5 Credit Cards for Flyers Who Love Special Treatment

If you’re looking for a better flight experience, you might want to see what an airline credit card can do for you.

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

Frequent flyers know constantly crisscrossing the skies is a grind. Dealing with security, airline fees and other hassles can make any trip a headache.

If you’re looking for a better flight experience, you might want to see what an airline credit card can do for you. Most major airlines offer credit cards with perks that can improve your flight experience.

Here are five credit cards that get you special treatment with the airlines.

1. United MileagePlus Explorer Card

Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on United tickets, one mile per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $95
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 16.74% to 23.74%
Why We Picked It: Special treatment from United starts before you step foot on the plane.
For Your Flight: The first checked bag for both you and a companion is free. Plus, you’ll get priority boarding ahead of general passengers. The card also provides two one-time United Club lounge passes each year with your card anniversary.
Drawbacks: If you tend to only carry on, you won’t get the benefit of the free checked bag.

2. Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select Card

Rewards: Two miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases, one mile per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $95, waived for first year
APR: Variable 16.74% to 24.74%
Why We Picked It: You’ll get special treatment at the airport and save on in-flight meals. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
For Your Flight: Cardholders and up to four companions get their first checked bag free with domestic American Airlines flights. Plus, they’ll get priority boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight meals and beverages.
Drawbacks: Perks like priority boarding and free checked bags are restricted to domestic flights.

3. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines flights and with select hotel and car rental partners, one point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Signup Bonus: 6,000 bonus points each card anniversary
Annual Fee: $99
APR: Variable 16.74% to 23.74%
Why We Picked It: Southwest’s credit card helps flyers avoid fees.
For Your Flight: Cardholders get first and second checked bags free. There are no change fees if you need to modify your flights, although fare differences may apply.
Drawbacks: Southwest does not offer priority boarding with this card.

4. JetBlue Plus Card

Rewards: Six points per dollar spent on JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar spent at restaurants and grocery stores and one point per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, 5,000 annual bonus points on your card anniversary
Annual Fee: $99
APR: Variable 12.74%, 20.74% or 25.74% on purchases, 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers, then variable 12.74%, 20.74% or 25.74%
Why We Picked It: You’ll get deep discounts on in-flight meals and free checked bags and you can earn elite status with JetBlue.
For Your Flight: Cardholders and up to three companions get their first bags checked free. You’ll also get 50% off eligible in-flight beverages and food. If you spend $50,000 on your card in a calendar year, you can join the TrueBlue Mosaic program, which provides benefits including waived change and cancellation fees, expedited security lines, priority boarding and free alcoholic beverages.
Drawbacks: Earning Mosaic status requires a steep spending minimum.

5. Gold Delta Skymiles Credit Card

Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, one mile per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first four months, plus a $50 statement credit with your first Delta purchase in the same time frame
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95
APR: Variable 16.74% to 25.74%
Why We Picked It: Delta’s credit card provides basic flight perks and the potential for Medallion membership.
For Your Flight: Your first checked bag is free and you’ll enjoy priority boarding. In-flight meals, beverages and audio headset purchases receive a 20% discount. Each year, you’ll get a round-trip companion certificate for a domestic main cabin seat. The card also provides discounted Delta Sky Club lounge access. Finally, spending $25,000 in a calendar year can earn you Medallion Member status, which includes a number of additional premium benefits including upgraded seats, additional waived fees and more.
Drawbacks: Earning Medallion membership requires a steep spending minimum or earning Medallion Qualification Dollars.

How to Choose a Card for Airline Perks

Because most cards that convey special flight perks are offered by specific airlines, you should first examine the card that’s tied to your airline of choice. If the perks that come with that card aren’t particularly impressive, you may want to check competitor cards to see if it could be beneficial to switch loyalties.

Of course, you’ll want to weigh the offered benefits against the annual fee and other associated card costs. For instance, airport lounges are great for those that frequently arrive at the airport early or experience layovers. But if you tend to get to your gate at the last second and usually take direct flights, this benefit might be worthless. Make sure to look for benefits that actually enhance the way you travel.

If you have no specific loyalty to one airline and tend to choose flights based on factors like price or convenience, you may be better off with a general travel card.

What Is Required to Get a Credit Card With Special Treatment at Airlines?

Cards that provide special flight perks and elite status with airlines usually require excellent credit. You should be reasonably confident you can get approved before you apply, because a hard credit inquiry from a credit card application can ding your credit score a few points. You can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: beer5020

At publishing time, the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select, JetBlue Plus and Gold Delta Skymiles 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.

