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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards [2018]

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Travis Cormier

Hey Travel Junkies,

Getting into points and miles can really change your life but there’s one golden rule you should always follow—even more important than the Chase 5/24 rule. Do you know what it is?

Don’t go into credit card debt for points and miles.

Interest accruing on credit card debt will quickly eat away the value you get from points and miles. And by “quickly”, I mean “immediately”.

Unfortunately, life has a fun way of throwing situations at us that we don’t always have the financial means to handle. If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. Did you know that less than 40% of Americans are able to cover an emergency expense of $1,000?

For whatever reason you have credit card debt, whether it is from college or a lost job, you really need to get it paid off before starting in the points and miles world. Not only will it be a weight off your shoulders, it will improve your credit score, making it more likely that you’ll get approved for lucrative sign up bonuses in the future.

Of course, interest fees can make it a challenge to pay off your existing credit card debt. If your current card has a 20% interest rate and you have a balance of $10,000, that’s $2,000 every year that the bank is getting from you that isn’t counting towards your original debt!

Instead of paying interest, you should look into doing a 0% balance transfer. A balance transfer can help you tackle your debt and get it paid off faster. Instead of giving your money away to the bank, you can put it towards your balance. With a 0% balance transfer, you’ll have a better chance of paying it off quickly.

Before we look at some of the best balance transfer credit cards available today, there are some factors to consider.

Factors to Keep in Mind for Balance Transfers

There are a few key factors to keep in mind when you’re doing a balance transfer. Banks will put a lot of information in the fine print, so what should you be paying attention to?

First, you should look at the duration of the 0% interest time frame. Will you be able to pay off your card in this time frame? If not, you should consider another option if possible, otherwise you will need to apply for another balance transfer credit card once your 0% promotional period has ended.

You should also pay attention to the bank from which you’ll be transferring your balance. Most banks won’t let you transfer balances you already have with them.

For example, if you have a $5,000 balance on a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you would not be able to transfer the balance to a Chase Slate. Chase won’t let you do this because they don’t want to refinance themselves. You can only transfer balances from other banks.

One big asterisk that often gets hidden is the balance transfer fee is that many banks will charge you a percentage on the balance transfer even if there is 0% interest. Balance transfer fees are typically 3-5%, but some cards offer a promotional 0% period. Keep in mind, if you can pay off your current balance in 3-4 months, your current APR may make it cheaper to pay the interest instead of the balance transfer fee.

With all that considered, let’s look at some of the best balance transfer credit cards on the market as of today. Continue Reading

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What To Do If You Don’t Meet Your Minimum Spend By The Deadline

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Luke Sims

I’ve been there. I know that gut punch feeling when you sign into your new credit card account and realize you came up just short of hitting the minimum spend requirement needed to earn that 50,000-point sign-up bonus.

Don’t panic, you might still be able to get that coveted sign-up bonus!

Don’t panic! You still might be able to earn that signup bonus

Without question, earning points and miles through credit card sign-up bonuses is the best way to get big travel for next to nothing. Clearly, it’s important to cash-in on these opportunities for big chunks of points when you have the chance.

So, what should you do if you don’t hit your minimum spend by the deadline?

First, let’s talk about a few common reasons people miss their minimum spending requirement so you can avoid these mistakes!

1. Annual Fee Does Not Count Toward the Minimum Spend Requirement

Some people will see that they owe $4,000 on their credit card and their minimum spend requirement is $4,000 so they assume they’ve met the minimum spend. But, if you owe $4,000 and the annual fee is $450, you’d be $450 short on getting the bonus. Always remember, annual fees do NOT count toward your minimum spend requirement.

2. Some Purchases Do Not Count Toward the Minimum Spend Requirement

That’s right, your balance might show you’ve spent above the minimum spending requirement, but you can’t trust that number further than you can throw it (can you throw a number?). Two things to watch out for are refunded purchases and cash advances.

If you get a cash advance from your credit card to hit the blackjack table one more time, it won’t count toward your minimum spend. Also, please don’t use your credit card for cash advances. The fees are obscene.

