All Posts By

Spencer Howard


How To Visit The Maldives With Miles and Points

By: Spencer Howard and Travis Cormier 

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

Hey Travel Junkies,

Many of you have been wondering how to make a trip to the Maldives happen. Off the bat, you should know that it takes a lot of planning. It can take 500,000+ points to put together a full trip if you’re flying in business or first class.

Personally, my trip took almost a year of planning. This guide will help you navigate and plan what points to get so you can take a dream vacation.

How to Travel to Maldives with Miles and Points

How To Book Your Flights

The biggest challenge you’ll run into is figuring out what flights to book. Flying from the US often means over 24 hours of travel! Fortunately, you have three amazing airlines to choose from if you are booking with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

American Airlines classifies the Maldives as part of the Indian Subcontinent and, while American’s routing rules can be confusing, you can connect in Abu Dhabi to get to the Maldives.

You can fly with Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong, Etihad through Abu Dhabi, or Qatar Airways through Doha*. A one-way first class award ticket will cost 115,000 American miles between the US and the Maldives, while a one-way business class award is 70,000 miles. A one-way economy class seat costs 40,000 miles. Continue Reading


How to Get Your Real Credit Score (Without Having to Pay for It)

By: Spencer Howard

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

Not a day goes by that we don’t get questions about credit scores. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone wondering where to find their credit score, other times it’s a momentary freak out when a reader looks at Credit Karma and sees their score has dropped.

To prevent these freakouts and make it easier for you to find your credit score, we’re going to discuss where you can find your credit score. Not an estimated FICO score, but your actual FICO score. This is what you really need to know.


Does Credit Karma Actually Provide Your FICO Credit Score?

Let’s just get this out of the way now: NO!!!

Credit Karma provides a VantageScore which is not a commonly used score for credit card applications. We have found that the score it provides can vary by 50+ points compared to a true FICO score.

It seems to be very sensitive to credit utilization, which is what causes such anguish for readers who rely on Credit Karma. They see a huge drop and, understandably, are not pleased.

It is because of situations like this that we felt it was necessary to address Credit Karma.

Now, that does not mean Credit Karma isn’t a useful for a miles and points connoisseur like you. Credit Karma is a big help if you want to see credit card inquiries on your Equifax and TransUnion reports. Additionally, you can see what open accounts you have reporting to each credit bureau.

This can be particularly helpful if you are unsure of your 5/24 status with Chase.


Get Your Actual FICO Score

There are several free ways to get your actual FICO score from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.


Let’s start with Experian, as you don’t even need a credit card to get your FICO score from Discover through their Free Credit Scorecard. The scorecard provides your true Experian FICO credit score as well as a bunch of other great information including: total accounts, length of credit, inquiries, utilization, and missed payments.

Continue Reading


How To Maximize Your Travel Credit

By: Spencer Howard

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

As we approach the end of the year, we have been receiving tons of questions about how to maximize the annual travel credit attached to several credit cards.

American Express, Chase, and Citi all have products that provide a lucrative travel credit that can be used every year you hold the card. As avid travelers, these credits are a great way to reduce the effective annual fee for these cards.

Let’s discuss how each card’s travel credit works.

10xTravel Maximize Travel Credit


American Express Platinum and Premier Rewards Gold Airline Fee Credits

Several American Express cards provide airline fee credits. Most of these cards are variations of the American Express Platinum card, which include a $200 credit. Additionally, those who hold the Premier Rewards Gold card have a $100 credit.

One very important point about the Amex airline fee credit: You must select a qualifying airline prior to making your purchase if you want it to be reimbursed. You can choose one airline each calendar year. Once you have made your selection, you can only get airline fees reimbursed when purchases are made with that airline.

You’re probably wondering what counts as an “airline fee” so let’s get into that. American Express will reimburse you for several types of incidental fees, including:

  • Checked baggage
  • Seat assignments
  • Phone reservations
  • Itinerary changes
  • In-flight entertainment (this does NOT include in-flight wifi, as the airline is not the provider)
  • Airport lounge day passes and annual memberships
  • In-flight food and beverages
  • Pet fees

Note that this list does not include airfare or taxes and fees for award tickets. This does make the airline fee credit with American Express a bit more restrictive than some other travel credits, but they are still easily used by anyone who enjoys travel.

Finally, you receive this fee credit annually. Every January 1, it refreshes and can be used for the current year. If you are hoping to be reimbursed late in December, keep in mind that the purchase must post to your account prior to the end of year. If it does not post by December 31, the new year’s fee credit will be applied. For this reason, we don’t recommend waiting until the very last minute.


Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit

When the Chase Sapphire Reserve was launched, it not only came with a hefty sign-up bonus and great earning structure, but the best travel credit on the market. Continue Reading


How to Take Your Credit Card Application from Pending or Denied to Approved

By: Spencer Howard

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

You find a great credit card. You fill out the application with hopes of a new adventure. You know exactly what you’re going to do with those points.

You hit the submit button on your application and… Pending?!?! Denied?!?!

This is not what you planned. This was not supposed to happen.

Now, take a breath. It’s not over yet.

We are not at the end of this particular dance yet. It is only the beginning. Now is the time to prepare for a reconsideration call.

Let’s get into the details of how to handle this (annoying) situation.


