Receive a sign up bonus of 40,000 miles and a $200 statement credit after $2,000 spend on the Bank of America Alaska Airlines business card
Annual fee of ($50 per company and $25 per card for business level earning plan or $0 per company and $75 per card) is not waived in the first year
Card earns at the following rates:
3x miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines tickets, vacation packages, and cargo purchases
1x miles on all other purchases
Coach Companion Fare from $121
Free checked bag for you and up to six other passengers on your reservation
No foreign transaction fees
Previous best deal has been 42,000 + a possible $100. This is an extra $100 (or $200 as not everybody even got the $100) and the spend requirement is the same. There’s also an increased offer on the personal card of 65,000 miles. Bank of America business cards do not report to your personal credit report, this is useful for those staying under 5/24 for Chase. This will be added to the best credit card bonuses page.
(Update 3/4/21: Points and statement credits posted today.)
Deal has ended, view more Barclays deals by clicking here.
Targeted offer, sent out via e-mail. Subject line is ‘Double Bonus Opportunity – Earn up….’
Barclays has just sent out some targeted spending bonuses offering the following:
Earn 10x miles for every $1 spent from November 10, 2020 – January 31, 2021
Plus earn an additional 50,000 miles when you spend a total of $3,000 from November 10, 2020 – January 31, 2021
The Fine Print
This offer is valid for select cardmembers and is not transferable
. If your account is closed or you switch to another product during the promotional period, you may no longer be eligible for this promotion.
If you receive this offer you will earn an additional 10% back in Uber Cash for every $1 spent on purchases less credits, returns or adjustments (Net Purchases) with transaction dates from November 10, 2020 to January 31, 2021 up to a maximum of $100 in Uber Cash
. If you spend at least $3,000 on Net Purchases with transaction dates from November 10, 2020 through January 31, 2021 you will receive an additional $500 in Uber Cash.
The maximum earn for this offer is $600 in Uber Cash.
Failure to maintain your creditworthiness during the offer period may result in actions on your account, such as a credit line decrease, that would reduce your ability to take advantage of this offer.
To receive the additional Uber Cash, your account must be open, active and in good standing at the time of fulfillment.
All Uber Cash earned from this promotion will appear on your statement 6-8 weeks after the end of the promotion.
Obviously insanely good targeted spending bonuses. Better than some credit card sign up bonuses. Looks like credit card issuers are getting increasingly desperate to increase spend numbers and that can only be a good thing for consumers in the short term.
It only takes a few seconds for the average credit card transaction to process. If you’re paying by cash, the time it takes for money to exchange hands is even faster.
But getting money back? Ah, that’s another matter.
When you make a purchase with a credit card, you make a promise to your card issuer that you will pay the money back. Think of it as a loan for the amount you paid. Usually, you pay off your credit card balance at the end of the month. Does that mean the merchant you bought from gets paid when you pay off your balance? No.
When you buy something on credit, the retailer will be paid quickly by your credit card company. If you end up returning the item you purchased, the funds will be refunded directly to your credit card account, not to you. This will leave a balance on your credit card account for the amount of your purchase. Because you made your purchase using credit, you typically can’t receive your refund in the form of cash.
A recent study found that online merchants take their time – days, and sometimes weeks — to refund your money. The study, conducted during the holidays by StellaService, found that dot-coms like Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, and LLBean.com typically refunded a purchase within about four days. Dell.com, on the other hand, took two weeks and one business, Avon.com, didn’t return the money at all by the time the research was published in late December.
I’ve always wondered how businesses can get away with that: Take the money quickly and return it slowly. Or never. Oh yeah, that happens more often than you’d think, which is why I have a job as a consumer advocate.
The short answer is, because they can. There are few, if any, laws that require a prompt refund to be issued when merchandise is returned. Some stores will insist on giving you credit instead of returning your money, which only benefits them. Store credit can go unredeemed, particularly when you’re so upset that you vow to never darken the door of the business again. There’s only one winner in that game, and it isn’t you.
In other words, merchants return our money slowly because we let them, but we shouldn’t.
Here we discuss how a refund on a credit card works and provide a few secrets to getting a speedy refund.
Credit card refunds are issued back to your credit card account—you typically can’t receive your refund in other forms of payment such as cash.
Refunds on credit card purchases usually take 7 days.
Credit card refund times vary by merchant and bank, with some taking a few days and others taking a few months.
You can get a faster credit card refund by asking for your refund as soon as possible, submitting your request in writing and getting a receipt, knowing the code, learning the rules, and being persistent.
Billing disputes and fraud disputes impact credit card refund times and can take up to six months.
If you use a reward to make a purchase, you won’t get it back when you return your product or service. The same goes for international travel fees.
How Credit Card Refunds Work
How does a refund on a credit card work? This is an age-old question that consumers have been asking since credit cards became commonplace decades ago. When you buy from a retailer using a credit card, whether it’s a student credit card, unsecured credit card, or secured credit card, your credit card company pays the retailer. Once your credit card company approves the transaction, your credit limit will be reduced and the amount will be displayed on your credit card bill, usually at the end of the month.
But what if you bought the wrong item or simply had buyer’s remorse? Credit card returns happen every day, but consumers may not know how the funds get reimbursed. Because your card issuer paid for the item(s) you bought, your funds will be refunded back to your credit card account. This is because you didn’t pay the merchant directly. It’s also the reason why you can’t receive cash or other forms of payment on refunds on credit card purchases.
For example, let’s say you go shopping on Black Friday and bought a brand-new TV for $300 using your credit card. You realize the TV is too big to fit on your mantle, so you go back to the store and return it. When you make the return, the retailer will usually ask for your receipt and the card you used to make your purchase. When the transaction is complete, the refund balance will be posted to your account.
To get a refund on a product or service purchased with a credit card, ConsumerFinance.gov suggests you simply start by reaching out to the company you bought from and explaining your issue. However, if you’re not satisfied with how the company handled your refund, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company.
How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take?
The most pressing question consumers ask themselves when they make a return is, “how long does a refund take?” It typically takes about 7 days for a credit card refund to be processed. However, credit card refund times vary, with some retailers issuing a refund the same day if you return in person, while others may take a few weeks or even months to issue the amount back to your account.
The time it takes to receive a credit card refund also depends on a few other factors, such as the retailer, the method you used to return the item (online, in-person, etc.), and your credit card issuer’s policies.
