Can I Afford to Have a Hot Girl Summer?

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

After a year spent indoors, everyone wants to have a hot girl summer in 2021. But when your financial situation is still recovering from the pandemic, can you really afford to?

Whether you’re struggling to get by or just looking to save a few bucks, use these tips to go big this summer – without going over budget.

Cash in rewards points

Millions of Americans stocked up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants during the pandemic. But many consumers inadvertently hoarded another item: credit card rewards points.

If you’re planning to reunite with high school friends or travel to a bachelorette party, cash in your points and miles to save on the trip. If you had to cancel a vacation due to the pandemic, redeem any remaining travel credit.

If you have more rewards points than you need, you may be able to redeem them for cash or as a statement credit on your card, which you can then use toward your trip.

Don’t have any rewards cards? Now may be a good time to sign up. Chase is currently offering a 100,000-point bonus for new cardholders who apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, or a 60,000-point bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Depending on where you’re going, that’s enough for a couple of flights or hotel stays.

Invite friends over for a swap

My new favorite tradition with friends is to host a swap. Everyone brings items they no longer need, and we take turns picking new-to-us items. Last time I got three dresses, a pair of Madewell overalls, a curling iron, and a dog bed.

You’re not limited to clothes at a swap. I encourage my friends to bring anything, including books, kitchenware, makeup and home decor. It’s a free way to get new items, and it encourages you to declutter your house.

Drink like a college student

Back in college, most people would have a couple drinks at home before venturing to the bars. If you’re going out with friends, consider starting with a drink or two at home.

Another money-saving trick is to eat a full meal before you go out, so you’re not tempted to grab pricey appetizers. If you’re getting drinks with your friends, limit yourself to basic cocktails instead of specialty cocktails, or stick to the draft list instead of buying a fancy bottle.

Create rules for yourself

Now that the world is opening up, it’s tempting to throw your budget away and treat yourself to everything you missed during the pandemic. Before doing that, set up some ground rules to keep yourself from going overboard.

For example, make a rule that if you’re getting dinner or brunch with friends, you won’t get take-out that week. These basic rules will help you spend less without having to give up what really matters.

Use a cash budget

Instead of bringing your credit card with you on a night out, only take the amount of cash you want to spend. You can still use your phone to order an Uber or Lyft, but you won’t have the temptation of a credit card. Decide how much you’re comfortable spending and only bring that amount.

Join a sports league

Group sports leagues like softball, soccer, or kickball are one of the most affordable ways to hang out with friends and get some exercise at the same time.

Most group leagues cost between $50 and $75 a person, depending on the sport, and usually last around six weeks. Sometimes you’ll even get a discount at a local bar where you can hang out afterwards.

Plan a budget-friendly trip

For the past few years, my college friends and I have met up every summer at my in-law’s lake house. The house is located near a small town in Indiana, only a few hour’s drive for most of us.

Instead of picking a more exotic locale, we prioritize saving money. It’s free to stay there, and we split the cost of groceries. I usually spend about $100 on gas, food, and drinks for a three-day trip.

If you’re considering a getaway with friends, get creative. Don’t automatically book a trip to Vegas or Miami. Pick a spot that’s close enough to drive, or near a popular airport where flights will be less expensive.

If you’re not lucky enough to have access to a family vacation home, look on Airbnb and VRBO for affordable destinations. Find a house with a stocked kitchen so you can cook most of your meals.

Pro tip: Use Mint’s free travel budget calculator to help you plan your next adventure.

Budget for it

When the world shut down last year, most of us got used to spending less on gas, bars, and new clothes. But as things start to open up, you may find your spending ramping back up.

Use this time to revise your budget and allocate money toward restaurants, rideshare services, and new outfits. As things return to normal, you may have to change your budget a few times before finding a happy balance. Give yourself some grace, as circumstances may change rapidly.

If you find budgeting for one month at a time difficult, give yourself a weekly allowance to use for non-essential purchases. Redirect some of your pandemic habits, like ordering take-out a few times a week, to your rediscovered social habits, like getting dinner with your friends.

Talk to your friends

While some consumers survived the pandemic without getting laid off, millions of Americans lost their jobs and remained unemployed for months. So while your friends may be ready to party, you might be focused on rebuilding your savings.

