5 New Hyatt Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free

These five Hyatt Hotels are brand new and waiting for you to visit!

If you have been trying to figure out your next vacation destination, it’s understandable that you might be a little overwhelmed. There are so many amazing places around the world to experience.

If you prefer to stay at Hyatt hotels, we put together a list of five new properties, in highly sought-after locations, that you can visit with your points in 2017.

1. Park Hyatt Bangkok

If you are thinking about heading to Asia, then a great option would be Thailand and the much-anticipated Park Hyatt Bangkok. This property was originally scheduled to open a few years ago, but delays set it back. Now it will officially open in May 2017.

This hotel is located in the upscale Lumpini district in the embassy complex. In addition to over 200 rooms, it will also have a sprawling rooftop area called the Penthouse Bar and Grill. This will include a restaurant and a speakeasy bar. You will also find a fine dining restaurant and lounge on the main level.

This will be a category 5 property, costing 20,000 points per night.

2. Hyatt House Chelsea

Heading to New York City this summer? How about a stay at the Hyatt House Chelsea? This hotel is located just blocks away from Madison Square Garden, plus it’s within walking distance of the Chelsea Garment District. To make your stay a little more comfortable, you can choose from either standard studio hotel rooms or residential suites with kitchens. This is perfect if you are planning a longer extended vacation.

The Hyatt House Chelsea is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

3. Hyatt Regency Cartagena

For a long time, Colombia was tarnished by the image of drugs and criminal activity. Today, most of the problems have been eliminated and the country is turning into a hotspot for tourism.

One of the most popular draws to Colombia beyond Bogotá is Cartagena. This coastal city is rich with history and amazing food. It’s also home to the brand-new Hyatt Regency Cartegena, the first Hyatt property in Colombia. It’s located right by the beach and easily accessible to Categena’s Old Town.

The Hyatt Regency Cartagena is a category 2 property, requiring just 8,000 points per night.

4. Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa

If you are planning a getaway for some golf and a spa day, then a great destination is the Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa, in Arizona. Guest rooms have a bungalow feel to them, plus you will be able to enjoy one of the three different pools or the Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary. But the best part is the property’s mountain backdrop.

The Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

5. Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach 

If a Hawaii vacation is calling your name, then make sure you make a stop at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach. This is the latest addition to the Hyatt Centric brand, located right on Waikiki Beach. After a long hike up Diamond Head Trail, you can come back and relax by the pool in one of the private cabanas.

The Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

Earning Free Nights With Hyatt

One of the best ways for someone to earn points and eventually free nights with Hyatt is through the Hyatt Credit Card. When you sign up you will receive two free nights at any property worldwide after spending $2,000 in the first three months. If you choose to add an authorized user to your account, you will receive 5,000 points after they make their first purchases within three months. (You can learn more about the ins and outs of adding an authorized user here.)

When using this card for purchases at Hyatt hotels, you will receive three points. You will also receive two points at restaurants and on airfare booked directly through the airlines. All other purchases will receive one point.

This card does come with an annual fee of $75, but you will receive a free night at any category 1 to 4 property on your anniversary. (Not sure if the fee is worth it? Check out our guide to annual fees to help you decide.) Plus, if you are planning to visit one of the international destinations we mentioned, there are no foreign transaction fees.

Remember, before applying for this or any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to confirm that you qualify. You can get your two free credit reports, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

Want more hotel stay hacks? Check out our hacks for free nights at Marriott hotels.

Image: andresr

 

The post 5 New Hyatt Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Perfect Jobs to Stoke Your Wanderlust

If exploring the world is a priority for you, consider these seven jobs that pay you to travel.

The average American only gets 10 vacation days after a year on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And 23% of Americans get no paid vacation time at all.

It’s tough to fit in a trip to Europe or Asia when you’re only allotted two weeks of vacation a year. If exploring the world is a priority for you, consider jobs where you can get paid to travel. Check out these seven jobs that allow you to travel the world. (And when you start globetrotting, this list of 28 ways to save for your next big adventure may come in handy.)

1. English Language Teacher

As the international language of business, English is a hot commodity across the world. Private and public schools across the globe seek native English speakers to teach the language. Several governments — like Korea, Japan, and France — hire college graduates as classroom assistants.

If you’re interested in becoming a head teacher, get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. You can take a 120-hour course full-time for a month or part-time on weekends. A TEFL certificate opens doors to teaching jobs that let you travel across the world.

To locate a position, use a job placement agency or search on a job board like Dave’s ESL Cafe. Just remember to start the process early. You’ll need time to make travel arrangements and obtain a visa from a local embassy.

Salaries vary across the world. South Korea and Japan have some of the highest paychecks for English teachers. According to Go Overseas, private school teachers in South Korea make between $1,600 and $1,940 a month. Public school teachers make between $1,265 and $2,500.

Note that some schools will cover round-trip airfare, visa expenses and housing. Between those perks and a potentially lower cost of living, you could live a high quality of life and save money. (That extra savings could even help you pay off your student loan debt ahead of schedule.)

2. International Sales Representative

Do you have a nose for business? Companies hire sales consultants and managers to connect with clients around the world. These positions require a strong understanding of a company’s products and clients’ needs. You’ll develop quarterly goals and work hard to meet them.

Your job will involve a lot of international travel, but you won’t necessarily get to choose where you go. International sales representatives make a median salary of $69,928, according to Salary.com. These roles typically require a bachelor’s degree, excellent communication skills and experience.

3. Flight Attendant

If you’re comfortable flying through the skies, then you could travel the world as a flight attendant.

