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Are Balance Transfer Cards Better Than Rewards Credit Cards?

When people think about applying for a new credit card, they often look at the welcome offers and the types of rewards that can be earned with everyday purchases. Sometimes you might need another perk, besides rewards, to make you click the “Apply Now” button. This might apply to you if you are carrying a balance on one of your current credit cards and are looking for a hand-up to help pay off the debt.

But, is it better to choose a balance transfer card or a rewards credit card? Applying for either type of credit card will count as a hard inquiry and affect your credit score, so you will want to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each credit card to help you make the best decision.

Advantages Of Balance Transfer Cards

While rewards credit cards might offer welcome offers of frequent flyer miles or complimentary hotel stays when you meet a spending minimum, balance transfer credit cards will not charge interest on balances transferred from other credit cards for a predetermined time period (typically 12 to 18 months). Your new credit card might charge a one-time fee of 3% to 5% of the balance transferred (credit cards need to make money somehow). But it’s still cheaper than the interest you are paying on your existing credit card.

These cards can be very advantageous if you have any type of credit card debt as you can make payments interest free for several months. This can be a great alternative to debt repayment compared to a high-interest personal loan. You should view the 0% APR as a “second chance” to getting debt-free and rebuilding your credit.

Disadvantages of Balance Transfer Cards

While balance transfer credit cards offer an introductory 0% APR, there are several drawbacks to these cards. Possibly the largest drawback is the APR after the 0% introductory period ends. If you cannot pay off your balance in full (or most of it), the interest rates on these cards can be noticeably higher than other rewards credit cards with interest rates as high as 23%.

If your balance is too high, it might be better to swap your credit card debt for a personal loan with a lower interest rate. Of course, the post-introductory rate will largely depend on the credit card and your credit score. Not all credit cards or credit scores are created equally. It might pay dividends to look at the interest rates and perks of the card after the introductory period.

If you have a high credit score and a low balance, it might be more advantageous to apply for a new credit card with a short introductory balance transfer period and a low-interest rate.

Caps on Transfer Amounts

Another downside of balance transfer credit cards is that some credit cards cap transfers to a certain dollar amount. For example, the Chase Slate limits balance transfers at $15,000 regardless of your credit limit. Depending on the balance amount you want to be transferred, you will need to verify if the prospective credit card will allow you to transfer your full amount.

A final downside of balance transfer credit cards is the lack of purchase rewards. Cardholders of balance transfer credit cards normally have to trade rewards for 0% APRs on outstanding credit card balances. This isn’t always the case as some balance transfer cards do offer purchase rewards. However, they are usually not as lucrative as those offered by rewards credit cards.

Advantages of Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards credit cards “reward” users for spending and making payments on-time. They might award cardholders with points or cash rewards. Plus, their welcome offers entice new applicants to spend a specific amount of money within the first two or three months of account opening to receive an additional bonus.

In one way, rewards credit cards are the complete opposite of balance transfer cards that offer a “second chance” to pay off their balances without interest. With both types of cards, credit card issuers make their money through transaction fees and balance transfer fees (even when the transferred balance is paid in full before the introductory period ends).

As many balance transfer credit cards do not offer purchase rewards, rewards credit cards are better for those that pay their bills regularly. They might also be a better option for somebody who has a small outstanding balance and has more to gain from long-term purchase rewards, even if it means paying interest on credit card debt. Your amount of debt might determine if short or long-term rewards are better.

Disadvantages of Rewards Credit Cards

One big downside of rewards credit cards is the relatively higher fees that are incurred with balance transfers. Credit cards need to make a profit to remain in business. That means they can only offer so many perks.

This is why most credit cards charge no interest for the first 12 to 24 months of account opening or offer purchase rewards. If rewards cardholders do not meet the payment deadlines, they do not earn rewards points on the outstanding balance.

Rewards credit card programs might also require a higher credit score than balance transfer cards. Each balance transfer and rewards program has different eligibility requirements. Some are more stringent than others. As a whole, balance transfer cards give credit card users a chance to catch up and rebuild their credit.

People with higher credit scores will qualify for rewards credit cards that offer better rewards and have lower interest rates than post-introductory APRs offered by balance transfer credit cards. If you have a history of credit card debt or low credit score, your application for a rewards credit card might not be a sure thing. The best place to get credit score information won’t hurt your credit but will also provide essential information.

Are There Credit Cards With Rewards and Introductory APRs?

Yes! There are a few credit cards that offer 0% APR on balance transfers for at least one year and rewards for everyday purchases. You may need a higher credit score to qualify for these cards, but they do exist. Our study of the best balance transfer credit cards to apply for in 2018 can be found here.

The Verdict on Balance Transfer Cards

Which type of credit card is better? It depends on your financial circumstances. If you have a manageable credit card debt of several thousand dollars that you can pay off within the 0% introductory period, a balance transfer card will be a better option. The interest-free payments will probably be a better “return on investment” than any rewards program.

Once you become debt-free, and if your credit score is high enough, you can always apply for a rewards credit card.

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The Sam’s Club MasterCard vs. Other Cash Back Cards

Everyone loves a cash back card, which is why so many banks and stores offer them to customers. It used to be just the big banks that gave cash back rewards based on spending. Now it is common for stores to get in on this market and get more customer loyalty in the quest for cash being returned to them.

Some stores have even begun to offer cards that come in MasterCard or Visa versions that they can be used for other purchases, like gas, dining, groceries, travel, and other big categories. The Sam’s Club MasterCard is one of these cards. They are offering a nice tiered cash back program to cardholders.

If you are a frequent shopper at Sam’s Club warehouse stores, this might be a good choice for you. Let’s take a look at the benefits that they are offering to customers.