The post 5 Credit Cards for Flyers Who Love Special Treatment appeared first on Credit.com.

How to Throw a Killer Fourth of July Cookout on a Budget

Like parades and fireworks, Independence Day cookouts are a holiday tradition. But hosting one can get costly if you don't watch your budget.

Like parades and fireworks, Independence Day cookouts are a holiday tradition. But hosting one can get pricy if you don’t watch your budget. Here are some tips for hosting a fabulous cookout this Fourth of July without going broke, courtesy of Sarah Spigelman Richter, a food reporter based in Manhattan.

1. Think Quality Over Quantity

You may think you’re getting a deal on that discount meat, but chances are the pricier goods are a better value, said Richter. Though you’ll have fewer burgers to go around, you’ll feel better about eating meat that was raised ethically and sustainably — it’s better for your health, the environment and animal welfare. Of course, “sustainably sourced everything does cost more,” Richter said, so don’t feel pressured to serve up a steak. “Go for any sort of poultry that’s interesting to you,” she said, or choose sausages, fish or ground meat. The latter is often cheaper and more delicious.

2. Serve Veggies 

“You don’t want to forget people who don’t eat meat at your cookout,” said Richter, who advised hitting the farmer’s market to stock up. “My general rule of thumb is, whatever looks best that day, get it,” she said. Veggies usually taste good either right off the grill or when they’ve cooled down, so they’re a perfect snack for after the pool. Try loading kebabs with veggies and a small amount of meat, or serve up meatless grilled mains like beans and tofu. “Things that can fall through the grates like asparagus can always be put in a foil pouch placed directly on the grill,” Richter said.

3. Grill Fruit 

The surprising, smoky flavor of grilled fruit is like “dinner theater,” said Richter, who explained that grilling brings out the natural sugars in fruit, which makes them sweeter, like caramelized onions. Remember to brush whatever you’re grilling with a little olive oil and keep a close eye on your fruit so it doesn’t go up in flames (indirect heat is best). Richter advised grilling stone fruit like peaches, plums, nectarines, pluots and apricots. Leave the skins on, then peel afterward and serve with a dollop of cool whipped cream. “It’s a really easy dessert,” she said.

4. Ask Friends to BYOB

We won’t dissuade you from stocking up on basics like water and soda, but it never hurts to ask your friends to pitch in. If they have particular tastes — yes way, rosé — encourage them to round out the offerings. As Richter jokingly put it, “Get your friends to bring exactly what they like so you don’t wind up with three bottles of white zinfandel that nobody drinks and eventually turns into vinegar in your pantry.”

5. Use Rewards Credit Cards 

If you’re going to go shopping, you may as well get a little kickback for it, which is what rewards credit cards are all about. You can earn points toward perks like gift cards, account credit and discounts at your favorite stores. Just remember to check your credit before you apply, as many issuers require decent credit in order to qualify. (Not sure where your finances stand? You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

6. Keep Side Dishes Simple 

“Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to make a risotto in the kitchen while everyone’s outside enjoying themselves,” said Richter. “Grab a bag of chips and some coleslaw and enjoy the day.”

Image: M_a_y_a

The post How to Throw a Killer Fourth of July Cookout on a Budget appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Credit Cards That Help Music Fans See the Coolest Shows

These cards can help you see shows from your favorite artists and earn rewards for everyday spending.

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

Concerts let you experience your favorite musical artists with a community of like-minded fans in a live setting. Live music fanatics know the thrill of the concert experience, and they’re constantly watching to secure tickets for the best shows.

Whether you prefer bombastic arena events or intimate venues, you could benefit from a credit card that helps connect you with tickets. Some cards can help you hit shows from your favorite artists and earn rewards for everyday spending.

1. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment, one point per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: None
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% intro APR for 12 months, then variable 14.24% to 24.24%
Why We Picked It: Dining and entertainment purchases earn double points, and cardholders get access to presale tickets and VIP concert packages.
Benefits: This card earns two points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment, which includes live concerts, record store purchases and music streaming services. Other purchases earn one point per dollar. Points can be redeemed for dining, entertainment, retail goods and more. Plus, with Citi Private Pass, cardholders get access to tickets for thousands of annual events, including concert presales and VIP packages.
Drawbacks: If you tend to prefer cheaper shows and don’t dine out often, you won’t be taking full advantage of the double points. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on travel and dining, one point per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95
APR: Variable 16.74% to 23.74%
Why We Picked It: Cardholders can get presale tickets and exclusive access to many live music events in New York City.
Benefits: Cardholders earn double points for every dollar spent on dining and travel and one point per dollar spent on everything else. Points can be redeemed in many ways, but the greatest value is reserved for travel redemptions made through Chase’s booking platform. Chase Inside Access grants VIP access and presales to exclusive events at venues including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theater.
Drawbacks: When it comes to concerts, Chase is primarily focused on New York City venues, so if you aren’t an NYC local (or reasonably nearby) you may want to look elsewhere. The card’s greatest value is also reserved for frequent travelers.

3. Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express

Rewards: Two points per dollar on up to $6,000 a year spent at U.S. supermarkets, one point per dollar spent on everything else
Signup Bonus: 10,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: None
APR: 0% intro APR for 12 months, then variable 13.74% to 23.74%
Why We Picked It: Redeeming points for concert tickets is simple with this card.
Benefits: Cardholders earn double points for U.S. supermarket purchases and one point on the dollar everywhere else. American Express customers often get access to presale tickets and special events when buying tickets through the Membership Experiences website. Plus, points can easily be redeemed directly with Ticketmaster for ticket purchases.
Drawbacks: The card’s points system is only valuable to those who spend a lot on groceries.

How to Choose a Card for Live Music

Credit cards for music lovers should reward cardholders as they spend and grant special access to tickets and events.

When evaluating cards for your live music habit, look at the purchase types that earn the most rewards. You’ll want to choose a card that incentivizes the type of purchases you already make.

You’ll also want to look at the types of events and tickets your card can help you access before you take the plunge and apply. The events should reflect your live music preferences. If they don’t, you probably won’t get much use out of them.

One last thing to keep in mind is that most “exclusive” ticket programs are available through all or many of the credit cards offered by the issuer. If the main appeal is access to these programs, look at all available cards from the issuer. Chances are, they’ll have a card that fits your lifestyle.

What Is Required to Get a Card for Concerts?

Cards that provide live music rewards often require good to excellent credit. You should be aware of where your credit stands before you apply. A hard inquiry from a credit card application can cause your credit score to dip a few points. If you aren’t sure where your credit stands, you can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: PeopleImages 

At publishing time, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card and Amex EveryDay credit card from American Express 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.

The post 3 Credit Cards That Help Music Fans See the Coolest Shows appeared first on Credit.com.

6 Hacks for Using the Citi ThankYou Points Program

Here's how to get the most out of your Citi rewards credit card points.

If you surveyed a group of people about credit cards, it’s likely they would say pretty much the same thing: Their favorite cards are part of a transferable points program. That’s because these cards tend to have the most flexibility when it comes to redeeming rewards. One of these programs is Citi ThankYou. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Over the past several years, Citi has made several changes to the ThankYou program to help it keep up with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. Two of the most noticeable changes are the selection of credit cards that allow you to earn ThankYou points and the airline transfer partners. Let’s take a look at how you can hack your Citi ThankYou points for maximum value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One area where the Citi ThankYou program has improved over the past couple of years is with the quality of transfer partners. Unless noted below all partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

  • Jetblue (1,000:500)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad
  • Eva Air
  • Air France/KLM
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Quantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hilton (1,000:1,500)

While the list of partners continues to grow, not all of them are a good use of your points. To get the most value, you could redeem points for one of these rewards:

Continental U.S. to Hawaii on Singapore Airlines

From the United States, one of the best uses for Singapore Airlines miles is to fly to Hawaii. One-way flights in coach, business class, and first class cost 17,500, 30,000 and 40,000 miles, respectively. Compare this to United Airlines, which charges 22,500, 40,000 and 50,000 miles.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards

One of the best ways to use Flying Blue miles is to book their promo awards. Each month, they release new promo routes and you can save 20% to 50% off normal redemption rates.

Continental U.S. to Mexico on Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue includes Mexico in the same flight region as the United States, which means flights cost only 12,500 miles each way in coach.

TransAtlantic in Singapore Suites

If you’re tired of always flying coach, you can splurge and spend 57,375 Singapore Krisflyer Miles to fly Singapore Suites from New York to Frankfurt, Germany. If you’d like to continue, you can go all the way to Singapore for a total of 93,500 miles. But be warned: Flying in coach might never be the same.

Use Etihad Guest Miles from New York to Brussels in Business Class

Most airlines are part of large alliances or have partner airlines. This is great for consumers because it opens up a lot of options when using your miles. If you know where to look, you can find a lot of value when flying. One of the best ways to fly to Europe is to use Etihad Guest miles to fly Brussels Airlines from New York to Brussels. Traveling round-trip in economy will cost you 21,972 miles and business class will be 36,620 miles. If you want a card that earns you direct airline miles, here are our picks for some of the best airline miles credit cards out there.

