The 10 Best Roadside Attractions in America

What better way to celebrate our country than by visiting its run-down, kitschy roadside attractions? 

It’s summertime, which means if you aren’t planning your next road trip, you should be. With Fourth of July on our radar, now is the time. Given that there’s no better way to celebrate our country’s pioneer spirit than by paying homage to some of its quirkiest and kitschiest roadside attractions, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorites, based on cursory research. Read on for 10 roadside attractions you won’t want to pass by.

1. Bamahenge, Elberta, Alabama

Bamahenge may not be Stonehenge, but for us Americans, it’s close enough. You’ll find this incredible replication of the prehistoric monument, built in late 2012 by a man named Mark Cline, in the woods off the marina entrance road in Elberta, Alabama. There are only four different stone shapes, but Cline repositioned them all to look different. They’re also storm-proof, thanks to interior concrete and telephone poles. Admission is free.

2. General Sherman Tree

They don’t call this giant sequoia the General for nothing. Standing 52,500 cubic feet tall and weighing 4.2 million pounds, the General Sherman Tree in California’s Sequoia National Park is something you have to see to believe. Located at the north end of Giant Forest, one of Kings Canyon National Park’s five sub-regions, the tree can be reached by trail or via the free Sequoia Shuttle, which runs daily from May through September. Theoretically, the General could be turned into almost 120 miles of standard sized lumber planks, but what heartless soul would want to cut down a nearly 3,000-year-old tree?

3. Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue

OK, so maybe it isn’t the finest testament to a living former president, but does it matter? The Jimmy Carter Peanut statue in Plains, Georgia, still makes us smile, and at 13 feet tall, it’s easily one of the world’s largest nuts. Crafted from plaster and mesh, the peanut pays homage to Carter’s past life as a peanut farmer and features a similar wide-mouthed grin. Today, you can find it near Route 45 outside Carter’s hometown.

4. Leaning Tower

If a trip to Pisa, Italy is not in the cards, check out the Leaning Tower of Niles in Niles, Illinois. True, the Midwestern version is half as tall (94 feet versus the Italian’s 177 feet), but your friends will still like it on Instagram. Built in 1934, it was anchored in concrete so its lean stayed consistent. It was originally a utility tower, though a plaque at its base says it was built in honor of the Italian polymath Galileo, who conducted scientific experiments at the original Pisan monument.

5. The Spud Drive-In

Not every drive-in theater went the way of the dodo. Since the summer of 1953, the Spud in Driggs, Indiana, has been showing flicks — almost as long as Old Murphy, the 1946 Chevy truck with a two-ton potato on the back, has been parked in front of the screen. Though the potato is nothing more than a hunk of painted concrete, you probably won’t be able to resist snapping a photo of it.

6. World’s Largest Light Bulb

Keep your eyes peeled for this 134-foot tower in Edison, New Jersey, home to Thomas Alva Edison’s greatest invention. The man perfected the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb right here, so it’s no wonder a 13-foot version sits on top of the tower. (Rumor has it it’s lit by LED, not Edison’s technology.) Built in 1939, the art deco building houses a museum that traces each step of the inventor’s fascinating journey, particularly his invention of sound recording.

7. Shoe Tree

Even if seeing a tree of shoes isn’t on your bucket list, you’ll still want to check out this oddity off U.S. 50 in Middlegate, Nevada. Tourists and locals come to drape their old footwear on the cottonwood tree’s branches, to the point where the tree looks like it sprouted the footwear itself.

8. Porter Sculpture Park

Twenty-five minutes west of Sioux Falls, in the small town of Montrose, South Dakota, you’ll find Porter Sculpture Park, a smattering of recycled metal structures made by Wayne Porter. A self-taught artist who says he’s lousy at math and drawing, Porter ditched law school to return to the town of St. Lawrence, where he was raised, to work on sculptures in his father’s blacksmith shop. Today more than 50 of his works can be seen in the pet-friendly park. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for teens 13 to 17 and free for children 12 and under.

9. The Lost Sea

After taking a guided tour of giant caves more than 100 feet below ground in Sweetwater, Tennessee, you and the rest of your 12-person group will board a glass bottom boat to explore “The Lost Sea.” It’s cool down here — the temperature is a constant 58 degrees Fahrenheit — and filled with strange rock formations, some of which were passed by an ancient jaguar. Don’t forget to bring a good flashlight with extra batteries. Admission for adults is $19.95; children ages 5 to 12 are $10.95 and children 4 and under are free.

10. Cadillac Ranch

Standing up like a series of headstones along Route 66, just west of Amarillo, Texas, the Cadillac Ranch has been luring visitors since 1974, when a group called The Ant Farm created a piece of public art to baffle the locals. The Caddies face west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville. Though they’ve been in the ground longer than they were on the road, the ranch is a must for anyone traveling The Mother Road. Tourists are always welcome, so bring a can of spray paint. Admission is free.