New Sam’s Club MasterCard

Highlighted Cash Back Features

The Sam’s Club MasterCard offers simple yet substantial cash back rewards for their customers. First, you will earn 5% cash back for all spending at gas stations, up to $6,000 per year. After you spend the first $6,000, you will continue to earn 1% cash back on gas station purchases. Here’s one catch—you will earn 5% cash back at Sam’s Club gas stations and other major gas retailers, but there are no cash back rewards for spending at other warehouse store gas stations.

You can earn 3% cash back on all dining purchases and any travel purchases that you make, with no spending cap. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases using the Sam’s Club MasterCard.

With the Sam’s Club MasterCard, you can earn up to $5,000 cash back per year. The cash back rewards are paid to you in the form of a check, delivered to you once per year. The only place that you can cash the check is at a Sam’s Club store (but you don’t have to spend the entire reward there).

Great Security Options

With so many credit card breaches in the news lately, people are paying more attention to getting credit cards with higher level security features. The Sam’s Club MasterCard is chip-enabled, which gives you a better layer of security. Plus, they offer quick and simple identity theft solutions through their customer service center.

Sam’s Club MasterCard is the first major retail card to offer this level of technology. Since many of the credit card breaches have come from major retailers, this is something that may make customers more comfortable and secure when using the credit card. Also, extended warranty coverage is available, so you can be more confident in protecting your purchases.

No Annual Fee

The Sam’s Club MasterCard does not have an annual fee, but you do have to be a Sam’s Club member to apply. Membership to Sam’s Club is $45 per year.

More Benefits for Sam’s Plus Members

For those cardholders who are also members of the Sam’s Plus program, you can receive several additional benefits. These include early morning admission to the store, discounts on pharmacy and optical services, and exclusive offers within the store. Sam’s Plus members will earn an additional $10 every time they spend $500 in the store on qualifying purchases and earn up to $500 cash back annually. These rewards can be combined with the other cash back rewards to boost your annual return, or used separately throughout the year.

The Nitty Gritty

Again, the Sam’s Club MasterCard has no annual fee, but you must be a member of Sam’s Club to apply ($45 yearly membership fee). The APR is 14.99% or 22.90%, depending on your credit history. If you make a single purchase of $50 or more on the first day you use the card, you will get a $20 statement credit within the next two billing cycles. Foreign transaction fees are 3%.

Any Downsides?

Although the Sam’s Club MasterCard offers some great cash back options, you will only receive that cash back reward once per year. If you are the kind of person who likes to get one lump sum, this might be great for you, but the redemption options are not very flexible otherwise. Remember, you can only cash this check at Sam’s Club. If you regularly shop at the store, this may be convenient.

You must be a Sam’s Club member to cash the check, so don’t consider closing this account if you have any cash back rewards due to you. There is a small sign up bonus of $20 if you spend $50 on your first purchase. Other cards offer greater cash back rewards for sign up bonuses.

Other Options

While the Sam’s Club MasterCard can compete on some levels, especially with Sam’s Club devotees, there are other great cards out there that offer significant rewards for those who spend a lot of money on gas, dining, and travel. Other cards offer much more convenient redemption options when it comes to getting the cash back.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a great option for those travelers who like to earn big cash back rewards on every purchase, and have flexible redemption options available to them. With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you will earn 2 points for every dollar spent, on all purchases. You will earn 40,000 points as a sign-up bonus when you spend $3,000 within the first three months.

Redeem your miles for travel credits or statement credits, at any time. Earn an additional 10% bonus miles when you redeem your miles for travel rewards. There is an $89 annual fee, but this is waived for the first year. Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers great security, with EMV-chip technology.

There is also a 0% introductory APR on all purchases made during the first 12 months. Frequent travelers may find this option very appealing because of the high earning power and flexible redemption opportunities.

Discover it

For those shoppers who like to earn great cash back rewards and have very flexible redemption options, the Discover it has some terrific perks. Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, in all categories. Earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, which change quarterly and are generally the most popular shopping options. Currently, Discover it is offering 5% cash back on online shopping and department store purchases for this quarter.

There is no annual fee for the Discover it card, so you have nothing to lose. Redeem your cash back rewards at any time, either earning a check, using the cash at the online shopping portal, getting gift cards, or getting statement credits.

Final Thoughts

For those who really love shopping at Sam’s Club and spend most of their money at gas stations, the Sam’s Club MasterCard is a good option. But, if you want a little more flexibility in terms of cash back earnings and redemption options, you might want to consider either the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or the Discover it as alternatives.

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Cards That Earn Bonus Rewards On Every Dollar Spent

There are plenty of options for cards that earn bonus rewards for spending. These are cards that offer you either cash back or points on each purchase you make. Some of the most popular rewards credit cards will give you bonus points or bonus cash back. The Discover It, for example, offers bonus cash back on rotating categories. The idea of rotating categories is that the categories will switch quarterly. You will earn 5% cash back (or 5% points, depending on the card) for that quarter.

Popular categories for the bonus rotating categories include purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores, dining, online shopping, home improvement stores, and department stores. They can be anything that the credit card company chooses and thinks that their customers will enjoy. Typically there is a cap on the spending in the bonus categories. Going back to the Discover It example, it has a $1,500 spending cap for their rotating bonus categories.

Fixed bonus categories would refer to cards that offer bigger bonuses on certain categories all the time. For example, the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard offers two points per dollar spent on all gas station, grocery store and utility purchases. This is offered year round with no spending cap. With no annual fee, cardholders get great rewards at a fixed rate all year long.

What if I don’t like rotating categories?

