5 Credit Cards That Offer Companion Tickets for Your Travel Buddy

travel-to-the-uk

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

Traveling with a companion can be a lot more fun than traveling alone. Whether your favorite travel buddy is your partner, best friend, neighbor, or life coach, you know you’ll have a great trip when they’re along for the ride.

Some travel credit cards offer companion tickets, making it easy to share your adventures with another.

Here are five credit cards that offer companion tickets for your travel buddy.

1. Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card

Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta; one mile per dollar spent on other eligible purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) if you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months; and a $100 statement credit if your first Delta purchase is made within the same time frame.

Annual Fee: $195

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 16.24% to 20.24% APR on purchases.

Why We Picked It: You’ll get an annual companion certificate starting in your second year.

For Traveling with a Companion: Upon renewing your card each year, you’ll earn a round-trip companion certificate good for a main cabin Delta flight within the contiguous US. If you are a Medallion Member and your companion is a SkyMiles or Medallion Member, you both may be eligible for complimentary upgrades to first class.

Drawbacks: There’s a $195 annual fee, and if you don’t fly Delta, this card doesn’t offer much value.

2. Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on Southwest flights and with eligible hotel and car rental partners; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $69

APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: Frequent fliers and big spenders can earn a year’s worth of companion flights.

For Traveling with a Companion: Earning 110,000 qualifying points or taking 100 qualifying one-way flights in a single calendar year will earn you Companion Pass for the remainder of that year and the entire following calendar year. With Companion Pass, you can choose one person to fly with you for free (excluding taxes and fees) any time you book a Southwest flight.

Drawbacks: Only frequent Southwest fliers should apply. 

3. British Airways Visa Signature Card

Rewards: 3 points per dollar spent on British Airways purchases; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months, plus an additional 25,000 if you spend $10,000 in the first year or an additional 50,000 if you spend $20,000 in the first year.

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: Big spenders can earn a companion ticket on British Airways flights.

For Traveling with a Companion: Every year you spend $30,000 or more on your card, British Airways will award you a Travel Together Ticket. When you book a reward flight on a British Airways flight leaving from and returning to the US, the Travel Together Ticket lets you bring along a companion.

Drawbacks: To earn the Travel Together Ticket, you’ll have to meet a hefty spending requirement.

4. AeroMexico Visa Card

Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on gas, groceries, and Aeromexico ticket purchases; and one mile per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 15,000 bonus miles upon making your first purchase.

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $45.

APR: Variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: You don’t have to wait long to earn a companion ticket with this card.

For Traveling with a Companion: Upon approval, your free Aeromexico Companion Certificate will be mailed to you with your credit card. This ticket is good for a companion to join you on a round-trip flight to Mexico. You can also buy three full-fare tickets and receive the fourth free (excluding applicable taxes and fees) if all tickets are purchased at the same time and are for the same flight.

Drawbacks: If your destinations of choice don’t include Mexico, keep looking.

5. AmTrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent with Amtrak; two points per dollar spent on qualifying travel purchases; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 20,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $79

APR: Variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR for purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: If you prefer the train, this card will let you ride the rails with a companion.

For Traveling with a Companion: Amtrak will award you a complimentary companion pass as soon as your account is opened and each year upon renewal.

Drawbacks: This card is only appropriate for frequent Amtrak riders.

Choosing a Card for Traveling with Companions

If you have a preferred travel provider, it’s worth checking to see if they offer a credit card with companion passes. If they do, check the approximate value of a companion ticket for any upcoming trips you’re planning.

General travel rewards cards without companion passes may offer just as much value. With general travel cards, you can redeem points or miles to book travel for yourself and your companion at a wider range of companies. These cards are usually a better option if you aren’t fiercely loyal to one travel provider.

If your travel partner is a trusted family member, you may want to make this decision together, as they could become an authorized user and help you earn travel rewards even faster.

What Credit Is Required for a Companion Travel Credit Card?

Cards with strong travel rewards programs usually require good to excellent credit. Before you apply, you should check the credit requirements and compare them to your credit score. A hard credit inquiry resulting from an application can lower your credit score a few points, so you should be confident in your ability to get approved. You can check two of your credit reports for free at Credit.com.

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At publishing time, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. 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 That Offer Companion Tickets for Your Travel Buddy appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Hotel Credit Cards for Travelers Who Love Luxury

Rearview shot of a businessman looking through a hotel room window and talking on a cellphone

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

Luxury hotels are perfect for those who desire special treatment when they travel. Large hotel chains can offer pristine grounds, exciting experiences, and loads of amenities at thousands of properties around the world.

Many luxury hotel chains have their own branded credit cards that let customers earn rewards, special benefits, or VIP status. These cards can take a stay at your favorite property to the next level.

