Micro Wedding Is Sign of the Times

Micro weddings have become ultrachic in the time of coronavirus. These smaller weddings allow you and your future spouse to exchange your vows, enter into a legal relationship and get access to each other’s health insurance all while living through these socially-distanced times.

What Are Micro Weddings?

A micro wedding is generally a wedding with less than 50 guests. In the before times, micro weddings were often a cost-cutting measure as the most effective way to cut your budget is to cut your guest list.

When you cut your guest list, you’re cutting down on the amount of space you’ll need at the venue. Simultaneously, you’re cutting down on the costs of food, alcohol and favors.

During the time of Coronavirus, micro weddings are helpful to your health as well as your wallet. You may even want or be required to cut your guest list further than the normal standard of 50 guests.

Planning a Micro Wedding

When you’re planning a micro wedding the first thing you’ll want to start with is your guest list. You may only want your closest friends and family there for your big day. Or, in this time of pandemic, you may only want it to be the two of you and the officiant. In some states, you can even eliminate the officiant via a self-uniting marriage.

Whether you have a handful of guests or just the couple at your micro wedding, venues and vendors across the wedding industry have many ways to help you share your big day while saving money.

Get Creative with the Venue

Because you have a smaller guest list, your venue doesn’t need to be nearly as large. Your favorite art gallery might be renting out space, or you might be able to book a private room at your favorite restaurant. If a venue had a minimum guest count prior to 2020, those minimums have likely been reduced or eliminated altogether.

If you are absolutely set on having a larger wedding despite the pandemic, you could book your local park or another outdoor venue to make the event safer. Be sure to remind your guests that they still need to wear masks and observe the 6-foot rule even though the event will be taking place outside.

Newly weds get married as hot air balloons are released all around them on top of a mountain.
Getty Images

Destination Weddings

You may have a bit of pent up wanderlust, dreaming of a destination wedding. Destination weddings are usually micro weddings. Because you or your guests will have to pay for extra expenses like hotel rooms and travel costs, the number of people who can attend usually becomes inherently smaller.

There are certainly some Caribbean destinations that are allowing Americans to visit during the pandemic, and some of the resorts are offering great deals. But despite more and more Americans getting vaccinated, many people are still avoiding air travel. Be prepared for some guests to decline your invitation if air travel is involved.

Instead of air travel, you can either commit to a long road trip through locales where the infection rate is low, or pick a venue within convenient driving distance. Traveling in your car with other members of your bubble is a far safer way to get from point A to point B.

Remember that even if you’re fully vaccinated, there is still potential for you to spread the virus to your guests, your hosts and anyone else you may come into contact with. The more the virus spreads, the more likely it is to harm the unvaccinated, even if those unvaccinated people aren’t in your immediate circle.

Allowing the virus to spread like this also provides it with increased opportunities to mutate into vaccine-resistant variants, which could force us all into lockdown again until boosters for new strains are available.

Invest in Quality Videography

Maybe you never dreamt of having a micro wedding. You might even be upset that you can’t have a huge party with your family and friends.

One way to help soften the blow of having a micro wedding during the pandemic is to share your big day with quality videography. You can either livestream your ceremony or hire a videographer to document the celebration.

Because business has been slower and videography has new importance during the pandemic, some venues and videographers are offering discounts on these services.

Curbside Tastings

The mere fact that you’re feeding less people at your micro wedding means you can spend less on your wedding cake and any catering your micro wedding may require.

During the pandemic, some bakeries, restaurants and caterers are offering curbside tastings to ensure everyone’s safety.

Drive-By Wedding Visits

Maybe in normal times, your sister would have been your matron of honor, but she has a disabled child who is high-risk. Even though you are both vaccinated, her child is not. She can’t risk exposing herself to even asymptomatic cases of the virus as she could unknowingly pass them on to her child.

You still want her to be a part of your big day. If she lives within driving distance, you could schedule a drive-by visit prior to the micro wedding ceremony. Either she and hers could drive by your place, where you’d be on display in your gown or tux, or you could drive by her place, stepping just outside the car to show her how good you look while keeping a masked distance of well over six feet.

It’s not the same. It’s still incredibly sad that she can’t be there, and you might even want to consider postponing your wedding until she can attend. But if the show must go on, these drive-by visits can still provide you both with a special memory from your special day.

Include Remote Readings

If you’re having a Zoom micro wedding, even those who cannot attend can participate in your ceremony. In the case of your sister, she may perform a reading or conduct a prayer through the screen. You can customize your ceremony any way you see fit, using your creativity and the power of the internet to make your micro wedding all that much bigger.

Micro Wedding Ideas for a Smaller Guest List

When planning a micro wedding, you may find that you have a bit of a budget surplus because of these cut costs. Both the budget surplus and the fact that you’ll have far fewer guests at your wedding allow you to get creative and a little more personal with the finer details of micro wedding planning.

Hand sanitizer and face masks are set out for guests to use during a wedding reception.
Getty Images

Wedding Favors

The following are a few favor ideas you might consider for your micro wedding, depending on your budget and your wedding’s theme. The dollar signs are meant to show you the relative expense but the exact dollar amount of each is based on your own budget.

  • Masks. ($-$$) Masks can be custom-printed with names and wedding date, nodding to the extraordinary times we’re all living in while giving your guests a functional gift they’ll be able to use in their day-to-day lives. You may even want to make these favors available to guests upon arrival rather than at the end of the celebration. That way if anyone forgot to bring their mask, they’ll literally be covered.
  • Hand sanitizer. ($) You can find plenty of beautiful yet affordable options for custom-printed hand sanitizer right now. Instead of the “Germ-X” label, your label will include your names, the wedding date and perhaps some adorable quote about love. This is another good favor to make available to your guests upon arrival.
  • Fauci-approved smooches. ($) Want to DIY your micro wedding favors? One cute idea is to get a glass jar, fill it with Hershey Kisses, and affix a label that reads “Social Distance Kisses.”
  • Flip flops. ($-$$) If you plan on driving to the beach for your destination wedding, flip flops can make a great wedding favor. If guests forget about the sand and wear fancy shoes to your celebration, they’ll appreciate the option to switch to beach-friendly attire upon arrival. Because your guest count is small, you can ask each guest for their shoe size beforehand so everyone is accurately accounted for. You can also go the extra mile and order custom flip flops with your names and wedding date printed on them.
  • Custom luggage tags. ($$$) This option is a little more expensive, but if you find yourself with extra padding in your wedding budget you may decide they’re worth it. Luggage tags can serve as a token of hope that life will go back to normal soon and we won’t have to stress as heavily should we have to get on a plane and traipse through the airport.

Guest Book

Similarly, because micro weddings have so few people in attendance, you can use creative ideas for a non-traditional guest book. Your guest book can then be integrated in your day-to-day married life.

Here are some ideas that can be customized to any micro wedding budget:

  • Picture frame. ($-$$$) When you get your wedding pictures back from the photographer, there’s likely to be one photo that just blows you away. Before the wedding, purchase a frame where you can display that much-anticipated picture. Buy a frame with a removable mat. Then, you can have your guests sign the mat in lieu of a guestbook on your wedding day. Their well-wishes can be displayed in your home alongside your favorite wedding photo.
  • Ornaments. ($-$$$) Have you ever known someone who has a tradition of picking up a Christmas ornament on every vacation? Their tree then reminds them of all the journeys they’ve enjoyed. You can do a similar thing for your wedding day — especially if you have a small guest list. Instead of a guestbook, provide ornaments and paint pens coordinated with your wedding colors. Each guest will sign one. Every year, you can display your wedding-day memories on your tree, remembering those who were there with you.
  • Tiles or stepping stones. ($-$$$) Are you and your soon-to-be spouse remodeling? Or doing some landscaping work? If so, you can integrate your wedding day into your design plans. For instance, if you’re doing interior repairs and plan to lay tile, you can put out some tiles at your micro wedding in lieu of a guest book. Each guest would then sign one, and you could integrate your guest book into your home. If you’re doing outside work, you could have each guest sign a wet stepping stone, even adding their handprint if they want to. You can then integrate these stepping stones into your garden.