If rotating categories are not for you and you would prefer to get great rewards all year long on all purchases, you are in luck. We have put together a great list of options for you. Each of these cards offers greater than 1% cash back on all purchases. Take a look and see if any of them are right for you!

Citi Double Cash

Want to earn cash back—twice? The Citi Double Cash card lets you do just that. Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, plus earn another 1% cash back for every payment that you make. In addition to the great cash back offer, the Citi Double Cash card offers a 0% introductory rate for the first 15 months that you have the card.

After that, the card offers a competitive APR of 12.99-22.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is no annual fee for the Citi Double Cash card, so you have nothing to lose with this gem. No worries about spending in certain categories, or registering for rotating rewards. You get the same rewards year round, with no spending cap other than your credit limit. There is no limit to the cash back that you can earn with this card.

Capital One Quicksilver Card

Unlimited cash back is the name of the game with the Capital One Quicksilver Card. You will earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make using this card with no limit to the cash back you can earn. There are no specific spending categories or bonus categories to think about. Just use this card for any purchase and get the full reward. Capital One Quicksilver also offers you a $100 cash back reward after you spend $500 in the first three months that you have the card. This is a substantial bonus right off the bat for new cardholders, at 20% cash back!

The cash back rewards are easy and flexible to redeem. You can redeem them at any time for a check, gift card(s), statement credit, or even merchandise. There is no annual fee for this card. You can also enjoy a 0% introductory APR for a limited time on all purchases and balance transfers made using the Capital One Quicksilver card. After the introductory period, the APR will be 12.9-22.9% on purchases and all balance transfers. Another great perk is being able to track your credit score for free so that you can stay on top of any changes right as they occur.

Capital One BuyPower Card

Are you in the market for a new vehicle? The Capital One BuyPower Card might be just the answer. This card offers you 5% cash back rewards on the first $5,000 you spend each year, and 2% on all purchases you make after that. This is a huge reward. You can use the cash back rewards toward the purchase of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac.

The earnings never expire, as long as you have the card. You can really rack up a lot of cash back toward your next vehicle with this card. Because there are no rotating categories, you can use this card for any and all purchases, and watch your cash back rewards add up. Also, Capital One BuyPower card offers an introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months that you have the card, for all purchases and balance transfers. When the introductory period ends, you will pay 11.90, 15.90, or 19.90% variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness.

Looking For Travel Rewards?

Rewards cards come in many shapes and forms. Some offer cash back or credit toward a new vehicle, like the cards listed above. Others will offer some pretty tremendous travel rewards for those who really want to maximize their rewards. Travel rewards are some of the best in the credit card world, since you can often get more than $1 for each point or mile earned. Here are a few of the best ones we can find for you.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Super value can be found for travelers when they have the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card. You can earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days that you have the card. Earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel purchases or earn one point for every dollar spent on every other purchase. One of the biggest perks of this card is that cardholders get an extra 10% rewards when booking their travel through Barclaycard or anytime they redeem their miles for statement credits.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus also offers a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APR will be either 14.99% or 18.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. There is an $89 annual fee for this card, but that is waived for the first year.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Earn travel rewards fast at a rate of 2 points per dollar spent on every purchase you make with the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. Earn an additional 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of having the card. Cardholders will get a 0% introductory APR rate for the first 12 months after approval on purchases and balance transfers, with a 13.9-20.9% APR after that period ends.

The miles that you earn using the Capital One Venture Rewards card can be flexibly redeemed for flights, hotel, rental cars, and other travel benefits. There are no blackout dates or restrictions on airlines if you book through Capital One. If you prefer to book through your travel agent, the Purchase Eraser feature will allow you to redeem your miles and get credit within 90 days of making a travel purchase using your Capital One Venture Rewards card. Track your credit simply, with your credit score being available every month on your statement or through the online access. There is a $59 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card

With the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card, you will earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases made with the card. There is no limit to the number of points that you can earn. Apply online and earn an additional 10,000 points by spending $500 within the first three months. This adds up to a $100 statement credit when you book any travel rewards.

Conveniently, there are no blackout dates and no restrictions on your travel rewards. There is no annual fee for the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card. Cardholders will enjoy a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers when they are approved for the card. After that, an APR of 14.99-22.99% will apply. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card.

Wyndham Rewards Visa

The Wyndham Rewards Visa is a great card for those who love to travel and want to earn free nights at Wyndham hotels and participating partners. Earn 5 points for every dollar spent on participating hotel stays, and earn 2 points for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

You can earn an additional 30,000 points after making your first purchase using the Wyndham Reward Visa card, and another 5,500 bonus points each year. That is enough for a one night stay at any participating hotel. This card has a $69 annual fee, which is not waived for the first year. The APR is 15.24% or 19.99%, depending on your credit history.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

With the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, you will quickly build up plenty of points toward your next vacation at any Hilton hotel or participating partner. You can earn 10 HHonors points for every dollar spent on hotel stays at participating hotels. Or earn 5 HHonors points for other travel purchases, including flights and rental cars. Earn 3 HHonors points on all other purchases made using the card.

Cardholders will enjoy Gold Elite status with HHonors, which will be upgraded to Platinum status if you spend $40,000 in one calendar year. Spend $10,000 per year and earn a free weekend night each year on your anniversary. Earn two free weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 within the first 4 months after being approved for the card. This card has a $95 annual fee. There is a variable 15.24% APR for this card.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a variety of rewards cards available right now, with more being added frequently. One of them is right for you. Some people prefer rewards cards with straight cash back rewards options, but if you are not a fan of rotating categories and just want to earn tons of points, or you are a frequent traveler (or want to become one), then choosing one of the awesome travel rewards cards that are available will help you quickly earn points toward your next travel adventure!