If you suffered financially during the pandemic, you may not be able to keep up with your friends this summer. Even though it may seem awkward to discuss your money problems openly, it’s better than making excuses.

If you lie about why you can’t hang out, your friends will think you’re avoiding them. But if you’re honest, they may accommodate you by suggesting budget-friendly activities. Give them the chance to understand, even if it means having an uncomfortable conversation. Who knows – one of them might be struggling as well, but too afraid to speak up.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins. More from Zina Kumok

Source: mint.intuit.com

Capital One Travel Rolls Out To All Cardholders With 5x/5% Rewards On Hotels & Car Rentals

Capital One Travel was initially only available on certain Capital One cards and, beginning today, is available for all Capital One Venture, Spark, Miles, Quicksilver, and Savor cardholders.

  • Savor, Quicksilver, Spark Cash, and Student cardholders will have access to Capital One Travel and now earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. 

  • Venture, VentureOne, Spark Miles, and Spark Miles Select cardholders will continue to earn unlimited 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
  • Venture X cardholders will continue to earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars and unlimited 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

Here’s All You Need to Know About Unlimited Chuck E. Cheese Games

Chuck-e-cheese stands outside of a vehicle after a reopening of a Check E Cheese store.
Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder from her home base in Utah. Stephanie Bolling is a former staff writer.

Thinking of having a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese? The Ultimate Fun and Mega Fun party options both come with 2 hours of all you can play for each child.
To keep patrons safe, Chuck E. Cheese has COVID-19 protocols implemented during birthday parties and some aspects of playtime. There are hand sanitizing stations, regular sanitizing of surfaces and touchless pay options, as well as the touchless Play Passes and bands.
You’d think taking the little ones to a pizza and games place like Chuck E. Cheese would bring some distraction-induced reprieve. But alas, they’re coming at you every five minutes for more tokens.
Just think: Your kids might wear themselves out for less than . Might.

How Chuck E. Cheese All You Can Play Works

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If you do a traditional party at Chuck E. Cheese but want social distancing, you can book a VIP party on Saturdays at 8 a.m. or Sundays at 9 a.m.
If you have to cancel a party due to COVID, you can transfer your party deposit to a new date within one year of the canceled date or use it for a to-go party pack.

  • $1 Play Pass
  • $3 Play Pass with coil wristband
  • $7.99 Rechargeable Play Band with $5 worth of game play included

Ready to stop worrying about money?
Some games might still dispense paper tickets, but Chuck E. Cheese has transitioned to e-tickets that are automatically saved to Play Passes. Once kids are done playing, they can redeem their e-tickets at the counter for prizes.
Behold the All You Can Play game option (aka the savior of parental sanity), at participating Chuck E. Cheese locations nationwide.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
For birthday parties, you can find an option that works for you based on state or local guidelines, or even do a Party Pack at home through delivery or carryout. If you choose an at-home option, you’ll still get play points and e-tickets to use on your next visit.

Pro Tip
If you find yourself frequently going to Chuck E. Cheese to keep the kids happy, check out their rewards program.

Chuck E. Cheese and COVID-19 Safety

Privacy Policy
Check that All You Can Play is available at your Chuck E. Cheese location before you go.
The allowed number of party guests and Chuck E. appearances will vary by state and local guidelines. If local guidelines don’t allow for Chuck E. to be there in person, he’ll attend virtually on video monitors.
Not today, children.
Currently, unlimited game time comes in 30-minute increments starting at with any Chuck E. Cheese deals purchase and is good any day of the week. Save even more if you go on All You Can Play Wednesday. Mention the promotion at time of purchase and you’ll get an hour of unlimited play for .99.
Kids and families attend the Chuck E. Cheese Baton Rouge, La. Signature Grand Reopening on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 in Baton Rouge, LA. Tyler Kaufman/AP Images for CEC Entertainment
Kids like to touch everything, and at a restaurant like Chuck E. Cheese those instincts run free.

Chuck E. Cheese Rewards

For one flat fee, kiddos can play unlimited games without exception for a selected amount of time.
When you download the app and sign-up, you’ll receive 500 free e-tickets. You’ll get 250 e-tickets on your sign-up anniversary and a birthday surprise for your birthday and half-birthday. Refer a friend and you’ll get one free personal pizza when they sign up.