Additionally, if you return those skinny jeans that are just a bit too tight, that purchase will not count toward your minimum spend either. Continue Reading

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Co-Branded Airline Credit Cards: Should You Use One To Pay For Flights?

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Caroline Lupini

The best credit card to use to purchase tickets for a specific airline is rarely that airlines’ own co-branded credit card. Yes, you heard that right. If you’re buying a ticket on United Airlines, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to use the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer credit card. Likewise, if you’re flying American American, you shouldn’t assume that using the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select or Barclays Aviator Red card are your best bets.

The best credit card to buy an airline ticket is rarely that airline’s credit card

Why? And What’s Better?

There are a couple reasons why using an airlines’ co-branded card usually isn’t the best option. The two primary reasons are that other cards earn more points per dollar on airfare and that some other credit cards have better travel benefits automatically included so you don’t have to shell out extra cash to get the same benefits.

The one reason that it could make sense to use an airlines’ co-branded card to book your ticket is if it is required in order to get your free checked bag benefit that comes with your card. Some airlines require that you use their co-branded card, while others do not. We’ll go into more detail about this below.

So, now that you know that there are often better options than an airlines co-branded card, let’s look at a couple of those options. Two of the front runners are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred (learn more)

Chase Sapphire Reserve (learn more)

We’ll take a look at a couple of examples below to see when one card might be better for you than another. Depending on exactly what cards you are comparing and what your travel needs are, you might have to do a little bit of digging on your own to see what the best option is for you.

$300 Domestic Flight: United MileagePlus Explorer vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Let’s assume you’re buying a $300 round-trip domestic ticket on United. The United MileagePlus Explorer card earns 2X United miles per dollar on United purchases, so you would earn 600 United miles.

If you had the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you would earn 2X Ultimate Rewards per dollar, so you would earn 600 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Ultimate Rewards can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to United, so you have effectively earned the same thing. However, your points aren’t tied to United so they could be transferred to another transfer partner.

Both of these cards have a $95 annual fee. In this case, both cards offer very similar trip delay, baggage delay, and trip cancellation coverage.

If you booked with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’d have earned 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. It comes with a higher annual fee, but a $300 travel credit helps offset it thought—and a ton of other benefits.

Now, the only time you would want to forgo the more flexible Ultimate Rewards points is if you don’t have status with United and you want to check a bag at no extra cost. To use the free checked bag benefit from the United Explorer card is to actually book your ticket with your United MileagePlus Explorer card.

To use the free checked bag benefit from the United Explorer card is to actually book your ticket with your United MileagePlus Explorer card

If you simply have the card but use a different card to book, United will not honor your free checked bag. If you have status or are on an itinerary that already includes a free checked bag, this won’t matter to you. Continue Reading

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5 Fun Ways To Redeem Iberia Avios

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By: Julie Szpira

Recently, Iberia ran a promotion that offered 9,000 Avios for every new reservation made between June 21, 2018 and June 24, 2018.  The promotion allowed for a maximum of 90,000 Avios to be earned in conjunction with the promotion.

As an Iberia Plus member, I received an email about the promotion, but I didn’t have plans to fly Iberia anytime soon. I figured I’d just sit this one out. Maybe, I would fly 1 or 2 Iberia flights in the next year, but I didn’t have any plans set in stone, so it wasn’t worth it to me to blindly book flights.

There were very few restrictions on the promotion, though. The flights could be one-way, round-trip, domestic, international, short-haul, long-haul, etc. The only conditions were that the flights had to be operated by Iberia, Iberia Express or Air Nostrum, and you had to book your tickets through iberia.com and add your Iberia Plus number to your reservation at the time of booking.

The Avios would be deposited into the your Iberia Plus account 10 days after the reservations were made, and the bonus Avios need to be redeemed by December 1st; but the flights could be flown after the December 1st deadline.

Unlike other airline miles, Avios can be transferred between Iberia Plus and British Airways Executive Club, however, these promotional Avios must be redeemed directly through Iberia.

