Inflation Impacting Summer Travel Plans, Credit Card Habits


A new study found that 58 percent of Americans report that inflation is impacting their summer vacation travel plans.

Personal finance website WalletHub revealed a survey examining the summer travel habits, worries and expectations of travelers in the United States, as well as the best credit cards for travel this summer.

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Study respondents found that using a credit card during vacation was important, with around 32 percent of people “likely” or “very likely” to apply for a new card before a road trip this year.

“Roughly 58 percent of Americans say inflation is affecting their travel plans, according to a new WalletHub survey,” WalletHub analyst Delaney Simchuk said. “Inflation has increased to levels not seen in decades, and when prices on everyday items rise, there’s less money left over for luxuries like travel.”

“Even travel itself has gotten unusually expensive,” Simchuk continued. “For example, airfare was 33 percent pricier in April 2022 than one year prior, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and costs are expected to keep rising.”

While 32 percent of Americans said travel usually gets them into debt, data found that 41 percent more people would skip a credit card payment instead of a vacation in 2022 compared to last year.

Another 38 percent of travelers said they plan to use credit card rewards to pay for a vacation, with rental car insurance being the most used benefit at 27 percent. The insurance is nearly twice as popular as extended warranties (14 percent), the least used benefit.





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Five Credit Card Tips Every College Graduate Should Know


Congratulations, graduate! You’re about to launch yourself into the real world, navigating new experiences like jobs and apartments—and, in many cases, applying for your first credit card.

Why should you consider getting a credit card? Establishing a positive credit history is an essential part of post-college life—especially because your credit score could determine how much interest you pay on your car loan or whether or not you get approved for your next apartment.

We’ve put together a list of five credit card tips every college graduate should know, from how to build good credit to how to maximize your credit card rewards. Read our list before you fill out your next credit card application—and read it again once you get approved for your new credit card.

1. If you don’t know your credit score, check it (for free)

The first thing you’re going to want to know as a new college graduate is how to check your credit score. Many credit card issuers offer free credit scores to cardholders, making it easy to know where you’re starting from and track your progress over time. Log into your credit card account to check whether your issuer provides your credit score.

If you don’t have a credit card yet, there are other ways to check your credit score for free. CreditWise from Capital One, for example, is a free app that monitors your credit history, provides updated credit scores and offers tips to help you improve your score—and you don’t have to be a Capital One cardholder to download and use CreditWise. American Express offers a similar service called MyCredit Guide.

2. Prequalify before you apply

Many new graduates don’t realize that every credit card application they complete has the potential to temporarily lower their credit score. This is because credit issuers track how often you apply for credit—and if there are too many new credit inquiries on your credit report, your credit score will suffer.

This is tough on younger people because they often fall within the “fair” credit score range, making it hard to know whether they’ll be approved for a credit card. That’s where prequalification comes in handy. Here’s how it works: The credit issuer performs a soft credit check, which doesn’t impact your credit score but gives the issuer the information it needs to determine whether you are likely eligible for a particular card.

Credit card issuers sometimes send prequalified offers in the mail or through email. Another way to get prequalified is to use Bankrate’s CardMatch™ tool, which will tell you what cards you’re most likely to be approved for from a variety of issuers.

Once you’re ready to apply for your new credit card, the credit issuer will perform a hard credit check. This credit inquiry is reported to the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and will be included in your next credit score assessment. But don’t worry—If you keep your new credit inquiries to a minimum, the impact on your score will be minimal.

3. Pay your bills on time and keep your balances low

Five factors impact your credit score: payment history, amounts owed, credit mix, account age and recent inquiries. Your payment history and credit utilization ratio are the two most important factors in your FICO credit score—which means that if you miss a credit card payment or max out a credit card, you could do significant damage to your credit.

So when you’re trying to build credit quickly, the two most impactful things you can do are pay your bills on time and keep your card balances as low as possible.

Some people mistakenly believe that leaving a small balance on their credit cards will improve their credit score. This myth is not only incorrect, but it will also cause you to throw away money on interest. For good credit, pay your bills in full as often as you can, and make every payment on time.

4. Upgrade your student credit card

Many college students don’t realize they can upgrade a student credit card after graduation. Instead of canceling your student credit card and applying for a new line of credit, you can call your issuer and ask to upgrade your existing credit card.

There are a few reasons this is better than canceling and applying for a new card. For one, you get to keep your credit account active—which adds to the length of your credit history and has the potential to boost your credit score. Plus, you get to maintain your relationship with your credit issuer. If you used your student credit card responsibly during your college years, your issuer may offer you an upgraded card with a higher credit limit, a lower interest rate and better rewards.

5. If you’re not earning credit card rewards, it’s time to start

It’s never too early to learn about credit card rewards. The more you understand about earning and redeeming rewards, the more you’ll be able to get out of your credit cards—and the best rewards credit cards have a lot to offer.