Credit Card Refund Times Vary by Merchant
Wondering how long it takes to process a refund? Take a look at the credit card refund times for some of America’s most popular stores:
Amazon: The online retail giant’s refund policy says that it can take up to 25 days for a returned item to reach its fulfillment center. Once the item is received, it takes 2 days for the credit card refund to be processed, and 3-5 days for the refund amount to show up in your account.
Forever 21: This popular clothing chain’s refund policy asks you to allow 2-3 weeks from your returned shipping date for your account to be credited, and 1-2 billing cycles for the credit card refund to appear on your statement.
Macy’s: This famous department store’s refund policy states that credit card refunds will be processed immediately if returned in-store. However, depending on your bank, it may take a few days for your refund amount to reflect in your account.
Adidas: If you purchase and return anything from Adidas, they will reimburse you from the day they receive a confirmation that your item was handed over to a carrier. From there, it will take 3-5 days to ship to their warehouse. However, the time it takes to receive your credit card refund depends on your bank, which can take up to 30 days.
Walmart: Credit card refunds from the world’s largest department store chain will take up to 5 business days.
Square: If you purchase an item from a store that uses Square and make a return, it will take 2-7 days to process a refund and another 2-7 business days for the refund to be posted to your credit card account.
Refunds on Rewards and Fees
When you shop at a store, you may receive exclusive perks, such as reward points. For example, let’s say you earn $15 off your next purchase after spending $150. You go to the store a few months later, buy a pair of $90 shoes, and use your $15 in rewards, bringing your total to $75.
But what happens to that $15 in rewards if you decide to return your shoes? Unfortunately, your $15 reward won’t be returned to you because that money came from the merchant, not you. The same goes for cashback incentives and signup bonuses as well.
Another issue with credit card refunds is foreign transaction fees. When you travel abroad, some banks may charge a fee because it costs them money when you shop abroad. If you end up returning a product bought overseas, your card issuer might not return the fee. However, there’s no harm in calling and asking for a refund if you happen to be in this situation.
Billing Disputes and Fraud Disputes Impact Credit Card Refund Times
Sometimes, mistakes happen and an error may pop up on your credit card. Maybe you got charged twice for one product, or perhaps you got charged for a product or service you never received. If this happens, you can dispute your bill to get your money back. Unfortunately, the process can be a bit of a headache and take up to six months for your refund to be processed.
The Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers who are victims of fraud or have errors on their credit card statement. Notable takeaways from this bill include:
Consumers must send a dispute letter within sixty days after they received a bill with an error
The credit card issuer must respond to your dispute letter within thirty days
The dispute must be resolved within two billing cycles, not over ninety days, after receiving your complaint
Tips to Get a Faster Credit Card Refund
When you make a return, it’s only normal to want to get your refund as soon as possible. After all, it’s your money, so why should the retailer get to take their time giving it back to you? Whether you made a regretful purchase and need the money back as soon as possible to keep your credit health in check or you received the wrong item, here’s how you can get a faster credit card refund.
Normally, a merchant will refund your purchase via the payment method you used. In other words, if you paid by credit card, you’ll be refunded by credit card. But that may not be the fastest way to your refund (indeed, it’s not unusual to have to wait two to three credit card billing cycles for your money). See if they can refund the purchase in cash or by another method, like PayPal.
2. Submit Your Request in Writing and Get a Receipt
I’m always on my soapbox about the importance of paperwork, but it’s never more critical than in this situation. Get everything in writing, because if the money doesn’t come through, that email or receipt can be successfully used in a credit-card dispute. The correspondence can also be used as a friendly reminder, forwarded to a manager, informing them that you’re still waiting for the refund to go through.
3. Know the Code
True story: When I worked in corporate America many years ago, I was in charge of approving invoices for my department. Some of my more sophisticated contractors would write “Net 30” on their invoices. That tells the accounting department to expedite the payment and take care of it within 30 days of receipt. I’ve seen businesses take as long as 90 days to process a refund. Warning: don’t write something random on a refund request, hoping it will make your money come back faster. Make sure you get the code from an employee; otherwise, it will just confuse the accounts-payable folks.
4. Learn the Rules
Some businesses have refund policies that may, or may not, be followed when you ask for your money back. Likewise, there are laws (precious few, as I’ve already mentioned) that might benefit you. For example, the Department of Transportation requires airlines to refund a ticket within a week when you pay by credit card. Businesses assume you won’t pay attention to these rules and will patiently wait with the rest of their customers.
5. Be Persistent
You shouldn’t have to pester a company for a refund, but the sad fact is that a lot of corporations turn their refund delays into a business. That’s right, they treat your money like a short-term loan and take their sweet time sending your hard-earned cashback to you. No, they’d never admit it, but ask yourself: Whom is the delay helping: You or the company? That’s right, it’s definitely not you. The only way to make sure your money isn’t turned into an interest-free loan is to demand it back at regular intervals when it doesn’t show up in your account.
I hate to break it to you, but when it comes to refunds, businesses would really rather take the product back and keep your money. But they can’t have it both ways. You’re entitled to a speedy refund, and these simple strategies will help you get it.
Consumerfinance.gov; How can I get a refund on a product or service I purchased with my credit card? | Finder.com; What happens when you get a credit card refund? | Consumer.ftc.gov; Disputing credit card charges | Appriss; National Retail Federation; Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry
Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.
Earn up to 90,000 SkyMiles with new welcome bonuses across Delta cobranded cards – The Points Guy
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When you are retired or near retirement, it is generally a good idea to have a percentage of your savings in investment vehicles that are lower in risk. However, it can be difficult to find low-risk, high-return investments — especially now with certificate of deposit (CD) and savings account rates at less than 1 percent.
Not too long ago, retirees could earn sufficient interest in low-risk savings vehicles that could keep money protected while allowing adequate growth. But today’s extremely low rates make that nearly impossible. And rates are not expected to rise any time soon. In fact, the Federal Reserve has promised to keep rates low through 2023 to support economic recovery.
At any rate, there is more to consider than just returns.
There Is More Than Just Low Risk and High Return to Consider
The rate of return or interest rate is what most people are concerned about when considering a low-risk, high-return investment. However, there are other factors that may make different investment options more or less attractive. Before we talk about specific investment options, let’s look at six things to consider in addition to the rate of return.
Liquidity and Your Time Horizon
How soon do you need access to the money? Do you need the money to be liquid — available at any time?
With any investment, it is critically important to factor in the fees. Fees can eat up your returns and are often hidden.
Some investment vehicles have a minimum amount you need to invest. Certain account types also may come with a maximum investment.
The Inflation Rate
If your return on your money is not greater than the rate of inflation, then you are not actually earning real returns. Inflation is a sneaky factor to consider with regard to your rate of return. You should always think in terms of your “real” rate of return, which is your return minus the inflation rate.
