Frontwave Credit Union is offering a 40,000 bonus points after $3,000 in spend within 90 days of account opening on the Visa Signature Rewards card.
The Fine Print
Purchases made with your Frontwave Visa Signature Rewards credit card will earn 4X points from 11/1/2021 – 12/31/2021.
Points earned through 11/1/2021 – 11/31/2021 will be paid and available to redeem on 12/25/2021; points earned through 12/1/2021 – 12/31/2021 will be paid and available to redeem on 1/25/2022. 4X points will be issued on purchases for any rewards cards used and attached to the primary rewards account. 40,000 bonus points will be awarded if purchases total $3,000 or more within 90 days of account opening for new Frontwave Visa Signature Rewards credit cards opened between 11/1/2021 – 12/31/2021. Exclusions: Balance transfers, cash advances, returns, or merchant credit do not qualify for 4X points or toward 40,000 bonus point offer.
Subject to approval.
Rates, terms, and conditions depend on credit qualifications. Must be a member or qualify for membership to receive a card.
Card also earns 4x points until 12/31/21 as well. Points are worth 1¢ each when redeemed towards statement credit. They also offer a $100 checking bonus. Membership is restricted so most people won’t be eligible to apply. Must also Live, work or worship in either San Diego, Riverside or San Bernardino counties according to the checking bonus.
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.
As people build up their financial understanding, many people wonder: how many credit cards should you have? Ultimately, the right number for you will depend on your financial situation and needs. Some individuals benefit from having a single credit card, which offers easy management and fewer decisions. On the other hand, some people are able to maximize credit card rewards by keeping track of many different cards—often five or more.
The number of credit cards you have can affect your credit score both directly and indirectly. Read on to learn more about how to find the right number of cards for you, how many cards people typically have and how having multiple cards can affect your credit score.
What’s the right number of credit cards for you?
While there’s no ideal number of credit cards, it is possible for you to determine a good number of accounts for your own situation.
According to wealth management expert Hutch Ashoo, “The amount of credit cards a person should have is entirely dependent on their specific situation and financial history. Some people may get by with just one or none at all, while others can thrive with multiple cards.”
Ashoo notes that deciding on the right amount for you depends on how well you’re managing your current credit: “It’s critical to pay off the entire sum on each card each month. Having many cards entails a great deal of responsibility. If you can’t pay off every bill every month, avoid getting more than one or two cards, and avoid the urge to spend more just because you have more credit.”
Consider whether any of the following circumstances align with your own:
You’re just starting out with credit cards. (Total credit cards: one.) If you’re looking to get a first credit card, it’s usually wise to stick with a single account. Managing credit can be difficult, and adding multiple accounts right from the start can add to the challenge. If you’ve never had a credit card before, you could consider getting a secured credit card, which has restrictions that help you build credit while learning the ropes.
You’re looking to start generating rewards with your credit cards. (Total credit cards: two to four.) If you’ve built up your score to the point that you can apply for rewards cards, that may be beneficial for you. Many people have a cash back card with no annual fee as well as a store credit card with rewards for a retailer they shop at often.
You’re managing significant amounts of credit and have a higher income. (Total credit cards: five or more.) Some individuals with high incomes and significant credit card spending can benefit from rewards cards with annual fees. For example, business travelers may get a travel rewards card that offers benefits like airport lounges or airline miles. Before working toward one of these cards, ensure that your spending habits and financial situation will justify the annual fee.
Again, the number of credit cards you choose to have will depend a lot on your situation, like how much you earn and spend as well as how you’re managing credit currently. In most cases, you’ll want to consider adding more credit cards to your name only if you have a specific reason for doing so. Having credit cards for their own sake is usually not advisable, so consider carefully before opening a new account.
How many credit cards do people usually have?
Although everyone has different needs for credit, the average number of credit cards that American adults have is nearly four, according to Experian®, one of the three credit bureaus.
Of course, the average number of cards varies based on several factors. For example, in 2020 residents of New Jersey had the most number of credit cards on average in the United States (4.54), while Alaskans had the fewest credit cards on average (3.06).
Even more interesting is the generational gap among credit card holders. Members of older generations tend to have more credit cards, but we also see older people starting to close accounts as younger people open more lines of credit.
Average number of credit scores by generation
Gen Z (18 to 23)
Millenials (24 to 39)
Gen X (40 to 55)
Baby Boomers (56 to 74)
What are the pros and cons of having more than one credit card?
If you’re trying to decide whether to stick with a single card or apply for a new line of credit, it can be useful to think about the advantages and disadvantages of having more than one credit card.
Some of the benefits of having multiple cards include:
If one card stops working, you have another card available.
You can optimize rewards by using perks from different cards.
You may be able to improve your score if all cards are used responsibly.
On the other hand, having multiple cards could have several disadvantages:
Keeping track of multiple accounts can be difficult, especially for making on-time payments and watching for fraudulent activity.
Annual fees from multiple cards can quickly add up, making rewards possibly less useful.
Getting too many new cards at once could lower your score by dropping your average age of credit and placing hard inquiries on your credit report.
Whether you choose to have a single credit card or many, you’ll want to get in the habit of checking your credit score as well as your credit report. Your credit report shows what each of the three credit bureaus knows about your credit history—accounts, balances and payments. If you notice any inaccurate information, like an account that doesn’t actually belong to you, you’ll want to file a dispute with the credit bureaus to get that information removed.
If you’re working to get negative items removed from your credit report or if you’ve had any other difficulties managing credit, you may find it helpful to work with the credit repair consultants at Lexington Law Firm, who can help review your report and provide support.
Reviewed by Brad Blanchard, Supervising Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.
Brad is an attorney at Lexington Law firm whose practice is primarily focused on corporate compliance. His focus is primarily in the areas of marketing and advertising of financial services. He regularly deals with issues related to FTC Regulation 5, UDAAP, FCRA, FDCPA, CROA, TCPA, and TSR. He also has experience in LLC formation, contract review and negotiation, and trial and litigation experience in the areas of consumer protection and family law. Prior to joining Lexington Brad worked on Department of Labor administrative law cases and federal class action lawsuits. He also externed for a Utah State Court trial judge where he worked on both civil and criminal cases. Brad is licensed to practice law in Utah and Ohio. He is located in the North Salt Lake 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.
If you’ve been racking up points on your favorite rewards card, now may be the time to use them. Depending on your card’s policy, you may lose points you haven’t redeemed if you haven’t used your card in a while. For example, Citi Double Cash rewards expire if you don’t earn cash back for 12 months by using the card or making payments.
Double check expiration policies on rewards cards that partner with travel programs. Because the pandemic kept a lot of folks grounded, many rewards programs extended their expiration deadlines, and you can expect additional extensions in 2022. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa, for example, extended the expiration of rewards for active and inactive accounts until March 31, 2022. Hilton Honors recently announced it extended its point-expiration date to December 31, 2022, and will allow elite members to keep this status through March 31, 2023.
If your miles or points are expiring sooner than you’d like, see whether you can reset the clock by transferring an amount to another loyalty program. For example, the Capital One Venture card allows cardholders to transfer miles to more than a dozen participating hotel and airline loyalty programs, including those of Air France, JetBlue and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.
If a large amount of your money goes toward clothing, shoes, cosmetics, appliances and other household items, you can most likely benefit from credit cards for department stores that offer cash back or rewards on your spending. Plus, with holiday shopping around the corner, you can take advantage of a department store bonus to save on gifts.
While department store bonuses on rewards cards have been increasingly rare, there are still plenty of great cards to choose from. Here are our favorite cards for department stores and why you should consider them.
Best cards for cash back at department stores
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Why it’s a good choice: Along with 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%), the Blue Cash Everyday card offers 2% cash back at select U.S. department stores. This makes it particularly valuable for families who do a significant amount of supermarket shopping and driving in addition to their holiday shopping.
Because we estimate that the average consumer spends $15,900 each year on food, gas, clothing and general purchases, you have the potential to earn approximately $461 in cash back during the first year of card membership. (That’s $261 in estimated yearly rewards plus the $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months.)
Drawbacks: While the 2% bonus includes a variety of major department stores, it does not include all department stores. Also, the bonus can only be earned for department stores located in the U.S.
