Another awesome reason to apply for a credit card is for the travel benefits and rewards. Currently, hotels, airlines and banks are competing for every credit card dollar we spend. Such competition has created an amazing spree of credit card innovation and travel offers, such as the birth of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card which is offering 100,000 point sign on bonus and the Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Card card offering three free nights at a Tier I - 4 Ritz Carlton hotel, equivalent to up to 180,000 points. Banks are incentivizing you to spend money with their credit cards and offering substantial sign up bonuses and built in benefits. Chase recently announced that the launch of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card may cost them about $300 million dollars this recent quarter.
So, which card to apply for? That is the question. There are several options to choose from different card issuers. Our favorite credit cards are issued by Chase. There cards have low fees and great benefits. For students, we recommend low or no credit card fees. We also look to cards that will continue to pay annual dividends and has lots of hotel or airline options to choose from. Therefore, we believe the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card from Chase is a great card for you.
First, the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card has a promotion sign up bonus for 80,000 points plus 7,500 when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase within the first 3 months, which is enough for a few free nights depending on the category of the hotel. This offer requires you to spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening the account and costs $85 for the year. But for $85, we also like the dividends Marriott Rewards Premier credit card provides: a free anniversary certificate for a category 1-5 hotel. The benefit alone has easily save us $200+ on Category 5 hotels during prime season.
The Marriott Rewards Premier credit card comes with extra benefits, including: earning unlimited Marriott Rewards points, earning 5x points at Marriott, Ritz Carlton and SPG properties, 2x points on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, car rental agencies and restaurants, and 1x points on every other dollar spent with the card. If you're big into elite status like we are, the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card earns you 15 night credits to elite status after account approval and every year after after account anniversary.
Applying for new credit cards only makes sense when you pay your balance in full each month. So once you apply, be sure to pay your balance off in full each month.
What travel benefits interest you?
Plastiq charges 2.5% to charge your credit card for bills that require you paying your bill on time, and sometimes runs promotion offering a reduced interest rate. Specifically, Plastiq was offering only 1.75% to pay your rent with a MasterCard. All you have to do it sign up, enter the service providers mailing address and viola, your bill is paid! Plastiq accepts all major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and now Discover cards. Plastiq also allows you to set repeat payments for recurring bills, which is a huge time saver and avoids late charges.
Currently, Plastiq has a special offer for Lehigh Student Housing Rentals web visitors!
Sign up now and make a payment of at least $20 to earn $200 to spend without a service fee.
For students who may have signed up for a new credit card, after reading our last two blog post, Credit score education 101 and What's your credit score?, were approved, and as a result, are trying to meet the minimum spending requirement - usually around $3,000 - $5,000 on a new account, paying your bills with Plastiq is generally a no-brainer. The reason is because a bonus of 50,000 - 100,000 miles could be worth more than $1,000, whereas the Plastiq service fees are relatively small (only 2.5% of your bill).
For example, if you have to spend $5,000 on your new Chase Reserve Card or Chase Marriott Rewards credit card, which is currently offering a 100,000 and 80,000 point bonus, respectively, in order to satisfy the minimum spending threshold, the service fee on paying $5,000 worth of bills, such as your college tuition or your rent, is only $137.50. Numerous web sites, like The Points Guy, value the perks of the Chase Reserve credit card and the bonus points to be well over $1,700, which includes the 100,000 points, $300 travel statement credit, Priority Pass and more! The Chase Marriott Rewards card could easily be worth $1,000, including Silver Elite status, 2 free nights at a Category 8 property, and a free anniversary night at a Category 1-5 property. Therefore, paying the $137.50 is well worth both of these Chase credit cards.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for Plastiq today! Pay your bills without the hassle, pay on time, and earn major credit cards on all your purchases!
We'd love to hear about your experience with Plastiq!
Why is building your credit so important? Well, as mentioned in our last blog post, What's your credit score?, landlords generally require a credit application, which can impact your selection of off-campus housing. For a list of properties available, click here.
More importantly, building and increasing your available credit can help increase your credit score. How? By reducing your overall credit utilization ratio, which is the ratio of outstanding credit divided by total credit available. Credit utilization weighs in at 30% of your overall credit score. So, reducing your credit utilization ratio, by increasing your available credit, ultimately increases your credit score just by building credit.
For example, if you have $100 of credit and you have a balance of $10, your credit utilization is 10% ($10/$100), which is not so good. If you build your credit to $200, your utilization ratio is now only 5% ($10/$200), which is much better.
It is true, however, that a credit card application generally results in a hard pull, or inquiry, on your credit score. The result is a temporary hit to your credit score by 5 to 6 points, which reverses itself in a few months at the maximum. What's important is the increase in credit available, to decrease your credit utilization ratio and increase your overall credit score.
You're probably thinking, that's crazy and contrary to all the advice you've ever heard. And that was the advice we also received, until we learned about how credit scores are actually calculated! If you have very low credit outstanding, you may already have a very good credit score. Sign up for a free account at Credit Sesame to check your credit score. If you do have a very good credit score, consider applying a travel rewards that offers significant travel benefits, like the Chase Reserve rewards credit card that comes with a 100,000 points bonus if certain spending thresholds are met and a $300 travel statement credit, just to name two.
With that said, credit is a double edged sword and must be used cautiously. If you have credit balances outstanding, and possibly a lower credit score, getting approved for additional credit may prove difficult. That doesn't mean you should not try to increase your credit available or plan to pay off your balances, even just the minimum payments. Paying timely can contribute up to 30% of your credit score, so pay on time, every time, even if it's just the minimum payment.
Furthermore, credit cards sometimes have promotions with low or zero introductory rates, which could help reduce the interest fees charged to your outstanding balances. Figuring out a plan once you are in debt is vital, which is why we recommend paying off credit balances in full every month to begin with.
So next time you get a credit card offer in the mail, don't be so quick to throw it out. If it's a good offer, consider applying. Your credit score will thank you.
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#LSHR is a blog about off-campus student housing, financial education, networking, travel and helping you build your career.