Stationary

Things are a lot more hopeful right now with somewhat improved vaccine distribution, but there are still so many unknowns. As you plan your micro wedding during uncertain times, you might want to familiarize yourself with some Corona-era additions to the wedding stationary world:

  • Change-the-date announcements. Change-the-date cards are now incredibly common for wedding postponements. Just like wedding invitations, these cards range from cute and witty all the way to incredibly formal. You can look for a template that matches the tone of your wedding day.
  • Virtual wedding invitations. Maybe you’re doing your part by giving the virus as few opportunities to mutate as possible. That’s why you’re doing a Zoom micro wedding with just the two of you plus your officiant. Paper invitations to your wedding are still a beautiful touch, but the most convenient way to invite your guests to livestream the event is through a virtual invitation. With virtual invitations, your guests will have access to a clickable link where they can participate in your ceremony live.
  • Elopement announcements. Whether you elope or simply choose not to announce to anyone but your micro wedding guests that you’re getting married, after-the-fact wedding announcements are a good way to include family and friends. Prior to the pandemic, these were commonly used for elopements, so you can find plenty of templates online even if they predate 2020. But you can also find pandemic-specific announcements whether you eloped or did, indeed, plan and have a few guests. Ideally, this announcement will contain a link to a wedding website where friends and family can view either pictures or video of your celebration after the fact.

It can be hard to break it to family or friends that they are either not invited or are uninvited to your wedding. But you are not the only one going through this situation. The silver lining is that because so many couples have faced the same circumstances, there are plenty of templates online and professionals who have worded the same sentiment for numerous clients. You don’t have to stress about the wording on your own.

Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. She blogs at Femme Frugality.

<!–

–>



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

10 States with the Highest Gas Taxes

Road trips are fun until you have to stop and get gas. Fortunately for drivers, the federal government’s gas tax hasn’t budged from 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. However, states and the District of Columbia levy their own gas taxes. 

And thanks to the pandemic, folks have been using their cars a lot more since public transportation and flying are viewed as hot-spots for COVID-19. But if you’re traveling cross-country, filling up in certain states can cost you more than others. Here are the 10 states with the highest gas taxes, including a look at how the states do on other big tax metrics, such as sales tax. (A reminder, though: U.S. gas taxes are still among the world’s lowest.)

Gas and diesel prices are from the American Petroleum Institute. Sales taxes are from the Tax Foundation and, when listed as “average,” represent a population-weighted value meant to capture local option taxes. Tobacco and vapor taxes are from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as well as individual state tax websites.

1 of 10

Indiana

picture of man at gas pumppicture of man at gas pump

State Fuel Tax: 42.16¢  per gallon of gasoline, 52¢ per gallon of diesel

State Sales Tax: 7% state levy. No local taxes.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes: $1 per pack
  • Snuff: $0.40 per ounce
  • Other tobacco products: 24% of wholesale price
  • Vapor products: Starting July 1, 2022, 15% of gross retail income

For details on other state taxes, see the  Indiana State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

2 of 10

Florida

picture of man at gas pumppicture of man at gas pump

State Fuel Tax: 42.46¢ per gallon of gasoline, 35.27¢ per gallon of diesel (both gasoline and diesel taxes will increase by 0.3¢ per gallon in 2021)

Average Sales Tax: 6% state levy. Localities can add as much as 2.5%, and the average combined rate is 7.08%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes: $1.34 a pack
  • Cigars: no tax
  • All other tobacco products: 85% of the wholesale price

For details on other state taxes, see the Florida State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

3 of 10

New York

picture of cars at gas pumppicture of cars at gas pump

State Fuel Tax: 42.7¢ per gallon of gasoline, 43.43¢ per gallon of diesel

Average Sales Tax: 4% state levy. Localities can add as much as 4.875%, and the average combined rate is 8.52%, according to the Tax Foundation. In the New York City metro area, there is an additional 0.375% sales tax to support transit.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes and little cigars: $4.35 per pack (in New York City, an extra $1.50 per pack)
  • Snuff: $2 per container one ounce or less, $2 per ounce for larger containers
  • Cigars and other tobacco products: 75% of the wholesale price
  • Vapor products: 20% of retail price

For details on other state taxes, see the  New York State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

4 of 10

Hawaii

picture of gas stationpicture of gas station

State Fuel Tax: 46.84¢ per gallon of gasoline, 49.55¢ per gallon of diesel

Average Sales Tax: 4% state levy. Localities can add as much as 0.5%, but the average combined rate is only 4.44%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes and little cigars: $3.20 per pack
  • Large cigars: 50% of the wholesale price
  • Other tobacco products: 70% of the wholesale price

For details on other state taxes, see the  Hawaii State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

5 of 10

Washington

picture of gas stationpicture of gas station

State Fuel Tax: 49.4¢ per gallon of gasoline, 49.4¢ per gallon of diesel

Average Sales Tax: 6.5% state levy. Municipalities can add up to 4% to that, with the average combined rate at 9.23%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes and little cigars: $3.03 per pack
  • Cigars: 95% of sale price, with a cap of $0.75 per cigar
  • Moist snuff: $2.53 per 1.2-ounce container
  • Other tobacco products: 95% of sale price
  • Vapor products: Closed products, $0.27 per ml. Open containers greater than 5 ml, $0.09 per ml

For details on other state taxes, see the  Washington State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

6 of 10

Nevada

Las Vegas sign at night with via of stripLas Vegas sign at night with via of strip

State Fuel Tax: 50.48¢ per gallon of gasoline, 28.56¢ per gallon of diesel

State Sales Tax: 6.85% state levy. Localities can add as much as 1.53%, and the average combined rate is 8.23%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes: $1.80 per pack
  • Other tobacco products: 30% of wholesale price
  • Vapor products: 30% of wholesale price

For details on other state taxes, see the Nevada State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

7 of 10

New Jersey

picture of gas stationpicture of gas station

State Fuel Tax: 50.7¢ per gallon of gasoline, 57.7¢ per gallon of diesel

State Sales Tax: 6.625% state levy. That rate is cut in half (3.3125%) for in-person sales in designated Urban Enterprise Zones located in disadvantaged areas. Salem County, which borders no-tax Delaware, also charges the reduced 3.3125% rate.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes: $2.70 per pack
  • Moist snuff: $0.75 per ounce
  • Other tobacco products: 30% of the wholesale price
  • Vapor products: $0.10 per ml for closed containers. Bulk nicotine liquid is taxed at 10% of retail price.

For details on other state taxes, see the  New Jersey State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

8 of 10

Illinois

picture of gas stationpicture of gas station

State Fuel Tax: 52.16¢ per gallon of gasoline, 59.98¢ per gallon of diesel

Average Sales Tax: 6.25% state levy. Localities can add as much as 4.75%, and the average combined rate is 8.82%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes and little cigars: $2.98 per pack, Cook County has an additional tax of $3. Three localities, all in Cook County, add to that. According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, a pack purchased in Chicago has the highest total tax in the country: $7.16.
  • Snuff: $0.30 per ounce
  • Other tobacco products: 36% of the wholesale price
  • Vapor products: 15% of wholesale price; localities have additional taxes

For details on other state taxes, see the  Illinois State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

9 of 10

Pennsylvania

picture of gas stationpicture of gas station

State Fuel Tax: 58.7¢ per gallon of gasoline, 75.2¢ per gallon of diesel

Average Sales Tax: 6% state levy. Philadelphia has a local sales tax of an additional 2%, and Allegheny County (Pittsburgh’s home county) adds a local sales tax of 1%, and the combined rate is 6.34%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes and little cigars: $2.60 per pack. The City of Philadelphia levies an additional $2 local tax per pack of cigarettes
  • Other tobacco products: 55 cents per ounce. Additional taxes due in Philadelphia.
  • Vapor products: 40% of wholesale price

For details on other state taxes, see the  Pennsylvania State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

10 of 10

California

picture of car at gas stationpicture of car at gas station

State Fuel Tax: 63.05¢ per gallon of gasoline (63.65¢ effective July 1, 2021), 83.06¢ per gallon of diesel (83.46¢ effective July 1, 2021)

Average Sales Tax: 7.25% state levy. Localities can add as much as 2.5%, and the average combined rate is 8.68%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Tobacco Taxes:

  • Cigarettes: $2.87 per pack
  • All other tobacco products: 56.93% of manufacturer’s price
  • Vapor products: $0.05 per ml of consumable product

For details on other state taxes, see the  California State Tax Guide for Middle-Class Families.