How to Save on Your Road Trip 

Before you pull out of the driveway, make sure you’ve got a plan for your travels. Budgeting is useful, as is swiping with gas rewards credit cards when you fill up your tank. These handy pieces of plastic can earn you kickbacks for spending as you normally would, which can cut down the cost of your road trip. Just remember to track your purchases so you don’t lose your rewards to high interest or rack up unwanted debt. (You can see how your behaviors are impacting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

Image: StevenStarr73

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On a Budget? You Can Still Visit Mexico for Cheap This Summer

Use these seven tips to maximize your savings while vacationing south of the border.

Travel site Hipmunk released two reports about Mexico recently that offer a host of insights. Not only is Mexico the site’s most popular international country for flights and hotels, it turns out it’s popular year-round. Bookings to the country are up 15% this summer over last year.

The increase comes despite regular headlines about violence. Mexico remains a go-to destination. Around 7 million Americans visit each year, said Steve Clarke, Hipmunk’s senior director of product.

“Mexico is a really big country, and these things happening in some areas of country are not happening in tourist locations or where Americans usually go,” said Daniel Peña, founder of LocalAdventures in Guadalajara. “If you go to Cancun or Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta, you’re not going to have these problems.”

What’s more, reported Hipmunk, the average round trip airfare to Mexico this summer is down 8%, making now a budget-friendly time to visit. With that in mind, here are seven tips to maximize your savings while vacationing south of the border.

1. Venture Beyond the Hotel

“Everything in a hotel is going to be 20% to 30% more than if you step outside of hotel and seek the same thing,” said Peña. This rule of thumb applies to activities, souvenirs and more, he added.

2. Ask Locals for Recommendations

When hunting for the best margarita, it helps to speak with the locals about things to see and do.

“Spend five minutes or 10 minutes talking to locals, and they will tell how to get a better price on whatever you want to do and where to go,” said Peña. A hotel concierge often receives a commission for their recommendations, he added. Locals will likely provide an unbiased opinion.

3. Come in Late Summer or Early Fall

According to Hipmunk, the low season, late summer through early fall, presents the best chance to optimize savings. The average hotel price in August in Oaxaca, for example, drops to $67 per night. During the same month in Ensenada, average nightly room rates are $87, according to Hipmunk.

Come October, there are still deals to be had. In Alcapulco, the average nightly room rate drops to $79, the lowest all year. Similarly, in Tijuana, hotel room costs hit their lowest in October, with the average being $76.

Flights are cheaper during these times, the report said. For instance, the average cost of a flight to Puerto Vallarta hits its lowest in September, at $389.

However, you’ll need to keep an eye on the hurricane forecast, especially if you’re bound for a coastal community.

4. Check Airbnb & Vacation-Home Rentals

All-inclusive resorts have their perks, as do luxe hotels, but if your mission is to save pesos, don’t overlook vacation home rentals on Airbnb or other sites.

Even the smallest Mexican communities have Airbnb listings these days, said Randy Bonds, owner of TravelYucatan.com. “There’s a plethora of beautiful condos and homes available and property management in the (Yucatan) region is outstanding,” he said. “A lot of times you get better services than at a hotel. And the rentals are as cheap, if not cheaper than a hotel.”

5. Check Social Media for Deals

“Local businesses will contact local influencers and travel boards to spread the word about any deals they might be offering for the next week or so,” said Bonds. “So if you follow the local tourism boards on Instagram and Facebook, you will find local deals.”

6. Haggle for Bargains

It might not be customary to haggle over the purchase of a coffee cup in the U.S., but in Mexico, asking for a discount is standard.

“Every Mexican asks for discounts when they are buying something or receiving a service, so people shouldn’t feel bad doing this,” said Peña. Expect to get at least 10% off the sticker price, he said. That said, if you’re dining at a fine restaurant, leave your haggling skills at the door.

7. Pack a Travel Rewards Card 

Nothing sweetens a vacation like getting a kickback for your spending. With travel rewards cards, you’ll receive bonus points and other incentives for swiping as you normally would. That could translate to free checked bags on your airline of choice, hotel upgrades and plenty more. (See some travel rewards cards to consider here.)

Thinking of getting a new piece of a plastic? Be sure to check your credit before you apply. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

Image: Dirima

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9 Budget-Friendly Father’s Day Trips to Take With Dad

Break free from the rut of boring gifts and indulge in some bonding time.

Giving dad a vacation for Father’s Day may sound extravagant and costly, but a variety of budget-friendly offerings would be a far more memorable gift than another tie, golf set or steak dinner.

