Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo is one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood — and her real estate portfolio reflects that.
According to Forbes, Pompeo is the eighth highest paid actress, ranking just behind the likes of Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Angelina Jolie.
Clocking in at $550,000 per episode of Grey’s, the mother-of-three, 52, also receives $6 million per year from her share of syndication profits, earning her a total of $19 million per year.
But acting isn’t her only talent.
In real life, she’s no stranger to the real estate market and has a self-proclaimed hobby of buying and designing homes. Continue reading all about Pompeo’s passion for real estate and home design.
Where does Ellen Pompeo live now?
Although she’s sold three different homes in recent years, the SAG Award-winning actress currently owns two homes in California. Let’s take a look at these houses located in the Los Angeles area.
The actress’ Los Feliz home
First up, here’s a look at Pompeo’s Mediterranean mansion in the gated and celeb-filled community of Laughlin Park in Los Feliz.
The Grey’s Anatomy star and husband Chris Ivery are raising their three children — daughters Stella, 12, and Sienna, 7, and 5-year-old son Eli — in the 16,000 square-foot mansion.
“I love a project,” Pompeo told Architectural Digest of the top-to-bottom renovations they did to the Mediterranean-style mansion.
Originally crafted by architect Paul Revere Williams in 1930 for Antonio Moreno, a famous actor from the silent film era who married oil heiress Daisy Canfield Moreno, the property was known throughout the decades as The Antonio Moreno estate.
The Pompeo-Iverys completely transformed the nearly century-old house.
After purchasing the property in 2009 for $3.475 million, Pompeo hired decorator Martyn Lawrence Bullard to help with the task of “giving the house the attention it desperately needed,” Pompeo shared.
And the results are stunning.
With luxurious features from reclaimed terra-cotta tiles, to planks of textured French oak, to antiqued moldings, to six-and-a-half-foot-tall wood-framed French doors, to a swimming pool and cabana, to the outdoor kitchen and pizza oven, this stunning estate has it all.
If you’d like to take a closer look at Ellen Pompeo’s house – and primary residence – check out this video tour she gave to Architectural Digest in 2014, when her home was featured in the November issue of the magazine:
Ellen Pompeo’s house in Malibu
In 2014, the People’s Choice Award-winning actress purchased a plush property in Malibu for $6.365 million, Dirt reports.
The waterfront home is located on a low bluff in the semi-remote, far western end of Malibu.
Pompeo bought the Buff and Hensman-designed house from Friends co-creator/ writer/ producer Marta Kauffman.
Featuring jaw-dropping ocean views and an infinity pool, Pompeo and her family-of-five enjoy the privacy on the western-most tip of Malibu.
According to Variety, the Malibu beach house boasts 2,130 square feet, three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
3 other homes Ellen Pompeo has recently sold (including one she designed herself)
“This is my hobby and I absolutely love it,” Pompeo told Architectural Digest of buying and designing homes.
Although she’s best known for her starring role in the ABC popular medical drama, the Grey’s Anatomy star also loves to dabble in real estate.
And did we mention she even made her design debut in the Hamptons? Here’s the full scoop on the three homes she’s sold in recent years.
In 2019, the actress sold her East Coast modern farmhouse for $2.995, Los Angeles Times reports.
Located in the Hamptons, Pompeo designed this home herself. Spanning 2,400 square feet on eight acres in Sag Harbor (a small village in Suffolk County, New York), the house features five bedrooms and four bathrooms.
Some of the luxurious features include a master suite with a private lounge and office, and an outdoor wood deck that descends to a gunite pool surrounded by landscaped lawns.
In 2017, the actress sold her mid century mansion in LA’s Hollywood Hills for $2.075 million, Los Angeles Times reports.
Designed in 1957 by architect Harry Greene, the house spans 1,889 square feet, features a stainless steel kitchen, media room, stunning glass walls and concrete floors, and an outdoor courtyard with a fire pit, pool and spa, Architectural Digest reports.
Also in 2017, Pompeo sold a second Hidden Hills home, according to the Los Angeles Times. Cashing in at $2.765 million, the 2,456-square foot home in the historic Whitley Heights neighborhood features two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The Pompeo-Iverys heavily updated the 1920s Spanish villa before putting it on the market.
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Delta has pretty strict rules against transferring SkyMiles after an account holder’s death. You can try calling the company — just don’t hold your breath.
What if you’re planning ahead to pass along points to your family after you die?
Compared to credit card points and airline miles, hotels generally offer a simple path to claiming points from a deceased person’s account, with much clearer language and step-by-step instructions.
Of course, you’ll need access to their passwords and login information to do so.
Points can be transferred one time to someone sharing the same residential mailing address as the deceased member.
In most cases, putting a clause in your will can’t hurt.
Credit Card Reward Points
Points can be reinstated to a new Basic American Express account or redeemed by the estate or an eligible party, according to the company’s website.
Give the company a call and ask if points can be redeemed or transferred to another account.
American Express Membership Rewards
Just make sure two people don’t call Hyatt customer service asking to transfer points.
Since most companies decide how to handle a deceased person’s points on a case-by-case basis, the smartest thing to do is to redeem your rewards regularly. This way, you don’t build up a small fortune of unused credit card points that become worthless after you die.
Another option is adding family members as authorized users on your credit cards or “pooling” points with loved ones.
Capital One Rewards
“If you continue to utilize a credit card or its points after someone dies, that’s basically financial fraud,” Ewen said.
Check the policies of each rewards program you use and see if points can be transferred to a beneficiary after you die.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Here is the step-by-step process to transfer points.
If you’re the executor of the estate, you’ll need to send a formal written request to the company’s Membership Rewards Correspondence Unit to get the points distributed.
However, even if you include a clause in your will to transfer points to a loved one after you die, it may be fruitless if your final wishes go against the company’s policy.
“The most important thing is for your loved one or the executor of your estate to have access to these accounts so they can log in and take the appropriate actions,” Ewen said.
Giving customer service a call is worth a try, even if transferring points isn’t clearly spelled out in the company’s policy. Many customer service representatives have the flexibility to waive transfer fees and credit the miles or points to your account.
If you’re dealing with credit card points, you should call the credit card company and explain the situation. You might be able to get the points transferred to your own account or cash them out.
You can also try leaving your points or miles in your will.
According to the company’s policy, points can be transferred after death, but not elite status or awards.
If you fly with JetBlue frequently, this can help ensure your family has access to your TrueBlue points in case you die.
Whether you’re planning ahead so your family can utilize your rewards after you’re gone or you’re a family member trying to navigate a loved one’s account after they’ve passed, here’s how to manage reward points upon death. (Note: You should get legal advice before you start navigating a deceased person’s estate.)
Navigating a loved one’s affairs after they pass away can be stressful and exhausting. Source: thepennyhoarder.com
AwardWallet lets you link all your loyalty program information to a single app. You can also access AwardWallet from a desktop or laptop. So long as your loved one has your AwardWallet login, they can easily see the reward balances for each of your accounts.
This document can help your loved one navigate your various online accounts after you pass away.
But what happens to those points and miles after you die?
If you’re looking for a way to consolidate information about all your rewards programs into one place so your family can easily access the information, check out AwardWallet.
There’s no limit on how many points can be transferred, and Hilton won’t charge you a fee to transfer them.
Your best bet is to call Capital One and ask what your options are.
Airline companies have more straightforward policies on how to transfer frequent flier miles after death.
You can enroll in the company’s Family Pooling program, which allows two or more members to link their accounts and earn points together. This way a friend or family member can access your miles automatically after you die.
Upon notification of the account holder’s death, Chase automatically redeems rewards for cash in the form of a statement credit.
In this situation, call the credit card company and see if points can be transferred or cashed out.
You can enroll in JetBlue’s Points Pooling feature, which lets you add up to seven friends and family members to a single account so you can earn awards faster.
Hilton provides clear instructions on how to transfer reward points after an account holder dies.
“Each company has its own specific stipulations and requirements,” said Nick Ewen, senior editor of The Points Guy, a travel website focused on helping readers accumulate reward points.
If you’re trying to access their credit card points or airline miles, you can try logging into their account or calling customer service.
World of Hyatt
Make sure to call American Express before you cancel your family member’s credit card. According to the company’s website: “Accrued Membership Rewards points will be forfeited immediately upon cancellation of all cards…The estate or eligible party may only be able to redeem points within a certain time frame.”