There are two major types of credit card rewards. Cash back credit cards offer a percentage of cash back on every purchase (think of it as a tiny discount), and travel credit cards offer points and miles that can often be redeemed for travel bookings or statement credits toward previous travel purchases.

Many cards offer heightened rewards in specific spending categories, like groceries or online shopping. These types of cards can be lucrative if you make the most of them.

If you’re planning on furnishing a first apartment, for example, a credit card like the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card could save you a lot of money. It offers 5 percent cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2 percent cash back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores; 1 percent cash back on all other purchases and a sign-up bonus worth as much as $150.

You may also want to consider the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card—or, if you’re still working on building your credit, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. These flat-rate rewards cards offer 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase and are great introductions to the world of cash back credit cards.

Here’s one last tip—if you want to get the most out of your credit card rewards, be sure to always pay your credit card bill in full. Carrying a balance comes with interest charges, which could cost you more than you’re earning in credit card rewards. Don’t make a purchase you can’t afford to pay off just because it earns 5 percent cash back!

The bottom line

Knowing how to use credit cards responsibly can save you money, put you on the path toward good credit and set you up for a strong financial future. Once you understand how to track your credit score, build a positive credit history and maximize your credit card rewards, you’ll be better prepared for your post-college life—no matter what happens next.



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Big perks for big spenders: World of Hyatt Business Credit Card review






Big perks for big spenders: World of Hyatt Business Credit Card review – The Points Guy



















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Tips to use those credit card points for travel rewards


AT 11:00. FELICIA: MANY CREDIT CARD USERS RACKED UP A LOT OF TRAVEL POINTS DURING THIS PANDEMIC. TODD: BUYING A LOT OF STUFF AND NOW THAT COVID RESTRICTIONS ARE EASING, MORNING ANCHOR MARK KELLY REPORTS THAT WOULD-BE TRAVELERS ARE ITCHING TO USE THOSE POINTS THAT HAVE PILED UP FOR TWO YEARS. >> I’M FREE AGAIN. I CAN TRAVEL. REPORTER: ONCE COVID RESTRICTIONS LOOSENED LUBA GLICKSON COULD NOT WAIT TO TRAVEL. >> IT HAD ALWAYS BEEN ON MY BUCKET LIST TO GO TO THE BIMOLTRE TO SEE THE ESTATE. REPORTER: GLICKSON AND HER HUSBAND DECIDED TO FLY TO NOHRT CAROLINA INSTEAD OF A DRIVE AND THEY UPGRADED THEIR SEATS TOO. AFTER ALL THEY HAD ACCUMULATED ABOUT 150,000 POINTS DURING TWO PANDEMIC YEARS. >> IT’S A LOT. IT’S A T.LO ONLINE SHOPPING, AMAZON. GETTING SOME FURNISHINGS FOR THE HOUSE. >> WE ACCUMULATED QUITE A BIT OF POINTS. >> DOES IT SHOCK YOU? >> NO. >> YOU SAW THIS COMING. >> Y.EP P.YE YEAH. ESPECIALLY WITH THE PANDEMIC. PEOPLE ARE BUYING HOUSES, SPENDING ASTRONOMICAL AMOUNTONS DECORATING, THEY PUT EVERYTHING ON THEIR CREDIT CARDS. WE’RE NOT SURPRISED AT ALL. AND THEY WANT TO BURN THOSE POINTS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVBEENE STUCK AT HOME. >> ANNIE DAVIS IS PRESIDENT OF PALM BEACH TRAVEL. SHE’S BEEN ADVISING HER CLIENTS TO BURN THEIR POINTS. 50,000 POINTS COULD SAVE YOU ABOUT $500 OFF AN AIRLINE TICK.ET BUT SHE SAYS YOU MUST ACT FAST. P>> PRICES ARE RISING, JET FUEL IS RISING, THE PRICE OF LAR ISBO RISING, THE COST OF FO ISOD RISING, INFLATION IS RISING. AND THESARE E TRICKLING ON. MY ADVICE TO YOU AND YOUR VIEWERS IS TO BOOK YOUR TRAVEL NOW. >> IT’S BECOMING A LTLITE TBI HARDER TO BE ABLE TO REDEEM BASICALLY FOR EXPTCEIONAL VALUE. >> LEE HUFFMAN IS A CREDIT CARD EXPERT AND HOST OF THE WE TRAVEL THERE PODCAST. HE EXPLAINS THAT THE LONGER YOU SIT ON YOUR PILE OF POINTS THE LESS VALUE THEY WILL HAVE. >> AIRLINES AND HOTELS HAVE TO ACTUALLY KEEP THOSE POINTS ON THEIR BALANCE SHEET AS FAR AS A LIABILITY FOR THEM. AND WHENEVER THOSE NUMBERS GET TOO BIG, THEY DEVALUE THEMO T BASICALLY ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO REDEEM THEM AND GET THAT LIABILITY OFF THEIR BALANCE SHT.EE >> AND EVEN THOUGH TRAVEL IS STARTING TO PICK BACK UP, TRAVEL AGENTS SAY IIST STILL A GOOD IDEA TO BUY THAT TRAVEL INSURANCE. >> DON’T SKIP T THERAVEL INSURANCE. THE WORLD IS SO VOLATILE. REPORTER: GLICKSON SAYS ESH WON’T SKIP HER TRAVEL INSURANCE. SHE’S STILL GOT ABOUT 100,000 POINTS TO RNBU. AND ALREADY HAS HER SIGHTS SET ON THE WEST AST.CO >> WE USE THAT ON THE TICKETS TO LOS ANGELES IN SEPTEMB.ER >> MARK KELLY, WPBF 25 NEWS FELICIA: THE CREDIT CARD EXPERT SAYS IT IS BEST TO HAVE AN EARN AND BURN MINDSET. FIRST, DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. THEN FIGURE OUT WHICH AIRLINE FLIES THERE EARN THOSE MILES REDEEM AND THAT WILL ENSURE

