Travel Often? Make Sure Your Credit Card Has These 6 Features

While they aren’t as flashy as signup bonuses or travel credits, these features can drive down travel costs and offer protection in case of emergency.

Travel credit cards come in many forms and offer a variety of benefits. Some cards earn miles and points that can be redeemed for travel expenses, while others might be tied to specific hotel chains or airlines. The benefits and costs vary. Frequent travelers should choose a card that rewards the way they spend and the way they travel.

No matter what miles programs or travel perks you want, certain travel features can come in handy on any trip. While they aren’t as flashy as signup bonuses or travel credits, these features can drive down travel costs and offer protection in case of emergency. (You’ll need a solid credit score to qualify for a card with the best features. Check two of your scores on Credit.com.)

Here are six features to look for when evaluating a travel credit card.

1. Free Foreign Transactions

If you tend to travel abroad, you could be paying more than necessary every time you swipe your credit card. Many credit cards issue a foreign transaction fee every time you pay, usually around 3% of the transaction amount. If you use a credit card for most purchases when you travel, this can add significantly to the cost of your trip.

When evaluating travel cards, make sure they offer free foreign transactions.

2. Trip Cancellation Insurance

No travel plans can be set in stone. Emergencies or last-minute complications can wreck your itinerary. In many cases, changing or canceling a trip could cause you to forfeit some of your expenses. With trip cancellation or delay insurance, credit card providers will reimburse you any nonrefundable costs you paid for with your credit card.

3. Car Rental Collision Coverage

If you frequently rent cars during your travels, you’re likely used to car rental agencies trying to sell additional collision insurance. But many travel credit cards extend collision insurance to any car rentals you charge to your card, giving you the freedom to decline additional coverage and save on those costs.

4. Lost Luggage Reimbursement

Not all travel cards offer lost luggage reimbursement, and policies may differ between credit card companies. The total amount of coverage can vary and each policy may have different requirements. In any case, lost luggage is a risk any time you entrust your bags to an airline, cruise ship or other transportation provider. With this feature, credit card providers reimburse you for any lost luggage (up to a certain monetary amount).

5. Baggage Delay Insurance

If your baggage is misplaced, lost or otherwise delayed, baggage delay insurance covers the cost of any urgent needs created by the delay. Necessities covered may include clothes, toiletries and other essential items.

6. Emergency Travel Assistance

Travel assistance and emergency services can help you make last minute travel arrangements or respond to an emergency during your trip. This could include travel reservations, quick access to medical or legal professionals and roadside assistance. Some credit card companies offer 24/7 emergency service for these urgent requests.

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19 Travel Hacks to Make Your Next Trip the Best Yet

Here's how to get the most out of your next getaway.

Going on vacation is amazing, but sometimes the process of getting to your destination can be less than enjoyable. Traffic jams, airport security, flight delays and other annoyances can not only put you in a foul mood, but can wreck your entire trip. Sadly, you can’t control some of these things, but there are plenty of ways to ensure you arrive at your destination relaxed, prepared and ready to enjoy your getaway.

Here are 19 things to consider when planning your next big trip.

1. Get Global Entry & TSA PreCheck

Your five-year, $100 Global Entry membership means expedited processing while going through U.S. Customs. It also gives you TSA PreCheck status that can speed you through security when traveling domestically without removing your shoes, laptops, liquids, belt and light jacket. Don’t think you fly enough to warrant the fee? You could consider an opportunity to …

2. Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Many travel rewards credit cards cover your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee for as long as you carry the card. On top of that, you can earn miles to help you earn free upgrades and free travel. Many of these cards also offer perks like travel insurance, rental car insurance and assistance for health care and other emergencies while traveling. You can check out some of our favorite travel rewards credit cards here.

3. Consider Travel Insurance

Of course, travel rewards cards often require excellent credit, so you may not qualify if your credit isn’t in good standing. (Find out where you stand with a free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.) You can easily buy one of the perks these cards offer, though — travel insurance. If an illness, weather situation or other issue keeps you from your plans, travel insurance will make sure you don’t forfeit the cost of your plane tickets and possibly your accommodations.