Flight attendants look after passengers, plus they know everything about safety protocols. As a flight attendant, you’ll get the chance to travel the globe. However, you probably won’t get a regular schedule.

“Every other month I alternate between a set schedule and an on-call schedule, which means you have to be near the airport and ready to head into work on short notice if you’re called in,” one flight attendant told Cosmopolitan.

She adds that flights attendants typically work on holidays. Plus, they have to sleep in strange places, like bunk beds above the passenger area. Flight attendants make between $23,000 and $78,000 a year, according to Payscale, with the average salary coming in at $38,000.

4. Government Employee

The U.S. Defense Department, State Department, and other bureaus employ thousands of people in overseas positions across the globe.

The Department of State, for instance, hires foreign officers to work in many public diplomacy tracks. It also hires students and post-graduates for professional fellowships.

You can browse thousands of jobs opportunities at the State Department or Department of Defense. Salaries and skill sets vary widely, but most government employees can expect full benefits and some tax advantages.

5. Online Freelancer

If you have a service to offer online, like writing or web design, then you could work remotely from wherever you want in the world. Remote work is a growing trend, with many industries looking to hire remote workers over the next year.

Websites like Freelancer and Upwork connect freelancers to employers. You can build your portfolio while working from anywhere with internet access. You could even eventually start your own online business.

Note that you may have to account for time zone differences. If your work involves meetings, then you may have to keep strange hours if you’re traveling across the globe.

6. Tour Guide

One of the most straightforward ways to get paid to travel is to work in the tourism industry. As a tour guide, you can live abroad while showing other people around your favorite new city.

Work as a guide for tourists, or take groups of high school students on overseas trips. Companies like Broad Reach and Winterline hire seasonal guides.

If you’re outdoorsy, work for an outdoor adventure company, like Adventures Cross Country (ARCC). If you’d rather travel with adults, join a globetrotting company like Remote Year.

Note that tour guide jobs are not always full-time or year-round. You may have to supplement seasonal work with other employment during your off time.

7. Cruise Ship Employee

The Disney Dream cruise ship has 14 decks, 1,250 staterooms and three pools.

Needless to say, this 130,000-ton ship needs a lot of employees to keep everything up and running.

Cruise ships hire all types of workers, from group guides and photographers to dishwashers and entertainers. You’ll get paid to travel on the cruise and explore new places on your days off.

Rumor has it, the pay is low and hours are long. But you’ll have most of your needs covered, like food and housing, so you’ll be able to put your income straight into your savings.

Plus, working on a cruise ship is a great way to explore the world and meet new people as you figure out the next step in your career. You can find a huge directory of cruise ship jobs at AllCruiseJobs.com or official company websites.

How to Get Paid to Travel

If your feet are itching to wander the globe, you can find lots of jobs that let you get paid to travel. Some people work abroad for a year or two after graduation before moving into an entirely new career field. Others build careers that involve lifelong international travel.

Whatever you choose, you’ll develop skills of global awareness and cross-cultural communication, and your international skills and experiences can help you advance your career. And if you’re traveling abroad, you may want to consider getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees or a rewards program for frequent travelers. This guide to the top credit cards for international travelers is a good place to start looking.

Curious about how to discuss your skills with an employer? Check out this guide to learn how to make yourself marketable for post-college jobs.

Image: RossHelen

The post 7 Perfect Jobs to Stoke Your Wanderlust appeared first on Credit.com.

The Best Credit Card to Use at Every Airport in America

Yes, believe it or not, which airport you frequent can be a factor in choosing new plastic.

Whether you’re planning to hit the road for spring break or looking ahead to your summer travels, there’s a lot to think about when planning a vacation — especially if you’re flying to your destination. Not only do you have to add the airline ticket to your travel budget, but you have to think about other fees too, like checking your bag or choosing a window or aisle seat. But there may be an airline-branded credit card out there to help you cut back on some of those costs. (Want more budget-saving ideas? Consider these 28 ways to help you save for this year’s big adventure.)

You have a lot to consider when choosing one of these cards. Sure, you want to think about if you’re loyal to a certain airline, but you may also want to take it one step further and take note of your airport loyalty. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) collects passenger boarding cargo data for U.S. airports. Using its most recent data, we established this list of the 25 busiest airports in America … and then figured out which credit cards would be best to use at each of them.

Plus, before signing up for any new credit card, it’s important to know where your credit stands. Travel credit cards tend to require good scores, so knowing how you fare can help you see your odds of qualifying. (You can look at your two free credit scores on Credit.com.)

Now, without further ado, here’s list of the credit cards that could get you the most rewards at some of the busiest airports in the country.

25. Salt Lake City International Airport — Salt Lake City

Best Credit Card: Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Why We Chose It: Salt Lake City is a Delta hub and there’s a great Delta Sky Club lounge between concourses C and D.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 during the first three months.

Great Perk: You check your first bag free on every flight along with priority boarding, which is like saving $50 on each round-trip flight (assuming you check a bag each way).

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

APR: Variable 16.24% to 25.24%

24. Chicago Midway International — Chicago

Best Credit Card: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

Why We Chose It: CMI is a major hub for Southwest, so frequent fliers are bound to get good use of this card.

Baseline Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases; one point per dollar on all other purchases. You can earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months.

Great Perk: You get 3,000 anniversary gift points once you’ve had your card for a year.

Annual Fee: $69

APR: Variable 16.49% to 23.49%

23. Ronald Reagan Washington National — Arlington, Virginia

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: American Airlines is prominent at this airport and the list of perks with this card is great, whether you’re coming here for work or going on your own adventure. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Baseline Rewards: Two miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and one mile for every dollar spent elsewhere. You can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months.