Is Investment Designed for Income or Growth, and Is That What You Need?
Sometimes you will want to make a low-risk, high-return investment that is designed to pay you an income. Other times, you simply want your money to appreciate for withdrawal at a later date.
Your Overall Asset Allocation and Specific Needs
Many people around retirement age are fearful of keeping too much money in the stock market. But, the stock market is one of the best ways to grow your money for the long term and should be included in your portfolio — though preferably in the form of funds.
There are various rules of thumb for determining your best asset allocation between high-risk, high-return and low-risk, low-return investments and everything in between.
However, the most personalized way to determine your optimal asset allocation is to create detailed spending projections to determine how much money you will need and when and for what kinds of expenses. You will want the money that you absolutely need to spend in the near term in low-risk vehicles (with the highest returns possible) and money that you will want in the future can be invested with higher risk, potentially capturing higher returns. The NewRetirement Planner is designed to help you figure this out.
14 Low-Risk and High-Return Investments
So, where should you keep money that you want to protect from risk while earning adequate returns? I have got some bad news: There is really no such thing. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
However, keep reading for some options for lower-ish risk, higher-ish return investment options.
1. Keep Money in the Bank
According to the FDIC, the national average interest rate on savings accounts currently stands at 0.05% annual percentage yield (APY) (compare that to the average stock market return over the last 100 years of 10%). The 0.05% APY applies to both average and jumbo deposits (balances over $100,000).
That being said, there is a lot of competition in the marketplace for cash savings, and you can find higher rates. But, this is overall not a low-risk, high-return investment. Consider it more of a low-risk and low-return opportunity.
How low? Well, if you had $50,000 in an account earning a 0.05% APY, then you would only earn $125.13 over a five-year period.
2. In High-Yield Savings Accounts (HYSAs)
A high-yield savings account (HYSA) is a type of savings account that pays significantly higher interest — 20 to 25 times the national average. Many of the best rates on HYSAs can be found from online banks.
If you were to earn a “good” rate of return on an HYSA, then you might earn 0.50% APY. This is significantly more than the 0.05% APY you might earn from a traditional bank. So, your $50,000 would earn $1,265.49 in five years ($1,000 more than in a traditional bank).
3. In Money Market Accounts
A money market account is a savings account that can also function as a checking account and typically comes with a debit card with unlimited transactions.
Money market accounts typically offer higher returns than what a bank offers on a typical checking account. A pro and a con is that the money is very available for withdrawal — good if you want the asset to be liquid, bad if you are trying to save the money. It may be too tempting not to touch it.
A typical APY on a money market account is 0.30% to 0.50%.
4. In Cash Management Accounts
A cash management account is another variation of other savings accounts and is typically offered by brokerage firms and robo-advisers.
Current APYs on cash management accounts are around 0.50%.
5. With a Credit Union
According to MyCreditUnion.gov, “Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members. Like banks, credit unions accept deposits, make loans and provide a wide array of other financial services. But as member-owned and cooperative institutions, credit unions provide a safe place to save and borrow at reasonable rates.”
Credit unions typically provide higher interest rates on cash accounts than banks. You will also typically pay lower fees for ATMs and other services.
However, always read the fine print. Many of the offers from bank/credit unions that have attractive rates either cap the balance that is available for the rate and/or require you to create a checking account and actually use their product for a certain number of transactions per month. And the caps can be really low ($3,000–$5,000).
6. In a Certificate of Deposit (CD)
A certificate of deposit (CD) is a financial product that restricts your access to your money for a specified period of time. For that restriction, you are rewarded with a better return than with traditional savings accounts.
Current rates are around 1.05% APY for a five-year term, and there is typically a minimum investment required.
7. Move Money Around Based on Incentives and Perks
You probably have a friend who changes credit card accounts frequently to take advantage of all the perks that are offered with various cards. This is often referred to as “churning.”
Well, if you’re willing to move your money around and keep track of all requirements, cash bonuses for opening, interest rates and duration, you can do something similar with cash accounts. For example, Capital One had an offer recently where you could receive $400 for opening a new checking account and have two automated deposits of at least $1,000 in 60 days.
Please note that NewRetirement has no affiliation with Capital One and the above example may no longer be available.
If you do a few of these a year, it is worth more than any high-yield savings account returns, but with many hoops to jump through.
8. In U.S. Savings Bonds
A bond represents a loan an investor makes. When you invest in a bond, you are guaranteed a specified return and your principle will be paid back on a predetermined date. Your returns are paid as interest and are not based on profits.
The vast majority of bonds that are bought and sold are done so through the secondary market, meaning between an investor to another investor, and not from the original borrower to an investor.
Government bonds typically offer slightly better interest rates than a savings account, without a lot of additional risk. U.S. Treasury bonds are backed by the federal government, meaning that you are most certainly assured you will get your money back. If you don’t, then the dollar probably doesn’t exist at that point, and we have much bigger problems to deal with.
Your returns are determined by how long you hold the bond. Current returns are around 0.03% for a one-month duration and 2% for a duration of 30 years, but these numbers can vary significantly.
As a comparison, since 1926, large stocks have returned an average of 10% per year while long-term government bonds have returned between 5% and 6%, according to investment researcher Morningstar.
The face value of a bond also changes as interest rates change. As interest rates go up, your bond would be worth less on the secondary market, as you have a lower interest rate than is otherwise available. If interest rates go lower (and in our case, negative, such as in Germany), your bond would be worth more.
Some state-government bonds also are tax-sheltered in the state that they are issued in, which might make them interesting to those of us in high income-tax brackets.
9. In Corporate Bonds
A corporate bond is a bond issued by a company rather than a federal, state or local government. They are considered to be a relatively safe investment, though far riskier than government-backed bonds.
Corporate bonds are reviewed for creditworthiness by rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. Bond ratings are used to inform you about the stability of the bond in question, and the ratings help determine the interest rates that are paid.
Bonds with lower ratings, such as junk bonds and below-investment-grade bonds may have higher returns, but carry with them a much higher risk of default. Some bonds can even be called, meaning the borrower can elect to pay off the bond early. This occurs when the borrower can borrow funds from a different source at a lower interest rate. Always read the fine print.
10. Invest in a Fund
An investment fund is a portfolio of assets — usually stocks and/or bonds. Instead of investing in or lending to one company, you are investing in a group of companies, which spreads your risk.
