to a recent Bloomberg report, which says the card is expected to hurt profits by $200 million to $300 million in the fourth quarter. (Don’t feel too bad, they’re still anticipating a $5 billion profit this quarter.) And, according to the report, the bank won’t break even on the investment they’ve made into this card for almost six years. Despite all this, the JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said “the card has been doing great” when he spoke at an investor conference in New York on Tuesday.

Wondering what all the fuss is about with this Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card? Well…

What Makes This Card So Popular

There’s a lot to be said about this credit card — to start, after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of having the card, you’ll get 100,000 bonus points. Yes, you read that right: 100,000 points, which is equal to $1,500 in travel redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform. And, if you have wanderlust, you’ll also like that this card gives you an annual statement credit of up to $300 to reimburse you for travel purchases. (Starting to understand why this card is so popular and costing Chase some money?)

All this from a credit card is pretty amazing, right? There’s more. While you’ve still got jet setting on the brain, it’s worth mentioning that this card will reimburse you up to $100 for your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application, as well as give you access to airport lounges and special benefits at certain hotels and when renting cars.

And let’s talk about spending rewards: You get three points per dollar on travel and dining and one point per dollar for all other purchases. When you redeem through the Chase rewards platform, your points will go further, as you’ll get 50% more in travel redemption.

As many rewards credit cards do, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with an annual fee, and it isn’t a subtle one: $450. You also have to pay the annual fee upfront. And if you can’t pay your statement in full (a best practice with rewards credit cards so you don’t lose your perks to interest fees), you’re looking at a variable APR of 16.24% to 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.

Adding Plastic to Your Wallet

Yes, these rewards are amazing and can be exceptionally tempting. But, not so fast: You want to think about if adding this card, or any other card, to your collection is really right for you before you hit “Submit” on that application. Are you going to be able to make that $450 annual fee worthwhile or would a credit card with a lower yearly fee (or not one at all) be better? And if it’s that signup bonus that sounds most appealing to you, is it an amount you’d be able to afford to spend? After all, added spending just to get a bonus (and ultimately ending up in debt) certainly isn’t worth it.

Part of considering which credit card may be right for you is also knowing what cards you’re likely to qualify for. Cards that offer rewards tend to require a good credit score, so it’s good to know if you’re even eligible before applying. After all, you don’t want that hard inquiry on your credit just to be rejected for the new card. (You can find out where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) If you discover your scores aren’t at the level you’d like them to be, all is not lost: Consider paying down debts, repairing any report damage you may discover and limiting inquiries on your credit until your scores rebound.

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Chase’s Hot New Credit Card Could Cost Them up to $300 Million

Chase's new credit card is so wildly popular, and offers such great perks, it's costing the bank money.

Back in September, Chase ran out of the metal versions of their new Sapphire Reserve credit card because of such high demand. And, while it seems the card is still drawing a lot of attention (and applicants), it’s costing Chase money — as much as $300 million, in fact.

At least that’s according to a recent Bloomberg report, which says the card is expected to hurt profits by $200 million to $300 million in the fourth quarter. (Don’t feel too bad, they’re still anticipating a $5 billion profit this quarter.) And, according to the report, the bank won’t break even on the investment they’ve made into this card for almost six years. Despite all this, the JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said “the card has been doing great” when he spoke at an investor conference in New York on Tuesday.

Wondering what all the fuss is about with this Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card? Well…

What Makes This Card So Popular

There’s a lot to be said about this credit card — to start, after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of having the card, you’ll get 100,000 bonus points. Yes, you read that right: 100,000 points, which is equal to $1,500 in travel redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform. And, if you have wanderlust, you’ll also like that this card gives you an annual statement credit of up to $300 to reimburse you for travel purchases. (Starting to understand why this card is so popular and costing Chase some money?)

All this from a credit card is pretty amazing, right? There’s more. While you’ve still got jet setting on the brain, it’s worth mentioning that this card will reimburse you up to $100 for your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application, as well as give you access to airport lounges and special benefits at certain hotels and when renting cars.

And let’s talk about spending rewards: You get three points per dollar on travel and dining and one point per dollar for all other purchases. When you redeem through the Chase rewards platform, your points will go further, as you’ll get 50% more in travel redemption.

