There are so many different rewards credit cards out there these days that give you points that can be redeemed for free flights, hotels, etc. In a recent blog post by Nomadic Matt “Picking a Travel Credit Card,” he enlightens his readers about the types of cards he uses and the best cards out there today that are great for frequent travelers.
Requirements for a Good Travel Credit Card
Sign-Up Bonuses: A good rule of thumb is to pick a card that will give you enough points right when you sign up that will give you at least 1 free U.S. flight. Otherwise, it could take forever to get enough points for a free flight.
Points to Dollar Ratio: Many cards only offer 1 point for every dollar you spend; however, there are cards out there that will give you more points if you shop at certain retailers or brand.
Choose cards that have below a $1,000 spending minimum. Many cards out there won’t allow you to start earning points until you have spent a minimum of $5,000 or more. So be sure to choose a card with a low spending minimum so you can start reaping the benefits more quickly.
Yearly Fees: The cards with an annual fee tend to give you better rewards and the fee is worth it. Most fees are between $50-$95 per year. Generally, the rewards out-way the fees.
No Foreign Conversion Fees: For traveling oversees, you want to be sure you choose a rewards card that doesn’t have a foreign conversion fee. Most cards charge you 3% when you use them internationally but they also offer great exchange rates. Here are some cards that do not charge a foreign conversion fee: Capital One No Hassle Card, American Express Platinum Card, United Mileage Plus Card, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
What Kind of Card do You Need?
To determine the best card for your needs, you must first ask yourself what are you going to use the card for? Do you want a rewards card that will give you free flights? Do you just want a card without international fees? Do you need a travel card that has brand loyalty? Or just a general rewards card that can be used at an array of vendors?
A great card for business travelers is the Starwood American Express card which offers hotel points, free stays, you can transfer the points to get free flights, and you also receive discounts from a number of other retailers. General rewards cards are best for those of you who don’t want specific brand loyalty because you would still get rewards points for free flights, discounts, and even cash back, just no elite benefits. If you aren’t concerned with points, miles, etc. then just be sure you get a card with no transaction fee.
Current Travel Card Promotions
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. Currently, you get 25,000 Starwood points when you sign up. You also get 5,000 bonus Starwood Points after you transfer 20,000 Starpoints for flights with no blackout dates and over 350 airlines to choose from! Matt highly recommends this card.
The Platinum Card from American Express. You get 25,000 Membership Rewards when you spend a minimum of $2,000 your first 3 months. This card does have a high annual fee of $450 but is great for frequent travelers as you get free airport lounge access, a $200 USD airline credit, travel coverage, and an elite level status for a number of companies.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. You receive 2x the points when you use your card for travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. You can transfer your points to other frequent flyer programs with no transfer fees. When you redeem your points through Ultimate Rewards, get 20% off of travel. No foreign transaction fees.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card. Earn 25,000 points after you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months and earn 15,000 more points when you spend $30,000 within one calendar year. Receive double points on groceries and gas within the U.S. and triple points on flights. Receive 1 point for every other $1 spent also.
Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard. Earn 40,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $3,000 the first 3 months. Get the 1st checked bag free for you and 4 travel companions. Earn priority boarding with Group 1 privileges. Earn $100 American Airlines flight discount every year you renew your membership and spend $30,000 or more within the year. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 point for every $1 on other purchases.
United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card. Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months and earn 10,000 additional bonus miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000. Check your first bag free for you and a companion. Receive priority boarding before general boarding. NO foreign transaction fees. Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on United flights and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. There are no blackout dates for redeeming miles on any United flight and your miles will never expire as long as you are a card member and there is no mileage limit.
US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World Mastercard. Receive 30,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and earn an additional 10,000 miles when you transfer a balance within 90 days after opening the card. Earn 2 miles for every $1 on all US Airways purchases. Receive an annual companion certificates good for up to 2 companion tickets for $99 each plus taxes and fees. Reward travel begins at 20,000 points.
There are lots of great deals out there for frequent business travelers to jump on to receive free or discounted flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and more! Hopefully this guide helps you choose the right travel card for your business.
There are so many applications these days designed to help today’s business travelers. You want to make sure you have at least one app that acts as a one-stop-shop for all of your travel itineraries which makes finding everything easy while on the go.