There are many types of funds. and some may be better than others as a low-risk, high-return investment. Let’s take a closer look at five options:
An index fund is a concept that was invented by John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, as part of his thesis at Princeton. If you think successful long-term investing is about picking just the right stocks, think again. Bogle’s genius was not in knowing which stock to buy, but rather in knowing that some stocks will gain and some will lose but the overall market will gain over the long term.
An index fund is an investment made in an entire market, not individual sectors or companies. As Bogle famously said, “Don’t look for the needle in the haystack. Just buy the haystack.”
Index funds are also cap-weighted. This means that companies are held in proportion to their valuation. Large companies, such as Apple, are heavily weighted, while smaller companies are less so.
Stable Value Funds
Stable value funds are a portfolio of bonds that are insured to protect the investor against a decline in yield or a loss of capital. They are a common low-risk investment option inside of many 401(k) plans (there is very limited availability outside of 401(k)s).
Stable value funds are a portfolio of bonds that are insured to provide the investor with a reasonable guarantee of return (though they are not insured by the FDIC) of principal. And, as the name says, they return a stable rate of interest.
The interest rate is typically a few percentage points above money market funds. However, beware of fees.
Target Date Funds
A target-date fund (also known as a life cycle fund or age-based fund, or even abbreviated as a TDF) is an investment fund that automatically changes your investment portfolio from high-risk, high-reward to low-risk, low-reward options as you near your target date — the date when you want the money to be available to you for withdrawal.
The target date is usually identified in the name of the fund. So, if you want access to the money in or near 2045, you would pick a fund with 2045 in its name.
There are various pros and cons associated with target-date funds. You will definitely want to assess the fees on the investment. And, know that your money can be at risk and that you can’t take it out before the target date.
What if you think a certain TDF is too conservative? Then use a TDF with a date further down the line than when you want the money. This way, you will have a higher percentage of stocks for longer.
How about if a TDF is too aggressive for your taste? Do the opposite: choose a TDF with a date nearer than when you expect to use the money.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a fund of properties — typically income-producing assets like apartment buildings and hotels.
Tax-Exempt Mutual Funds
A tax-exempt mutual fund is a fund composed of investments that generate tax-free interest. These funds are offered by some investment firms.
To benefit from a tax-exempt mutual fund, you will need to invest outside of any tax-advantaged account and be in a higher tax bracket.
11. Look at Ladders
Investopedia defines laddering as “Buying multiple financial products of the same type — such as bonds or CDs — each with different maturity dates. By spreading their investment across several maturities, investors hope to reduce their interest rate and reinvestment risk.”
Learn more about bond ladders.
12. Consider Annuities
An annuity is an insurance product that guarantees income. They are popular with retirees who want to be assured that they will get a certain amount of income over a specified period of time.
In fact, according to a Towers Watson Retirement Survey, having predictable retirement income (presumably adequate income to cover all of your expenses) can help you feel happier. Conversely, the researchers discovered that retirees who must withdraw money from investments to pay for retirement expenses had the highest financial anxiety.
There are a lot of variations to consider when purchasing an annuity, but the following are a few popular options for retirees looking for income.
When you buy an annuity, you are exchanging a lump sum of money for an agreed-upon income stream to be paid over an agreed-up term.
The income stream can be variable — the amount you get varies each month along with interest rates or investment returns. Or, the income stream can be fixed — the amount you get remains the same no matter what is going on with the financial markets.
Fixed annuities are appealing to retirees because they transform your savings into predictable income.
You also specify the term of an annuity, payments can last for a specified number of years, or your lifetime — no matter how long that turns out to be.
Guaranteed Lifetime Annuities
A guaranteed lifetime annuity is a specific type of fixed-term annuity and is ideal for retirement. When you purchase this type of annuity, you are getting a guaranteed paycheck for as long as you live — no matter how long that turns out to be.
Multi-Year Guaranteed Annuities (MYGA)
A multi-year guaranteed annuity (MYGA). It is similar to an n-year Certificate of Deposit except that it is issued by an insurance company, instead of by the FDIC. It has a fixed interest rate (such as 3%) and you would have to hold it for “n” years (where “n” equals five years, for example). After five years, you get your investment plus the interest over that period of time. You can surrender it sooner but then there is an early withdrawal penalty.
They are not FDIC insured but do have some protection from your state’s insurance guaranty program (if the company should fail). Today, a five-year MYGA is going for about 3%. These products often have a minimum to invest (such as $10,000) and can be “surrendered” after that time period with that full rate of return.
13. Be Wary, but Just Go With Stocks (Lower-Risk Stocks, Anyway)
Low-interest rates can force investors into riskier securities. While there are absolutely zero guarantees with stocks and you could potentially lose all of your money with even the most conservative stock investment, there are stocks that are less risky than others.
If you think you can tolerate a stock investment for a low-risk (well … at best it is probably a medium risk) high-return investment, consider the following two possibilities:
There are two types of stock — common and preferred. Preferred stock trades like common stock, but act somewhat like bonds. Preferred shareholders have a higher claim on dividends than common stockholders, and, in the event of liquidation, have a preferred claim on assets over common stockholders — but less than bondholders.
Dividend-Paying Common Stock
In general, companies paying dividends tend to be higher quality with stronger balance sheets and less risk. And, even though they have less volatility, they outperform non-dividend-paying stock over time as well.
They can return an average yield of 3% plus capital appreciation.
14. Paying Off Your Mortgage
Paying off your mortgage and eliminating all debt can be a pretty good low-risk, high-return investment.
For example, if you have a mortgage at 3%, you could effectively earn 3% interest on the value of the mortgage balance because it is no longer subject to interest.
Plus, it will improve your cash flow.
When it comes to getting advice from Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), it’s usually not in their best interests to recommend you pay down your mortgage. Why?
Most CFPs are paid on a percentage of assets managed (AUM). The more assets they manage, the more they take home. Diverting funds from your portfolio to pay down your mortgage inherently means that your CFP will earn less money. This is why looking for an adviser paid on an hourly basis keeps you and your adviser aligned.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.
Direct link to offer (if you get the message ‘PLEASE VERIFY THE INFORMATION YOU ENTERED IS CORRECT AND TRY AGAIN.’ then it means you’re not targeted)
Delta/American Express have sent out a number of targeted offers on the co-branded cards.
Delta Gold 75,000 miles + $50:
50,000 miles after $2,000 in spend within the first three months. An additional 25,000 bonus miles after an additional $1,000 in spend within the first six months. $50 statement credit after first Delta purchase.
Delta Platinum 80,000 miles + $100 statement credit.