4. Buy Your Ticket From the Airline

It’s tempting to buy your airline ticket from a discount website, but you can wind up at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to overbooked flights, rebooking without hefty fees and other issues. So if you think you’ll need to change your flight, or absolutely, positively must be at your destination at a specific time, buying from the airline may be worth it, even if it includes an added expense. Also consider signing up for your favorite airline’s miles program.

5. Buy Good Luggage

We’re not saying you need to spend a lot of money, but buying sturdy bags can ensure you don’t end up at your destination with your wheels having literally fallen off. Do your research and look for sales on well-reviewed bags. You may even want to splurge for a bag with a lifetime warranty on repairs. Use your travel rewards card for the purchase and you’ll earn miles toward your next trip.

6. Research Accommodations

There’s nothing worse than ending up at your hotel, hostel or home and it looks nothing at all like the photos you viewed online. Be sure to read the reviews and do lots of comparing to ensure you get a space that is in a good location for your personal tastes, is safe and is priced competitively.

7. Check Your Passport

If you’re traveling abroad, most countries require your passport to not be within 90 days of expiration while you’re in the country. Avoid being turned away at the airport and having to spend hundreds of dollars to expedite your passport renewal just so you don’t have to completely forfeit your trip. Also check the visa requirements for your destination (same goes for inoculations if needed). If you forget, the airline can typically handle it at the airport, but it’s better to square it away ahead of time to avoid potential delays.

8. Pack Snacks

Food at the airport is stupidly expensive and typically not good. Plan ahead and put together a solid meal for every 12 hours you’ll be traveling, especially if you’re not flying business or first class. Having a few of your favorite munchies can be the difference between arriving hangry or happy.

9. Carry a Water Bottle

The same goes for having adequate liquids. If you’ve ever been stuck in your seat for long periods without beverage service, you know the importance of having your own water or other hydrating beverage with you. Pack an empty water bottle at home and fill it when you’ve made it through security. It’s great to have with you on your trip as well, especially in hot climates.

10. Be Comfortable

We’re not giving you an excuse to look like a mess, but being comfortable, especially on long international flights, can make even the most cramped leg room more comfortable. Wear soft fabrics that don’t bind and try to layer so temperature fluctuations don’t leave you freezing or sweating. If your flight is super long, consider packing a comfy sleeping outfit you can change into on the plane.

11. Wear Slip-On Shoes

Slip-on-shoes are one step further on your road to comfort. Not only do they help you pass through security (if you didn’t get your TSA PreCheck), but you can easily kick off your shoes and get comfy on the plane.

12. Take Soothing Socks

Once you slip off those shoes, you’ll want something to make you feel cozy and cuddly. Some fluffy, cushy socks can do the trick. Try to find some with rubberized feet so you don’t have to change when you head to the restroom.

13. Pack a Refresh Kit

This has gotten me through many an international flight. If you’re not flying business or first class where they provide a comfort kit, packing a toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb or hairbrush, change of underwear, a washcloth, moisturizer, lotion, lip balm and even a refreshing herbal mist can make all the difference in how you feel once you reach your destination.

14. Pack a Cozy Wrap or Sweater

Planes frequently get cold, so a sweater, light jacket, shawl or scarf can help, especially if the airline doesn’t offer blankets or runs out.

15. Know the Language

If you’re headed to a country where they speak a different language, try to know a few simple phrases so you aren’t constantly using the translation app on your phone.

16. Get an International Calling Plan …

Speaking of your phone, see if your carrier offers an international plan on a temporary basis. It can help you keep in touch without racking up a huge bill.

17. … Or a Temporary Phone

If not, there are plenty of places that offer simple and inexpensive phones with prepaid calling plans that will let you at least text and talk, if not check your email and play with your favorite apps.

18. Have Walking-Around Money

You may be planning to use your credit card exclusively while traveling, but it’s good to have money in your pocket, especially in foreign countries. Exchange your money at the airport or make a withdrawal at a local ATM. You may want to research if any local banks are affiliated with your bank back home, as they can often charge lower ATM transaction fees.

19. Make Note of Your Accommodation Details

Putting your local address into your phone can save you serious headaches, especially if you’ve been out having a bit too much fun and can’t remember. If you’re in a hotel, include the phone number so you can call for assistance if necessary.