“The reality is these programs aren’t going to know that your loved one has passed away unless you notify them,” Ewen told The Penny Hoarder.
Every credit card issuer has its own rules for managing points after death. Many handle these situations on a case-by-case basis.
For airline miles and hotel points, it might be easier to just log into your family member’s account and use their remaining points that way.
Not every airline lets you transfer points. But remember: A phone call to customer service can go a long way.
Accessing Points After Someone Dies
Marriott’s rewards program, Marriott Bonvoy, lets you transfer points to another existing Marriott Bonvoy account.
You can transfer points from a deceased member’s account to another member after contacting Hilton. You’ll need to provide a copy of the death certificate and official documents establishing your legal authority over the member’s estate.
Contact Customer Service
However, the airline may be willing to work with you if you give them a call.
If you’re a member of United’s MileagePlus Program, your points and miles can be transferred after you die.
The company’s policy gets a little confusing If your account isn’t linked with another person. Frontier says points can’t be transferred upon death, but its website also states: “In instances of multiple executors or heirs of miles based on court documents, miles are divided as directed by the court.”
Automatic cash-back redemption: The company may cash out the points and credit it to the estate or the executor. This often lowers the value of the points.
Transfers: This option lets you transfer the points to your own account. However, it may involve some paperwork and a transfer fee.
Forfeiture: You’ll lose everything in the account. This is the worst case scenario.
American Airlines, like nearly all airlines, states in its terms and conditions that points are not property and therefore cannot be transferred upon death.
Try to Access the Account On Your Own
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.
Southwest, like Delta, also has strict rules against transferring Rapid Rewards points to someone else after an account holder dies.
However, some companies may let a family member cash out the rewards or transfer points after an account holder dies.
You need to supply the death certificate and documentation showing you’re the executor of the estate. You’ll also need to provide the name and account numbers for both accounts, along with details about the request.
Not Recommended for Credit Card Points
You must request the transfer within one year of the member’s death.
While points can’t be transferred to another account, the account won’t be deactivated until 24 months after the person dies.
Credit cards are part of your traditional assets, so they must be properly settled upon an account holder’s death, Ewen said.
It turns out reward points aren’t considered property — so you typically can’t name a beneficiary to inherit them. You’re not legally entitled to have them transferred to anyone upon your death either.
Hyatt makes it easy to transfer points to another World of Hyatt rewards member after the original account holder dies.
How to Pass Along Points After Death
If you have a travel rewards credit card or elite status with a hotel or airline, your stash of points could be worth thousands of dollars.
According to the company’s terms and conditions: “…in the event that Hyatt receives competing transfer requests from more than one person sharing the deceased Member’s residential address and such dispute cannot be resolved to Hyatt’s satisfaction, Hyatt may refuse all transfers and void the deceased Member’s points.”
“Take an ‘earn and burn’ mentality,” Ewen recommended. “Your points will never be more valuable than they are right now, so the best thing you can do is use your miles when you’re around to enjoy them.”
Capital One doesn’t say on its website if points are transferable upon death, although it does provide instructions on how to close a member’s account.
Give Your Family Access to Your Account Information
Some people leave their login information and instructions in a digital estate plan.
Your family will need to provide the fees and documentation required by the airline.
You’ll need to provide proper documentation, including a copy of the death certificate.
However, Ewen said the same rules don’t apply to credit card points.
Add It to Your Will
Have a copy of the death certificate handy when you call.
According to the company’s website: “In the event of the death…of a Member, United may, in its sole discretion, credit all or a portion of such Member’s accrued mileage to authorized persons upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to United and payment of applicable fees.” Here are some of the options you might encounter:
There are laws about closing a person’s credit card accounts in a timely manner after they die. It’s illegal to make new transactions on a deceased member’s credit card account.
According to the company’s policy: “American Airlines, in its sole discretion, may credit accrued mileage to persons specifically identified in court-approved divorce decrees and wills upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to American Airlines and upon payment of any applicable fees.” Otherwise, the company doesn’t let you transfer points outside of the pool program, according to the TrueBlue terms and conditions.
The opulent 123-room Holmby Hills estate known simply as The Manor has resurfaced on the market, this time with an even more ambitious price tag: $165 million
When it last sold in 2019, the property broke LA County sales records, trading hands for $120 million
The Manor was built by legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling at the height of his fame and fortune
Often dubbed ‘the world’s first McMansion’, the Spelling Manor spawned a great deal of controversy in the ’80s and ’90s
With its sheer size and ostentatious architecture, the estate is truly one of a kind, and comes with every amenity imaginable (and some you wouldn’t even think of)
After Spelling’s death, The Manor was bought by F1 heiress Petra Ecclestone, who made significant upgrades to the property before selling it for a record amount
After shattering LA County records in 2019 with its $120 million sale, the Holmby Hills behemoth estate — known as The Manor — is back on the market.
And this time, it’s seeking a mind-boggling $165 million (Jeff Hyland and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland hold the listing).
Ironically (or maybe very much on purpose), the $165 million listing price is the exact amount Jeff Bezos paid for his Beverly Hills mansion in 2020, a purchase that dethroned The Manor as the most expensive Los Angeles sale.
Competitiveness aside, there aren’t many homes in the world that can compete with the one once known as ‘Spelling Manor’.
One of the grandest private homes ever built
Built at the height of his fame (and fortune) by legendary Hollywood producer Aaron Spelling, The Manor is the largest home in all of Los Angeles.
A sprawling estate that sits on 5 acres of land and has a whopping 123 rooms (including 27 bathrooms and 14 bedrooms), the chateau-like property was a hot topic among locals for years after it was built in 1988.
The eccentric TV producer — who died in the mansion in 2006, at the age of 83 — didn’t pull any stops when it came to building his dream home.
In fact, on top of its sheer size and luxurious features, Spelling made sure to include unique features like a bowling alley, an ice rink and an entire wing devoted to his wife’s wardrobe.
But before we go into the uproar caused by what was likely the world’s first McMansion, let’s look at its most recent history — record-setting in itself.
Setting records: The Manor last sold for $120 million
The opulent mansion was owned until recently by F1 heiress Petra Ecclestone, who bought the property after Spelling’s death.
Ecclestone made some major upgrades to the estate, investing close to $20 million in improvements, then sold it for a fortune 8 years later, in 2019.
And despite its final selling price falling short of the ambitious initial asking of $200 million, that doesn’t make it any less staggering. An unnamed buyer reportedly paid $119.75 million for the well-known Los Angeles property (now dubbed simply as The Manor).
That was the highest home price in Los Angeles County history at the time (dethroned by Jeff Bezos’ $165 million purchase of the Geffen estate in 2020) and only the fourth sale to surpass the $100 million mark in L.A. history, the LA Times reports.
The national record is held by a New York penthouse towering over Central Park that sold in January for a record $238 million.
Now, what’s the story of the 56,500-square-foot chateau in Holmby Hills that has the power to command a $120 million sale? And the audacity to ask for even more the second time around?
For those of us that didn’t grow up in L.A. in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the massive estate may not bring back memories. But for the people of Los Angeles, The Manor has been a topic of discussion for years.
The story (and controversy) of Aaron Spelling’s ostentatious manor
When I was a little kid, I remember thinking pf Aaron Spelling as TV royalty.
The man had his name on pretty much everything I would watch on TV, his name leading credits for everything from the Love Boat to Dynasty, Sunset Beach, and Beverly Hills 90210, amassing an incredible fortune in the process.
When news first broke about a Dynasty-worthy mansion he was building for himself, nothing felt off place.
In the spirit of the shows that made him his vast fortune, it even figured that he donned his own name to the palatial abode he built on what is arguably L.A.’s most prestigious street.
A colossal structure spanning 56,000 square feet of living space, the Spelling Manor took shape as one of the most massive and outrageously lavish properties in the country.
But building the most ostentatious mansion in the country doesn’t necessarily get you the type of recognition Spelling was likely going after.
Since the moment Spelling started building his estate, the project spawned a great deal of controversy over its massive size and ostentatious architecture. In April 1988, the Los Angeles Times asked:
“What’s bigger than a football field, smaller than Hearst Castle, has a bowling alley and an entire floor of closets, and is making some people very annoyed?