Delta Gold 70,000 miles: Same as above but without the statement credit and 5,000 miles less
Delta Gold/Platinum/Reserve 75,000 miles + $200
50,000 miles after $2,000 in spend within the first three months. An additional 25,000 bonus miles after an additional $1,000 in spend within the first six months. Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in eligible Delta purchases within the first 6 months
The Fine Print
Previously the offers with no lifetime language have been 60,000 miles + $50 statement credit on the Gold card and lower bonuses on the other two cards. We’ve never seen that $200 statement credit deal as far as I’m aware. The downside to that offer is the $1,000 in Delta spend required. I imagine a lot of people would just prefer the 75,000 + $50 deal as a single purchase triggers the $50 credit rather than requiring $1,000 in spend.
If you’re targeted and have had the card before then I think either deal is worth doing as normally you wouldn’t be eligible for the sign up bonus again (even if you won’t hit the $1,000 in Delta spend required for the $200 bonus). As always read these things everybody should know about American Express if you have any questions. I’ll be creating a special ‘targeted/ymmv’ section of our best credit card bonus page and adding this bonus there.
Hat tip to readers Kumar
Update 12/21/20: More people have been targeted.
Update 11/22/20: More people have been targeted.
Update 11/10/20: More people have been targeted.
Update 10/5/20: More people have been targeted.
Update 7/3/20: More people have been targeted.
Update 6/24/20: More people have been targeted. Offers still valid through July 31st, 2020.
Update 5/19/20: These are available again and valid until July 31st, 2020. Hat tip to EDWNY
Update 1/30/20: More offers have gone out. This time with an end date of 4/1/20. Keep in mind the new annual fees & benefits are now live as well. Hat tip to reader DK
Update 1/22/20: Last day for this deal, usually after the end date a new round of people are targeted so it’s worth checking to see if you are targeted now and then again in the next week or so (we will likely repost when the new set are targeted).
Update 11/19/19: More targeted, this time with a 1/22/20 end date.
Update 11/5/19: More people targeted.
Update 10/1/19: Another round has gone out
Update 8/20/19: Another round of people have been targeted.
Update 7/9/19: Another round of offers has gone out, share what offer you received in the comments below.
Update 6/2/19: Looks like another round of offers has gone out. Valid until 7/2/19
Update 5/9/19: More targeted, valid until 5/22 (via donmcde). Some offers:
Personal Plat: 50K /$2K + $300 after first delta purchase
Personal Gold: 70K/$2K + $50 after first delta purchase
Business Plat: 50K /$2K + $300 after first delta purchase
Business Gold: 70K/$2K + $50 after first delta purchase
Update 5/3/19: A new round of people are being targeted.
Update 4/9/19: These are available again. Some offers people are seeing:
Reserve: 40,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after $3,000
Platinum: 70,000 miles + $100 after $2,000
Gold: 70,000 miles + $50 after $2,000
Hat tip to reader David
Update 2/28/19: These are available again, people who weren’t targeted before are now targeted. Hat tip to reader QMC
Update 2/4/19: Another round targeted. Hat tip to @Myi66081
Update 1/2/19: Like clock work another round of people has been targeted.
Update 12/3/18: Another round of people have been targeted. Worth a look to see if you’re targeted.
The best co-branded hotel credit cards can help you earn free hotel stays, room upgrades, and more. Plus, some hotel credit cards make it easy to earn special status that can lead to even more benefits.
Still, there are other rewards credit cards that function as hotel credit cards without necessarily being affiliated with a specific hotel chain. These cards have programs that vary widely, but some offer flexible rewards or even travel credit you can use to book any hotel.
The right hotel credit card for your needs can vary greatly depending on your goals and travel style. If you want a card to score cheap getaways at hotels in your area, for example, almost any of the top co-branded hotel credit cards might work just fine.
If you would rather stay in hostels or vacation rental properties, on the other hand, a card that doles out flexible travel credit might be a better deal. As a reminder, we recommend you not maintain a balance on the card, keep it paid off as you use it, this will in turn help with your credit score ratings, rather than keeping high balances on your cards!
Best Hotel Credit Cards for 2021
Before we dig into the details of each card’s offerings, here is a list of the best hotel credit cards we will cover in this resource:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
IHG®Rewards Club Select Credit Card
Marriott Rewards®Premier Credit Card
Discover it® Miles
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard
BankAmericard Travel Rewards®Credit Card
Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express
Chase Sapphire Preferred®Card
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred®Card is more of a flexible rewards credit card than a hotel card, it has perks that let it fit into this category quite nicely. For starters, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a slew of popular hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio, including IHG Rewards, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz Carlton Rewards.
Because of this rewarding system, the Chase Sapphire Preferred®Card is an awesome companion card to any of the co-branded hotel cards Chase offers.
In addition, you can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book a room with any hotel chain at a 20 percent discount when you use the Chase travel portal.
If you like to stay with different hotel brands or aren’t loyal to a specific brand, this is a huge perk. As a last resort, you can also redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back at a rate of one cent per point, which makes it easy to book any hotel or lodging option of your choice.
Earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on your card within 90 days
Earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95 annual fee, waived the first year
No foreign transaction fees
IHG®Rewards Club Select Credit Card
The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit card has become infinitely popular among travel enthusiasts for several reasons. First, you can use your points to stay at this brand’s popular all-inclusive resorts. And second, this card qualifies you for Platinum status that helps you qualify for room upgrades, special perks and more.
While this card does have a $49 annual fee, it is waived the first year. If you choose to keep the card after the first year, however, you’ll get a free night at any one of IHG’s 4,900 hotels worldwide each year you are a cardholder.
Plus, you’ll earn 5x points for each dollar spent at IHG properties, 2x points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1x points on all other purchases.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on your card within 90 days
Enjoy a free night each year of card membership
Earn 5x points at IHG properties, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1x points for all dollars spent elsewhere.
Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
$49 annual fee, waived the first year
10% return on every reward you redeem
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a must-have for anyone who loves to stay at Marriott or Ritz Carlton properties. Since these programs are interchangeable, you can use the points to earn to stay at both brands of hotels and resorts.
With this card’s current offer, you’ll earn 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Plus, you’ll earn 7,500 more points when you add an authorized user and they also make a purchase.
Since free nights start at just 7,500 points (or 6,000 points for a PointSavers reward), that’s easily enough points for eleven free nights!
Earn 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, plus 7,500 points for adding an authorized user who also makes a purchase.