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4 Outrageous Travel Fees — & How to Avoid Them

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You’ve gone through your ever-growing list of places you want to visit and have finally chosen where your next travel destination will be. As you’re building out your budget for this vacation, you’re seeing the expenses pile up and the supposed stress-free time is losing its luster.

But there are plenty of ways to save, one of which is avoiding paying some of those pesky add-on fees that often come with travel. Here are some of those fees and how you can avoid them.

For Cruises: Corkage Fees

Most cruises allow you to bring your own bottle (or two) of wine or champagne with you when you board the ship. However, if you bring that bottle with you to dinner or to one of the bars, you’ll likely get hit with a corkage fee, which typically ranges from $15 – $20.

“To avoid a corkage fee, you can always just have a drink in your cabin,” Tanner Callais, a cruise expert with Cruzely.com, said. 

Also, be sure to check your cruise line’s alcohol policy ahead of time so you know what you are (or aren’t) permitted to bring on board and where you’ll be able to drink it (for a fee or for free).

For Air Travel: Baggage Fees

According to the United States Department of Transportation baggage fees report, as of September 2016, the 13 main airlines in America had made a combined $2,047,379 in revenue on baggage fees over the course of that year.

You may be able to save a few bucks by paying to check your bag online instead of at the ticket counter, as some airlines offer discounts for doing this, according to Joe Black, who runs Nature Rated, a site focused on exploring the great outdoors. Black said he avoids baggage fees by trying to fly with carry-on bags only.

If neither of these options are right for you, you may want to consider looking at a travel rewards credit card, as many of these will waive your baggage fees. Just keep in mind that these cards often come with annual fees, so you need to make sure you travel enough to make this added expense worthwhile. (You can find more tips for applying for a new card here.)

For Road Trips: Toll Fees

Nothing beats packing a cooler and a bag of snacks and heading out on the open road. But, depending on where your road trip takes you, you may be faced with paying obnoxious toll booth fees. Of course, you can always avoid tolls by opting for longer, scenic byways — and  you can potentially offset this expense by using gas credit cards that reward you for filling up. You can set these rewards aside and use them to help you cover any tolls you encounter on your next road trip.

For Hotel Stays: Resort Fees

Elizabeth Avery, founder of SoloTrekker4U.com, emphasized how important it is to “read the fine print” before you book your stay to see if these fees are built into your lodging charge or if they break them out individually. “Check it out before booking so you won’t find you are paying [for things you won’t use, like] for the fitness center when you’d rather relax than work out,” Avery said. In many cases, you may be able to get these waived by asking a representative when booking your reservation.  

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BankAmericard Travel Rewards vs. Capital One Venture Rewards: Which Card Has the Most Value?

We compare the costs and rewards two of the top travel credit cards available.

If you are looking to add a new general travel card to your wallet, then two of the best options are the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card and the Capital One Venture Rewards card. Both of these cards offer their cardholders a simple approach to earning travel rewards. Each has a flat reward rate on purchases, and neither requires you to remember a bunch of different bonus categories.

Let’s take a look at everything these cards have to offer and how they differ from each other. That way you will be able to make a decision on which card would be the best fit for you.

Comparing the Rewards

When you compare credit cards, one of the first things people consider is whether or not the cards have a signup bonus. While both the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card and the Capital One Venture card offer an attractive signup bonus, Capital One has the advantage.

With the Capital One Venture card, you will receive 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of being a cardmember. This is good for a $400 statement credit on a travel expense. In addition to the signup bonus, cardholders will also receive two miles per $1 spent on all purchases.

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards card offers new cardholders 20,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. This has a value of $200 toward travel expenses. While this is half of what you can earn from the Capital One Venture card, it also requires only half the initial spend. For some, this might be easier to accomplish. To go along with the signup bonus, you will earn 1.5 points per $1 spent.

Take note, Bank of America banking customers: You have the potential to earn much richer rewards with the BankAmericard. Just for having a checking or savings account you will receive a 10% bonus on the points earned. If you are a Preferred Rewards client, with $20,000 or more in a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch investment account, then you can earn up to a 75% bonus, or 2.6 points per dollar spent.

Redemptions Made Easy

One of the reasons why both of these cards are so popular with travelers is because redemptions are so easy. The rewards you earn don’t need to be transferred to different loyalty programs, and there are no blackout dates on travel. You can simply use the rewards you have as a statement credit toward travel expenses, or you can book travel directly through the issuers’ online travel portals. No matter which way you go, the process is painless. Plus, as long as your account stays open and active, your rewards will never expire.