Here are five hotel-branded credit cards for loyal guests who crave luxury.

1. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Rewards: Up to five points per dollar spent at participating Starwood hotels; two points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards hotels; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
25,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$0 the first year, then $95.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR):
Variable 16.24% to 20.24% APR on purchases, as well as on balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account.
Why We Picked It:
Loyal Starwood and Marriott guests earn rewards for hotel stays and get many special perks.
Benefits:
All eligible purchases earn points, with eligible Marriott purchases earning two points per dollar and eligible Starwood purchases earning up to five points on the dollar. Points are redeemable for flights, experiences, and more, including free nights at luxury Starwood properties such as St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels. Your eligible stays go toward earning Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) elite status, which may grant point bonuses, late checkouts, room upgrades, and other perks. You’ll also enjoy free internet access at participating hotels, and the card has foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: Although Starwood and Marriott have merged, their rewards programs are still separate. You can transfer points between them, but you’ll have to maintain two accounts to earn full membership rewards at both hotels.

2. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card

Rewards: Five points per dollar spent at participating Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG hotels; two points per dollar spent on dining, car rentals, and flights purchased directly from the airline; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
Two free nights at any eligible tier 1–4 Ritz-Carlton property if you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$450
APR:
Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It:
Cardholders can earn points in many ways and receive an annual travel credit.
Benefits:
All qualifying purchases earn points, with extra points for eligible hotel stays, flights, car rentals, and dining. Points can be redeemed for travel expenses including Ritz-Carlton stays. An annual $300 travel credit can be used for baggage fees, flight upgrades, airport lounge access, and more. The card also offers $100 in savings on eligible airline tickets, a $100 credit toward Global Entry applications, and access to over 900 worldwide airport lounges. At Ritz-Carlton hotels, cardholders can enjoy Gold Elite status for the first year, a $100 hotel credit for stays of two nights or more, and three annual Ritz-Carlton Club Level upgrades for stays of seven nights or more. Additionally, there are no foreign transaction fees, making it easy to take your card abroad on your next vacation.
Drawbacks: There’s a steep $450 annual fee.

3. Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

Rewards: Five points per dollar spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels; two points per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, car rentals, and dining; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
80,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months.
Annual Fee:
$85
APR:
Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: 
A free night’s stay every year, a big sign-up bonus, and a variety of ways to earn points make this card valuable for Marriott loyalists.
Benefits:
All purchases earn rewards, but eligible hotel stays, airline tickets, car rentals, and dining can earn you extra. Points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more. You’ll get an annual free night’s stay in a participating category 1–5 hotel after your account anniversary, and your card is guaranteed to earn you Silver Elite status every year. There are also no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: 
The greatest value is reserved for frequent Marriott guests.

4. Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express

Rewards: 12 points per dollar spent at participating Hilton properties; six points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations in the US; and three points per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
100,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$75
APR:
Variable 16.24% to 20.24% APR on purchases, as well as on balance transfers requested within the first 60 days of opening your account.
Why We Picked It: 
Hilton’s credit card boasts a moderate annual fee and an impressive points program.  
Benefits:
Like other hotel cards, Hilton’s card earns extra points for eligible hotel stays and select purchase categories. What’s unique is that even everyday purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants earn triple points on the dollar. Using your card to book online and pay for a Hilton stay will land you a 500-point bonus. You’ll automatically earn Hilton Honors Gold status, and you’ll be bumped up to Diamond status if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year.
Drawbacks: 
All foreign transactions are charged 2.7% of the purchase amount.

5. The Hyatt Credit Card

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent at participating Hyatt hotels; two points per dollar spent on dining, car rentals, and flights purchased directly with the airline; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
40,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$75
APR:
Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It:
Cardholders earn points for a wide range of purchases and get an annual free night after their cardmember anniversary.
Benefits:
You’ll get triple points at Hyatt, double points on select purchase types, and one point elsewhere. Points can be redeemed for free stays and upgrades, room service, spa treatments, and other rewards. Plus, you’ll receive an annual free night at any category 1–4 hotel or resort after your first account anniversary. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks:
The card’s best value is limited to frequent Hyatt guests.

How to Choose a Hotel Rewards Credit Card

If you’re fiercely loyal to one hotel chain, start by finding out if that chain offers a credit card. Hotel cards will likely offer perks like room upgrades, point rewards, and special benefits that you can use anytime you travel to an eligible property.

Don’t jump on your favorite hotel’s credit card without evaluating the competition, though. Hotel-branded credit cards reserve their best value for those who spend a lot of time at eligible properties. And with point-transfer programs, you might even have the ability to transfer points from other cards at a one-to-one value to your hotel or airline of choice.