Expert tips: Using those credit card points for travel rewards

Many credit card users racked up a lot of travel points during this pandemic. And now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing, travelers tell us that they are itching to burn up those points.”I’m free again. I can travel,” said Luba Glickson, who can not wait to travel now that restrictions are lifting. “It had always been on my bucket list to go to the Biltmore to see the estate.”Take A Look: Impromptu wedding takes flight on Southwest plane after ordained minister offers services on the spotInstead of driving, Glickson and her husband decided to fly to North Carolina, and they upgraded their airline seats, too. After all, they had accumulated about 150,000 points during two pandemic years.”It’s a lot. It’s a lot!” Glickson said. “Online shopping, Amazon, getting some furnishings for the house — We accumulated quite a bit of points.”Annie Davis, president of Palm Beach Travel, said she’s not shocked by the large amount of travel points her clients have accumulated these past two years. “People are buying houses, spending astronomical amounts on decorating. They put everything on their credit cards. We’re not surprised at all. And they want to burn those points as quickly as possible, because people have been stuck at home,” Davis said. Davis has been advising her clients to burn their points. Fifty thousand points could save you about $500 off an airline ticket, but she says you must act fast.”Prices are rising, jet fuel is rising, the price of labor is rising, the cost of food is rising, inflation is rising — and this is continuing on. So my advice to you, and your viewers, is to book your travel now,” said Davis.Good To Know: Your rights if an airline cancels your flight”It’s becoming a little bit harder to be able to redeem basically for exceptional value,” said Lee Huffman, a credit card expert and the host of the “We Travel There” podcast.Huffman explains that the longer you sit on your pile of points, the less value they will have.”Airlines and hotels have to actually keep those points on their balance sheet as far as a liability for them,” said Huffman. “And whenever those numbers get too big, they devalue them to basically encourage people to redeem them, and get that liability off their balance sheet.”And even though travel is starting to pick back up, travel agents say it is still a good idea to buy that travel insurance.”Don’t skip the travel insurance. The world is so volatile,” said Davis.Rossen Reports: 3 tips to rebook your canceled flight fasterGlickson said she won’t skip her travel insurance. She’s still got about 100,000 points to burn, and already has her sights set on the west coast.”We use that on the tickets to Los Angeles in September,” said Glickson.Huffman said it’s best to have an “earn and burn” mindset. First, decide where you want to go. Then, figure out which airline flies there, earn those miles, redeem them, and that will ensure you get a good deal.

Many credit card users racked up a lot of travel points during this pandemic. And now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing, travelers tell us that they are itching to burn up those points.

“I’m free again. I can travel,” said Luba Glickson, who can not wait to travel now that restrictions are lifting. “It had always been on my bucket list to go to the Biltmore to see the estate.”

Take A Look: Impromptu wedding takes flight on Southwest plane after ordained minister offers services on the spot

Instead of driving, Glickson and her husband decided to fly to North Carolina, and they upgraded their airline seats, too. After all, they had accumulated about 150,000 points during two pandemic years.

“It’s a lot. It’s a lot!” Glickson said. “Online shopping, Amazon, getting some furnishings for the house — We accumulated quite a bit of points.”

Annie Davis, president of Palm Beach Travel, said she’s not shocked by the large amount of travel points her clients have accumulated these past two years.

“People are buying houses, spending astronomical amounts on decorating. They put everything on their credit cards. We’re not surprised at all. And they want to burn those points as quickly as possible, because people have been stuck at home,” Davis said.

Davis has been advising her clients to burn their points. Fifty thousand points could save you about $500 off an airline ticket, but she says you must act fast.

“Prices are rising, jet fuel is rising, the price of labor is rising, the cost of food is rising, inflation is rising — and this is continuing on. So my advice to you, and your viewers, is to book your travel now,” said Davis.

