10 Must-Haves of Travel: The Ultimate List to Stay Healthy & Confident Anywhere in the World

Once upon a time, I had a series called “Must-Haves of Travel” where I shared items I always throw in my carry-on. They’re small, awesome, versatile, and duh, you should take them everywhere. These products are geared for when you’re on the go.

I thought it’d be fun to compile them into one definitive list, with a couple of extras added as a bonus. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll see a few things I can’t stop blabbing about. 🗣

must haves of travel

This Bluffworks blazer is one must-have! ✔️

Here’s the full list!

10 Must-Haves of Travel – The Full List

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40+ Easy Ways to Meet Credit Card Spending Requirements

Credit card spending requirements are getting higher all the time. Not only that, but banks also want you to use your cards for ongoing spending to meet spending thresholds to earn elite status, bonus miles, and other rewards.

Top of wallet” is a term we hear a lot in this industry because every issuer wants their card to be, literally, at the top of your wallet. So they incentivize spending with category bonuses, special offers, and promotions.

To meet credit card spending requirements, use your card for:

  • Everyday expenses like utilities, groceries, eating out, cell phone service, oil changes, and subscription services
  • Semi-regular expenses including dental cleanings, home warranties, memberships, and club dues
  • Gifts for birthdays, graduation, weddings, and holidays
  • Charitable contributions
  • Business expenses if your employer will reimburse them
  • Nearly any bill or service from a company or individual via Plastiq
  • Annual and quarterly tax payments
Meet Credit Card Spending Requirements

Meeting minimum spending requirements is top of mind for lots of peeps – and top of wallet for credit card companies

I’ll expand on these categories and give you 40+ ideas to meet your spending in a flash!

The sooner you get your spending done, the faster you’ll get your rewards

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$3,000 or 225,000 Airline Miles From ONE Sign-Up Bonus – But They’re Not for Everyone

Update: This offer is no longer available. Check here to see the latest card offers!

Capital One shook things up this week when they announced mondo 200,000-mile sign-up offers on their Spark Miles and Spark Cash cards. And on the Spark Miles card, those rewards will become transferable to 12 airlines starting December 2018, which is stellar. It’s always good to have more options – especially with flexible rewards programs.

In fact, peeps looking for a single-card solution to most points dilemmas finally found their match. You can redeem the points for 1 cent each, and with the Spark miles card, transfer them at a 2:1.5 ratio to useful airlines like Air Canada, Etihad, and Qantas.

They’re excellent deals if you want a rewarding small business card without hassle.  You’ll end up with $3,000 or 225,000 airline miles after the minimum spending is complete.

capital one spark miles

The required spending and opportunity cost are high with this one

But they’re NOT for everyone. I’ll explain why.

$3,000 or 225,000 Airline Miles After a Boatload of Spending

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’Tis the Season for New Credit Cards – and Price Protection!

November is here, and in a couple of short weeks, it’ll be Black Friday. Peeps tend to naturally spend more during the holiday season for presents, travel, and organizing parties.

While there’s a moment of calm, consider you can turn all your holiday spending into 1,000s of points & miles by opening a new credit card and using it to meet minimum spending requirements over the next month or so. If you apply now, it’ll arrive in time for the biggest shopping season of the year.

Plus, with all the sales and deals going on, consider a card with 60- or 90-day price protection – and automate it – to save even more money.

Credit Card Price Protection

Turn those Amazon purchases into award travel! Now’s the time to jump on a new card offer

Here are a few worthwhile sign-up offers, and how to set alerts for price drops.

Holiday time now = an award trip in 2019

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STOP Leaving Your Money in Checking Accounts! Make It Earn FREE Interest Instead!

When I pull cash out of an ATM, the receipt always says I have something like $100 in my account. Yeah, in my checking account.

The truth is I keep my checking account balance low on purpose. Because money in a checking account ain’t doing nothing but sittin’ like a bump on a pickle (#SouthernSayins).

I want my money to work for me. Every day, for years. Compound interest is a wonderful tool that can work for you – or against you. So make it work FOR you!

At the very least, keep your money in an interest-bearing savings account. Pay your bills from checking, then transfer the excess to a high-interest savings or investment account.

earn free interest

Compound interest is one of the most powerful forces in the universe

Whatever you do, stop using checking accounts to park your money!

Get an interest savings account and/or an investment account to earn free interest

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The Best Offer With the Most Miles for Those Over 5/24 (70,000 AA Miles, Small Biz Card)

Update: This offer is no longer available. Click here for the best current offers!

Lord help me, I just got another new credit card. This one’s too good to pass up if you’re over 5/24 and have small business income.

You can earn 70,000 American Airlines miles with the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® after meeting reasonable minimum spending requirements. I just signed up and got instant approval!

70,000 American Airlines miles is enough to visit:

  • 4 countries in Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea)
  • Northern South America
  • Literally anywhere in Europe
  • The Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America

And it’s nearly enough for 2 round-trip coach award flights to Hawaii!

citi aa 70k

That fateful moment when you open yet another new credit card

I was running low on AA miles. But now that you can book Air Tahiti Nui and Qatar flights on the AA website (along with other partners), it’s easier than ever to use your miles. You do NOT have to fly on American Airlines – use your miles for partner flights instead!

I’m so close to an around-the-world trip on Cathay Pacific with Alaska miles, and Qatar with American Airlines miles, that I can taste it.