I was still hesitant about booking, until I saw the tweet heard around the points and miles world:

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Iberia confirmed that flights that are cancelled would not receive the promotional Avios, but if a passenger missed a flight, they would still receive the bonus Avios.

That information started to get me excited. Iberia offers some incredibly reasonable fares within Spain, with flights between Madrid and other Spanish cities as low as $19 one-way. If could book a bunch of low fare, one-way flights, I would be able to “buy” a bunch of Avios for much less than one cent a piece.

Many people in the points and miles community had the same idea, so the $19 flights got snapped up pretty fast. A bunch of people found a sweet spot at $27.33—which could be reduced further by using a cashback portal—so, for ~$270, travel enthusiasts were able to snap up 90,000 Avios!

Now, earning miles is great, but knowing the best ways to use the miles is where the fun really begins. Continue Reading

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American Airlines Business Class Review – Seoul to Dallas

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Caroline Lupini

I recently had the opportunity to try out business class on American Airlines on a Boeing 787 from Seoul (ICN) to Dallas (DFW).

Booking

I originally booked this flight in economy class for just a hair over $400 for the one-way flight from Seoul to Flint, Michigan via Dallas and Chicago. This review not discuss the domestic American Airlines flights.

I used my Citi Prestige Card to book my ticket and earned about 1,200 Citi ThankYou Points and ensure I had trip delay insurance as well as some other travel protections.

Since the flight from Seoul to Dallas is a pretty long one, I didn’t want to fly economy if there was a way around it. However, based on my needs as a digital nomad who spends much of the year traveling, the price was too good to use miles for business class.

Instead, I banked on being able to use an American Airlines Systemwide Upgrade (SWU). Four SWUs are giving to American Airlines AAdvantage who reach top-tier Executive Platinum status.

Pro-tip: Executive Platinum status with American Airlines requires 100,000 Elite Qualifying Miles plus $12,000 in Elite Qualifying Dollars. If work isn’t paying for your travel, it is very rarely worth spending your own money to earn elite status with an airline.

When you use a SWU, upgrade space must be available. Unfortunately, it wasn’t when I booked my flight so I put myself on the waitlist for an upgrade. About two weeks before my flight my upgrade request cleared, so I knew well in advance that I wasn’t going to be flying in economy.

American Airlines Business Class Seat and Cabin

I’ve flown American Airlines business class before, but never on their 787. The 787 is one of my favorite planes due to the dimming windows, lower cabin pressure, and higher humidity that makes flying just a bit more comfortable—of course, business class helps too.

The business class cabin features a 1-2-1 layout. This is a great configuration for solo travelers because no matter where you sit you don’t have to worry about climbing over other travelers if you need to get up.

On this flight, I chose a window seat on the right hand side of the plane for maximum privacy! Better yet, American Airlines features fully flat seats on their 787 so you can get comfortable when you’re ready to take a nap.

IMG 20180411 165029

American Airlines 787 Business Class Seat

I found the space of each business class seat to be very comfortable while sitting up, but a little narrow in the leg area when fully flat. Keep in mind that I am a side sleeper and tend to ball up a little bit, and there just wasn’t quite enough room to sleep comfortably that way. If you’re a back, stomach or slightly less balled up side sleeper, you’ll probably be totally comfortable. Continue Reading

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Minimum Connection Times: What Are They and How Do They Affect Ticketing?

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Julie Szpira

I love to travel, and it’s not just because I like to experience new places and new cultures. I am someone who enjoys airports. I know, it’s weird.

I love the energy of a place full of people getting ready to board planes that will literally take them across the world. I love that at 7am, you can see a man in a business suit drinking a margarita, a woman in her pajamas reading a gossip magazine and a child having Skittles for breakfast.

While I love airports, I do NOT love connecting flights. Whenever possible, I book my flights to take me directly from my origin to my destination. While that means I might miss out on a lounge or a free meal compliments of my Priority Pass, I would rather just get to where I want to go.

I live in Chicago and fortunately have O’Hare International Airport (ORD) as my main airport, so I have a ton of options for non-stop flights. However, I love traveling to Southeast Asia, and there are no non-stops from ORD to anything south of Hong Kong (HKG).