See the full list of eligible stores here.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%)
2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
1% cash back general purchases
$200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in first 6 months
Annual fee: $0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend): $261
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card*
Why it’s a good choice: This card is a great option for consumers who spend a lot on certain types of purchases, such as retail or streaming purchases. U.S. Bank Cash+ cardholders can earn 5% cash back on two categories of their choice ($2,000 combined purchase limit per quarter). The top categories to choose from include: fast food; TV, internet and streaming services; cell phone providers; home utilities; department stores and electronic stores. You can also earn 2% cash back on one everyday category, such as gas stations, grocery stores or restaurants. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
Drawbacks: The $2,000 limit each quarter on 5% cash back categories isn’t ideal, but for a card with a $0 annual fee, it’s still not a bad deal. Another drawback is that you can only redeem cash back in the form of a statement credit or a direct deposit to a U.S. Bank checking, savings or money market account.
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card
5% cash back on 2 categories of your choice, such as department stores, TV and internet, or cell phone providers ($2,000 combined purchase limit per quarter)
2% cash back on one everyday category, such as gas stations or grocery stores
1% cash back on other purchases
$150 if you spend $500 in first 90 days
Annual fee: $0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend): $272
Citi® Double Cash Card
Why it’s a good choice: The Citi Double Cash Card gives cardholders 1% cash back on every purchase plus an additional 1% cash back when they pay for their purchases – a total of 2% cash back on every purchase. Additionally, because there are no earning caps or restrictions, there is no limit on how much cash back you can earn.
The average consumer who spends $15,900 annually, and pays their bill on time, can earn $318 cash back each year.
Drawbacks: While there are no rewards earning caps and no limit on how much cash back you can earn, your rewards will expire if you don’t earn any cash back for 12 months.
Citi® Double Cash Card
1% cash back on general purchases
1% additional cash back when you pay for your purchases
Sign-up bonus: None
Annual fee: $0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend): $318
How about a retail credit card instead?
If you frequently shop at one particular department store, a retail credit card may be a better option for you. Along with offering special store discounts, retail cards offer rewards on purchases made at the store. Some retail cards also offer bonus rewards on everyday spend categories, such as gas and dining.
Keep in mind, though, that while retail credit cards usually don’t charge annual fees, they typically come with much higher APRs than non-retail cards. So if you plan to use one, you should also plan to pay off your balance in full each month.
After you are approved, Kohl’s Card offers 35% off on your first Kohl’s purchase, plus a 15% additional discount after your card arrives. Other pros: You’ll receive more special offers throughout the year and there’s no limit to the number of points you can earn.
Macy’s American Express card*
The Macy’s American Express card offers 3 points per dollar at restaurants, 2 points per dollar at gas stations and supermarkets, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Cardholders can also link their card to Plenti rewards to earn and use points at other retailers, such as AT&T, Exxon, Mobil, Chili’s, Rite Aid and more.
Before choosing among credit cards for department stores, take a look at which department stores you shop at most frequently. If you regularly shop at several major department stores, you may want to consider one of the above cash back credit cards for department stores. But if you’re a ride-or-die Kohl’s or Macy’s shopper, their retail cards may be the best option for you.
*All information about these cardshas been collected independently byCreditCards.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.
Cash is great, but there are times when it’s inconvenient. You can’t use cash to make online purchases and you don’t want to carry around thousands of dollars if you have to make a large purchase.
Debit cards and credit cards are two convenient ways to make payments easily without having to deal with cash. While they do similar things, there are important differences between them that make them suitable for different situations.
What is a Debit Card?
A debit card is a card that is associated with a bank account, typically a checking account. Some banks also offer debit cards that connect to your money market account or savings account.
You can use your debit card to spend money directly from the linked account. If you go to a store to buy something and pay for it by swiping your debit card, the merchant deducts the money directly from your checking account.
You can also use your debit card to make cash withdrawals from ATMs. Many banks operate their own network of ATMs or have joined larger ATM networks. If you use an ATM outside of your bank’s network, you typically have to pay a fee to make a withdrawal.
What is a Credit Card?
A credit card is a card you can use to access a line of credit that has been extended to you by a lender. While a debit card lets you easily access your own money, credit cards let you easily borrow money from a lender.
While debit cards typically come with any checking account that you open, you have to specifically apply for a credit card from a bank or other card issuer. When you apply, the lender will look at your credit score and financial information, such as your income, to decide whether to give you a card.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll qualify for a credit card if you have poor credit or can’t prove you’ll be able to pay back money you borrow.
If you’re approved, the lender will give you a credit limit, which is the maximum amount you’re allowed to borrow at one time. You can swipe your credit card at stores to pay for purchases, borrowing money from your credit card issuer.
Each month you’ll get a bill from your card issuer. If you pay the bill in full, you’ll pay no interest. You also have the option to pay only a portion of your bill. If you do this, you’ll pay interest on the remaining balance.
Many credit cards charge annual fees. They may also offer perks like rewards for each purchase you make, free hotel or airline status, or credits toward certain purchases.
Debit cards and credit cards both let you pay for purchases easily without handling cash, but accomplish that task in slightly different ways. Understanding those differences is essential to knowing when to use each.
1. Where the Money Comes From
Both debit cards and credit cards let you quickly and easily access money to pay for purchases. They also let you get cash from ATMs.
When you use a debit card, you’re taking your money directly out of your bank account.
One benefit of this is that it can make it easier to avoid spending too much money.
When you have cash in your wallet, you have the immediate and obvious feedback of watching your wallet get emptier as you spend money. When you use a debit card, you get to watch your bank account’s balance decrease with every purchase. This is an easy way to track the amount of money you’re spending and to make sure you don’t spend more money than you have.
With credit cards, instead of spending your own money, you’re spending the card issuer’s money.
Credit cards give you quick and easy access to a line of credit. If you need to borrow a small amount of money, going through an entire lending process — applying for a loan, working with an underwriter, and waiting for the lender to release the funds — can be a hassle.
If you have a credit card, you’re already approved to borrow up to your credit limit, so all you have to do is swipe your card to borrow some money to make a purchase.
This can be risky due to the high interest rates most credit cards charge, but in a pinch, easy access to credit can be useful to have.
There are costs related to using either a debit card or a credit card. The fees and other costs can differ depending which type of card you’re using and how you use it.
Debit Card Costs
Debit cards have an advantage here because they typically charge fewer fees than credit cards. Plus, there’s no risk that you’ll have to pay interest on your purchases with a debit card because you’re using your own money.
One of the most common fees you’ll have to worry about with debit cards is the overdraft fee.
While debit cards aren’t designed to let you borrow money in the way that credit cards are, some banks will let you spend more money than is in your account. This is called overdrafting your account.
For example, if you have $80 in your checking account and try to spend $100 using your card, your bank may approve the transaction. This causes an overdraft and puts your account balance at negative $20.
Many banks charge a fee for this service, further dropping your balance. In the example above, if your bank charges a $15 overdraft fee, your account balance will fall to negative $35. You’ll have to deposit $35 to bring your balance back to $0.
If your checking account balance is regularly low, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your balance to make sure you avoid overdrafts. You can also consider talking to your bank to ask about turning off overdraft service, which will let you avoid these fees. (If you don’t have overdraft protection, your $100 purchase would simply be declined if you only have $80 in your account.)
The only other fee you’ll have to worry about regularly with debit cards are ATM fees. Some banks will charge you a fee if you use an out-of-network ATM.
Credit Cards Costs
Depending on the card you use and how you use it, the costs of credit cards can get quite high.
One of the most common fees is the annual fee, which is a simple fee you have to pay for each year you have the card open. There are many credit cards that don’t charge this fee, but many premium rewards cards have high annual fees. The most premium cards can charge $500 per year or more. If you don’t make the most of the perks these cards offer, you’ll be paying the fee for no reason.
You might also pay fees to use a credit card in other situations. For example, if you want to send money to someone using a peer-to-peer app like Venmo, there’s typically a fee to use a credit card, whereas debit cards are free to use for this purpose.
On top of these fees, you also have to think about interest.
Credit cards are a tool for borrowing money. Borrowing money means paying interest. And credit cards are amongst the most expensive ways individuals can borrow money.