2. Book Travel on Citi Travel Center

Another way to use your ThankYou points is to book your travel through the Citi Travel Center. This is where the specific card you have will dictate the value you receive. If you have a Citi ThankYou Premier card you can redeem your points for 1.25 cents each. Through July 23, those with a Citi ThankYou Prestige card can redeem points on American Airlines for 1.6 cents each and on all other airlines for 1.33 cents. Afterward, redemptions are 1.33 cents on all airlines. For any card that is not Premier or Prestige, you can book travel at just 1 cent per point.

3. Redeem for Cash

You can redeem your points for cash, but this is a pretty weak valuation. You will only receive 0.5 cents per point, but…

4. Pay Your Mortgage or Student Loans

You’ll receive 1 cent of value when you use your points to pay off your mortgage or student loans.

5. Shopping With Points

Citi has partnered with several retailers, making it possible to shop with your points. However, values fluctuate from 0.6 cents to around 1 cent per point, so unless it’s necessary for you to redeem through shopping, there are better ways to redeem points.

6. Gift Cards

Finally, you can also redeem your points for gift cards for select retailers and restaurants. Most of the time you will be able to receive 1 cent per point with this method.

Earning Citi ThankYou Points

Earning Citi ThankYou points is fairly simple. You can use one of a few different Citi credit cards or have select Citi banking products.

Citi Prestige

When you sign up for the Citi Prestige card, you receive 40,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Then, when you use your card for airfare or hotels, you receive 3 points per dollar. You will also receive 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants and on entertainment. Any other purchase made will earn 1 points per dollar. This card has a steep $450 annual fee, but you will receive several travel benefits, including a $250 air travel credit, which you can use for airfare, upgrades, baggage fees and more. You will also receive a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA Precheck. If that’s not enough, you also receive your fourth night free when booking hotels through Citi Prestige Concierge. Plus, you can travel in comfort knowing you have complimentary access to more than 900 Priority Pass Select airport lounges.

Keep in mind before signing up for this or any rewards card that your credit will need to be in very good shape to qualify. If you’re not sure where your credit stands you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

Citi ThankYou Premier

With the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you receive 30,000 ThankYou points after signing up and spending $3,000 in the first three months. You then earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel expenses, which includes gas. Plus, you can earn 2x points when you use your card at restaurants and on entertainment. All other purchases will earn 1x points. There is a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

Citi ThankYou Preferred

If you prefer a card with no annual fee, then the Citi ThankYou Preferred card might be the best fit. You will earn 15,000 ThankYou points after signing up and spending $1,000 in the first three months. When you use this card at restaurants and on entertainment, you receive 2x points. All other purchases earn 1x points. This card also has an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

If you’re a college student you can also earn ThankYou points with the Citi ThankYou Preferred card for College Students. With this card, you will earn 2,500 ThankYou points after spending $500 within the first three months. When you use your card at restaurants and on entertainment, you receive 2x points. All other purchases receive 1x points. After signing up for this card you receive an introductory 0% APR for the first seven months on purchases. There is no annual fee to carry this card.

Citi Banking Accounts

While you won’t be able to earn a huge number of points through this method, you can take advantage of the banking relationships you have with Citi. Depending on the product, you could earn up to 19,200 points per year.

Image: freemixer

At publishing time, the Citi Prestige, Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi ThankYou Preferred and Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students 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).

 

 

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How to Visit Disney World for Free (or Close To It)

Anyone with kids understands that Disney World is a vacation they need to take at least once. After all, it’s the happiest place on earth. The only problem is, the place is expensive, and it’s only getting more so. In February, Disney announced they were raising ticket prices.

Last year, Disney parks started implementing tiered admission prices based on the season. This was to help fight overcrowding at some of the busiest times of the year.

With the price increase, most Disney theme parks will see mid-tier tickets increase to $107, up from $102. Peak season tickets (think spring break, summer and Christmas break) will increase to $119 from $114. And one-day tickets for the low season will go up to $99 from $97.

Tickets for the Magic Kingdom will cost a bit more for mid-tier tickets, up from $110 to $115, but peak prices will remain unchanged at $124.

Obviously, it gets expensive for a family. Just visiting the Magic Kingdom would end up costing a family of four between $396 and $496 depending on the season. And that’s for just one day at the park. Disney does offer special discount ticket packages, however, so be sure to check out what’s on offer before booking. You might be able to get a really good deal, especially during the off-season.

Of course, there are other ways to reduce your costs for visiting the happiest place on earth. You can start by using the rewards you receive from credit cards, for starters. There are three different cards you will need to make your trip nearly free (excluding food costs).