Great Perk: Free access to the Admirals Club.

Annual Fee: $450

APR: Variable 15.74%

22. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall — Baltimore

Best Credit Card: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card

Why We Chose It: Turns out, the majority (70.34%) of this airport’s traffic from December 2015 to November 2016 was tied to Southwest Airlines flights. So it makes sense to choose a Southwest card.

Baseline Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases; one point per dollar on all other purchases. Earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months. You’ll get 6,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary. (Fly Southwest, but not sure if the Premier or the Plus is a better fit? We’ve got a guide that compares the two right here.)

Great Perk: No cap on the number of points you can earn, as long as your card is open and active.

Annual Fee: $99

APR: Variable 16.49% to 23.49%

21. Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International — Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Best Credit Card: JetBlue Card

Why We Chose It: Fort Lauderdale is a focus city for the airline and has a strong presence in terminal 3.

Baseline Rewards: Three points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. You can earn 5,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days.

Great Perk: This card gets you 50% off your in-flight purchases.

Annual Fee: None

APR: Variable 12.49%, 20.49% or 25.49%

20. LaGuardia — Queens, New York

Best Credit Card: Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Why We Chose It: Delta has a strong presence in this airport and it continues to grow, most recently with a 600-foot bridge linking its two main terminals, C and D.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and one mile per dollar everywhere else. You can earn 35,000 bonus miles, 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months and $100 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase in the first three months of having the card.

Great Perk: You get a round-trip companion pass each year when you renew this card.

Annual Fee: $195

APR: Variable 16.24% to 25.24%

19. Philadelphia International — Philadelphia

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: American Airlines flights went to the 10 most popular domestic destinations from this airport from December 2015 to November 2016, so this card could come in handy on your travels.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles for every dollar spent with American Airlines and one mile for every dollar spent everywhere else.

Great Perk: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending only $1,000 in the first three months after getting the card.

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

APR: Variable 16.24% to 24.24%

18. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County — Detroit

Best Credit Card: Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Why We Chose It: Delta is one of the main airlines coming and going from Detroit and several of Delta’s partners also fly to and from Detroit. There are also four Delta Sky Clubs throughout the airport.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 during the first three months.

Great Perk: You can redeem your points with Delta or with any of its more than 15 airline partners.

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

APR: Variable 16.24% to 25.24%

17. General Edward Lawrence Logan International — Boston

Best Credit Card: The JetBlue Plus Card from BarclayCard

Why We Chose It: Whether you’re headed to a seasonal destination, like St. Lucia or Martha’s Vineyard, or not, JetBlue has an extensive list of places they fly.

Baseline Rewards: Six points per dollar on JetBlue purchases, two points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. You can earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days and receive 5,000 bonus points on your cardholder anniversary.

Great Perk: You can earn a $100 statement credit when you use your card to purchase a Getaways vacation package.

Annual Fee: $99

APR: Variable 12.49%, 20.49% or 25.49%

16. Minneapolis-St. Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain — Minneapolis 

Best Credit Card: Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Why We Chose It: If your heart can dream it, odds are Delta can fly you there from Minneapolis-St. Paul International. And why would you want to limit yourself? (For the card’s major terms and conditions, see above).

15. Newark Liberty International — Newark, New Jersey

Best Credit Card: United MileagePlus Club Card

Why We Chose It: Newark Liberty is a hub for United Airlines and this airline flies the majority of passengers from this airport.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles for every dollar spent with United Airlines and 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn a $100 statement credit after making your first purchase on the card.

Great Perk: Free access to the United Club, an annual savings of up to $550. Even with the annual fee, that’s still a savings of $100 (assuming you use the card responsibly, of course).

Annual Fee: $450

APR: Variable 16.49% to 23.49%

14. Orlando International — Orlando, Florida

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: There is an Admirals Lounge coming later this year and this card can get you in to enjoy the fancy new digs. (For the card’s major terms and conditions, see above).

13. Seattle-Tacoma International — Seattle

Best Credit Card: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card

Why We Chose It: Seattle is a hub for Alaska Airlines as well as several of its partners.

Baseline Rewards: Three miles for every dollar spent on Alaska Airlines purchases and one mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Great Perk: This card offers the flexibility of choosing which airline you redeem your points with, from American Airlines to Emirates.

Annual Fee: Depends on which version of the card you’re approved for (based on creditworthiness): $75 for Visa Signature card or $50 for Platinum Plus accounts. You can find an explainer on the difference between the two cards here.

APR: Variable 12.74% to 19.74%

12. George Bush Intercontinental/Houston — Houston

Best Credit Card: United MileagePlus Explorer card

Why We Chose It: There are some great renovations coming this year to terminal C that will help this card come in extra-handy.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar spent on United Airlines tickets and one mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Great Perk: You get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable 16.49% to 23.49%

11. Miami International — Miami

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: There are two Admirals Club lounges in terminal D you can enjoy whenever you are at Miami International, whether you’re heading there on vacation or waiting for a flight home after a Caribbean cruise. (Again, for the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

10. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — Phoenix

Best Credit Card: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card

Why We Chose It: Southwest recently announced plans to expand their presence at the Phoenix airport, including eight new gates and more flights, so this card just makes sense. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

9. McCarran International Airport — Las Vegas

Best Credit Card: The Platinum Card From American Express

Why We Chose It: Nothing says Vegas like a little flash of luxury, and American Express’s premium credit card can get you into the airport’s swanky Centurion lounge.

Baseline Rewards: Right now, cardholders receive five times the points on airfare booked directly with a carrier or American Express travel and one times the points on everything else, but those rewards, along with the card’s annual fee, are set to go up, effective March 30.