Good To Know: Your rights if an airline cancels your flight

“It’s becoming a little bit harder to be able to redeem basically for exceptional value,” said Lee Huffman, a credit card expert and the host of the “We Travel There” podcast.

Huffman explains that the longer you sit on your pile of points, the less value they will have.

“Airlines and hotels have to actually keep those points on their balance sheet as far as a liability for them,” said Huffman. “And whenever those numbers get too big, they devalue them to basically encourage people to redeem them, and get that liability off their balance sheet.”

And even though travel is starting to pick back up, travel agents say it is still a good idea to buy that travel insurance.

“Don’t skip the travel insurance. The world is so volatile,” said Davis.

Rossen Reports: 3 tips to rebook your canceled flight faster

Glickson said she won’t skip her travel insurance. She’s still got about 100,000 points to burn, and already has her sights set on the west coast.

“We use that on the tickets to Los Angeles in September,” said Glickson.

Huffman said it’s best to have an “earn and burn” mindset. First, decide where you want to go. Then, figure out which airline flies there, earn those miles, redeem them, and that will ensure you get a good deal.



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Five Tips for Using your Credit Card While Traveling


When deciding what form of payment you should use to not only book your trip but also while traveling, credit cards may be the ideal choice to consider. You can use your credit card to maximize its travel benefits and rewards while making purchases.

Why use a credit card to book your trip

Before taking your trip, you may want to use a credit card to book your travels. Here’s why:

Potential to earn rewards

Many credit cards on the market offer you rewards when you use your card to make purchases, often in the form of points or cash back. Travel credit cards may offer bonus rewards when you spend on travel related categories, which can be redeemed for things like flights, hotels stays and rental cars.

Your card may offer travel protection benefits

Depending on your credit card type, some cards come with travel protection benefits that can make booking your trip with a credit card a no-brainer. Some examples of travel protection benefits include Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Travel Accident Insurance and Travel and Emergency Assistance Services.

What to do before using your credit card on your trip

There are some things to check off the to-do list before going on your trip. For example, planning and sticking to your budget can help keep your spending on track. It’s easy to go overboard when it comes to spending, so setting a budget is one way to avoid doing so.

Your credit card issuer should also be notified regarding your travel, so you don’t run into any issues when you try to use the card on your trip. They may ask you to provide information like when you’re leaving, where you’re going and when you plan on arriving home. Travel notifications aren’t required by all credit card issuers, including Chase, so check with yours to see if it’s necessary.

When notifying your credit card issuer, also make sure that your credit card type is accepted at your destination. Not all credit cards are accepted outside of the country, so you’ll want to find out that information ahead of time.

Tips for using your credit card while traveling

There are a few tips to keep in mind when using your credit card while traveling, as well as some advantages to using them for and during your travels:

  • Tip one: Look up your credit card’s travel perks. If you have multiple credit cards and aren’t sure which to bring on your trip, look up your card’s perks. The more travel-related perks you use, the more rewards you’ll earn for your spending. For example, if you’re dining at a lot of restaurants, it may be valuable to bring the card that earns points for dining.
  • Tip two: Book your trip through your issuer’s rewards portal (if applicable). By using your issuer’s rewards portal, you’ll often see options to book airline tickets, hotels, rental cars and more. You’re typically able to book your travel using your rewards points, credit card or a combination of the two.
  • Tip three: Note your billing due date. Be aware of your billing due date and avoid falling behind on any payments. Traveling may take your mind elsewhere, but don’t forget to pay your credit card bill. Missed payments may result in late fees. Consider setting up automatic or recurring payments so you don’t miss the due date while on your trip.
  • Tip four: Travel with more than one card. Having backup payment methods is important when traveling. If your card is declined while making a transaction, you’ll want to have a spare. Consider bringing cards that also offer extra rewards for travel spending categories.
  • Tip five: Keep an eye out for secure ways of making your purchases abroad. There are a few ways to make purchases with your credit card, including tap to pay, inserting the chip and swiping. Contactless payments are a way to make payments without the need for physical touch.

Keep these tips in mind when traveling with a credit card to optimize your card’s rewards and help keep your purchases secure.



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Can you pay your taxes with a credit card? Yes and here’s how


CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

It’s tax time! After several years of delayed due dates, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sticking with its traditional deadline this year to file and pay your personal 2021 taxes (though the date is technically April 18, 2022, in most states this year due to the Emancipation Day holiday on April 15). And if you expect to owe taxes this year instead of getting a refund, you might be wondering if it makes sense to pay your taxes with a credit card.

Paying your taxes with a credit card may sound like a dangerous idea, but there are times when it can make sense. For example, let’s say you’re in a situation where you expect to have the money to pay your taxes but not until a few weeks after the IRS deadline. You can use a credit card as a short-term loan to cover what you owe, then pay your credit card bill when you actually get the cash.