Get a free night stay at a Category 1-5 property on your cardmember anniversary
Earn 6 points for every $1 spent at 4,000 Marriott locations, 2 points for every $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants and 1 point everywhere else
$95 annual fee, not waived
Discover it® Miles
While you may not automatically think of the Discover it® Miles as a hotel credit card, it actually works well in this capacity. Basically, you earn 1.5 “miles” for every dollar you spend. Then, at the end of 12 months, Discover will double the amount of miles you earn. Over time, that set-up leaves you earning 3 percent back on every purchase you make.
Since these points are redeemed for cash at a rate of one cent per point, you can use them for any type of travel you want.
And while the card is marketed as an airline card, it works extremely well as a hotel credit card. If you are looking for those flight perks, check out our review on Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card as well!
Let’s say you spend $20,000 on your card within the first year, for example. At the end of the year, you would have 30,000 points with Discover.
However, Discover would quickly double those points to 60,000. If you wanted, you could redeem your points or $600 in hotel stays at any chain and without blackout dates. Best of all, this card will never charge an annual fee.
No annual fee
Earn an unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend, plus Discover will double that amount after your first year
2x miles for the first 12 months
Get a free FICO score on your monthly statement
The Citi Prestige® is yet another flexible travel card that can easily work as a hotel credit card. For a limited time, you’ll earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on your card within 90 days. Other benefits include $100 off global entry, a $250 annual air travel credit, and your 4th night free on any hotel stay booked through their travel concierge.
In addition to using your points to book travel directly, you can transfer your Citi points to the Hilton HHonors program at a rate of 1.5:1, or to a handful of airline partners. Conversely, you can use your points on American Airlines for the superior value of 1.6 cents per point.
This card does charge a hefty annual fee, however, which means it probably won’t be worth it unless you’re sure you can take advantage of all of its benefits.
Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on your card within 90 days
Earn 5x points on air travel and restaurants (in 2019), 3x on cruises and hotels, 2x points on dining and entertainment, and 1x points on all other purchases
$250 annual air travel credit
$100 off Global Entry
Complimentary 4th night hotel stay
$450 annual fee, not waived
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is another flexible travel credit card that works well as a hotel card and is a good introductory balance transfer credit card. By signing up for this card, you’ll earn 70,000 points after you spend just $3,000 within 90 days. Those points are worth $500 in travel credit, and you can use that credit to book a room with any hotel chain.
In addition to the signup bonus, you’ll earn 2x points for every dollar you spend. That’s a pretty sweet deal for any card that lets you redeem points for one cent each, but it’s even better when you take the signup bonus into account.
At the end of the day, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is a great hotel credit card for someone who wants to try a wide range of hotels and doesn’t want to deal with a specific loyalty program.
Earn 70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on your card within 90 days
Earn 2x points for every dollar you spend
$89 annual fee, waived the first year
0% Introductory APR on balance transfers made the first year
Miles never expire
No foreign transaction fees
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is yet another flexible travel credit card that works well with hotels. With this card, you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, plus 25,000 bonus points worth $250 in travel after you spend just $1,000 on your card within 90 days.
Since this is “travel credit” and not tied into a specific loyalty program, you can use your points to book any hotel without worrying about blackout dates or reward availability.
Once you rack up a huge stack of points, you can redeem them for hotels, airfare, cruises, rental cars, baggage fees, or any other travel benefit you desire.
Best of all, this card never charges an annual fee!
Earn 20,000 online bonus points when you spend $1,000 on your card within 90 days
Earn an unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar you spend
Book any hotel or travel experience you want with no restrictions or blackout dates
No annual fee
Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express
The current offer on the Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express lets you earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors points after you spend $750 on your card within 90 days. In addition, this card makes earning points extremely easy.
For example, you’ll earn 7x Hilton HHonors points for every dollar you spend at participating hotels and resorts, 5x points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and 3x points on all other purchases.
Plus, you can enjoy complimentary silver status just by being a cardholder.
Earn 50,000 Hilton HHonors(TM) Bonus Points after you spend $750 on your card within 90 days.
Earn 7X Hilton HHonors points for each dollar spent at Hilton properties, 5x points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations in the U.S., and 3x points on all other purchases
Complimentary silver status
No annual fee
How to Get the Most Out of Your Hotel Credit Card
Signing up for a new hotel loyalty program is a smart move for anyone who travels frequently. However, there are plenty of ways to maximize the hotel points you earn – and get the most bang for your buck!
If you’re hoping to earn a ton of hotel points and score as much free travel as possible, consider these tips:
Pick a hotel loyalty program you already know and love.
Before you jump headfirst into a new loyalty program, it’s important to make sure it fits in with your travel style. For starters, you should make sure your new loyalty program actually has properties in cities you hope to visit. While most big loyalty programs have properties all over the world, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have one in your favorite city.
If you already stay with a particular brand all the time, picking up that brand’s co-branded hotel loyalty credit card is a no-brainer. Not only will you earn points for free hotel stays, but perhaps special status as well.
Consider a flexible travel credit card to rack up even more points.
If your favorite hotel loyalty program offers more than one credit card, you could consider getting them all to rack up even more points. If you love Marriott Rewards, for example, you could consider getting both the Chase Sapphire Preferred®Card and the Marriott Rewards®Premier Credit Card. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio, this is a no-brainer.
Of course, the same can be said for the IHG Rewards program and its co-branded hotel credit card. With more than one signup bonus and way to rack up hotel points, you can earn more free hotel stays over time.
Of course, it helps to have a strategy for how you use those points. Let’s use the card combination mentioned above as an example. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred®Card and the Marriott card, it would pay to use them in a strategic way.
For starters, you would want to use your Chase Sapphire Preferred for all of your travel and dining purchases. Why? Because this card doles out 2x points in those categories. Of course, you would want to use your Marriott card for all purchases made at Marriott properties since you earn 5x points for every dollar you spend in that category. Over time, these maximized points will add up.
Use your rewards card for as many purchases as you can, then pay it off right away.
No matter which hotel credit card you choose, you’ll want to make sure you use your card as much as you can to rack up as many points as possible. By using your card for everyday purchases, and especially in any category that offers “bonus points,” you can earn a lot more points and free hotel stays over time. Remember though, you’ll need to pay your card in full every month to avoid paying interest on your purchases.
Also remember that the interest rates hotel credit cards charge tend to be higher than average. If you carried a balance on your Chase Sapphire Preferred®Card, for example, you would pay between 16.24 percent and 23.24 percent depending on your creditworthiness. That’s a huge chunk of money to fork over just for interest payments, and it can easily wipe out any rewards you earn as well.
Don’t forget about resort fees.