“The most obvious — but most essential — piece of advice is, of course, to pick something that hews closely to his interests,” said Kelsey Blodget, executive editor for Oyster.com, a hotel review website. If dad’s a foodie, consider taking him for a day trip or overnight stay at a city known for great restaurants. “Even if you spend a lot on an amazing meal, it will still be cheaper than a long vacation,” she said.

Smart budgeting and tools like travel rewards cards, which offer kickbacks like free checked bags and hotel upgrades for everyday spending, can also help curb your expenses. However, many gift givers find it hard to think outside the box.

“In general, travel is not gifted often for any occasion, because it ends up being so high dollar, as compared to other options,” said Clem Bason, CEO of goseek.com, a hotel booking site, adding it’s usually done on special occasions like weddings. However, he sees people increasingly choosing experiences over material goods, which is probably what dad would prefer anyway.

To help you break free from the boring-gift rut, here are nine travel ideas to get some priceless bonding time with your dad.

1.The Bourbon Lover

If dad is a fan of top-notch bourbon, you may want to put the Kentucky Bourbon Trail on your radar. The trail showcases Kentucky’s world-famous distilleries, including Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve, taking participants through big cities, quaint country towns and and bourbon-themed hotels.

To fully experience the trail takes between two to three days, and spending a full weekend allows time for exploring some of the Bluegrass region’s other famous attractions, including the more than 400 horse farms and hundreds of locally owned restaurants serving Kentucky cuisine.

Accommodations are light on the wallet. For example, rooms at The Campbell House, in Lexington, start at around $140 per night.

2. The Speed Racer

Not only is Indianapolis the racing capital of the world, it’s considered an affordable destination. You and dad could spend Father’s Day weekend touring the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Among the exhibits is the first car to win the Indy 500. There are also track tours on days when the track’s not in use.

Keep the race car theme going at nearby Dallara IndyCar Factory, the U.S. headquarters for Italy’s Dallara Automobili. Exhibits showcase the technology, science and engineering involved in making an Indy car with interactive and hands-on displays. Visitors can sit in a car and experience a simulated drive. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children ages 5 through 12.

In terms of lodging, you won’t pay much. Rooms at Marriot’s Courtyard Indianapolis South, for example, start at $199 per night. (Carry a Marriot Rewards Premier credit card? Here are five more hotels to consider.)

3. The Space Enthusiast

Along Florida’s eastern shores, there’s a region known as the Space Coast. Attractions include the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex and its Shuttle Launch Experience, the American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame and Exploration Tower.

The priciest of the stops is the Kennedy Space Center. Tickets are $50 for adults and $40 for children. The American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame, which displays items donated by astronauts, space workers, NASA and company contractors, is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Admission for children ages 13 through 18 is $5.

Exploration Tower, meanwhile, is a seven-story structure with an indoor observation area facing Kennedy Space Center and an exhibit on air and space. Admission is $6.50 for adults and $3.75 for children.

Lodging along the Space Coast is reasonable. Rooms at budget chains like Days Inn Cocoa Beach Port Canaveral start at $100.

4. The History Buff

Philadelphia is a city synonymous with history, home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. What’s more, the Museum of the American Revolution just opened, making it a great time to visit.

Tickets for the new museum, which offers a look at the nation’s founding era, including Revolutionary War memorabilia, letters, diaries and works of art, are $19 for adults and $12 for children ages 6 through 18.

While in town, you could also take advantage of Art Museum Area Restaurant Week, which runs June 11 through June 16 and June 18 through June 23.

For reasonable lodgings, try name-brand hotels like Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia Center City. Rooms can be found for $160 per night. (Be sure to check out these Hilton credit cards before you book.)

5. The Rock Star

Visiting Austin over Father’s Day offers live music and a memorable movie extravaganza. The Texas capital is home to the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In, said Bason, of goseek.com. If checking out a movie at a drive-in isn’t cool enough, for all of Father’s Day weekend, the theater will screen the “Indiana Jones” series, ending with “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which centers on Indiana and his father, of course. Tickets for the drive-in start at $8 per person.

For live music, top choices include The White Horse, a honky tonk featuring new country talent; Sahara Lounge, known for its eclectic mix of everything from blues to Brazilian music; and Elephant Room, a rare jazz venue in the city. Many of the spaces have free nights, but some charge a small cover.

For lodging, rates at boutique hotels like Casulo Hotel start at about $129 per night.

6. The Beach Bum

Quality time at the beach with Dad is always fun. In Miami, you can take the experience up a notch or two. Not only is the city cheaper come summer, you can also treat dad to a ride on one of the trendiest forms of transportation — a hoverboard. Two-hour rentals from South Beach Hoverboard Rentals start at $49. The hoverboards can be delivered to any local Miami hotel, residence or public park.