Source: kiplinger.com

Renting a Car for Your Holiday Vacations

The holiday season is upon us and many of us will be taking time off work to visit family and friends or just to get out of town. With so many people going on vacations, the number of cars being rented increases dramatically. Unless you’re planning a staycation, it’s likely that you will need a vehicle or some reliable means of transportation once you get to your holiday destination. That is usually where rental cars come in handy.

Renting a car during your vacation has its advantages and it’s also fun driving a “new” car. It can also be quite convenient and oftentimes more affordable than relying on taxis, while saving you time and headache. The advantages aside, it’s important to note that if you plan on renting a car using a debit card, you should know how it can affect your credit.

Rental car companies prefer that their customers use a credit card. As Thrifty Rental Car explains on its site, “Renting a car to someone with no credit card is risky for rental car companies. Not having a credit card is a red flag that you may be a credit risk.”

Because of this, it is much easier to use a credit card to rent a car than a debit card. That being said, not everyone has a credit card and their only option is to use debit for payment. That can be fine; however, you should be aware of what that can entail. If your reason for not having a credit card to use is because of poor credit, this is even more important.

Using a Debit Card for Car Rentals

Many car rental companies will allow you to use a debit card for your rental but they don’t make it easy. When using a debit card, the rental companies will usually require you to have the full amount of the scheduled rental charge available in your account and may also put a hold of up to $350 on your account. Additionally – and what you really need to worry about – they may also run your credit.

Some rental companies will check your credit score before approving the rental while others will look for multiple delinquent lines of credit opened within the last 3 years. Each time they run your credit, it can lower your FICO score by 5 or more points. If your credit score is already low, this will not only make it worse but you could also be declined. After being declined at a rental company, many people will just try getting a rental from another company and then their credit will be checked again by the next company, lowering their score even further.

If you think your credit score may be too low (a score lower than 500 can be risky), then you should seek alternative options. At the very least, you should contact the rental company that you plan on using and ask about their credit requirements to determine how strict they are before having your credit ran.

Alternatively, you could look for a rental company that won’t run your credit, although they may have other stipulations. According to CreditCards.com, here is a list of rental companies that check your credit when using a debit card and those that don’t:

Companies that run a credit check

  • Advantage
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Hertz
  • Thrifty

Companies that do not run a credit check

  • Alamo
  • Enterprise
  • EZ Rental
  • National

The companies that do not run credit checks may not allow you to use a debit card so you may want to contact them first before making plans.

If you don’t have a credit card and don’t want to risk damaging your credit, the best route to take would be to find an alternative means of transportation, such as:

  • Uber, Lyft or other ride share service
  • Taxis or limo service
  • Public transportation

While these options may not be as convenient, they could help prevent serious damage to your credit that could haunt you down the road. If your credit score is low and you need assistance improving your credit score, contact Credit Absolute today for a free consultation: (480) 478-4304

Source: creditabsolute.com

How do credit card miles work? – Lexington Law

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Credit card miles are rewards points that help you earn credits toward travel and other purchases. How credit card miles work and whether this type of rewards card might be a good idea for you depends on a few factors, which we’ll cover below.

What Are Credit Card Miles, and How Do They Work?

Credit card miles are similar to credit card points. They’re a reward that you earn by taking certain actions, including making eligible purchases with the card.

Once you earn enough miles, you can redeem them for rewards. They’re called miles because typically these types of rewards credit cards are aligned with an airline or travel service. That usually means the most value comes from redeeming miles for airfare or rewards miles in an airline program.

However, you can often choose to redeem them for other rewards, such as merchandise, hotel and other travel credits or gift cards at a lesser value per point.

How Are Credit Card Miles Different From Frequent Flier Miles?

In some cases, credit card miles and frequent flier miles may be the same thing. If you have an airline-branded card, such as a Delta SkyMiles credit card, your points may be in the form of the airline’s frequent flyer miles. You can redeem those for flights or other rewards within the frequent flyer program.

If you have a non-branded card, then you may earn generic credit card miles. Those may be redeemed for flights with numerous airlines or other rewards, typically via the credit card rewards program’s online portal.

Hotel rewards cards work in a similar manner. If it’s a branded card, you may earn rewards directly via the hotel chain’s membership rewards program.

How Do You Earn Credit Card Miles?

The exact way you earn credit card miles depends on your card. But typically, you can earn by spending with your card to qualify for various rewards.

Use Your Credit Card Often

Rewards cards are designed to promote spending. You usually earn a certain number of miles or points for every dollar you spend on qualified purchases. In some cases, you can earn more by spending with certain retailers or on certain categories.

For example, it’s common for an airline-themed card to reward more for spending in travel categories. You might earn 3x miles or 5x miles for every dollar you spend with a certain airline, for example, and one mile per dollar on all other purchases.

The key to earning a lot of miles is using the card as much as possible for things you would already be buying and then paying the balance off immediately so you don’t owe interest. For example, if you earn two miles per dollar spent at grocery stores, you could use your credit card to cover your grocery shopping each week.

If you spend $200 a week, that’s roughly 1,600 miles earned per month just for doing grocery shopping you already do.

Take Advantage of Sign-Up Bonuses

Many rewards cards come with sign-up bonuses, and this is a great way to earn a lot of credit card miles right from the start. Typically, the bonus requires you to spend a certain amount of money when you first open the card.

For example, you might earn 50,000 miles if you spend $5,000 in the first three months as an account holder. That sounds like a lot, but it’s often achievable just by using the credit card to cover all normal expenses, such as fuel, groceries and even utility bills. Just make sure you’re paying off the card balance regularly so you don’t end up with a high utilization rate and expensive interest.

Refer Your Friends

Some credit card rewards programs offer extra miles if you refer friends. If your friend applies for the card using your referral code and is approved, then you may be awarded extra credit card miles.

How Much Are Credit Card Miles Worth?

The value of credit card miles varies, but typically they’re worth about one cent. That means if a flight costs $400, you need 40,000 miles to cover it. In some cases, you may be able to raise the value of your miles by redeeming them through a select online portal or via certain airlines.

Redeeming Your Miles

Follow the general steps below, as well as any unique instructions from your credit card company or rewards program, to redeem miles.

Check Your Balance

First, find out how many miles or points you have. This is typically listed on your last statement, but most credit cards support online account access where you can get up-to-date information about your points. You can also call your credit card company or rewards customer service line to find out.

Understand the Limitations

Before you plan on using miles to pay for travel, look at the fine print to understand restrictions. Some rewards programs have blackout dates, which means you might not be able to use miles to pay for airfare during peak times. Others require mile minimums, which means you need a certain amount of miles to redeem to cover part or all of your airfare.

And miles do expire, so make sure you keep track of when you earned the miles and when they will expire so you can redeem them beforehand.

Have a Flexible Schedule

Being flexible about when exactly you travel can also help you get the most out of credit card miles. For example, in some cases you can save hundreds on airfare by leaving a day earlier or later than planned. That means your miles can stretch further to cover more trips or tickets.

Choosing the Best Card for You

Earning and using credit card miles helps you boost your spending power. With the right credit card, you’re getting more than your original purchase when you buy things. But you do need to stick to recommended credit card use, such as paying off your bill every month and keeping your balance as low as possible.

Otherwise, you could end up paying high interest rates or driving down your credit score, and the miles you might earn in the process are not valuable enough to make up for those costs.

Which card you should get depends on your personal needs and preferences. Popular options include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card and the Capital One Venture Rewards card. These are unbranded cards that let you earn general miles.

If you fly regularly with a certain airline, you might be able to maximize value from a branded airline rewards card. Most rewards credit cards do require good or excellent credit. Check your credit before you apply so you know what cards you might qualify for.

And if you find anything inaccurate on your credit report that could be dragging down your score, reach out to Lexington Law for information on how we can help you dispute errors on your credit.


Reviewed by Kenton Arbon, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Kenton Arbon is an Associate Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Arbon was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in the Northwest. He earned his B.A. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management, while working as an Oregon State Trooper. His interest in the law lead him to relocate to Arizona, attend law school, and graduate from Arizona State College of Law in 2017. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Arbon has worked in multiple compliance domains including anti-money laundering, Medicare Part D, contracts, and debt negotiation. Mr. Arbon is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He is located in the Phoenix office.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

How do credit card miles work?