While most “free nights” you’ll earn with a hotel card won’t cost you a cent, certain high-end properties do charge resort fees. Whenever you are ready to book a free night, make sure to inquire about any taxes or fees so you can plan for them. While inconvenient, most resort fees aren’t very expensive and add up to no more than $30 per night.
Still, it pays to pay attention. If you’re paying a $30 resort fee each night for a week-long vacation, you can easily fork over $210 for the week! That’s a lot of money for a “free trip,” so you should tread cautiously and make sure it’s worth it before you pull the trigger.
Weigh the pros and cons of paying an annual fee.
Some hotel credit cards charge an annual fee after the first year, and those fees can eat into your rewards in a hurry. However, some cards offer ongoing perks that make the annual fee more than worth it. When deciding whether to pay an annual fee, it always pays to analyze the perks you’re getting so you can make an informed decision.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred®Card tends to be a card people keep for the long haul for myriad reasons. For starters, it lets you earn the most flexible and valuable rewards points on the planet – Chase Ultimate Rewards. Secondly, it offers free ongoing benefits like free trip cancellation/interruption insurance, free primary auto rental coverage, and more.
The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit card is another card that falls into this category due to its “free annual night” benefit. By paying the $49 annual fee on this card, you get a free night at any IHG property in the world. Since some IHG properties cost up to $800 per night, this can be extremely lucrative if you play your cards right.
Either way, it pays to take a close look at your card’s benefits to see if the annual fee is worth it. If not, you can always close your account and apply for a new card with benefits that work better for your needs.
Get your spouse involved.
There are no laws that prohibit two spouses from signing up for the same rewards credit card – and thank goodness for that. Obviously, getting your spouse to earn the same signup bonus can mean double the rewards, and that’s always a good thing.
Again, it helps to have some strategy going in. If both you and your spouse earn the same signup bonus (instead of different bonuses on different cards), you can usually make your points go further. For example, some hotel programs offer a 5th night free benefit – a good example is Marriott Rewards.
By pooling points with your spouse, you can earn enough for four nights with points – then score the 5th night free benefit. That’s a lot bigger hurdle to climb when you’re earning points on your own.
The Bottom Line
If you’re angling for some free hotel stays, a hotel credit card is your best bet. As a standalone card or combined with a flexible rewards card, you can earn free nights fairly easily – plus score extra perks like hotel status, room upgrades, and welcome gifts.
The best part is, earning all of these perks is easy! Just use your card for your regular purchases, then pay down your balance right away. You’ll be thanking yourself when you get a few free hotel stays under your belt. What are you waiting for?
About the Author
Holly Johnson is a personal finance expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who covers credit, travel, retirement planning, and budgeting. Her work is featured in publications such as Bankrate and U.S. News and World Report. Johnson owns the travel website Club Thrifty and is the co-author of “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love.”
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash.
It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as .
Setting yourself up for life isn’t a quick fix from your current predicament. But if you invest in yourself a little bit at a time, you can make a big difference in the future.
1. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company
How is that possible? Start with the places you’re likely overpaying, like your car insurance. When was the last time you even checked for new quotes? If it was more than six months ago, you could have a lower rate by now.
It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2
One of the safest ways to invest long-term is through traditional stock market investments. Sure, it’s not as exciting, but over time the market has gone up an average of 7% each year. That can be a big part of reaching your long-term goals, and an app called Stash can help you get there. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.
If you don’t already have an emergency fund started, consider putting it in an account that will give you a sign-up bonus, high interest earnings and no surprise fees. We like one called Aspiration that will give you 0 for opening an account.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to ,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
2. Put More Focus on Raising Your Credit Score
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more for as little as . The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1 2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value. Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Setting yourself up for financial security sometimes means cutting the fun stuff from your budget. But before you do that — because we all need our Netflix subscriptions right now — cut the bills you can’t live without.
If you owe your credit card companies ,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
3. Invest With Long-Term Goals In Mind
It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up. Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s not set for life — yet!
But a website called AmOne wants to help. Because the sooner you pay off your debt, the sooner you can set up the rest of your finances for a more stable life.
When you’re aiming to set yourself up for life, high-risk investments can set you back. So unless you can afford to lose what you put into volatile investments, don’t.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It’s easy to forget about your credit score when you have more pressing problems wreaking havoc on your finances. But by letting your credit score slip, you could be creating even more issues down the road. Your dreams of owning a home, buying a car or even getting a new job could be busted with a bad score.
Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a sign-up bonus once you deposit into your account.*
4. Add a Little Bit To Your Emergency Fund Every Week
Enter your email address here, and link your bank account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
By adding a little bit of money to your emergency fund every week, you can slowly build it up without putting too much strain on your current budget. The recommended amount is three to six months of expenses, so the sooner you start, the better.
Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
Sure, a lot of debit cards offer sign-up bonuses throughout the year, but they often require you to jump through hoops with minimum requirements that feel impossible to hit.
Now that you know where you stand, use those personalized tips to raise your score and get rid of errors. Whether that’s lowering your credit usage or setting up automatic payments to avoid more late payments, you can make smart decisions now that will
5. Cut Your Expenses — Even The Mandatory Ones
1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.
Ready to stop worrying about money? *Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit .00 into your Invest account.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
Yes, short squeezes and options and puts can be exciting. And just like the thrill of gambling in Vegas, you can win big — or lose bigger.
But Aspiration makes it simple. To earn your 0, here’s all you need to do: Open your Aspiration account and deposit at least . Then set up and receive three direct deposits of at least 0 each from your paycheck or government benefits. That’s it! Then just wait for your check.
So first things first — check your credit score and your credit report. Use a free website like Credit Sesame.
Of course it would. And it’s definitely possible — with a few smart money moves and tweaks to your spending habits, you can forge a path that will get you going toward a strong financial future.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
Yup. That could be 0 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options. Think of how much more that could be long term!
Wouldn’t it be nice to rid yourself of those financial black clouds bringing you down? The mounting debt, the sinking credit scores, the rising expenses chipping away at your savings?
If you have credit card debt, your credit card company is going to keep piling on the interest until you pay it off in full. And unless you win the lottery or come into a windfall of cash, that could be hard to do. <!–
For Securities priced over ,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of 0 a year for the same or similar coverage. Just because these are long-term strategies doesn’t mean you can’t get started today. Make these moves to help set yourself up for life.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Update 2/28/21: Huge wave of people targeted via email for a terrific upgrade from Everyday to Everyday Preferred – this time the bonus is even higher: get 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 within 3 months. Offer valid through April 1. Annual fee not waived.