As many rewards credit cards do, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with an annual fee, and it isn’t a subtle one: $450. You also have to pay the annual fee upfront. And if you can’t pay your statement in full (a best practice with rewards credit cards so you don’t lose your perks to interest fees), you’re looking at a variable APR of 16.24% to 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.

Adding Plastic to Your Wallet

Yes, these rewards are amazing and can be exceptionally tempting. But, not so fast: You want to think about if adding this card, or any other card, to your collection is really right for you before you hit “Submit” on that application. Are you going to be able to make that $450 annual fee worthwhile or would a credit card with a lower yearly fee (or not one at all) be better? And if it’s that signup bonus that sounds most appealing to you, is it an amount you’d be able to afford to spend? After all, added spending just to get a bonus (and ultimately ending up in debt) certainly isn’t worth it.

Part of considering which credit card may be right for you is also knowing what cards you’re likely to qualify for. Cards that offer rewards tend to require a good credit score, so it’s good to know if you’re even eligible before applying. After all, you don’t want that hard inquiry on your credit just to be rejected for the new card. (You can find out where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) If you discover your scores aren’t at the level you’d like them to be, all is not lost: Consider paying down debts, repairing any report damage you may discover and limiting inquiries on your credit until your scores rebound.

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5 Credit Cards That Reward Loyal Customers

loyalty-rewards

Are you the kind of person who likes to stick with something that works? A lot of people want to find the right credit card, use it for many years, and be rewarded for their loyalty. These rewards can take many forms, including discounts, perks, and additional rewards. These aren’t the kind of benefits anyone can get just for signing up, you have to be a cardmember for at least a year, or reach a certain spending threshold on your account.

Here are five credit cards that reward your loyalty.

1. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card rewards you for your loyalty as you’ll get a companion certificate each year when you renew your card, but not initially when you sign up. This means that you get to invite someone to fly on a domestic flight with you once a year as long as you renew your card, and only have to pay for taxes. This certificate is limited to economy class flights within the contiguous 48 states.

In addition, you earn two miles for every dollar you spend directly with Delta, and one mile per dollar spent on other purchases. The annual fee for this card is $195 and there are no foreign transaction fees.

2. Hyatt Visa Signature Card From Chase

This card offers you a free night stay at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel every year if you renew your card. This card also offers Platinum status at the Hyatt, which means you get access to perks such as expedited check-in, complimentary in-room internet and a 15% point bonus on any eligible purchases. Other benefits include earning three points for every dollar spent on any Hyatt properties, double points for every dollar spent on flights, car rentals or restaurants, and one point on any other purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card and the annual fee is $75.

3. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card from US Bank

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature card grants you Gold Elite Status for your Club Carlson membership as soon as you activate and use your card. If you already have that status, you get 15 qualifying nights either towards getting or maintaining Elite status. And whenever you renew your card, you’ll get 40,000 bonus points.

This card also rewards those who use it often throughout the year. If you spend at least $10,000 and then renew your card, then you’ll earn a free night at any qualifying hotel. The annual fee for this card is $75 and there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

4. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card From Chase

This card rewards you for your loyalty by giving you Gold Elite Status benefits in the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program whenever you spend $10,000 or more annually. These benefits include complimentary in-room internet access and other exclusive bonuses. If you spend $75,000 or more, you get upgraded to Platinum Elite status.

This card offers five points per dollar spent at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Hotels, double points for airline, car rental and restaurant purchases, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Other benefits include Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership and a $300 annual air travel credit.

When staying at Ritz-Carlton hotels, you will also receive three Club Level upgrades each year and a $100 hotel credit toward dining, spa or other hotel recreational activities on paid stays of two nights or longer. There’s an annual fee of $450 and no foreign transaction fees.

5. JetBlue Plus Card from Barclaycard

The JetBlue Plus card rewards loyal customers by giving them TrueBlue Mosaic benefits (JetBlue’s elite status) for a year whenever cardmembers spend at least $50,000 annually. Some of these benefits include having up to two free checked bags, priority boarding, waived cancellation fees, a dedicated check-in area, and 15,000 bonus points.

