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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each year, travelers take part in the World Airline Awards, the globe’s largest international airline passenger satisfaction survey conducted by the U.K. consulting firm Skytrax. Full-service and low-cost airlines are included, and “the survey measures standards across 41 key performance indicators of airline front-line product and service,” according to a release.
Between August 2015 and May 2016, 19.2 million customers completed surveys on a wide range of topics. More than 104 nationalities participated in the customer satisfaction survey.
Interestingly, not a single American carrier cracked the top 10. What gives?
“They’re terrible,” Christopher Elliott, author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler,” said via email. “When is the last time you heard someone say something nice about a domestic airline?”
Skytrax did not provide a specific geographic breakdown of the voters online, wrote Brett Snyder, who runs the blog Cranky Flier, and for years “the U.S. airlines have lagged while they’ve struggled to stay afloat.” Stamping out the negative stigma is going to take time.
What follows is a list of the world’s top 10 airlines. If they don’t fly near you (or you just can’t afford them), take heart: Opening a travel rewards card can help cut down the costs of future trips via points or miles, while airline miles cards are renowned for helping cardholders secure freebie flights. Just remember to view your credit score — which you can do for free on Credit.com — before you apply.
Earning not one but three awards from Skytrax — World’s Best First Class Airline, World’s Best First Class Onboard Catering and World’s Best First Class Airline Seat — Etihad Airways has plenty to brag about.
First Class: The company’s First Class Lounge & Spa at Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Terminal 3 features a nail bar, TV room, fitness room and cigar lounge.
Dream Destination: Abu Dhabi, just to check out that spa.
Singapore’s flagship carrier takes customer service to a whole other level, allowing passengers to reserve their main course up to 24 hours before their flight. As a bonus, that course is prepared by a chef.
Take Your Seat: A newly launched system lets select passengers bid for seat upgrades.
Dream Destination: Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region.
Love to travel? Good news: There are ways to put that wanderlust to use with a travel rewards credit card.
Though travel rewards cards aren’t the easiest to get approved for as they require an excellent or good credit score, those who are able to snag one can use it to build better credit. (Just, remember, before you apply, it’s important to know where you stand so you don’t get turned down and have your score suffer as a result of the inquiry.)
Travel Rewards Cards & Credit
A travel rewards credit card lets accountholders earn points or miles that can be put towards hotel stays, airfare and other travel expenses. These rewards can help world travelers lower the cost of their vacations, but the card itself could be a good instrument for building credit.
If you make all of your payments on time, eventually your score will begin to rise because this behavior creates a positive payment history, the most important factor among credit scoring models. The card’s credit limit will also be counted towards your credit utilization rate, another major factor among credit scores. Your credit utilization rate is essentially how much debt you are carrying versus your total available credit. For best credit scoring results, it’s generally recommended to keep the amount of debt you owe below ideally 10% and at least 30% of your credit limit(s). So, if you charge your vacation and then pay most or, even better, all of those purchases off right away, your score could benefit.
While using your card, you can keep track of how your usage and payments are affecting your credit by signing up for Credit.com’s free credit report summary. Beyond seeing your credit scores, you’ll be able to check how you’re doing in five key areas of your credit report that determine your credit score, including payment history, debt usage, inquiries, credit age and account mix.
Since interest rates for travel rewards cards tend to vary depending on creditworthiness, you’ll want to be mindful about carrying a balance. Doing so could hamper your credit goals, and the interest you pay could exceed whatever you’ve managed to glean from rewards. Many travel rewards cards carry annual fees, too, so you’ll want to make sure your spending habits justify that potential cost. (You can read about the best travel credit cards in America here.) Of course, making purchases on your card and paying them off quickly (and on time) will generally boost your credit.
As some airlines try to convince leisure travelers that experience counts more than price, they may want to take another look at seat size.
A recent poll by travel deals site Airfarewatchdog found 55% of 2,100 travelers think the government should regulate seat size. And 38% said airlines should be required to disclose seat size more prominently, while 4% felt nothing should be done and 6% haven’t noticed seats getting smaller. The poll was conducted on Airfarewatchdog’s website and newsletter in late March.
Lately it seems economy-class passengers have gotten used to putting up with discomforts to snag a cheap fare. But finding a happy medium may be getting harder, as some airlines dole out other fees like those for extra-legroom or even sitting together with families.
You can also potentially secure cheaper airfare and/or better seat by flying on weekdays (experts recommend Tuesday and Wednesday for best fares) or booking about 57 days prior to vacation, although this varies for international flights.
Remember, if you’re considering a travel rewards card, you’ll want to know where your credit stands so you have a sense of what type of card you may qualify for. (You can view your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.) If your credit’s in bad shape, you may be able to improve your score by disputing errors on your credit reports, paying down high credit card balances and limiting new inquiries.