Aaron and Candy Spelling’s 56,500-square-foot (5,250 m2) mansion in Holmby Hills. The French chateau, under construction now for two years, has turned the corner of Mapleton and Club View drives into a gawker’s paradise. Sprawled across 6 acres (2.4 ha) on what once was the Bing Crosby estate, the house dwarfs the sizable mansions on the block and looms large over tranquil Holmby Park near Wilshire Boulevard.“
The LA Times, April 1988
After the manor took its current shape, Los Angeles Times architecture critic Sam Hall Kaplan panned the structure as one of the region’s worst projects built in the course of the ’80s:
“Aaron Spelling residence, which at 56,500 square feet (5,250 m2), should be considered a congregate living facility and not a single-family home, and therefore in violation of Holmby Hills zoning. What Spelling’s folly is, of course, is a sad commentary on the distorted values that have taken the architectural form of monster mansions at a time when tens of thousands of persons are homeless.“
But the outrage didn’t stop here. In fact, Aaron and Candy Spelling’s manor quickly seeped into popular culture, with a never-ending stream of references and jokes being made at the expense of the Spellings.
Performer John Perry composed a calypso/rap novelty song about the house called “The Ballad of Aaron and Candy (An Ode to Spelling’s Dwelling)” that ran like this:
See Candy’s jewels, see Aaron’s money, Aaron doesn’t think being picked on is funny. See Candy’s clothes, see Aaron’s pad See Aaron and Candy’s castle make the neighbors mad. But they’re livin’ in splendor high above the crowds 60,000 square feet of heaven. That’s Spelling’s dwelling, I said Spelling’s Dwelling…
Aaron and Candy Spelling brushed off the ridicule and lived many years in the massive estate.
Aaron Spelling died in the mansion on June 23, 2006, at age 83. Three years later, the property was listed for sale at an asking price of $150 million, making it the most expensive listing in America at the time.
The last known owner of The Manor, F1 heiress Petra Ecclestone, heavily renovated the former Spelling mansion
It wasn’t until summer 2011 that a new owner emerged for the eccentric estate.
Petra Ecclestone, daughter of Formula One racing baron Bernie Ecclestone, paid an astounding $85 million in cash to buy the property from Candy Spelling.
She then hired designer Gavin Brodin to update the rather matronly interiors in a massive renovation project that was to be completed in less than three months.
The project was so grand some outlets report that there were up to 500 workers on the property at a time, and that the total costs amounted to more than $20 million.
The European-influenced contemporary result got a wide spread in a W Magazine article titled “Lady of the Manor”.
But running an estate that’s bigger than the White House proved to be quite the task for Ecclestone.
According to Sam Palmer, Petra’s fiancé at the time, who shared the home with the heiress, running an estate as massive as The Manor takes a lot of resources.
Palmer said he was surprised at the expense and difficulty of running the roughly 5-acre property, which requires 35 to 50 full-time staff members.
And Ecclestone likely started feeling the burden of that, as she didn’t hold on to the former Spelling mansion for more than a few years.
After trying to sell the property off-market for $150 million, she listed it for sale in 2016 for a whopping $200 million. And while there have been rumors that even Jay-Z and Beyonce toured it at one point, no serious buyer had emerged until news of the record sale broke out in 2019.
As previously mentioned, we know that the new buyer paid a mind-boggling $119.75 million for what was once the Spelling mansion.
But even though a few years have passed since the purchase, nobody really found out who bought the lavish estate. Maybe the hype around the re-listing of The Manor will shed some light on who the owner is — or give us a buyer whose fame and fortune can match those of its illustrious past residents.
More palatial estates
The Playboy Mansion: Hugh Hefner’s Party Home is Now Part of Modern HistoryVilla Sophia is a Hollywood Darling with Old World Tuscan Charm Greystone Mansion: the Most Familiar House You’ve Never VisitedThe Thrilling History of The Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ Iconic Summer Estate in Newport
Investment apps are giving people more ways than ever before to buy and sell cryptocurrency.
Traders in the past were limited to crypto exchanges, like Gemini and BiNance, which feature complex registration and transaction processes that can be intimidating to newcomers.
Apps such as Robinhood, SoFi, Webull, Public and others have simplified the process for retail consumers. These apps act as crypto brokers, placing digital coin orders directly with exchanges on the user’s behalf.
Now, investors can dabble in crypto in the same app they use to buy more traditional assets like stocks and ETFs.
Investment App Users Eye Crypto’s Big Paydays
Volatility is a trademark of cryptocurrency. Yet a majority of investment app users accept those roller-coaster price fluctuations in exchange for high potential payoffs.
The Penny Hoarder polled nearly 2,000 investment app users in December 2021, and over half of respondents (51%) view cryptocurrency as a high risk, high reward investment. On the flip side, nearly 30% of survey respondents considered cryptocurrency a low-risk investment.
Those perceptions — coupled with investors’ real money — have been on a wild ride.
Bitcoin — the long-time crypto heavyweight — increased 63% in 2021 alone, driving the entire crypto market to a combined $2 trillion in value.
Ethereum also experienced eye-popping growth in 2021, rising in value by more than 400%.
While Etherum nearly doubled in price from February 2021 to February 2022, the currency experienced massive booms and busts along the way:
February 2, 2021: $1,513
May 14, 2021: $4,080
July 20, 2021: $1,786
Nov. 8, 2021: $4,811
Feb.1, 2022: $2,789
In early 2022, the global crypto market plummeted, erasing more than $1 trillion in wealth. The volatility of cryptocurrency continues to raise concerns about the inherent risk of investing in this speculative and unregulated market.
Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin Are the Most Popular Coins Among Investment App Users
Bitcoin reigned No. 1 with investment app users — 52% of respondents say they’ve bought the digital coin.
Etherum ran a distant second with 35% of respondents buying in.
Dogecoin — a headline-grabbing memecoin hyped by billionaire Elon Musk in 2021 — was the third most popular cryptocurrency among survey respondents, at 34%.
Celebrities Hold Sway With Crypto Buyers
Celebrities and influencers are also throwing their weight behind cryptocurrency, promoting digital assets to their legions of followers.
More than four in 10 respondents (45%) said a celebrity influenced their decision to buy cryptocurrency, according to survey data.
High-profile figures to publicly back crypto coins and exchanges include Matt Damon, Paris Hilton, Jamie Foxx, Tom Brady, Ashton Kutcher and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Interestingly, respondents aged 35-44 were the group most likely to say a celeb persuaded them to buy crypto, at 53%.
In contrast, respondents aged 54 and older were the least likely to buy crypto based on a celebrity endorsement, at 32%.
Celebrities aren’t financial experts, and their growing influence over young investors is raising concern — and prompting legal action.
Lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against Kim Kardashian, former NBA star Paul Pierce and boxer Floyd Mayweather in January 2022, accusing the celebrities of hyping a little-known coin called EthereumMax.
The suit claims EthereumMax operated a “pump and dump” scheme, where misleading marketing is used to inflate the price of an asset, “causing investors to purchase these losing investments at inflated prices,” according to court documents.
The lawsuit is the latest example of crypto’s mainstream popularity — and speculative nature.
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.
About the Survey
The Penny Hoarder conducted the random national survey in partnership with Pollfish from December 15-18, 2021. Pollfish screened respondents by asking if they had used at least one investment app regularly within the past year: 3,581 people responded to the screening question, with 2,000 people who used at least one investment app regularly advancing to the survey’s 20 questions. The Penny Hoarder analyzed the data and removed 82 responses that were not valid, bringing the response count to 1,918. Responses were weighted for age and gender so that each response is representative of the U.S. population. The overall survey’s margin of error is +-2 percentage points at a 95% confidence interval.
Update 1/23/22: Deal is back, people have been sent an e-mail. Subject line is ‘You’re invited to upgrade. Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points.’ There is a unique 14 RSVP code on each e-mail so link can’t be shared.
No direct link. Shows up in amex offers
Some American Express Hilton cardholders are being offered to upgrade to the Hilton Ascend or Aspire card and receive a bonus of 150,000 points after $4,000 in spend within the first three months
Nice deal if targeted. The nice thing about upgrade offers is that it’s possible to get the upgrade bonus even if you’ve received the sign up bonus on that card previously. For more information on upgrade offers in general, you’ll find this linked post highly helpful.