American Express is offering some AmEx EveryDay cardholders a bonus of 25,000 points when they upgrade to the EveryDay Preferred and spend $2,500 within the first three months (mixed datapoints of this is being six months currently)
Some people have a lower minimum spend requirement of $2,000
EveryDay preferred has a $95 annual fee that you need to pay. If you’ve had the Preferred card before you can still get this upgrade bonus, if you haven’t had it before then doing this upgrade offer means you won’t be eligible for future sign up bonuses on this card. For more information regarding upgrade offers I’d recommend reading this post.
Thanks to its generous rewards program, Southwest Airlines is making it easier than ever for families to earn free flights to destinations in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Not only does Southwest make earning free flights easy, but it offers free checked bags, family boarding, and additional perks that make it ideal for family travel.
In just the last year alone, my family has used the Southwest Rapid Rewards program to fly to Mexico, Jamaica, Denver, Raleigh, Orlando, and Las Vegas. Because of its unique redemption policies – and how easy it is to rack up airline miles – we focus most of our spending on the best airline rewards credit card that allows us to rack up these miles quickly.
If you want to take your family on a trip anywhere in the country but want to avoid the crushing cost of airfare, you’ll want to read this. In the meantime, you should also check out our guide on the other airline credit cards on the market:
Credit Cards that Let You Earn Miles on Southwest Airlines
While you can earn Southwest points by signing up through their program and spending money on Southwest and through their affiliates, the easiest way to rack up points quickly is with a credit card that lets you earn this valuable point currency. Here are the two cards you should consider signing up for today:
Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier card – For a limited time, you’ll earn 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points after you spend just $2,000 within 90 days. That’s enough miles for at least one round-trip flight within the continental United States, and maybe two if you’re judicious in how you use your miles. Plus, you’ll earn 2x points per dollar spent at Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases. As an added bonus, you’ll get 6,000 points on your account anniversary and no foreign transaction fees. The $99 annual fee is not waived.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® card – With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend just $4,000 on your card within the first 90 days. The cool thing is, these points transfer to Southwest Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. And with 50,000 points in your account, you should have enough for at least two round-trip flights within the continental United States or to the Caribbean. The $95 annual fee on this card is waived as well, meaning you can try out the card’s benefits for a full 12 months without a commitment and with a nice 0 APR credit card offer.
Why Southwest is the Best Airline for Families
While lots of airlines try to cater to families, Southwest Airlines does it better than anyone else. In addition to their rewards program, they have thought of almost everything a family who travels together might need during their journey. Here are a few of the reasons Southwest is ideal for families:
Reason #1: The Southwest credit card lets you earn free flights.
With both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card and the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier card, you can earn free flights for your family. All you have to do is sign up, use your card for regular spending, and meet the minimum spending requirement to earn the signup bonus. Once you meet those requirements, your miles will be deposited into your account within 30 days (but usually sooner).
Reason #2: Your bags fly free.
Unlike other airlines that charge $25 or more per checked bag, Southwest Airlines lets your first two checked bags fly free. For my family of four, that is a huge savings! On our recent trip to Jamaica on Southwest, we checked five separate bags. If we had flown with another airline, that would have cost us at least $125.
Reason #3: You can get unlimited award flights with no worry over blackout dates or capacity controls.
Southwest Airlines is adamant about the fact that they don’t limit award seats on single flights, and this is crucial if you have a family in tow. Each time I fly my family using Southwest Rapid Rewards, I can rest assured there will be at least four award seats waiting for me – as long as the flight isn’t sold out! If you have ever dealt with award availability on another airline before, you know what a huge deal this is.
Reason #4: SUPER CHEAP Flights
Because Southwest awards are fare-based, you can score some super cheap flights any time Southwest has a sale. For our upcoming trip to Raleigh, for example, my husband and I paid just 3,500 miles per leg to get there and back. And for our family trip to Orlando this summer, our flights cost just 5,500 miles each way, per person!
Reason #5: Family boarding lets you sit with your kids.
Since Southwest doesn’t offer assigned seating, it can be tricky to sit with your family if you don’t check in for your flight exactly 24 hours ahead of time. But if you have kids under the age of six, you qualify for family boarding after the “A group” boards the plane.
Reason #6: Redeem your points for gift cards as a last resort.
A lot of people worry they’ll get stuck with airline miles they can’t use, and I don’t really blame them. Fortunately, Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be turned in for gift cards if your travel plans fall through. Someone I know lost their job but still had 50,000 Southwest miles from a recent promotion. Because she decided not to fly anywhere, she redeemed her 50,000 Rapid Rewards points for $500 in gift cards and spent them on Christmas presents last year. While that isn’t the ideal redemption, earning $500 in gift cards isn’t half bad, either.
How to Get the Most Out of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Program
Since joining the Southwest Rapid Rewards program is easy and free, it’s a no-brainer. However, there are several ways to maximize your experience – and the number of free flights you earn. Consider these tips:
Pair several travel rewards credit cards for the signup bonuses and earning potential. If you want to rack up a bunch of points quickly, signup bonuses are the way to go. And if you want to earn even more miles, consider getting both cards.
Shop through each card’s shopping portal to earn extra points. Both cards that earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points have shopping portals that can let you earn points even faster. By clicking through these portals to do your online shopping, you can usually earn another 3-5 points for every dollar you spend.
Use your card for all of your regular bills, then pay it off each month. It’s easy to rack up points quickly if you use your card for all of your regular spending. Just remember to pay it off every month and never, ever pay interest on your purchases.
Try earning the Southwest Companion Pass. The Southwest Companion pass is a benefit that allows your “companion” to travel for free for the year you earn it and the following year. To earn it, you’ll need to earn 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points during a single calendar year. It’s important to note, however, that points transferred to Southwest from your Chase account do not count towards the Companion Pass.
The Bottom Line
With free checked bags, plenty of ways to earn free flights, and unlimited award availability, Southwest Airlines is the ideal airline for families. And with hubs all over the United States and the Caribbean, you can count on using your miles to take your family somewhere exciting.
For my family, that means a mix of everything – from warm weather trips in Florida and the Caribbean to vacations in the mountains, concert trips, and adult getaways as well. With so many ways to use our points, I always say “why not?”
Have you ever used Southwest Rapid Rewards points before? What is your favorite redemption so far?
About the Author
Holly Johnson is a personal finance expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who covers credit, travel, retirement planning, and budgeting. Her work is featured in publications such as Bankrate and U.S. News and World Report. Johnson owns the travel website Club Thrifty and is the co-author of “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love.”