You could also take advantage of a credit card with an introductory 0% interest rate in order to spread your tax payments out over months or even a full year. While the IRS itself offers payment plans, the agency will charge you interest for paying over time, which you can avoid by paying with a 0% interest credit card.

Another reason people pay their taxes with a credit card is to earn extra credit card rewards. There are fees involved in doing so, but if you can rack up enough rewards to make them worth more than the fee, you can still end up ahead, so long as you pay your credit card bill in its entirety by the due date to avoid racking up a lot of interest.

Regardless of why you might want to use a credit card to pay your taxes, if you’re going to take the plunge, it’s important that you know how to do it and which cards to use to make the effort worthwhile.

The best credit card to use when you pay your taxes depends a lot on what you hope to accomplish. Do you want to eke out a very small percentage in rewards, or do you hope to use your tax bill to earn a big bonus? Maybe you want to access an introductory 0% APR so you can pay off the balance over time. For each of these scenarios, here are our top picks for paying your taxes with a credit card:

Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for earning cash back
Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best introductory 0% APR offer
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for flexible travel rewards
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best hotel spending bonus
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for business taxes

Each of these cards can be a great choice to use for paying your taxes, but before we dive into the details of what makes each card a good option, let’s explore the process of paying your taxes with a credit card so you know how to do it.

The US government itself actually doesn’t accept credit cards for tax payments. However, it has authorized three different companies to process federal tax payments made with plastic on its behalf. Each of these companies charges a fee as a percentage of your tax payment when you pay with a credit card, so it’s important to keep in mind this cost when using your card to pay your tax bill.

Fees vary depending on which company you use and whether you’re paying the IRS with a credit card or a debit card. Here’s a summary of the companies who accept credit cards for federal tax payments, and the fees each one charges as of this writing:

PayUSAtax Pay1040 ACI Payments, Inc.
Website payusatax.com pay1040.com fed.acipayonline.com
Credit card fees 1.96% (minimum fee of $2.69) 1.87% (minimum fee of $2.50) 1.98% (minimum fee of $2.50)
Debit card fees $2.55 $2.50* $2.20
* Consumer and personal debit cards only. The fee for all other debit cards is 1.87% ($2.50 minimum).

In order to pay your taxes with a credit card, you’ll need to go to the website of the company you want to use and make the payment there instead of with the IRS. You’ll have to provide all your basic information to pay this way, such as your name, address, date of birth, contact info and taxpayer identification number (which for individuals is usually your social security number).

Pro tipMany states also let you pay state taxes with a credit card, so make sure to check for this option based on where you live. Don’t forget to compare the fees at multiple companies (if available) for paying state taxes with a credit card, which are often similar to the convenience fees charged to pay your federal taxes with plastic.

As you can see from the chart, the minimum percentage you’ll currently have to fork over to pay your federal taxes with a credit card is 1.87%. This is a huge deterrent for rewards enthusiasts since many cash back credit cards offer less than 1.87% in rewards, meaning you’d be paying more in fees by using a credit card than you’d get back in rewards.

But with that being said, there are a few select credit cards that offer a higher earning rate or other incentives that can make using a card worth the cost. Let’s take a look at the best options.

The Citi Double Cash Card can make sense if you have a large tax bill and you want to end up slightly ahead in rewards. This card earns 2% back for every dollar you spend — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off.

You can redeem any cash back earned with the Citi Double Cash by getting statement credits on your account or credits to a linked account, or even a check in the mail (a $5 minimum redemption applies when you’re requesting a check). But if you have a Citi Premier® Card, you can also use your Double Cash rewards — which technically come in the form of Citi ThankYou points worth 1 cent apiece in cash back — for travel and to transfer to Citi’s airline and hotel partners, which can potentially increase the value of your rewards and make paying your taxes with the card an even better deal.

There’s no annual fee on the Citi Double Cash Card and you even get access to a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months, after which you’ll pay a variable APR of 14.24% to 24.24%. That can be useful if you have existing debt on another credit card and need time to pay it off without racking up a lot of interest.

Read CNN Underscored’s review of the Citi Double Cash Card.
Click here to apply now for the Citi Double Cash Card.

If you want to earn credit card rewards on your taxes but your primary focus is to get some extra time to pay your taxes without incurring a lot of interest, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers the best of both worlds.

This card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, including your tax bill. But to help you save on interest, the Chase Freedom Unlimited also gives new card holders an introductory 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after you open the account. Keep in mind that once the 15 months are up, the APR rises to a variable 14.99% to 23.74%, so it’s important to pay the balance in full before that.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee and also earns 5% back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards, as well as 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases. And if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can convert your cash back into points that can be used for travel at even better redemption rates.