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Chicago O’Hare has a bunch of international direct flights, but getting to Thailand means I’ll have to book a connecting flight!

Booking connections are part of traveling, but it’s important to book the right connections. A surefire way to start your trip off on the wrong foot is by sprinting from one flight to the next, and boarding the plane stressed out and sweaty!

How do you know if you’re booking an itinerary that will give you enough time to make your connecting flight? You’ll need to know your airport’s “minimum connection times”.

Minimum Connection Times

In order to ensure a smooth transit from the arrival of your first flight and the boarding/departure of the second flight, airlines have instituted a minimum connection time (MCT) that varies depending on the type of flights being operated, and the airport at which the connection occurs.

A transit between a domestic flight to another domestic flight at a small airport might only have a MCT of 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the MCT from an international flight to a domestic flight at a large airport might be 120 minutes.

Figuring out the minimum connection time for your airline and the airport you are transiting might seem like an impossible task. How is a casual traveler supposed to know what length of a connection is acceptable? Continue Reading

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Chase And Hyatt Take the Hotel Card Game To Another Level

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Travis Cormier

Hey Travel Junkies,

There’s been a lot of big news in the points and miles world this week. There’s one big change that really has me excited; The new World of Hyatt Credit Card by Chase.

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Use World of Hyatt Points to Stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives for Only 25,000 Points Per Night

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the World of Hyatt program because of the tremendous value you can get from it. I even booked a stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives for my honeymoon for 25,000 Hyatt points per night!

Just last week, Chase launched a new World of Hyatt Credit Card to replace the old version. It comes with a number of improvements so let’s dig into the details and see what this card has to offer.

(You can learn more about the World of Hyatt Credit Card by visiting our credit cards page)

Earn 60,000 Hyatt Points Quickly

Chase is offering a tiered sign-up bonus with the new World of Hyatt Credit Card. You’ll earn 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months and an additional 20,000 points after spending $6,000 total in the first 6 months.

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The Increased Bonus Can Get You 3 Nights at the Hyatt Regency Maui

The sign-up bonus is an improvement on the bonuses we saw with the old Hyatt card including offers of 40,000 Hyatt points or 2 free nights. The old bonus of 2 free nights and the current 60,000-point bonus can both get you 2 free nights at a top tier Category 7 property—30,000 points per night. However, you’ll have more flexibility with the 60,000 points, especially when you consider that there are only 14 Category 7 Hyatt properties.

This is not considered a new product so, if you have the old version of the card, you won’t be eligible for the new sign-up bonus. As with other Chase cards, you are eligible for the sign-up bonus if it has been 24 months since you last received the sign-up bonus on a card.

At this time, this card is not restricted by the Chase 5/24 rule but it likely will be at some point in the future. When exactly this change will take place is still TBD. Continue Reading

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Best Credit Card Offers: July 2018

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

Every month I share a post with what I believe are the top credit card offers on the market according to the 10xT staff. Today we are going to take a look at the best offers for July 2018.

I rank these offers by looking at their signup bonus, cardholder perks, ongoing value, and any fees they may charge. And while the best offer for you will vary depending on a number of factors, I am going to rank the top offers based on the order in which I think they should be chosen by the average person.

Not a ton of changes this month, though there is another new card in the top 7 that just launched.

If you’ve ever watched the NFL Draft before, consider this list my version of “Todd’s Big Board”. It’s simply the best overall cards available without regard to a specific points/miles need.

I also divide these top credit offers in to two lists, one for those of you who are over 5/24 and one for those of you who are under.

(If you don’t know what the Chase 5/24 rule is you’re going to want to give this a read)

As always, feel free to email me with questions (Bryce@10xTravel.com) about your own situation and I would be happy to help you select the best card for you.

Here we go!