American Express is offering increased sign up bonuses on three of the Hilton credit cards. The offers are as follows:
Hilton Honors no fee card: Get 70,000 Hilton Honors points plus a free night award after $1,000 spend in 3 months.
Hilton Honors Surpass with $95 annual fee: Get 130,000 Hilton Honors points plus a free night award after $2,000 spend in 3 months.
Hilton Honors Business with $95 annual fee: Get 130,000 Hilton Honors points plus a free night award after $2,000 spend in 3 months.
These deals are also showing up via referrals (please do not share your referrals in the comments). Previously the best deals have been 150k points on the no fee card, 200k for the surpass and 180k for the business card or similar deals but with a cash component. It’s important to note that the free night certificates can be used any day of the weekend, they aren’t restricted weekend night certificates. How useful these deals are will depend on what type of properties you like to stay at but for most people this will be better than we have seen before. We will add these to our best credit card bonuses.
As always I don’t recommend signing up for these cards unless you have a use of the points/free night certificates in the short to medium term as bonuses are always trending up (as the value of points trends down with devaluations).
My family and I recently stayed in a two-bedroom apartment for the same cost as cramming into a dull corporate hotel room. I don’t have an in with the owner or know someone who knows someone. I just used a booking app.
A hotel booking app can help save you time, hassle, and money when planning your next trip. And these hotel booking apps could help you find a deal just as good as the one they found me.
Best Independent Hotel Booking Apps
Independent apps aren’t affiliated with a specific hotel brand. They aggregate options across a range of hotel chains and independent lodging to provide you with an abundance of choices and travel deals. To get the best deals, download the heavy hitters and check them all before you book.
Arguably the most popular website for reserving accommodations, Booking.com has a robust, easy-to-use app that deserves a spot on your smartphone. One of the best things about this app is the sheer number of options it offers, including accommodations in off-the-beaten-path locations around the world.
If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, the app makes it easy to view the address of your hotel in the local language. If you need to show a taxi or rideshare driver where you’re headed, you can simply pull it up in the app and point.
Finally, the interface makes it easy to see all past, current, and future trips, and it highlights any loyalty discounts you’re eligible for at properties across the globe.
But you can book more than just hotel stays. The app searches for private vacation rentals like those listed on Airbnb and Vrbo. It also displays the hotel’s or host’s cancellation policy, noting the date range for free cancellation.
Another major search engine in the online booking space, Hotels.com includes hundreds of thousands of properties in more than 200 countries and territories.
Hotels.com’s best perk is the free night you get for every 10 nights you book through it. But you have to use the app to book your reward night at no charge. If you use the website, it costs $5.
The app also lets you view or modify current reservations and view your reward progress toward free nights.
Priceline rose to fame for its name-your-own-price feature. While it phased out that feature starting in 2016, Priceline replaced it with two new features called Pricebreakers and Express Deals.
Pricebreakers show you a price quote and the names of three hotels in your destination city, and you book without knowing which hotel you’ll land. You get a deal in exchange for flexibility.
Express Deals also involves a bit of dice-rolling. They quote you a price, the approximate location, the hotel star rating, and the hotel amenities and bed size. You also see three possible hotels on a map, one of which is the real one.
With a bit of online detective work, you can often sleuth out which hotel they’ve quoted you. But even if you can’t, the deal you get may still be worth it.
The only drawback is that there’s no free cancellation when you book through these programs.
Or you can use Priceline’s more common features, such as booking hotels, flights, rental cars, and even cruises at retail pricing. It includes exclusive deals and promotions on hotels you can’t get on the website.
Priceline also now offers a loyalty program called Priceline VIP. Once you complete two trips with Priceline, you start seeing discounts up to 50% on over 15,000 properties on their platform.
After five completed trips, you reach VIP Gold and start seeing discounts on over 30,000 properties. And at 25 completed trips, the number of discounted properties rises to 45,000.
If you enjoy playing the travel rewards game and want to see just how steeply discounted a rate you can find, Expedia is the app for you. It often features exclusive app-only deals. Plus, you get double rewards points on everything you book through the app.
Like other hotel booking apps, Expedia hosts a wealth of hotel reviews from real guests to help you find the best stay.
You can also use the app to book other Expedia services, like flights, car rentals, tickets, and tours. Expedia offers mobile-only discounts of up to 30% on hotels and says you can save an additional estimated 43% when bundling a hotel with your flight.
Plus, the app alerts you about important travel information like flight updates, delays, and gate changes before it causes a problem.
Expedia also offers a convenient buy-now, pay-later service for hotel deals so you can pay at the hotel rather than upfront.
HotelsCombined sets itself apart from the rest in a few ways. It offers tons of pictures of potential hotels, which appeals to people who want to know exactly what they’re getting into when booking a room.
It also has a price alert feature that lets you sign up for an email notification when a room you’re interested in drops in price by 10% or more. If you can plan ahead to get the specific hotel you want, this feature can help you score a great deal.
HotelsCombined also offers a best-price guarantee. If you find a better deal elsewhere within 24 hours of booking, HotelsCombined matches it and refunds you the difference.
The app also says it can unlock “secret deals” exclusive to users. Try it to see how much it can actually save you. You can always invoke their best-price guarantee if you spot a better deal later.
The Travelocity app does everything you’d expect. You can book flights, hotels, and rental cars and bundle them for discounts. You can also browse and search activities to fill out your trip.
Beyond hotels, the app also includes private vacation rentals like you’d find on Airbnb. That helps you find the best accommodation at the lowest price regardless of the property type.
Travelocity offers free cancellation on most hotel bookings. You can even filter search results to list only hotels that let you reserve now and pay later.
Travelocity offers its own price guarantee. It not only matches the better offer but gives you a $50 coupon toward your next booking. But the window only lasts 24 hours after booking.
In addition to their price guarantee, Travelocity guarantees excellent and timely customer service. That includes 24-hour customer service through email, phone, chat, and social media channels.
Best Hotel Booking Apps for Last-Minute Deals
Most hotels have loads of unused rooms that go unused on a given night. And some apps take advantage of that by offering these vacant rooms for far less than their list price.
If you enjoy the thrill of a last-minute hotel search or need a place to stay in a strange city on the fly, these apps have you covered.
Perhaps your Airbnb host cancels your reservation the day of your arrival or you miss your flight and the first available connection isn’t until the next day. With HotelTonight on your phone, you can book a hotel reservation for the same evening or up to seven days in advance.
HotelTonight aggregates a city’s empty hotel rooms in one place, and you can book one for up to 50% off the full price. The app’s express deals go live at noon each day, and in some cities, you could have thousands of hotel rooms to choose from across multiple price points.
The app is user-friendly and has a tiered loyalty program called HT Perks, which can net you even better rates the more loyalty credits you accrue. Even better, those loyalty points never expire.
8. One Night
If flying by the seat of your pants when you travel sounds appealing, One Night is the app for you. You can only book a reservation after noon for the same night in a select number of cities, usually at an enticing discount to sweeten the deal.
Once you book a night, you can extend your accommodations for up to seven days.
The thing that sets One Night apart from other last-minute booking apps is that when you select your hotel, the app gives you hour-by-hour suggestions for fun things to do in your destination city. If you like to travel like a local, this is the app for you.
Best Hotel Chain Apps
If you take advantage of travel loyalty programs, it’s smart to have the app of your preferred hotel on your smartphone. With these iOS and Android apps, you can skip the line, choose your room, and unlock other member perks with ease.
Marriott boasts more than 6,700 hotels in 130 countries. That means Marriott group owns 1 in 15 hotel rooms in the world. So you definitely won’t be starved for choices if you book accommodations on the Marriott app.
Once you book, you can request upgrades and late checkouts right from your phone. You can also request extras for your room, like a hair dryer or extra towels.
If you frequently stay at any of Marriott’s 30 brands of hotel properties, join Marriott’s Bonvoy rewards program and keep this app on your phone. The app’s Eat Around Town feature lets you link a credit card and pay for meals directly, earning up to six Marriott points per dollar spent.
Marriott Bonvoy also keeps you posted about hotel promotions all over the world, helping you save money wherever you visit.
10. Hilton Honors
If you’re a Hilton Honors devotee, you’ll love the app feature that everyone raves about: getting to choose your exact room ahead of time.
At many hotels, you can see a map of the property and pick the room you want via the app. That’s especially popular with travelers who have a particular preference, such as a high floor with a view or distance from the elevator, or those who want to be near a specific amenity like the pool or fitness center.