Learn how to earn up to $300 in bonus cash back with this Chase Freedom Unlimited offer.
Click here to apply now for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

If you want your tax bill to translate into rewards that can take you on a sweet vacation, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of your best bets. This card is currently offering 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within three months of opening the account.

You’ll also earn 2 points on all travel (or 5 total points if purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards), 3 points for every dollar you spend on dining, select streaming and select online grocery purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

The card has a $95 annual fee, and the fact you’ll only earn 1 point per dollar on your tax bill is a major downside. However, it’s important to understand that the sign-up bonus of 60,000 points can be worth a whopping $750 when you redeem those points for travel via the Chase travel portal or by using the card’s “Pay Yourself Back” tool.

Also, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program lets you transfer points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred to 14 popular airline and hotel partners, including United Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt and Marriott hotels. It takes a little extra time and effort to use your points this way, but you can potentially get even more value for your rewards when you transfer them, especially when redeeming them for first or business class flights.

Read CNN Underscored’s review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Click here to apply now for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

You may not know that It’s possible to earn a free hotel night just by paying your taxes. But take a closer look at the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card to see how it can work.

The Hilton Surpass card earns a free weekend night when you spend $15,000 on it within a calendar year. That means if you have a large tax bill, you could potentially pay it entirely on this card and quickly reach that spending threshold to bank a free weekend night at a Hilton hotel. Even better, right now all weekend nights issued through 2022 can be used on any night of the week, not just weekends.

You’ll also earn 12 points for every dollar you spend on Hilton purchases with the Hilton Surpass card, 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases, including your tax bill. And through December 31, 2022, all bonus points earned from eligible purchases will count as Base Points towards Elite tier qualification and Lifetime Diamond status.

Other benefits of the card include automatic Hilton Honors Gold elite status and 10 Priority Pass airport lounge visits each year. And while the the Hilton Surpass card does have a $95 annual fee, if you don’t already have it, right now you can earn 130,000 bonus points and a free night award after spending $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months after opening the account.

Read CNN Underscored’s review of the Hilton Surpass credit card.

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a great choice for small businesses if you need to pay your business taxes with a credit card, and for more reasons than one. First, this card earns 2 points for every dollar you spend on all purchases, up to $50,000 each year, after which you’ll earn 1x points. There’s no annual fee, either (see rates and fees).

American Express Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for cash back, used for Amazon purchases or to pay for travel at American Express Travel. But the best way to use them is by transferring them to one or more of Amex’s 21 airline and hotel partners, which include Delta, JetBlue, Air Canada, British Airways, Marriott and many others.

As an added bonus, new Blue Business Plus card members get a introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months after opening the account, after which you’ll pay a variable APR of 13.49% to 21.49% based on your creditworthiness (see rates and fees). In summary, this is a card that can both earn rewards on your business taxes and also let you pay down your tax bill over an entire year without interest.

Read CNN Underscored’s review of the Blue Business Plus card.
Learn more about the Blue Business Plus card from American Express.

While all these credit card offers are enticing, you should only pay your taxes with a credit card if you have a plan. If you want to earn rewards, for example, you’ll need to have the cash set aside to pay your credit card bill in full before you start getting charged interest. Or if you want to take advantage of an introductory 0% APR, you’ll need to figure out how much to pay each month so your tax bill doesn’t linger beyond the expiration date of the introductory offer.

In summary, there are a few situations where it can make sense to pay taxes with a credit card:

  • Your bill is due and you need more time to pay it
  • You want to pay your tax bill with a credit card that offers an introductory 0% APR offer so you can avoid interest while you make payments
  • You want to earn rewards with a credit card and you have the capacity to pay your bill in full before interest starts being charged
  • You have the money to pay your tax bill, but you want to use the expense to earn a big credit card welcome bonus or spending perk like a free hotel night

In the end, if you want to pay your taxes with a credit card, you should have a reason and a strategy in place. It can be a smart move, but only under the right circumstances, and only if it makes sense for your personal financial situation.

Learn more about the Citi Double Cash Card.
Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Learn more about the Hilton Honors Surpass Card.
Learn more about the Blue Business Plus from American Express.

Looking for a new credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards available right now.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.



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Not using your travel card rewards may not be such a bad thing


This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet

I had to buy a T-shirt I didn’t want by midnight. My credit card carried a $50 credit at Saks Fifth Avenue every six months, so there I was, wading through designer clothing I didn’t want and sorting by price, “lowest to highest” in order to take advantage of my credit before it expired.

Welcome to the weird new world of “travel” card benefits.

The pandemic changed the travel industry in many ways. Airlines now offer more flexible tickets. Masks are mandatory for the indefinite future. And so-called travel cards shifted to offering benefits for homebodies, from food delivery perks credits to Saks credits.

Getting more benefits sounds like a good thing on the surface, but it creates a problem that I encountered while feverishly shopping for stuff I didn’t want or need. In short: travel card benefit fear of missing out.