If you’re an agnostic traveler who stays at many different hotel chains, a general travel credit card may be a better choice. These cards offer a variety of ways to redeem points for travel and aren’t tied down to any specific company.

Make sure to also check the fees and APR. Travel rewards are great, but fees and interest can cut into the value, so try to pick a card that makes good financial sense. 

What Credit Is Required for a Hotel Rewards Credit Card?

Cards that offer epic hotel rewards often require excellent credit. You should be confident in your chances of approval before you apply, because a hard credit inquiry from a credit card application can lower your credit score a few points. You can check two of your credit reports for free at Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and Hilton Honors Surpass Credit Card from American Express are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for these cards. 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: kupicoo

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 Hotel Credit Cards for Travelers Who Love Luxury appeared first on Credit.com.

8 Smart Purchases to Make in Your 20s

Don't just put money aside for books and food.

A smart purchase is just another way of saying awesome investment. You might feel strapped for cash in your 20s, but smart buyers will make purchases that will last them into their 30s and beyond. While it’s always tempting to spend your paycheck on a new pair of heels or drinks at happy hour, your future self will thank you for putting that money toward items that’ll pay for themselves over time.

Here are eight smart purchases to make in your 20s that can contribute invaluably to your bank account.

1. A Coffee Maker

Your morning and mid-day pick-me-up cups of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts and lattes from Starbucks can quickly add up. In fact, you can make $100,000-plus by skipping your morning coffee and making it at home (Seriously. It’ll involve some strategy and take about 40 years, but, still. Go here to find out how).

Consider investing in a quality coffee maker that will withstand many uses. The machine will make your morning coffee more convenient and save you cash. (Some perspective: 72 Venti coffees from Starbucks will run you close to $200, depending on where you live, while a 72-pack of Starbucks French Roast K-Cups costs around $50.) A French press is another option.

2. A Nice Suit

It’s a good idea to invest in a nice suit or business apparel than can be worn to job interviews or important events. Ensure that it fits or get it tailored. A suit may not seem like the most exciting investment in the world, but it is a practical one. If you’ve got this item on your checklist, you can wait for a sale or at least find the perfect piece instead of rushing a week before the big event and splurging on an outfit you don’t love (or, worse, can’t really afford).

3. A Hard Drive

Again, this purchase may not seem particularly fun but it is an item your future self will thank you for. Hard drives are great for backing up important files and opening up more storage on your computer and phone.

4. A Reliable Laptop

A sturdy laptop can be an investment for your leisure time and work life. We do so much work online that it makes sense to invest in a laptop that will have enough storage, battery life and longevity to get the job done. Plus, if you’re still in college or are a very recent graduate with a student ID, there are discounts available for some tech products.

5. A Quality Mattress & Couch

Considering most people spend a large chunk of their day sleeping (or on their phone) in their bed, it makes sense to invest in a mattress.Test out options and sleep on it — literally and metaphorically. Before you invest in a mattress, be sure to read these four mattress shopping gotchas to ensure you get the best deal possible.

The same goes for a couch, another piece of furniture you’ll often spend time on. Kerri Moriarty, of Boston startup Cinch Financial, a financial planning software company, says investing in a quality couch was one of the best decisions she made in her early twenties. “Seven years later the couch has traveled with me to five different apartments, still looks trendy and modern in the space, and is in great shape,” Moriarty said. “I’m glad I invested when I did so I haven’t been uncomfortable and replacing it every couple years.”

6. A Filtered Water Bottle

While plastic water bottles often come in handy, they’re not great for the environment — or your wallet. A reusable filtered water bottle will allow you to stay hydrated on the go without having to constantly repurchase bottles of water. Water bottles generally aren’t expensive, but there will be costs associated with replacing the filter, which is done on a monthly to bi-monthly basis depending on how often the bottle is used. The process is simple: Fill up your bottle with tap water and the built-in filtration system will do the work.

7. An Online Course

If you’ve got a hunger for learning, seeking to pursue a passion project or trying to pick up new skills for a side hustle, an online course can be a great investment. There are endless courses to take that will enrich your life whether you’re learning social media marketing, a new language or even basic coding. Plus, if the course is something that can benefit your job and workplace, you may be able to get your company to pay for it. It doesn’t hurt to make a proposal full of the potential benefits that a particular course could have on you and, by default, your company.

8. Plane Tickets

Yes, sometimes a “smart purchase” involves rewarding yourself — and, really, there’s no better time to spend on experiences than your 20s. Plus, your trip doesn’t have to break the bank. A good travel rewards credit card or airline loyalty program can help you rack up miles to pay for the flight. (Remember, credit cards that offer rewards for your travels tend to require excellent credit. You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.) Other ways to save on travel include signing up for fare alerts, traveling on off-peak days and looking into hostels or vacation rentals.