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Barclaycard Announces New AAdvantage Aviator Cards

chase unlimited

As the US Airways and American Airlines merger becomes more of a reality, many customers are wondering what will happen to their miles, whether a new frequent flyer program will arise from the merger or how it might change. The details are not yet finalized, and the timing is not completely pinpointed, but there are certainly some new developments to announce, particularly with some co-branded cards to be offered by Citibank.

For now, Barclays still has these accounts, and will keep them until the merger occurs. This is the reason why Barclaycard is marketing tough these days, trying to gain as many new cardholders while they still can offer great bonuses. Let’s take a look at the new AAdvantage Aviator cards you can still get.

Barclays Introduces AAdvantage Aviator Silver Card

Available in two different versions, the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Card offers some great rewards. Until the merger, Barclays cannot accept new applications for American Airlines cobranded cards, so they are offering the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Card to existing cardholders as an upgrade. The Premium version of the card has an $89 annual fee.

You earn 40,000 bonus points after your first purchase. You will get a free checked bag for yourself and up to four travel companions when you fly US Airways. Earn one companion certificate for up to two companions for $99 each, on a US Airways flight. Get Priority 2 boarding on US Airways. Earn two miles for every dollar spent on US Airways, and American Airlines, and one mile for every dollar spent on any other purchases. Get 25% off of all in-flight purchases on US Airways and American Airlines. There is a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases, the APR will be 15.99-19.99% after that.

The second version of the card, the AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Mastercard, comes with an annual fee of $195, which is waived for the first year. You can earn 3 miles for every dollar spent on US Airways and American Airlines purchases, 2 miles for every dollar spent on hotels and car rentals, and one mile for every dollar spent on the rest of your purchases.

You can earn elite mileage in the form of EQM, earning 5,000 for each $20,000 you spend annually, with a maximum of 10,000 EQMs earned per year. You will get your first bag checked, for yourself and up to 8 travel companions.  You will be refunded 10% of your redeemed miles each year, up to 10,000 miles (this can basically cover the cost of the annual fee). You will earn a companion certificate good for two guests at $99 each, for a US Airways flight. Get priority boarding, in-flight discounts and more. There are no foreign transaction fees, and the card comes with chip technology for increased security.

US Airways Mastercard to Become AAdvantage Aviator Red

The AAdvantage Aviator Red card will be the replacement for the US Airways Mastercard holders once the merger becomes official in 2015. The card has an annual fee of $89. You earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on US Airways and American Airlines purchases, and one mile for every dollar spent on other purchases. Get your first bag checked free, for yourself and 4 travel companions.

Get priority boarding for your travel party. You will also get a refund of 10%  of the miles you redeem on US Airways and American Airlines, up to 10,000 miles per year. Earn $100 flight discount when you spend $30,000 per year. Cardholders get a 25% discount on in-flight purchases. The card has chip technology to protect your personal information.

Act Now for Great Deals!

Because you won’t be able to apply once the merger between US Airways and American Airlines formally takes place, you want to take advantage of these deals from Barclays now if you are interested.  If you received an invitation to upgrade to the AAdvantage Aviator Silver card, you will only have until December 1, 2014 to apply. Beginning in January, accounts will be converted. The bonuses for the AAdvantage Silver card are significant, and you should take advantage of them now.

Conclusion

There are some significant benefits to consider for each of these cards, and if you are interested, then you should not wait to apply. There will still be great options after the US Airways and American Airlines merger, but you never know exactly what will be offered. If you are a frequent flyer on US Airways or American, then now is the time!

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A Comparison of the Top 3 Fixed Value Travel Rewards Cards

Travel credit cards offer some of the best rewards in the business. Usually you can earn tons of points, and, in some cases, these points can be redeemed for travel rewards worth more than $1 per point. Let’s take a closer look at the top three fixed value travel reward cards that you can choose from right now.

 

BankAmericard Travel Rewards

The BankAmericard Travel rewards card has great earning potential and very nice bonus opportunities. There is no annual fee for this card. You will earn 1.5 point for every dollar spent, with no limit to the amount of miles that you can earn.  They offer a 10,000 point bonus to new cardholders after spending $500 in the first three months that you have the card, if you apply online; this corresponds to a $100 statement credit! There is a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 12 months. After the introductory period, the APR will range from 14.99-22.99%, depending on your credit. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Redeeming your points earned using the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card is simple. There are no blackout dates, and no restrictions. BankAmerica checking and savings customers will receive a bonus of 10% of their annual points each year, based on their total spending for the year. Chip technology makes this card very safe to use, and helps reduce fraud and unauthorized transactions.

 

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is one of the most popular travel rewards cards, and it is not hard to see why. Cardholders pay an $89 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. You will earn double miles on all purchases, with no limit to the miles you can earn. New cardholders will receive a bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This is the equivalent of a $400 travel credit! Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months for purchases and balance transfers, with an APR of 14.99-18.99% at the end of that period.

Booking your travel is simple with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. There are no blackout dates or restrictions that apply. For each travel booking, you earn 10% bonus miles, based on the travel spending, making each mile you redeem worth even more. The card is EMV chip enabled, giving you confidence that fraud is unlikely and your personal information is safe. There are also no foreign transaction fees.

Apply Now: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

For those who do not want to pay an annual fee, there is another version of the Barclaycard Arrival that offers no annual fee with smaller, yet still substantial travel rewards available. Link: Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard®

 

 

Capital One Venture

Capital One has an excellent option for those who love to travel. The Capital One Venture Rewards card offers two points for every dollar spent on all purchases. Earn an additional 40,000 bonus points by spending $3,000 in the first three months you have the card. There is no limit to the number of points that you can earn. There is no annual fee for the first year, after that you will pay an annual fee of $59. There is no introductory APR rate, the APR is 13.9-20.9%, depending on your credit.