You can also check out speedboat adventure tours for that “Miami Vice” vibe. Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures offers tours starting at $38 for adults 12 and up and $24 for children under 11.

Affordable accommodations can be found at options like Lexington Hotel Miami Beach where rooms start at $100.

7. The Outdoorsman

Whitewater rafting in Maine is another chance to share bonding time without spending a fortune. The Kennebec River, famed for Benedict Arnold’s fateful trip to capture Quebec, offers an opportunity to paddle through a variety of serious whitewater rapids.

The Double Gorge Trip, with Magic Falls Rafting Company, in West Forks, Maine, is $129 per person on weekends and $99 weekdays.

If you’re too exhausted to drive home after the rafting workout, inexpensive lodging can be found at hotels like The Dead River Lodge, where king rooms are $79 per night.

8. The Sailor

If you’ve always wanted to go sailing with dad, a variety of windjammer cruises are available through the Maine Windjammer Association website. A few are offering special Father’s Day deals.

The Heritage, a 95-foot schooner, is promoting discounted rates on its June 15 through June 18 expedition, charging $492 for dads who are sailing with children on the three-day getaway. The Victory Chimes will sail from June 16 through June 19 and is offering dads a discounted ticket of $340 when accompanied by a child. The cruises leave from Rockland, Maine, and include meals. There will be time to help sail the boat or sit back and enjoy the scenery.

9. The Golf Pro

No self-respecting Father’s Day story can overlook golf, so here’s one last option to consider: You and Dad practicing your backswing by the picturesque Finger Lakes.

Located on top of a mountain and adjacent to Canandaigua Lake, in Canandaigua, New York, the Bristol Harbour Lodge & Golf Resort provides a great backdrop for some quality golfing time. The resort’s Golf & Stay Package includes two nights of accommodations, one round of golf, a complimentary golf cart and range balls for $265 per person. As an added incentive to visit, the Finger Lakes region is one of the country’s most up-and-coming wine destinations.

How to Save on Your Father’s Day Trip 

Before you hit the road with Dad, make sure you have a plan for your spending. Travel rewards cards are one way to save, as are hotel rewards cards, which offer perks such as free hotel nights and late check-in and check-out. Just remember to swipe wisely so you don’t lose your rewards to high interest or debt. The last thing you want to come home to is a huge credit card bill. Not sure where your credit stands? Find out before you apply. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

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6 Upscale Hotels With Stellar Service

Two seasoned travel experts to share their picks for hotels with great room service.

In the beginning, we book a hotel because it’s something we have to do. We obviously need a place to sleep, right? But we often forget the little things that make staying in a hotel worthwhile. Like a friendly smile. A great restaurant recommendation. The bellhop who’s all too willing to lug your heavy luggage upstairs. Not every place has this.

To ensure your stay is as memorable as the destination you visit, we tapped two seasoned travel experts to share their picks for hotels with great room service. Here are their suggestions.

1. Singata Lodge, Grumeti, Tanzania

One of the most authentic private-use camps you can find on the Serengeti, Singata’s staff is trained “exceptionally well,” said New York travel agent Lisa Lindblad, and follows the chain’s ethos that revenue goes toward protecting the land, which in turn supports their families. Such thinking “creates a remarkably happy and energetic front and back of the house,” she said.

2. Hotel Sacher, Vienna, Austria 

“I have taken many groups to this hotel, and the level of service, the speed of their response and how quickly they make arrangements we request has just always been top-notch,” said Nathalie Nagy, an agent with Protravel who lives part-time in Central Europe. “The concierge also has special connections,” she said. “We needed to get VIP guests into a private, members-only night club, and in minutes, they arranged it through their contacts.”

3. Hotel Kempinski Adlon, Berlin, Germany 

This family-run hotel goes above and beyond to accommodate guests, said Nagy. Years ago, when she didn’t have cash on hand to tip the bellman, she left an envelope later that day and never saw him again. “Two years later, I returned to the hotel and when I got out of the taxi, he picked up my luggage, looked at me and said, ‘Thank you, Mrs. Nagy, for leaving that tip during your last stay.'” She added, “I feel this with many of the staff at this hotel: ultra-personalized service and a high level of guest acknowledgement.”

4. Hotel Aria, Budapest, Hungary 

Every aspect of this hotel, from the front desk to the spa, is excellent, said Nagy. “I also love the unique music concierge, who helps guests with recommendations not only as a regular concierge but with the musical theme of the hotel.” Hundreds of options are available via complimentary iPads, and the music concierge is well versed in many genres. “It is a nice extra touch!”

5. Villa Feltrinelli, Gargnano, Italy  

A loyal staff and grand Venetian interiors put Villa Feltrinelli at the top of Lindblad’s list. “They are well trained, quiet, old school in their demeanor and knowledgeable about caring for guests,” she said of the staff. “They are like family retainers in any private house in Europe. Extraordinary.”