TripIt is one app that allows all of your reservation itineraries to be in one place. Hotels, car rentals, and flight information can all be accessed by just going to this app. Available for Windows 7, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, iPad, and tablets. Here are some other applications that will streamline your travel too:
Taxi Magic. Using this app allows you to book a cab, pay for the ride via credit card, and track the arrival of your cab all from your phone. You can download this app now for iPhone or Google Play.
Lookout. Since the business world is also becoming more mobile, you want to make sure that all of your business and personal information stays secure on your phones and tablets too. Lookout will scan all of your apps to make sure they are safe; protect you from malware; and prevent access to any fraudulent websites.
Evernote. Stay connected and productive while on the go. Evernote allows you to save webpages (all data, links, and pictures); take pictures; record sound; share your data with co-workers; search for keywords; and it sinks to all of your devices for free. You can download this for Windows Desktop; Windows 8 Touch Screen; MAC OSX; Safari; Chrome; Firefox; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch; Android; Blackberry; and Windows phone.
SeatGuru. This app allows you to see the outline of the airplane you will be taking and it rates the comfort of the seats on board. They have a list of airlines to choose from and comparison charts for different classes. You can even search for flights directly from this sight with comfort recommendations.
All Subway. This app has over 163 maps of most of the worlds major cities subways which comes in handy when you are in unfamiliar territory. You can also view other maps that aren’t on the application already. This app is $0.99 and is available on iPhone and Android.
With all the great technological advancements today, business travel just got a whole lot easier and more secure. Be sure to protect your mobile devices from threats especially when using them for business.
Safe travels out there!
Let’s face it, travel in general is filled with stress but business travelers experience these much more frequently. A recent poll from TripIt determined the top 5 most common stresses associated with travel:
- Exercise. 67% of frequent travelers said that the pressure to exercise was stressful – 17% of these responders found it to be extremely stressful.
- Healthy Eating. 66% of responders found eating healthy to be a challenge and added to the overall stress of traveling – 19% said it was extremely stressful.
- To do list upon return. 64% found the pressure of tasks needing to be done when they returned home to be a significant source of stress while traveling.
- Airport Security. Of the people that were polled, 59% found airport security to be very stressful.
- Driving in a new city. The lowest on the top 5 travel stresses is driving in a new city. 54% of respondents found this to be very stressful when they travel.
Since exercise and healthy eating are the two highest stresses for frequent business travelers, here is a list of suggestions that TripIt recommended to help alleviate some of your stress:
Bring healthy, portable snacks with you so you won’t be as temped to buy un-healthy snacks when the hunger sets in. Bring along some almonds or a banana to help tie you over between meals.
Instead of ordering a large dinner, choose a small plate or an appetizer for dinner instead. If you opt for a salad, keep in mind that the dressing has a ton of fat and calories so it’s best kept on the side. Salad is not always the healthiest choice on the menu either so be smart when choosing.
Instead of using escalators or moving sidewalks, try taking the stairs or walk to keep you moving.
Track how many steps you are taking with a pedometer or an app on your phone.
- Ask for a map of the local area with running/walking trails or nearby parks.
- Do crunches, pushups, jumping jacks, chair dips, stretching, and any other activity that doesn’t require any equipment in your room.
It is a stressful world we live in and the constant traveling makes life that much more hectic. Hopefully these tips from TripIt will make your future business trips less stressful, more active, and healthier.
Safe travels everyone!
Many of us have a 9-5 job or jobs in the service industry where we don’t have a lot of time to go on long, lavish vacations. A recent blog post by Nomadic Matt titled “How Can You Travel More Even if You Work a 9-5 Job” sheds some light on how you can use your time off most effectively while still being able to travel – even with a limited amount.
Most American’s have 2 weeks vacation per year plus the weekends = 110 travel days. Most of us also get holidays off and have some three day weekends here and there which gives us even more time to travel each year. Sure, it isn’t consecutive time but you could take a long vacation by using your 2 weeks in a row. Here are some tips on how you can maximize your time to travel a lot more this year:
Weekends. Sure the weekends only offer 2 full days (unless it’s a 3 day weekend) but that is plenty of time to explore a city close to you.
Find a location that is closer to you. If you are in America then traveling to Australia for only one week would be a waste since your travel time takes up almost 3 days! Instead, take a trip to Central America which is closer. Generally the closer the destination, the cheaper the flight is going to be too.
Be a tourist in your own city. Take time to explore the city you currently live in. Go to the museums, tourist attractions, new areas you have never been, etc. Being a tourist in your own city will give you new insight on where you live.