The Flights

Southwest Airlines is a favorite for many people. They’re inexpensive, they’re friendly and the overall flying experience is considered quite pleasant. Frequently the airline runs sales with prices starting at $59 one-way, or approximately 4,130 Southwest Rapid Reward points. That means for a family of four, it’s possible to get round-trip flights for as little as 33,040 points.

To cover this expense, you can sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card. You will receive 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 within the first three months. In addition to this signup bonus, you will also receive 2 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines flights and on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. For all other purchases you will receive 1 points per dollar. There is a $69 annual fee, but you will receive 3,000 bonus points on every card member anniversary.

The Hotel

A couple of years ago, Wyndham Resorts changed how many points were needed for a free night at any property. Instead of using a tiered system like other hotel brands, they moved to a flat rate. It now costs 15,000 points per night at every hotel.

Located right outside the Disney Park is the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. This hotel is extremely kid-friendly with multiple pools, water slides and themed rooms. There is also a free shuttle that will take you to the Disney World gates.

To cover the expense, you could sign up for the Wyndham Rewards Visa card from Barclaycard. You will receive 30,000 points after your first purchase and another 15,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. These 45,000 points would be good enough for three free nights. If you and your spouse both sign up for this card, you could earn up to six free nights.

In addition to the points you earn after signing up, you will also receive 5 points per dollar spent at any Wyndham property. Purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores and on any utility bill will receive 2 points per dollar. All other purchases will receive 1 points per dollar. There is a $75 annual fee, but you will receive 6,000 bonus points on each anniversary.

The Theme Park

We have already talked about how expensive it can be to purchase Disney World tickets. Luckily the cost can be mostly offset by the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. With this card you will receive 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. You will also receive 2 miles per dollar on every purchase that you make.

The points you earn are worth statement credits on any travel expense. Each mile is worth one cent each. That means the 50,000 mile signup bonus is worth $500, enough to cover the costs of four Disney theme park tickets at peak season prices. However, it’s important to understand that purchases at Disney won’t be coded as a travel expense and you won’t be able to use your miles. Instead, you would need to purchase your Disney tickets through either Expedia.com or UndercoverTourist.com.

Another perk of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card is that you will receive 5% of your rewards back in your account upon redemption. That means if you redeem the 50,000 miles for Disney tickets, 2,500 miles will be put back into your account. There is an $89 annual fee with this card, but it’s waived the first year.

Being Smart About Multiple Credit Cards

One of the big things to consider before applying for multiple credit cards, is that it’s wise to space out your applications. Too many new credit requests all at once can ding your credit scores, meaning your application for your second, third or even fourth card could be declined. Plus, multiple credit cards aren’t for everyone. They mean you’ll have to keep track of multiple initial-spend requirements, plus multiple due dates for your monthly payments.

Also keep in mind that, while the rewards may be attractive, especially if you’re trying to take a free vacation, you may not want (or be able) to spend the necessary amounts to reap those rewards. It’s important to understand whether or not that kind of spending will fit within your household’s budget. The last thing you want to do is end up coming home from Disney World with debt you’ll struggle to pay off.

Whatever you decide, checking your credit scores before applying is an important step. It can help you understand whether you’ll actually qualify for the particular rewards card you have your eye on (rewards credit cards tend to require higher credit scores). You can get your two credit scores absolutely free and updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

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

Image: Manakin

The post How to Visit Disney World for Free (or Close To It) appeared first on Credit.com.

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Capital One Venture: Which Should You Get?

chase-sapphire-or-capitol-one-venture

When people talk about travel credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture, are almost always in the conversation. Both cards offer some of the biggest and most popular reward cards currently available and can be great options if you have excellent credit. They are also quite similar to each other. Because of that, it can be difficult to decide between the two, when looking to add a new card to your wallet.

Within this article we are going to walk you through the different parts of each card. This will help you decide which card might be the best fit for you.

Comparing the Rewards

When you sign up online for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you will receive 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Plus, you will receive an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase during the same three-month period. (Note: There is a differential if you account for the Chase Sapphire card’s original 100,000 bonus points, which are still available, but only if you apply at a branch by March 12.)

When you use your card at restaurants and on travel, you will receive two times the points. Every other purchase made with this card will earn one point.

The Capital One Venture card comes with a signup bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You will then earn two times the miles on every purchase you make.

Redeeming the Rewards

Chase Ultimate Reward points are a favorite for many because of how they can be redeemed. If you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points will be worth 1.25 cents each. By going this route, you will be able to pay for portions of a trip, even if you don’t have the points to book the entire thing.

