Every year, my family and I travel across the country and around the world, flying in business class and staying luxury hotels. It's not that we're rich, we just know how to earn and redeem points and miles offered by airlines, hotels, and credit card issuers. The truth is that collecting and spending these points and miles is not that hard, anyone can do it.
Every year, an estimated $2.5 billion in leftover gift card credit gets unused. Instead of letting your unwanted gift cards sit in the bottom of a drawer, with the invention of gift card exchanges, you can sell them for cash or trade them for cards you’ll actually use. And as a buyer, you can get these cards for up to 35% off what you’d normally pay. Here’s how gift card exchanges work and what you need to know:
If your eyes have ever glazed over while trying to make sense of an incomprehensible wall of wine bottles at the liquor store, unsure what to get and terrified of buying something that tastes like rancid cough syrup, this post is for you.
STOP. I know what you're thinking. Why waste time writing and applying for a college scholarship when you know you won't win?
I've heard this response from students countless times, year after year. It's almost as though everyone has been brainwashed to think they can't be a winner. And who can blame them?
The credit card industry is nothing if not fiercely competitive. Card issuers are continuously creating new products to appeal to customers, and trying to convince everyone that its cards are the best.
When it comes to travel reward credit cards, there has been a sharp divide in recent years between two types of products.
Every minute, 19 people fall victim to identity theft. Add in all of the high-profile cases of credit card security breaches in the news lately, it's no surprise that it is fast becoming one of the most common crimes in America.
Are you planning on shopping online this week?
More than 80% of the population has purchased something online and the sales from online shopping will rise to $1.4 trillion dollars by next year, according to CPC Strategy. So the real question is not are you going to shop online, but how do you plan on staying safe while doing it?
Before you make your next purchase, read these tips on how to shop safe online:
Always use a credit card. There are more than 9.9 million incidents of identity theft each year. But the good news is if you are using a credit card for shopping online, you are only liable for fraud or unauthorized use up to $50. Skip the debit card, bank account transactions, cash, checks, and money orders.
When searching for good deals, the credit card companies are my allies. They offer me tons of free points and miles, and allow me to travel the world for nearly nothing! Yet one of the questions I hear most often is, how long I keep these cards? Others ask me what they should do when their card comes up for renewal and the annual fee is due.
I know that having several credit cards open in good standing improves my credit history, so I have no problem hanging on to cards that I have applied for, even if I rarely use them.
One of the biggest myths about credit cards is that you can have too many. That is not even close to being true! First, the length of your credit history has a big influence on your credit score, so dropping a card is a bad move since it kills the length and breadth of that history. Another big factor is your credit utilization ratio. When you cancel a credit card, your available credit shrinks, making your existing credit card debt a bigger percentage of the whole. So if you carry any credit card debt at all, between losing that card's history and increasing your credit utilization ratio, closing a card will hurt your overall credit score!
The only downside to keeping open most credit card accounts is that they require an annual fee.
First, I have the signup bonus, so there is no reason to cancel the card for a year, at least until the annual fee is due. Besides, I might find that this card has some value and continue using it. In other cases, I have received some great bonus offers in the mail where I get double or triple miles for certain purchases during a limited time.
Summer means a lot of things, but if you're finally thawing out from this year's apocalyptic winter, there's really only one thing on your mind: getting outside. Few things go better with summer air than a cold drink and live music - especially when it's free.
When most people think music festivals, there's a good chance they're thinking of one of the big three: Bonnaroo, Coachella, or Lollapalooza. While these fests have consistently stacked lineups and are set in iconic locations, they're also notoriously expensive. If you weren't lucky enough to buy a face-value ticket before they sold out, be prepared to pay $430 for Bonnaroo, $562 for Lollapalooza, and $825 for Coachella.
If you just cringed at those numbers, you're not alone. Thankfully, plenty of free alternatives exist. Here are our picks for the best free music festivals this summer.
Columbia, MD (September 20th)
Virgin Mobile FreeFrest is - you guessed it - a free one-day festival sponsored by Virgin Mobile and Samsung. This year's lineup is yet to be released, but last year's featured plenty of names familiar to any music fan: Robin Thicke, MGMT, Pretty Lights, Vampire Weekend, and others. While there's no cost of admission, there is a suggested donation of $10, which goes to fight youth homelessness. Over the past four years, FreeFest has raised nearly $800,000 for the cause.
In a burst of creativity, United Airlines just announced radical new changes to how travelers will earn frequent flier miles. The old system of earning one frequent flier mile per mile flown was thrown out the window in favor of an entirely original new scheme.... that happens to be identical to what Delta announced in February.
For example, if I fly from Denver to Atlanta on a ticket that cost $300, I now earn about 2,400 frequent flier miles, equal to the distance flown. In 2015, I will only earn 1,500, a 37% reduction. In fact, I would have to have Premier Gold elite status with United (or Gold Medallion status with Delta), which still requires 50,000 miles flown, to earn the same number of miles that I used to. Of course, if my company or client pays for last-minute, full-fare tickets, I will often come out ahead under this new program.
While many are venting their rage at United (and Delta too), I have been shrugging my shoulders and looking for new opportunities to earn and spend miles. Here's how:
The number one reason (or excuse) people have for not traveling is money. But the truth is, not only can you afford to travel, we've come up with 17 ways you can actually earn free travel, sometimes while you travel. Some of our suggestions are small and easy, while others require a pretty big commitment.
Instead of paying cash for items you’d be buying anyway, such as groceries, bills, and gas, use a credit card that will earn you cash back. Right now, Chase Freedom is offering a $200 bonus when you spend $500 the first three months. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% on bonus categories throughout the year that include common places you’d visit while traveling such as restaurants, gas stations, and Starbucks stores.
You’ll find several great travel credit cards on Brad’s Deals right now. With Southwest Visa, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 on Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, Southwest Rapid Reward Hotels, and Car Rental partners (plus 50,000 bonus points for signing up and meeting spending requirements). Or check out the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, which earns 10,000 Starpoints after your first purchase, another 20,000 when you spend $5,000 in the first 6 months, and 1 point per dollar spent. Starpoints can be transferred to several major airlines at a rate of 1.25:1, stretching those 35,000 miles even further. Purchase items you’d normally pay cash for, pay off the balance entirely, and get paid to travel.