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Credit card miles are rewards points that help you earn credits toward travel and other purchases. How credit card miles work and whether this type of rewards card might be a good idea for you depends on a few factors, which we’ll cover below.

What Are Credit Card Miles, and How Do They Work?

Credit card miles are similar to credit card points. They’re a reward that you earn by taking certain actions, including making eligible purchases with the card.

Once you earn enough miles, you can redeem them for rewards. They’re called miles because typically these types of rewards credit cards are aligned with an airline or travel service. That usually means the most value comes from redeeming miles for airfare or rewards miles in an airline program.

However, you can often choose to redeem them for other rewards, such as merchandise, hotel and other travel credits or gift cards at a lesser value per point.

How Are Credit Card Miles Different From Frequent Flier Miles?

In some cases, credit card miles and frequent flier miles may be the same thing. If you have an airline-branded card, such as a Delta SkyMiles credit card, your points may be in the form of the airline’s frequent flyer miles. You can redeem those for flights or other rewards within the frequent flyer program.

If you have a non-branded card, then you may earn generic credit card miles. Those may be redeemed for flights with numerous airlines or other rewards, typically via the credit card rewards program’s online portal.

Hotel rewards cards work in a similar manner. If it’s a branded card, you may earn rewards directly via the hotel chain’s membership rewards program.

How Do You Earn Credit Card Miles?

The exact way you earn credit card miles depends on your card. But typically, you can earn by spending with your card to qualify for various rewards.

Use Your Credit Card Often

Rewards cards are designed to promote spending. You usually earn a certain number of miles or points for every dollar you spend on qualified purchases. In some cases, you can earn more by spending with certain retailers or on certain categories.

For example, it’s common for an airline-themed card to reward more for spending in travel categories. You might earn 3x miles or 5x miles for every dollar you spend with a certain airline, for example, and one mile per dollar on all other purchases.

The key to earning a lot of miles is using the card as much as possible for things you would already be buying and then paying the balance off immediately so you don’t owe interest. For example, if you earn two miles per dollar spent at grocery stores, you could use your credit card to cover your grocery shopping each week.

If you spend $200 a week, that’s roughly 1,600 miles earned per month just for doing grocery shopping you already do.

Take Advantage of Sign-Up Bonuses

Many rewards cards come with sign-up bonuses, and this is a great way to earn a lot of credit card miles right from the start. Typically, the bonus requires you to spend a certain amount of money when you first open the card.

For example, you might earn 50,000 miles if you spend $5,000 in the first three months as an account holder. That sounds like a lot, but it’s often achievable just by using the credit card to cover all normal expenses, such as fuel, groceries and even utility bills. Just make sure you’re paying off the card balance regularly so you don’t end up with a high utilization rate and expensive interest.

Refer Your Friends

Some credit card rewards programs offer extra miles if you refer friends. If your friend applies for the card using your referral code and is approved, then you may be awarded extra credit card miles.

How Much Are Credit Card Miles Worth?

The value of credit card miles varies, but typically they’re worth about one cent. That means if a flight costs $400, you need 40,000 miles to cover it. In some cases, you may be able to raise the value of your miles by redeeming them through a select online portal or via certain airlines.

Redeeming Your Miles

Follow the general steps below, as well as any unique instructions from your credit card company or rewards program, to redeem miles.

Check Your Balance

First, find out how many miles or points you have. This is typically listed on your last statement, but most credit cards support online account access where you can get up-to-date information about your points. You can also call your credit card company or rewards customer service line to find out.

Understand the Limitations

Before you plan on using miles to pay for travel, look at the fine print to understand restrictions. Some rewards programs have blackout dates, which means you might not be able to use miles to pay for airfare during peak times. Others require mile minimums, which means you need a certain amount of miles to redeem to cover part or all of your airfare.

And miles do expire, so make sure you keep track of when you earned the miles and when they will expire so you can redeem them beforehand.

Have a Flexible Schedule

Being flexible about when exactly you travel can also help you get the most out of credit card miles. For example, in some cases you can save hundreds on airfare by leaving a day earlier or later than planned. That means your miles can stretch further to cover more trips or tickets.

Choosing the Best Card for You

Earning and using credit card miles helps you boost your spending power. With the right credit card, you’re getting more than your original purchase when you buy things. But you do need to stick to recommended credit card use, such as paying off your bill every month and keeping your balance as low as possible.

Otherwise, you could end up paying high interest rates or driving down your credit score, and the miles you might earn in the process are not valuable enough to make up for those costs.

Which card you should get depends on your personal needs and preferences. Popular options include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card and the Capital One Venture Rewards card. These are unbranded cards that let you earn general miles.

If you fly regularly with a certain airline, you might be able to maximize value from a branded airline rewards card. Most rewards credit cards do require good or excellent credit. Check your credit before you apply so you know what cards you might qualify for.

And if you find anything inaccurate on your credit report that could be dragging down your score, reach out to Lexington Law for information on how we can help you dispute errors on your credit.


Reviewed by Kenton Arbon, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Kenton Arbon is an Associate Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Arbon was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in the Northwest. He earned his B.A. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management, while working as an Oregon State Trooper. His interest in the law lead him to relocate to Arizona, attend law school, and graduate from Arizona State College of Law in 2017. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Arbon has worked in multiple compliance domains including anti-money laundering, Medicare Part D, contracts, and debt negotiation. Mr. Arbon is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He is located in the Phoenix office.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

8 Great Vanguard ETFs for a Low-Cost Core

Vanguard is best known as one of the foremost pioneers of low-cost investing, including in the exchange-traded fund (ETF) space. It’s hardly alone in low costs anymore, of course. Providers such as Schwab, iShares and SPDR have all hacked away at each other with ever-shrinking fees.

But don’t sleep on Vanguard ETFs.

The provider isn’t always No. 1 among the cheapest index funds like it used to be, but it remains a low-cost leader across several classes. No matter where you look, it’s usually among the least expensive funds you can buy.

And expenses matter. Let’s say you put $100,000 into Fund A and another $100,000 into Fund B. Both funds gain 8% annually, but Fund A charges 1% in fees while Fund B charges 0.5%. In 30 years, that investment in Fund A will be worth a respectable $744,335. But Fund B? It’ll be worth $865,775. That’s about $120,000 lost to fees and missed opportunity cost as those expenses suck away returns that could compound over time.

Here, then, are eight of the best low-cost Vanguard ETFs that investors can use as part of a core portfolio. All of these index funds are among the least expensive in their class and offer wide exposure to their respective market areas.

Data is as of April 22. Yields represent the trailing 12-month yield, which is a standard measure for equity funds. All eight ETFs also are available from Vanguard as mutual funds.

1 of 8

Vanguard S&P 500 ETF

Blue chipsBlue chips
  • Market value: $217.7 billion
  • Dividend yield: 1.5%
  • Expenses: 0.03%

Any portfolio can use a fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. Every year, investors are reminded that the majority of active portfolio managers are unable to beat their benchmark indexes, and that includes a wide swath of large-cap managers that simply can’t top the S&P 500.

And it does pay to merely match the index. The S&P 500 has returned an average of just less than 10% annually between 1930 and the start of 2021. Based on the “rule of 72,” the index has doubled investors’ money about every seven years during that time.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO, $378.99), iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV) and the SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 ETF (SPLG), at just 3 basis points each (a basis point is one one-hundredth of a percentage point), are the cheapest ways to track the S&P 500.

The S&P 500 is an index of 500 mostly large-cap companies (those with market values of more than $10 billion) and a few mid-cap companies ($2 billion to $10 billion in market value) that trade on U.S. exchanges. And the bigger the company is, the greater its representation in the index. Right now, Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon.com (AMZN) are the three largest companies in the index. Thus, they also represent the largest percentages of assets in S&P 500 trackers such as VOO.

Learn more about VOO at the Vanguard provider page.

2 of 8

Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF

Wad of cashWad of cash
  • Market value: $36.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 3.0%
  • Expenses: 0.06%

Dividends are cash payments that many companies pay out (typically regularly, say, every quarter) as a way of rewarding shareholders for hanging on to the stock. This isn’t altruism – it’s a great way of compensating executives and other insiders who hold massive piles of shares. But ultimately, this benefit trickles down to all of us.