6. Amanemu, Ise-Shima, Japan

Renowned for its sumptuous take on the Japanese bathing tradition of onsen, Amanemu, near the holy Shinto site of Ise Grand Shrine, is an absolute gem. Like other upscale chains in Asia, Aman, which owns and operates Amenemu, is “able to tap into a labor pool that is culturally respectful, careful, kind, pleasant and professional … the result is superior to any other,” said Lindblad.

Save on Your Next Hotel Stay 

Before you book your lodgings, make sure you’ve made a plan for your spending. Travel rewards cards are one way to save, as they offer kickbacks for purchases on things like hotels, car rentals and airfare. Check out our roundup of the best travel rewards cards here.

Remember, before you apply for any credit card, you’ll want to know if you qualify. If you’re not sure about your credit standing, you can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

Image: Kajdi Szabolcs

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Premium Plastic Wars: U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex’s Platinum

U.S. Bank's new travel card may make you think twice about applying for Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum cards.

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

U.S. Bank just launched a new premium travel card that joins the league of travel cards with big rewards and high annual fees. Available only to U.S. Bank customers, the Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite is for frequent travelers with disposable income who want spending incentives.

The Altitude Reserve’s design puts it in direct competition with the Chase Sapphire Reserve (see review here) and the Platinum Card from American Express (see review here). So how does the Altitude Reserve measure up to these premium kingpins? Here’s a closer look.

Earning & Redeeming Points

Each card rewards points for spending, but comes with its quirks. The Altitude Reserve earns three points for every dollar on travel purchases, including those made with mobile wallets. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. Right now, U.S. Bank is offering 50,000 bonus points (up to a $750 value) when you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns three points for every dollar on travel and dining, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Right now, Chase is offering 50,000 bonus points (up to a $750 value) when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

The Platinum Card earns five points for every dollar on flights booked directly or through American Express and eligible hotels booked through Amextravel.com. You’ll get one point for every dollar on all other purchases. American Express is offering 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months.

Each card offers a variety of ways to redeem points, including gift cards, travel and merchandise. Chase and U.S. Bank reserve the most valuable redemption options for travel purchases.

Travel Credits

Each card credits $85 to your TSA Pre-Check application or $100 to your Global Entry application. Beyond that, travel credits vary. The Altitude Reserve offers $325 in automatic statement credits when you make qualifying purchases on airlines, hotels, car rentals, cruises and taxis. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers an annual $300 statement credit for similar purchases. The Platinum Card provides up to $200 in annual Uber savings and a $200 airline fee credit.

Other Travel Benefits

Each card touts a wealth of additional benefits, including airline, car rental and hotel perks.

The Altitude Reserve provides 12 Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi passes each year and a 12-month Priority Pass Select membership; members must pay $27 for subsequent visits. They’ll also receive a 15% discount and a one-time $30 credit at GroundLink Black Car Service. The card provides complimentary breakfast at Relais & Châteaux Boutique Luxury Hotels.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership after a one-time activation. Cardholders will also receive perks like free Wi-Fi at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection properties.

The Platinum Card offers benefits at more than 975 properties worldwide. These include late checkout, free breakfast and Wi-Fi. Cardholders also have access to more than 1,000 airport lounges, room upgrades and car-rental privileges.

Each card offers its own concierge and protections, including car rental and trip cancellation insurance.

Annual Fees

The Altitude Reserve carries a $400 annual fee and its APR is a variable 16.49%. You’ll also need to be a U.S. Bank customer, although you can apply for the card 35 days after opening an account. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee of $450 and a variable APR between 16.74% and 23.74%. The Platinum Card has an annual fee of $550. It has no APR, as it’s a charge card that requires members to pay their balance in full every month. None of these cards charge foreign transaction fees.

Should I Apply for One of These Travel Cards?

These cards are intended for frequent travelers with disposable income and require good-to-excellent credit. (You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) If that’s not you, you should look elsewhere. You’ll also need to be comfortable with paying a $400-plus annual fee.

If you’re in the market for a premium travel card and are a U.S. Bank customer, the Altitude Reserve is an attractive option. If you’re not a U.S. Bank customer and have no need for another loan or bank account, another card may be better.

Remember, points that reward your spending habits offer the most value. For instance, the Altitude Reserve offers three points for mobile wallet purchases, but if you don’t use a mobile wallet, you may be better off with a card that rewards other types of transactions.

As the travel credits can earn back a good deal of the annual fee, you’ll want a card with travel credits you can fully exploit. If you don’t use services like Uber or incur many airline fees, American Express’ Platinum Card may not be the best option, even though its annual credits offer the greatest monetary value.