Great Perk: You’ll get a $200 airline free credit, good for baggage fees and more at one airline.

Annual Fee: Currently $450; but that’ll go up to $550 once the new benefits come online

APR: The Platinum is a charge card, meaning you’re required to pay your balances off in full each month.

8. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport — Charlotte, North Carolina

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: This civil-military public international airport is a major hub for American Airlines. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

7. San Francisco International Airport — San Francisco

Best Credit Card: The Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card

Why We Chose It: Take one look at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and you’ll see why we couldn’t pass this one up.

Baseline Rewards: Eight points (five points for being an Elevate member and three for card usage) per dollar spent on Virgin America purchases and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days.

Great Perk: This card is a member of the Visa Signature family. (You can see what additional perks you get with Visa Signature cards here).

Annual Fee: $149

APR: Variable 16.48%, 20.49% or 25.49%

6. Denver International Airport — Denver

Best Credit Card: Frontier MasterCard

Why We Chose It: Frontier is one of five airlines at the Denver airport that offers the convenience of curbside check in.

Baseline Rewards: Two miles per dollar on FlyFrontier.com purchases and one mile per dollar on any other purchases. You can earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on the card in the first 90 days.

Great Perk: You get a $100 voucher toward a flight after spending $2,500 during your first (anniversary) year.

Annual Fee: $69

APR: Variable 16.49% or 25.49%

5. John F. Kennedy International Airport — New York City

Best Credit Card: The JetBlue Plus Card from BarclayCard

Why We Chose It: There’s a lot to see and do in the recently-renovated terminal 5, including the exciting Airspace Lounge — and that’s all before you even board the plane. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

4. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport — Forth Worth

Best Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Why We Chose It: While there are some updates being made to the Admirals Club lounge in terminal A, there are others you can use, getting perks like free Wi-Fi and access to showers in case you come straight to the airport from the office. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

3. Chicago O’Hare International Airport — Chicago

Best Credit Card: United MileagePlus Explorer credit card (full review here)

Why We Chose It: O’Hare is a major hub for United Airlines. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

2. Los Angeles International Airport — Los Angeles

Best Credit Card: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card

Why We Chose It: Alaska and several of its partners are a big presence at this airport and offer deals for passengers. (For the card’s full terms and conditions, see above.)

1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport — Atlanta

Best Credit Card: Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

Why We Chose It: Atlanta is a major hub for Delta. Atlanta is also popular connection airport, so you’ll get more bang for your buck with this high-annual-fee card.

Baseline Rewards: Earn two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Earn 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles after your first purchase on the card.

Great Perk: Cardholders get complimentary first-class upgrades and Delta Sky Club access.

Annual Fee: $450

APR: Variable 16.24% to 25.24%

Got a question about credit cards? Leave it in the comments below and one of our experts will try to get back to you!

At publishing time, the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, JetBlue Card, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard, Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card,The JetBlue Plus Card from BarclayCard and the Platinum Card From American Express credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. 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.

Image: MStudioImages

The post The Best Credit Card to Use at Every Airport in America appeared first on Credit.com.

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.

Image: xenotar

The post 8 Ridiculously Expensive Hotel Spa Treatments appeared first on Credit.com.

How to Visit Disney World for Free (or Close To It)

Anyone with kids understands that Disney World is a vacation they need to take at least once. After all, it’s the happiest place on earth. The only problem is, the place is expensive, and it’s only getting more so. In February, Disney announced they were raising ticket prices.

Last year, Disney parks started implementing tiered admission prices based on the season. This was to help fight overcrowding at some of the busiest times of the year.

With the price increase, most Disney theme parks will see mid-tier tickets increase to $107, up from $102. Peak season tickets (think spring break, summer and Christmas break) will increase to $119 from $114. And one-day tickets for the low season will go up to $99 from $97.

Tickets for the Magic Kingdom will cost a bit more for mid-tier tickets, up from $110 to $115, but peak prices will remain unchanged at $124.

Obviously, it gets expensive for a family. Just visiting the Magic Kingdom would end up costing a family of four between $396 and $496 depending on the season. And that’s for just one day at the park. Disney does offer special discount ticket packages, however, so be sure to check out what’s on offer before booking. You might be able to get a really good deal, especially during the off-season.

Of course, there are other ways to reduce your costs for visiting the happiest place on earth. You can start by using the rewards you receive from credit cards, for starters. There are three different cards you will need to make your trip nearly free (excluding food costs).

The Flights

Southwest Airlines is a favorite for many people. They’re inexpensive, they’re friendly and the overall flying experience is considered quite pleasant. Frequently the airline runs sales with prices starting at $59 one-way, or approximately 4,130 Southwest Rapid Reward points. That means for a family of four, it’s possible to get round-trip flights for as little as 33,040 points.

To cover this expense, you can sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card. You will receive 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 within the first three months. In addition to this signup bonus, you will also receive 2 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines flights and on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. For all other purchases you will receive 1 points per dollar. There is a $69 annual fee, but you will receive 3,000 bonus points on every card member anniversary.

The Hotel

A couple of years ago, Wyndham Resorts changed how many points were needed for a free night at any property. Instead of using a tiered system like other hotel brands, they moved to a flat rate. It now costs 15,000 points per night at every hotel.

Located right outside the Disney Park is the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. This hotel is extremely kid-friendly with multiple pools, water slides and themed rooms. There is also a free shuttle that will take you to the Disney World gates.

To cover the expense, you could sign up for the Wyndham Rewards Visa card from Barclaycard. You will receive 30,000 points after your first purchase and another 15,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. These 45,000 points would be good enough for three free nights. If you and your spouse both sign up for this card, you could earn up to six free nights.