The app also has a digital key feature that lets you use your smartphone to unlock the door to your room at select properties. Finally, being able to check out of your room at the end of your stay via the app means you won’t be stuck in line at the front desk during checkout.
The Hilton Honors app particularly helps you manage and optimize your Hilton rewards, finding exclusive promotions and stretching your reward points further.
Hyatt’s mobile app is called World of Hyatt after their rewards program.
Through the app, you can stream personal entertainment content through the TV in your room with Chromecast, unlock your door with your phone, and contact the hotel directly in real time through a chat function both before and during your stay. Best of all, you can skip the front desk check-in entirely.
You can also view your progress toward rewards, tap into exclusive promotions, and see any points you’ve earned with previous stays at a Hyatt property.
Shorthand for InterContinental Hotels Group, IHG has almost 6,000 hotels worldwide.
Its app encourages customers to book travel directly with the chain instead of using a third-party site. It does so by offering a member-exclusive rate with savings of 3% on average if you book directly.
The app also features special rewards offers and discounts and lets you view your points balance toward a free or discounted stay.
In addition to a user-friendly interface, the app has a travel tools section with neighborhood guides and maps. Finally, it offers a white noise feature in case you don’t sleep well in hotels.
If you enjoy hunting for the best hotel deal to save money on vacation or racking up loyalty points you can trade for free nights and other perks, it pays to download the best travel apps to your smartphone.
From skipping the line at check-in to finding the lowest hotel prices to simply being able to view the property beforehand, using hotel booking apps is an easy, free way to be a savvy traveler.
G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.
As we near the end of year, it’s a good time to take stock of our credit cards and review which ones have benefits, requirements, or limits that reset at year-end. We’ll also examine which cards give you a quick double-dip credit when applying at year-end, and take a look at which cards to apply for now.
I’ve been doing this write-up with updates each year for the past number of years (2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015). This year again there were lots of changes, both temporary and permanent. I tried updating what came to mind, but we’re probably missing a lot of them below. Please drop a comment with things that need updating and we’ll do so.
Calendar Year Spend Limits
Blue Business Plus and Blue Business Cash cards earn 2x/2% everywhere on up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year. (A report indicates this resets on January 1st, not the December statement close.)
The new Amex Gold card earns 4x points at US grocery stores up to $25,000 per calendar year. (Resets with December statement or December 31?)
Amex SimplyCash Plus earns 5% at office/wireless and 3% on your chosen category, up to $50,000 per calendar year for each of those. This resets on January 1st each year.
Amex Everyday Preferred $6,000 limit on the 3x grocery store category per calendar year. (Resets with December statement or December 31?)
Amex Everyday $6,000 limit on the 2x grocery store category per calendar year. (Resets with December statement or December 31?)
Blue Cash Preferred $6,000 limit on the 6% grocery store category per calendar year. This resets January 1 each year, not on the December close date.
Blue Cash Everyday $6,000 limit on the 3% grocery store category per calendar year. This resets January 1 each year, not on the December close date.
(The Old Blue Cash card does not reset with the calendar year, it goes with your card anniversary.)
(The INK Plus/Cash and the INK Preferred years do not reset with the calendar year, it goes with the card anniversary.)
Chase Freedom, Discover, Citi Dividend, and U.S. Bank Cash+ and a few other cards have quarterly categories. The current categories for Q4 will end on December 31. More details here. Likewise, the quarterly $2,500 limit on the Bank of America Cash Rewards card will renew on January 1.
Also, remember that the annual limits on points earned for credit card referrals by Chase (50,000 points/$500) and AmEx (55,000 points/$550) will reset on January 1st. If you’re someone who does a lot of referrals, be sure to max out what you can before December 31 and then start referring again on January 1st.
Calendar Year Spend Requirements
Amex Hilton Surpass gets a free weekend night with $15,000 in spend within the calendar year, and gets Diamond status with $40,000 in spend within the calendar year.
Amex Hilton Honors business card gets a free weekend night with $15,000 in spend within the calendar year, it gets a second weekend night with a total of $60,000 in spend within the calendar year. It also gets Diamond status with $40,000 in spend within the calendar year.
Amex Hilton Honors gets Gold status with $20,000 in spend within the calendar year.
Amex Hilton Aspire gets a second free weekend night with $60,000 in spend within the calendar year. (First weekend night comes as a card benefit, and is based on card anniversary, not calendar year.
Amex Delta Reserve – both personal and business versions – earn 15,000 MQMs (18,750 MGMs for 2021 due to temporary bonus) and 15,000 bonus miles $30,000 in spend within the calendar year, and an additional 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles if you spend a total of $60,000 within the calendar year.
Amex Delta Platinum – both personal and business versions- earn 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles when you spent $25,000 in a calendar year, and an additional 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles if you spend a total of $50,000 within the calendar year.
Barclay Jetblue Plus card earns Mosaic status with $50,000 in spend per calendar year.
Chase British Airways card gets the Travel Together Ticket benefit when spending $30,000 in a calendar year.
(Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select card gets $125 flight discount certificate after spending $20,000 or more – this goes with the cardmember year (based on 12 billing statements), not based on calendar year.)
(US Bank Radisson Rewards card comes with up to three free nights when completing annual spend; one night for each $10,000 in spend. Looks like this goes with the cardmember year (based on 12 statements), not based on calendar year.)
American Express Cards
Amex Platinum personal, Platinum business, Hilton Aspire, and the Gold card have an airline incidental credit each year: $250 for the Hilton Aspire, $200 for the Platinum cards, and $100 for the Gold (see what counts here). Unfortunately, gift cards no longer trigger the airline incidental credits, which makes them much less valuable.
With these cards, the airline credit is based on the calendar year, not on the statement closing. You can put the airline incidental charges anytime until December 31 and have it count toward the current year. It might have to actually post before year’s end, though; give a few days for that to happen.
The Amex airline credit is different than the others in this list in that you only get reimbursed for incidental spend on your designated airline. Be sure to designate that before putting the charge on the card.
If you’re looking to apply, there is still time to do so and get the airline credit for the current year. (The annual fee usually hits around a month after card approval – useful to keep in mind for maximizing the travel credits without annual fees.) The $100 credit on the Gold card ends this year and is no longer available for new applicants.
Related: Opening a Schwab Brokerage, Checking, and Amex Platinum Credit Card before Year’s End
Platinum Hotel Credit
The Platinum personal card comes with a $200 annual hotel credit on select prepaid bookings with American Express Travel. Be sure to book before December 31st. You don’t need to complete your travel by that date.
Platinum Uber Credit
The Platinum personal card also comes with a monthly $15 credit, remember that it gets increased to $35 during the month of December.
Platinum Saks Credit
The Platinum personal card also comes with a $50 Saks Fifth Avenue credit twice per year: one from January to June and one from July to December. Be sure to use that up before the end of December. They only charge you after the item ships, so give some leeway here.
Platinum Business Dell Credit
The business Platinum card comes with a $200 Dell credit twice per year: one from January to June and one from July to December. Be sure to use that up before the end of December (along with the Amex Offer at Dell which expires then). Give some leeway for the charge to post by December 31.
The Hilton Aspire card also comes with a $250 Hilton Resort Credit and a free weekend night. Those are based on the cardmember year, not calendar year.
Amex Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with a $300 annual credit for charges at the hotels. This goes based on your card anniversary, not based on the calendar year.
The Green personal card comes with an annual $100 CLEAR credit and annual $100 LoungeBuddy credit. These reset each calendar year, so you should be able to use the credit for this year anytime until December 31.
Bank of America
The Bank of America Premium Rewards card comes with $100 airline incidental credit (see what counts here). This resets based on the calendar year. Finish up your statement credit with this one by December 31 (buying AA gift card is easiest), and start using your new credit on January 1. I’ll buy the gift card right away in the beginning of January in case they close that loophole.
Elite Visa Infinite
The Bank of America Elite Visa Infinite card comes with an annual $300 airline incidental credit and $150 lifestyle convenience credit (including streaming services, food delivery, fitness subscriptions and rideshare services). These reset with the calendar year. Be sure to use up your credits from this year now, and begin using next year’s credits after the new year begins.
The Barclay JetBlue Plus card gets $100 calendar year credit for JetBlue Vacations bookings.