Redeem your Capital One Venture rewards with the No Hassle guarantee for flights, hotels, rental cars, gift cards and more, with no blackout dates or restrictions. Capital One will help you book your travel, or you can use the Purchase Eraser to pay for the cost of booking the travel through an agent. There are no foreign transaction fees to use this card abroad and it comes with smart chip technology. Capital One offers free credit tracking for customers, too, making it easy to stay on top of your credit score.

For those who wish to earn travel rewards without having to pay any annual fee, the Capital One VentureOne card has no annual fee, offers 1.25 points for every dollar spent, and a bonus of 20,000 points for spending only $1,000 in the first three months.

 

Conclusion

Each of these travel rewards credit cards has something great to offer. If you’re looking for the most rewards possible, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus stands out from the crowd. It offers the highest fixed travel rewards rate in the industry right now, and the flexible process to redeem the points (as well as additional bonuses available when you redeem for travel rewards) makes this our first choice. Take a look for yourself to compare the options, and see if you agree!

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Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card Benefits to Change in 2015

Like many of the rewards credit cards, Amex Premier Rewards Gold Credit Card is changing some of its benefits. It remains a great card, but you should be aware of some of the upcoming changes, namely the elimination of the 15,000 Premier Rewards Gold Bonus points, which has been an attractive feature for many who use this card.

Any time a credit card offers a spending bonus, people take note. For those who are savvy about earning and redeeming their points, this is sometimes a pretty big deal. Let’s go over some of the changes and some of the great things that will remain as Amex enters 2015.

Elimination of the 15,000 PRG Bonus Points

This is probably the biggest and most significant change that you will notice. If you have been diligently spending and aiming to earn this bonus, you don’t have to worry about your 2014 bonus. But, when 2015 arrives, this benefit will disappear. Amex has reported that few of their card holders actually reached the spending threshold for earning the top reward, since you have to spend $30,000 to earn the 15,000 point bonus.

For those who are used to spending at this level and who look forward to the bonus, you may have to decide if you still want to pay the $175 annual fee without getting this bonus.

New Perks Around the Corner?

Rumors are flying about other changes that may happen for the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card members, but nothing has been announced at this point, making some card holders a bit nervous and considering jumping ship.

Other Options?

The competition is stiff when it comes to rewards cards, and whenever a big card like Amex Premier Rewards Gold card takes away a major perk, there are ripples. Two other cards that are popular and seem to be stable with their benefit offerings are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2 points for every dollar spent on travel, and has no foreign transaction fees (unlike the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card, by the way), and the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® offers 2 points per dollar spent on all purchases. With the Sapphire having only a $95 annual fee, and the Barclaycard having an even lower $89 fee, the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card has some stepping up to do if they intend to remain in competition.

Time Is Running Out

If you are still interested in the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card, then the time is now to get in on the possible rewards, since the biggest perk goes away starting in 2015. You can still get the big sign on bonus of 25,000 points for spending $2,000 in the first three months, and the annual fee is waived for the first year, so all is not lost yet.Take a look around, however, because there are definitely some other deals out there that might be a little more beneficial for the average person looking for a great rewards card.

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The Best Credit Cards From USAA

USAA offers credit cards specifically to members of the armed forces and military, including all branches from Navy to American Legion members. Since 1922, USAA has shown their appreciation for those who serve our country by offering helpful financial products that range from auto and life insurance, to loans and credit cards. USAA has developed a full range of credit cards, with varying options and benefits. Here is a list of some of the most common USAA credit cards that you may consider.

USAA Cash Back Card

USAA is not really known for its great rewards credit cards. But, that does not mean that they don’t have any! They just might not be as great when you compare them with some of the other rewards cards that are out there. At first glance, the USAA Cash Rewards Visa card may look appealing, since they advertise a 1.25% cash back rate.

But, when you dig in and read the fine print, you will notice that there is an earning schedule that is dependent upon your yearly spending, and that 1.25% is reserved for those at the highest spending patterns. So, unless you spend more than $17,000 in a year, expect to get a lower rate of cash back. Oh, and we should mention that you only get the cash back rewards once a year, in January, then your spending begins to track all over again for the next year.

There are definitely better options when it comes to cash back Visa cards, but if you are committed to USAA and can justify the other benefits, then at least you are getting something back. There is no annual fee, which is a nice perk. Any reward is better than no reward!

Apply Now: USAA Cash Rewards® Visa®

USAA Rewards Card

Although this card is technically a rewards card, the rewards offered by the USAA Rewards World MasterCard are not exactly the stuff dreams are made of. But, again, any reward is better than none! So, here it is. You get a 1% cash back, flat rate on your purchases. There is no difference in the rewards earning, like the Visa rewards card. There are also no bonus categories to aim for. You do get a sign on bonus of 2,500 points (equivalent to $25 in rewards), which does help things a bit.

And, unlike the Visa rewards card, you can redeem your rewards any time you like, not just once per year. You also have the option of redeeming for cash, travel, merchandise and more. With no annual fee, you have nothing to lose with this card, but you may be able to do better with other rewards cards, like Discover it.

Apply Now: USAA Rewards™ World MasterCard®

USAA American Express Card 

Again, here you have a card with no annual fee, which makes it automatically hit the “attractive” list. With this USAA offer, however, the rewards are a bit more enticing. You can earn 1% on all purchases, with a 2% earning rate for the special categories of gas and groceries—the most common categories for most people. There is no limit or cap on the spending or the rewards that you can earn, other than your own credit limit. Like the MasterCard, the USAA American Express Rewards card offers a 2,500 sign up bonus, which does sweeten the pot a bit.