It isn’t unusual to see credit cards charging 10%, 15%, or even 20% or more in interest each year. If you consistently pay the full balance of your credit card before its due date, this won’t be an issue. However, if you carry a balance for even a month or two each year, you could wind up paying large amounts of interest.
3. How to Get One
If you don’t have a credit card or debit card, you’ll probably want to get one because they can make paying for large purchases much easier. They also facilitate online purchases.
The process for obtaining a debit card and credit card differ, and typically debit cards are easier to get.
How to Get a Debit Card
Getting a debit card these days is very easy for most people.
Most checking accounts automatically give you a debit card when you open an account. You don’t have to do anything special to get the card. It’ll show up in the mail soon after you open the account and make your initial deposit.
If you have a poor credit score or low income, you might find yourself unable to get a credit card at all, which means a debit card is much easier to get.
How to Get a Credit Card
To get a credit card, you have to apply for one. Credit cards are a tool for borrowing money, so you need to fill out a loan application if you want to get a credit card.
When you apply for a credit card, the credit card company will look at your credit history and your financial information to determine whether you’ll be able to pay back the money that you borrowed.
If you have poor credit or the credit bureaus don’t have a credit report for you at all, it can be hard to get approved for a credit card. The same is true if you don’t have a consistent income. You’ll need to build credit and show a source of income before you can qualify.
4. Fraud Protection
Online fraud is a growing problem. Someone putting fraudulent charges on one of your cards is more a “when” than an “if” scenario.
Both credit cards and debit cards offer fraud protection, but there are differences in how they work.
Debit Card Fraud Protection
Most banks offer fraud protection when you use a debit card to make purchases. If someone manages to steal your card information, your bank typically won’t hold you liable for those charges.
The problem is that your debit card gives the person holding it direct access to your bank account. If the fraudster manages to rack up $500 of spending before you catch the fraud and alert your bank, that money will already have left your account.
Most banks will reimburse you for the money you lose, but it can take time to go through the whole process of reporting the fraud and getting reimbursed. During that time, you’re out whatever money was taken out of your account.
The bottom line is that if you can’t afford to be missing that money for an extended period, the fraud protection might be too slow to make a difference before you find yourself in tough financial straits.
Credit Card Fraud Protection
Credit cards offer similar fraud protection to debit cards. However, there’s one big difference.
If someone steals your credit card info, they don’t get direct access to your bank account. That means that your money will be safe in your bank even as the fraudster racks up debt in your name.
You won’t be left without a penny to your name while you deal with your card issuer to get the issue resolved, which can make recovering from credit card fraud a bit easier than a similar situation with a debit card.
Some credit cards and debit cards offer rewards and other perks when you use them, which can make them appealing to people who want to get back some of the money they spend.
Debit Card Rewards
By and large, debit cards don’t offer rewards like cash back or airline miles. That means you’re losing out on some value by using a debit card over a credit card.
However, this trend might be changing. Some banks — especially online banks and fintech companies — have started offering rewards and other unique perks for using a debit card.
Credit Card Rewards
One of the top reasons to use a credit card is to earn rewards.
There are many types of rewards credit cards. Some offer simple cash back while others offer points, airline miles, or hotel loyalty points. Regardless of the rewards system a credit card offers, using your card regularly can help you earn significant benefits.
While some cash-back cards might offer just 1% on many purchases, many cards offer as much as 5% or more on certain types of purchases.
For example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred pays 6% cash back on grocery store purchases. If you spend $5,000 per year on groceries, you’ll get $300 back this way, which is no small sum.
Depending on the card you use, you can save money, earn free flights for your next vacation, get a free hotel stay, or earn other rewards just for buying the things you were already going to purchase.
If you’re a particularly savvy cardholder, you might use multiple different cards based on where they earn the most rewards, letting you maximize your earnings.
The Verdict: Should You Choose Debit Cards or Credit Cards?
In the world of personal finance, there’s no single correct answer for everyone. Whether to choose a credit card or a debit card is no different.
In general, when used responsibly, credit cards are a better choice than debit cards. If you use a fee-free credit card and pay your balance in full every month, credit cards offer cash-back rewards and better consumer protections than debit cards.
However, if you struggle to budget or are worried about credit card debt, using debit cards or reloadable prepaid cards is likely a better idea. The interest charges on even a small credit card balance can be immense and it’s better to lose out on a small amount of cash back to avoid those costs.
You Should Sign Up For Debit Cards If…
Debit cards are a better fit if:
You can’t qualify for a credit card.You get a debit card automatically when you open most checking accounts. If you can’t get a credit card for whatever reason, using a debit card is the right call.
You use cash frequently.Debit cards let you withdraw cash from ATMs free of charge, assuming you use an in-network ATM. Credit cards charge cash advance fees if you want to make ATM withdrawals.
You want help with budgeting.Budgeting with credit cards can be harder because you have to track your checking account and card balances. Overspending can be very easy to do. By comparison, when you spend money using a debit card, you only have to track your checking account balance.
You Should Sign Up For Credit Cards If…
Credit cards are a better fit if…
You want to earn rewards. Most debit cards don’t offer rewards while many credit cards do. These rewards can be a great way to put some cash back in your pocket or earn free flights and hotel stays.
You want consumer protections.Between the fraud protection and extended warranties most credit cards offer, they’re typically the better choice for large purchases.
You want to build credit. If you’re trying to get a bigger loan like a mortgage or auto loan, using a credit card is a great way to start building credit.
You need to borrow small amounts of money for short periods. Debit cards let you access your own money while credit cards give you access to a quick and easy line of credit. If you need time to move money between accounts before paying for something, credit cards give you an easy way to borrow money for the short term.
Both Are Great If…
Both debit cards and credit cards are excellent options if…
You use a mix of cash and card transactions. There are advantages to paying for things with both cash and cards. If you use both regularly, keep a debit card around to get cash from ATMs and use your credit card for making card purchases.
You mostly make everyday purchases online. If you’re shopping online, you need some kind of card to pay. Either type of card will get the job done.
Debit cards and credit both give you an easy way to spend money without having to deal with large amounts of cash. All you have to do is swipe your card to pay for products.
Debit cards give you easy access to your own money while credit cards let you borrow money from a lender. In general, credit cards offer lots of perks like cash back and consumer protections. However, you risk putting yourself into expensive credit card debt.
Most people will want to have access to both credit cards and debit cards as they work best in different situations.
TJ is a Boston-based writer who focuses on credit cards, credit, and bank accounts. When he’s not writing about all things personal finance, he enjoys cooking, esports, soccer, hockey, and games of the video and board varieties.
Sign-Up Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points (good for up to 8 free nights) after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. Earn an additional 30,000 bonus points (worth up to 4 free nights) after you spend at least $2,000 total within six months of account opening.
Rewards: Unlimited 6 points per $1 spent at eligible Wyndham hotel and resort properties and on eligible gas purchases; Unlimited 4 points per $1 spent on dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart); Unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
Benefits: 7,500 bonus points each year on your cardmember anniversary
Intro APR: 0% APR for six months on all Wyndham timeshare purchases; 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months
The Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card is a hotel rewards credit card with a $75 annual fee. It has a relatively simple rewards program that favors cardholders who frequently stay at Wyndham hotel and resort properties.
Although it’s not necessarily as well known as competitors such as Hilton and Marriott, Wyndham is a huge hospitality company with more than a dozen brands represented across thousands of hotel and resort properties. Popular Wyndham names include Microtel, Howard Johnson, Travelodge, Super 8, Wyndham Grand, TRYP, and Dolce.
Whenever you swipe your Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card, you earn Wyndham Rewards points, Wyndham’s loyalty currency. You generally need at least 7,500 points to redeem for a completely free night at the most budget-friendly Wyndham properties. However, if you’re willing to fork over some cash to make up the difference, you cash redeem for discounted stays with just 1,000 Wyndham Rewards points.
Wyndham offers other redemption options, including airfare and merchandise, but at lower point values than redemptions at Wyndham properties. And, like many travel rewards cards, Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus has a fairly generous sign-up bonus worth up to four free nights.
These are the key features of the Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus card.
This card’s two-part sign-up bonus offers up to 90,000 bonus Wyndham Rewards points. That’s good for up to 12 free nights at participating Wyndham properties.