Capital One Venture X
The Capital One Venture X card offers a $300 credit for bookings made on Capital One Travel. This renews each cardmember year, it’s not based on the calendar year.
Earning 125,000 Southwest points earns you the Southwest Companion Pass. The best way to time your 125,000 miles is to earn them at the beginning of the calendar year since Companion Pass continues for the next entire calendar year. For example, if you earn 125,000 Southwest miles during January 2022, you’ll have the Companion Pass for the rest of 2022 and the entire 2023.
The easiest strategy to earn the Companion Pass has always been by getting a credit card signup bonus on the Southwest credit card. In our case, you’ll want to apply sometime in the next couple of months, taking care to ensure NOT to meet the spend requirement until after January 1st. (Technically, you can meet the spend requirement during December, so long as the statement won’t close until after the 1st.) The signup bonus points on the two cards will post after you complete the spend in early 2020, and you’ll have a Companion Pass for nearly two years.
Southwest is currently offering a signup bonus of 100,000 points with $12,000 spend; 50,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months, and an additional 50,000 if you spend an additional $10,000 within the first 12 months. After completing your spend, you’ll have at least 112,000 points, just shy of the 125,000 required. To get the final 13,000 points, you can refer a friend or do some category spend or shopping portal spend or an actual flight. Again, be careful with the timing on ALL points earned.
Many of us are not eligible for any of the Southwest cards at all due to the 5/24 rule, or because you’re a current Southwest cardholder of any version or because you got a bonus within the past 24 months.
$75 Southwest Priority Credit
The new Southwest Priority card comes with a $75 annual Southwest travel credit which runs on the cardmember year, not the calendar year – no need to use it up now, specifically.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a $300 travel credit (see what counts here; they temporarily expanded the categories through December 2021 to allow grocery and gas purchases to count). This used to be based on the calendar year, but now it’s based on the cardmember year – no specific need to use this now.
And if you’re applying for a new CSR card, there’s no special reason to apply before year’s end. Whenever you apply, you’ll get just one travel credit during the first year (maybe you can squeeze a second credit in right after the year renews).
Those who got the CSR before May 21, 2017, are grandfathered into the old system where the travel credit renewal goes with the calendar year. (It’s based on the December statement closing, not December 31.) Be sure you’ve already used up your credit for this year, and remember that you’ll soon be able to begin using 2020’s credit.
DoorDash & Peloton Credits
The Sapphire Preferred card comes with a $50 annual hotel credit via the Chase travel portal. This resets based on the cardmember year, not the calendar year.
The Chase Ritz-Carlton card offers up to $300 reimbursements for airline incidental charges (see what counts here). Chase counts the benefit based on the calendar year, not cardmember year. (It goes based on the actual calendar year, not based on your statements.) Use the credits before December 31 and begin using next year’s credit on January 1.
The Chase IHG gets a free night each year. This does not reset with the calendar year, it goes with your card anniversary.
Also note, many people have free night certificates which were extended through December 31, 2021 due to Covid
The Chase Hyatt cards get a free night each year. These do not reset with the calendar year, it goes with your card anniversary.
The World of Hyatt card gets an additional night if you spend $15,000 in the past year. This one has now changed to go based on the calendar year. Finish up your spending now if you’re trying to get the additional night and begin your spending for next year on January 1st.
Most Chase co-brand cards get a free year of DoorDash DashPass. Requires enrollment by 12/31/21.
The Citi Prestige card comes with a $250 travel credit (see what counts here; this has been temporarily expanded to allow grocery and dining through December 2021). The year resets on January 1st. Be sure to give a few days leeway for the charges to go from pending to settled.
If you have a Prestige card, use up the credit now, there’s only a few weeks remaining. The Prestige card is not available for new cardmember signups at this time.
The Citi Rewards+ card comes with a 10% rebate on redemptions, up to 10,000 points bonus per year. This is based on your December statement close. Be sure to max out your 100,000 points redemption before your December statement closes so as to get the full 10k bonus. Redemptions that post on your January statement will count toward next year’s allotment.
Those who have the Citi Expedia+ Voyager card get $100 annual credit toward airline incidentals on qualified airlines, Wi-Fi carriers, or for the Global Entry application fee. This credit resets each calendar year; be sure to use it up before your December statement closes as any purchases on your January statement will count toward next year’s benefit.
AAdvantage Platinum Select
The Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select card gets $125 American Airlines Flight Discount certificate after spending $20,000 or more during your credit cardmembership year (every 12 months from the billing cycle after your anniversary month through the billing cycle of your next anniversary month).
US Bank Altitude
The US Bank Altitude card comes with a $325 annual travel and dining credit. In this case, the travel credit goes based on the cardmember year, not the calendar year. No specific reason to use this now.
Wells Fargo Propel World
The Wells Fargo Propel World card has a $100 airline incidental credit (see what counts here).This credit goes based on the cardmember year, not the calendar year. Check when you applied and be sure to use it up by your anniversary date.
The CNB Crystal card offers a $350 annual incidental charges (see what counts here). CNB counts this based on the calendar year. Any spend until December 31 will count as part of the current year, and January 1 begins the next year. Be sure to complete your spend before December 31. Give a few days for the charge to settle before year’s end (though it reportedly works on the last day too).
The HSBC Premier World Elite comes with $120 annual Lyft credit which is based on the calendar year. Be sure to use these up before December 31.
The PenFed Pathfinder comes with $100 annual air travel ancillary credit (see what counts here). The credit is based on the calendar year, be sure to use yours before the year is up.
Register now to earn 2.5K points per stay with Hilton Points Unlimited Promotion
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Travel rewards credit cards are not one-size-fits-all. They fall into several broad categories.
These categories include airline rewards credit cards designed to reward spending with specific airlines or airline partnerships, hotel credit cards that focus their rewards firepower on hotel stays and related expenses, and even cash back credit cards that offer accelerated cash back earnings on travel-related purchase categories like gasoline, airfare, and restaurant purchases.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you likely stand to benefit from all of these card types. And if you own your own business, you can count on many consumer travel credit cards having small business credit card counterparts, often with additional features and benefits for small business owners.
Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Here’s a look at today’s best travel rewards credit cards.
Pay close attention to these cards’ annual fees, redemption options and point or mile values for each, travel credits, and potentially valuable fringe benefits, such as complimentary airport lounge memberships or hotel credits.
Best Overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
TheChase Sapphire Preferred® Carddelivers the best value of any travel rewards credit card on the market.
The $50 annual credit against hotel purchases made through Chase Travel offsets about half the $95 annual fee. It’s backed up by an excellent rewards program:
5x Points on Chase Travel Purchases: 5x total points on eligible travel purchases made through Chase Travel after the $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit is exhausted. Through March 2022, 5x points on qualifying Lyft rides and eligible Peloton equipment and accessory purchases (up to 25,000 total bonus points earned on Peloton purchases).
Unlimited 3x Categories: 3x points on eligible restaurant dining purchases, select streaming service purchases, and online grocery purchases.
Unlimited 2x Categories: 2x points on other eligible travel purchases.
Base Rewards: Unlimited 1x point on most other eligible purchases.
Sapphire Preferred has some additional features worth noting:
Sign-up Bonus: Spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening to earn 50,000 bonus points.
Key Fees: $95 annual fee after the first year; no foreign transaction fee.
Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.
Best Sign-up Bonus: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
TheIHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Cardhas the best offer for new cardmembers right now:
Earn 125,000 bonus points when you spend at least $3,000 on eligible purchases during the first 3 months your account is open.
This bonus is worth more than 12 full award nights at lower-priced IHG properties. IHG operates nearly 6,000 hotels and resorts in about 100 countries.
Up to 25x Total Points on IHG Purchases: Up to 25x IHG points on all eligible purchases at IHG properties: 10x bonus points per $1 spent with your card and 15x base points per $1 spent as an IHG Rewards Club member.
Unlimited 2x Categories: 2x points on eligible purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.
Base Rewards: Unlimited 1x point on most other eligible purchases.
Key Fees: $89 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee.
Enjoy Platinum Elite status as long as your account remains in good standing.
Claim 1 complimentary award night each year at select IHG hotels.
Find out how to apply for this card here.
Best Annual Travel Credit: Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
TheChase Sapphire Reserve® Card has a $300 annual travel credit that applies to eligible travel purchases: hotels, airfare, car rentals, and more. When fully utilized, it effectively reduces Sapphire Reserve’s $550 annual fee down to $250.