In addition to the points you earn after signing up, you will also receive 5 points per dollar spent at any Wyndham property. Purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores and on any utility bill will receive 2 points per dollar. All other purchases will receive 1 points per dollar. There is a $75 annual fee, but you will receive 6,000 bonus points on each anniversary.

The Theme Park

We have already talked about how expensive it can be to purchase Disney World tickets. Luckily the cost can be mostly offset by the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. With this card you will receive 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. You will also receive 2 miles per dollar on every purchase that you make.

The points you earn are worth statement credits on any travel expense. Each mile is worth one cent each. That means the 50,000 mile signup bonus is worth $500, enough to cover the costs of four Disney theme park tickets at peak season prices. However, it’s important to understand that purchases at Disney won’t be coded as a travel expense and you won’t be able to use your miles. Instead, you would need to purchase your Disney tickets through either Expedia.com or UndercoverTourist.com.

Another perk of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card is that you will receive 5% of your rewards back in your account upon redemption. That means if you redeem the 50,000 miles for Disney tickets, 2,500 miles will be put back into your account. There is an $89 annual fee with this card, but it’s waived the first year.

Being Smart About Multiple Credit Cards

One of the big things to consider before applying for multiple credit cards, is that it’s wise to space out your applications. Too many new credit requests all at once can ding your credit scores, meaning your application for your second, third or even fourth card could be declined. Plus, multiple credit cards aren’t for everyone. They mean you’ll have to keep track of multiple initial-spend requirements, plus multiple due dates for your monthly payments.

Also keep in mind that, while the rewards may be attractive, especially if you’re trying to take a free vacation, you may not want (or be able) to spend the necessary amounts to reap those rewards. It’s important to understand whether or not that kind of spending will fit within your household’s budget. The last thing you want to do is end up coming home from Disney World with debt you’ll struggle to pay off.

Whatever you decide, checking your credit scores before applying is an important step. It can help you understand whether you’ll actually qualify for the particular rewards card you have your eye on (rewards credit cards tend to require higher credit scores). You can get your two credit scores absolutely free and updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the BarclayCard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard 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).

Image: Manakin

The post How to Visit Disney World for Free (or Close To It) appeared first on Credit.com.

5 New Marriott Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free

Let these new hotels help you check off some of your bucket list destinations.

There are a lot of new hotels opening up all around the world this year, including those by the ever-popular Marriott chain. So, before you plan your next vacation, make sure you check out some of the new properties Marriott has planned. One of these might help you cross a location off your bucket list and save you some money at the same time if you’re a Marriott Rewards member. (Note: Marriott purchased Starwood hotels late last year. If this is your preferred hotel, you may want to check out these five new Starwood hotels you can visit for free.)

AC Hotel Portland

Portland has become one of the “it” cities to visit in the United States over the last several years, so it’s no wonder that Marriott’s AC brand of hotels — which can be found all across Europe — is opening a new location in Portland. During your stay make sure you visit the hotel restaurant, AC Kitchen. This tapas style restaurant will bring some of the hotel’s Spanish influence to the city.

This category seven property will cost 30,000-35,000 points for a free night.

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach

Any trip to Singapore should include luxury and style. That’s exactly what you’ll find when you stay at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach. Located right in the heart of all the major tourist attractions, this hotel features 634 rooms, including 47 suites. There are five different restaurants to choose from, including one from executive chef Akira Back of Iron Chef America. Because Singapore is very much a vertical city, sky gardens are very popular, and the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach has two on property.

This hotel is a category eight property, requiring 35,000-40,000 points for a free night.

Edition Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain, is a city filled with art, rich culture, and amazing food. It’s there that Marriott will be opening their latest Edition hotel. This 100-room property will be located in the Ciutat Vella district. If you are looking for the next big party, this might be the perfect place to stay. You will be able to enjoy three restaurants, a rooftop and lobby lounge, plus a nightclub.

This hotel will open later in 2017 and there is no official announcement on the Marriott Rewards category or the price.

AC Hotel Denver Downtown

The mile-high city is one of the hottest places to be right now. Listed as the number two place to live in the U.S., people are coming here to visit from all over the world. If you are thinking about an upcoming trip to Denver, then you might want to look into the AC Hotel Denver Downtown. Located in the heart of the Denver theater district, this hotel is surrounded by bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the Denver nightlife. The hotel even offers Denver’s highest open-air, rooftop bar.

The AC Hotel Denver Downtown will open in August 2017. At this time it’s unknown what Marriott Rewards category this hotel will be.

Moxy NYC Times Square South

Located in New York City’s Time Square, this hip hotel will be geared toward Millennials who are looking to relax and have a good time. This will be the flagship property for the Moxy brand, and will include numerous pop-up shops, restaurants and a sprawling rooftop fitness center.

Moxy Times Square South will open in summer 2017. Its Marriott Rewards category is still unknown.

Earning Marriott Rewards

If you want to score some free nights at any of these properties, one of the easiest ways to earn Marriott points is with the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card. When you sign up you will receive 80,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. If you want to add an authorized user to your account, you will earn an additional 7,500 points once they make a purchase in the first three months.

When you use this card at Marriott properties, you will receive five times the points. In addition, you will earn two times the points at restaurants, car rental companies, and on airfare that you purchase through the airlines. All other purchase will earn one point per dollar. There is an annual fee of $85, but you will receive a free night at any category one through five property on your anniversary. The card comes with a variable 16.49% to 23.49% APR based on creditworthiness.