Here’s how it works:
Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
Earn 30,000 additional bonus points after spending a total of $2,000 on purchases in the first six months.
Earning Wyndham Rewards
Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus earns unlimited 6 Wyndham Rewards points for every $1 spent at Wyndham hotel and resort properties, and on qualifying gas purchases as well.
Eligible dining and grocery store purchases earn unlimited 4 points per $1 spent. Purchases made at Target and Walmart aren’t included in this category.
All other eligible purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent, excluding Wyndham Timeshare resort down payments.
Redeeming Wyndham Rewards
Wyndham Rewards points can be redeemed for free nights (Go Free awards) at any participating Wyndham property — virtually every property in the portfolio, save for a handful of extremely high-end resort properties.
Wyndham has three redemption tiers for full award night redemptions: 7,500 points, 15,000 points, and 30,000 points to earn a free room night. Higher-quality properties generally occupy the two higher rungs of the redemption ladder.
Importantly, Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus cardholders always qualify for a 10% redemption credit on Go Free award nights. That means a 15,000-point redemption requires just 13,500 net points.
To redeem points even faster, you can combine 1,000 points and a variable amount of cash (Go Fast awards) for a free night at participating Wyndham properties. Low-end properties such as Days Inn and Super 8 require less cash, while high-end properties such as Wyndham Grand and the company’s all-inclusive resorts require upwards of $150 per night.
Non-Wyndham Redemption Options
Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus cardholders can also take advantage of some non-Wyndham redemption options. These include general merchandise, airfare, gift cards, magazines, and rental cars. Redemption minimums vary widely by redemption type and may not be available at all times.
Automatic Wyndham Rewards Platinum Membership
Cardholders in good standing automatically qualify for Wyndham Rewards Platinum Membership, whose benefits include a higher point-earning rate on paid stays, early check-in, late checkout, preferred room selection where available, and upgrades on Avis and Budget car rentals.
As long as your account remains open and in good standing, you receive 7,500 Wyndham Rewards points after your cardmember anniversary. That’s enough for one free night at participating Wyndham properties.
Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus cardholders enjoy 0% APR on Wyndham timeshare purchases made within six months of account opening. However, there is no intro APR on regular purchases.
Additionally, cardholders who complete balance transfers within 45 days of account opening pay no interest for 15 months from account opening.
Additional Travel Benefits
Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus has some additional travel benefits, including complimentary rental car insurance, travel emergency assistance for travelers stranded far from home, and the best available rate on bookings with participating Wyndham properties.
This card has some useful nontravel benefits. These include:
Purchase protection, which provides cardholders with redress — usually replacement or reimbursement — for lost, stolen, and damaged purchases
Return protection, which compensates cardholders when merchants refuse to accept returned items
This card has a $75 annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee.
This card requires good to excellent credit.
These are the top advantages of the Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus card.
Good Intro Deal for Balance Transfers. The Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus card has an unusually generous 0% APR balance transfer promotion. It’s good for 15 months from account opening. That’s longer than virtually any other travel card’s balance transfer promotion. In fact, most travel rewards cards lack balance transfer promotions altogether. If you’re in the market for a card that gets you closer to free hotel stays and helps with existing high-interest credit card balances, this is one to watch.
Solid Sign-Up Bonus. Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus’ sign-up bonus totals 90,000 points, enough for up to 12 Go Free award nights. It’s also super attainable, with just $2,000 in total spending required during the first six months.
Straightforward Rewards Program. Compared to many hotel rewards programs, which can have confusing tiers and restrictions, Wyndham Rewards is pretty easy to grasp. You always need at least 7,500 points for a totally free night, no matter where you’re redeeming. This makes it a lot easier to plan free and paid travel ahead of time.
Automatic Wyndham Rewards Platinum Membership. Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus cardholders automatically qualify for Platinum status, whose benefits include a higher point-earning rate on paid stays, early check-in, late checkout, preferred room selection where available, and upgrades on Avis and Budget car rentals.
Excellent Value on High-End Hotel Redemptions. Wyndham Rewards offers excellent redemption values at higher-end and all-inclusive properties, whose nightly rates can easily exceed $300 and often range much higher. By contrast, most other hotel credit cards require vastly more points for high-end room redemptions — sometimes 10 or 20 times as many — relative to their cheapest options. That can severely impact their points’ redemption value. With a little foresight, you can increase the value of your Wyndham Rewards — and offset this card’s annual fee — by earning points at low-end properties and redeeming at pricier hotels and resorts.
Wyndham Has Tons of Participating Properties. Wyndham’s portfolio has nearly 8,000 properties. That’s more than some competitors with superior name recognition, such as Marriott. With so many properties in the Wyndham arsenal, you’re likely to find plenty of choices — and plenty of earning and redemption options — wherever you go.
Anniversary Bonus Offers a Nice Boost Each Year. This card’s 7,500-point anniversary bonus is enough to cover the entire cost (in points) of a free night award at the lowest-tier Wyndham properties. Many competing cards don’t bother with anniversary bonuses at all.
Wyndham Rewards Points Don’t Expire Under Normal Circumstances. As long as you earn or redeem points within an 18-month period, your points remain active indefinitely.
No Penalty APR. Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus never charges penalty interest. If you sometimes miss payments due to liquidity issues, this is a big relief. Most penalty APRs remain in effect indefinitely. Note that missing payments may still hurt your credit score.
These are the most noteworthy drawbacks of the Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus card.
Annual Fee. This card has a $75 annual fee. For frugal and infrequent travelers, that’s a big drawback relative to the no-annual-fee version of this card — which offers similar but less generous benefits — as well as to fee-free travel rewards cards such as the Expedia+ Card from Citi.
Non-Wyndham Redemptions Have Poor Value. There’s little reason to redeem your Wyndham Rewards points for anything other than free or reduced nights at Wyndham properties, unless you’ve accumulated more points than you can realistically use. However, if that’s the case, this might not be the best card for you anyway. Non-Wyndham redemptions generally value points at less than $0.005 apiece, far lower than typical Wyndham redemption values. What’s more, many competing cards, including Chase Sapphire Preferred, let you transfer your accumulated points to other travel loyalty programs at 1-to-1 ratios. That lets you shop around for points and redemption options that maximize the value of your travel spending.
The Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card is a reasonably priced travel rewards card made for people who regularly stay at hotels and resorts in the Wyndham family.
If you can earn enough points to offset the $75 annual fee and travel frequently enough to at least redeem your 7,500-point anniversary bonus each year, you’ll find this card a solid addition to your travel spending repertoire.
The Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card is a great card for frequent Wyndham guests who earn rewards quickly enough to offset the annual fee and can redeem their accumulated points at higher-end Wyndham properties. It’s among the best travel rewards cards for balance transfer candidates, not to mention people who can’t be bothered with trying to “hack” complex travel rewards programs.
On the other hand, this isn’t a great card for cardholders seeking luxurious and convenient hotel or travel perks, nor those interested in a wide range of competitively valued redemption options outside the Wyndham portfolio.
The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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.
A mobile wallet app allows you to leave your real, bulky (and likely disorganized) wallet at home by housing digital versions of all those credit, debit, ID, and loyalty cards.
While mobile wallets can be convenient, and are considered safe, it can be confusing to figure out which digital wallet app to use, and whether digitizing the contents of your wallet is worth the effort.
Read on to learn which apps are most widely accepted, how to set up a digital wallet, plus the pros and cons of ditching your old-school billfold and going virtual.
What is a Mobile Wallet?
A mobile wallet is just like it sounds–a “wallet” that lives on your mobile device. It stores credit, debit, gift, store, and loyalty card information so that you can easily pay for goods and services with your smartphone, smartwatch, or another mobile device.
You can even store theater tickets, insurance cards, ID, coupons, boarding passes, and hotel key card information. Some digital wallets also enable you to send money to friends, as well as receive payments.
You may also be able to use your mobile wallet instead of a physical card at some ATMs.
What is the Best Mobile Wallet App?
The major mobile wallets are Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, which come already installed on mobile devices. Although they differ in layout, these mobile wallet apps have the same basic function that allows you to pay with a phone tap.
There are also mobile wallets you can download from the app stores, including wallets from banks and merchants such as PayPal, Walmart, and Starbucks.
