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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12 Ridiculous Hotel Perks That Will Change the Way You Book a Room

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How to Get the Best Airline Seats Without Paying Extra

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It’s understood that seats in first class are roomier than in coach. But did you know that some seats in coach are better than others?

Seats may be narrower in the back of the plane. Also, some seats may have more “pitch” — the space between your seat and the seat in front of you.

Get the wrong seat and you’ll have less legroom, more fights for the armrest and possibly a worse flight.

If you’re tired of being shoehorned into increasingly cramped airline seats, there are ways to get more space without upgrading to first class or paying more for better seats in coach.

The following are tips that can help you get the best seats the next time you book a flight.

What Makes a Seat Great

What separates a good seat from a bad seat? Here are some guidelines:

  • Avoid the middle seat. The best seats are the window or aisle seats toward the front of the plane. In the middle seat, you can be sandwiched between two oversized folks.
  • Sit over the wing. The Independent Traveler says those sitting over the wing feel less turbulence.
  • Choose emergency exit rows. Seats in these rows generally have more legroom than a regular seat. However, keep in mind that no one under the age of 15 can ride in the exit row. So, if you’re traveling with kids and want them sitting next to you, this is not an option.
  • Take a seat in the first row. You may also get more legroom if you take a seat in the first row, directly behind the separating wall. As an added bonus, no one will be able to lean back into your laptop or turn around and talk to you during your in-flight nap.

How to Get the Best Seats

To nab the best seats, try the following:

  • Compare planes and seats online. To increase revenue, some airlines have added seats to their planes, making the plane more cramped. Sites such as SeatGuru, SeatExpert and SeatPlans.com rate seats on the planes of each airline for roominess, features and drawbacks.
  • Join the frequent-flier program. Many airlines set aside their best coach seats for premium or elite members. If you frequently travel on the same airline, sign up for the frequent-flier program, then enter your number when you buy tickets. Once you’ve earned premium status, you’ll have free access to better seats. Credit cards with airline miles also can help you reach premium status more quickly.
  • Book early. Doing this will give you more selection to choose from among seats not set aside for elite customers and those willing to pay more.
  • Use a travel agent. Travel agents may have access to better seats than people who book their own flights online. You’ll have to pay to use a travel agent, but the price is often only $20 to $30.
  • Get a better seat later. If you end up booking a middle seat, sign up for a site like ExpertFlyer.com. If a better seat opens up, the site will notify you immediately, and you may be able to change your seat selection. However, check with the airline to make sure you won’t be charged for the change.
  • Plan ahead with travel buddies. If you’re flying as a couple, consider booking the window seat and the aisle seat. Since middle seats are unpopular, perhaps no one will book that seat. But don’t count on it. When was the last time you flew on a plane that wasn’t full?
  • Suck it up and pay the price. If all else fails, you can always pay for a better seat in coach. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to more than $100, depending on the airline.

Last-Minute Options

If you’re down to the wire and facing a cramped middle seat for a long cross-country flight, you may still be able to turn things around. When check-in starts, unreserved seats go up for grabs.

So, once the check-in process begins — typically 24 hours before the flight’s departure — log on to the airline’s website and try to select a better, unclaimed seat. You’ll have to act fast — these seats go quickly.

If all else fails, turn on the charm. A smile and a nice conversation with the gate agent, flight attendant or even another passenger might get you a better seat.

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