Each stock might deliver only a dollar or two every year, but over time, across many shares, that adds up in a big way. A Hartford Funds study shows that between December 1960 and December 2020, a $10,000 investment in the S&P 500 became $627,161 simply based on price returns alone. But the total return – that is, what you would accumulate from collecting dividends and then reinvesting them – was more than five times that at $3.8 million.

Dividends also are a critical source of income for retirees, who often rely on regular cash payouts to help pay their ongoing expenses.

The Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM, $102.41) immediately sticks out among the best Vanguard ETFs for this purpose. VYM tracks an index of high-yielding, primarily large-cap stocks whose dividend yields are better than the market average.

While there are literally hundreds of ETFs that deliver more yield, most of them invest in other areas of the market that might be more income-friendly but either carry higher risk or little to no growth potential. VYM, however, currently provides shareholders with double the broader market’s yield while still keeping them invested in blue chips with some appreciation potential.

Top holdings include familiar large caps JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Procter & Gamble (PG).

Learn more about VYM at the Vanguard provider page.

3 of 8

Vanguard Small-Cap ETF

Small puppySmall puppy
  • Market value: $44.9 billion
  • Dividend yield: 1.1%
  • Expenses: 0.05%

While dividends are treasured by people on the back half of their investing timeline, younger investors typically are expected to pile into growth to build their portfolios. And a common place to find growth is in small-cap stocks.

Small caps range between $300 million and $2 billion in market value, and it’s their very size that gives them so much growth potential. Just consider the effort it would take to double revenues from $1 million to $2 million … but then think about the effort it would take to double revenues from $1 billion to $2 billion. Naturally, the underlying shares of these high-growth companies tend to move higher, faster, than larger, less explosive companies.

Of course, smaller companies might only have one or two revenue streams, leaving them much more vulnerable to industry disruption. And if they get caught up in the tide of a broader-market swoon, they usually won’t have the cash hoards and access to capital that larger companies can use to keep their heads above water. But you can mitigate that risk somewhat by investing in numerous small caps at once.

The Vanguard Small-Cap ETF (VB, $219.21) holds about 1,460 mostly small-cap stocks. That huge portfolio shields you from single-stock risk – the potential for a big drop in one stock to have an outsize negative effect on your portfolio. Even the top 10 holdings, which include the likes of Ohio-based medical equipment company Steris (STE) and casino REIT VICI Properties (VICI), represent less than 1% of the overall portfolio.

While VB is among the best Vanguard ETFs you can own, it isn’t risk-free. In fact, it can be one of your most volatile fund holdings. That’s because small caps as a whole tend to struggle when investors become more defensive. But when risk appetites swell again, VB can help you enjoy the resulting growth without worrying about one company imploding and setting you back.

Learn more about VB at the Vanguard provider page.

4 of 8

Vanguard Information Technology ETF

Concept art of technologyConcept art of technology
  • Market value: $44.2 billion
  • Dividend yield: 0.8%
  • Expenses: 0.10%

Certain areas of the market ebb and flow depending on market and economic conditions, so you might want to be a little more tactical with your holdings.

Utilities, for instance, tend to do well when investors are nervous because utility companies have dependable earnings that pay considerable dividends. Financial stocks typically do well when the economy is expanding and can benefit when interest rates rise, as that allows them to charge more for products such as loans and mortgages without paying out much more in interest to customers.

Technology is one of the better sector bets simply because it’s becoming more pervasive in every aspect of the human experience. We use more technology at home and at work. Other sectors – whether it’s utilities, health care or industrials – are incorporating more technology into their operations. Seemingly, there’s always somewhere that technology can keep growing.

As a result, technology ETFs have become a hot commodity, and Vanguard is among the lowest-cost ETF options in the space.

The Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT, $379.39) is the best Vanguard ETF for the job. This robust portfolio of about 330 stocks includes consumer-tech stocks such as Apple, software companies like Microsoft, component companies such as Nvidia (NVDA) and even payments-tech firms like Visa (V) and PayPal Holdings (PYPL). And that just scratches the surface.

Just remember: A number of seemingly technology-related stocks aren’t actually classified as tech stocks. For instance, companies such as Facebook (FB) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) were once considered technology companies, but now are in the ranks of the communication services sector.

Learn more about VGT at the Vanguard provider page.

5 of 8

Vanguard Real Estate ETF

real estatereal estate
  • Market value: $37.7 billion
  • Dividend yield: 3.5%
  • Expenses: 0.12%

Investors seeking out a more targeted income play than, say, the VYM have a few areas to explore, including the real estate sector.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are businesses that typically own and sometimes operate physical real estate such as office buildings or shopping malls, though sometimes they can hold real estate “paper” such as mortgage-backed securities. And their rules are designed to make them dividend-friendly. REITs aren’t required to pay federal income taxes, but in exchange, they must distribute at least 90% of their taxable income as dividends to shareholders.

The result is a typically high yield on many REITs, which explains why the Vanguard Real Estate ETF (VNQ, $97.21) is paying out more than double the S&P 500 in dividends right now.

The VNQ holds a diverse selection of real estate – apartment buildings, offices, strip malls, hotels, medical buildings, even driving ranges. Right now, its top holdings include telecom infrastructure company American Tower (AMT), logistics and supply-chain REIT Prologis (PLD) and data center REIT Equinix (EQIX).

The S&P 500 doesn’t provide investors with an even distribution of all its sectors, and real estate is woefully sparse in many large-cap funds, including S&P 500 trackers. Thus, while you might use some sector funds to occasionally amplify your holdings in a particular sector, it might behoove you to hold a REIT fund such as VNQ in perpetuity to improve your exposure to this income-happy part of the market.

Learn more about VNQ at the Vanguard provider page.

6 of 8

Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF

globeglobe
  • Market value: $33.4 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.0%
  • Expenses: 0.08%

There are several ways to diversify your portfolio. You can hold different types of assets (stocks, bonds and commodities), you can diversify by style (growth versus value), you can diversify simply by numbers (owning more stocks to lower single-stock risk) … and you can diversify geographically.

The Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU, $62.19) is a bargain-priced fund that plugs you into more than 3,500 stocks from nearly 50 countries across the globe. The primary focus is developed markets (countries with more established economies and stock markets, but typically lower growth) in areas such as western Europe and the Pacific, though a little more than a quarter of the fund is invested in emerging-market countries in regions such as Latin America and southeast Asia.

Right now, Japan (16.5%) makes up the largest country weight, followed by China (11.1%) and the U.K. (9.3%). But VEU’s investments span countries large and small, including even a little exposure to the likes of Poland, Colombia and the Philippines.

Also noteworthy is that this is a predominantly large-cap fund holding the likes of chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) and Swiss food titan Nestle (NSRGY). Many developed-market blue chips yield significantly more than their American counterparts; hence, VEU typically delivers more income than VOO.

For the record, numerous Vanguard ETFs fit the international bill depending on your specific needs. Income hunters can target big dividends in mostly developed countries via Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF (VYMI), while growth-oriented investors can trade the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) that targets markets such as China and India.

Learn more about VEU at the Vanguard provider page.

7 of 8

Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF

bondsbonds
  • Market value: $73.3 billion
  • SEC yield: 1.3%*
  • Expenses: 0.035%

Bonds – debt issued by governments, corporations and other entities that pay a fixed income stream to holders – are an important asset class for many investors. Typically, investors nearing or in retirement that are trying to protect their wealth lean on bonds. Of course, they also become uber-popular in times of unrest, such as the current stock market correction.

But bonds are problematic because they’re harder to invest in on an individual basis than stocks, and they’re far more difficult to research in large part because individual debt securities typically get little to no media coverage.

Many investors instead depend on funds for their bond exposure, which is where the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND, $85.44) comes in.

There are several targeted Vanguard ETFs that range from short-term corporate debt to long-term U.S. Treasuries, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to invest in a wide swath of the bond world, BND has you covered. Vanguard Total Bond Market holds a massive trove of more than 10,000 debt securities, including Treasury/agency bonds, government mortgage-backed securities, corporate debt and even some foreign bonds.