When choosing a mobile wallet app, you may want to keep in mind that a mobile wallet offered by your credit card company may only be accepted at certain retailers.
In addition, merchant wallets will only work in that merchant’s store or online. For instance, the Starbucks wallet will only work at Starbucks.
Which one you pick will likely come down to how widely you plan to use a mobile wallet–will you use it just at your favorite retailer or more widely? The choice will also depend on what type of device you want to use it with.
How Do I Set Up and Use a Mobile Wallet?
The setup for the major mobile wallet apps is fairly simple: You launch the app, take a photo of your card or enter its information, and follow the step-by-step instructions. This process is then repeated for all other cards entered.
Generally, even if you load up several credit cards into your mobile wallet, only one of them will be your default payment option. That card will be the one that is used to process a purchase. If you want to use a different card, you may need to change the default card before you make the transaction.
Beyond credit and debit cards, the app may also walk you through configuring peer-to-peer payments like Apple Cash or Google Pays’ fund’s exchanges. You may also be able to link your PayPal account.
In addition, you may be able to import retail-store rewards cards, as well as museum or library memberships cards, event tickets, and airline boarding passes. This may involve scanning a QR code or selecting the “add to wallet” button in an email or a text message from the issuer.
When you are ready to pay for purchases you’ll want to make sure the merchant accepts mobile money. These businesses can typically be identified through a contactless payment indicator (usually a sideways Wi-Fi symbol).
You can then just open your digital wallet app, hold the phone near the wireless reader at the register, and authorize the payment. Your phone’s screen will confirm the transaction.
Are Mobile Wallets Safe?
Unlike cash, which can be stolen, and credit cards, which can be copied, the card information you load into a mobile wallet is encrypted. That means that your actual card or account numbers are never shared with the merchant.
Another safety feature: In order to make a payment, you have to unlock your device and also type the passcode or use your fingerprint or face recognition to unlock the mobile wallet.
In the case of theft, it’s not possible for anyone to use a mobile device to make a payment without providing the required security credentials.
These safeguards actually make mobile wallets more secure than carrying physical credit cards and cash, which can easily be compromised.
Pros and Cons of Using Mobile Wallets
Is a mobile wallet right for you? Here are some key pros and cons you may want to consider.
Mobile Wallet Pros
They’re convenient. If you’re out and about without your wallet or bag, you can still make purchases, and use your coupons and rewards cards. You may also be able to get cash at an ATM or check a book out of the library–all from your mobile device.
They’re secure. Mobile wallets provide a layer of security you don’t get with cash or using a debit or credit card. Your payment information is saved in one protected, central location. The card number is never stored in the app itself but is instead assigned a unique virtual number. This protects your money even if your smartphone is lost or stolen.
They can help you track your spending. A mobile wallet can help you track and better manage your spending. All of your transaction information is stored in the app so it’s easy to see how much you’re spending and where each week.
Mobile Wallet Cons
They’re not accepted everywhere. There are still some industries where cash is the only currency accepted. Even in businesses that do take credit, not all of them accept mobile wallets. To accept a mobile wallet, businesses need to have payment readers that take near field communication (NFC) payments, and not all of them have updated readers. This can cause a problem if a mobile wallet is all you have on hand.
Your phone could die. Cell phones often run out of battery life, and if you’re without a charger, that handy mobile wallet will no longer exist. That can put a crimp in your shopping plans or become a major problem if you have important documents such as train passes or concert tickets in your mobile wallet.
You may end up overspending. The thinking on mobile wallets is often similar to that with using a credit card. Because cash isn’t physically leaving your hands, spending can feel less real. If you have spending issues, a mobile wallet can make it easy to spend mindlessly.
Recommended: 9 Tips to Stop Overspending
A mobile wallet is a digital way to store credit, debit, ID, and gift cards so that purchases can be made using a mobile smart device rather than a physical card.
Mobile wallets can help simplify your financial life. They allow users to make in-store payments without having to carry cash or physical credit cards. They’re easy to use and have hefty safeguards.
However, they aren’t universally accepted. It’s worth your while to determine whether the retailers you frequent accept them to help determine if a mobile wallet is a good option for you.
Looking for more convenient ways to manage your money? With a SoFi Money® cash management account, you can spend, save, and earn competitive interest all in one place.
You can also track your weekly spending, pay bills, and send money to friends right from your smartphone using the SoFi app.
Make managing your money simpler and more convenient with SoFi Money.
Photo credit: iStock/hiphotos35
SoFi Money® SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time. Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances. Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners. SOMN0821076
With the holiday shopping season approaching, you’ll need to decide not only what to buy but also how to pay for it. The decision will be even more important this year, when many shoppers will make their holiday purchases online. In the credit versus debit card debate, proponents of both sides have good reasons for embracing one method and rejecting the other.
The case for credit. The greatest advantage a credit card offers is security. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, if someone uses your card number fraudulently to go on a spending spree, federal law limits your liability to $50. And many credit card companies extend their protection beyond that baseline. American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa assume all liability for unauthorized purchases.
The FCBA protections are especially important if you’re shopping online. If you use your credit card to make a purchase and have a billing problem with a merchant—including a dispute over unsatisfactory merchandise—the credit card issuer must investigate and resolve your complaint, and you can withhold payment until then.
In addition, credit cards may offer other protections, such as extended warranties and purchase protection, says Ted Rossman, analyst for Bankrate.com.
Credit cards also have more-generous rewards programs. Depending on the card, you can earn as much as 5% cash back (or, typically, five points per dollar) for spending on groceries, gas, restaurant meals and travel. Some cards earn up to 3% cash back on every purchase you make (see The Best Rewards Cards for You).
The case for debit. Although credit cards allow you to spread out payments over time, the costs can be steep if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month: Interest on credit card balances averages 16%. And missing payments, exceeding your credit limit or using too high a ratio of your available credit could hurt your credit score.
You avoid those pitfalls with debit cards. Because funds are taken directly out of your checking account when you use a debit card, the temptation to spend money you don’t have is removed. “In practice, debit cards are viewed as a debt-free payment method akin to cash, whereas a credit card could be used as a loan,” Rossman says.
Debit cards don’t offer the same legal protections as credit cards. They have stricter time frames for reporting fraud, which could leave you liable for substantial losses if you wait too long to report unauthorized use. If your debit card is stolen, you must report it within two days to get the same $50 limited liability. Notifying your bank between three and 60 days after the fraud occurred could cost you up to $500, and beyond 60 days your losses could be unlimited.
In practice, though, your bank will likely refund any unauthorized charges as long as you notify it promptly of a lost or stolen debit card. But it could take weeks to get your money back. And some debit card issuers offer additional protections. For example, Visa debit cards do not hold you accountable for fraudulent transactions if the transaction is processed by Visa—though you may not know which transactions are processed by Visa and which aren’t.
Travel rewards credit cards take many different forms. Airline rewards cards offer opportunities to fly for free or on the cheap, reducing the cost of your vacations and business trips. Dining rewards cards reduce the cost of restaurant meals, often a major expense on trips.
The list goes on. Many cash back credit cards give you a percentage back on all of your most important purchases. Gas rewards credit cards pay you to buy gasoline and make other purchases at gas stations.
If you travel frequently, one or more of these card types have a place in your wallet – and so do hotel rewards credit cards. Virtually every major hotel company or brand family has at least one rewards credit card. Some cater to individual travelers, and others are meant for business owners.
Best Hotel Credit Cards
Every hotel rewards card is a little different, but the basic premise is consistent: purchases earn you points that can be redeemed for free or discounted nights, incidental hotel expenses (such as meals or spa treatments), and sometimes other travel expenses, such as airfare.
Several hotel credit cards have more expansive rewards programs, offering merchandise, gift cards, and other valuable items that have nothing to do with hotels. Most hotel credit cards have extensive perks and benefits. And many have enticing promotions and sign-up bonuses.
Keep in mind that the majority of these cards come with annual fees. While the lack of an annual fee is certainly nice, no-annual-fee cards often come with foreign transaction fees – meaning they’re less than ideal for frequent international travelers. Plus, they tend to have fewer fringe benefits than annual-fee cards.