How to evaluate unused travel card benefits

Do the math

The logic of getting a travel card (or any card that carries benefits) is simple. If the total value you get from the card exceeds the annual fee, then it’s worth having. For example, if a card offers $200 in travel credits per year and the annual fee is $100, then that card is probably worth getting if you usually spend at least $200 on travel annually.

Yet there’s a piece of this math problem that doesn’t break down to pure dollars and cents. It’s what we mean by “value.”

Read: No matter your age, here’s how to tell if your finances are on the right track

Don’t confuse dollars for value

Warren Buffett said in a 2008 letter to investors, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

That is, just because something costs a certain amount doesn’t mean it’s worth that much.

Take the T-shirt I ordered from Saks. I paid about $50 for it, which is the price. But is that the value I received? This is where things take a turn toward the squishy and subjective. For me, the shirt probably carries far less value than $50 because I’m not somebody who cares much about fancy clothes. A T-shirt is pretty much a T-shirt as far as I’m concerned (and my 6-month-old vomits on my clothing daily, which significantly reduces its value).

That is, you only get value from this benefit if you use it a lot. But using it a lot might not align with your other priorities (like spending less on takeout).

Also see: Two years of COVID-19: How the pandemic changed the way we shop, work, invest and get medical care

Focus on your current spending

One of my travel cards carries a $300 annual credit for an Equinox gym membership and a $20 monthly credit for a few particular digital streaming services.

That’s great if you already have an Equinox membership or are subscribed to the eligible streaming services. But not so much if you aren’t. Equinox memberships run about $300 per month, so that $300 annual offset is a relatively modest discount.

And here’s the core of the card-benefit FOMO conundrum: It might feel like failing to use the Equinox credit leaves money on the table. After all, $300 sounds like a lot of money. But just the opposite is true — signing up for every service associated with your card and trying to get the most out of them might not only be a headache but financially unwise.

As a rule of thumb, you should get (or keep) the travel card that aligns with your current spending rather than aligning your spending to the benefits offered by a card.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t order a “free” T-shirt with a card benefit. But it does mean you shouldn’t become a frequent Saks shopper just because your card offers a $100 annual credit.

Also see: 10 credit card ‘perks’ that are mostly hype

The takeaway

Back in the Before Times, picking and using a travel credit card was a relatively straightforward proposition. Not so much in the COVID era. For one thing, many of these cards offer benefits that have nothing whatsoever to do with travel.

Don’t get swept up in benefit-maximization mania. Yes, it’s good to take advantage of as many of your card’s perks as possible, but that doesn’t mean you should bend your priorities around whatever oddball benefits a card decides to include.

Which reminds me, it’s a new year, which means it’s time to order a new shirt from Saks for my baby to throw up on.

More From NerdWallet

Sam Kemmis writes for NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif.



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Advanced PCS Pay Axed, and Mandatory Government Travel Card Use Is Coming for Sailors


Kate Horrell is a finance columnist for Military.com.

The Navy will soon require sailors to use a Government Travel Charge Card (GTCC) for all military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves, the service announced late last year, while also using the MyPCS Travel Voucher system for claims and eliminating advanced travel pay in most instances.

The change puts the Navy in line with the other military services. Mandatory use of the card starts July 1, 2022. Sailors should work with their chain of command to apply for a card.

Using the GTCC for PCS moves can make it easier for service members to handle costs incurred during moves without needing to take advances or pay out-of-pocket.

While that sounds great, the GTCC program and the PCS mandate do cause concern for many, thanks to potentially slow reimbursement and the impact on personal credit scores from not paying the card on time.

That’s a worry officials acknowledged in their December announcement, saying that pairing the GTCC with the new travel voucher system will give faster reimbursements.

“Mandatory use of the GTCC for PCS travel expenses and electronic submission of travel claims through MyPCS Travel Voucher will help the Navy improve accountability and auditability of funds and reallocate resources for more timely travel claim processing,” the release states.

Sailors can still request advanced Dislocation Allowance (DLA), but the guidance says exceptions will be made only for dependents who are traveling on separate orders or for sailors who don’t qualify for the card.

Sailors and other military members often have questions about how they are supposed to use the GTCC during their PCS move, how the bill will be paid, what items can be charged to the card and what happens when there are paperwork problems — all good questions.

But first, a disclaimer: Always follow the rules that are given by your branch, your chain of command, or your support office. This information can and does vary by branch, and can change at any time.

What Can I Charge to My GTCC?