This card also offers 6x points for JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Other benefits include a 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases and 10% of your points back every time you redeem them. This card has an annual fee of $99 with no foreign transaction fees.

It’s prudent not to spend beyond your budget when using rewards credit cards. Spending too much and not paying off your credit card balances can negatively effect your credit score, which affects your ability to get lower interest loans, mortgages and other card offers.  If you’d like to see where your credit stands, you can see two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Jet Blue Plus 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.

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: Goodluz

The post 5 Credit Cards That Reward Loyal Customers appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Ways Your Credit Scores Can Empower You

credit-scores-can-empower-you

The members of the credit elite — consumers who reside at the top of the scoring ladder — are no strangers to the hard work having good credit requires. Maintaining good or excellent credit can help you qualify for the best financial offers. Here are four ways this can pay off and might leave you feeling financially empowered.

1. Credit Card Perks & Rewards

When you have good credit scores, you open up the doors to new credit opportunities. For example, you may now be eligible for some of the more premiere credit cards on the market that offer great rewards. (You can read more about reward credit cards here.) Before you apply for a new card, it’s a good idea to verify where your credit currently stands. You can see two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

2. Negotiation Power

As an attractive borrower, you can expect to wield greater negotiation power in your financial dealings. For example, an Experian analysis found that “85% of the rental applicant population is in one of the three lowest VantageScore credit ranges (501 to 799), compared with a national average of only 64%.” You may be able to use your excellent credit score to distinguish yourself from the competition and negotiate better terms and conditions in several situations.

3. Lower Insurance Premiums

Insurance is the business of risk, and the premium you pay is based on several factors, including age, city of residence and past behavior. Based on the latter, it’s no surprise that many providers look at your credit to set insurance rates (California, Hawaii and Massachusetts have laws prohibiting this practice). Consumers with excellent credit may been seen as a lower risk and may be rewarded with lower auto, homeowner or health insurance rates.

4. Prime Interest Rates

Borrowing money can be easier with high credit scores. A stellar ranking may qualify you for some of the best available mortgage rates, auto loans and revolving APR. Depending on the value and length of the loan, excellent credit could help save you thousands of dollars over time.

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United Has a New Fee Policy for Changing Awards Flights

United-Airlines-fees

If you’re enrolled in United Airlines’ MileagePlus rewards program, there is a new fee policy going into effect soon that you want to know about.

If you need to change or cancel a flight booked using rewards, the fee will be based on how close your new travel date is to your original travel date, as well as your MileagePlus status. Timeline dates are broken into two tiers: 61 or more days and 60 days or less.

For example, if you’re a general member, you’ll pay $75 if you change or cancel with redeposit 61 or more days prior to original departure date, and $125 if you change or cancel 60 days or less prior to the original departure date. However, if you’re at the highest tiers — Premier 1K and United Global Services — you won’t pay these fees, no matter when you change or cancel your travel plans.

Premium Platinum members can also escape the fee if they change or cancel with redeposit 61 or more days prior to original departure date. After that, they’re subject to a $50 fee. Premier Gold members will pay $25 if they change 61 days or more before departure, and $75 within 60 days or less of departure; Premier Silver members will pay $50 and $100, respectively.

These changes apply to all MileagePlus members and will be implemented on all flights using awards booked on or after October 6, 2016. (Previously, fees were based on a window of 21 days from departure.) Of course, certain restrictions and additional fees may apply, so you’ll want to check with your travel agent or a United representative before making any changes to your travel plans.

You Can Cut Some Travel-Related Fees

If you’re hoping to save on your travels, becoming a reward member of the airline and any hotels you frequent may be a good starting point. Beyond that, you may want to consider a travel credit card (you can read our roundup of the best travel credit cards in America here). Many airline credit cards offer free checked bags and other perks, while some hotel-specific cards offer benefits for their properties. Keep in mind, these cards are ideal for people who can pay their balances in full each billing cycle. Otherwise, you’ll lose most of the benefits to paying interest.

Before you apply, you’ll want to consider what type of card will benefit you the most for your travels as well as to make sure the annual fees that may be associated with it are worthwhile. It’s also a good idea to review your credit before applying, as many reward credit cards require a good credit score to qualify. By seeing if you fall in that category before applying, you’ll avoid getting hit with a hard inquiry that could hurt your score even if you don’t wind up with the credit card. To see where your credit currently stands, you can view your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.