All of BND’s bonds have an investment-grade rating, which means that the major credit agencies perceive all of these to have a high likelihood of being repaid. It also has a duration (a measure of risk for bonds) of 6.6 years, which essentially means if interest rates rise by one percentage point, the index should lose 6.6%. Thanks to a Fed funds rate that’s still nearly zero, BND is paying out a lean 1.3% – just a little less than the S&P 500 right now.

* SEC yield reflects the interest earned after deducting fund expenses for the most recent 30-day period and is a standard measure for bond and preferred-stock funds.

Learn more about BND at the Vanguard provider page.

8 of 8

Vanguard Emerging Markets Government Bond ETF

globe on stock newspaperglobe on stock newspaper
  • Market value: $2.7 billion
  • SEC yield: 3.9%
  • Expenses: 0.25%

Whether it’s stocks or bonds, you typically have to take on a little more risk to get a little more yield. The Vanguard Emerging Markets Government Bond ETF (VWOB, $78.97) is an example of how to make this kind of compromise without going overboard.

VWOB allows you to invest in the sovereign debt of about 50 developing countries, ranging from China and Mexico to Angola and Qatar. As you would imagine, when you invest in developing countries such as these, you’re going to take on a bit more risk. A little more than 60% of the fund’s debt holdings have an investment-worthy score, with the rest deemed “junk” by the major credit rating agencies.

The downside to junk? A higher risk of default. The upside? A higher yield. That’s why you’re getting so much more yield than BND right now.

You’re also defraying risk a bit by investing a basket of 730 holdings across so many countries. The effective maturity (how long before the average bond in the portfolio matures) of 13.4 years is a little on the long side, however, which means VWOB’s holdings are at greater risk from rising interest rates.

Learn more about VWOB at the Vanguard provider page.

Source: kiplinger.com

How to Save Money on Business Travel – 21 Ideas To Reduce Trip Costs

It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive at a large corporation or a small-business owner. It’s likely you sometimes have to travel for work.

Business travel is also becoming more common. According to Statista, worldwide business travel spending has more than doubled since 2000. While spending has recently declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling for work is still a reality for some and should eventually recover.

Business travel often involves international travel or significant domestic travel. Trade shows, conferences, networking events, and meeting new clients can require you to hop on a flight to do business in a new city or country. With airfare, hotel costs, transportation, and general travel expenses, costs rack up quickly.

If you want to save money on business travel, you’re in luck. There are numerous ways to reduce travel expenses beyond just booking economy.

Saving Money on Business Airfare

Of all business travel expenses, airfare is often the costliest. Booking flights in advance and sticking with economy are the two most straightforward ways to cut travel costs. But there are other ways to find cheap flights and reduce airfare costs.

1. Book Cheap & Discounted Flights

If you’re trying to save on business travel, booking flights early is the best way to find deals. Last-minute flights are usually expensive, and the more time you have to shop around, the better.

But that’s not the only trick you can use to find cheap flight options.

  • Book flights with layovers, provided the savings are worth the extra travel time.
  • Use airline search engines like Expedia, Travelocity, and CheapOair to find low-cost airfare.
  • Try alternate airports to your closest airport if they have lower prices.
  • Book directly through an airline carrier since some airlines don’t appear on airline search engines.
  • Take a red-eye (overnight) flight.

You can also take travel planning a step further and possibly score free flights or serious discounts. One popular strategy is to buy airline miles during a promotion, which is essentially buying a future flight at a discount. You can also earn airline miles without a credit card by opening a Bask Bank account or even participating in focus groups.

As long as you browse travel sites for deals and remain flexible, there’s no reason your next business flight should be full price.

2. Avoid Airline Fees

Finding cheap airline tickets is an effective way to reduce travel costs. However, if you aren’t careful, unnecessary airline fees can turn an otherwise frugal trip into a significant business expense.

The best way to avoid airline fees is to read the fine print carefully and stick with the right carrier. Some airlines, like Southwest and United, are generally lenient with checked bag fees and carry-on luggage, and you can sometimes avoid paying for these conveniences altogether.

If your airline charges for checked baggage, consider traveling light and just bringing a carry-on. If you need a suitcase to pack business attire, use a luggage scale to weigh your bag at home to avoid paying for overweight baggage.

Finally, resist paying for airline fees like early boarding or picking your seat if you aren’t picky about getting the aisle or window seat. These sound like luxuries, but these expenses add up quickly and don’t necessarily improve the quality of your flight.

3. Skip Airport Parking

Another common airport travel expense is parking. If you’re traveling for a week or longer, the daily cost of airport parking adds up. For example, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, 24 hours of parking is $18 in the economy lot, meaning seven days of parking is an additional $126.

Thankfully, you can avoid parking fees entirely. One method is to take an Uber or Lyft to the airport. Alternatively, having a co-worker or family member drop you off is your next best bet. Public transportation is also worth the extra time if it saves you from expensive daily parking fees.

4. Book Through Rewards Websites

Booking your flight and hotel through a rewards website helps you save money on vacation and personal trips. But the right website can also cut business travel expenses.

Rakuten lets you earn cash back for shopping at thousands of partners. Creating an account is free, and once you shop at an eligible partner, you earn cash back in your account. You get paid quarterly as long as your account has $5, which is easy to do if you score cash back on a flight or hotel stay.

Rakuten has numerous travel partners, including:

  • Travelocity
  • CheapOair
  • OneTravel
  • Cheapair
  • Orbitz
  • Priceline
  • Holiday Inn
  • Extended Stay America
  • Hotels.com

Rakuten also has non-travel partners you can use to save even more money. For example, it lets you earn up to 5% cash back at thousands of restaurants, which helps you save if you eat out or take clients out for meals. Additionally, Rakuten partners with office supply companies, print shops, and electronics retailers, so you can save on a variety of business-related expenses.

It might seem strange to use a rewards website for business expenses. But if you’re trying to cut costs, every bit of savings counts.

Read our Rakuten review for more information.

5. Always Use a Travel Rewards Credit Card

If you’re a frequent business traveler, you need a travel rewards credit card. Typically, these cards let you earn points for travel-related expenses like flights and in-flight purchases alongside everyday spending.

You can often redeem points for discounted flights and even free airfare if you stack enough points. Plus, many travel rewards credit cards offer additional perks like hotel discounts, priority boarding, and airport lounge access.

Popular travel rewards credit cards include:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card: Earn a $750 travel bonus for spending $4,000 in your first three months; $300 annual travel credit; triple points on travel and dining; perks like lost luggage and trip cancellation coverage; $550 annual fee
  • American Express Platinum Card: Earn a $750 bonus for spending $5,000 in your first three months; $200 annual airline fee credit; quintuple points on flights and prepaid hotels; $200 annual savings on Uber rides and food delivery; various hotel upgrades and discounts; $550 annual fee
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn a $750 travel bonus for spending $4,000 in your first three months; double points on travel and dining; quintuple points on Lyft rides; perks like lost luggage and trip cancellation coverage; $95 annual fee

There are other travel credit card options, including lucrative cash-back credit cards. If you’re a business owner, you can also look at small-business credit cards like the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card. This card has numerous travel perks and an impressive $1,250 account opening bonus if you spend at least $15,000 within the first three months of becoming a cardholder.

Ideally, your credit card should offer enough travel perks and other rewards to help you save money even with the annual fee.


Saving Money on Accommodations

Finding a pleasant hotel or rental can help foster a successful business trip. Ideally, the location is close to clients or any event you need to attend and has ample access to restaurants for client meetings. Ultimately, you want to strike a balance among comfort, convenience, and affordability.

That can be difficult to get right. The worst-case scenario is that employee performance suffers because of location or simply being too cheap when booking. On the flip side, always sticking with 5-star luxury suites isn’t cost-effective.

As with airfare, there are several tips you can use to reduce how much you spend on accommodations.

6. Negotiate With Hotels

As an independent traveler, calling a hotel and negotiating room prices isn’t always feasible. But business travelers have a slight advantage, especially when traveling in larger groups.

Hotel chains want to incentivize visits from business travelers because it’s reliable, repeat business. If you’re heading out of town for a conference or meeting, take time to call nearby hotels to see what they can offer.