You’ll also want to look at the additional benefits that come with each card and decide if you’ll use them. Apply for the card that rewards your lifestyle and spending habits, rather than chasing benefits with the most monetary value.

Keep in mind, too, a rewards credit card, premium or otherwise, is only truly rewarding if you pay your balances off in full. Otherwise, you’re just losing perks to interest. If you’re prone to carrying a balance, you’re better off looking into a low-interest or balance transfer credit card. You can find some of a list of some of the best balance transfer credit cards right here.

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

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

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6 Extravagant Hotels We’d Happily Splurge On

most-expensive-hotels-in-the-world

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

For most of us, the thought of shelling out thousands of dollars for a one-night stay at a hotel is, well, ridiculous. Then again, you only live once. If we had the money, we’d happily blow it on one of the beautiful suites listed here. Read on for some serious travel lust, inspired by cursory research and recommendations.

1. Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): AED 33,000 ($8,895 as of May 4)

The leopard-print furnishings aren’t for everyone, but we can all get behind a private cinema. And library. And elevator. Did we mention the panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf? A “brigade of butlers” are on call 24/7 should the remote-controlled curtains, all-in-one printer or entertainment stop working. However, the complimentary selection of more than 200 international newspapers should keep you busy.

2. Hilltop Estate, Laucala Island Resort, Fiji

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): $6,000

Private cook, private nanny — what more could you need? Try a chauffeur, private beach, dreamy views of the Fijian archipelago and an infinity-edge pool lit by Tiki torches at dusk. All villas come with a buggy so you’re free to explore the five-star resort, but chances are you won’t want to leave.

3. Royal Penthouse Suite, Hotel President Wilson, Geneva

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): Unlisted

The Royal Penthouse Suite really does have it all, from Steinway grand pianos and Brunswick billiards to Hermès bath products and a lake-facing Jacuzzi. For those who require the utmost privacy, the suite features bulletproof windows, emergency alarm buttons and a private elevator. PS: This hotel awards Starpoints, so pack your Starwood Preferred Guest credit card.

4. The Sultan Suite, Çirağan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): 30,000 EUR ($32,905)

Located on the second floor of the palace, the spacious suite features panoramic views of the Bosphorus, a living room with a dining area for 12, a kitchenette and two bedrooms on either side. Thirsty? Grab a drink from the mini-bar — it’s all free, of course — or telephone the 24-hour butler to fix you a cold one.

5. Presidential Suite, Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): Unlisted

The only thing better than a trip to Milan: having your own Pompeii-style spa with a large private swimming pool, whirlpool, Jacuzzi, sauna and Turkish bath. Oh, and a fireplace to help you warm up. Step onto the balcony to admire the ever-growing skyline or consider dining en-suite off the fancy French crystal.

6. Villa Rockstar, Eden Rock, St. Barths

Daily Rate (excluding taxes and fees): 20,000 EUR ($21,937)

All 16,000 square feet of this modern villa can be yours — including the fountain courtyard and cloisters. A private gate sets you apart from the crowd, where you can enjoy the gym, pool table and fully stocked whiskey bar to your heart’s content. Be sure to bring your guitar for an impromptu jam session in the professionally equipped recording studio, which doubles as the Villa’s screening room.

Save on Your Next Trip 

Saving your Starpoints for a stay in Geneva? That’s a good place to start, but there are other ways to save on your travels. Rewards cards can help you stretch your dollars much further and earn freebies like complimentary drinks. While doing your research, be sure to check out our roundup of the best airline miles cards.

Remember, before you apply for a credit card, it’s best to make sure you’re likely to qualify. You can see where you stand by viewing two of your credit scores for free 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 Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card Rolls Out Cool 100K-Point Bonus

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is offering 100,000 bonus points for a limited time after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.

Eighty thousand points isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A hundred thousand points.

That’s what the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, issued by Chase, is offering for a limited time after you spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months. And if you add an authorized user and swipe the card in that same period, you’ll score an additional 7,500 points.

As our review of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card notes, the card is ideal for fans of the hotel chain. Cardholders earn five points for every dollar spent at any of the more than 5,700 Marriott and Starwood properties worldwide, and points can easily be transferred between brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Sheraton and Westin.

As an added incentive to keep swiping the card, double points are awarded for purchases on airfare, rental cars and restaurants, and cardholders earn one point per dollar on everything else. The card also carries no foreign transaction fees, so it’s perfect for long stays abroad.

Other Noteworthy Perks

Cardholders also receive other perks. They earn 15 credits toward their next Elite membership level and one Elite credit for every $3,000 spent. Points won’t expire so long as they swipe the card at least once every two years, and each cardholder anniversary they receive a free night stay.

The card also features travel security features like trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation insurance, purchase protection and lost luggage reimbursement.