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This Bank Is Giving New Credit Cardholders Rewards Every Time the U.S. Wins a Medal at Rio

olympics_bonus_points

In case you need more incentive to get excited over Team USA wins at the Olympics in Rio later this month, Visa and U.S. Bank are teaming up to offer cardholders extra points every time a U.S. athlete medals.

The FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa card promotion runs in the United States from Aug. 1 through Sept. 3, 2016. Cardmembers who apply and are approved during the promotion can earn bonus FlexPoints for every U.S. Olympic win — 200 FlexPoints for every Gold Medal, 100 FlexPoints for every Silver Medal and 50 FlexPoints for every Bronze Medal.

“This promotion will encourage our new FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Cardmembers to share in the achievement of United States Olympians and bring them closer to The Olympics,” Cliff Cook, senior vice president for the U.S. Bank retail credit-card division, said.

Cardmembers also can receive an extra 20,000 Enrollment Bonus FlexPoints when they spend $2,000 within the first four months after their account is opened.

The offer is subject to credit approval, and is not available to current or previous cardholders. FlexPoints will be awarded as long as one purchase is posted to the account owner’s individual account by Sept. 30, 2016.

Rewards credit cards can be great for people who don’t carry a balance month to month as these cards tend to have higher interest rates. Remember, before applying for any new card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to make sure there aren’t any surprises. (You can keep track of your credit scores and what areas of your credit you might be able to improve by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, 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.

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Can I Use My Company Credit Card to Earn Rewards?

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Ever wonder if you can use your company or business credit card to rack up rewards? You may be able to, depending on the card you’re carrying and/or your company’s policy.

There are two types of business credit cards. The most common are small business credit cards issued by most major card issuers. The owner of the company is the primary cardholder and is responsible for the repayment of all charges. The other type is corporate cards, which are issued in the name of medium and large businesses, as well as government and nonprofit organizations.

Business Credit Cards

With small business credit cards, any rewards earned are retained by the business owner who is the primary account holder. Thankfully, many small business credit cards earn bonus rewards for common business purchases such as office supplies, telecommunications services and travel expenses.

Keep in mind, you will want to examine the rates and fees that a card has to ensure that you are not overspending to receive these rewards or other benefits. This is important any time you’re considering some new plastic, but even more so when shopping for a business credit card since they’re exempt from many CARD Act provisions. (Some do comply anyway.) You can find more information on the best business credit cards in America here.

Corporate Cards

A handful of major banks issue corporate credit and charge cards designed for medium and large organizations, and these rarely offer rewards. American Express does offer corporate charge cards that allow authorized cardholders to earn rewards, however. In particular, American Express Corporate Green and Gold Cards allow cardholders to earn points by paying a one-time $90 fee, while there is no fee for its Corporate Platinum and Centurion cards.

American Express points are generally worth about one cent each toward gift cards, merchandise and travel reservations. And these points can be transferred to 17 different airline programs. When miles are redeemed for expensive flights in business, first class or flights with little advance notice, it’s possible to realize several cents in value per mile.

American Express notes on its website that individual corporate cardholders can enroll in the rewards program, though companies do have the option of blocking enrollment — in which case you wouldn’t be able to sign up and earn rewards.

In fact, it’s a good idea generally to check with your employer before you try to cash any points you may have earned with a corporate card in. Some companies may have policies regarding whether or not employee cardholders can use these rewards.

Other Ways to Earn Rewards 

If you don’t have corporate card, you may still be able to earn rewards from company purchases. Many businesses give employees the option of charging expenses to their personal credit cards, which can work well when employees are able to pay each month’s statement balance in full and avoid interest charges. (Again, check with your employer about their specific policies around rewards earned on business expenses, so you don’t unwittingly violate any.)

Remember, business credit cards and even charge cards aren’t always totally separate from your personal credit. Their impact on your consumer credit rating depends on the card agreement. You can see how your credit card use, for business or personal expenses, is affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.

At publishing time, American Express cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these products. 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.

More on Credit Cards:

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