All cardholders will automatically receive silver elite status as well as 15 credits toward gold status. Plus, for every $3,000 in purchases you make with the card, you will receive an additional elite status credit.

Earn Even More Rewards as a Business Owner

Marriott also offers small business owners an additional way to boost their Marriott Reward balance. When you sign up for the Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit card, you will receive an additional 80,000 Marriott Reward points. You’ll also be able to earn the same amount of points on purchases with this business credit card as you can with the personal version. The only difference is that you can also earn 2x points at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services.

The Marriott Rewards Business credit card has an annual fee of $99, but you will also receive a free night at any category one through five property on your anniversary. You will also receive the same elite status benefits as you would with the personal card. However, if you spend $50,000 on your business card in a calendar year you will automatically receive gold status.

Remember, before applying for any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit reports and credit scores. Errors on your credit report can bring down your scores, which could result in your application being declined. You can get your two, absolutely free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here 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.

Image: baona

The post 5 New Marriott Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Rewards Credit Cards for People Who Just Don’t Travel

Prefer staying at home? These are the best credit cards for people who don't travel that often.

So many credit cards today offer cardholders travel rewards. Airline-branded cards focus on earning and redeeming miles with individual carriers. Hotel credit cards do the same with individual hotel chains. But what if travel isn’t your thing? If that’s the case, having a card for earning and redeeming points on travel is, well, kind of pointless.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to get a rewards credit card that offers the most bang for your buck in a category you tend to spend a lot on already. And if you don’t pay your balances off in full each month, you’re probably better off foregoing a rewards credit card completely since those points, miles and cash back will just get lost to interest. (You can see how your credit card balances are affecting your credit by viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

Having said that, here are four rewards credit cards for non-travelers to consider.

For the Constant Commuter

1. BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card

If you find yourself in the car a lot during the week, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card would be a good fit for your wallet. Whether you’re driving to and from work or just shuttling the kids to all their activities, this card rewards you for filling up the tank. You’ll get 3% cash back on gas purchases and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. There’s a $2,500 limit on those bonus categories each quarter, but you’ll get 1% cash back everywhere else. (Not bad for a card without an annual fee.)

Plus, you can receive a $100 cash back bonus if you spend $500 in the first 90 days. If you’re a Bank of America customer, the earnings are even higher. Depending on the assets you have with the bank, you can earn a 10% to 75% bonus when you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account. (That 75% bonus is for Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients.)

As a new cardholder, you’ll receive an introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) for 12 months on purchases and any balance transfer you make within 60 days. Once the introductory period has ended, the APR will change to a variable 13.49% to 23.49%, depending on your creditworthiness.

For Whoever Does the Grocery Shopping 

2. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

When it comes to earning rewards on groceries, there is no better card than the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express (we’ve got a full review here). With this card, you receive 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year. When you use this card at gas stations, you receive 3% back. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

When you apply before May 3, 2017, you can earn 10% cash back at restaurants (a $200 cash back max) for the first six months, and you’re eligible for a $150 cash back bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

This card does come with a $95 annual fee, but it also offers an introductory 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period has ended, the APR will become a variable 13.49% to 23.49%.

For Retirees

3. AARP Credit Card From Chase

Chase’s AARP credit card is designed for members of the organization, though anyone can apply and it touts some solid rewards for foodies. Cardholders receive 3% cash back at restaurants and gas stations and 1% cash back everywhere else. Plus, when you sign up for this no-annual-fee card, you’re eligible for a $100 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first three months.

The card also has a charitable component: For every dollar you spend with your card at restaurants, 10 cents will be donated to the AARP foundation in support of Drive to End Hunger, up to $1 million in 2017. (You can find a few more credit cards that make giving easy here.)

The AARP credit card comes with an introductory 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. Once the introductory period has ended, the APR will change to a variable 16.74% to 23.49%.

For the Fickle Spender

4. Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash card doesn’t have a flashy signup bonus, but it does give you the ability to earn cash back on every purchase without any hassle. There are no bonus or rotating categories, just an attractive flat rate. You will have the opportunity to earn 2% cash back on every purchase: The first 1% will come when you make the purchase. You will then earn another 1% back when you pay it off. This is a pretty attractive offer considering the card comes with no annual fee. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

The Citi Double Cash card (full review here) is also a great card if you need to transfer a balance from a high-interest credit card. You can receive an introductory 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers. The balance transfer fee is 3%. Once the introductory period has ended, the rate will change to a variable 13.99% to 23.99%.

At publishing time, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred and Citi Double Cash credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, these relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuers. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuers.

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.

Image: Eva-Katalin

The post 4 Rewards Credit Cards for People Who Just Don’t Travel appeared first on Credit.com.

6 Travel Apps That Can Help You Have the Best Vacation Ever

These travel apps have your next trip covered.

There’s a lot that goes into traveling, from choosing and saving up for travel expenses to deciding what you need to bring with you. Thankfully, there are a plethora of apps on the market to help simplify the process and make your vacation exactly what it should be: relaxing.

Here are six of those apps.

1. Travel Planning: TripIt

Platforms: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows

No longer do you have to store your flight plans in a different spot than your hotel and restaurant reservations — with TripIt, you’ll have all your travel plans in one place. And all these details will automatically sync to your calendars, making everything about your travel easier, whether for business or pleasure. With TripIt Pro, you can add additional features — like notifications for when a better seat or alternate flights are available or the ability to store your reward program points in the app — for $49 a year.

