3 Easy Ways to Turn Your Holiday Spending into Rewards for a Spring Break Trip
This year, many holiday shoppers will begin and end their trips to the store during the cold, dark nights of winter, and spend days trudging through the snow. Wouldn't it be nice if you could use your holiday spending to earn a much-needed trip to somewhere much warmer or well-deserved spring break vacation? Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to capitalize on your holiday shopping to do just that.
Earn rewards through spending
The simplest way to earn rewards in the form of points and miles during the holidays is to use the right credit card. Since spring break is a peak travel period, shoppers may wish to avoid earning traditional frequent flier miles that come with severe limits on their use. Instead, it's worth considering credit cards that earn rewards that can be redeemed for statement credits towards any available flight, hotel, car rental, or cruise. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards card offers double miles on all purchases, and miles are worth one cent each as statement credits toward travel purchases. Similarly, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus also offers double miles that can also be used as statement credits toward travel reservations. Finally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers double points for each dollar spent on dining or travel, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each toward travel reservations made through Chase's Ultimate Rewards travel center, or transferred to points and miles with travel providers.
Take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses
You would have to do a lot of shopping to earn enough points and miles for a free trip during spring break, but you can boost your rewards balance quickly by applying for a new card with a generous sign-up bonus. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card currently offers 50,000 points, worth $625 towards travel reservations, to new applicants who spend $4,000 on new purchases within three months of opening an account. The Capital One Venture Rewards card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card both offer 40,000 bonus miles, worth $400, to new applicants who spend $3,000 on new purchases within three months of account opening.
Utilize online shopping portals
Most airline frequent flier programs and hotel loyalty programs offer an online shopping portal as a way for members to earn additional rewards. It's not uncommon to earn an extra 3–10 miles per dollar spent at popular retailers over the holidays. To use these portals, you first have to create an account. Then, you browse the retailers on the portal, and enter the site through its link. Finally, you make purchases the way you normally would, and earn additional points and miles beyond what you earn from your credit card rewards. Many airlines and hotels also offer a dining rewards program that allows you to earn more points and miles when you eat at participating restaurants.
This article was written by Jason Steele, Credit Card Expert at CompareCards.com.
Now You Can Put a Plane Ticket on Layaway—Really!
Layaway: It's not just for retail stores anymore. Tech startup Airfordable says it has one mission: to "encourage travel" for low-income individuals and millennials with limited credit options. All users have to do is take a screenshot of the flight they want to purchase, and Airfordable will buy it for them—and hook them up with a monthly or biweekly payment plan. Put 30 percent down and make all the payments before the flight date, and the e-ticket is yours. In some cases, the company says, it has helped users find even better prices for the flights they want. Convenience, of course, comes with a price: Airfordable charges a flat 20 percent fee for every transaction, spread out over the payment plan. But there's no interest, which, for some travelers, might be a more attractive option than using a credit card. Plus, the maximum flight price that Airfordable is willing to front is $500, so the fee won't amount to more than $100. Not cheap, but a better deal than throwing down a high-interest card if you don't intend to pay it off ASAP, and an excellent option if a credit card or personal loan is out of the question. And if you don't make all the payments before your flight date? No ticket for you. The down payment is also non-refundable, but any payments made after that turn into Airfordable credit. (Space is limited, so click fast if you want in.) The ultra-specific desire to help people travel was born out of experience: When company founder Ama Marfo saw a college buddy miss out on a group trip to Ghana because she lacked the financial resources to go, she was inspired to start the company. "Memories are priceless," she says, "and global enrichment is key in becoming a well-rounded person." We at BT are all about helping people travel more, especially when cash is tight, so cheers to that!
Let's Talk About Rewards Programs
Airline rewards programs get a lot of hype and are often greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism. We'd love to hear your honest input about your rewards program habits. Take our quick poll, and look for the results here in an upcoming story at BudgetTravel.com and in our March/April tablet issue. Survey Creator
How to Fly Your Pet for Free
For many Americans, pets are family members, and they would no more travel without them than they would leave one of their children at home. Unfortunately for Budget Travelers, the airlines seem to know this, and have taken to squeezing as many fees as possible out of passengers who wish to fly with their furry friends. Not only will these fees apply when you fly with a caged animal in the hold, but most airlines will charge you $100 or more just to place a small pet carrier underneath the seat in front of you. But what if there was a way that you could avoid these pet fees altogether and fly Fido for free? It turns out that there are several credit cards that offer hundreds of dollars a year in annual air travel fee credits, which can be applied to these onerous airline pet fees. The American Express Platinum card offers a $200 annual airline fee credit that can be used to pay for pet fees as well as change fees, seat selection fees, and baggage fees. Other benefits include the ability to earn Membership Rewards for spending, which can be redeemed for travel reservations, merchandise or gift cards. In addition, points can be transferred to miles with 16 airline partners. Cardholders also receive access to the Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select, and American Express Centurion airport lounges. Note: There is a $450 annual fee for this card. The American Express Premier Rewards Gold card features a similar annual airline fee credit that can be used for pet fees, but it's only $100 per calendar year. Cardholders receive 3X Membership Rewards points for flights booked directly with airlines, 2X points for purchases at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets and 1X points on other purchases. This card has a $195 annual fee that is waived the first year. Another card with an annual airline fee credit is the Citi Prestige. It offers cardholders a $250 annual airline fee credit each calendar year, and pet fees are eligible for reimbursement. Other features include 3x points for air travel and hotel purchases, 2x points for dining and entertainment expenses, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points are earned in the ThankYou Rewards program and can be redeemed for travel reservations or transferred to miles with 12 different airlines or points with Hilton hotels. Cardholders also receive access to the American Airlines and Priority Pass Select airport lounges. There is a $450 annual fee for this card. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card offers a $300 annual airline fee credit each calendar year, which you can use to cover the pet fees for several flights. Other benefits include three upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton club level each year and a $100 hotel credit on paid stays of two nights or longer. It also offers an annual Lounge Club membership, which features access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world. This card has a $395 annual fee. Finally, cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards card allows you to earn miles that can be redeemed as statement credits toward any travel related expense, including pet fees. This card offers double miles on all purchases, and each mile is worth one cent. There's a $0 intro for this card for the first year and $59 after that. This article was written by Jason Steele, Credit Card Expert at CompareCards.com.
Is Europe Safe for Travelers?
In the wake of the July 14 terrorist attack in Nice, France, many are asking themselves: Is Europe safe for travelers? The answer is yes, with the logical caveat that the better informed you are, the more observant you are, and the more prepared you are, the safer your trip anywhere in the world will be. Am I biased in favor of travel? You bet I am: There’s simply no better way to understand the world, to bridge the differences among cultures, and to embrace our personal stake in this little blue planet of ours. The State Department reminds travelers to adopt the following practices when visiting Europe: • Exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. • Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. • Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events. • Follow the instructions of local authorities, especially in an emergency. • Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities. • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions. • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency. • Register in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.