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
$300 Annual Travel Credit; 3 Points per $1 Spent on Dining & Travel Worldwide; One-to-One Transfer to Participating Frequent Flyer & Hotel Guest Programs
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card is an exclusive travel rewards card that’s ideal for folks who spend heavily at hotels. This card has far too many perks to name here, but highlights include:
A $300 annual travel credit against virtually all eligible travel purchases.
A sign-up bonus worth up to $900 when redeemed for travel and other select purchases.
3 points per $1 spent on most eligible travel purchases and all eligible dining purchases
5 total points per $1 spent on air travel purchases made through Chase Travel
10 total points per $1 spent on hotel and car rental purchases made through Chase Travel
A one-to-one point transfer arrangement with some of the world’s top travel vendors, including Southwest Airlines and the Intercontinental Hotel Group.
Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that promises access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide.
Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credits, up to $100 value, every four years.
Complimentary Lyft Pink membership for one year ($199 minimum value).
Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after you activate by Dec. 31, 2021.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from this top-of-the-line hotel rewards credit card.
Sign-up Bonus. Spend at least $4,000 in qualifying purchases within 3 months to earn 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points. That’s worth up to $900 when redeemed for airfare, hotels, and other travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal, as well as statement credits against other select purchases (for a limited time only).
Hotel Rewards. Earn unlimited 3 points per $1 spent on qualifying dining and most travel purchases after using up the $300 travel credit. Earn 5 total points per $1 spent on air travel purchases made through Chase Travel and 10 total points per $1 spent on hotel and car rental purchases made through Chase Travel. Most other qualifying purchases earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent, with the exception of Lyft and eligible Peloton purchases, which earn 10 points per $1 spent through March 2022 (capped at 50,000 bonus points earned for eligible Peloton purchases).
Redemption. You’ll get the most value for your points ($0.015 per point) when you redeem for travel purchases (including hotels) at the Ultimate Rewards portal. This rate represents a 50% premium to the standard cash redemption value. Notably, through September 2021, you’ll get the same great rate when you redeem for statement credits against certain other types of purchases: grocery stores, dining (including restaurants and takeout), home improvement stores, and eligible delivery services. If you don’t want to redeem for hotel purchases or other types of travel, you can also redeem for cash equivalents (statement credits, bank account deposits, gift cards) and other items at a per-point value of $0.01 or less.
Key Fees. The annual fee is $550. Additional cards for authorized users cost $75 per card, per year. There’s no foreign transaction fee.
Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
Other Perks. As noted, perks include complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass, a $300 annual travel credit, a $100 application fee credit against Global Entry and TSA PreCheck applications, and much more.
See our Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Review for more information. Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
$50 Annual Statement Credit Against Eligible Hotel Purchases Made Through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 5 Points Total on Eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Purchases (Including Hotels); 2x Points on All Other Eligible Travel Purchases; 1-to-1 Transfer to Participating Frequent Traveler Programs
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is simple, elegant, and powerful. It earns 5 total points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases (including hotels) made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and 2 points per $1 spent on other eligible travel purchases after the $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit, which applies to eligible hotel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That’s a great incentive to stay at your favorite hotels more often.
You can also transfer points to participating frequent traveler programs, such as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and IHG Club Rewards, at a 1-to-1 ratio. For instance, 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 IHG Club points. This card does have a $95 annual fee.
When redeemed for airfare and hotel purchases through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, you get 20% off, making your Ultimate Rewards points worth up to $0.0125 apiece. You can also redeem for gift cards, cash (statement credits, direct deposits, or checks), and merchandise, mostly at a $0.01-per-point rate.
Finally, Chase Sapphire Preferred has a solid sign-up bonus: 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months.
Sign-up Bonus. Earn 100,000 bonus points, worth up to $1,250 on travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards and statement credits against other eligible purchases using Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature, when you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months.
Hotel Rewards. Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 5 total points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases (including hotels) made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on other eligible travel purchases. Eligible restaurant purchases, select streaming service purchases, and online grocery purchases earn 3 points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent, again with no caps or restrictions, and with some exceptions. For example, through March 2022, Lyft rides purchased with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card earn 5 points per $1 spent. Also, through March 2022, you’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent on qualifying Peloton equipment purchases (Bike, Bike+ Tread, Tread+, and accessories over $1,800), up to 25,000 bonus points earned.
Redemption. You can redeem your accumulated points for anything offered through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, including general merchandise, cash, and statement credits, usually at a value of $0.01 per point. However, travel (including hotel) redemptions offer the best deal, and aren’t subject to blackouts. When you book hotels through Ultimate Rewards, you get 20% off your order, boosting the value of your Ultimate Rewards points to $0.0125 apiece. You also don’t need to accumulate enough Ultimate Rewards points to pay for an entire room night or stay – simply use whatever points you have and pay the rest with your Sapphire Preferred card. Since Ultimate Rewards points have fixed values, there is no financial advantage to booking at higher-priced (e.g., Category 7) or lower-priced (e.g., Category 1) hotels. If you prefer, you can turn your Ultimate Rewards points into frequent traveler points with hotel brands and airlines such as Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Marriott, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and more. Point transfers are made on a 1-to-1 basis.
Key Fees. The card’s annual fee is $95. There are no foreign transaction fees. Late and returned payments cost up to $38. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
Other Perks. Enjoy a 10% bonus points boost to base point earnings (those earned at a rate of 1 point per $1 spent) after your account anniversary. Cardholders get VIP packages, early access, exclusive deals, and concierge treatment at entertainment and sporting events, including the PGA Championship. For a limited time, cardholders can activate a DashPass subscription from DoorDash and pay no delivery fees on eligible orders for a minimum of one year – a value of more than $100. Through December 2021, get up to $60 back on a qualifying Peloton membership and enjoy full access to Peloton’s workout library (cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more) with no fitness equipment required.
See our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Review for more information. Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.
3. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase
Up to 17x Marriott Bonvoy Points For Every $1 Spent at Participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels; 2 Points Per $1 Spent on All Other Purchases
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card earns up to 17x Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels worldwide. All other purchases earn 2x points per $1 spent. There are no spending caps on any category, and the card carries a $95 annual fee.
Redemption minimums vary by hotel class, but start at 7,500 points at Category 1 properties and range up to 85,000 points at Category 8 properties.
The Boundless card also has a very generous sign-up bonus. Plus, you get 1 free night stay at any property requiring 35,000 points or less per award night after your account anniversary each year, and automatic Silver Elite Status as long as you remain a cardholder in good standing.
Sign-up Bonus. Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and 1 bonus free night award after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Each bonus free night award has a redemption level up to 50,000 points. Certain hotels have resort fees. This offer ends Nov. 3, 2021
Hotel Rewards. Earn up to 17x Marriott Rewards points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2x points per $1 spent on most other qualifying purchases.
Redemption. You can redeem your Bonvoy points for free stays and upgrades at Marriott-branded hotels or redeem for other types of travel with participating airline and car rental partners. Category 1 properties (the lowest level) require 7,500 points per night, while Category 8 properties (the highest level) require 85,000 points per night. Category 1 properties tend to cost less than $100 per night, while Category 8 properties nightly rates routinely exceed $500. All quoted per-night prices are subject to change – check Marriott’s website for the latest details.
Preferred Customer Status. This card comes with automatic Silver Elite Status as long as your account remains open and in good standing. Silver Elite Status’s benefits include a 10% bonus on base points earned during stays at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, members-only room rates, guaranteed reservations (with compensation for alternate arrangements if your reservation can’t be honored), and more. When you spend at least $35,000 in a calendar year, you graduate to Gold Elite Status, whose benefits include a 25% bonus on base Bonvoy point earnings and complimentary room upgrades where available.
Key Fees. The card’s annual fee is $95. There are no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
Introductory APR. There is no intro APR. Variable regular APR applies from day one.
Other Perks. You get a free night’s stay at select Marriott hotels (requiring 35,000 points or less per award night) after your account anniversary each year.
See our Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.
4. Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card
Up to 14x Points Per $1 Spent at Participating Bonvoy Properties; 2 Points Per $1 Spent on Other Travel Purchases
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is a no-annual-fee alternative to the Bonvoy Boundless card.
Although it’s not quite as generous, it still has a nice rewards program:
Up to 14x points per $1 spent at participating Bonvoy properties (more than 7,000 in all).