2. Helping You Save: Unsplurge

Platforms: iOS

There are several apps on the market to help you budget, but Unsplurge is a great one to help you focus on saving for a specific item or event. You can upload a photo of your dream destination to help you stay motivated and track your savings toward your goal. The app also offers savings tips to help you achieve your goal. If you decide to put your trip on a low-interest credit card, for example, you can tell this app that your goal is to get your card paid off sooner so you can have a stress-free vacation. (In the meantime, you can keep an eye on how that balance is affecting your credit by viewing your free credit report snapshot, along with two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) 

3. Tracking (& Using) Rewards: AwardWallet

Platforms: iOS, Android

If you’re part of several different travel loyalty programs, AwardWallet can make keeping track of those perks easier for you. After all, you don’t want to miss out on using those hard-earned rewards. You may also want to see if you can add to these perks with some of the plastic in your wallet. These stellar credit cards for international travel, for instance, can help you rack up extra points or miles. 

4. Figuring Out What to Bring: PackPoint

Platforms: iOS, Android

Packing for vacation is probably one of the worst parts, but this app can help simplify the process for you. PackPoint checks the weather at your destination so you know what you’ll need to bring. You can also tell it what you plan to do on your trip and receive recommendations on how to pack accordingly. Bonus: PackPoint has its own free travel podcast you can enjoy and garner smart travel insights from.

5. Exploring Your Destination: Time Out

Platforms: iOS, Android

You’ll certainly want to discover the best things your destination has to offer once you arrive, and this app can help you do that. Featuring big cities from all over the world, Time Out can give you suggestions on places to dine, grab drinks or even events to attend while you’re in town. And if you’re out and discover something you’d like to share with other travelers, you can do so right on the app. 

6. Understanding Different Rates: Units Plus

Platforms: iOS, Android

This is great for those trips you take abroad so you understand currency differences, which can help make purchases (and tipping) easier, but it doesn’t end there. If you’re somewhere with different metrics of speed, weight, temperature or almost anything else, this app can convert the unit for you. Best of all: The app frequently updates, so the exchange rate stays very current.

Longing for the day your bank account can fund that dream vacation? We’ve got 28 (mostly) pain-free ways to save for your next big adventure.

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.

Image: Pavliha

The post 6 Travel Apps That Can Help You Have the Best Vacation Ever appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Cost-Conscious Tips for the LGBTQ Traveler

Headed abroad? These LGBT travel tips have you (and your finances) covered.

The queer community has close to $1 trillion in disposable income and many of us don’t have children. That’s a lot of money and not a lot of responsibility. So how are we spending our discretionary income?

It’s so common it’s cliché: Queer people love to travel! According to 2015’s 20th Annual LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Survey, “the annual economic impact of [American] LGBT travelers is over $75 billion per year in the U.S. alone.”

Now is when we’re trying to get away from the cold or plan our summer vacation. If that sounds like you, here are five cost-conscious tips for queer travelers to get your travel on right.

1. Use Travel Sites

We’re super fans of websites and apps that make our travel planning and budgeting easier.

One of our favorite apps is Rome2Rio. It maps the most efficient routes to get from one location to the next in terms of time and cost. If you’re in Brussels and want to get to get to Cape Town, for instance, Rome2Rio will get you there.

Another favorite tool is Skyscanner, which searches the sky for the cheapest flights to get from one location to the next. Skyscanner relies completely on its algorithm to find flights, and not its relationship to airlines, so its recommendations are unbiased.

Our friends Stefan and Sebastian, who blog at the The Nomadic Boys, say, “Our starting point for planning our travels is Booking.com. It not only shows the best prices for the filters entered, but after using them for a while, you’ll receive discounts.”

2. Less Is More

In 2012, we spent a month Down Under. For 30 days, we traveled to Sydney, Australia, to be tourists; Cairns to snorkel The Great Barrier Reef; Sydney again for Mardi Gras with Kylie Minogue as Grand Marshal; Melbourne to eat up its foodie scene; Auckland, New Zealand, to be tourists; Waiheke Island for wine; Kaikoura to swim with dolphins; and then Rotorua to sit in hot springs.

With all that travel, we each had one medium-size suitcase full of clothes. What at first seemed impossible was a lifesaver. When hopping from planes to trains to automobiles, elevators, steps, sidewalks and, yes, sand, we were all the better for our lighter load. This will also save you money because many cost-conscious international airlines charge for luggage over a certain size or weight.

3. Stay Off the Beaten Path

Sometimes the best way to contain travel costs is to take the road less traveled. Below are some LGBT-friendly destinations that are uncommon and cost-conscious:

Costa Rica is a Central American country with coasts in both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans. Costa Rica is known for being very queer-friendly, with the heart and soul of its queer community in Manuel Antonio. In addition to seaside activities, Costa Rica boasts beautiful volcano parks, rivers and waterfalls that are great for hiking, playing and exploring.

Latvia’s coast is on The Baltic Sea and boarders Estonia and Lithuania. Latvia prides itself on “green tourism” and hosts many natural and manmade wonders. It started warming to the queer community in 1992, when it broke from the Soviet Union. While same-sex marriage is still illegal, the country does prohibit discrimination against queer people.

Belize is another Central American country on the Caribbean Ocean. Belize has amazing marine and coral life, especially where we traveled, in San Pedro, which makes it great for snorkeling and scuba diving. It includes hundreds of small islands called “cayes.” Though Belize is accepting of gay people, it is very much a conservative country and frowns on any public displays of affection.

4. Search Gay Travel Sites

With the popularity of travel sites, it was inevitable that the queer community would get its own.

One popular site that you’ve probably seen on your Facebook feed is Misterb&b. Misterb&b is not related to Airbnb. Misterb&b connects travelers with locals. You can rent the home of a queer peer while they’re away or sleep on their couch while they’re home. In most cases, doing so is cheaper than hoteling it.