  • For 50 points, you’ll get 15 minutes of play time, an order of Unicorn Churros or 500 e-tickets.
  • At 100 points, you receive 30 minutes of play time, one personal 1-topping pizza or 1,000 e-tickets.
  • For 200 points, you can earn 60 minutes of play time, one large 1-topping pizza or 2,000 e-tickets.

Kids can use Play Passes or Play Bands, which allow them to load time or points with a tap. Play Passes come in three tiers:
Before your next trip, you can also reload time and points onto Play Passes and Play Bands online. <!–

–>

Being a parent is expensive. And exhausting.

Bilt Rewards: Link Hyatt Account & Get 500 Bonus Points

The Offer

  • Bilt Rewards is offering a 500 Bilt points bonus when you link your Hyatt account for the first time to your Bilt account.
  • Offer valid through May 27th.

Our Verdict

Nice easy bonus. We once saw a similar bonus for American Airlines. You can also get the standard 100 points bonus for linking any of Bilt’s other 10 transfer partners.

You might see it in the rewards tab on a rotating banner. In past promotions, even if those who didn’t see the offer were getting the bonus when they did the linking. Anyone with Bilt Rewards can do this offer, even if you don’t have the Bilt credit card.

Hat tip to MEAB

Source: doctorofcredit.com

Credit Card Network vs Issuer: What Is the Difference?

While credit card networks and card issuers both play a role when you use your credit card to make a purchase, they do different things. Credit card networks facilitate transactions between merchants and credit card issuers. Meanwhile, credit card issuers are the ones that provide credit cards to consumers and pay for transactions on the cardholder’s behalf when they use their card.

Where it can get confusing is that some credit card networks are also card issuers. To get a better understanding, keep reading for a closer look at the differences between a credit card network vs. issuer.

What Is a Credit Card Network?

Credit card networks are the party that creates a digital infrastructure that makes it possible for merchants to facilitate transactions between merchants and the credit card issuers — meaning they’re key to how credit cards work. In order to facilitate these transactions, the credit card networks charge the merchants an interchange fee, also known as a swipe fee.

Here’s an example of how this works: Let’s say someone walks into a clothing store and uses their credit card to buy a pair of pants. They swipe or tap their credit card to make the purchase. At this point, the store’s payment system will send the details of this transaction to the cardholder’s credit card network, which then relays the information to the credit card issuer. The credit card issuer decides whether or not to approve the transaction. Finally, the clothing store is alerted as to whether or not the transition was approved.

Essentially, credit card networks make it possible for businesses to accept credit cards as a form of payment, making them integral to what a credit card is. Credit card networks are also responsible for determining where certain credit cards are accepted, as not every merchant may accept all networks.

The Four Major Card Networks

The four major credit card networks that consumers are most likely to come across are:

•   American Express

•   Discover

•   Mastercard

•   Visa

All of these credit card networks have created their own digital infrastructure to facilitate transactions between credit card issuers and merchants. These four credit card networks are so commonly used that generally anywhere in the U.S. it’s possible to find a business that accepts one or more of the payment methods supported by these merchants. When traveling abroad, it’s more common to come across Visa and Mastercard networks.

Two of these popular payment networks — American Express and Discover — are also credit card issuers. However, their offerings as a credit card network are separate from their credit card offerings as an issuer.

Does It Matter Which Card Network You Use?

Which credit card network someone can use depends on the type of credit card they have and whether the credit card network that supports that card is available through the merchant where they want to make a purchase. Most merchants in the U.S. work with all of the major networks who support the most popular credit cards, so it shouldn’t matter too much which credit card network you have when shopping domestically. When traveling abroad, however, it’s important to have cash on hand in case the credit card network options are more limited.

Merchants are the ones who are more likely to be affected by the credit card networks that they use. This is due to the fact that credit card networks determine how much the merchant will pay in fees in order to use their processing system.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

What Are Credit Card Issuers?

Credit card issuers are the financial institutions that create and manage credit cards. They’re responsible for approving applicants, determining cardholder rewards and fees, and setting credit limits and the APR on a credit card.