When to call

Your best bet to turn an instant denial into approval is to call a bank’s reconsideration line. Since you’ve already been denied, there’s no need to hesitate on this one. Go ahead and call.

But what if you get a pending notification? This situation isn’t cut and dry. You will find some who prefer to call immediately and many others who prefer to wait.

Personally, I don’t see the need to call until you are denied. I prefer to let my application work its way through the system and wait for an approval or denial. It’s easy enough to check the status of applications online or via automated phone systems while you wait. Continue Reading


The Marriott-Starwood Merger and What It Means For You

By: Spencer Howard

If you have been following the merger between Marriott and Starwood, you know many points’ enthusiasts have been having panic attacks over what this will mean for their SPG points.

Well, the merger was finally completed and… everything is okay. In fact, the merger has been handled quite well for those with loyalty to either program.

Let’s check out the opportunities the merger has presented us.


Linking Your Accounts

To get started, you will want to link your Starwood (SPG) and Marriott (or Ritz-Carlton*) accounts. Marriott has set up a site to make this a simple process. Just have your log-in info on hand for the two programs you are linking.

*Marriott and Ritz-Carlton are part of the same program already. The difference between them is mostly in the promotions they market to you. You can only have one or the other, but the points you earn work with both.

Transfer Points Between Programs

One of the great aspects of this merger is that points may now be transferred between programs, and at a fair rate of three SPG points per Marriott Rewards point. This provides some intriguing options for hotel stays in both programs, and possibly some interesting flight options. If you’ve been wanting to try a Marriott or Starwood property, but haven’t had the appropriate points, this could be your chance. Continue Reading


What Is the Chase 5/24 Rule and How Does It Impact You?

By: Spencer Howard 

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

We receive hundreds of questions every day, but some questions repeat themselves so often that we know we need to dedicate some time to it. With that in mind, we wanted to address one of the most common:

“What is 5/24?”

No, it’s not May 24th. It is actually one of the most discussed topics in the miles and points community. It refers to Chase’s rule (guideline?) that anyone who has opened five credit cards in the previous 24 months may not open Chase credit cards.

This can be tremendously frustrating for responsible credit users who want to utilize the perks of various credit cards.

Let’s dig in and see how we should handle things with this in mind.

5/24 Credit Cards


What Cards Are Included in Your 5/24 Count

We often see confusion regarding which cards count according to Chase. Many assume that this means five Chase cards when, in fact, it means cards from any bank are included in the count.

If you have opened cards with American Express, Citi, Barclays, Capital One, Discover, etc. They count.

Remember: Credit cards from all banks count toward 5/24. Continue Reading


Part 3: The Best Business Credit Cards on the Market

Spencer Howard – 10xTravel Contributor 

Disclosure: We receive compensation from some links that are on this site. We appreciate your support.

In Part 2 of our Introduction to Small Business Cards series, we discussed some perks that business cards can provide. You can check out Part 2 here.

If you missed Part 1, we covered who is eligible for business cards. Click here to find out if you can get a business card to boost your miles and points.

Now, let’s get to the fun part! What Card Should You Choose?

Working At Office

Now that you’ve discovered you are eligible for a small business card, you’ll need to figure out which card (or cards) will get you on your way to some amazing travel experiences.

Here are some of our top choices. Continue Reading


Part 2: Small Business Credit Card Perks – Bringing Corporate Perks to Your Business

Spencer Howard – 10xTravel Contributor

Disclosure: We receive compensation from some links that are on this site. We appreciate your support.

When we last spoke, we explored who is eligible for a small business credit card. If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here.

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the basics to help you get started.

Small Business Credit Cards

Points and Perks

Small business credit cards provide a great opportunity to utilize different bonus categories and enjoy a few other perks that can save you money or make your travel experience just a little bit better.

There are a number of possible bonus categories depending on the card you choose. Some of the categories include:

  • Airfare
  • Gas stations
  • Hotels
  • Office supply stores
  • Shipping
  • Telecommunications (hello, cell phone bills!)

With categories like these, small business cards will not only help you keep your business expenses separate, but also earn you some serious points you can use to travel.

But what about the perks?! Continue Reading


New Card Alert: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Spencer Howard – 10xTravel Contributor 

Just when the summer credit card season was feeling a little dull, Chase swoops in with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

This card has the potential to be a strong choice for earning Ultimate Rewards points and enjoying some massive benefits.

Airport Lounges

What We Know:

Thanks to a leaked application today, we are able to share some details about what to expect from the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Several lucky folks were able to apply and be approved today but you will be able to get this card on August 21. Continue Reading


Part 1: Small Business Credit Cards – Do You Need A Business To Get One?

Spencer Howard – 10xTravel Contributor 

Disclosure: We receive compensation from some links that are on this site. We appreciate your support.

Hey world travelers,

This is the first of a three-part series in which we’ll investigate how small business credit cards can play a role in your points-earning strategy.

Today, we’re going to start with one of the questions we hear most often.

“Who can get a small business credit card?”

If you’re like me, your first thought when you heard about business cards was something like:

“Those look great! But I don’t have anything that even resembles a business.”

Well, let’s get into that and investigate this assumption.

Man with laptop at coffee shop working on small business


So, who can get a business card? Business owners, of course!

Glad we could solve that mystery for you. Now, why did we need an article to tell us that? Continue Reading