Another travel site is Ebab.com, which stands for “Enjoy Bed & Breakfast.” Ebab was the very first queer travel site, originally founded in 1996, when queer rights weren’t what they are today. Ebab was founded on the principle that “everyone has the right to travel freely and without discrimination.”

5. Stay Out of Trouble

Even though the queer community has made much progress in the last 20 years, especially in the U.S., homophobia still exists. Even the U.S. State Department publishes a useful page with LGBT travel information. As you’re planning your next vacation alone, with your partner or family, consider these cost-conscious tools, tricks and destinations to help you save money — and stay safe.

Looking for more money-saving reads? Check out Credit.com’s personal finance learning center.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

 

Image: peterotoole

The post 5 Cost-Conscious Tips for the LGBTQ Traveler appeared first on Credit.com.

With $655 Malaysia Trip, This Student Proves Gap Years Don’t Have to Cost a Fortune

img_0010

Brandon Stubbs isn’t your typical 18-year-old high school graduate. In addition to graduating valedictorian from his Grass Valley, Calif. high school, he’s joined the ranks of a growing number of students embracing the concept of taking a gap year before starting college.

While other college freshmen began their first classes this Fall, Stubbs, who plans on attending Brown University, kicked off his gap year with a trip to Malaysia.

A gap year is usually more than just a nice break from calculus exams and book reports. Many students choose to focus on personal growth and incorporate travel abroad or participation in volunteer projects. That growth can come at a high cost. Some programs, like the $35,000 Global Gap Year offered by Thinking Beyond Borders, can cost more than what some students pay for a four-year college degree.

But, there are plenty of ways to trim costs and still have a great gap year. We reported on some here, which is how we met Stubbs.

We asked Stubbs to share his budget so far. Take a look at how he’s financing the first leg of his gap year in Malaysia:

istock_78653477_large

We caught up with Stubbs to see how his budget is holding up in Malaysia and how he intends to spend the rest of his gap year. Here’s what he said.

MagnifyMoney: Where are you now?

Brandon Stubbs: I’m taking two months of my gap year in Malaysia, one of the most diverse countries in the world. Right now I’m in Johor Bahru, the southernmost city of Malaysia, just across the bridge from Singapore.

MM: What drove your decision to take a gap year?

BS: After my high school graduation, I was definitely, to an extent, burnt out and, while I was excited to attend Brown University, I wasn’t as ready or enthusiastic to start college this fall as I will be next fall.  This gap year has provided me the opportunity to gain experience in the real world while simultaneously recharging my mental battery.  I’m learning a lot in an entirely different way than in the classroom.  And my enthusiasm and excitement for next fall has only increased as I’ve grown as an individual throughout this gap year.

MM: Why Malaysia?

BS: As a student going into archaeology, it’s really important for me to be getting this exposure to this blend of Eastern cultures as well as to the geography and climate. Tropical rainforests thrive here, so I’ve been able to go on some real Indiana Jones-esque expeditions into the jungle. I’ve also visited some incredible Buddhist and Hindu temples throughout the country that have proven to be very enlightening experiences.

MM: How did you you save up for this trip?

BS: I had $2800 saved up for this trip, which I earned working as a tutor throughout high school and as a music camp counselor during the summer. I paid for my flight through StudentUniverse [ a site that offers affordable fares to students]. I booked a flight on AirChina for $535.

MM: How do you stay on budget?

BS: My room and board is covered in exchange for my volunteer service [at the hostel where I am staying] so I only have to spend money on food and transportation.  Often, I’ll only spend money on brunch and dinner during a day, but I’ll spend a little more for excursions into Malaysia or Singapore.

MM: What are you doing for money out there?

BS: I’ve done some street performing in the past on my trumpet at the local “Cornish Christmas” celebrations and other outdoor festivities. On top of that, I am focusing on the style of New Orleans Dixieland jazz, which lends itself quite well to solo street performance. I intended to bring my trumpet, anyway, if just to practice, so the idea of playing it in public was natural.  So far I’m earning about 160 [Malaysian Ringgit] a week, which translates to $40 USD, for playing five nights a week. But the money is enough to cover most of my daily expenses in Malaysia.

MM: What’s your typical day like?

BS: I have two days a week off from my work at the hostel.  On those days, I’ll either go into Singapore and visit some of the attractions and districts of that amazing city or explore the nature and culture of Malaysia, hiking or visiting new towns.  On my work days, I’ll spend a few hours cleaning and checking guests in and out and on my downtime work on my second book or street perform on my trumpet.

MM: Did your parents help you with any expenses?

BS: My parents did help pay for some of the preparatory expenses, like my typhoid shot or general supplies – flashlight, mosquito repellent, etc.  Aside from that, I am covering all of my own expenses.

MM: When do you get back?

BS: I’ll return to the States toward the end of November.

MM: Will you have any funds left when you return?

BS: I expect to return with $1800 or $1900 remaining. I shouldn’t spend more than $1000 on the entire two-month trip, all expenses included.

MM: What will you do for the remainder of the gap year?

BS: Once I return to the U.S. I intend to spend several months publishing and advertising my first book, The King of Kamaahr.  My plans for the spring are still not set in stone, but right now I think I’ll go to Sydney, where I have some family and Australian citizenship, and spend a few months living there.  I’ll try to find work there as a musician and/or an actor as well as advertise my book outside the U.S.

Do you want to share your gap year story? E-mail us at info@magnifymoney.com. 

The post With $655 Malaysia Trip, This Student Proves Gap Years Don’t Have to Cost a Fortune appeared first on MagnifyMoney.