Where you will find the most value from your points, is by transferring them 1:1 to the following loyalty programs:

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards

By transferring your points to loyalty programs, many people are able to get a much higher value than 1.25 cents.

Capital One Venture miles are extremely popular with cardholders because of the flexibility they have. Each miles is worth one cent each and you can use them in a couple of different ways. You can book travel directly through Capital One, or you can book travel on your own, and then redeem your miles for a statement credit.

Both of these cards also give you option to redeem rewards for things like gift cards and merchandise, but you won’t get near the value you do when booking travel.

The Fees

Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Capital One Venture card waive the annual fee the first year. Then for each subsequent year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred charges $95 and the Capital One Venture card is $59.

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture cards do not have foreign transaction fees. That makes both of these cards perfect for travel outside the United States.

Which One Is Right for Me?

As you can see, both of these are excellent options for anyone looking to pick up a new travel credit card. Both cards offer a generous signup bonus and the ability to earn double points on purchases. When deciding which card would be the best fit for you, it will come down to redemption. If you are looking for something that is a little more flexible, then the Capital One Venture card might be best.

However if you don’t have a problem booking your travel through individual loyalty programs, and know how to search for optimal value, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred card would be a great fit.

No matter which card you decide to go with, you’re likely going to be very satisfied with your choice. Before applying, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to make sure there aren’t any errors or surprises on your credit reports that will keep you from being approved. It’s easy to get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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

At publishing time, the Capital One Venture 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).

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Chase Is Slashing the Sapphire Reserve Signup Bonus. Is the Card Still Worth it?

Chase just announced they're slashing the big sign-on bonus for their Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. So, is it still worth signing up?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card made a big splash when it was introduced in August 2016. The card launched with a number of enticing travel rewards, and Chase was initially so swamped with applications, it literally ran out of the physical cards.

One chief catalyst for the initial demand was the card’s mega-signup bonus. Chase offered new Sapphire Reserve cardholders 100,000 bonus points when they spent $4,000 in the first three months — a $1,500 value when those points are redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

But that signup bonus is about to get less lucrative by half: Chase is slashing it to 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in your first three months as a cardholder. Per the bank’s website, applicants have until January 11 to apply online for the card with the existing bonus. They have until March 12 if you apply at a branch, according to a report in The New York Times.

So with this drastic reduction in bonus points, is it still worth applying for the card post-January 11? Well, that depends …

Should I Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

First up, you should find out if you’d even qualify for the credit card. Most of the lucrative travel credit cards on the market require good or excellent credit to qualify. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

Beyond that, you need to think about the cost of having this card. The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is $450, with another $75 added for every additional user, which is pretty substantial. So, you’ll have to consider if this is something your wallet can handle paying on a yearly basis.

And, just like any other card, you need to consider your habits. Are you someone who routinely carries a balance or do you typically pay your card off when the statement arrives? Either way, you’ll want to take note of the interest you’ll be paying if you don’t pay your balance in full. The annual percentage rate (APR) for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is a variable 16.24% to 23.24%.

With these things in mind, there has to be some big rewards if Chase continues to expect new customers …

The Perks of the Sapphire Reserve 

… and, in many respects, there still are. As we mentioned, Chase is cutting the signup bonus in half (to 50,000 points instead of 100,000). While that sounds pretty drastic, those 50,000 points still have a $750 value when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (using Chase Ultimate Rewards nets you an additional 50% value with the Sapphire Reserve).

The card earns three points for every dollar spent on travel and restaurants worldwide and one point per dollar spent on all other qualifying purchases.

Cardholders will still receive up to $300 in annual travel credits and a $100 reimbursement for a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application. The card also gets you access to more than 900 airport lounges as well as special privileges at participating luxury hotels and car rental agencies. The card comes with a number of travel protection policies and programs as well.

Is Chase Sapphire Reserve Still a Good Value?

The great travel features are probably most valuable to frequent jetsetters who will actually use the annual credits, airport lounges and other travel benefits. Those customers will see more long-term value in the card, and, for them, the signup bonus may just be icing on the cake.

If you’re an occasional traveller who won’t frequently use these features, this card might not get you much return on that $450 investment. In other words, if you’re still starry-eyed over the signup bonus after it’s cut in half, you may want to slow down and consider other cards.

Comparing the Sapphire Reserve to Other Travel Cards With Signup Bonuses

The Sapphire Reserve isn’t the only travel credit card that touts a signup bonus. And, if that $450 annual fee is now looking way too steep, given your travel habits, there are some more affordable alternatives. (Note: See card agreements for full details.)