When traveling, don’t forget to invest in some great luggage. Marc Roche, co-founder of Annuities HQ, a retirement advisory network, emphasizes the importance of traveling while you’re young and getting the bang for your buck.”By choosing a well-crafted piece, you’ll be able to pass it — and your stories of adventure — on to the next generation,” Roche said. If you purchase quality travel gear, you’ll be able to use it long-term and have more extra cash for travel.

Image: elenaleonova

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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

travel-fees

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

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

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

In past years, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has been the go-to premium travel credit card. The card comes with a generous sign-up bonus and extra points on travel and restaurant purchases—all for a very reasonable annual fee of $95, which is waived the first year. Then Chase released the Chase Sapphire Reserve, one of the most talked-about credit cards of 2016 because of its pricey $450 annual fee and generous benefits. The Sapphire Reserve was so popular, Chase temporarily ran out of the metal versions of the card shortly after its August 2016 debut.

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve credit cards offer a lot of the same benefits, including certain trip cancellation and interruption insurance 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 needs.

The Annual Fee

What really sets these two cards apart is their annual fees. The Sapphire Preferred fee is $95, which is waived for the first year, and the Sapphire Reserve fee is $450, which is not waived at any time.

If these fees are still too high for your tastes, peruse the several cards without annual fees, such as the Discover it Miles and the Capital One VentureOne Rewards cards.  

Points

With the Sapphire Preferred card, you earn two points per dollar spent on travel and at restaurants. Any other purchases will earn one point per dollar spent. For cash and gift card redemptions, 100 points are worth $1, but for travel redemptions, 100 points are worth $1.25.

With the Reserve card, you get even more—you earn three points per dollar both on travel and at restaurants. All other purchases will earn one point for every dollar you spend. And like the Sapphire Preferred card, 100 reward points will get you $1 in cash and gift cards. However, you receive $1.50 for every 100 points of travel redemptions.

Sign-Up Bonuses

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first three months. To put that in perspective, 50,000 points are equivalent to $625 in travel rewards for Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Currently, the Sapphire Reserve card has the same sign-up bonus. But with the greater value in travel redemptions, those 50,000 points convert to $750 in travel rewards. When the Sapphire Reserve card was introduced last year, cardholders were given 100,000 points if they spent $4,000 or more in the first three months. All those points are equal to $1,500 in travel rewards—a huge reason why the card got so much attention last year.

Redeeming Your Points

Whether you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can 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.

You can also use your points directly for travel through the Ultimate Rewards platform.

Why Choose Chase Sapphire Preferred?

It’s all about that annual fee—especially since both cards carry the same variable 16.99% to 23.99% annual percentage rate (APR). Plus, if you don’t plan on using a lot of the benefits on the Sapphire Reserve or don’t do much traveling, it makes more sense to pay the Preferred’s more practical $95 annual fee.

Also, if you plan to add an authorized user to your Chase Sapphire Preferred account, you can earn a 5,000-point bonus. You just need to add the user and make a purchase within three months after you opened the account. To simply catch up to this bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you would need to spend $5,000. The Sapphire Reserve card also has a $75 annual fee tacked on for each authorized user while the Sapphire Preferred card does not have a fee at all.

Why Choose Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Many choose the Sapphire Reserve card over the Sapphire Preferred card because there is more value per point, for both earning points and spending them. Despite the high annual fee, the math can work out to your advantage, especially if you can use the card’s following ancillary benefits:

  • $300 annual travel credit: For all valid purchases on travel, you can receive a statement credit of up to $300 per calendar year. Chase’s definition of travel covers quite a bit, so many expenses, including airfare and hotels, would be eligible.
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check: You can also receive a statement credit of $100 to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, which help you bypass long lines at the airport.
  • Access to airport lounges: With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you will gain entry to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide when you enroll in the complimentary Priority Pass™Select program—a big benefit if you spend a lot of time in airports.
  • More value per point: When you reserve travel through the Ultimate Rewards Program, your points are worth 50% more compared to 25% more with the Preferred card.
  • Special benefits: When you choose to stay at properties within the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, you’ll be eligible for benefits like early check-in and late checkout, complimentary room upgrades, and daily breakfast for two. You’ll also qualify for benefits from National Car Rental, Avis, and Silvercar.

Hopefully, you’ve found this information helpful in your search for the best travel rewards credit card. If you are interested in one of these cards, or any credit card for that matter, remember to check the credit requirements before you apply. Credit card applications could ding your credit, so make sure you have a good chance of qualifying with your current credit score before you apply.

See what your credit score is for free at Credit.com, or get your credit report card at no cost to you.

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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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