2 points per $1 spent on other travel purchases.
1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
The sign-up bonus isn’t bad either: 60,000 bonus points after you spend at least $2,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months of card membership.
You can redeem your points for free nights at Bonvoy properties worldwide or transfer to participating travel partners. Redemption minimums start at 7,500 points for basic Category 1 properties and rise to 85,000 points for luxurious Category 7 hotels.
Sign-up Bonus. Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend at least $2,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership.
Hotel Rewards. This card earns up to 14x points per $1 spent at all participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and resorts – more than 7,000 properties in all. All other eligible travel purchases earn 2x points per $1 spent while eligible non-travel purchases earn 1x point per $1 spent.
Redemption. Redeem your Bonvoy points for free stays and upgrades at participating Bonvoy hotels, or for other types of travel with airline and car rental partners. Category 1 properties require 7,500 points per night; Category 8 properties require 85,000 points per night, with other property types falling in between. Redemption values and underlying room rates are subject to change – check Marriott’s website for the latest details.
Preferred Customer Status. Receive 15 free night credits per year, enough to qualify for Silver Elite Status.
Key Fees. There is no annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
Introductory APR. There is no intro APR promotion.
Other Perks. Through Visa Signature, Bonvoy Bold offers complimentary travel protections like travel delay reimbursement, baggage delay reimbursement, and lost luggage reimbursement, subject to claim limits.
Find out how to apply for this card here.
5. World of Hyatt Credit Card
4 Bonus Points Per $1 Spent at Hyatt Properties; 2 Points Per $1 Spent on Direct Airline Purchases, Restaurants, Fitness Services, and Local Transit Purchases
The World of Hyatt Credit Card is a Chase card with a $95 annual fee and a solid rewards program that favors regular Hyatt guests.
Unlimited 4 bonus Hyatt points per $1 spent at Hyatt properties.
Unlimited 2 bonus points per $1 spent on direct airfare purchases, restaurant purchases, local transit and commuting purchases, and fitness and gym membership purchases.
1 bonus point per $1 on everything else.
Don’t forget about the generous, 2-part sign-up bonus either.
You can redeem your points for free nights at Hyatt properties worldwide. Redemption minimums start at 5,000 points (2,500 when you combine points and cash) for basic Category 1 hotels and rise to 30,000 points for luxurious Category 7 hotels. Other card benefits include automatic Discoverist status in the World of Hyatt loyalty program.
Sign-up Bonus. Earn 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 2 bonus points per $1 spent on purchases that earn 1 bonus point up to $15,000 in the first 6 months of account opening.
Hotel Rewards. This card earns an unlimited 4 bonus Hyatt points per $1 spent at Hyatt properties; an unlimited 2 bonus points per $1 spent at restaurants, on local transit and commuting purchases, on fitness and gym memberships, and on direct airline purchases (not through third-party sites such as Expedia); and an unlimited 1 bonus point per $1 spent on everything else.
Redemption. You can redeem your Hyatt points for free room nights and upgrades at Hyatt properties worldwide. The free night redemption threshold starts at 5,000 points for standard rooms in Category 1 (lowest) hotels and rises to 30,000 points for standard rooms in Category 7 (highest) hotels. You can combine points and cash (called Points + Cash) to earn free night faster – for instance, 2,500 points plus $50 earns a free Category 1 night, while 15,000 points plus $300 earns a free Category 7 night. Point values vary based on category and property – for instance, the Category 1 Hyatt Place Phoenix-North (Arizona) starts at $110 per night for a standard midweek room, while the ultra-luxe Category 7 Park Hyatt New York starts at $917 per night for a standard midweek room. Points are generally more valuable when redeemed at higher-end properties. Redemption thresholds are subject to change at any time.
Preferred Customer Status. This card automatically comes with Hyatt Discoverist status, which includes late check-out flexibility, 10% bonus on points earned on Hyatt stays, and complimentary in-room Internet access.
Key Fees. There is a $95 annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost up to $39 each.
Introductory APR. There is no intro APR promotion.
Other Perks. You get a free award night (valid at Category 1 through 4 properties) on your cardmember anniversary, provided your account remains open and in good standing. You get another free award night in any cardmember anniversary year during which you spend at least $15,000 ineligible purchases.
See our Chase World of Hyatt Card Review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.
6. IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Earn 10 Bonus IHG Rewards Points Per $1 Spent at Intercontinental Hotels; And 2 Bonus Points Per $1 on Gas, Groceries & Restaurants
The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card earns you 10 IHG Rewards points per $1 spent at Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels, which includes properties such as Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn.
That’s on top of 15 base points earned as an IHG Rewards Club member, for a total of up to 25 points per $1 spent at IHG properties.
This card also earns 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else. There aren’t any spending caps or restrictions.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card also has a nice sign-up bonus that delivers enough points to cover multiple award nights at lower-tier IHG properties.
You can redeem points for hotel stays at select Intercontinental properties, including most Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express locations. Redemption minimums vary by property brand and redemption date, but typically start at 10,000 points per night and range up to 60,000 points per night.
Sign-up Bonus. Earn 150,000 bonus points when you spend at least $3,000 on eligible purchases during your first 3 months of cardmembership. This is worth more than 10 free nights at lower-tier IHG properties.
Hotel Rewards. Earn 10 IHG Rewards points per $1 spent on purchases at Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels, such as Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites. You’ll continue to earn 15 points per $1 spent on IHG purchases due to your IHG Rewards Club membership and Platinum Elite Status, as well, for a total of up to 25 points per $1 spent at IHG properties. You’ll also earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, plus 1 point per $1 spent on purchases everywhere else.
Redemption. You can redeem your IHG Rewards points for free hotel rooms and upgrades, with no blackout dates. You can also transfer to frequent flyer programs with several dozen major airlines, including Delta and Singapore Airlines, typically at a ratio of 5 IHG Rewards points to 1 frequent flyer mile. Per-night hotel redemption requirements range from 10,000 to 60,000 points, depending on the property brand and quality level. The amount of points required for redemption doesn’t always correspond to a hotel’s nightly rates – for instance, the Crowne Plaza Denver’s standard midweek rooms start at $161 or 30,000 points per night, while the nearby Holiday Inn Express Denver Downtown’s standard midweek rooms start at $198 or 20,000 points per night, which is a much better deal. Hotels in popular areas tend to require more points – for example, the Intercontinental: New York Times Square costs at least $399 (or 60,000 points) for a midweek single-night stay. You can also combine points and cash – for instance, you can get a free standard room at the Holiday Inn Express Denver Downtown for 10,000 points plus $70, or a free standard room at the Intercontinental: New York Times Square for 50,000 points plus $70. All redemption values are subject to change at IHG’s discretion.
Preferred Customer Status. Cardholders in good standing automatically qualify for Platinum Elite status. Benefits include a 50% bonus on base IHG Reward point earnings on hotel stays, priority/flexible check-in and check-out, 72-hour guaranteed room availability, and complimentary room upgrades where available.
Key Fees. The card carries a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then an $89 annual fee thereafter. There are no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost up to $39.
Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
Other Perks. You get one reward night per year at select IHG hotels for as long as your account remains in good standing and a fourth reward night free when you redeem points for any stay of 4 nights or longer. Plus, when you spend at least $20,000 in qualifying purchases and make one additional purchase in a calendar year, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus points.
See our IHG Rewards Club Premier Card Review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.
7. Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card
Limited-Time Offer: Get 2 Reward Nights Worth Up to $250 Total As a Sign-up Bonus
The Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card has a versatile and potentially lucrative rewards program that’s good at more than 500,000 hotel, resort, and homestay properties worldwide — far more than any single hospitality family can offer.
That program rewards hotel spending and everyday spending too. You’ll earn 1 stamp for every night you stay at any eligible property booked on Hotels.com, plus 1 stamp each time you spend $500 on purchases with your card. Collect 10 stamps to earn a reward night toward future bookings on Hotels.com.
Not bad for a no-annual-fee hotel credit card.
Sign-up Bonus. For a limited time, earn 2 reward nights worth $250 total (a maximum of $125 per night, less taxes and fees) when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. When you redeem for a night priced under $125, you’ll forfeit the difference. Plus, for the first year, enjoy perks like free breakfast, airport transfers, and free WiFi at select properties.