Chase Sapphire Preferred 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred (read a full review here) is the bank’s more affordable travel rewards option. The 50,000-point signup bonus, which you can get after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, holds a value of $625 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards (going through Chase Ultimate Rewards nets you an additional 25% value with the Sapphire Preferred).

This card offers two points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Cardholders won’t get access to airport lounges or special benefits at luxury hotels, but they’ll pay much less for the privilege of ownership and still receive certain travel protections.

Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)

APR: Variable 16.24% to 23.24%

Venture From Capital One

The Venture Rewards credit card from Capital One (see full review here) earns an unlimited two miles for every dollar spent on all qualifying purchases, with 100 miles equaling $1 in travel rewards. As a signup bonus, Capital One offers 40,000 miles, equal to $400 in travel, after new cardholders spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of having the card.

Annual Fee: $59 (waived the first year)

APR: Variable 13.49% to 23.49%

At publishing time, the Venture credit card from Capital One 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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Getting The Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Made My Credit Score Go Up By Almost 40 Points

To help make a family vacation more affordable, I got the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and it surprisingly boosted my credit score. Here's how.

I’m planning a family vacation to Hawaii for myself, my husband and our daughter for later this year. Although I’m typically not much of a travel hacker, my goal is to get the airfare and lodging to be as inexpensive as possible, which is what lead me to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

This credit card offers a very large welcome bonus to eligible new cardholders (100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases with the card within the first three months after account opening). I wanted this card in particular because points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel. In other words, if I spend the 100,000 points on travel, they will yield $1,500 in travel reward value.

Applying for the New Card

I was fairly certain my application would be approved. I knew my credit score at the time was somewhere around 740 or 750, depending on the source. I know it could be even higher, but at this level I don’t worry about it too much. I use credit cards for almost everything I buy and, although I’m not perfect — I do carry a balance now and then — most months I pay my credit card balances in full. I usually see high utilization reflected in my credit scores, though, because the balances are often reported before my payment due dates. But just like I expected, my card was approved. But what I didn’t expect was what would happen to my credit scores.

The Thing That Sent My Credit Score Skyrocketing

I knew applying for a new credit card would knock a few points off my scores. What I didn’t expect was the very high credit limit ($12,000) on my new Reserve card. The credit limits on my other cards range from $1,900 to $7,200.

When I checked my credit after receiving the card (which I did for free on Credit.com), I was pleasantly surprised. My credit score had gone up 37 points!

I was quite suddenly within reach of the elite 800+ club, and the only significant change was my overall amount of available credit, and the lower utilization ratio that resulted.

Let’s make sure that’s plain as day. Lowering my credit utilization ratio to 12% caused my credit score to rise by 37 points.

One of the keys to excellent credit is having low utilization — meaning keeping your debt levels low in relation to your overall credit limit. Experts recommend keeping that rate at 30%, ideally 10%, of your overall credit limit. So, if you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit and you charge $900, your utilization would be reported as 90%. Bumping my credit limit up helped me improve my scores. But remember: Just because you have a higher limit doesn’t mean you should be spending more, especially if you can’t afford to pay off the balance in full.

What else impacts your credit? Using the free credit scores tool on Credit.com, I found out what other factors I had working for and against me.

On-Time Payments: 100% (excellent). No work to do here. I automate many payments, and use a bill pay app to help me make sure I maintain a good payment history (this accounts for 35% of your credit scores).

Oldest Credit Line: 12 years (good). My student loans from the ‘80s and ’90s finally aged off, lowering my average file age. I’ll need to hold on to my oldest accounts to improve this factor. Also, the average age of all of my accounts is just five years, pulled down by my new Chase account.

Utilization: 12% (good). To lower this, especially after holiday spending, I plan to focus on making my credit card payments by the statement closing date on each card. That way, the balance reported will be zero.

Recent Inquiries: 1 (good). This was the Chase card I recently applied for, and I know the inquiry counts against my score for one year (and ages off my credit report after two years). I’ll avoid applying for new credit for the time being.

New Accounts: 2 (good to average). I recently refinanced my mortgage. The inquiry was more than six but less than 12 months ago.

Before You Get a New Credit Card

Are you considering getting a new card? Well, first up, you’ll want to see what your credit scores are so you have an idea of the types of cards you may qualify for.

Needless to say, so-called “elite” credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve would likely not be available to me if I had a low credit score, as you typically need good or excellent credit to qualify for rewards credit cards. Because my credit is already healthy, I can take advantage of deals that are only available to consumers with good or excellent credit. In this case, a great credit score translates to being able to have the chance to secure $1,500 in travel perks.