- Don’t try to see it all at once. Instead of trying to see everything in a short amount of time, focus on a couple attractions and destinations that you want to go see. This way, you will be less overwhelmed and will have more time to enjoy the place you are visiting.
Next time you feel like getting away, remember these 4 tips that will make your experience more fun in less time. As the famous Roy Rogers croons, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.”
If you have ever traveled alone or are planning on going soon, there are many rewards like the opportunity to experience everything that you wish to and to meet new people, but there are also precautions that need to be taken.
In the March 2013 addition of “Healthcare Traveler” there was an article published called “Safety Measures for the Solo Traveler” meant to advise single healthcare travelers on some safety measures they should take. But, these tips should be used for anyone traveling alone.
- Tell a family member or friend your travel plans. Be sure you give all the details of your travel plans with someone back home that you trust including your new address and phone number of where you will be staying. Leave them with your travel itinerary too and check in with them regularly to let them know you are safe. If you have your security settings on Facebook set to friends and family only, then posting status updates might also be a good way to let others know of your whereabouts in case anything happens.
- Double check your cell-phone company’s coverage in the new area. Be sure that your cell phone will work well in the new area you are going to – sometimes cellular providers do not have superior coverage in other areas as they might where you currently live. Go to their website and check the map of coverage.
- Get to your destination while it is still light out. You will be able to find your way around much easier in unfamiliar territory if you can see by the light of day.
- Have a GPS App on your phone (if you don’t already). Get one that will show you walking routes as well. It is also a good idea to map the surrounding areas of the place you are staying prior to getting there to determine any possible bad areas that you want to avoid.
- Don’t share too much personal information to new people you meet. Meeting new friends is great but be leery to give them any information about where you are staying or the fact that you are traveling alone as you never know who you might be talking to these days.
- Be careful if you decide to drink. If you are a drinker, don’t leave your drink unattended and don’t drink too much especially when you are first meeting new people. You want to remain in the right state of mind in case anything happens.
The majority of the time traveling alone is a very rewarding experience and nothing bad happens. But, just be smart whenever you are traveling to a new place – alone or otherwise – but especially when you are on your own.
Stay safe out there!
The past couple weeks, we have been reviewing 5 travel tips that can be applied to your life as well inspired by Amanda’s Blog “A Dangerous Business” and her post “26 Things Travel Has Taught Me.” Here are 5 more tips:
Everyone has a unique travel style that fits them. Some prefer roughing it with a backpack and no real agenda while others prefer the life of luxury and seek elegance in their travels too. Don’t worry about what others might think about your preferences as these can potentially change as you get older or with different circumstances. The bottom line is, have fun no matter what kind of traveler you are!
Hostel’s are convenient and cheap alternatives for travelers on a budget. These are a great way to meet others if you are venturing alone. In some countries, you can even work the front desk for free accommodations.
Technology means we are never really alone anymore. Technology has allowed us to book everything from flights, accommodations, rental cars, tour operators, etc. all online. We can also instantly connect with our friends and family using social media and applications such as Skype even if we are across the world!
Still Being able to read an old-fashioned map will come in handy. Yes technology has allowed for online mapping systems and GPS that can pin-point our exact location but sometimes they don’t do the trick. Map-reading is a great skill to still embody, especially when there is no internet access.
If you happen to still get lost along the way, be sure to relish in the experience (as long as you are still safe). Getting lost in a new place can allow you to interact with the locals, find hidden treasures, and get off of the beaten tourist path so get lost often.
We hope that these travel tips will be applied to your day-to-day lives as well! Safe journey’s everyone!
Pets are part of our families and American’s love our four-legged pals so much that last year, we spent $53.33 billion on pet related products according to the APPA (American Pet Products Association)! Many of us bring our pets along with us whenever we travel. Be sure to pack these 10 items whenever you bring your pets along:
Pet Carrier. Be sure your carrier is sturdy and that the door will stay shut for the duration of your trip. If you are planning on taking a plane, be sure to contact the airline your are flying with for specific pet carrier guidelines.
ID Tags. Be sure your pet(s) have an identification tag on their collar with your pet’s name and your local contact information. You should also have a specific travel tag with your out-of-town contact information (if different). It is also wise to have your pet’s rabies tags on the collar as well. Make sure your pet’s collar is secure and will not fall off during your journey.