Plus, you can make mortgage payments via Plastiq with this card because it’s a MasterCard, so it’s easy to meet the minimum spending in no time! (That’s how I plan to complete the spending requirements.)

Citi AA 70K miles with the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

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Just for Fun: This Cool App Tracks Your Flights & Shows Miles Flown, Countries Visited, & Hours Spent on Planes!

Thought I’d share a cool app. App in the Air tracks your flights, stores boarding passes, and keeps track of loyalty account balances. A couple are paid features, but I don’t pay for the app because the free features are fun on their own.

The paid features are useful for some, but I like TripIt Pro for flight updates, and use AwardWallet to track my program balances. And for free, you can see interesting facts about your personal travels.

app in the air

Oh, the places you’ll go! Check out App in the Air if you like stats and maps

Here’s what the app can do!

App in the Air for fun travel stats

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Check Your Business Credit Score for Free – Here’s How, & Why You Want It

If you’ve opened small business credit cards, chances are you have a business credit score – one you might not even know about.

Business cards are totally different animals from personal cards, in their protections and how they’re treated by law. In general, consumer (personal) credit cards give you more protection against unwanted activity, and with extended warranties.

But a small business card can be an excellent way to separate your business expenses and earn bonus points in categories lots of personal cards simply don’t have, like office supplies, cell and cable bills, advertising, and shipping – to name a few.

business credit score

If you want to open small business cards, it’s good to know where you stand

Here’s more about your business credit score – and how to check it for free.

What’s a business credit score anyway?

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Right Now Is a Good Time to Use Yearly Credits (Or Get Them 2X!) on Amex Platinum and Gold Cards

October – chilly autumn air, pumpkins, scary movies, the inevitable return of the holidays, then a new year. And for many cards, mainly the Amex Platinum and Gold cards, the last opportunity to use your statement credits. Such is Q4.

And if there’s a card you want, you still have enough time to apply, use the credits for 2018 – then get a fresh batch of credits to use in 2019. You effectively get double the credits for 1 annual fee, which is awesome.

amex statement credit

Treat yo self to an upgrade, checked bag, or something extra this year AND next for 1 annual fee!

Here are cards for an end of the year double-dip.

Get an Amex statement credit 2X in 2018 and 2019

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9 Easiest Signup Bonuses to Earn (7 Under $500, 2 With a Single Purchase!)

This one’s for peeps who think they can’t earn signup bonuses because the minimum spending requirements are too dang high.

When you think about, spending $3,000 (the usual spending requirement) is, of course, $1,000 per month for 3 months – or $250 per week. These cards tend to have the highest bonuses.

The problem with bank marketing is they throw out huge numbers and scare people off. But when you break it down, it appears way more manageable.

In any regard, there are plenty of cards with much lower minimum spending requirements. And some of them are genuine keepers!

cards with low spending requirements

Or rather, they look high – but most of them aren’t that bad once you break it down

Let’s look at 10 of the easiest signup bonuses you can earn.

10 cards with low spending requirements

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9 Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards – All With a 2% or Better Return

Everyone should have at least 1 credit card without an annual fee. When a card is free to keep forever, you never have to second-guess it. And the card works its powers on your credit report to increase available limits, decrease utilization, and help boost the average age of all your accounts.

My oldest credit card is from 2002 and has no annual fee. No matter how many new cards I open, I’ll always have a 16-year-old card to raise the average age of my accounts higher and therefore, my credit score.

When a card has a fee, it’s harder to justify keeping it – unless you get outsized value.

But having a card without an annual fee doesn’t mean you have to give up solid returns. All of the cards on this list can get you 2% back or better.

Chase Freedom is one of the best no annual fee cards – up to 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per year from 5X earning! I’ll share my top faves

Here’s my list.

9 best no annual fee credit cards

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10 Tricks to Save EVERY Time You Shop at Sam’s Club

If you like big box stores, I completely understand the sentiment. Buying in bulk and getting a month of grocery shopping knocked out in one go saves time and money – both of which are always worth saving.

I ignore the naysayers who over exaggerate what it means to buy in bulk. I have memberships at both Costco and Sam’s Club and use them both equally – especially now that both are around the corner from me at my pied-a-terre in Austin.

Sam’s Club is, in some ways, better than Costco. Both memberships add value to my life

What I like about Sam’s Club:

  • They have self-checkout
  • You can scan your items as you go (with the, what else, Scan & Go app) and check out instantly
  • Receipts are stored digitally online
  • Club pickup – Costco does NOT offer this
  • Digital membership card on your phone and in Apple Wallet
  • Cheaper prices on tires
  • They accept every payment method, not just Visa
  • You can easily reorder your most common items
  • Their app is way better

But they don’t offer free shipping on most items online like Costco does. And their food court offerings tend to be greasy, calorie-laden fiascos whereas Costco seems a *little* healthier. And in general, I find Costco stores to be cleaner and better laid-out. Sam’s Club locations can be hit-or-miss, whereas I feel like Costco has more consistency between the stores.

Also, there are more ways to save at Sam’s Club. A lot more ways. And that might seal the deal for some peeps, especially if both are nearby.

Let’s look at how to save money EVERY time you set foot (or web browser) in Sam’s Club.

10 ways to build your own discounts at Sam’s Club

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