Beyond that, you’ll want to look at the details of any card you’re considering. Is there an annual fee and, if so, would it fit into your budget? (The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $450 annual fee, for example.) And think about your personal habits. Do you tend to carry a balance? If so, a rewards credit card may not be right for you, as you’ll likely lose out any benefits of the card due to paying those interest charges.

As for that trip to Hawaii, I transferred my Ultimate Rewards points from two lower-tier Chase cards over to the Reserve account where they have more value. Once I get the welcome bonus, I’ll have more than 200,000 points to shop with. Not enough for an all-expenses paid week vacation for three, but I’ve still got plenty more time to earn and save.

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 Places You Can Fly With the Chase Sapphire Reserve Sign-Up Bonus

Chase-Sapphire-Reserve-sign-up-bonus

By now, you’ve probably heard about the gloriously appealing Chase Sapphire Rewards credit card and all the luxurious perks that come with it. But let’s talk simply about the sign-up bonus: $1,500.

That’s right, you’ll get 100,000 bonus points to start (amounting to $1,500 redeemable through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel portal — after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, of course). But if you’re planning to make a few large purchases in the coming months, it may be worth it to consider this card (but be prepared: It carries a hefty $450 annual fee).

There are so many things you could do with that lucrative sign-on bonus, but none so appealing as covering the cost of your next vacation.

“Travel credit cards are a terrific idea for anyone who is looking to make their vacations more affordable,” Kelsey Blodgett, senior editor at Oyster.com, a hotel comparison site, said. “I think many consumers will find that best travel credit cards are the ones that [are the] most flexible.”

“If you sign up for a new card and get a general travel bonus, take advantage,” Blodgett added. “Studies show that a yearly vacation can significantly reduce your risk of both heart attack and dementia, so not only will it reduce your stress, it can have important ramifications for your health.”

With that in mind, here are four dream destinations you could potentially visit simply using the sign-up bonus funds you’d land with the Chase Sapphire Rewards credit card. (Note: Prices from New York area airports to these destinations averaged less than $1,500 roundtrip, but your costs may vary depending on location of origination, time of year, airline and other factors.)

1. Copenhagen

While you’re here, be sure to check out the iconic colorful buildings in the Nyhavn harbor, Edvard Eriksen’s The Little Mermaid sculpture resting on a rock along the Langelinie promenade, and the exciting Tivoli amusement park. But the best part of being in Denmark, aside from the sights and exceptionally kind people, is the food. Whether you grab a Danish hot dog in the town square, an open faced sandwich (also known as a smørrebrød) at an outdoor café or traditional soft ice (ice cream), you can’t go wrong.

2. San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you’re looking to see the historic part of the city, head to Old San Juan and check out the forts and defensive walls that protected the city from attacks years ago. You can even explore the narrow walkways the led prisoners to hidden jail cells within the city. Aside from that, there are plenty of shops and restaurants you can venture to using the free tourist trolley that goes around the city. Pro tip: Try a plantain burrito; your taste buds will thank you.

3. Bali, Indonesia

Really, you can’t go wrong with most of the cities in Bali — it all depends on what you want to do and see while you’re visiting. Beautiful beaches and breathtaking sunsets are abounding in Seminyak, a resort town in Southern Bali. Ubud is known for its monkey forest (yes, that’s a thing) and yoga and meditation retreats (perfect if you’re hoping to channel Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences in “Eat, Pray, Love.”)

4. Bordeaux, France

This is a wine-lovers dream destination — have a glorious glass of vino, take a stroll along the Garonne River, enjoy freshly shucked oysters and bask in the glory that is this beautiful city. But, back to the wine: You can hit up a chateau, taste some wine (or even do a food pairing) and venture to wine-centric museums. The Cité du Vin, shaped like the swirl of wine in a glass, is certainly a can’t-miss destination.

We know — these places sound amazing and we’d start packing right now if we could. But as luxurious and appealing as they all are, they probably won’t look so good if you’re paying for them for years to come. When considering the Chase Sapphire Reserve, or any other rewards credit cards, it’s important to remember that the goal is not to overspend just to get the perks (no matter how great they are). Doing so could easily land you in credit card debt, lessening or completely offsetting those bonuses.

No matter what card you ultimately decide is right for you, it’s important to know that premium credit cards that offer rewards (whether for travel or something else) tend to go to people with good or excellent credit scores. Because of this, it’s a good idea to find out where your credit stands before you apply so you don’t incur a hard inquiry just to get denied. You can get copies of your credit reports for free once every 12 months by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com and see two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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