Apply Now: USAA Rewards™ American Express®

USAA Low APR Credit Card

For those who prefer credit cards with low APRs, mainly those who do not make it a habit to pay off their balance in full each month, the USAA Rate Advantage MasterCard may be a great choice. If you have great credit and can qualify for the lowest rate, you will enjoy a rate of 6.9% on all of your purchases and balance transfers, which is pretty low!

Those with not-so-stellar credit may pay up to 23.99%, so this card quickly becomes unattractive unless you are in the top bracket. No annual fee, but no sign on bonus either. And, no cash back rewards. Just a really low APR, worthy of bragging about.

Apply Now: USAA Rate Advantage MasterCard®

USAA Credit Card for Those With Low Credit Scores

Before you read about the USAA Secured Credit Card, you should know that this offer is reserved for military members and their families.

Helping those with low credit scores make things better is one thing that USAA is good at. If you need a credit boost and you can’t qualify for one of the major credit cards, then this might be a great place for you to start rebuilding. A secured credit card will require a security deposit, and, assuming you make your payments on time and behave like a good customer, you will be able to see your credit score rise in a short period of time.

Once you get your credit high enough, you can close this account, reclaim your security deposit, and apply for a traditional, non-secured credit card and move on. There is a minimum security deposit of $250, which earns interest while they hold your money. You do need to agree to a two-year term, but this is a reasonable amount of time to expect to rebuild your credit anyway. The annual fee for this card is a reasonable $35.

Conclusion

USAA has always been a well-respected and reputable bank, and one that offers solid offers to members of any military branch. They might not be the best offers on the market, but most of them offer special perks during times of deployment and assignment, making financial fitness easier for military members and their families while they serve their country. There are certainly better offers out there, but, depending on what you are looking for, USAA may have some attractive options.

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Which Airline Credit Cards Offer Elite Status?

As you check out the many options for getting a credit card with airline rewards, it is helpful to know what you will get for perks. Some airline credit cards will get you elite status more quickly (or automatically), while others have pretty regular perks.

Depending on what you are looking for, you may prefer one over another. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular airline credit cards to see which ones offer elite status and how you can get it. We will compare the top cards according to spending limits, earning potential for elite status and points, annual fees, and sign up bonuses that are currently being offered.

Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard

This is a great card if you are looking for a quick way to earn elite status. Here are some of the important details:

Spending Limits/Requirements: To earn the maximum points, you need to spend $40,000 in one year.

Earning Potential: Earn up to 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles per year. This amount of miles will get you halfway toward the goal of Gold AAdvantage status, but you do have to spend a lot of money to get this status.

Annual Fee: $450, not waived during the first year.

Current Sign-on Bonus Offer: Get 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of having the card. Also, you will get a membership to the Admiral’s Club included with approval.

American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card

This card makes it easy to earn elite status, and has great points earning potential. Spend the maximum per year and you get halfway to Platinum status with Delta, or a third of the way to Diamond status. Before you know it, you will be at the top of the elite levels!

Spending Limit/Requirements: If you spend $30,000 per year, you can earn 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs). Spend $60,000 and receive 30,000 MQMs. These miles can be redeemed along with your other earned miles and add a nice chunk to your account.

Earning Potential: You can earn up to 30,000 MQMs per year.

Annual Fee: The annual fee for this card is $450.

Current Sign-on Bonus Offer: Earn a sign on bonus of 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles when you make your first purchase using this card. Also, you will have SkyClub access once you use the card for your first purchase.

American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Although the spending requirements are higher for this card, if you are making purchases at this level, you will quickly earn elite status with Delta, and get a bunch of other perks, as well.

Spending Limit/Requirements: You need to spend $25,000 per year to earn 10,000 SkyMiles and MQMs, and by spending $50,000 per year, these numbers double.

Earning Potential: By earning up to 20,000 SkyMiles and MQMs per year, you will quickly get to elite status with Delta. In fact, even the lower spending limit of $25,000 will get the MQM requirement waived and get you elite status.

Annual Fee: The annual fee for this card is a very reasonable $195.

Current Sign-on Bonus Offers: Currently, you can get 50,000 SkyMiles and 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) by spending only $1,000 in the first three months that you have this card. This gets you well on your way to elite status. Also, you will get a $100 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase within that first three months. First bag is checked free, for you and up to 8 people sharing your reservation. Get 20% in-flight discounts, and an annual companion certificate.

US Airways MasterCard

Although American Airlines and US Airways are in the midst of a merger, and many of these benefits will change, this is still a solid card with great opportunities to get elite status with US Airways. Hopefully all of the elite status situations will be preserved once the merger is complete.

Spending Limits/Requirements: $25,000 per calendar year for maximum benefits.

Earning Potential: Earn up to 10,000 Preferred miled.

Annual Fee: The annual fee for this card is $89.

Current Sign-on Bonus Offer: Earn a bonus of 40,000 Dividend Miles after you make your first purchase. Get an annual certificate good for two companion tickets at the price of $99 each. Get priority check-in and Priority Zone 2 boarding opportunities. Your first checked bag is free, along with the first bags for up to 4 of your travel companions. A free annual club pass is included.

Apply Now: The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®

Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card

When you reach the spending maximum for this card, you will be three-quarters of the way toward establishing yourself as a Elevate Silver status member. If you frequently fly on Virgin America, then you will be able to enjoy the many perks. The points do not expire, and can be rolled over into the next year.

Spending Limits/Requirements: You will earn 5,000 points for every $10,000 you spend on this card.