  • Lodging en route between your old duty station and your new duty station
  • Meals en route between your old duty station and your new duty station
  • Temporary lodging at your old or new duty station (as covered under the Temporary Lodging Expense/Temporary Lodging Allowance)
  • Fuel for your personally owned vehicle used as transportation for the move, or being moved
  • Tolls or ferry fees
  • Rental car, if authorized in your PCS orders
  • Personally procured move expenses (depending on your branch)
  • Dislocation allowance (DLA)-type expenses

That last one is really tricky. Dislocation allowance is a flat rate, based on rank and dependency status and payable to everyone who moves. While its purpose as stated by the Pentagon is to defray the costs of leaving an old home and setting up a new home, there are no specific rules about what it can and cannot be used for. You don’t have to explain it to anyone. You could literally take your dislocation allowance to a casino and play blackjack with it. (Please don’t.)

But when you use your GTCC for DLA-type expenses, there is accountability. So what should it be used for? I’m not a lawyer but, based on my personal experience with nine military moves, here are some ideas of things that are probably reasonable expenses in this category:

  • Having the carpets cleaned when you move out of your old house
  • The basics of that Target run when you get to your new home: toilet brushes, shelf liner, shower curtains, curtain rods, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • Utility deposits

What Items Cannot Be Charged to My GTCC?

  • Personal expenses that are not part of the PCS move
  • Airfare, which must be booked through the appropriate office for your branch of service
  • Entertainment of any kind
  • Medical expenses, even if they happen during the PCS
  • Any personal travel days during the move/leave en route
  • Personally procured move expenses (depending on your branch)

How Does the Bill Get Paid?

You must submit a travel claim when you arrive at your new duty station, and the system you use for doing so depends on your branch. While your card should be set to mission critical status for a move and not require immediate payment, it’s still not a good idea to delay your claim.

You will be reimbursed up to the limit of your allowances, including temporary lodging expense/temporary lodging entitlement, dislocation allowance, monetary allowance in lieu of transportation (mileage), and per diem for travel days. Any amount that exceeds those allowances is your responsibility. If you have a dislocation allowance remaining after the reimbursement, that should be paid to you.

The Government Travel Charge Card does solve some PCS problems, but it is important to use it properly and file your claim in a timely manner after arriving at your new duty station. Think of it as another tool in your military life toolbox.

Keep Up-to-Date for Your Next PCS

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Jason Santos on tapas, a good plane Bloody Mary, and the beauty of a travel credit card


Celebrity chef Jason Santos is so busy running his five Boston-area restaurants — plus appearing on Fox TV’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and Paramount Network’s “Bar Rescue,” as well as stints as a guest chef on other shows, including NBC’s “Today” and “The Talk” on CBS — that he doesn’t have much time for travel. But when he does, it’s Thailand that beckons the 45-year-old blue-haired chef. “It literally will change your life,” he said of the Southeast Asian country in a recent phone call from Los Angeles, where he was filming seasons 21 and 22 of “Hell’s Kitchen,” on which he is one of Gordon Ramsey’s sous chefs. Santos said season 21 should air in the late summer/early fall, “but with COVID, the TV schedule has been a little off.” Season 9 of “Bar Rescue” will air in February, he added. Santos said he is especially excited about his newest eatery, Nash Bar, which opened earlier this month in the space that housed his former restaurant Abby Lane. “It’s super cool, with an open kitchen and a griddle behind the bar so the bartenders can make late-night grilled cheeses,” he said. “There’s also live music and eventually we’re going to have a roof deck.” His other restaurants are Buttermilk & Bourbon in Boston and in Watertown, Citrus & Salt in Boston, and B&B Fish in Marblehead. We caught up with the Melrose native, who lives in Woburn with his wife, Thuy, and their two Shiba Inu pups, Miso and Kobe, to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? Thailand. I went there nine years ago and liked it so much that my wife and I went there on our honeymoon three years ago. The people are so incredibly sweet, nice, and genuine, the landscape is absolutely stunning, and the food is on a different level. I can’t get enough. It literally will change your life. I try not to visit to the same place twice, but this is the exception. Vietnam is a close second.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Don’t judge me, but there is something about being on a tropical beach and drinking really sweet crappy frozen drinks that just gets me every time.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? Barcelona. There is something about the passion for food there that I find mesmerizing and would like to explore firsthand. Also, I want to eat tapas until I can’t eat tapas no more.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My wife.

Aisle or window? I weirdly am particular with this. If it’s a shorter flight I like the aisle — I think in my head that I can get off the plane quicker — and if it’s a long trip I like to have a wall to lean up against.

Favorite childhood travel memory? My parents and grandparents would book a summer lake home every single year in either Maine or New Hampshire. My mom still does it to this day. As a child, I felt like we were driving across the world. My family would pack up the car super early on a Saturday morning with groceries and we would head out.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? I love a good plane Bloody Mary. I generally don’t drink a lot or drink on a plane at all, but for some reason when I am going on a legit vacation, I like to kick it off with a Bloody Mary with a packet of lime.

Best travel tip? Get yourself a travel credit card. It will change the way you travel — from waiting for your flight in a great lounge or an upgrade at a hotel. Want my referral link for a platinum Amex? Just kidding … sort of.

JULIET PENNINGTON



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