Before You Apply 

If the 100,000-point bonus has put the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card on your radar, you’ll want to make sure you’ll actually use it. The card carries an $85 annual fee, and its variable APR is 16.49% to 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Some may find that rate a little too high, especially if they tend to carry a balance from month to month or have difficulty paying their bills off.

Before you apply, we advise checking your credit to make sure you’re likely to qualify. You can do that on Credit.com, where you’ll get two of your credit scores for free, with useful updates every two weeks. Checking your credit scores won’t hurt them one bit and is a great way to keep tabs on your finances.

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8 Ridiculously Expensive Hotel Spa Treatments

Check out some of the most luxurious hotel spa treatments around the world.

Massages and body treatments are considered the ultimate luxury, and for good reason: They don’t come cheap. The average hour-long massage can set you back a good $60 while body treatments can cost even more. Book your appointment at a high-end hotel like the Bulgari in London, and you could easily spend a weekend draining your savings account.

Check out some of the most ridiculously expensive hotel spa treatments around the world:

Bulgari Hotel London Spa

Service: Radio Frequency (Skin Tightening)

Cost: Course of six treatments for €1,250 or approximately US$1,326

This non-invasive cosmetic treatment is geared toward those freaked out about cellulite and other worrisome signs of aging. The idea is to “tighten and rejuvenate the skin” while promoting production of collagen, that structural protein that makes skin look so youthful. An Alma HD3D RF machine delivers focused RF energy to each layer of skin; the spa brochure says you’ll notice results after one session.

Granite Spa at The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana

Service: 150-minute Rock Creek Ritual 

Cost: $480

Renew your skin with a 60-minute Bulletproof Coffee Detox Wrap, followed by “an invigorating exfoliation.” From there, you’ll be wrapped in a hot towel and given a face and scalp massage. Hand-picked essential oils and Swedish massage are designed to make you feel as “fluid as Rock Creek.” The “cheaper” 120-minute version costs $400.

Kahaia Spa at Four Seasons Bora Bora Resort

Service: Kahaia Spa Suite Package

Cost: 100,500 French Pacific Francs or approximately US$891

With this package, couples receive access to their own outdoor terrace, a soaking bath, drench shower and relaxation area — and that’s all prior to the actual services. Slip behind close doors and you’ll be led to two treatment beds with wide-open views of the water below. Any combination of treatments and rituals may be chosen.

Napa Spa at Auberge Du Soleil, Napa Valley

Service: Ultimate Indulgence Afterhours

Cost: $2,500

Couples feeling frisky between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m. may want to spring for this package, which offers exclusive use of the spa, massage and bath, plus wine and dessert.

Post Ranch Spa, Big Sur 

Service: Fire Ceremony

Cost: $595

Take your main squeeze to a “safe, sacred space established by the medicine wheel,” says the Post Ranch brochure. There you’ll experience an indigenous fire ceremony of purification or transformation, depending on where you’re at in your life. “Your shaman guides an interactive journey, drawing the energy of the fire to focus attention on an opening for healing distinctive patterns.”

Spa at Trump Chicago

Service: Balancing Diamonds Massage

Cost: $300 to $315

Promising “clarity, inspiration and enlightenment,” this POTUS-approved massage slathers you with oils “infused with the healing benefits of precious diamonds and botanical essences.” If diamonds aren’t your thing, they also offer Purifying Emeralds, Revitalizing Rubies and Calming Sapphires editions.

The Spa at Chedi Andermatt, Switzerland

Treatment: The Chedi Oriental Ritual

Cost: 750 Swiss Francs or approximately US$742

You get what you pay for at this Swiss retreat: aromatherapy foot polish, The Chedi Jade massage, REN facial, Thai-style foot reflexology, Himalayan crystal body polish and an Oriental bathing ceremony.

Qua Spa at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas

Service: 180-minute Signature Hourglass Treatment

Cost: $650

Got three hours and $650 to spare? If so, this personalized treatment may be just what you’re after. Combining hot stones, aromatherapy, chakra balancing and energy work, you’ll feel brand new when the session is over. Or not — this is Vegas, after all. Be sure to check out the Arctic Ice Room, where crystals made from soap and water drip from ceiling vents with the goal of reducing hypertension and tightening pores.

Save on Your Next Getaway

If hitting the spa is on your agenda, do your wallet a favor and at least try to save on hotels, airfare or checked luggage. One way to do that: travel rewards cards. These bad boys can help you save on all of the above and rack up some freebies to boot. You can check out our roundup of the best airline miles cards here or read our take on how to choose the best rewards card for you.

Remember, before you apply for any credit card, it’s wise to check your credit to see if you’ll qualify. You can do that right here on Credit.com, where you’ll get two of your free credit scores with helpful updates every two weeks. Checking your credit scores won’t hurt them one bit and is a great way to manage your finances.