Sign-up Bonus: Spend at least $4,000 in qualifying purchases within 3 months to earn 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points, worth $750 in eligible Chase Travel redemptions.
10x Categories: 10x total points on eligible hotel and car rental purchases made through Chase Travel.
5x Category: 5x total points on eligible airfare purchases through Chase Travel.
Unlimited 3x Categories: 3x total points on eligible dining purchases and most travel purchases (after exhausting the $300 travel credit).
Base Rewards: Unlimited 1x point on all other eligible purchases.
Key Fees: $550 annual fee; $75 annual authorized user fee per user, per card; no foreign transaction fee.
Transfer Ultimate Rewards points 1-for-1 to 10+ travel loyalty partners.
Get complimentary access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass Select.
Get a free year’s subscription to Lyft Pink ($199 value).
Earn a $100 statement credit against your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee
Find out how to apply for this card here.
Best Bonus Categories: Citi Premier® Card
The Citi Premier® Card is one of the few travel rewards credit cards that includes gas and gas station purchases in its travel tier, which earns 3x points per $1 spent. That makes it an ideal choice for travelers driving to or around their destinations.
Citi Premier also adds two broad nontravel categories to its 3x points category: restaurants and supermarkets. That’s a great value-add for anyone who eats.
Sign-up Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after you make $4,000 in purchases with your card in the first 3 months.
Base Rewards: Unlimited 1x point on all other eligible purchases.
Key Fees: $95 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee.
Earn a $100 hotel credit once per year on eligible hotel stays where you spend $500 or more.
Transfer ThankYou points to 10+ travel loyalty partners, mostly 1-for-1.
Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.
Best for Frequent Flyers: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers a slew of valuable benefits for Delta loyalists — a better mix than any other airline credit card. They include:
Complimentary Delta Sky Club membership (free airport lounge access).
A complimentary companion certificate (free airfare, less taxes and fees, for a companion with your paid fare) once per year.
Accelerated progress toward Delta Medallion status with possible benefits like complimentary first class and Comfort+ upgrades, complimentary upgrades for ticketed companions, discounted CLEAR® membership (terms apply and enrollment is required for all these benefits).
General frequent flyer benefits like priority wait list, baggage fee waivers, and priority check-in and boarding.
3x SkyMiles Category: Earn 3x SkyMiles on eligible Delta purchases.
Base Rewards: 1x SkyMiles on all other eligible purchases.
Status Boost: Get 15,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost after you spend $30,000 on your card, up to 4 times per year. Terms apply.
Key Fees: $550 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee.
Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.
Best for Elite Status: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card promises automatic Gold Elite Status in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program as long as your account remains in good standing. That’s enough to make it our top credit card pick for complimentary elite status at hotels.
Gold Elite Status benefits include:
25% bonus on base point earnings at participating Marriott properties
Complimentary room upgrades where available, including select suites
Flexible late checkout (up to 2pm)
Spend $75,000 on your card in a cardmember anniversary year to unlock an upgrade to Platinum Elite Status. Platinum Elite benefits include a 50% bonus on base point earnings, complimentary hotel lounge access where available, and super-flexible late checkout (4pm).
Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first 6 months of card membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply.
6x Rewards Category: 6x points at participating Marriott hotels.
3x Rewards Categories: 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
Base Rewards: 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
Key Fees: $450 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees).
$300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit each year for eligible purchases at participating hotels.
1 free night award per year at participating Bonvoy properties.
Complimentary airport lounge access at more than 1,000 locations worldwide (enrollment required).
$100 annual Marriott Bonvoy property credit at participating properties.
Learn more about this card and find out how you can apply here.
Best for Luxury Perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express has the most generous travel perks lineup of any card on this list. Highlights include:
A $200 airline fee credit each year with the airline of your choice (enrollment required)
Credits worth up to $200 per year on Uber rides (enrollment required).
Complimentary Gold Status with Hilton Honors and Gold Elite Status with Marriott Bonvoy (enrollment required).
Complimentary access to 1,300+ airport lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection (enrollment required).
Up to $550 (on average) in exclusive benefits like room upgrades and complimentary breakfast at Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection properties.
Up to $100 off your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (enrollment required).
Welcome Offer: 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $6,000 within 6 months of opening your account. Plus, earn 10 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. during the first 6 months your account is open (up to $25,000 in combined purchases).
5x Rewards Categories: 5x Membership Rewards points on eligible travel purchases, including flights booked directly with airlines, flights booked through American Express Travel, and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel. Airfare earnings capped at 500,000 points per year.
Key Fees: $695 annual fee; no authorized user fee or foreign transaction fee; late and returned payments cost up to $40 (seerates and fees).
Find out how you can apply for this card here.
Best for Business Travelers: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is a lot like its consumer cousin, the Platinum Card® from American Express. It’s built specially for business travelers seeking the optimal combination of luxury and convenience, with benefits like:
A 35% bonus when you use Membership Rewards® points to book travel with your selected qualifying airline (up to 500,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points each calendar year)
A $200 annual statement credit against purchases made with an airline of your choice (enrollment required)
Complimentary access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide (enrollment required)
Reimbursement for TSA Precheck and Global Entry application fees (up to $100)
Welcome Offer: 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend at least $15,000 in eligible purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
5x Rewards Categories: 5x Membership Rewards points on eligible travel purchases, including flights booked directly with airlines, flights booked through American Express Travel, and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel.
1.5x Rewards Categories: 1.5x points on purchases in key business spending categories and all other purchases greater than $5,000 (cap applies).
Introductory APR: 0% introductory APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases eligible for Pay Over Time. After that, your APR will be 14.24% to 22.24% APR, depending on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at time of account opening. Terms apply.
Key Fees: $595 annual fee ($695 if your application is received on or after Jan. 13, 2022); no foreign transaction fee.
Up to $400 in annual purchase credits for U.S. purchases with Dell (terms apply; enrollment required)
See our American Express Business Platinum Card Review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.
Best Flat-Rate Card: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card’s rewards program couldn’t be simpler. With the exception of hotel and car rental purchases made through Capital One Travel, all eligible purchases earn unlimited 2 miles per $1 spent. That’s an effective 2% rate of return on all spending.
Early Spend Bonus: 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more during the first 3 months. That’s worth $600 at redemption.
5x Bonus Category: 5x miles on hotel and car rental purchases made through Capital One Travel.
Unlimited 2x Rewards: Unlimited 2x miles on all other eligible purchases.
Transfer points to participating travel loyalty partners at favorable rates.
Get a $100 credit against your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
Find out how you can apply for this card here.
Best for Driving Vacations: U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card
The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card is a cash back credit card that earns 4x points on eligible gas station and car rental purchases. That’s enough to make it the best travel card for road trips. (See rates & fees.)
4x Travel Categories: 4x points on eligible travel purchases, including airfare, hotels, and car rentals.
2x Rewards Categories: 2x points on streaming, restaurant dining, and grocery store and grocery delivery purchases.
Base Rewards: 1x point on all other eligible purchases.
Sign-up Bonus: Spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening to earn 50,000 bonus points.
Key Fees: $95 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee.
Up to $600 in cell phone protection coverage per incident (less $25 deductible).
Up to $30 in annual statement credits for eligible streaming services, including Netflix and Spotify®.
Up to $100 to offset your TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry® application fee.
Terms and conditions apply; see rates & fees.
Best for Hotel Stays: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase
TheMarriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chaseoffers tremendous value for Marriott loyalists. Benefits include:
Up to 17x Bonvoy points per $1 spent on all eligible purchases at participating Marriott properties.
1 free night’s stay at participating properties with redemption thresholds up to 35,000 points per night.
Automatic Silver Elite Status with benefits including 10% points bonus on eligible Marriott spend.
Upgrade to Gold Elite Status with $35,000 annual card spend (benefits include a 25% points bonus on eligible Marriott spend).
Sign-up Bonus: Earn 3 bonus free night awards (each valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases. Plus, earn 10x points total on eligible purchases in select categories.
Base Rewards: Unlimited 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
Key Fees: $95 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee.
Find out how to apply for this card here.
Methodology: How We Select the Best Travel Credit Cards
We evaluate travel credit cards using 10 key metrics that matter to frequent travelers.