If it’s a frequent trip and you plan to return regularly, let the hotel know. You might find the manager is willing to drop your room price or at least give a free upgrade to keep you happy.

7. Try Dosh Travel

Dosh is a popular cash-back reward app that pays you for shopping at hundreds of partners. Once you link a credit or debit card to Dosh, you automatically earn for shopping at eligible retailers. That’s different from apps like Ibotta that require you to preselect offers before shopping.

Dosh works with dozens of companies, including:

  • Walmart
  • Pizza Hut
  • Sephora
  • Macy’s
  • Uber
  • Old Navy

Currently, you can earn with Dosh at over 100,000 stores across the United States. However, Dosh is also a way to save money on your next business trip.

With Dosh Travel, you can earn up to 40% cash back for booking a hotel through the app. Dosh works with more than 600,000 hotels globally, so there’s no shortage of choice.

You need at least $25 to withdraw your balance, but a single hotel stay can easily earn this amount. Additionally, Dosh partners with local restaurants and Uber Eats, so you can save money taking clients out and feeding your employees. With partners like Walmart and Office Depot, you can also earn cash back for buying office supplies, which can help you reach $25 faster.

Read our Dosh app review to learn more.

8. Consider Airbnb

If your company is traveling with multiple employees, it’s likely everyone needs their own room. Ultimately, that means a substantial hotel bill, even if you negotiate prices or find a deal.

Before you spend thousands of dollars on multiple hotel rooms, search Airbnb’s business accommodations. The platform has grown beyond vacation rentals, and you can find top-rated homes and boutique hotels that also have collaborative workspaces. Plus, Airbnb listings also mention nearby activities and attractions you can use for team building.

Airbnb isn’t always cheaper than hotels, but large groups are likely to save money. Even when you factor in cleaning charges and service fees, Airbnb has some remarkably low nightly prices. Plus, you can negotiate with hosts to get a lower price, and your amenities are likely better than a single hotel room.

If you want to save money and increase your comfort, using Airbnb for your next business trip is certainly worth it.


Saving Money on Food

It’s standard practice for employers to pay for employee meals during business trips. And taking clients and potential customers out for food and drinks is common during business travel. But expenses like client dinners and catering for your team add up quickly unless you implement some money-saving tips for food costs.

9. Schedule Breakfast & Lunchtime Meetings

The practice of wining and dining exists for good reason. For existing relationships, taking clients out shows them you appreciate their business. Similarly, taking a prospect out for food and drinks helps establish a more personal relationship and lets you discuss business in a less formal environment.

However, dinner is almost always more expensive than breakfast or lunch. If you treat a client to a nice dinner with a main course and drinks, you could easily spend $100 or more for the meal, depending on where you go and how many diners you have.

For example, at Scarpetta, a popular Italian restaurant in New York City, most dinner entrees range from $30 to $45. If you add two drinks and an appetizer, that’s another $50 or so for your bill. With an 18% tip, you’re paying around $140 for dinner for just you and one client. When you multiply that by several dinners over a business trip, expenses rack up quickly.

To save money on client meals, schedule breakfast or lunch meetings instead. The brunch menu at Scarpetta, which runs until 3pm, is noticeably cheaper than the dinner menu, with most entrees costing $18. Even with drinks, brunch or lunchtime dining likely brings your bill down to around $80, saving you over 40% on your meal with a client.

For breakfast, you can also find trendy restaurants and cafes suitable for client meetings, like La Parisienne, where a breakfast meeting for two costs around $40 to $50.

You don’t have to go to fast-food restaurants to save money on taking clients out. Instead, research several restaurants with affordable lunch and breakfast menus in the city you’re traveling to so you have some options.

10. Use Corporate Meal-Delivery Services

You may also need to feed your team on business trips. For that, you can save even more using corporate food-delivery services instead of catering companies, time-consuming reimbursement, or cash per-diem allowances.

For example, if you’re running a team event, try using DoorDash for Work to order everyone’s food. Perks of DoorDash for Work include:

  • No delivery fees
  • Lower service fees
  • Easy-to-create group orders
  • Spending limits and reimbursement options to let employees expense their meals

Uber Eats also has a corporate option that lets team members place group orders. As an employer, you can create rules like stipends and hours during which you cover employees’ expenses.

11. Scout Ahead for Cheap Food Joints

Often, if you book accommodations in a city’s downtown business district, you’ll find yourself surrounded by expensive restaurants and bars. But if you’re a mile or more out of downtown, you can probably find cheaper restaurants that are still suitable for client meetings and employee dining.

When booking accommodations, scout the area for affordable restaurants and nearby grocery stores. You should also search for quick and cheap restaurants or even food trucks that are nearby. That’s especially handy if you’re attending trade shows or events and only have time for a quick bite during a lull in the day.

12. Book Cooking-Friendly Accommodations

You don’t need a hotel with a complete kitchen for business travel. But having a microwave and small stovetop means you and your employees can cook some meals rather than relying on hotel food services and eating out constantly (a boon for those on special diets or with food allergies or restrictions).

The savings can add up quickly. For example, if you book a room with a stovetop, you can make a quick breakfast of eggs and toast rather than eating out each morning. That means you’re spending $1 to $2 at most for breakfast instead of $10 to $20 going out. However, if the cost of the room is significantly more expensive than a room without a kitchen, the savings likely aren’t worth it, so consider how impactful potential food savings is when booking accommodations.

For long business trips, companies like Extended Stay America have rooms with a full kitchen and let you save up to 31% on nightly rates if you book for 30 nights or longer. Booking an Airbnb is also ideal for saving on food since you typically have access to a full kitchen.


Saving Money on Transportation

While transportation usually doesn’t cost as much as airfare or accommodations, getting around a new city can still be a significant business travel expense. If you want to cut costs, there are several tricks you can try.

13. Use Rideshare Apps

As a business traveler, your first instinct might be to use an airport car rental service or even a higher-end rental company like Silvercar. However, when you consider car rental upsells and various hidden fees, it can be challenging to find a cheap car rental option.

Plus, if your trip consists of meetings and conferences, you won’t spend much time behind the wheel, making your rental car a near waste. In that case, you’re better off using rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft to travel.

Uber and Lyft also simplify corporate travel budgeting. For example, companies can set travel stipends and track ride history to ensure employees are only expensing business rides rather than personal.

If you’re responsible for approving reimbursement requests, you can quickly check the time, pickup, and drop-off location of every ride an employee expenses. If a ride seems like it wasn’t for business purposes, ask for clarification so your company doesn’t accidentally pay or attempt to take a tax deduction for personal employee expenses.

14. Book Accommodations in the Right Location

In an ideal world, you can skip renting a car or using rideshare apps altogether by booking accommodations within walking distance to wherever you need to go for your business trip.

If you’re attending a trade show or conference, check to see if they have arrangements with nearby hotels to offer special prices for attendees. Alternatively, book your own accommodations within walking distance. Even if you pay slightly more per night, the savings on a rental car or rideshare apps is probably worth it.

15. Save Money on Gas

For some business trips, renting a car or driving your own vehicle is more economical than taking a flight or using rideshare apps. But if you’re driving, anything you can do to save money on gas helps make your trip cheaper.

For starters, use a gas credit card to earn rewards for refueling. Popular gas credit cards include:

  • CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard: Earn 65,000 bonus miles for spending $4,000 within your first four months; earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 you spend at gas stations and car rental companies; earn unlimited 1 mile per $1 you spend on other categories; $99 annual fee that’s waived for your first year
  • Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi: Earn 4% cash back on gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter; 3% cash back on restaurants and travel purchases; 2% cash back on Costco and Costco.com purchases; 1 cash back everywhere else; no annual fee
  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card: Earn a $200 bonus for spending $1,000 in your first three months; earn unlimited 3% cash back on gas, restaurants, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, and car rentals; earn 1% cash back everywhere else; no annual fee

To complement your gas credit card, use apps that help you find cheap gas stations, like GasBuddy. With GasBuddy, you can also get up to $0.25 off per gallon by signing up for Pay With GasBuddy, a free fuel rewards card you use like a debit card to pay at the pump and save.

Finally, when driving, use an app like Waze to avoid traffic and find the most efficient route possible. That’s especially important in an unfamiliar city where you don’t know your way around very well. Driving more efficiently helps reduce fuel consumption, ultimately saving more money.