Hotel Rewards. Earn 1 stamp for every night you stay at any eligible property booked through Hotels.com. Also, earn 1 stamp for each $500 you spend on eligible purchases with your card.
Redemption. Collect 10 stamps to get 1 reward night toward future bookings on Hotels.com. You can book at more than 500,000 properties in more than 200 countries worldwide.
Key Fees. There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.
Other Perks. Enjoy basic travel insurance protection, including limited trip interruption and cancellation coverage for nonrefundable passenger fares booked with your card. Plus, get up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection (less a $25 deductible) when you pay your monthly phone bill with your card.
Find out how to apply for this card here.
8. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
12 Points per $1 Spent at Hilton Hotels; 6 Points per $1 Spent at Restaurants, Supermarkets & Gas Stations; 3 Points per $1 Spent Everywhere Else
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a powerful travel rewards card with great benefits for frequent Hilton guests.
12 points per $1 spent at select Hilton properties.
6 points per $1 spent at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations.
3 points per $1 spent on everything else.
Surpass also comes with a generous welcome offer that’s worth up to 26 free nights at participating Hilton properties, subject to restrictions and exclusions.
You can redeem your Honors points for free room nights at Hilton properties, starting at 5,000 points per night at Category 1 properties and rising to as many as 95,000 points per night at high-end Category 10 properties. You can also transfer to airline rewards programs, such as Delta SkyMiles, often at a 10-to-1 ratio.
Hilton Honors Surpass has some other important perks, including complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and complimentary Private Pass membership ($99 value), which entitles you to 10 complimentary visits at more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. Just watch out for the $95 annual fee (see rates and fees page).
Welcome Offer. When you spend at least $2,000 in eligible purchases on your card within 3 months of opening your account, you get 130,000 Honors points. That’s good for as many as 26 free nights at a Category 1 property.
Hotel Rewards. Earn 12 points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels and 6 points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations. All other purchases earn 3 points per $1 spent.
Redemption. Redemption procedures are identical to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card’s.
Preferred Customer Status. Cardmembers get automatic Gold status, which comes with complimentary high-speed in-room Internet access, complimentary room upgrades when available, and a 25% boost to points earned on Hilton stays. When you spend $40,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year, you ascend to Diamond status. Cardmembers also enjoy complimentary Priority Pass Select memberships conferring up to 10 free lounge visits per year.
Key Fees. This card has a $95 annual fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost $37 each. See rates and fees page.
Other Perks. You get a free weekend night every year your card spending totals more than $15,000 in eligible purchases. You also get a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that’s good for up to 10 complimentary airport lounge visits each year after you enroll, 24/7 roadside assistance, and other attractive travel perks.
See our American Express Hilton Honors Surpass Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.
9. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
6 Points Per $1 Spent at Participating Marriott Bonvoy Properties
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has a host of valuable perks, such as a $300 annual statement credit against qualifying purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties and complimentary access to hundreds of airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass Select (enrollment is required).
Bonvoy Brilliant earns 6 Bonvoy points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties with no spending limits or restrictions. U.S. restaurant purchases and purchases made directly with airlines earn 3 points per $1 spent, with no spending limits or restrictions. All other purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent.
Bonvoy points can be redeemed for free nights and room upgrades at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, or used for airfare and car rental redemptions with participating partners. When you redeem for hotel stays, you never have to worry about blackout dates.
Note that there’s a less generous business version of this card: Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.
Welcome Offer. Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus free night award after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply. Offer expires Nov. 3, 2021.
Hotel Rewards. Earn 6 Bonvoy points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties. U.S. restaurant purchases and flights booked directly with airlines earn 3 points per $1 spent. Most other eligible purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent, with no caps or restrictions.
Redemption. The best way to redeem points is free nights and room upgrades – with no blackout dates – at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. You can also redeem for other types of travel with participating airlines and car rental companies. Redemptions generally begin at 7,500 points per night for budget-friendly Category 1 properties and rise to 85,000 per night for luxe Category 8 properties. If you don’t have enough points to redeem for a free night, you may be able to combine cash and points. See Marriott’s website for up-to-date information about redemption rates and resort fees not included in nightly awards.
Preferred Customer Status. This card automatically comes with Gold Elite Status in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. Benefits include 25% faster base Bonvoy point earnings, complimentary room upgrades where available, guaranteed reservations (with compensation for alternate accommodations when the property is unable to honor a reservation), flexible check-out times, and complimentary in-room Internet access. When you spend at least $75,000 in qualifying purchases during a calendar year, you earn an automatic upgrade to Platinum Elite Status, whose benefits include automatic upgrade to the best available room at check-in (where available), a 50% bonus on base Bonvoy point earnings, a welcome gift of your choice, and 4pm check-out.
Key Fees. The card has a $450 annual fee. There are no foreign transaction fees. Cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%. See rates and fees page.
Introductory APR. There is no introductory APR. Variable regular APR applies from day one.
Other Perks. This card comes with a host of additional benefits, including up to $300 in statement credits against qualifying purchases made at Marriott Bonvoy properties, complimentary airport lounge access for the cardholder and two guests through Priority Pass Select (enrollment required), up to $100 in statement credits against Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees, and free access to thousands of Boingo WiFi hotspots worldwide.
See our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Review for more information. Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.
10. Hilton Honors American Express Card
7 Hilton Honors Points Per $1 Spent at Hilton Hotels; 5 Points Per $1 Spent on Supermarket, Gas Station & Drugstore Purchases; No Annual Fee
The Hilton Honors American Express Card earns you 7 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio; 5 points per $1 spent on supermarket, gas station, and drugstore purchases; and 3 points per $1 spent on everything else. Terms apply.
All categories have no spending caps or restrictions, making this a great card for frequent travelers who want to earn points on everyday purchases too. You can redeem points for hotel stays and incidental charges at variable rates and minimums, depending on the hotel property.
This card has some nice fringe benefits too. For example, you enjoy Hilton Honors Silver status, which entitles you to a free night on stays of 5 days or longer and automatically boosts your total point earnings by 15% (unlimited), for as long as you remain in good standing. If you spend $20,000 in a year, you’ll automatically qualify for Hilton Honors Gold status, which boasts even better benefits. Terms apply.
Furthermore, the two-part limited-time welcome offer is very solid: 80,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening, plus 50,000 in additional bonus points after you spend a total of $5,000 in the first 6 months of cardmembership.
Welcome Offer. Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening. Plus, you can earn 50,000 in additional bonus points after you spend a total of $5,000 in the first 6 months of cardmembership.
Hotel Rewards. Earn 7 Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent at Hilton Hotels; 5 points per $1 spent at the supermarket, gas station, and drugstore; and 3 points per $1 spent on everything else. There are no spending caps or restrictions. You can also earn 500 bonus points per stay when you use your card to both reserve your hotel online and subsequently pay for your room upon arrival.
Redemption. Point redemption follows the same guidelines as the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express. Category 1 redemptions require 5,000 points, while Category 10 redemptions require 70,000 to 95,000 points, depending on the property. You can transfer to a number of popular airline frequent flyer programs, typically at a 10 points to 1 mile ratio, and can use Points + Money to earn free room nights faster.
Preferred Customer Status. This card automatically qualifies you for Hilton Honors Silver status. Silver benefits include a 15% bonus on all Hilton Honors base points earned on Hilton stays, complimentary fitness center access, and a free fifth night on stays of five nights or longer. Terms apply.
Key Fees. There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. See rates and fees page.
Introductory APR. There is no intro APR.
See our American Express Hilton Honors Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.
With so many great hotel rewards credit cards out there, it’s hard to pick a favorite. When you throw the attractive sign-up bonuses that so many cards feature into the mix, the category gets even more exciting.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to throw caution to the wind and apply for new cards as fast as your fingers can type. Opening multiple credit card accounts within short time-frames can damage your credit score, sometimes with dramatic consequences. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself applying for a secured credit card in an effort to rebuild your credit. Plus, if you’re not paying off your entire statement balance each month, the interest you end up paying will likely exceed the value of any rewards you earn.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please visit this rates and fees page.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please visit this rates and fees page.
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.