Some relate to the structure of the card itself, like whether it has a welcome offer for new cardholders (and if so, how generous it is) and the type of rewards it earns (cash back, points, miles).
Others tie back to the card’s intended user: road trippers, frequent flyers, people who prefer a particular hotel brand, and so on.
Here’s why they’re important.
Depending on the issuer, you might see these advertised as “welcome offers,” “early spend bonuses,” or “new cardmember offers/bonuses”.
But no matter what we call them, we can agree on one thing: The travel credit card category is famous for extending ridiculously generous offers to new cardholders able to meet often-hefty spend requirements. With our top travel sign-up bonus pick, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you can fund well over a week of free accommodations at select InterContinental Hotel Group properties.
When is an annual fee not really an annual fee?
When it’s reduced dollar-for-dollar by an annual travel credit. As long as you spend enough on eligible travel purchases to earn the full credit value each cardmember anniversary year, you’ll lower your effective annual fee by a corresponding amount.
A $200 travel credit turns a $500 annual fee into a $300 annual fee, a $300 travel credit turns a $550 annual fee into a $250 annual fee, and so on.
Nontravel Bonus Categories
Many travel credit cards reward nontravel spending over and above the baseline rewards rate. Some cards do this better than others, however. Our top pick, the Citi Premier® Card, pays 3x points on purchases in five categories:
Of these, two are very clearly not travel-related (restaurants and supermarkets) and one straddles the line between travel and nontravel (gas stations). All three nontravel or travel-adjacent categories are broad and popular.
Rewards and Benefits for Frequent Flyers
Few frequent travelers get around exclusively on the ground. It takes too long and it’s more dangerous than flying besides.
Accordingly, we give deference to cards that offer frequent flyer benefits like elite status with co-branded airlines, in-flight and pre-flight perks (like priority boarding), and value-adds like complimentary airport lounge access.
Rewards and Benefits for Frequent Hotel Guests
Unless you’re truly committed to the short-term rental game or have an extensive network of family and friends in every city you visit, you’re going to want a travel credit card that rewards you for staying in hotels.
On this measure, the top travel credit cards offer some or all of the following:
Automatic elite status or accelerated progress toward elite status
Bonus points on eligible purchases at participating hotels
One or more award nights (free night’s stay) after your cardmember anniversary and/or meeting qualifying annual spend
An automatic award night tacked onto the end of a minimum-length stay, often four or five consecutive nights at the same property
Rewards and Benefits for Road Warriors
Whether your travel driving consists entirely of tooling a rental car around your destination or you prefer road tripping from start to finish, you’ll want a travel card that delivers solid value on gas spending and offers driver-friendly benefits like complimentary rental car insurance coverage and 24/7 roadside assistance.
Because its potential value is so great for frequent travelers loyal to specific brands, elite status is worth calling out in its own category. The best travel cards for elite status are generally super-premium cards with annual fees north of $400, but that expense can easily pay for itself if you’re on the road as often as you’re home.
Luxury Perks and Benefits
Even travel cards that defy easy categorization as “airline cards” or “hotel cards” can distinguish themselves with grab-bags of high-value perks and benefits for frequent flyers and hotel guests. When evaluating these cards, pay attention to “below the fold” benefits that can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually when fully exploited.
Rewards and Benefits for Business Travelers
Some of the best cards for business travelers have close cousins on the consumer side. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, our top pick in this category and near-twin to The Platinum Card® from American Express, comes to mind.
Type of Rewards
Many travel credit cards earn points or miles best redeemed for travel purchases. Their rewards programs revolve around specific spending categories or tiers — often travel-related — in which cardholders earn at accelerated rates.
Some travel cards break this mold though. They might be cash back credit cards that favor travel purchases, earning honorary distinction as travel cards, or more traditional travel rewards cards that apply one flat rewards rate to all spending. Both types of alternative cards appeal to casual travelers and so deserve a place on this list.
Become a Travel Credit Card Expert: Your Travel Rewards Questions Answered
You have questions about travel credit cards and travel rewards. We’ve got answers.
What Are the Different Types of Travel Credit Cards?
There are two main types of travel credit cards: general-purpose travel cards and co-branded travel cards.
General-purpose travel cards earn points or miles that can be redeemed through the issuer’s loyalty program. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card both earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points in the Chase Travel portal for airfare, hotel stays, and other travel services from a variety of travel merchants, or transfer your points to participating travel loyalty programs and redeem directly with them.
Co-branded travel cards earn loyalty points or miles issued by a particular travel merchant, such as Delta or Marriott. The best way to redeem this type of loyalty currency is for free or discounted travel services (award travel) from the issuing merchant. Co-branded cards often but not always offer better redemption value than general-purpose cards.
A general-purpose travel card is a better fit for you if you’re not loyal to one particular travel brand. A co-branded card makes more sense if you are loyal to a particular brand and want to maximize your rewards’ value within their loyalty program.
Can You Get a Travel Credit Card With Bad Credit?
With difficulty, maybe. Credit card companies prefer to market travel rewards cards to applicants with good to excellent credit and ample spending power. There’s not much of a market for subprime travel credit cards.
If you have impaired credit or limited credit and hope to get your hands on a travel card in the near future, do the following:
Apply for a general-purpose secured credit card or credit-builder credit card right now
Use it responsibly, keeping your credit utilization rate low and making timely payments
Make sure the card issuer reports your payment behavior and card utilization to the three major credit reporting bureaus
Closely monitor your credit score
With responsible use and no black marks elsewhere, your credit score should increase over time. Eventually, you’ll have a credit profile strong enough to qualify for one of the cards on this list.
Is the Annual Fee Worth It for Travel Credit Cards?
It depends on the card, but the answer is often “yes.” The best travel rewards credit cards justify sometimes-hefty annual fees with perks and value-adds like:
Annual Travel Credits. If you spend enough on travel each year, your card’s travel credit acts as a one-for-one offset for the annual fee. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card’s $300 annual travel credit reduces its $550 annual fee down to $250 on net.
Elite Status. Permanent elite status can be extremely valuable for travelers loyal to specific hotel or airline brands.
Airport Lounge Access. Airport lounges typically charge $60 per person at the door. If your long-haul travels involve layovers long enough to get comfortable at a lounge (and enjoy what’s often an all-you-can-eat-and-drink refreshments table), you’ll quickly earn back your annual fee and then some.
Discounts and Privileges With Participating Travel Partners. Really high-end travel cards often partner with similarly high-end hotels and resorts (often boutique properties) to offer discounts and perks worth hundreds of dollars per stay. These vary from card to card and property to property, and you sometimes have to work to claim them, but they’re totally worth it if you can.
Should You Get More Than One Travel Card?
It depends on a number of factors, including:
How often you travel
How much you spend on travel
How you typically travel — for example, do you prefer to stay in nice hotels, crash on a friend’s couch, or nest in a short-term rental?
Whether you’re loyal to specific travel merchants or simply seek the most affordable, convenient options
If you’re an occasional traveler who doesn’t spend much when you leave home, a single general-purpose travel credit card is adequate. Ideally, this card would have no annual fee, or you’d be able to extract enough value from it to offset the hopefully modest charge.
If you’re a frequent traveler who enjoys the finer things and/or spends a good amount of money on the road, you’ll want at least two cards.
One should be a high-end general-purpose card that affords maximum flexibility when you travel and ensures you’re maximizing your travel spend. Another should be a co-branded card backed by the travel brand with which you spend the most money year in and year out. And if you have more than one preferred travel merchant, perhaps one favorite airline and one favorite hotel, you’ll want a co-branded card for each.
Fun Facts About Travel Credit Cards
The first recognizable travel rewards card was the Air Travel Card. Starting in the 1930s, upscale travelers used the Air Travel Card to purchase discounted airfare from participating airlines on a promise to pay later.
Bank of America was the first major card issuer to allow travelers (and others) to carry a balance from month to month using its BankAmericard account.
The Continental TravelBank Gold MasterCard debuted in 1986 as the first co-branded airline credit card. It was a partnership between Continental Airlines (now part of United Airlines) and Marine Midland Bank (now part of HSBC).
American Express rolled out the first transferable general-purpose travel loyalty currency, Membership Miles, in 1991. The currency lives on today as Amex’s Membership Rewards points.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.
For rates and fees of the Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, please visit this rates and fees page.
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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.