If for some reason you decide not to use your rewards for travel, there are other options available as well. Just keep in mind that each of these will give you a value less than the normal one-cent-per-point. You will be able to redeem rewards from the Capital One Venture Rewards card for either gift cards or cash back. The rewards you earn from the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card can be used to fund a mortgage, IRA or 529 plan with Bank of America or Merril Lynch. You can also redeem them for gift cards, cash back, or to make a charitable contribution.

How The Fees Stack Up

The Capital One Venture Rewards card might have the higher signup bonus, but it also includes a $59 annual fee (waived the first year). You would never pay an annual fee on the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card, and neither card carries foreign transaction fees.

It’s a good idea to pay off your purchases at the end of the month to avoid paying interest, but if you do need to carry a balance, then the Capital One Venture card may be a little less expensive. It’s standard purchase APR is a variable 13.49% to 23.49%, whereas the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card is 15.49% to 23.49%. The APR you receive depends on your creditworthiness. (Pro tip: Check your credit before you apply for a credit card, to get an idea how likely you are to get approved and qualify for a lower APR. You can see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com, and they’re updated every 14 days. If your credit could use some help, check out these tips on how to quickly improve your credit score.)

Why You Might Pick the Capital One Venture Rewards Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards card is a great option for anyone wanting a general travel credit card with a simple reward system. The card has a high signup bonus, double what you would receive from the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card. Plus, you earn double points on every purchase you make.

However, even though it waives the annual fee the first year, you would need to be able to justify the $59 fee each subsequent year. At a redemption rate of 100 miles per $1 and an earnings rate of 2 miles per $1 spent, you would need to spend $2,950 on the card per year to break even. If you spend more than that each year, then this is a solid credit card to put in your wallet.

Why You Might Pick the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card

If you are a Bank of America banking customer, then you’ll want to give serious consideration to the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card. Standard banking customer will earn a 10% bonus on the base reward rate of 1.5 miles per dollar spent. However, if you have $20,000 or more in your qualifying account, you can become a Preferred Rewards client, which allows you to earn 25% to 75% bonus, depending on your qualifying account balance. This would also be a great card to have if you’re not a big spender and can’t justify the annual fee on the Capital One Venture card.

At publishing time, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards and Capital One Venture 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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Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Should You Upgrade?

Here's how to decide whether to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

For many years, the Chase Sapphire Preferred was the card to carry if you wanted a premium travel credit card in your wallet. You could earn a generous signup bonus and extra points on travel and restaurant purchases — all for a very reasonable annual fee (currently $95, waived the first year). Then Chase decided it was time to make a big move and released the Chase Sapphire Reserve, undoubtedly the most talked about credit card of 2016. (The Sapphire Reserve was so popular, Chase temporarily ran out the metal versions of the card shortly after its August debut.).

While the elder Chase Sapphire Preferred (see full review here) and new Chase Sapphire Reserve credit cards offer a lot of the same benefits, including certain trip cancellation/interruption and baggage delay insurance, there are some major differences between the two. In this article, we’ll walk you through each card to help you decide which might be the better choice for your wallet.

A few quick asides before we begin: First, we’re going over the cards’ major terms and conditions. It’s still important to read the fine print of their agreements before applying. Also, before you fill out any credit card application, it’s a good idea to know where your credit stands. Remember, you’ll need a good credit score to qualify for the premium cards out there. (You can view two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

Now let’s break down the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Comparing the Rewards

One of the biggest differences between the two cards is the rewards they provide their cardholders. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you will earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months. That bonus is equivalent to $625 when you redeem your points through Chase’s travel portal. Cardholders earn two points per dollar spent on travel and at restaurants. Any other purchase will earn one point per dollar spent.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can receive 100,000 Ultimate Reward points after you spend $4,000 within three months. That signup bonus is worth a whopping $1,500 when redeemed through Chase’s travel portal — and it’s a huge reason why the card got so much attention last year. The base amount of points you can earn on purchases with the Sapphire Reserve is also higher. You will earn three points per dollar on both travel and at restaurants; all other purchases will earn one point for every dollar you spend.