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The Best Travel Websites to Bookmark This Weekend

best-travel-sites-2016

Whether you’ve used up your vacation days or not, surely you’ve got holiday adventures on the brain. After all, fares to Europe are some of the cheapest we’ve seen. If that isn’t enough incentive to get you packing, consider the websites gathered here, with help from Matthew Ma, co-founder of The Flight Deal, a travel deals site. Some will help you plan smarter while others turn up cheap flights; all are guaranteed to make your trip smoother.

Google Flights

On Google Flights “you can search quicker than Kayak,” Ma said, and the platform’s ideal “for most general users.” Just enter destinations, fare type and dates, and a number of options will pop up. You can also explore nearby destinations and sign up for fare alerts.

ITA Software’s Matrix 

For the true travel hacker, ITA Software’s Matrix, which powers Google Flights, is quite useful, Ma said. The search engine is great for turning up rare K-Up or Y-Up fares, which let fliers upgrade to business class from coach, and it can calculate the price per mile of each fare, useful for those counting their miles. You can also input airport codes to dig up dream fares. One downside: You can’t book fares on the site, so keep a pen and paper handy.

Hotels Combined

“Most people want to check how much it costs [to stay] in their destination,” Ma said, and Hotels Combined does just that. This meta search engine is “fast and has hundreds of thousands of listings, so you can quickly see what the prices look like.”

Wiki Travel

Flight Deal’s search team constantly uses this site, which Ma said offers “user-submitted tips for every city in the world.” With the click of a mouse, you can get a “rundown of public transportation, neighborhoods, whether it’s safe, not safe, all those things,” he said. “It gives you a very quick idea of whether it makes sense to visit. It’s basically like Cliff’s Notes for any destination.”

Travel.State.Gov

For all things visa- and vaccine-related, this site is a wonderful resource, Ma said. Renew your passport, get safety updates and bone up on whatever else you need as an American traveling abroad.

More Tips for Smart Travel

To save on your next trip, consider using a travel rewards credit card, which entitles you to free baggage checks, seat upgrades and more. And, if you don’t have one yet, it’s a good idea to make sure your credit is solid before you apply — lenders are often wary of applicants who can’t manage their payments or debt responsibly. You can view a free snapshot of your credit report by signing up for an account on Credit.com.

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The Best Places You Can Fly for Cheap Right Now

best-places-to-fly-in-october

Eager to hit the road but not sure where to go? With fall in full swing, we felt it was only right that we research the best places to visit this season. It turns out budget travelers have plenty of options, and if they play their cards right they can hitch a ride on a jet plane for as little as $200 roundtrip. We tapped Billy Sanez, vice president of marketing for FareCompare, an airfare travel deals site, to pull up data on places with the best deals right now.

Austin, Texas 

The Texas capital has everything a budget-conscious family could want: historic attractions, world-class hotels, stunning scenery and killer barbecue (also: live music). The 2016 Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix happens there later this month too. “The weather won’t be as hot, probably in the 80s,” said Sanez, “and you’ll still be able to find great hotels … The only challenge there is you won’t have Uber” — the city banned the ride-hailing service in May.

New Orleans

If jazz and beignets dusted with sugar get your pulse racing, then the soulful city of New Orleans is the place to be. “It’s a little bit [of the] lower season for them,” Sanez said, “and actually you can probably get down there for less than $150 roundtrip from anywhere in the U.S.” Known for its vibrant nightlife and legendary music, New Orleans is a dream in the fall, perfect for picnics.

Seattle 

For those flying from the East Coast, especially cities like Boston, New York and Savannah, Georgia, a fare to Seattle can be had for less than $200 roundtrip, Sanez said. “Usually you’ll also see great deals for hotels.” That’s a good thing because you’ll be need cash for pinot in wine country and those aromatic molten chocolate cakes on Ballard Avenue.

Western Europe

We’ve reported on the phenomenon of cheap European flights, and this season the story’s no different. “You can get to just about any popular country for less than $600 roundtrip,” said Sanez, especially scenic London and Paris. “Germany, France and the U.K. will be a bit chilly, but it’s going to be like New York weather,” said Sanez. “In parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy, it’s going to be in the 70s.”

More Ways to Save on Airfare

With the holidays coming up, it’s important to look for ways to ease the strain on your wallet. A good place to start: travel rewards credit cards, which can soup up your trip with free checked baggage, hotel upgrades and miles. Just remember, you’ll need solid credit in order to qualify — lenders don’t like to see applicants who can’t manage their payments responsibly. So if you’re considering a new piece of plastic, be sure to check your credit before you apply. You can view two of your credit scores, updated every two weeks, for free on Credit.com.

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