Earning Potential: You can earn up to 15,000 status points in one calendar year, and you can carry them over into the next year if you do not redeem them. This allows you to build up a large account of points that can be redeemed for a bigger reward.

Annual Fee: The annual fee for this card is $149, though there are multiple versions and some slight variation in the annual fees.

Current Sign-on Bonus Offer: Once approved, cardholders will get 15,000 Elevate bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of having the card.

United MileagePlus Club Card

This card has great perks, but it is very difficult to use it to earn elite status.

Spending Limits/Requirements: There are no specific spending requirements to earn the bonuses.

Earning Potential: Although you do not get any automatic elite status with this card, you do get a United Club membership for the entire time you hold the credit card. Your first two bags are checked free for you and your companion. No blackout dates when redeeming rewards for flights.

Annual Fee: The annual fee for this card is $395, which is sometimes waived when you sign up directly through Chase Bank in person.

Current Sign-on Bonus Offer: Earn $100 statement credit after making your first purchase. Earn 50% bonus miles at a rate of 2 miles for every dollar spend on United purchases and 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases. Other perks include automatic membership in the Hyatt Gold Passport program and Avis First.

Virgin Atlantic MasterCard

Although this card is known for offering some really great sign-on bonuses that can quickly get you to elite status, the current offerings are not as strong as others have been. Still, not a bad card, and once you earn 15 Tier points (by spending $37,500) you will be at Silver Elite status. If you max out the 2 Tier points per month, you will be 60% of the way toward Gold status by the end of the year.

Spending Limits/Requirements: For spending $60,000 per year you will earn up to 24 Tier points.

Earning Potential: Earn one Tier point for every $2,500 spent on purchases, with a maximum earning potential of two Tier points per month.

Annual Fee: The annual fee for this card is $90.

Current Sign-on Bonus Offer: Get 20,000 bonus miles added to your account after you make your first purchase. Earn 25,000 Flying Club bonus miles when you spend at least $2,500. Earn 5,000 bonus miles when you add an authorized user to the card. Get up to 15,000 bonus miles on your anniversary.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier 

This particular airline does not offer huge benefits for elite members, but you can still get great benefits with the Companion Pass, which can be hard to come by these days.

Spending Limits/Requirements: Earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying points for every $10,000 you spend using this card.

Earning Potential: Each year, you can earn up to 15,000 Tier-Qualifying points with this card.

Annual Fee:  The annual fee for this card is $99.

Current Sign-on Bonus Offer: Earn 25,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of having this card. If you spend $2,000 in the first three months, there is a separate offer which allows you to earn 50,000 bonus points.

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The 5 Best Airline and Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Credit cards for travel rewards are some of the most popular credit cards that are offered. Many people are enticed by the idea of earning a free or super-low-cost vacation, but with so many cards to choose from, how do you know which one is going to offer you the best value?

Luckily, we have reviewed tons of cards and can help you sort through them to find the great ones. Here is a list of what we consider to be the 5 best airline and travel rewards credit cards that are available right now.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

If you are looking for a great everyday credit card that earns you terrific travel benefits, then this is one you should look at closely. One of the great things about the Barclaycard Arrival card is that you can redeem the points in a totally flexible way, meaning you are not tied to a specific airline or even a group of airlines.

After earning 2 points for every dollar spent, for all purchases, you can redeem the points for any kind of travel. At the end of the year, you get a 10% bonus for all of the travel you have redeemed, giving you a 2.2% rate for points earning.

Consider the 40,000 sign up bonus (worth $400 in travel cash) after spending $3,000 in the first three months, and this card really has a lot to offer someone looking for great travel rewards. You should be aware that there are two versions of this card, one with the $89 annual fee waived for the first year, which is certainly another attractive feature. There is a no-annual fee version, but the perks aren’t as nice.

Apply Now: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers great potential when it comes to earning big rewards. First of all, you’ll receive 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership. And if you play your cards right (pun intended), you can actually earn rewards at a rate of up to 3.75%, in some cases. This happens when you take full advantage of the Ultimate Rewards program for booking your travel, because you get a 20% discount on your travel, making your points worth 1.25 cents for every point you redeem.

Another way to redeem your valuable Ultimate Rewards points is by transferring them out to one of the many travel partners they have to offer, including Hyatt, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and many more.

When you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred for other travel expenses, like hotels and rental cars, you can earn 2 points per dollar spent. While the travel points are huge for this card, the regular spending points remain at a rate of one point per dollar spent, which is average for reward cards. However, for those of you who dine out frequently, you’ll also receive 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants.

Apply Now: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

British Airways Visa

This card makes our list for several reasons. There are some terrific perks, including a great sign up bonus of 50,000 Avios (this is the British Airways currency for rewards points) when you spend only $2,000 in the first three months that you have the card. Plus, you earn 1.25 Avios for every dollar spent, on all purchases. This is increased to 2.25 Avios per dollar as a bonus for all spending on British Airways purchases.

If that’s not enough for you, then take a look at the fact that you can earn a companion ticket each year that you spend $30,000 in a calendar year (this is not a huge amount for those using the card for everyday spending, making $2,500 in purchases per month). Get 10% off for all British Airways purchases. Top security features with chip-and-PIN technology, and no foreign transaction fees round out the package nicely. There is an annual fee of $95, but this is well worth it, especially if you can earn a companion ticket each year.

US Airways Premier World MasterCard

With the US Airways card, you’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee. You can redeem your miles on US Airways or American Airlines, since the airlines are merging. This card will eventually be going away because of the merger, so we recommend that you get it soon if you’re on the fence!