If you are under 5/24, here are the best cards available right now:

 

1) Chase Sapphire Preferred

Image result for chase sapphire preferred

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance

(Full offer details here: Learn More)

Continue Reading

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Chase Ink Unlimited: Our Full Review

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Caroline Lupini

The Ink Business Unlimited Card is the latest business card offered by Chase. New cards are always a good thing because they mean new sign-up bonuses and, sometimes, it’s actually even a good card!

The Chase Ink Business Unlimited is one of those good ones. There are a lot of reasons to consider getting this card, which I’ll outline below. I’ll also mention why it may not make sense to apply for this card right now.

The Chase Ink Unlimited is the newest business card to be released by Chase

First, let’s take a quick look at the offer details.

Chase Ink Unlimited (learn more)

  • $500 bonus cash back (50,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • Unlimited 1.5x points on every purchase
  • No annual fee

Great Features of the Ink Business Unlimited Card

First off, as already mentioned above, a new card means a new sign-up bonus. The Ink Business Unlimited Card currently offers a sign-up bonus of $500 after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months after opening your account.

However, when spend on the Ink Business Unlimited Card, you’re not really earning simple cash back, you’re really earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points which can be even more valuable! We like to think of the sign-up bonus as really 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

These points can be redeemed for $500 in cash back, but can also be transferred to Chase’s travel partners like United, Hyatt, and British Airways as long as you also have a premium Chase credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred.

Chase Sapphire Preferred (learn more) Continue Reading

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The Interesting Tale of How I Booked ANA First Class to Tokyo (Twice)

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Bryce Conway, Founder of 10xTravel.com

Hi Travel Junkies,

I just booked two round-trip flights for my wife and I to fly to Tokyo this October on ANA First Class!

After a couple weeks of searching, much of it with the help of 10xT Editor-in-Chief Spencer Howard, I was able to secure two first class tickets from Houston to Tokyo, then home via Washington D.C. for just 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (transferred from Amex Membership Rewards) and $256.51 per ticket.

This is arguably one of the best redemptions in all of points/miles, as these first class tickets typically go for ~$20,000 each. And for good reason, each passenger has their own little “cubicle” type seat complete with a 23″ TV to make the 15+ hour flight a little less painful.

ANA First Class seat, image courtesy of ANA.com

Oh, and they serve Krug Champagne and Hibiki 21 Whisky on board, which retails for ~$500 a bottle if you can find it. So bank on a boozy flight review from me this coming October.

ANA serves Hibki 21 Whisky in First Class, which retails for ~$500 a bottle

Anyway, booking ANA First Class with Virgin Atlantic miles is nothing new in the world of points/miles. But my process of securing this tickets was a bit unique.

Here’s how it went down.

The Initial Search

My wife and I had a couple million points/miles to burn and our sights set on taking another trip to Asia this coming fall for ~7-10 days. To be honest, the flights themselves were just about as important as the destination. We were open to going just about anywhere if we could score First or Business Class flights at saver level with convenient itineraries.

So Spencer and I started running through all the options and comparing notes.

ANA First Class was easily the top choice because it is one of the best products in the sky and you can book it for just 120,000 miles round-trip via Virgin Atlantic. But there were a few problems with this strategy:

  1. ANA generally only releases 2 first class saver-level seats per flight
  2. You have to book a round-trip flight to get the 120k price, meaning you have to find saver space both to and from Tokyo
  3. ANA only flies to Tokyo from a handful of US airports (and my hometown of Columbus, OH is definitely not one of them)
  4. Most folks in the points/miles world are aware of how to use just 120k miles to book ANA F round-trip and…
  5. Those folks had a 6+ month head start on me in booking these tickets

Naturally, I was not very optimistic that I would find availability.

And I was right. After days of searching Spencer and I were only able to find one single option that worked for the rest of the year. Which of course fell on the few dates that I was not able to travel for the remainder of 2018. I had to pass on it.

But having spent a few days reading about ANA First Class I was determined to book via any other available method. Even if it was going to cost a substantial amount of points/miles.

Booking ANA First Class (The First Time)

So I found saver space on United from Houston to Tokyo for 110,000 miles and $5.60 per ticket, transferred 220,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United, and booked two one-way flights. Continue Reading