Seat-Belt Harnesses. When traveling by car, you should always buckle up and your pets should be buckled too. There are specific seat-belt harnesses that are made for dogs so they can be strapped in while on the move in the car. If you are driving with your cat, be sure to have them in a carrying case and secure the case so that it is not moving around all over in the seat.
Water/Food Holder. Travel water dispensers can be purchased which will control any spillage from occurring. Your pets need to stay hydrated just as much as you do so be sure to give them enough water – as much as you would when you are at home – during your trip. Fold-able travel bowls can be purchased and many can be used for both food and water, just be sure to read the label.
First-Aid Kit. You can purchase pet first aid kits at any pet supply store or you can make your own. Be sure to include: gauze (both pads and rolls), cotton swabs, instant cold pack, roll of cloth, tweezers, thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, and antibiotic ointment. You can also include bottled water, plastic gloves, small scissors (if you are traveling by car or checking it in your bag), mild pet sedatives, and an eyedropper (for feeding). If your pet has suffered a serious injury or sickness, be sure to locate your nearest vet before administering care yourself.
Toys. Be sure to bring along some item that will allow your pet to play while confined in a small space and will also smell familiar which will make them more comfortable.
Portable Litter Box. When traveling with your feline friends, be sure to bring along a portable toilet for them to use. This method is safer than letting your kitty out of the car as they might run away. There are portable litter trays that fold up for easier storage and can be thrown away once your cat has finished. Be sure to get your cat accustomed to the new litter box a couple weeks before your trip so they can get used to the difference. Dogs can easily be put onto a leash and taken outside during a long car ride.
Seat Covers. For long car rides you will want to invest in a seat cover that can easily be removed once your pet is out of the car to protect your car seats. These can be purchased in a variety of sizes, colors, textures, and prices.
Microchips. It might be a good idea to get your pets fitted with tiny microchips that will track them in case they get lost. These can be done mostly by a small hypodermic needle into your pets and they usually cost less than $50.
Pet Passport. A pet passport are documents from your vet that say your pet is healthy and that they are current on their shots. This might not be necessary if you are driving across the US but if you are traveling abroad, it might be. The European Union requires pet passports by law. Double check with the US Embassy of the country you are traveling too to find out what the pet import rules are before your trip.
Traveling with your pets can be a challenge at times but if you are prepared, it will make your vacation that much more memorable with your furry friends. For more information about all things pet, consult Animal Planet’s Pet Blog.
On Friday, we explored 5 tips inspired by our young travel blogger, Amanda who has her own blog, A Dangerous Business, and one post in particular “26 Things Travel Has Taught Me.” This week, we are going to explore 5 more tips influenced from Amanda’s wisdom about life and travel.
Get to know a culture before you make false judgements. Again, keeping an open-mind in life and on your travels will allow you to get to know a culture and its customs before coming to any conclusions that might be in your mind from stereo-types or what you may have heard from others.
The world might not be so small after-all. Our world is filled with awe-inspiring sights and people ready and waiting for us to come experience them! So many places, so little time.
Going back to one place repeatedly is not a bad thing. There are always going to be places that we have visited in the past that will keep calling us back and it’s perfectly alright to keep returning. Just be sure to experience some other places too along the way so you don’t miss a thing!
The US is pretty cool too. Traveling abroad is always fun but traveling across the United States is a journey all its own! We have a huge country with lots of culture, vast open spaces, gorgeous natural sites, and so much more so be sure to travel all over our country too.
Try to experience the local culture as much as you can. It’s okay if you aren’t an adventurous eater or if you don’t drink alcohol. Most people will not judge you for not trying something. So just be you but try to experience new and different things whenever possible.
We hope these tips can be applied not only to your travels but to your day-t0-day living as well. I challenge you to go see something new this week – even if it’s in your own backyard.
Happy trails everyone!
This week’s inspiration comes from a very talented blogger, Amanda who has her own travel blog, A Dangerous Business. She wrote a post titled “26 Things Travel Has Taught Me” and I think these are all great lessons learned that can be applied to business travel too.
Every week, 5 tips will be revealed. Hopefully, these will inspire everyone that has traveled a lot to take a look back at each trip with new eyes.
The Media portrays the world to be a much scarier place than in reality. Sure, traveling abroad anywhere is going to be a bit scary because it is out of your comfort zone. Just be sure to be smart about your journey and everything should be fine.