One of the best things about the US Airways Premier World MasterCard is that you get a free companion certificate each year. You can also purchase two additional companion certificates for $99, which you can use on any flight in the continental United States or Canada. Both tickets must be used on the same flight, at the same time. This is a huge discount, and a great option for a family vacation! There is no spending minimum to get this perk, either.

Apply Now: The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier

Earn lots of bonus points with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card, especially when you get a bonus of 25,000 points after spending only $1,000 in the first 3 months that you have the card. This is enough points to get you a roundtrip ticket on Southwest Airlines, so it sure is a great perk. However, we recommend that you wait until the bonus is higher on this card, as Southwest has been known to double that bonus for a limited time.

The awards that you get when redeeming your points can be as high as 1.4 cents per point earned, which is one of the higher rates in the industry. Each year on your anniversary, you will get a bonus of 6,000 points. The bonus points that you get with this card definitely make it an attractive option.

Shop Around for the Best Deals

There are a few important things to consider when you are looking for a travel rewards card. We have outlined some of the choices that we think are great, but each person may be a little different.

When you get a credit card that is affiliated with a specific airline, remember that you are limited to using your miles on that airline or the airlines in that specific alliance. In contrast, using a card like the Barclaycard Arrival or Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you immense flexibility when it comes to redeeming your travel points any way that you like.

So, consider how you are going to use the card before signing up or being lured by a great bonus offer. If you’re loyal to a specific airline and fly them regularly, then by all means, get their co-branded credit card! It’s all about your travel goals and preferences. As always, we recommend that you read full reviews of these cards before deciding which one is best for you.

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Card Comparison: The Discover it and the Discover it Chrome

Discover it offers two different options for you—the regular Discover it and the Discover it Chrome. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences so that you can decide if one or the other is better for you. Each of these cards currently offers two separate ways to enjoy the benefits, so, hopefully we can clarify how you can make the best choice for you!
 

 

Discover it

The Discover it is growing in popularity, and certainly offers many benefits. Currently, there are two Discover it options available (not including the Student card offers). Let’s break down the two Discover it offers first.

The difference between the two offers

Discover it®

  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 14 months–then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.

Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months–then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%.

The similarities

No Annual Fees

Both Discover it options have no annual fee, so you can enjoy all of the perks and benefits without having to pay a dime!

Avoid Other Fees

There are also no late fees for your first late payment, your APR won’t increase if you pay late, and there’s no foreign transaction fee or overlimit fee. Gotta love it!

Big Rotating Rewards

You’ll receive 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories throughout the year (up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. From July through September 2014, receive 5% cash back at gas stations.

 

Discover it Chrome

The Discover it Chrome offers two options as well. Discover likes to keep things interesting! Let’s examine the differences and similarities.

The differences between the two offers

Discover it® chrome

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%.A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.

Discover it® chrome

  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 18 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A fee of 3% applies for each balance transferred.
  • 0% Intro APR* on purchases for 6 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%.

The similarities

No Annual Fees

Discover it Chrome offers all of the advantages, with no annual fees. This makes it a terrific everyday credit card with tons of perks!

Avoid Other Fees

With the Chrome, there are also no late fees for your first late payment, and there’s no foreign transaction fee or overlimit fee.

Rewards that Stick

Receive 2% cash back on gas station and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 each quarter. You’ll earn 1% on all other purchases.

 

Different Options for Earning Points

With the regular Discover it options, you will earn one point per dollar spent for all purchases, with rotating categories that offer 5% earnings. With the Discover it Chrome, you will earn a flat rate of 2 points per dollar spent on gas stations and dining, and one point per dollar elsewhere, with no rotating bonus categories. The major difference is that the Chrome, points rates are consistent and permanent, while the basic Discover it has a flat rate with rotating bonus categories. Consider which card might earn you more points!

While it might be difficult for you to choose between the various options, there are a few factors to think about that could affect your decision. First, review the options for the 5% bonus categories and see if these are major spending categories for you. Consider how much spending you do in the dining and gas categories, and this may help you decide between the Discover it and the Discover it Chrome versions.

When it comes to evaluating the APR options offered by each (the regular it and the Chrome it) then you need to think about whether or not you will be transferring balances or if you would benefit more from no interest on purchases.

 

Classic Discover Perks

All of the Discover it options offer access to the ShopDiscover online portal, where you can find discounted merchandise—from 5-20% off regular prices! Not only will you get great discounts, you will earn additional rewards points.

As with all Discover products, you will have your free FICO score printed at the top of every statement. Discover believes in helping people be financially responsible, and keeping tabs on your credit score is an important part of this.

You will also have human customer support available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Any problems or issues you run into will be handled promptly and professionally.

Full fraud protection is available with both of these offers. Discover is consistently protecting their customers from any liability related to fraudulent transactions.

 

How to Choose?

Choosing Discover it is the easy part. Choosing which offer is going to suit your needs best may take a little more thought. For those looking for a great way to save interest on balances from other cards, both the Discover it and the Chrome offer an 18-month introductory period of 0% APR. This gives you a full year and a half to pay off your balances from other cards. Remember that balance transfers do not qualify for cash back earnings. But, you can certainly save a bundle on interest by transferring balances from higher-interest credit cards.

For those who are looking to save interest on purchases, the other options which offer a 0% introductory period on purchases may suit you best. But, if you are the type of person who pays off their credit card in full each month, you will never pay interest anyway.

When it comes to rewards earnings, we think the Discover it comes out ahead, with its higher potential earnings with 5% rotating categories and a higher cap of $1,500 instead of $1,000 with the Chrome. But if rotating categories aren’t your style, then by all means, go with the Chrome! It’s still an excellent offer.

Considering all of the shared benefits between both Discover it and Discover it Chrome offers, you really can’t go wrong! It all depends on your personal goals and your rewards earning style.