Before you start thinking the choice between the two cards sounds like a no-brainer, we must discuss …

The Annual Fee

What really sets these two cards apart in terms of picking one for your wallet is their annual fees. If you carry the Sapphire Preferred, the annual fee is $95 — and that charge gets waived the first year. Conversely, because it’s thought of as an elite credit card, the Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee of $450 — and that charge is not waived the first year. (You can get an idea of how the Chase Sapphire Reserve stacks up to other premium credit cards on the market here and, if you’re looking for a more affordable rewards credit card, remember, there are plenty of no-annual-fee credit cards out there.)

Redeeming Your Points

Whether you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will be able to transfer the points you earn to one of the bank’s many airline and hotel transfer partners. These partners include Hyatt, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and more. As previously mentioned, you can also use your points directly for travel through the Ultimate Rewards platform.

Why Might You Pick the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Anyone that chooses the Sapphire Reserve over the Sapphire Preferred does so mostly because there is more value per point, both when you are earning points and spending them. They are able to overlook the high annual fee because the math works out to their advantage, especially if they can use the following ancillary benefits the card provides:

  • A $300 annual travel credit: One of the big added benefits of the Sapphire Reserve card is that it comes with a $300 annual travel credit. Each time you make a valid purchase on travel, you will receive a statement credit, up to $300 per calendar year. Chase has a pretty wide definition of travel, so a lot of expenses, including airfare and hotels, would be eligible.
  • A $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check: With the Sapphire Reserve, you will also receive a statement credit of $100 to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, which can help you bypass long lines at the airport.
  • Access to airport lounges: If you are a frequent traveler, you will enjoy the complimentary Priority Pass that comes with the Sapphire Reserve card. With this membership, you will gain entry to over 900 airport lounges worldwide.
  • Special benefits when you patronize the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Another benefit for frequent travelers, when you choose to stay at properties within the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, you’ll be eligible for a few special benefits as a Sapphire Reserve cardholder. You can receive early check-in and late check-out, complimentary room upgrades, daily breakfast for two, and a unique gift at each property, when available.

Why Might You Pick the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

It’s all about that annual fee — especially since both cards carry the same variable 16.24% to 23.24% annual percentage rate (APR). (Your APR will be determined largely by your credit standing.)

The biggest reason someone might choose the Sapphire Preferred over the Sapphire Reserve is because they can’t get over spending $450 just to carry a credit card. Plus, if they don’t plan on using a lot of the benefits on the Sapphire Reserve and/or don’t do much traveling, it makes more sense to pay the Preferred’s more practical $95 annual fee, which, again, gets waived the first year.

Authorized Users

If you would like to add a significant other or your children as authorized users to your account, the Sapphire Preferred might be the better choice as well. For starters, you can earn a 5,000-point bonus when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within the first three months. Plus, with the Sapphire Reserve, there is a $75 annual fee tacked on for each authorized user. That means they would need to spend $5,000 on the card each year just to break even on the cost.

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

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4 Credit Cards for Business Travelers

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Business travel can be an exhausting way of life, as you can spend hours each week waiting in line at airports, hotels and rental car counters. The more time you spend waiting around, the more important it becomes to find some way to streamline the experience and save valuable time.

Thankfully, the right credit card can offer business travelers priority service at every step of their journey, along with valuable rewards for their spending. And while these premium reward cards come with significant annual fees, this expense can be easily justified by all the value offered.

Frequent fliers should be careful, though, to read the terms and conditions carefully to be sure a card is a good fit. It’s also a good idea to check your credit since you generally need a good score to qualify for premium plastic. (You can view two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) Finally, it’s best to avoid carrying a balance on these cards; otherwise, lots of those perks will be lost to your annual percentage rate. And you’ll want to be sure you travel enough to recoup any annual fee associated with the card — they tend to be on the higher side.

With those caveats in minds, here are some credit cards business travelers may want to consider. 

1. American Express Platinum

This card is offered in a version for small business owners and for consumers. Each offers impressive travel benefits including membership in the Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select, and American Express Centurion airport lounge programs. You also receive a $200 annual air travel credit that can be used for incidental fees such as baggage fees, seat selection fees, and in-flight food and beverages.