It’s essential to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of driving versus flying and using rideshare apps or a rental car. But if the savings point toward driving, there’s no reason to pay full price at the pump.


Other Tips to Save on Business Travel

If you can cut down on airfare, accommodation, and transportation costs, you’re already on track to keep business travel more affordable. But there are other tips you can use to save money and keep trip planning simple.

16. Have a Trip-Approval Process

If you want to cut business costs, you need to understand your annual expenses to identify areas of wasteful spending. Therefore, every business budget should have a designated portion for business travel expenses and an approval process for trips.

You don’t need an extensive corporate travel policy to take a client out for lunch or drive across town for a meeting. But for out-of-town trips, it’s worth getting management involved. Ideally, employees should submit a trip summary that includes:

  • The purpose and length of a trip
  • The employees who are attending
  • A rough estimate of cost

The summary should then pass to human resources or management for approval.

While this might seem redundant, this process is useful for tracking costs and whether trips result in business development. Plus, as a business owner, you might find that you can skip certain trips or involve fewer employees after reviewing the details more closely.

17. Create a Travel Stipend

A trip approval process helps an organization budget for business travel expenses and forces teams to put more thought into deciding to travel in the first place.

But your business travel policy should also outline a daily employee stipend.

Creating a travel stipend for business travel benefits everyone. For employers, a travel stipend makes budgeting simpler. For employees, a stipend helps clarify limits and ensures there aren’t any awkward post-trip conversations about expensive restaurant or bar tabs.

You should also decide on a reimbursement method. One option is to open a business credit card for traveling employees. For example, Ramp lets you create unlimited virtual and physical cards for employees and pays 1.5% cash back. Plus, there’s no annual fee, and Ramp also collects and stores receipts automatically to help track spending.

Alternatively, you can let your employees spend with their own cards and submit expenses for reimbursement. However, ensure your employees know they need to provide receipts.

But weigh the pros and cons of leaving it in your employees’ hands. Making employees pay for expenses means they have to front significant costs like hotels and flights. That could put employees having financial issues in a tight spot they’d rather not discuss with their employer. And it also means they get to leverage their own credit card rewards that otherwise would have gone to the business.

18. Look for a Corporate Travel Agency

If you’re booking a simple business trip, working with a travel agency probably isn’t worth it. Travel agents used to be incredibly helpful because they could find exclusive deals and would book your trip for you. These days, booking travel plans online is straightforward, and you can find travel deals with a few searches.

But if you’re planning a complicated business trip with multiple employees and hotel bookings, a corporate travel agency could be worth it. Agencies charge a fee to ensure a smooth journey, but it could pay for itself if it prevents one of your employees from taking time out of their day to plan an entire trip.

19. Always Keep Receipts

Another simple way to save on business travel is to keep receipts for tax season. There are numerous tax deductions for self-employed individuals and small-business owners, but you need to track expenses to claim them accurately.

Business travel expenses are also deductible. Examples of deductible expenses include:

  • Travel by train, airplane, bus, or car between your home and business destination
  • Shipping baggage or business products to other work locations
  • Using your car for business purposes
  • Accommodations and business-related meals
  • Tolls, parking fees, and rental car usage for business purposes
  • Dry cleaning
  • Taxis and shuttle services

Keeping paper receipts is one way to track your spending. Alternatively, personal finance apps like MoneyPatrol let you save receipts on your smartphone to ensure you’re ready for tax season.

20. Plan Ahead

If you leave trip planning until the last minute, it’s almost impossible to find low prices or deals. That means paying more for flights, hotels, and transportation. Plus, feeling rushed is a surefire way to have a worse trip and potentially forget a critical part of planning.

Give your organization more time to plan trips whenever possible. Ideally, your company should have a calendar of upcoming trips throughout the year to help budget and plan business travel.

That responsibility can fall to department heads or relevant employees, but it needs to be prioritized if employees regularly travel for work.

21. Prioritize Impactful Savings

One of the worst ways to reduce business travel spending is to save money in a way that hurts your business’s image. For example, if you take a client out for lunch, choose a decent restaurant instead of a fast-food joint and cover the bill.

Similarly, there’s little point in nickel-and-diming your way toward a cheaper travel budget. If you spend hours agonizing over rental car prices to save $15, that’s hardly worth your time as an employee.

Ultimately, you should focus on efficient trip planning and tackling major expenses. Find cheap airfare and accommodations, consider sending fewer employees on trips, and always maximize rewards with the right business credit card.


Final Word

Business travel can be a significant expense. But as long as you plan and budget accordingly, there’s no reason for business trips to hurt your bottom line. In fact, business trips are an excellent way to increase business revenue if they create new opportunities.

Just remember to factor upcoming trips into your annual budget and create a trip-approval process and travel stipend. You can also conduct a yearly business checkup to review whether business travel costs have paid for themselves with new opportunities.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Stay-at-Home Parents — Make Extra Money Without Joining an MLM

A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store (Hopefully something your picky eater will eat).
Ready to stop worrying about money?
InboxDollars won’t make you rich, but it’s possible to get up to 5 per month watching these videos. It’s already paid its users more than million.
If you have skills and experience from before parenthood, you can look for online and remote freelance gigs at some of the top freelancing websites.
You know the closet I’m talking about. The one with clothes and toys your kids outgrew last year, mystery boxes from the last time you moved and didn’t unpack, and other miscellaneous junk you obviously don’t use.

1. Take Advantage of Nap Time and Earn $225 Watching Videos

Diapers are expensive. If you added up all the dirty nappies your kid went through this year… well, don’t. It’s a lot. Better not to think about it.
You could also take a free online contact-tracing course from John Hopkins University, then find contact-tracing jobs. These types of jobs are flexible and can earn you upwards of /hour. Plus, you’d be playing a meaningful role in the reopening of our economy.
Money doesn’t just fall out of the sky — which is too bad. But it can fall out of your budget, if you know where to look.
Side-gigging is a hard juggling act for stay-at-home parents, which is why those multi-level marketing companies can be so tempting — but don’t feel pressured to do it. They can be a dangerous investment, if you’re not high enough on the corporate food chain.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily

2. Get Cash Back With Every Grocery Haul

When was the last time you looked at your car insurance payment? You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money.
We work the longest hours, don’t get an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan and definitely don’t receive paid vacation. The perks are great — getting to spend all this time with our kids, and our uniform is much more comfortable — but boy, would it be nice to see a few dollars for the work we put in.
A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute, you might watch someone bake brownies and the next, you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.
It’s time to let go. Sell it! Whether it’s through a garage sale, Facebook Marketplace, or an app like Letgo, get rid of it all and get some of your money back.

3. Is Your Kid Still in Diapers? Get Rewarded For Your Loyalty

Speaking from experience, being a stay-at-home parent is the most underpaid job in the world.
So, what kind of side gig can parents have? Driving or food shopping apps aren’t always feasible with little ones at home. It has to be something you can do from home and that works around your family’s schedule.
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something…

4. Find Extra Money That’s Already in Your Budget

Grocery shopping when you have kids is an adventure. If you managed to get to checkout with everything you need — despite your toddler’s meltdown in the frozen aisle — you should have something to show for it.
Thankfully, some of the brands you use most offer loyalty programs to help offset the cost (and keep you coming back). For example, the Pampers Club app gives you cash back and points for each diaper or wipes code you scan.
Here are some of the easiest ways for stay-at-home parents to make a little extra money — without joining an MLM.

If we told you that you could get free money just for watching videos on your computer while your kid soonzed, you’d probably laugh. It’s too good to be true, right? But we’re serious.
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.

5. Embrace the Minimalist Movement and Clean Out Your Closet

Yup. That could be 0 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
Privacy Policy
It’ll feel like a breath of fresh air to unload so much stuff, and you could be a few hundred bucks richer. Win-win.

6. If You Have the Time, Get a Side Gig

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a bonus to get you started.
All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.
Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of 0 a year. <!–

–>


Unfortunately, it feels like social media is telling stay-at-home parents the only way we can make extra money these days is through a buy-in-required, set-your-own-hours, be-your-own-boss type of job. Yep. We’ve all gotten those DMs from long-lost friends asking us to join their multi-level marketing company.