Essentially, credit card issuers manage the entire experience of using a credit card. Cardholders work with their credit card issuer when they need to get a new card after losing one, when they have to make their credit card minimum payment, or when they want to check their current card balance.

Credit card issuers can be banks, credit unions, fintech companies, or other types of financial institutions. Some of the biggest credit card issuers in the U.S. are:

•   American Express

•   Bank of America

•   Barclays

•   Capital One

•   Chase

•   Citi

•   Discover

•   Synchrony Bank

•   U.S. Bank

•   Wells Fargo

Credit Card Network vs Issuer: What Is the Difference?

Credit card issuers and credit card payment networks are easy to confuse. The main difference is that credit card networks facilitate payments between merchants and credit card issuers whereas credit card issuers create and manage credit cards for consumers. If you have an issue with your credit card — like in the instance you want to dispute a credit card charge or request a credit card chargeback — it’s the issuer you’d go to.

These are the main differences to be aware of when it comes to credit card networks vs. issuers:

Credit Card Issuer Credit Card Payment Network

•   Creates credit cards

•   Manages credit cards

•   Accepts or declines applicants

•   Sets credit card fees

•   Determines interest rates and credit limits

•   Creates rewards offerings

•   Approves and declines transactions

•   Processes transactions between credit card companies and merchants

•   Creates the digital infrastructure that facilitates these transactions

•   Charges an interchange fee to merchants

•   Determines which credit cards can be used at which merchants

How Credit Card Networks and Issuers Work Together

Credit card networks and issuers need each other to function. Without a credit card network, consumers wouldn’t be able to use their card to shop with any merchants, and the credit card issuer’s product would go unused. Credit card networks create the infrastructure that allows merchants to accept credit cards as payment.

However, it’s up to the credit card issuers to approve or decline the transaction. The credit card issuer is also the one responsible for getting credit cards into consumers’ hands when they’re eligible and old enough to get a credit card, thus creating a need for the credit card networks’ services.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Get a New SoFi Credit Card Online and Earn 2% Cash Back

Credit cards can be a useful financial tool, but it’s important to understand their ins and outs before swiping — including the difference between a credit card network vs. card issuer. Both are critical to credit card transactions, with the credit card network facilitating the transaction between the issuer and the merchant, and the credit card network approving or denying the transaction.

While the major credit card networks are available at most merchants in the U.S., this may not be the case abroad, which is why it’s important to be aware of when choosing a credit card. This among many other considerations, of course, such as searching for a good APR for a credit card and assessing the fees involved.

If you’re on the search for a new card, consider applying for a credit card with SoFi. SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back when redeemed for a statement credit.1

Learn more about the SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

What is a credit card network?

A credit card network is the party that creates the necessary infrastructure to process transactions between a credit card issuer and a merchant. Whenever someone makes a purchase with a credit card, it is processed by a credit card network. In return for processing the transaction, the merchant pays the credit card network an interchange fee, which is how the credit card networks make money.

How do I know my credit card issuer?

To find out a credit card’s issuer, simply look at your credit card. There will be a string of numbers on the credit card, and the first six to eight digits represent the Bank Identification Number (BIN) or the Issuer Identification Number (IIN). The Issuer identification number identifies who the credit card issuer is.

Who is the largest credit card issuer?

The four largest credit card networks are American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa. Most merchants in the U.S. work with all four credit card networks. When traveling abroad, it’s more common to come across Visa and Mastercard networks.


1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
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.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Photo credit: iStock/Poike
SOCC0322016

Source: sofi.com

Capital One Partners With Turo Car Rental To Offer Bonus Rewards (10x With Venture X; 5x With Venture)

The Offer

Capital One announced today a new partnership with Turo car rental service.

  • Venture X and Venture cardholders will earn bonus points when booking through the Turo app or on Turo.com. Valid May 17 2022 through May 16, 2023.

    • Venture X cardholders will earn 10X miles
    • Venture cardholders will earn 5X miles

Our Verdict

Nice additional perk for the Venture cards, especially Venture X. Capital One often releases these kinds of bonus points partnership offers. Hopefully this one ends up staying around for the long haul.

Source: doctorofcredit.com