To speed things along at the airport, you will be reimbursed for the $100 application fee for the Global Entry program, which includes expedited entry to the United States when arriving on a flight from another country, or the TSA PreCheck program for faster security screening. After you arrive, you can quickly rent a car with elite status with Avis, Hertz and National car rentals. Finally, you will receive priority service and other perks that come with Gold status with the Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest programs.

This card offers Membership Rewards points that can be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards or travel reservations, or transferred to airline miles with 17 different frequent flyer programs. You earn one point per dollar spent, and double points on all reservations booked through American Express travel. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

2. United MileagePlus Club Business Card from Chase

This card offers business travelers numerous ways to speed up their experiences, as well as solid rewards. To begin with, cardholders receive a United Club airport lounge membership. And when flying on United, cardholders receive priority check-in, security screening (where available), boarding and baggage handling privileges, along with a waiver of United’s $75 close-in award booking fee for flights reserved within 21 days of departure. You also receive two free checked bags for yourself and a companion. You also receive Platinum status in the Hyatt Gold Passport program.

Instead of earning just one point per dollar spent, like most airline cards, this card offers 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases, and double points for United purchases. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

3. Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

This card offers numerous perks including an Admiral’s Club airport lounge membership as well as a free checked bag, priority check-in, expedited airport screening (where available) and early boarding when flying American Airlines. In fact, even authorized users receive lounge access, and there is no cost to order additional cards. You also receive a 25% savings on in-flight purchases and up to a $100 credit towards the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees. (Full Disclosure: Citibank and Chase advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

4. Chase Sapphire Reserve

This new card offers three points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases, which add up very quickly for road warriors. Points are earned in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program and are worth 1.5 cents each towards travel reservations, or can be transferred to airline miles or hotel points. Other benefits include a $300 annual travel credit and a $100 credit toward the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.

It also includes complimentary airport lounge access with the Priority Pass select program as well as special car rental privileges from National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar when you book with your card. There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

At publishing time, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World EliteTM MasterCard and the American Express Platinum are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

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

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The Best Dates to Take a Last-Minute Summer Vacation

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If your Instagram feed is full of your friends’ fun summer adventures and the only change of scenery you’ve had lately is when you updated your computer background at the office, it may be time for a vacation.

There’s still time to get a good deal on a summer getaway, according to the latest issue of the Hotwire Travel Inspiration Indicator, a quarterly travel-trend guide. In fact, based on the display rate for Hot Rate Hotels, Hotwire discovered that summer travel will be the most affordable during the last two weeks of August, with the lowest hotel rates in mid-September.

Most Popular Destinations

If you don’t quite know where you’d like to go, Hotwire has some suggestions. Based on last year’s numbers, Hotwire discovered these 10 cities offer hotel rooms with three- to five-star rooms starting at $67 a night.

  • Las Vegas
  • Houston
  • Atlanta
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Dallas
  • San Diego
  • Minneapolis
  • New Orleans
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • St. Louis

And if you’re thinking of utilizing that last weekend of summer for a getaway, these are the seven cities they say are the best places to travel during Labor Day weekend (based on these cities having three- to five-star hotel rooms starting at $70 a night over Labor Day weekend 2015).

  • Phoenix
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Dallas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • New Orleans
  • Tampa, Florida

Try Not to Overspend

No matter where you decide to visit, in addition to considering travel deals, you may be able to cut back on some of the extra fees with airline credit cards and even get rewards points that help you pay for your next flight. (You can read about the best airline credit cards in America here.)

But keep in mind that, while these credit cards offer some perks you may enjoy, getting into credit card debt to save on checking a suitcase simply isn’t worth it. (You can see how your credit card balances are affecting your credit score by reviewing your free credit report summary for free each month on Credit.com.)

More Money-Saving Reads:

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The Trick That Can Help You Skip Long TSA Lines

Airport security lines have been, well, out of control lately.

Last week, a video of an extremely long Transportation Security Administration line at Chicago’s Midway Airport went viral. A few days later, about 450 American Airlines passengers missed their flights out of O’Hare International Airport, also in Chicago, thanks to “longer than ever” lines. And it’s not just folks flying out of the Windy City experiencing problems. Reports of long wait times also surfaced out of Atlanta, New York and New Jersey.

How Can I Avoid the Wait? 