Just because a country might have a poor past doesn’t mean that it isn’t different today. Pretty much every single country in existence today has suffered from war, terrorism, communism, etc. but that doesn’t determine the present day in that country. Don’t make a decision not to go somewhere because of a place’s past. People can change and so can a destination.
People all over are more alike than one might assume. You can’t always judge a book by it’s cover and you shouldn’t judge a person just because they look different, speak different, have a different culture because at the end of the day, we are all people and we are all searching for the same things. Happiness, prosperity, health, and love. So keep this in mind whenever you may have a different thought about someone else.
Being an American is a truly amazing blessing! We, as Americans, have the opportunity and privilege to travel pretty much anywhere we desire. Despite what is floating around, most countries love Americans too even if they might not agree with our government, they love the people and love getting to know more about us and our culture as well.
Stay positive and open-minded. This is a great tip not only in your travels around the US and abroad but also in your day-to-day life as well. Keeping an open-mind will open up possibilities that you never thought would be possible and makes life that much better! As Amanda says, “forget what you think you know, and life will be much more rewarding.”
Thanks Amanda for your wonderful insight into life and traveling! Your tips are truly amazing and our followers will be deeply impacted by these too!
Stay tuned next week for 5 more tips.
Have a happy and healthy weekend and safe travels everyone!
You wouldn’t want to drive without auto insurance or have a house without home owner’s insurance so why would you ever want to travel without insurance either? Travel Insurance is so important especially when traveling oversees but can come in handy for any trip. Even if your company pays for your health insurance, there is a very good chance that you won’t have any coverage oversees and in some cases, you might not have any across states depending on your plan. Travel insurance will cover the cost of injuries, illnesses, accidents, cancellations, etc.
Nomadic Matt is a travel blogger that has been traveling all over the world since 2006. He gives sound travel advice and recently wrote all about Travel Insurance which is where we get our inspiration and information for today’s post.
Here is a list of tips for finding the right Travel Insurance policy for YOU:
- Find a plan with a high coverage limit to take care of all medical expenses. Most will cover up to $100,000 USD but paying higher premiums will up the coverage amount. Find a plan that will take care of all of your potential health costs so that you won’t have to pay out of pocket.
- Be sure to find a plan that covers emergency evacuation – for both natural disasters and health related injuries/illnesses. The coverage for this is generally $300,000 USD.
- Remember that Travel Insurance is not a health insurance substitute but is for any accidents that might happen while you are abroad.
Good Travel Insurance policies should include:
- Coverage for emergencies that arise that cut your travel plans short;
- Coverage for trip cancellations, hotel bookings, flights, trains, autos, etc.;
- Coverage for lost or stolen items including baggage, documents, jewelry, etc.;
- Coverage for your electronics (cameras, iPods, laptops, iPads, tablets, etc.)
- Coverage for personal accidents;
- Coverage of any legal expenses that may be incurred;
- Coverage for any sudden illnesses or injury;
- Coverage for most countries in the world (especially the one(s) you are going to);
- Provide 24 Hour Emergency services and financial coverage if you get stuck in another country
What Travel Insurance won’t cover:
- Injury to person’s on the road;
- Alcohol or drug related incidents;
- Carelessness in handling your baggage and possessions;
- Recklessness – this is defined by the particular insurance company so be sure to clarify what your company’s definition is.
Proper steps for faster claim filing:
- Have all of your receipts and documentation for everything you need reimbursement for. If you have a police report, be sure to include this as well.
- Be prepared to wait for reimbursement but if you have given the company everything they need to file the claim, chances are you will get your money back much sooner.
Where to get started:
- www.insuremytrip.com provides plan comparisons from multiple insurance companies all on one site.
- www.worldnomads.com comes highly rated by lots of worldwide travelers: Nomadic Matt says “They are very reputable and claims are quickly and fairly processed. I used them because they are the official partner of National Geographic, now I stay with them because they are awesome. While their insurance policy is similar to many of the other companies…I enjoy World Nomads because I can purchase and renew my insurance policy online in a matter of minutes, they have a very friendly and responsive staff who answer questions and help solve problems via social media, and they have great customer feedback. They tend to be the most responsive out there.”
With any decision, research is key to find the company that will fit your specific needs. Be sure to consider all of the above when narrowing down the right company.
We hope that from now on, Travel Insurance is always another business expense whenever you are traveling and wish safe journeys to all!