The backups are being attributed to an influx of summer travelers, more carry-on luggage and TSA staffing issues. Fortunately, there are a few ways to bypass long lines at the airport. The TSA does offer a Pre-Check program that provides eligible, low-risk travelers with expedited security screening. To take part in the program, you fill out an application, visit an enrollment center to provide proper documentation and pay a non-refundable $85 fee (valid for 5 years).

You could also apply for Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. The application process is similar and you have to pay a $100 non-refundable fee for the clearance (also valid for 5 years) whether you get it or not.

There is a chance, however, that the plastic in your wallet could cover your pre-approval. Some credit cards offer frequent flyers credits that can be put toward TSA Pre-Check and/or Global Entry (so long as you charge the fee to the card). Here are a few of them.

  • The Platinum Card From American ExpressAmex’s Platinum (see full review here) provides cardholders with one Global Entry ($100) statement credit or one TSA Pre-Check ($85) statement credit every 5 years for an application fee. This card has a $450 annual fee. American Express provides a similar credit for its corporate, consumer and business Centurion cardholders, corporate Gold cardholders, and corporate and business Platinum cardholders.
  • The Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card: This card from Chase offer cardholders a $300 annual travel credit that can put toward, among other things, Global Entry fees. The card has a $395 annual fee.
  • The Expedia + Voyager Card from CitiCardholders can use the $100 annual travel credit associated with this card to pay for either the Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee. The card carries a $95 annual fee. (Full Disclosure: Citibank and American Express advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
  • Citi Prestige CardCiti Prestige (see full review here) cardholders receive a $100 Global Entry application fee credit. The card has $450 annual fee.
  • Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard: This Citi card touts a $450 fee and a $100 statement credit every 5 years that can be used for your Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee.

The Perks of Travel Credit Cards 

Many travel credit cards offer other amenities, like a free checked bag, priority boarding and/or airport lounge access that can make flying more enjoyable. (You can learn more about the best airline miles credit cards here.) Of course, you’ll want to read the terms and conditions of any credit card you are considering so you know exactly what you are getting before signing up. As you can see from the list above, many of these cards carry a high annual fee that might not be worth paying if you don’t travel often enough.

You should also check your credit, as a good credit score will help you qualify for the better plastic on the market. You can view two of your credit scores, 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.

At publishing time, the Platinum Card From American Expressthe Expedia + Voyager Card from CitiCiti Prestige Card and Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard 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.

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Image: Jodi Jacobson

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This Is One Time You Want a Screaming Baby On Your Plane

crying_baby

When is a crying baby on a plane a welcome addition? When the airline offers free flights to everyone onboard if the baby does just enough crying.

JetBlue sent a shoutout to parents everywhere, but especially moms, with a Mother’s Day message meant to soothe the frustrations of flying with a cranky baby.

The New York-based airline released a video on Monday of a flight from JFK to Long Beach, California, where several babies were being given the opportunity to cry their hearts out. If they cried enough, everyone onboard would receive a free roundtrip ticket. The babies came through, with everyone onboard cheering.

“In honor of Mother’s Day, we are giving everyone a reason to smile every time a baby cries,” the airline wrote on its YouTube channel, where it posted the video, which you can also see below.

Crying babies on a plane are a minor annoyance compared to some of the other headaches travel can produce, like a lost or stolen credit card, lost luggage, unexpected airline fees and missed connections. You can help smooth your way through some of these hassles, though, by using one of the best travel rewards credit cards when booking your flight and hotel and paying for incidentals.

Which credit card you use to pay for your travels will make a big difference in the rewards you earn. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee that is waived the first year; you can see a full review here.) offers double points on all travel purchases, while the American Express Premier Rewards Gold ($175 annual fee, waived the first year; you can see a full review here.) offers triple points for all flights booked directly with the airlines. (The latter is actually a charge card, which must be paid in full each month.)

Before you apply for any credit card, it’s important to do your research and make sure the card will meet your needs, and that you meet the issuer’s general credit requirements. You can get two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand, and to get personalized tips to help you improve your credit.

At publishing time, Chase and American Express credit cards, including the Premier Rewards Gold, 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.

More on Credit Cards:

Image: Bojan Sokolovic

The post This Is One Time You Want a Screaming Baby On Your Plane appeared first on Credit.com.